Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sleepless in Manhattan

Saturday Leftover Day.

Over the last couple of years I have been reseaching the work of comic book writer Hank Chapman. The reseach itself consisted mainly of reading as many of his stories as possible and franticly searching the internet for clues to the rest of his life. Recently, with the help of Ken Quattro (who runs The Comic Detective blog I have linked to in my set of links) I have found out much more about the man, with new leads by Michael DeWally coming in. So I thought today I should share with you some of Chapman's earliest signed stories. Chapman worked as a writer for Stan Lee's bullpen in the late forties, before he was let go (like the rest of the artists working there on a weekly salary) when publisher Goodman supposedly found 'a closet full' of unpublished material. This change marked a reversal in the fortunes or at least the artistic succes of the company, because when the story buying resumed artists and writers were no longer working together in the bullpen bur from home. This gave every artist the opportunity to develop his or her own style, because unlike the DC editors or Mike Peppe over at Standard or Lev Gleason at Gleason, Stan Lee did not impose a house style on them. The first wave of fandom (constisting mostly of EC fans) have propagated the notion that EC was the only company that allowed artists to develop their own style, because publisher Bill Gaines was more involved than others, but Stan was doing the same thing all through the fifties. He may have taken his que from EC, somehow I don't think so. I think as a man who was easily bored he really enjoyed the different styles of his artists.

Anyway, this also gave Chapman a chance to develop his own style. And when he returned to the company as an editor, he was also allowed to sign his work (as was fellow editor Don Rico). Although my interest in his worked was sparked by the remarkably harsh war stories he wrote from 1952 to 1954, he started out doing horor stories. Only his horror stories were no no normal horror stories with vampires and ghouls and haunted houses... his were more 'horrific' stories about normal people losing control (something of an issue in most of Chapman's early work) and things getting worse and worse. Like nightmares getting out of hand. In fact, Stan Lee once told the story that Chapam asked him to be relieved from the horror books, because hew rote from his dreams and this practice ad started to keep him up at night. A likely story if you read his work, but coincidentally also the plot of one of his later stories, so who knows?

Here are a few of those early stories. This is still early years for the new artists to find their styles, so the art is not the real reason to share them with you. Except maybe for the story by Gene Colan. Which is why I have added another Colan story for the same period, not written by Chapman. Colan, by the way, is the subject of another article I have written.

Marvel Tales #107:

Mystery Tales #1:

Adventures Into Terror #3:

Adventures Into Terror #9:

Marvel Tales #107:

Mystery Tales #1:


Unca Jeffy said...

A lot of good readin' for a beautiful Saturday morning. Thanks!

Alex Jay said...

I posted new information about Chapman and his "marriage" to Bonnie Hano.