Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Number 1846: The Saint and Ann Brewster

I wish more was known about artist Ann Brewster. She worked in comics in the forties and fifties, beginning in the Jack Binder shop. From the examples I have seen of her work, includng this Saint story from The Saint #5 (1949), she was an excellent artist, working in several genres, science fiction, mystery, even inking the incredible Frankenstein for Classics Illustrated #26 (first printing 1945). Women who worked in the early comic books are rare, but there are a few and their work is notable.

The Saint is a creation of Leslie Charteris, pseudonym of Leslie Charles Bowyer-Yin, born in Singapore in 1907 to a Chinese father and English mother. His famous literary creation, Simon Templar, aka the Saint, was introduced in 1928, and Charteris wrote 50 of the novels. In 1963 he turned over the job to others. Charteris died in 1993 at age 85; the Saint novels are still available.

The Saint in comic book was not as long-lived as the character in novels, appearing in 12 issues from Avon in the forties. As with the newspaper comic strip originally drawn by Mike Roy and then John Spranger, Charteris had a personal involvement and exacting standards. I believe Ann Brewster’s handsome rendition of the character would have met with Charteris’s approval.

Another Saint story from this issue, this one drawn by Warren Kremer. Click on the thumbnail.


Kirk said...

Know the Saint mostly from old movies, but always caught the "based on the Leslie Charteris character" or something similar to that, in the opening credits. Did not know he had a Chinese father. Interesting.

Pappy said...

Kirk, I also did not know of Charteris' origins, but have read some interesting things about him online. Also, in turning over the books starring his character to other writers, he reminds me of Manfred Lee and Fred Dannay ("Ellery Queen") who used a series of ghostwriters.

rnigma said...

The comic was often plugged at the end of the Saint radio show (with Vincent Price, later replaced by Tom Conway): "All you Saint fans will be glad to know that the Saint comic book is now available at newsstands..."

Ian Dickerson said...

Leslie changed his name to Charteris by deed poll so it doesn't really qualify as a pseudonym.

And whilst you're quite correct about the comic books in all fairness you ought to mention the newspaper comic strip that ran for over a decade and was syndicated around the world.

And if you'd like to know more about Charteris then I have to recommend this book:

Then again I wrote it ;-)

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Naturally I liked Mr Moore's performance as "The Saint", but as a kid what I really loved were the campy "Persuaders".

I see Mrs. Brewster did a lot of romance comics.
I can't say I'm impressed by her fighting scenes, but I really love the way she draws beautiful women. Glamorous style.
I also suspect she relied on photographs for her male characters, every now and then. The Bad Guy in page 9 panel 4 reminds me of Clark Gable, maybe (in panel 3 he reminds me of someone, but I don't know exactly who).

Why most of the evil ringleaders in comics have to sport a Dick Dastardly moustache?

Ryan Anthony said...

I hate to contradict you, Pappy, because you have more years of experience with golden age comic art than have I, but I'm afraid I just don't have the same regard for Brewster's art that you do, at least if this example is a fair model of it. The characters are often stiff and their body positions are sometimes unnatural. But all that wouldn't have really bothered me if the story had been more engaging. There really wasn't much to the plot, was there? And the action basically consisted of the Saint getting in fights. The plot was even wrapped up with fisticuffs rather than any kind of brainwork. Most of all, I'm confused about just who the Saint is in this continuity. I know he's been a thief, and I believe he's been some kind of spy(?), but there's no explanation of his livelihood in this strip, so I don't understand why he involves himself in events when he could've just exchanged suitcases and gone on his way unmolested. And why does everyone call him "the Saint" instead of Simon Templar, anyway?

Alicia American said...

L8Ys R betterer @ drawering fan service yo! OMG TYSM Pappity we didnt no about this artist!!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Pappy said...

Alicia, I wish I knew more about Ms Brewster in her career after comics.

Pappy said...

Ryan, you can contradict me all you want. I forgive you. But jeez, that question, "why does everyone call him 'the Saint' instead of Simon Templar, anyway?" I assume it is rhetorical, because if it isn't my answer is how the hell would I know?

Pappy said...

Ian, I mentioned the comic strip when I said it was drawn originally by Mike Roy and then by John Spranger. Since my blog is about Golden Age comic books, I leave the posts on comic strips to others who know much more than I. But what I have heard about the history of the comic strip is that at one point Bob Kane's one-time ghost artist, Lew Sayre Schwartz, was supposed to draw the Saint, but Charteris was critical of his artwork, and the job didn't work out for Mr Schwartz.

Good luck with your book.

Pappy said...

J D, what I can remember about the Saint television show is that Roger Moore fit the part, but I didn't watch the program.

I have some old Saint paperback books from Avon, and if I get another lifetime in which I have time for everything I have collected over the years I might get a chance to read them.

rnigma said...

I had heard that Simon got his nickname from his initials, ST = saint.