Tuesday, August 04, 2015

War Is Hell (But Necessary) 17

Chapter 17

In one of the comments my friend Michael T. Gilbert argues that Hank Chapman may have been influenced by Harvey Kurtzman in his use of the silent tier of four panels. In fact, Michael puts it stronger than that, he says Chapman learned from the master. I don't know about that, since my whole series of posts here is meant to argue that Chapman had a talent all of his own, but I certainly took the four panel tier idea from Kurtzman (as did Stan Lee around the same time). And not only that, he also copied Kurtzman's use of sound effects in stories such as this one (and the one tomorrow). But he also combined both with his own strong use of the narrator to create a documentary style, as can be seen in the sports panels on page five here. My argument is that Chapman was not necessaryly a better war comics writer than Kurtzman, but that he was a more emotionally involved one. The stories I ma showing here are coming from a deep internal need that I do not get from Kurtzman's more reasonable approach. Chapman's willingness to alienate the reader is a sign of that to me.


Doccomix said...

As most Timely/Atlas fans know, publisher Martin Goodman often instructed his staff to imitate whatever was popular at the moment. I strongly suspect this to be the case here too, with Chapman and other Atlas war writers taking a long look at Kurtzman's war comics for EC Publishing.

However this in no way invalidates my sincere admiration for Hank Chapman. He remains my favorite writer working for the Atlas war titles. And if anyone was even more downbeat about war thank Kurtzman, Chapman was the guy!

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Saturday I will show that Chapman was not the only one writing downbeat stories at that time at Timely. There are a couple of unsigned storie that rival his own (so much so that I wonder if they may not be his after all). Stan Lee himself did a couple of donwer stories as well, but in a lighter tone than Chapman (although just as uch inspired by Kurtzman). I would be cautious to suggest that Martin Goodman looked at EC as a sample to emulte. First of all, outside of the horror books, their sales weren't as good as we now might suspect. Secondly, arpart from Chapman, there were very few writers following Harvey Kurtzmna's style in the way Chapman did. Jerry Robinson did a couple of issues of Battlefield with Don Rico, that were magnificent all in their own way (with the four stories in each book following on from each other). I do believe Chapman was influenced by Kurtzman, but only where he saw that Kurtzman's storytelling tricks suited his own needs and I hope I have shown he invented a couple himself as well. It's like, we don't say Jack Kirby 'learned from the master' when he appropiated some designs from Harold Foster's Prince Valiant for his monsters...