Bob Powell's The Man In The Hood!
The truly great Golden Age comic book artists were the artists of whom it could be said, "that guy could draw anything.*" Bob Powell could draw anything, and he drew anything extremely well. It didn't matter the genre: crime, science fiction, jungle, western, horror, romance, super-heroes…he could draw it.
Even though Powell worked from the late 1930s until the mid-1960s when he died, my favorite period of his is in the mid-to-late Golden Age, circa 1947 to 1954. Powell never worked for the biggest of the bigs in the publishing industry. During his time in the 1950s he was active with four publishers, mainly Magazine Enterprises (ME), Fawcett, Harvey and St. John. As far as I know during this period he didn't draw any stories for DC Comics, Dell, or Atlas. My favorite stories of Powell's from this early 1950s era are his horror stories. He did some fine ones. Luckily some of the original art from those stories still exists, found in a warehouse for Harvey Comics.
I'm posting a story scanned from original art that I think is topnotch Powell. The story, "The Man In The Hood," from Chamber Of Chills #13, 1952, is a gruesome story set in the period of the French Revolution, involving the guillotine and the executioner, a man who stays safely inside his mask.
The artwork in this story is superb. Powell did use assistants--he'd have had to or he'd never have been able to produce as much work as he did in those years--and they did a wonderful job, but he had the control. The art always looks like Powell.
In looking at the individual panels in this story you can see attention to detail: the horse and carriage on page 1, the costuming throughout the story, and even the anatomy of the executioner. In panel 2, page 4, the executioner, with leather straps around his bare chest, is shown to have some love handles! ( Now that's attention to details!)
With good drawing came great inking. I don't know if people ever really look at inking, but in those days the main tool of the inker was a sable watercolor brush called a Winsor-Newton Series 7, Number 3. These fine brushes were--and still are--made in England and they can come to a precise needle thickness of a tip or expand out to give a broad line, which is why inkers could create those wonderful thick and thin lines that give comic art such a unique look.
Another characteristic of Powell's artwork was to give the color artist a light blue watercolor wash in areas he wanted emphasized with color. I'm sorry that wash doesn't reproduce better in my scans. I did them at 900 pixels wide so you could revel in the art, but Photobucket, where I store these pages you are linking to, doesn't do anything that large and automatically reduced them to about 685 pixels wide. Oh well…I think you'll get the idea.
Page 1 (219K) / Page 2 (207K) / Page 3 (238K) / Page 4 (233K) / Page 5 (220K) / Page 6 (227K)
*Or, well, almost anything. One of my all-time favorite artists, Jack Davis, couldn't draw love comics. He could draw everything else, though.