Saturday, June 23, 2012

Is That You, Charlie?

Friday Comic Book Day.

Today's post is a bit late, since it took some time to asemble and upload. The early Harvey books are always interesting because of their policy to add short stories and fillers to everthing. Even the comics that reprinted newspaper material, like Joe Palooka or Kerry Drake. The early issues of Harvey Terry and the Pirates riprint series had fillers by Bob Powell. From #13 they started with three page stories about Hotshot Charlie. Although he was introduced by Milt Caniff, he later became almost a regular on the Terry strip as it was continued by George Wunder. By adding the Hotshot Charlie fillers to the reprint book, Harvey created a link between the past and the present. But these stories were not drawn in the new style George Wunder had set, but in the old style by Lee Elias. It is often said he worked as an assistant for Caniff of Terry, but I am not sure if the work on these books doesn't account for that. Jerry Bails of the Who's Who does not mention him assisting Caniff on his strip (although an unidentified period as background assistant on Steve Canyon is mentioned. At this point, Elias was already drawing Black Cat for Harvey, in a style which was heavily influenced by Caniff. Caniff himself had stopped doing Terry in 1946, preparing for Steve Canyon all through the last year. Whatever the sequence of events here was, Elias proved himself to be a very capable Caniff imitator. After only two Hotshot Charlie stories, he was also asked to do the covers for the remainder of the series. Or at least, Caniff stopped signing them and after that some of the covers are so obviously by Elias, that I am inclined to think he did all of them. These details can be important for collectors - I saw the cover to T&tP #15 for sale for 500 euro as a Caniff cover. And I got the Hotshot Charlie original pages for the story in #25 for $50 each. What a difference a name makes. They were attributed to Elias, with which I agree. Elias did not sign the stories, although he did sign the Bike ad in #15. He had a safety page in #13, which I am adding as well.

No Hotshot Charlie in this issue.

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