Category Archives: 2010/12

Criminal Artist, Chapter 4, Ted Galindo

If I were writing this serial post based on the amount of material produced for the Prize crime comics, Ted Galindo would have had the third chapter ahead of Bill Draut. Although he worked on Prize crime comics for just a little over two years he was quite productive during that time. Some issues even had two stories drawn by this artist. Most of Ted’s art appeared in Justice Traps the Guilty because the other Prize title, Headline, was cancelled only two issues after Galindo started to provide work.

Justice Traps the Guilty #68 (November 1954) “Flatfoot”, art by Ted Galindo

Galindo’s first piece for Prize Comics was “Flatfoot” from Justice Traps the Guilty #68 (November 1954). This was even before “It’s Mutual” that he did for Foxhole #4 (April 1955). The earliest listing for Ted in the GCD is February 1955 so it is possible that “Flatfoot” is Galindo’s earliest published comic book art (or not, the GCD is a work in progress and is not always accurate). In this early piece, Ted is already an accomplished artist but has not arrived at his more distinctive style. The most significant difference is the much heavier inking. His later work would have a minimum of spotting but blacks played an important part of the art in “Flatfoot”. Ted’s predilection for splashless stories is also suggested by the rather small splash provided in this story. Also already present is Galindo’s fondness for tall narrow panels.

Justice Traps the Guilty #84 (December 1956) “The Peaceful Man”, art by Ted Galindo

Galindo’s JTTG #68 work was not repeated and this artist would not reappear until “Flash Cameron Investigates a Disaster” for Headline #76 (May 1956). Judging from the GCD, Galindo had worked in the interim mostly for Charlton. With his reappearance in Prize Comics, Ted had fully arrived at his familiar style. Most of his stories would not include a splash panel but would instead start with a title panel no larger than the rest of the story panels. Since most artists in the Prize crime comics used half page splashes, Galindo’s format indicates that even though Prize artists were working from a script they still had leeway in the panel layouts. His inking would be light with minimum spotting. But when he used black it was usually in relatively large areas filled with ink.

Justice Traps the Guilty #85 (February 1957) “The Coffee Man” page 3, art by Ted Galindo

One of Galindo’s strengths was his adept characterizations. The post Comic Code Prize crime comics often included sequences of talking heads. with less talented hands these sequences could become rather boring, but Galindo’s carefully handling of the viewing angle and his effective emotional portrayals keep his stories interesting. On page 3 of “The Coffee Man” You can just feel the captain’s discomfort with a disagreeable duty. Even more importantly you can see Willie’s progression from a happy attitude to sadden realization that his life has been drastically offered. No blazing guns, but still a great piece of comic book art.

Justice Traps the Guilty #87 (June 1957) “Wall Of Silence” page 6, art by Ted Galindo

While Galindo could handle emotional portrayal he was no slouch when it came to action. As the example from “Wall of Silence” shows, this was not Kirby action. Frankly I am not sure where Galindo drew his inspiration, perhaps from Alex Raymond’s syndication strip Rip Kirby.

Justice Traps the Guilty #89 (October 1957) “The Printed Word” page 4, art by Ted Galindo

Generally Galindo’s strengths lay in his careful handling of talking heads and action, but in “The Printed Word” he shows how well he could do suspense. And it is not just page 4, the whole story is filled with effective drama. Ted’s use of blacks plays a important roll in the telling of the story. Note in particular how sinister the assailants shadowed face is in the final panel. The 50’s were important years for Alfred Hitchcock with such movies as “Strangers on a Train”, “Dial M for Murder” and “Rear Window”. I am sure Galindo was paying attention and that Hitchcock was an important influence, particularly for this story.

Justice Traps the Guilty #91 (February 1958) “G-Man Justice”, art by Ted Galindo

As I mentioned earlier, most of Galindo’s crime stories do not include a splash. “G-Man Justice” is one of the rare exceptions. During most of the later history of Justice Traps the Guilty Marvin Stein was the primary artist and would provide the cover and the lead story. But during the end of the run Stein’s prominence was replaced by other artist. This provided Galindo with the opportunity to provide a lead story. But a lead story had to have a splash and I suspect this is why Galindo provided one for “G-Man Justice”. It is not a bad job, but in all honesty it is not that great either.

Ted Galindo did a lot of romance art first for the Prize love comics not produced by Simon and Kirby (All for Love and Personal Love) and later in all the titles edited by Joe Simon alone. I have discussed this work in the final chapters of the Art of Romance (Chapters 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 and 38). Galindo’s romance work was rather nice, but it is his crime art that really shines. Ted also did work for the re-launched Black Magic. Hopefully someday I will write about that title as well.

The Gangs of New York

Simon and Kirby crime tales, at least the earlier ones, were based on true stories. In a recent post I wrote about Simon and Kirby’s “Let Me Plan Your Murder” and the serial killer H. H. Holmes on which the story was based. I noted differences between the story which Joe and Jack presented and the facts that can be found on the Internet. These differences could be explained either as “poetic license” or inaccurate sources. Unfortunately there is no way to decide between the two explanations without knowing the actual sources used by Simon and Kirby. I remember reading somewhere (but regrettably I am not sure where) that one of the books Simon and Kirby used was “The Gangs of New York” by Herbert Asbury (1928). The book covers New York’s criminal elements from 19th to the early 20th centuries. Apparently this book was quite popular as there were four printings in the first year alone.

Clue Comics vol. 2 no. 1 (March 1947) “King of the Bank Robbers”, pencils by Jack Kirby

One of Simon and Kirby’s first entries in the crime genre was “King of the Bank Robbers” which was about George Leonidas Leslie. The same title was used for Chapter 10 of Asbury’s TGoNY. Asbury’s presentation pretty much matches the story depicted by Simon and Kirby. The main difference between the two takes is that Asbury went into more details than Simon and Kirby. However Joe and Jack embellished the facts to make it more of a story.

Real Clue Crime Stories vol. 2 no. 5 (July 1947) “The Terrible Whyos”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

Another example of a story taken from TGoNY was “The Terrible Whyos”. Without Asbury’s book a reader might doubt the accuracy of some of the things presented by Simon and Kirby. For instance in the story of perspective new member to the gang being rejected because he had not killed anyone. This might seem like an exaggeration but according to Asbury:

It has been said that during their period of greatest renown the captains of the Whyos would accept no man as a member until he had committed a murder, or at least had man an honest effort to thus enroll himself among the aristocracy of the underworld.

At one point Pike Ryan presents a poster showing the business rates, that is what to charge for commissioned crime ranging from blackening eyes to “da big sleep”. In the book Ashbury describes how when arrested Pike Ryan was found to have just a list and while the wording is not identical the rates were just as Simon and Kirby provided.

Real Clue Crime Stories vol. 2 no. 4 (June 1947) “Dandy Johnny Dolan”, art by unidentified artist

Simon and Kirby where not the only ones making use of Ashbury’s TGoNY. “Dandy Johnny Dolan” had no involvement from Simon and Kirby. While it just does not have the Simon and Kirby magic touch, it still is a rather nicely written and drawn story. But once again the events found in the story match what Ashbury presents in TGoNY, particularly how a cane Dolan took off one of his victims lead to being arrested for the crime.

All the comic book artists that used “The Gangs of New York” took liberties with the facts presented by Ashbury. In some case just to make a better story but in other cases because the true facts might be a little bit too much even in those pre-Comic Code days. Simon and Kirby might present some woman as a gangster’s girl friend but in reality she might have been a prostitute (and the criminal a pimp).

Even today “The Gangs of New York” is an enjoyable read. I understand it was reprinted about the same time as the movie of the same name came out. Ashbury does have a peculiar take on gangsters. As he tells it the gangs were all a thing of the past:

for there are now no gangs in New York, and no gangsters in the sense that the word has come into common use

It is hard to understand what Ashbury’s use of the word gangsters was if it excluded organized crime of his day. “The Gangs of New York” was published in 1927 about eight years after prohibition came into effect with the Eighteenth Amendment of the Constitution. Trade in illegal booze provided an abundant criminal income which propelled organized crime to great strength. Ashbury may have been blind to the new gangster, but the crime comics, including Simon and Kirby, were not.

Another Brief Pause and a Joe Simon Interview

Normally I provide at least one post every week. This is often difficult because I have a full time day time and in my “spare time” I am actively working on restorations for Titan’s Simon and Kirby library. The only way I can succeed in keeping my blog going is plan my post ahead of time and write it during my lunch hour. Unfortunately this week when I came to do the actually writing I realized that my planned subject (an opinion piece) really did not warrant posting. But with my tight schedule I was unable to switch to another topic. So this will be one of those rare weeks when I will have to take a brief pause. I should return to my normal blogging next week.

“Wilton of the West”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

However, I do not want to leave my readers without something to look at so I will follow the example of an earlier pause (A Brief Pause) and provide an image from Jack Kirby’s early work for the Eisner and Iger studio. This particular strip appeared in Jumbo Comics #3 (November 1938) but my image is from a scan of what was either a proof or presentation piece. Presentation pieces were made to be provide potential clients with examples of a proposed syndication strip. The nice thing about proofs like this one is that the paper was of a much higher quality and so provides a superior copy.

“Wilton of the West” panel 1, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

The work that Kirby did for Eisner is interesting because you can see him learning his trade. Jack was already better than many of the contemporary comic book artists but that is not saying much because there were a lot of really poor comic book artists at that time. However Kirby was not yet as talented as the artist then working on published syndication strips. On this particular “Wilton of the West” you can see Jack not completely successful experimenting on his inking. Kirby has put a lot of effort into the brush work, particularly on the splash like panel I show above, but it is not very effective. I believe much of the problem is that all parts of the panel seem to get the same amount treatment. The final result seems cluttered and unfocused. Kirby quickly learned from his mistakes and had already improved in a Dr. Hayward strip done a short time later (shown in the same A Brief Pause post that I linked to before).

On a different subject, the reader might be interested in a recent interview that Joe Simon gave Big Shiny Robot.

Simon and Kirby and Their True Stories

Real Clue Crime Stories v. 2 n 6 (August 1947) “Let Me Plan Your Murder” pencils by Jack Kirby

During Joe Simon’s deposition given in DC versus Fawcett he described the work that they were presently doing as being based on true stories. At that time (1948) Simon and Kirby were producing crime and romance comics. It is hard to say how true their romance stories were but they did run advertisements offering to pay for reader submitted stories. While romance did not usually make the newspapers, crime certainly did. Therefore it is possible to compare what Joe and Jack created with historical facts.

I plan to research a number of crime stories but here I will start with “Let Me Plan Your Murder, H. H. Holmes the Monster of Chicago”. There really was a murderer with the name Henry H. Holmes, or rather that was the name he was using when finally captured (his original name was Herman W. Mudgett). Holmes was a famous serial killer whose exploits can be found in great detail on the Internet (The Murder Castle of H. H. Holmes, The Master of the Murder Castle, and Wikipedia’s H. H. Holmes  to mention just a few). There is no definitive count of the number of Holmes’ victims. The best estimates are in the range of 20 to 200. I will return to this issue below.

I will not summarize what is known about Henry Holmes as it is covered in detail in the links I supplied above. There is a lot to his story, much too much to cover in seven pages of a comic book. So it is not surprising that that much was left out in the story that Simon and Kirby told. But the question that interests me is how accurate were Joe and Jack for what they did tell? To start with how accurate was their portrayal of Holmes himself. The most prominent feature that Holmes’ possessed was his moustache. Kirby drew a distinctive moustache but that went out and slightly up while the real Holmes had a moustache that went down at the ends.

The story produced by Simon and Kirby have seven essential facts:

  • Holmes constructed his castle with frequent firing of the workers so that no one would understand the true nature of what he was building.

This is an accurate description of how Holmes’ constructed his castle. Frequent dismissal of the work crews not only hid what he was doing but Holmes would also refuse to pay them. Holmes may have built his elaborate building without spending any of his own money!

  • Numerous visitors to Chicago mysteriously disappeared.

Holmes operated his castle during the Chicago World’s Fair. He would rent out rooms to visitors. Apparently many visitors to the Fair never returned home. Did they stay at Holmes’ castle and become his victims or did they just go on to a new life and never return home? I cannot imagine that such a question could not be answered today but in 1892 they were left with only suspicions.

  • Holmes concocted an insurance fraud with Howard Pietzel but instead of substituting the body of some victim actually kills Pietzel.

This is correct. Left out of Simon and Kirby’s account was the story of Pietzel’s wife and children. Holmes somehow convinced Mrs. Pietzel to give him custody of three of her five children. Holmes would end up killing the three children and there are suggestions that was to be the fate of Mrs. Pietzel as well.

  • The cellar to Holmes’ castle was uncovered during the construction of a tunnel.

Simon and Kirby present this as an accident that started the unraveling of Holmes’ killing spree. Actually the tunneling was done after Holmes was apprehended and was done from the castle’s cellar. A large metal tank was found which when opened produced a horrendous stench. Despite the odor someone lit a match to see what was inside. The result was an explosion that fortunately left the workers without serious injury but any evidence of what the tank was used for was destroyed. 

  • Police investigated the Pietzel case for proof of Holmes’ criminal doings.

The tunnel was not what brought Holmes to justice what did that was fallout from the Pietzel insurance scheme. Holmes offered another criminal Marion Hedgepeth, a fee for the name of a lawyer who could be trusted. The lawyer’s name was provided and the fraud executed but Hedgepeth never was given his finder’s fee. A bad move on Holmes part because in revenge Hedgepeth reported Holmes scheme to the police. A examination of Pietzel’s remains did show that he had been murdered.

  • Holmes’ real name was Herman Mudgett.

Not much to say on this point as Simon and Kirby got it right.

  • After conviction Holmes confessed his crimes.

His confessions were well publicized but apparently not specific enough to indicate how many people Holmes actually killed. Probably so many that Holmes lost track.

Simon and Kirby got six of the seven essential facts correct. The one thing they got wrong (Holmes’ cellar discovered during tunnel construction) was not completely made up but did not play the part Joe and Jack presented. I do not know what source Simon and Kirby used for the story. Was the source material inaccurate or did Joe and Jack make the change on purpose? Without know the source we simply cannot tell.

On a side note, Simon and Kirby present “Let Me Plan Your Murder” as if told to a researcher. The motif of using someone tell the story was commonly used by Joe and Jack. The researcher of this story looks very much like “Red Hot” Blaze who regularly played the story telling roll in the Headline Comics stories that Simon and Kirby were doing at the same time. It is quite likely that “Let Me Plan Your Murder” was originally meant for Prize’s Headline Comics but for some reason switched to Hillman’s Real Clue.

Simon and Kirby and Graphic Novels

Young Allies #1 (Summer 1941) pencils by Jack Kirby

Simon and Kirby had a tendency to do things in a big way. If they drew a guy running they would portray him with his legs so widely separated that it would almost look like he was executing a split. A full splash page might not be enough for Joe and Jack and they would use two pages for a splash. Their motto seemed to be take things to the extreme. One of the things that they pushed was the story length. Simon and Kirby stories were often a few pages longer than their contemporaries, but that is not what I am referring to. Sometimes Simon and Kirby would create stories that extended to much greater lengths.

The first occasion for Simon and Kirby to execute a long story was Young Allies #1 (Summer 1941). I have written about this comic before (Young Allies and the L Word). Only most of the splash pages seemed to have Jack Kirby’s directly involved while the rest of the story appears to have been executed by a number of different artists. Still it is obvious that Simon and Kirby were the guiding hands. The story is divided into 6 parts that are referred to in the comic as chapters. While it was described as “a complete comic adventure thriller”, designating the parts as chapters indicates that Simon and Kirby had the idea of a novel very much in mind.

Simon and Kirby did not call Young Allies #1 a graphic novel but should we? But to answer that question we need to know what the definition of a graphic novel is. Despite the common use of this term in recent years there is a lack of agreement about what constitutes a graphic novel. Is it the length or the subject matter? Is a lengthy sequential graphic story sufficient or need text be present? Does the text have to appear in word balloons? I could go on but the point is there is no generally accepted definition of a graphic novel except perhaps it has to be lengthy. Actually I am not surprised by the difficulty in agreeing on a definition as aspects of cultural are often difficult to define. The reader might think they know what rock and roll is but in some cases it is hard to distinguish between rock and roll and blues, jazz or even classical music. Rather than trying to come up with yet another definition of what characteristics are fundamental to a graphic novel, I prefer to use a cultural definition. Today there are a lot of what are described as graphic novels but they all seem to trace their inspiration back to a number of works that appeared from 1976 to 1978 but especially Will Eisner’s “A Contract With God” (1978). A graphic novel should be part of that cultural tradition. In order to be a graphic novel a work should also possess some characteristics that distinguish it from other cultural objects, particularly comic books. Of course the work’s length is certainly an important factor.

It Rhymes With Lust (originally 1950, image from 2007 Dark Horse Reprint) art by Matt Baker

However there are older works that appeared before 1976 that have characteristics that distinguish them from normal comic books. For instance “It Rhymes With Lust” by Drake Weller, Matt Baker and Ray Osrin (1950) was 126 pages long and more like a pocket book in construction. Such productions would be called graphic novel precursors. The precursors may have had a spirit in common with the modern graphic novel but they were culturally dead ends which at the time had little impact. Was Simon and Kirby’s Young Allies #1 such a precursor? I think so but just not as good a precursor as others. Young Allies #1 was unique in that the entire comic was devoted to one story 57 pages long. Perhaps there were previous examples done by other comic book artists but I am not aware of them. Now 57 pages might seem much less than the 126 pages for “It Rhymes With Lust” but that is like comparing apples to oranges as the physical size of the two works are very different. The art found in Young Allies #1 was the size typical of comic books of the day, 6.5 by 9 inches. The art in “It Rhymes With Lust” was 4.5 by 6.5 inches. The total art area for Young Allies #1 was 3334.5 square inches compared to 3685.5 square inches for “It Rhymes With Lust”. The Young Allies had roughly only 10% less art. While Young Allies #1 was lengthy it was otherwise not distinguishable from standard comic books and was sold with them as well. Further it was meant for the same audience.

Boy Commandos #4 (Fall 1943) pencils by Jack Kirby

Simon and Kirby repeated the idea of a full length story in Young Allies #2 (Winter 1942). Shortly later Joe and Jack left Timely for DC and subsequent Young Allies returned to the standard comic book format of several individual stories. But Simon and Kirby had not discarded the idea of extended stories and returned to it for Boy Commandos #4 (Fall 1943). This time the cover reference was nothing more than “special invasion issue”. However it too was divided into six sections designated as chapters. Boy Commandos #4 had some single page fillers so although the Boy Commandos story occupied the entire book it was slightly shorter at 50 pages.

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

After Boy Commandos #4, the idea of a book length story went dormant but not forgotten. When Simon and Kirby created Mainline, their own publishing company, the romance title In Love declared at the top “book length love novel”. Technically this was inaccurate because the each issue contained six pages of other romance stories. But now Simon and Kirby actually called it a love novel and even included a book icon to make the connection clear. “Bride of the Star” (In Love #1, September 1954) had 20 pages in three chapters, “Marilyn’s Men” (In Love #2, November 1954) 19 pages in three chapters, and “Artist Loves Model” (In Love #3, January 1955) 18 pages in two chapters. The idea of a extended story was abandoned for In Love issues #4 to 6.

Double Life of Private Strong #1 (August 1958) pencils by Jack Kirby

In a way the idea of an extended story was still not completely abandoned by Simon and Kirby. The first issues of the Double Life of Private Strong and the Adventures of the Fly (both August 1958) included origin stories that were covered in several sections. However these sections were not named as chapters and no reference was made to their being novels or extend length stories.

Sandman #1 (Winter 1974) pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Mike Royer

Simon and Kirby went the separate ways after Private Strong and the Fly until Carmine Infantino brought them back one last time for Sandman #1 (Winter 1974). Once again they turned to a comic length story, this time in two sections with a total of 20 pages. But comics had changed over the years and by 1974 comic length stories were not at all unusual. Simon and Kirby’s attempts to push the envelope of a comic story had been forgotten while true graphic novels would make an appearance a couple of years later.