Friday, September 09, 2011

Number 1014

Ship in a bottle

If I taught a college course on EC Comics this story would fit into EC 101. It's EC's most common plot: guy kills somebody who has a hobby/lifestyle/job, etc., that defines him, then justice is served in a horrible fashion to the murderer by a form of that which the victim did. In this case a spoiled nephew kills his rich uncle whose hobby is building ships in bottles. You can guess the rest.

What makes "Model Nephew" isn't the Al Feldstein story, but the Jack Davis artwork. I was able to download scans of the original art from Heritage Auctions. (I'm always happy when I see something like this on their site, and thank Heritage profusely for making it available online.) Despite working from an uninspired script, Davis turns in his usual excellent job. I particularly like the mood set by the atmospheric panel of the seaman-in-shadow on page 4. From the time I first saw Davis's artwork I've always marveled at how he could draw. In one story he could scare me, in the next have me laughing.

The story may be hackneyed EC but the artwork saved it. Now the required reading for Professor Pappy's EC 101 course, from Haunt of Fear #22, 1953. We'll start with the printed version from my copy of the first printing of this issue of HOF:


Kirk said...

Even when he's not trying to be funny, the limbs on Davis's characters flail quite a bit. And look at those fingers!

I believe Davis is still alive. Before he goes, I wish somebody would give a chance to draw Spider-Man. I think he'd be the perfect artist.

Daniel [] said...

See all that correcting white-out?

Nope, neither did I. Quite something, actually.

Pappy said...

Kirk, ever meet Davis in person? He's tall, about 6'3", and has some weight on him now, but was lanky in his youth. His characters look a lot like him, I believe.

I just don't see Davis doing superheroes, even Spider-Man. Did he do any kind of parody of Spidey in Mad? I don't remember it if he did.

Daniel, you nailed it. No white-out.

One story I heard about Davis at EC was that he was criticized by Kurtzman for not taking enough time. Davis was someone who did a job very fast and then hung onto it for a few days before taking it in so it looked like he worked on it longer. That makes it all the more remarkable that his pages aren't covered in white paint to cover up mistakes made in haste, but apparently he didn't make too many mistakes.

Eli said...

He might not have used much white for corrections, but I love the use of white ink throughout, especially in the night scenes. I hope scans like this will be included in the upcoming Fantagraphics retrospective (incidentally, 46% off on amazon at the moment):

Karswell said...

Pap, you teaching an EC 101 class (or any class on comics) sounds like something that should be a reality. Let me know when it happens, I'll be enrolling and sitting front and center along with all your other fans.

Mykal said...

Damn, Davis was so great. Kurtzman always called him one of the finest at using the brush he ever saw, and looking at those originals it's easy to see why. I stand in awe.

Great Post, Pappy!

Pappy said...

Imagine me standing in front of the EC 101 class at Pappy's College of Comic Book Knowledge, calling roll in Ben Stein's voice: "Karswell...Karswell...Karswell..."

Ger Apeldoorn said...

I agree with you thanking Heritage for keeping their archives and making them accessable for all... which is why I don't mind to pay the 15% extra they ask on top of the bidding price to fund it.