In a recent post I included a brief discussion of Mort Meskin’s contribution to Treasure Comics #10 (December 1946) published by Prize Comics (It’s a Crime, Chapter 1, Promoting Crime). Mort’s piece was for a historical feature called “Know Your America”. I wondered at the time whether Meskin had provided other work for Prize. The answer to my question is yes for I have found that Mort also did the “Know Your America” feature for Treasure Comics #12 (Fall 1947). At this point Simon and Kirby were already producing Headline and Young Romance for Prize but I see nothing in Treasure Comics #12 to suggest that Joe and Jack had anything to do with it. I do not believe any of the artists from TC #12 would do work for the Simon and Kirby studio. That is excluding Dan Barry whose future roll for Simon and Kirby I still have not worked out. Dan Barry’s cover has nothing to do with the theme of this post but it is so nice I could not resist including an image of it. (Who else ever did a man lassoing a black leopard from the back of an elephant (the circus version of a rodeo)?
This time Mort depicts events from the start of the Revolutionary War. The subject provides much more in the way of action then Meskin had in the story he did previously in Treasure Comics #10. Even with what should have been better material I cannot help but feel that Meskin just was not as successful as in his earlier effort. The close-up shots were not always done as well, although there are exceptions such as the first panel in the page shown above. I feel the greatest problem came from the distant shots that included groups of people. The individual actions portrayed seem to be overwhelmed by the settings. Still even an inferior work by Meskin is superior to the best efforts of most of his contemporaries.
There is a bit of a mystery connected with the art for this particular story. The Meskin family has two pages of uninked pencils from the first two pages of the same story. Unfortunately I cannot provide a link directly to the particular pieces but only to the home of the Meskin site provided by the family. Following the Original Comic Art link and then select the third thumbnail from the left in the top row. The page on the left is the same as the splash that I provide above. There are no significant differences between the penciled versus the published versions. The biggest alteration is the leaves of some of the trees. Why did Mort abandon the Meskin family page only to carefully repeat it for the published version? Or was the inking done on tracing paper or through the use of a light box? If so why? It is a conundrum for which I have no solution to offer.
Since Mort Meskin did the “Know Your America” feature for TC #10 and #12 it is possible that he did the feature for TC #11 as well. But what about prior issues? It can now be said that Meskin did not do “Know Your America” for TC #8 as that was signed by another artist, Frank Frazetta. I am certain that there would a lot of people, including myself, who would not have identified Frazetta as the artist had this story been unsigned. It is a fascinating piece from early in Frank’s career. It is hard to believe it is the same artist who only a few years later would produce very polished comic book art.