Sunday, June 19, 2022

Fire and Ice

Sunday Al Williamson Day. 

Here's a good one, I think. It almost seems as if it was especially written for Williamson, who drew the best lizards and dragond in the business. The inking is a bit tighter than usual and attributed to Ralph Mayo. If it is, his work with Mayo must have been an influence on his own tighter style of the sixties. 

The weak story is not to blame on Stan Lee this time. It is not signed by him and reads a the work of an outside contributor anyway.


The Eternal 'Prentiss

Saturday Leftover Day. 

Another American Armed Force features strip, this one a bit later. It may have started somewhere in 1955 and continued into 1959. My source does not have issues for 1956 or 1958, I am still hoping someone has those issues. Art- or gagwise is not very special, but it is signed Shelly, which usually means it is done by newspaper and comic book artist Shelly Moldoff - the man best nown for not being known as Bob Kane's ghost on Batman.

Sunday, June 05, 2022

Seeing Purple

Sunday Al Williamson Surprise. 

ANother non western story for Al Williamson, who seems to have turned these out in a high tempo. 

Two caveats with this one. First of all, we are slowly moving into the period at Timely/Atlas when they arted reducing the cost of coloring. Instead in some sort of realis based type of coloring, they slowly moved into the more symbolic type of coloring, where who scenes or figured were given on color. That must have saved  lot of time. To kep the idea of richness, the colorist started using more seundairy colors (orangle, purlple and green), which - because they are a mixture of two prime colors) give the impressiong of a richer palette than it actually is. All comic book scolars know, this is also the same pirod that Marie Severin started at Timely/Atlas. The was know for using whole swatches of color to obscure scenes htta she thought were objectionable. Because of her reputation as an EC coloris and her later importance for Marvel as an artist and cover designer,  she reached a sort of holy status, but I wonder is she was responsible for the coloring style in this period - which for me is horrible and obliterates the beauty of some of the art. With stories like these, I would love to see how they looked when they are colored in a less implistic way. Anyone who wants tio give it a trym ask me for black and white scans.

Secondly, I am not sure if this stoy is pure Williamson. Though clearly his, he didn;t sign it - which means an inker may have ben involved. Personally I get a whiff of George Evans (who later also took over Agent X9 from Williamson).

Silence Still Is Golden

Saturday Leftover Day.

Irving Philips did his Mr. Mum cartoon for over twelve years, probably more. So there are at least 600 cartoons out there. I ahve clipped them wherever I can, but I haven't evenscratched the surface. Presented in the right way, I think these timeless ssiltent cartoon (ant the crazy Sundays) would make for a terrific book.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

The First Supervillian

Sunday Al Williamson Surprise. Signed Al Williamson, this we we have a short story from Journey Into Mystery #43 that has everything you want from a Williamson story... except maybe the inks. When Williamson returned to Marvel in the eighties and nineties, he showed himself to be the master of finishes. He introduced tenchniques for shading that other have since incorporated. Sometimes you see some of those techniques in his earlier work. Such as the way he uses ben-day dots to do the inage outside the window, or later the diagonal 'hay' he uses to draw a tree. But some of the other inking defentively looks non Williamson and in fact Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr. estimates on that the inking might be by Ralph Mayo. If so, they either worked together really well or Williamson did some of this stuff himself. There are a few hints that this story may have been written by Stan Lee. The job number comes in a row of Lee written (and signed) western stories and ir does use the word 'thru' instead of 'through', as Stan always did.


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Back To The Cole Mine

Saturday Leftover Day. 

A couple of years ago I bought an issue of the American Armed Forces Features newspaper, an independend Sunday newspaper section just for soldiers, which was produced by the Bradbury  Company between 1955 and 1965 (or even later). It was distributed through camp newspapers, who could add their 'own' Asunday comic section this way. Apart from lots of rare goodies, it had a comic strip by Jack Cole that I had never seen before. In 1955 Quality comics had stopped and Cole's biggest succes and claim to fame Plastic Man was discontinued. He made the switch to cartoons and in 1954 and 1955 he published a lot of cartoons under the name Jake, especially in the saucy Humorama digests. He was noticed and picked up by Hugh Hefner, who took him on board as one of the major cartoonists for his new magazine Playbay, where Cole embarked on a second career as a color cartoonist. In the late fifties he was able to sell a newspaper strip called Betsy and Me and effectively started his third career. Millie and Terry seems to be midway between those last two. It looks a bit like the Jake cartoons (though a little bit less sexy) and you can also see some of his later Betsy and Me style. 

Unfortunately I only had one paper and since then I have not been able to find another. But then I was lucky enough to stumble on a university site that had most of the early years of the AAFF newspaper in digital (and black and white) form. I clipped all of them and I have been showing some of it's cartoons, such as those of Jess Benton, Jack O'Brien, Vic Martin, Hank Bergoff and even Mort Drucker. You can look for them in seperate posts. But the greatest find was that Jack Cole did Millie and Terry for at least three years. The sad news is, that the second year was not available on the university site, so I am still looking for those (as well as the others, because I would love to have them all in color).

I have been sitting on this find for quite some time, but here it is. Un unknown Jack Cole strip, that helps explain his growth as an artist from Plastic Man to Betsy and Me. Maybe someone out there can help me get more.

After three years, Millie and Terry was taken over by another artist. There is a period, where it is not clear who did what, but from late 1957 it was taken over by an artist signing Burr Boynansky. This probably is Bill (or William) Boynansky, who has an early credit at the GCD in a December 1941 issue of Stars and Stripes Comics for a page containing six cartoons and later credits for various gag digests in the fifties. Since most of his gags were army related, I think he may have been one of those career army men, who had a sideline of cartoons. I think there were several of those including Art Gates and Jack O'Brien (who also drew for the AAFF). The sample I am showing at the end is from Army and Navy Fun Parade #83 in 1957.