Ann Brewster, Not One of the Guys

Once again I would like to give some attention to another of those forgotten comic book artists. Ann Brewster did not do a lot of work for Simon and Kirby but fortunately she did sign most of her stories. As usual I have more information about Ann’s efforts for S&K productions then on her career elsewhere. I have tried to supplement with information gleaned from the GCD (Grand Comic Book Database), Atlas Tales, Who’s Who of American Comics and other places on the Internet. I must admit that I am uncomfortable with using some of these sources. During the cold war the saying was “trust but verify”. But since I cannot verify anything outside of the Prize romance material, I find it hard to be trusting. At least Atlas Tales indicates what work was actually signed by Ann.

Brewster’s career seems to have started in the early 40’s. Working through various studios, Ann drew for a number of comic titles. It sounds like she worked in a variety of different genre. Unfortunately it also looks like Ann never got the opportunity to stay and grow with a particular feature. Perhaps she did with Rip Carson for Feature House where Who’s Who has Ann working from 1944 to 1948. Ann did some work for Crime Patrol (EC) and that title has been reprinted so maybe I will someday get a chance to see what her crime work looked like.

Prize #63
Prize #63 (March 1947) “Yank and Doodle and the Black Owl” (signed) by Ann Brewster (signed)

But I do have an example of Ann’s super hero art from Prize #63. Fortunately this piece is signed otherwise I am sure I would not have recognized it as being done by Ann. I cannot say I am very impressed with the art in this particular story. Much of the problem is the design of the Black Owl which is not Brewster’s fault. Even Jack Kirby was unable to make that super hero impressive when he worked on the Black Owl in the early 40’s. Otherwise the art is adequate but nothing that strikes me as much different then a host of other artists working at that time. Of course it is not fair to judge Ann’s ability in this genre based on a single story.

Simon and Kirby created the romance genre in comic books in 1947. Once other publishers caught on to the money that could be made in romance it was not long before Brewster seemed to be type cast. For instance all the signed works found in Atlas Tales are for romance titles. But Ann might not have been completely type cast, the sources indicate she still did some work in the horror and science fiction genre. Between 1958 and 1961 Brewster did work on the World Around Us titles. If the Internet sources are accurate this marked the end of her comic book career. Ann Brewster is listed as the illustrator for the dust jack of the book “Silver Wolf” published in 1973 by Atheneum.

Young Love #5
Young Love #5 (October 1949) “Too Many Boy Friends” by Ann Brewster (signed)

Her first piece for S&K seems to have been for Young Love #5 (October 1949). Actually it seems to be the only work Ann did for the studio at that time period. But it is a good piece of work done by someone who seems to know what they are doing. The drawing is a bit on the conservative side and one single mid-distance view predominates. However the story is presented well. The inking was done in the S&K shop style including techniques like the picket fence crosshatching and the use of some abstract arc shadows. Most likely it was inked by artists in the S&K studio and Ann only did the pencils.

Young Brides #24
Young Brides #24 (September 1955) “Riches Or Romance” by Ann Brewster (signed)

Brewster next period of work for S&K was from April 1955 to June 1956. Like Joe Albistur, Ann seemed to arrive to help take the place of the missing Jack Kirby. During this period Jack stopped doing Prize romance art, presumably to concentrate on Mainline, S&K’s own publishing company. Ann’s style had improved since her previous work for S&K. Ann probably was one of those artists that always trying to advance their craft. Ann’s characters now seem to be more lively and her women often had greater warmth. He story presentation has become better with more variation in the viewer distance used. Even the clothing style of the women has changed and hair length is now shorter. I really do not know if the hair and clothing styles presented were more up to date, but it is possible. These stories are no longer inked in S&K shop method and it is likely that now Ann was doing the inking. As with the other freelance artists, Ann stopped getting much work from the S&K studio once Kirby returned to do pretty much the entire Prize romance comics. Also like many of the other artists that freelanced for S&K, Brewster did not do any further work for S&K even after the all Kirby run was over.

Young Romance #77
Young Romance #77 (June 1955) by Ann Brewster

During Kirby’s absence the covers for the romance titles were mostly done by the usual suspects (Bill Draut, Mort Meskin and John Prentice). But Ann also did a couple of covers, sort of. A stat was made from Brewster’s splash panel, blown up and edited. It was a treatment that was not done by S&K for any other cover up to that time. Even though designed for the splash, the art made rather good covers. It makes you wonder what Ann might have done if given the chance to actually do an original cover. I previously posted the YR #79 Brewster cover in Chapter 2 of my “End of Simon and Kirby”. The cover for YR #77 (shown above) is a marvelous piece of work. I particularly like the lady’s left hand. It is not just well drawn but perfectly captures the woman as she is lost and overwhelmed by the unexpected kiss. However there is a problem with the cover but it was not due to Ann. The dancing couple on the left is partly covered by the subtitle “True Love Stories”. It makes a bit of a muddle but I guess it could not be helped. The composition needs the pair. Further their presences helps to indicate that the main couple had been part of the dancing. The subtitle is a standard presence on the cover so it could not just be eliminated. The final result is an uncomfortable compromise. But it is a small defect in an otherwise great cover.

Although it is not actually bad, I cannot say I am very excited about the early work I have seen by Ann Brewster. But the work she did for Simon and Kirby in the mid 50’s is really nice. Ann presented good stories, drew attractive women and designed interesting half page splashes. It does make me wonder what her Atlas work looked like since some of it immediately follows the S&K material. I must admit that my admiration goes beyond her artistic voice. I suspect that it must not have been easy for Ann to work in such a male dominated industry as comic books. Even romance comics were generally written, drawn and published by men. Yet Ann managed to have a career of perhaps 20 years in comics.