Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Monkees #1 Penciller: A Mystery

The Grand Comics Database credits José Delbo with the art on every issue of Dell's The Monkees. But he had nothing to do with the first issue, cover-dated March 1967 (also appearing in reprint as #17).

Monkees 1, skinny characters

The inking is by Dick Giordano (with probably Frank McLaughlin and Sal Trapani helping out). But who the heck is the penciller? The super-skinniness of the characters may be an attempt at a comedic style and not, I suppose, part of this person's regular style. The attempt to draw some people the way Carmine Infantino would (on a really bad day) is another stumbling block rather than a help. Who is this?

Monkess 1, vaguely Infantinoish art

Here, by the way, is a tier of Delbo art from the next issue—quite recognizable as his, and not the first-issue penciller's. D.J. Arneson wrote The Monkees, as he's said.

Monkees 2, Delbo art


  1. Panel 3 of mys-pg-2 ("I sent a note for help...") is clearly Don Heck, but it's not the same as the rest of the page.
    The elongated figure style in the other panels reminds me of Ross Andru's humor comics work.
    Now I'll have to dig it out and look it over page-by-page...

  2. Is it Mo Marcus?


  3. Britt, there is a close-up of a woman in the issue's second story that looks pure Andru, but I discounted it when I didn't see any connection between Andru and Giordano in 1967. Your seeing Andru in the elongated figures here makes him the best bet so far--and what he's doing at Dell is yet another of their many mysteries. (Mike Esposito did ink some of a Frogmen issue at Dell--maybe he's the connection.)

    Lee, I see from the Who's Who entry that Marcus, like Jim Aparo, did the Monkees strip (in the Charlton music magazines), which would give him a connection with Giordano, but I don't think I've seen any of his stories yet anywhere, so can't recognize his style.

  4. I'm only aware of the Jim Aparo Monkees strips that ran in Charlton's Teen Tunes magazine. It's possible that Marcus drew some others that ran in a different magazine, but is it also possible that the Who's Who data is incorrect, confusing this job with the Charlton work? If the Who's Who was based on Marcus's own recollection, he might have forgotten that his Monkees job was for Dell, not for Charlton? I'd really like to know what magazine supposedly had Marcus's Monkees in it (it appears that Dell and Charlton were *both* publishing Monkees comics in the same year, which surprises me!).

  5. It certainly is possible that an error crept into the Who's Who. In the early stages of Jerry Bails' computerizing his records, a few glitches happened. For example, a few lines of Edd Ashe's data were repeated in Lee Ames' section, and to this day the GCD credits Ames, not Ashe, with Tammy Tell Me True at Dell.

    At any rate, after considering it, I'm sure Britt is correct and this Monkees story was pencilled by Ross Andru--and when I can dig up the scans of a credited story in this style I'll post it shortly.

  6. Martin,

    Britt may be correct about Ross Andru, although I'm not entirely convinced. Something about the figures doesn't shout Andru to me. I do see Giordano/McLaughlin/Trapani inks. One possible name that came to mind was Joe Orlando.

  7. And after my own consideration, I think I agree with you and Britt that this is Andru. The exaggerated knee bends in the bottom panels of both pages are highly characteristic of his interpretation of "dynamicism". I find it one of the more painful hallmarks of his work, spoiling more than a few Jim Aparo covers done over Andru layouts.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. I cast one vote against it being Ross Andru...or Joe Orlando or Don Heck. The panel compositions are awkward with plenty of dead area and figures crammed in the edges and corners. Even if the figures look a bit like Ross Andru trying to be funny, he knew how to draw inside panel borders and he was never that awkward at arranging his people inside panels.

    Mo Marcus was that awkward, especially in the few signed stories he has in Charlton's GO-GO comic about this time. I think his credit for drawing THE MONKEES is a reference to a story he did in GO-GO about an unnamed rock group that looked a little like The Monkees. It kinda looks like a story Charlton commissioned as The Monkees to maybe try and demonstrate that they could handle the license...and then they didn't get it so they had the story retouched to make the characters look less like Davy, Peter, Mike and Mickey, and ran it in GO-GO.

    One other bit of evidence: I think the Dell story above is lettered by Jon D'Agostino. He lettered other things for Dell but I think all of them were jobs involving artists who worked for Charlton, as if the artists had hired him instead of Dell.

    If I had to wager (and I'm glad I don't) I'd say that Sal Trapani got the job and hired Mo Marcus to ghost pencil it. Then what Marcus handed in was so weak that Sal and friends like Dick Giordano and Frank McLaughin pitched in to help improve it enough that Dell would accept it.

    But it could also have been drawn by someone we never heard of. That does happen.

  10. At least we all, Britt, Lee, M W, Nick, and Mark, agree that it isn't Delbo...

    I still see Andru, (see next post), but mainly in the Monkees figures. I agree with you, Mark, that some panels here sure wouldn't do Andru any credit; the top tiers on the second page are pretty awful. Maybe he was only one of the people pitching in. Why he in particular was asked to help, from outside the mid-Sixties Charlton circle, is still the big mystery.