Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Number 197

The Face gets in their faces!

I've always thought that superheroes looked sort of dorky in their costumes. I'm the one comic book fan who thinks that, though, because to superhero fans often it's the costume that makes the hero, not the other way around. The Face had just a Halloween mask to slap on when he was daring to do that derring-do he done. Apparently he had Batman's logic: "Criminals are a cowardly, superstitious lot, and I'll frighten them by becoming a bat…or better yet, a silly green face!"

But, in these comics, at that time, with Mart Bailey's artwork, it all seemed to fit. This is the first story from The Face #2. The Face was a two-fisted war correspondent who fought America's enemies with his typewriter as Tony Trent, and with his fists as The Face. Besides appearing in Big Shot Comics, The Face also appeared in his own book for two issues during the war years, 1942 and 1943. He reappeared in 1948 and 1949 for issues #3 and #4 under his civilian name, Tony Trent, The Face.

I'm prone to think of stuff like this: how much did artist Mart Bailey influence artist Ogden Whitney, or was it the other way around? Mart Bailey did the feature, "The Face," for Big Shot Comics, and Whitney* did "Skyman." Their artwork and their approach to illustration seem to come out of the same school. They are both solid artists without a lot of flair. Their pictures tell the story without using a lot of flashy technique to distract from the narrative.

In the latter years of Big Shot Comics, Bailey was listed as art editor. I have seen his work in early 1950s issues of Treasure Chest, the comic book sold to Catholic school children. According to the biographies I've read, he had a career until he was mugged in the 1960s. The crime apparently ended his career, but I have no other details.

*Click on the link for Ogden Whitney at the bottom of this page for more Whitney-work.


Chuck Wells said...

Oh, Pappy!

I was so glad to see this tale of Tony Trent. The Face has long been one of the golden age heroes that has interested me quite a bit - despite my never having read one of his stories.

Now you've rectified that with a gem of a story. Thanks!

hotfootharp said...

"I've always thought that superheroes looked sort of dorky in their costumes."

Good point. Flashy, but dorky. Also not a realistic choice.

If I were to embark on a superhero career, I doubt if I would wear colorful spandex covered with symbols of my identity (lightning bolts, a bat, a big red S, etc.). I would simply let the fruits of my exploits define my image.

But, in a comic book, that sells, any goofy costume is game...

Pappy said...

Thanks, Chuck. I posted another Face story in Pappy's #63.

Unknown said...

Loved Big Shot Comics when I finally stumbled across them. One of the stories that Mart Bailey did included a last panel of Tony Trent being surprised as he reads a newspaper. The headline was about Mart Bailey getting married. I think it was somewhere in the 90s issues that that happened.

tighelander said...

I was just going through my Big Shots, and the wedding announcement is in issue 73. This issue is odd because Bailey's "Tony Trent" feature usually is in the back of the book, but in this issue it's up front.

I have always wanted to know more about Bailey.

I met his editor Vin Sullivan at a what might have been his last appearance, I got him to autograph #1, but for some reason I didn't ask him about Bailey.

I love how the book changed from a two dimensional hero book to a Capra-esque ensemble story.

Steve Dillion's artwork reminds me of Bailey's, which is funny because they both worked on features called, "The Preacher".