Thursday 30 October 2014

The Spooky Art of Diving

Halloween is upon us once again so here's a special spooky selection to mark the occasion.

We begin with a 1954 cover from EC's Tales from the Crypt.

Jack Davis was a prolific artist for EC, able to pencil and ink 3 or more pages a day without sacrificing his lush, detailed style. He worked across the whole range of genres for EC, including Mad which started life as a regular size, colour comic. He branched out into advertising, magazines, film posters and record sleeves while still working in comics. He returned to Mad, now a black and white magazine, in the late 60s and remained a regular contributer, including many covers, for the next couple of decades.

Horror comics had a resurgence of popularity in the 70s and the covers below are from 1971 and 1974 respectively.

Both are by Nick Cardy who began his career working for the legendary Will Eisner before serving as a tank driver during World War 2, earning two purple hearts. After the war he worked on the newspaper strips Tarzan and Casey Ruggles before Joining DC in 1950. In the sixties he had notable runs on Aquaman and Teen Titans and was DC's primary cover artist in the early seventies before leaving comics for a more lucrative career in commercial art.

Luis Dominguez began his career in his native Argentina in the 1940s but worked extensively for US publishers such as Charlton, Gold Key and DC in the 60s and 70s. The cover below is from 1974.

The next cover is from a short-lived 1991 series. Artist unknown.

This colourful cover is by Ray Theobald. Badger Books was an imprint of John Spencer & Co that published a range of pulp magazines in the '50s and '60s. J.J. Hansby was one of many pseudonyms used by John S. Glasby who wrote over 300 novels and short stories for Badger Books.

On a lighter note is this offering from the 1962 Beano Book strip, Danny on a Dolphin. Danny and his dolphin Flash are investigating the spooky apparition that has been scaring local pearl divers (Click for larger image).

Artist Dave Sutherland drew various adventure strips for the Beano, perhaps most famously on Billy the Cat, before turning to humour strips. He drew cover stars Biffo the Bear and Dennis the Menace for many years and continues to draw the Bash Street Kids. He has produced over 2,000 Bash Street strips, a record no other Beano artist can match.

Thursday 23 October 2014

The Fantastic Art of Diving

In 1984, Marvel Books published a Fantastic Four storybook called Island of Danger. The finished, painted artwork is by Earl Norem but long-time Marvel employee Marie Severin is also credited. At the time she was working for Marvel's Special Projects division under whose remit Marvel Books fell so it seems probable that she was involved in helping design the book.

Here's a selection of images showing our heroes encountering a giant octopus.

Art collector Vincente B has scans of some original artwork from the book as well as some pencil sketches which you can see here.

You can read the whole book here. This edition came with a record but sadly the blogger doesn't have a copy to listen to.

Earl Norem (born 1924) saw action in World War II. Injury ended his military service and he embarked on a career in illustration. Primarily known for his work on men's magazines, he also produced book covers, trading cards, baseball programmes and film posters. You can see a nice selection of his work at the American Art Archives.

Marie Severin (born 1929) began her career as a colourist for EC Comics where her brother John worked as an artist. In 1959 she joined Stan Lee's staff at Atlas Comics (although they'd dropped the Atlas logo from their covers by '59 and would adopt the Marvel name within a couple of years). Working in the production department, primarily as a colourist, she began to get pencilling assignments on characters such as Doctor Strange, the Hulk and the Sub-Mariner. She also worked on Marvel's humour title Not Brand Echh. The oddest project of her career was undoubtedly drawing a Spider-Man and Hulk story that was printed on toilet paper!


Monday 13 October 2014

Not Everyone's Cup of Tea

Today's entry features art by Ley Kenyon whose work I looked at in an earlier Art of Diving.

Ever since the 1950s, Brooke Bond had been giving away collectors' cards in their packets of tea. In 1974 they produced a series of 50 cards called The Sea - our other world.

This is the album that accompanied the cards...

...and here's an advert that appeared in comics of the time.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

The Art of Diving with Dolphins - Swordfish Attack!

Today I'm going to feature a complete story from the 1962 Topper Annual (published in 1961) which has nothing to do with the popular marine mammal. Apologies to any dolphin lovers out there!

The Diving Dolphins features characters seen in a strip called Lucky Dicky Dolphin that had originally appeared in the weekly comic in 1955. It told of the adventures of Skipper Dolphin and his two children, Sue and Dicky. Sue often seemed to get unfairly side-lined in a lot of stories but she's in the thick of the action here.

The gorgeous colour artwork seen here is by Ron Smith. Born in 1924, he began studying engineering before flying Spitfires during World War II. After the war he worked at the Gaumont British animation studio where his co-workers included Mike Western and Eric Bradbury, both featured previously in this blog. In 1949 he began his career at the Amalgamated Press drawing humour strips in Knockout. His first adventure work was an adaptation of the Burt Lancaster film The Flame and the Arrow.

In 1952 he moved to Dundee and joined the staff of D.C. Thomson & Co where he worked across the entire range of boys' and girls' comics. In 1972 he moved to Surrey and went freelance but continued to work for D.C. Thomson, primarily on the Hotspur where he drew characters such as The Cowboy Cricketer, Nick Jolly and King Cobra, a superhero that he created and persuaded Thomson's to publish. In 1979 he began illustrating Judge Dredd for 2000AD. He was a lot faster than some of the other Dredd artists and soon became one of the character's main contributors, also drawing the newspaper strip that appeared in the Daily Star. He also worked for a number of other IPC titles before retiring in the 1990s.

In the story featured here, Smith has included some interesting looking dive gear. Twin cylinders, twin-hose regulators with lots of detail at the base of the cylinders, but he also makes the same mistake as the likes of Dan DeCarlo and has the hoses coming directly out of the cylinders without a first stage to reduce the pressure. We also see the Dolphins go shooting to the surface on the last page! Still, I'm sure the thousands of kids who opened their Topper Annual on Christmas Day 1961 didn't care about that and just enjoyed the beautifully drawn underwater action.

(Click on the images for larger scans)