Saturday, September 23, 2017

Stronger Than Usual

Saturday Leftover Day.

For the last two weeks I have been taking the Friday and Saturday to show you a couple of fun horror stories in two issues of Stan Lee's Adventures Into Weird Worlds from 1952 and 1953. The amount of quality in the art and the amount of fun in the stories by themselves should be enough to kill the myth that outside of EC all of the comics of the fifties was a wasteland of mediocracy. And I am not even yet showing work by Russ Heath, Gene Colan, Joe Maneely or any of the other greats working for Timely/Atlas at the same time.

Of all the stories in Adventures Into Weird Worlds #21, that of John Forte is the weakest. Forte was not a very inspiring (or inspired) artist. He is like the Jack Kamen of Timely/Atlas, a stilted draftsman, who could be used well in the right story but never could elevate a poor story into something it was not. I am showing this sample here, because he too seems to have been asked by Stan Lee to put a little bit more crosshatching into his work. Or maybe this is the one example of the aforementioned Matthew Fox actually doing the inking for Forte. in fact, the Timely/Atlas website Atlas Tales thinks so too. As for the art, Forte delivers his usual stilted figures, but there are a couple of touches that make this story out of the ordinary. First there is the funny features of the communist hero's face. It seems to have been designed for the casual reader to 'guess' the end of the story to be that he himself is actually an alien - which he turns out not to be. Also, stimulated by the writer (which, I am sorry to say could be yet another unsigned Stan Lee script - this time close to a run of signed job numbers by the man himself) he does some terrific silent story telling on the last tier of the third page and the first tier of the fourth page. He even uses what I call a 'flaoting head panel., which is a storytelling device used to compress time (like a montage sequence in the movies) which is usually only used by the most experienced comic book artists. All in all not a bad worst story of the book and as far as I am concerned yet another example that Comics Can Be Fun.

1 comment:

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Correction! The Comic Journal blog linked to this story using a single image from this story, which opened my eyes as to the writer of this little gem. In the panel they showed (and in the splash page) one of the characters shows his discomfort by saying OW-W. In another post I have mentioned that Martin O'Hearne has pioneered the use of recurring phrases and exclamations to identify writers. One he did very well was the writer Hank Chapman, who wrote some magnificent war stories for Stan Lee in the early fifties. One of his trademarks is the use of OW-W, a very singular exclamation indeed. O'Hearne mentions it here (with an example): Coincidentally, in many of his war stories Chapman used the same 'four panels in a row with caoptions over them' style Harvey Kurtzman used and Stan Lee was fond of as well.