Category Archives: In Love

Art of Romance, Chapter 30, Transition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Art of Romance, Chapter 29, Trouble Begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Art of Romance, Chapter 28, A Glut of Artists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jerry Robinson at the Jack Kirby Tribute Panel

Detective Comics #65
Detective #65 (July 1942), art by Jack Kirby and Jerry Robinson

I mentioned in a previous post a review of the Jack Kirby Tribute Panel that Comic Book Resources has posted (written by Jim MacQuarrie).

At the very end of the article is found:

Jerry Robinson closed the panel by recalling his participation in one of the very few collaborations that Kirby did with anyone but Joe Simon. “The only time Jack collaborated with anyone but Simon on a cover was an issue of “Detective Comics” when the Boy Commandos joined the book. The cover showed Batman and the Boy Commandos shaking hands. I drew Batman and Jack drew the Commandos.”

In Love #1
In Love #1 (September 1954), art by Jack Kirby and John Prentice

While of course Jerry is right about his contributions to the cover of Detective #65, he is not correct about being the only artist, other then Joe Simon, to collaborate on a cover with Jack Kirby. John Prentice, one of the usual suspects of the Simon and Kirby studio, also had that honor. Jack did the foreground couple while John did the two background figures.

Jerry Robinson and Joe Simon
Jerry greeting Joe Simon at the Big Apple Con of 2006

Jerry Robinson and Joe Simon
Jerry and Joe at New York ComicCon 2008

Swiping off of Kirby

Young Romance #8
Young Romance #8 (November 1948) “Love Can Strike So Suddenly”, art by Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby’s take on romance always seemed to have more of an emphasis on action then most other comic book artists. The above sequence from an early Young Romance is a great example of this. The dramatic plunge of the airplane after hitting an air pocket literally lands a seemingly indifferent lady onto the lap of a reluctant man. The analogy of the airplane’s occupants fall and their falling in love is presented by both the images and accompanying text. It took chance to supply the action needed to overcome the barriers each had placed before their true feelings. This sequence may have played a small part in the overall story but it was pivotal. It was also the quintessence of Kirby’s vision of romance.

In Love #2
In Love #2 (October 1954) “Marilyn’s Men” page 14 panels 5 and 6, art by Bill Draut

In Love #2
In Love #2 (October 1954) “Marilyn’s Men” page 15 panel 1, art by Bill Draut

Kirby’s predilection for action in romance stories stayed with him. Although most of the story “Marilyn’s Men” from In Love #2 was drawn by Bill Draut, I believe that much of the plotting and at least some of the scripting came from Jack. Therefore I feel that the occurrence of essentially the same three panels from Young Romance #8 was not Draut trying to pull something over on his bosses, instead Bill was just following Simon and Kirby’s direction. The premise was similar between the two stories, both involved a plane flight where the relationship between the man and woman changes during the trip. There are significant differences between the two stories as well. In YR it is an accident that breaks down the resistance of both parties, whereas with In Love the pilot’s maneuver is purposeful, showing that it was only Marilyn’s reluctance to love that had to be overcome.

Draut’s swipe is not a close copy of Kirby’s art. Most of the deviation in the art can be attributed to differences in the two stories. Unlike most of the female characters in S&K romances, Marilyn had relatively short hair. Undoubtedly this was visual shorthand for her success as a businesswoman. Unfortunately Marilyn’s shorter hair could not provide the same affect to the first panel where she first is lifted out of her seat. Draut does what he can but Kirby’s heroine had more hair to add drama with. In Kirby’s story the heroine is seated behind the pilot while Marilyn is on his side. Jack therefore can show more of the lady as she goes from her seat to the pilot’s lap. Draut must provide a more foreshortened view and even rotated the pilot in relation to the cabin so that in the end the visual logic of the first scene breaks down. In the second panel Draut has everything under control. In fact here Draut improves on Kirby’s composition by having Marilyn ending up gazing into the pilot’s face, while Kirby left her looking to the side. There is one logical peculiarity in Draut’s presentation. In the first panel Marilyn’s left arm is already on the pilot’s shoulder while his hat is just beginning to come off his head. Yet in the second panel Marilyn’s left hand holds the hat down. How did that transition happen? Jack provides the answer by using the pilot’s headset to constrain the hat’s travel. The final panel, the dramatic view of the kiss, is very similar between the two versions, but by no means identical. The pilot’s face is typical Draut and not a close copy of Kirby’s version. Bill has also added some shadows of the window frames to add even more drama to the scene. While Kirby has good control over the unusual perspective, in Draut’s rendition where is Marilyn’s nose? It does not seem possible to trace its position without violating the man’s facial structure.

In Love #2
In Love #2 (October 1954) art by Bill Draut

Jack was a master at visual storytelling so it comes as no surprise that the dramatic kiss occupies the last panel of his page. In “Marilyn’s Men” the kiss has been placed on the first panel of the page following the other two scenes. This greatly diminishes the impact of the story line. This may not have been Draut’s fault, the layout of the page suggests that the kiss panel was placed there afterwards. Perhaps editing was required to reduce the page count. That it was known then what the proper layout for this sequence was is shown in the cover where not only is the kiss the last panel, but it has also been enlarged.

The three panel sequence from Young Romance #8 hardly stands out as the most memorable panels from Kirby’s early romance work. Even so someone remembered and then used them as a reference for a comic done almost six years later.

Artist Loves Model, the Editing of Strips into a Comic

I recently posted on the “Artist Loves Model” story from In Love #3 (December 1954). I appended a note to my blog entry where I admitted forgetting about a post by Bob on the Jack Kirby Weblog about the syndicated strip version of the story. Recently I received a copy of Buried Treasures v1 #2 which includes strips of this syndicate strip proposal. I have compared, panel by panel, the strips to the comic book story. I wrote out all the difference as an aid to my understanding what was done. Just in case anyone wants a blow by blow description I have posted the details. Here I will summarize what was done to convert the syndication strips into the comic book story.

The strips opens with Mayor La Flower. We will never see again, he is just one of Cobb’s fans reading his “Old Man Spry” to his juvenile radio audience. This beginning leaves little doubt that there were no earlier strips. The strips end abruptly with Inky going off to confront Donna Dreame about her illicit dealings. Only the comic book version of the story provides the confrontation. But the book story includes a romance angle between Donna and Inky that was not a part of the syndication strips. Had it been drawn, the confrontation scene for the syndication strips would have been very different. Personally I doubt that Simon and Kirby produced any more strips, as a syndication proposal it would have been better for the story to be open ended.

The most significant difference between the strip and the comic book versions is the number of art panels that never made it into the comic book story. 43 out of 142 strip panels failed this transition. The first panel from the strip that made it into the comic book was the first one on the sixth strip. This means that 20 earlier panels were discarded. Before the first story page of the comic book was completed a further 4 syndicate panels would be dropped. Thus most of the ignored strip panels come from the start of the story. The remaining unused strip panels do not seem randomly distributed among the comic book pages. One group is associated with the first and second meeting between Inky and Donna Dreame (8 skipped panels for pages 8 to 10). The next story arc with a number of unused panels concerns Donna Dreame’s hatching her scheme with Half-tone (page 12 with 5 unused panels). The next dropped set of panels combines Half-tone arriving at Donna’s place with his first meeting with Inky (page 13 with 4 unused panels). More importantly the section dropped off concerns Half-tone and Donna coming back from a night on the town. Considering the love angle between Inky and Donna that was part of the comic book story this strip was particularly inappropriate. There are a few single skipped strip panels in other parts of the comic book story.

Why so many unused strip panels? At 18 pages “Artist Loves Model” is the shortest of the In Love “novel length” feature stories. “Bride of the Star” had 20 pages and “Marilyn’s Men” had 19. It is possible that the length of these stories was dictated by the number of pages that the backup stories would require and not the other way around. However it seems more likely that strip panels were not used simply because they were not necessary. Even without the extra panels, the comic book version of the story reads just as well as the syndication strips. The only negative effect of the dropping of strip panels is the lengthy caption found on the splash page of the comic book. Even Joe Simon criticized it when he recently viewed the splash page. However the wordy caption probably was considered preferable to the 20 art panels it replaces. That would have added over 2 pages without significantly helping the story.

It does seem that the initial intent was to include more of the early syndicate strips in the comic book story. In my earlier post I mentioned an used page of art in Joe Simon’s collection. This page was made from some of the panels from the third strip. I was incorrect with my original suggestion that this art page was discarded because it was taking the story into a different direction. I erred due to my misidentifying one of the characters as Jack Hill (because I was working from memory). Now it seems to me that this page was abandoned in order to condensed the story’s beginning even further.

In Love #3
In Love #3 (December 1954) “Artist Loves Model” page 14, pencils by Jack Kirby inks by Joe Simon

Art that did not seem to exist in the syndication strips was added to the comic book. The new art is found in two sections. One is the story arc where Donna Dreame finds out that Inky has used her as a model for one of the characters in the strip they are collaborating on (page 14). A more substantial addition occurs at the very end of the story starting from when Inky confronts Donna Dreame about her dishonest dealings (page 16 through 18). What is significant about these additions is that they concern the romance between Inky and Donna. This romance played no part of the original syndication strip and was added to convert the story for inclusion in a romance comic book title.

In Love #3
Syndication strip 13 panel 4, art by Jack Kirby from Buried Treasures v1 n2
In Love #3 (December 1954) “Artist Loves Model” page 5 panel 5, art by Jack Kirby

In Love #3
Syndication strip 11 panel 4, art by Jack Kirby from Buried Treasures v1 n2
In Love #3 (December 1954) “Artist Loves Model” page 4 panel 6, art by Jack Kirby

Not all the syndicate panels that did make it into the comic book did so unmodified. The overwhelming majority of strip panels were square. When inserting strip panels into the story 41 of them had their shape altered. 30 panels where horizontally truncated, 10 horizontally extended, and 3 vertically truncated. One of the horizontally expanded panels was used to make a splash panel. This splash was overlaid with another panel so that its shape was no longer rectangular. The new art that was added to expanded panels was kept pretty simple and consisted mostly of backgrounds. Much of the horizontal truncations were done simply by clipping the art. In 2 panels this resulted in the complete elimination of one of two original figures. In 7 occasions where the panel was narrowed horizontally, a character was shifted so as not to be significantly truncated. This explains the unusual cut up nature that I found on Joe’s unused art page. Cutting a strip panel into pieces allowed adjustments to the final shape of the panel for the comic book. It appears that this was done even in cases where in the end the square panel was retained.

In Love #3
Syndication strip 22 panel 2, art by Jack Kirby from Buried Treasures v1 n2
In Love #3 (December 1954) “Artist Loves Model” page 9 panel 3, art by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon

I was not completely accurate above about all the syndicate strip panels that made it into the comic book. Actually I found 14 panels where the art was redrawn either wholly or in part. None of these alterations changed who was portrayed or significantly modified the pose. Most of the time Donna Dreame was redrawn (12 panels), Inky was the only other character to be modified (4 panels). In the syndicate story Inky was portrayed as shorter then most of the other characters. With his short stature and pugnacious nature, I cannot help but feel that Jack Kirby made Inky into a sort of alter ego. The size difference between Inky and Donna may have been fine for the syndicate strips. But this created a problem when romance between the two was added for the comic book, it just would not do to have love between a tall woman and a short man. So in 4 panels Inky was redrawn to be taller. That the romance angle was the reason for this adjustment is shown by the fact that Inky is still shown as shorter then Jack Hill.

In Love #3
Syndication strip 22 panel 3, art by Jack Kirby from Buried Treasures v1 n2
In Love #3 (December 1954) “Artist Loves Model” page 9 panel 4, art by Joe Simon

Donna Dreame was altered in a couple of panels as part of the change to reduce her height relative to Inky. That does not explain most of the times that Donna was redrawn. I believe it that these other alterations were done to make Donna more conventionally attractive. Joe Simon once remarked to me that Kirby’s women were not very beautiful, but who cared since Jack drew such great stories. That is a view shared by many others, including Kirby fans. Some have even described Kirby’s woman as ugly. (I hasten to add that I do not share these views and someday I will write a post on why that is.) Joe Simon redrew many of Jack’s women when DC republished some of the old Black Magic stories. Thankfully not all of Jack’s drawings of Donna were redone. This is particular fortunate in the case of a panel which is one of the most sensuous images Kirby ever drew (see image below). Sometimes only Donna’s hair was redone, in these cases the hair was simplified. Kirby used “wild hair” as an indication of a “wild woman”, the hair changes seemed to be done to “tame” Donna a bit.

In Love #3
In Love #3 (December 1954) “Artist Loves Model” page 10 panel 3, art by Jack Kirby

All Simon and Kirby signatures were removed. Other art differences between the syndication strips and the comic book are rarer. Four panels have additions to the background. In two further cases a black band with featuring was added to the top of the panel. All occurrences of Donna’s use of a cigarette holder were removed. Most surprising is a name change, Inky Spotts of the syndication strips became Inky Wells for the comic book. Both names are the sort of appropriate naming that Simon and Kirby often used. It is hard to understand why in the end Wells was considered so much better as to warrant the re-lettering needed to alter the story.

Script changes were not at all extensive. I have noted only two word balloon whose text was modified. One caption from the syndicate strips was deleted and another one rewritten. A caption was added to one comic book panel and most significantly 6 caption panels were added to the book version. None of these affected the plot. All caption additions or alterations seem to have been done just to improve the reading.

Since I have explained the what and the why of the changes made to transform the syndication strips into the comic book story, the question remaining is who was responsible? The syndicate strips had all been drawn by Jack Kirby and much, if not all, of the inking looks like his as well. As for the original syndication scripting, although other writers may have contributed, some of it seems written by Jack. The pencils for the new splash page for the comic book was by Kirby but I believe it was inked by Joe Simon. The same very coarse picket fence inking also shows up in the second splash (page 10) where extending the original syndicate panel resulted in the addition of some art. The art added to the other expanded panels also appears to be inked by Joe. The redrawing of Donna and Inky for the comic also looks like it was done by Joe. Some of the writing for the new or altered captions read like Simon’s effort. However some of the other writing is more “flowery” then typical for Joe, so either he was purposely pushing himself in that direction, or another writer was also involved in the re-scripting. The new art was clearly penciled by Jack but looks different from the rest of the story because Joe did the inking. All in all it would appear that Simon was responsible for editing the syndication strips into the final comic book form with Jack providing newly required art.

Simon and Kirby did a surprisingly number of syndication proposals. Almost all of them consisted of a relatively small number of strips with un-inked pencils. Yet the syndicate “Artists and Models” consists of 36 strips all of which were inked. More significantly, samples were made by George Matthew Adams Syndicate. It is hard to escape the conclusion that “Artists and Models” was considered as the S&K syndication proposal most likely to succeed. The strips do tell a great story and it is one of Simon and Kirby’s best efforts. But I have to agree with Bob of the Jack Kirby Weblog, that it is hard to believe that a comic strip artist could be the basis of enough good stories to keep a syndication strip going for years.

In Love #3

In Love #3
In Love #3 (December 1954) “Artist Loves Model”, art by Jack Kirby

The artist and model theme was one that obviously resonated well with Simon and Kirby. They launched the whole romance comic book genre using the theme on a cover The theme became the basis of a syndication strip proposal most likely from the late ’40s or early ’50s. Later Simon and Kirby then tried to use it as a basis for a new comic book title. Kirby and Bill Draut both made cover proposals for the “Artist And Models” book. Kirby’s version of the cover and the original syndication proposals were used as a basis for the “Artist Loves Model” story for In Love #3. Theakston’s Jack Kirby Treasury vol 2 has one of the syndication strips. 2 panels made it into the comic version of the story, while 2 panels did not. The panels that made it were used in their entirety. Joe Simon’s collection has the original art for what was going to be the first page of the story. Two of the original three rows of panels remain on this page. Everything was cut and pasted, nothing was drawn on the board itself. Unlike the art from the Treasury strip example, this page did not use whole panels, instead these are pieces of panels cut to fit together. I am not sure why this page was abandoned, but it does seem to tell a story that deviates from the published version.

In Love #3
In Love #3 (December 1954) “Artist Loves Model” page 1, pencils by Jack Kirby inks by Joe Simon

We can be certain that the published first page was newly created for the comic book version of the story, a syndication strip would not require a full page splash. I am not certain, but I believe Simon did the inking. It is even blunter then what Kirby was doing at the time without the type of control Jack usually provided. When I showed Joe this page he commented that he felt there was too many words in the caption. It is an unusually wordy introduction for a Simon and Kirby comic. This was probably due to the need to cover the part of the story which had been on the abandoned first page that I talked about above. Although I have attributed the pencils to Jack, he may not have done the rows of buildings at the top and bottom of the page. In any case the tenements on the bottom are a particularly nice touch.

Of all the stories published for the In Love title, or any other Simon and Kirby romance productions, the inclusion of “Artists Loves Model” in the romance genre is the greatest stretch. Although love plays and important part of the story it really is not the central theme. The real theme for this story concerns artistic creativity. The story follows the lead character Inky from the end of his gig as an assistant to a famous and successful syndication strip artist. We see Inky’s failed attempt at creating his own strip. Eventually our hero does accomplish his goal, but only as an unwitting accomplice to intellectual property theft. When Inky realizes what has happen he abandons his new found success and sets things right. But he has not only proved his moral integrity, but his artistic value as well. Inky ends up with a new assignment and there is little doubt that he will be very successful with it.

In Love #3
In Love #3 (December 1954) “Artist Loves Model” page 5, pencils by Jack Kirby

“Artist Loves Model” has significance beyond the fact that it is a great story. Both Jack and Joe gave a number of interviews later in their lives. Jack’s interviews in particular give insight into his opinions about the creative process. The prestige of comic book artists is very different from the Silver Age on. I doubt very much if anyone bothered to interviewed Kirby or Simon during their time of collaboration. Therefore “Artist Loves Model” provides a rare opportunity into what Simon and Kirby thought about creativity in comic art at that time. When syndication manager Jack Hill rejects Inky’s initial strip proposal Hill’s explanation is:

BECAUSE YOUR CHARACTERS ARE ARTIFICIAL, INKY … THEY LACK LIFE!

Later Hill makes it clear that he is not just talking about how good the drawing is:

NO EDITOR IN HIS RIGHT MIND WILL ACCEPT THAT LIFELESS CREATION, INKY! IT’S JUST A GOOD-LOOKING CORPSE!

To help Inky understand what he is saying, Hill shows two popular syndication artists at work. One, a small and skinny man, draws a Superman clone (Vita-Man), using his inner most desires as an inspiration. Another artist is a typical family man and therefore can make his comic strip family real for his readers. One particularly interesting comment is made by Mr. Hill:

A MAN DOESN’T SEARCH FOR AN INSPIRATION … IT EXPLODES IN HIS MIND!

The way this particular comment is phrased sounds so like Kirby to me. It is just the sort of thing that Jack might have said thirty years later.

Inky’s love interest is his new found manager, Donna Dreame. Donna is a very beautiful woman with a larcenous heart. Unfortunately Inky is the only one in the story who does not recognize her true nature. Donna is surprised to find that Inky has used her as a model for one of the characters in the strip they are collaborating on. However as Donna remarks:

BUT THIS GIRL … SHE’S A SWEET YOUNG THING … INNOCENT … WHOLESOME … EVERYONE’S KID SISTER …

This is the way the love blind Inky sees Miss Dreame. Donna is so taken by Inky’s idolized version of herself that she resolves to be more like the woman that the artist has portrayed. Real life has inspired art which in turn becomes a source of inspiration. I believe this is a rare presentation of a core, if unspoken, Simon and Kirby philosophy. I can think of no more capable comic book creators at that time then Simon and Kirby. Yet Joe and Jack never went to the extremes found in comics produced by companies like EC. Even before the Comic Code there was a self imposed barrier of good taste that Simon and Kirby would never extend beyond. As businessmen money was very important to them, but never to the point that Joe and Jack would compromise their product. Simon and Kirby wanted their stories to be sources of inspiration for their readers and not just a vehicle for cheap thrills.

“Artist Loves Model” is unique among the numerous Simon and Kirby productions. Unfortunately In Love #3 is probably the rarest of all the Mainline/Charlton Simon and Kirby issues. Further this story has never been reprinted. The story has no superheroes or blazing guns yet I think it is a most important story that every Simon and Kirby fan should read. Perhaps someday that will once again be possible.

The format of the In Love would change after issue #3. Never again would the title include a “book length love novel”. Nor would the stories have the unique flavor that previously even many of the backup stories had. The stories from In Love became indistinguishable from those concurrently being produced by Simon and Kirby for Young Romance, Young Love and Young Brides. I will continue scanning and restoring the remaining issues of In Love but I doubt I will be posting about them at this time. First I need to write about Simon and Kirby’s long and fruitful career in the romance genre.

Addendum:
When I wrote the above I had completely forgotten that Bob on the Jack Kirby Comics Weblog had once posted on the syndicate version of this story. I am in the process of getting a copy of Buried Treasure v1 #2 which Bob reports has 36 strips. When I do I will post on what portion of the original strip made it into the comic book story.

In Love #2

In Love #2
In Love #2 (November 1954) “Marilyn’s Men”, art by Bill Draut

The second issue of In Love kept to the concept of a long story broken up into three chapters. “Marilyn’s Men” is about Marilyn Morgan, her brother Jim, Lawyer Bob (he is actually called that), and Dave an airplane pilot. Jim is a constant source of scandals due to his numerous fights over girls, usually someone else’s. Lawyer Bob loves Marilyn, but unfortunately for him she does not return that affection. Marilyn heart still smolders for her high school flame Dave. Always on the look out for a big money making scheme, Jim entices Marilyn’s interest in a new project because this time it involves a deal with Dave for a new airport. This not only leads to a business partnership, but also to the renewal of love between Marilyn and Dave. All is not well because an attempt by Marilyn to prevent Jim from causing another scandal backfires with Jim leaving the partnership. But another scheme of Marilyn’s brings him back.

In Love #2
In Love #2 (November 1954) “Marilyn’s Men” page 6, art by Bill Draut

Most of the art in this story was done by Bill Draut, and he does a great job. There are a lot of examples I could provide. There is a nice fight scene that starts the story, a great splash page, some interesting flying sequences, and more. Instead I have selected a page with no real action because it shows how well Bill could choreograph a page. I suspect some of the credit should go to the writer for so nicely directing the whole thing. But it was probably Draut who figured how to visually make it all work. We see Marilyn and Lawyer Bob enter the park. As they sit there is a flying pigeon in the foreground. Next a close-up of a pigeon and the couple’s legs. Marilyn cites the pigeon as a metaphor for freedom. Then the pigeon is startled and flies away with the shadow of a plane showing the source of that disturbance. It is Dave’s plane that the couple look up at as if flies away. Finally it is back to focusing on the couple as we learn the depths of Marilyn’s feeling for and about Dave and Bob. All very cinematic.

In Love #2
In Love #2 (November 1954) “Marilyn’s Men” page 4 panel 3, art by Bill Draut and Jack Kirby

That page and others do not have a Kirby feel to them so I once again doubt that Draut was working from Kirby layouts. There is one exception, a panel with Jim taking a drag from a cigarette while talking to Marilyn. Marilyn’s pose seems pure Draut, but Jim is so Kirby-like that I suspect Jack has stepped in to redraw the brother.

In Love #2
In Love #2 (November 1954) “Marilyn’s Men” page 18, art by Jack Kirby

Kirby did not draw any of the pages for the first two chapters of the story, but Jack did four of the seven pages of the last chapter. The first three pages are by Jack, followed by three pages by Bill and ending with another page by Kirby. I find it surprising that Jack’s contribution came so late in the story. Draut is a good artist but lets face it, Kirby is a better one, and also the boss. Normally I would expect that if Kirby only worked on part of a story it would be the splash pages and the start. An advertisement in In Love #1 shows that at least some of the art for “Marilyn’s Men” was already completed at the time issue #1 went to the printers. So perhaps Jacks significant involvement in In Love #1 precluded initially working on issue #2 until the last chapter. If chapter 3 is thought of as a story in itself, Jack’s involvement with the starting pages and the end is just what would be expected. Jack did a beautiful job on the splash page, I believe he inked it as well. I will discuss the second page of the chapter below but I do not believe Jack was the primary inker. The third page (shown above) is a bit of a surprise, although clearly drawn by Jack it looks like the inker tried to make it looked like it was done by Draut. I do not think it was Draut who did this inking. Previously I wrote on Kirby imitating Draut and other artists in the content pages of Harvey romances. What was done here was just as unsuccessful. I suspect the attempt was made to provide a transition from the Kirby page to those done solely by Draut. It does provide a transition but at the cost of a truly ugly page of art. The same sort of Kirby transformed into Draut occurs on the last page as well, and it is just as unsuccessful.

In Love #2
In Love #2 (November 1954) “Marilyn’s Men” page 17, art by Jack Kirby

I supply the image for the second page of the third chapter above (page 17 of the entire story). The sequence actually starts with two panels on the splash page showing Marilyn as she passes through the park alone. The first five panels on page 17 is a sequence of two of Marilyn and the man, followed by one of the man meeting another women and then another two of Marilyn and the couple. Except for one panel where the man is up close, Jack generally puts Marilyn in the foreground with the background used for the man or couple, who are the actual focus of the panels. The next two panels show only the couple and the last has the couple again with Marilyn retreating in the background. The whole sequence is just a marvelous example of obtaining drama and tension just by the way the art is laid out. Kirby is justly famous for how he portrays action in a story, action-less drama on the other hand is not something that Jack did not do very often. Although rare, pages like this one or the one I wrote about from Foxhole #2 show that Kirby was a master of pure drama as well.

The writing for this story is truly superior. All the pieces of the plot fit well together. Marilyn’s interference with her brother Jim in the last chapter makes no sense without Jim’s fight and scandal in the first chapter. The plot moves not just to provide an interesting tale, but as a means of presenting the cast of characters and providing their motivations. The character of Marilyn is a particular surprise. Generally a businesswomen in romance comics would be expected to abandon her career and find fulfillment in love. Not Marilyn, she gets it all, love and her career. When Marilyn’s interference in Jim’s love life backfires you would expect that she would have learn her lesson. Instead Marilyn no longer tries to break up Jim and his new girlfriend, but interferes once again in his life to bring him back to business partnership. One thing sets this story apart from many Simon and Kirby romances and that is emphasis on action. Since action is so often found in romance stories that Jack drew, I believe this indicates that Kirby played a significant part in the writing of this story. There are phrases here and there that also sound like Kirby’s writing. However most of the scripting does not sound like Jack’s, so I suppose another writer was involved as well.

As I reread these issues I realize that it is not just the full length feature story that sets In Love apart. Most romance comic book stories can be summarized as boy meets girl, a problem occurs, finally love conquers all. (Do not trivialize romance comics because of this, superhero stories can be summarized into an even simpler formula). The closest that In Love stories come to that formula is “Bride of the Star” that I posted on earlier. Even there it was so much as love conquered all as that the man regained his own self confidence about pitching which allowed love to resume. The two short backup pieces in In Love #1 were both about already married woman. “Marilyn’s Men” is just as much about Marilyn’s relationship with her brother as it is about her love life. The backup in In Love #2 was more about the love of a mother for her child then it was the love between a man and a woman. It does seem that Simon and Kirby were trying to make In Love different from the rest of the romance titles just like the effort to make the rest of the Mainline titles standout from their competitors.

In Love #1

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

I have begun to scan and restore the Simon and Kirby title, In Love. By the time they published this title in 1954 under Mainline, their own company, Simon and Kirby had a long history of producing romance comics. In fact no one had a longer history because they had started the romance comic book genre (See my post The First Romance Comic). Joe and Jack wanted all the Mainline titles to be different and for In Love their hook was that it was a “book length love novel”. That claim was not completely accurate because besides the feature story the comic would contain a couple of short stories as well. But the feature would be, at least for the first few issues, longer then any other romance story that Simon and Kirby had ever produced. Long enough that they could divide it up into three chapters. The feature story for In Love #1 was “Bride of the Star” and was entirely drawn by Jack Kirby. I have already outlined the plot in the same First Romance post that I linked to above. But rather then ask the reader to read it from the link I have copied the appropriate paragraph:

A young lady nearly gets beaned with a baseball. This becomes the first meeting between the new rookie Warren and Patty, who just happens to be the daughter of the teams owner. Romance and then marriage follows. But having the father-in-law as the teams owner brings in difficulty. Warren insists in not getting special treatment. Betty stays home as the team travels and follows her husband’s progress, or lack thereof using newspapers. Warren is not doing well as a pitcher, wants to be sent back to the minors and resents that his special relationship with the owner is the only reason he hasn’t been. Eventually Warren leaves both baseball and Patty. Sometime later Warren returns to pick up his things. During a discussion with Patty, Warren wants to know if she still loves him. Patty says she wants to love him and it is not important that he is not a big star. But Warren has changed, before he wouldn’t accept defeat, now he was a quitter. Warren stays, the owner/father has a medical breakdown, and Warren helps Patty run the team. The team’s pitching staff all have injuries so Warren decides to step in and pitch. He declares he has kept himself in training. His pitching wins the game. Warren tells Patty that winning the game was not that important, it was winning her respect that mattered. Obviously their love has returned as the story ends with a kiss.

In Love #1
In Love #1 (September 1954) “Bride of the Star” page 19, art by Jack Kirby

Kirby’s romance stories generally have characteristics that make them unique from all stories by other artists that worked for the Simon and Kirby studio. Kirby emphasized action in his romance stories. This can be scene in “Bride of the Star” in the part that baseball plays. The story is a romance but on certain pages that can almost be missed because of the sport aspect.

In Love #1
In Love #1 (September 1954) “After the Honeymoon”, art by Mort Meskin

As mentioned above In Love would also include some short romances along with the feature story. One of these for In Love #1 was a two page tale drawn by Mort Meskin. Despite its short size it is a rather well executed story. In the first three panels (the splash is really part of the story) Meskin provides a conversation between a man and a merchant. Talking heads are always a problem in comics and particularly so for romances. Mort uses the contents of the store to keep the first and third panel interesting. For the second panel Meskin accomplishes this with the use of dramatic lighting on the merchant. Note in all three panels the main character faces us, normally in the depiction of a conversation you would expect one of the faces to be viewed from behind. This is exactly what happens in the second panel to the merchant. In the first panel Mort has the man turn about for a better light in which to view his purchase in the light. In the third panel although still conversing with the merchant, the man has already turned around to leave. In such a short story it is important to present the main character as much as possible to make a connection with the reader. Mort has done this rather well with such unobtrusive means. Because the story is so condensed, there is only a two panel bridge between the man’s dealings with the merchant and his meeting with his wife. Two panels are not much, but Mort manages to infuse them with necessary mood. After the preceding close-ups we are now presented with more distant view as the man as he walks alone. The night time is the proper setting for his troubled state. Pieces of paper blown by the wind are visual clues to the man’s unsettled thoughts. Beat up garbage pails reflect on the man’s unprosperous condition. The final panel uses a dramatic view from atop the steps, making the simple act of preparing to walk into his house as a struggle over the apprehension he has for the coming confrontation. The story, inspired by the short O’Henry tales, is one about the self sacrifice aspect of love.

Mort Meskin has manipulated the presentation of the story so well it is easy to miss what he has been doing. Mort’s drama is not the dynamic action that someone like Jack Kirby preferred. Rather Meskin works unobtrusively to set the proper emotional tone. Because it is so unassertive Mort’s efforts are often overlooked. I am not saying everything Meskin did was at this level, but it is not that unusual either. I previously examined on an even better story “The Dreaming Tower” in my post on Strange World of Your Dreams.

I like to believe that my studies of the comics produced by Simon and Kirby have given me an broad understanding of the last days of the Simon and Kirby studio. My views have not changed much from those I presented in my serial post The End of Simon and Kirby. Sure I would like to have more precise dates on some of the key events. I also admit that there is the possibility that I could be wrong in my interpretation of the data. Still I think I have an overall understanding of the relationship between Joe and Jack as well as some of the more important artists of their studio. However that understanding does not include Mort Meskin. Previously Mort played an important part in S&K productions. Mort significantly contributed to Boys’ Ranch, more then I think many realize. Yet when S&K launched Mainline that line included only three stories by Meskin, and all of those from the early issues. Bill Draut and John Prentice played much more important roles in Mainline titles, as did the newcomer Jo Albistur. Why did not Meskin show up more in Mainline? Mort’s presence in the Prize romance comics of this time did increase. But so did Draut, Prentice and Albistur due to Kirby’s absence. When Kirby returned to provide pretty much all the art for the Prize romance titles, Draut and Prentice show up in Harvey romances which at the time were being edited by Joe Simon. Why did not Meskin make that transition as well? I can think a number of possible explanations, but none that I can support with actual data. Mort Meskin’s relationship with Simon and Kirby during these times remains a bit of a mystery to me.

The Day After

I was going to work tonight on a couple more “Not Kirby” posts. But somehow it just does not seem appropriate the day after Jack’s birthday. So I have decided to continue with progressive proofs of covers. As I said yesterday progressive proofs provide prints of the individual colors which I scan separately and combine using Photoshop. I believe this provides the most accurate idea of what the cover looked like when it was first published. No retouching or color adjustments are required. Joe Simon only had progressive proofs for five covers left. Not surprisingly they were all for Mainline Comics, the short lived comic publishing company that Joe and Jack started.

In Love #1
In Love #1 (September 1954) by Jack Kirby and John Prentice

I have posted a smaller image of this cover proof before although I did not mention then that it was based on progressive proofs. In Love was the romance title for Mainline. Jack did the foreground figures and John Prentice drew the background ones. This is a unique example of two S&K artists working on the same cover. I wish that the original art was still around. Perhaps it could provide evidence as to why this was done by two artists.

Foxhole4.jpg
Foxhole #4 (April 1955) by Jack Kirby

Joe Simon has told me that they (the S&K shop) did not do the color guides for the comics, that was the responsibility of the publisher. Once Joe was pointing out the artists in a photograph of the S&K studio. Joe said that one of the artists, whose name I forget, was the colorist. At the time I though Joe was contradicting himself. But later Joe described the financial deal that he had for producing comics for Prize. S&K had to cover all costs for producing the comics. When a certain percentage of the printed comics were shipped, S&K would get some money back and then share the profits from the actual sales. But I believe that when the deal was made making the color guides was not part of the work that S&K would have to do. But it would not make sense for the colorist to work elsewhere, in fact Prize may not have had their own artist bullpen. So the colorist would work in the S&K studio but be paid by the publisher Prize.

However Mainline Comics were S&K’s own company and so all work in creating the comics were their responsibility. So they oversaw, if they were not actually involved, in making the color guides. It seems to me that some of the Mainline cover color work is very different from work done for Prize. In fact some of them are in my opinion the best color work ever done for Simon and Kirby comics. The cover for Foxhole #4 is certainly one of these great color jobs. In fact it would not be anywhere near as dramatic without the colors.

Police Trap #2
Police Trap #2 (November 1954) by Jack Kirby

The first two Police Trap covers show the interior of a police station. Even though they were swipes from some paintings, they are just great Kirby covers.

In Love #4
In Love #4 (March 1955) by Bill Draut

Jack Kirby did not draw most of the work in the Mainline comics despite the fact that during this period he stop drawing anything for the Prize romances. Joe Simon is said to have handled most of the business aspects of the S&K shop but I suspect running their own publishing company required more business effort which even Jack had to help with. But there were other fine artists to help such as Bill Draut who did this cover. Actually yesterday when I wrote that Jack Kirby did the cover for In Love #3 that was not technically correct. The insert of the book cover was done by Draut.