Friday, January 14, 2011

Number 878

GI Joe Maneely

Joe Maneely was one of Stan Lee's top artists. I've shown several stories by him. He could draw just about anything and working for Stan Lee meant he did. These three war stories, done in 1951 and '52, show that Maneely was as much at home drawing horrors of war as he was drawing horror comics.

Atlas, publishers of Battle and Man Comics, where these stories appeared, studied trends of other publishers and what sold. At the time it looks like Atlas was paying attention to EC and Harvey Kurtzman. For short, punchy war stories they are pretty good, made better by Joe Maneely's drawings.

From Battle #4, 1951:

From Man Comics #11, 1951:

From Man Comics #12, 1952:


borky said...

Wonderful! You've done it again, Mammy - I mean Pappy!

I'm so familiar with this guy's art but without - until now - ever knowing his name.

Artists like Maneely're somewhat like gravity - they're operating everywhere right in front of you, but until a Newton comes along and points them out you don't even notice they're there!

What I love about certain artists like Maneely is you feel their lines aren't just being used to depict images but also to tamp down under themselves some secret mysterious magical artistic energy you can't quite point to but you feel is still somehow there.

I remember attending art college and this one particular lecturer telling us why the "myth" of Van Gogh was a complete crock, how he couldn't even draw or paint properly, then showing us examples of his own work to prove his point.

The lecturer's thing was photorealism, and every line, every shade of his stuff was executed perfectly to scale, and on a technical drawing level Van Gogh of course couldn't live with him.

I still felt Van Gogh's stuff had something the lecturer's lacked - soul.

Ditto the likes of Maneely.

Chuck Wells said...

The fact that Maneely died before Marvel Comics published FF #1 in the 1960's has always been a loss. Who knows what form his artistic contributions to the early Marvel Universe might have taken their line in? Stan Lee always said that Joe Maneely was his personal favorite artist to work with in the 50's, too.

Pappy said...

Chuck, we can speculate and say that if Maneely had lived maybe he would have been drawing Marvel superheroes right alongside Kirby and Ditko. Can you imagine a Joe Maneely Spider-Man?

Borky, I've never been a particular fan of photo-realism in painting(just take a photo!) but I admire the kind of skill it takes to produce such a work. On the other hand, Van Gogh's thick paints applied with a palette knife speak to the inner workings of his mind, and I respond much more to such art. As you say, soul.

Joe Maneely's comic book artwork was a notch above many of his contemporaries, and he was a good storyteller. He died so young I wonder how much better he could have gotten.

rnigma said...

I saw a couple of pages from Maneely's "Your Name is Frankenstein" reproduced in Don Glut's essay in "The Comic-Book Book" - or in Glut's own book "The Frankenstein Legend," I forget which. It was a unique take on the familiar story, using a second-person narrative. It was indeed sad that Maneely left us before the Marvel Age began in earnest!

Pappy said...

rnigma, you can read the entire "Your Name Is Frankenstein" story at The Horrors Of It All. It's from Menace #7.

I showed the story back in 2006, but my scans of that era are real crap compared to Karswell's.


Great Maneely art, and beautiful scans, Pappy! You may know from my own blogs how much of a Maneely fan I am as well.

I am in total agreement with those who say that his tragic death just prior to the Marvel superhero age was a tremendous loss, and to those who came late to the party don't know what we all missed by his passing. As revolutionary as the Marvel Age of Comics in the 60's was, how much more spectacular it could have been had he been there along side of Kirby and Ditko as you and Chuck mentioned. Seeing he was Stan's go-to artist prior to Kirby, it's likely Maneely would have been the predominant Marvel artist rather than Kirby. But it wasn't to be.

Wise comic collector's will seek out his work in Atlas' Golden Age, buy them and keep them, they are collector's items.

Thanks Pappy!