Sunday, May 20, 2012

Number 1160: Jesse Marsh's Dinosaurus!

Artist Alex Toth wrote about Jesse Marsh, longtime artist on Tarzan and Gene Autry Comics: "[Marsh] lived in Monrovia, California, with his aged parents, and took care of them to the last. Upon their passing, alone, middle-aged, he went on working hard, despite failing eyesight due to his bout with diabetes — and, in fact, died unattended in that family home — where he was found days later."*

Marsh died in 1966. He gave up drawing Tarzan in '65 due to his health problems.

Dell Four Color #1120, Dinosaurus!, from 1960, is a Jesse Marsh job. He did the drawing and lettering.** It's tragic, a guy and a drawing board, so isolated he was dead for several days before his body was found. Some of the artwork in Dinosaurus is rushed, but even so his composition is solid. Despite his problems Marsh was still a professional.

*See the whole essay, hand-lettered by Toth, here.

**Credit in the Grand Comics Database, via Alberto Becattini, is given to Eric Freiwald and Robert Schaefer for the writing. It's an adaptation of a movie I haven't seen, but you can read the IMdB posting here.

Here's an ad from the June 13, 1960 issue of Life magazine.


Keir said...

This post comes soon after I had read of Jack Cole's particularly tragic story

Pappy said...

Keir, sadly, there are other stories of Golden Age comic book artists coming to tragic ends. One is of Wally Wood, who was a suicide in 1981. He also had diabetes and other problems that led him to take his own life.

Darci said...

Pappy, if you get the chance to see the film I recommend it. The dinosaurs are by Wah Chang, Gene Warren, and Marcel Delgado. Among the technical advisors were Alfred Bester and Algis Budrys. The only person they were missing was Willis O'Brien!

Pappy said...

Thanks, Darci. I had no idea it had those heavyweights doing the dinos...and Alfred Bester and Algis Budrys as technical advisors? Holy moley.

George Freeman said...

Marsh's work is highly valued by comic storytellers like Toth. Russ Manning also wrote an essay extolling his work's virtues. His art is so simple, yet rich and rewarding. I would love to have one of his originals on my wall!

Pappy said...

George, I own a Marsh original Tarzan page from the end of his career. I can hardly see any penciling which leads me to what was once said (and I'm sorry, I don't remember by whom) that Marsh didn't really pencil, but used indications and drew with his brush. That takes a lot of skill and confidence. I wonder how many pages a day Marsh was able to do using his method.

I also wonder, for instance, how many pages he did in his career, and whether he approached an artist like Jack Kirby for total production of a very high quality.

Keir said...

Pappy- the first name that came to mind was Wally Wood. What a talent, and a remarkable mimic. I adored his work as a kid when I devoured the old Mad paperback anthologies.

Jesse Hamm said...

Thanks for posting this issue! Wonderful stuff, deserving of a wider audience.

Toth (or Manning?) reported that Marsh would sometimes draw a whole issue of Tarzan over the weekend. I doubt his output rivals Kirby, though, since he worked on far fewer books (mainly Tarzan, plus several one-shots like Dinosaurus, and several Sunday-page newspaper strip movie adaptations) and his career only lasted two decades.