Sunday 30 May 2021

The Art of Action Man Part Two

The various Frogman outfits weren't the only options for Action Man/G.I. Joe to have underwater adventures.

Deep Sea Diver:

Special Operations Deep Sea Diver:

Wednesday 26 May 2021

The Adventurous Art of Diving - Willard Price Part 2

 Diving Adventure was the 11th book featuring Hal and Roger Hunt and was published in 1970.

This was the cover to the UK first edition hardback:

I believe this was a library edition:

This was the first paperback cover although there was a previous version which used a different typeface:

And finally we have the 1985 edition:

Saturday 22 May 2021

The Surf Kings Go Diving

Amongst its varied output in the late 60s/early 70s, Charlton Comics had a little niche pretty much to themselves; racing cars, hot-rods and motorbikes featured in various titles such as Grand Prix, World of Wheels and Drag n' Wheels. Surf n' Wheels had two features - motorcycle racers The White Angels and The Surf Kings. In issue six, published in July 1970, the Surf Kings ventured beneath the surface.

The cover is by White Angels artist Jack Keller.

Whether or not the Surf Kings continued diving is a mystery as this proved to be the final issue.

"Tony Williams" (also Tony Williamson and Tony Williamsune) was a pseudonym used by penciller Bill Fraccio (1920-2005) and inker Tony Tallarico (b.1933). In addition to Charlton they also worked together for Warren Publishing. Both left comics during the 1970s; Fraccio moved into advertising and teaching while Tallarico began illustrating children's books.

Thursday 13 May 2021

The Argosy of Diving

This is another post that owes a "Thank you" to Chris who kindly supplied the scan of the first piece.

There have been several magazines called Argosy, published in the UK and the United States, although there appears to be no connection between them.

Monster of the Madrepore appeared in the July 1960 edition of the US magazine. Artist Jack Hearne (d.1985) began his career in comics before moving into books, magazines and advertising. A post on the Today's Inspiration blog contains more information about Jack supplied by his son, including the sad story of his later years. You'll also find find links to more examples of his work there.

(Click for a larger image).

As a bonus (!), here's my attempt at getting rid of the join between the two pages.

In the 1960s the magazine began featuring photographic covers but before that readers were treated to some wonderful artwork. This July 1952 cover is by Fred Freeman (1906-1988).

In the late 1920s Freeman began working for magazines such as Colliers and The Saturday Evening Post. After serving in the navy during World War Two he also turned to book design and illustration, with destroyers and submarines among the subjects he covered. He was also known for his cutaway illustrations and in 1960 he illustrated Werner von Braun's First Men to the Moon.

I've featured this May 1953 Freeman cover before but I recently discovered that it was taken from a larger piece that featured inside the magazine.

Unfortunately I don't have any information on the next two covers.

April 1955.

March 1959.

The final cover is from the UK Argosy which for most of it's life was digest-sized. This is the July 1973 edition and only eight more issues were published before its 48-year run came to an end.

The cover is by (William) Francis Marshall (1901 - 1980) who had a 10-year association with Vogue magazine and, in 1959, wrote a book on drawing called Magazine Illustration. At the time of writing, the original art from his Argosy cover is available from the Illustration Art Gallery along with other examples of his work.

Thursday 6 May 2021

The Mexican Art of Diving

This post is possible due to the generosity of long-time Art of Diving supporter Chris so a big "Thank You" to him.

Sensacional de Luchas (Sensational Fighting) was a series of 96-page, pocket-sized comics starring real-life Luchadores Enmascarados (Masked Wrestlers). The publishers produced a whole range of Sensacional de... titles including  ...Policías (Police), ...Barrio (Neighborhoods) , ...Traileros (Truck Drivers) ...Terror (Horror) and ...Sirvientas (Maids). I'm gutted that  haven't been able to find any examples of that last one!

Sensacional de Luchas #219 was published in January 1990 and featured the story Fishman en Busca del Galeón Perdido (Fishman in Search of the Lost Galleon).

The story opens with treasure-hunters Mark, Mara, Otto and Herman searching for the wreck of the pirate Spartacus' ship. Herman is stuck doing surface cover while the others dive in search of the wreck. They all eschew wetsuits and Mara has chosen a particularly skimpy bikini! (I'm assuming the readership was predominantly male).

It doesn't take them long to find the wreck...

Ignoring the buddy system, the three divers separate (naughty!) and soon Otto meets a grisly fate...

Mark finds Otto and is spooked...

Meanwhile, Mara searches a nearby grotto...

The treasure includes a sceptre bearing an inscription...

"Carlos II, the enchanted supreme King of Spain 1665."

It turns out that Spartacus had attacked a ship carrying the crown jewels...

Arriving back at the wreck, Mara notices that all the fish, not to mention her two comrades, have disappeared...

Meanwhile, on a nearby island, Fishman was "frolicking" and enjoying the water which revitalises him...

He finds himself caught in a strange current...

Back on the yacht, Herman is concerned that the divers will be running out of "oxygen"...

Mark finds Mara just as she runs out of oxygen... (Sorry, I mean air! Now they've got me doing it!)

Mark struggles to release Mara to no avail but, luckily for them, the "Son of the Sea" arrives on the scene...

Despite the death of Otto and the attack on Mara, the treasure-hunters are still determined to raise the treasure. The guardian turns out to be the pirate himself - Spartacus. In typical comic-book fashion, our hero finds himself battling the giant...

Despite having now lost Mark as well as Otto, Mara and Herman decide they can still get the treasure. Meanwhile, the fight continues...

Spartacus thinks he's won but the water is Fishman's friend...

Fishman gains the upper hand but then Mara and Herman arrive...

The masked wrestler saves Spartacus from Mara's harpoon but is unable to prevent Herman from getting him...

They tie Fishman to the mast, intending to return for him and find out how he can stay so long underwater...

Reports of Spartacus' demise prove to have been exaggerated and, although they escape with the treasure, the yacht runs into a storm and Herman and Mara are drowned. Spartacus retrieves the treasure and returns it to the grotto...

He's grateful to Fishman for his help and thinks that they might meet again one day.

The cover painting, signed "Garr", is by Rafael Gallur Rivas. He had previously been an interior artist but switched to doing covers. Although primarily working in Mexico he's credited with assisting Pablo Marcus on issue one of DC's Star Trek: The Modala Imperative.

Unfortunately I can't decipher the signature of the artist that drew the actual strip. If anyone has any ideas please let me know.

Fishman was the ring name of José Ángel Nájera Sánchez (1951-2017). He made his debut in 1969 and retired in 2000 after losing a fight and being unmasked. His impromptu ring debut, which came about when another wrestler failed to show up, was under the name Goliath Reyes. He lost the fight and carried on training before eventually returning to the ring as Titán. A comment that the eyes of his mask looked like those of a fish prompted him to create the identity of Fishman. His mask, originally in gold and black, was based on the shape of a Manta Ray wrapped around his face. He changed his outfit to green and yellow because the original colours were too close to those of one of the top wrestlers of the time. This led to him being nicknamed El Veneno Verde (The Green Poison). His brutal style led to him being cast as a Rudo -  a bad guy. 

He had a long career with various wrestling organisations and was sometimes involved in long-running storylines with other wrestlers. As was the custom, his real name only became known after his final defeat and unmasking. His first wife was a Luchadora who worked under the name Lola González. Three of his sons also became wrestlers: Black Fish (originally Fishman Jr.), El Hijo del Fishman (Son of Fishman) and El Único de Ciudad Juárez. He died after a heart attack in April 2017.