Sunday, October 24, 2010

Number 830

Jesse Marsh and the Valley of Mists

Jesse Marsh was a workhorse for the West Coast office of Dell Comics, drawing a variety of comics during his career. He's probably best known for his long stint on Tarzan, which he drew for 153 issues, not including annuals. He was a very fast artist, reputed to use penciled indications, then drawing directly on the boards with brush and pen. He also did his own lettering. As prolific as he was It doesn't look like he cut corners, though. If you study this story page by page you'll notice he did mostly full figures and full backgrounds. Alex Toth, a Marsh fan, did an article on him for Panels magazine, and you can read it here.

As a kid, I read Tarzan, both ERB novels and comic books, but didn't know the artist Jesse Marsh's name until I picked up a Whitman edition of Tarzan And The Forbidden City. It used Marsh pen-and-ink illustrations, and identified him as the artist.

"Valley of Mists" is from Tarzan #18, 1950. It's probably scripted by another Dell workhorse, writer Gaylord Dubois. The Tarzan comic book followed some of the lead of the original Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan novels, with lost cities and civilizations tucked away into a fantasy Africa loved by many writers of that era, not just Burroughs.


Chuck Wells said...

I also enjoyed these backin the day. Marsh is all right!

Jeff Overturf said...

Ya gotta admit, fantasy Africa is wayyyyyyyyy cooler than real AFrica. What with the famine, pestilance, racism and poverty and all.

Mykal said...

Pappy: Thanks for sharing this, and thanks in particular for linking the Toth article. Man, I would love it if some enterprising fellow would gather all of Toth's writings about comics and put it into a nice, thick hardcover. I don't think any participant in the art of comics ever (with the possible exception of Eisner) wrote about the art form with any greater skill. His thoughts Marsh are priceless: Marsh's "West Coast" style, his innovative techniques for backgrounds, and his own struggling with the massive anatomy of Tarzan (my personal theory is that it was Tarzan's shirtless, naked torso threw him).

Once reading Toth's article, you can really see his points about Marsh clearly; what a master Marsh was at staging, his backgrounds, and his powerful use of character silhouette (which I had never noticed completely until reading the article).

Magnificent post, you old dog!

DerikB said...

It's worth noting that you can find this story (and many others) in the Dark Horse Tarzan the Jesse Marsh Years. They did a real nice job on those books (6 to date).

Pappy said...

DerikB, I forgot to mention the Dark Horse books...I knew of them but I haven't seen them. I'm glad they're making the Marsh Tarzan available.

Thanks to you other guys for your comments; I agree with each and every one of you.