Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Paul Gustavson Flits By on Plastic Man

The best place to look in order to identify an artist on a series story is not in the continuing characters, who are expected to be on-model, but with one-time walk-ons. An example is Curt Swan's earliest Superman stories, where Superman himself is comparatively cartoonish in physique to match the contemporary artists' version, but the crowd scene folks are afforded more of Swan's trademark realism.

So here in Plastic Man #41, as Paul Gustavson appears for one issue (except for the Woozy solo story, pencilled by Jack Cole), Plas and Woozy look much as they do every issue, but the gangster that Plas replaces in the page from "Beast," especially in the last panel, and the Rajah in the tier from "Red Wreckers," best show the Gustavson style to me.

Plastic Man 41

It would be a lot easier to tell apart the pencillers if the inking weren't imposing a rather muddy house style on everything. The scripts are by Joe Millard.

Plastic Man Pencilled by Paul Gustavson

May/53 41  The Beast with the Bloody Claws
The Bounding Bandit
The Red Wreckers of Rangistan

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Kid Colt: The Rest of the Stories

In his 1947 tome Secrets Behind the Comics Stan Lee shows the script layout in use at Timely--panel descriptions down the left-hand side of the page, captions/dialogue down the right hand. It seems like extra work for the writer--figuring out the spacing needed to match up the panels in the two columns--but certainly it would make it easier for the artist and letterer to focus on only what each needs.

It would also make it easier for the editor if he wants to keep the panel descriptions from the original writer but for whatever reason get a second writer to replace the text. According to his records, Paul S. Newman sold "His Brother's Keeper" in Wild Western #8 to Timely. But from the style, Ernie Hart wrote it. I would figure Newman's left-hand side of the script was used and then Hart did a replacement right-hand side. (Occasionally Timely bought scripts for ongoing strips that weren't even "salvaged" like this--a good ten Captain Americas from William Woolfolk, per his records, were paid for but then never published.)

WW 8, TTA 47 'We pick up the trail again'

Here's what makes me assign the final script of "His Brother's Keeper" to Hart: "We pick up the trail again" in that story and then in the Ant-Man story "Music to Scream By" in Tales to Astonish 47 (Sep/63), credited as H. E. Huntley. I'd be a touch less than 100% certain only if I ever ran across Newman using the authorial "we" anywhere.

UPDATE: Robin Snyder tells me he's deleting "His Brother's Keeper" from the Newman bibliography, as Paul S. Newman's earliest credits were reconstructed based on having the books in his files (for most of Newman's career, commencing soon after, his records contain much more corroborating material). "He advised me to delete any credit if there was the slightest doubt that it was his. He was aware that some writers also kept records and he preferred to give up any credit if he or I thought it possible he was mistaken."

Kid Colt writers in All Western Winners

Win/48-Apr/49 2-4  Kid Colt stories E. H. Hart

in Western Winners

June/-Aug/49 5-6  Kid Colt stories Hart

in Best Western

June/-Aug/49 58-59  Kid Colt stories Hart

in Wild Western

Nov/48-Jan/49 4-5  Kid Colt stories Hart
May/     The Curse of the Chinese Idol Hart (credited in sneak)
July/     His Brother's Keeper plot: Paul S. Newman
dialogue: Hart
Oct/     The End of the Trail Hart
Feb/-Aug/52 20-23  Kid Colt stories Leon Lazarus
Oct/     24  Whip Savage [2 parts] Hart
Dec/52-Sep/53 25-29  Kid Colt stories [2 each, 25-26] Lazarus
Oct/     30  Justice in His Holsters Hart
Dec/53-Sep/57 31-57  Kid Colt stories Joe Gill

in Two-Gun Kid

Nov/49 10  The Hunter and the Hunted Hart
June/54 14  [The New Deputy] Gill
Aug/     15  The New Sheriff Lazarus
Sep/54-Feb/55 16-21  Kid Colt stories Gill

in Two Gun Western

Aug/51-June/52 9-14  Kid Colt stories Lazarus

in Black Rider

Jan/-Mar/55 26-27  Kid Colt stories Gill

Monday, June 15, 2020

Joe Shuster Makes an Appearance


Popular Romance 6 Joe Shuster

After Joe Shuster's last work on Superman and Superboy in 1946, his next comic book appearance that I was aware of was the first Invisible Boy story published by St. John in 1954 (then Bill Molno ghosted for him at Charlton in 1954-55). Here between those appearances is a story and a featurette at Standard. This is Shuster's only work in the run of Popular Romance, but not having the complete collection of Standard romance books (for now, at least, with my Internet access limited in the pandemic) I wonder if he may have some work in other titles there around 1950. Whereas the inks on Invisible Boy remind me of those on some Superman stories, the inks here certainly don't.


Joe Shuster pencils in
Popular Romance


Mar/50 A Song in My Heart
Nora's Notes

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Pre-Lee K.C. Big Three

Kic Colt 1 'I'll cut ya ta doll-rags'


A month or so ago darkmark asked if I could put a name to the Kid Colt writer who used "I'll cut ya ta doll-rags" in a handful of stories--it's in the Kid's first appearance, in KC 1, as seen here. I couldn't then, but as I've pored over the early Kid Colt, I found that writer--he has a sneak along with artist Russ Heath in a newspaper in the story in Wild Western 7 (May/49). (WW and a number of other titles contain enough Kid Colt stories for yet another post after this one devoted to his own title.)

Ernie Hart (he signed himself E.H. Hart in the Forties) doesn't use the doll-rags expression in that particular story, but it matches up with the style I'd found for many of the early ones. There are a few stories in Kid Colt Outlaw that I can't convince myself yet are Hart's--for instance, "The Giant of the Badlands" in #4 is the only one to use "Sufferin' coyotes"; "Death Waits in the Shadows" in #8 is the only one to use past-tense captions throughout.

The next major writer on the character, Leon Lazarus, is easy to spot when he uses expressions like "By Judas" and "'Sta la vista" but when he doesn't, his style and Joe Gill's are rather similar. However, Lazarus tends to call Kid Colt "the outlaw" in captions whereas Gill generally calls him "the Kid."

As in Gunsmoke Western, when KCO returned after the Atlas Implosion there were enough Joe Gill stories on hand to fill two more issues (75 and 76) before Stan Lee had to take over writing the strip.

Carl Wessler is credited in the Who's Who with stories in 1957 for Kid Colt as well as The Kid from Dodge City, The Kid from Texas, Kid Slade, and the Outlaw Kid, but I believe his stories will turn out to be non-series Western backups in those characters' titles. UPDATE: Robin Snyder tells me that per Wessler's records, he had one story in this title: "This Man Is Wanted," the backup in #76 (Jan/58).

Kid Colt Outlaw writers

Aug/-Dec/48 1-3  all Kid Colt stories E. H. Hart
Feb/49 Six-Gun Deadline Hart
Fight or Crawl, Outlaw Hart
Bushwhacker's Boomerang Hart
May/-Nov/      5-7  all Kid Colt stories except text Hart
Feb/50 Ambush in Lone Valley Hart
May/     The Man from Nowhere Leon Lazarus
The Meanest Man in the World Hart
A Matter of Pride Lazarus
Secret of the Hidden Mine Lazarus
The Gun-Shy Sheriff Lazarus
July/     10  all Kid Colt stories Lazarus
Oct/     11  Captured by Comanches Lazarus
Jan/51-Aug/53 12-29  all Kid Colt stories Lazarus
Sep/     30  [The Young Outlaw] Joe Gill
[Mission of Vengeance] Lazarus
[The Sword of Vengeance] Lazarus
Oct/     31  all Kid Colt stories Lazarus
Dec/     32  [A Dangerous Woman] Gill
[Peaceful Valley] Gill
Death Rides the Stage Lazarus
Jan/54–Jan/58 33-76  all Kid Colt stories Gill

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Coming On Like Police

This Gangbusters penciller is familiar enough, but the inker isn't anyone I've seen on the title.


And for good reason. "The Cop They Couldn't Lick" isn't from DC's Gangbusters at all but from Quality's Police Comics #102, October 1950. (The last Plastic Man/Spirit issue; this first in a series of miscellaneous police backups got a jump on the switchover in #103 to Ken Shannon, T-Man, and other non-superhero police-type features.)

I actually couldn't tell you who's inking Curt Swan here (or in fact many of the Quality inkers of the period apart from Chuck Cuidera). The writer is Joe Millard. Like Swan's single story (seen so far!) for Atlas, this is the only piece I've found of his at Quality. By the way, compare the date of that Atlas story ("Killer at Large" in Crime Cases #25): November 1950.

Friday, April 17, 2020

From the Burt Frohman Collection

As a writer Burt Frohman (he was an artist earlier) kept records by filing away his comic-book scripts with copies of the issues they were published in. The Who's Who lists some issue numbers like Strange Tales 22 and Uncanny Tales 12 at Atlas; the Grand Comics Database gives the specific stories for those issues--respectively "What Happened on the Moon?" and "Dead End." The info in both the WW and GCD comes from Frank Motler, who cites the actual comics and scripts from the Frohman collection.

ST 22--'Minutes passed into hours...hours into days'; MA 23--'Seconds ticked away into minutes...minutes into hours'

Among the issues listed in the Who's Who are Atlas's Men's Adventures 22 and 23. Going by "What Happened on the Moon?" (first tier) I was able to pick out one of the MA stories. Compare the captions. I couldn't find a story of his in #22, and wonder if his contribution is the text piece, inasmuch as he did them as well as full-length stories and single-page featurettes--see below.

Scripted by Burt Frohman

Men's Adventures


Sep/53 #23  The Wrong Body

The Burt Frohman collection having been sold off, some comics in it have shown up online, and the scripts included are a part of the cachet, so some pages of them are shown too. davet75 has posted purchases on this message board--scroll down to the Hand of Fate cover. The Indian Braves issues are on eBay; the auction for #1 mentions three scripts but only gives photos of  two.

These series are both from Ace. Editor Alan Sulman changed Frohman's titles, and in fact changed the name of the series hero in the first story in Indian Braves from Lone Eagle to Green Arrowhead; Frohman then used that name in the script for #2.

Scripts Seen Online from the
Burt Frohman Collection

The Hand of Fate


Feb/52 #9  It Is Written: I Die Tomorrow!
Apr/     #10  Bride of the Golden Skull

Indian Braves

Mar/51 #1  Trader in Death
The American Indian: His Customs
[and a third piece in the issue]
May/     #2  Retribution for a Renegade
The American Indian: His Customs #3
The Flaming Stallion [TEXT]

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A Go-Go Signature Check

For issue #2 of Charlton's mod humor comic Go-Go, the Grand Comics Database gives the writer of the Rotting Stmups and Return to Peculiar Place stories as "Craig Tennis? [as Tennis] (signed)." Which is fine as far as it goes, but the signatures are longer than "Tennis." The Rotting Stumps story is signed "Tennis Senoj" and the Return to Peculiar Place one is signed "Tennis Scarones."

Inasmuch as the only other Craig Tennis credits I know of are on the 1966 graphic novels Christopher Lee's Treasury of Terror (Pyramid) and Dracula (Ballantine), I figured "Senoj" in the first signature and in the "ones" part of the second is the packager of the two books, writer-artist Russ Jones. The third signature here is from DC's Mystery in Space 108 (June/66).

Go-Go 2 page and Russ Jones signatures

I can't see Jones' pencils in these Go-Go stories, so I'd credit him here as a inker. I was going to say co-writer--I would have thought the art on these two stories is completely Henry Scarpelli, the "Scar" part of the second signature although left out of the first. But then I asked myself how the writer would get hold of the art to sign it.

Of the four Scarpelli stories in #1 and 2, there seems to be someone else's pencilling in places at least on the Rotting Stumps story in #1--most notably the faces of the girls in the crowd scenes.

I'm not seeing D. J. Arneson's writing on these early issues. Note that #2's Miss Bikini Luv story is in the past tense, which is not the case in Arneson's stories as "Norm DiPluhm" in the later issues.

New attributions on Charlton's Go-Go #1-2
(underlined = signed)

June/66 The Rotting Stumps p: Henry Scarpelli, and another?

i: Scarpelli
Miss Bikini Luv w: ? (not D. J. Arneson)
Return to Peculiar Place w: ? (not Arneson)

a: Scarpelli
Aug/     The Rotting Stumps w: Craig Tennis

p: Scarpelli  i: Russ Jones
Miss Bikini Luv w: ? (not Arneson)
Return to Peculiar Place w: Tennis

p: Scarpelli  i: Jones