An unusual literary side-genre of Science Fiction is 'Edisonade,' which is defined by John Clute in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction as 'a paradigm kind of science fiction in which a brave young inventor creates a tool or a weapon (or both) that enables him to save the girl and his nation (America) and the world from some menace, whether it be foreigners or evil scientists or aliens; and gets the girl; and gets rich." Found almost exclusively in literature written for a juvenile audience (Tom Swift and his Ultrasonic Cycloplane, etc.), The Blue Tracer is one of the few comic book examples of this sub-genre. Sure, Batman had the Batmobile, Blue Beetle had his floating bug-thingy, but in neither case did the equipment take over the strip. In the case of the Blue Tracer, the vehicle took center stage almost by default. Neither of the two main characters possessed superpowers, and Guardineer's beautifully rendered Blue Tracer dominated every page on which it appeared.
"When I went into Chesler's and we were turning out stuff, I had a writer. If I'm right, I think his name was Finch, but I'm not sure. He turned out the writing for the various stories that we were illustrating. I never knew what comics I was working for at Chesler, or what the titles were. I just enjoyed the work. Chesler used to get a kick out of my stuff...I had to develop some kind of style that was fast and clean and clear. Drawings like pistols, rifles and things like that had to be perfect. I kept a file going on that for years and years and years. No magazine went out of my house that hadn't been clipped and filed. I had files all over the place. I could draw anything in this world. Took about five minutes if you wanted it. I could simply swipe it. I learned that from the New York Library, the picture library. It cuts a lot of corners...The easiest things were jobs where it was men and women in a home-type setting, figures are talking and sitting down or they're making love, whatever. I had files and files on top of files of stuff, and they were marked. Of course, you had your figure with the balloon lettering who was talking first... all my files had left-hand and right-hand indications, because they are so easy to... get the hard part done and then make the changes to fit the story. I swiped from the best, none of this ever came out. They couldn't tell shit." -Fred Guardineer, from The Comics Journal #282.
The exaggeratingly blunt Guardineer, who was entirely too modest, was associated with the Chesler Studio from 1936-1938. A creator with a real passion for magic-based heroes, his first published work was in Action Comics #1, where his Mandrake knock-off, the Magician Zatara, debuted. Guardineer also created Yarko the Great for Fox, Marvelo, the Monarch of Magicians for Columbia Comics, and Merlin the Magician and Tor the Magic Master for Quality Comics.
"He was a true nonpareil, an artist whose style was unmistakably his own.... His style was almost fully formed from the start. He seems always to have thought in terms of the entire page, never the individual panel. Each of his pages is a thoughtfully designed whole, giving the impression sometimes that Guardineer is arranging a series of similar snapshots into an attractive overall pattern, a personal design that will both tell the story clearly and be pleasing to the eye...." -Ron Goulart, from The Great Comic Book Artists.
In the origin and first appearance of The Blue Tracer, from Military Comics #1, April 1941, Captain Wild Bill Dunn, an American engineer, has gotten himself in a bit of a fix:
Luckily, an Australian national accompanied by a group of natives who carry him to safety discovers him. As he recovers, he is introduced to his saviors:
The two decide to utilize the mass of machinery and material left behind by their enemies to build an all-purpose armored vehicle of incredible design:
Though Dunn has somehow managed to design a nifty super-suit for himself, and even though he takes to calling himself The Blue Tracer, the star of the show is this multi-purpose vehicle:
In the ensuing battle against the indigenous natives, the new wonder wagon performs spectacularly:
And so, with a hint of unintentional genocide, the first Blue Tracer tale comes to a cataclysmic conclusion. The 6-page story below is the penultimate Blue Tracer installment, from Military Comics #15, 1943. Witness the anguish of the evil Dr. Swein and his embattled Fuehrer as the Blue Tracer confronts 'the Swastika Dead' and demonstrates the proposition that neither Panzers nor U-boats, nay, not even Buzz Bombs can hold a field-flare to The Blue Tracer; and of course, by implication, to American technology in general.