Category Archives: Alternate Takes

The Lineup

Justice Traps the Guilty #56
Justice Traps the Guilty #56 (November 1953), art by Marvin Stein

The cover for Justice Traps the Guilty #56 is probably Marvin Stein’s most famous piece of comic book art. It has been reproduced in Joe Simon’s book “The Comic Book Makers” and “The Art of Jack Kirby” by Ray Wyman, Jr. (in fact my restoration above was made using the same comic book found in the Wyman’s book). The cover’s fame rests not so much on its artistic value but on the people portrayed in the police lineup. Here as the suspects we find starting from our left Ben Oda (Simon and Kirby’s letterer), Joe Simon, Joe Genalo (Prize editor), Mort Meskin and Jack Kirby. This was, of course, an inside joke because none of these individuals were actually criminals, nor were they likely to be recognized by the public. Most of the members of the lineup are people that have previously been discussed in this blog and should need no further introduction with the exception of Joe Genalo. Joe Genalo was working for Prize as an editor, not for Simon and Kirby. Annual postal statements may not be relied on completely but the one in Headline’s March 1953 issue shows Joe Genalo as editor (unfortunately I do not have the equivalent one for Justice Traps the Guilty). Genalo is again listed as editor in the postal statements found in the March 1954 issues of both Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty. The identification of the person in the line up as Joe Genalo is based on Joe Simon in “The Comic Book Makers”; however there is a problem with this. In a photo taken of the Simon and Kirby studio, there is a person that Joe also has named as Joe Genalo. The presence of Jimmy Infantino in the photograph indicates that it was probably taken in 1951. The photo “Genalo” does not wear glasses and is much younger then the man on Marvin Stein’s cover even though only a couple of years separate the two. It would be expected that the man portrayed by Stein would be someone important to Marvin’s work and that certainly would suggest that it truly was Joe Genalo in the lineup. I therefore believe that Joe’s photo identification is incorrect.

Mr. District Attorney #4
Mr. District Attorney #4 (July 1948), art by Win Mortimer

Stein’s police lineup was not the only one to appear on the front of a comic book. The similarity between the covers for Justice Traps the Guilty #56 and Mr. District Attorney #4 are striking. Both show the police and a female in the foreground with the lineup in the background higher up on a stage. Further the female for both is on the right pointing out a suspect on the left. Examples like this one are generally referred to in comic book discussions as swipes. It is also examples like this that are the reason I so thoroughly hate that term. I use it only because it is so entrenched in discussions about comic book artists and their art. Among many comic book fans the term swipe is used as a condemnation. However deriving art based on some previous art is not something unique to comic books. The same thing is done in the fine arts without all the negative associations. No one accuses Michelangelo of swiping from Donatello. If the reader wants to think that Marvin Stein swiped his cover from Win Mortimer that is fine. Just note that although the idea may have originated with Mortimer, nothing in Stein’s cover is a close copy of Mortimer’s work. Kudos for Mortimer for coming up with the idea, but kudos for Stein for using it to make something of his own.

As far as I know Win Mortimer never worked for Simon and Kirby and therefore I am not too familiar with his work. In my opinion a good piece of cover art should tell a story and Mortimer certain does that with his cover. An elderly woman points out one of the boys in the lineup while she looks back fearfully to a man in a suit, presumable the District Attorney. Mr. DA rests his hand on her shoulder to provide reassurance. At first glance the boys in the lineup do not appear to be criminal types, everybody seems so clean cut. But that is deceptive because it is based on today’s standards. The boy in the center of the line has a plaid suit with wide lapels and a lavender bow tie. At the time this was hardly considered conservative fashion and despite lacking baggy pants suggested the zoot suit. Zoot suits were infamous during the war and often identified in the minds of the public with Latino gangs. The boy on our right is more conservatively dressed but has a toothy squint that suggests he is not your normal teenager either. However even after a more extended examination, there seems little to suggest that the suspect on our left is not a clean cut American boy. The fact that his response to the lady’s identification is to hang his head in shame supports that notion. The question is what crime could such a seemingly nice boy have committed that lead him to this lineup? Unfortunately this is one shortcoming to Mortimer’s cover as no clue is provided as to his offense, nor is there an interior story to enlighten us. The cover is a little dry for my tastes but an excellent piece of comic book art nonetheless.

I frequently remark in this blog that one should not compare artists that worked for S&K to Jack Kirby. I do so not only as a warning to my readers, but as an admonition to myself. Kirby is such an outstanding talent that the shadow that he casts tends to obscure other artists. I guess that is what happened to me with Stein’s JTTG #56 cover. Previously I found it interesting for the people portrayed but considered it as not having much artistic merit. Having compared it to Mr. District Attorney #4, I now realize it has much to commend it. We may know no more specifics about the crime then with Mortimer’s cover, but no reason to question the woman’s accusation. As depicted on the cover, Simon clenches his fists, turns to face the woman and sneers something (probably “why you little…). Nor are there any doubts as to the criminal nature of the rest of the lineup. Oda has the cold hard stare of a gunman, Genola’s poorly fitting jacket makes him look like head of some small extortionist gang, Mort has the appearance of a bookie, and Jack, despite his size, could be a small time thug. Marvin Stein has also done a much better job of composing the image. In Mortimer’s cover the foreground and background figures are only connected by the woman’s gesture. However Stein raises the foreground figures up, added a figure, and arranges them in a ‘U’ shape. This all provides a strong visual link to the lineup. Another weakness on Mortimer’s cover is how the woman’s backward glance at the District Attorney directs our vision away from the image. Stein places the DA on the other side of the woman so that she now faces into the image; I find that a very satisfactory solution. Finally Stein uses a spotlight on the lineup which provides an arching shadow giving more focus to the image then Mortimer’s more photographic like approach. I am sure Stein picked up this use of an arch from Jack Kirby who used arcs frequently. All in all Marvin Stein has provided an excellent reinterpretation of Mortimer’s original concept.

Swiping off of Kirby

Young Romance #8
Young Romance #8 (November 1948) “Love Can Strike So Suddenly”, art by Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby’s take on romance always seemed to have more of an emphasis on action then most other comic book artists. The above sequence from an early Young Romance is a great example of this. The dramatic plunge of the airplane after hitting an air pocket literally lands a seemingly indifferent lady onto the lap of a reluctant man. The analogy of the airplane’s occupants fall and their falling in love is presented by both the images and accompanying text. It took chance to supply the action needed to overcome the barriers each had placed before their true feelings. This sequence may have played a small part in the overall story but it was pivotal. It was also the quintessence of Kirby’s vision of romance.

In Love #2
In Love #2 (October 1954) “Marilyn’s Men” page 14 panels 5 and 6, art by Bill Draut

In Love #2
In Love #2 (October 1954) “Marilyn’s Men” page 15 panel 1, art by Bill Draut

Kirby’s predilection for action in romance stories stayed with him. Although most of the story “Marilyn’s Men” from In Love #2 was drawn by Bill Draut, I believe that much of the plotting and at least some of the scripting came from Jack. Therefore I feel that the occurrence of essentially the same three panels from Young Romance #8 was not Draut trying to pull something over on his bosses, instead Bill was just following Simon and Kirby’s direction. The premise was similar between the two stories, both involved a plane flight where the relationship between the man and woman changes during the trip. There are significant differences between the two stories as well. In YR it is an accident that breaks down the resistance of both parties, whereas with In Love the pilot’s maneuver is purposeful, showing that it was only Marilyn’s reluctance to love that had to be overcome.

Draut’s swipe is not a close copy of Kirby’s art. Most of the deviation in the art can be attributed to differences in the two stories. Unlike most of the female characters in S&K romances, Marilyn had relatively short hair. Undoubtedly this was visual shorthand for her success as a businesswoman. Unfortunately Marilyn’s shorter hair could not provide the same affect to the first panel where she first is lifted out of her seat. Draut does what he can but Kirby’s heroine had more hair to add drama with. In Kirby’s story the heroine is seated behind the pilot while Marilyn is on his side. Jack therefore can show more of the lady as she goes from her seat to the pilot’s lap. Draut must provide a more foreshortened view and even rotated the pilot in relation to the cabin so that in the end the visual logic of the first scene breaks down. In the second panel Draut has everything under control. In fact here Draut improves on Kirby’s composition by having Marilyn ending up gazing into the pilot’s face, while Kirby left her looking to the side. There is one logical peculiarity in Draut’s presentation. In the first panel Marilyn’s left arm is already on the pilot’s shoulder while his hat is just beginning to come off his head. Yet in the second panel Marilyn’s left hand holds the hat down. How did that transition happen? Jack provides the answer by using the pilot’s headset to constrain the hat’s travel. The final panel, the dramatic view of the kiss, is very similar between the two versions, but by no means identical. The pilot’s face is typical Draut and not a close copy of Kirby’s version. Bill has also added some shadows of the window frames to add even more drama to the scene. While Kirby has good control over the unusual perspective, in Draut’s rendition where is Marilyn’s nose? It does not seem possible to trace its position without violating the man’s facial structure.

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

Jack was a master at visual storytelling so it comes as no surprise that the dramatic kiss occupies the last panel of his page. In “Marilyn’s Men” the kiss has been placed on the first panel of the page following the other two scenes. This greatly diminishes the impact of the story line. This may not have been Draut’s fault, the layout of the page suggests that the kiss panel was placed there afterwards. Perhaps editing was required to reduce the page count. That it was known then what the proper layout for this sequence was is shown in the cover where not only is the kiss the last panel, but it has also been enlarged.

The three panel sequence from Young Romance #8 hardly stands out as the most memorable panels from Kirby’s early romance work. Even so someone remembered and then used them as a reference for a comic done almost six years later.

Alternate Versions of the Alarming Tales #3 Cover

Alarming Tales #3
Alarming Tales #3 (January 1958) restored art, by Joe Simon

A recurring theme in my posts is how well Joe Simon could mimic Jack Kirby. This has resulted in a number of pieces that Joe did becoming attributed to Jack. Do not get me wrong, the overwhelming number of the items in the Jack Kirby Checklist are correctly attributed. Still there are a small number of entrees that are wrong and it is important to try to correct those mistakes. I would like to say that my study of Joe Simon’s art has enabled me to spot all the attribution errors that others have made. I would like to say that but it would not be completely true. A case in point is the cover for Alarming Tales #3. I provide an image of the restored line art to this cover above, a color version can be seen in a previous post.

In the past I have followed the Jack Kirby Checklist in saying Kirby did this cover. Not everyone agreed, for one sharp eyed Nick Caputo demurred. I was not completely satisfied with the Kirby attribution because I knew of the existence of another version of the cover art. It seemed to me that a comparison of the two would probably resolve the credit issue. As I hope to show in this post, that has turned out to be the case.Alarming Tales #3
Unused original art for Alarming Tales #3, by Jack Kirby.

I provide an image of the unused version above. A note of caution when comparing the two versions. The unused one is original art and therefore has not been subjected to the blurring and loss of details that are the results of the printing process, all of which the published version has been subjected to. Also the title on the original art is a recent addition. The presence of penciled text indicates the decision to come up with new cover art was made before title stats would have been applied to the original.The derivation of the final cover from the unpublished version is obvious, both have the same cast of characters in about the same positions. The greatest difference is the backgrounds. Not only has the background been completely changed, it has been pushed much further back in the released cover. A closer examination reveals that the people are not identical. The size of the old man has been increased while the relative size of the boy and, even more so, the men in the boat has been reduced. The old man’s head has been enlarged and the position of his left arm has been shifted. The details of all figures have been changed. Curiously the boy’s pants have been given a stripe like those worn by the USPS mail carriers. My original suspicion that reworked stats of the first cover were used to construct the final state was incorrect.I think most readers will agree with me that the original art is more beautiful then the final cover. So why spend the time and effort to replace it? The answer to this riddle is that the purpose of a comic book cover is to entice a viewer to purchase it. To do so it must stand out from the rest of the comics on the rack. The problem with the original version is that the old man is overwhelmed by the background. By simplifying and pushing the other elements back, the old man and his feat of walking on water becomes more obvious and dramatic. It is a question of design taking priority over artistry.

Alarming Tales #3
Close-up of the old man by Jack Kirby and the Joe Simon rendition.

Because the compositions of the two versions are so similar, we must look at the details in order to arrive at the correct attributions. Although not a standard part of Kirby’s repertoire, the old man of the first state seems to be not only his pencils but his inking as well. There are subtleties that his copyist is unable or unwilling to capture. Some of the alterations do seem on purpose, in the final state the old man has been made older and more frail. In doing so the published version has lost the quiet dignity and resolve that the original old man possessed.

Alarming Tales #3
Close-up of the young boy by Jack Kirby and the Joe Simon version

Personally I do not find much in the final state of the old man to suggest who was responsible. For an answer to that question I turn to a close-up of the young boy. Once again the original version seems to have Kirby’s touch all over it. Some of Jack’s style has been preserved in the published interpretation but purposeful alterations have been made as well. Frankly in Kirby’s hands the boy has been given a somewhat dim witted response to his predicament. The copyist on the other hand has widen the boys eyes, raised his eyebrows and furrowed his forehead. All this gives the boy a more intelligent and surprised reaction to being lead by the old man over water. It is the boy’s eyebrows that convince me that the copyist is Joe Simon. Similar eyebrows crop up often in Joe’s work going back as far as the cover for Champ #19 (June 1942) .

The men in the boat are typical Kirby creations. Unfortunately it is hard to compare the two versions because in the published one they have been reduced in size and their finer features lost by the reproduction process.

I mentioned above that I believe Jack Kirby inked his own pencils for the unused Alarming Tales #1 cover. That is not surprising because AT #1 is a comic where Jack did most of the work, including the inking. When I previously discussed the inking in AT #1 I found some of it similar to the standard Studio style while others were closer to the Austere style. On a whole I felt the material was transitional between those two Kirby inking methods. The inking style exhibited on the unused cover is a bit of an anomaly. It is true that the bow of the boat exhibits what looks like typical picket fence brushwork (see the Inking Glossary). It should be noted that it is unusual for the rails of a picket fence inking to depict literal objects like it does here with the bow edges. A better example of typical Kirby brushwork can be found in the folds of the boy’s shirt. They exhibit the tendency to be flatter then the underlying form that was common for Kirby at this time. The form lines on the tree on the left side of the image also look like Jack’s. But other inking methods used are very unusual for Jack, in particular the form lines on the old man’s pants. I do not recall Kirby ever doing something like that before.

Also unusual about the inking is the abundant use of white-out. Although Kirby was a bold inker his control was so great that he usually had to make few adjustments with white-out. Actually some of the white-out on the unused cover were not mistakes at all. Many of the trees in the background and some of the branches in the water were actually created by white-out. The old man’s hair was done by a combination of standard inking and the use of white-out. But mistakes were corrected, for instance the edges of the drooping fronds left of center on the top were worked over. Some earth lines in the background and a water stain on the upper part of the boat were removed. I am not sure what to make of Jack removing the bottom of the boy’s shoes. Perhaps it was done to indicate that he the lacked the old man’s confidence and so could not tread as lightly over the water surface? A most surprising correction is found in the depiction of the water, much of what now looks white has abundant use of white out. The white-out does not completely hide the underlying inking and judging from their faint markings the water surface was originally much darker.

Despite all the features that are not usually found in Jack Kirby’s inking, I find the combination of boldness and control so characteristic of his work that I am pretty confident to credit him with the inking. The published cover shows Joe Simon equally bold with his use of the brush but without the same nuance of control exhibited by Kirby. It is interesting that Joe made the water surface very dark, just the thing that Jack spent so much effort to remove from his own version.

I love comparing different artists’ versions of the same subject. It is not a question of trying to determine who the better artist is. What I find interesting are the different decisions each artist made and what the reasons for those decisions were.

Sandman Revisited

Sandman #1 cover rough
Sandman cover rough by Jerry Grandenetti

A few months ago I posted on a cover rough that Jerry Grandenetti did for the 1974 version of the Sandman. Kris Brownlow provided an image from an old eBay listing which, to put it kindly, was of a rather poor quality (the eBay lister’s fault, not Kris’s). Happily I have been able to obtain the original piece through the help of Scotty Moore.

The better image of the Grandenetti cover is welcome indeed. Now we can make out the text from the top of the cover:


This obviously refers to the golden age version of the Sandman that Simon and Kirby produced. Potential readers would likely have been aware of that Sandman from reprints that had appeared in the back of the various New Gods titles.

Sandman #1
Sandman #1 (Winter 1974) art by Jack Kirby

Now that it is possible to have a good understanding of the cover rough, it is clear that there is a correspondence between Grandenetti’s rendition and Jack Kirby’s published version. I previously pointed out that the machine head guy on the lower left was common to both. Also the group of snakes became represented by a single serpent. Now it can be seen that other figures correspond as well. The small man a little left of center on the cover rough becomes the scaly man on the bottom of the dream scene on the published cover. Also a little left of center is a figure whose body is nothing more then a circular head with small face surrounded by a rough or folded skin. In Kirby’s drawing the face becomes larger to encompass the entire head, but the folded skin and lack of a true body leave little doubt that it represents the same figure. Grandenetti’s muscle man on the upper right was retained by Kirby although the arms, originally in a Frankenstein pose, were changed to bring the hands together. Grandenetti had a number of circles with multiple legs (spiders?) on the left, which Jack did not made use of. Further Jack dropped the arm holding the doll and added a mysterious and threatening set of eyes. Of course the most important change is that Grandenettis’s Sandman had been delegated to the side almost lost among the dream figures. Kirby instead placed Sandman front and center using his signature exaggerated perspective. There is no doubt in my mind now that Jack saw either this Grandenetti cover or, less likely, yet another version of it.

This is convincing evidence that the bronze age Sandman was originally a Joe Simon concept. At that time Joe had been doing a number of projects for DC. Simon would be the creator and writer while another artist, generally Grandenetti, would do the art. Originally Sandman was going to be nothing more then another comic that Simon would produce for DC. However remembering the success of the golden age Sandman, Carmine Infantino probably twisted Kirby’s arm to got him to team up once again with Joe. But Jack had a long period of creating and writing material without getting the proper credit and had only recently been able to escape that fate. Now he was thrust back to teaming up with another and, worse yet, working on someone else’s concept. Despite the success of the new Sandman, Jack would not, in all likelihood refused to, continue his collaboration with Joe. Thus a Sandman was the first comic that the Simon and Kirby teamed did for DC and it would turn out the last not only for DC but anyone else as well.

The resurfacing of the Grandenetti cover is very fortuitous as I was planning to sometime in the next few weeks to post on the golden age Simon and Kirby Sandman. If that is not enough Sandman for you, I will also post sometime soon on a question I was asked by Scotty Moore about what was used as the basis for the inking of the published version of the Sandman #1 cover.

The back of the Grandenetti cover draft has some enigmatic text:


An idea for a crime comic proposal?

Jerry Grandenetti and Sandman

Original Art
Sandman cover rough by Jerry Grandenetti

Some time ago I received an email from Kris Brownlow asking if I knew anything about a Sandman cover drawn by Jerry Grandenetti. Kris thought he remembered seeing it on eBay in the late 90’s. Unfortunately I knew nothing about the cover nor was Kris able to find anyone on various comic lists who knew anything either. When I asked Joe Simon he confirmed that Jerry was involved in the early stages of the Sandman proposal. That tantalizing state was were things remained until recently Kris stumbled on a printout that he had made, and forgotten, of the original eBay image. I would like to thank Kris not only for the scan of the printout he provided but also for his diligence in uncovering this fascinating piece of comic book history. I have done some Photoshop adjustments of the scan, but because it is a second generation copy of what was probably a poor scan to begin with, there was a limit to what I could do.

Both Kirby and Simon were working for DC in the early 70’s. Jack’s New Gods titles had not been as successful as hoped and DC had him doing other things such as Kamandi. Joe’s DC work was more on the lines of a creator, writer and editor. The art for Joe’s books was done by others, including Jerry Grandenetti. Since Joe’s titles would last only a few issues I would hazard a guess that his books were not big sellers. It must have seemed obvious to Carmine Infantino to try re-uniting the Simon and Kirby team. Perhaps with a bit of arm twisting, Carmine persuaded Jack. So after many years of working separately, Joe and Jack produced Sandman. The comic seemed to sell well enough but Kirby had his own personal goals which did not include turning back the clock to a long past working relationship. More issues of Sandman would follow and Jack would contribute covers and eventually some story art, but he would do so without Joe’s help.

Original Art
Unpublished Sandman cover, pencils by Jack Kirby and inks by Joe Simon.

Joe Simon inked a version of the Sandman cover drawn by Jack Kirby. Perhaps because of Joe’s use of crosshatching (which DC staff derogatorily called hay) or because of the liberties that Joe took (such as rounding off of finger tips), this cover was never published. But it does stand as an intermediate state between Jerry’s version and the final published cover. Kirby must have seen Jerry’s rough, or perhaps some other intermediate layout that we do not know about, because Jack keeps a couple figures. Most notable is the machine headed guy on the left in both versions. The pose of the legs of a scaling demon on the second state is similar to a larger figure higher up on the page in Jerry’s sketch. Jerry had a number of serpents on the left side which was reduced to a single one in the Kirby/Simon cover.

The above similarities were unchanged in the final published state. But there are other features shared between the Grandenetti and the Kirby/Simon versions that did not survive to the final cover. Both have the Sandman logo looking like it was made of stone. The logo in both sits on what looks like a swirling river. This river sweeps down from the right to the left but in Jerry’s rough, though not the Kirby/Simon art, the river turns back in to form part of the divide between the nightmare world and the sleeping boy. Both early states seem to have a mountain formation the immediate right of the end of the logo.

On the Grandenetti version the Sandman declares:

Come see what I dreamed up for you!

This was modified slightly for the Kirby/Simon art:

Come See what I’ve dreamed up for you!

The text was again altered slightly in the published cover to:

Come see what weirdies I’ve dreamed up for you!

Other features are only found in the initial Grandenetti state. Such as the text that also separates the nightmare scene from the sleeping boy. Or the hand raising up from the river holding a doll. There are other figures but with the poor quality of the scan of Grandenetti’s drawing it is hard to make out what some of them represent. The most dramatic change was made to the Sandman. In Jerry’s rough the Sandman is easy to overlook standing on the right among all the chaos. With the second state the hero becomes front and center with the exaggerated perspective that Kirby so favored.

Sandman #1
Sandman #1 (Winter 1974) art by Jack Kirby

Except for the inking, the published cover is not very different from the rejected Kirby/Simon version. The rock formation logo has been replaced with a more modern and sleek version, but otherwise keeps the overall form. The flowing water and mountain have been completely eliminated.

Since we have three versions of the Sandman cover, are there more? Joe’s collection includes two copies of the Kirby/Simon state. These copies do not differ significantly in layout from the second state and I believe they were actually made years later. The published comic has a job number of SK-2 so what was SK-1? Very likely SK-1 was the Kirby/Simon version. I have seen on a couple occasions the original art of another Sandman cover rough purportedly done by Joe Simon. On that example the drawing is very amateurish and was certainly not done by Joe. Who knows, maybe there are more Sandman covers out there?


First Love #69
Gangster’s Girl” original art by Bill Draut published in First Love #69 (October 1956) as “Remember, I’m Your Girl”

We are on location for the filming of a television drama. Suddenly someone taps the director on his shoulder and hands him a cell phone. We cannot make out the conversation but it is obvious the the director is very unhappy. He gives the phone back to his assistant and then calls out “Get the author, we have to do a rewrite”.

Well I do not know how often this sort of thing happens but I have heard of various movies under going a series of rewriting of the script. In the comic book industry of the 50’s such rewrites were very unusual. Sure a word here or there would be changed or some art editing performed, but generally the story was published as it was originally scripted. With a product that was sold for ten cents and with smaller print runs, care was taken to avoid waste when producing the comic. The most frequent reason for comic book rewrites resulted when a title was cancelled. Because the art was created well before publication, a cancelled title would often result art in various stages of work including some that was fully complete. Such art might have to be rewritten in order to publish it in some other title. But baring recycled art, it was unusual for a comic book story to be extensively rewritten.

Not too long ago I posted on a Bill Draut story “Remember, I’m Your Girl”. Shortly after my blogging on it some of my readers pointed out to me that the art for the story was up for sale on eBay. However the image on the eBay listing showed the story title was “Gangster’s Girl”. I was intrigue and although I felt the art was not the best that Bill Draut had done, I put in what turned out to be the winning bid.

Also included with the art that I received was the text paste-ups that had come off or been removed. I did not think much about the paste-ups at the time because I thought they would just be the text as it was finally published. Later I would find I was wrong. Like most of the art for S&K productions, there was little on the margins except for a few production instructions. However you could tell that that was not always the case because an eraser had been used on the margins. So I scanned the art and did some processing in Photoshop. This allowed me to bring out some of the erased pencils. I also did some work to bring out the color blue because some blue pencil markings had also been erased. Armed with the original art, the paste-ups and enhanced scans I could do an analysis as if I was some sort of comic book archeologist. I can now outline the steps in the process of converting the story from the original “Gangster’s Girl” to “Remember, I’m Your Girl”.

The Photoshop enhancements did bring out some erased pencils that probably date from the when the art was first produced. Inside some of the captions and balloons there can be seen some of the text in pencil. It was standard for the S&K shop to have all the text placed on the art before the final lettering was done. I am not clear on whether the penciling of the text was done before the art was penciled, or if it was done by the penciler or the letterer. Also from the original state of the art, each page had in pencil the story title on the upper left and Bill Draut’s address on the upper right margin. The handwriting seems the same for the two, and I suspect that it was Bill’s but I have nothing to compare it with.

The original art no longer has any of the paste-ups still attached. This meant that the original story could be read in full. The only exception was that one word balloon had been inked over. But by viewing the art at an angle the pencils show up and it was possible to read the original text.

The story is a love triangle between Joe (a gangster), Annie (the love interest) and Phil (former friend). Phil’s running for election on a clean up campaign is a clear threat to Joe. Joe asks Annie to get close to Phil in order to find weaknesses, overcoming her reluctance with expensive presents. Annie stages a meeting with Phil and a romance ensues. Phil looses the election but Annie says she will stay with him. During a confrontation between Joe and Phil, Joe shows Annie one of his presents, a mink coat. Enticed by Joe’s rich presents, Annie decides to stay with Joe.

That is right, in the end the gangster gets the girl. This has got to be the most unusual story from a romance comic that I have ever read. Not only that, it is probably the best. My story outline does not give it justice, in particularly how Annie’s weakness is portrayed. But this story was published in 1956. Who in their right mind would think that this story could get Comic Code approval? I do not know how to explain this lapse. Perhaps it was actually produced before the Comic Code but had somehow never been used.

Well someone realized that the story would have to be altered if it was to be published. So the first rewrite was performed. That is right, there were actually three versions of the story. For the second story Joe became a big businessman. All the details of the second story cannot be reconstructed. It is not clear whether Joe still uses expensive gifts to get Annie to spy on Phil, or if instead the final version of the plot was used. Fortunately the end can be reconstructed and surprising Joe still gets Annie in the end. Only it is not the expensive gifts that changes her mind, it is the fact that she detects that Phil does not trust her enough to reject those gifts. The confrontation has made Joe realize his own failings, he decides to marry Annie and changes his ways.

First Love #69
Page 4 editing changes for the first rewrite from the Photoshop enhanced scans.

A lot of text had to be changed in the rewrite. First a pencil was scribbled over whatever was going to be replaced. Then the new version was written in pencil generally in the margins but for small changes it might be done nearer. The above image of the Photoshop enhanced image shows an example from page 4. In the lower right is the new text for the second balloon:


This rewrite was only used for the second story, the third story reverted back to the original script. That is why the pencils scribbling over the second balloon are lighter then those for the first balloon. The second balloon scribbling was erased and are hardly visible on the art without Photoshop adjustment.

First Love #69
Page 5 from the Photoshoped enhanced scans.

The final page had a very effective series of panels showing Annie trying to make her final choice. In all versions of the story this appears to have been without any text. But the enhanced scans show that for a time word balloons were considered. The one in the second panels says:


The last has:


Since both statements deal with trust I believe these changes were considered for the second version of the story where Phil’s lack of trust causes Annie to choose Joe. But thankfully this version did not make it into the second story and was never inked. This set of panel “speaks much loader” without the use of any words.

The margin rewrites look to me to be in Joe Simon’s hand writing. But to be sure I will be showing them to Joe on my next visit to see what he thinks.

First Love #69
Close-up from page 2 filtered for blue.

The rewrite was done in a way that not much art had to be altered. A classic technique used to change art is the use of whiteout. Here there is not a lot of use of whiteout in the art. You can tell that some whiteout was used by Draut because the inking over it is his. That particular whiteout use had nothing to do with the rewrite. Whiteout was also used on Joe’s face and this does seem related to the rewrite because it was not re-inked. Of course the whiteout obscures the art that has been changed but the filtering for blue in Photoshop sometimes allows us to see through the whiteout. As can be seen in the example above Joe originally had wrinkles, jowls and a mustache. As a powerful gangster Joe was older because the appeal he had for Annie was based solely on his money. The whiteout changes were done to make him younger.

First Love #69
Close-up from bottom of page 1 filtered for blue.

When I examined the art I found a couple of spots that were inked by another artist. For example in the foreground of the splash panel there is a table with a funny shadow and an unusual vase-like object. By looking at an angle at the art I could see the original pencils. Unfortunately I cannot scan at an angle but I found that further manipulation of the blue filtered scan sometimes brings out the pencils to a certain degree. In the image above you can see that the shadow hides a gun laying on the table and that the vase-like object was originally a glass. Drinking and the use of guns is appropriate for a gangster, but not for a business man, even a shady one. The Comic Code was very sensitive to anything that might “corrupt” the morals of the young readers. Similar re-inking hides guns a couple other places in the story.

First Love #69
Close-up from page 3 filtered for blue

With the art changes made and the altered scripts pasted into their proper places, the second version of the story was ready to go. The next individual to work on the story used blue pencil to indicate certain changes. ‘X’s were placed in the margins at certain spots and other editing marks were made. These marks are all somewhat cryptic because for the most part they are not accompanied with any remarks. This blue penciling was done after the first rewrite because in some places it extends over the paste-ups. Once it even indicated a change to be made on a paste-up. Interestingly not all the changes indicated by the blue pencils were ever made. One is shown in the image above. There a circle was made around Joe connecting to a comment

where did he get the mustache?

Sure enough this was the one place that whiteout had not been used to remove Joe’s original mustache. But for some reason this was never corrected.

First Love #69
Close-up from page 3 filtered for blue.

On the third page the art had a blue pencil notation leading to an area with an ‘X’ (see above image). Again looking at an angle I could make out the original pencils. In this case the pencils showed a part of Annie’s anatomy that, let us just say, normally would not be visible with her dress on. I have heard of artists fooling around like that but I think we can be pretty confident that this was not included in the inked version and therefore was not the problem. But there is an indication that perhaps Annie was shown more busty then desirable for the Comic Code. Rather then whiting it out and re-inking, the area was just filled with black so that Annie’s profile was no longer distinguishable.

The way the blue pencil was used leads me to believe that the art had been presented to someone at Harvey for approval. In his book, “The Comic Book Makers”, Joe describes presenting Silver Spider to Leon Harvey, so perhaps Leon was responsible for the blue pencils in “Remember, I’m Your Girl”. In any case I suspect all the blue ‘X’s indicated that the second version of the story had not gone far enough. This resulted in the second rewrite.

In the third and final version of the story Joe becomes Annie’s brother and now became a shady politician. Of course all mention of a romantic connection or marriage between the two had to be removed. I am not sure what type of person Annie was in the second version, but in the final she is clearly given a more moral character. Although she accepts gifts from Joe she refuses to arrange to spy on Phil. But fate intervenes with an accidental meeting between Annie and Phil after which the story continues pretty much as before. However in the final confrontation Annie goes off with Phil leaving Joe all alone.

The same person who did the first rewrite did the second one as well. And the same technique of writing the altered version in the margins was used. Some of these new notes were done over erased portions of previous notations. This not only made it impossible to read large portions of the earlier versions, but some portions of the latest are hard to make out as well.

First Love #69
Page 5 final art panel from a normal scan of the original art.

Most of the art changes were done with the first rewrite. An exception is the art for the last panel was dramatically changed for the last version. The two foreground figures are now shown largely as silhouettes. However a careful examination of the inking shows that this was not always the case, some of the original spotting can be made out on the original (but not in the image I supply). The doorway was also modified. Whiteout has been used to cover up a dark background that original extended much further down the doorway. The background figure is a silhouette as well, but I wonder if it was originally. Regrettably it is not possible to detect any original spotting or pencils. These changes were made because in the last version of the story Phil, not Joe, gets the girl. The making of the foreground figures as silhouettes was done because originally Annie was wearing her mink coat. The change in the background was done to change the original looser Phil into Joe, a silhouette being easier to do then a full re-inking.

The story ends with a vertical caption. Because all the different versions of the story had unique endings, this caption was changed for each of the rewrites. Fortunately when the second rewrite was done the paste-up from the first rewrite was peeled off, flipped over and reused. Therefore all versions of the final caption have been preserved. These are the endings in the order that they were written.




The story line for the last two versions are not nearly as good as the first. That is just the nature what had to be done to alter the story so that it could get Comic Code approval. When you keep that in mind, the rewrites are impressive particularly since they required only limited changes to the art.

Jack Kirby Swiping From Bill Draut

First Love #68
First Love #68 (September 1956) “Forbidden To Love Him”, page 1, pencils and inks by Bill Draut

A young lady meets a man at a dance and quickly falls in love. Early in the relationship the man tells the woman that he is an Indian. The lady is surprised and then ashamed at her response. She loves him and wants to marry him. On her return home she finds her parents waiting. They have heard from neighbors that her date was an Indian and they insists she stop seeing him. Of course she refuses and the conflict at home continues. The man gives a speech at a bond rally before the entire town. It is revealed that he is a war hero. He gives an impassioned speech about the importance of foreigners in the history of America and the true meaning of freedom. The town is ashamed about their treatment of the man and the couple wed with everyone’s approval.

The story of “Forbidden To Love Him” is based in Oklahoma and the chief character is an Indian. Nevertheless it is hard not to a consider this story a more universal condemnation of the racial or ethnic intolerance in much of America during the 50’s. It is a topic that Simon and Kirby had touched on in “Different” (Young Romance #30, February 1951). But their version was much more circumvent and not nearly as bold as this story. “Forbidden To Love Him” may have been a little heavy handed but it effectively highlighted the hypocrisy involved.

First Love #68
First Love #68 (September 1956) contents page, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Jack Kirby?

As with FL #69 we have a contents page with an introductory story that at a casual glance could appear to be the work of Bill Draut. In FL #69 the story was a sort of prequel to the feature story. Here in FL #68 it is more like the comic equivalent of a movie trailer. We have less to work with in determining the correct attribution because in four panels all we have are the couple with limited background. Still once you ignore the Draut style eyebrows Kirby characteristics keep popping out. The poses for panels 3 and 4 look particularly like Kirby’s and not the way Draut would have done it. I am discounting Joe Simon’s as the penciller because FL #69 provided examples of both Joe and Jack copying Draut. The art in FL #68 contents page matches Kirby’s version of Draut then it does Simon’s.

First Love #68
First Love #68 (September 1956) “Forbidden To Love Him”, page 5 panel 1, pencils and inks by Bill Draut

The last panel of the introduction story is more complicated and provides more clues as to Kirby’s involvement. In places Jack seems to forget that he is supposed to be imitating Draut and some faces look like pure Kirby. What is particularly surprising about this panel is that it is a swipe from one that Bill did in the story. Bill’s original depicted the crowd’s shame as the man revealed his wartime heroism. Jack has converted the scene to town’s anger about the coming marriage. But there is no mistaking the derivation because the lady’s father and mother have the same positions. The bride-to-be herself was left out by Jack because it would not have been appropriate for her to share the town’s anger. It is interesting to compare Bill and Jack’s approach to the crowd. Bill provides more people and arranges them to regularly diminish in size as we go from front to back. Jack draws fewer individuals and we are less aware of the size of the crowd because we cannot see the back. By doing this Kirby is able to provide clearer representation of the emotions for the people he does shows. In the comments to FL #69 Stan Taylor correctly remarked how the architecture looked like Kirby’s. This panel in FL #68 does not provide as many buildings but it still is interesting to compare Jack’s method to how Bill handle’s architecture.

Bill Draut And His Imitator, Jack Kirby

First Love #69
First Love #69 (October 1956) “Remember, I’m Your Girl”, page 1, pencils and inks by Bill Draut

With the period having 1956 cover dates Kirby was pretty much the only artist working on the Prize romance titles (Young Romance, Young Love and Young Brides). During this time Bill Draut and John Prentice who had previously been doing work for those titles began to appear regularly in the Harvey romance books instead. “Remember, I’m Your Girl” is typical of the work Draut did for Harvey. Bill still had an distinct style particularly characterized by simple but prominent eyebrows.

This a story about a man (Joe), his sister (Annie), and a former friend (Phil). Joe is now a successful politician and his sister is enjoying the financial fruits of that success. There is an approaching election and his position is being threatened by Phil, a rival candidate. Years before all three were good friends so Joe asks Annie to reconnect with Phil in order to find some weakness. His sister refuses but runs into Phil by accident and a romance develops. Joe wins the election but the sister continues her romance. When Joe confronts Annie to choose between her previous financial rewards or the rival, she chooses Phil.

First Love #69
First Love #69 (October 1956) contents page, pencils by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, inks by Joe Simon?

Joe Simon was probably working for Harvey as an editor at this time. I generally do not consider works such as “Remember, I’m Your Girl” as Simon and Kirby productions. The format and length match Harvey romance stories from well before Joe’s time as Harvey editor. However something unusual happened in FL #68 and FL #69. Generally Harvey romances has a content page with at most a portion of the splash for each story. In FL #68 and #69 the content pages had a short original art that served as an introduction to the featured story.

For First Love #69 the feature story was Bill Draut’s “Remember, I’m Your Girl”. The same characters that appear in the feature story are presented here. The text makes it clear that the trio are shown in the earlier days while they were all still friends. A casual glance at the introduction story could result in attributing it to Bill as well. What particularly stands out are the simple but prominent eyebrows, which as I said was a Draut trait. A close examination reveals that the faces are not quite like Draut would do them, particularly in the story panels. There is not much to go but the spot inking does not look like Draut’s either. But I do not think it is just the case of some other artist inking Draut’s pencils. The layouts in the introduction story are not quite like Bill’s.

It is the layouts that provide a suggestion who the real artist was. In the first panel Joe is shown lighting up a cigarette. This is a typical Kirby theme and pose. In panels 2 to 4 the main speakers are placed in the front while those not speaking are placed in the background. This is a typical Kirby layout. Even the way Annie looks over Phil’s shoulder as they embrace is a typical Kirby pose. Although the artist tried to draw the characters like Bill Draut did he really could not completely adopt Bill’s more stylized pencils. Keeping in mind that he is imitating Draut, a close look at the faces suggests Kirby was the penciler.

First Love #69
First Love #69 (October 1956) “Remember, I’m Your Girl”, page 4 panel 1, pencils and inks by Bill Draut

In the past I have often warned about using some Kirby-esque features for attributing a work to Jack. Joe Simon was also familiar with Kirby’s techniques and was pretty good at mimicking most of them. If you ignore the attempt to copy Draut’s style, the number of Kirby-isms seems rather high even for Joe. But look at the drawing of Annie that appears in the bottom of the contents panel. It appears to be the done by yet another artist. A search of the actual story shows that the contents drawing was swiped the first panel of page 4. It would seem to be a reasonable deduction that Joe Simon did the contents drawing. If that is true then he was not have been responsible for the penciling of the introduction story.

The possibility of Kirby ghosting another artist was brought up recently by Bob H. in a comment to All-Star Western #99. I do not know if what Jack did for FL #69 introduction story would properly be called ghosting. It was not a case of fooling the editor, Joe was also involved in copying Draut on the content page. Nor was Draut a regular artist recognized by the reading public. Harvey romances are all unsigned and the artist used for the feature story would change. This was just a case of trying to maintain visual continuity between the contents page and the feature story. Imitating another artist was not something Jack did very often. Although his Draut was not perfect, it was good enough to fool many.

Foxhole #4, Enter the Comic Code

Foxhole #4
Foxhole #4 (April 1955) unused cover by Jack Kirby

Public criticism about the contents of comics had lead to the creation of the Comic Code. Although not a legal requirement, publishers knew that they must submit their work to this agency for approval or be rejected by most newsstands. Simon and Kirby’s company Mainline was no exception to this. So when along with their other titles Foxhole #4 was submitted for approval the Comic Code rejected the cover. Its depiction of a dead enemy sniper was too much for the delicate sensibilities of the young. In all honesty even without showing any direct signs of violence it is a very compelling but disturbing piece of art. S&K’s substitute cover had a close-ups of a face wear camouflage makeup. Simon and Kirby could still produce great covers within the Comic Code framework.

Foxhole #4
Foxhole #4 (April 1955) “Find And Fire” page 1 art by Bill Draut

The rejected cover for Foxhole #4 was based on an interior story “Find And Fire” by Bill Draut. It is unclear to me whether the cover developed from the story or the other way around. Often Simon and Kirby productions have this cover/story connection. Not infrequently each does not tell quite the same tale. Draut’s story starts with a splash very different from Jack’s original cover. Most of what we see is just the tree foliage. Only the sniper’s hand and firing rifle are visible. By doing so Bill has captured horror of having to cope with an unseen foe. The story itself is about a medical corpsman having to deal with a Japanese sniper alone. As a medic he is not supposed to fight and does not carry a gun. The Japanese, and the sniper in particular, did not care about such niceties and the American is forced to confront the sniper armed with only a knife. Its a great story illustrated by one of S&K’s top talents.

Foxhole #4
Foxhole #4 (April 1955) “Thirty Year Man” page 1 script by Jack Oleck art by Joe Albistur

This time instead of Jack Kirby, Jack Oleck provided the script for the artist Joe Albistur. It is a great story about a professional soldier and the outfit he first trains and then fights with. The plot is not all that surprising but with it Albistur manages to present some great art. Look at that splash panel. Joe is marvelous at capturing people and their gestures but here he out does himself. There twelve individuals portrayed, each one uniquely. Only the face of two men are partially visible and yet Joe infuses them with personality. Elsewhere in the story there is a fight sequences with four panels without text. Previously we saw Bill Draut draw something similar. Could Oleck have written Draut’s story also and provided similar directions? Or could both artists have decided to do this themselves? However the decision was made it was an effective device to use in cases like this were the image was sufficient and words were not only superfulous but were actually detrimental.

This is the second Foxhole piece credited to Jack Oleck. Two scripts are not much to work with in trying to understand Oleck’s writing style, but it is all we have. Actually that is not true. From Joe Simon’s collection I have part of another script by Oleck. That will be the subject of a future post.

Foxhole #4
Foxhole #4 (April 1955) “Mayhem In The Sky” page 1 art by Art Gates

As I have said before I enjoy most of the stories in Foxhole. They are generally well written and the artists are very talented. I also get a kick out of “Mayhem In The Sky” but probably for reasons that were not originally intended. It is like watching a slasher movie where much of the fun is knowing that when someone goes out into the night to investigate a noise that he will be the next victim. This story is about an American plane that will be bringing some Japanese prisoner to Australia. The only guard will be wounded Australian soldier. Did I hear the background music become foreboding? When the plane reaches altitude it is placed on autopilot and the co-pilot takes a nap! At this point the background music is downright chilly. Needless to say it is not a stalker that is unleashed but a plane full of Japanese soldiers. Yeah it all seems a bit unbelievable but it is fun.

Foxhole #4
Foxhole #4 (April 1955) “Suicide Run” page 1 art by Bob McCarty

Bob McCarty, a veteran of the Air Force, illustrates a submarine story. This is typical of Foxhole. Although written by veterans they are not autobiographical stories. Still the real service that the creators experienced does imbue Foxhole stories with special qualities. The men in the stories are not the clean cut heroes depicted in movies of that time.

Foxhole #4
Foxhole #4 (April 1955) “It’s Mutual” page 1 art by Ted Galindo

“It’s Mutual” is the earliest artwork for S&K by Ted Galindo that I am aware of. Hereafter Ted would often be employed by Simon and Kirby and, after the S&K studio breakup, by Joe Simon. Generally Simon and Kirby used the more talented artists of their day. Unfortunately I feel Galindo is an exception, I would call his work adequate at best.

Alternate Takes, The Thirteenth Floor

Black Magic #11
Black Magic #11 (April 1952) by Jack Kirby

For this cover Jack Kirby provides an interesting combination, an elevator made out as a funeral parlor. The operator is even stranger with a white complexion, an eye patch and (despite the gloves he is wearing) skeletal hands. The man is taken aback by it all, but it the woman who is most surprised and seems to be drawing back. The old fashion floor indicator shows them on the third, but the operator invites them to a ride to the thirteenth floor. Do you really think the couple will take him up on it? Although imaginative this is not one of Kirby’s better efforts. The elevator operator is meant to be spooky, but he comes off more like one of those friendly old men you would sometimes meet years ago when many elevators did not run automatically.

Black Magic #11
Black Magic #11 (April 1952) “The Thirteenth Floor” by John Prentice

John Prentice did so much romance work for the S&K studio that it is easy to mistakenly believe his talents were limited to that genre. John also had done some fine work for Black Magic (he would further go on to a very successful run of the syndication detective strip Rip Carter). A story like “The Thirteenth Floor” actually would suit his talents more then Kirby’s. In this story we are not presented with any unnatural demons. The devils can only be distinguished by their red complexion and angular eyebrows. This “humanization” of the characters is a necessary part of the story. Nor is there much in the way of action. This is much more of a talking heads kind of story about a man planning suicide who takes the stairs to the thirteenth floor but finds himself in an eerie waiting room. The “people” running the operation do not know what to do with him since he is not in their records. Eventually the man convinces them to let him return back and they direct him to an exit door. But when the man uses the door he wakes up in an elevator and his former life.

Black Magic #11
Black Magic #11 (April 1952) “The Thirteenth Floor” by John Prentice

The splash panel that John provides is little more then a double panel. Prentice provides a scene from the waiting room. The splash illustrates one of the few action events from the story, when the devils escort away a very reluctant individual. It is hard to image a splash more unlike the cover that Kirby provided for the same story. John did some great splashes, but this is not one of them. On the second page John provides a story panel much larger then the splash. The large story panel is even more unlike what one would expect had Jack done the story. The scene is very mundane with just a group of shadowing figures standing around and a director at his desk in the background. Although seemingly mundane, John’s careful use of shadows and a few wispy lines make the whole panel rather unnatural. This pivotal panel sets up the mode from which the rest of the story develops. John was much more effective with this large story panel then he was with the splash.

It seems odd that the cover emphasizes the use of an elevator to go to the thirteenth floor but in the story the man walks up a staircase to reach it. From this it might be implied that Kirby had no idea what the story was really about. But the text in the title of the story also refers to the elevator. This makes it seem more likely that S&K was well aware of the story. But the story did not seem to have anything in it that suited Jack’s strengths. Therefore this became one of the minority of covers where Jack just made something up. Because the story is so far removed from Kirby’s vision it is hard to believe Jack had much to do with it. This work seems to contradict the claim made by some that Jack Kirby did the layouts for the stories done by artists working for the S&K studio. It is rare to see Kirby do such a small splash panel. But I have never seen Jack do anything like the large panel on the second page. Like Bill Draut and Mort Meskin, John Prentice was much too talented a comic book artist to require layouts by Jack. Further Joe and Jack were much to savvy business wise to spend time doing work that was not needed by the artist they would have draw the story.

Black Magic #6 (DC)
Black Magic #6 DC (November 1974) by unidentified artist

DC ran a series of Black Magic reprint comics produced with the help of Joe Simon. The covers for these reprints were generally new interpretations of original Kirby covers. I do not know who this particular artist was but it is hard to believe that anyone thought that this was an improvement. I would say that this cover is more goofy then scary. There are covers that I call goofy as a complement, but this is not one of them. Even though Kirby’s BM #11 is not a favorite of mine it is so much better then this one that I will forego any comparison. I am also a critic of the art in these DC Black Magic reprints. Generally I find the reprints look like wood cuts, loosing much of the effects of splendid inking of the originals. However the job done on the reprinting of “The Thirteenth Floor” actually came out rather well.