Monday, February 11, 2013

Number 1314: Putting the ‘artist’ in comic book artist

Louis Goodman (Lou) Ferstadt was a comic artist of the 1940s, whose style was a mixture of the cartoonish and the serious. Ferstadt was born in Ukraine in 1900, but came to the U.S. and worked as an artist his entire life. Comic books were his business after working in advertising and as a muralist for the Federal Arts Project department of the WPA (Works Progress Administration) a Federal program of the 1930s to provide work for the longterm unemployed.

This 1939 photograph shows him in front of one of his works.
 Ferstadt worked for various comic book companies and comic shops, and for a time had his own shop. One of his studio members was a young Harvey Kurtzman. Ferstadt also provided a comic strip for the Communist Party USA newspaper, The Daily Worker. He died in 1954.

Here are two examples of his work on comics from the mid-'40s. They're from Suspense Comics #6 (1944) and #8 (1945) respectively. Based on his photograph, you think Lou Ferstadt may have used himself as the model for the “Doctor of Doom”..?


Brian Barnes said...

His style is certainly interesting, and he shows what I like to call the "impossible fabric physics" on the Doctor of Doom splash. It's sexy, but fabric just does not do that.

I think he needed more female models, the females in both stories are basically the same.

It was probably better off that he died in 54, working for the Daily Worker would have certainly got him blackballed in comics in the red scare.

Pappy said...

Brian, there were comic artists who were communists...Maurice Del Bourgo, for one. I got an e-mail from Del Bourgo's stepson who said they had a lot of leftist guests, including Paul Robeson, at their house in the 1940s.

I don't know how bothered anyone was by comic book artists who were communists, because it probably wasn't an industry that was looked at by the Feds looking for reds. Comics had their own set of problems with the government that ended up in the Senate hearings in 1954, but those hearings were about contents of the comics that were found offensive by some, not about Cold War politics.

Don said...

I've wondered what kind of comic strips were printed in the Daily Worker. Were they single-panel humor or continuity-based adventure strips? Dick "Frankenstein" Briefer drew one, Pinky Rankin, for the Daily Worker as well as those drawn by Lou Ferstadt. I've never seen samples of these. Are any available?

Pappy said...

Don, I just went to Google and typed in Daily Worker comic strips and among others I came up with this example of the Little Lefty strip by Maurice del Bourgo.

rnigma said...

Didn't John Willie of "Sweet Gwendoline" infamy draw "Pinky Rankin"?

Pappy said...

rnigma, I haven't seen a reference to John Willie and Pinky Rankin, but I have read that Dick (Frankenstein) Briefer created the strip for The Daily Worker.

Unknown said...

There is a reproduction of the very first Daily Worker Pinky Rankin strip by Dick Briefer in mv book "Dick Briefer's Frankenstein" in the extensive, profusely illustrated biographical introduction. See the book on my website at Keep up the great work, Pappy! Your fan, Craig Yoe

Pappy said...

Craig, and indeed! There it is. Thanks.