Category Archives: Starr, Leonard

Speaking of Art, Secondary Artists

Joe Simon had accumulated a rather large collection of art. Not surprisingly many were works that he created over his long career starting when he was a staff artist for a newspaper. Also as might be expected there are a fair number of works drawn by Joe’s long time collaborator, Jack Kirby. However that does not mean, as I suspect some people believe, that Kirby material dominates the collection. Rather much of Joe’s art collection consists of work by a variety of lesser known artists. I thought I would discuss just a few of them selected for various reasons.


Police Trap #3 (January 1955) “Tough Beat”, pencils and inks by Bill Draut

Long time readers of this blog are by now quite aware that Simon and Kirby were not just a great artistic team but also produced comic books that included work by a large assortment of artists. I have spent much time trying to identify the various artists who worked for Joe and Jack with some, but by no means complete, success. However any reader can correctly attribute the artist for a large majority of Simon and Kirby productions if they can learn to spot three particular artists. I have been fond of calling the three artists the usual suspects. Foremost among the usual suspects was Bill Draut who had a long history of working for Joe and Jack. While Draut contributed a lot of art to S&K productions, Simon’s collection only has work by Bill from three periods; from right after the war at the time S&K were producing Stuntman and Boy Explorers for Harvey Comics, from S&K own publishing company Mainline Comics, and from the 60’s when Harvey briefly tried to cash in the renewed interest in superheroes. The reason for the rather limited periods found in Joe’s collection is that Joe’s collected primarily from work on hand when a projects terminated or art he recovered years later from Harvey, Archie and DC.

Joe’s collection has a fair amount of work created by Bill Draut and the example I provide is from Police Trap a Mainline comic book. Although Draut did a lot of romance work (as did all the Simon and Kirby artists) he could be quite adept at depicting action as can be seen in the lower splash panel. What a great assortment of characters. Note the way Draut depicts the bricks in the background building; inked as simple rectangular black shapes obviously executed without the use of a straight edge and forming small isolated groups. This manner of drawing bricks was quite typical of Draut.

It is hard to tell from the low resolution image that I have provided, but the discoloration at the top of the page is not due to some odd staining but rather the yellowing of tracing paper that has been attached to the illustration board. Bill did this as a time saving device. The final panel of the last page of the story is the same street scene differently inked to suggest another time of day. Rather than redraw the same scene, Draut put tracing paper over the final panel and inked directly on the tracing paper. When finished he just attached the results to the top of the first page.


Chamber of Chills #24 (July 1954) “Credit and Loss”, pencils and inks by Mort Meskin

Simon’s collection does not include many examples of original art by the second of the usual suspects, Mort Meskin. This is not because Joe did not like Mort’s art. Quite the contrary as shown by the fact that Joe had gathered together flats* for many of Meskin’s splash pages. This was something that Simon had done for Mort and no other artist. But the absence of Meskin original art was due to the fact that Mort did not work for Simon and Kirby during the Stuntman period and did little work during the Mainline period except for some covers (where apparently Meskin kept the original art). The one good example of Meskin original art that Joe had was not created for Simon and Kirby but for Harvey Comics. I suspect that Joe had retrieved it from the Harvey inventory some years later. It was fortunate that Simon had done so because it is, in my opinion, the finest comic book work that Meskin had ever done since the war. Great control of the story telling through devices like use of the viewpoint, marvelous drawing and superb inking.

OrigArtPrentice3
Bullseye #1 (August 1954) “Bullseye, the Man”, pencils and inks by John Prentice

John Prentice is the final of the three usual suspects. Prentice started working for Simon and Kirby even later then Mort Meskin. Joe’s collection had some examples of Prentice’s art but perhaps the most interesting is the art he did for Bullseye. There was a time that many claimed that Kirby provided layouts for the artists that worked for Simon and Kirby. One of the primary methods that I have used to investigate that claim was the way different artists used panel shapes. From that I feel quite confident that as a rule Kirby did not provide layouts for the other artists. But there are exceptions to that rule and Bullseye maybe one of them. I am not saying that Kirby provided complete layouts for Prentice’s Bullseye work but did appear to do so for at least some parts.

Unfortunately when Simon and Kirby wanted to retell the origin story for Bullseye #3 rather than redraw it Joe simply cut desired panels out of the earlier original art and pasted them together. Because of this it is not unusual to see original art from the first issue of Bullseye missing a panel or two.


Bullseye #3 (December 1954) “The Adventures of Sheriff Shorty”, pencils and inks by Leonard Starr

Joe’s collection not only included art by the three usual suspects but other artists as well. Leonard Starr is much better known for his work on the syndication strip Mary Perkins On Stage but he also had a long career as a comic book artists included occasional work for Simon and Kirby. The example I select comes from Bullseye #3. As it was published the story appears to be unsigned but careful examination of the original art shows otherwise. The vertically oriented signature appears the bottom left edge of the splash panel. Or rather half the signature is there as the panel border now cuts through it. But enough remains to show that it is in facts Starr’s autograph.


Foxhole #3 (February 1955) “The Face”, pencils and inks by Joaquin Albistur

Some artists that worked for Simon and Kirby are pretty much unknown entities for today’s fans. Jo Albistur only worked for Joe and Jack for a little over a year but produced a fair amount of art during that time. But Albistur did very little comic book art for any other publisher and only a small number of his original art have ever appeared on the market. The gimmick used for Foxhole was that the stories were created by actual war veterans. Because Albistur was from Argentina and had not served in the U. S. military, he was not suitable to receive any credit in Foxhole. But when credit was provided in Foxhole it was not always just for the graphic artists for instance writer Jack Oleck also occasionally received Foxhole credits. For “The Face” credit is given to Jack Kirby. Now Kirby certainly was a war veteran but he neither drew nor laid out this story. Further (and I may get in trouble among certain fans) I am convinced he did not write this story either. However it is known that Jack provided plots to some of the script writers that Simon and Kirby employed and perhaps it was in that capacity that this story is credited to him.


Chamber of Chills #24 (July 1954) “Grim Years”, pencils? and inks? by Manny Stallman

The Simon collection includes work by Manny Stallman. I attribute the work to Stallman with some trepidation. Stallman provided signed work for Simon and Kirby productions but when that art is carefully examined it becomes obvious that four different artists did the penciling (It’s A Crime Chapter 7, Chapter 8 and Chapter 9). Apparently Stallman was using ghost artists to pencil the work that he would then ink and often sign as his own. The work by Stallman from Joe’s collection was not created for Simon and Kirby but rather for Harvey Comics. Unfortunately it was unsigned and the pencils done in yet another style so the attribution is very provisional. But whoever penciled and inked the work the final results are rather nice.

Artists like the ones discussed in this post do not get much recognition these days. That is a shame because they really were talented artists. Now I do not want sound disdainful of contemporary artists because there is a lot of great comic book work being produced today. But let us face it, not all of them are superstars. But I am sadden that original art by secondary contemporary artists sell for much, much more than that by earlier artists. That despite the fact that relatively little of the work of the older artists has survived. It is obvious that most of today’s fans really have little interest in older original comic book art. If the reader is a collector of original art that does not share this low opinion of older work, keep an eye on the upcoming Heritage auctions as I am sure some great deals can be made.

* flats – Proofs of the line art printed on sheets in the same way finished comic book would be.

Bullseye #3, Here’s Kirby!


Bullseye #3 (December 1954), pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

The first two issues of Bullseye could be considered as a scaled down version of the Simon and Kirby MO; Jack drew or laid out the first issue but provided a single story for the second. However Bullseye #3 falls completely out of the pattern. There are two new Bullseye stories in the third issue and both were drawn by Kirby. All the subsequent issues of Bullseye would also have two Kirby drawn stories as well. No other Mainline title would have nearly as much Kirby involvement. Only Fighting American (a Prize title) got as much attention at that time from Jack, and even that title followed the more standard Simon and Kirby MO with less Kirby toward the end. There is little doubt that Simon and Kirby considered Bullseye their most important title at that time. Even today Joe considers Bullseye as one of his favorite comics.


Bullseye #3 (December 1954) “Devil Bird”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

In the 50s dinosaurs may have helped to sell comics but frankly they were difficult to make truly threatening. Back then (the 50s that is) dinosaurs were depicted as lumbering brutes dragging their tails along behind. Truly scary dinosaurs, of the Jurassic Park variety, would not be possible until years later when scientists realized that birds and mammals were better models for dinosaurs than crocodiles. Kirby bypasses all those problems by using in this story the flying reptiles pterosaur (technically not dinosaurs). Devil bird indeed. This is probably the scariest depiction of a prehistoric animal ever in the history of comics. And certainly my personal favorite Bullseye story.


Bullseye #3 (December 1954) “On Target”, pencils by Jack Kirby and John Prentice, inks by John Prentice

Simon and Kirby decided to include in this issue a condensed version of the Bullseye origin story (they had done the same thing for Fighting American). The original art for Bullseye #1 was done on illustration board, so a razor was used to cut around desired panels and they were peeled off the board and mounted on another. This was a simple and cost effective method but the unfortunate consequence is that today most of pages the original art from Bullseye #1 are missing a panel or two.


Bullseye #3 (December 1954) “The Ghosts Of Dead Center”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

While not truly a humorous piece, “The Ghosts of Dead Center” provides a bit a humor. There is money to be made when the railroad is built through Dead Center. Well that is once it is rid of those pesky “trespassers”. Unfortunately for those avarice villains, Bullseye has overheard their plot and even more unfortunately Dead Center is where he was raised and where his Indian friend, Long Drink, still resides. But Bullseye is just one man against many so he uses various tricks to defeat his foes. And that is where the humorous touch comes into play.

Comics from the golden age did not have anything like the concept of continuity. Once past the tale of the origin and the stories were pretty much independent. This was largely true with Simon and Kirby as well. But here at the ending of the golden age we have a story that refers back to Bullseye’s origins. Not quite like modern continuity, but much further than anyone else would use until the Marvel Universe was created in the 60’s.


Bullseye #3 (December 1954) “The Ghosts Of Dead Center” page 7, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

Kirby uses a 7 panel layouts for all the story pages save the last. A more standard layout would have 6 panels so the extra panel meant that none of the pages had a grid layout and some of the gutters would meander across the page. But the last page has 9 panels in a symmetrical grid arrangement. Kirby seemed to like this panel layout for his fight scenes. I feel this layout minimally distracted from the images. Kirby would also downplay or eliminate the backgrounds. Therefore all the attention is drawn to the fighting figures and the choreographed action. Nobody did this sort of thing better than Kirby.


Bullseye #3 (December 1954) “The Adventures of Sheriff Shorty”, pencils and inks by Leonard Starr

With this issue Simon and Kirby would begin using a backup story that did not involve Bullseye. Leonard Starr has the honor of introducing the new feature Sheriff Shorty. The piece appears to be unsigned but hallmarks of Leonard’s hand occur all over the story art. I wrote that the piece appears to be unsigned but note the funny series of short lines along the left splash panel margin over the green pitcher. Frankly I had never noticed it before but recently I had the opportunity to conduct a careful examination of the original art. What the art shows is that white-out was used along both the right and left borders to reduce the width of the image area by a small amount. It was small but enough to cover Starr’s signature which had gone along the original panel border going from bottom up (that is as if the page had been rotated clockwise 90 degrees when he signed it). What remained of the signature was considered too unimportant to clean up. Although covered by white-out, Starr’s signature can still be made out on the original art so there is no question about the attribution.


Bullseye #3 (December 1954) “The Adventures of Sheriff Shorty” page 4, pencils and inks by Leonard Starr

Starr was very fond of using tall narrow panels for work provided to Simon and Kirby. Actually he pretty much got out of the habit for his more recent romance art but narrow panels show up often in the Sheriff Shorty story. But notice the odd arrangement of this page. The last panel almost seems like an after thought and frankly a rather intrusive one at that. Here again my examinations of the original art provides an explanation. The art shows that the last panel was pasted on afterwards and panel 6 had been tall and narrow like all the other panels. Further this was not Starr’s doing. There exists another page of original art that never made it into the story. A panel was cut out of that unused art page and with some rearrangement became the last panel of page 4. This re-editing was almost certainly done by Simon and Kirby and it was the sort of thing that in the future Joe would do very often.

Art of Romance, Chapter 29, Trouble Begins

(December 1954 – June 1955: Young Romance #75 – #77, Young Love #63 – #65, Young Brides #20 – #22, In Love #3 – #5)

Number of Romance titles 1947 - 1958
Number of Romance titles 1947 – 1958 (the period covered in this chapter is shaded in blue)

Comic book publishers were in trouble. One indication of this is the number of romance titles had reached a low point. This had happened a couple times before but previously there was a recovery, however not this time. While the number of romance titles will plateau for a while the number of romance comic publishers would continue to decline (The Real Reason for the Decline of Comics).

Simon and Kirby might not have noticed the trouble in the industry before but they could hardly miss it now. Young Romance and Young Love, two of the titles that Joe and Jack produced for Prize, had been monthlies for many years but with the December issues became bimonthlies. Something very odd happened with the February releases, there were none. Both Young Romance and Young Love should have come out that month but would only reappear in April (their next schedule date). In “The Comic Book Makers” Joe remarks on some problems that developed when the owners of Prize noticed that Simon and Kirby had recycled old art. Perhaps this is the explanation for the lost February. (So far I have not identified this reused art but this is not surprising considering the thousands of pages of romance art that Simon and Kirby produced. But there was Fighting American story from this time period that was based on an old Manhunter story (Fighting American, Jumping the Shark). In his book Joe mentions a November 1954 meeting that came about due to this problem. Add a couple of months (because comic cover dates are advanced) and that would be January very near the lost February.

Joe and Jack were also publishing their own comics but there were no lost months for their In Love. However In Love #4 (March 1955) would be the last issue Simon and Kirby would publish themselves. Their distributor, Leader News, was particularly hit by a public backlash against comics. With the failure of Leader News, Simon and Kirby would turn to Charlton to publish their titles. Charlton was notorious for their low pay scale so I suspect that whatever deal they made with Joe and Jack was not that great.

In this serial post I like to provide the line up of the artists based on their productivity. During the period covered in this chapter that would be Bill Draut (61 pages), Jo Albistur (31 pages), Bob McCarty (26 pages), Ann Brewster (25 pages), Jack Kirby (19 pages), John Prentice (11 pages), Ross Andru (12 pages), Leonard Starr (4 pages), Art Gates (3 pages) and Mort Meskin (2 pages). I will comment on most of these artists below. However this list is very incomplete as there are a number of artists that I have not been able to identify. While the individual contributions of these unidentified artists were not great, combined they provided 107 pages of art.

Young Brides #20
Young Brides #20 (December 1954) “Sinner by Night”, art by Bill Draut

Bill Draut was not only the most productive romance artists during this period he was the most important one in other ways as well. Bill did 8 of the 9 lead stories for the Prize titles. He also provided 6 covers for Prize and 1 for In Love. All these covers appear to be created by Bill specifically for the cover and were not recycled art from a story splash as recently was often the case.

Young Love #63
Young Love #63 (December 1954) “Another Love”, art by Bill Draut

Draut was a real work horse of the Simon and Kirby studio. While not as prolific as Jack Kirby or Mort Meskin, it seems Simon and Kirby could always count on Bill to provide great art. But there is something very unusual about “Another Love”. It starts out in a typical Draut manner but the following pages look different. The characters all look like they were drawn by Draut but the way the story is graphically told does not look like his.

Young Love #63
Young Love #63 (December 1954) “Another Love” page 6, pencils by unidentified artist

The last page of “Another Love” provides the answer. Panels 4 to 6 do not look like Draut’s pencil at all. It would appear that this story was drawn, or at least laid out, by another artist. Draut’s inking through most of the story helps hide this fact but either he did not ink the last page or did so with less deviation from the original pencils. Some experts have claimed that Simon and Kirby provided Draut with layouts, at least on occasion. However I have found no evidence to support that claim. This is the first example that I have seen of Draut working on art provided by another artist, although in this case it is not Kirby. Bill Draut was not a naturally prolific artist and I suspect that his recent workload caused him to turn to another artist for help. “Another Love” is the only story from this period that this seemed to be the case; all others look like Draut’s work alone.

Young Brides #22
Young Brides #22 (May 1955), art by Mort Meskin

In terms of numbers Mort Meskin’s contribution to this period was pretty meager two pages. Meskin’s period of work for Simon and Kirby is drawing to an end as he increasingly depends on working for DC. It is clear, however, that Simon and Kirby still valued Meskin’s contribution as both pages were covers.

Young Brides #20
Young Brides #20 (December 1954) “My Heart’s Torment”, art by John Prentice

John Prentice’s contribution was rather meager during this period (11 pages and no covers). Prentice was normally an active presence in Simon and Kirby’s romance comics and his contribution during the period covered by the last chapter was significant. I have no explanation for his relative absence now. “My Heart’s Torment is a rather nice story and although it may not be obvious at a glance the splash panel is actually part of the story. This format was very commonly used by all artists about a year earlier but almost completely abandoned since. Prentice seems to be the last artist who would sometime use this technique.

Young Brides #21
Young Brides #21 (March 1955) “Bad Impression”, art by Bob McCarty

In the past I have often confused Bob McCarty’s work from this period with that by John Prentice. McCarty style is much easier to distinguish in both earlier and later periods but for a while his style look liked Prentice’s. I suspect that this was due to both artists being influenced by Alex Raymond’s Rip Kirby syndication strip. The easiest way to distinguish the two is that McCarty’s men have larger eyes and faces that are not quite so long. While Bob was absent from the previous period his productivity exceeds Prentice during the current one (26 pages).

Young Love #65
Young Love #65 (June 1955) “The Wild One”, art by Jo Albistur

Jo Albistur was a recent contributor to the Simon and Kirby productions. Jo was from Argentina and would only work for Joe and Jack for about a year. He did some other comic book work but not a lot. Ger Apeldoorn has sent me scans of a cartoon that Albistur did for Humorama. I do not include it her because they are stylistically far removed from his comic book work and I prefer to keep my blog at a GP level and the Humorama pieces are decidedly rated R. While only a relatively newcomer, Albistur provided a substantial amount of art for this period (31 pages). While Albistur is not very well known he is one of my favorite romance artists.

Young Romance #77
Young Romance #77 (June 1955) “The Hangout”, art by Ann Brewster

Ann Brewster was another recent but much used artists. Some years ago she had done a little work for Simon and Kirby (Art of Romance, Chapter 9). Ann is another of my favorites and Simon and Kirby were obviously impressed by her as well. In fact she was one of the small group of artists who provided cover art for the Prize romance comics while Kirby was busy taking care of business (the other cover artists were Bill Draut, Mort Meskin, John Prentice and Bob McCarty). However Brewster’s covers art was not originally created for that purpose but rather derived from the splash from her story art. Simon and Kirby had converted splash art into covers before. It is the sort of thing Joe Simon would do in the future so I suspect he rather than Jack was behind these efforts.

Young Romance #75
Young Romance #75 (December 1954) “Too Wise to fall in Love”, art by Art Gates

Art Gates has returned to providing only single page pieces and not many of them either (3 pages). But such single page works seemed to have been a specialty of Gates. Art could provide either cartoons or more realistic art but there seemed no place for his gag cartoons in the Simon and Kirby romance comics.

Young Romance #75
Young Romance #75 (December 1954) “Too Plain for Love”, pencils by Ross Andru

There are two stories (12 pages) by Ross Andru during this period. As I mentioned in the last chapter, these stories by Andru were almost certainly obtained from left over work when Mikeross publishing failed (the publishing company owned by Mike Esposito and Andru Ross). “Too Plain for Love” was converted into a Nancy Hale story but it is not clear if there were any modifications beyond the title added to the top of the splash page. The story is very unusual in have the captions written in a cursive script.

Young Love #63
Young Love #63 (December 1954) “College Romeo”, art by unidentified artist and Ross Andru

The lady in the splash in “College Romeo” also appears to be drawn by Ross Andru. The rest of the art, however, was clearly done by another, less talented, artist. I suspect this is another worked picked up from the failed Mikeross publishing. The panel layout for the splash page is the same as that used by the stories that were completely done by Andru but this is not too significant because this was a commonly used formula.

Young Love #63
Young Love #63 (December 1954) “Lovely Liar”, art by unidentified artist

As I mentioned at the start of this post, there were quite a few artists working for Simon and Kirby during this period that I have not been able to identify. I will not be discussing them all but I thought I would provide a few examples.

Young Romance #75
Young Romance #75 (December 1954) “Personal “Secretary”, art by unidentified artist

The artist for “Personal Secretary” might have been the same one who did the previous example, “Lovely Liar”.

Young Romance #75
Young Romance #75 (December 1954) “Light of Love”, art by unidentified artist

The woman in the splash panel of “Light of Love” was done in a style somewhat like that of Ross Andru. I am not, however, convinced that Andru actually worked on this piece and it maybe nothing more then the actual penciler being influenced by Andru. Note the panel layout common to this page and the two previous examples. While a vertical splash panel is not that unusual in Simon and Kirby productions, that combined with tall narrow story panels is. Nor is this format found in any of the stories drawn by Ross Andru. I am sure that these pieces were picked up from a failed comic book title but perhaps from a publisher other than Mikeross.

Young Brides #20
Young Brides #20 (December 1954) “My Darkest Hour”, art by unidentified artist

Parts of “My Darkest Hour” remind me of the work of Bob Powell but not enough to convince me he actually drew the piece. I remember it has been said that he employed artists to help with his work load. Perhaps this is a case of a studio hand producing a Powell imitation. Note the rather nice touch of placing the story title in the theater marquee.

In Love #5
In Love #5 (May 1955) “New Flame”, art by unidentified artist

Artists new to Simon and Kirby romance productions were not limited to the Prize titles but appeared in their own In Love as well. The first three issues of In Love included a very long story that left room only for a single backup story and some single page pieces. However use of a long story was dropped with In Love #4. This allowed for a greater number of artists to appear. Some of the artists such as Bill Draut, Bob McCarty and Art Gates appeared in the Prize titles as well. One artist, Leonard Starr, had worked for Simon and Kirby in the past but only infrequently in recent times. And yes there are artists that I have not yet identified.

Each publisher tended to have his own house style. While “New Flame” is not too different from the typical Simon and Kirby story it reminds me much more of work that appeared in the Harvey romance comics. In fact the use of lower case letters in captions was typical of one of the letters employed by Harvey. The use by Simon and Kirby of art that originally was meant for Harvey occurred previously (Art of Romance, Chapter 13) but that was during the romance glut. During the glut Harvey cancelled some romance titles and put other on hold. Therefore it seems reasonable that Harvey might have wanted to unload some of his art. But while Harvey probably suffered decreased sales during this period, I do not believe he cancelled any titles. So was this really Harvey art? And if so, how did Simon and Kirby get a hold of it?

In Love #3
In Love #3 (January 1955) “Search for Inspiration” (original art), pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Joe Simon

I have previously written on Jack Kirby’s contribution to In Love #3 (In Love #3 and Artist Loves Model). While Kirby’s piece for In Love #3 was a long one most of it was recycled art from a failed syndication attempt. This relative absence of Kirby from even his and Joe’s Mainline comics suggests that Jack was more involved in business matters then he previously had been.

In Love #5
In Love #5 (May 1955), art by Jack Kirby

As mentioned earlier, Simon and Kirby’s own publishing company, Mainline, failed due to financial difficulties that the distributor Leader News encountered during a public backlash at comic books. Joe and Jack made a deal with Charlton comic to publish the Mainline titles including In Love. The fifth issue was the first Charlton published one and it featured a beautiful Kirby drawn and inked cover. The original art still exists but has the title Exciting Romances. Apparently Simon and Kirby were using it as portfolio piece to show perspective publishers.

If nothing else it makes a nice end to a chapter for a period with very little Kirby art.

Chapter 1, A New Genre (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 2, Early Artists (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 3, The Field No Longer Their’s Alone (YR #5 – #8)
Chapter 4, An Explosion of Romance (YR #9 – #12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 5, New Talent (YR #9 – 12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 6, Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 7, More Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 8, Kirby on the Range? (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 9, More Romance (YR #13 – #16, YL #5 – #6)
Chapter 10, The Peak of the Love Glut (YR #17 – #20, YL #7 – #8)
Chapter 11, After the Glut (YR #21 – #23, YL #9 – #10)
Chapter 12, A Smaller Studio (YR #24 – #26, YL #12 – #14)
Chapter 13, Romance Bottoms Out (YR #27 – #29, YL #15 – #17)
Chapter 14, The Third Suspect (YR #30 – #32, YL #18 – #20)
Chapter 15, The Action of Romance (YR #33 – #35, YL #21 – #23)
Chapter 16, Someone Old and Someone New (YR #36 – #38, YL #24 – #26)
Chapter 17, The Assistant (YR #39 – #41, YL #27 – #29)
Chapter 18, Meskin Takes Over (YR #42 – #44, YL #30 – #32)
Chapter 19, More Artists (YR #45 – #47, YL #33 – #35)
Chapter 20, Romance Still Matters (YR #48 – #50, YL #36 – #38, YB #1)
Chapter 21, Roussos Messes Up (YR #51 – #53, YL #39 – #41, YB #2 – 3)
Chapter 22, He’s the Man (YR #54 – #56, YL #42 – #44, YB #4)
Chapter 23, New Ways of Doing Things (YR #57 – #59, YL #45 – #47, YB #5 – #6)
Chapter 24, A New Artist (YR #60 – #62, YL #48 – #50, YB #7 – #8)
Chapter 25, More New Faces (YR #63 – #65, YLe #51 – #53, YB #9 – #11)
Chapter 26, Goodbye Jack (YR #66 – #68, YL #54 – #56, YB #12 – #14)
Chapter 27, The Return of Mort (YR #69 – #71, YL #57 – #59, YB #15 – #17)
Chapter 28, A Glut of Artists (YR #72 – #74, YL #60 – #62, YB #18 & #19, IL #1 & #2)
Chapter 29, Trouble Begins (YR #75 – #77, YL #63 – #65, YB #20 – #22, IL #3 – #5)
Chapter 30, Transition (YR #78 – #80, YL #66 – #68, YBs #23 – #25, IL #6, ILY #7)
Chapter 30, Appendix (YB #23)
Chapter 31, Kirby, Kirby and More Kirby (YR #81 – #82, YL #69 – #70, YB #26 – #27)
Chapter 32, The Kirby Beat Goes On (YR #83 – #84, YL #71 – #72, YB #28 – #29)
Chapter 33, End of an Era (YR #85 – #87, YL #73, YB #30, AFL #1)
Chapter 34, A New Prize Title (YR #88 – #91, AFL #2 – #5, PL #1 – #2)
Chapter 35, Settling In ( YR #92 – #94, AFL #6 – #8, PL #3 – #5)
Appendix, J.O. Is Joe Orlando
Chapter 36, More Kirby (YR #95 – #97, AFL #9 – #11, PL #6 – #8)
Chapter 37, Some Surprises (YR #98 – #100, AFL #12 – #14, PL #9 – #11)
Chapter 38, All Things Must End (YR #101 – #103, AFL #15 – #17, PL #12 – #14)

Art of Romance, Chapter 28, A Glut of Artists

(August 1954 – November 1954: Young Romance #72 – #74, Young Love #60 – #62, Young Brides #18 & #19, In Love #1 & #2)

Number of Romance Titles 1947 - 1958
Number of Romance Titles 1947 – 1958 (the period covered in this chapter is shaded in blue)

As can be seen in the above chart romance comics had entered into a decline during this period. Did Joe Simon and Jack Kirby notice this? Had they been observant they might have for as will be shown they benefited from the failure of other titles. But then again there were always fluctuations in the number of titles and publishers so perhaps Joe and Jack were not aware that things had become very different. Or perhaps they were too caught up in their own business to notice the bigger picture. August 1954 (cover date) marked the release of Bullseye the first title for Mainline, Simon and Kirby’s own publishing company. In Love, the romance title for Mainline, would be released in September. Starting their own publishing company was a big step for Simon and Kirby but unfortunately their timing was particularly bad.

In chapter 27 I noted the appearance of some new artists in the Simon and Kirby productions (unfortunately as of yet unidentified). The art covered in the last chapter was created by 8 artists which in itself was an increase over the earlier period. I have identified 12 artists for the period covered by this chapter and that does not include unidentified artists. There are more pages of unattributed art than those by any identified artist. Frankly I have not sorted them all out but I believe that there are at least 5 or 6 artists that I cannot identify. A couple of these additions to the studio had appeared previously in Simon and Kirby productions and almost all would only provide a few pieces before disappearing from the studio. Oddly one artist, Bob McCarty, who played an important part in the two previous chapters, is completely missing in this one. However McCarty will be returning in future chapters.

The artist line-up based on their productivity was Bill Draut (42 pages), John Prentice (41 pages), Jack Kirby (25 pages), Mort Meskin (20 pages), Art Gates (19 pages) with Leonard Starr and Jo Albistur tied (12 pages). The rest of the artists provide a single story or a small number of single page features. There are 65 pages by unidentified artists but as I wrote above these were distributed among 5 or more artists.

With one exception the covers for the Prize romance titles were done by Draut and Prentice. As seen previously, some of the covers were made from stats of a splash panel (or visa versa). The one exception is the cover of Young Brides #19 (November 1954) which I have tentatively attributed to Joe Simon. This assignment is not based on art style but rather on evidence from Joe Simon’s art collection. I hope that someday I will be able to write about this cover.

In Love #1
In Love #1 (September 1954) “Bride of the Star” Chapter 1 “The First Pang of Love”, art by Jack Kirby

As I promised last chapter, Jack Kirby returns to romance comics after a short absence. However he appears only in Mainline’s In Love and not in any of the Prize romance titles. Kirby’s absence from Prize romances will continue for some time. In Love was an interesting title whose “hook” was the long story contained in each issue. Kirby did all 20 pages of the art for the “Bride of the Star” from In Love #1. I will not write much about this story here because I covered it in a previous post on In Love #1.

Besides the length of the story, one of the things that distinguish In Love from the Prize romance titles is that Jack returns to full page splashes for all the three chapters. Frankly I already illustrated the best splash in my previous post but I felt I must include one of the other ones here. To be honest it is not one of Kirby’s best pieces but I feel that the splash for the other chapter to be even more inferior. But all of the story art is actually quite good.

Kirby on contributed a small part to the featured story “Marilyn’s Men” from In Love #2 (November 1954) with most of the work being done by Bill Draut. Since the post whose link I provided covers this story I will forego further comments here.

The cover for In Love #1 was one of the rare collaborations between Jack Kirby and an artist other the Joe Simon, in this case John Prentice (Jerry Robinson at the Jack Kirby Tribute Panel). Not only was the cover drawn by different artists but inked by different hands as well. Prentice’s back was clearly inked by himself and I suspect, though I am by no means certain, that Jack inked his own pencils as well.

Young Romance #74
Young Romance #74 (November 1954) “The Kissoff”, art by Bill Draut

Bill Draut was the most prolific artist during this period but not by much. His recent decreased presence in S&K productions is a bit hard to understand. I once surmised that it might be due because of the work he was doing in preparation for the launch of Mainline. But on reflection there just does not seem enough work by Draut in those early issues of the Mainline comics to impact his normal work load. So I now suppose that his recent decreased contribution was due to some personal reason. Draut is one of the more consistent artists to work for Simon and Kirby but his style did not change much over the years. This makes it difficult to have new things to say about him. The same link I provided above for my post on In Love #2 goes into more detail about Draut’s work on “Marilyn’s Men”. I also did a post (Swiping Off of Kirby) about the use Bill made of art from an earlier story by Kirby.

Young Romance #73
Young Romance #73 (September 1954) “Girl from the Old Country”, art by John Prentice

John Prentice was just behind Draut in productivity. This is one of the examples where a stat of the splash for this story was used to create the cover. Note that while story splashes were no longer being used in the Prize romance titles, Prentice is still providing a smaller than typical splash panel.

Young Love #60
Young Love #60 (August 1954) “Outcast”, art by Mort Meskin

There was an unexpected surge in productivity by Meskin in the last chapter and now there is a just as sudden drop in his output. I must admit that I am a little perplexed about what is going on with Mort. He was working for other publishers and that suggests that he was no longer working in the actual Simon and Kirby studio. But how does one explain the ups and downs since then? I have heard of discussion somewhere on the web where it has been suggested that when Meskin left the S&K studio to work in his own studio that Mort was once again plagued with difficulties in starting work on a blank page. I have no way of saying whether this is true but perhaps it would explain his varied, but often unusually low, output in Simon and Kirby productions. Even if Meskin’s productivity was poor during this period he still did some very nice work. “Outcast” is a good example of a real nice piece by Meskin (I believe he inked it as well). I previously posted on a Mort’s “After the Honey-Moon” from In Love #1 which while very short is one of his masterpieces.

Young Brides #18
Young Brides #18 (September 1954) “My Cheating Heart”, art by Mort Meskin

“My Cheating Heart” is another great piece by Mort Meskin. I particularly like the inking in this piece. The solid blacks are used very effectively. I am pretty sure this is not Meskin’s own inking or that of George Roussos either but I cannot suggest who the inker was.

Young Romance #74
Young Romance #74 (November 1954) “A Holiday for Love”, art by Art Gates

Art Gates continue to supply numerous single page features but he is also did a few 3 page stories. At 6 pages, “A Holiday for Love” is the longest work Gates has yet done for Simon and Kirby. I cannot say that Art is one of my favorite Simon and Kirby artists but I admire the way he can do pieces like this a more cartoon-like gag features as well.

Young Love #61
Young Love #61 (September 1954) “Miss Moneybags”, art by Leonard Starr

Leonard Starr was not a new artist for Simon and Kirby productions but a returning one. He played an important part in the Prize romance titles for a little under two years ending in February 1951. His style has not changed that much during his absence and even without a signature “Miss Moneybags” (Young Love #61, September 1954) and “Cinderella’s Sisters” (Young Love #62, November 1954) were clearly done by Starr. However Leonard style had evolved somewhat so it is just as clear that this is not left over material. Although Starr was no longer using page formats that provided a series of tall and narrow panels he still had a predilection for such panels and was using alternative ways to introduce them. While it is possible that the reviews I perform for future chapters of this serial post may uncover one or two other stories by Starr, I am pretty confident that there will not be more than that. Leonard Starr would be like a number of artists from this chapter in that he made a brief appearance and then disappeared from Simon and Kirby productions. In Starr’s case he would be starting his own syndication strip, “Mary Perkins on Stage”, in a year or so.

Young Love #61
Young Love #61 (September 1954) “Mother Never Told Me”, art by George Roussos?

I am by no means certain, but “Mother Never Told Me” looks like it might have been done by George Roussos. The resemblance is mostly in the men with the woman reminding a little bit like the work of Marvin Stein. But overall I believe the Roussos seems the best fit. George last appeared in a Simon and Kirby production in Black Magic #24 (May 1953). If this attribution is correct, Roussos like Starr will not appear in a future Simon and Kirby productions.

Young Romance #73
Young Romance #73 (September 1954) “Afraid of Marriage”, art by Jo Albistur

Although unsigned, “Afraid of Marriage” and “Just For Kicks” (Young Love #61, September 1954) are both clearly the work of Joaquin Albistur (he also appeared in Police Trap #1 in this same month). I had previously used Joe as the first name for this artist but it is now clear that he was an artist from Argentine (Joaquin Albistur the Same As Joe Albistur?). Joe Simon does not remember Albistur by name, but he does recollect someone from South America doing work for Simon and Kirby. Most people assume Simon was thinking of Bruno Premiani, but I believe it is even more likely that it was Albistur that Joe was recalling.

Unlike most of the new artists in this chapter, Albistur will play an important part in Simon and Kirby productions in the coming year. Jo is not well known among fans and I am not sure how much comic book work he did outside of Simon and Kirby productions. I have seen some original art from “The World Around Us” from 1961 that has been attributed to Albistur. I am not convinced but if it was his work Albistur had adopted a particularly unpleasing dry style. Despite Jo’s short time working for Simon and Kirby he is one of my favorite studio artists. His woman have an earthy beauty that I like, he had an eye for gestures, used interesting compositions and was skillful at graphically telling a story.

Young Love #62
Young Love #62 (November 1954) “Too Darned Innocent”, art by W. G. Hargis

There is one signed piece by W. G. Hargis, “Too Darned Innocent”. However given the number of unidentified artists appearing in Simon and Kirby productions there is the distinct possibility that other unsigned worked may have been done by Hargis during this period as well. In fact I have heard of suggestions that Hargis may have been responsible for a story in Police Trap.

In Love #2
In Love #2 (November 1954) “Mother by Proxy”, art by Tom Scheuer

Tom Scheuer is another artist that only did one signed work for Simon and Kirby. Scheuer (who much later changed his name to Sawyer) is perhaps better known for his advertisement comic work (see For Boys Only from Those Fabulous Fifties and Comic Strip Ad Artist Tom Scheuer from Today’s Inspirations; both great blogs).

Joe Simon’s collection includes the original art for a page from this story. On the back is the name Art Sehrby, a telephone number and a street address. This raises the possibility that Simon and Kirby obtained Scheuer’s piece, and perhaps those of some other artists, from an agent.

Young Brides #19
Young Brides #19 (November 1954) “Love for Sale”, pencils by Ross Andru, inks by Martin Thall

There is a story behind “Love for Sale” that has been discussed on the Kirby list but I do not believe I have written about in my blog. Mike Esposito and Ross Andru launched their own publishing company Mikeross with their earliest comic having a cover date of December 1953 (3-D Love). This then was well in advance of Simon and Kirby’s Mainline Comics whose first issue (Bullseye) came out in August.

Mikeross only published four titles (3-D Love, 3-D Romance, Get Lost and Heart and Soul. The 3-D romance titles were single issues and I suspect that their timing was a little off. The initial 3D comics sold very well but were apparently a novelty item. My understanding is that Simon and Kirby’s Captain 3-D which came out in December 1953 was already a bit late and sales were not that great. Since the Mikeross 3D romance titles have cover dates of December and January, I suspect they suffered from lower sales as well. Get Lost went to issue #3 while Heart and Soul only lasted to issue #2. Usually when a title is cancelled after just 2 or 3 issues it is a sign that something other than poor sales was involved. I suspect that the returns from their first comic, 3-D Love were so poor that the distributor pulled the plug on the whole deal.

I do not have the biography of Mike Esposito that came out a few years ago but I did have the chance to flip through it to see what he had to say about what happened next. If I remember correctly Esposito claimed that the distributor forced them to hand over their unpublished artwork to Simon and Kirby. Frankly this is a pretty suspicious claim because a distributor does not have any legal claim to the artwork. Further in my discussions with Joe Simon he has vigorously denied that it happened. Martin Thall gave an interview published in Alter Ego #52 where he stated that in order to recover some money they sold some art to Simon and Kirby and that Kirby was the one who arranged and received it. This makes a lot more sense and is the version that I accept.

The last issue of Heart and Soul was cover dated June so the next one would be expected for August. “Love for Sale” was used in Young Brides #19 (November). The timing is so perfect that there is little doubt that this story was among the art sold to Simon and Kirby. What makes that even more convincing is that the lettering was not done by Ben Oda like almost all of Simon and Kirby’s productions.

This is not Ross Andru’s first appearance in Simon and Kirby productions as a story by him appeared in May 1952 (Chapter 16) and two in May and June of 1953 (Chapter 19). Another Andru story will be seen in the next chapter which also was probably bought from the defunct Mikeross publishing company.

Young Brides #19
Young Brides #19 (November 1954) “Telephone Romeo”, art by unidentified artist

Since one story from Mikeross has been identified the question becomes can any others be found? Such art need not have been used right away but it is interesting that Young Brides #19 contains another story, “Telephone Romeo” that was not lettered by Ben Oda. However the letterer is not the same one that did “Love for Sale”. I have only examined the 3-D Love, 3-D Romance and Heart and Soul #1 but none of them used this artist. Actually I find Andru’s hand through most of them and I suspect Ross and Mike did all the art themselves. So it cannot be said with any certainty that “Telephone Romeo” was another piece sold by Mikeross but it can be confidently said that is was bought from some distressed publisher or artist stuck with unused art.

Young Love #62
Young Love #62 (November 1954) “My Scheming Sister”, art by unidentified artist

There is yet another piece, “My Scheming Sister”, with lettering clearly not done by Ben Oda. Look at the caption to the first story panel, Simon and Kirby productions did not typically use lower case letters in their captions. Once again this was a piece bought by Simon and Kirby but not necessarily from Mikeross. Whoever the artist was he was one of the better of the unknowns from this period. A smooth confident line and great characterization.

Young Romance #72
Young Romance #72 (August 1954) “Reform School Babe”, art by unidentified artist

Not all the unidentified artists were new; the one that did “Reform School Babe” had been an important contributor to Simon and Kirby productions for some months. I believe one of my commenters suggested Vince Colletta, at least for the inking, but I am not sufficiently knowledgeable about that artist/inker to hazard a guess.

Young Romance #74
Young Romance #74 (November 1954) “Idol Worship”, art by unidentified artist

I will not be supplying examples of all the unidentified artists from these romance titles as I have not sorted them all out and anyway some are not that great. But I did want to provide an image from “Idol Worship” by one of the better artists working at this time for Simon and Kirby.

In summary, Simon and Kirby were using a number of new artists. Some like Jo Albistur would play important contribution to S&K productions; others like Tom Scheuer would make a brief appearance and not be seen again. Some may have been hired from the street but there is also the suggestion that some work may have come from an art agent. Further there is good evidence that some of the work came from the failed Mikeross publishing and perhaps other publishers as well. I have not yet done a review of Ben Oda’s lettering like I have those by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby and Howard Ferguson. I suspect a careful comparison of Ben Oda’s lettering with that used in the stories from this period will reveal others that came from romance titles that were failed. Simon and Kirby’s use of such material is not surprising because they had previously obtained art from Harvey after the love glut (Chapter 13, Romance Bottoms Out).

Chapter 1, A New Genre (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 2, Early Artists (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 3, The Field No Longer Their’s Alone (YR #5 – #8)
Chapter 4, An Explosion of Romance (YR #9 – #12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 5, New Talent (YR #9 – 12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 6, Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 7, More Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 8, Kirby on the Range? (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 9, More Romance (YR #13 – #16, YL #5 – #6)
Chapter 10, The Peak of the Love Glut (YR #17 – #20, YL #7 – #8)
Chapter 11, After the Glut (YR #21 – #23, YL #9 – #10)
Chapter 12, A Smaller Studio (YR #24 – #26, YL #12 – #14)
Chapter 13, Romance Bottoms Out (YR #27 – #29, YL #15 – #17)
Chapter 14, The Third Suspect (YR #30 – #32, YL #18 – #20)
Chapter 15, The Action of Romance (YR #33 – #35, YL #21 – #23)
Chapter 16, Someone Old and Someone New (YR #36 – #38, YL #24 – #26)
Chapter 17, The Assistant (YR #39 – #41, YL #27 – #29)
Chapter 18, Meskin Takes Over (YR #42 – #44, YL #30 – #32)
Chapter 19, More Artists (YR #45 – #47, YL #33 – #35)
Chapter 20, Romance Still Matters (YR #48 – #50, YL #36 – #38, YB #1)
Chapter 21, Roussos Messes Up (YR #51 – #53, YL #39 – #41, YB #2 – 3)
Chapter 22, He’s the Man (YR #54 – #56, YL #42 – #44, YB #4)
Chapter 23, New Ways of Doing Things (YR #57 – #59, YL #45 – #47, YB #5 – #6)
Chapter 24, A New Artist (YR #60 – #62, YL #48 – #50, YB #7 – #8)
Chapter 25, More New Faces (YR #63 – #65, YLe #51 – #53, YB #9 – #11)
Chapter 26, Goodbye Jack (YR #66 – #68, YL #54 – #56, YB #12 – #14)
Chapter 27, The Return of Mort (YR #69 – #71, YL #57 – #59, YB #15 – #17)
Chapter 28, A Glut of Artists (YR #72 – #74, YL #60 – #62, YB #18 & #19, IL #1 & #2)
Chapter 29, Trouble Begins (YR #75 – #77, YL #63 – #65, YB #20 – #22, IL #3 – #5)
Chapter 30, Transition (YR #78 – #80, YL #66 – #68, YBs #23 – #25, IL #6, ILY #7)
Chapter 30, Appendix (YB #23)
Chapter 31, Kirby, Kirby and More Kirby (YR #81 – #82, YL #69 – #70, YB #26 – #27)
Chapter 32, The Kirby Beat Goes On (YR #83 – #84, YL #71 – #72, YB #28 – #29)
Chapter 33, End of an Era (YR #85 – #87, YL #73, YB #30, AFL #1)
Chapter 34, A New Prize Title (YR #88 – #91, AFL #2 – #5, PL #1 – #2)
Chapter 35, Settling In ( YR #92 – #94, AFL #6 – #8, PL #3 – #5)
Appendix, J.O. Is Joe Orlando
Chapter 36, More Kirby (YR #95 – #97, AFL #9 – #11, PL #6 – #8)
Chapter 37, Some Surprises (YR #98 – #100, AFL #12 – #14, PL #9 – #11)
Chapter 38, All Things Must End (YR #101 – #103, AFL #15 – #17, PL #12 – #14)

The Art of Romance, Chapter 14, The Third Suspect

(February 1951 – April 1951: Young Romance #30 – #32, Young Love #18 – #20)


Number of Romance Titles 1947 – 1952 (the period covered in this chapter is shaded in blue)

Besides Young Romance and Young Love, Simon and Kirby were also producing Black Magic and Boys’ Ranch during this period. Jack Kirby supplied some covers for Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty so it is possible that Joe and Jack still had something to do with the Prize crime titles as well. However Kirby, Draut and Starr, artists important to the other Simon and Kirby productions, did not appear in the crime titles. That plus the lack of a Simon and Kirby production cartouche seems to indicate that Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty were no longer produced by Joe and Jack. Romance comics in general were just starting to rebound from the relative low that followed the love glut. However with more then 45 titles, romance comics were still a lucrative part of the industry. Since both Young Romance and Young Love were both monthly titles it can be presumed that they were still selling quite well.


Young Romance #31 (March 1951) “One Way to Hold Him”, art by Jack Kirby

Since Joe Simon did not do much penciling anymore, Jack Kirby was by one definition the primary artist for the studio. Jack would provide the cover art that was still appearing on Young Love (Young Romance had converted back to using photographic covers). The all important lead stories for Young Romance were all done by Kirby. At 12 to 14 pages long, Jack’s lead stories for YR were longer then the work by any other studio artist (a maximum of 9 pages). But if the primary artist is considered the one producing the greatest number of pages of art, Kirby was no longer the primary romance artists. During this period Kirby produced 55 pages of romance art while Mort Meskin did 66 pages. Jack’s work for Boys’ Ranch #3 (February) meant that for February Jack produced the greatest number of pages in the studio for all genres but by April that was no longer true and Mort would take the lead.

About three and a half years since the start of Young Romance and Kirby is still finding ways to put special interest into his romance stories. Jack could write a story without action but he certainly like to add it when possible. Who else would use the rough and tumble roller derby world to tell a love story. I often wonder how the original teenage girl readers thought of Jack’s stories but for the modern comic reader there is no question that Kirby’s romance stories are fascinating reads.


Young Romance #30 (February 1951) “Different”, art by Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby was not averse to using a love story to tackle social themes as well. “Different” is not really about romance but about intolerance instead. Initially when the family moved into the neighborhood they were well received. Only after the visit of the grandparents reveals that the family’s original name had been Wilheims did the community turn against them. Love is just a background to the story of initial acceptance followed by rejection based only on the towns prejudiced perception of the family’s background.


Young Love #18 (February 1951) “Unwilling Bride”, art by Mort Meskin

As discussed above, it was during this period that for the first time Mort Meskin output exceeded Jack Kirby’s. Meskin’s art production rate is all the more remarkable considering that Mort did all his own inking while Jack’s work was mostly inked by others. I wish the original art for the splash from “Unwilling Bride” was available as I would love to know how the negative figure of the jailed man was done. The spotting looks like it was brushed with white ink but I would think it would have been difficult to work white over a black background. Would Simon and Kirby have agreed to the extra expense to make a negative stat? However it was done it provides an effective way to put an image to the troubled girl’s thoughts.


Young Romance #32 (April 1951) “Hand-Me-Down Love”, art by Bill Draut

Once again Bill Draut takes third place in the amount of work provided; 6 stories with 45 pages.

Previously Bill Draut’s splash art seemed to be in a bit of a rut; not bad but not particularly exciting. Perhaps because of his work in the new Black Magic title Draut seems to have his mojo working again. Whatever the reason Bill has some nice splashes during this period. “Hand-Me Down Love” is a soliloquy splash which makes me suspect that it was originally meant to be the lead story for Young Love but was moved to Young Romance instead. Since Kirby was doing all the lead stories in Young Romance Draut’s work then became one of the backup stories. Like many of Kirby’s romance splashes at the time there really is not much going on but what is presented tells a whole story. The woman’s apron identifies her as a housewife. The drab background with a wall having small flaws indicates her humble surroundings. Two photographs should be her loved ones. The man obviously would be her husband but what can be made of the woman? While the splash tells a story it purposely leaves some things unanswered to entice the viewer to read the story.


Young Romance #31 (March 1951) “The Things You’re Missing”, art by Marvin Stein

The fourth most used artist was Marvin Stein with 4 stories and 32 pages. Stein would produce some nice work for the crime titles in the future but at this point his style is a bit clumsy. Some of Marvin’s characteristic traits can be found at this earlier stage, such as the shallow depth to the face of the man in the splash. When inking his own work Stein was always a bit rough but at this point his brush also lacks the assurance he would eventually gain. Without that confidence his inking just looks as clumsy as his pencil work.


Young Romance #30 (February 1951) “Weekend For 3”, art by Leonard Starr

For whatever reason, Leonard Starr only provided a single story in the period covered in the last chapter but now he does 3 stores with 22 pages. Starr seems to have completely abandoned the tall and very narrow panels that he had previously favored. Occasionally he would divide a panel row into three panels and even more rarely extend the height slightly but the panels never become as narrow as before. For the most part now Starr adhered to a standard panel layout of 3 rows with 2 panels per row. Leonard still likes to use a vertical splash as for example “Weekend For 3”.


Young Love #18 (February 1951) “The Cave Man Type”, art by Leonard Starr

It was not just Starr’s panel layouts that were evolving. I mentioned in the Chapter 12 how Leonard had begun using a sultrier female along with the more pixie look his females previously had. In “The Cave Man Type” Starr uses what was for him a very different type of man.

My database indicates that February 1951 was when Starr would do his last work for Simon and Kirby until 1954 (and I have gone back to verify the attribution of the two 1954 pieces). But originally my database only included a single Starr work for February but with this recent review I now add two more. Considering that Starr stopped providing signatures on his later S&K work and that his style was changing I wonder if I will find more of his work when I write the next couple of chapters to this serial post?


Young Love #20 (April 1951) “Big Bertha”, art by John Prentice

“Big Bertha” from YL #20 marks the first appearance in a Simon and Kirby production of work by John Prentice. My previous short biography on John Prentice (John Prentice, Usual Suspect #3) is seriously flawed* and incomplete and I really should put together a better one. Prior to coming to work for Joe and Jack, Prentice had been working for Hillman and perhaps some other publishers as well. Prentice shared an apartment with Starr so perhaps Leonard aided John in getting work from Simon and Kirby. Most artists that worked for Simon and Kirby had adopted (directly or indirectly) aspects of Milt Caniff’s style but John was greatly influenced by Alex Raymond. So much so that when Raymond died suddenly in 1956, Prentice was able to easily take over his syndication strip Rip Kirby. John’s arrival in the S&K studio filled a significant gap created when Bruno Premiani left. Artists would come and go in Joe and Jack’s studio, but the presences of Bill Draut, Mort Meskin, John Prentice, and of course Jack Kirby meant that all Simon and Kirby productions would have a healthy and interesting combination of artists.


Young Love #19 (March 1951) “Later Then You Think”, layout by Jack Kirby

I have been able to provide attributions for all of the romance work during the period covered by this chapter with the exception of “Later Then You Think”. This looks like the work of some minor artist working from layouts provided by Jack Kirby. Normally when I describe a work as based on Kirby layouts I am uncomfortable using that term because it was obvious that what Jack had provided were very tight in some places. In this particular case that is not true; the artist style is present throughout and no parts have an overly Kirby look. The only exceptions are the photographs in the splash panel that totally look like they were done by Jack. Interestingly the entire story is inked in the Studio Style; shoulder blots, abstract shadow arches, and picket fence crosshatching are found throughout.

Footnotes:

* The most serious error in my previous post on John Prentice is my attributing to him “Two-Timer” from Young Love #4 a piece that I now questionably credit to Bruno Premiani.

Chapter 1, A New Genre (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 2, Early Artists (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 3, The Field No Longer Their’s Alone (YR #5 – #8)
Chapter 4, An Explosion of Romance (YR #9 – #12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 5, New Talent (YR #9 – 12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 6, Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 7, More Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 8, Kirby on the Range? (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 9, More Romance (YR #13 – #16, YL #5 – #6)
Chapter 10, The Peak of the Love Glut (YR #17 – #20, YL #7 – #8)
Chapter 11, After the Glut (YR #21 – #23, YL #9 – #10)
Chapter 12, A Smaller Studio (YR #24 – #26, YL #12 – #14)
Chapter 13, Romance Bottoms Out (YR #27 – #29, YL #15 – #17)
Chapter 14, The Third Suspect (YR #30 – #32, YL #18 – #20)
Chapter 15, The Action of Romance (YR #33 – #35, YL #21 – #23)
Chapter 16, Someone Old and Someone New (YR #36 – #38, YL #24 – #26)
Chapter 17, The Assistant (YR #39 – #41, YL #27 – #29)
Chapter 18, Meskin Takes Over (YR #42 – #44, YL #30 – #32)
Chapter 19, More Artists (YR #45 – #47, YL #33 – #35)
Chapter 20, Romance Still Matters (YR #48 – #50, YL #36 – #38, YB #1)
Chapter 21, Roussos Messes Up (YR #51 – #53, YL #39 – #41, YB #2 – 3)
Chapter 22, He’s the Man (YR #54 – #56, YL #42 – #44, YB #4)
Chapter 23, New Ways of Doing Things (YR #57 – #59, YL #45 – #47, YB #5 – #6)
Chapter 24, A New Artist (YR #60 – #62, YL #48 – #50, YB #7 – #8)
Chapter 25, More New Faces (YR #63 – #65, YLe #51 – #53, YB #9 – #11)
Chapter 26, Goodbye Jack (YR #66 – #68, YL #54 – #56, YB #12 – #14)
Chapter 27, The Return of Mort (YR #69 – #71, YL #57 – #59, YB #15 – #17)
Chapter 28, A Glut of Artists (YR #72 – #74, YL #60 – #62, YB #18 & #19, IL #1 & #2)
Chapter 29, Trouble Begins (YR #75 – #77, YL #63 – #65, YB #20 – #22, IL #3 – #5)
Chapter 30, Transition (YR #78 – #80, YL #66 – #68, YBs #23 – #25, IL #6, ILY #7)
Chapter 30, Appendix (YB #23)
Chapter 31, Kirby, Kirby and More Kirby (YR #81 – #82, YL #69 – #70, YB #26 – #27)
Chapter 32, The Kirby Beat Goes On (YR #83 – #84, YL #71 – #72, YB #28 – #29)
Chapter 33, End of an Era (YR #85 – #87, YL #73, YB #30, AFL #1)
Chapter 34, A New Prize Title (YR #88 – #91, AFL #2 – #5, PL #1 – #2)
Chapter 35, Settling In ( YR #92 – #94, AFL #6 – #8, PL #3 – #5)
Appendix, J.O. Is Joe Orlando
Chapter 36, More Kirby (YR #95 – #97, AFL #9 – #11, PL #6 – #8)
Chapter 37, Some Surprises (YR #98 – #100, AFL #12 – #14, PL #9 – #11)
Chapter 38, All Things Must End (YR #101 – #103, AFL #15 – #17, PL #12 – #14)

The Art of Romance, Chapter 13, Romance Bottoms Out

(November 1950 – January 1951: Young Romance #27 – #29, Young Love #15 – #17)


Number of Romance Titles 1947 – 1951 (the period covered in this chapter shaded in blue)

Besides the monthly Young Romance and Young Love, Simon and Kirby were now also producing bimonthly titles Black Magic for Prize and Boys’ Ranch for Harvey. Boys’ Ranch was the first work that Joe and Jack had done for Harvey since Stuntman and Boy Explorers were cancelled in 1946 (other Simon and Kirby features that Harvey had published since then were inventoried material left over from the sudden cancellation of those titles). It was too soon to tell whether Black Magic and Boys’ Ranch would be successful (Black Magic would be, Boys’ Ranch would fail) but the romance titles still seemed to be very lucrative. Both romance titles had returned to art covers (YL in August and YR in October) but after just two art covers, Young Romance reverted back to photo covers. As for other publishers, the romance glut had finally reached a relative low point and in future months the number of love titles would begin to increase. While the number of romance titles was much lower then at the height of the glut there were still a respectable 45 romance comics books on the racks.


Young Romance #28 (December 1950) “Hot Rod Crowd”, art by Jack Kirby

Once again Jack Kirby was the primary artist during this period with 4 covers, 13 stories and 69 pages. Jack would provide the lead feature for 5 of the issues. The lead stories Kirby did for Young Romance would still be longer then those by any other artists (10 to 12 pages for Kirby compared to a maximum of 9 pages in a story by Bill Draut and another by Leonard Starr). While I was less then enthusiastic about some of the Kirby splashes in the last chapter some of those that Jack provided in these issues are back to his high standards. Kirby continues to use the soliloquy format for his lead feature splashes. Actually Kirby’s contribution was somewhat greater then I have outlined because as we will see below he provided some layouts as well.


Young Romance #28 (December 1950) “Will You Help Me?”, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Bill Draut

It should always be kept in mind when I point out that Kirby was the primary artist that Jack had a substantial advantage over the rest of the studio artists. I am not talking about his greater talent (although that is true) but on the availability of inkers. The Simon and Kirby studio operated very different from say the Marvel studio under Stan Lee during the silver age. Artists working for Simon and Kirby were expected to provide finished art while Stan Lee would typically assign pencils to one artist and afterwards pass the work on to another to do the inking. Most S&K studio artists did their own inking but some made their own arrangements with another artist to do the inking (for instance John Severin would often have Bill Elder ink his work). However Jack Kirby’s pencils were most often inked by others. Joe has described it as an assembly line approach with different hands doing different inking chores. Under that arrangement it is not possible to recognize all the inkers who worked on a particular piece. To make matters worse Kirby inkers never signed their work (that is other then Joe Simon and a Simon and Kirby signature does not necessarily mean Joe inked it). Nonetheless comparing brush techniques on work penciled by Kirby with art drawn as well as inked by other artists allows some of Kirby’s inkers to be identified. For instance the simple eyebrows found on the woman and the cloth folds of the man’s jacket in the last panel of the page above indicate that story had been inked by Bill Draut.


Young Romance #29 (January 1950) “Love Also Ran”, art by Bill Draut

The second most used artist was Bill Draut (7 stories with 53 pages). Previously Draut primarily did horizontal half page splashes but recently has been doing some full page splashes as well. I greatly admire Draut’s art and he has done some nice half page splashes but I must admit that I am underwhelmed by most of his full page romance splashes. They are not bad just not very exciting. That is except for the splash for “Love Also Ran”. Unlike some of his other full pages splashes, here Draut has concentrated on the drama and leaves the background to provide visual interest without overwhelming the image. It is not how Simon and Kirby would have laid it out but it still works just fine.


Young Love #17 (January 1951) “I Saw Him First”, art by Mort Meskin

The third most used romance artist was Mort Meskin (7 stories with 52 pages) although with just one less page then Draut. Generally Meskin provided half pages splashes but for “I Saw Him First” he does a full pages one. Mort does his own take of the soliloquy splash. What first appears to be a story panel in the corner turns out on reading to be the protagonist introducing the story. And unlike in Simon and Kirby’s soliloquy splashes, her introduction does not provide the story title. In fact the design of the title is quite unusual for a Simon and Kirby production so perhaps Meskin created the logo as well. It all works out quite well and one wonders why Meskin did not do this sort of thing more often.


Young Love #15 (November 1950) “Lover Boy”, pencils by John Severin, inks by Bill Elder

Kirby, Draut and Meskin did most of the work in these six issues of the romance comics. There are few other artists used and what artists there are supplied limited amounts of material. The next most prolific artist was John Severin who did the art for 4 features but because only one story had more then 2 pages this meant John only did 13 pages of art. John provides his usual quality art but just as typically he seems to be a little out of place in the romance genre. There is not a single kiss to be found in this work.


Young Love #15 (November 1950) “Beauty and The Benefactor”, art by Leonard Starr

Leonard Starr provides a single 9 page romance story in this period. While Starr had not been one of the primary artists for Simon and Kirby productions, he had been a steady presence since April 1949. “Beauty and the Benefactor” will not be the last work by Starr to be used by Joe and Jack but the rest will be more infrequent. The splash shown above is unusual for Leonard who normally did half page splashes and favored vertical ones in particular. This is the only splash Starr did for S&K with a row of floating heads. Further the posses are not typical of Starr either. All of these features are however found in some Simon and Kirby splashes and I am sure that here Starr is working from their layout.


Young Love #15 (November 1950) “Beauty and The Benefactor” page 9, art by Leonard Starr

Starr generally had his own way of laying out story panels. Often he would use tall narrow panels constructed by dividing a row into three panels instead of the normal two and either limiting the page to two rows (thereby making a 2 X 3 panel arrangement instead of the typical 3 X 2, as seen in Chapter 7) or by reducing the vertical dimensions of two of the rows (Chapter 10). While tall narrow panels would not occur on every page they would be found on many. Tall narrow panels are not found at all in “Beauty and The Benefactor” nor were they used in “Hired Wife” published in the previous month (and briefly discussed in the last chapter). Their absence calls for an explanation but unfortunately I can only offer a guess. Since Simon and Kirby provided a layout for the “Beauty and The Benefactor” splash (but not the one for “Hired Wife”) one suggestion might be that they laid out the stories as well. However I do not think that is the case. The page layouts are not a perfect grid of three rows and two columns on all pages but they approximate that arrangement more then was typical for Simon and Kirby. Further the way these stories by Starr are graphically told does not appear to match Kirby’s more cinematic approach.

I would instead propose two, not mutually exclusive, explanations for Starr’s change in panel layouts. One was to speed up the work. With Starr’s previous layouts he could not construct the panels until he had decided what he was going to draw on each page. By adhering to a 3 by 2 panel layout he could construct the horizontal rows for an entire story before actually beginning to draw it and then supply the vertical separation between the two panels in a row as he worked. Simon and Kirby had used this technique on their more complicated panel layouts found in Stuntman and Boys Explorer. The other explanation for Starr’s change in panel layouts may have to do with his desire to break into syndication strips. While the tall narrow panels were very effective in a comic book they would not work well in a syndication strip. Perhaps Starr was consciously changing his working methods to gain experience working in a format more appropriate for syndication work. Starr would in a few years succeed in breaking into syndication with his “Mary Perkins on Stage”.


Young Love #17 (January 1951) “She Loves Too Wisely” page 4, art by unidentified artist

While most of the romance issues covered in this chapter were produced using artists that we have seen often before, there are some artists that seem to be new. I am not sure what to say about “She Loves Too Wisely”. Some of the men in it look like they might have been done by John Severin but not all and none of the women look like his work. Perhaps what makes the art for this story so hard to place is that it would appear from the cinematic approach used in this story that it was drawn from a Simon and Kirby layout. It is even inked in a version of the Studio Style. Note the abstract arch in panel 2 and the frequent shoulder blots (Inking Glossary).


Young Love #17 (January 1951) “Go Home and Grow Up”

Another artist did “Go Home and Grow Up”. This is one of those artist that, although they are not bad, are not as talented as most artists employed by Simon and Kirby.


Young Romance #28 (December 1950) “A Shattered Dream” page 2

Here is the same artist in “A Shattered Dream”. Again not bad but not particularly great either.


Young Romance #28 (December 1950) “A Shattered Dream” page 8

Unlike “Go Home and Grow Up”, not all the art in “A Shattered Dream” is forgettable. Some of it looks very much like Jack Kirby drew it. This is particularly true for page 8. Can there be little doubt about Jack’s hand in the woman in the panel 4? These two pages are the extremes with page 2 showing little evidence of Jack while page 8 looks like almost pure Kirby and the rest of the story falling in between. The layouts of most of the pages look like Kirby’s cinematic approach. If all the pages looked consistently the same I would say that this was the result of some artist’s heavy handed approach to inking Kirby’s pencils. But in a case like this were the art varies I conclude Kirby provided layouts that another artist finished and then inked. Apparently Kirby’s layouts typically were tighter in some spots and loose in others.


Young Romance #27 (November 1950) “Heart of Steel”

Each publisher had his own house style. This certainly was true with the comics that Simon and Kirby produced. I doubt that Joe and Jack actually told their artists what style to use. I am sure part of the Simon and Kirby house style came from the artists that they selected to work for them. I also believe that Jack Kirby was so well known and respected that he had a great influence on other studio artists. But there are two stories in a single Young Romance issue (YR #27, November 1950) that do not seem to share in the Simon and Kirby house style. In fact they look very much like the very different house style found in Harvey romance comics. This is particularly true of “Heart of Steel”. One of the things that gave Simon and Kirby productions their own unified look was that a single letterer was used (first Howard Ferguson and later Ben Oda). But look at the lettering in the captions above; the lettering is very small in size and uses lower case letters. This is so very different from the lettering used in Simon and Kirby comics that there can be little doubt that it was done by a different letter. Unfortunately I have not had a chance to compare this with Harvey comics from the same period but I have looked at a couple of Hi-School Romance issues from about a year latter and exactly this same lettering is found in them.


Young Romance #27 (November 1950) “My Tormented Heart”

“My Tormented Heart” does not use the same letterer but then again not all Harvey comics that I have seen do. Both stories use the same splash page layout that is found in almost all Harvey romance comics. The title logo and the small circular caption are not typical for Simon and Kirby but can be found in Harvey romance comics. Even the coloring for these two stories has a lighter quality more typical of Harvey then Simon and Kirby productions.

But why would stories with the Harvey house style appear in Young Romance? I think part of explanation can be found in the aftermath of the love glut. While not as big a contributor to the glut as Timely, Fox, Fawcett and Quality, Harvey still had 7 romance titles at the height of the glut. However between April and June of 1950 6 of these titles would either be suspended or cancelled. Only First Love would be continually published during this period. Simon and Kirby had a long history with Al Harvey and had recently starting producing Boys’ Ranch for Harvey. So it would seem that Joe and Jack were picking up some inventory from Harvey. I believe the art was from Harvey and not his artists because it was completed including the lettering and possibly the coloring as well. The question then becomes not so much why Simon and Kirby obtained art from Harvey but rather why they did not pick up more? While Harvey was, like many other publishers, hurt by the love glut it was still obvious that there was good money to be made in romance comics. Harvey would relaunch Hi-School Romance in December, Love Problems and Advice in January and First Romance in June (Love Lessons, Sweet Love and Love Stories of Mary Worth would never resume).

Unfortunately I have no idea who either of the two artists was. I am sure I have seen the artist for “Heart of Steel” in other Harvey romance comics. He provides his women with eyebrows that are reminiscent of Bob Powell. I have heard that Powell often used assistants but I do not believe that is what happened to “Heart of Steel”. Unfortunately it is hard to be sure about anything when it comes to artists working on Harvey’s romance comics. Only Lee Elias, who had a long association with Harvey, ever signed romance art (some covers) so I suspect there was a policy against signatures in Harvey romances. Joe Simon has told me there was such a policy about signing art for Harvey’s humor comics and Joe felt that was why Warren Kramer did not get the recognition that he deserved.

During this period the romance comics were largely made by just three artists; Jack Kirby, Bill Draut and Mort Meskin. While I greatly admire all of those artists I feel that the absence or near absence of Bruno Premiani? and Leonard Starr left a big hole in Young Romance and Young Love. Even Vic Donahue’s presence would have gone a long way to making these more satisfying comic books.

Chapter 1, A New Genre (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 2, Early Artists (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 3, The Field No Longer Their’s Alone (YR #5 – #8)
Chapter 4, An Explosion of Romance (YR #9 – #12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 5, New Talent (YR #9 – 12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 6, Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 7, More Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 8, Kirby on the Range? (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 9, More Romance (YR #13 – #16, YL #5 – #6)
Chapter 10, The Peak of the Love Glut (YR #17 – #20, YL #7 – #8)
Chapter 11, After the Glut (YR #21 – #23, YL #9 – #10)
Chapter 12, A Smaller Studio (YR #24 – #26, YL #12 – #14)
Chapter 13, Romance Bottoms Out (YR #27 – #29, YL #15 – #17)
Chapter 14, The Third Suspect (YR #30 – #32, YL #18 – #20)
Chapter 15, The Action of Romance (YR #33 – #35, YL #21 – #23)
Chapter 16, Someone Old and Someone New (YR #36 – #38, YL #24 – #26)
Chapter 17, The Assistant (YR #39 – #41, YL #27 – #29)
Chapter 18, Meskin Takes Over (YR #42 – #44, YL #30 – #32)
Chapter 19, More Artists (YR #45 – #47, YL #33 – #35)
Chapter 20, Romance Still Matters (YR #48 – #50, YL #36 – #38, YB #1)
Chapter 21, Roussos Messes Up (YR #51 – #53, YL #39 – #41, YB #2 – 3)
Chapter 22, He’s the Man (YR #54 – #56, YL #42 – #44, YB #4)
Chapter 23, New Ways of Doing Things (YR #57 – #59, YL #45 – #47, YB #5 – #6)
Chapter 24, A New Artist (YR #60 – #62, YL #48 – #50, YB #7 – #8)
Chapter 25, More New Faces (YR #63 – #65, YLe #51 – #53, YB #9 – #11)
Chapter 26, Goodbye Jack (YR #66 – #68, YL #54 – #56, YB #12 – #14)
Chapter 27, The Return of Mort (YR #69 – #71, YL #57 – #59, YB #15 – #17)
Chapter 28, A Glut of Artists (YR #72 – #74, YL #60 – #62, YB #18 & #19, IL #1 & #2)
Chapter 29, Trouble Begins (YR #75 – #77, YL #63 – #65, YB #20 – #22, IL #3 – #5)
Chapter 30, Transition (YR #78 – #80, YL #66 – #68, YBs #23 – #25, IL #6, ILY #7)
Chapter 30, Appendix (YB #23)
Chapter 31, Kirby, Kirby and More Kirby (YR #81 – #82, YL #69 – #70, YB #26 – #27)
Chapter 32, The Kirby Beat Goes On (YR #83 – #84, YL #71 – #72, YB #28 – #29)
Chapter 33, End of an Era (YR #85 – #87, YL #73, YB #30, AFL #1)
Chapter 34, A New Prize Title (YR #88 – #91, AFL #2 – #5, PL #1 – #2)
Chapter 35, Settling In ( YR #92 – #94, AFL #6 – #8, PL #3 – #5)
Appendix, J.O. Is Joe Orlando
Chapter 36, More Kirby (YR #95 – #97, AFL #9 – #11, PL #6 – #8)
Chapter 37, Some Surprises (YR #98 – #100, AFL #12 – #14, PL #9 – #11)
Chapter 38, All Things Must End (YR #101 – #103, AFL #15 – #17, PL #12 – #14)

The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 1, Expanding Their Fields

(October 1950 to February 1951, Black Magic #1 – #3)

In the early part of 1950 Simon and Kirby had established their studio and were producing comics with a relative small but generally talented group of artists. Their most important, perhaps only, product were two monthly romance titles, Young Romance and Young Love. I do not believe Joe and Jack were still producing the Prize crime titles (Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty) but if they were their involvement was minimal and coming to an end. Few of the studio artists found in the romance titles contributed to the crime titles. Further Jack Kirby would provide some cover art for the crime titles but no interior stories. Simon and Kirby’s deal with Prize for the romance titles was very lucrative but the two were always ambitious and keen to try new challenges.


Young Romance #23 (July 1950) house ad, art by Jack Kirby

The July issues of Young Romance and Young Love featured a full page house ad for a new Prize title, Black Magic. The ad does not provide a date for the first issue but it would be three months before it was released. Synopsis and titles are given for four stories all of which would be in BM #1 although “I’ll Never Sleep Again” was renamed “Last Second of Life”. The cover illustrated was never published. It is one of three versions that I am aware of (another was eventually published, with some additions, on a DC reprint comic). Despite all their efforts, in the end the cover was replaced with one based on the “My Dolly is the Devil” story. The cover title logo would also be modified when the comic was finally released.


Black Magic #2 (December 1950) “The Scorn of the Faceless People”, art by Jack Kirby

The modus operandi for new Simon and Kirby titles was for a lot of the art to have been drawn by Jack at least for the first couple of issues. This was not true for Black Magic. While Jack was the primary artist and provided more pages of art (41 pages) then the other artists (Meskin was the second most used with 24 pages) the difference was not as great as usually found in the initial issues for a new title. One explanation is provided by Mark Evanier (introduction to the DC Demon archive) where he has stated that horror was not a particular favorite of Kirby’s. I must admit I was a bit surprised by that comment since I have always found Kirby’s work in Black Magic as having the same high quality as anything else he every did for Simon and Kirby. There is another explanation for the lack in Black Magic of the typical Simon and Kirby start off and that is Jack was putting his efforts into another new title that came also out in October 1950, Boys’ Ranch. Except for some single page features and a single story from issue #3, Kirby provided all the art for the first three issues of Boys’ Ranch. Did Kirby prefer the western theme of Boys’ Ranch over the horror of Black Magic? Or was it simply that Simon and Kirby made a better deal with Harvey then with Prize? I will leave that answer to the reader. (I will not be posting on Boys’ Ranch at this time as I wrote about not too long ago: part 1 and part 2).


Black Magic #2 (December 1950) “The Scorn of the Faceless People” page 3, art by Jack Kirby

“The Scorn of the Faceless People” is a masterpiece that stands out among all the great work found in Black Magic. The dream analysis theme is unusually and would have been very much at home in a title that Simon and Kirby would produce a couple years later, Strange World of Your Dreams. This story suggests that Simon and Kirby were already feeling the influence of Mort Meskin who had a particular interest in this subject. There is much to commend the art in this story, but check out the unconventional layout of page 3. The carefully use of perspective in the splash-like panel is such that the other two panels really are not intrusive. It is a panel layout that Jack would rarely, if ever, repeat. But then again it was a measure of Kirby’s genius that he would do the unexpected and make it work. There really is nothing much happening in this page but nonetheless it is filled with drama.


Black Magic #3 (February 1951) “A Silver Bullet for Your Heart”, art by Jack Kirby

I remarked in my serial post The Art of Romance chapter 11 (covering a period just prior to this one) that the punch seemed to have gone out of Kirby’s romance splashes. I do not think that is the case for Kirby’s Black Magic splashes. “A Silver Bullet for Your Heart” is just one of many splashes throughout the Black Magic run that are just terrific. As with all truly great comic book splashes it presents the theme of the story in a single scene without, however, revealing how this dramatic point was reached or how it would be resolved (for that you were expected to buy the comic).


Black Magic #1 (October 1950) “His Father’s Footsteps”, art by Mort Meskin

While Kirby was the primary artist for Black Magic, as he usually was for Simon and Kirby productions, other studio artists did great work as well. Perhaps the most outstanding of the other studio artists was Mort Meskin. While Meskin’s romance art was first rate he seemed to particularly shine in the horror genre. Unfortunately his carefully orchestrated horror stories are often neglected by the modern audience whose main interest is in superheroes. Mort developed his own cinematic approach to graphic story telling which fully complemented the scripts.


Black Magic #1 (October 1950) “Don’t Look Now”, art by Bill Draut

Bill Draut was an important artist in the Simon and Kirby studio. Joe Simon has often remarked to me about how much he could depend on Draut. However it seems to me that Bill’s romance art was getting into a routine. It was still fine art and Bill was great at graphically telling a story but I get the feeling he was not pushing himself as much anymore. Black Magic seems to have shaken him out of that in a big way. I recently posted  an example of a full page romance splash just because it was an unusual deviation from his standard half pages splashes. Above I provide another full page splash whose merit goes way beyond the untypical splash size.


Black Magic #1 (October 1950) “My Dolly is the Devil”, art by Leonard Starr

I have discussed Leonard Starr a number of times in The Art of Romance. Starr provided great romance art for Simon and Kirby and of course he is most well known for his long running syndication strip Mary Perkins On Stage. All of which makes his “My Dolly is the Devil” that more interesting as an example of Starr’s art in another genre. Although this story is unsigned it truly was done by Leonard. The mother of the story has the pixie look that Starr used often in Simon and Kirby productions (wide forehead, widely separated eyes and narrow chin). Further the tall narrow panels that Starr preferred appear on a number of pages. A satisfying graphic story but unfortunately “My Dolly is the Devil” would be the only story that Starr ever did for Black Magic.

Note how in the light cast by the lamp transforms the doll’s hair into what looks like horns in the shadow.


Black Magic #2 (December 1950) “I’ve Seen You Before”, art by Bruno Premiani?

An ancient curse, an Egyptian mummy come back to life, a cast off lover’s cruel fate, what more could you want? I know many comic fans consider EC horror comics as the epitome of the genre but I prefer stories that are less gruesome and rely more on plot development. Bruno Premiani is another artist we have seen often in the Prize romance titles but it is nice to see his hand in another genre. Of course if this is really Premiani then he also did work for DC superheroes and westerns but that work is drawn in such a different manner it is not at all clear that they were done by the same artist. Premiani did only two stories for Black Magic and “I’ve Seen You Before” would be the last Simon and Kirby work by the artist.


Black Magic #3 (February 1951) “The Voices in the Night”, art by Marvin Stein

We have seen Marvin Stein often in Headlines, Justice Traps the Guilty and Prize Comics Western. In fact he would become a fixture in Prize publications not produced by Simon and Kirby. But he would appear in Simon and Kirby productions as well although perhaps not as frequently or so prominently placed. “The Voices in the Night” is signed and the style agrees well with other work Stein did at this time. This is not his mature style and frankly is a little bit on the primitive side. Joe Simon once remarked to me that he did not originally care that much for Marvin Stein’s art but that latter he became quite good.


Black Magic #3 (February 1951) “The World of Shadows”, art by George Roussos

I am sure that, when they were young and in a darken room, most of my readers have placed a flashlight below their face to provide eerie shadows. Well it seems many of the artists in Black Magic had done that as well. But perhaps none of them used that type of dramatic lighting as often as George Roussos. Roussos is a name we have not encountered yet in the serial posts The Art of Romance or It’s A Crime. George is perhaps most famous as a silver age inker of Jack Kirby at Marvel under the alias George Bell. “The World of Shadows” is unsigned but the art is so similar to other work with signatures that there is little question about the attribution. The artwork is a bit of a hodge-podge but I am unsure if this is due to the use of swipes or a style that has not set settled into place. In places the art clearly shows the influence of Mort Meskin whose work Roussos had inked previously. In all honesty Roussos is not among my favorite Simon and Kirby studio artists.

The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 2 (#4 – 6), Up and Running
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 3 (#7 – 8), The Same Old Gang
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 4 (#9 – 11), Another Hit
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 5 (#12 – 14), New Faces
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 6 (#15 – 17), Mix Bag
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 7 (#18 – 20), Kirby Returns
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 8 (#21 – 23), The Gang’s All Here
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 9 (#24 – 26), The Party’s Ovetr
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 10 (#27 – 29), A Special Visitor
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 11 (#30 – 33), The End

The Art of Romance, Chapter 11, After the Glut

(May – July 1950: Young Romance #21 – #23, Young Love #9 – #11)


Number of Romance Titles 1947 – 1950 (the period covered in this chapter shaded in blue)

This chapter will cover the period from May to July 1950. This is during the rapid decline of romance titles that followed the love glut. Simon and Kirby were not immune to the effects of the over abundance of romance comics; their most recent titles, Real West Romance and Western Love had been cancelled. There were other western romance comics published during the glut as well but all ended up being terminated. Western love titles would never again be tried by any publisher. Although Joe and Jack failed with their western love titles, their standard romance titles, Young Romance and Young Love, seemed unaffected. Both titles had gone monthly during the glut and would remain so for years afterwards. The name brand recognition that Simon and Kirby’s Young Romance had achieved before the glut had allowed it to find a place on the comic racks while newer titles often never had a chance. Young Love’s similar name and logo let it join it Young Romance on the racks as well. Apparently both titles did very well during the period when other titles were rapidly disappearing.

As I discussed previously in It’s A Crime, it is unclear exactly what Simon and Kirby’s contribution was at this time for the Prize crime comics, Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty. These titles seem now to have been made on the cheap. Either Joe and Jack were doing nothing more then supplying some covers, or they were still producing them but because less money was involved they were not putting much effort into it. So Simon and Kirby’s source of income was largely based on two monthly romance titles.


Young Romance #22 (June 1950) “The Savage in Me”, art by Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby was still the primary artist for the romance titles although still somewhat below his normal output. For the 6 issues discussed here Kirby did 6 stories for a total of 56 pages. Kirby drew no covers as they were done with photographs. Jack did all the lead stories for Young Romance and all were much longer then any of the other stories in the issues (14 or 15 pages for the lead stories as compared to 7 or 8 for the longest of the other stories. Jack’s contributions to Young Love were more limited and all the lead stories of that title were done by other artists.

For two of the lead stories Jack used full page splashes with what I describe as the soliloquy splash where someone talks about the story to the reader with the word balloon used to include the title of the story. Kirby’s lead stories are still very different from stories by other studio artists. They generally are more complicated, include more action, and sometimes use exotic locations. While original writers have indicated that Jack contributed to the plotting of their stories, it is clear that Jack had even further impact on the scripting of the stories that he drew. It was just a few months short of the third anniversary of the Young Romance title, but Kirby was still putting much effort to make his stories as interesting as possible, and I may add succeeding. This was particularly true with “The Savage in Me” a tale that combines an exotic location (China), drama (the threat presented by a warlord’s army) and humor. The story was, I may add, discussed at length in an article by Kirby scholar Stan Taylor (“Simply the Best”, The Jack Kirby Quarterly #12, Spring 1999).


Young Love #10 (June 1950) “The Girl I Picked From the Phone Directory” page 2, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Mort Meskin

At a glance one story, “The Girl I Picked from the Phone Directory”, looks like it was done by Mort Meskin. Typical Meskin traits such as the woman’s eyes and for some men Mort’s characteristic grin. However the shifting viewing angles found in the story are more like Kirby’s then those used by Meskin. Further some of the people depicted have typical Kirby mannerisms such as the gesture of the man in the last panel of the above page. I have no doubt that this story was penciled by Kirby but inked by Meskin. As such it is the earliest example of Meskin inking Kirby that I am aware of. Either Mort was untypical heavy handed in his inking or Jack’s pencils were not very tight.


Young Romance #22 (June 1950) “Child Bride”, art by Mort Meskin

While Meskin still had not reached his high productive levels, he had now become the second most prolific artist in studio. Mort did 8 stories for a total of 50 pages. Even when Meskin provided the lead stories for Young Love #9 and #11, he still did not use a full page splash. Mort was also using vertically oriented captions, a device not typical of Kirby. While Meskin had a cinematic approach to story telling it was done differently from Jack’s. Once again I find no evidence to support the idea, promoted by some Kirby scholars, that Jack supplied layouts.


Young Love #10 (June 1950) “My Backwoods Love”, art by Mort Meskin

It maybe just a coincidence, but there seems a more abundant use of “cheesecake” poses in Mort Meskin’s work at this time; not something I normally associate with him. Further he does them quite well.


Young Romance #23 (July 1950) “A Woman’s Honor”, art by Bill Draut

Bill Draut has been displaced from his number two position by Mort Meskin. During this period Bill did 4 stories with 31 pages. Enough to secure the number three spot but still significantly less then Meskin. Bill consistently provided good art and so he continued to be an important contributor to Simon and Kirby productions.


Young Love #10 (June 1950) “Untouched”, art by Bruno Premiani?

We have seen all the other important artists before, there were no changes in personnel at this time. I still have not been able to confirm that artist who did some very distinctive work for Joe and Jack was in fact Bruno Premiani. But I continue to use that attribution (with a question mark) until something convinces me otherwise. Premiani normally used half page splashes, but for the lead story that he did for Young Love #10, “Untouched”, he provided a full page splash.

By the way do not get confused by the “Produced by Simon and Kirby” credit that appears on this splash. It is not a claim by Joe and Jack that they drew this story. Rather it was used to indicate that the entire comic was put together by Simon and Kirby. It appeared on the first story of all the Simon and Kirby titles at this time (and for some time to come) regardless who actually drew the lead story.


Young Love #9 (May 1950) “Carbon Copy” page 6, art by Bruno Premiani?

I guess “cheesecake” must be the theme for this chapter of Art of Romance because I could not resist including the above page from “Carbon Copy”. I do not know what the original teenage girl readers thought about this page but I certainly am not going to complain about a beach full of bikinis. Today such a scene, while enjoyable at least for the men, would not be considered remarkable. But back in 1950 it would be quite unusual at least on American beaches. For instance bikinis were banned in 1951 from use in the Miss World beauty pageant. It would not be until the early ’60s that the two piece swimsuit would become the norm in beach movies such as “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini”. Was Premiani’s page a flight of fantasy or wish fulfillment or was Bruno taking his queue from more liberal European beaches?


Young Love #10 (June 1950) “At Your Own Risk” page 3, art by Leonard Starr

Leonard Starr was another S&K studio regular who continued to appear during the period considered here. During this period he drew 3 stories with 21 pages. Starr is most easily recognized by his women that he draws with widely separated eyes, wide foreheads and narrow chins; a look I like to call elfin. Another easy way to pick him out is his use of tall narrow panels. Not every page in a story would use six narrow panels as in the example above, but other combinations of a row of tall panels with two vertically diminished panel rows are also commonly found. It is an arrangement that is not found in Kirby’s work so again claims of Kirby supplying layouts to not seem to be correct. Starr puts his tall panels to good use and it has the added benefit of allowing the talk balloons to be place out of the way of the image.


Young Romance #23 (July 1950) “Love on A Budget” page 4, art by John Severin

Previously John Severin was more a presence in the western love titles then in the standard romances. With the cancellation of the Western Love and Real West Romance the expectation might be that Severin would appear more often in Young Romance and Young Love. While John still shows up in the romance titles during this period, his participation does not appear to have increased. One explanation might be that Severin did not need the extra work since he had begun doing work for Prize Comics Western. But I do not think that is the likely explanation as PCW seemed to have been done “on the cheap” and probably did not pay as well as work for Simon and Kirby. It is more likely that Simon and Kirby just did not want to give him further work. The fact is Severin just was not that great of a romance artist. It was not that John could not draw well; it is just that he did not seem comfortable with depicting romantic scenes. He rarely, if ever, drew a kiss in his stories. The absence of true romance in Severin’s work may not have been a problem for the western love titles but it certainly was a hindrance for the standard romance. Still he did provide 19 pages of art during the period discussed in this post although none were signed and this includes a few that are questionable attributions.


Young Love #11 (July 1950) “I’ll Never Get Married”, art by John Severin?

Included in the work I credit to John Severin is one that looks distinctively different, “I’ll Never Get Married”. Perhaps my attribution is just incorrect but I suspect what makes this story look so different from others by Severin was the inking. During this period most of John’s art was inked by Will Elder. While I do not claim to be very familiar with Elder’s inking a comparison of this story to works signed by Severin and Elder clearly shows Elder did not ink “I’ll Never Get Married”. Whoever the inker was he was not nearly as talented as Elder.


Young Love #11 (July 1950) “Little White Lies”, art by Vic Donahue

Vic Donahue is another artist that we have seen previously and continues to make an appearance. During this period Vic’s contribution consisted of 5 stories with 21 pages. This includes three “Problem Clinic” stories but they are all questionable attributions and only amount to a total of 6 pages. Donahue also provided to longer stories one of which was signed.

Unlike some earlier chapters, there are only a few stories that I have not been able to credit. Most of the artists used were therefore studio regulars.

Chapter 1, A New Genre (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 2, Early Artists (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 3, The Field No Longer Their’s Alone (YR #5 – #8)
Chapter 4, An Explosion of Romance (YR #9 – #12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 5, New Talent (YR #9 – 12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 6, Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 7, More Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 8, Kirby on the Range? (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 9, More Romance (YR #13 – #16, YL #5 – #6)
Chapter 10, The Peak of the Love Glut (YR #17 – #20, YL #7 – #8)
Chapter 11, After the Glut (YR #21 – #23, YL #9 – #10)
Chapter 12, A Smaller Studio (YR #24 – #26, YL #12 – #14)
Chapter 13, Romance Bottoms Out (YR #27 – #29, YL #15 – #17)
Chapter 14, The Third Suspect (YR #30 – #32, YL #18 – #20)
Chapter 15, The Action of Romance (YR #33 – #35, YL #21 – #23)
Chapter 16, Someone Old and Someone New (YR #36 – #38, YL #24 – #26)
Chapter 17, The Assistant (YR #39 – #41, YL #27 – #29)
Chapter 18, Meskin Takes Over (YR #42 – #44, YL #30 – #32)
Chapter 19, More Artists (YR #45 – #47, YL #33 – #35)
Chapter 20, Romance Still Matters (YR #48 – #50, YL #36 – #38, YB #1)
Chapter 21, Roussos Messes Up (YR #51 – #53, YL #39 – #41, YB #2 – 3)
Chapter 22, He’s the Man (YR #54 – #56, YL #42 – #44, YB #4)
Chapter 23, New Ways of Doing Things (YR #57 – #59, YL #45 – #47, YB #5 – #6)
Chapter 24, A New Artist (YR #60 – #62, YL #48 – #50, YB #7 – #8)
Chapter 25, More New Faces (YR #63 – #65, YLe #51 – #53, YB #9 – #11)
Chapter 26, Goodbye Jack (YR #66 – #68, YL #54 – #56, YB #12 – #14)
Chapter 27, The Return of Mort (YR #69 – #71, YL #57 – #59, YB #15 – #17)
Chapter 28, A Glut of Artists (YR #72 – #74, YL #60 – #62, YB #18 & #19, IL #1 & #2)
Chapter 29, Trouble Begins (YR #75 – #77, YL #63 – #65, YB #20 – #22, IL #3 – #5)
Chapter 30, Transition (YR #78 – #80, YL #66 – #68, YBs #23 – #25, IL #6, ILY #7)
Chapter 30, Appendix (YB #23)
Chapter 31, Kirby, Kirby and More Kirby (YR #81 – #82, YL #69 – #70, YB #26 – #27)
Chapter 32, The Kirby Beat Goes On (YR #83 – #84, YL #71 – #72, YB #28 – #29)
Chapter 33, End of an Era (YR #85 – #87, YL #73, YB #30, AFL #1)
Chapter 34, A New Prize Title (YR #88 – #91, AFL #2 – #5, PL #1 – #2)
Chapter 35, Settling In ( YR #92 – #94, AFL #6 – #8, PL #3 – #5)
Appendix, J.O. Is Joe Orlando
Chapter 36, More Kirby (YR #95 – #97, AFL #9 – #11, PL #6 – #8)
Chapter 37, Some Surprises (YR #98 – #100, AFL #12 – #14, PL #9 – #11)
Chapter 38, All Things Must End (YR #101 – #103, AFL #15 – #17, PL #12 – #14)

Some Examples of Early Work by Leonard Starr


Red Circle #3 (March 1945), art by Leonard Starr

Leonard Starr began his career in 1942 and 1943 doing background art while attending Pratt Art Institute. Afterwards his worked for a variety of comics including Red Circle published by Rural Home Publishing. Red Circle #3 was released in 1945, just four years before Starr’s appearance in Simon and Kirby productions (April 1949). What a difference a few years can make. While I can detect some familiar features in Starr’s earlier art, I doubt I would have identified any of it if the signatures had been absent.

A fight scene dominates the cover for Red Circle #3. A brave man wins with his bare hands against a knife carrying opponent. An exciting cover that is excellently drawn. However in my opinion, a good cover should tell a story. Part of the story is here. The man on the wrong end of the fist had, as indicated by his hat, a maritime profession. This is fitting as the mooring ropes and rats show the locale to be some seedy port. But what is the cause of the conflict? Is it the woman who looks on? She shows an interest but no fear, so a heroic rescue is unlikely. So what does it all means? The art is well done but the story is confusing. Unfortunately the cover has nothing to do with the contents of the comic, so we will find no answer to the question.


Red Circle #3 (March 1945) “Secret Assignment”, art by Leonard Starr and Frank Bolle

Starr and Bolle provide a better job for the splash of “Secret Assignment”. Anthony Cobat literally casts his shadow over the globe; he is an agent in a fight against international crime. With a briefcase under his arm, a nondescript overcoat and his face shadowed, the image of Cobat is derived from Hollywood; the use of “intrigue” in the title is superfluous.


Red Circle #3 (March 1945) “Secret Assignment” page 5, art by Leonard Starr and Frank Bolle

Starr and Bolle also did a great job in the story. Their playing off of fore and backgrounds is well done. For example, the man in the stripped green jacket in the foreground is pointed out as an agent by one of the two men in the background in panel 3. In Panel 4 the foreground is dominated by a pair of gloved hands. These hands could have mistakenly been attributed to some woman except just enough of a sleeve is left to show the same green with stripes. Of course the caption also identifies the owner of the gloves and indicates that there was purpose behind the simple act of putting on gloves. My only complaint to offer about this page can probably be laid at the writer and it is an all too common error. There was really no reason to add the caption “ANOTHER AGENT RAISES HIS GUN” to panel 5, the picture was sufficient and would have been more effective without the caption. Panels without captions or word balloons were rare exceptions during the golden age of comics.

“Secret Assignment” was jointly signed by Leonard Starr and Frank Bolle. Bolle is an artist just a little older then Starr. Like Starr, Bolle’s career has included both comic book and syndication strip work. Since his name follows Leonard’s, Frank may have been the inker. But we have seen that such an interpretation maybe over simplistic for some teams such as Robinson and Meskin, or, for that matter, Simon and Kirby.

For work that Starr did for Simon and Kirby, he showed a preference for a page layout with one or two rows consisting of three, vertically extended, panels. That type of page layout is not found in “Secret Assignment”. However a related layout can be found; one where a panel row is unequally divided into three panels one of which assumes a narrow shape. The effective use of this narrow panel may have made it a forerunner of the vertically extended panels found in Starr’s Simon and Kirby work.


Red Circle #4 (April 1945), art by Leonard Starr

Another nicely drawn cover by Starr with, once again, a confusing story. The woman being carried away seems limp so very likely she has fainted. It is an abduction perhaps from the men in the background who are unable to pursue. A jump over some gorge might be indicated but the vultures flying below suggest a cliff instead. Was the horse magical or was there an unseen but safe landing? Who can tell? Of all the art the woman’s face is the closest to the style Starr would use later for Simon and Kirby.

It would be great to be able to show an image for the story Starr provided inside of Red Circle #4 but I am unable to do so. The interior of my copy is filled with Dorothy Lamour stories. If that was not bad enough, the first one does not even have the splash page. None of this matches what the contents of this issue should be. It looks like a Frankenstein; a combination of the Red Circle #4 cover with an old Dorothy Lamour contents. There is no sign of trimming so I believe this was done years ago. I have heard of publishers who repackaged material for resale, but this seems like an egregious example of that practice. According to the GCD, Fox Comics published a couple of issues of a Dorothy Lamour comic in 1950, but the story titles that GCD provides do not match those in my comic.

The Art of Romance, Chapter 10, The Peak of the Love Glut

(January – April 1950: Young Romance #17 – #20, Young Love #7 – #8)


Number of Romance Titles 1947 – 1950 (the period covered in this chapter shaded in blue)

This chapter will cover the period from January to April 1950. This is the height of the love glut and the beginning of the decline in romance titles that followed. For Prize Comics the dropping of titles had not begun since the final issue of Real West Romances would come out in April. Young Romance had been and would remain a monthly. The presumably poor sales experienced by the western romance titles because of the glut was not shared by Prize’s standard love comics as Young Love became a monthly with the April issue. Frankly I am not clear what Simon and Kirby’s status was at this time with the crime titles Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty. At some point Joe and Jack seemed to have passed on the production of those titles to Prize Comics. A better understanding of exactly when that happened will hopefully be achieved as I advance further in my serial post It’s A Crime.

I have no explanation why in the last chapter Jack Kirby’s output dropped so much but now he returned to being the primary artist, at least by page count, with 6 stories and 71 pages (I am excluding illustrations for text features as they are minor works and may include recycled art.) Bill Draut, now again the second most used artist, actually had more stories but fewer pages (8 stories with 53 pages). The discrepancy is caused by the lead stories provided by Kirby have the highest page counts (13 to 15 pages). The two longest stories by artists other then Kirby were 10 and 9 pages while most were 8 pages long. As noted in the previous chapter Kirby would provide the lead story for Young Romance while Bill Draut would have the honor for Young Love. The general rule from now on will be Kirby more or less regularly providing a long lead story to Young Romance and this would be the only real distinction between the contents of Young Romance and Young Love where the lead story was generally done by other artists.

Other artists significantly trailed Kirby and Draut in page counts. The number of artists used in YR and YL drops, and the artists have been seen previously in either the standard or the western romance comics. As was true in the last chapter, Kirby did not supply layouts to any of the artists in this period. This was in contrast to the early issues where some of the less talented artists worked using Kirby layouts.


Young Romance #17 (January 1950) “The Girl Who Tempted Me”, art by Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby persists in providing exceptional splashes for his long lead stories. The use of a character introducing the story with the word balloon forming the title has become a trademark of Simon and Kirby romances. (As this splash layout will be repeatedly seen, I am going to refer to it as the soliloquy splash.) The very provocative splashes would be more risque then the actual story. These splashes are often very simple in composition but very effective nonetheless.


Young Romance #20 (April 1950) “Hands off Lucy”, art by Jack Kirby

Okay maybe I do not have much more to say about Kirby’s splashes, but they are so great (in my opinion) that I cannot resist including an image of another one.


Young Romance #19 (March 1950) “That Kind of Girl” page 13, art by Jack Kirby

Of course comic books are not all about splashes, those were just the devices to entice a reader to buy the comic and read the story. Jack always considered himself as mainly a graphic story teller. Although today Kirby is primarily for his work on superheroes, he was exceptional in pretty much every genre that he worked on. Because of the unique nature of his romance stories, it is clear that Jack was not just illustrating someone else’s script. He must have been an active participant in the plotting and I am sure that he continued the long S&K tradition of changing the script as he saw fit. At this time Jack liked to give a special quality to his romance stories by adding something beyond just romance. I am not sure how the readers of Young Romance and Young Love at that time (overwhelmingly teenage girls) felt about Jack’s romances but I am convinced that if these stories were given a chance many of today’s more adult readers would find them interesting reading.

For the most part Jack has adopted a very standard page layout of three rows with two panels in each row. Kirby would occasionally depart from that pattern when the story called for it but that would be the exception. Gone were any uses of circular panels. Figures would not extend beyond a panel’s border although captions or speech balloons might. My description of Kirby’s layouts might make his work sound dry and uninspired but that is certainly not the case. Using a standard panel layout seems to allow Jack to concentrate on depicting the story. Further when the story called for an alteration in the panel layout it was then that much more effective. Kirby was a master of use of changing view points, the addition or removal of background, and even the careful accommodation of speech balloons as the above page amply shows. It was not just melodrama, it was great melodrama! (An honest appraiser would admit that was true of Kirby’s superhero work as well.)


Young Love #7 (February 1950) “The Carnival Girl”, art by Bill Draut

Bill Draut’s position as the number two artist at this time was justified. He could fill a splash panel with a cast of characters each with their own distinctive personalities. Bill was no longer used as an artist in Headline or Justice Traps the Guilty, but this was not due to any problem in handling action since in his romance art he had no problems when action needed to be depicted. Perhaps of even greater importance for love comics, his women, while stylized, are attractive. All of these talents and more are shown in the above splash. Some of Draut’s stories start with a soliloquy splash even though they are not lead stories. Perhaps they were originally intended as lead stories but in the end placed elsewhere in the comic. Although I have seen this happen to Draut, I do not recall a Kirby soliloquy splash that was not the first story.


Young Love #8 (April 1950) “Every Man I Meet” page 4, art by Bill Draut

Like Kirby, Bill Draut generally kept to a standard six panel page layout. If anything he adhered to this layout even more then Jack. Bill would vary view points to keep the visuals interesting but he was not as cinematic as some other comic book artists. Draut graphically tells his story in a straight forward and understated manner. While the reader may not always be amazed by Draut’s art he will always find an entertaining and clear story.


Young Romance #18 (February 1950) “I Own This Man”, art by Mort Meskin

Mort Meskin first solo work for Simon and Kirby appeared in the month before the time covered in this chapter. During this period Mort played no more important a roll then any of the other studio artists (excluding Kirby and Draut). He supplied 4 stories and 2 short features with a total of 32 pages of art. While his presence was not insignificant it was nothing like the prolific output that Mort would achieve in the future. Interestingly Mort was initially used only for the standard and western romance titles, his first crime work would be in the March issue of Headline. Perhaps Meskin’s artist block was not completely overcome by Joe’s strategy of placing random pencils marks so that Mort would not be faced with a blank page.

Meskin’s preference was for a first page; two thirds of which would be used for a splash panel leaving room for a single row of story panels. Most commonly it would have the layout seen in the image above. (Again, these splash page layouts are seen so often that providing them with a name seems a good idea; I will use square splash for those with the story panels arranged horizontally and vertical splash for when the story panels are arranged vertically.) While working in the Simon and Kirby studio Mort did his own inking. Generally this included spotting formed by long parallel, sometimes overlapping, groups of lines. Occasionally, as in “I Own This Man” Meskin would use picket fence crosshatching similar to that found in the Studio style. (For a more complete discussion of Mort Meskin’s inking technique see my post Kirby Inkers, Mort Meskin, for an explanation of the terms I am using to describe inking techniques see the Inking Glossary). My search of Meskin’s work prior to joining Simon and Kirby have so far failed to uncover any examples of the use of picket fence crosshatching so Mort may have adopted it up from Joe and Jack.


Young Love #8 (April 1950) “Danger, Soft Shoulder” page 8, art by Mort Meskin

Mort Meskin’s art was more subdued compared to his earlier hero genre comic art. Some of the more dramatic compositional devices would largely disappear. Techniques, such as the mass of floating heads used in the third panel of page 8 of “Danger, Soft Shoulder”, would now be the rare exception in Mort’s work. Instead, like Bill Draut, Meskin would concentrate more on graphically telling a story. Few other artists, if any, could do it better. Unfortunately for Mort Meskin’s current reputation, it is all too easy to overlook what he was doing. Also it should be admitted that Meskin’s art was not consistently at the same high level, perhaps a result from his push to achieve a high page production rate (with a corresponding income boost).


Young Romance #19 (March 1950) “The Fisherman’s Daughter” page 2, art by Mort Meskin

But it would be mistake to say that now Mort was only interested in telling a story. Mort was also a master at his use of blacks. The shadows found in the first panel of the page from “The Fisherman’s Daughter” shown above are very effective. Even when blacks are used in more limited amounts that are carefully placed to provide the most impact as can be seen elsewhere on the page and the fifth panel in particular. In a way though, Meskin’s use of whites and blacks was not separate aspect of his work. It was carefully used as one of Mort’s tools for advancing the story.

At this time Mort was also working primarily in the standard six panel page layout. But he would use other design techniques to add interest. Note the use of vertical caption boxes on the page shown above. Mort sets up a pattern of vertical captions for the left edge of the first and third panel rows, and the center of the second row. This while using horizontal captions in the second part of the first and third rows. It all provides a pattern that helps to pull the page together without being obtrusive.


Young Romance #17 (January 1950) “Love’s Little Teacher”, art by Bruno Premiani?

I may not be able to truly show that this artist is Bruno Premiani but he is a great creator nonetheless. The splash here is unusual for him in that he provides a split scene. It is so well integrated that it is easy to overlook two separate views are presented. I have described Premiani’s women as attractive but not striking. But in the end to understand an artist’s style well enough to identify his work requires seeing enough examples. So as I continue with work on this serial post I will include further samples of the more important Simon and Kirby studio artists.


Young Romance #17 (January 1950) “Love’s Little Teacher” page 5, art by Bruno Premiani?

Bruno had an interesting drawing style but he was also, like most of S&K studio artists, adept at graphically telling a story. The page from “Love’s Little Teacher” opens with a couple’s kiss, usually more properly placed as the last panel on a page. But Premiani has other things in mind as he proceeded to show the protagonist following the advice of her cousin. Premiani indicates to the reader that the cousin is secretly scheming by the pose he provides her in the background of the final panel. Evidentially Bruno is not just following some formula but carefully brackets the cousin’s influence between the love scene in the first panel and the misguided rejection of a date in the last. I particularly like the fifth panel with the man shown calling in the caption box and the close-up of the telephone receiving the call in the actual panel. With Premiani’s careful arrangement of the towel on the leading lady, the depiction really is not very revealing but just seems so.


Young Romance #17 (January 1950) “I Want Him Back”, art by Leonard Starr

When I first entered the Simon and Kirby productions into my database I was not that familiar with Leonard Starr’s style and so it was largely stories with a signature that ended up attributed to him. Unfortunately this made Starr seem like a minor contributor since, like most Simon and Kirby studio artists, he did not sign all his art. With my current reviews and armed with a better understanding, I have been adding a number of unsigned stories as works that can be credited to Starr. I have long stressed the importance to the studio of three artists (the usual suspects: Draut, Meskin and Prentice) but there is also a second tier of artists who made an important contribution to Simon and Kirby productions but only for shorter periods of time. I would put Starr in this second tier along with artists like Premiani?, Severin, Donahue, Albistur and Brewster.

Leonard did 4 stories with 33 pages during this period. All were unsigned but with styles that are in complete agreement with contemporary signed work. Starr’s splashes were either the square or vertical layouts with, perhaps, a preference for the vertical format as seen above in “I Want Him Back”. It is the drawings of woman that I find the greatest help in identifying Starr’s work. They have an appearance that is almost frail with generous foreheads, small mouths, and narrow chins giving them a look I often describe as elfin.


Young Romance #18 (February 1950) “Mother Tags Along” page 4, art by Leonard Starr

While I would not call Starr’s splashes spectacular they were well done. But it is his story art were Leonard really shines. Like some of the other studio artists, Starr would carefully vary the view point to keep the pages interesting and the story progressing. What makes Starr unique among the S&K studio artists at this time are his panel layouts. More then any of the other artists, Starr would break from the standard page layout of three rows with two panels per row. Instead Leonard preferred to introduced, when possible, a row of three panels with an extended height. Sometimes this was achieved by switching to a page layout of two rows with three panels per row. More frequently the greater height provided for one row would be compensated by decreasing the vertical dimensions of the remaining two rows. These panel layouts did more then provide interesting pages as Starr would use it to aid the story telling. Note how in the page from “Mother Tags Along” Leonard uses the narrow panels for the meeting of the two lovers physically bringing them close together while the more horizontal panels are used the woman’s discussion with her mother allowing the distance that is possible in these panels to suggest the emotional separation between them. No other studio artist at this time made such effective use of panel shapes although Mort Meskin would soon begin to use narrow panels as well.


Young Love #7 (February 1950) “A Secret Affair” page 7, art by Vic Donahue

Vic Donahue’s contribution to the standard romances diminished in the previous chapter and this state continues here. There is a difference though; in Chapter 9 Vic work was restricted to the Nancy Hale feature which was 2 or 3 pages long. During this period the Nancy Hale feature was drawn by other artists. Instead Donahue would draw 1 story and 2 short features with a total of 10 pages which was well below artists like Meskin, Premiani? or Starr.

I have included the above story page to show that while Donahue was not as talented as some of the other studio artists; he was more varied in his panel layouts. I feel, however, that the handling of the story leaves a bit to be desired. For instance this page ends with one man’s confrontation with a rival. Since the last panel depicts such a critical moment the reader would expect the next page to show the result of this confrontation, perhaps even a fight. There was a fight of sorts, but at the start of the next page it is all over with the original man already defeated and on the ground! We really do not know anything about the scripts given to studio artists or how carefully they were expected to be followed, so I cannot say whether Donahue or the writer is responsible for this rather poor handling of what should have been a dramatic scene.


Young Love #8 (April 1950) “The Man in My Dreams”, art by John Severin and Jack Kirby

While Jack Kirby did not supply layouts for any of the artists during this period, there is at least one example of his assuming the roll of art editor. The man in the splash panel of “The Man in My Dreams” is clearly penciled by Kirby, and I believe inked as well. This is the second case of Kirby adding to or altering a splash by John Severin that I have seen (the other was in Chapter 7). If, as I believe, Kirby inked his part of the splash then most likely Kirby was correcting Severin’s finished art.

During this period Severin played a small roll in the standard romance titles. John only did 1 story and 3 features with a total of 8 pages. This is in sharp contrast to the amount of work Severin had done during this same time for the Prize western love titles.

Chapter 1, A New Genre (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 2, Early Artists (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 3, The Field No Longer Their’s Alone (YR #5 – #8)
Chapter 4, An Explosion of Romance (YR #9 – #12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 5, New Talent (YR #9 – 12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 6, Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 7, More Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 8, Kirby on the Range? (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 9, More Romance (YR #13 – #16, YL #5 – #6)
Chapter 10, The Peak of the Love Glut (YR #17 – #20, YL #7 – #8)
Chapter 11, After the Glut (YR #21 – #23, YL #9 – #10)
Chapter 12, A Smaller Studio (YR #24 – #26, YL #12 – #14)
Chapter 13, Romance Bottoms Out (YR #27 – #29, YL #15 – #17)
Chapter 14, The Third Suspect (YR #30 – #32, YL #18 – #20)
Chapter 15, The Action of Romance (YR #33 – #35, YL #21 – #23)
Chapter 16, Someone Old and Someone New (YR #36 – #38, YL #24 – #26)
Chapter 17, The Assistant (YR #39 – #41, YL #27 – #29)
Chapter 18, Meskin Takes Over (YR #42 – #44, YL #30 – #32)
Chapter 19, More Artists (YR #45 – #47, YL #33 – #35)
Chapter 20, Romance Still Matters (YR #48 – #50, YL #36 – #38, YB #1)
Chapter 21, Roussos Messes Up (YR #51 – #53, YL #39 – #41, YB #2 – 3)
Chapter 22, He’s the Man (YR #54 – #56, YL #42 – #44, YB #4)
Chapter 23, New Ways of Doing Things (YR #57 – #59, YL #45 – #47, YB #5 – #6)
Chapter 24, A New Artist (YR #60 – #62, YL #48 – #50, YB #7 – #8)
Chapter 25, More New Faces (YR #63 – #65, YLe #51 – #53, YB #9 – #11)
Chapter 26, Goodbye Jack (YR #66 – #68, YL #54 – #56, YB #12 – #14)
Chapter 27, The Return of Mort (YR #69 – #71, YL #57 – #59, YB #15 – #17)
Chapter 28, A Glut of Artists (YR #72 – #74, YL #60 – #62, YB #18 & #19, IL #1 & #2)
Chapter 29, Trouble Begins (YR #75 – #77, YL #63 – #65, YB #20 – #22, IL #3 – #5)
Chapter 30, Transition (YR #78 – #80, YL #66 – #68, YBs #23 – #25, IL #6, ILY #7)
Chapter 30, Appendix (YB #23)
Chapter 31, Kirby, Kirby and More Kirby (YR #81 – #82, YL #69 – #70, YB #26 – #27)
Chapter 32, The Kirby Beat Goes On (YR #83 – #84, YL #71 – #72, YB #28 – #29)
Chapter 33, End of an Era (YR #85 – #87, YL #73, YB #30, AFL #1)
Chapter 34, A New Prize Title (YR #88 – #91, AFL #2 – #5, PL #1 – #2)
Chapter 35, Settling In ( YR #92 – #94, AFL #6 – #8, PL #3 – #5)
Appendix, J.O. Is Joe Orlando
Chapter 36, More Kirby (YR #95 – #97, AFL #9 – #11, PL #6 – #8)
Chapter 37, Some Surprises (YR #98 – #100, AFL #12 – #14, PL #9 – #11)
Chapter 38, All Things Must End (YR #101 – #103, AFL #15 – #17, PL #12 – #14)