Monday, November 17, 2008

Work For Hire

Monday Cartoon Day

Did Mort Walker ever work for Marvel?

Well, as soon as the question is asked you're bound to think it is a trick question and the answer is yes. And you'd be right. The following illustration is from the December 1952 issue of Martin Goodman's pocket magazine Brief. Goodman, the owner of the Timely/Atlas empire (which later changed it's name to Marvel for it's comic book line) published just about everything that might make a profit. How did he know that? If someone else had success, he copied it. Brief was a short lived (one might even say brief) attempt at stealing the success of Hillman's Pageant, a pocket sized magazine with articles, short stories and pictures of pretty ladies. Only just on the safe side of saucy, Pageant had a long life from the mid-forties until the mid-sixties at least. It also featured a lot of interesting cartoon features, including some of the earliest samples of comic strip journalism, as well as Mad type articles by all sorts of well known cartoonists such as the Berensteins and some lesser known ones like Harvey Kurtzman, Bill Elder and Paul Coker. Since Martin Goodman's magazine division was totally separate from the magazines, it is no surprise there are no current or later Marvel artists involved in this issue. But there is a satirical story illustrated by no one less than Mort Walker. Although Walker sold cartoons well into 1953, when he was already doing Beetle Bailey, this may very well be one of the very last assignments he took before starting the university version of Beetle Bailey in late 1952. So, allowing for a name change and ignoring the assumption that Marvel only did super hero comics, Mort Walker did indeed work for them in the early fifties.

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