Category Archives: Stein, Marvin

Speaking of Art, Marvin Stein


Justice Traps the Guilty #28 (July 1951), pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

In this post about original art I will discuss a cover by Marvin Stein. Stein was one of the few artists who actually worked in the Simon and Kirby studio. Stein is not well known in current comic book fandom but for a long period of time he was the lead artist in Price Comics crime titles, Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty. Except for a few covers done by Jack Kirby and some others based on photographs, Marvin did all the covers for Headline issues #46 to #77 (March 1951 to September 1956) and for Justice Traps the Guilty #24 to #88 (March 1951 to August 1957). For more information on this topic see Criminal Artists, Marvin Stein.

The cover that I post about this time is from relatively early in his work on crime comic books. While the paste-ups are original, they are not the originals for this particular cover, rather they are from issue #38. Rubber cement was often used for attaching paste-ups because it was inexpensive, quick and convenient. Unfortunately there were negative consequences in the long term to this use of rubber cement. Sometimes the chemicals in the rubber cement would stain what they were attaching. Often with time the rubber cement would become brittle and loose its adhesive qualities causing attachments to fall off. It would take years before either of these detrimental qualities took effect. At the time the long term survival of original comic book art had no importance as it was considered worthless once it had fulfilled its role in the production of the published comic book. In this case the original paste-ups fell off and were re-attached to the wrong comic book art.

There is a reason I picked this particular cover art to discuss which I will return to below. Before that I wanted to explore the use of white-out. White-out was applied by comic book artists to correct defects created during the inking of a piece. Inking errors could not be simply erased but could be covered up with white-out. As for instance an erratic brush stroke. That seems to be the case for the white-out applied in the speech balloons and the frame lines on the right.


Justice Traps the Guilty #28 (July 1951) close-up, pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

A similar explanation could be used to explain the white-up on the printing wheel. Some of the corrected inking can still be seen under the white-out. Even in this close-up it may be difficult to make out that much of the inking on the right side of the wheel has been done over white-out. This is revealed by numerous small cracks in the inking. Such hair-line cracks often appear when ink is applied on white-out that has not completely dried. While this does appear to be a correction further examples suggest that it was not do to poor control of the actual ink brush.


Justice Traps the Guilty #28 (July 1951) close-up, pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

One of the corrections to the frame can be seen in this close-up. While the white-out is too opaque to clearly see what has been hidden there still remains some parts that have not been covered up to suggest that horizontal brushwork had extended beyond the frame and needed to be corrected. Well perhaps not needed because the frame lines were normally trimmed off in the published comic book. There is also white-out applied need the head. Here the ghost of the covered inking can still be observed, at least in part. While the outline has been narrowed slightly it is hard to understand why Stein thought this necessary. Perhaps the true reason for this particular white-out are in areas too opaque to be revealed.


Justice Traps the Guilty #28 (July 1951) close-up, pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

Here Marvin has used white-out to correct a leg. In this case the white-out was used very shortly after the original inking as some of the ink was still wet enough to mix with the white-out, turning it grey. Enough of the original inking is still visible under the white-out to suggest the boot had much thicker outlines.

Note that the penciling can still be seen. Normally these would be erased after the inking was completed but in this case if any erasing was done it was done poorly. This is actually fortunate as it allows a glimpse into the original penciling. It appears that the original pencils were little more than a layout that Stein did not follow closely when inking.


Justice Traps the Guilty #28 (July 1951) close-up, pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

Once again Stein has applied white-out to inking that is still moist enough to cause it to turn grey. Either that or Marvin used the same ink brush to apply the white-out without getting it thoroughly clean first. This does not appear to be a case of Stein narrowing an outline. Instead the effect was to redraw the buttocks and lower back, flattening the buttock a bit and adding curve to the lower back.


Justice Traps the Guilty #28 (July 1951) close-up, pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

The correction shown in the above image is different from the rest. This was not a change in outline but of the spotting. Apparently Stein felt the original spotting was too dark and needed to be lightened up. Today one might wonder if Stein was being a bit much of a perfectionist but he obviously had an idea of what the art should look like and was willing to spend extra time to achieve that end.

Marvin Stein’s pencils were rather loose, without details. Stein did the detail work in the actual inking. That being the case, any corrections would have to be done using white-out. Marvin would become quite good at this approach and maybe someday I will post on one of his later covers. But for now that while the use of white-out does not disappear it seems to become less frequently required. Also Stein would switch to a blue pencil for doing the initial penciling. There were other comic book artists that also did most of their work in the inking stage. Usually such artists become overly concerned in providing detailed inking to the detriment of the art. Joe Maneely is an example who used this approached whose fine detailing resulted, in my opinion, in rather dry art. Marvin Stein never allowed himself get lost in details and his art, particularly for the crime genre, is fresh and full of impact.


Justice Traps the Guilty #28 (July 1951), by Marvin Stein (back of the original art)

The real reason I picked this particular cover to write about is what appears on the back of the original art.


Justice Traps the Guilty #28 (July 1951), by Marvin Stein (close-up of the back of the original art)

Normally what appears on the back of original art, if there is anything at all, is very limited in size and effort. But this piece is rather large and carefully worked out. It was done entirely in ink without any trace of pencils. The humor in this work is obvious. What is not so clear is why Stein did it at all. All this effort done for no more than some personal reason. But it is fortunate that he did because it provides a side of Stein’s character that was not revealed in the work he did in comic books.


Simon and Kirby studio Left to right: Joe Genalo, Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Mort Meskin, Jimmy Infantino and Ben Oda. Caricatures (probably drawn by Joe Simon) of Marvin Stein and Jimmy Infantino.

While it is hard to be sure, I believe this might be a caricatures of Mort Meskin, another artist who worked in the Simon and Kirby studio. Note Meskin’s receding hair, suspenders and bow tie.

Harvey Horror: Alarming Tales #2


Alarming Tales #2 (November 1957), pencils by Joe Simon

I have discussed this cover on at least three prior occasions. I still feel that my last assessment of the cover art is correct, that is it was drawn by Joe Simon. The large figure looks as though it was done by Mort Meskin but this is easily explained as Joe swiped it from a story that Meskin drew.

While there is a lot of Jack Kirby in this issue, it is technically not an all Kirby comic book as it includes one two page story by Marvin Stein. But the main reason that AT #2 is not as desirable a comic as Alarming Tales #1 or Black Cat Mystic #58 or #59 is the inking which is just not quite as good as those other issues.


Alarming Tales #2 (November 1957) “Hole In The Wall”, pencils by Jack Kirby

This is another story of dimensional travel (Jack Kirby’s Trips to the Fourth Dimension). Only this time there is no explanation of how the “hole in the wall” came to be. Further the other dimension turns out to be a rather nice place to live.


Alarming Tales #2 (November 1957) “The Hero”, pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

Marvin Stein entered the advertisement field sometime in  1958 (Commercial Work by Marvin Stein) so this work from AT #2 is from near the end of his comic book career. Actually that is not completely accurate because Stein continued to provides some comic book art up to June 1959. Stein’s late style was simple but done with great assurance. I am not sure how he went about creating his story art but his covers were first very roughly drawn with a blue pencil, really nothing more than quick layouts. Marvin would then add details and finish the drawing not in pencil but directly in ink. It is a procedure that very few comic book artists adopted. Stein inked his own art with a very blunt brush but this was by choice. Marvin did some inking for DC on Superboy adhering to the house style with a finer brush. His ability to do quality inking with fine detail can be seen in the inking he did for Jack Kirby in syndication proposal called Space Busters (Bleeding Cool or What If Kirby).

This very short (two pages) story is about the exciting adventurous life of a spaceman. But not everyone could be a spaceman, you had to be very special. Special in this case is of a very small stature. Jack Kirby would take this same theme for one of the story lines he used in Sky Masters (a syndication strip that debuted on September 8, 1958).


Alarming Tales #2 (November 1957) “The Big Hunt”, pencils by Jack Kirby

Another story of dimensional travel, in this case to dimension five. I find it humorous that a scientist would hire a big game hunter to test his device. Or that the hunter would return without anything from the new dimension. Big game hunters was imposing figures in the culture of the time. A lone individual faced against dangerous prey exemplified bravery. But with today’s the threat of mass extinction, big game hunting seems out of place. Most people would prefer to see a wildlife documentary than some trophy hanging on a wall.


Alarming Tales #2 (November 1957) “The Fireballs” page 2, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by George Roussos with some touchups by Kirby

“The Fireballs” is the story featured on the cover although in the story there is no monster like figure associated with the fireballs. Such deviations of the cover from the story are not that unusual for Simon and Kirby, or comics books in general at that time.

Previously I had considered this story as inked by Kirby as well. That was based on the inking found in certain sections. Notice the inking on the elderly man’s sleeve in panel 4 of page 2. This type of inking I refer to as picket fence inking (Inking Glossary). The manner that its done, drop strings with penned pickets is typical of Kirby’s inking at this time. I am still very much convinced that Kirby inked this particular piece and some other found in this story.

However inking done on Kirby pencils was often done by more than one individual. At one time inking was often done like an assembly line with different inkers working on different aspects of the same pages. With the end of the Simon and Kirby studio such assembly line inking was no longer used but it was still very common for someone to ink Kirby’s pencils and then Jack would go over it providing touch-ups. That is what happened in the inking of “The Fireballs”. The more simplified eyebrows, use of crosshatching by pen, the rather rush looking to the work, and the common use of lighting directed up from below all remind me of the work of George Roussos to whom I now credit with the majority of the inking of this story.


Alarming Tales #2 (November 1957) “I Want To Be a Man”, pencils by Jack Kirby

Robots appeared relatively frequently in Kirby stories during this period (Year of the Robots). I have no good explanation for this. Yes robots appeared in various science fiction movies but none quite like the type of robots that Kirby created. His as large and distinctly mechanical. The one in “I Want to be a Man” is filled with mechanical forms. Throughout his career Kirby had a love of what I call Techno Art (Some Early Jack Kirby Techno Art). Such art would include a multitude of shapes and devices that serve no purpose other than to suggest advanced technology.

A Small Mystery Solved


Justice Traps the Guilty #60A (March 1954) pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

There are many mysteries to be found in the history of comic books. Most are small mysteries, the type that might interest only a handful of fans, but they are mysteries nonetheless. One that has puzzled me over the years is the Justice Traps the Guilty #60A issue. Why #60A and not just #60? Like I said, a small puzzle of that might concern only to the few fans that have an interest in the crime comics published by Prize Comics.


Justice Traps the Guilty #58 (January 1954) pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

JTTG issue #58 was dated January 1954. At the time JTTG was a monthly and therefore March 1954 was the proper month for issue #60, so again why the ‘A’? Prize also used volume numbering to identify their issues. JTTG #58 was volume 7 number 4 and JTTG #60A was volume 7 number 6. So JTTG #59 would expected to be volume 7 number 5 and dated February 1954.


Justice Traps the Guilty #60 (February 1954) pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

However I never saw a copy of JTTG #59 and, as it turns out, with good reason. When I finally found a JTTG dated as February 1954 is was issue #60 (without the ‘A’). The volume numbering was just as expected (volume 7 number 5) but it was not the expected issue #59. Apparently when the February comic was created it was mistakingly marked as issue #60. This error was recognized and corrected by assigning the March comic as #60A. That way all subsequent issues would be correctly numbered.

Yes it was a very small mystery indeed but I was still glad to find the solution. It also allowed me to complete the checklist to Justice Traps the Guilty.

Commercial Work by Marvin Stein


“1001 Sales”, pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

I have to admit when I decided to write a post about some recent commercial comics that I have come across I thought about giving it the title “A Newly Discovered Kirby Comic”. Such a title would surely attract attention and yes the cover to “1001 Sales” has a conspicuously Kirby marking. However it is not Jack Kirby that is referred to but Kirby Vacuum Cleaners. The artist to this commercial comic and two others that I will also discuss was Marvin Stein.

“1001 Sales” is a slim 4 page comic book. Really nothing more than a single sheet that has been folded. The paper is newsprint although perhaps a little better quality than the paper of typical comic books. But otherwise clearly recognizable as a comic book. Political and commercial comics were not that unusual years ago but have are pretty disappeared today.


“1001 Sales” page 4, pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

The first page, which passes as a cover, may not be immediately recognizable as drawn by Stein. But this is due to the unusual pose and expression, at least compared to Marvin’s comic book work. But the art style found on the other pages clearly belong to Stein. The art was a bit more polished than his typical comic book work but this is to be expected for commercial publications. Actually Marvin’s commercial art seems much less dry than typical for this type of work as done by other comic book artists. Stein’s inking plays an important part of what makes this work so appealing.

“1001 Sales” is undated and the only marking on it is “produced by Visual Medium Co., Massapequa, N.Y.”. But the style matches Marvin’s work from 1955 to 1958 (after which Stein stopped drawing for comic books) that it was probably executed not long after.

I cannot resists a comment about the theme of “1001 Sales”. This comic was obviously aimed at Kirby salesmen to promote the use of the “contest close”. This was a device to achieve sales by appealing to potential customer’s better natures. Clearly there really was no contest which offered a special doll as a reward for the most sales. The mention of a daughter expecting the salesman to bring home this prize was obviously nothing more than a technique aimed at a customer’s maternal feelings. It really is surprising that such a blatant lie was being used to increase sales. However a check of Consumer Affairs suggest that similarly objectionable techniques may still be used by Kirby sales personal.


“Engin-Surance”, pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

Stein created another comic “Engin-Surance”. Once again a short four page work, that is nothing more than just a folded sheet. This comic is marked as “Litho in U.S.A. by Visual Medium Co., Massapequa, N.Y.”. This is the same company that “produced” the “1001 Sales” comic. This suggests that Visual Medium was not an advertisement agency but the printer.


“Engin-Surance” page 2, pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

Once again Marvin Stein’s hand is not as obvious on the cover art as it is in the interior pages but I do believe he did the cover as well. Frankly the art for “Engin-Surance” is nowhere nears as nice as in “1001 Sales”. It suffers from being a bit dry which is a typical failure of commercial art.


“Hidden Assets?”, pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

The final commercial comic by Marvin Stein that I have come across is “Hidden Assets?”. Unlike the previous examples, this comic is eight pages long. The two sheets that formed the book were not stapled together but rather glued. There are no markings to indicate who produced this comic.


“Hidden Assets?” page 2, pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

The quality of the art falls somewhere between the two previous examples. Note the woman in panel 4. The way her head tilts down and to the side somewhat is a typical Stein pose. Also typical for Marvin is the particular way the perspective does not seemed to be handled quite correctly. The distortion is not enough to make to detract from the beauty of the drawing but enough to be distinctive.

I have seen commercial work by other comic book artists such as George Roussos for General Electric. But I have to say that normally I find the art much too dry for my tastes. But I rather like what Marvin Stein did commercially, particularly “1001 Sales”. Stein never received much recognition but he really was a talented artist.

Art of Romance, Chapter 37, Some Surprises

(January – June 1959: Young Romance #98 – #100, All For Love #12 – #14, Personal Love #9 – #11)

Young Romance #98
Young Romance #98 (February 1959) “Secret In My Heart”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

Kirby provides four stories for two issues of Young Romance (YR #98 and #99). I believe Jack inked three of the stories himself as well as the splash page for the fourth story. It is hard to be sure because some of the old inking techniques such as arched shadows (Inking Glossary) do not show up often. Further the other inker, who I believe was Marvin Stein, was doing a pretty good job matching Kirby’s work.

Note the tilted image in the first story panel. This is a bit unusual for Kirby but then again Jack was always trying something different.

Young Romance #99
Young Romance #99 (April 1959) “Man Wanted” page 2, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

Above is an example of the great graphical story telling Kirby was doing during this period. Jack’s drawing style has taken on a more abstract quality. Note the eyelids of the woman in the second panel. They really are not natural or realistic but are very expressive nonetheless.

Young Romance #98
Young Romance #98 (February 1959) “A Husband for My Sister” page 3, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Marvin Stein

While I believe the splash page for “A Husband for My Sister” was inked by Kirby himself, the rest of the story does not look like his inking. Perhaps the most obvious difference is the shadow inking found in the first panel of page three. The inker obviously had a poor understanding of the shape of the head. Particularly grievous is the shadow around the eye of the woman. Nor would one expect the man’s lips to catch the light as it does here. I have never seen Kirby do this sort of thing but I have seen Marvin Stein do similar unnatural handling of shadows (“Tragic Circle, JTTG #75, Criminal Artists, Marvin Stein).

Young Romance #99
Young Romance #99 (April 1959) “Fair Game”, art by Paul Reinman

Paul Reinman was used often during this period, providing five stories for Young Romance. His abundant appearance in Young Romance and absence from All For Love and Personal Love is another indication that they titles were produced by different editors.

Young Romance #98
Young Romance #98 (February 1959) “Made in Heaven”, art by John Prentice?

I am not sure what to make of “Made in Heaven”. The art superficially resembles that by John Prentice but is no where nearly nicely drawn as was typical for John. At this time Prentice was primarily working on the syndication strip Rip Kirby but he may also have been doing some work for DC. Was this Prentice quickly dashing something off or was it some other artists copying John’s style? Like I said, I am not sure but I will deffer my opinion until the next chapter when I will have further examples to examine.

All For Love #14
All For Love #14 (June 1959) “Lost Paradise” page 4, pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

Marvin Stein only did a single story during this period. Stein had begun working for Cellomatic in 1958 so presumably his comic book work was done during his spare time. Perhaps this explains his the increasingly looser style that Marvin was using. Still “Lost Paradise” is a graphically well told story.

In the previous chapter I mentioned an unidentified artist who, like Stein, used a rather blunt brush. I wrote that this unknown artist liked to provide very thick outlines in parts. Well it looks like Stein has adopted that style as well. I still believe they are different artists because of the very different manners they drew woman.

Personal Love #10
Personal Love #10 (March 1959) “The Ties That Bind”, art by Ted Galindo

Ted Galindo’s attractive work continues to show up frequently in All For Love and Personal Love. Would you call this a splashless story or one with just a reduced size splash? An unusual panel layout for Galindo or any other artist doing work for the Prize romance titles.

Personal Love #11
Personal Love #11 (May 1959) “True Devotion”, art by Joe Orlando

I would have saved myself much effort had I noticed before the signature on the splash for “True Devotion”. There as clear as day is Joe Orlando’s full signature. Even the letters J and O are executed in the same manner that he used on cover art for All For Love, Personal Love and Justice Traps the Guilty. No question about it all that cover art was done by Joe. Orlando was no longer providing covers but he was now drawing full stories. Besides “True Devotion” there are two other unsigned stories from this period. Considering the quality of the covers Orlando did, it is not surprising how excellent the story art was.

All For Love #14
All For Love #14 (June 1959) “Love Walked In”, art by Dick Briefer

Unlike Orlando’s “True Devotion”, I had previously seen the signature on “Love Walked In” but I had misread it. So I was rather surprised when I reviewed it for this post to find the correct reading was clearly Dick Briefer. What a pleasant but unexpected find. A fortunate one as well, I doubt I would have identified Briefer as the artist without the signature. I have never seen romance art by Dick before and he does it surprisingly well. Once you know it was done by Briefer you can pick out some of his traits, particularly Briefer’s love of asymmetry. But the style on a whole is a lot more conservative and realistic than typical Briefer art especially compared to his Frankenstein.

Personal Love #11
Personal Love #11 (May 1959) “Something To Remember You By” , art by Dick Briefer

Briefer also did two unsigned pieces during the period so I could not resist including another example. I really love what he does with these stories.

I thought Dick had pretty much given up work as a comic book artist after Prize’s Frankenstein was cancelled in 1954 (a casualty of the Comic Code). The GCD only lists reprints for him after that date. “Who’s Who” has him as a non-comics freelancer from 1956 to 1960, followed by advertisement art (1960 – 1972) and fine arts (1962 – 1972). But now we know he did not completely abandon comics.

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 36, More Kirby

(July – December 1958: Young Romance #95 – #97, All For Love #9 – #11, Personal Love #6 – #8)


Young Romance #97 (December 1958), pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Jack and Rosalind? Kirby

Kirby drew two of the Young Romance covers during this period (he also did Young Romance #95). Both appeared to be inked by Jack as well. But note the unusual hand belonging to the contestant wearing the blue dress. When Kirby drew covers those hands found in the periphery often were just crudely sketched. Inkers were generally artists as well and they would ink Jack’s quickly drawn hands in a way to provide them with some semblance of normality. But this example from the YR #97 cover could only be described as quite amateurish. I find it hard to believe that any professional artist would have inked such a hand. That is why I suspect that Jack’s wife Rosalind provided the outline inking. It has been reported that Rosalind did help Jack with the inking at this time, most notably for DC’s Green Arrow. Some have said that her help amounted to nothing more than filling in the black areas but other believe she did some of the outline inking as well using a pen. YR #97 convinces me that the latter proposition is correct. Rosalind Kirby may have outline inked some of Jack’s other romance art from this period but I have not noticed other such obvious examples.

Young Romance #95
Young Romance #95 (August 1958) “Listening To Love” page 2, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

The above page is a nice example of Kirby’s Austere inking. This style provided art that normally had a lighter overall look to it compared to earlier Simon and Kirby work. Yes panels 3 and 6 are filled with black but the figures are still light. Some characteristics of earlier inking remain. For example the arched shadow in panel 5 was often found in previous work. While I am a great admirer of the earlier style (which I call the Studio style), I find the Austere style rather beautiful as well.

Young Romance #97
Young Romance #97 (December 1958) “Hearts and Flowers”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

I personally find Kirby’s romance splashes from 1957 as among Kirby’s poorer pieces. But the splashes he did in 1958 are just great. The fact that Jack inked so many of them himself in 1958 provides part of the explanation about why they are so much better. However even pieces inked by others (such as the one from “Jealousy” from the last chapter) seem more interesting. It seems Kirby got his creative juices flowing again and began provided interesting compositions. The man in the foreground of “Hearts and Flowers” seems to block the reader’s viewpoint as well as the ladies. Her straight back pose seems to shout her feelings of being trapped. The man in the background occupies only a small part of the image but his presence at the focal point makes certain that the reader sees his disapproval of the other man’s actions. Great art, great story telling, great Kirby!

Young Romance #97
Young Romance #97 (December 1958) “Uninvited Guest” page 4, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

I love the final romance art that Jack Kirby did for Young Romance. Most fans focus on Kirby superhero features but it is his romance work that Jack truly showed his genius. This page is a great example. While there is no action this is by no means a collection of panels of standing figures. Expression, body language and view points are all manipulated to advance the story and keep the reader interested.

Young Romance #95
Young Romance #95 (August 1958) “Hold Back The Tears”, pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

Marvin Stein is one artist that I have reevaluated over the years. Initially I was not impressed. My earlier low opinion was largely due to his early romance art which even now I do not think that all that great. It was his crime work in particular that changed my opinion (Criminal Artist, Marvin Stein). While in some ways I find his style not as conducive for the romance genre, Stein’s romance art is still very interesting.

Note the long eyebrows found on the woman in the last panel. Such exaggerated eyebrows sometimes appear in the inking of Kirby’s pencils from 1956 and 1957. That is one of the reasons I sometimes believe Stein was the inker for much of Kirby’s work during that period.

Young Romance #95
Young Romance #95 (August 1958) “Lover, Come Back”, art by unidentified artist

Some of the yet unidentified artist doing romance for Prize during this period were frankly not as good compared to those used previously. There are, however, exceptions. I particularly like the work for “Lover, Come Back”. The art appears to be based on photographic reference material and not all panels are quite as successful as those from the first page. But all the art is nicely integrated so that the swiped parts are not so noticeable. There is another story from the same issue (“A Young Man’s Fancy”) that I believe was done by the same artist. While that story also appeared to be in parts based on photographs it was not so successfully integrated. In fact the results was pretty much a disaster.

Young Romance #97
Young Romance #97 (December 1958) “The Lamb In The Grey Flannel Suit”, art by unidentified artist Paul Reinman

Another interesting but unidentified artist appearing in Young Romance. I have not noticed any other work by the same artist. Reinman did two other stories during this period and would play an important roll in futher issues of Young Romance.

All For Love #9
All For Love #9 (August 1958) “Portrait of a Broken Heart”, art by unidentified artist

This artist appears fairly frequently in All For Love and Personal Love. Like Marvin Stein, he uses a rather blunt brush for his inking. However his woman are very different from Stein’s so there should be no problems confusing the two. Unlike Stein, this artist likes to use very thick outlines in places such as in the above splash on the woman’s hair and the man’s back.

All For Love #10
All For Love #10 (October 1958) “Little Liar”, art by Ted Galindo

Ted Galindo continues to frequently appear in All For Love and Personal Love but not in Young Romance (the title still produced by Simon and Kirby). Ted provides 6 stories with most issues having one of his stories. It does not work out perfectly since Galindo appeared twice in All For Love #10 (October 1958) but not at all in Personal Love #7 (September 1958). The above page shows Ted using a tall narrow splash. While Galindo did not use such a splash panels often, tall and narrow panels do appear fairly frequently in the story pages.

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 35, Settling In

(January – June 1958: Young Romance #92 – #94, All For Love #6 – #8, Personal Love #3 – #5)

I was mistaken when in my last chapter I wrote that the postal statement for All For Love listed Joe Genalo as the editor. That was true for all such statements except the first which listed Joe Simon and Jack Kirby as the editors. Where Simon and Kirby really the editors or was this just an error caused by cutting and pasting from a statement in Young Romance to the one for All For Love? I believe it was just an error because in this chapter as in the last one, different artists appeared in the different publications. Jack Kirby and Bill Benulis only appeared in Young Romance while Ted Galindo only appeared in All For Love and Personal Love. Marvin Stein appeared to be the only artist appearing in both Young Romance and All For Love, although oddly not in Personal Love.

Young Romance #92
Young Romance #92 (February 1958), pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

The cover for Young Romance #92 (February 1958) was the first one that Kirby did since his run of all-Kirby Prize romance issues of 1956. The preceding six covers done by other artists is a clear indication of the very different nature of Young Romance from 1957 on. Previously Kirby was the artist for all drawn covers except during the period when he and Joe were busy with Mainline Comics (there own publishing venture). This cover was inked by Kirby as well in the manner I call the Austere style (Jack Kirby’s Austere Inking). Older techniques like picket fence crosshatching (Inking Glossary) are absent although drop strings continue to be used but in an overlapping manner. Inking is sparser giving the art a lighter look. When a black region is called for it is executed by flooding the area with ink. The Austere style appears to have been adopted as a means to speed the inking process but not by sacrificing the aesthetics of the final result.

Young Romance #92
Young Romance #92 (February 1958) “Running Mates”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

“Running Mates” marks the beginning of Kirby inking his stories as well. An inker working on his own pencils always has an advantage, but when the artists is as talented inker as Jack was the difference can be astonishing. Jack’s drawing style has changed as well compared to his earlier work. His lines take on a more abstract quality. Look at the woman in the splash; particularly here nose and eyelids. This is far from realism but provides the figure with an expressive quality that realistic art generally fails to achieve.

Young Romance #93
Young Romance #93 (April 1958) “Jealousy”, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Marvin Stein

Kirby would not inked all his pencils during the period covered by this chapter, or even most. There are a number of Kirby stories that seemed to be inked by the same artist but I am generally not willing to commit myself to say who that artist was. However I have little doubt when it comes to the inker of “Jealousy”. Marvin Stein inks this piece in exactly the same manner that he would ink his own. When looking at the details it is easy to forget about Kirby’s involvement because Stein’s touch so permeates the piece. Only when one steps back to look at the forest instead of the trees does Jack’s hand become obvious. It is in my opinion a beautiful combination. This is one of my favorite Kirby pieces inked by someone other than Jack himself.

Young Romance #92
Young Romance #92 (February 1958) “Lovable Dud”, pencils by Bill Benulis unidentified artist, inks by Vince Colletta

None of the stories from this period that I attribute to Bill Benulis are signed but the style does look like his. Benulis did some signed work for Simon and Kirby published in January 1954 (Young Brides #11 and Young Love #53) but I also credit to him an unsigned work from October 1955 (Young Love #67). Benulis is one of the younger artists who did romance in a more modern style and gave his characters more modern clothing and hair styles. Bill had a penchant for patterned clothing as for examples seen worn by the woman in the splash page above.

8/8/10 – Based on observations made by some commentors I went back and compared this and three other stories with “Live Alone And Love It” from Young Romance #91 (December 1957) a piece signed by Vince Colletta. All appeared to be inked by the same artist, Vince Colletta. I also compared these four stories with work from 1954 and 1955 that can confidently be credited to Bill Benulis. I no longer feel they all were done by the same penciller. I still feel that “Loveable Dud” and the other three stories were pencilled by a different artist than the Colletta signed piece. Therefore I have removed the Benulis attribution and left the penciller as unknown while crediting the inking for all to Vince Colletta.

All For Love #6
All For Love #6 (February 1958), pencils by Joe Orlando?

The cover for All For Love #6 is unsigned but appears to be by the same artist who initials J. O. appear on other All For Love, Personal Love and Justice Traps the Guilty covers. There have been some comments (both supportive and not) to the last chapter about my tentative suggestion that these covers may have been done by Joe Orlando. Frankly I have not real evidence to back up my suggestion. The artist is quite talented and he almost certainly has done work in comic books before. There really are not a lot of candidates from this period with these particular initials. None of the candidates seems more appropriate than Joe Orlando and so I am now questionably attributing this material to him. My practice in this blog is to use provide credit based on my own observations but this in no way should be interpreted as a disagreement with those who are more knowledgeable about certain artists than I am. Once I have had a chance to familiarize myself with the work Orlando did for other publishers, I am sure either the question mark will be removed or the attribution dropped.

All For Love #6
All For Love #6 (February 1958) “To Love is to Trust” page 6, pencils by Ted Galindo

Ted Galindo was perhaps the most used artist for All For Love and Personal Love during this period. He certainly is one of my favorites. The above page is a good example of why I like him. The floating hearts are, in my opinion, a little hokey (but very much in fashion for the period) but otherwise this is a well designed and executed sequence.

All For Love #7
All For Love #7 (April 1958) “Love For Granted” page 5], pencils by Marvin Stein

As in the last chapter, Marvin Stein appears in Young Romance (produced by Simon and Kirby) and All For Love. In some ways this is the better romance work compared to what Stein had been doing earlier in his career. In general I feel that Marvin’s style was more appropriate for the crime and western features he was doing for Prize. But now his woman are more lively and attractive. But I do feel Stein’s art now looks a bit rushed.

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)

Criminal Artists, Chapter 1, Marvin Stein

Introduction

It was always my intention to finish the serial post “It’s a Crime” by covering the Prize crime titles during the period when they were no longer produced by Simon and Kirby. My reluctance to continue may have been in part due to how inappropriate it seemed to review the material as a series of sequential time periods as I had been doing previously. Unlike what was seen in the Simon and Kirby produced crime titles, the later issues did not change that much over most of their runs. Much of the consistency of the crime comics was due to the presence of one single artist providing most of the covers and lead stories. So I have decided to end my original serial post and start a new one. In this one I will be covering the crime titles Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty from March 1951 to April 1958 (cover dates) but by devoting a separate chapter to different artists.

When Joe Simon and Jack Kirby started producing crime comics for Prize the stories were rather strong. Gun battles with lots of bullets and pools of blood were not uncommon. I do not believe they went as far as some publishers but still it was pretty violent stuff. At that same time there was a vocal oppositions to comics, particularly the crime ones. I am sure that it was because of this public criticism that Simon and Kirby began to tone down the violence. There were still gun shootouts but little if any blood. These less violent crime stories continued even after Simon and Kirby stopped producing the titles. I am sure this is why comic book fandom has pretty much forgotten about the later Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty comics. However I am not sure this is justified. The stories are well written and while the artists are not well known today many of them did really nice jobs. The most detracting thing I can say about them is that there are so many issues and as I said above they all looked pretty much the same. An analogy (which I am sure some readers will reject) can be found with Marvel monster stories. Good reads but I doubt anyone would read through them all without occasionally taking a break with some other genre.

Marvin Stein

The first artist for this serial post had to be, just had to be, Marvin Stein. The Prize crime titles were virtually defined by his presence. Marvin did all the non-photographic covers for Headline that were not done by Jack Kirby (issues #46 to #77, March 1951 to September 1956). This is almost true for Justice Traps the Guilty (issues #20 and #24 to #88, November 1950 and March 1951 to August 1957). Only the covers for the last 4 issues of JTTG were done by someone else. Similarly Stein generally provided the first (lead) story. Unfortunately I am still uncertain about identifying some of Stein’s earlier work. There are a few early lead stories that may or may not be attributable to Stein. There is at least two that were definitely not done by Marvin. But before long Stein would take over the lead story and keep it. Up until the end of Headline and to issue #89 of Justice Traps the Guilty. And while some other artist did the lead story for JTTG #90 he imitated Marvin Stein! Not only was Marvin the cover and lead artist, many issues had a second story by him as well. Even after he was no longer the lead artist, each JTTG would have a story done by Stein up to the very last issue (#92, April 1958).

Justice Traps the Guilty #14
Justice Traps the Guilty #14 (February 1950) “Knockout Racket”, art by Marvin Stein?

The earliest work for Prize Comics signed by Marvin Stein was in JTTG #22 (January 1951). Although unsigned, the cover for JTTG #20 (November 1950) was almost certainly done by Stein as well. There are a number of earlier pieces whose attribution to Marvin becomes progressively more difficult and uncertain. One thing is clear is that Stein did not arrive at the Simon and Kirby studio with his mature style. “Knockout Racket” is the earliest lead story that I am comfortable to even questionably assign to Stein. But it is tentative; perhaps the only thing on the page shown above that I can point to that suggests Stein’s mature style are the eyes of the lady in splash. The first page shows a device often used by Simon and Kirby for their romance stories, the soliloquy splash. This is a format where a character in the splash introduces the story and where the speech balloon contains the title. All of Stein’s lead stories use a soliloquy splash while those other early lead stories by other artists did not. However I am not prepared to assign all lead stories with soliloquy splashes to Marvin.

Justice Traps the Guilty #27
Justice Traps the Guilty #27 (June 1951) “Sky Smugglers”, art by Marvin Stein

Marvin Stein was still far from his mature style when he did “Sky Smugglers”. Although unsigned, as most of his crime stories were, there are enough examples of typical Stein traits to leave no doubt that this was his work. One trait in particular to note is the shadow that trails down the right side of the face for the man in the splash. Normally comic book artists draw shadows that originate from a single light source but in this face Stein is using two light sources; a prominent one from the front a little to our right and a secondary one further back and from the left. The shadow exists in the region not fully illuminated by either of these light sources. I refer to this type of shadow as a negative highlight. Marvin would use this technique often and in the future would even move the shadow towards the center of the face. Negative highlights are something I have not noticed used by Kirby or any other artist working for the studio. However this device was also used by Wally Wood from whom I suspect Stein picked it up.

Justice Traps the Guilty #38
Justice Traps the Guilty #38 (May 1952), art by Marvin Stein

Stein had arrived at his mature style by 1952 and the cover for JTTG #38 is a good example of that style. Stein was comfortable with action but handled it in his own manner. His characters would throw a punch with a rather forward motion unlike the more rotational manner Kirby would use. While he lacked Kirby’s exaggerated perspective, Stein still had good command of perspective and used it well in establishing a point of view. He seemed to have picked up Kirby’s penchant for flat edged fingers. Stein developed a simplified drawing for more distant faces in a manner that was distinctly his own. Marvin inked with a rather blunt brush which can easily be mistaken for crude inking but is actually rather nuanced. Note the inking on the gymnasium equipment at the bottom center; Stein would often use this sort of rice kernel pattern for inking shadows.

Justice Traps the Guilty #46
Justice Traps the Guilty #46 (January 1953), art by Marvin Stein

The romance, western and crime genre that Stein most often drew generally did not provide much opportunity to depict the human body. Examples such as this boxing scene show that Marvin could do a real good job. I do not know if he was working from some reference material but it still is a very respectable piece.

Justice Traps the Guilty #42
Justice Traps the Guilty #42 (September 1952) “Scandal Sheet Shakedown” page 9, art by Marvin Stein

Stein’s depiction of men improved more rapidly than that of his women. The lady in the first panel still retains some of the artificially arched eyebrows found in Stein’s earlier work. The same lady in panel 3 seems more realistic. It is just me or does she somewhat resemble Jack Kirby’s work? I think this is most likely a case of Kirby influencing Stein. Observe how Stein’s rather blunt brush still manages his characters with individuality and expressiveness. I particular like Marvin’s work on the three thugs in panel 5. Each has his own distinct personality.

Also note Stein’s manipulation of the point of view. Starting with a close-up to establish the main characters before moving to a more distance shot to place them on the street. Then another close-up is followed by what looks like yet one more but actually introduces a group of secondary characters in the background. Stein then makes a large jump in the viewpoint placing the thugs in the foreground and the main characters in the distant back. As we will see Marvin Stein very carefully controls viewpoint and pacing.

Justice Traps the Guilty #68
Justice Traps the Guilty #68 (November 1954) “Not Fit for Duty” page 6, art by Marvin Stein

I admit that I am searching for a word to use for describing a technique Stein frequently uses. For now I will use choreography for the way that Stein would sometimes arrange panels into a short time interval sequence, but I admit it is not the best term for my purpose. But note how in the first five panels shows the policeman’s capture of a thug. Not only does each panel only advance the time by a small amount but look how Marvin brings the action closer and closer to the reader.

I have mentioned Stein’s blunt brush but look how masterfully he has captured the older cop in the last panel!

Justice Traps the Guilty #84
Justice Traps the Guilty #84 (December 1956) “Stakeout” page 3, art by Marvin Stein

Another choreographed sequence occupies the entire page although perhaps not as successful as the previous example. This might have been at least in part due to the Comic Code’s restriction on the depiction of violence. The more distant viewpoints may have satisfied the Comic Code but the also lessened the impact.

Justice Traps the Guilty #70
Justice Traps the Guilty #70 (January 1955) “Feud” page 8, art by Marvin Stein

Here is another choreographed sequence that is still successful despite the Comic Code. By keeping the thug outside of the viewpoint we do not actually see the results of the cop’s use of his machine gun but there can be little doubt about it’s effectiveness.

Justice Traps the Guilty #75
Justice Traps the Guilty #75 (June 1955) “Tragic Circle” page 7

A final example of a choreographed sequence by Stein. But again ruined by the Comic Code. Any child could see gun fights by gangsters or cowboys on the television and in the movies but for some reason the Comic Code had to protect them from seeing someone being struck by a bullet. Without the accompanying text the reader would be left perplexed by the killer’s sudden collapse.

Despite the Comic Code this is still a great page. Further it is a good example of the way Stein often used blacks to enhance the story. While not realistic in the technical sense of the word, the eye isolated in the killer’s shadowed half of the face seems appropriate as he takes aim (panel 4). Even the industrial ceiling adds interest to the images.

Justice Traps the Guilty #53
Justice Traps the Guilty #53 (v.6, n.11) August 1953 “The Wreckers”, art by Marvin Stein

Some of Stein’s more simpler splashes are actually very strong. Here we have nothing more than a talking head and a simple background. But the person’s clothing and the bars on the window indicate we are being addressed to by a prisoner. Once again Marvin is using a rather blunt brush but notice how masterly he handles the nuances that make this portrait so successful. Here also is an example of Stein’s use of a negative shadow. In fact much of the interest of this head shot is generated by this deceptively simple device. The colorist makes it even better by giving the farther portions of the face a purple color showing one of the two light sources as being more powerful than the other. Typically Marvin makes the depth of the head too shallow but far from detracting from the image this makes it all the more expressive. The lack of a good distinction between the eyebrow and the associated shadows is another of Stein’s mannerisms one that sometimes even appears when he inks Jack Kirby’s pencils.

Headline #60
Headline #60 (July 1953) “Finger Man”, art by Marvin Stein

Here Marvin Stein provides an even more stripped down version of a prisoner in a soliloquy splash. The image may be simpler but with nothing lost in it’s impact. In fact I believe this is perhaps the best portrayal of a criminal by a comic book artists I have ever seen. The reader has no doubt that he is being addressed to by a hardened individual. An important contributor to the effect of this image is the strong negative highlights. No longer delegated to one side, here the shadow traces a path down the center of the face.

Before closing I should mention the influence of Jack Kirby on Marvin Stein. I am not that familiar with Stein’s earlier career but he seemed to have had 5 to 7 years experience when he arrived at the Simon and Kirby studio. Marvin was one of the few artists that actually worked in the studio (at least for a period) and the presence there of comic book greats Jack Kirby and Mort Meskin had to have made an impression on him. His artwork certainly seemed to blossom over a relatively short time. Kirby seemed to have the greatest influence on Stein. It does not seem an accident that Stein’s use of point of view, carefully sequenced panels, and action became so important to his art. These same qualities can be found in Kirby’s own work. However Stein is not a Kirby imitator; he developed his own drawing style and methods for graphically telling stories. Still from time to time some have claimed that Kirby provided layouts for some of Stein’s work. I even succumbed to that error (It’s a Crime, The Master and His Protégé). The problem with this claim of Kirby layouts is that Stein’s work consistently shows the same characteristics throughout his career. If Kirby was helping this would have to have been for everything Stein did including work done after the Simon and Kirby studio had broken up. In addition Stein’s art included elements for handling action was generally quite distinctive from Kirby’s. I think we can safely dismiss all claims of significant Kirby help except for his roll as a mentor.

Marvin Stein is one of those forgotten comic book artists. When remembered at all it is for his being one of Jack Kirby’s inkers. Partly this is because Marvin Stein’s work was largely for two titles for Prize, a small publisher (Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty). But Stein did work on other Prize titles and for other publishers as well including Atlas. I think another reasons for his neglect among comic fans was the distortions his figures often exhibit. From certain views his heads seem too shallow. When using a high viewpoint his heads have a distortion that is hard to describe but so typical of Stein. These distortions were not so visible in Marvin’s earlier work and seemed to become more pronounced over the years. But I do not considered academic accuracy a requirement for comic book art, quite the contrary. I have come to appreciate Stein’s distortions and the expressionistic quality they gave to his art. I will say that while Marvin’s drawing style worked well with the crime and western genre it seemed a poor match for romance stories. The final factor in the decline of Stein’s reputation was his inking. Stein’s inking looks deceptively simple. It certainly does not offer much for those that are fans of detailed and intricate art work. However I hope that some of the examples I have provided in this post will show that his brushwork was capable of great subtleties. While some have claimed Stein’s work looks rushed I think a more accurate description would be economical. Stein carefully provided the essentials for the story and left out that which he considered extraneous. It is an approach that I admire.

Art of Romance, Chapter 30, Transition

(July – December 1955: Young Romance #78 – #80, Young Love #66 – #68, Young Brides #23 – #25, In Love #6, I Love You #7)

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

This continued to be troubling times for comic book publishers. Although the graph of the number of romance titles shows a relatively flat period, in fact the number of publishers of romance comics continued to decline (The Real Reason for the Decline of Comics). Simon and Kirby’s publishing venture (Mainline) ended in the period covered in the last chapter (Chapter 29) but they had transferred their titles to Charlton for publication. Even that did not save the Simon and Kirby titles for long. The Mainline romance title, In Love, ended at Charlton with issue #6 (July 1955).

There was an important change in the rostrum of artists supplying work for the Simon and Kirby romance comics, Jack Kirby was back providing art for the Prize love titles. During the period covered in this chapter Kirby would draw 47 pages of art followed by Joanquin Albistur (33 pages); Bill Draut (29 pages); Mort Meskin (16 pages); Bob McCarty, Ann Brewster and Marvin Stein were all tied (13 pages); Bill Benulis (7 pages); and John Prentice, Al Gordon and Lazurus (6 pages each). There were still a lot of relatively new and unidentified artists (58 pages). Kirby had returned to being the primary artists after a period of relative inactivity. However Kirby’s return came toward the end of this period but before that return the things were pretty much like it was during the last chapter.

Young Romance #78
Young Romance #78 (August 1955) “Army Nurse”, art by Joaquin Albistur

As noted above, Jo Albistur was the second most productive artists during this period. Albistur worked for Simon and Kirby for a little over a single year but during that time he was an important contributor to both Prize and Mainline titles and even appeared in Win A Prize (Charlton). However Albistur was never used for Black Magic, probably because that was not his strongest forte. Apparently Jo did a little work for another comic publisher (which I find much too dry) and appeared in Humorama as well (but too risque to be shown in this blog). Despite his short appearance, Jo Albistur is one of my favorite artist that worked for Simon and Kirby. He would last appear in Young Romance #79 (October 1955).

Young Romance #78
Young Romance #78 (August 1955) “Dream House for Two”, art by Bill Draut

Bill Draut could be described as the work horse for the Simon and Kirby studio. More than any other artists, Bill consistently produced a significant amount of art for all Simon and Kirby productions. He was also the longest running artist working for the studio having started on some features used in Stuntman and Boy Explorers titles that Joe and Jack launched after returning from military service. Draut met Joe Simon in Washington DC when both were still in the service (Bill in the Marines and Joe in the Coast Guard). It was Joe who convinced Bill to try working as a comic book artist. As far as I know the only other publisher that Draut worked for up to now was Harvey Comics. I do not know if Bill independently met Al Harvey or whether this connections was through Joe as well. Unlike the other artists in this post, we will see a little more work by Bill but not for a few chapters.

Young Love #68
Young Love #68 (December 1955) “No One To Marry”, pencils by Mort Meskin

Mort Meskin did not work for as long as Bill Draut but he certainly created more art than anyone other than Kirby and there were periods that he even out produced Jack. Mort has been a very over looked artist. This is partly because his work during the war has largely not be reprinted. Further during much of the fifties he was over shadowed by Kirby. Jack was THE best comic book artist but that does not mean all other artists are not worthy of recognition. The work that Meskin is most well know for was for DC horror titles during the late 50’s. Mort tried to adapt his art to look more like the DC studio style making that perhaps his lest artistically successful period. I intend to include in this serial post Prize romance titles not produced by Joe and Jack so we will see a little more work by Meskin. But Mort would never again work for Simon and Kirby.

Young Romance #79
Young Romance #79 (October 1955) “A Vision of Beauty”, art by John Prentice

John Prentice was the last of what I refer to as the usual suspects (along with Draut and Meskin). While he would appear in some Harvey titles that I believe were edited by Joe Simon, he also would not be used in any more Simon and Kirby productions nor in any of the other Prize romance titles. He would do a little work for DC but unlike Draut and Meskin, his later career was actually quite successful. Prentice was called upon to take over the Rip Kirby syndication strip after the untimely death of Alex Raymond. I cannot think of an artist better suited to this task. I am not saying Prentice was as good an artist as Raymond but John was so influenced by Alex that he was able to take the strip over without a too obvious style change. I am a great admirer of the work Prentice did for Joe and Jack but I believe his work on Rip Kirby was even greater. Unfortunately I doubt we will see Prentice’s Rip Kirby reprinted (at least in my life time) but I do intend to post about it someday.

Young Love #68
Young Love #68 (December 1955) “Language of Love”, art by Bob McCarty

Bob McCarty appeared often enough in Simon and Kirby productions that perhaps I should also include him in the “usual suspects. I have to admit that for sometime I credited work by McCarty from 1954 and 1955 to John Prentice. For some reason McCarty’s style changed to one more like Prentice’s at this time. This maybe nothing more than their being mutually influenced by Alex Raymond’s Rip Kirby strip. However the resemblance on occasion is so close that a more personal connection is possible.

Young Romance #79
Young Romance #79 (October 1955) “Poor Marcie”, art by Ann Brewster

This is at least the second time that Ann Brewster had worked for Joe and Jack although the first time seemed to have been limited to a single piece (Chapter 9). As far as I know she is the only female artist that ever worked for Simon and Kirby but then again there were not many women in the comic book field. Brewster’s talents was recognized by Joe and Jack because she was one of the few artists to be used for Prize romance covers. I am not sure whether this resulted in any financial gain for Ann as her covers were created from stats made from her splashes. That it was the splashes that were the source is shown by the “original” of the cover for Young Romance #79 that is part of Joe Simon’s collection.

Young Love #67
Young Love #67 (October 1955) “The Desperate Time”, art by Marvin Stein

With all the influx of new and returning artists during this last year it is surprising that it did not include more work by Marvin Stein. But Marvin does show up in a couple of stories late in 1955. Frankly I was not enthusiastic about much of Stein’s romance work although he had gotten better just before he stopped regularly providing work to Joe and Jack in 1952 (Chapter 16). Marvin returns as a much improved artist from the experience he accumulated as the lead artist for Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty (during the period when these titles were not produced by Simon and Kirby). The women that Stein would now draw were attractive and natural looking. While his drawing and inking has greatly improved Marvin still lacks the ability or inclination to depict intimacy; a serious failing in the romance genre. I am not overly enthusiastic about his romance art I find his work in the crime genre to be exceptional (I will be covering this in a future post).

In Love #6
In Love #6 (July 1955) “A Typical Teen Ager”, art by Art Gates

Art Gates has often been included in recent chapters of the Art of Romance however they were examples of his more realistic style. But I thought I would include one of his gag strips from In Love. Although as we have seen Gates did more realistic comic book art my impression is that he received more work doing gag features. But whatever the style Gates seemed to specialize in short one or two page features.

Young Love #67
Young Love #67 (October 1955) “Hazardous Honeymoon”, art by Bill Benulis

While I cannot identify a number of the studio artists from this period there are some that I believe I can and so I will include some examples. “Hazardous Honeymoon” is unsigned but I still believe it was done by Benulis. Benulis style has a more modern look compared to most artists working for the S&K studio but he did not do a lot of work for Joe and Jack.

Young Love #68
Young Love #68 (December 1955) “Echo of a Dream”, art by Harry Lazarus

I admit I might not have included “Echo of a Dream” in this chapter had it been unsigned. This is the only piece that I know of that Lazarus did for Simon and Kirby but he also did a story for Justice Traps the Guilty about the same time.

Young Brides #24
Young Brides #24 (September 1955) “Count Romance Out”, art by Al Gordon

Al Gordon is another artist who I might not have provided an example image for had he not signed the work. I do not want to give the impression that I thinks he or any of the unidentified artists are not competent it is just that in most case I cannot get to excited about them either. Gordon also do some work for Bullseye.

In Love #6
In Love #6 (July 1955) “I Deeply Regret”, art by unidentified artist

The period covered by this chapter does not seem to have much art purchased from other failing publishers. Such art picked up from failing romance titles seemed to be a significant feature of the comics covered in the previous two chapters. So far the only one I recognized for this chapter was “I Deeply Regret”. The lettering does not seemed to have been done by Ben Oda who was still the only letterer that Simon and Kirby used. That the lettering was not Oda’s is particularly obvious in the caption found in the splash. The floating captions with the unusual large first letter are also rather unique. I suspect with some searching it should be possible to identify the original source for this story.


I Love You #7 (September 1955), pencils by Jack Kirby

I wonder whether it was ever Charlton’s intention to continue to publish Simon and Kirby’s former Mainline titles? Perhaps they only wanted to pick up some finished art cheap and get the second class mailing licenses. Whatever their original plans were, Charlton replaced In Love with a new title, I Love You. Since the I Love You issue number picked up from where In Love left off it certainly was using In Love’s mailing license. There was even a cover by Jack Kirby, although not one of his best efforts. The interior art was done by different artists from those previously used by the Simon and Kirby studio. I presume they are all artists that had been working for Charlton. I Love You would become a long running Charlton romance title.

Young Brides #25
Young Brides #25 (November 1955), art by Joe Simon?

The contents of Young Brides #25 was very distinctive for reasons that I will discuss below but even the cover is rather unique. For most of the period covered in this chapter the covers were created by a small group of studio artists (Bill Draut, Mort Meskin and Ann Brewster). This was also true during the period covered in the previous two chapters except the list of artists also included John Prentice and Bob McCarty. The cover for Young Brides #25 was distinctive because it was one of two covers that clearly was not done by any of the previous cover artists. The inker for the cover included the use of picket fence crosshatching (Inking Glossary) which suggests the possibility that Jack Kirby may have been involved. Picket fence crosshatching was one of the techniques of the studio style that typically was used on Kirby’s pencils. I will not completely rule out Kirby having penciled the two figures but I am do not find them convincing examples of his drawing style either. However the dog in the background strongly reminds me of Joe Simon’s work and so I am questionably crediting this cover to him. If true this is one of the few covers that Joe did during the Simon and Kirby collaboration.

Young Brides #25
Young Brides #25 (November 1955) “Cafe Society Lover, pencils by Jack Kirby

Young Romance #79 (October 1955) included a short piece (“Problem Clinic”) by Jack Kirby. The piece itself is not all that good; perhaps spoiled by poor inking (I have questionably credited the inking to Marvin Stein). However it marked the return of Kirby to the Prize romance titles from which he has been completely absent for about a year.

Jack Kirby next appeared in Young Brides #25 (November 1955). But this issue was odd because it contained three full stories drawn by Jack; an unusually high number. These stories are all much better than his “Problem Clinic” from last month’s Young Romance #79. Perhaps this is due to a better inking job. While I cannot rule out Jack providing some touch-ups, the spotting does not appear to have been done by Kirby.

Young Romance #80
Young Romance #80 (December 1955) “Old Enough to Marry”, pencils by Jack Kirby

Young Love #68 and Young Romance #80 both came out in December 1953. YL #68 was very much the same as most of the issues discussed in this chapter; a Meskin cover and story art by Meskin, Draut, McCarty, Stein and Lazurus. YR #80 was something entirely different; not only did Jack draw the cover he also penciled every story.

A short comment about the splash for “Old Enough to Marry”. At a glance it might appear that Jack has returned to the old soliloquy splash layout where a character introduces the story with his speech balloon containing the title. But the older man’s speech is actually part of the story. Other studio artists had stopped using the story splash format. If he was aware of that, Kirby was undeterred and with good reason. Jack may not have been doing much romance art during the previous year but he certainly has not lost his touch.

I will close this chapter with a good news, bad news section. The bad news first. Simon and Kirby productions will never be the same. One of the fundamental themes of this blog is that Simon and Kirby productions are not just Jack drawing and Joe inking. What Simon and Kirby did was much, much more. They put together entire contents and the studio artists they employed played an important part in provided those comics with varied and interesting content. While we will see some of this artists again under special circumstances and different venues, the absence of so many artists from future Simon and Kirby productions begs for an explanation. I can offer two possibilities. The first is that future Simon and Kirby productions, which were all romance work, seems to have been done on the cheap. The artists used in the future were on a whole not of the same caliber as those previously used. Lower pay made working for Simon and Kirby not as attractive as it was previously. The second explanation for the missing studio artists was the sudden termination of any work for 1956. The entire comic industry was collapsing and this included the Simon and Kirby studio. I do not know precisely when the actual studio closed but I believe it had done so by the end of 1955. If not then certainly by the end of 1956 when Jack Kirby had begun doing freelance work for DC and Atlas. It must have been a shock for the studio artists that the work offered by Simon and Kirby came to a sudden end. Joe Simon has said that all the artists were paid and I believe him but I wonder if the cash flow problems may have meant that for some the payment was delayed. In any case I suspect the sudden end of it all left many of the artists with hard feelings.

Now the good news. Not only will Simon and Kirby productions will never be the same but for the next year they are going to be unlike anything that was done before. The Prize romance titles will for the most part be drawn by Kirby alone. Such all, or near all, Kirby titles have happened in the past but under special circumstances. For instance the early issues of Boys’ Ranch and Fighting American were almost entirely by Kirby. It was part of the Simon and Kirby modus operandi that Jack would dominate the initial issues of a new title. But the Prize romance titles were hardly new; Young Romance had been running for over 8 years. Such a long stretch of all Kirby comics was completely unprecedented. Not only do we get a lot of Kirby but he was in great form; Jack came back to romance work revitalized. We will even get to see numerous examples of Kirby inking his own pencils. This is more unusual than many Kirby fans think. In the past the studio provided assistants and inking was done like a production line with different hands performing different chores. when a piece is said to be inked by Kirby even in this blog what this really means is that Jack provided the finishing touches. Now that the studio was gone Jack got less assistance and he did more of the inking himself. He also developed an inking style that was quicker but still pleasing. I have previously written about this style (Jack Kirby’s Austere Inking) and happily I now will get a chance to show some more. I am sure that the next few chapters of the Art of Romance will please Kirby fans.

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)

Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 4, Another Hit

(February – April 1952, Black Magic #9 – #11)

I cannot supply sales figures so I have to look for other indications for how popular Simon and Kirby titles were. Fortunately Simon and Kirby had a modus operandi when it came to releasing new titles (actually it may have been the publishers who were responsible). New titles were released as bimonthlies but if after a period the titles sales seemed to warrant it the title could become a monthly or a new title of the same genre would be created. Black Magic had been a bimonthly for 16 months when it was converted to a monthly. Thus we can safely conclude that sales of Black Magic were good at least at this point in time.

As was true with the concurrent romance titles (Chapter 18 of The Art of Romance), Jack Kirby was producing less then his normal amount of pages of art with most of the work being done by Mort Meskin. In one respect Kirby still was the most important artist in that he did all the covers and the lead story for the two issues (#10 and #11) of the three covered in this chapter. But in terms of number of pages of art, Jack did only 18 pages as compared to the 34 pages done by Mort. After Mort and Jack come George Roussos (14 pages) and John Prentice (13 pages). Four other artists only supplied a single story; Marvin Stein (8 pages), Bill Draut (7 pages) and two unidentified artists (4 and 5 pages).

Black Magic #10

Black Magic #10 (March 1952) “Dead Man’s Lode”, art by Jack Kirby

While Kirby may not have done as much art as he had a year or so ago, what he produced was still top rate stuff. The splash for “Dead Man’s Lode” is a particularly engaging image. Not much in it just a man struggling through a tunnel and a hand beckoning him on. But of course such a simplistic description hardly does justice to what Jack drew. Kirby often brought interest into what for another artist might have been a banal scene. Here the drama is supplied by the man’s torn clothing, stooped posture and rugged features. I particularly like the way the pouring water divides the composition and how streaks of brushwork both suggest the optical distortions as well as the flow of the water.

Black Magic #11

Black Magic #11 (April 1952) “Drop Me Of At the Cemetery” page 4, art by Mort Meskin

I could not resist providing another example of Mort’s use of tall narrow panels. Leonard Starr used them earlier then Meskin, and used the quite well I might add. But Mort’s use of narrow panels was very remarkable. I must admit as I review Mort’s work in Black Magic and the romance titles I cannot help but feel Meskin was more at home with the horror genre. You pretty much never see in Mort’s romance work such a well worked out close-up as in panel 2 but they are not very rare in Black Magic.

Black Magic #11

Black Magic #11 (April 1952) “The Thirteenth Floor” page 2, art by John Prentice

John Prentice did a lot of romance work for Simon and Kirby so it is easy to overlook his contributions in other genre. I find his art in Black Magic quite satisfying. I have previously discussed “The Thirteenth Floor” (Alternate Takes, The Thirteenth Floor) and will not repeat it here other then to note that use of a splash-like story panel is unusual for Prentice. Despite what I feel is the high quality of his Black Magic work, John did not produce many stories for the title. Another Prentice story would not appear in Black Magic until 9 months later.

Black Magic #9

Black Magic #9 (February 1952) “Mark of Evil”, art by Bill Draut

A ruthless but beautiful Chinese pirate; what’s not to like despite being a somewhat predictable story. Draut seemed to relish the change of pace afforded by Black Magic from his frequent romance work.

Black Magic #9

Black Magic #9 (February 1952) “You Should Live So Long”, art by George Roussos

George Roussos appeared to get a greater portion of work for Black Magic as compared to the romance titles. Frankly he is not as talented as some of the other studio artists. His work has a certain crudeness that while quite acceptable in the horror genre detracts that from his romance art. Presumably that is why he is more often seen in Black Magic. Despite my criticism of his art, in at least on respect Roussos is quite effective and that is in his use of blacks. The splash panel for “You Should Live So Long” is a good example of George’s interesting use of shadows.

Black Magic #11

Black Magic #11 (April 1952) “Through All Eternity” page 2, art by George Roussos

I recently wrote about a story that while signed by Roussos looked like it was based on layouts provided by Mort Meskin (Art of Romance, Chapter 18). One of the things I noted in that story (“The Great Indoors”) was the use of tall narrow panels that Meskin was fond of using at that time. Well “Through All Eternity” also has a page with similar panels and so the question arises whether Mort did layouts for this story as well. While some of the faces in “The Great Indoors” looked distinctly like they were drawn by Meskin, I find no such overt Meskin drawing in “Through Al Eternity”. Further while three of the panels (4 to 6) of page 2 look like Meskin could have laid them out, the composition of the upper three panels seems inferior to Mort’s typical efforts. On a whole I am included to say that these are not Meskin layouts and Roussos was just trying to pick up some of Mort’s techniques.

Black Magic #10

Black Magic #10 (March 1952) “Seven Years Bad Luck”, art by Marvin Stein

My database has 6 Black Magic stories drawn by Marvin Stein but they are all from the second run of the title (1957 – 1958). “Seven Years Bad Luck” is unsigned but there are quite enough examples of typical Stein drawing style, such as the man on the right in the last panel, that it can confidentially be attributed to Marvin. By this time Stein was only occasionally providing work for Simon and Kirby productions but he was very active in Prize crime titles (Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty) having in fact become the primary artist. Stein also made appearances in Prize Comics Western although not nearly as often. Marvin had developed a style very suited for the crime and western genre, and he puts it to good effect in this Black Magic tale as well.

Black Magic #9

Black Magic #9 (February 1952) “The Man in the Judge’s Chair”, art by J. G.

There are two mystery artists in the Black Magic issues covered in this chapter. One particularly tantalizing one is the one who did “The Man in the Judge’s Chair”. I say that not because of the art, which is good but not great, but because it is signed with just initials (J. G.). I have a small list of candidates with those initials who worked during this period:

  • Joe Gagliardi
  • Joe Gallagher
  • Jim Gary
  • Joe Gevanter
  • Joe Giella
  • John Guinta
  • Jerry Grandenetti
  • Joe Greene

I am completely unfamiliar with four of them and so I will have to do more research. John Guinta did some work for Simon and Kirby in 1949 (chapter 9 of Art of Romance and chapter 7 of It’s A Crime) but unless his style has changed considerably he was not the artist. Jerry Grandenetti worked with Joe Simon in the 70’s and his comic book career actually goes back far enough. I have not seen much of Grandenetti’s early work and will not rule him out entirely but I do not think he is a good match either. My database shows Joe Gevanter as the artist for a story in Prize Comics Western #104 (March 1954) but I now question that attribution. The piece is signed Gevanter and Severin and that order usually means Gevanter was the penciller and Severin the inker but it seems odd that Severin would ink another artist work when he generally did not ink his own pencils. Further the drawing style is so close to Severin’s that either John’s inking completely overwhelmed Joe’s pencils or in fact Gevanter was the inker to Severin pencils. Currently I accept the latter deduction and I have found no indications that Gevanter penciled any other comic book so I do not consider him the artist of “The Man in the Judge’s Chair”.

Black Magic #11

Black Magic #11 (April 1952) “Room for One More”, art by unidentified artist

The other unattributed story is “Room for One More”. Again the art really is neither bad nor great but it would be nice to know who drew it. Unfortunately at this time I cannot even offer a suggestion.

The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 1 (#1 – 3), Expanding Their Fields
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 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