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Art of Romance, Chapter 16, Someone Old and Someone New

(August 1951 – October 1951: Young Romance #36 – #38, Young Love #24 – #26)

Number of Romance Titles 1947 – 1952 (the period covered in this chapter is shaded in blue)

Despite the fact that today many fans point to Boys’ Ranch as one of Simon and Kirby best efforts it was at the time a commercial failure. The last issue of Boys’ Ranch would have an August cover date. After that Joe and Jack would only be working on the two monthly romance titles and the bimonthly Black Magic all of them for Prize Comics. Young Romance entered its fourth year and I believe both romance titles were still selling very well.

Jack Kirby is legendary for the amount of work he could produce. While there were periods during the Simon and Kirby collaboration that support that legend there are other times that do not. In the previous chapter Meskin replaced Kirby as the most productive studio artist. During the period covered in this chapter Meskin has maintained the first place position but now Bill Draut has replaced Jack for the second place. For the romance titles Meskin produced 64, Draut 49, and Kirby 45 pages. Adding the work for Black Magic only increases the disparity (Meskin 78, Draut 67 and Kirby 60 pages). Mort Meskin was famous for his productivity but Bill Draut was not. The difference is all the more striking when it is considered that Meskin and Draut were doing all there own inking while Kirby was not.

Another indication of Jack’s decreased involvement in the art from this period is that Bill Draut did the lead story for Young Romance #36. While it was not unusual for the first story of Young Love to be done by artists other then Kirby, Young Romance was the flagship title and up to now Jack almost always provided the lead story. The single previous exception was for YR #12 (July 1949) and Draut was the feature artist on that occasion as well.

I cannot offer any explanation for Kirby’s decreased page production. If his time was occupied with trying to develop something new it did not come to fruition. But it must be remembered that Jack was a boss and his income depended on the how good sales were for the S&K titles not on how many pages of art he drew. His decreased output could be due to nothing more then attention to some personal issues.

Most of the rest of the romance work was done by two artists; John Prentice with 25 pages and Marvin Stein with 24 pages. Three other artists supplied single stories. Two of them will be discussed below and the third has not been identified but only provided a single page.

Young Romance #38 (October 1951) “Family Trouble”, art by Jack Kirby

While his page count has dropped the quality of Jack Kirby’s work had not suffered. He still drew great splashes and his stories were still unique compared to other studio artists (suggesting that Jack was rewriting the scripts while he was drawing them). This uniqueness was often the result of placing more action into the story, something that Kirby excelled at. But as I have pointed out before, Jack also excelled at comic book art that did not rely on action. His romance splash panels are often examples of this. The splash for “Family Trouble” uses the confessional format that is so typical of Kirby’s lead stories. The word balloon that introduces the story provides the plot of young lovers facing family disapproval but does not explain the basis of their problem other then age. Kirby presents the couple passing through a gate carrying their luggage presumable off to start their new life together. The sign on the entrance indicates they are leaving the servant’s quarters and therefore theirs is a romance that breaks the class boundary between the rich and their servants. The man seems calmed but resolved while the woman seems more resolute. At a glance this splash is nothing more the two standing figures but Jack embodies an entire story in it. Of course the viewer is expected to be enticed to read the story to get the full explanation.

Young Love #25 (September 1951) “My Old Flame”, art by Jack Kirby

Kirby’s splashes are almost always interesting but occasionally they are quite unique. Given Joe Simon’s long history of innovative designs I suspect he provided layouts for many of Jack’s covers and splashes but even if that is true it still took a genius like Kirby to make them work so well. Here while riding a train a man pauses from reading his book to reflect on a past relationship. Normally the splash would be expected to show a head shot or half figure of the former love object. Instead we are provided with just a close-up of a set of eyes seeming arising behind the man; a compositional device that is much more effective in capturing the man’s mood.

Young Romance #36 (August 1951) “Yesterday’s Romance”, art by Bill Draut

“Yesterday’s Romance” was the lead story for YR #36 that Bill did instead of Jack. It is an unusual story for any romance title because it main characters are all in their advanced years. Draut does a good job of capturing the offbeat nature of the story in his splash. The odd thing about this piece is that usually the lead story used the confessional format where the protagonist’s speech balloon tells what the story is about and provides the title. Bill has used that confessional splash before so he was aware of Simon and Kirby’s preference for using that splash format for the lead story.

Young Romance #36 (August 1951) “Married In Haste”, art by Bill Draut

While “Yesterday’s Romance” failed to make use of the confessional splash it appears in the same issue in “Married in Haste”. This suggests that “Married in Haste” was originally meant to be the lead story but its place was taken by “Yesterday’s Romance” after the art was completed. Bill does a good job with the confessional splash and as any good splash it succeeds in its roll as the story’s preview. It may not be fair but it is constructive to compare the splash for “Married in Haste” with Kirby’s “Family Trouble” (shown above). Both do well at having the splash background support the story needed although it is not clear how much of this was the result of the artist and how much came from the writer. I describe the comparison as unfair because Kirby is such a great artist the comparison will tend to make Draut’s work poorer then the excellent art it really is. But the comparison is useful because it highlights the nuanced emotions Kirby gives his characters compared to the more static ones that Draut provides. While Kirby is justly famous for the exciting action the work he did for romance pushed him to be equally adept at portraying more subtle emotions.

Young Love #24 (August 1951) “Native Wedding”, art by Mort Meskin

The splash for Meskin’s “Native Wedding” is reminiscent of the one Bruno Premiani did some time ago for YR #10 (June 1950, see chapter 11 of The Art of Romance). One obvious difference is that Meskin is uncharacteristic in his use of busy brushwork found throughout the splash. Normally this would result in the image loosing focus but somehow Mort pulls it off. Mort also takes care to make the camp fire scene occur at night providing the nearby faces shadowed from below as appropriate for the position of the fire. The dancer’s back is also appropriately shadowed.

Young Love #26 (October 1951) “Let’s Keep It Gay” page 5, art by Mort Meskin

For a couple of pages of “Let’s Keep It Gay” Meskin adopts and 2 rows by 3 columns panel layout. This results in tall narrow panels that Mort put to good use especially in the second panel of page 5. This panel layout was one that previously Leonard Starr was fond of using so one wonders if perhaps Meskin picked it up from him. Starr also used a 3 rows by 3 panel layout where he would decrease the height of two rows so that the remaining row would have similarly tall panels. Starr’s modified 3 by 3 panel layout did not seem to be one the Meskin picked up on.

I particularly like how the bottom row starts with the couple in the foreground and a TV studio as the background, then Mort comes in for a close-up without the studio background, before ending by once again pushing the couple into the background of the studio. Careful manipulation of point of view was an important aspect of Meskin’s art during this period providing his stories with what could be described as a cinematic approach.

Young Romance #38 (October 1951) “One Tragic Mistake”, art by John Prentice

John Prentice has become a regular presence in Simon and Kirby productions, especially the romance comics. In the last chapter I provided an example where Prentice seemed to be adopting some of the Studio Style inking techniques. Although it was possible it could have been Joe or Jack touching up John’s work the picket fence crosshatching (see my Inking Glossary for explanations of some of my inking terminology) my opinion was and still is that it was the work of John himself. For the splash page of “One Tragic Mistake” we find a more typical Prentice inking. Note in particular his method of doing cloth folds. They are not the spatulate or oval shape typical of Kirby but tend to be long with roughly parallel edges and with a more or less flat and sometimes slanted ends. John also has a fondness for long sweeping cloth folds. Note the inking of the man’s shoulder. At a glance this might be mistaken for a Studio Style shoulder blot but see how it appears on only one of the shoulders and is clearly integrated with the shadow on the side of the face. With Joe or Jack I am never sure if shoulder blots were meant to indicate shadows or the turn of the form but Prentice always seems quite clear with his intent.

Young Romance #38 (October 1951) “One Tragic Mistake” page 8, art by John Prentice

While the splash page to this story looks like typical Prentice inking other pages seem to be a combination of his own inking techniques and the Studio Style. Most of the cloth folds are done in Prentice’s typical brush work but note the abstract arch shadows (panels 1, 2 and 4), picket fence crosshatching (panels 3 and 4) and shoulder blot (panel 6). Only drop strings appear to be missing. Panel 6 truly has shoulder blots because they appear on both shoulders while a shadow would only be appropriate foe the man’s right side. While I am not certain that the picket fence crosshatching was not by John, the abstract arches are so untypical for Prentice that I believe this is Joe or Jack stepping to do some touching up.

Young Love #24 (August 1951) “Don’t Tell On Me” page 2, art by John Prentice

A page from another Prentice story from the same period provides a more typical example of Prentice inking. Again note the cloth folds some of which are long and sweeping and few could be called oval or spatulate in shape. There are some arching shadows that might suggest the Studio Style. But the round shape in the first panel is not abstract at all but is clearly meant to be the moon. The arc of the left side of the second panel is meant to be the entrance to an arched hallway. The shadow on the right side seems to be the light of the window falling on the darken exterior. Almost all applications of large areas of ink appear to be intended as realistic shadows. There is some picket fence crosshatching that again does not look typical of the brush work of either Kirby or Simon. However note the picket fence crosshatching of the last panel. The pure black area on the man’s left shoulder seems an appropriate shadow but then the picket fence crosshatching on the opposite side does not. Since I have found both Simon and Kirby touching up other artists works distinguishing between their efforts and that of the original artists adopting Studio Style techniques can be a difficult conundrum. In John Prentice’s case I am still undecided. The distinction becomes important when trying to detect Prentice’s hand in the inking of work by Jack Kirby. Some have suggested that John was the inker for some of Kirby’s art and he certainly is a candidate for that type of work.

Young Love #24 (August 1951) “Left At the Alter”, art by Marvin Stein

Previously I have had mixed feelings about Marvin Stein and in particular felt his romance art was little more then adequate. Even in the last chapter I noted his presence and gave an example image but did not provide more detailed examination. However Marvin had been working hard at improving his art and although signs of improvement have been noted before now his efforts really seems to bare fruit during this period. Marvin developed a style for his crime and western work that owed much to what he learned from Jack Kirby. For that more action oriented art Stein also developed an inking style that was blunt but well controlled; a style very suitable for the genre it was used on. Neither the pencil nor inking style would be very appropriate for romance work so instead Marvin used a more refined style for both. Not only was the bold inking brush restrained but Marvin sometimes used a pen to create crosshatching. His figure drawing has improved but he still retains one of his earlier trademark tendencies to give his woman eyes that are set at an angle with each other.

Young Love #25 (September 1951) “Alice Finds Her Wonderland”, art by Marvin Stein

The splash for “Alice Finds Her Wonderland” is so special I could not resist including it. The Alice in Wonderland cast was probable requested by the script writer although the wonderland that Alice desires in the story did not include these delightful characters. Having seen much of Marvin Steins work in the romance, crime, western and horror genres it is quite a pleasure to see him so successful at a more cartoon-like drawing.

Young Romance #36 (August 1951) “Just Good Friends”, art by Vic Donahue

Vic Donahue has not made an appearance in a Simon and Kirby production for almost a year (last seen in YL #13, September 1950, see Chapter 11 of The Art of Romance). Even then I remarked that his art had been improving. Apparently that improvement has progressed so far that I almost did not recognize him in “Just Good Friends”. Even though this piece is unsigned enough of Vic’s mannerisms remain to credit Vic with this story such as the tilt he often gives the heads of females or the way he occasionally reverts to fine pen work often as simple hatching. Vic also appeared in this same month in Black Magic #6 (Chapter 2 of the Little Shop of Horrors) in a signed piece but I have to admit I did not find that work particularly appealing.

Young Love #26 (October 1951) “Polly Wants a Boy Friend”, art by Ross Andru

I am always impressed by the number of talented comic book artists that had worked for Simon and Kirby at one time or another. Some like Bill Draut, Mort Meskin and John Prentice did extended stays. Others like Leonard Starr and John Severin worked for more limited durations but provided their share of work during that time. Yet others made brief appearances and only did a few pieces for instance Bernie Krigstein and Steve Ditko. Ross Andru belongs in the last category.

I must admit that I am not that knowledgeable about Ross Andru’s history. Most fans are probably familiar with him for the work he did many years later on Amazing Spider-Man. Andru was clearly an enterprising individual who formed his own company on three occasions. The earliest was in 1951 when he and Mike Esposito created MR Publications. I am not clear exactly what the nature of this company was. Some have said it was a comic publishing company in which case Andru and Esposito were three years ahead of Simon and Kirby’s Mainline (although Al Harvey was much earlier then them all). However I have been unable to determine what comic titles they published. If MR Publications was actually producing comic books for another publisher to release then Simon and Kirby had been doing that for years (and Will Eisner doing it still earlier). MR Publications was short lived and it would be interesting to determine the timing of that company or its demise and the appearance of Andru’s in Simon and Kirby productions.

“Polly Wants a Boy Friend” is typical romance work by Andru. The sort of wistful expression with tilted head of the woman in the center of the splash panel can be found in some signed pieces from a few years later. The man in the last panel of the page was also a dead giveaway of Andru’s style. Although unsigned I have not doubt about the correct attribution of this story. My database indicates Ross will appear in a couple more Simon and Kirby romances in the near future and again under different circumstances in 1954. Considering that Andru’s earlier pieces for Joe and Jack are unsigned there is also the possibility I will find more as my reviews progress.

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)

Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 2, Up and Running

(April to August 1951, Black Magic #4 – #6)

Black Magic #4 to #6 were released during the same period as Boys’ Ranch #4 to #6 (for Harvey Comics). Both titles were bimonthlies which mean that the greatest amount of work produced by the Simon and Kirby studio was for Young Romance and Young Love both of which were monthlies. This is not at all unusual for while Simon and Kirby are most famous for their superheroes most of the work they did during their collaboration was for love comics.

The period discussed in this chapter roughly corresponds with chapter 15 of my serial post The Art of Romance.

While Jack Kirby did all the covers for Black Magic (as he would throughout the first run) in terms of the number of pages drawn he was not the primary artist for Black Magic like he was in the earlier issues. That honors now went to Mort Meskin who did 37 pages compared to Jack’s 17 pages. Even Bill Draut with 18 pages of art did more then Kirby. But even Bill was not the second most prolific artist in the issues covered; surprisingly that would go to the newcomer George Roussos who did 20 pages. Vic Donahue who has been absent from Simon and Kirby productions for some months does a single 5 page story. John Prentice is new to the studio and only provides a single 7 page story. Two stories remain without attributions but one of them is a single page feature.

Black Magic #4 (April 1951) “Voodoo on Tenth Avenue”, art by Jack Kirby

Kirby has scaled back on his splash for his only large piece for Black Magic. Still even with half a page Jack could get a lot of impact. It is amazing how Kirby has managed to make the woman both beautiful and evil; no haggard witch here is just a cold and angry heart. What a text book example of the use of abstract arch shadows (see my Inking Glossary). I count 6 of them in this small splash.

Black Magic #5 (June 1951) “The World of Spirits”, art by Jack Kirby

While Kirby’s other contribution to Black Magic #4 to #6 were very short pieces one of them, “The World of Spirits” is not to be neglected. It is a small masterpiece. It is one of those cases where Jack, so famous for his action, has managed to make exciting art out of nothing more then talking heads. Part of what makes a page like the one shown above so vital is how Kirby changes the expressions in every panel. Since the characters are all past their youth Jack can push his already exaggerated eyebrows to much advantage. The inking is also superb. I am not one to automatically attribute good inking jobs to Kirby but the way the spotting is done on the white shirt in the splash and the use of bold cloth folds make me believe that at least much of the spotting was done by Jack himself. A lot of the times these very short pieces just did not seem to get the same attention from the various studio artists as they gave to the more substantial stories. But not Kirby; some of his greatest masterpieces are short stories such as this one.

Black Magic #4 (April 1951) “The Dead Don’t Really Die”, art by Mort Meskin

I am afraid I am giving short shift to Mort Meskin by only including one example despite the fact that he produced far more work then any other artist. This certainly does not reflect on the quality of the work that Mort was producing; Meskin’s Black Magic work is among the best that he ever did. I admit that Mort did some great work for DC after leaving the Simon and Kirby studio but that unfortunately was done under the severely detrimental effects of Comic Code censoring.

I have selected this particular splash page because of its unusual design. Not that the half page splash is so visually different but the fact that the splash panel is actually the first story panel. Typically splash panels are used as the comic book equivalent of a movie trailer; they provide a sort of a synopsis of the story to entice the reader. I do not remember a story splash panel being used in any prior Simon and Kirby production. The use of this device in “The Dead Don’t Really Die” is still pretty much an isolated case but it would become very typical of Simon and Kirby romance comics in the future.

Black Magic #4 (April 1951) “The Jonah”, art by Bill Draut

Black Magic seems to have given Bill Draut the confidence to draw the type of characters that had all but disappeared from his romance work. You normally would not see something like the sailor with the white hat in Bill’s love stories at this time. The splash panel is also something not to be seen in a romance work. How seedy can you get? Beat up trash cans, littered bottles and yeah I am sure that man in the background is just asking directions from the woman. Note the building on our right; the way the bricks are roughly inked as solid black is a mannerism often used by Draut.

Black Magic #5 (June 1951) “Justice for the Dead”, art by John Prentice

I am not sure why but John Prentice did not seem to do as much work for Black Magic as compared to what he did for the romance titles. It certainly is not because he did a poor job on them; quite the contrary. “Justice for the Dead” is a typical Black Magic piece but with a crime slant that shows that John would have made a great crime comic book artist. He had previously worked for Hillman so perhaps he had done some drawing in that genre there. The GCD lists Prentice as also having worked in Gang Busters and Mr. District Attorney for DC but I have not yet verified that. Years later John would do some work for Simon and Kirby’s Police Trap and later yet take over the syndication detective strip Rip Kirby. My knowledge of John Prentice work outside of the Simon and Kirby studio is sadly incomplete but I am working on rectifying that defect.

Black Magic #5 (June 1951) “The Face from The Future”, art by George Roussos

BM #3 (February) marked the earliest appearance of pencils by George Roussos in a Simon and Kirby production. Despite having two stories in that BM #5 and one in the next issue, it is odd that Roussos has not yet appeared in either Young Romance or Young Love. Since George did a lot of inking and was well known to Joe and Jack there is the possibility that he has help with inking Kirby’s work prior to this but I have seen nothing that confirms that conjecture. That Simon and Kirby both knew Roussos is indicated by a sketches both did for him in 1942 (Joe did Hitler in a zoot suite (Poking Fun at Hitler) and Jack did the Boy Commands (A Belated Happy Birthday to Jack Kirby). George also knew Mort Meskin and had inked some of Mort’s work for DC (Early Mort Meskin).

As often happens in Simon and Kirby productions, George Roussos’ splash for “The Face from the Future” uses some inking technique that seemed borrowed from the Studio Style inking. In this case we find picket fence crosshatching (Inking Glossary) on the hooded figure and a rounded shadow in the upper right corner. However it is clearly Roussos doing the inking and not Joe or Jack touching it up. While there is classical picket fence crosshatching on the right ghostly figure it changes as it proceeds to the left and becomes an inking technique not found in the Studio Style. There the shadow is built with short strokes that initially look like the pickets from the picket fence crosshatching but without the rails. The rounded shadow in the upper corner has a ragged edge that again is not typical of the way it usually is done in the Studio Style.

Black Magic #6 (August 1951) “The Girl the Earth Ate Up”, art by George Roussos

George does such a great job on the splash for “The Girl the Earth Ate Up” I could not resist including it. Do not get me wrong Roussos pencils and inking are on the crude side but his use of blacks makes it really work.

Black Magic #6 (August 1951) “A Wolf That Hummed a Nursery Rhyme”, art by Vic Donahue

Vic Donahue has not been appearing in Simon and Kirby productions for a while and this is the only work that I have assigned to him for 1951. It is an odd story and it allows Vic to draw the type of characters that would not have been appropriate for romance work. Even so I just cannot get enthusiastic about Donahue’s effort. Vic was one of the lesser talents in the Simon and Kirby studio and now that all three of the usual suspects (Bill Draut, Mort Meskin and John Prentice) are present Donahue will rarely appear again if at all (my database has no more entries for him after this one).

Black Magic #5 (June 1951) “Follow Me”, art by unidentified artist

There is one Black Magic artist from this period that I have not been able to identify but he does a nice job on “Follow Me”. Good characterization, excellent inking and good graphic story telling.

The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 1 (#1 – 3), Expanding Their Fields

The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 3 (#7 – 8), The Same Old Gang
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 4 (#9 – 11), Another Hit
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 5 (#12 – 14), New Faces
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 6 (#15 – 17), Mix Bag
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 7 (#18 – 20), Kirby Returns
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 8 (#21 – 23), The Gang’s All Here
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 9 (#24 – 26), The Party’s Ovetr
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 10 (#27 – 29), A Special Visitor
The Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 11 (#30 – 33), The End

The Art of Romance, Chapter 12, A Smaller Studio

(August – October 1950: Young Romance #24 – #26, Young Love #12 – #14)

Romance Titles to 1951
Number of Romance Titles 1947 – 1950 (the period covered in this chapter shaded in blue)

The trend of the decreasing number of romance titles that was found in the period covered in the previous chapter has continued. As far as can be judged the Prize love comics, Young Romance and Young Love, were still successful; at least enough to continue on a monthly schedule. Young Romance is now entering its third year of publication. The most obvious change is that Young Love replaced the previous photographic covers with drawn versions for the August issue and Young Romance would follow a couple months later. Frankly I am unclear what drove the use of photos on comic covers but as we will see in future chapters the use of art covers would be temporary for Young Romance and a little more extended for Young Love. Printing is somewhat more expensive for photographic covers but according to Joe Simon for the publication sizes involved the extra cost was very minimal.

I have noted in previous chapters a decrease in the number of artists used in producing YR and YL. This trend continues to the extent that a total of six artists were used in the six issues issued during the period covered in this chapter. In fact this is the first period that I have covered in this serial post where I can confidently identify all the artists involved (or as confidently as I can where Bruno Premiani is concerned). The drop in the number of contributing artists is not random; it is the less talented artists that are no longer used. Some, like George Gregg, would continue to appear in the Prize crime comics (Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty). There is one exception to dropping the less talented artists and that is John Severin. Although Severin does not show up in any of the comics from this period he has not yet been truly dropped as he will appear again in the next chapter. In any case as talented an artist on western stories that Severin was he really was not very good at romance stories. His diminished appearances in the romance titles seemed to have been offset by his work for Prize Comics Western.

Young Love #13 (September 1950) “Everybody Wants My Girl”, art by Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby would be, as he has been, the primary artist for the Prize romance titles. In these six issues he provided 4 covers, 7 stories and a total of 62 pages. Jack would do all the lead stories for Young Romance and one of them for Young Love. These lead stories would start with a confessional splash (where someone is introducing the story and their speech balloon is used for the title). All but one of the splashes would be half page designs and none of them had quite the punch as those from the earlier issues. Perhaps this is because Simon and Kirby’s creative juices were directed elsewhere but that will be discussed in a separate post.

Young Romance #24 (August 1950) “Buy Me That Man” page 14, art by Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby drew a lot of romance stories and it is clear he had a hand in plotting these stories as well. So it is not surprising that some plot devices would be used more then once. The use of an sudden plunge in a plane to throw a couple into each others arms found in YR #24 (see above) was used previously in YR #8 (November 1948 “Love Can Strike So Suddenly”, see Swiping off of Kirby). It would be found again in In Love #2 (October 1954, “Marilyn’s Men”). While Marilyn’s Men was mostly drawn by Bill Draut, Jack probably was involved in the plotting of that as well.

Young Love #14 (October 1950) “Girls like Her”, art by Mort Meskin

As with last chapter, Mort Meskin would be the second most used artist for this period drawing 14 stories with 54 pages. While the number of features is doubled that done by Kirby most of them are very short, 1 to 3 pages long. Previously these featurettes were done by a number of different artists but during this period Mort did all but two of them (the two Meskin did not do were done by Kirby). Mort would provide one of the lead features (Young Love #12).

Young Romance #24 (August 1950) “Take a Chance”, art by Mort Meskin

Although I have not found any evidence that the more talented artists working for Simon and Kirby were ever supplied layouts for the stories they drew, Joe and Jack did seem to be involved in at least the plotting of the scripts. Therefore recurring themes would also show up among other artists. The theme of a woman’s love of a racecar driver and the fear of the risks involved in that occupation can be found in “Take a Chance” shown above. It also would return many years later in a cover a story drawn by John Prentice (“Take Me as I Am”, Young Brides #14, April 1954).

Young Love #14 (October 1950) “I’ll Tell You No Lies”, art by Bill Draut

Bill Draut continues in the number three spot with 6 stories and 46 pages but as we shall see he barely holds that position. At this point Draut arrives at a style that will not change very much for the rest of the work that he would do for the Prize romance titles or for that matter Harvey’s love comics as well. I do not say that disparagingly as he has a clean style and is good at portraying body language. Bill generally uses half page splashes so I have provided an image from “I’ll Tell You No Lies” even though it is well below Draut’s usual quality.

Young Love #13 (September 1950) “Two Can Play the Game”, art by Leonard Starr

Leonard Starr was used often during this period with 6 stories and 45 pages, only one page less the Bill Draut. Starr had his own style of inking but compare the brush work between the man’s jacket and the woman’s dress in the splash for “Two Can Play the Game”. The inking on the man is typical of Starr but the picket fence crosshatching found in the dress is not. This looks like typical S&K studio style inking and suggests that either Joe or Jack did that particular spotting. I am not sure why this was done but it was not that unusual for studio style inking to appear in splashes that were otherwise inked by the artist.

Young Romance #25 (September 1950) “Out of the Running”, art by Leonard Starr

In two stories from this period (“Out of the Running” YR #25 and “Hired Wife” YR #26) Starr introduces a new type of beauty. Previously his women a pixie or elfin look to them; wide foreheads, widely separated eyes, smaller mouths and narrow chins. The pixie look can still be found in some characters in these stories but there are also women with larger eyes, smaller foreheads, and fuller lips giving them a more sultry appearance. This new type of beauty will play an important part in the syndication strip “Mary Perkins on Stage” that Starr will launch in 1957.

Note the inking on the man’s jacket in the splash panel. The shoulder blot and blunt brushwork is not typical of Starr’s inking. Once again Simon or Kirby has step in as art editor to alter the art. This splash is actually based on a stat of a blowup of a story panel. The panel chosen was one of Starr’s tall and narrow ones that had to be expanded on both sides to accommodate the more horizontal splash panel. Most of the jacket was not present in the story panel and the inking was touched up even in that portion that was original present. Although this technique of using a stat in the creation of comic book art is rarely found in Simon and Kirby productions it was a method that would be turned to when needed. I suspect that Joe and Jack were unhappy with Starr’s original splash.

Young Romance #26 (October 1950) “Hired Wife”, art by Leonard Starr

Above is the splash page for the other example of Starr’s more sultry beauty. This story is unusual in that the tall narrow panel that is found in all previous stories by Starr occurs only in the splash panel of “Hired Wife”. I am not sure what to make of this change in panel layouts but it suggests that he may have been working from someone else’s layouts. I will return to this subject in the next chapter of this serial post where we will find another example.

Young Romance #24 (August 1950) “Portrait of a Lady”, art by Bruno Premiani?

Bruno Premiani(?) has been a persistent presence in Simon and Kirby productions since August 1949. During this period Bruno provided 3 stories and 26 pages. While he did not appear as much as Kirby, Draut or Meskin what art he did was all first rate work. The romantic interest between an artist and his model is a recurring theme in Simon and Kirby productions. It is found in the very first cover for Young Romance (The First Romance Comic) and can be found many years later as well (Artist and Model). The artist and model theme appears to be particularly popular for this period since it occurs in three stories. We have previously seen Leonard Starr’s splash from “Two Can Play the Game” (see above) now we can compare it with Premiani’s version “Portrait of a Lady”. For me this is not a question of which was the better artist but rather individual interpretations from two talented practitioners of comic book art.

Young Romance #26 (October 1950) “Simpson and Delilah”, art by Bruno Premiani?

Premiani repeats the use of a dancing woman for the splash of “Simson and Delilah” (a south Pacific dancer graced “Untouched” from Young Love #10, June 1950). Although this is a repeat performance of the theme it is by no means a duplicate of the previous version.

This would be the last romance story that Bruno Premiani(?) would do for Simon and Kirby. As I have mentioned in the past this body of works were all unsigned in Simon and Kirby productions and were done in a style dissimilar to that used in art done for other companies that were signed by Premiani. While this does not disprove that the artist was Bruno Premiani it does beg the question as to why he was originally credited with this work. Although I am hesitant to fully accept Bruno Premiani as the artist (hence my use of question marks) I have no doubts as to the talent of this creator. His absence would leave a hole in the romance titles that would not be filled for some months to come.

Young Love #13 (September 1950) “The Woman Across the Hall”, art by Vic Donahue

Vic Donahue played a minor part in the romance titles of this period providing only 2 stories with 15 pages. His art is improving both in his in his ability to depict figures and to graphically tell a story. His women in particular have become more interesting largely because his use of arching eyebrows brings more emotion into their faces. My database indicates that these are Vic’s last work for Simon and Kirby but I hesitate to say that with conviction until I had a chance to more carefully review future issues. In any case I do not feel the same about Donahue’s absence then I do about Premiani’s disappearance.

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 9, Not The Same

(Justice Traps the Guilty #9 – #12, Headline #35 – #38)

This chapter will cover the Prize crime comics from the period March through November 1949. Both Justice Traps the Guilty and Headline were bimonthly titles. The other nominally crime title, Charlie Chan, had been discontinued after February. Simon and Kirby were also producing Young Romance at the start of this period as a bimonthly but switching to a monthly in September. The first Young Love was released just prior to this period in February and would be a bimonthly throughout the time covered by this chapter. The western romance titles came out during this period; Real West Romance in April and Western Love in July. They were both bimonthlies. Thus at the start of this period Simon and Kirby were producing 4 titles and by the end 6 titles. Most of the titles were bimonthlies and I find it more significant to count bimonthlies as half a title. Using that counting technique at the start S&K were producing 2 titles and by the end 3.5 titles.

Justice Traps the Guilty #9 (April 1949) “This Way to The Gallows”, art by Jack Kirby

As is generally the case when discussing Simon and Kirby productions, Jack was the primary artist during the time covered by this chapter. This is however a little misleading as Kirby only supplied 5 stories with 38 pages out of a total of 43 stories with 325 pages. While not quite at Kirby’s level, other artists supplied significant amount of work. John Serevin did 5 stories and 32 pages; Vic Donahue had 4 stories and 30 pages and Warren Broderick may have done 4 stories with 31 pages.

A trend that started earlier was continued; Jack’s splashes for the crime titles no longer seemed to have the impact that they did with the earlier issues. Part of this due to all of the splashes now being half pages splashes, but part was the result of the art itself. This may not have just been a declining interest on Kirby’s part; it is possible that he was toning down the violence because of the criticism that crime comics were receiving at this time. Whatever the reason, if you want to see great Kirby splashes from this period you have to look at the romance titles where Jack was turning out some of his best splashes.

Headline #37
Headline #37 (September 1949) That is Jack Kirby in the cover photograph. An uncropped version of the photograph shows that the policeman was actually Joe Simon.

Jack also supplied 4 of the 8 covers, and the covers that Kirby did were all excellent. Starting with Justice Traps the Guilty #11 (August) and Headline #37 (September) the crime titles began to use photographs for their covers. A similar change over occurred for the romance titles; Young Romance with issue #13 (September); Young Love seemed to start it all with issue #2 (April). The western romance titles (Western Love and Real West Romance) were both introduced with photographic covers. Simon and Kirby’s involvement in the crime photographic covers is shown by the presence of Jack himself in one of them.

Headline #37 (September 1949) “The Accusing Match””, art by Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby’s declining contributions to the crime titles is even greater then the numbers indicate. That is because this chapter covers a transition in these titles. While Jack contributed to Headline #35 to #37 and JTTG #9 to #11, he would provide no work for Headline #38 or JTTG #12. “The Accusing Match” would be the last Kirby crime story released until Simon and Kirby published Police Trap. A drop in Bill Draut’s contribution to the crime genre comics was noted in previous chapters. Bill’s last crime story, and the only for this chapter’s time period, would be “Willie the Actor” from JTTG #9 (April). Draut’s drop in from the crime genre was not a reflection about his art in general because he still played a leading roll in the standard romance titles as well showing up often in the western romance comics all of which were produced by Simon and Kirby. Other artists who worked for the Simon and Kirby studio also stopped appearing about this time in Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty. I will touch on this subject as I review some of these artists and at the end of this post draw my conclusions.

Headline #37 (September 1949) “Death of a Menace”, art by Vic Donahue

Vic Donahue’s provided 4 stories and 30 pages which is a surprisingly high number relative to Jack Kirby. He is one of the Simon and Kirby studio artists that would disappear from the crime titles. The last work that I know of appeared in JTTG #12 (October). Donahue appears in Simon and Kirby production often enough during this period that I consider him among the second tier of studio artists (along with John Severin, Leonard Starr, Bruno Premiani?, Jo Albistur and Ann Brewster).

Donahue art during this period is consistent with what I have presented before. Traces of the Studio style inking are found sporadically in Vic’s art. Note the abstract shadow arc in the splash panel, the drop string on the back of the car seat in story panel 1 and the picket fence crosshatching in the second panel (see the Inking Glossary for explanations of the term I use to describe inking techniques). I am increasingly becoming convinced that in Vic Donahue’s case, the presence of Studio style is due to Joe or Jack coming in afterwards as an art editor and strengthening Donahue’s work.

Headline #37 (September 1949) “The Artistic Swindler”, art by Bruno Premiani?

Bruno Premiani first appeared in a Simon and Kirby production in August (“Two-Timer”, Young Love #4). The story “The Artistic Swindler” that appeared in the following month was Premiani’s only crime genre art for Simon and Kirby. Bruno only worked for Joe and Jack until December 1950 but during that time he was an important contributor. Although he would not appear in another crime genre, he would be used for all other Simon and Kirby productions.

Perhaps I should explain (for those readers who have not read my previous explanation) why I provide Bruno Premiani attributions with a question mark. The Simon and Kirby stories whose art I attribute to Premiani are all quite similar and easily recognized. The problem is none of them were signed. Crediting of this work to Premiani is based on the credits found in the trade back “Real Love”. Unfortunately that publication does not explain the reason for the attribution. Bruno Premiani is also credited with work at DC but that work looks very different then the art for Simon and Kirby. While none of this means the S&K studio artists could not have been Bruno Premiani, neither is there good evidence to support that attribution. Until I find some way out of this conundrum, I will continue to indicate by uncertainty by adding a question mark to the Premiani attribution.

Headline #37 (September 1949) “One-Man Posse”, art by John Severin and John Belfi

Another prominent artist during this period was John Severin who contributed 5 stories with 32 pages of art. He would, however, appear in all four Headline comics covered by this chapter as well as JTTG #11 (August). He would also show up in JTTG #14 (February 1950). Severin’s appearance in the Simon and Kirby comics seems somewhat sporadic, but unlike some of the other S&K studio artists, his contributions to the Prize crime comics seems to continue after this period. I am unclear exactly when it started, but Severin was an important artist for Prize Comics Western. As far as I can tell, outside of producing a couple of covers, Simon and Kirby had little to do with that title.

Justice Traps the Guilty #10 (June 1949) “Counterfeit”, art by John Belfi

Many of John Severin’s art at this time were signed. The signature often included the inker and that was almost always John Belfi. I gather Belfi was primarily an inker and “Counterfeit” from JTTG #10 is the sole example of pencils by John Belfi for a Simon and Kirby production. Because his pencil work is not very often seen I thought I would include an image. Frankly John Belfi is not one of the better artists that worked for Simon and Kirby.

Headline #36 (July 1949) “Shoe-Box Annie”, art by Warren Broderick

Warren Broderick was one of the lesser artists of the Simon and Kirby studio. Yet he did a surprising 4 stories and 31 pages for the crime comics covered in this chapter. His last crime story seems to be “Hijackers” in JTTG #11 (August). However he normally does not sign his work and I have only fairly recently identified him. I have made an examination of some of the following Prize crime comics and so far failed to detect him. However he seems to have only rarely was used for the Simon and Kirby romance comics. So he is not a good example of the transition that seems to be occurring in the crime titles.

Justice Traps the Guilty #10 (June 1949) “Death Played Second Fiddle”, art by Manny Stallman

Manny Stallman work for the Simon and Kirby studio has an interesting aspect. I have previously presented examples by Stallman (It’s A Crime, Chapter 6 and Chapter 8 and remarked at the time that they seemed to be done in two different styles neither one of which was a good match for what Stallman did at Atlas a few years later. Yet a third style is evident with “Death Played Second Fiddle”. This style seems particularly crude compared to the art that I previously shown.

Headline #35 (May 1949) “The Golf Links Murder”, art by Manny Stallman

If the presence of three styles by Manny Stallman was not bad enough, “The Golf Links Murder” is done in yet another style. This one is done in a manner that does look similar to Stallman’s Atlas work. Note in particular the almond shaped eyes. Similar eyes can be found in older work as well (The Captain Aero Connections) I believe the existence of four distinct styles over such a very short period of time is good evidence that Manny Stallman was providing work to Simon and Kirby most of which was actually drawn by ghost artists.

Justice Traps the Guilty #11 (August 1949) “Amateur Hypnotist”, art by Dick Briefer

Dick Briefer makes a surprise appearance in this chapter. Well it was a surprise to me. Briefer is mostly known for his work on Frankenstein but we previously saw him supply work for some Charlie Chan issues. Now to the work that he did for Simon and Kirby can be added “Dutch Joe Cretzer’s Other Business” (Headline #36, July), “Amateur Hypnotist” (JTTG #11, August) and “The Nightmare Murder Mystery” (JTTG #12, October). All of the work that he did for Simon and Kirby was unsigned and these three examples are more realistic then what he did in Charlie Chan. But enough of his stylistic tendencies are present to leave little doubt that he was the artist. In the example page shown above note the triangular head give to the man in the splash, the shallow depth to the face of the man on the left of the first story panel, and the small head of the man with the blue suit in the same panel. Dick Briefer’s appearance in these Prize crime comics and work done at the same time for other publishers was undoubtedly due to the cancellation of Frankenstein after issue #17 in February 1949. Frankenstein Comics would resume, with Dick Briefer, in March 1952.

Justice Traps the Guilty #10 (June 1949) “Confidence Man”, art by Bernie Krigstein

The story “Confidence Man” was signed B. B. Krig in the splash. I must admit that I did not realize who it really was until I went searching to the Internet for Krig. I quickly found that B. B. Krig was actually Bernie Krigstein. In fact I had missed an earlier unsigned work by Krigstein (“First Great Detective”, JTTG #8, January 1949). These are the only two works by Bernie for Simon and Kirby. I do not know if part of the reason for that was the transition in the Prize crime comics that happened at this time. Krigstein had a great style for crime stories, but I doubt that it would have been very effective for the romance genre. Whatever the reasons for his short stay at the Simon and Kirby studio, it was certainly a shame he was not around longer as he went on to do some great art for some other publishers and especially for EC.

When the Simon and Kirby’s Young Romance first came out it primarily used Jack Kirby and Bill Draut as artists. After that initial period, the artists used for the romance comics would largely be the same ones used for the Prize crime genre as well. The core artists for Simon and Kirby around the time covered by this chapter were Jack Kirby, Bill Draut, Vic Donahue, Leonard Starr and John Severin. I would include Manny Stallman, but as I mentioned above he appears to be using ghost artists and thus sorting out the unsigned work is problematical. Bruno Premiani? was an important S&K studio artist who started working for Joe and Jack just at this time. Mort Meskin was an even more important studio artist who started just after the period covered by this chapter (December). Kirby’s last crime story was for September, Draut’s was April, and Donahue last was October. Starr never did much crime and his only work in that genre appeared in February. Severin does not follow the same history; he would do a crime story in November 1949 and again in February 1950. Severin would later become an important contributor to Prize Comics Western. Bruno Premiani started working for Simon and Kirby during this time period; he would only do a single crime story (September) but would provide a lot of work for the romance titles for the following year. Mort Meskin would arrive shortly after the period covered in this chapter. While initially Mort would only work on the romance titles before long he would provide occasional stories for Headline and JTTG and would do so for the rest of stay with Simon and Kirby. So to summarize there were 4 artists (Kirby, Draut, Donahue and Premiani) who stopped providing crime stories during this period and 2 (Severin and Meskin) who continued to work on the crime titles.

However it was not just a question of the important S&K studio artists there were also a number of minor, mostly unidentified, artists as well. These minor artists were used in the romance titles but only in limited amounts. In the crime they became more commonly used especially after the S&K studio artists were no longer providing art. They are particularly abundant in the crime titles during the period covered by this chapter where the artist for 13 out of the 46 stories have not been identified. Two other stories have signatures (Dick Rockwell on one and Nicholson and Belfi on the other) but otherwise similar to the unidentified artists as being lesser talents. If Nicholson and Rockwell are included, these artists account for 103 pages of art out of 325 total.

In the first story of Real West Romances #3 (August 1949) there is a label with the declaration: “Produced by Simon and Kirby”. This label would then appear on the first story of nearly every Young Romance, Young Love, Young Brides, Black Magic and Strange World of Your Dreams until near the end of 1954. Some have mistaken it for a claim that Joe and Jack drew that story, but it really meant that Simon and Kirby put together the entire comic. The “Produced by Simon and Kirby” label never appeared in any issue of Headline of Justice Traps the Guilty.

The interpretation that I draw from all of this is that at about this time the Prize comics would begin being made “on the cheap”. That is that the pay rate given to artists working for these titles was lowered. The new pay rate could no longer attract the better artists. Artists like Bill Draut, Bruno Premiani, Vic Donahue and Jack Kirby had work they could do for the Prize romance comics where the pay rate had not changed and Jack had a share of the profits. As for Mort Meskin, he was so prolific that to pick up extra money beyond what he could get from the S&K studio he would accept the lower page rate for the crime titles. Perhaps the same was true for John Severin. Lowering the costs of producing a title was a strategy that Prize would repeat in the future.

But if the Prize crime comics were now being cheaply made, were Simon and Kirby still producing them? That is a question that is harder to provide a satisfactory answer. The lack of the “Produced by Simon and Kirby” label might suggest they were not producing the crime comics. But when the use of photographic covers was dropped for the crime titles, Jack Kirby provided cover art for 7 issues over the period from September 1950 to February 1951. My tentative conclusion is that in 1949 Prize directed Simon and Kirby to produce a cheaper version of the crime titles. By October or so they had achieved that end but continued to be involved in the production of the titles. Because Headline and JTTG were now inferior comics, Joe and Jack purposely left out the “Produced by Simon and Kirby” label. This was the state of affairs until early 1951 after which Simon and Kirby’s involvement in the Prize crime comics completely ended.

Chapter 1, Promoting Crime
Chapter 2, A Revitalized Title
Chapter 3, Competing Against Themselves
Chapter 4, Crime Gets Real
Chapter 5, Making a Commitment
Chapter 6, Forgotten Artists
Chapter 7, A Studio With Many Artists
Chapter 8, The Chinese Detective

Chapter 10, The Master and His Protege
Chapter 11, The New Team

Vic Donahue Checklist

Last update: 3/1/2009

    s:  = signed
    a:  = signed with alias
    &:  = signed Simon and Kirby
    ?:  = questionable attribution
    r:  = reprint

Black Magic (Prize)
   s 6    (v.1, n6)  Aug  1951    5p "A Wolf That Hummed A Nursery Rhyme"

Headline (Prize)
   s 32   (v.4, n2)  Oct  1948    8p "The Mystery Of Room 712"
   s 33   (v.4, n3)  Dec  1948    6p "The Man Who Stole An Ocean Liner"
   s 35   (v.4, n5)  May  1949    7p "The Fabulous Baldwins"
   s 37   (v.5, n1)  Sept 1949    8p "Death Of A Menace"

Justice Traps the Guilty (Prize)
   s 9    (v.2, n3)  Apr  1949    7p "The Plot Against Old Moneybags"
   s 12   (v.2, n6)  Oct  1949    8p "The Keeper Of The Blood-Hound"

Real West Romances (Prize)
   s 2    July 1949    8p "Rough-House Annie"
   s 3    Aug  1949    8p "Love At The County Fair"
   s 4    Oct  1949    8p "Bartered"

Western Love (Prize)
   ? 2    Sept 1949    8p "Troublemaker"
   s 3    Nov  1949    9p "Romance In Robber's Roost"
   ? 3    Nov  1949    1p "Dude Ranch Diplomancy"
   s 4    Jan  1950    8p "Cowtown Casanova"

Young Love (Prize)
   s 2    (v.1, n2)  Apr  1949    3p "Problem Clinic"
     3    (v.1, n3)  June 1949    2p "Problem Clinic"
   s 4    (v.1, n4)  Aug  1949    3p "Problem Clinic"
   s 7    (v.2, n1)  Feb  1950    8p "A Secret Affair"
     8    (v.2, n2)  Apr  1950    1p "Happy Though Single"- (illustrated text)
   ? 10   (v.2, n4)  June 1950    2p "Problem Clinic"
   s 11   (v.2, n5)  July 1950    7p "Little White Lies"
     11   (v.2, n5)  July 1950    8p "The Girl I'm Looking For"
   s 12   (v.2, n6)  Aug  1950    7p "Her Kind Of A Man"
     13   (v.2, n7)  Sept 1950    8p "The Woman Across The Hall"

Young Romance (Prize)
     11   (v.2, n5)  May  1949    3p "Problem Clinic"
   s 13   (v.3, n1)  Sept 1949    2p "Problem Clinic"
   s 14   (v.3, n2)  Oct  1949    3p "Problem Clinic"
     14   (v.3, n2)  Oct  1949    1p "Good Manners"- (illustrated letters column)
     15   (v.3, n3)  Nov  1949    2p "Problem Clinic"
     19   (v.3, n7)  Mar  1950    1p "What Men Think About Women"- (illustrated text)
     20   (v.3, n8)  Apr  1950    1p "Stop That Complex"- (illustrated text)
   ? 21   (v.3, n9)  May  1950    2p "Problem Clinic"
   ? 22   (v.3, n10) June 1950    2p "Problem Clinic"