Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Buck Stops Here Temporarely

Thursday Story Strip Day

Today's post is pretty poor. I have been showing newspaper and comic strips by Milt Caniff assistants and imitators such as Lee Elias, Ray Bailey, Bill Overgard and Alfred Andriola. But there were more. Many more. Some of these, such as Bill Draut made a fine career out of it. Later in life he developed an inking style of his own, but all through the fifties he inked his work in the Caniff style. I should actually say the Caniff/Sickles style, but actually Draut always was more indebted to Caniff than to Sickles. I don't think he worked as an assistant for Caniff, but he was influenced by him quite early on. Somewhere upstairs I have a drawing Draut did for his army paper when he was a soldier and even then the Caniff influence was pretty obvious. And he was quite a gifted artist, so it's not strange that he was picked tp draw the Sgt. Stony Craig strip, a Terry and the Pirates/Scorchy Smith type war strip, written by a guy called Frank Renfraw and drawn by Don Dixon. Jerry Bails' Who's Who tells us the strip was started in 1937 and was drawn by Dixon until 1940. After that it was taken over by a Gerald Boucher from 1940 to 1944. Bill Draut is credited for 1944 and 1945 and Lin Streeter fro 1945 and 1946. This tells us, that the strip probably didn't start out as a war strip, since there was no war yet in 1937. At least not for the US. It may have been a strip about the army, though. There were strips about the navy and the air force as well, so why not the army. Maybe one of my more knowledgable visitors can educate us. The dates Bails gives us, are not to be taken too literally. I hope that Alan Holtz' Stripper's Guide wil come out soon, so we will have reliable starting and ending dates for most of these strips, but until then we will have to do with these guestimates. In this case, I am sure about the fact they are guestimates, because my samples show Bill Draut signing at least until jan 31 1945. In fact, Swedish blogger Joakim Gunnarson has already devoted some attention to this strip in 2008 and he has samples signed by Bill Draut from March 1945 till June 1946. Unfortunately Joakim didn't show a longer run of his samples, but if he wants to share them I will gladly offer him the space. Until that time you will have to make do with my poor NewspaperArchive copies.

Another reason I find these strips interesting, is because of their relative smal size. It seems to me, that certain artists decied themselves their strips were less noteworthy by chosing to do them at a smaller and less detailed level. That would probably have made them cheaper to make, but it would also have limited their potentil market to the lesser paying papers. A vicious circle, that would inevitably always lead to a lesser quality, a loss of clients and eventually the cancellation of the strip guaranteeing that they would never appear in any of the important books on the histery of the newspaper strip. I will later show strips by George Roussos and Norman Maurer and Paul Reinman that took the same route, ensuring that all four artists (Draut, Roussos, Maurer and Reinman) were not able to leave the comic book ghetto.

These strips run from Dec 1945 to Jan 31 1946, with only a few strips missing.

It was only after I uploaded all these strips, that I remembered that I was supposed to give you the second part of George Tuska's Buck Rogers strip I started last week. It will have to wait another week, I'm afraid.

Joakim asks how soon after June 1946 Lin Streeter took over the strip. I don't know, but although the art doesn't seem to have changed much, the Draut signature seems to have been dropped by July 1st.

1 comment:

Smurfswacker said...

Even granting him points for just starting out, this strip isn't Bill Draut's finest hour. The massed shadows seem less like artistic statements than shortcuts to save work. Practically no backgrounds, repetitive layouts...if this was the best he could do in 1948, Draut sure grew a helluva lot in the few years between Stony Craig and Prize Comics.

I wonder if the fact that Stony Craig was one ugly mugg contributed to the strip's failure.