Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Number 1834: Inspiration or imitation?

EC Comics were the gold standard of comics for a few years...good artists, popular titles...and of course they were imitated. Story Comics is one of those companies that looks like it was founded on copying EC, but even so, “Trapped” — from Fight Against Crime #17 (1954) —  is more blatant than most. After all, two stories of men attached to one another by handcuffs, and one of them carrying the corpse of the other through the desert is similar enough, but the endings of both are virtually the same.

The EC version came first by at least half a year. It is the first EC story drawn by Reed Crandall, and might have been a shock (heh-heh) to EC’s readers when they picked up Shock Suspenstories #9 (1953). Long time comics veteran Crandall fit right into EC’s style.

The artwork for “Trapped” is by Doug Wildey, who also had a dramatic and very polished illustrative style. (He later went on to help create Jonny Quest in the '60s for Hanna-Barbera). It appears the writer wanted to one-up the EC story with some graphic violence. In “Trapped” there is a shooting of a child, which even for a story where vultures feed on corpses, seems like an extra assault on the readers.

Speaking of assaults, this is my last posting of 2015. See you when the calendar rolls over to January. Happy New Year, all.


Ryan Anthony said...

Best wishes for the new year to you and Mrs. Pappy!

Pappy said...

Hey, Ryan, thanks. I sometimes feel I let out too much information on my private life, but I guess it won't hurt to mention that New Year's Day marks our 47th wedding anniversary: eloped New Year's Eve and married New Year's Day, 1969.

And Happy New Year to you and yours, also.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

So in the first story, the guy realizes he's already dead when the birds feast on him, nice.
The lack of this odd, supernatural touch makes the second story somehow less effective. Still, is a good crime story. And Wildey is very good, though Crandall is a major league artist.
Both stories, maybe, provided inspiration for "The Defiant Ones" (1958) starring Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis, and his great remake "D 'Figthin' Ones" (1961) starring Sylvester the Cat and a Bulldog.
Congratulations for your anniversary, and best wishes to all of you.

Brian Barnes said...

I haven't seen enough Wildey to know but he seems to be ape-ing Crandall a bit here, probably initially, but his skill is evident.

As many times as I've seen the EC original -- and as much as Crandall had to fight the narration boxes (Wildey's has that same problem here) -- the art is just stunning. The range of fear and anger that Crandall works up when usually he just has room for a solitary figure or a face is incredible. Even his vultures have personality!

He also did some great B&W work for Warren's mags, but he was in decline at that point.

Happy New Year, Pappy!

Daniel [] said...

I envy you your long marriage, Pappy, and I hope that it will endure for many years to come.

There are things that economists discuss only with other economists, and I am not going to say what I might about hand-cuffs.

Pappy said...

Daniel, thanks. I have been fortunate. We survived the bad times and didn't give up on each other, and now we are both glad we stuck it out. At this point in our lives having good health makes things easier. At some point that can change, so I enjoy it while it lasts.

Pappy said...

Brian, I can only imagine how Gaines and Feldstein must have felt when Crandall came to work for them. Whereas most of their artists were post-World War II generation, Crandall had been in comics from the early days and came fully formed as an artist. I see Crandall and Ingels as being two of the best at what you describe, the facial expressions. "Carrion Death" was an auspicious beginning for Crandall's career at EC.

It is true that Crandall's sixties work seems stiffer. I have often said his characters sometimes look like figures in a diorama, frozen in place. But even so his work at any phase of his career is really fun to look at.

The story has been told to me by a former Wallace Wood assistant that in the sixties Wood had one of his assistants do nothng for a year but trace off Reed Crandall panels from his superhero work of the early forties. Much of those swipes showed up in T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS and other jobs Wood did for various publishers in that decade. Crandall was an artist's artist...the artist even the best swiped from.

Pappy said...

J D, it occurs to me that you will reach 2016 about 8 hours before me, so here is an early Happy New Year wish for you.