Saturday, February 08, 2014

Forging Ahead

Friday Comic Book Day.

Bob Forgione was a prolific artist. Most collectors know him from his work with inker Jack Abel on the DC war titles of the sixties. Some also know he did a similar run of war and western (but mostly war) stories with jack Abel for Timely comics in the late fifties (before it becane known as Marvel). Less people know he did a substantial run on Charlton's Thing series before Stev Ditko came and made it the collectable (and often collected) comic it is these days. Even less know that he studied with Jerry Robinson's evening classes on comics at the New York School of Art and worked as Robinson's assistant in the early to mid fifties and again in the early sixties when Robinson returned to comics to do the Bat Masterson series for Dell. While he was doing those, he also did some solo work. I don't know how those fit in with his work for Robinson, but most of what I have seen shows Robinson's influence, particularily in the long nosed faces both men loved to use. And this is where it all gets complicated. Forgione was influenced by Robinson. Robinson worked with Mort Meskin in the late forties. Steve Ditko did Robinson's evening classes as well and was influenced by Robinson, but even more by Meskin (whose work he got to know through Robinson, I guess). So to some, Forgiones work looks a bit like Ditko's. On top of that, I get the impression that Forgione reinforced some stylistic habits in Robinson's work which make his later solo stuff look very much like Forgione's work as well, making it very hard at times to see who did what.

Which is all an elaborate way to say that Forgione's work deserves a good look on it's own. Who was the man behind all these looks. When he was inked by Jack Abel, his work took on a certain look as well and that is the look everybody remembers him for. But it is not necessarily his best work. For me, that is the solo work he did for Timely and Charlton.

So to kickstart that, here are a couple of early pieces. Forgione started publishing in the early fifties. So he must have been working while he was doing the Robinson classes or he was an early student. The Robinson influence is there from the start, as you can see from this story from Hillman's Deadeye Western and an early Timely piece, both from 1953.

I have added another early Timely story from Men's Adventures #19 (also from 1953), which is attributed to Forgione on the excellent Atlas Tales website (Atlas being the other name the later Marvel is known by), but I don't think it is his. The composition, the often fine linework and the uses of lettering make it look like Bill Benulis, another extremely interesting artists, who often was inked by Jack Abel, by the way. As he probably was here. I am including this story here, because some friends wanted to see it and because the cover of Men's Adventures is by Jerry Robinson and I wanted an excuse to show that was well.

I have also added a Jerry rObinson story I had never seen before. Looking back through time, we often don't see or forget the difference an couple of years can make. Jerry Robinson was doing this sort of realism three or four years before others even dared to develeop their own style.

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