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Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 11, The End

(May 1954 – November 1954, Black Magic #30 – #33)

This final chapter of the serial post Little Shop of Horrors occupies the same time period as Chapter 27 and Chapter 28 of the Art of Romance. Black Magic mirrors, on a smaller scale, what happened at the same time in the Simon and Kirby romance titles. Basically there was an influx of art by artists new to Simon and Kirby productions. This can be shown by the fact that there were 58 pages by indentified artists and 45 pages by new unidentified artists. However there is one significant difference, so far I have not detected any Black Magic stories that looked like they were originally meant for another publisher.

The four identified artists were Jack Kirby (33 pages), Mort Meskin (17 pages), Bill Draut (4 pages) and Al Eadeh (4 pages). While during most of the Simon and Kirby collaboration it was typical for Kirby to be the most featured artist, during this period it was surprising indeed. It was during this time that Joe and Jack setup their own publishing company, Mainline, and Jack’s contributions as a penciller plummeted. Jack drew relatively little for the romance, western, or crime genre all of which were produced by Simon and Kirby. However at the same time Kirby was a consistent presence in superhero and horror. Mark Evanier has remarked that horror was not one of Kirby’s favorites but at least during this period that does not seem to be at all true.

Black Magic #31
Black Magic #31 (July 1954) “Slaughter-House”, pencils by Jack Kirby

There were more science fiction stories toward the end of the Black Magic run. Kirby would often use such stories, as he did in some of the romance genre stories, as social commentary. “Slaughter-House” may seem to be a classic monster story but it is not. It is actually about the extremes people will take in order to try to survive in an impossible situation. This story was greatly influenced by stories that came out of the Nazi death camps. The Nazis might not have been bug-eyed monsters but their death camps forced desperate people to the extremes.

The splash panel is actually part of the story a technique that was commonly used in the period covered in the last chapter. Another typical feature that this splash shares with those from previous issues was its smaller size. Larger more standard splash would return in the last issues of Black Magic.

Black Magic #32
Black Magic #32 (September 1954) “Maniac”, pencils by Jack Kirby

A more standard splash is found in “Maniac” but note the odd design where the title extends beyond the splash border.

Black Magic #33
Black Magic #33 (November 1954) “Lone Shark”, pencils by Jack Kirby

While keeping a large splash, Kirby has returned to using it as part of the story. Jack did this so well that it is easy to assume this is a standard splash. However the first story panel makes no sense without the splash.

Black Magic #31
Black Magic #31 (July 1954) “Gargoyle”, art by Mort Meskin

Mort Meskin seemed to have a particular interest in the horror genre. While I am a great admirer of his work, I find his attempts to depict gruesome things not all that successful. This might seem to be a fatal defect for a horror artist but Mort is so good at graphically telling a story that it really is not much of a problem. I have to wonder what Meskin’s drawing of the protagonist’s mouth is meant to represent.

Black Magic #32
Black Magic #32 (September 1954) “The Devil Doll”, art by Mort Meskin

While I do not find the character in “Gargoyle” to be truly gruesome the witch doctor in “The Devil Doll” puts a chill down my spine. This has got to be one of his most successful efforts in drawing a truly disturbing character.

Black Magic #32
Black Magic #32 (September 1954) “The Monsters”, art by Bill Draut

Bill Draut has not appeared very often in Black Magic in the more recent issues. This must have been by design as Bill was playing an important roll in the romance comics at this same time. I admit that while I feel Draut does quite well in his horror stories his romance art is much more successful.

Black Magic #30
Black Magic #30 (May 1954) “Ghost in the House”, art by Al Eadeh

It is interesting how the art of Al Eadeh shows a slow but steady improvement over the years. His earliest work for Simon and Kirby is rather stiff but that characteristic disappears in his later work. “Ghost in the House” is probable his most successful piece for Simon and Kirby. Unfortunately it is also seems to be his last for that team.

Black Magic #30
Black Magic #30 (May 1954) “The Devil, You Say?”, art by unidentified artist

What a terrific splash is found in “The Devil, You Say?”. I cannot identify the artist and frankly the rest of the story art is not nearly as good.

Black Magic #32
Black Magic #32 (September 1954) “The Little People”, art by unidentified artist

Another unidentified artist. As I mentioned above, there seems to have been an influx of new artists in Simon and Kirby productions. I cannot get very enthusiastic about most of them, but the artist who did “The Little People” was pretty good.

Issue #32 marked the end of the first run of Black Magic. Initially Black Magic had been popular enough to warrant a monthly release schedule. However for the last year it had been a bi-monthly schedule. Certainly the quality of the stories or the artists that drew them had not changed so why had it become unpopular enough to discontinue? While I cannot completely dismiss that it was just a victim of changing tastes the timing suggests that the problem most likely came from another source. This was the time there was a decline in comics across the board initiated largely by Dr. Wertham (The Real Reason for the Decline of Comics). While Dr. Wertham condemned pretty much all comics, he and other critics were particularly negative about the crime and horror genre. While in reality the contents of Black Magic were mild compared to those horror comics released by other publishers, at that time critics were not too discerning; the title alone made Black Magic a target. The rising public criticism influenced many newsstands to stop selling some of the more objectionable titles.

Black Magic would return in a few years and perhaps I will someday post about the second run. Except for a single story by Steve Ditko, none of the better artists involved with the first run of Black Magic returned for the second one. Joe Simon would be the editor of the reincarnated title but he has described it as being done on the cheap. As a business model this might have been a smart approach but it did result in a serious decline in quality.

Most fans of horror comics cite the EC titles as the best of the genre. That may be a true assessment if gruesome art is what is desired, but if the reader wants more tasteful art and more interesting stories than the Simon and Kirby Black Magic cannot be beat.

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 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

Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 10, A Special Visitor

(November 1953 – March 1954, Black Magic #27 – #29)

In the previous chapter Black Magic went on a bimonthly schedule (with issue #25, July 1953). The three issues I am covering in this chapter fall onto the same period as chapters 25 and 26 of The Art of Romance (but not chapter 27). Just like what was seen in the romance titles, Black Magic story format switched to using either splash-less stories or splashes that were actually part of the story.

Jack Kirby is the most prolific artist during this period; providing a total of 24 pages (including the covers). The second place is taken by a new comer, Steve Ditko (17 pages). The third place was taken by Bob McCarty (15 pages) with Al Eadeh and Bill Benulis (each doing a single 5 pages story). There are also some single page and one double page feature done by an unidentified artist, probably a studio assistant.

Ditko’s appearance in the Simon and Kirby studio was particularly timely because he was on hand to help with the inking of Captain 3D (December 1953). But Steve’s presence in Simon and Kirby productions was short lived as these three issues are the only ones from this run that he worked on. Most of the artists employed by Simon and Kirby were given assignments in all the genre but Ditko was one of the exceptions as he did not do any of the much more abundant romance work. I do not know who made the decision to limit Ditko to the Black Magic title but it was probably a good one. Frankly the only romance work that I have seen by Ditko suggests that romance simply was not his forte.

One of the surprising aspects of issues cover in this chapter concerns the artists that do not appear. Bill Draut was a prolific artist for the romance titles but did not provide a single piece for Black Magic at this time. Mort Meskin complete absence is a little less surprising since he during the early part of this period he did not appear that much in the romance titles. However that changed during the later part of this period and so I would normally expect something by him to show up here. John Prentice also did no Black Magic work despite providing a lot of romance art. However Prentice appears to be an exception to the studio artists in that he always seemed to do much more romance work than horror. This biased use of Prentice is highlighted by the contrast provided by Bob McCarty. Prentice and McCarty were both doing a similar amount of romance art but only McCarty made an appearance in Black Magic.

Black Magic #28
Black Magic #28 (January 1954) “Alive after Five Thousand Years”, art by Jack Kirby

As discussed in the introduction, Black Magic stories had become either splash-less or with a splash that was actually part of the story. Here Kirby has technically adhered to the second format since the next panel clearly is an advance of what is presented in the splash. However by eliminating the use of any speech balloons, the splash became more like a traditional splash. This technique was simple but rather effective that I wonder why it was not used more often.

Lately I have not been discussing the inking of Kirby’s stories because other projects that I am involved in simply do not leave me the time to adequately research inking attributions. But when I reviewed this story my initial reactions was the splash was inked by Kirby himself. However on further reflection I thought the spotting to be overly methodical. Kirby’s own inking usually has a very spontaneous nature of an artist with a clear mental image of what he is trying to create and complete mastery of the tools (in this case the inking brush) to create it.

Black Magic #27
Black Magic #27 (November 1953) “The Merry Ghosts of Campbell Castle”, art by Jack Kirby

The inking of Kirby’s pencils during the Simon and Kirby period was like a production line with different artists. Nonetheless a particular inker could impart such an effect on the art that in effect he can be called the primary inker. The best of these inkers were, in my opinion, Jack himself, Joe Simon and Mort Meskin. There were other artists who gave the inking their own unique look but frankly they were not just nearly as good. The inking of “The Merry Ghosts of Campbell Castle” is one that shows a distinct hand; only in this case a very talented one. Brush techniques characteristic of what I call the Studio Inking were used but they do not appear to be done in quite the same manner as Kirby, Simon or Meskin might have used. The picket fence crosshatching on the curtain in the splash for example does not seem to have the spontaneity of Kirby, the roughness of Simon or the tight control of Meskin. There is other brush work that seems rather unique such as the inking on the stonework in the splash. I have not made a detailed comparison but it is possible that this is the same inker that worked on “Alive after Five Thousand Years”. In any case he was a talented inker; I just wish I had some idea who he might have been.

Black Magic #28
Black Magic #28 (January 1954) “Buried Alive”, art by Steve Ditko

The work Steve Ditko did for the Simon and Kirby was from the very start of his career. There are a few earlier pieces he did for other publishers but not many. Even so it is not hard to see his distinct hand in part of these pieces. Perhaps less so with the first page of “Buried Alive” but that page does show Steve already had a strong sense of how to graphically tell a story. The shifting view points are all very effective. Still there are aspects of his art that can be considered primitive compared to what Ditko would do in the future.

Should the first panel be called a splash? Frankly the distinction between a splash-less story and a story splash is pretty arbitrary in some cases. What is important is that the story starts right away without a tradition splash that served as a preview of the story.

Black Magic #27
Black Magic #27 (November 1953) “Don’t Call on the Dead”, art by Bob McCarty

I have remarked how similar the art of Bob McCarty and John Prentice had become in the Art of Romance serial posts. Oddly this similarity does not extend to the work McCarty did for Black Magic. It is as if McCarty is purposely adjusting his style to the genre he is working on; something he had not done in the past. Do not misunderstand me the work in the Prize romance titles and Black Magic were clearly done by the same artist but for the love titles McCarty more strongly emulates Alex Raymond (and therefore more closely resembles Prentice) and for Black Magic retains more aspects of his earlier art.

Black Magic #28
Black Magic #28 (January 1954) “Miss Fancher’s Living Death”, art by Al Eadeh

Al Eadeh’s art appears in Black Magic later then he does in the romance titles. The last romance work by Eadeh was in Young Romance #65 (January 1954) but Al appears in Black Magic #29 (March). I will return to this question in the next chapter of the Little Shop of Horrors.

Black Magic #28
Black Magic #28 (January 1954) “Screaming Doll”, art by Bill Benulis

Ben Benulis seems to have made a very brief stop at the Simon and Kirby studio. He only did three pieces (at least during this period) and they all appeared in January 1954. His romance work was the most interesting but “Screaming Doll” is still a nice piece of work.

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 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

Art of Romance, Chapter 25, More New Faces

(November 1953 – January 1954: Young Romance #63 – #65, Young Love #51 – #53, Young Brides #9 – #11)

Number of Romance Titles 1947 - 1954
Number of Romance Titles 1947 – 1954 (the period covered in this chapter is shaded in blue)

There have been no significant changes in the romance comics from that reported in the previous two chapters. One variation, or rather the lack thereof, is that almost all the stories are exactly 6 pages long. The only exceptions are some two or single page features, two stories by Jack Kirby (7 and 8 pages long) and one by Al Eadeh (4 pages). Previously the title Young Brides had become a monthly publication and so this chapter covers 9 comics. The line up of contributing artists is Jack Kirby (63 pages), Bill Draut (36 pages), John Prentice (36 pages, Mort Meskin (18 pages), Bob McCarty and an unidentified artist (13 pages each), Mort Laurence and Bill Benulis (12 pages each), Al Eadeh (10 pages), a single story by another unidentified artist (6 pages) and 6 single page features but a probably studio assistant. As can be seen in the list there are some new names among the studio artists.

Young Romance #64
Young Romance #64 (December 1953) “The Heartbreaker”, art by Jack Kirby

There were no full page splashes but Jack Kirby’s art is still first rate, even compared to his work from other periods. With the reduced size splashes Kirby favored an angular format. Such a panel shape would have been a challenged for most artist but Jack makes good use of it. Observe how the main action of the splash for “The Heartbreaker” occurs in the lower corner making it visually fit in with the second panel. Kirby then uses the helmets of the soldiers ascending a boarding ramp to provide a diagonal from the lower left to the upper right. The second panel hardly seems to intrude at all.

Young Romance #63
Young Romance #63 (November 1953) “A Matter of Pride” page 3, art by Jack Kirby

While I usually provide examples of the splash pages, it is important to remember that Kirby was primarily a story teller. Once again during this period Jack’s graphical story-telling is first rate. I particularly like the way Kirby drew older men. The craggy face of white haired man in this story perfectly matches his rustic life.

Young Brides #10
Young Brides #10 (November 1953) “The Stranger in His Heart”, art by Bill Draut

Most romance stories are about, not surprisingly, young love. However stories with other themes would occasionally appear in Simon and Kirby romance titles. “The Stranger in His Heart” is about the entry of the orphaned son of a combat buddy into the life of his young wife. It is the sort of story that Bill Draut is particularly good out, being second only to Jack Kirby among the studio artists.

Young Romance #64
Young Romance #64 (December 1953) “The Doctor is in Love” page 2, art by John Prentice

One of the formats that John Prentice would use during the period involved the use of tall narrow panels. This type of panel layout had previously been used by artists like Leonard Starr, Mort Meskin and Ross Andru; however at this time Prentice seemed to be the only studio artist that would sometimes use such narrow panels.

Young Love #52
Young Love #52 (December 1953) “Loving Sister”, art by Mort Meskin

As I have remarked in the previous couple of chapters, Mort Meskin contributed much less than what would be expected towards Simon and Kirby productions. For a few years Mort had been working almost exclusively for Joe and Jack. However in recent months his work had been appearing in other publishers’ comic books. But it would appear that Meskin’s combined output was much lower then previously. Whatever the reason behind this change, it must have been financially tough times for Meskin.

Young Love #51
Young Love #51 (November 1953) “The Will to Love” page 2, art by Al Eadeh

Al Eadeh had not been a major contributor to S&K productions but he had been a regular one for some about a year and a half. Eadeh was not the greatest of the studio artist but he showed some improvements over time. His earlier work for Joe and Jack were rather stiff but in his more recent work he does quite well in graphically telling a story. I love this page of the interaction of the good hearted nurse and a gold-digger. Sure it is a little over the top, but that is what comics are for!

Young Romance #63
Young Romance #63 (November 1953) “The Two Mrs. McGillicudys”, art by unidentified artist

“The Two Mrs. McGillicudys” and “Summer Replacement” are two stories by the same unidentified artist I mentioned in the last chapter. I am quite fond of this mystery artist and I am sure he must have been doing romance art for some other publisher prior to doing this work. In some ways the above page is a good example of the format he liked to start his stories with. The first story panel covers an area a little more then two regular story panels. This makes it not much of a splash although more of one then some other studio artists, such as John Prentice, used. The artist also includes a head in the title box. Only one other artist, Jack Kirby, would include such head shots in the title caption. But in this case the artist increased the size of the head and provided speech balloon. Thus he as effectively turned the title into a second splash. It is almost a soliloquy splash since the woman is introducing the story, but it differs from the classic S&K soliloquy splash in that the title is not part of the speech balloon. True Soliloquy splashes no longer appeared in Simon and Kirby romances and nobody else did anything like this.

Young Love #51
Young Love #51 (November 1953) “Speed”, art by Bob McCarty

During the review I conducted in preparation for this chapter I found two stories by Bob McCarty that in my database I had previously to another artist. I will discuss this more below. The splash for “Speed” is probably the most typical splash in all the issues covered in this post. The title is not separated into its own box, the splash takes up the full width of the page and vertically it is much greater then the row of story panels. It splash art still adheres to the latest formula of actually being part of the story but otherwise it is a perfectly typical splash.

Young Love #53
Young Love #53 (January 1954) “Sweet Talking Man” page 5, art by Bob McCarty

Both of the stories that I am now attributing to McCarty I had previously entered into my database as by John Prentice. My original entries into my database were made as I obtained the comics and depending on when that was would dictate how accurate I was likely to be. That is one of the reasons that I find the reviews that I am now conducting so useful. I find it interesting that the work Bob McCarty resembles the art of John Prentice more now then he did previously or would later. This might be due to influence; not so much Prentice influencing McCarty’s art as much as both of them being influenced by the great syndicate artist Alex Raymond as particularly seen in his Rip Kirby strip. Another possibility is that McCarty and Prentice knew one another and that Prentice may have helped in some on these particular stories.

I purposely choose page 5 from “Sweet Talking Man” because it most clearly shows McCarty’s hand. The doctor in the final panel as eyes that art larger then Prentice would use but typical for McCarty. The woman also lacks Prentice’s more sophisticated beauty. The fact that I have now found three stories by McCarty that I have previously missed makes me suspect that perhaps more will be uncovered as I continue my reviews.

Young Love #52
Young Love #52 (December 1953) “Worthless”, art by Mort Lawrence

New to the Simon and Kirby productions, but certainly not new to the comic industry, is Mort Lawrence. The GCD� only lists a single romance work by Lawrence (Love Diary #2, October 1949). I suspect that is just due to the general bias against love comics by most comic book collectors. That said, judging by the work he did for S&K Lawrence really was not that great at the romance genre. But check out the older man in the splash. A similarly downtrodden gentleman appears in the splash of Lawrence’s “Love Me, or Else” (YR #65, January 1953) as well.

Young Love #53
Young Love #53 (January 1954) “You’ll Be Sorry”, art by Bill Benulis

Another new artist to start working for Simon and Kirby was Bill Benulis. Benulis was new to comics and his art has a more modern approach. I like some of his techniques but he gives his woman a scratchy look which is very unfortunate thing to do in romance comics. Benulis entry into comics was ill timed and he seems to have been a victim of the crash that would affect the comic industry in a few years.

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 24, A New Artist

(August 1953 – October 1953: Young Romance #60 – #62, Young Love #48 – #50, Young Brides #7 – #8)

Number of Romance Titles 1947 - 1954
Number of Romance Titles 1947 – 1954 (the period covered in this chapter is shaded in blue)

I had discussed in Chapter 9 of the Little Shop of Horrors that the title Black Magic went to a bi-monthly schedule starting with the September issue (BM #25). This is a certain indication that sales of Black Magic was not doing as well as previously. However with the October release, Young Brides would assume a monthly schedule. This is just as clear a sign that the romance titles were still doing very well. This despite the fact that the number of romance titles published in the industry had reached a local low in August.

This period marked the 50th issue of Young Love. Admittedly this is just a psychological marker but it does serve as a reminder that Simon and Kirby had done quite well over a relatively long time with their romance titles (about the last six years). Since their deal with Prize Comics gave them a share of the profits, Joe and Jack made a lot of money off of romance. Simon and Kirby paid for all the expenses for producing the art however that was recently offset by the fact that Jack had been drawing a significant proportion of the titles. But things would not remain so favorable for Simon and Kirby. A very different state of affairs would exist about a year later.

The story format used during this period pretty much matches that found in the last chapter. Full pages splashes were often found throughout most of the run of the romance titles that is until recently. There is not a single full page splash in the comics from the period covered in this chapter. Before the period that started in the last chapter splashes played a role similar to a movie trailer; they provide a sort of synopsis to entice the viewer to buy the comic and read the story. During this period only three stories used such a standard splash. By far the most common use of the splash, found in 18 stories, was for the splash to actually be part of the story. Less common (6 stories) was the complete elimination of the splash panel. One uncommon format (3 stories) was to include heads in the story title panel. I do not consider this a true splash because the heads occupy a very small portion of the panel. There is also a single example of what I call a theme title that I will discuss below.

Once again during this period Jack Kirby was the most prolific of the romance artists having penciled 79 pages. The next most prolific artist was Bill Draut (44 pages), followed by John Prentice (32 pages), Mort Meskin (16 pages), an unidentified artist (10 pages). Two artists (Bob McCarty and Al Eadeh) each supplied only a single story. Another unidentified artist did two single pages pieces. As discussed in the last chapter, I find Mort Meskin’s much diminished contribution rather surprising. As I mentioned in Chapter 9 of the Little Shop of Horrors, Meskin had begun to produce art for other publishers during at this time; Harvey (July), DC (August), Standard (August) and Marvel (September).

Young Romance #62
Young Romance #62 (October 1953) “The Mystery Blonde of Lover’s Lane”, art by Jack Kirby

The Prize romance comics may have been running for some time but Simon and Kirby still managed to provide good stories with just a suggestion of the risque. The start of “The Mystery Blonde of Lover’s Lane” can accurately be described as an attempted rape. One wonders whether the man would have given up even after the woman left the car had that hobo did not happen to be on the scene. By the way, this is a good example of splash that is actually the start of the story.

Young Brides #7
Young Brides #7 (September 1953) “A Husband for Tracy”, art by Jack Kirby

For “A Husband for Tracy” Kirby tackles the subject of love an overweight woman. I remember this theme was used before but in that story the lady in question lost her weight to become popular. That is not the approach of this story where except for a change of attitude, the protagonist is unaltered throughout the story. This is an example of a standard splash. As I said earlier there were only 3 standard splashes and all of them were done by Kirby.

Young Love #48
Young Love #48 (September 1953) “The Marrying Kind”, art by Jack Kirby

In the previous chapter I discussed a story by Bill Draut (“The Hard Guy”) where Bill added some drawing to the title box to provide a sort of a theme. I did not consider this a splash because the title dominated the box and the art did not depict anything specific about the story. At the time I wrote that none of the other artist picked up the technique. Well now Kirby has with “The Marrying Kind”. Jack has increased the amount of art so the panel is now more splash-like. However the art still lacks specificity normally supplied by a splash. Since little more then a cruise ship is depicted the question is was this really drawn by Kirby? I think it was because the brushwork found in the inking of the foreground trees look like Jack’s hand to me.

Young Love #49
Young Love #49 (September 1953) “Highway of Dreams”, art by Bill Draut

Although I have classified “Highway of Dreams” as a story splash the panel is nothing more then two standard story panels combined. While Bill, like the rest of the studio artist, does a good job with this new format one wonders what was behind this new approach.

Young Romance #61
Young Romance #61 (September 1953) “Tried and Untrue”, art by John Prentice

All the romance work that John Prentice did during this period was in the form of splash-less stories. While the new formats seem to have been a direction to the studio artists (almost certainly from Simon and Kirby) there seems to have been some variation on the precise approach adopted by the different creators.

Young Brides #7
Young Brides #7 (September 1953) “Mind Your Own Marriage”, art by Mort Meskin

As discussed about, Mort Meskin was only a minor contributor. At least some of the work he did pencil was inked by some other artist. “Mind Your Own Marriage” does not look like it was inked by either Mort or his frequent inker at this time, George Roussos. I am not sure who the inker is but he does a nice job.

Young Romance #60
Young Romance #60 (August 1953) “First Kiss”, art by Al Eadeh

While Al Eadeh has been doing little work for Simon and Kirby, his occasional pieces still keep showing up.

Young Love #50
Young Love #50 (October 1953) “Miss Puritan” page 5, art by Bob McCarty

Up till now Bob McCarty mostly did horror stories for Simon and Kirby and very little romance work. His last romance piece appeared some months ago (YL #41, January 1953). His last Simon and Kirby piece was Black Magic #21 (February 1953). I do not know why he has been absent from the S&K productions and he will not appear regularly again until late 1954. “Miss Puritan” marks a mid-way place between the earlier art he did for Simon and Kirby and the later material. Previously I had noted some differences between the two and I was not certain they were done by the same artist. In “Miss Puritan” McCarty has largely stopped depicting over-sized eyes but retains enough of his older style to be recognized. Thus I am now confident that all this work was done by McCarty and I have stopped adding the question mark to his attributions.

Young Love #49
Young Love #49 (September 1953) “The Doormat” page 3, art by unidentified artist

The unidentified artists who worked for Simon and Kirby in the more recent few years have all been artists of lesser talent that were only assigned very short pieces. With “The Doormat” however, there is an artist of exceptional talent. The example page I provide above shows that he was more than comfortable with romance, he excelled at it. I do not know who he is but I examination of work by other publishers from this period might identify him.

Young Love #50
Young Love #50 (October 1953) “Two Kisses For Your Anniversary” page 4, art by unidentified artist

Another example from the same mystery artist. Both of the stories he did start with his own version of the story splash. The splash was formed by vertically joining two panels. So while the stories adhere to some sort of direction from Simon and Kirby that direction did not seem to be in the form of a layout. More likely it was a direction from the script. Page 4 of “Two Kisses for Your Anniversary” not only shows a similarly vertical panel but also an unusual borderless panel of talking heads that spans the width of the page. No other Simon and Kirby studio artists used such a device. This is further evidence that this artist was not working from Kirby layouts.

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 9, The Party’s Over

(May 1953 – September 1953, Black Magic #24 – #26)

Simon and Kirby had been on a winning streak ever since they made their deal with Prize Comics in 1947. With the sole exception of Strange World of Your Dreams the titles that they did for Prize were all very successful. Every title except for the more recent Young Brides had gone from monthly to bimonthly; a sure sign that they were selling well. However now the reverse had happened; Black Magic returned to a bi-monthly schedule; an equally sure sign that sales had fallen. It had stayed a monthly for over a year and it would continue to be a bi-monthly for some time so Black Magic could hardly be called a failure. Because of the new schedule, I will be doing these chapters in six month increments. This chapter covers the same period as Chapter 23 and the yet to be written Chapter 24 of the Art of Romance.

As was the case with the romance titles during this period, the primary artist for Black Magic was Jack Kirby who at 42 pages did more then twice as much as any other artist. Surprisingly the second place artist was Al Eadeh (17 pages). This is surprising because Eadeh was the least used of the artists working on the romance titles. Bill Draut and George Roussos both did a single, six page story. An unidentified artist drew 5 single page features.

Mort Meskin is completely absent. Meskin’s contribution to the romance titles had also dramatically declined at this time. Perhaps as a result Mort would start appearing in the titles by other publishers; Harvey (July), DC (August), Standard (August) and Marvel (September). Since Meskin would continue to provide work to Simon and Kirby I do not believe this was due to some sort of break between the parties. A better explanation may be that this was when Mort set up his own studio, perhaps in partnership with George Roussos. With Meskin no longer in the S&K studio, Kirby would pick up the work that did not get assigned to other artists.

Black Magic #24
Black Magic #24 (May 1953), “After I’m Gone”, art by Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby was not only producing in quantity but with quality as well. Unfortunately his splashes from this period are all half-page affairs but Kirby could still make great use of the limited space. Perhaps Jack’s most important attribute when it came to the horror genre was not his ability to depict monsters and demons (although he was quite good at that) but instead it was his skill at depicting fear.

Black Magic #26
Black Magic #26 (September 1953), “Demon Wind”, art by Jack Kirby

Sometimes things are perfectly understandable when graphically presented but actually illogical when rationally examined. Kirby’s splash for “Demon Wind” obviously shows a native encountering someone or something wearing a frightening mask. Since the front of the mask is shown this is not a depiction as seen by the wearer of the mask. But then why would images of the victim appear in both eyes? They would not unless they were mirrors in the eyes in which case how could the wearer see anything? Logic may fail, but Kirby certainly has not; despite or perhaps because of its simplicity this is a great splash.

In the more recent period double images such as seen in the “Demon Wind” splash would be created by drawing one and making a stat or xerox from that to create the second version. However xeroxes had not been invented yet and apparently the Simon and Kirby studio did not include a stat camera. It therefore was quicker and more cost effective to just draw two images. Even a casual comparison shows that these are not truly identical images.

Black Magic #24
Black Magic #24 (May 1953), “The Lady Is a Ghost”, art by Bill Draut

The only full page splash in these issues of Black Magic was by Bill Draut. The scene is very appropriate for the story but with a text change such a splash could just as easily been used in one of the romance comic books. This story was Bill’s only contribution to Black Magic at this time. That Draut was so underused in Black Magic is not too surprising because at this time he was doing more then his usually amount of romance work.

Black Magic #24
Black Magic #24 (May 1953), “As Real as Life”, art by Al Eadeh

During this period Al Eadeh was not just working for Simon and Kirby but also Atlas. Unfortunately I do not have any examples of his Atlas work to show but you can find some in Atlas Tales. Although the work really does look like it was done by the same artist there was a difference in the style used for the two different companies. Work for Simon and Kirby was more realistic and perhaps a little drier while for Atlas Eadeh would use more exaggerated characters.

Black Magic #24
Black Magic #24 (May 1953), “The Changeling”, art by George Roussos

My database indicates that this is the last piece that Roussos did for Simon and Kirby. However my recent reviews of these comics sometimes reveal attributions that I missed in the past. We shall see if he turns up in any future chapters.

Black Magic #25
Black Magic #25 (July 1953), “Human Bloodhound”, art by unidentified artist

Single page features had always been used in Black Magic but there seems to be an increase of their use in these particular issues. I cannot identify the artist but I have to say he really is not that good of one. While Jim Infantino was a studio assistant he did some single page pieces for the romance titles, so perhaps this artist was an assistant as well.

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 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 10 (#27 – 29), A Special Visitor
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 11 (#30 – 33), The End

Art of Romance, Chapter 23, New Ways of Doing Things

(May 1953 – July 1953: Young Romance #57 – #59, Young Love #45 – #47, Young Brides #5 – #6)

Number of Romance Titles 1947 - 1954
Number of Romance Titles 1947 – 1954 (the period covered in this chapter is shaded in blue)

The artists who contributed to the romance titles during this period were the same as those covered in the last chapter; Jack Kirby, Bill Draut, Mort Meskin, John Prentice and Al Eadeh. Kirby was by far the most prolific having penciled 97 pages of art. Second place went to Draut (41 pages), followed by Prentice (21 pages), Meskin (18 pages) and then Eadeh (12 pages). The only other artist involved only produced two single page features both in the same issue (YR #57) and was likely a studio assistant. Still missing were some other artists that not so long ago had been doing a share of the work; Bob McCarty(?), Bill Walton and George Roussos.

Over a period of about half a year there has been a dramatic shift in the amount of art produced by Mort Meskin and Jack Kirby. Prior to this shift Meskin was producing a lot of romance art while Kirby was doing much less. Now the rolls were reverse with Jack being quite productive and Mort doing relatively little work. I do not think this reversal was coincidental. It would appear that Kirby was doing the work that had previously been going to Meskin. It is not at all clear whether this was because Meskin for some reason could no longer produce the same amount of work or whether Simon and Kirby decided to give him much less work to do. There is no sign that Mort made up for this loss of work by doing more in the titles he appeared in that were not produced by Simon and Kirby (Headline, Justice Traps the Guilty and Prize Comics Western). Nor had Meskin at this time begun working for other comic book publishers. Whatever the explanation, Mort’s had suffered a rather drastic drop in income.

Young Romance #59
Young Romance #59 (July 1953) “A Family Affair”, pencils and inking by Jack Kirby

There were some significant format changes that fully developed during the period covered by this chapter. One of the most noticeable is the almost complete abandonment of full page splashes. The splash for “A Family Affair” is the only full page splash in any of the 8 issues. The move away from the larger splash was obviously not due to any flagging talent on Kirby’s part as this splash is full of Kirby punch (pun intended). I am not sure what the teen-age girl purchasers of the day felt about such action in a romance comic, but it sure makes a dramatic splash for a modern reader. Jack makes great use of the often awkward space left over from the inclusion of the single story panel. Kirby creates a powerful diagonal that starts at the lower left and ascends to the upper right corner. Almost all the parts of the composition takes part in that diagonal except for the female protagonist who balances out the story panel where she also appears.

The first story panel for “A Family Affair” is an example of another of the format changes that occurred during this period. It is not a true story panel but rather a soliloquy panel where the protagonists introduce the story. Previously we have seen the frequent use of what I have described as a soliloquy splash where a characters also introduces the story and where the speech balloon forms the title of the story. Soliloquy splashes still are used although perhaps not quite as commonly as before (there are four). I do not want to over emphasize the use of soliloquy story panels; there are only four features that use them.

Jack may have been producing a lot more art than he had for some time but this did not affect the quality of what art he did create. If anything his work is stronger then ever. I think this maybe due to Kirby doing a greater percentage of the inking then he has been. Certainly the spotting in the splash for “A Family Affair” looks like Kirby’s brushwork.

Young Romance #57
Young Romance #57 (May 1953) “Peeping Tom”, art by Jack Kirby

A more significant format change that became common during this period concerns the use of the splash panel. Previously Simon and Kirby productions, and in fact almost all comics by any publisher, used the splash as the comic book equivalent of the movie trailer. That is the splash would provide a sort of synopsis of the story to entice the reader. Now some of the Simon and Kirby productions would have a splash that was actually the first panel of the story. “Peeping Tom” is a good example. Carefully done, as in “Peeping Tom”, the splash still entices the reader but it is also an essential start to the story. Remove it and the following panels are difficult to understand.

Young Romance #59
Young Romance #59 (July 1953) “You Stole My Girl”, art by Mort Meskin

Some stories have gone even further then making the splash into the first panel of the story, in them the splash panel is eliminated entirely. This would even be done in the first, or lead, story of a comic. The “produced by Simon and Kirby” cartouche would still appear but it would seem a bit oversized and out of place in the first panel.

Young Romance #58Young Romance #58 (June 1953) “Love That Landlady”, art by Bill Draut

For some pieces two of the new story formats would be combined. In “Love That Landlady” the splash panel has been eliminated and the first panel provides a soliloquy by the male protagonists. Most of the soliloquy story panels were used in features without splashes.

Young Love #46
Young Love #46 (June 1953) “The Hard Guy”, art by Bill Draut

One consequence of using the splash as the first story panel or eliminating it entirely was that the title ended up isolated in a band at the top of the page. Frankly this resulted in a visually un-integrated and rather uninteresting title caption box. Only one artist appeared to address this deficiency and that was Bill Draut in “The Hard Guy”. The art work in the title caption would never be mistaken for a splash and it certainly was not the start of the story. All it provided was an ambiance of a run down waterfront to the title. Not much but in my opinion very effective. However none of the other artists seem to have picked up this approach and Draut did not repeat it, at least for the titles covered in this chapter.

Young Love #47
Young Love #47 (July 1953) “The Web We Weave”, art by John Prentice

Except for the unidentified artists of two single page features, all the artists did stories with the new formats. I provide above an example of a splashless story by John Prentice.

Young Brides #5
Young Brides #5 (May 1953) “Stepchild”, art by John Prentice

Not all the stories used the new formats; some were pretty much indistinguishable from those of earlier issues. I have a fondness for the borderless splashes that John Prentice occasionally uses and so I provide an image from “Stepchild”. Perhaps this is not the best example of an older format because the first story panel is a soliloquy introduction.

Young Romance #59
Young Romance #59 (July 1953) “Love Me, Don’t Laugh at Me”, art by Bill Draut

Simon and Kirby productions could still provide strong story lines. “Love Me, Don’t Laugh at Me” begins (in the splash) with an attempted suicide. Pretty strong stuff but of course the protagonist does not die in the end. In a way this is another example of soliloquy as the lady proceeds to tell her life story to explain how see arrived at such an emotional state.

Young Romance #57
Young Romance #57 (May 1953) “Little Flirt”, art by Al Eadeh

Al Eadeh only did two stories for this period. I could have chosen “The Perfect Setup” as a further example of the use of the new formats (in this case without a splash) but “Little Flirt” is probably the best drawn romance story that Eadeh has provided Simon and Kirby. It is in a more standard format.

I have finally settled my mind about attributing these works to Al Eadeh. I had previously visited the Atlas Tales site but had then concentrated on the females because Eadeh does them in such a distinctive manner. Unfortunately there were few examples in Atlas Tales that provided examples of women. This time I returned but concentrated on the men. Sure enough there are some signed works that clearly were done by the same artist that was working for Simon and Kirby.

Splashes that are actually the start of the story, splashless stories and stories with soliloquy introductions are pretty recent and sudden developments. Actually Chapter 21 included “Loving is Believing” by Bob McCarty with a splash that was the beginning of the story. Not all stories used the new formats, actually there still were 13 standard and 4 soliloquy splash with 5 story splashes and 8 no splashes. While Kirby did 3 story splashes he did not do any features without a splash. If we remove Kirby from the statistics we get 4 standard splashes, 1 soliloquy splash, 2 story splashes and 8 no splashes. What was behind this shift? It could be just the use of a new script writer. However since Simon and Kirby always placed much importance on the splash I rather expect that this was a directive from one of them. Since Kirby did not participate in the new format as much as the other artists I suspect therefore this was largely Simon’s doing.

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 8, The Gang’s All Here

(February 1953 – April 1953, Black Magic #21 – #23)

Just like in the romance titles from this same period, Kirby toke a commanding lead in the amount of art provided for Black Magic (24 pages). Second place fell to Al Eadeh(?) (17 pages), followed by Bill Draut (12 pages) Bob McCarty(?) (10 pages). Mort Meskin, John Prentice, George Roussos and Bill Walton all provided a single story each. There are three short works for which I have not been able to determine the artist. The romance art from this period was almost entirely done by Kirby, Draut, Meskin and Prentice with a single piece by Eadeh. It is interesting therefore that during this period McCarty, Walton and Roussos only provided work in the horror genre title.

Black Magic #21
Black Magic #21 (February 1953) “The Feathered Serpent”, art by Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby was not only the most prolific Black Magic artist during this period he also did all of the most important work; all the covers and featured stories. No full page splashes but still some rather nice art. I like most of the artists who worked on Black Magic but in all honesty no one other than on Kirby was capable of making a truly interesting monster. This is not as much of a defect for the title as it might seem because few stories had monsters or demon antagonists. Black Magic was more oriented toward the supernatural and not true horror.

Black Magic #23
Black Magic #23 (April 1953) “Those Who Are About To Die” page 2, art by Jack Kirby

Part of Kirby’s reputation is that he really was not very good at drawing beautiful women. I have to admit I find little variation in the females that he depicted later in his career. I am not sure if Kirby was always to blame for this or if much of it was the result of “corrections” performed by some of his inkers. However during the period he worked with Joe Simon, Jack penciled quite a variety of women. The wife of the painter in “Those Who Are about to Die” is one of my favorites. Both devoted and intellectual she fits perfectly into the part she plays in the story. As far as I am concerned she is just one of the many different beautiful women Kirby drew.

Black Magic #22
Black Magic #22 (March 1953) “Barbados Burial Vault”, art by Bill Draut

Bill Draut did more than his fair share of good splashes but perhaps his best from this period is the one from “Barbados Burial Vault”. It really does not demonstrate his talent as a penciller; the figures are all rather small and the simple architecture dominates the scene. It is Bill’s willingness to abandon his typical draftsmanship to achieve a mod is what makes this work so appealing to me. The impact is provided by the contrast of the small procession carrying the casket from the bright light of day into the dim burial vault.

Black Magic #22
Black Magic #22 (March 1953) “Horrible Herman”, art by John Prentice

Perhaps the best story from this period was Prentice’s “Horrible Herman”. John spent most of his time when work for Simon and Kirby with doing romance stories but I feel he had a real talent for horror. Not that this was true horror but rather more of a suspense concerning a boy with great powers. No one could stop Herman, or could they?

Black Magic #23
Black Magic #23 (April 1953) “Land of the Dead”, art by Mort Meskin

Mort Meskin drew some great splashes in Black Magic but perhaps none of them were more unusual than the one for “Land of the Dead”. It is not that his drawing itself was so technically superior, if anything it was a little bit below his usual work. However Mort has managed to invest this splash with a sense of other-worldliness. No speech balloons but none are required to explain the confrontation of a woman and two eerie figures that block her from a tombstone bearing the words “Here Lies Loves”. The bizarre cloud formations complete the effect imparted to the splash.

This story would have been more appropriate for the by now defunct Strange World of Your Dreams title. Not only would it have been appropriate, this story was almost certainly originally meant for the unpublished fifth issue of that title that would have been published just a few months before. A repeating feature in SWYD was “Send Us Your Dreams” with a pipe smoking Richard Temple doing the dream analysis. The same character is found in “Land of the Dead” except his name has been changed to Bart Roberts. That this was in fact just a substitution can be seen in how that name was just pasted over the older version in the caption of the first story panel (note how the name in is not aligned with the rest of the caption).

Black Magic #21
Black Magic #21 (February 1953) “Warning Voice”, art by Bob McCarty(?)

Many of the Black Magic stories from this period are rather short. “Warning Voice” is only three pages. Perhaps that is why such a small splash panel was used. The panel is hardly wider than the first story panel and at a glance could be mistaken as the first story panel. While I can see the logic behind such a small splash panel I do not feel it was a good approach due to the confusion it causes.

Note the large eyes particularly in the close-up panel. This remains the chief reason that I am not yet comfortable with the Bob McCarty attribution that I have been following.

Black Magic #21
Black Magic #21 (February 1953) “The Mind Reader”, art by George Roussos

There is only a single two page story by George Roussos. Observe the Meskin influence that can be seen in the man in the last two panels. I do believe this is an influence and not an indication of actual involvement by Meskin.

Black Magic #22
Black Magic #22 (March 1953) “Stanwick’s Theory”, art by Bill Walton

I admit than generally I am not overly fond of Bill Walton’s art. He was a competent artist but he only occasionally produces something that really grabs my attention. The splash for “Stanwick’s Theory” is a pleasant exception. In fact I really, really like this splash. The use of a tall narrow panel and extreme close-up and cropping are very effective. Even the cigarette and its smoke play an important part in the composition. This splash is not only unique for Walton it is also rather unusual for Simon and Kirby productions.

Black Magic #23
Black Magic #23 (April 1953) “Evil Spirit”, art by Al Eadeh(?)

Al Eadeh(?) really made good use of the script for “Evil Spirit”. The image of a beautiful woman using her long hair to strangle a man is certainly memorable. So memorable that years later Jack Kirby would re-use the concept for Medusa a villain (who later becomes a heroine) in the Fantastic Four comic book.

The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 7, Kirby Returns

The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 9, The Party’s Over

Art of Romance, Chapter 22, He’s the Man

(February 1953 – April 1953: Young Romance #54 – #56, Young Love #42 – #44, Young Brides #4)

Number of Romance Titles 1947 - 1954
Number of Romance Titles 1947 – 1954 (the period covered in this chapter is shaded in blue)

I must admit we have entered the period of Simon and Kirby’s romance production that I find the least interesting. This is somewhat unfair because most of the artists used were doing good work. Part of the problem is that while the art was still fine it was largely done by artists we have seen for a number of years. Another contributing factor was that Simon and Kirby were having greater difficulties in coming up with new plots. There are still some stories that are real gems, but they just were not as frequent as previously. I had considered devoting longer periods of time for each chapter but I feel that by keeping on the current three month pace allows me to present more examples of work by artists that are much too overlooked today.

I have remarked in the last couple of chapters of The Art of Romance and The Little Shop of Horrors that Jack Kirby had become more productive after a long period where S&K comics depended more on other artists. While Kirby had become more prominent he still had not returned to the really dominant status he had in earlier years. That is until this period where Jack provides 62 pages of art. This is well above the second place artist who was John Prentice with 46 pages. Third place was taken by Bill Draut (38 pages) and fourth by Mort Meskin (31 pages). These four artists provide almost all the art for this period with Al Eadeh(?) drawing a single story, an unidentified artist contributing two stories and another artist, probably a studio assistant, doing three single page features. Completely absent are two artist that were pretty common presence in previous chapters; George Roussos and Bob McCarty(?).

Young Love #43
Young Love #43 (March 1953) “Teen-Aged Widow”, art by Jack Kirby

Kirby is not only back in terms of quantity of art, much of it consists of rather nice material. Four of the seven featured stories were done by Jack and one of them, “Teen-Aged Widow”, even returns to a longer length (12 pages) that had previously been typical for Kirby. The splash page for “Teen-Aged Widow” is rather nice. It is a great example of a soliloquy splash, what young reader of the day could have resisted such a story. Tears do not play so important a part in Simon and Kirby romances as they did in comics produced by others during the silver age. But those tears are very appropriate here. Note how the small sculpture piece in the foreground repeats the protagonists reclining posture. One odd thing is the small size of the books in the foreground. I doubt that this was meant to be taken literally but was just a consequence of the limited space available.

Young Love #43
Young Love #43 (March 1953) “Girl Friday”, art by John Prentice

The work by John Prentice during this period is an exception to my lack of great enthusiasm for this period of S&K romance. This is probably due the relatively late arrival of Prentice into the Simon and Kirby production having started just two years previously. Even Meskin has been around longer (three years) while Kirby and Draut have been around since the beginning (six years ago). While Meskin has only been around one more year then Prentice he produced a lot of more work. John was generally not the most productive of the studio artists which is all the more reason to be pleasantly surprised by the amount of work he did during the period covered in this chapter.

The splash for “Girl Friday” is another of those by Prentice that eliminates the normal panel borders. Perhaps my fondness for this effect has caused me to include in my posts enough examples to mislead my readers into thinking this was Prentice’s typical approach. Actually borderless splash panels were pretty uncommon for Prentice however he did use this format more often than other studio artists.

Young Brides #4
Young Brides #4 (April 1953) “Here Cries the Bride”, art by Bill Draut

Bill Draut’s romance art has not changed very much over the years. Joe Simon has remarked to me a number of times how reliable Draut was, a true professional. Bill graphically told his story in a clear manner with enough variations in viewpoints to keep the reader’s interest. Probably none of the studio artists other than Kirby made as effective use of background details in his splashes. These details probably do not mean much aesthetically but are quite important in capturing part of the story in the splash. While Draut’s style did not evolve much during the period he worked for Simon and Kirby it would undergo large changes afterwards. Although Draut’s art became more acceptable to silver age publishers unfortunately in my opinion the changes to his style were detrimental to his art.

Young Brides #4
Young Brides #4 (April 1953) “Under 21″, art by Mort Meskin

I feel that the work Mort Meskin did during this period was on a whole not as good as his earlier efforts. That is not to say there were not an exceptions and “Under 21″ was certainly one of those. What a great splash, perhaps Meskin’s best effort for a feature story. The wistful pose of the young lady wonderfully captures the mode of the story. The scandal suggested censored newspaper clipping was sure to attract the reader. Meskin’s placing the protagonist on a small town front porch is unexpected but rather effective. The quality of Meskin’s inking had recently been rather sporadic but here the pen and brush are fully under Mort’s competent command. Fortunately none of Meskin’s work for this chapter was inked by George Roussos. I have to admit that I find the inking by Roussos of pencils done by Meskin or Kirby to have been at best unfortunate and at worst disasters.

Young Love #44
Young Love #44 (April 1953) “What’s Mine Is Yours”, art by Al Eadeh?

I do not have much to say about the single story questionably attributed to Al Eadeh but I did want to include another example of his work.

Young Romance #55
Young Romance #55 (March 1953) “Heartless”, art by unidentified artist

Two stories (“Heartless” and “The Other Woman”) by an unidentified artist occur in the same Young Romance issue. He is certainly not among my favorites but he is competent artist nonetheless.

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 21, Roussos Messes Up

(November 1952 – January 1953: Young Romance #51 – #53, Young Love #39 – #41, Young Brides #2 – 3)

Number of Romance Titles 1947 - 1954
Number of Romance Titles 1947 – 1954 (the period covered in this chapter is shaded in blue)

In the last chapter the most prolific romance artist was Bill Draut. This was somewhat of a fluke because Draut held that position only for a short time and Mort Meskin would once again regain the top position by producing 77 pages of art. However this time Mort would achieve such high page counts not by his efforts alone. Some of Mort’s art covered here was inked by George Roussos. Exactly how much is not clear as there are some works I just have not been able to decide about the inker.

Jack Kirby picks up second place with 42 pages but other artists are not far behind him. It has been some time since Jack was the dominant artist. The other two usual suspects take the next positions; Bill Draut (36 pages) and John Prentice (34 pages). Bill Walton does a surprising, for him that is, 22 pages. The other artist (George Roussos, Al Eadeh(?) and Bob McCarty(?)) provide only a small number of art pages.

Young Romance #53
Young Romance #53 (January 1953) “That Girl in My Corner”, art by Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby may not have been as prominent a presence as he once was but he still did some incredible art. The soliloquy splash for “That Girl in My Corner” is a great example. What a moving figure the fighter presents; perhaps a little tired and haggard but by no means defeated. His girl presents the least interesting character of the splash but check out all the on-lookers. The background figures may not have played an important place in the splash but they are just the sort of added spice that provides the proper atmosphere.

Young Love #40
Young Love #40 (December 1952) “Fallen Idol”, art by Jack Kirby

There was a time when the first, or featured, story almost always used a soliloquy splash. That has changed in recent months. Of the eight comics reviewed here only one of the featured stories has a soliloquy splash. That is not to say that the first splash did not always get good treatment. In fact I had a hard time choosing between two of Kirby’s splashes to present here; they both were so good.

Young Brides #2
Young Brides #2 (November 1952) “The Luckiest Guy in the World”, art by Bill Draut

Another of the changes occurring to the Prize romance titles is that previously if Kirby appeared in an issue he would most likely do the feature story. This was no longer the case; Jack only did three of the eight featured stories. Three of the other featured stories were done by Bill Draut. Another change was the splash for the featured story did not always take up a full page. While in the earlier romance issues the featured story seemed chosen from the start, now more and more it seems like it was indistinguishable from any of the other stories.

At a quick glance the cluttered desk top could belong to anyone. The story is about a newspaper artist but look what is on the drawing board cut off by the left edge. Looks like comic book art to me.

Young Romance #51
Young Romance #51 (November 1952) “Cheap Kisses”, art by John Prentice

One practice remained, the teaser. I wonder if the teenage girl readers understood the suggestion of prostitution that John Prentice’s splash provides, but I am sure any adult viewer would. Perhaps this was done on purpose to entice an adult to purchase the comic expected a lurid story. But any adult that did buy the comic was certainly doomed to disappointment. In this case the real crime that the girl did was theft.

Young Brides #2
Young Brides #2 (November 1952) “Give And Take”, art by John Prentice

John Prentice would sometimes abandon a splash border. It is a technique that allows the story to stand out from the others. The theme of a man preventing a woman from suicide is one that he would draw again years later for Harvey Comics (“Paid in Full” was discussed in Kirby Imitating John Prentice). Interestingly Prentice left out the border for the splash for the Harvey story as well.

Young Romance #53
Young Romance #53 (January 1953) “Bring a Girl”, art by Bill Walton

The soliloquy splash is not always limited to the feature story. I believe the soliloquy splash for “Bring a Girl” is the only one that Bill Walton did. It is also Walton’s only full page splash for Simon and Kirby. Its uniqueness suggests that this story may originally have been intended for the feature story but got replaced by Kirby’s “Girl in My Corner” which in my opinion was a good choice. Still it is the best splash that Walton would do for Simon and Kirby. So nice that I also suspect that Walton was provided a layout, most likely by Joe Simon.

Young Love #39
Young Love #39 (November 1952) “Marriage on the Rocks”, pencils by Mort Meskin

Some of the art by Mort Meskin for this period have been inked by a brush technique I do not remember seeing in his art before. The technique is call a split brush where by the brush is manipulated to form multiple tips. With this technique it is possible to ink parallel lines with one stroke. In the inking of “Marriage on the Rocks” this can best be seen as short strokes on the man’s shoulder. Meskin has a preference for spotting with parallel lines but in the past did them with separate brush strokes. I cannot make up my mind if this is Mort just experimenting with the split brush technique or if it indicates that another artist did the inking.

Young Love #41
Young Love #41 (January 1953) “Forget Me, Fraulein”, pencils by Mort Meskin, inks by George Roussos

According to the Jack Kirby Checklist, “forget Me, Fraulein” was penciled by Jack Kirby and inked by Mort Meskin. The biggest problem with that is there on the right edge just above the story panel is Meskin’s signature.

Young Love #41
Young Love #41 (January 1953) “Forget Me, Fraulein” page 3, pencils by Mort Meskin, and inks by George Roussos

I am sure that some will still say that Kirby did the layouts, but it is clear to me that Mort was not working from layouts supplied by Jack. That is not to say Kirby did not influence Meskin, Mort had been working along side of Jack for three years and had picked up some things. The easiest clue that these are not Kirby layouts, now that it has been pointed out in a previous comment by Steven Brower (Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 5), is the narrow depth of field. Most of the men look much more like Meskin’s than those drawn by Kirby. However there is something to the men that is a little off from typical Meskin and the Fraulein looks nothing like Mort’s.

A clue as to why this story seems so odd is found in the picket fence crosshatching (see Inking Glossary) found in panel 3. This Studio style inking technique is found nowhere else in this story. While the picket fence crosshatching does not recur elsewhere in two panels at the bottom of page 6 there can be found Kirby’s blunt inking brush. One of these panels has a man obviously drawn by Kirby. Apparently Kirby has taken on his roll as art editor and provided numerous touchups to the art.

It is unusual to find Kirby doing any corrections on Meskin’s art and never before have the corrections been so extensive. The reason becomes clear when the inking is examined more closely. Particularly revealing are the manner the cloth folds are spotted. They are not inking with the sweeping parallel brush strokes that Meskin typically uses but rather by the somewhat splotchy method employed by George Roussos.

So what has happened was that Roussos inked Meskin’s pencils in a manner very typically for George, that is to say rather poorly. Since this was going to be used for the all important feature story, Kirby had to do a surprisingly large number of touchups. In the end the story is a mixture of a majority of pieces that look like they were penciled by Meskin, a surprisingly number of parts that look like Kirby’s work and in even a few places part that look like they were drawn by Roussos. George did a great job of inking Mort’s art when both were working for DC but here in the Simon and Kirby studio Roussos just seems to do little more than mess up Meskin’s pencils.

Young Brides #3
Young Brides #3 (January 1953) “Bride and Broom” page 5, pencils by Mort Meskin, inks by George Roussos

When writing about the differences between Mort Meskin’s inking and that of George Roussos I have been pointing out their different manner of spotting the cloth folds. While that is usually the easiest means that can be used to determine the correct inking credits, it is not the only why the two inkers are distinct. Both inkers have a fondness for crosshatching but Mort generally only uses it if fill up blank backgrounds while George will sometimes use it on such things as figures as shown by the woman in the first panel from the page shown above. Note how the crosshatching is fine and done at approximately right angles. That is not the manner that Meskin uses for the rare occasions that he does crosshatch a figure as for example in story he later did for Harvey (see Horrible Meskin). There the crosshatching is not so fine and the angle between the lines is much more oblique.

Young Love #41
Young Love #41 (January 1953) “Loving Is Believing”, art by Bob McCarty(?)

I have previously remarked about the large eyes drawn by the artist that I am questionably calling Bob McCarty. Unfortunately the images that I provided were not the best ones to show that feature so I am glad to finally be able to provide a good example, “Loving is Believing”.

Also not how the splash panel is actually the first panel of the story as well. This is not a technique that I have had occasion to comment on before. While this may be the first use of the way of presenting a story, now that it has been introduced we will be seeing it again.

Young Romance #53
Young Romance #53 (January 1953) “Stars In Her Eyes”, art by Al Eadeh(?)

I will close with another specimen of work by Al Eadeh(?). I have not discussed this artist work in detail because I really feel his style, particularly the way he does eyes, is so distinctive that he can easily be recognized. Now all I have to do is find something with this style that he signed.

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 6, Mix Bag

(August – October 1952, Black Magic #15 – #17)

I normally like to start the chapters of my recent serial posts with a discussion about the amount that of the various artists contributed to the issues. Usually just a few artists, sometimes even just one, predominate. But in the Black Magic issues covered in this chapter a much more evenly distributed situation occurred. The ranking is George Roussos (19 pages), Jack Kirby (18 pages), Bob McCarty(?) (15 pages), Bill Draut (14 pages), Mort Meskin (13 pages), Bill Walton (7 pages) and Al Eadeh(?) (7 pages). While during the same period in the romance titles, Jack Kirby provided very little art, in the horror genre he takes second place. Kirby has not held that position for in any genre for some time.

Black Magic #15
Black Magic #15 (August 1952) “The Angel of Death”, pencils by Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby’s human anatomy really was not very accurate, but his animal anatomy bordered on the fantastic. In the splash for “The Angel of Death” there appears to be a gigantic insect, but insects have six legs, not eight. Nor do any of an insect’s legs emerge from the final body segment as Kirby depicts. Despite these sorts of inaccuracies that would have caused Kirby to fail any biology class his animal creations have a special life. Even before reading the story it is certain that we would not want to meet this particular angel.

Black Magic #17
Black Magic #17 (October 1952) “Freak” panel 1, page 2, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by George Roussos

One story in the issues covered in this chapter stands out from all the rests, but not the bests of reasons. Even though “Freak” is the featured story it frankly is a mess. The art is clearly the worse of any in these issues. Why than would it be listed in the Jack Kirby Checklist? Well actually for good reasons. Note the panel shown above. While it seems very poorly inked it clearly looks like Jack’s work. This panel, from the start of the story, is probably the most obviously one showing Kirby’s hand . However even on pages not so easily attributed to Jack the graphical story telling, the particular cinematic approach used, are his alone.

Black Magic #17
Black Magic #17 (October 1952) “Freak” page 4, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by George Roussos

The Jack Kirby Checklist attributes the inking of this story to Mort Meskin; however the spotting is nothing like his. This can most easily be seen by the way the cloth folds are inked. Mort typically builds them up with a number of close parallel brush strokes that may overlap but usually can be detected at the ends. The cloth folds in “Freak” are nothing like that. When Mort inks Kirby pencils he usually adopts the Studio style inking. However picket fence crosshatching, drop strings or any of the other Studio style spotting techniques (see Inking Glossary) are completely absent in this story. The only reason that I can see to credit Meskin with the inking is that some of the faces have a Meskin look to them.

While Meskin is a poor match for the spotting found in “Freak” there is another artist whose inking is an exact match, George Roussos. George does cloth folds in exactly the same manner when inking his own stories. Many of the faces have a light source coming up from below. While that technique was occasionally used by other inkers, it is a common technique of Roussos.

George Roussos had a long history of inking Meskin and Meskin-like faces appear in his work from time to time. This may mean nothing more then the large influence Mort had on George’s art. On the other hand it may mean that Mort touched up parts of the story. In any case Roussos clearly did almost all the spotting for “Freaks”.

While I have attributed the pencils to Kirby this maybe another of those occasions where Jack provided nothing more than just layouts. The fact that the most Kirby-like portions are at the beginning of the story suggests that might be true. Whatever the type of pencils provided Roussos has clearly botched the job. Not only does the final result really do not do justice to Kirby, the art is actually much inferior to Roussos own work. So much for the theory that Kirby’s pencils were so good that they made a poor inker look good.

Black Magic #15
Black Magic #15 (August 1952) “The Promised Land”, art by Mort Meskin

Mort Meskin penciled two Black magic stories during this period. One, “The Promised Land”, is a nicely drawn and inked work very much up to Meskin’s high standards. There is no reason to go into detail about this work, it very much matches most of Mort’s other Black Magic efforts. While Meskin did good romance art he does seem to particularly shine in the horror genre.

Black Magic #17
Black Magic #17 (October 1952) “Guardian Angel”, pencils by Mort Meskin, inks by George Roussos

I wish I could be as complementary about Meskin’s other contribution, “Guardian Angel”. There is a simple explanation for the disparity between the two Meskin stories from this period, “Guardian Angel” was not inked my Mort. In the chapter from The Art of Romance that covers this same period (Chapter 20) I remarked that there were some Meskin pieces that I felt were inked by George Roussos. Well Roussos’s hand is even clearer in “Guardian Angel”. This is again easiest detected by an examination of the cloth folds. They are not constructed by parallel lines as Meskin would have done but done in the same splotchy manner typical of Roussos. It would seem that having a piece inked by Roussos had unfortunate consequences at this point in time although “Guardian Angel” came off much better than “Freak”.

Black Magic #17
Black Magic #17 (October 1952) “The Soul of a Man”, art by Bill Draut

I never want to make it seem like Bill Draut was not doing anything worth while. His “The Soul of a Man” is particularly memorable because it includes a man physically abusing and then savagely killing a woman. Simon and Kirby were still willing to include such strong material but in a few years the Comic Code would completely eliminate such stories.

Black Magic #15
Black Magic #15 (August 1952) “Dead Ringer”, art by Bob McCarty(?)

Bob McCarty(?) has some nice work as well. No chance that Kirby provided any layouts for “Dead Ringer” because Jack certainly would not have depicted a punch like this one.

Black Magic #16
Black Magic #16 (September 1952) “Fly By Night”, art by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is not among my favorite Simon and Kirby artists but he does a nice job on the splash for “Fly by Night”. The unusual inking works quite well with the image of astral projection.

Black Magic #16
Black Magic #16 (September 1952) “The End of His Rope”, art by Al Eadeh(?)

Like Walton, Al Eadeh(?) only provides a single story. He is another artist that I am not overly fond of although he certainly competent enough.

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 4 (#9 – 11), Another Hit
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 5 (#12 – 14), New Faces

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