Friday, February 06, 2015

Movie Magic

Thursday Story Strip Day.

My love of artists influenced by Milt Caniff and Noel Sickles is well documented on these blogs. The Adventures of Patsy was one of the earliest samples of this trend. Mel Graff is a special case, because he managed to look like the Caniff/Sickles team (even more like Sickles than Caniff) without actually collaborating with either. They did all three come from the same Associated Press bullpit, where jibs and features were switched regularely. Sickles left to do Scorchy Smith and Caniff to do first Dicky Dare and later Terry and the Pirates. Graff stayed a bit longer until he landed this adventure strip about a little girl movie star in 1935. By 1937 he had developed a full blown chiascure art style that is as impressive as that of his former collegues (and sometimes even more). When he left in 1940 to take over Secret Agent X-9, Charles Raab took his place. Raab had worked as an assistant to Caniff on Terry and with Alfred Andiola on Charlie Chan (which was rumored to have been helped along by Sickles and Caniff themselves). In the meantime, Frank Robbins had taken over Scorchy Smith from Noel Sickles and Sickles himself ended up assisting Raab on Patsy. The word inbred comes to mind. Mel Graff slowly drifted away from the chiascuro style to incorporate more and more greyish ben day effects. But here he is all on his own, doing some pretty solid work with a clever series. Next week I'll show the second half of this story, which was donated to me by a friendly collector whose name I did not note on the file. Please identify yourself to get your well deserved thanks.


Smurfswacker said...

Beautiful stuff, as always. Though he drifted away from chiaroscuro, Graff did strong work well into the 1950s. His inventive use of Craftint ranked up there with Roy Crane. Your post from Thursday, April 08, 2010 shows some nice examples. I only wish his faces hadn't turned so grotesque in latter days.

Arnaud said...

The dailies from 1937 and 1938 have been reprinted by Pacific Comics.
Mel Graff illustrated the Captain Easy colour sunday in the sixties but his drawings didn't match the slick style of Leslie Turner. Graff was at his best in black and white.