Thursday, December 02, 2010

A Cosey Tale

Thursday Story Strip Day.

After having show a lot of Ray Bailey's work on this blog, I dicided to finally show you his first great solo project, Bruce Gentry. I have many assorted strips and short runs from the whole run, which was roughly from 1946 to 1952. But I did not have many complete stories and that is what I like best for this day - somthing to read. So I picked a good run from the middle of the series in 1950 and started looking for additional strips, going backwards one week at the time. And back... and back... because it seems that the lush brush style wasn't they only thing Bailey picked up from his period as an assistant on Milt Caniff's Terry and the Pirates. It's the meanering storytelling style as well where one story flows into another in such a way that it seems impossible to pinpoint where an old one ends and a new one begins. Finally,after going back two months, I decided to stop at an appropriate point and just leave it there. This means I have about five months worth of dailies to share now, which I will do in two parts. The the loss of my day is your gain... although it will take you more than a few minutes to read.


Smurfswacker said...

Thanks for this post! It's great at last to see an extended run (in English) of this strip. It reads pretty well, in my opinion.

I don't agree with you that the story meanders...the unfolding plot seems to stay on track without excessive digression. That's something one can't say about a truly meandering strip like Scorchy Smith. At the same time the story is pretty simple. It's not elaborately plotted like Caniff's scripts.

Bailey hasn't quite nailed down his mature style. An aggravating point is that Gentry's looks seem to change constantly, as if Bailey hasn't quite figured him out. Unfortunately Gentry has a generic look that isn't a good idea for a hero.

You've wondered why Bailey never changed from his Caniff style. I don't know the answer to that, but there are signs that he drew inspiration from other sources. A couple of times (the crook Lefty being an example) Bailey seems to have toyed with Alex Raymond (he did this in Tom Corbett, too).

Then there's the "realistic illustrator" side of him that pops up in those random rendered-up faces. They're jarring in a stylized Caniff-ish strip. Especially because the realistic character looks entirely different than he did just the panel before (e.g. the rendered-up shot of the tycoon). Was Bailey just experimenting, or did he long to burst out of his Caniff shell into a more personal realistic drawing style?

I suspect the former was the case. Bailey had ample opportunity to change styles when he moved over to comic books, but he never did.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Yeah, I also think he just hit on something he thought worked (the overworked close-ups) and added it to his repertoir. Same with the sunbursts he often used and kept on using. I think he appraoched the whole thing quite utalitarianistic, using what he could - like the Caniff style. Or... and this fascinates me, there is more of Bailey in Caniff's background style than we have assumed.

I too saw the Raymond influences and nearly commented on them. Good thing you picked them out as well.