Heaven Must Be Missing A Flessel
Tuesday Comic Strip Day.
One of the joys of doing this blog, is discovering the old masters of comic art. Creig Flessel has had a long and respectful career with many highlights. Those inclide his being an editor and cover artist at DC when Superman was first brought in (and before that), doing his own comic book line in the late forties, working for the comic strip advertising company Johnstone and Cushing in the forties and fifties (during which period he did the long running Eveready comic strip ad series, as well as contributing many strips for the comic section in Boy's Life they produced) and doing covers for The Pictorial Review. All of which are shown here on my blog in earlier entries. In 1960 he took over the daily and Sunday David Crane strip from Win Mortimer. David Crane was a soap strip for the churchgoing crowd. The main character was a young handsome clergyman and the stories (written uncredited by Marl Trail creator Ed Dodd)were all about his good work for his flock. Under Mortimer the Sunday were usually some sort of sermon, complete with illustrated bible quote. Towards the end of Mortimer's run, the character of an elderly vicor took over the Sundays and they were turned into gag strips, not involved with the storyline. Flessel took to that is such a way, that I always thought he wrote them himself. The majority of the gags have a visuel element, which if they were written for him show a very comics oriented writer.Anyway, these gags are also so different from the still soapy storylines of the dailies, that it sometimes seems they were two different strips. For the Sundays, Flessel also took on a looser inkline, a sort of realistic version of Hank Ketcham's cartoon line. Very impressive. Look at the way he indicated folds in cloths and lines in faces. He uses a lively open line, that on the one hand makes the whole thing more cartoony and on the other hand makes it more realisticly alive.
I have shown this strip here before and have added the four or five Sundays I did earlier as well as a couple of black and white samples. From the three tier ones, you can see how the strip was adapted from a three tier strip to a tabloid by losing the middel panel.
For Christmas 1961 Flessel (and Dodd?) returned to the earlier sermon mode. For Boy's Life Flessel had done Biblical stories, so he must have been really at home. Then again, in later interviews he remarked how easily he had gone from pious to smutty when he started a strip for Playboy after David Crane.