Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Number 63

The Face

We'll soon be observing the 65th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the event that drew America into World War II. While mobilization was taking effect, the comics jumped right in, sending their characters into the fray, usually whipping on the enemy with savage ferocity, and of course, coming out the winners.

In real life it wasn't so easy, but the job was eventually done.

The Face was one of those characters. Tony Trent, war correspondent, put on a Halloween mask, his entire costume. Later on in The Face's run in Big Shot Comics, as the strip was re-titled simply "Tony Trent."

The art was by Mart Bailey, who had a good illustrative style with solid and clean inking. His art style wasn't spectacular, but Bailey was a pro who started his career at DC Comics for Big Shot Comics editor, Vin Sullivan. In a lot of ways Bailey's style reminds me of fellow Big Shot artist, Ogden Whitney, who drew Skyman.

This story, from Big Shot Comics #37, August 1943, shows The Face participating in a Marine invasion of an island, which is in fact what was happening in real life at the same time. The story takes off into a flight of fancy. In real life islands like Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal were taken only after fierce fighting and great loss of lives. The Face and his friends, the bearded "Mattress" McCarthy, spouting his annoying rhymes, and "Babbling" Brooks, showing timidity in the face of the enemy (something you didn't usually see in comics), took care of the situation in short order and the island was taken. Hooray for our side. To his credit, Bailey didn't draw the Japanese as ugly caricatures, which was common in those days. It wouldn't have fit into his style of art at all.

1 comment:

tighelander said...

Later in the series Trent, by then Major, is in post-war Japan. In one story he is assisted by two American Japanese soldiers. Until today I had thought they were black, and for years I was amazed at the real portrayal of African Americans in the service. In the story they are colored darkish gray-green the other Japanese characters are also colored this way.