Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Number 1653: Seven Dead Men

Complete Mystery #1 (1948), was a crime comic of special note. Dr. Michael J. Vassallo,* who knows much more about Timely-Atlas than I do, says the story is penciled by Gene Colan and written by Stan Lee.

Colan used a semi-cartoon style, which was the house style at the time. It is always interesting to me to see an artist’s early work.

*Doc V has a fantastic blog, Timely-Atlas-Comics. It covers the history of Martin Goodman’s line of magazines, paperbacks and of course, comic books.


BillyWitchDoctor said...

That's a pretty significant spoiler on the cover--somewhat nullified by changing the character from Milton Caniff's idea of Nick Fury to a goofy caricature of Peter Lorre with an eyepatch. (His involvement is also spoiled on the story's splash panel, though once again he looks completely different except for the patch.)

I guess that makes Raddock the cover's "man of mystery." (The page with his particular demise is missing, BTW.)

Still, a fun read with some exciting golden-age artwork that's really brilliant in spots. Despite the Peter Lorre red herring, the cover's a pip.

Pappy said...

>(The page with his particular demise is missing, BTW.)<

Billy, where? The story is 25 pages, and each page is accounted for.

7f7f3e2a-4856-11e4-900a-bb8e57f8828f said...

I counted them up and, yes, there were SEVEN DEAD MEN. I suspect the writer came up with the title first then the story with all its animal-like battles between vicious crooks. That's the way I would have done it, anyway. It wrote up fine and the art is pretty snazzy. Thanks, Pappy!

Brian Barnes said...

That's Colan??? I would have never guessed in a million years, and some of the women have a very Wally Wood-ish look (in their faces, at least.) Wow, that's really interesting. I don't think I would have put Colan anywhere on a list if I was told to guess the artist with 10 tries!

It reads a good bit like early Stan, though, so I might have guessed that one. Probably not, though!

I like how Stan can't pull the trigger -- so to speak, ha! -- on killing the woman. Everybody else goes down pronto from the first bullets, and her -- shot in the head it seems! -- is fine.

Pappy said...

7f7, I suspect Stan Lee, like some other comic book writers, wanted to be a novelist and/or screenwriter. I think "Seven Dead Men" sounds like a good title for a book or a movie.

Pappy said...

Brian, I am accepting the word of experts in the opinion that Colan penciled the story.

Two art-spotters I trust are Doc V. and Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr. If they say it I go along with it.

Some artists' styles just stand out more than others, and, like Wood, are easier to identify. I greatly admire those who can look at these early works and find the clues that identify those amongst a bullpen crew who worked on the job.

I'd also like to recommend Martin O'Hearns' blog, Who Created the Comic Books for tips on how to spot an individual writer's style. He is also able to spot artists.

BillyWitchDoctor said...

Whoops, never mind. I see Raddock now, getting his behind Bug-Eye. The confused dialog ("I don't know where...I know where") in panel two of that page made me think something was missing.

Brian Barnes said...

Oh, Pappy, I'm not doubting it's Colan at all. I'm just saying that I wouldn't have guessed it! Being of that age, I know him best for his Tomb of Dracula work, and this is literally night and day.

But, that's kind of another talent some artist have. Some have a style they can never escape, and some can be chameleons whenever they want. Colin seems to be that way.

Doc V. said...

Thanks, Pappy! Here's a primer on the early Gene Colan at Timely: