Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Paging Dylan: Comic Books 1936-1950

At one point Dylan was a very active participant on a private cartoonist's messageboard I ran. I thought I'd post some of his words there, many were lists or mini reviews and thoughts about comics and cartooning. The following is from a thread called "Paging Dylan: Comic Books 1936-1950" asking for Dylan's recommendations. I've collated a few posts into one entry here, but didn't change any of Dylan's text, so some of the references to fellow board members and the conversational nature of the discussion are still very much intact. - ZS

by dylan williams » 26 Feb 2005 05:51 pm
Okay, some of my favorite old comics (some for art, some for story and art):
-Genius Jones (in More Fun and All funny)
-Most of the Atlas Horror books (esp. with Bill Everett, Maneely, Kida, Romita, Jay Scott Pike, Meskin/Roussos, Russ Heath, Joe Sinott art)
-Heroic Comics (great art and real life stories)
-Juke Box (great art and stories about music)
-Big Shot Comics (stay away from these (heh)...I'm working on a collection...but they have Mart Baily's the Face and Skyman which are two of the best superhero comics ever made, writing and art)
-Funny Stuff and Leading Comics with Howie Post or Shelly Mayer Art
-the Sandman (nice archive book)
-Frankentsein (Dick Briefer...of course)
-Scribbly (Shelly Mayer...more of course)
-Bible Tales for Young Folks by Atlas
-Justice Traps the Guilty, Headline, Foxhole, Black Magic and Strange World of Your Dreams (most of the Crestwood stuff has great artists)
-Boy Loves Girl, Crime and Punishment, Crime Does Not Pay, Black Diamond Western, Uncle Charlie's Fables and more Lev Gleason books (I tend to think of Gleason books as really solid old style comics, they have better art and stories than most books from that time and they kept Fred Guardineer in fishing gear...anything he touched I love, hands down)
-The Ringo Kid (Maneely and Kida...and there are reprints in the 60s-70s, thank god)
-Wonder Woman (Peter, so great , I love his non WW stuff but can't afford any of it..Man O' Metal in Heroic and Fearless Flint in Famous Funnies)
-ACG (their writer (wasn't it one dude under all those names) makes silks purse weird stories in both the romance and "horror" books but a lot of the artists aren't my thing except for Emil Gershwin, Ditko, Ogden Whitney and Johnny Craig).
-Al Hartley, Dan DeCarlo, Stan G's Teen/Romance for Atlas
-Tarzan by Marsh (of course)
-The early DC romance books have wonderful art but UGH stories.
-Golden Lad by Meskin
-Black Knight and Speed Carter by Maneely/Kida
-Standard's war comics (really cool art)
-Herbie (of course)
-Plastic Man (of course...and anything by Jack Cole)
-I like a lot of those teen DC books (in the early days)
-Captain Marvel (I love reading CC Beck drawn stuff and even Mac Rayboy...that dude wasn't so bad before Flash Gordon ...which I don't really get)
-I love Dr. Fate (and anything Howard Sherman drew)
-Starman (Burnley is a favorite but the stories are cool too)
-The Ragedy Ann comics dude (CRAZY stories and awesome art)
-Ibis the invicible (Otto Binder writing and cool/stiff art)
That is enough for now. I'm sure there is a ton more.

Mostly, that stuff I enjoy for the art and a simple enjoyable story. Some of it had good solid funny or enjoyable writing but it is far between and often not reprinted. I just have to put that caveat on it cause I always here how comics aren't Madame Bovary or something (not from you Tom). Golden Age superhero writing is a cool thing of its own. More surreal than most any comics writing since then. Maybe it is solid drawing of dudes like Burnley, Sherman, Whitney and so on that make it seem so weird to me with these weird fairy tale/science fiction style stories. All in all Romance comics, Horror and funny comics always seem a little better from back then but I think that is because people go in to the superhero stuff with 60 years of bad superhero baggage. The only popular superhero stuff I really don't care fro from back then is the Marvel stuff and the quality Blackhawk Matt Baker style/non-Cole style stuff.

Big Shot was an anthology comic from the 40s that ran Skyman and the Face as well as Boody Rogers stuff and Dixie Dugan. Wait till I get them all to start buying them or I will hunt you down and kill you.
Skyman was in like 1-45 (or so) and then 49-105 or someting really close to that. It was started by Paul Reinman, mostly drawn by Whitney except when he went into the military (same unit as Fred Guardineer). By the late fourties those are definately him. His style got more open as he went on, the shots became more medium and less long. Also, if it has Hitler and Space Aliens then YES! That is Whitney.
I sent the first one to Toth and got his comments on it, they are up over on the Toth board.
The funniest thing about the comments are that he keeps on going "this isn't Whitney." or "This is an assistant." and then he gets to the autograph (which Whitney would always bury in the later pages of a story for obvious reason) and he goes "Well, maybe this is Whitney."
I tend to think, based on the sheer volume of work that is obviously by him (esp. at ACG) that dude was a workhorse who didn't use assistants but was trying different styles out.
Gardener Fox started Skyman but I'm betting Whitney had something to do with writing those Space/Hitler ones. Fox had left by that point. I don't think I've ever seen that one answered for sure. Bailey was writing the Face/Tony Trent after a while though. Bailey also filled in on some of those Skymans, I seem to remember.

Skyman is basically one of the top 3 or 4 golden age superheroes (I'd say the Face, Sandman and Plastic Man would be my other picks). He is so cool, and the stories are really fun to read. Also, as it goes on it gets so weird. Did you read the Face (Tony Trent) story in that Big Shot? Mart Bailey is so cool once you start reading the stories.

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