Tag Archives: Justice Traps the Guilty

A Small Mystery Solved

Justice Traps the Guilty #60A (March 1954) pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

There are many mysteries to be found in the history of comic books. Most are small mysteries, the type that might interest only a handful of fans, but they are mysteries nonetheless. One that has puzzled me over the years is the Justice Traps the Guilty #60A issue. Why #60A and not just #60? Like I said, a small puzzle of that might concern only to the few fans that have an interest in the crime comics published by Prize Comics.

Justice Traps the Guilty #58 (January 1954) pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

JTTG issue #58 was dated January 1954. At the time JTTG was a monthly and therefore March 1954 was the proper month for issue #60, so again why the ‘A’? Prize also used volume numbering to identify their issues. JTTG #58 was volume 7 number 4 and JTTG #60A was volume 7 number 6. So JTTG #59 would expected to be volume 7 number 5 and dated February 1954.

Justice Traps the Guilty #60 (February 1954) pencils and inks by Marvin Stein

However I never saw a copy of JTTG #59 and, as it turns out, with good reason. When I finally found a JTTG dated as February 1954 is was issue #60 (without the ‘A’). The volume numbering was just as expected (volume 7 number 5) but it was not the expected issue #59. Apparently when the February comic was created it was mistakingly marked as issue #60. This error was recognized and corrected by assigning the March comic as #60A. That way all subsequent issues would be correctly numbered.

Yes it was a very small mystery indeed but I was still glad to find the solution. It also allowed me to complete the checklist to Justice Traps the Guilty.

Criminal Artists, Chapter 2, Mort Meskin

This is the second of my post of the various artists who worked in the Prize crime titles Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty after they were no longer produced by Simon and Kirby. In the previous chapter I wrote about Marvin Stein who was the dominant artist for these crime titles. Now I will review the crime art by Mort Meskin, the second most used artist. Meskin provide art from 1950 to 1955 and while he does not appear in every issue from that timeline he does appear in most. Mort is one of the forgotten masters of the comic book art form. Hopefully Steven Brower’s upcoming book, “From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin”, may help to correct this undeserved neglect.

There are a number of reasons to explain Meskin’s neglect by today’s fans. Perhaps the most pressing is the current emphasis on superheroes. Meskin did some great superhero work but it was older work on heroes that no longer play much of a part in modern comics; the Vigilante and Johnny Quick. The original comics are very expensive and little of Meskin’s war time work have been reprinted. Most of today’s fans have never had much of a chance to see Mort’s superhero work. The only superhero work that Meskin penciled for Simon and Kirby was on Captain 3-D and that was never published (Captain 3-D #2 ). Most of Meskin’s art done in the 50’s was for romance. The romance genre is probably the most underrated one for today’s fans. This unfortunate because Mort really showed his skills as a graphic story teller. Those skills, however, were still evident in his work for the Prize crime titles with the additional benefit or more action and drama.

Headline #43
Headline #43 (September 1950), “Our Swords Will Find You”, art by Mort Meskin

Mort Meskin had initially provided work for the Prize crime titles in 1948 but that was in collaboration with Jerry Robinson. Meskin returned to the Simon and Kirby studio by himself in 1950 at which time Simon and Kirby were still producing the crime titles. By this time Simon and Kirby had toned down the violence in the crime titles to a level that would continue even after they stopped producing the titles. Even though the stories lacked the violence found in crime comics by other publishers, they still are enjoyable to read.

It appears that Meskin did most of the inking of his own pencils for the Prize crime comics (I think this is true for the romance titles as well). In the earlier issues Mort’s inks give the art an overall dark look. Not surprisingly this works out particularly well for night scenes such as in the splash for “Our Swords Will Find You”. Years before the first stalker movies, Meskin provides all the essential elements. A beautiful girl alone in the night pursued by a mysterious knife holding figure which in this case is scene only through the shadow he casts on the wall.

Justice Traps the Guilty #28
Justice Traps the Guilty #28 (July 1951), “Foto Frame-Up”, art by Mort Meskin

Another example of the darker inking initially used by Meskin for his crime stories. Even though the clothing folds are thick and dark, it can still be seen that they were constructed from long sweeping but narrow brush strokes. This is typical of Meskin inking. However it should be used with caution for inking attribution because unlike Jack Kirby, Mort would include spotting in his pencils. In this case it is accompanied by some other typical Meskin inking techniques. For instance note the way that the shadow on the man’s shoulder has a distinct border strip and is not completed filled with ink but rather formed by thick black strokes separated with narrow spaces.

Here Meskin uses a vertical splash; a format that he seemed particularly fond of. Still most of the time Mort uses a horizontal 2/3 page splash like most of the artists did in Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty. Full page splashes did not appear in the Prize crime comics after Simon and Kirby stopped producing them.

Justice Traps the Guilty #57
Justice Traps the Guilty #57 (December 1953), “The Tri-State Terror”, art by Mort Meskin

“The Tri-State Terror” is perhaps one of Meskin’s finest splashes from the crime titles. The G-Men are not shown but hopefully are sheltered from the blistering attach by the two criminals. The near distance view highlights the defiance of the one hood and the casual determination of the other. These two seem determined not to be taken. Our focus is concentrated by the careful use of blacks.

Justice Traps the Guilty #39
Justice Traps the Guilty #39 (June 1952), “Terror”, art by Mort Meskin

Close-ups did not play as important part of Mort Meskin’s art as they did for artists such as Marvin Stein. Still he did make effective use of this device from time to time. This splash is a good example. This close-up of a fleeing man may seem more stylized than some other artists but it still is a gripping portrait of a man filled with fear. Hiding the faces of his pursuers in shadow makes them mysterious and heightens the effect.

Justice Traps the Guilty #54
Justice Traps the Guilty #54 (September 1953), “Fatal Mistake” page 3, art by Mort Meskin

The page I selected from “Fatal Mistake” provides another example of Meskin’s use of a close-up. I particularly like the sequence for the top row of panels. Mort goes from a more distant shot, to just the upper body, and then finally just the face while simultaneously rotating the view point. This all plays into the story line that starts with a declaration of reluctance by the loan officer, to a admittedly unfavorable offer and finally to blatant arm twisting. Thus both the art and the writing are increasingly revealing the character of the loan officer.

Justice Traps the Guilty #41
Justice Traps the Guilty #41 (August 1952), “No Place To Hide” page 6, art by Mort Meskin

Crime stories are very different from ones about superheroes but at least they provide more opportunities for the use of action than the romance genre. Mort does not do the sort of choreography (for lack of a appropriate term) that Marvin Stein used but he does make careful use a shifting viewpoints. Note how the pursuer appears in the foreground in the first panel, switches to the criminal in the third, only to have the rolls repeated switch in the fourth, fifth and sixth panels. The distance between the two varies as the sequence proceeds as well; starting with a greater separation, working up the close confrontation in panel four then the separation between the two increases again until panel six.

Headline #72
Headline #72 (July 1955), “My Beat” page 2, art by Mort Meskin

Another action sequence starting with a panel that would have been right at home in Young Romance. Note how once again the foreground/background relation between the cop and the muggers keeps alternating with the exception of the final panel. Also how the viewing distance goes from a more distant one, to two close-ups than moves back again. Meskin handles the action so well that I am sure most readers did not notice a logical inconsistency. After showing the cop’s hat flying off his head in panel five, how did it manage to return to being firmly attached in the last two panels? The lose of the hat in panel five is required to show the strength of the impact of the youth’s fist but is a required part of the cop’s “costume” allowing him to be easily identified in the group shots in panels six and seven. What is required for the clear graphical presentation of the story sometimes outweighs the needs of logic.

Justice Traps the Guilty #56
Justice Traps the Guilty #56 (November 1953), “Side-Liner” page 5, art by Mort Meskin

I cannot resist providing another example of Meskin’s graphical story telling talent. Meskin draws in a very stylized manner that perhaps causes many of today’s comic book fans to overlook his other skills. But other artists did notice and were influenced by Meskin. Steve Ditko is probably the most famous of those paid close attention to Mort Meskin.

Justice Traps the Guilty #62
Justice Traps the Guilty #62 (May 1954), “The Last Leap”, art by Mort Meskin

There seemed to have been a move of some sorts in Simon and Kirby productions of 1953 to modify the splash from its tradition roll as the equivalent of a movie trailer. Instead the splash would actually become part of the story. This only lasted about a year in Simon and Kirby comics but this device would turn up from time to time afterwards even in comics not produced by S&K. Was this an artist’s choice or something dictated by the writer? Unfortunately we have no scripts for Prize comics from this period and I do not care to guess at the answer. Still Meskin makes effective use of the device. The splash panel is certainly a classic but the page is made even better by the subsequent panels. What a exciting start of a story! Note the tilted view in the final two panels. I am not sure when Meskin started to regularly use this device but it became an important element in his story telling technique in his later years.

Justice Traps the Guilty #72
Justice Traps the Guilty #72 (March 1955), “The Saucer Man”, art by Mort Meskin

As mentioned above, after the war Mort Meskin did not have many occasions to draw superhero stories. Features like “The Saucer Man” provide some hints about what such superhero stories might have looked like. Although from late in his career, in this story Mort has reverted to the darker inking style that predominated his earlier work.

Justice Traps the Guilty #45
Justice Traps the Guilty #45 (December 1952), “Embezzlement”, pencils by Mort Meskin, inks by George Roussos

As a rule an artist has an advantage when inking his own pencils. Still examples of Meskin inking Jack Kirby (Kirby Inkers, Mort Meskin ) show that Mort was a talented inker. Meskin generally inked his own work in the 50’s but there were occasional exceptions. In most cases where the inking was not done by Meskin it was George Roussos who did it. Frankly I am not a fan of Roussos’s inking. I feel it is a little too sloppy. However George’s use of full blacks were often quite nice as in the splash for “Embezzlement”.

Criminal Artists, Chapter 1, Marvin Stein


It was always my intention to finish the serial post “It’s a Crime” by covering the Prize crime titles during the period when they were no longer produced by Simon and Kirby. My reluctance to continue may have been in part due to how inappropriate it seemed to review the material as a series of sequential time periods as I had been doing previously. Unlike what was seen in the Simon and Kirby produced crime titles, the later issues did not change that much over most of their runs. Much of the consistency of the crime comics was due to the presence of one single artist providing most of the covers and lead stories. So I have decided to end my original serial post and start a new one. In this one I will be covering the crime titles Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty from March 1951 to April 1958 (cover dates) but by devoting a separate chapter to different artists.

When Joe Simon and Jack Kirby started producing crime comics for Prize the stories were rather strong. Gun battles with lots of bullets and pools of blood were not uncommon. I do not believe they went as far as some publishers but still it was pretty violent stuff. At that same time there was a vocal oppositions to comics, particularly the crime ones. I am sure that it was because of this public criticism that Simon and Kirby began to tone down the violence. There were still gun shootouts but little if any blood. These less violent crime stories continued even after Simon and Kirby stopped producing the titles. I am sure this is why comic book fandom has pretty much forgotten about the later Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty comics. However I am not sure this is justified. The stories are well written and while the artists are not well known today many of them did really nice jobs. The most detracting thing I can say about them is that there are so many issues and as I said above they all looked pretty much the same. An analogy (which I am sure some readers will reject) can be found with Marvel monster stories. Good reads but I doubt anyone would read through them all without occasionally taking a break with some other genre.

Marvin Stein

The first artist for this serial post had to be, just had to be, Marvin Stein. The Prize crime titles were virtually defined by his presence. Marvin did all the non-photographic covers for Headline that were not done by Jack Kirby (issues #46 to #77, March 1951 to September 1956). This is almost true for Justice Traps the Guilty (issues #20 and #24 to #88, November 1950 and March 1951 to August 1957). Only the covers for the last 4 issues of JTTG were done by someone else. Similarly Stein generally provided the first (lead) story. Unfortunately I am still uncertain about identifying some of Stein’s earlier work. There are a few early lead stories that may or may not be attributable to Stein. There is at least two that were definitely not done by Marvin. But before long Stein would take over the lead story and keep it. Up until the end of Headline and to issue #89 of Justice Traps the Guilty. And while some other artist did the lead story for JTTG #90 he imitated Marvin Stein! Not only was Marvin the cover and lead artist, many issues had a second story by him as well. Even after he was no longer the lead artist, each JTTG would have a story done by Stein up to the very last issue (#92, April 1958).

Justice Traps the Guilty #14
Justice Traps the Guilty #14 (February 1950) “Knockout Racket”, art by Marvin Stein?

The earliest work for Prize Comics signed by Marvin Stein was in JTTG #22 (January 1951). Although unsigned, the cover for JTTG #20 (November 1950) was almost certainly done by Stein as well. There are a number of earlier pieces whose attribution to Marvin becomes progressively more difficult and uncertain. One thing is clear is that Stein did not arrive at the Simon and Kirby studio with his mature style. “Knockout Racket” is the earliest lead story that I am comfortable to even questionably assign to Stein. But it is tentative; perhaps the only thing on the page shown above that I can point to that suggests Stein’s mature style are the eyes of the lady in splash. The first page shows a device often used by Simon and Kirby for their romance stories, the confessional splash. This is a format where a character in the splash introduces the story and where the speech balloon contains the title. All of Stein’s lead stories use a confessional splash while those other early lead stories by other artists did not. However I am not prepared to assign all lead stories with confessional splashes to Marvin.

Justice Traps the Guilty #27
Justice Traps the Guilty #27 (June 1951) “Sky Smugglers”, art by Marvin Stein

Marvin Stein was still far from his mature style when he did “Sky Smugglers”. Although unsigned, as most of his crime stories were, there are enough examples of typical Stein traits to leave no doubt that this was his work. One trait in particular to note is the shadow that trails down the right side of the face for the man in the splash. Normally comic book artists draw shadows that originate from a single light source but in this face Stein is using two light sources; a prominent one from the front a little to our right and a secondary one further back and from the left. The shadow exists in the region not fully illuminated by either of these light sources. I refer to this type of shadow as a negative highlight. Marvin would use this technique often and in the future would even move the shadow towards the center of the face. Negative highlights are something I have not noticed used by Kirby or any other artist working for the studio. However this device was also used by Wally Wood from whom I suspect Stein picked it up.

Justice Traps the Guilty #38
Justice Traps the Guilty #38 (May 1952), art by Marvin Stein

Stein had arrived at his mature style by 1952 and the cover for JTTG #38 is a good example of that style. Stein was comfortable with action but handled it in his own manner. His characters would throw a punch with a rather forward motion unlike the more rotational manner Kirby would use. While he lacked Kirby’s exaggerated perspective, Stein still had good command of perspective and used it well in establishing a point of view. He seemed to have picked up Kirby’s penchant for flat edged fingers. Stein developed a simplified drawing for more distant faces in a manner that was distinctly his own. Marvin inked with a rather blunt brush which can easily be mistaken for crude inking but is actually rather nuanced. Note the inking on the gymnasium equipment at the bottom center; Stein would often use this sort of rice kernel pattern for inking shadows.

Justice Traps the Guilty #46
Justice Traps the Guilty #46 (January 1953), art by Marvin Stein

The romance, western and crime genre that Stein most often drew generally did not provide much opportunity to depict the human body. Examples such as this boxing scene show that Marvin could do a real good job. I do not know if he was working from some reference material but it still is a very respectable piece.

Justice Traps the Guilty #42
Justice Traps the Guilty #42 (September 1952) “Scandal Sheet Shakedown” page 9, art by Marvin Stein

Stein’s depiction of men improved more rapidly than that of his women. The lady in the first panel still retains some of the artificially arched eyebrows found in Stein’s earlier work. The same lady in panel 3 seems more realistic. It is just me or does she somewhat resemble Jack Kirby’s work? I think this is most likely a case of Kirby influencing Stein. Observe how Stein’s rather blunt brush still manages his characters with individuality and expressiveness. I particular like Marvin’s work on the three thugs in panel 5. Each has his own distinct personality.

Also note Stein’s manipulation of the point of view. Starting with a close-up to establish the main characters before moving to a more distance shot to place them on the street. Then another close-up is followed by what looks like yet one more but actually introduces a group of secondary characters in the background. Stein then makes a large jump in the viewpoint placing the thugs in the foreground and the main characters in the distant back. As we will see Marvin Stein very carefully controls viewpoint and pacing.

Justice Traps the Guilty #68
Justice Traps the Guilty #68 (November 1954) “Not Fit for Duty” page 6, art by Marvin Stein

I admit that I am searching for a word to use for describing a technique Stein frequently uses. For now I will use choreography for the way that Stein would sometimes arrange panels into a short time interval sequence, but I admit it is not the best term for my purpose. But note how in the first five panels shows the policeman’s capture of a thug. Not only does each panel only advance the time by a small amount but look how Marvin brings the action closer and closer to the reader.

I have mentioned Stein’s blunt brush but look how masterfully he has captured the older cop in the last panel!

Justice Traps the Guilty #84
Justice Traps the Guilty #84 (December 1956) “Stakeout” page 3, art by Marvin Stein

Another choreographed sequence occupies the entire page although perhaps not as successful as the previous example. This might have been at least in part due to the Comic Code’s restriction on the depiction of violence. The more distant viewpoints may have satisfied the Comic Code but the also lessened the impact.

Justice Traps the Guilty #70
Justice Traps the Guilty #70 (January 1955) “Feud” page 8, art by Marvin Stein

Here is another choreographed sequence that is still successful despite the Comic Code. By keeping the thug outside of the viewpoint we do not actually see the results of the cop’s use of his machine gun but there can be little doubt about it’s effectiveness.

Justice Traps the Guilty #75
Justice Traps the Guilty #75 (June 1955) “Tragic Circle” page 7

A final example of a choreographed sequence by Stein. But again ruined by the Comic Code. Any child could see gun fights by gangsters or cowboys on the television and in the movies but for some reason the Comic Code had to protect them from seeing someone being struck by a bullet. Without the accompanying text the reader would be left perplexed by the killer’s sudden collapse.

Despite the Comic Code this is still a great page. Further it is a good example of the way Stein often used blacks to enhance the story. While not realistic in the technical sense of the word, the eye isolated in the killer’s shadowed half of the face seems appropriate as he takes aim (panel 4). Even the industrial ceiling adds interest to the images.

Justice Traps the Guilty #53
Justice Traps the Guilty #53 (v.6, n.11) August 1953 “The Wreckers”, art by Marvin Stein

Some of Stein’s more simpler splashes are actually very strong. Here we have nothing more than a talking head and a simple background. But the person’s clothing and the bars on the window indicate we are being addressed to by a prisoner. Once again Marvin is using a rather blunt brush but notice how masterly he handles the nuances that make this portrait so successful. Here also is an example of Stein’s use of a negative shadow. In fact much of the interest of this head shot is generated by this deceptively simple device. The colorist makes it even better by giving the farther portions of the face a purple color showing one of the two light sources as being more powerful than the other. Typically Marvin makes the depth of the head too shallow but far from detracting from the image this makes it all the more expressive. The lack of a good distinction between the eyebrow and the associated shadows is another of Stein’s mannerisms one that sometimes even appears when he inks Jack Kirby’s pencils.

Headline #60
Headline #60 (July 1953) “Finger Man”, art by Marvin Stein

Here Marvin Stein provides an even more stripped down version of a prisoner in a confessional splash. The image may be simpler but with nothing lost in it’s impact. In fact I believe this is perhaps the best portrayal of a criminal by a comic book artists I have ever seen. The reader has no doubt that he is being addressed to by a hardened individual. An important contributor to the effect of this image is the strong negative highlights. No longer delegated to one side, here the shadow traces a path down the center of the face.

Before closing I should mention the influence of Jack Kirby on Marvin Stein. I am not that familiar with Stein’s earlier career but he seemed to have had 5 to 7 years experience when he arrived at the Simon and Kirby studio. Marvin was one of the few artists that actually worked in the studio (at least for a period) and the presence there of comic book greats Jack Kirby and Mort Meskin had to have made an impression on him. His artwork certainly seemed to blossom over a relatively short time. Kirby seemed to have the greatest influence on Stein. It does not seem an accident that Stein’s use of point of view, carefully sequenced panels, and action became so important to his art. These same qualities can be found in Kirby’s own work. However Stein is not a Kirby imitator; he developed his own drawing style and methods for graphically telling stories. Still from time to time some have claimed that Kirby provided layouts for some of Stein’s work. I even succumbed to that error (It’s a Crime, The Master and His Protégé). The problem with this claim of Kirby layouts is that Stein’s work consistently shows the same characteristics throughout his career. If Kirby was helping this would have to have been for everything Stein did including work done after the Simon and Kirby studio had broken up. In addition Stein’s art included elements for handling action was generally quite distinctive from Kirby’s. I think we can safely dismiss all claims of significant Kirby help except for his roll as a mentor.

Marvin Stein is one of those forgotten comic book artists. When remembered at all it is for his being one of Jack Kirby’s inkers. Partly this is because Marvin Stein’s work was largely for two titles for Prize, a small publisher (Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty). But Stein did work on other Prize titles and for other publishers as well including Atlas. I think another reasons for his neglect among comic fans was the distortions his figures often exhibit. From certain views his heads seem too shallow. When using a high viewpoint his heads have a distortion that is hard to describe but so typical of Stein. These distortions were not so visible in Marvin’s earlier work and seemed to become more pronounced over the years. But I do not considered academic accuracy a requirement for comic book art, quite the contrary. I have come to appreciate Stein’s distortions and the expressionistic quality they gave to his art. I will say that while Marvin’s drawing style worked well with the crime and western genre it seemed a poor match for romance stories. The final factor in the decline of Stein’s reputation was his inking. Stein’s inking looks deceptively simple. It certainly does not offer much for those that are fans of detailed and intricate art work. However I hope that some of the examples I have provided in this post will show that his brushwork was capable of great subtleties. While some have claimed Stein’s work looks rushed I think a more accurate description would be economical. Stein carefully provided the essentials for the story and left out that which he considered extraneous. It is an approach that I admire.

It’s A Crime, Chapter 11, The New Team

(Justice Traps the Guilty #13 – #23, Headline #39 – #45)

This chapter will continue the coverage of the Prize crime comics from the period December 1949 through February 1951. In the last chapter I discussed the work of Jack Kirby and Marvin Stein; this post will be concerned with some of the other artists.

Justice Traps the Guilty #17 (August 1950) “The Statue Screams”, art by Mort Meskin

While most artists associated with Simon and Kirby productions were no longer found in the Prize crime titles there are a couple of glaring exceptions. Probably the most significant artist to jointly work the crime and S&K titles was Mort Meskin. At this point Meskin had become the second most used artist for Simon and Kirby productions (Jack Kirby retained the first place position although that would not always be true in the future). Even though Kirby’s presence in Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty had greatly diminished, Mort still did not achieve the status of primary artist in those titles; he never provided a cover nor did he ever do any lead story. Still he became a frequent contributor appearing in most crime comics and sometimes showed up twice in a single issue.

The crime titles provided Meskin with more opportunities for the depiction of action then the romance art that dominated his work for Simon and Kirby. Not that the diminished use of violence hindered Mort for those occasions when he was to draw it. However Meskin’s Prize comic work had greater similarities to his romance work then it did to the hero genre stories he had previously done such as the Vigilante.

Justice Traps the Guilty #18 (September 1950) “The Way to Prison”, art by John Severin

John Severin also did art for both the crime and romance titles during this period. John is probably best known for his western and war genre comic book work. He may not have done that much crime stories for Prize, but they are very well done (I wish I could say the same thing about his S&K romance art). Not a criticism against Severin, because the same thing can be found in much of the crime comics from the 50’s, but note how well dressed the stick-up criminals are!

Headline #42 (July 1950) “Jewels of Death”, art by George Gregg

George Gregg is not in the same category as Meskin or Severin. While he previously had provided some work for the Simon and Kirby romance titles during the period covered in this chapter that was no longer the case but he would supply a small number of stories for the crime titles. “Jewels of Death” is not most typical of Gregg’s work but I still think that is the correct attribution. But what a great splash! Gregg’s females generally are rather stiff but not this native beauty. While the Prize crime titles are really pretty tame stuff by this time, they still could be quite suggestive (“we have ways of inspiring speech”).

Headline #40 (March 1950) “Counterfeit Winners”, art by Mart Bailey

I have discussed Mart Bailey previously in Prize Comics Western, a Rough History. For about a year and a half he was the primary artist for that western title. He was originally brought in to draw the movie adaptations that PCW featured when they switched to photographic covers. He remained the principal artist until the photographic covers were dropped at which point John Severin became the principal artist for the title. However Bailey continued to provide backup stories. Mart was not as important an artist in the crime titles but he did draw a number of backup stories but he never provided any art for any Simon and Kirby production. Bailey drew in a realistic style which was probably why he was used for the movie adaptations in PCW. While his art is technically fine it is a bit dry for my tastes.

Headline #45 (January 1951) “Penny Shakedown”, art by unidentified artist

There are a number of artists appearing in Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty during this period that I have not been able to identify. Frankly in most cases it is not a big loss as their art work is really not that great. However there is one story, “Penny Shakedown”, that I wish I could provide an attribution. This story is certainly one of the best from the Prize crime titles during this period. Note how in the splash panel the woman is speaking to the reader, Simon and Kirby often used this type of confessional splash design.

Headline #45 (January 1951) “Penny Shakedown” page 8, art by unidentified artist

This story is so good that I once suspected that Kirby supplied layouts. However the “cinematic” approach is not quite the same as Kirby’s. For instance in one panel the artist uses a very low viewing angle of a crowded sidewalk where the foreground consists of mostly legs and the arrest of a criminal is almost lost in the background. Not the sort of thing Jack would do.

This period, from October 1949 until January 1951, is the one that I am most uncertain about. It is clear that previously Simon and Kirby produced the Prize crime comics; basically the same artists were used in both the crime and romance titles. During this period, however, only a few artists worked both genres. Kirby did some cover art and probably provided a layout for one story. Both Mort Meskin and John Severin drew stories for both crime and romance. On the other hand, Mart Bailey was a significant presence in the crime titles and Prize Comics Western but never did any romance stories for Joe and Jack. At this time the first story of both Young Romance and Young Love always had a “produced by Simon and Kirby” credit but that cartouche never appeared in Headline or Justice Traps the Guilty. This despite Simon and Kirby’s long history of self promotion. While it may never be possible to say with certainty, in my opinion Joe and Jack were no longer producing the Prize crime titles during this period.

Whatever the reason for the changes in Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty, is was not due to poor sales. While I have no figures on the number of copies sold there are clear indications Prize was still making good money on these two titles. Why else would Justice Trap the Guilty go from a bimonthly to a monthly publication schedule with issue #18 (September 1950)? While Headline would never become a monthly, JTTG remained one until September 1955.

Chapter 1, Promoting Crime
Chapter 2, A Revitalized Title
Chapter 3, Competing Against Themselves
Chapter 4, Crime Gets Real
Chapter 5, Making a Commitment
Chapter 6, Forgotten Artists
Chapter 7, A Studio With Many Artists
Chapter 8, The Chinese Detective
Chapter 9, Not The Same
Chapter 10, The Master and His Protege