Category Archives: 2009/09

Art of Romance, Chapter 21, Roussos Messes Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 6, Mix Bag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 1 (#1 – 3), Expanding Their Fields
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 2 (#4 – 6), Up and Running
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 3 (#7 – 8), The Same Old Gang
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 4 (#9 – 11), Another Hit
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 5 (#12 – 14), New Faces

The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 7 (#18 – 20), Kirby Returns
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 8 (#21 – 23), The Gang’s All Here
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 9 (#24 – 26), The Party’s Ovetr
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 10 (#27 – 29), A Special Visitor
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 11 (#30 – 33), The End

Now Eight Years Have Past

It seems that 9/11 is all too rapidly fading from public memory. I am sure those directly affected have not forgotten but now is certainly not the time to for others to forget either. Not only are the Taliban and Al Qaeda undefeated, their influence in Afghanistan has actually increased. I do not normally consider myself a hawk but I do not see how we can safely ignore the fact that our enemies would like nothing more than to strike again. It is gratifying that this administration has placed Afghanistan at a higher priority. I do not know if the approach they are taking will actually work. If not we must be willing to try others methods. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to those whose lives were sacrificed eight years ago.

P.S. In the past I usually accompany my 9/11 post with a picture of the Tribute In Light taken from my living room window. I particularly wanted to do so this year as well because it may be the last for this moving memorial. However the skies are so overcast that the lights are not visible. If it clears up I will add it later.

Art of Romance, Chapter 20, Romance Still Matters

(August 1952 – October 1952: Young Romance #48 – #50, Young Love #36 – #38, Young Brides #1)

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

Simon and Kirby not only created the romance genre of comics, they also made quite a bit of money from it quite well. Their agreement with Prize Comics gave Joe and Jack a share in profits but it also required them to cover all the costs of producing the art. If sales for the love comics were not sufficient, Simon and Kirby could actually loose money. However there are two indications from the period covered in this chapter that indicate that the Prize romance titles were doing quite well. One is that Young Romance reached its 50th issue. Of course there is nothing really special about the number 50 (as compared to 49 or 51) but it does make a convenient benchmark for how successful the title Young Romance was. Most of the titles created and produced by Simon and Kirby did not last past 7 issues. Young Romance, Young Love and Black Magic are among the exceptions. Justice Traps the Guilty was another title created by Joe and Jack but they did not actual produce it over most of the title’s run.

There is a second indication on how successful the Prize romance comics were. Simon and Kirby titles were typically started as bimonthlies. You can tell if a title was doing well because either it would become a monthly or a spin-off title would be made. Apparently the S&K love comics were doing well but Young Romance and Young Love were both monthly so the only option was to introduce another title, Young Brides. Young Brides would also follow Simon and Kirby’s modus operandi and begin as a bimonthly. As far as I can tell there was no difference between the contents of any of the three love comics except that Kirby would appear more often in the flagship title, Young Romance (although during the period covered in this chapter Kirby would not appear in Young Romance at all). By the way, Young Brides is another of those successful titles that would last well beyond 7 issues.

As the reader can see on the chart shown above, the new title Young Brides was released at a relative peak in the number of romance titles published. I use the tracking of the number of romance titles over time as a means of deducing the popularity of romance comics and even as an indicator for comics in general (The Real Reason for the Decline of Comics). I still do not have an adequate explanation for this relative peak and the decline that followed. Was it similar to the romance glut where publishers grew overconfident and ended up with more romance titles than the market could bear? Or was there some external factor such as the rise in criticism of comic books in some sectors of the public? Like I said, I really do not know but it does not appear that starting a new love title at this time was a poor business decision because Young Brides would go monthly a year later which is a sure sign that sales where very good even with three romance titles.

Surprisingly the most prolific artist for these seven issues was Bill Draut (59 pages). Bill is a consistent presence in Simon and Kirby productions but he is generally overshadowed by either Jack Kirby or Mort Meskin in terms of quantity. Meskin was still prolific supplying 51 pages. Other artist provided significantly less; John Prentice (29 pages), Al Eadeh(?) (24 pages), and a surprising fifth place for Jack Kirby (23 pages). Other artists (Bill Walton, Bob McCarty(?) and George Roussos would supply only single stories.

Young Love #36
Young Love #36 (August 1952) “Two-Faced Woman”, pencils by Jack Kirby

Another indication about the more reduced roll that Jack Kirby has been taking in the romance titles is that he only did one of the seven lead stories. The lead story typically starts with a soliloquy splash; one where one of the characters introduces the story to the reader and their speech balloon becomes the title. The soliloquy splash was very effective and it seems strange that Kirby did not go with it for the splash used in “Two-Faced Woman”. Frankly this splash while technically well executed just does not have much impact. The verbal exchange just does not seem to match the splash well. However the inking was by Kirby and is quite superb.

Young Brides #1
Young Brides #1 (September 1952) “Surprise, Surprise” page 5, pencils by Jack Kirby

More than any of the other studio artists, Kirby always liked to add a little action to his romances. Slaps did not play a big part in Simon and Kirby productions but check out that last panel. In movies the man slapped would often hardly flinch, but this lady certainly put some muscle behind it.

Young Romance #48
Young Romance #48 (August 1952) “Love Is Poison”, art by Bill Draut

Kirby may not have used the soliloquy splash but it would appear with other artists. Bill Draut made some particularly good use of that splash format. In “Love is Poison” even without reading her speech we can tell she is a bitter woman. The star on the door behind her shows she is an actress but the peeling paint above her indicates that she is not appearing in a big time movie or Broadway show. Draut was second only to Kirby among the studio artists in providing such emotional portrayals.

Young Romance #50
Young Romance #50 (October 1952) “Money, Money, Money”, art by Bill Draut

Draut did four of the seven lead stories and some of his splashes are so good that I wanted to include another example. The splash for “Money, Money, Money” may not have quite the impact of “Love Is Poison” but I love his portrayal of the grocery boy waiting to be paid (somehow I do not think he will get much of a tip). The inking of the upper part of the page is rather unusual for Bill.

Young Love #36
Young Love #36 (August 1952) “Mister Fix-It”, art by Mort Meskin

Mort Meskin may not have drawn splashes with the emotional impact found in those by Kirby or Draut, but he was great at humor. The gas station attendant feels that he is calm and collected while he unknowingly misses the gas cap and pours the fuel on the ground. Mort did these humorous splashes so well it is small wonder that he seem to do more of them than any other studio artist.

Young Love #38
Young Love #38 (October 1952) “Take Care of My Sweetheart”, pencils by Mort Meskin, inks by George Roussos?

Although I generally do not make a point of it, Mort Meskin did his own inking while working for Simon and Kirby. I say this based on an examination of the work itself and it was verified recently by a comment that Joe Simon made to me. Meskin was very productive and sometimes I feel that some of his worked suffered because of that. However some of the work in this period seems particularly poorly inked, as for example “Take Care of My Sweetheart”. This is unfortunate because the composition for the splash is rather nice. But the inking does seem rushed and the end results rather crude.

Young Romance #49
Young Romance #49 (September 1952) “The Way They Met”, pencils by Mort Meskin, inks by George Roussos?

“The Way They Met” from YR #49 is another example of uncharacteristically poor inking on a work penciled by Mort. Normally the cloth folds made from a series of narrow parallel lines are an indication that Meskin did the inking so I might attribute it all to a particularly rushed job. However while the faces have Meskin’s classic grin they also have a resemblance to those drawn by George Roussos. So I suspect what is going on is that Roussos is helping with the inking. Unlike Kirby, Meskin at least sometimes indicated the spotting in his pencils (The Eleventh Commandment) which may explain why Roussos adopted some inking techniques not found when inking his own pencils.

Young Romance #49
Young Romance #49 (September 1952) “Witch Girl”, art by John Prentice

The two lead features not drawn by either Draut or Kirby were done by Prentice. This is a clear sign that Simon and Kirby valued his contribution and I think with good reason. While I like the art that Kirby, Draut and Meskin were providing I think Prentice was just what was needed to provide the titles with a healthy mix of styles. “Witch Girl” uses the almost standard soliloquy format (John’s other lead feature, “Jay’s Protege”, does not). While Prentice might not quite have Kirby’s or Draut’s talent for the portraying of emotions, he certainly could draw beautiful women. Prentice was greatly influenced by Alex Raymond and the male character looks like Rip Kirby. This is ironic because Prentice would take over the strip after Raymond’s untimely death in 1956.

Young Love #37
Young Love #37 (September 1952) “Helpmate”, art by Bill Walton

There is a single story, “Helpmate” signed with just initials. Even if the art style was not clue enough, a comparison of those initials with Bill Walton’s signature in stories like “Say the Magic Words” (Black Magic #12, Chapter 5 of the Little Shop of Horrors) show them to be identical. Walton did work for a number of different comic publishers at the same time. He would not play a big part in Simon and Kirby productions but he would appear on and off for a couple of years.

Young Romance #48
Young Romance #48 (August 1952) “Everything but Love”, art by Al Eadeh(?)

I provide another example of work that I questionably attribute to Al Eadeh. The way the artists draws eyes, particularly for women, is so distinctive that it should be relatively easy to determine if this work really was done by Eadeh once I have managed to compare it with signed work for another publisher from this period.

Young Romance #49
Young Romance #49 (September 1952) “You’ll Wish You’d Never Met Me”, art by Bob McCarty(?)

My problem with resolving the attribution of this work to Bob McCarty (or not) is different than with the case of Al Eadeh(?). There is some work for Foxhole that can safely be attributed to McCarty. It is just a matter of seeing whether traits that make this work like distinct from the Foxhole work change with time or remain constant. The most distinctive difference is the large eyes used in these earlier pieces as can be seen in the above page.

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 5, New Faces

(May – July 1952, Black Magic #12 – #14)

As in Chapter 19 of The Art of Romance, Mort Meskin was the most productive artist for Black Magic drawing a total of 30 pages. Bill Draut was particularly active and draw 21 pages. The third and fourth places was held by an artists new to the studio; Bill Walton with 14 pages and Bob McCarty(?) with 10. Jack Kirby takes a surprising fifth place having provided only 9 pages. Kirby was the only artist who drew covers for Black Magic so three of those pages were covers with the remaining 6 pages from a single story. However we shall see Jack had a hand in other aspects of the title. Still it is a continuing mystery why Kirby, renown for his fast drawing, was so unproductive lately and especially during the period covered in this chapter. The rest of the art was provided by three artists each providing a single piece; George Roussos (4 pages), Al Eadeh(?) (2 pages) and 3 pages by an unidentified artist who used J. G. as initials.

Unfortunately John Prentice does not appear in any of the Black Magic issues covered in this chapter. Simon and Kirby did not use Prentice in Black Magic as much as some of the other studio artists. This certainly was not because Prentice was poor at the horror genre. Not only do I think he did a good job in Black Magic but he was clearly better than some of the artists that were used. I suspect the bias had more to do with how well Prentice did in the love titles that S&K preferred to assign him romance work.

Black Magic #13
Black Magic #13 (June 1952) “Up There”, art by Jack Kirby

I always want to include at least one Kirby story in all my serial posts, but this time there is only one to choose from. Still it is a great story and was recently included in Titan’s “Best of Simon and Kirby”. Of course picking the best from Simon and Kirby’s repertoire is always a difficult decision since they did so much great stuff in all genres.

Black Magic #14
Black Magic #14 (July 1952) “The Mailed Fist of McGonigle”, art by George Rossous

I am sure I have said this before, but George Roussos is not among my favorite Simon and Kirby studio artists. His artwork is a bit too crude for my tastes. With that said I often find his use of blacks very interesting especially when he uses them in a splash such as in Black Magic #14 (July 1952) “The Mailed Fist of McGonigle”. Perhaps the greatest weakness in this particular splash is that it is easy to overlook the running figure in the background as an empty suite of armor.

Black Magic #12
Black Magic #12 (May 1952) “Say the Magic Words”, art by Bill Walton

When I wrote Chapter 19 of the Art of Romance there was one story whose artist I could not identified but felt looked very familiar. Had I reviewed the work in this chapter of the Little Shop of Horrors I would have been known immediately who it was since both Black Magic stories by Bill Walton are signed. Fortunately all was not lost as sharp eyed Ger Apeldoorn recognized the correct attribution right away. Bill has a tendency to shorten the height of his faces and in his three quarter views to place the eyes at an angle. Walton will be making regular appearances in Simon and Kirby productions for a while so there will be amply opportunities to see examples of this work.

Black Magic #13
Black Magic #13 (June 1952) “Where is Alfred Weeks?”, art by Bob McCarty(?)

The June issue of Black Magic provides the first appearance of another artist that will regularly show up in Simon and Kirby productions for a time. The problem is he never signs his work and the only reason I have questionably attribute the art to Bob McCarty is because of some similarities to that artist works from 1954 (McCarty also did not sign his work but Foxhole was the only Simon and Kirby comic that provides some of the credits). However there are some differences between the art that might mean that they were not done by the same artist or that his art had evolved. One of the most distinctive features of the art in “Where is Alfred Weeks” as compared to McCarty’s art in Foxhole is the use of oversized eyes (not particularly obvious in the image I supply above). I will continue to questionably attribute this work to McCarty but I hope that I will resolve this issue, at least to my own satisfaction, as I proceed with these serial posts.

Black Magic #13
Black Magic #13 (June 1952) “The Handwriting on the Wall”, art by J. G.

“The Handwriting on the Wall” is an unsigned piece but there are some similarities to a story from Black Magic issue Black Magic #9 (“The Man in the Judge’s Chair”) that signed “J. G.”.

Black Magic #13
Black Magic #13 (June 1952) “Visions Of Nostradamus”, art by Jack Kirby and Al Eadeh(?)

One story, “Visions Of Nostradamus”, is by an artist that I originally thought might be Al Eadeh but I have not yet done my homework and found a contemporary signed piece by the artist to resolve the issue so I will continue to use a question mark. Ger Apeldoorn, who is much more familiar with Atlas where Eadeh also worked, seems more confident about the attribution. Eadeh(?) is a competent artist but nothing in his work that I have seen suggest the artistic talent shown in the splash. Of course that is not an acceptable reason to question whether he drew the splash (even poorer artists sometimes create a masterpiece) but the brushwork does not look like his either but does look like inking by Jack Kirby. The rather oversize eyes might seem incongruous for Kirby but similarly sized eyes appeared in a Kirby splash from Young Love #25 (September 1951, Chapter 16 of the Art of Romance).

Black Magic #13
Black Magic #13 (June 1952) “A Rag, a Bone and a Hank of Hair”, art by Jack Kirby and Mort Meskin

Mort Meskin’s style is very different from Kirby’s and normally there is no problem in distinguishing the two. The story for “A Rag, A Bone And A Hank Of Hair” is obviously penciled and inked by Mort and in the past I assumed he did the splash as well. But since there are no figures in the splash, or at least human figures, this was really nothing more than an assumption. But during my review for this post I noticed the arcing of the two shadows on the wall. These are not true abstract arches but they still are a typical feature of the Studio Style inking. Now Meskin was excellent at Studio Style inking but he used that approach when inking Kirby’s pencils and generally not when inking his own work. Then I notice the inking of the oversized rag doll. The brushwork on the dummy is done with a rather blunt brush that is more typical of Kirby than Meskin. There is also a brush technique that I have not discussed before nor included in my Inking Glossary but nonetheless is an often found method used by Kirby (perhaps Joe Simon as well). Notice the simple hatching found on the lower part of the dummy’s arm (somewhat obscured by a white piece of paper). They form a shadow that is a sequence of arcs; what I think of as a scalloped edge shadow. Much of the brushwork in the splash has the sort of loose control that Kirby was so great with, but not all of the inking. The crosshatching on the cupboard is more mechanically arranged than typical of Jack but often found in Mort’s inking as can be seen in the two story panels on the bottom of the page. Also the inking of the pillow in the foreground looks more typical of Meskin particularly where closely spaced nearly parallel brushstrokes are used.

Black Magic #13
Black Magic #13 (June 1952) “A Rag, a Bone and a Hank of Hair” page 5, art by Mort Meskin

I include a story page as well so Meskin’s method of inking the large rag doll can be seen as well. Notice the brushwork is not as blunt, there are more uses of parallel ink lines, and there are no scalloped edge shadows. Even the hair is inked rather differently than Jack’s splash.

The reader might have noticed that while I have recognized Kirby’s inking, I have not said anything about the drawing. Unfortunately there is little to go on as the dummy is drawn in the same manner in the splash and the story. This might suggest that Meskin drew both but the cover is also based on this story and provides a similarly drawn dummy and there is no question that Kirby drew the cover. The only thing I can point out about the splash is the use of perspective; somehow it seems more consistent with Jack’s work than Mort’s. I fully realize that this is a very vague and subjective description but it is all I have to offer at this time. I do not know if I have convinced anyone else, but I have convinced myself that Jack was largely responsible for the splash panel.

Black Magic #12
Black Magic #12 (May 1952) “A Giant Walks the Earth”, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Mort Meskin and Jack Kirby

Kirby drawn splashes in stories otherwise drawn by other artists are not the norm but are not that unusual either. They are rare enough that I can include all the cases I find in my serial posts. But Kirby splashes are common enough that many chapters (but not all) have examples. However it seems out of the ordinary to find so many Kirby splashes in just three issues because “A Giant Walks the Earth” appears to be another case. Again Kirby’s hand is easiest to spot in the inking. The folds on the human’s pants are typical of Jack’s brushwork; they have simple abstract shapes with no signs of the brush tip. The inking on the giant hand is done with a blunt brush more typical of Jack’s than it is of Mort’s inking. There is crosshatching on the giants forearm but note how less mechanical it is compared to the examples found in “A Rag, a Bone and a Hank of Hair”. However the inking of the foreground rocks all looks like it was done by Meskin. In fact there are some rocks in the story that are inking exactly the same manner.

Mort also clearly inked the story panels of the first page. This provides a good comparison of the two artist’s approach to inking cloth folds. At a glance they may appear the same but instead of the almost puddle like look found in Kirby’s inking, Meskin constructs folds using parallel lines with no attempt to hide the tip of the brush.

Black Magic #12
Black Magic #12 (May 1952) “A Giant Walks the Earth” page 2, art by Mort Meskin

Even though Mort is clearly inking the story panels on the splash page the art does not look like his. I provide an image of the second page so that two can be compared. The difference between the two is most obvious in the older man. So if Meskin did not draw the story panels from the first page, who did? I believe Kirby drew these as well. The end result may not look like typical Kirby art because Meskin appears to have inked them with a heavy hand. Normally Mort was quite a good inker of Kirby’s pencils and not so heavy handed but I believe in this case Mort purposely inked the first story panels this way so that they would blend better with the rest of the story.

Black Magic #13
Black Magic #13 (June 1952) “When I Live Again”, art by Bill Draut

One of Bill Draut’s contributions was “When I Live Again”. Bill does his usual competent job but to be honest I doubt that I would have mentioned it because there is nothing truly unique about it. However when I reviewed I quickly realized that the plot was very familiar. So much so that I did some searching and sure enough found a similar story in Alarming Tales #1 (September 1957, “Logan’s Life”). It is more than similar stories; they were the same plot only the six pages of “When I Live Again” had been reduced to a mere two for “Logan’s Life”. According to every source I have ever seen the art for “Logan’s Life” has always unquestionably been attributed to Jack Kirby.

Black Magic #13 and Alarming Tales #1
Left Black Magic #13 (June 1952) “When I Live Again”
Right Alarming Tales #1 (September 1957) “Logan’s Life”

The text was re-written but the art for the story in AT #1 has clearly been swiped from Draut’s from BM #13. Of course the art was not a close copy; no one is likely to mistake the AT #1 story as done by Draut. But most of the panels in the AT #1 story were obviously based on panels for BM #13.

Black Magic #13 and Alarming Tales #1
Left Black Magic #13 (June 1952) “When I Live Again”
Right Alarming Tales #1 (September 1957) “Logan’s Life”

In fact every panel in “Logan’s Life” from AT #1 was based on one from BM #13 although as can be seen in the above images it is not always so obvious since not only has the panel been recomposed but the people portrayed are sometimes changed as well. These changes might seem superfluous but in fact the in each case the alterations made the alterations the particular panel from Draut’s layout to one like Kirby would use. In the end entire story is a convincing example of Kirby’s art. Of course it must have been convincing because as I said in the past everybody has credit Kirby with the pencils to his story.

Last week I wrote about the Red Raven cover and the Hal Foster panel it was swiped from. I have since searched through all my sources and it would seem that most who were unaware of the swipe attributed the cover to Kirby alone while all those who knew of the swipe credited to Joe Simon either alone or in combination with Jack. (There were a few who gave joint credits to all the art by Simon and Kirby.) I still attribute the Red Raven cover to Jack but in the case of “Logan’s Life” I have changed my mind and now believe it is by Simon. I had detected Joe’s hand in this story but I had previously decided it was due to the Simon being the inker. Now I realize he penciled “Logan’s Life” as well. I base this conclusion not on the fact that the story was swiped but because the similarity to another story Joe swiped for Fighting American (Jumping the Shark). The Fighting American story was swiped from a Kirby drawn Manhunter story so it may not be surprising that everybody had previously attributed it to Jack. But the source for “Logan’s Life” was by Draut and this shows how convincing a job Joe could do at mimicking Jack. Something that should always be kept in mind when trying to determine attributions for work by Simon and Kirby.

The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 4, Another Hit

The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 6, Mixed Bag