Monday, June 28, 2010

Number 762

The middle Atlas

Pappy reader John Kaminski gave me the germ of the idea for this post by requesting the story, "The Trap," from Atlas' Mystery Tales #42. It's only four pages and that doesn't seem like much of a post, so I looked around at some of the other Atlas post-Code comics I have. I've always seen these comics as being somewhere toward the late middle of the Timely/Atlas/Marvel progression of the 1940s to early '60s. Until the Atlas implosion of 1957 a lot of the old horror comics artists, who didn't quit comics, got work from Atlas in a severely shrunken market.

These are some examples I've chosen.

"The Trap," drawn by Bob Bean, is from Mystery Tales #42, 1956, as is "The Captive," by Jerry Robinson.

Two stories from World Of Mystery #4, from 1956: "Things In The Window" by Werner Roth, and "The Man With The Yellow Eyes" by Dick Ayers.

Rounding it out, "The Ghost Wore Armor," published in Journey Into Unknown Worlds #55, 1957, drawn by Bob Forgione and Jack Abel.


Mark said...

Two days ago I read Stan Lee's 1947 Writer's Digest article "There's Money In Comics!" These five stories are a "timely" follow-up.

Seems clear these stories had conventional scripts. I don't suppose that the Marvel Method (doing pencils from plots, and adding dialogue between penciling and inking) developed until the 1960s.

Don't know whether Lee wrote some, all, or none of these five stories. But he at least edited them. And, all these stories have a Lee feel to them.

The factors making up a good script that Lee mentions in the Writer's Digest article are:
1. Interesting Beginning.
2. Smooth Continuity.
3. Good Dialogue.
4. Suspense Throughout.
5. Satisfactory Ending.

He sums it up with the statement, "It has always been my own conviction that a strip with an interesting beginning, good dialogue, and a satisfactory ending, can't bee TOO bad, no matter how many other faults it may have."

One can see Lee's formula at work here.

One aspect of the formula that isn't mentioned in the Writer's Digest article is the fact that the covers and the story titles probably preceded the scripts. The story titles were probably the story ideas--or at least the starting point from which story ideas were developed.

Pappy said...

Thanks for the synopsis of the article, Mark. I have known of it (it was critiqued in The Mechanical Bride by Marshall McLuhan back in 1951), but I have never read the Writer's Digest article.

Lee's ideas for a good script could apply to any fiction in any form.

Mark said...

I found a downloadable pdf of the article:

It's a scan of the original article. The site that put up the pdf is:

(The link to the pdf is halfway down the far-right column, under "Articles of Interest"--"Stan Lee (via Thomas Lammers))

And of course, for others out there that may be reading this, Pappy put a scan of the cover of that issue of Writer's Digest, with a photo of a young Stan Lee with pipe and a head of hair, at:

In fact, it was that cover scan you put up that prompted me to do a Google search for the article. So, I have to thank you, Pappy, for pointing me in that direction. I might otherwise had never found the article.

Mark said...


Some of those links seem to have gotten clipped when I posted the above comment. Perhaps the blogging software does this to links that don't have an html or htm at the end.

Oh well. The Adelaide Comics and Books link is complete. Just look for the Stan Lee link on that page, halfway down the column on the far-right column.

And the page with the Writer's Digest cover can be found by doing a search for "Writer's Digest" in the search box at the top of this, Pappy's blog.

Ger Apeldoorn said...


Over at the Yahoo Timely/Atlas group the consensus is that although Stan Lee edited a lot of books in the fifties, he only wrote the stories he signed and signed nearly all stories he wrote. I did an article on Lee's writing and writing style from the early forties to the late fifties in a recent issue of Alter Ego.

Kirk Jusko said...

Marshall McLuhan critiqued something Stan Lee wrote in 1951? That in itself is fascinating.