Thursday, April 08, 2010

Keep it Sim

Thursday Story Strip Day.

One of my favorite reads these days is Dave Sim's Glamourpuss. Every month he analyses the history of the photo-realistic strip by discussing samples of Alex Raymond and Stan Drake's work he himself has redrawn and inked. Because he is convinced normal audiences are not interested in such a journey through the ancient history of newspaper strips (the photo-realistic style started in the forties and had it's haydays in te fifties and sixties, when papers still had story strips) he sells this to his audience as a photo-realisticly drawn book about the fashion model Glamourpuss. For that purpose he drawns as many silly fashion ads full of beautiful but far too thin women as he can. For me, that doens't work at all. I hope that one day he will combie the essay part of the book as one big volume and he will get the rewards that it deserves.

Another thing I wish I could change about Glamourpuss, is the fact that Sim doesn't use the internet himself so he can't visit this blog. He has some friend helping him out with e-mail and stuff like that, but he doesn't roam the internet for information or rare illustrations, such as we do. That's too bad, because I have been able to show some samples of photo-realistic art here, that would have easily made it into his book. Take for instance the illustrations Stan Drake did for American Weekly, which I showed here a year ago. They throw a radically different light on the official story of how Stan Drake got the assignment to do The Heart of Juliet Jones with which Sim has to make do now. He also quotes Stan Drake as saying he was one of the few artists allowed to sign his work at Johnstone and Cushing, while all the samples I have uncovered show that he didn't sign his work at all, or if he did certainly not regularely. And I am sure he would have liked to see all the samples I have shown of Lou Fine's work, an important commercial artist, who's part in the history of the photo-realistic style as one of the first to commercialize Alex Raymond's new style after the war has been completely ignored in Sim's narrative. Not to mention the early Raymond-influenced strips I will be showing by Frank Thorne or Irb Novick's work on Cynthia. So if anyone knows Sim, please shove him i front of a computer and get him over here.

One thing he must see, is the next run of Secret agent X by Mel Graff. Mel Graff was an interesting artist, who started out as being influenced by Noel sickles, but soon settled into his own style. His assistant at that time was Paul Norris, who later took exactle the same style over to Brick Bradfort. Their work is so similar that it is hard to see when one starts and the other finishes. Anyway, in the latest issue of Glamourpuss Dave Sim states that Bob Lubbers (another very interesting artist, who was very much influenced by his friend Stan Drake) drew Secret agent X-9 from 1952 to the early sixties. This is not true. In fact Mel Graff held on until the sixties, when Bob Lubbers took over in a very similar style, signing the strip Bob Lewis. I was going to show a short run of this strip from 1956, but the quality is so bad I will show you a run from 1951 instead. It is taken from a set of scans provided by Stan Jones. I will show the Dec 1956 sequence this weekend, so bring your glasses.

But first, a message from our sponsors... an ad from 1951 which I believe is by Bob LUbbers and clearly shows the influence Stan Drake had on his work.

And now for our main feature..


tom said...

Thanks for posting

Joakim Gunnarsson said...

Yes, you are right about Lubbers beginning on X-9 later than Sim says. Lubbers first strips appeared early in 1960.
The ad doesn't look like Lubbers to me. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen any comic ads by him at all.

Ger Apeldoorn said...


You certainly are more familiar with Lubbers' work than I am. I wish I had more of his Tarzan work to post, but all black and white samples I have come out too black because of his use of color. What made me think this ad was by him, is the girl in the last panel. She has the roundness I associate with Lubbers rather than Drake.