Tag Archives: Prize

The Early Frankenstein of Dick Briefer

Prize Comics #7
Prize Comics #7 (December 1940) “Frankenstein”, art by Dick Briefer

Prize was reinvented when Simon and Kirby arrived in 1947. Before long old titles were transformed (Headline comics went from action hero anthology to a crime comic), new titles added (Justice Traps the Guilty and Young Romance) and other old titles discontinued (Treasure and Wonderland Comics). Even Prize Comics was transformed into Prize Comics Western. The only original title that was unaffected by all of this was Frankenstein. This odd comic book did not belong in the horror genre but was actually a humor comic. Even more unusual was the fact that Frankenstein Comics was the work of a single artist, Dick Briefer (although he signed the initial issues as Frank N Stein).

Prize Comics #7
Prize Comics #7 (December 1940) “Frankenstein” page 7, art by Dick Briefer

But Briefer’s Frankenstein did not start out as humor, or even in its own title. The first appearance was in Prize Comics #7 (December 1940) and it was a true monster feature. The feature borrowed heavily from both the original novel by Mary Shelley and the Hollywood movie. On some occasions the monster seemed intelligent as in the novel and he seeks to take revenge on his creator for the dismal existence he, the monster, must endure. But his revenge does not consists of killing his creator instead the monster leaves him to live in order to see the suffering that his creation will inflict on mankind. Violence was not unusual this early in the golden age of comics but even so mayhem caused by the monster seems well above what typically occurred in comics. For instance, when the monster runs along a crowded Coney Island beach he literally leaves a trail of human victims.

Prize Comics #8
Prize Comics #8 (January 1941) “Frankenstein” page 8, art by Dick Briefer

Dr. Frankenstein did try to fight back and destroy his creation, but to no avail of course. One attempt was to create Croco-Man however as seen above that was not successful either.

Prize Comics #9
Prize Comics #9 (February 1941) “Frankenstein”, art by Dick Briefer

Physically the comic book version of the monster resembles the movie version with the most glaring difference being the distorted and highly placed nose of Briefer’s monster. There are times that Briefer’s monster seems to share the movie version’s limited intelligence.

Frankenstein did not appear in Prize Comics #10 but reappeared in issue #11. However this time Dick Briefer would drop the humorous alias and sign with his true name. Frankenstein would appear in each issue of Prize Comics until PC #68 (after which the title became Prize Comics Western). Somewhere along the line Frankenstein went from a monster genre to humor and would get its own title in 1947. It was a long run from December 1940 to January 1949 (Frankenstein Comics #17). Frankenstein Comics would reboot and run from March 1952 to October 1954 and again Dick Briefer would provide the art. During all that time no other artist did a Frankenstein story for Prize. I do not know if that is a record but it sure is impressive.

Joe Genalo, Prize Editor and Colorist

Recently Lawrence Genalo, Joe Genalo’s son, left a comment to my post The Lineup. He mentioned that the center man in the lineup of the comic cover, who Joe Simon had identified as Joe Genalo, did not look like his father.

Simon and Kirby Studio
Simon and Kirby studio (probably from 1951 or 1952). Left to right: Joe Genalo, Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Mort Meskin, Jimmy Infantino and Ben Oda

I sent Larry a copy of the studio photograph (shown above) and he has verified that the man on the left is his father. Joe Genalo is shown working on a color guide. Before him are two low boxes filled with small jars, these are the dyes he is using for his coloring. You cannot tell it from this image, but a blowup of the original photograph reveals that Genalo is working on a cover for Prize Comic Western. Joe Simon has told me that color guides were the responsibility of the publisher, Prize Comics. Joe Genalo was therefore being paid by Prize and although he worked in the studio (the publisher did not have their own bullpen) he did not actually work for Simon and Kirby. In a further email Larry mentioned that as a teenager, he and his older brother (also named Joe) would help color proofs that their father brought home.

Please allow me a brief digression. In the photograph on Joe Simon’s drawing board are two caricatures. I am usually critical about identifications based on similar photographs, but the art looks like Simon’s work. The caricature on the right is obviously of Jimmy Infantino, but the one on the left does not match anyone in the photograph. In a recent issue of Alter Ego (#76) provided in Jim Amash’s interview of Joe Simon is a photo of Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Bill Draut, Ben Oda and Marvin Stein. When I saw the second photograph I immediately recognized the left caricature was of Stein. I strongly suspect that the reason that Marvin did not appear in the first photograph is that he was the one taking the picture.

Besides being a colorist, Joe Genalo was also an editor for Prize. The Postal Statements issued annually in comics may not be completely reliable but at least in the case of Prize comics there is no reason to discount them either. The GCD list Joe as the editor for Frankenstein Comics throughout its run (1945 to May 1956). Unfortunately I am unable to confirm that. I am in a better position for some of the other Prize titles but even with those there still are gaps due to issues that I do not have access to. The postal statements that I can verify that list Joe Genalo as the editor are:


All For Love
     #12  (v.3, n1)  April 1959

Headline
     #58  (v.8, n4)  March 1953
     #65  (v.9, n5)  May   1954
     #71  (v.10, n5) May   1955
     #76  (v.11, n4) May   1956

Justice Traps the Guilty (Prize)
     #48  (v.6, n6)  March   1953
     #60A (v.7, n6)  March   1954
     #72  (v.8, n6)  March   1955
     #81  (v.9, n3)  Aril    1956
     #89  (v.10, n5) October 1957

Personal Love
     #10  (v.2, n4)  March 1959

Prize Comics Western
     #98   March 1953
     #105  May   1954
     #111  May   1955

From this I would say that Joe Genalo was the editor for all Prize comics not produced by Simon and Kirby from at least 1953 until 1960. In 1960 Joe Simon returned to edit the romance comics, which were the only titles that Prize was still publishing. Genalo continued to work for Prize even after Simon’s return although I cannot say in what capacity.

On a more personal level, Joe Genalo was born in Brooklyn on October 21, 1920. He was actually Joseph Genalo Jr. but is never listed as such in the comic books. When young, Joe played baseball for the Brooklyn Eagles, a semi-pro team. He was an outfielder and eventually a first baseman. Joe lived in Brooklyn until moving with his family to Levittown in 1950 and in 1958 to North Bellmore. In the 50’s he was an excellent bowler, according to his son one of the best in the New York region. Other members of the Simon and Kirby studio joined Genalo in some bowling games but none were quite as good.

From his son Lawrence I learned that as a child Joe had rheumatic fever which caused two valves of his heart to be smaller then normal. Apparently Genalo did not talk about his heart problems because Simon was unaware of it until the day before Genalo left for Houston to have it operated on. His doctors were Denton Cooley and Michael DeBakey. These doctors would later become famous for their work in heart transplants, the first to be performed in the United States. Unfortunately when operating on Genalo the doctors were only aware of the problem with one of the valves. When the single valve was replaced, the other faulty valve could not take the increased pressure and it burst during the surgery. Joe Genalo died on March 15, 1963. He wife, Lorraine Mandella Genalo, lived until the age of 49 dying in 1973. They had three sons that are all still living, Joe Genalo III is now 64, Lawrence is 62 and Don is 50. Larry tells me that all are active bowlers but Don is the most successful. Don has won six national PBA titles from 1981 to 1991 and is ranked among the top 50 pros for financial success.

I am grateful for the information that Joe’s son, Lawrence Genalo, has provided. It is nice to put a more human face to one of the contributors to Prize Comics. It is also rewarding to be able to identify with certainty all the people in the above photograph of the Simon and Kirby studio. Unfortunately it also means that the man in the center of Marvin Stein’s lineup cover remains to be identified.

Prize Comics Western, a Rough History

Ger Apeldoorn’s comments to chapter 9 of “It’s A Crime” led me to search Prize Comics Western for examples of artists that had also worked for Simon and Kirby. Because of that search I have decide to post a rough outline of this western title. It is rough because I only have access to a little more then half the issues. The biggest gap consists of three missing issues (PCW #86 to #88, March to July 1951). So while it is quite probable that I may miss some artists it is unlikely that any of them played an important part in the title’s history.


Prize Comics Western #74 (March 1949), art by Al Carreno

Prize Comics started as a superhero anthology in March 1940 (cover date). However the popularity of superheroes was in a decline in the late 40’s. Probably spurned on by the success of Simon and Kirby’s crime and romance titles, Prize Comics was renamed Prize Comics Western with issue #69 (May 1948). The primary feature was Dusty Bellows which was a typical, if nondescript, western genre piece. One of the recurring backup features was the Black Bull. While the hero had a western theme, his costume really makes him look like a typical superhero and a bit out of place in the western genre the title had now adopted. Another regular backup was the Lazo Kid.

The earlier issues of PCW would use Al Carreno as the primary artist. Carreno would do the art for the cover and the lead story as well as generally providing a backup story as well. It was Al that was most often called on to work on the title’s main feature, Dusty Bellows. Al Carreno was a competent artist but I have to admit I am not particularly moved by his work.


Prize Comics Western #71 (July 1948) “Bullets at Salt Lick”, art by Dick Briefer

Other artists besides Al Carreno would appear as well. As Ger indicated in his comment, one of them was Dick Briefer. Besides “Bullets at Salt Lick”, Briefer also did “Rod Roper” (PCW #69, May 1948) and “Black Bull Bulldogs a Bandit” (PCW #77, September 1949). Due to the gaps in my collection, it is quite possible he did other stories as well. Briefer was most famous for his long work on Frankenstein, but as seen in my serial post, It’s A Crime, Dick also did some work for a period for Simon and Kirby. Briefer’s work for S&K appeared in Charlie Chan, Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty from October 1948 to October 1949 which was slightly later then his work in PCW.


Prize Comics Western #70 (July 1948) “Rocky Dawn and Windy Smith”, art by Warren Broderick

Another Simon and Kirby artist that appeared in PCW was Warren Broderick. So far I have only found one example of his work in this western title but it a good match for the works that Broderick did for Simon and Kirby. There are 11 stories I credit as having been drawn by Warren they are all from the crime titles Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty. Broderick was involved in only one romance story (“Mother Said No”, Young Romance #7, September 1948) and even then only as an inker on Kirby’s pencils.


Prize Comics Western #73 (January 1949) “The Black Bull Saves the Ranch”, art by John Severin

The first appearance of John Severin in PCW was with issue #73 (or possibly #72 since I do not have that comic). This was some months before the first work that he did for Simon and Kirby (Headline #35, May 1949). In the early period of PCW, Severin only did backup stories and he did not sign his art. But once he arrived he did seem to be a consistent presence in Prize Comics Western.


Prize Comics Western #75 (May 1949), art by Jack Kirby

Most, if not all, of the covers for the early period of Prize Comics Western were done by Al Carreno. The one exception that I am aware of was the cover for PCW #75 which was done by Simon and Kirby. What can I say, while I find it hard to be enthusiastic about Al Carreno’s covers, the one drawn by Jack is a gem. When a gunfight is depicted on a comic book cover it is usually either the moment before the fight begins or it would show the actually fight. Here Kirby shows us the aftermath, or nearly so as the Senorita is just about dispatch the sole surviving enemy. This is very fortunate for Dusty Bellew as he has already turned his back to his fallen foes. Dusty does not have any obvious injuries but the way his right arm hangs suggest he might have been winged. But even if he is physically unscathed, his expression shows that the fight has left him wearied. Pathos in triumph, Jack has depicted Dusty as an unconventional hero. Jack Kirby would draw the cover for PCW #83 as well but it was no were near as effective as this cover.


Prize Comics Western #78 (November 1949) “Bullet Code”, art by Mart Bailey

Like most of the comics published by Prize, PCW switched to photographic covers with issue #76 (July 1949). More importantly there was a change in contents. Al Carreno no longer provided work and his place as lead artist was taking by a new comer for the title, Mart Bailey. As part of the change, the lead story became a movie adaptation. I suspect it was because of the movie adaptation that Bailey was used. While Al Correno could draw well I doubt that he was able to achieve the type of realism Bailey showed in these movie adaptations. I am not saying Bailey’s realism was better art but it probably was more acceptable to RKO. The use of movie adaptations was not long lasting, the last one may have been “Stage To Chino” from PCW #79 (January 1949). However Mart continued used as the primary artist and his artwork was no longer quite so realistic.


Prize Comics Western #85 (January 1951) “American Eagle”, art by John Severin

Issue #85 started the third period for Prize Comics Western. American Eagle was introduced as the new main feature. From this point American Eagle would be on every cover and always was the lead story. Generally there would be at least one backup story, sometimes more, on the American Eagle as well. John Severin had appeared in PCW for some time but now he became the lead artist. It was a position he would retain for much longer then his predecessors Al Carreno and Mart Bailey. Bailey continued doing some backup stories for a few issues before disappearing from the title. John Severin had also worked for Simon and Kirby but not after having attained the position of lead artist for Prize Comics Western.


Prize Comics Western #85 (January 1951) “The Prairie Badman”, art by Marvin Stein

Another artist who had also worked for the Simon and Kirby studio began providing art for Prize Comics Western during this period. Initially Marvin Stein did various backup stories but he most commonly drew the Lazo Kid feature. In his interview with Jim Amash, Joe Simon describes “trading” Stein. Besides his work for PCW, Marvin also became the primary artist for Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty.

The period with John Severin as the primary artist came to an end with issue #113 (September 1955). A short period followed where Marvin Stein became the primary artist. However, unlike before this did not mean that Marvin did all the covers and lead stories.


Prize Comics Western #115 (January 1956) “The Drifter”, art by Mort Meskin

It was during the fourth period that Mort Meskin began doing some backup stories for Prize Comics Western. Of all the artists that had work on PCW, Mort is certainly the one with the greatest ties to the Simon and Kirby studio.


Prize Comics Western #118 (July 1956) “Liberty Belle”, art by Ted Galindo

Another artist with Simon and Kirby connections who appeared during the fourth period was Ted Galindo. Ted even did the lead story, “Liberty Belle” for issue #118. Galindo did a piece for Foxhole #4, but most of the work he did for what might be called Simon and Kirby productions came after the breakup of the studio.
The fourth period was short and it marked the end of the title with issue #119 (September 1956).

There are a number of artists used throughout the history of Prize Comics Western that I have not discussed here. The number of stories they provided were limited, I have not been able to identify them, and their artistic talents were limited.

In his original comment that prompted this post, Ger wrote that Vic Donahue was one of the artists common to the Simon and Kirby studio and Prize Comics Western. I did not encountered Donahue in the search I did on my PCW issues. I asked Ger to double check and he has not been able to find him either. I am not sure that even the combined collections are not complete so there is still the possibility that Donahue did work on PCW.

One artist, who shows up in Prize Comics Western that I have discussed yet in my serial post, It’s A Crime, was Moe Marcus (“Buffalo Stampede”, PCW #92, March 1952). While Marcus appeared in Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty he did so during the period that these titles were not produced by Simon and Kirby. “Buffalo Stampede” was inked by Rocco “Rocke” Mastroserio. Rocke is most widely known for the work he did for Charlton.

At this point it might seem that there were a lot of comics artist that work on Prize Comics Western as well as on Simon and Kirby productions. However there were more Simon and Kirby studio artists that, as far as I have been able to determine, did not work on PCW. Important studio artists like Bill Draut, John Prentice, Vic Donahue, Leonard Starr, Bruno Premiani?, Jo Albistur and Ann Brewster. There are some lesser S&K studio artists as well such as A. C. Hollingsworth, Charles Nicholas, George Gregg, Manny Stallman and Al Eadeh. Conversely, two of the primary artists for Prize Comics Western, Al Correno and Mart Bailey, never worked for Simon and Kirby. John Severin did work for both, but by the time he became primary artist for PCW he was no longer providing work for Simon and Kirby. I have already written about Joe Simon’s statement about trading Marvin Stein. Mort Meskin was an important S&K studio artist and he provided work for PCW as well. But the work Mort did on PCW was largely done after he stopped working for Simon and Kirby. Actually it is a little surprising that Mort did not supply work earlier then that as he had provided such work for Headline and JTTG when these were not produced by S&K.

The handling of Prize Comics Western seems very different from Simon and Kirby productions. As described above the history of PCW the title was very much defined by the primary artist. During each period it was the primary artist that supplied the covers, did the lead story and at least one backup story as well. Jack was the primary artist for Simon and Kirby productions. If there was a cover to be made it was almost always done by Kirby. But Jack would only dominate the contents of a new title. After the initial launching period of a title, Kirby would not dominate the contents so much and a variety of artists would be used. The type of handling of Prize comics Western was similar to that used for Frankenstein Comics and, as we will see in a future chapter to “It’s A Crime”, the same reliance on a primary artist would be adopted by the crime titles as well.

The Art of Romance, Chapter 10, The Peak of the Love Glut

(January – April 1950: Young Romance #17 – #20, Young Love #7 – #8)


Number of Romance Titles 1947 – 1950 (the period covered in this chapter shaded in blue)

This chapter will cover the period from January to April 1950. This is the height of the love glut and the beginning of the decline in romance titles that followed. For Prize Comics the dropping of titles had not begun since the final issue of Real West Romances would come out in April. Young Romance had been and would remain a monthly. The presumably poor sales experienced by the western romance titles because of the glut was not shared by Prize’s standard love comics as Young Love became a monthly with the April issue. Frankly I am not clear what Simon and Kirby’s status was at this time with the crime titles Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty. At some point Joe and Jack seemed to have passed on the production of those titles to Prize Comics. A better understanding of exactly when that happened will hopefully be achieved as I advance further in my serial post It’s A Crime.

I have no explanation why in the last chapter Jack Kirby’s output dropped so much but now he returned to being the primary artist, at least by page count, with 6 stories and 71 pages (I am excluding illustrations for text features as they are minor works and may include recycled art.) Bill Draut, now again the second most used artist, actually had more stories but fewer pages (8 stories with 53 pages). The discrepancy is caused by the lead stories provided by Kirby have the highest page counts (13 to 15 pages). The two longest stories by artists other then Kirby were 10 and 9 pages while most were 8 pages long. As noted in the previous chapter Kirby would provide the lead story for Young Romance while Bill Draut would have the honor for Young Love. The general rule from now on will be Kirby more or less regularly providing a long lead story to Young Romance and this would be the only real distinction between the contents of Young Romance and Young Love where the lead story was generally done by other artists.

Other artists significantly trailed Kirby and Draut in page counts. The number of artists used in YR and YL drops, and the artists have been seen previously in either the standard or the western romance comics. As was true in the last chapter, Kirby did not supply layouts to any of the artists in this period. This was in contrast to the early issues where some of the less talented artists worked using Kirby layouts.


Young Romance #17 (January 1950) “The Girl Who Tempted Me”, art by Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby persists in providing exceptional splashes for his long lead stories. The use of a character introducing the story with the word balloon forming the title has become a trademark of Simon and Kirby romances. (As this splash layout will be repeatedly seen, I am going to refer to it as the confessional splash.) The very provocative splashes would be more risque then the actual story. These splashes are often very simple in composition but very effective nonetheless.


Young Romance #20 (April 1950) “Hands off Lucy”, art by Jack Kirby

Okay maybe I do not have much more to say about Kirby’s splashes, but they are so great (in my opinion) that I cannot resist including an image of another one.


Young Romance #19 (March 1950) “That Kind of Girl” page 13, art by Jack Kirby

Of course comic books are not all about splashes, those were just the devices to entice a reader to buy the comic and read the story. Jack always considered himself as mainly a graphic story teller. Although today Kirby is primarily for his work on superheroes, he was exceptional in pretty much every genre that he worked on. Because of the unique nature of his romance stories, it is clear that Jack was not just illustrating someone else’s script. He must have been an active participant in the plotting and I am sure that he continued the long S&K tradition of changing the script as he saw fit. At this time Jack liked to give a special quality to his romance stories by adding something beyond just romance. I am not sure how the readers of Young Romance and Young Love at that time (overwhelmingly teenage girls) felt about Jack’s romances but I am convinced that if these stories were given a chance many of today’s more adult readers would find them interesting reading.

For the most part Jack has adopted a very standard page layout of three rows with two panels in each row. Kirby would occasionally depart from that pattern when the story called for it but that would be the exception. Gone were any uses of circular panels. Figures would not extend beyond a panel’s border although captions or speech balloons might. My description of Kirby’s layouts might make his work sound dry and uninspired but that is certainly not the case. Using a standard panel layout seems to allow Jack to concentrate on depicting the story. Further when the story called for an alteration in the panel layout it was then that much more effective. Kirby was a master of use of changing view points, the addition or removal of background, and even the careful accommodation of speech balloons as the above page amply shows. It was not just melodrama, it was great melodrama! (An honest appraiser would admit that was true of Kirby’s superhero work as well.)


Young Love #7 (February 1950) “The Carnival Girl”, art by Bill Draut

Bill Draut’s position as the number two artist at this time was justified. He could fill a splash panel with a cast of characters each with their own distinctive personalities. Bill was no longer used as an artist in Headline or Justice Traps the Guilty, but this was not due to any problem in handling action since in his romance art he had no problems when action needed to be depicted. Perhaps of even greater importance for love comics, his women, while stylized, are attractive. All of these talents and more are shown in the above splash. Some of Draut’s stories start with a confessional splash even though they are not lead stories. Perhaps they were originally intended as lead stories but in the end placed elsewhere in the comic. Although I have seen this happen to Draut, I do not recall a Kirby confessional splash that was not the first story.


Young Love #8 (April 1950) “Every Man I Meet” page 4, art by Bill Draut

Like Kirby, Bill Draut generally kept to a standard six panel page layout. If anything he adhered to this layout even more then Jack. Bill would vary view points to keep the visuals interesting but he was not as cinematic as some other comic book artists. Draut graphically tells his story in a straight forward and understated manner. While the reader may not always be amazed by Draut’s art he will always find an entertaining and clear story.


Young Romance #18 (February 1950) “I Own This Man”, art by Mort Meskin

Mort Meskin first solo work for Simon and Kirby appeared in the month before the time covered in this chapter. During this period Mort played no more important a roll then any of the other studio artists (excluding Kirby and Draut). He supplied 4 stories and 2 short features with a total of 32 pages of art. While his presence was not insignificant it was nothing like the prolific output that Mort would achieve in the future. Interestingly Mort was initially used only for the standard and western romance titles, his first crime work would be in the March issue of Headline. Perhaps Meskin’s artist block was not completely overcome by Joe’s strategy of placing random pencils marks so that Mort would not be faced with a blank page.

Meskin’s preference was for a first page; two thirds of which would be used for a splash panel leaving room for a single row of story panels. Most commonly it would have the layout seen in the image above. (Again, these splash page layouts are seen so often that providing them with a name seems a good idea; I will use square splash for those with the story panels arranged horizontally and vertical splash for when the story panels are arranged vertically.) While working in the Simon and Kirby studio Mort did his own inking. Generally this included spotting formed by long parallel, sometimes overlapping, groups of lines. Occasionally, as in “I Own This Man” Meskin would use picket fence crosshatching similar to that found in the Studio style. (For a more complete discussion of Mort Meskin’s inking technique see my post Kirby Inkers, Mort Meskin, for an explanation of the terms I am using to describe inking techniques see the Inking Glossary). My search of Meskin’s work prior to joining Simon and Kirby have so far failed to uncover any examples of the use of picket fence crosshatching so Mort may have adopted it up from Joe and Jack.


Young Love #8 (April 1950) “Danger, Soft Shoulder” page 8, art by Mort Meskin

Mort Meskin’s art was more subdued compared to his earlier hero genre comic art. Some of the more dramatic compositional devices would largely disappear. Techniques, such as the mass of floating heads used in the third panel of page 8 of “Danger, Soft Shoulder”, would now be the rare exception in Mort’s work. Instead, like Bill Draut, Meskin would concentrate more on graphically telling a story. Few other artists, if any, could do it better. Unfortunately for Mort Meskin’s current reputation, it is all too easy to overlook what he was doing. Also it should be admitted that Meskin’s art was not consistently at the same high level, perhaps a result from his push to achieve a high page production rate (with a corresponding income boost).


Young Romance #19 (March 1950) “The Fisherman’s Daughter” page 2, art by Mort Meskin

But it would be mistake to say that now Mort was only interested in telling a story. Mort was also a master at his use of blacks. The shadows found in the first panel of the page from “The Fisherman’s Daughter” shown above are very effective. Even when blacks are used in more limited amounts that are carefully placed to provide the most impact as can be seen elsewhere on the page and the fifth panel in particular. In a way though, Meskin’s use of whites and blacks was not separate aspect of his work. It was carefully used as one of Mort’s tools for advancing the story.

At this time Mort was also working primarily in the standard six panel page layout. But he would use other design techniques to add interest. Note the use of vertical caption boxes on the page shown above. Mort sets up a pattern of vertical captions for the left edge of the first and third panel rows, and the center of the second row. This while using horizontal captions in the second part of the first and third rows. It all provides a pattern that helps to pull the page together without being obtrusive.


Young Romance #17 (January 1950) “Love’s Little Teacher”, art by Bruno Premiani?

I may not be able to truly show that this artist is Bruno Premiani but he is a great creator nonetheless. The splash here is unusual for him in that he provides a split scene. It is so well integrated that it is easy to overlook two separate views are presented. I have described Premiani’s women as attractive but not striking. But in the end to understand an artist’s style well enough to identify his work requires seeing enough examples. So as I continue with work on this serial post I will include further samples of the more important Simon and Kirby studio artists.


Young Romance #17 (January 1950) “Love’s Little Teacher” page 5, art by Bruno Premiani?

Bruno had an interesting drawing style but he was also, like most of S&K studio artists, adept at graphically telling a story. The page from “Love’s Little Teacher” opens with a couple’s kiss, usually more properly placed as the last panel on a page. But Premiani has other things in mind as he proceeded to show the protagonist following the advice of her cousin. Premiani indicates to the reader that the cousin is secretly scheming by the pose he provides her in the background of the final panel. Evidentially Bruno is not just following some formula but carefully brackets the cousin’s influence between the love scene in the first panel and the misguided rejection of a date in the last. I particularly like the fifth panel with the man shown calling in the caption box and the close-up of the telephone receiving the call in the actual panel. With Premiani’s careful arrangement of the towel on the leading lady, the depiction really is not very revealing but just seems so.


Young Romance #17 (January 1950) “I Want Him Back”, art by Leonard Starr

When I first entered the Simon and Kirby productions into my database I was not that familiar with Leonard Starr’s style and so it was largely stories with a signature that ended up attributed to him. Unfortunately this made Starr seem like a minor contributor since, like most Simon and Kirby studio artists, he did not sign all his art. With my current reviews and armed with a better understanding, I have been adding a number of unsigned stories as works that can be credited to Starr. I have long stressed the importance to the studio of three artists (the usual suspects: Draut, Meskin and Prentice) but there is also a second tier of artists who made an important contribution to Simon and Kirby productions but only for shorter periods of time. I would put Starr in this second tier along with artists like Premiani?, Severin, Donahue, Albistur and Brewster.

Leonard did 4 stories with 33 pages during this period. All were unsigned but with styles that are in complete agreement with contemporary signed work. Starr’s splashes were either the square or vertical layouts with, perhaps, a preference for the vertical format as seen above in “I Want Him Back”. It is the drawings of woman that I find the greatest help in identifying Starr’s work. They have an appearance that is almost frail with generous foreheads, small mouths, and narrow chins giving them a look I often describe as elfin.


Young Romance #18 (February 1950) “Mother Tags Along” page 4, art by Leonard Starr

While I would not call Starr’s splashes spectacular they were well done. But it is his story art were Leonard really shines. Like some of the other studio artists, Starr would carefully vary the view point to keep the pages interesting and the story progressing. What makes Starr unique among the S&K studio artists at this time are his panel layouts. More then any of the other artists, Starr would break from the standard page layout of three rows with two panels per row. Instead Leonard preferred to introduced, when possible, a row of three panels with an extended height. Sometimes this was achieved by switching to a page layout of two rows with three panels per row. More frequently the greater height provided for one row would be compensated by decreasing the vertical dimensions of the remaining two rows. These panel layouts did more then provide interesting pages as Starr would use it to aid the story telling. Note how in the page from “Mother Tags Along” Leonard uses the narrow panels for the meeting of the two lovers physically bringing them close together while the more horizontal panels are used the woman’s discussion with her mother allowing the distance that is possible in these panels to suggest the emotional separation between them. No other studio artist at this time made such effective use of panel shapes although Mort Meskin would soon begin to use narrow panels as well.


Young Love #7 (February 1950) “A Secret Affair” page 7, art by Vic Donahue

Vic Donahue’s contribution to the standard romances diminished in the previous chapter and this state continues here. There is a difference though; in Chapter 9 Vic work was restricted to the Nancy Hale feature which was 2 or 3 pages long. During this period the Nancy Hale feature was drawn by other artists. Instead Donahue would draw 1 story and 2 short features with a total of 10 pages which was well below artists like Meskin, Premiani? or Starr.

I have included the above story page to show that while Donahue was not as talented as some of the other studio artists; he was more varied in his panel layouts. I feel, however, that the handling of the story leaves a bit to be desired. For instance this page ends with one man’s confrontation with a rival. Since the last panel depicts such a critical moment the reader would expect the next page to show the result of this confrontation, perhaps even a fight. There was a fight of sorts, but at the start of the next page it is all over with the original man already defeated and on the ground! We really do not know anything about the scripts given to studio artists or how carefully they were expected to be followed, so I cannot say whether Donahue or the writer is responsible for this rather poor handling of what should have been a dramatic scene.


Young Love #8 (April 1950) “The Man in My Dreams”, art by John Severin and Jack Kirby

While Jack Kirby did not supply layouts for any of the artists during this period, there is at least one example of his assuming the roll of art editor. The man in the splash panel of “The Man in My Dreams” is clearly penciled by Kirby, and I believe inked as well. This is the second case of Kirby adding to or altering a splash by John Severin that I have seen (the other was in Chapter 7). If, as I believe, Kirby inked his part of the splash then most likely Kirby was correcting Severin’s finished art.

During this period Severin played a small roll in the standard romance titles. John only did 1 story and 3 features with a total of 8 pages. This is in sharp contrast to the amount of work Severin had done during this same time for the Prize western love titles.

Chapter 1, A New Genre (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 2, Early Artists (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 3, The Field No Longer Their’s Alone (YR #5 – #8)
Chapter 4, An Explosion of Romance (YR #9 – #12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 5, New Talent (YR #9 – 12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 6, Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 7, More Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 8, Kirby on the Range? (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 9, More Romance (YR #13 – #16, YL #5 – #6)
Chapter 10, The Peak of the Love Glut (YR #17 – #20, YL #7 – #8)
Chapter 11, After the Glut (YR #21 – #23, YL #9 – #10)
Chapter 12, A Smaller Studio (YR #24 – #26, YL #12 – #14)
Chapter 13, Romance Bottoms Out (YR #27 – #29, YL #15 – #17)
Chapter 14, The Third Suspect (YR #30 – #32, YL #18 – #20)
Chapter 15, The Action of Romance (YR #33 – #35, YL #21 – #23)
Chapter 16, Someone Old and Someone New (YR #36 – #38, YL #24 – #26)
Chapter 17, The Assistant (YR #39 – #41, YL #27 – #29)
Chapter 18, Meskin Takes Over (YR #42 – #44, YL #30 – #32)
Chapter 19, More Artists (YR #45 – #47, YL #33 – #35)
Chapter 20, Romance Still Matters (YR #48 – #50, YL #36 – #38, YB #1)
Chapter 21, Roussos Messes Up (YR #51 – #53, YL #39 – #41, YB #2 – 3)
Chapter 22, He’s the Man (YR #54 – #56, YL #42 – #44, YB #4)
Chapter 23, New Ways of Doing Things (YR #57 – #59, YL #45 – #47, YB #5 – #6)
Chapter 24, A New Artist (YR #60 – #62, YL #48 – #50, YB #7 – #8)
Chapter 25, More New Faces (YR #63 – #65, YLe #51 – #53, YB #9 – #11)
Chapter 26, Goodbye Jack (YR #66 – #68, YL #54 – #56, YB #12 – #14)
Chapter 27, The Return of Mort (YR #69 – #71, YL #57 – #59, YB #15 – #17)
Chapter 28, A Glut of Artists (YR #72 – #74, YL #60 – #62, YB #18 & #19, IL #1 & #2)
Chapter 29, Trouble Begins (YR #75 – #77, YL #63 – #65, YB #20 – #22, IL #3 – #5)
Chapter 30, Transition (YR #78 – #80, YL #66 – #68, YBs #23 – #25, IL #6, ILY #7)
Chapter 30, Appendix (YB #23)
Chapter 31, Kirby, Kirby and More Kirby (YR #81 – #82, YL #69 – #70, YB #26 – #27)
Chapter 32, The Kirby Beat Goes On (YR #83 – #84, YL #71 – #72, YB #28 – #29)
Chapter 33, End of an Era (YR #85 – #87, YL #73, YB #30, AFL #1)
Chapter 34, A New Prize Title (YR #88 – #91, AFL #2 – #5, PL #1 – #2)
Chapter 35, Settling In ( YR #92 – #94, AFL #6 – #8, PL #3 – #5)
Appendix, J.O. Is Joe Orlando
Chapter 36, More Kirby (YR #95 – #97, AFL #9 – #11, PL #6 – #8)
Chapter 37, Some Surprises (YR #98 – #100, AFL #12 – #14, PL #9 – #11)
Chapter 38, All Things Must End (YR #101 – #103, AFL #15 – #17, PL #12 – #14)

It’s A Crime, Chapter 2, A Revitalized Title

(Headline #23 – #25)

In chapter 1 I described Prize’s comics in 1946 as tired. With the arrival of Simon and Kirby things would never be the same for that company. Their effect on Headline is obvious. With issue #23 (March 1947), the title made a sudden transition from an anthology with an emphasis on the hero genre into a crime comic. That was significant, but more important was Simon and Kirby’s effect on the entire Prize comic line. Treasure Comics #10 (December 1946), the same issue that ran the first promotional S&K crime story, would be the last bimonthly for that title. Issue #12 (Fall 1947) would be the last Treasure Comics issued. In September 1947 Simon and Kirby would introduce a new title and another genre with Young Romance. The crime version of Headline must have been a success because Simon and Kirby and Prize would start Justice Traps the Guilty in October. Wonderland, Prize’s comic of funny stories for the younger readers, would end with issue #8 (December 1947). Prize Comics, the last of Prize’s hero anthologies, would become Prize Comics Western with issue #69 (May 1948). I have no reason to believe Simon and Kirby had any direct involvement with the switch of Prize Comics to the western genre. However once Simon and Kirby showed the value of publishing the more modern comics it would not have taken a genius to come up with the idea of publishing another of those popular genre. The only one of Prize’s original titles that was unaffected was Frankenstein. In a little over a year Prize went from having a tired comic line to a more modern one. Simon and Kirby would not produce every title that Prize would publish from this point on but they would dominate the company’s output and even have influence on titles other then their own. Prize would never become a big publisher but it is clear that Simon and Kirby generated a lot of income for the company and I cannot help but doubt that the publisher would have survived much longer without their arrival.

The attribution question for the first two issues of the crime version of Headline is simple, it is Jack Kirby. It was part of Simon and Kirby’s modus operandi to start a new title with Jack penciling much, if not most, of the art. However these two issues take it to an unusual extreme in not just most but all of the art is by Kirby. Such exclusion is not part of the Simon and Kirby MO. The starting issues for Young Romance, Justice Traps the Guilty, and Boys’ Ranch would all include some work by other artists. All Kirby issues would not appear again until Fighting American (1954) and the even more exceptional case of the Young Romance, Young Love and Young Bride comics of 1956. Surely the explanation for the all Kirby Headline issues was that it was a consequence of the failure of the Stuntman and Boy Explorers titles of 1946. With the sudden termination of those titles Simon and Kirby had both the time to produce stories and the need to generate money. It was only when Joe and Jack were once again regularly producing comics that they had both the need and the ability to bring other artists into their projects.


Headline #23 (March 1947) “The Last Bloody Days of Babyface Nelson”, art by Jack Kirby

The first page of Headline would exemplify the Simon and Kirby approach to crime, at least in its beginning. There in the spotlight is Baby Face Nelson standing with his smoking machine gun over two victims. Baby Face Nelson, whose name was actually Lester Gillis, was a real person and at one time was Public Enemy Number One. The story that Simon and Kirby provide is a true one, or at least as true as any made by the entertainment media. We are told of a chance encounter on a country road of one car that included Baby Face Nelson and John Chase with another car occupied by two federal agents. In the ensuing gun fight the two agents were killed and Baby Face mortally wounded only to die later. At the end of the story we find Chase behind bars. Missing from S&K’s account are Helen Gillis, Baby Face’s wife, who was also present. Also missing was a previous encounter with another vehicle with federal agents. But the gist of the story was all there and dramatically portrayed. By today’s standards, the story is very moralistic. Baby Face Nelson is not presented in a favorable light and while his end had a certain courage it was above all shown to be the act of a brutal nature. The persistent theme of all the Simon and Kirby crime stories is shown in large letters at the bottom of the splash page, “Crime Does Not Pay”. In light of all this it is surprising that critics of crime comics at the time could not see this and would instead insist that these stories glorified the criminals.


Headline #23 (March 1947) “To My Valentine”, art by Jack Kirby

“To My Valentine” is another example of a great splash and a story based a real event. The machine gun toting cupid is a nice touch. The truth of the story as presented is debatable as no one was ever convicted of the gangland murder. Sometime later there was a gang member under custody who claimed to have taken part. However there seem to be some conflicts in his testimony as compared with that of other witnesses present on the scene (but not viewing the actually killing). In this splash there is no question about the brutal nature of the death of the gang members. What with their contorted posses and obvious bullet holes in the wall. But note the lack of bullet holes or blood on the actual victims. This is typical for Kirby who was actually restrained in his portrayal of violence. Jack would on occasion include blood in a crime scene but no where near to the amounts that could logically be expected.


Headline #24 (May 1947) “Murder on A Wave Length”, art by Jack Kirby

A lot of the splashes by Kirby for the crime genre are just masterpieces. Even though we have a good view of both the gun and the victim Kirby hides the effect of the bullet behind of a screen of gun smoke. The dramatic effect of this splash is based on the victims grimace of pain and not on the depiction of any gruesome details. The story theme of the connection of a radio broadcast to a crime is an old one for Simon and Kirby having been used in a Captain America story in 1942. Note the presence of an abstract arch shadow on the side of the radio set (see my Inking Glossary for an explanation for the inking terms I use ).


Headline #25 (July 1947) “Death Takes a Honeymoon”, art by Jack Kirby

The Simon and Kirby art for these issues of Headline made was pretty much the same as used in the promotional pieces discussed in the last chapter. Figures do not extend beyond the panel borders; a motif that S&K used frequently during their years with Timely and DC and occasionally for Stuntman and Boy Explorers as well. Page layouts still include the frequent use of non-rectangular panels. For example in “You Can’t Forget a Killer” (Headline #24) circular and semi-circular examples comprise 18% of the story panels. This is the same level of semi-circular panels as found in Stuntman. (Remember that if the all pages were the standard 6 panels with 17% there would on average be a semi-circular panel on each page). While this level of the use of semi-circular panels is typical of all the stories in Headline #23 and #24, there is a change in Headline #25. “Pay Up or Die” is the only Kirby story in Headline #25 that continues to use semi-circular panels (20%), such panels are completely absent from the other three Kirby stories.

The inking still is done in what I call the Sculptural style with some of the hallmarks of the Studio style (picket fence crosshatching and shoulder blots) are rarely found and when used it was generally not done in the soon to be typical manner. However drop strings, another characteristic feature of the Studio style, begins to become common in use. It was not abundantly used in the first crime issue of Headline but by the third it can be quite commonly and distinctively used as for example in the splash page shown above. Abstract arch shadows, another Studio style technique, also were beginning to become more frequent.


Headline #25 (July 1947) “Prophet of Death”, art by Bob Powell

For Headline #25 I can only provide the credits for one of the artists other then Kirby. “Prophet of Death” is signed, but Bob Powell’s style is so distinctive that his work in this story would have been easily recognized anyway. I am a great admirer of Powell’s work, although I am mostly familiar with the romance stories he did for Harvey Comics. Powell’s style is different from that of Kirby’s and although he is not as great an artist as Jack (who was?) he was still immensely talented. I find it ironic that here he is working for Jack and yet he is quite free to render this story in his own unique manner. Years later when he would work for Marvel, in response to Stan Lee’s desire to do art the Kirby way, Powell altered his style. In my opinion the results was most unfortunate and Bob’s late work is but a shadow of his former art.

Bob Powell was said to have done some work for Fox Comics. Perhaps Simon and Kirby first met Powell there. However I have not recognized Powell’s work in the Fox comics issued during the time Joe Simon was an editor. Most likely Bob came to Joe and Jack’s notice during the time that Simon and Kirby were first producing Stuntman and Boy Explorers for Harvey Comics. After the war Bob Powell had his own studio and Harvey was one of his important customers. Considering Powell’s obvious talent, his presence in this early Simon and Kirby production is perfectly understandable. What is surprising is that this would be the only work he did for the Simon and Kirby studio. I have no idea why that should be since Powell did not work exclusively for Harvey. After the break up of the S&K studio, there would be a number of occasions where Bob would work for Joe Simon.


Headline #25 (July 1947) “Blind Man’s Death”, art by unidentified artist

There is one other artist in Headline #25 who I have not been able to identify. Interestingly he provided two stories. This is particularly regrettable in this case because he really is an excellent artist. What a great splash page. The exaggerated perspective is not at all the way Jack Kirby would have handled it but it is very effective nonetheless. You can really feel the blind man’s predicament as he stumbles while knowing he is in danger. The murderer’s pose is very effective as well.


Headline #25 (July 1947) “Murder’s Reward” page 6, art by unidentified artist

Frankly I am not as impressed with the splash page this artist did for “Murder’s Reward”. But his talents were not limited to splash art but extended to graphic story telling as well. Again the artist presents action in a way different from Jack Kirby but he it still is very effective.

When doing these examinations I am always on the lookout for indications of whether Kirby provided layouts for the artists (a claim some have made). Often the layout of just the panels is enough to decide the issue. Both Kirby and this unidentified artist use semi-circular panels but the manner of their use differs. Kirby’s semi-circular panels are generally as large the standard panels. This artist uses circular panels that largely are about 3/4 the height of the standard panels and he then uses area above, or less commonly below, the round panel for a speech balloon or caption. (While the round panel in the page above has some of these characteristics, it is not typical of the artist’s method).

Like the promotional pieces I discussed in my last chapter, none of the Simon and Kirby pieces for Headline #23 to #25 were signed. With 3 covers and 16 stories (19 if you include the promotional stories) this is highly uncharacteristic for Joe and Jack. Why were the normally self-promoting Simon and Kirby circumspect about their contributions to Feature Publications? The answer is not hard to find because in the same month that Headline #23 was released by Prize Comics, Simon and Kirby’s work would also appear in Clue Comics, a crime genre comic by another publisher, Hillman. Simon and Kirby had no problems with working for different publishers at the same time but knew that it was best not to be too obvious about it. The Simon and Kirby work for Clue will be the subject of my next chapter.

Chapter 1, Promoting Crime

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
Chapter 11, The New Team

It’s a Crime, Chapter 1, Promoting Crime

(Treasure #10, Prize Comics #63, Frankenstein #7)

Feature Publications, more commonly known as Prize Comics but also as Crestwood, was a relatively small company in 1946. There were five titles in their comic line all of which were bimonthlies; Frankenstein, Headline, Prize, Treasure and Wonderland. It was not just that Prize had a limited number of comic titles; Hillman for example had even fewer. Feature’s problem was more about what they were offering. Wonderland had funny stories aimed at the younger comic book readers but did not have any outstanding features. Treasure was a more general anthology again without any features that were likely to excite readers in 1946. Prize and Headline were also anthologies with an emphasis on the hero genre. Unfortunately in 1946 the popularity of superheroes was on a distinct decline. This could even be seen in Prize’s offering. During the war Yank and Doodle had been young patriotic heroes while the Owl was more of a standard crime fighting costumed hero. Yet by 1946 the two had been combined into a single feature. It was an awkward match to say the least. The only title Feature had that set them apart from other comic publishers was Frankenstein. It probably was not a great success otherwise it would not have remained a bimonthly. With the exception of Frankenstein, the best description of Prize’s comics would be tired.


Treasure #10 (December 1946) “The Treasure Keeper”, art by Dan Barry

Blame for Prize’s humdrum nature does not rest with its artists. Some talented individuals at least occasionally appeared in their comics. We have encountered Dan Barry before when I discussed My Date. The Treasure Keeper was an ongoing feature in Treasure Comics. Unfortunately I do not have access to any other issues but I do not believe Barry was always the artist. Here Barry illustrates the story a successful Russian violinist fall after his anti-Czarist efforts are discovered by the authorities. Dan does a good job with the story, or at least as good as can be expected with the script.


Treasure #10 (December 1946) “Know Your America”, art by Mort Meskin

In 1946 Mort Meskin was doing work for a number of different publishers. Was his appearance in Treasure #10 unique or are there other works by Mort to be found in early Prize comics? Meskin was certainly in good form with his contribution to this issue of Treasure. “Know Your America” was another ongoing feature. I suspect its historic nature probably did not generate a lot of reader enthusiasm even in those patriotic days following the war. Meskin manages to add excitement to what really was a rather dry script. The story page I present above is by no means unique. Note how Meskin puts action into a sequence which is really nothing more then the report to the governor about the public’s rejection of the stamp act (about 10 years prior to the revolutionary war). Mort’s command of perspective, something he is not normally known for, is clear in his depiction of the hand extending to the viewer in the third panel.


Treasure #10 (December 1946) “Tomorrow’s Murder”, art by Jack Kirby

The final story in Treasury #10 was something new for Treasure, or for any Feature comic. It was “Tomorrow’s Murder” by Simon and Kirby. New because it was the first Simon and Kirby piece to be published by Feature since a few pre-war stories. But more importantly new because it was Prize’s first true crime genre work. The crime genre itself was certainly not new as Bob Wood and Charles Biro created Crime Does Not Pay for publisher Lev Gleason in 1942. At that time Simon and Kirby may have been too busy with their entrance into the armed service to notice Wood and Biro’s new genre but after the war they could hardly have missed it. When their post-war titles, Stuntman and Boy Explorers, failed and Joe and Jack were looking for something to keep their collaboration going one of the categories they turned their attention to was the successful crime genre. Just a few months after the failure of their Harvey line (Stuntman #3 with cover date October 1946 was released as miniature comic to subscribers only) Simon and Kirby had manage to sell the crime genre concept to Prize.

“Tomorrow’s Murder” also introduced Red-Hot Blaze. Blaze was supposed to be a sort of investigative reported for Headline Comics. The results of his investigations would then be drawn up as a comic story. The splash presents the enactment of the crime as if it was being rendered on a drawing board. In the story panel we get to see the artist. The comic artist’s curly hair indicates that this was not meant to literally be a self-portrait of Jack Kirby. There was no reason to be since the comic book reading public would not have any idea what Jack looked like. Nor was “Tomorrow’s Murder” signed. However the ever present cigar shows that in Jack’s mind there truly was a connection between the real and fictional comic artist.


Treasure #10 (December 1946) house advertisement, art by Jack Kirby

The end of the “Tomorrow’s Murder” story only occupied the top with the house ad shown above taking up the rest of the page. Clearly Simon and Kirby had not just sold Prize on a single crime story, Joe and Jack had convinced them to publish a comic devoted to the genre. Headline would no longer be a general anthology. Of the titles currently being published by Prize, Headline had the most appropriately named for a crime comic. By retaining the original title name, I am sure Prize hoped that they might keep some of the former readers as well. The advertisement indicated that the switch to crime would happen in the January issue. Things did not work out as originally planned as Headline #23 would be cover dated March. When Headline #23 was finally released its cover was not the mock-up issue depicted in the house ad either. The one shown in the ad would actually be used for Headline #24.


Prize Comics #63 (March 1947) “Romania’s Strangest Killer”, art by Jack Kirby

The same month that Headline #23 was released a Simon and Kirby crime story also appeared in Prize Comics #63. In “Romania’s Strangest Killer” the placement of the splash panel at the bottom of the first page is rather unique. Of course the story panels at the top of the page are not truly part of the story. It is actually just an introduction using the theme of Red-Hot Blaze being an investigator for Headline Comics. Only this time it is a Headline editor who makes an appearance not the artist. The splash panel is very powerful showing a murdered victim in the foreground, another hanging in the mid-ground and the perpetrator exiting in the back. Part of the title is enclosed with an outline of a hatchet. It is a great design but we shall see that a lot of the Simon and Kirby crime splashes are masterpieces.

Just as with “Tomorrow’s Murder”, the last page of “Romania’s Strangest Killer” includes the same house advertisement. Well not quite the same since the text referring to the release and issue dates have been removed. Not, however, completely because although small and blurred the January – February cover date can still be made out on the small mock-up cover.


Frankenstein #7 (May, 1947) “Justice Finds A Cop Killer”, art by Jack Kirby

Two months after the actual release of the first crime version of Headline a crime story appeared in yet another Prize title. In 1946 Frankenstein as portrayed by Dick Briefer was not truly monster stories but rather belonged to the humor genre. The Simon and Kirby story “Justice Finds a Cop Killer” seems very much out of place. It is once again a Red-Hot Blaze story with the curly haired and cigar smoking artist making a reappearance. Although not a particularly impressive design the splash panel is still very dramatic largely due to Kirby’s famous exaggerated perspective. The falling policeman is so dramatic that it is easy to overlook the fact that the gun and bullet trace do not actually seem to be aimed properly.

“Justice Finds a Cop Killer” concludes with the same house ad. More specifically the dateless version that appeared in Prize Comics #63. Despite the late date (as the second crime version of Headline had appeared in this same month) the presence of the crime story in Frankenstein was part of the same promotion campaign. The only Prize comic not to receive this treatment would be Wonderland. That title was much too directed at a very young readership for a crime story to be at all appropriate or productive.

The art for these promotional stories was typical for the crime genre work that Simon and Kirby would do. Most important was the dramatic action that was Jack Kirby’s trademark. There would be a slightly greater emphasis on realism as compared to Kirby’s Stuntman and Boy Explorers but the art would otherwise very much like S&K’s previous efforts for Harvey. One hallmark of Simon and Kirby’s art for Timely and DC had been the extending parts of figures beyond the panel borders. This technique could still be found in Stuntman and Boy Explorers but not nearly as commonly as the earlier work. It would disappear completely in the crime work.

Another prominent trait of Simon and Kirby’s work for Timely and DC was the use of unusual panel shapes. Among panels with the normal straight edge others would trace a zigzag pattern. Circular or sub-circular panels would also be used in places. This use of non-rectangular panels would be continued in Stuntman and Boy Explorers. For instance “Curtain Call for Death” from Stuntman #2 (June 1946) 16% of the panels were circular or sub-circular. The number may seem small but had all the pages had the typical 6 panels (however S&K never adopted such a regimented layout) that would mean on average there was a rounded panel on each page. The promotional crime stories maintained a similar level of rounded panels. In “Tomorrow’s Murder” and “Romania’s Strangest Killer” 14% of the panels were circular or sub-circular while in “Justice Finds a Cop Killer” the ratio was 16%.

The inking was in the bold manner of what I have called the Sculptural style due to its emphasis on what I refer to as form lines that are not shadows but are used to give a sense of volume to shapes (see my Inking Glossary for explanations of my terms). The Sculptural style was previously used for the Simon and Kirby work done for DC (as for example in the Newsboy Legion stories). The use of this inking style was continued after the war. However Simon and Kirby art was never static and was always evolving. The Sculptural style used for Stuntman and Boy Explorers made use of even bolder brushwork. The individual brush marks stand out and while still indicating shadows or form they take on an expressive roll of their own. This bolder manner of the Sculptural style would be used in the early S&K crime art as well. Absent for the most part are techniques like picket fence crosshatching, drop strings, shoulder blots and abstract arch shadows. Such techniques do make rare appearances but even then are usually not done in the manner typical of the soon to appear Studio style.

Joe and Jack were heavily into self promotion. Much of the comic book art that they created was provided with a Simon and Kirby signature. The operative word is “much” as not every work they did was signed. None of the three promotional pieces I discussed above had a signature. Normally with such a small group I would not make much about that fact but as we shall see the absence of a signature was not limited to these pieces alone.

Again and again, while working on my serial post “The Art of Romance” I found myself referring to the Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty for help in questions about attributions. This is not surprising because artists that worked for the Simon and Kirby studio normally were expected to be able to handle work from any genre. I have decided that it would be beneficial to review the Simon and Kirby crime material so this will be the first of another serial post. It will not have as many chapters as “The Art of Romance” because as we will see Simon and Kirby’s involvement with the crime genre only lasted a few years.

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
Chapter 11, The New Team

Prize Comics Western Checklist


Last update: 7/10/2009

Codes:
    r:  = reprint
    s:  = script
    l:  = layout
    p:  = pencils
    i:  = inks
  name  = signed
 <name> = signed with an alias
 {name} = signed as Simon & Kirby
 [name] = unsigned attribution



Prize Comics Western (Prize)
  69 May 1948
    "The Range-Land Snatchers" 13pg - p:[Carreno] 
    "The Lazo Kid" 7pg - p:[Carreno] 
    "The Range-Land Killers" 7pg - p:[Carreno] 
    "The Dude Gets His Duds Dirty" 2pg - (text)
    "Rod Roper" 8pg - p:[Briefer] 
    "The Bandit Switched Horses" 7pg - s:Werstein p:Carreno 
    "The Galloping Ghost of the Range" 1pg - p:Carreno 
  70 July 1948
    (cover) - p:Carreno 
    ""Dusty" Ballew" 13pg - s:Werstein p:Carreno 
    "Crazy Ben Strikes It Rich" 7pg 
    "Fighting For Home" 7pg 
    "Better Than Barbed Wire" 2pg - s:Alexander - (text)
    "Bullets from th' Rim Rock" 7pg 
    "The Noose Hangs High" 8pg - p:[Broderick?] 
  71 September 1948
    (cover) - p:Carreno 
    "The Grip of the Gambler" 14pg - s:Werstein p:Carreno 
    "The Fire-Gods Revenge" 7pg 
    "Dusty Rides the War Path" 7pg - s:Werstein p:Carreno 
    "Wet Noose" 2pg - (text)
    "Bullets at Salt Lick" 8pg - p:[Briefer] 
    "Races Against Fate" 7pg - s:Werstein p:Carreno - (text)
  72 November 1948
    (cover) 
  73 January 1949
    (cover) - p:Carreno 
    "Guns Talk on the Range" 14pg - s:Werstein p:Carreno 
    "Justice Is Blind" 7pg - s:Werstein p:Carreno 
    "The White Nightmare" 2pg - (text)
    "The Secret of Lost Canyon" 7pg - s:Werstein p:Carreno 
    "Bullets at the Boundary" 7pg 
    "The Black Bull Saves the Ranch" 8pg - p:[Severin] 
  74 March 1949
    (cover) - p:Carreno 
    "Buffalo Killers Are Loose" 14pg - s:Werstein p:Carreno 
    "The Lumber Bandit" 7pg - p:[Carreno] 
    "The Fiery Posse" 7pg 
    "Sawbones Cupid" 2pg - (text)
    "Prairie Schooner Ahoy" 8pg - p:[Severin] 
    "The Fur Pirates of the North Woods" 7pg - p:[Carreno] 
  75 April 1949
    (cover) - p:{Kirby} 
    "Mules, Men and Guns" 14pg - s:Werstein p:Carreno 
    "The Railroad Saboteur's" 7pg - p:[Carreno] 
    "The Six-Gun Showdown at Rattlesnake Gulch" 7pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Pioneer Breeding Stock" 2pg - (text)
    "Black Bull Clears a Ranch Woman's Name" 8pg - p:[Severin] 
    "The Secret of the Copper Kettle" 7pg - p:[Carreno] 
  76 July 1949
    (cover) - p:Photo - (Randolf Scott cover)
    "Canadian Pacific" 14pg - p:[M. Bailey] 
    "The Thousand Dollar Forfeit" 7pg - p:[Gregg?] 
    "The Events on the Little Big Horn" 7pg - p:[Gregg?] 
    "Secret of the Superstition Mountains" 2pg - (text)
    "Trailing the Border Thieves" 7pg - p:[Severin] 
    "A Meteor Saves the Ranch" 8pg - p:[Severin] 
  77 September 1949
    (cover) - p:Photo 
    "Streets of Laredo" 14pg - p:M. Bailey 
    "The Wagons Roll Westward" 14pg - p:[Broderick] 
    "Unbridled Fury" 2pg - (illustrated text)
    "Black Bull Bulldogs a Bandit" 5pg - p:[Briefer] 
    "Wild Hogs on the Border" 7pg - p:[Severin] 
  78 November 1949
    (cover) - p:Photo 
    "Roughshod" 5pg - p:M. Bailey 
    "Bullet Code" 10pg - p:[M. Bailey] 
    "Showdown on the Chisholm Trail" 10pg 
    "Clean Slate" 2pg - (illustrated text)
    "The Ghost of Marales" 7pg - p:[Severin] 
    "The Poisoned Water Hole" 9pg 
  79 January 1950
    (cover) - p:Photo 
    "Stage To Chino" 10pg - p:[M. Bailey] 
    "Treasure of Death Mountain" 12pg 
    "The Lost Trail" 7pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "All The Ropes" 2pg - (illustrated text)
    "The Stranger in Benton Bowl" 4pg - p:[Severin & Kurtzman] 
    "Timberline Showdown" 8pg - p:[Kurtzman & Severin] 
  80 March 1950
    (cover) - p:Photo 
    "Robin Hood of the Sierras" 8pg - p:M. Bailey 
    "Gunsmoke Justice" 7pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Trial By Six-Gun" 10pg 
    "Rangeland Death" 2pg - (text)
    "Brand of Death" 8pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Border Menace" 7pg - p:Severin i:Elder
  81 May 1950
    (cover) - p:Photo 
    "Sheriff Pat Garrett" 8pg - p:[M. Bailey] 
    "Ghost Riders" 8pg 
    "Border Badmen" 7pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Bandits of Barbary" 8pg 
    "Dusty Trails" 2pg - (text)
    "The Justice Trail" 8pg - p:Severin i:Elder
  82 July 1950
    (cover) - p:Photo 
    "The Preacher" 8pg - p:M. Bailey 
    "Lucky Lodestone" 7pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Death Draws a Circle" 9pg - p:M. Bailey 
    "The Roundup" 2pg - (illustrated text)
    "Buzzards' Roost" 8pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "The Outlaw Takes a Wife" 8pg 
  83 August 1950
    (cover) - p:[Kirby] 
    "The Danger Trail" 9pg - p:M. Bailey 
    "War on the Range" 8pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Bill Pickett, the Original Bulldogger" 1pg 
    "The Last Battle" 8pg 
    "The Roundup" 2pg - (illustrated text)
    "Younger Brothers" 7pg 
    "Younger Brothers" 7pg - p:Severin i:Elder
  84 November 1950
    (cover) 
    "Lynch Law" 9pg - p:M. Bailey 
    "Paradise Vally" 8pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Border Smugglers" 7pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "The Roundup" 2pg 
    "Apache Ambush" 8pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Massacre Trail" 7pg - p:M. Bailey 
  85 January 1951
    (cover) 
    "American Eagle" 8pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Dead Man's Gold" 9pg - p:M. Bailey 
    "The Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "One-Man Posse" 8pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "The Prairie Badman" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "G. R. Freeman - Lawman" 1pg - (text)
    "The Trail North" 7pg - p:Severin i:Elder
  86 March 1951
    (cover) 
  87 May 1951
    (cover) 
  88 July 1951
    (cover) - p:[Severin] 
    "Rebellion" 10pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "The Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Death Came too Soon" 7pg - p:Stein 
    "Ambush" 7pg - p:Marcus i:Abel
    "John Brown, Hero" 1pg - (text)
    "Double Trouble" 7pg - p:M. Bailey 
  89 September 1951
    (cover) - p:[Severin] 
    "The Last of the Crazy Dogs" 9pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Doom for the Wagon Trains" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Trouble in Lost Valley" 7pg 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Ghost Town Gold" 7pg - p:[Severin?] 
    "The North Plains Indiangs" 1pg - p:[Severin?] 
    "H. Castro, Texan" 1pg - (text)
    "Death on the River" 7pg 
  90 November 1951
    (cover) - p:[Severin] 
    "Threat of the Iron Horse" 7pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "The Middle Plains Indians" 1pg 
    "Oil Crazy" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Jack Hays, Ranger" 1pg - (text)
    "Danger in Mexico" 7pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "The Roundup" 1pg - p:Severin i:Elder- (text)
    "Six Gun Law" 7pg - p:M. Bailey - (text)
  91 January 1952
    (cover) - p:[Severin] 
    "Buffalo Stampede" 10pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Arrows of Treason" 6pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "The Gold Express" 7pg - p:Stein 
    "Francois Aubrey" 1pg - (text)
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Avalanche" 7pg - p:Severin i:Elder
  92 March 1952
    (cover) - p:[Severin] 
    "Renegades on the Yellowstone" 9pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "The Flight of the Eagle" 7pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Buffalo Stampede" 7pg - p:Marcus i:Mastroserio
    "Charles Goodnight" 1pg - (text)
    "Dope Teen-Age Menace" 1pg 
    "Flames of Treachery" 6pg - p:Severin i:Elder
  93 May 1952
    (cover) - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Sioux War Party" 9pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Stuart's Stranglers" 1pg - (text)
    "Wolf Pack" 7pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Hootowls of Cactus Gap" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "The South Plains Indians" 1pg 
    "The Roundup" 1pg - (illustrated text)
    "Smoke Signals" 6pg - p:Severin i:Elder
  94 July 1952
    (cover) - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Ride with the Redcoats" 10pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Mighty Mite" 1pg - (text)
    "Night Raiders" 7pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "The Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Hidden Gold" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
  95 September 1952
    (cover) - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Follow the Eagle" 9pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Old Jim Bridger" 1pg - (text)
    "The Coming of the Eagle" 7pg 
    "The Southwest Indians" 1pg 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Body in the Desert" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
  96 November 1952
    (cover) - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Cheyenne on the Warpath" 9pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Daniel Boone" 1pg - (text)
    "Rustlers' Trap" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Rescue of the Eagle" 6pg - p:Severin i:Elder- (text)
  97 January 1953
    (cover) - p:Severin 
    "The Maverick" 8pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Companions of American Eagle" 1pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Jedediah Smith" 1pg - (text)
    "Grand Canyon" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Indians of the United States" 1pg 
    "Stampede at Dawn" 7pg - p:Severin i:Elder
  98 March 1953
    (cover) - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Half-Breed Rebellion" 8pg - p:Severin i:Elder
    "Sitting Bull" 2pg 
    "The Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Army Beef" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Zebulon Pike" 1pg - (text)
    "Deserter" 7pg - p:Severin i:Elder
  99 May 1953
    (cover) 
  100 July 1953
    (cover) - p:Severin 
    "The Wolf of the Prairies" 9pg 
    "Big Foot Wallace" 1pg - (text)
    "General Philip Henry Sheridan 1831 - 1888" 2pg 
    "Six Gun Showdown" 6pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Rocking Chair Rustlers" 7pg - p:[Stein] - (text)
  101 September 1953
    (cover) 
    "Puk Wudgies" 6pg - p:Severin 
    "Double Barrelled Peace Treaty" 3pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Alexander Majors" 1pg - (text)
    "Loot At Dead Man's Gap" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "The Invaders" 8pg - p:[Severin] 
  102 November 1953
    (cover) - p:[Severin] 
    "The Losts Ones" 9pg - p:Severin 
    "Famous Gun Fighters" 1pg 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (illustrated text)
    "Plunder of the Rio Puerco" 7pg - p:Stein 
    "John Wesley Powell" 1pg - (text)
    "Buffalo Bill Cody" 1pg 
    "Horse Thieves" 7pg 
  103 January 1954
    (cover) - p:Severin 
    "Avenger" 7pg - p:[Severin] 
    "The Texas Border and the Six Shooter" 3pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Lee Hall" 3pg 
    "Pony Express Robber" 7pg - p:Stein 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Bill Langry's Long Shot" 1pg 
    "Storm In Port" 7pg 
  104 March 1954
    (cover) - p:Severin 
    "Surprise Attack" 8pg - p:Severin 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Mal Hombres of Loma Escondida" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "John Clum" 1pg - (text)
    "Wild Bill" 2pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Missing Calumet" 7pg - p:Gevanter i:Severin
  105 May 1954
    (cover) - p:Severin 
    "American Eagle" 8pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Cochise" 2pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Deadline at Bountiful Basin" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Riding Equipment" 1pg 
    "Hugh Glass" 1pg - (text)
    "Chief Gall" 1pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Massacre at Blue Creek" 5pg - p:[Severin] 
  106 July 1954
    (cover) 
  107 September 1954
    (cover) - p:Severin 
    "The Wagon Trail" 10pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Roundup" 1pg - p:[Severin] - (text)
    "Desert Duel" 5pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Clay Allison" 3pg - p:Severin 
    "Joe Slade" 1pg - (text)
    "Spirit on Vengeance" 6pg - p:[Severin] - (text)
  108 November 1954
    (cover) - p:Severin 
    "The Medicine Stick" 8pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Stampede at Snake River" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Stampede at Snake River" 5pg - p:Severin 
    "Joe Pearce" 1pg - (text)
    "Miracombo's Magic" 4pg - p:Severin 
  109 January 1955
    (cover) - p:Severin 
    "The Ghost Bear" 6pg 
    "E. Peabody" 1pg - (text)
    "Trouble for Bard Grady" 6pg - p:[Stein] 
    "An Indian Hunch" 6pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Making Camp" 1pg 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Outrageous Redskins" 5pg - p:Severin - (text)
  110 March 1955
    (cover) - p:[Severin] 
    "Silent Murder" 8pg - p:Severin 
    "Tom Peasely" 1pg - (text)
    "Red Slayers" 5pg - p:Severin 
    "The Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "The Barbwire War" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Danger Stretch" 4pg - p:Severin 
  111 May 1955
    (cover) - p:Severin 
    "A Life for a Life" 7pg - p:Severin 
    "Remi Nadeau" 1pg - (text)
    "The Old West" 1pg 
    "Outlaw Trail" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "The Invisible Weapon" 6pg - p:Severin 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "The Hostage" 4pg - p:Severin 
  112 July 1955
    (cover) - p:[Severin] 
    "The Renegades" 6pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "The Remuda Rustlers" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Captives in the Wolf Country" 5pg - p:Mastroserio 
    "Pistols of the West" 1pg 
    "The Weakling" 6pg - p:[Stein] 
    "T C Henry" 6pg - (text)
  113 September 1955
    (cover) - p:Severin 
    "Laughing Dog's Revenge" 6pg - p:[Severin] 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Mississippi Card Sharps" 5pg 
    "Claim Jumpers" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Colt's That Won the West" 1pg - p:Severin 
    "Jim Dahlman" 1pg - (text)
    "The Iron Shirt" 6pg - p:[Severin] 
  114 November 1955
    (cover) - p:Stein 
    "American Eagle Meets the Maverick" 6pg - p:Stein 
    "Farmland" 1pg - (text)
    "The Drifter" 6pg - p:[Meskin] 
    "Rustlers" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "American Eagle Discovers a Secret Weapon" 6pg - p:[Stein] 
  115 January 1956
    (cover) - p:Stein 
    "Bad Medicine" 6pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Bad Medicine" 6pg - p:Meskin 
    "Arranges a Duel" 6pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Salt Lake" 1pg - (text)
    "Crisis at the Crossroads" 7pg - p:[Stein] 
  116 March 1956
    (cover) - p:Stein 
    "Outsmarts the Cheyennes" 6pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Lighting Draw" 6pg - p:[Meskin] 
    "Bad Men on the Border" 6pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Fred Harvey" 1pg - (text)
    "The Home Thieves" 6pg 
  117 May 1956
    (cover) 
    "Fury on the Plains" 6pg 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Weak Boy" 6pg - p:Meskin 
    "The Acid Test" 6pg 
    "Custer" 1pg - (text)
    "Posse of the Border" 6pg - p:[Meskin] 
  118 July 1956
    (cover) - p:Stein 
    "Liberty Belle" 6pg - p:Galindo 
    "Mystery of the Calico Pony" 7pg - p:[Meskin] 
    "American Eagle and the Sioux" 6pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "Thirsty Mule" 6pg - p:Meskin 
  119 September 1956
    (cover) - p:[Stein] 
    "American Eagle Battles a Fanged Fury" 6pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Border Bandits" 6pg - p:[Stein] 
    "Sir Gore" 1pg - (text)
    "The Drifter" 6pg - p:[Draut] 
    "Roundup" 1pg - (text)
    "The Gift Horse" 6pg