Category Archives: 2006/11

Featured Cover Contest

I spent so much time thinking about how I was going to run my Simon and Kirby Cover Contest, that I neglected to help my readers in their selection. Fortunately Bob at the Jack Kirby Blog and has posted on my contest and has already provided a chronological listing It is an excellent list of work by Jack Kirby. However it goes well beyond the Simon and Kirby period. You can use it up to and including Warfront #30 (1957).

I really should get my act together and get more organized like Bob. For now here is a list of covers that I have provided images for in my various posts.

Featured Cover Contest

I plan to continue to do Featured Cover posts for a while. Hopefully I will do one every week or two. It occurred to me that perhaps some of my readers would be willing to say what their favorite Simon and Kirby cover is. I know that might be a hard decision, but if I can do it so can you. As a reward for letting me know your cover choice I will enter you into a contest. The prize will be a full color print of your favorite cover, fully restored free of any charge. If you like any of the restorations I posted in this blog I think you will love a full size print much more. Joe Simon has agreed to sign them.

It has to be a Simon and Kirby cover. Not that Jack did not do some great covers later in his career. But I do not have access to many silver age covers. Early Joe Simon covers (Centaur and Fox, before teaming up with Jack) are also acceptable. It does not matter whether the cover has appeared before in the Simon and Kirby Blog. Just one choice of a S&K cover, hey after all that is what favorite means! Also this is limited to one entry for each contestant.

I will accept contest entries for a week, November 22 will be the last day of the contest. After that I will randomly select 10 winners. Because I may not have restored all the winning covers, some winners may have to wait a few weeks until I am able to do the restoration.

So here is what you have to do:

  1. Email me at: hmendryk at yahoo dot com. (You know the drill, replace “at” and “dot” with the proper characters).
  2. Include “Featured Cover Contest in the email heading. (So I will know it is for the contest and is not spam).
  3. In the email state your favorite Simon and Kirby cover (Remember select only one S&K cover!).
  4. In the email include you home address. (This must be the address I will mail the print of the restored cover).

Don’t worry I will not be using this information for any lists, it will be used for the contest only and no other purpose.

Good luck.

Featured Cover, Treasure #10

Treasure Comics #10
Treasure Comics #10 (December 1946) by Jack Kirby

I come across lists all the time; the top 100 artists, the 100 most important comic books, and so on. All listed in a nicely hierarchy with one selected as the best. I do not know how people are able to make such lists. What criteria does one use to rank one artist as #100 and another as #101 (and so be excluded from the list)? Even the selection of the best can be wroth with difficulties. Should the best comic book artist be based on who did the best work or who had the most influence on the comic books of today? It should come as no surprise who I think is the artist that did the best comic book art. Subtle hint, look at the title of this blog. However if it is influence that counts then I might wonder if Will Eisner may be more appropriate. While not denying Jack Kirby’s tremendous influence on pretty much the entire history of comics, Eisner’s graphic novels launched a whole new genre, one that has even made it into the N.Y. Times Book Review.

But even if I try to adopt a subjective viewpoint I do not find myself in an easier position. My favorite painting varies from day to day. My response to a piece of art depends as much as my mood as with the work of art. But ask me what my favorite Simon and Kirby cover is and most days I would say Treasure #10. This is a rather oddball cover for S&K. Treasure #10 comes not long after the failure of Stuntman and Boy Explorers. The publisher was Prize, Joe and Jack had done some work for them early in their career (Prize Comics #7, 8 and 9; December 1940 to February 1941). In March 1947 Simon and Kirby would launch for Prize the crime genre version of Headline Comics. Treasure #10 was used to introduce the new version of Headline. It includes a crime story (“Tomorrow’s Murder”), the earliest Simon and Kirby crime genre piece. There is an advertisement at the end of the story announcing the “bigger and better” Headline. It includes a copy for the cover for Headline #23. Both the ad and the illustrated comic indicate a January-February cover date. Headline #23 was actually cover dated March-April. Further the cover illustrated in the ad was really used for Headline #24.

Treasure Comics appeared to once have an Arabian Knight feature, it is listed on the cover for Treasure #7. However there is no such feature, or anything like the cover, in TC #10. The GCD shows Treasure #6 and #7 covers (April and June) with an Arabian theme signed by H. C. Kiefer. I am not familiar with Kiefer’s work and it would be easy to dismiss him as a inferior artist compared to Jack Kirby. But such comparisons are really unfair and uninformative. The cover for TC #7 may be a bit crude and the demons looking more goofy then threatening. But TC #6 is a rather nice cover with lots of action and a good composition. Both TC #6 and #7 covers show shields with similarities with that used by Jack for TC #10. Further TC #7 adds an unusual point to the turban, a trait shared with TC #10. This suggests that Kirby used Kiefer’s covers as a jumping off point.

What a cover Jack provides! An Arabian Knight seeks to escape with a beautiful princess. Well perhaps she may not really be a princess, but her exotic diadem suggest she is more then just a beautiful woman. The pair are faced with a swarm of adversaries intent on preventing their escape. Not your usual adversaries but a group of yellow bodied, red tailed monkeys. Not what you normally would think of as much of a challenge to our hero. But these monkeys are armed with exotic weapons and quite energetic in their attack. These are scary monkeys indeed. But not your normal scary monkeys, these wear exotic clothing and rather weird hats (how do those hats stay on?). Judging from the sculpted banister I would suspect there is a whole population of these monkeys that our desperate pair must somehow evade.

Take a look at the monkey with the knife in the center of the picture, look carefully at his feet. The big toe is on the outside of the foot contrary to what is found in either monkeys or men. I used to think that this was done by Kirby on purpose to give them an even more exotic look. But during restoring the cover I noticed that the toe is on the correct side of the foot for the two monkeys on the left. So now I guess it is just another of those errors that Kirby is so famous for.

Win A Prize #1
Win A Prize #1 (February 1955)

Simon and Kirby did not do many of this sort of swashbuckler covers. Win A Prize #1 comes to mind as one other. (I wrote about the Win A Prize comic before during my serial post on The End of Simon and Kirby). But Jack was a master of action art and seemed to create such covers almost effortlessly.

Joe Simon, The Patriot

The Patriot #3
The Patriot #3 (August 1939) by Joe Simon

Today it is hard to believe that there every was much of a Nazi party in America. But in February 1939 22,000 Nazi supporters attended a rally at Madison Square Gardens. At this rally Fritz Kuhn attack the president, calling him Frank D. Rosenfeld. But the rally also attracted numerous protesters. So although the American Nazi population then was enormous by today’s standards they still a fringe group that would not have been considered patriots. Even though there was a large isolationist movement and no signs yet of the US entering the war, there was also many who could called themselves patriots and considered the Axis powers as enemies of the United States.

The Patriot #2
The Patriot #2 (July 1939) by Joe Simon

In 1939 Joe Simon was working in the newspaper business, his efforts in comic books had not yet started. Any doubts where Joe stood politically can be erased by his contribution to a publication called “The Patriot”. Joe provided that quintessential American symbol, the bald eagle, for one cover. On another he mocked the three dictatorial leaders, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin. The Patriot was a slightly over tabloid size magazine. It was rather thin, 20 pages including the covers. There was a lot of local advertisement, so it probably had limited distribution. With a title like The Patriot one might suspect it was suitable for reader with an extreme right political philosophy. But the articles in the magazine are about extolling American scenery, products and of course freedom. Pretty tame stuff and very much centrist for the political spectrum of those days.

The Patriot #2
The Patriot #2 (July 1939) by Joe Simon

But Joe’s views were not shared by all the people he worked with. Joe got his initial start in newspapers and a lot of guidance from Adolf Edler. Adolf sometimes would tell people he had been off to a nudist colony. In reality he was off to a Nazi Bund camp. You would think Adolf’s political convictions would have problems working with someone Jewish like Joe Simon. Quite the contrary, in fact Adolf seemed to actively hire Jewish workers and got along with them quite well. Apparently Edler’s tie to the American Nazi movement was due to his fondness for his homeland. But letters he received letters from Germany told of increasing persecution of Jews. Dismayed with what he learned led him to abandon the Nazi Bund group.

Joe Simon and Adolf Edler
Joe Simon and Adolf Edler

There was a lot of newspaper buyouts and closings and Joe lost his job. Joe moved to New York City and entered the comic book industry. Perhaps due to the experience he got from newspapers or perhaps just due to pure ambition, Joe rose rapidly from an artist to an art editor. When Joe and Jack Kirby created the ultimate patriotic hero, Captain America, who better to appear on the first cover as his adversary then Adolf Hitler himself. America had not yet entered the war, but there can be no question where Joe and Jack stood. Captain America Comics was a big hit, so many in the public probably agreed. In the 1954 Simon and Kirby created a new patriotic hero, the Fighting American. But times had changed and the Fighting American had a short run. S&K returned to the same thing once again in 1959 with their own version of the Shield (Secret Life of Private Strong) but this time it was cancelled due to legal threats from DC. Still the patriotic spirit did not leave Joe. In 2001 after 9/11 Joe responded by creating an altered version of the classic Captain American #1 cover. I wish I could include an image but alas because of legal questions I cannot. It shows Captain America delivering his famous punch not to Adolf Hitler but to Osama Bin Laden. Since I cannot show the 9/11 cover let me end this post with an image of the less often seen confrontation between Hitler and Captain America from the cover of issue #2.

Captain America #2
Captain America #2 (April 1940) by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon

The Wide Angle Scream, “Terror Island”

Stuntman #3 (unpublished) “Terror Island”
Enlarged view

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby must have had high expectations for their creation, Stuntman. There exist three double page splashes that were never published, at least not as regular Simon and Kirby productions. Since S&K always placed their wide splashes in the centerfold, this meant that they had already started working for up to Stuntman issue #5. That is until the post-war comic book glut caused the early demise of their new comic books. Joe still has the three splash pages and with their double size art they are really marvelous to behold. However when reduced to the size necessary for use on the Internet they can be difficult to appreciate. Therefore I hope my readers will understand that I felt it necessary to provide my own coloring for use in this blog. I would have like to have used the color version that Joe did for his book “The Comic Book Makers” but so far I have not found it in his collection. The “extra!” strip on the top, the “a Simon-Kirby Production” and the Stuntman title are missing from the art and I provided them from other wide splashes. Glue marks clearly indicated that the “extra!” strip is was present, or something like it. However I did not scan the original art (it is much too large) and the source of the image does not indicate the placement for the “production” (if it was even present) or the title.

Because two of the double splashes are completely inked I am not absolutely sure which was originally meant for Stuntman #3. I choose “Terror Island” to post on first. However this choice was not completely arbitrary. As mentioned above “Terror Island” clearly had an “extra!” along the top a feature that it shares with the double wide splashes for Stuntman #1 and #2. The other completely inked splash did not have this “extra!” strip, the lack of which it shares with the unfinished Stuntman double splash.

Mao Tse-tung“Terror Island” introduces a new antagonist, the Panda. Of course Stuntman had faced various opponents in his previous stories but they all were rather generic. None of the earlier villains really stood out and it is clear that none were ever meant to reappear in future Stuntman stories. The Panda seems special and I believe was Simon and Kirby’s first attempt to create Stuntman’s nemesis, the equivalent of the Red Skull for Captain America. Basing a villain on a panda may seem an odd choice, after all what could be more cute and cuddly then a panda, at least in the mind of the public. Sure Jack draws the Panda to look as vicious as possible without loosing his panda look. But the real source for this character is not the bear, but China’s leader Mao Tse-tung (nowadays his name is normally transcribed as Zedong). Today with all the world companies scrambling to get a share of the Chinese market it is easy to forget at that time communist China was a very closed society. As China’s leader and his with description of the U.S. as a “paper tiger” Mao was considered a special menace. Still it is not at all clear whether the Panda really could fulfill the role Joe and Jack were casting him for.

The art for this wide splash marked a new approach. All previous double splashes were actually composed of various different sections. But for the “Terror Island” splash no similar attempt was really made. It is true that there is some introductory text and a round panel portraying the Panda, but this hardly compares to the cast of characters often provided in older double splashes. Yes it is also true that space has been left in the upper left for the titles, but no art is associate with these titles. What we are presented with for the first time is an enactment that dominates the entire splash. But what a scene! It sprawls across the pages from the lower left to the upper right. It is just the sort of chaos that we have seen before in the Boy Commandos wide splash. There is some control over the composition. The Panda and his attacking bug army occupy the left page. All are advancing toward the right where we find Stuntman, Sandra Sylvan and Don Daring amid a mass of falling wreckage. Although the uncolored ink art might be a bit confusing, I am sure Jack (who did the penciling) knew how much the final coloring would help to make it understandable. This splash is one of those that Jack could just let his imagination run wild. Previously when discussing the cover for Adventure #98 I had mentioned how Jack was often inaccurate when drawing animals but nonetheless was very successful in giving them a certain life. This splash provides and example of what I meant. A biologist would shudder and the giant bugs Kirby presents us with. Some of the inaccuracies can be explained by the needs of the subject. The wasp like insect that the Panda is mounted on could never fly with its wings in their present location. But if that beast’s wings were in the correct position the Panda could not mount it. But other errors have no artistic excuse. The legs of the insects and the spider are attached in the most bizarre places. If Jack used a biology book for a reference he obviously did not make any attempt to follow it closely. Regardless of these “errors” these giant bugs have a very menacing life to them.

My personal preferences is for the earlier wide splashes with their greater emphasis on design. But there is just no denying the shear brilliance that radiates from these post war double splashes. When you look at the original art for the “Terror Island” splash there are no signs of hesitation or rework. Jack seemed to have it all figured out in his mind before he put it on the illustration board. But with such a complicated drawing how was he able to do that? It just astonishes me.

Captain America and Advertisement

Merrill Lynch advertisement
Merrill Lynch advertisement from the Wall Street Journal

Above is an ad that appeared in the Wall Street Journal recently. From the left the Black Panther, Nick Fury, Ant Man, Captain America, Hawkeye and Dr. Strange. I have not kept tabs, but it seems to me that Marvel has been allowing their superheroes to appear in a lot of commercials and ads in the last couple of years. Again I cannot provide any statistics, but it seems that generally Captain America takes the prominent place in these ads. This is a little surprising since Spiderman should be more well know among the public due the success of the movies. I would think even someone like Wolverine would be better known to the public. Then again when I talk to non-comic people about Joe Simon I always mention him as one of Captain America’s creators. They always seem to know Cap. But perhaps it is not recognition that these ads are looking for. Perhaps it is trust and with Cap’s costume incorporating the American flag he probably represents trust more then any other superhero, including Superman. One other thing I have noticed is that although I see a lot of Cap in ads, I never see him alone. I wonder why that could be?

Byrne and Simon, An Unlikely Collaboration

Captain America Collector's Preview
Captain America Collectors’ Preview (March 1995)
by John Byrne and Joe Simon
Larger Image

In 1995 Marvel was going to do one of their periodic changes of direction for Captain America. So they produced a Collectors’ Preview. Although it included a reprint of a Simon and Kirby Cap story from All Winners #1, the Preview was not a comic book. Rather it was a comic book size magazine. That time was a good point in the relationship between Marvel Comics and Joe Simon. Joe’s first attempt at challenging the ownership of Captain America had been settled years before and his next copyright fight was years into the future. So the Preview announced “the return of Joe Simon”. Inside was a nice article showing Joe doing cover recreations for all the Captain America covers produced by Simon and Kirby for Timely. The photos are of Joe at work in his own apartment, the same one he still lives in. You might get the impression from the photographs of spacious living conditions. But I can tell you it is a typical New York apartment which I suspect most Americans would consider rather cramped. Joe’s stat camera did not help. A stat camera is a rather large device that once found common use in the publishing industry. In the days before copier machines (let alone scanners) stat cameras were used to cheaply reduce comic art to the actual publication size. In 1995 Joe was using it to blow up old comic covers. Eventually Joe got rid of this outdated camera and he now uses copiers. You would think this would help provide more room but Joe has three different copier/printers, each one having some preferred characteristic. Lately he has purchased a fourth but I have no idea where he is going to put it without loosing one from his collection.

Since in 1995 Marvel’s relationship with Simon was good and John Byrne was perhaps their hottest artist someone came up with the idea of John drawing the Collectors’ Preview cover and having Joe ink it. Despite my title to this post, it was not a real collaboration. John and Joe never met, nor did they even talk over the telephone. Joe was sent the pencils, he did a tracing and inked on that. The original pencil was sent back to Byrne. Joe had this to say about this job.

Inking John Byrne was easy. For Jack Kirby you had to developed your own way of inking. But with Bryne everything was already there.

During the Simon and Kirby years of collaboration Jack would provide tight pencils but without any of the spotting. On the other hand Byrne had not only provided tight pencils but also had indicated all the spotting. Actually in later years while working for Marvel where Kirby was providing pencils alone he also began to indicate spotting as well for the inker.

The Byrne and Simon art for the Collectors’ Preview was a wrap-around cover. The wrap-around was one format that Simon and Kirby never did. In fact the whole idea would have been ridiculous during the Silver Age or earlier. During those years comics were sold on racks and the whole purpose of covers were to attract a potential buyer’s attention. For that purpose anything on the back would be a complete waste of money. It would take the rise of a collector’s market before wrap-around covers would become more common. One might be tempted to compare such a cover format to the double page splash that Simon and Kirby did so well. But the wide splash worked as a story introduction a function that certainly does not fit the Preview cover as there was no Red Skull story inside. A better comparison would be to the double page pin-ups that S&K made for comics like Boys’ Ranch. I will not be doing a detailed comparison of the Preview cover with S&K wide pin-ups. It just would not be fair since there really is no comparison. After all there is a reason that this is the Simon and Kirby blog, not the John Byrne blog. Still John did a nice piece with lots of excitement. The composition is well done with the arms of the various characters visually linked into an oval. My biggest complaint is there is too much text cluttering the art. John seems to have designed the cover with the placing of the title in mind. But the rest of the text appears to be unplanned for. I suspect the clutter was not John’s fault.

Featured Cover, Wonderworld #14

Wonderworld #14
Wonderworld Comics #14 (June 1940) by Joe Simon (signed)

What makes a great comic book cover? Well many will say you need an artist capable of drawing realistic figures. Others desire intricate details and finely rendered lines. All that is well and good but for me what is needed more then anything else is a great story teller. You need someone like Joe Simon. As editor for Fox Comics Joe drew sixteen covers. Not a lot of covers but in my opinion if Joe had left comics then, never partnered with Jack Kirby, those sixteen covers alone would have entered him into the select group of the greatest golden age artists. As can be seen in the cover I am featuring for this post, Joe’s anatomy was often inaccurate. The Flame’s rib cage is much too short. Joe also had problems with form. The woman’s right bosom appears rather ample. That makes it surprising to find that even with the dress torn her left breast appears rather flat. A woman’s hair is also very important, at least for a comic cover from the 40’s. But Simon has problems in presenting curls and flowing hair. If that was all Joe had going for him this cover would have been a failure.

With a searing blast the Flame stopped the raging doctor

That is what the blurb in the lower left corner tells us. But who needs the blurb, the picture tells us all that and more. Because it is red, the villain’s clothing might not seem to belong in a laboratory. But look at the pair of scissors (or forceps?) in a pocket clearly designed for them. Obviously this is some sort of medical scientist. Mind you this is not a mild manner researcher. His gaze is intent on the woman. With one hand he reaches for her while with the other he swings a weapon. She maybe conscious at this moment but he intends that she will not be for long. And what a weapon our mad scientist has, a skull that he swings with (can that really be?) the former victim’s own hair (I bet you did not know that the hair is the last thing to detach from a decaying skull?). A skeptic might question what use would the scientist have for a beautiful woman. However anyone raising such an issue obviously is unaware that attractive young women have a long history of providing the essential ingredient for many nefarious elixirs. Hey, the eye of a newt may have been good enough for for a witch of yesteryear, but not for a modern scientific antagonist. Things would look bleak for our damsel in distress if not for the sudden appearance of the hero. Even if you are not familiar with the Flame, you can feel assured that whatever the hero has shot at his foe’s forehead has got to be effective. Once again the Flame has saved the day.

Rescuing a woman from a mad scientist was a common subject for Simon Fox covers. I have previously posted Fantastic #7 and Wonderworld #13. For WC #14 Joe has whittled the theme down to its bare essentials. The background is nothing more then a blue field. We are only provided with a few pieces of scientific apparatus to indicate that the action is taking place in a laboratory. Most of the objects have been given shades of purple. Therefore the apparatus blends with the blue background so as not to distract from the figures done largely in red, yellow and green. The only exception is the gas canister on the right which balances off nicely with the yellow of the Flame’s uniform on the left. Above, under the comics title are just the outline drawing of the gun’s flame and more equipment. This was really a smart compromise. If fully colored the upper drawing would have distracted from the title. However if the lines had been eliminated the top would have been much too plain. Joe may or man not have done the color guide, but if he did not as editor he likely have provided guidance. In any case the total design is well done.

I do not know much about the origin of the Flame. But the story inside shows him appearing out of fire such as from a criminal’s match. In a few months Simon and Kirby would create a character call the Vision for Timely. The Vision would appear out of smoke. What a surprising coincidence!

Kirby Or Not, Young Romance #84

Young Romance #84
Young Romance #84 (October 1956)

The Jack Kirby Checklist does not include the cover for Young Romance #84 among works by this artist. Unlike my previous post on YR #85 in this case I can understand why. The woman has an angular face which is not typical of Jack’s work. The man’s face is of no help because it is almost completely hidden. But the man’s overly large ear is one clue. In earlier years, particularly while working for DC, Jack always seemed to make large ears for heads viewed from the back. Later Kirby seemed to make a conscious effort to correct this. But he would still slip into his old habit from time to time as in this cover. Another Kirby touch, although by no means unique to him, is the perspective view provided here. Jack was the master of the use of perspective. But for me it is the couple looking up on the left that provides the best evidence that this cover was penciled by Kirby. Despite their small size, or perhaps because of it, they seem to be classic examples of Jack’s distinctive background figures.

YR #84 was one of the comics from the period where Kirby was doing almost the entire comics for all the Prize romances. Previously in “The End of Simon & Kirby” I posted on this period. In that blog post I commented that some of the outline inking in these all Kirby romances seems to have been done by Bill Draut. Although it is difficult to be sure, I suspect Bill may also have done outline inking for the YR #84 cover. The simplicity of the woman’s eyebrows reminds me of Draut. I hasten to add that woman’s face it not due to Bill. Although not typical of Kirby, the woman is even less typical of Draut. In particular Bill preferred much longer eyebrows. The spot inking for this cover was not done in Bill’s own manner either. Most of the spot inking for the all Kirby romances seems to have been done by Jack himself and I think that is true for this cover as well. Inking for the all Kirby romances ranges from the exceptionally beautiful to the rather poor. My suspicion is that with all the work Jack was doing sometimes he was quite rushed and the inking would therefore either suffer or be minimal. The inking for YR #84 is an example of a job done well but with limited amounts of spotting.

The main part of the story depicted on the covers is pretty obvious, the ladder indicates that the man and woman are about to elope. I am less clear about the part played by the couple on the left. With the bags in front of them it is certain that they are not just on lookers. Either this is going to be a double marriage (the bags are theirs) or they are going as witnesses (the bags belong to the foreground couple). In either case the car that will be used to take them all away is parked behind them. Like most Simon and Kirby covers this one is carefully crafted. But it is constructed to best tell the story, not to be the equivalent of a snapshot. The ladder the man is on is way to far to the right of the window. It is hard to believe that the woman could safely transfer to the ladder. But placing the ladder correctly in relationship to the window would mean the man would also be moved more to our left. This would be disastrous to the composition, all the figures would be on one side of the cover while the other would be pretty much bare. Correcting the ladder placement would also mean covering the background couple and hurt the story that the cover is meant to tell.

Not Joe Simon, Daring Adventures #11 and #17

Daring Adventures #17
Daring Adventures #17 (1964) by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito?

I guess one theme of this post, at least for me, is what was I thinking? When I did my original serial post on the Art of Joe Simon, I stated that I believed Joe did the covers for Daring Adventure #10 to #17. At that time I had only seen (and restored) the cover to DA #15, but Joe had also included DA #16 in his book “The Comic Book Makers”. But I had only seen DA #9, 10, 11, 12, 17 and 18 on GCD. The images they provide are not the highest quality (it would almost seem they have a policy of excluding restored covers). Apparently I could see enough to exclude #9 and 18 from being Joe’s work. But for some reason I thought that #10, 11 and 17 might be, I just cannot remember what that reason was. After I had a chance to restore DA #12 and 16 I posted that I no longer sure that #11 and 17 were by Joe but that I wanted think about it some more (apparently I had already excluded DA #10). Well I thought some more, but I can really find nothing in DA #11 or 17 to suggest that they were Simon’s creations.

I decided to restore DA #17 anyway as I thought it might make an interesting comparison to Joe’s work at that time. Similar comparisons could be made to DA #11. The GCD attributes both of these covers to penciling by Ross Andru and inking by Mike Esposito. I am familiar with Andru’s romance work during the 50’s because some of it appeared in the Prize comics that Simon and Kirby produced. I am not knowledgeable about Andru’s later or superhero work. So I have used the GCD attribution above, with a question mark not because I think it is wrong but because I just do not know enough to make a judgment. In the rest of this post I will assume the pencil artist really was Andru. I would greatly appreciate it if there is anyone reading this who feels they are familiar enough with Ross Andru’s work to give an opinion.

Daring Adventures #17
Daring Adventures #17 “Riddle of Toys” (reprint) by Mac Raboy
Larger Image

The first think that strikes one about DA #17 compared to Simon’s DA covers it how good the figure drawing is in DA #17. It is not that Joe is a bad figure artist, it is just that at least here Andru seems so much better. Really nice form and although the anatomy is not completely accurate the short comings really do not distract from overall affect, quite the contrary. It is a bit hard to imagine a real figure under Falstaff’s cloths. The legs are too widely separated and there does not seem to be enough room in the torso for both hips and chests. But to me these are really not truly “errors”. With these sort of distortions Ross has presented a truly marvelous and intimidating villain. Although the cover Falstaff is clearly based on the character for the reprinted story inside the comic, the Andru has created an even better version. That is no small compliment because the story was drawn by Mac Raboy, one of the greatest of the golden age artists. The Green Lama is not quite as impressive but his slimmer figure is appropriate for this particular hero. There is one unfortunate change, the Green Lama’s original hood has been modified to a face mask. That by itself is not so bad, but Ross leaves the back of the hood as a small bump which gives the hero a rather ridiculous look.

Although based on this cover I would believe that Andru was a better figure drawer then Simon, when it comes to the composition or design of the cover the reverse is true. There are some rare exceptions, but in general Joe does an very good job of laying out his covers. In DA #17 notice how all the toys in the background are scattered around the the main characters. Although this “clutter” might be more realistic, it detracts from the antagonists and the story the cover is trying to present. Joe seems much more sensitive to where he places secondary features and he makes sure that the action is well placed. Raboy’s splash shows how this could be done. Notice how the toys almost ring about villains while the Green Lama flies in as if toward a target. With all the toys you would think the image should be cluttered, but with careful arrangement it not only do the toys not detract but actually direct the eye.

As I mentioned above, Falstaff by himself is a well done threatening villain. But the pose adopted by the Green Lama is rather unfortunate. Because of him I always feel the two are dancing rather then about to enter a fight. What is the hero supposed to be doing? Whatever it is meant to be, it just is not properly done. Again this is the sort of mistake that you rarely see Joe Simon fall into.