Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Revolutionary Concept

Thursday Story Strip Day.

I have been doing this blog for almost two years now, so I shouldn't come as a surprise that I sometimes feature strips or cartoonists I have already shown before. Sometimes when I am collecting or scanning a certain strip, I come across of one of my favorites and I figure: what the h*ll? Some more won't hurt. These return posts allow me to collect and scan longer runs of som eof the other new things I like to share.

So it is with pride and joy that I am presenting you today with a full story of Frank Giacoia's Johnny Reb. Frank Giacoia was on of the most accomplished of the Dan Barry influenced artists that dominated the fifties. At DC, Dan Barry's slick style became something of a house style, represented by the work of Giacoia, Infantino, Kane and others, often inked by Barry's brother Sy, himself a pretty good artist who went on todo the Phantom newspaper strip. Giacoia was one of the best of them, but unfortunately he was also quite slow, or lazy or whatever. Anyway, he didn't do nearly as much work as Infantino or Kane, who became the best known DC artists of that period and worked o the most famous projects. Despite his problems with deadline, he took on a newspaper strip not once, but twice. His first, a comic strip version of Shorlock Holmes looked gorgeous but was often marred by bad story-telling by the novice writer involved. As the strip wound down, the writing got worse until in the end the daily strips were no more than a retelling(often with the same artwork) of the Sundays. The whole strip, o which Giacoia frequently used the help of penciller Mike Sekowsky, has been reprinted in comic book format so you probably won't be seeing it here.

After that, Giacoia created a new strip based on a popular book of the time, called Johnny Reb and Billy Yank. This story, set in the Civil War, was Sunday-only, so it must have been easier for Giacoia to meet his deadlines. Mike Sekowsky was pencilling for Dan Barry at that time, so Giacoia had to look around for other artists to help him out. From late 1957 to early 195 a whole sequence was pencilled by Jack Kirby. Those of you who have a subscription to the online Kirby Museum, can find the whole of that run there.

Unfortunately the decision was made to present this strip in the form of Prince Valiant, probably in an effort to give it a bit of clas. This didn't work for another strip of that period, Warren Tuft's Lance and it didn't work for Johnny Reb. After slightly more than a year, the format was switched to one with balloons. I am presenting here the first storyline that was told in that format.

I am glad to be able to show so many color samples, because the coloring of this strip is great. And the story isn't too shabby either. In fact, this week I spoke to someone who would love to publish this strip, just because of those two factors, as well as the gorgeous art. If a book such as that would ever be made, it would have to be sollicited on subscription, so I am taking it on myself to ask you if any of you would be interested in such a book. I have created a little poll and would love for everyone of you to honestly answer it. You are not going to be haunted by e-mails and requests for money, so give me your honest opinion. For the purposes of this poll I am imagining a 140/160 page book with all Sundays in color, plus some additional material and commentary.

May 18 to July 27 1958:










3 comments:

Randolph Hoppe said...

The strips that Tom Morehouse scanned for his "Kirby's Civil War" exhibit are viewable by all (even 1200 pixels wide) at http://kirbymuseum.org/gallery/v/Civil_War/Johnny_Reb/.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

and believe me, these alone are worth the admission price to the Museum.

Randolph Hoppe said...

Apologies, the URL has changed,

It's now http://kirbymuseum.org/gallery/v/Kirbys+Civil+War/Johnny_Reb/.