Sunday, February 07, 2021

A Striking Acchievement

Sunday Surprise Day. Here is a rare and mostly unknown booklet of one of the major black comc book artists of the fifties. Matt Baker is one of the artists profied in Ken Quattros excellent book on the mostly unknown or unheralded black comic book artists from the last century, Invisible Men. I have known Ken for quite some time. He used to go ounder the name of The cOmics Deetective and he had that rare quality to unearth information noone else has even found (such as court transcripts of Will Eisner lying about imitating Superman for Fox and a tape with Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines secretly questioning Joe Kubert about stealing 'their' 3D process) with the ability to turn them in a very readable article. For this book, he has researched for over 30 years to find names, backgrounds and career information about black artists working in comics in the forties, fifties and even beyond. Combined with Craig Yoes trademark lay-out, it was turned into a remarkable book, that has has lead to articles in big name papers and is a must have for any library and university doing anything with comics, as well as every serious comic collector. My only problem is, that I know Ken has researched even more artists which have not been included. But hey, now there is room for a second book or supplemental articles. I contributed some of the A. C. Hollingsworth cartoons and illustration that were in my collection becasue of my own book, Behaving Madly. Holingsworth is mentioned and shown there quite extensively because he contributed to three of the Mad magazine imitations treated there. I will make a seperate post next week, to show all the stuff I had to leave out. Sadly, this part of his career was given short shrift in Invisible Men, because a. he is one of many subjects treated, b. it is often not his best work and c. the focus in this book is on comic book stories (which probably are more in the public eye). Still, don't miss it. And if you order it using the link on the right, I will get my two cents (literally) per copy as well. The Matt Baker booklet I am showing here is from the General Motors Information Rack series. In the fifties (and possibly beyond) GE provided their employess with small, free booklets on any manner of subjects - from how to play bridge to how to isolate your garage. These booklets were produced by a variety of company, including Will Eisner's American Visuals and the Johnstone and Cushing company. As it says on page two, it was adepted from The Complete Guide to Better Bowling by the Maco Magazine Corporation (distributed through Random House) in 1956. The book itself is available on Ebay (both very cheaply and incredebly expensive), but it seems to be without the Matt baker illustrations. Instead, the cover is a photo, wich was redrawn for the BE booklet by Baker quite cloesely. There are very few actual Matt Maker illustrations in this version, but they are remarkable as to how 'white' some of the black artist needed to be to fit in. I mean, what could be a more white, middle-aged persuit than throwing a ball towards to pins?


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