Monday, February 15, 2016

Trapani and Company on Flying Saucers

Sal Trapani had a signed story in each issue of Dell's Flying Saucers (#5 reprinted #1). Who ghosted the pencils for him? I'd say two artists we're familiar with.

I believe I see the generic Charlton style of Bill Molno under three stories; the tier from "Swamp Gas" uses the man-at-the-steering-wheel shot I compared in stories signed by Molno and those Molno ghosted for Joe Shuster.

In the fourth Trapani-signed story the penciling style changes and reminds me of the scratchy effect in mid-seventies Charlton work by Bill Fraccio and Tony Tallarico. The clouds from the flying saucer in "Space Spiders?" show it most obviously.

There are two FS stories which Trapani left unsigned because he had nothing to do with them, but the general Charlton feel seems to have connected him with them. They're both pencilled by Dick Giordano. I can't say who inked them; not only do I not see Trapani work, I can't say I see Giordano himself or Frank McLaughlin on the inks either.

Flying Saucers Trapani or Giordano art

Apr/67 Strange Shoot Out p: Bill Molno  i: Sal Trapani
July/     Swamp Gas p: Molno  i: Trapani
Oct/     The Fear of Death p: Dick Giordano  i: ?
A Nightmare in Broad Daylight p: Molno  i: Trapani
Nov/     Trust Your Eyes p: Giordano  i: ?

Space Spiders? p: Bill Fraccio  i: Trapani


  1. Trapani must have been very well remunerated, to afford all of his "ghosts."

    I would have thought his ghosts would prefer to work directly for the publishers, cutting out the middle-man (Trapani), and receiving better pay.

    Surely being a ghost for a modestly talented artist like Trapani can't have been well-paying!

  2. Lee, that probably illustrates the difference in pay rates between Charlton (Molno on his own) and Dell (Molno via Trapani), if they more or less evened out.

  3. Ghosting, like using an agent, means the artist doesnt have to go out looking for work, they can just sit and draw. So no travel time, no time waiting for the editor to come out and see you in order to tell you if they have a script for you or not.

  4. "Strange Shoot Out" is absolutely Molno! It's identical in style to the June, 1967 Molno-Trapani "Boris Karloff TOM" entry "The Room of Madness." Molno simply recycled the blonde hero and his mom for the Gold Key "Boris Karloff" art. And I concur on "Swamp Gas," though I had to see the entire story first. It's definitely him. In particular, the first three panels on page 6 clinch it: these are images that show up constantly in Molno's war comic art for Charlton.

    I'm 95 percent with you on "Nightmare." The problem with Molno/Trapani pairings is that they rarely have the exact same look (exception: "Strange Shoot Out" and "Room of Madness"!).

    Studying "Space Spiders?" I almost ID'd Molno, but the pencils aren't eccentric enough to be his. The weird angles are Molno-esque, but he would have turned in far quirkier compositions, overall. So I agree with your other-than-Molno assessment....

    Thank you for finding these! I had Molno Dell work in my possession and didn't know it. It appears that Molno may have had his sights set on moving away from Charlton about this time (1966-1969), given his Gold Key, DC, and Marvel work and his scarceness at Charlton.

  5. Lee, I keep returning to Trapani's stories at the various companies periodically to see if someone's penciling style finally clicks. I wouldn't be surprised if there are a few more Mol-Tra jobs--somewhere.