Category Archives: In Love

Happy Birthday Jack!

In Love #3
In Love #3 (January 1955) by Jack Kirby

I was not planning to do a post tonight but then I remembered it is Jack Kirby’s birthday so I could not let that date go by without something. The cover I have here is for In Love #3 (January 1955). It is special for me because I have the original art signed by both Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. But I also think it is appropriate because it shows a comic book artist, although a rather idealized one. This image is based on what are called progressive proofs. Before a comic is published the cover printer may provide the publisher with progressive proofs. These proofs include pages of the individual colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) as well as pages showing how the printing stages would look. If I remember correctly yellow is printed first, magenta second, cyan third and the black completes it. Printed colors change with age. But with progressive proofs it is possible to scan the individual colors and then combine them together. What results is perhaps the most accurate idea of what the cover originally looked like. I did absolutely no touch-ups on this cover whatsoever.

The End of Simon & Kirby, Chapter 3, Unlikely Port In The Storm

Bullseye #5
Bullseye #5 (April 1955) by Jack Kirby. It and Foxhole #4 were the last Mainline comics.

Previously in the end of Simon and Kirby I discussed the rise of anti-comic book sentiments and the ill timed launched of S&K’s Mainline comics. A number of publishers seemed to be having problems, including Prize for which Simon and Kirby produced some titles. In the end Mailine failed with the last comics dated April 1955.

Win A Prize #1
Win A Prize #1 (February 1955) by Jack Kirby

Two months before the last Mainline comic, Joe and Jack launched a new title Win A Prize published by Charlton. Charlton was notorious for their low page rates. There can be a couple of explanations for this choice of publisher. One explanation is that part of the idea behind Win A Prize was the giving away of prizes. The cover announces “500 free prizes, anyone can win”, and Joe Simon insists that they really did give away prizes. For a small company like Mainline this could be a problem. Not only the cost of the merchandise but the logistics of sending the prizes to the winners. But Charlton had a vertical company structure, they did everything from producing the comics, printing them and doing the distribution. They probably were the ideal outfit to handle this sort of thing. Well except for the problem of being cheap.

The second explanation for making a deal with Charlton to publish Win A Prize is that Joe and Jack might have already known that Mainline was in trouble. With decrease profits from the comics they produced for Prize, S&K may not have had enough cash to finance the launch of another title. The Mainline comics were distributed by Leader News and that company may already have seem like a poor choice. Charlton may not have paid much, but Simon and Kirby may have been desperate at this point.

Win A Prize was unique for Simon and Kirby. They had produced anthologies before but they were always genre specific. They did crime, horror and romance, but Win A Prize with just a general anthology. That sort of thing was common during the war, but I suspect it was unusual in the mid 50’s. Here is a rundown of the stories to show the sort of mix it was.

Win A Prize #1
“The Emissary” by Jack Kirby (science fiction)
“The Tragic Clown” (drama)
“That Giveaway Guy” by Jack Kirby (humor)
“Telltale Heart” (horror, adaptation of story by Edgar Allan Poe)
“War Diary” (war)

WP #1 That Giveaway Guy
Win A Prize #1, “That Giveaway Guy” by Jack Kirby

Win A Prize #2
“Bullet Ballad” by Bill Draut (western)
“Sir Cashby Of Moneyvault” by Jack Kirby (humor)
“Torpedoed” (war)
“The Handsome Brute” by Joe Albistur (science fiction)
“The Bull” (sports)

WP #2 Bullet Ballad
Win A Prize #2, Uncle Giveaway by Jack Kirby and “Bullet Ballad” by Bill Draut

They are all relative short stories, the longest is 7 pages. We have seen Bill Draut before, but also included is Joe Albistur. Joe was a relatively recent artist to work for S&K, he first appeared in Police Trap #1 (September 1954). He also did a number of romance stories taking up some of the slack left by Kirby then absent from the Prize romances. All the Win A Prize stories are really nice and I promise to highlight some of them in the future. Although I rather like Win A Prize, it did not last long, ending with issue #2 in April 1955, the same month that Mainline ended. The “hook” really wasn’t the contents, it was the prizes. With all the logistical problems these prizes brought I am sure Charlton wanted to see really good sales really quick. When they failed to materialize, the title was cancelled.

In Love #5
In Love #5 (May 1955) by Jack Kirby

In May 1955, one month after the last Mainline comics, In Love #5 would be published by Charlton. Charlton would soon print the rest of the former Mainline titles; Bullseye, Police Trap and Foxhole. But these former Mainline comics would only last a couple of issue each, the last (Police Trap #6) is dated September. But their termination may not have just been due to poor sales. I think the these Charlton issues were made using material already completed or in progress when Mainline abruptly ended. It would be better for S&K that they get low payment for this artwork from Charlton, then get nothing at all. In September Charlton would change the title of “In Love” to “I Love You”. I Love You #7 has a (rather weak) Kirby cover but the contents do not look like they were produced by Simon and Kirby. I think Charlton was just reusing the volume number, a not uncommon technique to save postal registration fees. Charlton probably assembled the contents and Simon and Kirby only supplied the cover. I Love You turned out to have a run of 115 issues for Charlton ending in December 1976.

I Love You #7
I Love You #7 (July 1955) by Jack Kirby

At the same time as Charlton was publishing the remnants of the Mainline comics, they also started to publish Charlie Chan. This was a title that Simon and Kirby originally produced for Prize. Under Prize Charlie Chan lasted 5 issues with the last one dated February 1949. In the original series Jack Kirby penciled all the covers but did not do any of the contents. In the first Charlton issue we again find Jack providing the cover but none of the contents. But I don’t believe that this cover is just unused material from the Prize run. First the inking style is more like the late shop style then what was used during the Prize version of Charlie Chan. Second, originally the Charlie Chan covers were static with the “number one son” getting ready to spring into action. On the Charlton cover the son is in the middle of jumping from one motorcycle to another. This sort of emphasis on action is more in tune with later Simon and Kirby covers. And lastly #6 cover includes Burmingham Brown. This stereotype sidekick did not appear on the Prize covers or contents but would appear on the cover to Charlie Chan #7 and #9. Although Kirby did not do any other pencils for the Charlton Charlie Chan, Simon and Kirby did produce those comics. Issue #7 has the stamp that announces “another Simon and Kirby smash hit” that was used on the late Mainline titles. Joe Simon still has color proofs to all the Charlton covers. Charlie Chan is unique for Simon and Kirby’s work with Charlton in that it lasted a full 4 issues ending in March 1956. Regardless of whether they started with unused Prize artwork, clearly S&K also produced some new material for Charlton.

Charlie Chan #6
Charlie Chan #6 (June 1955) by Jack Kirby

Charlie Chan #9
Charlie Chan #9 (December 1955) by unknown artist

Chapter 2, Problems in the Industry

Chapter 4, A Friend Provides a Helping Hand

The End of Simon & Kirby, Chapter 1, The Beginning of the End

I am going to blog on the ending of the Simon and Kirby collaboration. I would like to go into it in more detail then I can comfortably cover in one post. So I will be dividing it up into a number of chapters.

The May 29, 1947 issue of Saturday Review had an article by Dr. Frederick Wertham. Dr. Wertham had a very dim view of comic books and their influence on the young. I wonder how many comic book artists and publishers knew about the article or had any idea on how it would affect their livelihood? I suspect not many, I am sure it was far from thoughts of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. They were too busy becoming comic book producers by launching crime titles for Prize and more importantly creating a whole new genre, romance comics. Those must have been exciting days for the two, and with the deals they made, Joe and Jack shared the profits from the success of their products. Although the future must have looked bright to our intrepid pair, Dr. Wertham’s efforts started to generate anti-comic sentiments in various communities. It did not all come at once, but built over the years until when his book “Seduction of the Innocent” was published in 1954.

The pivotal date was April 22 and 23, 1954. That was when a Senate committee questioned Bill Gaines. Apparently Gaines appearance was not mandatory, other comic publishers declined to show up. But Bill went to defend the industry, unfortunately his appearance had a completely opposite effect. Gaines testimony was a disaster, public sentiment against comics rose to even greater heights. In a effort to circumvent possible legislation (and perhaps also to drive some competition out of the industry), some comic publishers got together to create the Comic Code Authority. The code was adopted on October 26, 1954. In theory use of the Comic Code was voluntary. But publishers knew that once the Comic Code stamp started appearing on covers, comics without it would not be accepted by many newsstands.

So what were Simon and Kirby doing at the time of the Senate committee hearings? Well comic cover dates were usually two months after the distribution date. Typically it took one month to do the artwork, a month for the printer and a month for the distributor. However even in monthly titles, art may start on an issue before the art for the previous issue was completed. This means an adjustment of 5 or 6 months. So we could expect comics started at about the time of the Senate hearings would have cover dates of about October. Well for some time S&K were producing Black Magic, Young Romance, Young Love, and Young Brides for the publisher Prize Comics. The first issue of Fighting American, also for Prize, came out with an April date. But even more important Bullseye #1 came out with an August cover date. Joe and Jack started this issue before the Bill Gaine’s appearance before the Senate committee. But had they noticed the anti-comic sentiment spearheaded by Dr. Wertham?

Bullseye #1 cover
Bullseye #1 (August 1954)

Bullseye #1 was more then the just the start of a new Simon and Kirby title, it was the start of Mainline Comics. Years back Joe and Jack had gone from being comic book artists to be being comic book producers. Now they were trying to make the transition to being comic book publishers. Bullseye was the first Mainline comic; Foxhole, In Love, and Police Trap would follow shortly. It was a big step but they would still be receiving income for the comics they produced for Prize. S&K probably tried to keep Prize unaware of their involvement in, let alone their ownership off, Mainline comics. Unlike their usual practice, early Mainline issues did not have any Simon and Kirby signature. Only the fourth issues would carry a stamp indicating it was “another Simon and Kirby smash hit”. Starting up Mainline must have taken a lot of time and effort. Kirby’s efforts largely went to work on the Mainline comics only. S&K still produced comics for Prize, but Jack’s pencils would only appear in Black Magic and Fighting American, they would not appear in the romance titles. For the Prize romances they depended on their stable of freelance artists to fill the void left by the absent Jack.

Bullseye #1 splash
Bullseye #1 splash (August 1954)

Simon and Kirby did not do many pure westerns, work of that type was limited to a few covers. Prior to Bullseye they had combined the western and kid gang genre to make Boys’ Ranch for Harvey. They even tried western and romance combo, although that turned out to be much more a romance then a western. Now with Bullseye Joe and Jack mixed the western and hero genre. The idea was not unique, perhaps the most famous example would be the Lone Ranger. But you can count of S&K to make an exciting comic out of it. As a baby, Bullseye is saved by his grandfather from an Indian massacre that takes lives of his parents. As he grows, the hero apparently is a natural genius with rifles and pistols as he surprises his grandfather with his accuracy. An encounter with the Indian Yellow Snake leaves Bullseye with the loss of his grandfather and with a target branded on his chest. Bullseye takes to the road playing the part of a peddler, even his horse has a disguise! Of course there is lots of action in the stories, but often humor as well. It is a shame that this title has never been collected together as a reprint volume.

In Love #2 by Bill Draut
In Love #2 (October 1954) by Bill Draut

As the originator of the romance comic genre, it comes as no surprise that Simon and Kirby would want to include a romance title in their Mainline comics line. But by 1954 there was an abundance of romance comics. So S&K decided that to make In Love unique it would include “novel length” story in each issue. The romances that Joe and Jack produced for Prize Comics often included stories of up to 13 pages long, longer then most of the competition. Now In Love would have stories up to 20 pages long and they would be divided into chapters. I have already described the story from In Love #1 “Bride Of The Star” in a post I did about The First Romance Comic. That story was penciled entirely by Jack. But Jack did only one chapter of “Marilyn’s Men” from In Love #2 the other two were done by Bill Draut. Jack returns to do the entire novelette for In Love #3 “Artist Loves Model”. That story is based on reworking of an unsuccessful syndication proposal. Issues from In Love #4 on do not have these extra-length stories. Whether that was because of S&K felt that the novelettes was not a successful idea, or because of other problems is not clear.

Foxhole #2
Foxhole #2 (December 1954)

With Foxhole Simon and Kirby entered into the war genre. This was new for them as the closest they had done before was the Boy Commandos which was more a kid gang title then a war one. Here Joe and Jack would add their own twist to make the title unique. The stories in Foxhole were written and illustrated by war veterans.

Police Trap #2
Police Trap #2 (September 1954)

Mainline comics would also include a crime comic, titled Police Trap. The special angle to this title was that all the stories would be centered on the police, not the criminal. This may have been a response to all the adverse attention that crime comics had received recently, including ones that S&K had launched (Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty). But it certainly resulted in stories that portrayed the police in a better light and the criminal in a worse one.

Mainline seemed to have a good lineup of titles. I would think that of all the Mainline titles, Bullseye would have the best chance to attract attention. It seems a perfect match for Kirby’s talents, allowing lots of action and humor. Although the western/hero combination may not have been unique, there does not seem to be much competition at that time. S&K have shown previously that they could do excellent crime stories. Here there was competition, but crime comics were receiving a lot of bad publicity. By centering the stories on the policemen, Police Trap could hope to escape some of this adverse attention. The other titles, In Love and Foxhole, were probably the weakest entries. Both had plenty of rival publications, in fact at this time there was an abundance of romance comics. Neither was sufficiently unique to be sure of attracting initial buyers. Still they were S&K productions and were done quite well. Given time they could develop a following.

Chapter 2, Problems in the Industry
Chapter 3, Unlikely Port in the Storm
Chapter 4, A Friend Provides a Helping Hand
Chapter 5, The Return to Romance
Chapter 6, A Friend’s Romance
Chapter 7, On His Own
Chapter 8, If At First You Don’t Succeed
Chapter 9, An Old Romance
Appendum 9, Mea Culpa
Chapter 10, A Fly in the Mix

John Prentice, usual suspect #3

John Prentice was the last of the usual suspects (artists that worked frequently for the S&K studio for an extended period of time). John served in the Navy during the war, in fact he was at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attached. Afterwards he went to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for a short time. John arrived in New York in 1947 and the GCD shows him doing work for in Airboy Comics and Gang Buster. The first work he did for the Simon & Kirby studio was Young Love #4 (August 1949). Once John started with S&K he was a frequent artist for their productions. The work he initially did for S&K was pretty good, but John progressed fairly rapidly while until he achieved his mature style which really was exceptional.

YL #4 Two Timer
Young Love #4 (August 1949).

Joe and Jack must have thought highly of John’s work because he was an important contributor to Bullseye #1. The Bullseye origin story was divided into three chapters (“The Boy”, “The Youth” and “The Man”). Jack did all of the first chapter and the splash pages for both of the other chapters, but Prentice penciled all the rest of the story for the last two chapters. Bullseye was part of the Mainline comics, Simon and Kirby’s attempt at self publishing. But while doing Mainline S&K continued producing comics for Prize (Black Magic and the romance titles) during that time. Presumably because of his work load, Jack stopped penciling for these Prize productions. Prentice seems to have taken up some of the work for the absent Kirby because his page output jumps from an average of about 12 pages a month to about 26 during the period from March to October, the last month for Mainline comics.

B #1 The Youth
Bullseye #1, “Bullseye, The Youth” (August 1954).

Like Bill Draut and Mort Meskin, John seemed to worked in all of the genre from the S&K shop. Romance genre were the most frequent stories produced by the studio and Prentice’s style was well suited for them. John was probably the most realistic artist to work for S&K. His men tend to have small eyes and long faces. John’s women are attractive, but are not what I would call glamorous, perhaps sophisticated would be a better description. For some reason Prentice never signed any of his work for Simon and Kirby. Attribution of this work to John is based on work done for the Rip Kirby strip (see below).

YL #45 I Like It Here
Young Love #45, “I Like It Here” (May 1953).

Simon and Kirby’s timing in starting their own comic publishing company, Mainline, was unfortunate because that was the period when anti-comic sediment swept the country fueled by Dr. Wertham and a Senate Investigation Committee. Many publishers felt the effects, but it was probably worst for new companies like Mainline. Mainline’s last comics were dated April 1955. John Prentice’s last work for S&K’s Prize publications was Young Love #69 February 1956. However Joe Simon did some editorial work for Harvey during this difficult period, and Prentice work there on romances until February 1957 (Hi-School Romance #60). If the GCD can be trusted, John returned to work for DC, mostly on their version of the horror genre.

Young Love #58
Young Love #58 (June 1954).

I would like to repeat a cover that I posted earlier, In Love #1. This is one of the few covers that Kirby shared pencil duties with an artist other then Simon. The foreground couple are clearly Jack’s, but the background men were done by John Prentice. Ignoring covers with unrelated inserts, there was only one other cover that Jack shared with another penciler other then Joe during the S&K years. If you don’t know which cover I am talking about, don’t worry I’ll post it shortly.

In Love #1
In Love #1 (September 1954)

On September 6, 1956 Alex Raymond, the artist for the syndication strip Rip Kirby, died. Two months later Prentice took over this popular newspaper comic strip. John would do Rip Kirby until he in turned passed away in 1985. I’ve always heard how much work was involved in producing a comic strip for syndication. But the GCD continues to list comic book work by Prentice from 1957 on into the early 70’s.

Rip Kirby (5/6/58).

Well now I’ve managed to give a brief review on each of the usual suspects. But work by Draut, Meskin and Prentice is so common in S&K productions I am sure to be blogging on them from time to time. Although the usual suspects did a lot of work for the studio, there were other artists who would work for Joe and Jack for shorter periods of time. Many of these artists were quite talented, some later on would achieve fame. I’ll post on some of the other artists some other time.

Bill Draut (usual suspect #1)

In previous posts I mention three artists that did a lot of work for the S&K studio over a long period of time. Because of the frequent appearance in S&K productions, I often refer to them as the usual suspects. In this post I would like to write about Bill Draut, the first of the usual suspects to work for the studio. During the war Joe Simon served in the Coast Guard. Joe spent a good part of this service in Washington working as a Coast Guard artist. One of the other artist who worked with Simon was friends with Bill Draut, then in the marines. When Joe got to know Draut he told him that after the war Bill should look him up in New York. When Joe rejoined Jack Kirby after the war, they made a deal with Harvey to produce Stuntman and Boy Explorers. Bill Draut joined in this effort and his first comic book work appeared in Stuntman #1. As part of their work with Harvey, Simon and Kirby would create comic series to be done by other artists. For Bill they developed The Furnished Room, Calamity Jane, and The Demon. Unfortunately Stuntman and Boy Explorers got caught in a comic glut, and were discontinued after a very few issues. But Draut’s contribution, the Furnished Room and Calamity Jane, would reappear in other Harvey comics about a year later. They probably represent unused material from the cancelled comics.

The Furnished Room

The Furnished Room was the first to be published appearing in Stuntman #1 in April 1946 (all dates for comics are cover dates). As was pointed out by Stan Taylor, this series was a S&K’s take on the popular syndication strip Mary Worth. The Furnished Room was essentially a soap opera with an elderly dowdy lady (this series version of Mary Worth). This dowdy lady would generally play a more peripheral part in the stories. The real stories were about the people who rented rooms from her. Because of the lack of superheroes, the Furnished Room may have been a little out of place in Stuntman but the series was really well done. The Furnished Room had a short run, all done by Bill Draut:

Stuntman #1 (April 1946) “The Furnished Room”

Stundman #2 (June 1946) “Triangular Troubles”

Green Hornet #37 |(January 1948) “The Smiling Salesman”

Green Hornet #38 (March 1948) “The Furnished Room” (reprint)

Calamity Jane

For Boys Explorer S&K created Calamity Jane which Draut would draw. This series were about a hardboiled detective who happened to be a female. The source for this idea seems to have been what is now called film noire. But in those movies the detective was a man, and women just played supporting rolls. The stories are presented as told by Calamity to the artist Draut. This was another good series which unfortunately did not last long, only three stories. But there is a story by Draut in Justice Traps the Guilty #3 that appears to be a reworked Calamity Jane. The detective was now named Ruth Lang, but a supporting character (the cabbie called Hack) remained unchanged. I previously posted on editorial changes Joe Simon did on one of the Calamity Jane stories.

Boy Explorers #1 (May 1946) “The Case Of The Hapless Hackie”

Green Hornet #35 (August 1947) “The Fat Tuesday”

Green Hornet #36 (November 1947) “The Man Who Met Himself”

Justice Traps The Guilty #3 (March 1948) “My Strangest Crime Case”

The Demon

The Demon was first published in Black Cat #4 (February 1947). The full title of the series is “His Honor the Demon”. The Demon has a rather unusual origin in that the hero is a judge frustrated because the law sometimes is helpless in finding and punishing the guilty. After one such case of a murdered man, he decides to investigate on his own. At one point he wears the same costume that the murdered victim was wearing at a party when he got killed. The judge did this in an attempt flush out the murderer. After a successful conclusion to this case, the judge decides to continue his extra-legal efforts using the same costume of a red demon. Again Bill was the only artist to work on this short run series.

Black Cat #4 (February 1947) “Double Trouble”

Black Cat #5 (April 1947) “The Man Who Didn’t Know His Own Strength”

Black Cat #6 (July 1947) “The Midnight Killer” (origin story)

Black Cat #7 (August 1947) “Too Cold For Crime”

In Love #4

After those failed series, Bill Draut continued to work for the Simon & Kirby studio. Although he did provide some crime (Headline and Justice Traps The Guilty) and horror (Black Magic) work, most of the stories he did was for romance comics (Young Romance, Young Love, Young Brides and In Love). I previously posted on an unpublished Artist and Model cover that he did. His style seems very conducive to romance work. His women have beautiful eyes with simple but effective eyebrows. But Bill’s simple eyebrows seem more awkward on his men. Strong action did not seem to be Draut’s forte, but that was not an issue for the love stories. He was gifted enough of an artist and observant enough of the S&K style, that one of the covers he did (Young Brides #21) has been attributed to Jack by the Kirby Checklist.

Young Brides #21

Joe Simon has always maintained that he and Jack encouraged their artists to sign their work. Bill Draut does seem to have taken advantage of that and often added his signature to his earlier work. Later his stopped signing his material but his style is still easily recognizable. Draut does not seem as productive as the other usual suspects (Mort Meskin and John Prentice). As far as I know during his association with the S&K studio, he worked for them exclusively. When the studio disbanded in the mid 50’s Jack and Joe continued as editors for Young Romance with Kirby penciling a story in most issues. But for whatever reason, Bill Draut did not do any work for those Young Romance comics. I am not sure what Bill did in the late 50’s but he seems to have stayed in comics. When Joe Simon produced some hero comics for Harvey in the mid 60’s, Bill Draut would pencil some stories. I also know he did some work for DC at that time. His work seemed delegated to lesser profile series and I don’t think his style was very popular in the 60’s.

Artist and Model

The Jack Kirby Comics Weblog has posted a real nice My Own Romance and made the comment

I think there was some rule that said Kirby had to do at least one artist/model themed romance cover for every publisher he did romance comics for

So I checked and I am sad to say Jack did no artist/model theme cover for Harvey. I have already posted the first issue of Young Romance for Prize which does have that theme. Simon and Kirby used the theme again for Young Love #72 also published by Prize

Young Love #72

But for a short time Joe and Jack had their own publishing company Mainline with a romance title In Love. The third issue of In Love had, surprise, surprise, an artist/model theme cover. In fact the contents was a story about a comic book artist and model. I ask Joe about it once and he commented that they always like that theme. Apparently they liked the idea so much that made a proposal for a comic book or oneshot called “Artist and Model”. Two covers were made for that proposal, one by Kirby and the other by Bill Draut. Jack’s cover was used for the In Love #3 but Draut’s was never published.

Artists and Models

Artists and Models