Sunday, April 05, 2009
Abbott and Costello Meet the Martians
I'm celebrating Pappy's #500 with an oddball comic to show you: Abbott and Costello #21, from 1953, published by St. John. It is reprinted from Abbott and Costello #3, 1948.
You won't find the familiar A and C vaudeville routine, "Who's On First" in here. What passes for jokes are puns. Lou gets all the laughs, too, as Bud plays straight man, just like he did in real life.
Lily Renée and her husband, Eric Peters, were the artists on this strip. The layouts and the pretty girl look a lot like the work she did for Fiction House. Peters did the caricatures of A and C, and Lily drew the rest, including those pretty girls. A few years later Renée divorced Peters, left comics and eventually re-married.
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Great art, great layouts. It reminds one how innovative and experimental artists were with the panel-layout even in the Golden Age. Much like early cinema, Abel Gance's Napoleon had more fabulous pictorial manipultions of the medium of film than subsequent makings, (perhaps moreso than the avant-garde). Lo, I generalize.
Somewhere in my pile of "Alter Ego" magazines, an article credits Lily Renée with penciling Abbott and Costello. At least one sample panel from the series was featured.
And the styling, faces, and poses of the female lead practically cinches it. As a long-time follower of "Fight Comics" Senorita Rio, I'd swear on a stack of Overstreets that Renée was the artist.
Thanks, BEMaven, for confirming what I couldn't prove by quoting a reference. I am still searching for that Comics Journal; it had reprints of some of Lily Renée's Fiction House work.
Rudy, I like the layouts in this particular strip, but often I find the panel layouts of some Golden Age strips bothersome. There just doesn't seem to be a reason to have curving panel borders. One of the most cinematic of Golden Age artists was Will Eisner and his panels were mostly traditional shapes and sizes. What I like about the layouts in this A&C strip is that Renée was able to use them for full figure pin-up shots.
I've always felt these strips were a bit too feminine for such a boisterous comedy duo's adventures. A little too cutesy. I think Mort Drucker also contributed to this series.
I wasn't likening comics to film, but remarking of formal manipulations in each respective medium. We are conditioned, it seems, to accept our visuals via the rectangle, most likely due to several hundred years of easel painting. Deviations make us concious of what's outside the illusionary space of the picture-plane. But again, comic stories are generally inane, so why not appreciate the potential of the medium itself as drawing? The ceiling of the Uffizi tells a story too, but also has intercession with the decorative and ornate.
I accept that we are conditioned to accept the rectangle. Didn't the Greeks come up with the Golden Rectangle, or am I misremembering my art school lessons from 40+ years ago?
I don't have any problems with reading comic book pages that aren't done in the traditional rectangle style, but the traditional is what I grew up with, and find my attention focused on each panel in turn rather than having my eye wander over the page trying to make sense of the layout. Once I understand what the artist is trying to do my brain adjusts to it, so it's just laziness. I can instantly scan and recognize the rectangular layout and have to work at anything else.
Fair enough, paps.
(If I'm not mistaken, the Golden Mean is a means of dividing space, used in building and pictorial composition. But I should check my references too...)
Rudy, I knew my memory was leaky. Thanks for straightening me out on the Golden Mean. Reading comic books has softened my brain or something, and add four decades since my schooling...it's kind of sad, really.
really enjoyed this one.It reminded me very much of the Herbie space stories,especially the dinosaur.The dialogue was also just like the Abbot and Costello radio shows,which were very different than the movies,much more word play oriented.
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