Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Modern Types-Ronald Searle,Geoffrey Gorer

With the recent attention given to Ronald Searle's 90th birthday and new interview,I decided to look at one of his books.

The book is titled Modern Types and it was published in 1955. The writing is by Geoffrey Gorer with Searle providing a drawing for each type. I love Searle's linework. The thick scratchy lines in the foreground with the thin lines in the background is just beautiful.

Even with the focus on a person on each drawing,what he includes in the background is worth paying close attention to and just marvel at what he does.

The big surprise was the writing. Gorer's take on each type is powerful stuff;at times funny but at other times sad,biting observations. Its interesting to see many of the same types still around with little to no changes after 55 years.Happy birthday,Ronald Searle!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Theodor Seuss Geisel-Donald E. Pease-Dr. Seuss

I just finished reading Theodor Seuss Geisel by Donald E. Pease. Theodor Seuss Geisel is better known as Dr. Seuss. This book is a quick read on the life of Dr. Seuss. I have to say it covers many of the high points of his life and a good book to start on Seuss' life. Peace's writing is very good and gets you into the feel of Seuss' life. The time he spent at Dartmouth and Oxford helped make Seuss a great artist. Dartmouth in he found lifelong ties and at Oxford he found what not to be (he didn't like it there). The work Seuss did for Flit bug spray made him lots of money and was in many ways his true first successful break in the commercial world. Geisel grew up in Springfield,MA and his family was doing quite well with the family brewery but with Prohibition that went downhill. Things got worse when World War 1 began and a growing anti-German mood was all around him. The political cartoons Geisel produced are worth looking into and a book was published a few years back and I think was brought back in print again.The changes in his life during World War 2 working for Frank Capra's unit making newsreels. Pease does a great job of putting Geisel's children books in relation to his private life. How some books relate to Geisel's relationship with his father. The challenges that his editors gave him. This book shows what made Seuss great and made me want to read some of his books again and to look at the other books out there on the life of Dr. Seuss. The cover is a painting by former comic book artist and portrait painter Everett Raymond Kinstler. This is a 2010 book by Oxford University Press.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Crimefighters # 1-Gene Colan

I read this cool crime comic titled Crimefighters # 1 from 1948 and published by Marvel Comics. The crime comics of the 1940s and 1950s are very interesting and fun comics to read. Some comic book artists did very well in the genre. People like George Tuska,Jack Kirby,Harry Anderson,Bob Powell,John Buscema,Joe Maneely,Fred Guardineer,Rudy Palais,Vernon Henkel,Alex Toth,and John Severn are just a few of the folks who did fantastic crime stories. This issue starts with "A Clint For The Hangman!" that looks like Syd Shores and Al Avison but I see on Gene Colan's website that he did this story. Gene Colan would speak highly of Syd Shores the few times I talked to him at shows. Shores was one of the top artists at Marvel at the time and makes sense that the younger artists would look up to him or work in his style. Looking at the story carefully to find hints of Gene's later style and its there.Its a bit crude but the way he composes a panel is there and it is the standout of the issue. Great hanging panel on the first page.

The next story is "One Was Guilty!" and I can't tell who did the art. It ok but nothing great. Story of two guys who look alike and the wrong guy gets caught. The last story is "Killer At Large!" and the art is better in this story but can't figure out who it is. Looks familiar in the way the figures stand and the faces are drawn. Great prison break story with a bland ending but these stories get better with the coming years until the comics code takes over. Atlas Comics and Orbit Comics are favorites of mine and hope to have some Wanted issues up on this blog.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Little Lulu # 247-Irv Tripp and Taxes

I got a chance to read some more of the final issues of Little Lulu. I started to do this to get a look at Irv Tripp's artwork without John Stanley scripts. Little Lulu # 247 from 1978 seems to be a better than average issue. Tripp's artwork is rock steady through most of the run. Irv Tripp does all the art in this issue. Arnold Drake did the Little Lulu stories and Fred Fredericks wrote the Witch Hazel and the Little Scarecrow Boy story. Drake starts off the issue with "A Taxing Day" and its an odd story for kids but funny because of it. Snobbly the Butler is not himself and reveals that he has tax problems. Wilbur's Uncle Thaddeus decides to do battle with the IRS. So Thaddeus and Mr. Smith from the IRS do battle over the phone over a bill for $3.27!!!! Its a pretty cool story and shows how this government agent (who has a Hitler mustache) is wasting tax dollars on this and building a toy model at work!!! A little dig at the IRS?? The next IRS agent takes over and wants to deport Snobbly... The story has a nice end to it but I wonder how many kids thought it was funny or how many kids today would think its funny. I do think some adults would see the humor in it.

The next Lulu story is "Friends To The End" and its got a Peanuts feel to it. Its all about friendships and how Annie's actions teach her fellow classmates and even the adults what friendship is all about. A bit corny but if you're in the mood its well done.

The Witch Hazel and Little Scarecrow Boy story is titled "Wail Of A Sale" and not much to say about this bland story. Its nice just for the Tripp art. It seems Fredericks had a hard time coming up with different stories for these characters over time. It must have been restricting due to the formula of Little Itch always hating Little Scarecrow Boy. The worlds of the witches and Little Scarecrow Boy never really blend well together. There are exceptions here and there. Also,its great to see Tripp's art on characters outside of Little Lulu.
The last story is with Lulu and its titled "Charmed Lives" and its okay but if John Stanley had this in his head it would have really been funny and more depth to it.
As is its got a very weak ending. This issue has credit boxes for all stories. I wonder if this was done on many of the Gold Key/Whitman issues during this period.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Falling In Love # 73 Gene Colan

The other day I got to read a copy of Falling In Love # 73 from 1965.
This has a great romance cover by Gene Colan,which is also the splash from the story.
The first story has the standard DC style from the period. I can't tell who did the work.
In some panels it looks like John Romita,in others Gil Kane and Mike Sekowsky. So its a bit of a mystery. The next story looks like Mike Sekowsky and has some nice silent/mood panels that speak volumes and moves the story.

The last story is by Gene Colan. Gene's DC work from the 1950's and 1960's is so interesting to look at. Early on DC felt the need to make everyone fit into the DC house style and Gene's early work for them got the same treatment. Someone there decided not to keep that policy with Gene's work and that was a smart move. Colan's work really needs to be inked with the right touch. So its easy to mess up his work. Also,Gene Colan is one of the best American romance comic book artist of all time. Jack Kirby,Alex Toth,Bob Powell,Lee Elias,Bill Everett,Joe Maneely, just to name a few, all did some of the best romance stories to see print. However,Gene Colan really tries to have all his stories have a fluid,fast-paced feel to them and it works in the romance stories. The panel arrangements in this story are a whirlwind of activity and emotions. If you get a chance,look for Gene Colan's romance stories in DC and Marvel comics of the period.

Thursday, January 28, 2010