Foxhole #3, The Writers Jack Kirby and Jack Oleck

Foxhole #3
Foxhole Comics #3 (February 1955) “The Face” art by Joe Albistur, script by Jack Kirby

The artist for “The Face” is Joe Albistur who does marvelous work. Earlier I had misattributed this story art to John Prentice. To be honest at that time I did not look carefully at the story and relied on an old attribution from my database. When I scanned and restored the story it was just so obvious that Albistur, not Prentice, was the artist. Albistur’s men are often quite varied and he is good at capturing traits and gestures. Men by Prentice often follow a more restricted mold with long faces and small eyes. At times Joe would do a man’s face in a manner similar to John. Even so Joe’s work can usually be distinguished by their more rough appearance while John’s are done in a smoother manner. When it comes to women the two artists are worlds apart. Prentice’s women have a sophisticated beauty while Albistur’s are more earthy. A nurse in “The Face” is a clear giveaway that the artist is Albistur. Joe only worked for Simon and Kirby for about a year, with cover dates from September 1954 to October 1955. During that time Albistur shows up often and for that limited period he can be considered one of the usual suspects for S&K productions.

Although Albistur is a fine artist what makes “The Face” a special treat is that Jack Kirby is credited. Since the art was obviously not done by Jack that means he must have been the writer. I do not have any doubts that Jack contributed to the writing of many Simon and Kirby productions. We know however that S&K employed writers. My understanding is generally Jack and Joe Simon would verbally provide an outline of a plot to their writers. Then when the script came back S&K might then make whatever alterations they saw fit. The suggestion for “The Face” is that Jack did a more complete approach to the writing. Joe Albistur was from Argentina and did not serve in the U.S. army. So to keep with the basic premise behind Foxhole the writer would have to be someone with military service. Certainly Jack filled that requirement. But I am not sure why someone like Jack Oleck was not used since he also was a veteran. The Kirby & Albistur combination would be used again in another issue of Foxhole. Jack Kirby’s art output had dropped during the period that the Mainline comics were being produced. I cannot help but wonder if one of the reasons for this more limited Kirby art production was due to his doing more writing. Unfortunately credits were not given in the other S&K titles so it is hard to be sure.

Our narrator flies a Spitfire as part of a British air force strike on Nazi occupied France. During a dogfight our hero gets badly wounded by enemy gunfire. With great difficulty he manages to fly his plane back to home base but makes a crash landing. Up to this point this is very much a war story, now it seems to turn into something from Black Magic. While our hero believes himself to be dying and familiar face appears to him. It is not the face of someone close to him but it is familiar nonetheless. We are taken back to before the war when our narrator was visiting Vienna where he met the man. This individual was trying to escape from the Gestapo who were after him because of his religion. The comic does not say, but obviously he is Jewish. Our hero helps the man escape to Switzerland but never managed to find out either his name or profession. Now the story returns to wartime and our injured airman comes to a finds out what the importance of the man whose face he has seen.

It is easy to imagine that this is a Kirby plot. Although a war story it has the sort of plot twist that is common in S&K productions like Black Magic. There is nothing in the writing that suggest that this was not done by Kirby or that anyone else played a significant part in creating the script. On the other hand missing from the script are any of the typical Kirby laconic speeches. I have remarked previously about these. They are frequently delivered as a retort to someone else, have an odd sort of off topic quality, and are a little over the top. These short speeches often are found in Kirby drawn S&K pieces and re-occur late in his career when he once again was able to achieve more control over his work. I leave further discussion of this subject off until later when I review another Kirby/Albistur story from Foxhole.

Foxhole #3
Foxhole Comics #3 (February 1955) “Office Upstairs” art by Bob McCarty and script by Jack Oleck

I previously discussed the background story of “Office Upstairs”. It concerns the Death March and the Japanese POW camp in the Philippines. The story itself is narrated by a soldier and begins shortly after Pearl Harbor. The Americans and Bataan are unprepared for the Japanese assault. The soldier also blames the softness of his fellow Americans. In particular the evident softness of the non-combatant who serves as the medical officer. It is only after the Death March and the struggles in the prison camp that the soldier changes his mind about that medical officer.

I have to admit there are parts of this story that are rather corny. Still I find it incredibly moving. As usual Bob McCarty does a excellent job on the art. This is one of the few S&K productions we can say who the writer was. Jack Oleck may have been Joe Simon’s brother-in-law but this story shows he was an accomplished comic book writer. Although Joe has indicated that Jack did a lot of writing for S&K we rarely can say which stories were his. In a future post I will discuss another Foxhole story that is credited to Oleck. At some time I will also write about a story not from Foxhole that Jack Oleck wrote.