Category Archives: Prize

Art of Romance, Chapter 32, The Kirby Beat Goes On

(May – October 1956: Young Romance #83 – #84, Young Love #71 – #72, Young Brides #28 – #29)

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

This is part of the period that saw the collapse of comic, the end of the golden age. While the number of romance titles has been steady the number of publishers of romance comics has been declining (The Real Reason for the Decline of Comics).

Young Love #71
Young Love #71 (June 1956) “Love Me Or Leave Me”, pencils and inks by Bill Draut

Although I describe this period as being all Kirby romances, that is not completely accurate as other artists did appear. Of the six issues discussed in this chapter five were truly all Kirby while one (Young Love #71) was a more normal Simon and Kirby production. For YL #71 Kirby does the cover and one story but the three other stories were by other artists. It is odd that all the artists were placed in this one issue while Young Romance #83, which came out in the same month, was all Kirby. All of the artists for YL #71 had been used prior to this year but one only in a war genre title. Therefore it is uncertain whether this was left over inventory or not.

Bill Draut’s art has the somewhat cleaner look that his art showed in the last chapter. Clothing folds are smoother and more sweeping and not so blotchy as was his style previously. The GCD lists Bill in DC’s Tales of the Unexpected #2 (April 1956) so I wonder if this change is an attempt to change his style to one more acceptable to DC. If so it is the beginning of a change that would rob Draut’s art of much of what I admire and replace it with a style that was not that much appreciated by DC or any other publisher.

Young Love #71
Young Love #71 (June 1956) “Birthday Present” page 3, pencils and inks? by Ann Brewster

“Birthday Present” would be Ann Brewster’s last work for Simon and Kirby. Joe and Jack only used her for the romance titles but this story does allow Ann to show how she can handle action. That she does so well with action should not come as a surprise because he she was doing superheroes earlier in her career (Ann Brewster, Not One of the Guys).

Young Love #71
Young Love #71 (June 1956) “Love That Money”, pencils and inks? by Ted Galindo

This is Ted Galindo’s first appearance in the “Art of Romance” but he did work for Simon and Kirby in Foxhole (Foxhole #4, Enter the Comic Code). Frankly the art for Foxhole was not all that great so it comes as a surprise what a wonderful job Galindo would do in “Love That Money”. We will see even more impressive work by Ted when I cover him in “Criminal Artists”, my serial post on the post S&K Prize crime titles. For “Love That Money” Ted’s women are beautiful and elegant and he works in a more modern comic book art style. It is a shame that Simon and Kirby did not make more use of Galindo before this but perhaps they also were put off by the poorer job he did for Foxhole.


Young Romance #83 (June 1956), pencils by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon

There was one other exception to the otherwise all Kirby art for this chapter besides those found in Young Love #1 and that is the cover for Young Romance #83 (June 1956). Oh that certainly is Kirby’s pencils for the foreground figures but he did not do the figures projected on the screen. The black and white art looks like the work of Joe Simon. The screen was done using special art boards that provide several degrees of tone based on chemical applied to it. Years later these boards were used by Joe and the artists working for him for work on Sick. Joe still has some of these boards and once offered to show me how they worked. Unfortunately all the required chemicals that I could find had dried up.


Young Love #71 (June 1956), pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

Young Love #71 provides a more typical example of a Prize romance cover than Young Romance #83. The inking for this cover was done in Austere inking style that Kirby worked in during this period (Jack Kirby’s Austere Inking). The ink lines are so fine that it would be reasonable to suggest that the work was done using a pen. However the original art is part of Joe Simon’s collection and a close examinations shows that it was done with a brush. While story art was usually done twice up (twice the size compared to as it would be published), generally the art for the Prize covers were done at about 1 1/2 size. But the truly twice up size of the original art for YL #71 allowed Kirby to achieve such fine lines with a brush.

Young Romance #83
Young Romance #83 (June 1956) “Dancing Doll” page 7, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Jack Kirby and Marvin Stein?

I find Kirby inking Kirby to be particularly interesting and therefore want to provide a number of examples below. However much of the inking of Kirby’s pencils during this period was not done by Jack himself. I therefore think I would be remiss if I did not provide at least one example of Kirby inked by another artist. While the inking on “Dancing Doll” is rather nice it does have some characteristics that I believe exclude crediting it to Kirby. For instance, although it is hard to make out from the image I provide, the cheek of the main in panel 4 has some fine feathering that I have not seen Kirby use. Inking attributions during this period are particularly difficult. There are two leading candidates; Bill Draut and Marvin Stein. There are some examples that can be confidently attributed to each of them. But these are the exceptions and in most cases it is hard to tell if one of them inked it or some unidentified artist. “Dancing Doll is just such an example. However the way the inking is done around the mouth of the man in panel 4 suggests to me it might have been done by Marvin Stein.

Young Romance #83
Young Romance #83 (June 1956) “The Serious Type”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

Some of the work from this period appears to be a combination of inking by Jack himself and some other artist. This is true for “The Serious Type” with the other inker questionably identified as Marvin Stein. However the work on the splash page appears to me to be inked by Kirby alone. Note the simple, spatulate forms that the clothing folds on the waitress in the splash and the shoulder blots throughout. Admittedly not the most exciting splash, even by standards of the romance genre, but still a well executed piece.

Young Brides #28
Young Brides #28 (May 1956) “Under New Management” page 4, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

“Under New Management” is another jointly inked work and again by Kirby and possibly Stein. This seems to be a case of inkers working on particular pages; Kirby on pages 2 to 4 and 7 with Stein doing pages 1, 5 and 6. Besides the simply shaped clothing folds and shoulder blots there are also a couple of abstract arch shadows (panels 1 and 4). These are all typical of Kirby’s inking although Joe Simon used these techniques as well. I feel it fair to point out that I am a bit uncertain about whether Kirby inked the nose and eyebrows of the man in panel 4.

Young Brides #28
Young Brides #28 (May 1956) “New Boy In Town”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

I believe that all of the “New Boy In Town” was inked by Jack himself. Again while I cannot fault his drawing or inking it is not one of his more exciting splashes. The same theme is covered in a much more interesting manner on the cover.

Young Brides #29
Young Brides #29 (July 1956) “The Sound Of Wedding Bells”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

Only the wedding couple’s hands are shown in the foreground. Behind their hands are the man presiding over the ceremony (a judge?) and a witness. The background is filled with clamoring bells announcing the festive occasion. This is certainly the most interesting romance splash Kirby has done during this period.

Still more all-Kirby romance comics to come in the next chapter of The Art of Romance.

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 31, Kirby, Kirby and More Kirby

(January – April 1956: Young Romance #81 – #82, Young Love #69 – #70, Young Brides #26 – #27)

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

Young Romance #81
Young Romance #81 (February 1956) “He Had Only Me”, art by Bill Draut

As discussed in the last chapter (Chapter 30), the three Prize romance titles would be almost entirely drawn by Jack Kirby. There are only two exceptions one being “He Had Only Me” by Bill Draut from Young Romance #81 (February 1956). Bill’s drawing style does not seem to differ from what we have seen in his previous work but his inking does reserve comment. Typically in the past Bill inked clothing folds in a rather blotchy manner. Here however is spotting is much smoother. This makes his brush techniques more similar to those of Marvin Stein. While there is little reason to believe that Stein was inking Draut’s pencils it does present a problem when trying to indentify either of those artists as an inker to Kirby pencils during this period.

Young Love #69
Young Love #69 (February 1956) “Bright Boy”, art by Bob McCarty

The other non-Kirby story from this period was “Bright Boy” by Bob McCarty. Like the one by Draut, this story was also has a February cover date suggesting that the two pieces were leftover from before the switch to all Kirby art. Previously McCarty’s art had become very similar to that done by John Prentice but here he reverts to a style more like his older one.

Young Love #70
Young Love #70 (April 1956) “A Week in Frisco”, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Bill Draut?

Much of the inking of Kirby’s pencils during this period were done by Jack himself, but not all. It is hard to be certain who were the inkers that Kirby used but there are two most probably candidates: Bill Draut and Marvin Stein. Unfortunately as we say about in the story that Draut drew himself (“He Had Only Me”) that Bill had converted to a cleaner, less blotchy brush style at least some of the time. The inking of the splash for “A Week in Frisco” shows thicker type of clothing folds that I normally associate with Draut and therefore I tentatively credit it to him.

Young Romance #81
Young Romance #81 (February 1956) “The Lady and the Truck Driver” page 3, pencils and inking by Jack Kirby

The Kirby’s Austere style of inking is characterized by an overall lighter spotting. Older techniques like picket fence crosshatching or drop strings (Inking Glossary) are used sparingly if at all. When larger dark areas are required they are made by flooding the region with ink. Page 3 from “The Lady and the Truck Driver” is a good example of Austere inking. However the real reason I choose this page is because of the delightful portrayal of the lady especially in panel 7. I just do not understand why people keep saying Kirby could not draw beautiful women!

Young Romance #82
Young Romance #82 (April 1956) “Bundle from Heaven”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

Actually I think I do understand why people continue to make the claim that Kirby could not draw beautiful women. In my opinion the reason is that Kirby never quite bought into what I call the Barbie look that so dominated romance art starting from the late 50’s. So many artists seem to try to draw women as attractively as possible but ended drawing females that were indistinguishable except by hair style and coloring. At least while doing romance for Prize, Kirby would try to give all the lady protagonists individual characteristics that were appropriate for whatever story he was drawing even if that meant that this might detract a little from their beauty. Sometimes Jack even managed to combine individuality and beauty as for example in “Bundle from Heaven”. Despite her haggard look would anyone doubt that the lady in the splash was anything but beautiful? Frankly I do not believe any inker other than Kirby himself would successfully achieved this nuance depiction.

While Kirby began to adopt the Austere inking style it was by no means a sudden switch. I would not hesitate to describe the above splash as Austere style inking and yet look at the man’s shirt with its picket fence crosshatching and drop string. Such holdovers from the older Studio style inking were still present but would become much more infrequent in the months to come.

Young Brides #26
Young Brides #26 (January 1956) “Love And Lamb Chops”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

Decisions, decisions, decisions! Lamb chops or jewelry, what is a woman to choose? Comic book stories were always meant to be a little over the top but this splash is just hilarious. But I kind of suspect that Jack knew that as well.

Young Brides #27
Young Brides #27 (March 1956) “Sad Wedding”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

I am really not completely certain that Jack inked the splash but I suspect so since he provided the spotting for the rest of the story. Such a simple splash is rather unusual for Jack who preferred scenes where people were prominent. Perhaps the splash appeals to me because the scene it portrays can still be found in Manhattan including my neighborhood. I am sure that had Kirby chosen to show the street level what we would see would hardly be mistaken for a more modern local but this higher viewpoint shows the architecture that has not changed much in many places. The only thing to give its age away are the clothes hanging of the lines.

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 30, Appendix

Young Brides #23
Young Brides #23 (July 1955) “The Day I Grew Up” page 3, art by unidentified artist and Jack Kirby

In the comments to Chapter 30 Ger Apeldoorn remark on a story that I did not include in my post, “The Day I Grew Up”. My neglect was not intentional as I originally planned to discuss it. It may seem strange to some that such a minor artist should be singled out. After all I have not covered every artist who worked for Simon and Kirby during this period and most of them were much more talented than this one. This artist admittedly crude drawings do have a very Kirby look to them, which can be particularly be seen in the final panel for page 3. The similarity to Kirby’s work extends beyond the style used to draw the characters but includes a similarity to Jack’s way of graphically telling the story. Among these are the use of viewing angles, the shifting viewing distance, depth of field, and a similar use of perspective. This similarities could be explain as Kirby layouts, imitation, or swiping. While an imitator might copy some aspects of another artist’s style it is unlikely that he would pick all these mannerisms. Nor would a swiper be expected to be able to combine multiple sources into such a coherent whole. This leaves as the most likely conclusion that Kirby supplied layouts. While this seems the best explanation it is remarkable that Jack would supply layouts to such an untalented artist when he (Kirby) was doing so little artwork.

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 30, Transition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 11, The End

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 1 (#1 – 3), Expanding Their Fields
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 2 (#4 – 6), Up and Running
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 3 (#7 – 8), The Same Old Gang
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 4 (#9 – 11), Another Hit
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 5 (#12 – 14), New Faces
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 6 (#15 – 17), Mix Bag
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 7 (#18 – 20), Kirby Returns
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 8 (#21 – 23), The Gang’s All Here
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 9 (#24 – 26), The Party’s Ovetr
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 10 (#27 – 29), A Special Visitor

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)

Featured Cover, Fighting American #4

Fighting American #4
Fighting American #4 (October 1954) by Jack Kirby

Another great FA cover done during the period when this title was more about humor then about being the typical superhero. In common with the cover for Fighting American #3 we find our hero about to spring a surprise on his clueless foes. I love the line “let me kill Speedboy just this once”. It is a great cover filled with Kirby’s unique humor touches such as the absurdity of Rhode Island Red lighting her cigar with a torch. I find that Jack had his own way of humor which includes the physical appearance of the subjects. To me it is very different then what Joe Simon did for the covers of Sick. It is also why I am always surprised that many still think that Guys and Dolls was done by Jack when its visual humor is so much like Joe’s.

I am rather surprised about the green face that the colorist provided for Yuscha Liffso. It makes him look not so much funny as weird. I guess it is the only thing about the cover that I find objectionable.

There were three more issues to Fighting American, not including the Harvey issue. Unfortunately these later covers just do not have the “punch” found on the first four issues. These last issues came out at the same time as the Mainline titles so I suspect Jack’s creative energies were going there instead.

Art by Joe Simon, Chapter 11, The Party Is Over

After “48 Famous Americans” S&K entered a period of abundant work mainly producing crime, horror and romance genre comics. As far as I can tell, Joe did not pencil anything during this period. I say that rather hesitantly. While working on my serial post “The End of Simon and Kirby” I reexamined a lot of S&K material. Suddenly I realize one story that I always thought as drawn by Kirby and was listed in the Jack Kirby Checklist had actually been done by Joe Simon. It seemed pretty obvious and I was quite surprised that I did not notice it before. I will discuss this story below but the point is if I had missed that work by Simon I might have missed others.

Adventure #75
Adventure #75 (June 1942) “Beware of Mr. Meek” by Jack Kirby

Fighting American #6
Fighting American #6 February 1955) “Deadly Doolittle” by Joe Simon

When we approach the end of the Simon and Kirby collaboration, work penciled by Joe reappears. However in some cases saying Joe is the artist depends on you think what makes someone the creator of a piece. In his book “The Comic Book Makers” Joe describes an incident where S&K got caught by Prize for reusing old romance art with new scripting. So far I have not found the stories that Joe is talking about. But in Fighting American #6 (February 1955) there is a story “Deadly Doolittle” that clearly was redone from “Beware of Mr. Meek” a Manhunter story from Adventure #75 (June 1942). But the FA story was not made by reworking stats from the older comic to change the uniforms, rather the entire story was redrawn. Much of this was done to remove some older layout techniques that Simon and Kirby no longer used. Early in their collaboration parts of figures would frequently extend well beyond the panel edges entering other panels. The FA story was redrawn so that things remained in their panels. But this was not done by just eliminating the parts outside of the original panels but by recomposing the panel instead. I find Simon’s touch in all of this work. It is particularly interesting to see Joe redo some of Jack’s classic socko punches. Joe tries valiantly but does not quite succeed in capturing Jack’s effect. I find a lot of Simon touch in this story and all the Kirby effects seem to be transmitted through Joe’s sensibilities.

Cockeyed #4
Cockeyed #4 (April 1956) “Guys and Dolls” by Joe Simon
Enlarged view

The last piece of worked signed jointly as Simon and Kirby is the unusual “Guys and Dolls” that appeared in the Mad-takeoff Cockeyed #4 (April 1956). This is included in the Jack Kirby Checklist, although I really cannot say why. The art looks much closer to cover work that Joe would do later for Sick then anything I have seen Jack do. Further the visual humor looks like Joe’s and does not seem to match Jack’s humor work. For me the most convincing evidence is that this works appears to have been done with an air brush. Joe Simon was a master with this tool having learned it while working for a newspaper at the beginning of his career. He would return to using it for not only the Sick covers but also for some of his advertisement work. I have seen nothing that indicates Jack had done any air brush art.

Alarming Tales #1
Alarming Tales #1 (September 1957) by Joe Simon

I doubt many would say that the figure in the flying chair and the background from the cover of Alarming Tales #1 (September 1957) were done by Jack Kirby. I clearly see Joe’s touch and believe he did this cover. But I can see why many see Kirby’s presence in the bottom part of the cover. I feel Joe did this portion also but he is swiping or mimicking Jack for parts of it. I presented a color image in a chapter of the “End of Simon and Kirby”. But the coloring makes it difficult to clearly see the figures, so above I provide a restoration of the line art. To me the lady on the left and the man looking out of his car seem to a have Kirby look to them. But the man pointing (third from right) and the man on the far right look more like the work of Simon.

Black Cat #60
Black Cat Mystic #60 (November 1957) by Joe Simon

Not long after Alarming Tales #1, Joe did a cover for Black Cat Mystic #60 (November 1957). Notice the similarity of the man with the two from the AT #1 cover.

Black Cat #60
Black Cat Mystic #60 (November 1957) “The Woman Who Discovered America 67 Years Before Columbus” by Joe Simon

Black Cat Mystic #60 has the story drawn by Joe Simon that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. This short (2 pages) story is listed in the Jack Kirby Checklist, but as I said I now disagree with that attribution. We have in this work Joe mimicking Jack quite successfully. The men have a Kirby-ish look but a careful examination of the eyebrows reveal the more simple form that Simon preferred. The woman also comes from a Kirby source, such as some of the unused covers for Black Magic #1. But the woman’s eyes give away the fact that this was Joe’s pencil work. The hand of the woman in the splash panel is not drawn the way that Kirby would have done it. I am sure some will say that some panels of the second page of the Mayans were done by Jack. But I suspect even this includes subjects that were drawn from art history sources that both Joe and Jack used.

Alarming Tales #4
Alarming Tales #4 (March 1958) by Joe Simon

Covers begin to appear at this time where Joe seems to abandon any attempt of mimicking Kirby. I provide an image of Alarming Tales #4 (March 1958) as an example. Here we find a simpler style of drawing and inking that Joe will often use from here on. Once again Joe has adopts a new style.

Art by Joe Simon, Chapter 10, A History Lesson

Art by Joe Simon, Chapter 12, Covering the Fly

Joe Albistur, another forgotten comic book artist

PT #1 The Beefer
Police Trap #1 (September 1954) “The Beefer” by Joe Albistur

I mentioned Joe Albistur briefly in Chapter 3 of my “End of Simon and Kirby” serial post. Joe is another of those forgotten comic book artists. Web searches have provided nothing in the way of real biographical information. To make matters worse, some have misread his signature and refer to him as Al Bistur. It is easy for me to resist the temptation to look down my nose at those who got his name wrong. Honest mistakes made in the study of comic book history deserve correction not criticism. Besides I have to include myself among those who have made that particular mistake.

I asked Joe Simon about Albistur. Although Simon said he felt he should remember the name, and even corrected my pronunciation, he could remember nothing about him. In a way this is not surprising. Simon worked with a lot of artists over the years and Albistur worked for the S&K studio for only a short period of time. But it was that critical time during the Mainline period. Albistur first appeared in Police Trap #1 (September 1954) and last showed in Young Romance (October 1955). During his stay with S&K Joe produced 21 stories; 6 for Police Trap, 1 for Win A Prize and 14 for the Prize romance titles (see checklist). His appearance in these particular comics, but none of the other Prize titles, is one of the reasons I am convinced that Simon and Kirby were still producing the Prize romance titles at the same time they were publishing their own comics under Mainline.

PT #4 All In A Day's Work
Police Trap #4 (March 1955) “All In A Day’s Work” by Joe Albistur

Joe Albistur shows up in S&K productions with a fully developed style, he must have worked in comics elsewhere before this. Joe does a good job in the mild type of crime genre that is supplied by Police Trap. Albistur illustrates the story well and seems comfortable with the action sequences. He excels in presenting a story in unusual situations; on the ledge of a building where a cop tries to talk someone out of suicide, or in burning building rescuing a baby. Kirby is said to have provided layouts for S&K freelancers, but the way Albistur does these stories I doubt it is true in his case.

WP #2 The Handsome Brute
Win A Prize #2 (April 1955) “The Handsome Brute” by Joe Albistur

In Win A Prize #2 Joe’s contribution is a science fiction piece. Here again Albistur shows his story telling ability. But it also shows his weakness. When it comes to the part the alien reveals himself, Joe does not seem to know how to visualize him and so casts the face in shadow. Somewhat of a letdown. Of course it may have been difficult working for Jack Kirby, who is a master at this sort of thing. Black Magic had already been cancelled and Win A Prize never went past the second issue, so we never get a chance to see Albistur try his hand at this sort of thing again.

YR #77 The Big Fish
Young Romance #77 (June 1955) “The Big Fish” by Joe Albistur

It was in the romance genre that Joe Albistur did most of his work for S&K, filling in for the absent Jack Kirby. Albistur seems an odd match for the romance comics. His women do not have the clear beauty of Bill Draut, nor the sophistication of John Prentice, nor are they stylized like Mort Meskin’s. I am lost for words on how to describe Joe’s women. The best I can do is say that they have a sort of roughness that gives them an earthy look. But we do not need to accept the quality standards of a teenage girl from the 50’s. I am not sure they would have liked Joe Albistur’s work that much, but I do. Joe used some interesting composition devices, like having a panel edge cut off much of the face of the leading woman. Albistur also had an eye for gestures, like the pin ball wizard stretching his fingers. Although Joe’s women may not have a typical comic book beauty, they are done in an easily recognized style. I have little interest in a style for style sake. But I do admire an artist who develops a unique style as a way of expressing his own personal voice. That is a quality that Joe Albistur shared with the best of the S&K artists.

When Jack Kirby returned to providing work for the Prize romances he would begin to do pretty much the entire comic. Therefore Joe Albistur disappears from the Prize romance titles. Unlike Bill Draut and John Prentice, he does not show up in the Harvey romances. I suspect his work was not a good match for the Harvey house style of those romances. I have not seen any of Albistur’s post S&K work, but he does come up a few times in a search of the internet. It appears he did work for Gilberton in 1961 working in the Classics Illustrated and the World Around Us titles. In 1973 and 1974 Joe shows up in the DC titles Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion and the House of Secrets.

Joe Albistur was not as flashy as some of the more popular artists, you know someone like Jack Kirby. But at least in the work he did for S&K, he was not a run of the mill artist either. Albistur had talent and his own unique voice. He may not have been a superstar but he does not deserve the anonymity that he has fallen into.

A Tale Twice Told

I’m busy tonight working on the next chapter to The End of Simon & Kirby. But I thought I would point out a happy coincidence that occurred in two chapters. I’ll provide links but chances are both chapters are on this page, so it might be easier to just scroll down. In Chapter 2,I included an image of the cover to Young Love #55 done by John Prentice. It turns out that that cover is based on a story done by Jack Kirby in the same issue called “Love Wars”. I just happened to provide a scan of the splash page to Jack’s story in Chapter 5. I find such alternative versions interesting for the insight it provides into the artists. Mind you I am not saying that Jack’s splash gives an idea how he would have done the cover. When it came to the romance comics, Jack’s splash pages seem spicier then his covers.

This example of an artist doing a cover based on a Kirby story may be unique during the S&K collaboration, I’ll have to check. Also rare are examples of Kirby and another artist doing alternate takes of the same cover. I included scans of covers by Jack Kirby and Bill Draut in “Artists and Models“. I can think of only one other example from the S&K period.

There are however a number of examples of Jack doing the cover based on a story by another artist. I think it may be fun sometime to post a series of examples of these alternate interpretations.