Friday, July 29, 2016

A Song For Kelly

Saturday Leftover Day.

A couple of years ago I was in the New York Public Library to do some research. One of the papers I looked at in their microfilm collection was The New York Star which had three months worth of Walt Kelly political cartoons. I am currently scanning them, eventhough the condition isn't very good on most of them. But in the middle of that run, there was also this and it comes over pretty well.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dark Delicacy

Friday Comic Book Day.

This summer I am selling all of my collection of Timely/Atlas war comcis. I have been selling the 70% complete set (compiled ten years ago when I was helping the Atlas Tales website with it's lists) from last year, but the number of war books in the collecion is so big that I am not even halfway through. I am most complete in the early years of the Korean war, 1951/1953, when these books were at their best. Here is a samples from one of the books I sold last week. A great Gene Colan story, that shows the quality of the Atlas books as compared to the war comics done by Quality and DC - most notably that on the while the Quality and DC books are always set during the daytime and for the Atlas books artists such as Russ Heath and Gene Colan were allowed to do dark an dirty work. It also shows one of the problems of Colan's work all through the fifties. Because of his shaded pencil style and his impressionistic inking, many of his stories were hard to color. If tehre is an amateur coloris out there, I would love to provide you with black and white samples of Colan's work that would form a challange but I am sure will look a lot better if it is colored to today's standards.

A Darker Shade

Thursday Story Strip Day.

In the forties Chad Grothkopf did a series Sunday pages called Famous Fiction. I have shown quite a few of these, namely the Alice in Wonderland and Ali Baba adaptation. Those were in a variation of his 'funny' style, which he later simplified to use in comics and for the Howdy Doody newspaper strip as well. But he also had a 'serious' style, whch he used for his earliest comic book work and the Sunday edition of True Comics (where he was only one of many artists contributing). So here is part of a story he did in the serious style. A remarkable artist with a remarkable career.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

All Betts Are On

Wednesday Illustration Day.

I have shown a lot of work by Jack Betts, an American illustrator who worked mainly in advertising comics. He sold a couple of gag illustrations early on and did some illustrating work for weeklies such as This Week and Collier's in the early fifties, but beyond that he spend all of his time at Johnstone and Cushing, vreating some of their most successful series, - like the often imitated Peter Pain ads for Ben Gay and Neddy Nestly for Nestlé instant chocolade milk. His style was similar to that of Bob Bugg and I have no doubt that he would have become one of Hank Ketcham's many assistants in the sixties and seventies or even get his own strip or gag panel if he had survived. Instead, he seems to have died in the late fifties and disappeared from everybody's view. I asked a couple of the remaining artists who worked for Johnstone and Cushing in the late fifties and early sixties (like Neal Adams, Tom Scheuer/Sawyer and Leonard Starr) and none of them even remembered his name. One of the view artists who was allowed to sign his name in his ads, he deserved more.

After sharing a lot of his work, I was contacted by his daughter Joanne. What she told me about her father made for a sad story. He had divorced her mother in the early forties, so she didn't remember much of him after her youngest years. She hinted that he might have had a drinking problem, but didn't come out and say it like that. She did share with me what was told to her about the circumstances of his death. Apparently, somewhere in the second half of the fifties, he was mugged on the street and hurt in such a way that he couldn't really function anymore. He may have lived in some sort of care facility for two years before dying alone and unknown. To not be remembered by his colleagues seems like adding insult to injury.

Over the years since I heard this, I tried and tried to get confirmation of this story. If only for Joanne's sake, who knows nothing else about her father. But I couldn't. No mentions of the mugging, no move to a care facility in official documents, nothing. Also, knowing the artist community and how they love to gossip, it seems to me that if anyone had heard about this, it would have been told and retold in many ways. Look what happened to the story about Alex Raymond's death, or the different tales that were spun about Joe Maneely's tragic death (before Dan Goldberg finally came out and told everyone how his glasses had been in repair that day he fell between two commuter trains after a night on the town with his friends). So ad far as I am concerned the whole story isn't told yet.

Also, there is the problem of dating the story. The latest original work I have of Jack Betts is from 1956, close enough to the sixties for people such as Tom Sawyer and Leonard Starr to have known him. Anyway, if there is anyone out there who can help me find more about Jack Betts, please contact me.

In meantime go and enjoy this one booklet Jack Betts drew outside of his work for advertising comics. It is his one claim to fame, mentioned in various online sources. There were two editions of the propaganda booklet, which may have been quite different. One was from the early war years, to warn people for the dangers of National Socialism and the second one ten years later about Communism. Here is the first one. As soon as I get the other one, I will share it as well.

I am also adding a birthday card for the Betts family, sent to me by Jack Bett's daughter.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Love In My Yummie

Tuesday Comic Strip Day.

I don't come across as many Will-Yum strips as I used to. So here are some I gathered at odd places here and there. Stylistiscly and temperementally this kid strip is somewhere between Dennis the Menace and Bus Blake's later Tiger. For more follow the link.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Monday Cartoon Day.

A week ago I did a huge Al Hirschfeld post I am pretty proud of. Go and follow the link if you haven't seen it yet. Today I have a smaller one, that is just as special to me. Three years ago, when I was in New York, I went to the Public Library to look at the microfiche files of PM and the New York Star papers. Two liberal papers (the second a continuation of the first in 1949) that had a lot of rare and very well made comic strips, like Elmer Wexler's Vic Jordan, Jack Sparling's Hap Hopper and later on the first run of Pogo. But I also found that they had an original daily cartoon series called Cracked-Up that was done by a set group of cartoonists, one of which was Virgil Partch (VIP). he always provided the Saturday cartoon (which in PM was published on Sunday). In more than five years he did over 300 original cartoons. I copied some of them but also found an online microfiche source later on, so I have been able to share a few. I believe this is the best period of Virgil Partch's work and the creative basis for most of his later career. I gave the information to Jon Barli, who has used some of them in his book on Partch as well as some o the cartoon reprint book after that. I also had a look for Walt Kelly's political cartoons and copied as many of them as possible. Even though the microfiche material for 1949 was pretty bad, I have a whole set of these never seen cartoons that I will share later.

Today I am just showing one cartoon, an advert that Al Hirschfeld did for NBC color tv. It too was badly scratched, so it took me over an hour to clean it up at least enough to be presentable. it is not from PM or the Star, but another New York paper I looked at for Sunday comics, The New York Sunday News from 1955. I took out all the scratches in the drawing, but left a few in the lettering.

Final Finesse

Sunday Meskin Measures.

The further along we get into the Prize books, the better Mort Meskin's storytelling seems to get. Unfortunately, the finishing, either by him or George Roussos gets more rushed. There are a couple of prime stories left and we will get to them, but I am afraid this isnn't one of them. From Headline #64.