Tag Archives: police trap

Police Trap #6

Police Trap #5 (July 1955) was the first issue published by Charlton. It appears to be composed largely of work that was already in the work at the time of the sudden failure of Simon and Kirby’s own publishing company, Mainline. It would expected most of that work would be used up and Police Trap #6 would consists of newly created work. All of the work on issue #6 was drawn by Jack Kirby. Previously Kirby’s involvement was largely limited to providing covers with the only Kirby story appearing in Police Trap #5. Jack’s greater presence can be explained as a means of offsetting recent financial loses. The cost of creating the Mainline comics was covered by Simon and Kirby to be paid back by a share of the profits. However with the sudden demise of Leader News Joe and Jack would not get the money to recover their publication costs. Their incomes from Prize Comics were based on a share of the profits but with all the negative public criticism against comic books those royalties were probably down as well. By providing all the art for Police Trap #6, Kirby probably hoped to decrease the production costs, increase sales (and therefore his share of the profits) but also be paid as the artist as well.


Police Trap #6 (July 1955), pencils by Jack Kirby

The cover of Police Trap #6 is another less than spectacular piece of art. But it is interesting as a rare example of Kirby swiping from another comic book artist, in this case Marvin Stein. This is not a close copy, Kirby did not need any help in how to draw figures. Rather it is the unusual idea that Kirby picked up, that of counterfeiter’s being candidly filmed by the police. I had previously written about this swipe (A Criminal Swipe) where I provided an image of the Stein cover that Kirby swiped. In that post I offered the possibility that it was actually Stein that swiped from Kirby and that this cover was an unused piece left over from Simon and Kirby’s earlier efforts in the crime genre from 1947 to 1951). However I now consider this unlikely as the art for the Police Trap #6 cover does not seem to match
the style used during the earlier period.


Police Trap #6 (July 1955) “The Amateur”, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Mort Meskin

As mentioned above, Jack Kirby drew all the art for this issue which makes Police Trap #6 a special comic. Needless to say the art is all well done. Kirby had a flair for graphically telling a story. Note the short sequence of story panels at the bottom of the splash page. It starts out typically enough but then proceeds to two panels with captions or speech balloons. Text was not required to explain the story and in fact the lack of text makes the panels even more effective.

Police Trap #6 is also special in that all the art was inked by the same artist. I’ll explain why I think this inker was Mort Meskin below where his hand is even more obvious but here I will discuss why I believe it was not either Simon or Kirby that did the inking. Normally that might not be too difficult to determine because both Jack and Joe were much better inkers than many of the other artists they used to ink Kirby’s pencils. Here, however, we have a great inking job. Not only that but it is done in what I describe as the Studio style. On this page (and others in this book) can be found shoulder blots, picket fence crosshatching and abstract arc shadows (see my Inking Glossary for an explanation of the terms I am using). But note that the shoulder blots are not done in a manner typical for Simon and Kirby. They are less abstract and more apt to be broken up into pieces. The most glaring example of this is found in the man in the blue suite. There are other suggestions that this was not inked by either Simon or Kirby. Note the simple eyebrows even in the more close-up views provided in the splash panel.

It is unclear whether some of the typical Studio style techniques were done by the inker or instead were added by either Kirby or Simon afterwards. For example the abstract arc shadow in the first story panel is done in a very typical style. My suspicion is that the original inker provided these touches as well as they are so well integrated with the surrounding artwork. If this is true it is another indication on how well acquainted the inker was with techniques previously used in the now defunct Simon and Kirby studio.


Police Trap #6 (July 1955) “The Debt”, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Mort Meskin Albistur

The story panels for the first page of “The Debt” follows the same pattern as seen in “The Amateur”. First an introduction panel that quickly places the reader into the action followed by two panels without text that show how the action unfolded. The big difference between the two stories is that while “The Amateur” has a typical splash the splash found in “The Debt” is actually a story panel as well. While collaborating with Simon, Kirby worked from scripts created by various writers but which he would then customarily rewrite. It is unclear how much of the published story was rewritten but there are often phrases that sound very much like Kirby. But who can say whether the original writer originated these unusual textless story sequences or that Kirby rewrote them into the script.


Police Trap #6 (July 1955) “The $64 Question”, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Mort Meskin

The $64,000 Question was a popular game show in the 50’s and even today you occasionally here someone use that term a colloquialism for a significant question. However that show first appeared on television in June 1955 much too late to have influenced this story (whose creation start around February of that year). However there was an earlier game show that was on the radio from 1950 to 1952 that was actually called the $64 Question. Although it was off the air when this story was created I am sure that was that show that formed the genesis of this story’s title.


Police Trap #6 (July 1955) “Only The Guilty Run”, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Mort Meskin

All the stories in this issue were inked by the same artist. “Only The Guilty Run” is the story that most convincingly shows that this inker was Mort Meskin. Like all the other stories from this issue the inking was done in the Studio style. Most noticeable in the splash is his use of picket fence crosshatching. Of course other inkers used this technique most notably both Kirby and Simon. However Meskin executed picket fence crosshatching with an almost mechanical control compared to the more spontaneous use by Kirby or the more rougher brushwork by Simon. Observe how Meskin’s “rails” and “pickets” are almost consistent in width and the “rails” are placed to almost entirely contain the “pickets”. Other Meskin inking characteristics can be found in the simplified and often angular eyebrows particularly those of the escaping thief in the splash panel. Of course since credits were not provided inking attributions can never be given with absolute certainty but I am as confident as it is possible to be that this inking was by Mort Meskin.

While the art may convince me that Meskin was inking there Kirby pencils I am somewhat puzzled how this came about. While Mort had inked Jack’s work before, generally he was too busy penciling and inking his own work. There were exceptions to this most notably in Boys’ Ranch (1950 to 1951) and Captain 3-D (1953). However in 1954 he had started working for DC. Meskin still did some work for Simon and Kirby but this was largely limited to some covers and nowhere near his prolific output when the S&K studio was going strong. Yet here he is providing a lot of inking for a single issue (plus one Kirby story for the previous issue). Very perplexing.


Police Trap #6 (July 1955) “Third Degree”, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Mort Meskin

Despite the Comic Code all the stories from this issue are really quite good but I have to admit that I find “Third Degree” the least satisfying. The interrogation of the housewife by the burly police officer seems a bit forced. Still that story and all the others in this issue leaves one with a desire for another all Kirby crime comic. Unfortunately it was not to be, at least for some years (see Jack Kirby’s “In the Days of the Mob”) and never again with Joe Simon.

P.S.
I have had a comment about why I believe this inker was Mort Meskin and not Marvin Stein. For readers who also wonder about this I suggest checking my previous posts Kirby Inkers, Mort Meskin and Kirby Inkers, Marvin Stein.

Police Trap #5

Police Trap and the other Mainline titles had been distributed by Leader News. During this period there was a renew public protest about the contents of comic books. The publisher that attracted the greatest amount of negative criticism was probably EC and some newsstands refused to accept their comics. Unfortunately Leader News also distributed EC and the boycott lead to their eventual failure. Without a distributor this meant the end of Simon and Kirby’s publishing company as well. But work had already begun on the art for the unpublished issues of the Mainline comics so Joe and Jack looked for a publisher willing to take on the titles. They made a deal Charlton and after an addition two month delay Police Trap #5 finally made it to the newsstands. This was the first issue of Police Traps to be submitted to the new Comic Code Authority although I doubt there was much of a problem with getting approval.


Police Trap #5 (July 1955), pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

Compared to previous issue, the cover was not all that great. I cannot think of a Simon and Kirby cover that I would describe as poor but obviously some were better than others and this one was one of their poorest. I suspect that with the failure of Mainline and the search for a new publisher, Simon and Kirby just did not give the cover art as much attention as they previously would have.


Police Trap #5 (July 1955) “The Gun”, pencils and inks by Bill Draut

Bill Draut had drawn stories for Police Trap #1 and #3 so his presence here comes as no surprise. Draut provides “The Gun” with his usual well crafted art. However coming after his really great work on “Tough Beat” (Police Trap #3) this story can seem to be a bit of a let down. Due to financial problems arising from the collapse of Mainline, Simon and Kirby were forced to close down their studio. It seems that Joe and Jack continued to work together for a time but limited or stopped employing other artists. “The Gun” was probably work already completed before Mainline’s sudden collapse. Simon and Kirby would use some further work by Draut in the coming months but not much. Draut would work for other publishers but with the collapse of the comic book industry it must have been a difficult time for him. I am sure he eventually looked back at his time with Simon and Kirby as the golden age of his career.


Police Trap #5 (July 1955) “The Test”, pencils and inks by Joaquin Albistur

“The Test” was another fine piece of work by Joaquin Albistur. Albistur only worked for Simon and Kirby for a limited period of time, a little over a year. Probably Joaquin also looked for work after the closing of the Simon and Kirby studio. I have seen some original art for a smaller publisher but I am not sure when it was done. Albistur may have found some work but it does not appear he found much. At some point he returned to his native country Argentina.


Police Trap #5 (July 1955) “Bad Influence”, art by an unidentified artist

I am not sure who the artist was that drew “Bad Influence”. I will not claim he was one of my favorite Simon and Kirby artists but he did a good job on this story.


Police Trap #5 (July 1955) “Short Visit”, art by an unidentified artist

Another unidentified artist only in this case not nearly as talented as the one who did “Bad Influence”. Note the rather awkward pose of the policeman.


Police Trap #5 (July 1955) “Alibi?”, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Mort Meskin?

Up to now, Jack Kirby’s contribution to Police Trap was limited to the covers, one pinup (derived from an unused cover) and one splash panel. Was “Alibi” originally planned for issue #5 or was Jack filling in for working missing at the time of the collapse of Mainline? Who can say? But it is nice to see a Kirby working on a crime story again since the last one he did back in 1950. The tall vertical splash was rather unusual for Kirby and a reminder that Kirby was comfortable with any panel layout.

I am a little puzzled by the inking of this piece. Previously I have attributed the inking to Mort Meskin and there are parts that remind me of his work. Particularly the elderly woman in the second story panel. However there are other portions that do not look like Meskin’s brush for instance the sleeve of the older detective in the splash panel. During earlier periods I would explain this by the use of multiple artists sometimes used to ink Kirby’s art (describe by Joe Simon as an assembly line). With the bust up of the Simon and Kirby studio this now seems likely that only a single inker would be used (although either Simon or Kirby could be expected to do some touch up work). While I may hesitate to attribute the inking of this piece to Meskin, Mort was the inker for some other Kirby pencils that will be discussed when issue #6 is covered.

Police Trap #3


Police Trap #3 (January 1955), pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

The cover for Police Trap #3 departed from the more serene covers used for the first two issues. Instead PT #3 was a typically well done Kirby slugfest. Such dramatic punches were often found in Simon and Kirby stories but rarely appeared on the crime covers. I can think of only one other case (Headline #45, January 1951) and that one was not nearly as nicely done as this cover. There was another cover considered for issue #3 but in the end never used. The alternative cover featured some motorcycle policeman and while a good cover it was not nearly as dramatic as this one.


Police Trap #3 (January 1955), “Hick Cop”, art by W. E. Hargis

It is always nice when an artist signs his work. Otherwise it becomes difficult to determine attributions since credits were not usually provided. There was also another signed S&K production piece by William Hargis (Young Love #62, October 1954, “Too Darned Innocent” ). I really need to do some careful comparison with some of the other unattributed pieces from this period as it is likely there exists some unsigned pieces by Hargis as well. Still it appears that Hargis only worked for Joe and Jack during a short period. Most of his work at this time seemed to have been for Quality Comics.

A number of artists appeared for a short time in Simon and Kirby productions from this period. Most were not that impressive but Hargis was an exception. He graphically tells the story well and has a pleasing drawing style. Hargis uses details to provide insight into his characters. I love the way that the sheriff has a hole in the sole of his shoe in the first story panel.


Police Trap #3 (January 1955), “The Mountie”, pencils and inks by Joaquin Albistur

Albistur is one of my favorite S&K artists from this period. “The Mountie” is a typical example of his talent. The mounted policemen have disappeared from most American cities but still have a presence, although diminished, in New York City. I have not seen any in the last few months but I would regularly hear them go down my street. It is not at all clear to me whether horses are an effective police tool but they certainly make for great public relations. Whenever I see them they always attract photographers and animal lovers.


Police Trap #3 (January 1955), “Murder At The Frolics”, art by an unidentified artist

AS I have said, there were a number of artists that worked a short time for Joe and Jack during this period. Of course I wish I could identify them all but for academic reasons as frankly many were little more than adequate. The biggest problem with this particular artist is that his figures tend to be a bit stiff as, for instance, in the last panel of this page.


Police Trap #3 (January 1955), “Tough Beat”, pencils and inks by Bill Draut

I really like Bill Draut’s art, at least while he worked for Simon and Kirby. But this particular splash page has got to be one of my favorites. Generally Bill did not do full page splashes and in a way this is not one either. What Draut has done was combine two splashes separated by the title caption. The top shows a deserted neighborhood with only a single policeman in the background. Very simple but lovingly handled with great attention to the tenement buildings. The bottom seems pure chaos but actually is not. Helped by nice work by the colorist, the lower splash focuses on the confrontation between a cop and some locals seemingly concerning some youth the policeman has apprehended. Bill has provided an interesting and varied crowd. The juxtaposition of the quiet and noisy street scenes makes the page all that more interesting.


Police Trap #3 (January 1955), “Tough Beat” last panel of page 6, pencils and inks by Bill Draut

I have seen the original art for “Tough Beat” and the upper portion of the splash page, the quiet street scene, was inked on tracing paper. I found this puzzling until I noticed the last panel of the story was the same street scene with different inking. Apparently Draut placed the tracing paper over the final panel and used it as a guide for working on the upper part of the splash page. Faster than manually copying the art onto the actual illustration board while the use of tracing paper would be undetectable in the final printed version.

Police Trap #1, Title for the Heroes



Police Trap #1 (September 1954), pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

Crime comics received a lot of undesirable attention during their heyday. It is generally acknowledged now that this criticism was pretty much unwarranted but at that time it accepted by most of the public. One criticism was that crime comics glorified the criminals. Again any modern reader would see that this clearly was not the case, at least for the great majority of crime comics and especially for those that had been produced by Simon and Kirby. But Joe and Jack were well aware of this criticism and so when they launched their own publishing company, Mainline, they included a title Police Trap where the focus was not on the criminals but rather on the police.


Police Trap #1 (September 1954) “The Capture”, pencils and inks by Mort Meskin

Mort Meskin was one of the “usual suspects” of artists that contributed frequently to Simon and Kirby productions. He not only arrived in the studio in time to provide art for some of the crime comics produced by Simon and Kirby but he also continued to supply art for the titles even after they were no longer put together by Joe and Jack (Criminal Artists, Mort Meskin). However this would be the only piece that Mort drew for Police Trap. In fact Meskin typically prolific output seems to have decreased greatly at about this time. He would continue to supply work for the Prize romances but very little for any of the Mainline titles.


Police Trap #1 (September 1954) “Masher”, pencils and inks by Bill Draut

“Usual suspect” Bill Draut drew and inked “Masher”. Draut is most famous for his romance art but he does a fine job on this story. This is probably the most unusual story of this issue and certainly my favorite. The main protagonist is a female police officer. On a personal note my great grandmother was one of the earliest female detective of the New York Police Department. Unfortunately I know very little about her career but among other things she was used as a decoy. She was not very tall but when it came time to apprehend someone she would hold on to them so tightly that the suspects would be unable to escape before her backup arrived to secure the arrest.


Police Trap #1 (September 1954) “Beer Party”, pencils and inks by John Prentice

John Prentice was also a regular contributor to Simon and Kirby productions which means this issue of Police Trap has all the usual suspects. Prentice first work for Joe and Jack appeared in a May 1951 issue of Young Love and he continued to provide art up until the end of the Simon and Kirby studio. John was used primarily for romance comics but he did provide some art for Black Magic. Unfortunately Simon and Kirby were no longer producing crime titles at the time of Prentice’s first appearance but John did so some really nice work in the crime genre prior to that. So “Beer Party” marks a much appreciated return of Prentice to crime. With some nicely handled action and such beautiful art, what is not to like? I particularly love the splash panel. Nobody appears in the splash but it still is a marvelous portrait. Missing plaster and cracked walls show how run down the police station has become. If anything the minimal decorations seem make the room even more depressing. The title captions talks about a shindig but obviously this was going to be a rather small affair. But could you image having a beer party inside a police station today?


Police Trap #1 (September 1954) “The Grafter”, art by unidentified artist

At this time Simon and Kirby were producing four Mainline and four Prize titles. Most of the titles were bimonthlies except for Young Romance and Young Love which were monthly. I suspect producing these titles and running Mainline required a lot of effort for both Joe and Jack. The amount of art that Kirby penciled seems to have dropped and his only contribution to this Police Trap issue was the cover. Further artists new to Simon and Kirby productions make their appearance. One such artist provided the art for “The Grafter”. I cannot claim to be very excited about art but he did an adequate job.


Police Trap #1 (September 1954) “The Beefer”, pencils and inks by Joaquin Albistur

I have recently discussed the part that “The Beefer” played in relationship to the pinup used in Police Trap #2 (The Police Trap Pinup). This story and two others that appeared in Young Romance and Young Love marked the first appearance of Joaquin Albistur in the Simon and Kirby studio. Most of the artist that appeared during this period made rather limited contributions to Simon and Kirby productions but Albistur would provide much work for the relatively short period that he was employed by Joe and Jack (13 months).

The Police Trap Pinup

For the most part pinups did not play an imported role in the Simon and Kirby repertoire. The most import exception was Boys’ Ranch where double page and inside cover pinups were present in each issue. Other than those from Boys’ Ranch there were only two other pinups that I can think of. One appeared in Win A Prize #1 (February 1955). I have discussed that one previously (The Wide Angle Scream, Almost an Afterthought). While I would not dismiss out of hand Joe’s explanation that the piece was originally meant for Captain America #11, there are a number of details that suggest a later date. Therefore the genesis behind that piece of art remains an unresolved issue.


Police Trap #2 (November 1954) “It’s Your Police Station”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

The other Simon and Kirby pinup appeared in Police Trap #2 (November 1954). It is a great pinup with a marvelous cast of characters. Each person depicted in the foreground was given a distinct personality. A complete story is presented in this single panel with the added touch of Simon and Kirby humor. Kirby not only drew the art but did the inking as well. I believe it is one of the relatively few pieces that Jack also did the outline inking, a job normally assigned to others.

The top caption declares this is the first of series of Police Trap pinups of various police officers. However no further pinups were ever placed in the subsequent issues. Nor were pinups found in any other Mainline titles (Win A Prize was published by Charlton). The natural question is why this one?


Police Trap #1 (September 1954) “The Beefer”, pencils and inks by Joaquin Albistur

The explanation can be found in the first issue of Police Trap. That issue contains the story “The Beefer” with art by Jo Albistur. Albistur was from Argentina and seems only to have worked in the United States for brief period. His time working for Simon and Kirby lasted a little over a year but it was very productive period for him. Frankly I am unimpressed by some of the art I have seen that he did for other comic book publishers but he is one of may favorite Simon and Kirby artists. “The Beefer” opens with constant complaining of an arrested street peddler. Kirby would often create a cover based on a story from the same issue but illustrated by another artist. The similarity between “It’s Your Police Station” and “The Beefer” indicates that is what happened here and this pinup was originally intended as the cover for Police Trap #1.


Police Trap #2 (November 1954) “It’s Your Police Station”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby, original art

The original art for this pinup still exists. It is very unusual for work by Simon and Kirby in that art was constructed from three pieces. The top caption, the art, and the bottom caption are on different illustration boards taped together on the back. In the future Joe Simon would frequently construct art from various separate sources but up to this point such techniques were rarely used. The explanation in this case is that since the art was initially meant for a cover the original top probably had the comic book title. Probably as an expediency this was just cut off. Since Joe and Jack often recycled their work this title may have been used for some other cover. The original art for some of the Police Trap covers still exist and it would be It would be interesting to see if any of them were constructed from two pieces of illustration board. The original bottom of the art was probably not sufficient for the desired caption so it was trimmed as well.


Police Trap #1 (September 1954) “The Beefer”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby

The Police Trap #1 cover that was published in place of “It’s Your Police Station” is certainly a fine piece of Simon and Kirby art. The portrayed scene shows a multitude of characters each carefully handled. The caption actually seems a little superfluous since the art is all that seems to be needed to tells the individual stories. Yes, this is cover art at its very best. That is not to say that the art for “It’s Your Police Station” was any bit inferior. The most distinct disadvantage for the pinup had was that it was very specific to a single story, “The Beefer”. While Simon and Kirby often took that approach to a cover, they undoubtedly considered that the new comic should be launched with a cover that reflected on the theme of the title and not a particular story. With all the criticism cast at crime comics, Simon and Kirby wanted to emphasize that the police were subject of this new comic not the criminals. This police centric theme is superbly provided by the published cover.