Saturday, June 26, 2010

To Infantino And Beyond

Saturday Leftover Day.

Last week, when I had trouble uploading stuff here, I wanted to show you two pretty remarkable Mort Meskin stories from the early fifties. All thorugh his life, Meskin had occasional problems with producing comcis. When he didn't, he could turn them out at an amazing pace. When he worked with Jack Kirby at Prize and Mainline, it seems he may even have produced more pages than the famously prolific Kirby did (who, it has to be said, also handled some editing and story conference work). But every once in a while, he stalled. I hope the new Mort Meskin book by Steven Brower (out soon) will shed some light on that matter, bit the gist of it seems to be that at tmes Meskin had trouble facing the blank page. The Simon and Kirby studio myth about that is, that someone had to doodle something on the blank page and that would be all he needed to get going. The reality of it may go deeper. At least, in the early sixties, when facing these problems again, Meskin seems to ave turned to his collegues at DC, Joe KUbert and Carmine Infantino, to help him get over it. But here, it is more than just a doodle on the first page. On the first sample of these stories I have seen (and show here), Meskin actually inked a Kubert story. In the two samples I amshowing here, Meskin is again only inking Kubert and Infantino. If you look at the faces in the Infantino story, it may just have been page lay-outs, with Meskin providing the rest. The gap between these two stories is quite big and I will have a look at some other time to see what Meskin did in between them. Did he really stall (and maybe use his friend George Roussos as a collaborator) or are these just one-offs. Either way, they are pretty special and I am glad am able to show them here.

House of Mystery #96 (1960):

House of Mystery #110 (1961):


Steven Brower said...

Hi Ger,

Wonderful finds, thanks for posting this.

I do think there is a problem with the often told blank page story. That happened in 1949, at S&K Studios. While Mort still struggled through the mid-fifties things were beginning to settle down for him by the time these stories were produced. So I believe too much is read into him working with Kubert and Infantino. Kubert was after all an editor at DC (not sure if Carmine was yet). If it was any other artist I doubt anyone would question why he was inking someone else or collaborating. Between 1960 and 1961 Mort did at least 3 stories for House of Mystery, 3 for House of Secrets, 2 stories for My Greatest Adventure, not a voluminous output, but certainly one that shows he wasn't stalled in anyway.

Steven Brower said...

Hello again.

Upon further examination I actually don't see much Meskin in the first story, "70-Ton Man." There are facial features that look like Mort on page 6 panels 1 & 2, and the last page panels 3 & 5 but that's about it and the figures and layout look way off. However, I see Roussos' hand everywhere, and indeed he picked up some of Meskin's mannerisms along the way. Therefore I checked GCD and it indeed lists Kubert and Roussos with no Meskin. I'm not familiar enough with Kubert to make that call, but I certainly see Roussos. The second story has Meskin but something is off, and again I'm not familiar enough with Infantino to make that call.

Ger Apeldoorn said...


I guess the attribution on the first one could be right, certainly if it is one of those taken from Julie Schwartz' logs. Still, the reason I even thought of this, is that there was a mention somewhere of Kubert and Infantino 'helping out' Meskin. Now that could be apocryphical, thought up by a fan trying to 'explain' there three stories. I guess someone should ask Kubert of Infantino at a convention sometime. Kubert, a big Meskin fan, would certainly remember.

Both were not editors at DC at that time, but neither did work for Schwartz either. Or at least, not a lot. Which add to the mystery. Have you taken a look at that third story I showed earlier?

Ger Apeldoorn said...

The second story is given to Infantino and Meskin, inked by Roussos. Which would explain the 'off' character and give credence to the 'helping out' story.

The editor was Schiff, of course and not Schwartz. Which mena the GCD credits do not have that official status.

Here is the full DC list for that period. As you can see, there is one early collaboration with Kubert and two with Infantino plus one by Kubert a bit later.

I found some others as well and will move this to today's post.

Smurfswacker said...

It may be a mistake to think of these combinations as one artist "helping" another. DC editors often assigned penciller-inker teams. Admittedly Schwartz did this more often than Schiff (e.g. all those Joe Giella and Sid Greene combos). Who's to say the Kubert-Roussos job didn't happen because Kubert only signed on for the pencils and the editor grabbed an available inker?

I'm not sure of Meskin's role in the second story. Co-inker? The pencils certainly shout Infantino to me.