Friday, January 9, 2015

The Superman Artist You've Heard Of--Believe Me

"If There Were No Superman" in World's Finest 38 (Jan-Feb/49) seems to have been a stumper as far as IDing the penciller goes. His final World's Finest Boy Commandos, as it happens, was in the previous issue. This is his second Superman story, the first being "The Man Who Bossed Superman" in Superman 51 (Mar-Apr/48); before 1949 is out he'll start contributing the occasional story to Superboy.

World's Finest 38 'If There Were No Superman'

Curt Swan will return to drawing Superman.

The best guess on the penciller for "If There Were No Superman" has been Wayne Boring, with a question mark. That just goes to show how important it is to ignore the inking; in this case Stan Kaye's inks on Swan immediately remind you of his inks on Boring. Try to imagine these panels as if inked by George Klein. One way or the other, you have to look behind the inks for Swan's poses and layouts and a few recognizable facial types. The less you look at Superman himself, where Boring's version is certainly the model, the better. On other pages than these, objects like castles and ships showcase Swan's realistic approach rather than Boring's impressionistic one.

Speaking of inkers obscuring pencillers, that Boy Commandos story in WF 38, "Rip Carter—Fugitive from a Chain Gang," has been attributed to Swan, but its pencils are by another BC artist you've heard of: Jack Kirby.


  1. Martin,

    I guessed Swan before I looked at your id. The main figure that made me think Swan was the man typing and the poses of the background figures in the ancient Rome panel. As you noted, looking at Superman wouldn't have given it away. Great discovery!

  2. To be fair, Martin selected the panels. The typist is a dead giveaway, as is the skylight panel. I don't think Boring ever drew such a shot in his life. But laid out in the original context its probably harder to tell.

  3. Yes, I had to ponder awhile in choosing the three most Swanlike tiers. The gent just above and to the right of my words "Curt Swan," in the Roman scene, is Swan to the T. But, as you suggest is possible, Whoswhoz, on the following page there's a woman fleeing who almost could be by Boring. The days when Swan's art will be the model on Superman are still a few years off!

  4. Hi, can you tell me who wrote The Sven Year Itchola in Lunatickle #3. The use of... dots seems familiar. I can be reached on Facebook.

  5. Lunatickle hasn't gotten scanned yet that I can see, Ger.

    1. I can send you scans if I can figure out a way to connect without giving you my email adress here.

    2. Ger, click on "View my complete profile" in the upper right and it will take you to the page where you click again to email me (or just hover over "Email" to see my address after "mailto:").

  6. Good spot, Martin!
    I agree about the typist being typical Swan.
    This means that I have both of the original issues (Superman #51 and World's Finest #38) featuring Swan's first two Superman stories.