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Monday, December 27, 2010


Number 868


I wooden do that if I were you


I submit that the cover of Marvel Tales #97 from 1950 is one of the great comic book covers of all time. Weird, oddball, totally dotty. It's why I've used a vignette from it on my blog for the past year or so.

The story of the puppet or dummy who is really alive is practically a sub-genre of horror stories and movies. It goes back a long way. The artwork on this story is uncredited by the Atlas Tales web site, and I'm terrible at picking out Atlas artists. But it is pretty good, much better than a lot of the generic-looking Atlas artwork from the late '40s.









16 comments:

Lysdexicuss said...

Looks to be a superb Dick Ayers effort, Pappy. Similar staging to classic Kirby, but with that unique Ayers skew and textbook inking.

sandor said...

I would have to respectfully disagree with Lysdexicuss. The inking and posing don't strike me as Ayers, especially when you look at the "Ghost Rider" work he was doing for ME at that time. His ink lines there are more fluid, more contoured. More to the point, according to Ayers himself, he was steadily working for ME in 1950 and would not come to Atlas until 1952.

Not that it was a bad guess.

Pappy said...

I wonder if Ger Apeldoorn would give us his opinion. He definitely knows Atlas. Ger?

borky said...

Pappy, for a long while after I first started visiting this site, (quite some time back), I had a mad hankering to see the story related to that Welcome to Pappy's! COME ON IN FOR A JOLT! side panel.

Eventually it faded, but just recently, within the last two or so weeks, I suddenly noticed it again and started getting that same old mad hankering...

You must be psychic!

borky said...

p.s. I've a sneaky suspicion this particular story had at least a germinal influence in the development of Bill Willingham's conception of his brilliant Fables.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

As far as I can see this definitively is inked by George Klein, unless it's Chris Rule. I always mix these two up around this period. Doc V. is so much better at this than me. As for the artist the first thing that hit me was that it looked lik Dick Briefer's work, not also the mix of funny and serious art, but also the staging. I will mention it at the Timely/Atlas group and let others join in.

Doc V. said...

The "Wooden Horror" story, if I'm not mistaken, was penciled by Mike Sekowsky and appears to have been inked by Christopher Rule.

Doc V.

Lysdexicuss said...

If it isn't straight-up Ayers, they certainly look like his inks. If you are familiar with Ayers western/war work, study the way he does facial features, lips in particular. Also, the way the machinery is inked, and the outlined backgrounds is very reminiscent of all the Monster books Atlas churned out in the late 50's early 60's, as penciled by Kirby, inked by Ayers. Perhaps Al Hartley drew this one, and Ayers inked it as a 'moonlighting' gig that eventually lead to him picking up more work for Atlas. It is quite exceptional, whoever did it; thanx again for posting Pappy~!

Pappy said...

Wow, thanks for the opinions, guys! I'm--as always--impressed by the depths of arcane knowledge out there when it comes to artists. We've had several artists mentioned as possibles: Ayers, Sekowsky, Briefer, Rule, Klein.

Maybe we'll never know for sure, but I very much appreciate the input from all of you.

Daniel [oeconomist.com] said...

On another note, some critics would probably read this ending of this story as an expression of Cold War fears of Communist agents (“puppets”) hiding within the general population.

(Of course, there was nothing fundamentally peculiar to the Cold War about this sort of fear. Now-a-days, most of us have some concern about terrorists hiding amongst us. In the '30s and '40s, many feared Fascist Fifth Columnists. To some extent, the fear may be a response to real threats; to some extent it may be something manipulatively cultivated; but I think that the fear is just natural.)

Martin O'Hearn said...

The old man's posture in panel 6 of page 2, and the left-hand face in panel 3 on page 6 jumped out at me; after that I could see the penciller's distinctive style on every page. It's Carmine Infantino. A preview for his Flash cover: "I have the strangest feeling I'm being turned into a puppet!"

Ger Apeldoorn said...

When in doubt, go with Doc. At least his opinion gets in print.

But seriously, I completely agree with the Rule asessment and although I see none of Sekowsky's ticks here, it's probably because it lacks the opportunity for them and he certainly is the most obvious choice.

Lysdexicuss said...

Ah~! Christopher Rule. I see that now. Ger & Doc V. are the shizzle~!

Doc V. said...

Pappy said:

"Maybe we'll never know for sure, but I very much appreciate the input from all of you."

Looking at it again, I'm pretty certain. Sekowsky/Rule

Doc V.

Terry Beatty said...

Hmm... some of this looks like Ayers to me. Particularly the faces in the bottom row of the fourth page. I see nothing that looks at all like Sekowsky or Infantino -- even accounting for heavy inks -- their panel compositions are too distinctive and sophisticated -- and I don't see them here. I don't see anything that would indicate Briefer, either. Tough one.

Doc V. said...

Terry, it can't be Ayers because he wasn't inking other artist's work at this time. At this point he was 100% a penciler and didn't do his first work for Timely-Atlas until SPELLBOUND #4 (June/52), pencils with Ernie Bache as his inker. He previously penciled a single crime story in 1949 that has never been located and possibly never printed. I'm holding with Mike Sekowsky, who could do an excellent Infantino impression!