Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Joe Shuster's ghost
After writing a review of Craig Yoe's Secret Identity, The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-creator, Joe Shuster I did a little research. Since Shuster did the illustrations for the Nights of Horror booklets that caused such a stir in 1954, I looked at some other work he did that year. Or should I say, didn't do. I have a couple of strips signed by Joe Shuster for Charlton Comics. I scanned these stories from 1954, "Secrets Of the Box" from Strange Stories of Suspense #22 and "Quest of the Beyond" from This Magazine Is Haunted #20. They're inked by Ray Osrin, but although the top signature says Joe Shuster, it appears to me that Shuster hired a ghost to do the pencils. None of the artwork in these strips looks anything like the Joe Shuster artwork for Nights of Horror, or for other work I associate with him, early Superman or even 1948's Funnyman. It doesn't make much sense for him to do unsigned artwork for Nights of Horror and make it look like the Superman creator Joe Shuster, and then sign artwork for Charlton that obviously wasn't by him. But that's what looks like happened.
I also posted an unsigned strip in Pappy's #331 called "Mental Wizard" from Charlton's The Thing #16, which is obviously by the same artist. Check out the bearded character, who looks like Smirnov in "The Secret In the Box."
Maybe Craig Yoe can figure it all out. As he showed in Secret Identity, he's good at this sort of detective work!
Stay for one more comment after you read the second story.
Do you think that last panel is goofy? That's not a human heart, but a Valentine heart. Since it's supposed to be a human heart my thought is that being 1954, with loud criticism of horror comics at an ear-splitting level, somebody in charge at Charlton said, "Better soft pedal that last panel. Put in something that is supposed to be a human heart but not so gory." I don't know that's what happened, but like Shuster's ghost, I can't figure out it out otherwise.