Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cute And Clean

Wednesday Advertising Day.

Looking for Mel Lazarus' daily panel Li'l Ones, I saw I still had a couple of ads for Ivory soap featuring Li'l Ivory and Sudsy. The charming art is by an unknown artist.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fair Thee Mel

Tuesday Comic Strip Day.

I just heard that Mel Lazarus has passed away. A very funny cartoonist and from what I have seen and read a very funny man as well. He is best remembered for Miss Peach and Mom, but he had more than a decade of working as a cartoonist, comic book artist and newspaper cartoonist before that. I keep coming across his work in all sorts of magazines and have shown on this blog the daily panel he did before Miss Peach, Li'l Ones. You'll find those and Miss Peach and more bits and bobs when you follow the link. To justify this post I have one more comic book page he did.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Don In Another One

Monday Cartoon Day.

Over the years I have shared some of the cartoon work done in the forties by Don Calhoun. He drew in an UPC influenced style quite similar to that of Jules Feiffer ten years later. Looking in to his life, I found that he had worked in advertising, reaching a high position at the McCann agency and ended up writing a satirical novel about the advertising bussiness. He also did a piece for Look magazine in 1946 about a kid running the country, which makes the comparison to Jules Feiffer (who broke through as a cartoonist with a story about a boy being trated as a normal army conscript in Munro) all th emore to the point. I have found a couple more cartoons by Calhoun and that seemed to be it, but now I have yet another two pager from 1000 Jokes. Showing his skill as a writer as well as an artist, it is a nice addition to an the work of an otherwise unknown cartoonist. I did however also finds two pages of a longre article on McCann from a magazine calle dSponsor, one with a photo of Calhoun and one with some more information about his position at McCann's. When I showed his material the first time, I was contacted by a family member, who told m ehe was still alive and approaching 100. Chances are that he is no longer with us now, but I would love to hear about it.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Covering Meskin

Sunday Meskin Measures.

By 1954 Mort Meskin was on his way out at Prize. After his 'own' psychcoanalysis comic Strange World of your Dreams failed and Simon and Kirby's own company Mianline (where he had followed them) had gone under, he tried to get a foothold at DC, where he had to work a lot slicker than he did at Prize. This change in style is visible in his last two covers. gorgeous both. While creating a new identity for himself at DC he also did a couple of great stories for Harvey, but it was at DC that he spend his last few years as a comic book artist, before making the step to the much more lucrative and appreciative advertising world.

Next step for me if to see what I have shown from Meskin's crime work at Prize and see if I have some more of these books in my own collection rather than relying on The Digital Comic Book Archives. To start, here is one of the first I haven't done yet from Headline.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Poli Wants A Toothbrush

Saturday Leftover Day.

I picked up more new ads than I have wednesday to show them. Here is a series of Jack Betts ads I had never seen. From his most popular period as well, the late forties. With Betts, Browne and Lou Fine at their peak, this was the golden age of newspaper strip advertising to me.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

War Instruction

Friday Comic Book Day.

One of the fist pieces I wrote about Hank Chapman, was an extensive set of notes to the story The Assault from Men in Action #6 (September 1952), used on the Atlas Tales website. It was drawn by Mac Pakula, all except page 5 which for some reason was a collage (possibly added after the story was done) of a tank assault, using images from various other artists and probably from other stories. At the time I wrote these comments, I was not yet aware of the work of Hank Chapman in 1951 and 1952, which I have written about later to a larger extent. If you follow the link you will find those writings. This story is not included there, because it is not signed by Chapman. But the language, the use of sound effects and the documentary style make it probably his. I came across these notes when I prepared my copy f this book to be sold on EBay (which will go up this weekend).

This is what I wrote back then:

Assault, is a propaganda piece aimed at the humble foot soldier (many of whom were reading these books). Pvt. William Manning is a scary guy. He and his fellow soldiers of the second regiment are scattered over the terrain at Dwakai in October 1951. Pvt. Manning is afraid they will all die, because it's only 300 of them against thousands of reds. His friends tell him to leave the brain work to the big brass, but when he hears they are going to attack at 1200 hours, he is sure they'll die. The narrator takes over and addresses him directly, a trick often used in these books, mostly by Hank Chapman, whose work this surely resembles. "But that is only part of the picture... the part that you're involved in! There are more parts in this giant jig-saw called assault!" He goes on to explain that the 300 men are backed-up by guns, howitzers, tanks, planes and other hardware firing over their heads at the reds. When the assault finally happens (in a full page splash on page 5), the army wins. And to assure the lowly foot soldiers reading this, the story ends with a army bigwig saying: "With all we've got, the most important element of assault is still the foot soldier! Bless everyone of the mud-slogging, foxhole-digging sons of battle!" Several things make this story stand out production-wise. First of all, on the opening page, above the title, as quick introduction has been added - in such a way that is partly runs over the title block: "A soldier's mind can be a hodgepodge of doubts, bravery, fear and uncertainty! Here's a close look into such a mind and the story of what happened to it in the face of... assault!" Did someone object to the story? If so, maybe other parts of the story were rewritten as well. There's no evidence of any of that. And then there is the assault splash on page 5. There are several signs that that page has been doctored with and it might even have been assembled after the story was finished. One would think that such a page was the whole point of the story - to show the different parts that make up an assault in one huge page - but in fact the story reads just as well without it, so it could have been a later addition. The splash itself has an uneasy mix of perspectives, that could indicate that is was cobbled together from something else. On the top half there are two down-looking shots of a row of jeeps driving though a camp and several tanks coming over the ridge of a mountain. We would have to assume that the mountains we are looking at are sloping very much, to accommodate such a shot. Under that is a single group of soldiers running over another ridge. They are looking sideways and it is not quite clear what they are doing. Then there is a group of soldiers running towards the camera, charging a couple of red soldiers. In the back is an explosion. These are the only reds on the whole page and frankly, the positioning of the groups makes you wonder what they are doing so far behind the enemy lines. Underneath them is a group of soldiers shooting a totally different way. This is a downward shot that fits very badly with upshot of the charging soldiers above them. And in front of that is a purple colored close-up of a soldier firing in yet another direction. This is a pasted in image drawn by Joe Maneely. I knew I'd seen it somewhere, so I searched Atlas Tales for Maneely samples and found it soon enough... it's the shooting soldier from Battlefront #2, published a couple of months earlier. Oh and there are five almost identical planes added to the sky, flying from the left to the right, further mystifying as to where the action really is. Other signs that this page has been doctored with are the slight (or sometimes not so slight) lines that suggest some cutting and pasting has been performed... two vertical lines, one through one of the tents in the camp and one next to the group charging the reds... the second one has a different type of crosshatching to the left than to the right. There's also a line visible on the bottom of the page underneath the past-up of Maneely's cover image and a very slight line to the right of the group running over the ridge. So what does it all mean? I don't think the page was especially assembled, because it would have been better if it was done as a whole. Still, it could be. I am not even sure if the images used are all by the same artist. The charging group in the middle could be by Russ Heath, making the whole clip and mix theory more likely. Or could it be a reassembly of an earlier version of the page, maybe some sort of action page? 
The same book has another Hank Chapman story (illustrated by George Tuska) that is signed.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Great Full Dawn

Thursday Comic Strip Day.

Dawn O'Day had a weird and unusual start. Unlike most strips it did not start as a daily with a Sunday added when it proved a success, it started in fact as a Sunday only and the daily wasn't added until a year later. And not only that, since I have an almost complete run of the first few years of the Sunday, I could show you it started with a half page three tier Sunday and was downsized to a third page two tier one after five weeks. Anyway, this meant that artist Val Heinz was able to find his style before starting the daily. The first few months his style was much less Milt Caniff influenced and decidedly wonky. Not strange when you consider where he came from - in the late forties he was an assistant to Frank King on his Gasoline Alley, a far less realistically drawn strip. The other assistant in the photo, by the way, is Bill Perry, who inherited the strip from King (and made it into one of the blandest strips in the paper, until it was saved for posterity by Dick Moores). What string were pulled to get Heinz his own strip, I don;t know - but he ran with Dawn O'Day until 1954 (ending it as a Sunday only again, this time with single gags instead of a continuity). After that he disappeared from the newspaper strip world. I would love to know more about him, so if anyone ever runs across any relatives, please let me know.