Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What's He Doing at Fawcett?

Fawcett's Motion Picture Comics 109 (March/52) presents "Rough Riders of Durango," a Rocky Lane movie. (The comic's numbering began with 101.) A number of these movie adaptations featured the Western stars who already had ongoing series in Fawcett comic books, but the movie tie-ins didn't often (if at all) use the creative teams from the stars' own books. In fact, on "Rough Riders of Durango" I see an artist not known to have worked at Fawcett at all.

Motion Picture Comics 109 page

On the full page, I can discern this artist's style most easily in the first and last panels. I find another couple of panels with close-ups (from different pages), even more recognizable.

Motion Picture Comics 109 panels

At Atlas, Werner Roth drew the Apache Kid series from 1950 to 1956, and returned to the genre with a few stories of Kid Colt and Gunhawk around 1970.

The full page above also gives a few clues to the writer, with "Anxious moments later" and "Just then" in captions. It's Leo Dorfman. When Dorfman returned to writing Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen in the early Seventies, editor Murray Boltinoff confused indexers by mentioning that Dorfman had written, among others, the "classics in comics" Ivanhoe and The Red Badge of Courage. He meant nothing more than what he put down, uncapitalized, but fans assumed he meant "Classics Comics" and for many years attributed the Gilberton adaptations of those novels to Dorfman (see the paper first edition of the Who's Who). Ivanhoe and Red Badge were Fawcett Movie Comic and Motion Picture Comics issues by Dorfman, as we know now; two other "classics" mentioned by Boltinoff were Dell Movie Classics written by Dorfman later in the Fifties.


  1. The layouts have a more fluid "feel" than Roth's slightly-stiff panels.
    Considering how often he worked over other artists (including Kirby and Heck), could the layouts be Gil Kane (who was all over the business including Fawcett, doing a Monte Hale tale or two)?

  2. My feeling, influenced by Occam's Razor, is that without Stan Lee forcing the layouts on him, these are Roth's own. There's another page of "Rough Riders of Durango" with a Kirbylike approach to Rocky Lane's climbing a wall; maybe Stan was just trying to get Roth back on that track after time spent outside comics.

  3. I admit to seeing the Gil Kane style in the samples, but not nearly enough Kane for me to say it was Kane. Possible that what I see is a Dan Barry influence.
    Since Roth was drawing romance comics over at DC from 1958-1965, he didn't need that much practice, although the DC romance style was a bit more subdued than the Marvel superhero style.

  4. I was going by the Who's Who on Werner Roth's tenures, but I can't be surprised that the romance info there was incomplete and that Roth was in comics all along.

  5. Martin,

    While I agree that Roth is involved in this story I don't think he pencilled the entire book. Many of the pages have poses, faces/figures and layouts that look nothing like Roth. My guess is another artist was also involved in drawing the issue with a single (unknown to me) inker providing a consitent look.

  6. Nick, after a second look I'll say there are a few pages with nothing that would indicate Roth to me either. When there's one obviously Roth panel on a page I do assume he did the entire page. I see the consistency of inking and wonder if at points the inker "fixed" Roth--that would leave us with only two artists all told..

  7. Thanks for the reply, Martin. I just didn't get a Roth vibe in places, but it is quite possible that the inker could have corrected pages/panels.