Thursday, October 30, 2014

Joe Shuster's Charlton Ghost

Bill Molno was a Charlton mainstay for a decade or more on the anthology books; I see his occasional series entries mostly on the Westerns. Unless I've missed earlier stories, his debut at the company in 1954 was ghost pencils for Joe Shuster. Mark Evanier gives Dick Giordano's explanation of the ghosting in a comment on the previous post .

Here's a page from "The Well of Fear" in Strange Suspense Stories 21 compared with one from about three and a half years later—after Joe Shuster's credits are long gone—"The House of Man," Out of This World 7 (Feb/58). Molno is inking himself on this one
Strange Suspense Stories 21 and Out of This World 7
There are a few more stories with Shuster's credit at Charlton that I haven't seen—hot rod ones, for instance. Unsigned 1954 stories penciled by Molno and inked by others include "Food for Thought" (SSS 20, Aug), "Who Will He Be?" and "This Bite Is Sweet" (SSS 21, Sept), "Mental Wizard" and, possibly, "The Crusher" (The Thing 16, Sept), and "Where Do They Lurk?" (This Magazine Is Haunted 19, Aug). I mention them thinking of the uncredited Jerry Grandenetti pieces in the mid-Sixties that have been misattributed to Joe Orlando, for whom he was ghosting elsewhere at the time. There are other "Shuster" stories in the GCD that could be looked at a second time.

Bill Molno Stories Ghost-Penciling for Joe Shuster
(Inked by Ray Osrin except as noted)

Crime and Justice

July/54 19  The Death Watch [RADIO PATROL]
Sep/     20  The Anniversary Gift [MR & MRS CHASE]
A Deadly Circle [RADIO PATROL]
Nov/     21  The $64,000 Question [MR & MRS CHASE]
Road Pirates
Finale for Fingers

Racket Squad in Action

A-S/54 12  Robbery by Appointment
The Ransom Swindle
Protection Game
O-N/     13  Malignant Model Agency
The Basketball Scandals

Space Adventures

M-J/54 11  Interplanetary Safari (inked by Dick Giordano)

Strange Suspense Stories

July/54 19  Give Back My Body (no inker signature)
Sept/     21  The Well of Fear
Nov/     22  The Secret of the Box

The Thing

Sept/54 16  Death of a Gambler (inked by Vince Alascia)

This Magazine Is Haunted

July/54 18  The Last Earl (inked by John Belfi)
Sept/    20  Quest of the Beyond


  1. As you may know I am a huge fan of your method of applying lingistic analysis to textst to determine a writer and have produced at least a set of signifyers and designifyers for Stan Lee. But, as I am working on another project that could use some wrtiter recognition, I have a question: have you ever got a handle on Jerry Siegel and could you either give me a list or look at a couple of possible subjects for me. In one case, I have a magazine where he is mentioned in the masthead, in another a Superman spoof is featured with JS on his chest rather than an 'S', which seems like a gag by the artist (Howard Nostrand) for the writer (Jrry Siegel?). I also have at least two signed pieces from the same Mad imitation magazines.

  2. Jerry Siegel often used the exclamation "awp!", which I've not seen other writers use.

    Other than that I can't really get much of a handle on his writing style myself, apart perhaps from an inappropriate over-use of commas, and a tendency to verbiage.

  3. I go into Jerry Siegel's style in an article that Roy Thomas requested for Alter Ego and I turned in around 2007. Maybe one of these years we'll see it... But yes, Lee, "Awp" is a major point of identification with Siegel. A reader dissected his Gunhawk story in an early issue of Western Gunfighters and came down on the tendency to verbiage that you mention, Lee. In my opinion it's just a flair for the dramatic along the lines of so many other comic book writers, but Siegel could take even further than many.

    If the masthead that you mention is in early issues of Cracked or the like, Ger, I have to admit that I have a hard time distinguishing the writers at the black & white humor magazines--they're text-heavy and trying so hard to imitate Mad that those flourishes of verbiage (and especially sound effects and captions) are the first to go by the wayside.

  4. Molno ghosting for Joe Shuster! You've made this Molno fan's day. Good pick for self-inked, late-Fifties Mono. As you probably know, Molno's self-inking style changed drastically in the early 1960s.

    Many thanks for this bit of research!

  5. And, Lee, a quick glimpse at the CGD overview for Shuster shows a few stories at St. John that I'm pretty sure will turn out to be Molno ones (he was working there), attributed to Shuster by backtracking the style from these Charlton stories.

  6. Awesome! I just checked the three 1953 St. John titles credited to Shuster by GCD, and two of them ("The Killer Quartet"--Authentic Police Cases #27, and Fool's Mistake"--Wartime Romances #18) are Molno beyond any reasonable doubt. The cover to Authentic Police Cases #25 is harder to peg--the troopers look 100% like Molno's work, while the couple in the car may or may not be. The briefcase lettering and the overall 2-D feeling to the layout, though, are very Molno. Therefore, I'll rate his involvement as probable.

    Many thanks for the leads!

  7. You're welcome, Lee, and thanks for doing the work--it was just my suspicion from a look at the GCD overview.

  8. Martin and Lee,

    Thanks to both for your eagle eyes. I've updated all these entries to the GCD.

  9. Hmmm. Molno's art looks a lot like Manny Stallman to me. Wonder if they ever worked together???

  10. I know Stallman's Fifties style is kind of submerged at DC under the inkers, but you're right, there are some resemblances. Later his and Molno's styles certainly diverge. I know most of fandom was down on Stallman for Raven in the mid-Sixties, but I think his romance work at DC at the same time captures the period very well.