Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Number 1210: PG-49

Paul Gattuso, who did the artwork I stole borrowed for this blog’s masthead, was a journeyman comic book artist whose work in the forties looks bizarre to me. Gattuso gained some infamy by being included in Dr. Wertham’s anti-comics book, Seduction Of the Innocent with this incredible panel:

Gattuso’s stories for Harry “A” Chesler’s comics mainly starred the Black Dwarf (again, see the masthead above) and Echo. A few years later, in some sort of business arrangement I’ve never understood, Chesler declared bankruptcy and his comic line disappeared, and Archer St. John began his comic book line using material from Chesler. Gattuso’s Black Dwarf and Echo became the Blue Monk and Ventrilo. Those are the stories I’m showing today from the St. John title, Western Bandit Trails #1 (1949). The Blue Monk story, “Beggar King’s Last Bonanza” is signed with initials PG and DD, which is Gattuso and writer Dana Dutch.

Black Dwarf was a 5’4” former pro-football player named Shorty Wilson. Blue Monk was a former football player, Stubby Watson, whose name is hardly an improvement.


bzak said...


I think I know what makes his work feel weird or off. He seems to only know one pose to draw. In almost every panel his characters stand with one leg forward and one leg back!

Strange, and thanks,

Brian Riedel

Keir said...

Here's an example of Gattuso's 'The Echo' from 1946; `'Superman's power of super ventriloquism gets laughed at a lot but here's a guy where that's the only power he has--The Echo!"

Brian Barnes said...

I like the art, it's odd and looks to be very quickly rendered, but it has a interesting strangeness to it!

Notice every woman (who all basically look the same) are always drawn with their legs in the same position and their mouth open in a O! Even when the woman is handing money to a beggar, she looks like she's running from a werewolf!

rnigma said...

It looks as if Gattuso was trying to straddle between cartoony and noir- realistic. Eisner pulled it off far better.

On the subject of ol' Doc Wertham, Judith Crist died last week. Though she was best known as a movie critic, it was Crist who brought Wertham's anti-comics crusade to national attention in her Collier's magazine article, "Horror in the Nursery." The photos that illustrated the article had kid models posing with comics mockups, not actual comics.

Pappy said...

rnigma, thanks for the information on Crist. I had forgotten about her until I saw her obituary last week. Years ago I read her reviews every week in TV Guide. I have never seen her Collier's article, but if it's on the web I'm hoping someone can guide me to it.

Pappy said...

Keir, thanks for the link to the Gattuso posting. I check Steve's blog regularly and did see it, but neglected to mention it. My bad.

Pappy said...

Brian, Gattuso eventually modified his cartooning to be less stylized, into a more-or-less “straight” comic book art style, and I will show an example someday. The Grand Comics Database sometimes can't identify him, but they do credit him for some strips in the early fifties he drew for publishers like ACG and Fawcett, perhaps with other inkers.

Pappy said...

bzak, I agree with your assessment. Incidentally, when I saw the panel from Seduction of the Innocent I was myself innocent (age 12, or thereabouts). I puzzled for the longest time at what the man was going to do with the red hot poker. When it finally hit me I was shocked (the result of a sheltered childhood).

Daniel [] said...

These people are drawn as if they are all playing dodge-ball.