Monday, March 16, 2015

Number 1709: Kaleidoscope

When William M. Gaines had to finally admit defeat and place the Comics Code symbol on his covers, then it was time to call it quits for his comic book line. I haven’t checked (too lazy, too tired) to see if Incredible Science Fiction #33 (1956) was the last EC comic book, but if not it was the last issue of ISF, at any rate. Jack Oleck wrote the contents for all four issues of the comic, re-titled from Weird Science Fantasy because the Code forbade the word “weird.” The usual EC artists contributed, including Jack Davis, whom I have never thought of as a science fiction artist. He could draw all of the Wallace Wood-styled machinery, and rocket ships, and render a raygun blast as well as anyone, but when I think of him I just never think of him as drawing SF.

The character is named “Davis” and I think Jack Davis drew himself in the part. From here Davis went on to other freelance jobs, including Mad and later comic book jobs, humor magazines like Humbug, Cracked, Sick, and then back to Mad. EC Comics, its horror comics and Mad led Davis to a high profile career doing album jackets, movie posters, book and magazine covers. No one needs to look at “Kaleidoscope” and feel sorry for Jack Davis. The end of EC Comics was a new beginning for him. The cartoonist from Georgia did mighty fine for himself. Mighty fine.


A day after posting “Kaleidoscope” I found a used paperback of scripter Jack Oleck’s 1959 novel, Messalina. Half-a-million copies in print. Not bad.

This is a 1963 printing, with a James Bama cover. After this Oleck did not publish another novel until the early '70s. Jack Oleck bio and bibliography.


J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

I think it IS the last one. Wiki states that the last is from 1956, but i found this:

So I think both you and Wiki, (though Wiki is not the most reliable source of all), are right: ISF 33 is the last, and is from 1956.

Those 50's ships had such a great design! I love the idea of this story as a poetic representation of a comic artist who's keeping on fighting against those "venusian" censors.
Davis was surprisingly good as a sci-fi artist.

Mykal said...

Pap: Jack Davis is always, for my money, in the conversation regarding greatest comic book artist of all time. He could dray anything in that distinctive style, and he inked quickly and perfectly with a brush. For me, it's Eisner, Wood, or Davis - Take your pick.

Pappy said...

Mykal, I love everything Davis did, including his more rushed looking work. You mention his brush work, and I think it is inspiring, but when I want to look at how really great Davis could be I look at the pen work he did for Humbug and Trump.

Whatever...I love Davis!

Pappy said...

J D, thanks, friend. I often rely on Wikipedia, but as you say, "not the most reliable source," so it is sometimes at my own peril.

As for poetic representation, I think writer Jack Oleck was going for a Ray Bradbury-style story here...maybe on demand. EC had done well with Bradbury, but by the end maybe they could not afford his fee for adaptation.

Alicia American said...

U know Jack Davis just retireded rite? He's like eleventy-gazillion yrs old but was still workering til Dec 2014.

Pappy said...

Alicia, I think Jack may have changed his mind about a full retirement.