Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Part Of The Chicken No One Uses

Tuesday Comic Strip Day.

On June 7 1958 Joe Maneely died. Still in his thirties, he was one of the greatest artists of the fifties. He mostly worked for Stan Lee's Atlas comic (actually it was Martin Goodman's Atlas comics, where Stan Lee only worked as the editor in chief, but it's the best way to work in his name). Only at the end of his career, when Atlas had to close shop for a couple of months in 1957 and rebuilt the company in a smaller fashion, he looked for (and easily found) other work at Charlton and DC. He worked in all genres fashionable in the fifties - westerns, horror, romance, war, kids humor... he even did Mad style parodies for Stan Lee's Mad imitations Crazy, Riot, Wild and Snafu and had started work for the new kid on the block, Cracked when he fell between two commuter trains on that fateful Saturday evening at the end of the decade. He was Stan Lee's favorite artist before Jack Kirby came along and Stan said about him 'he could have been another Kirby, if he hadn't died'. I don't believe that. For one, I don't think Kirby would have looked up Stan Lee if it wasn't for Joe Maneely leaving a hole in Stan's line-up. But more importantly, I don't think Joe Maneely was a superhero artist. He could do any genre, yes. But superheroes were never his thing and if he was around when Martin Goodman asked for something to compete with DC's success in that genre, I doubt that Joe Maneely would have been the one to come up with anything new and spectacular (such as Kirby and Ditko did). Also, towards the end of his career he was starting to have more and more success with a quick and easy cartoon style and I believe that like any artist of his generation he would have gone with that if he had the chance. Easier to draw means more product and more product means more money for your family. He would have gone on from Cracked or he would have continued in the style of the newspaper strip he had started with Stan Lee a couple of months earlier, Mrs. Lyon's Cubs. Okay, it was not a success yet and but it might have become one. And if not, he would have tried again, just like Stan did with Dan DeCarlo. Mrs. Lyon's Cubs may not have been the best thing Joe Maneely ever did (for me that would be his work for Snafu, which I hope to share with you soon) but it sure was the pinnacle of his career.

Sadly color copies of Joe Maneely's Sunday (easily the best part of that strip) are rarer then a collection of hen's teeth. All I have is a couple of black and white ones, some of which I can't even share (because they come from a copyright guarded collection). But here is one. I think it is worth the build-up.

No comments: