Sunday, May 30, 2010

Are We There Yet?

Monday Cartoon Day.

In the introduction if IDW's new collection of The Family Circus (part of their impressive Library of American comics) Chistopher Keane reveals that before The Family Circus his father drew a short-lived feature called Spot News. A small daily gag in a circle, to be run anywhere in the paper as a topical gag. Well, at least it was supposed to be sort of topical, but as it was drawn weeks beforehand, that proved to be a bit difficult. The result was less than satisfying to say the least. Keane was a pretty good cartoonist, but had yet to find his niche.

A Stern Rebuttal

Saturday Leftover Day.

I know I am a bit late, but maybe I will be able to do the regular Sunday post later today and get on track. Today's story is a special treat to all you Kurtzman fans. Harvey Kurtzman's career is pretty well covered, even though there are som unpublished gems out there (some of them on my hard drive, even). One of the more annoying omissions in my collectios, was a story from 1951 that looked like it could have been drawn by Kurtzman, but given the fact that it is unsigned and where it was published, it probably wasn't. Kurtzman had been doing a couple of horror tales for EC in 1950, so that's early enough to have been a direct influence o this story. Some art spotters have credited this story to Charlie Stern, who did had been a class mate of Kurtzman, but there is one problem: he just isn't good enough to produce a story of this quality. Given their involvement in this magazine, their awareness of Kurtzman and EC (as evidenced in their Mad imitation Get Lost!) and the way the wife looks (which is the only non-Kurtzman element in the story) when compared to their later funny work, I'd say this story was drawn as a homage to Kurtzman by Ross Andru and possibly Mike Esposito! There's supposed to be another story like this in the second issue of this title, which the CGD credits to Stern as well and if that's signed I am clearly wrong. Maybe someone can ask Mr. Esposito if he remembers anything.

Mr. Mystery #1:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Eye Kubert

Friday Comic Book Day.

I just love the early work of Joe Kubert. And when I say his early work, I men his work in the early fifties, before he became a reliable workhorse for DC. From what I have seen, I like his owkr in the fifties just as much, but most of it is only available in the later and ridiculously expensive issues of The Flash and other DC books, so those will have to wait. But in the period from when he left DC in the late forties (at least as a sole employer) and started working for different publishers, through his years with Norman Maurer at St. John (and the creation of the 3D craze, Mad imitation Whack as well as his pre-historical version of Tarzan, Tor) up until his return to DC in 1955/56, his work is gorgeous. Don't get me wrong, I still like his work and still buy everything he does these days. And he may even have become a better story-teller, even though he is now well into his eighties. But somewhere towards the end of the fifties, he started adopting a new, thinner inkline, which most people now associate with his work. What they don't know is, that before that he was one of the heaviest inkers around and his brush work was as good as that of all the greats.

So here, in honor of his ongoing brilliance (and I urge you to get his latest book on a shocking episode in the Vietnam war, called "Dong Xoai, Vietnam 1965" ) here are some of those early stories.

I am starting off with one of the horror stories he did for Avon. If you follow the tag, you will find a similar story he did for Harvey slightly earlier. Greg Theakstone was going to do a reprint book of all of Kubert's pre St. John's work, some of which has not even been noticed in the Grand Comic Book Database, but as far as I know that tome still has to materialize. Consider this an appetizer.

Witchcraft #1:

For The Hawk #8, Kubert did one western story. Even though it's from St. John where he was working at the time, it is a reprint from a story Kubert did for Ziff Davis run of that title in 1951.

The Hawk #9:

Kubert's earliest war work for DC when he returned in the mid fifties, still looked like the sort of stuff he had been doing for St. John (and the inking he had done for Al Gordon, for that matter). He always worked for color and I think that his work, more than any suffered in the Showcase series of reprints by DC from being in black and white.

All American Men of War #22:

Our Fighting Forces #13:

Our Fighting Forces #18:

All American Men of War #36:

But the series you really should be looking for is Foley of the Fighting Fifth. This charming western series appeared in All American Western from #103 to #124. The first ten or so stories were drawn by Kubert, sing one of his strength at the time; his abillity to draw convincing and compelling indians. Strange;y enough none of these stories are attributed to him in the Grand Comics Database, nor is his occasional inking of Alex Toth in the same book. The later stories of Foley were drawn by Dan Barry (about whose remarkable and influecial pre-Flash Gordon career I really should do a post one of these days), so if the western wasn't such a forgotten and ill-appreciated genre these days, it really would be a condidate for a color reprint.

All American Western #104:

All American Western #112:

For this story Kubert was inked by someone who really didn't get him...