Sunday 27 July 2014

The Archie of Diving

The second of today's entries features a selection of Archie Comics covers and pin-ups, most of which are new to this version of The Art of Diving.

We start with a quartet of images by Dan DeCarlo.



Both of the above feature the hose coming directly from the cylinder, a Dan DeCarlo trait which I've mentioned before.


1971 (Take a look at Betty's socks-cum-fins!)

Update - 4/2/15

 Subby over on the Aquafans forum has posted a selection of pictures from a 1970 issue of Time. The following picture looks like it must have been the inspiration for Betty's outfit above.

Born in 1919 in New York, Dan DeCarlo was drafted in 1941 and was stationed in the UK. He worked as a draughtsman and also painted mascots on military planes. While in Belgium he met his future wife, Josie Dumont, a French citizen.

In 1947, back in the USA and labouring for his father, he answered an ad and began working for editor Stan Lee at Timely Comics (later Atlas and Marvel). Initially working on the teen humour title Jeannie, he made his mark with a ten year run on Millie the Model. DeCarlo and Lee also produced over forty issues of My Friend Irma, based on a popular radio and TV comedy. He also drew cartoons for Timely/Atlas publisher Martin Goodman's line of Humorama pin-up magazines.

In the late fifties he started freelancing for Archie Comics and eventually set a new, more modern house style for the characters. A prolific cover and pin-up artist, he's probably most associated with his work on Betty and Veronica but also created Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Josie, named after his wife. First published in 1963, Josie (originally She's Josie) was renamed Josie and the Pussycats in late '69 to tie in with Hanna-Barbera's Saturday morning cartoon series.

DeCarlo's twin sons, Dan Jr and James, both worked as artists for Archie but both sadly predeceased their father in 1990 and 1991. In 2001 he lost a lawsuit over ownership of Josie during production of the Josie and the Pussycats live-action movie and this ended his 43-year relationship with Archie Comics. Some of his final work was for Bongo Comics' Bart Simpson. He died of pneumonia in December 2001 aged 82.

The cover of Jughead #99 is from 1963 and you can see an interior page, also by artist Samm Schwartz, in my earlier entry The Artt of Diving.

I'm afraid I don't know the artist on these final two covers although the Joke Book one is possibly Bob White.



The Holy Art of Diving

The first of today's entries consists of just one image but it's a corker! Another of Walter Molino's paintings for La Domenica Del Corriere, it features the Christ of the Abyss (Il Cristo degli Abissi) situated in the bay of San Fruttuoso, near Portofino in Italy. Designed by Guido Galletti, it was placed in the water on the 22nd of August 1954 near the spot where Italian diving pioneer Dario Gonzatti died in 1947. I did my instructor course in the area in 2004 but sadly was unable to dive the statue as it had been removed from the water for restoration at the time.

The painting shows the fourth anniversary of the statue being marked by a mixture of professional and amateur divers making "an unusual pilgrimage". They placed wreaths and torches "after hearing mass celebrated aboard a great ship".

Monday 21 July 2014

The Art of Diving to the Rescue!

Having spent the weekend helping teach a Rescue Diver course I was inspired to put together this collection of images.

This first piece appeared in the weekly Italian magazine La Domenica del Corriere in July 1959. Published from 1899 until 1989, it was renowned for it's colour front and back covers which remain collectable to this day. One of the regular artists was Walter Molino and you can read a little more about him here.

The illustration is for a story about a diving accident involving Vittorio Emanuele Alberto Carlo Teodoro Umberto Bonifacio Amedeo Damiano Bernardino Gennaro Maria di Savoia (Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia for short). Known as the Prince of Naples and the Duke of Savoy, he is the only son of Umberto II, the last King of Italy, and has spent most of his life in exile. The text tells us that, during a visit to San Diego, he met with Jacques Piccard who had the bathyscape Trieste. During a dive to 25 metres he ran out of air and made a rapid ascent. The sudden pressure change caused "a sudden illness" but, following a visit to a recompression chamber, Vittorio Emanuele "was quickly restored."

New Heroic Comics number 91 was published in 1954 by Eastern Color under the Famous Funnies banner. Unfortunately the artist is unknown.

No rescue-themed entry would be complete without those brave boys from International Rescue. In issue 172 of TV Century 21, dated May 4th 2068 (a feature of the comic was that it was dated a hundred years in the future), we see Gordon and Brains having to rescue a trapped diver and disarm a rogue neutron cannon. All in a day's work for the Thunderbirds boys! (Scans courtesy of Lew Stringer's wonderful Blimey! It's Another Blog About Comics! )

Artist Frank Bellamy is a British comics legend. After a start in advertising he began working in comic strips. His body of work includes Monty Carstairs (Mickey Mouse Weekly), Robin Hood, King Arthur and Swiss Family Robinson (Swift) and The Ghost World (Boys' World). Some of his most famous work was for Eagle: Dan Dare, Fraser of Africa, Heros the Spartan, The Happy Warrior (Winston Churchill), Montgomery of Alamein and The Shepherd King (David). He drew Thunderbirds from 1966 - 69 and also did editorial work for the likes of Radio Times and The Sunday Times Magazine. In 1971 he took over the art duties on the Daily Mirror's Garth which he drew until his death in 1976 aged 59.

This American Manhood cover dates from 1952. In addition to his painted covers, artist Peter Poulton was known for his pen-and-ink illustrations for science fiction magazines.

Finally, we have two covers, from Sweden and Norway respectively, illustrating the Modesty Blaise story The Bluebeard Affair. They both depict Modesty's dramatic rescue of Willie Garvin. I don't know who was responsible for the Norwegian cover but Ake Forsmark and Ola Forssblad of the Modesty Blaise Facebook Group have both suggested Thord Lindblom as the Agent X9 artist.

You can see the full rescue in my recent blog entry here.

Monday 14 July 2014

Ever Since I Was a Young Buoy...

Here's something a bit different, some scuba-themed pinball machines. Being a Pinball Wizard could be handy for a diver; those "crazy flipper fingers" might prove very useful...

This 1970 machine from Gottlieb paints a rather unrealistic view of diving. A wreck, a shark, treasure and a mermaid all in one dive?! That hardly ever happens.

This 1971 Bally table paints a more futuristic view of diving but I'm not sure how easy it would be to equalise with a glass bowl on your head.

The other machines allow for one or two players but this Stern table from 1977 can have four players. Remember though, always play pinball with a buddy!

Friday 11 July 2014

Wrecks Special

Sorry, that should be "Rex" Special!

Artist Gil Kane (real name Eli Katz, 1926-2000) had a career that spanned six decades. He worked on the revamped Green Lantern and Atom for DC in the 50s and 60s and later drew Spider-Man for Marvel. During the 70s he was Marvel's primary cover artist. However, I'm confident that he considered his seven year run on Rex the Wonder Dog to be the pinnacle of his career!

Rex, a former military dog, was owned by Major Dennis and his son Danny. In issue 27 (1956) he was faced with the Mystery of the Midget Sub! And no, your eyes aren't deceiving you, that really is scuba gear that Rex is using!

Following a nuclear test, Major Dennis is checking the sea bed for signs of radiation. As you do. Danny and Rex become concerned when he doesn't surface as scheduled...

Danny and Rex follow a trail of pearls when suddenly the shadow of a giant ray falls across them...

Continuing to follow the pearls, our intrepid pair find a sunken ship. As they watch, a midget submarine leaves the wreck and proceeds to destroy it with a torpedo...

Following the sub to the surface, Danny and Rex rescue Major Dennis from thieves who had sunk the ship so that they could retrieve the cargo of pearls later.

Two years later, in issue 42, Rex was involved in more aquatic adventures...

 This time he eschews the use of scuba gear to show off his extraordinary breath-holding abilities.

Danny is told that Bluebeard's treasure is somewhere nearby but he's more interested in finding specimens for his town's aquarium...

I'd love to know what Nora's tanks are made of that they can be "ripped" by coral!

Nora agrees to help Danny and they go diving the following day, but Rex is worried because he senses a storm coming. During one of their dives Rex spots trouble and gets to repeat his shark fighting trick...

No sooner has Rex dealt with the octopus than the storm causes the cave to collapse, sealing the treasure inside. Fear not though because Danny and Nora escape thanks to Rex, the Wonder Dog!

Thursday 10 July 2014

The Quick Art of Diving

Haven't had a chance to do a proper entry this week but here's a picture of Tippy Teen by Samm Schwartz (from the cover of Tippy Teen #15, 1967)

Update 17/2/15
Saw this old ad on Alex Griffin's Hell Divers blog  and was struck by the similarities to the drawing of Tippy Teen above. It definitely looks like Samm Schwartz may have used it as a reference. (Click for larger image)


Thursday 3 July 2014

Don't Mention the Art of Diving! (I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it)

I'm in Munich this week so, as with last week's French-themed entry, I thought I'd showcase some German examples.

Fox twins Fix and Foxi were the stars of a long-running series beginning in 1953. It was extremely popular and ran until 1994. There have been several revivals in recent years.

I'm not sure who the character on this cover is but I like the way the artist has designed his mask.

Bastei are a prolific publisher of various genres but all of the examples here are from their horror range that began in the 1970s. These series were published fortnightly and often saw various authors sharing the same pseudonyms. The covers were sometimes re-used for other books, sometimes modified but sometimes not. The English translations used here are courtesy of Google so may lack a certain finesse. Information taken from

From the Ghost Thrillers series in 1977 came The Bay of Monster (See what I mean? Perhaps that should be the Monster of the Bay?) by Frederic Collins. Cover by Josep Marti Ripoll.

Damona King (Vanquisher of Darkness) was a white witch who starred in 107 books. Monster before St. Malo! (1979) was written by Mike Shadow (actually WK Giesa) and had a cover by Vicente Segrelles.

Professor Zamorra, the Master of the Supernatural first appeared in 1974 and his adventures were still appearing in 2011 with nearly 1,000 titles published.

The Grave in the Coral Reef by Robert Lamont (Rolf Michael) was published in 1982.

Ten years later came The Deep-Sea Devil by Robert Lamont (WK Giesa) with a cover by Garciolo.