Monday, March 26, 2018

Number 2159: Harvey K. lashes that lightning!

A couple of days ago I was comparing wannabe satirical comic books to Mad, and noted what the imitators lacked was Mad creator Harvey Kurtzman. Today I have a very early example of Kurtzman’s comic book work. I mean wayyyy early; Kurtzman was born in 1924, and this episode of “Lash Lightning” was published in 1942, which made Harvey about 18.

Kurtzman worked for Louis Ferstadt, a WPA artist* who took up drawing comic books in their early days. I have shown some early Kurtzman before, but when I checked it against the Grand Comics Database I saw they had “Harvey Kurtzman ?” for pencil and inking credits. They just aren’t sure. Can I be 100% sure? No, but I am leaning strongly toward Kurtzman being the artist. One, his initials are on the tombstone on the right hand side of the splash panel. It is hard to read, but it is an H.K. The other thing I noticed immediately is a youthful appropriation of Jack Kirby’s style for exaggerated action. Kirby was a master of action poses, and I visualize a young Harvey at a drawing board with copies of open Jack Kirby comic books.

This would have been a great school for Kurtzman, working against deadlines, drawing superheroes in action. He was drafted, served, came home, re-entered the comic book business, and by then had developed his own style.

*WPA — Works Progress Administration


Daniel [] said...

It's fun to think that Kurtzman were involved with this character. Though, by the time of this story, (F)lash Lightning had transitioned to something like the super-powered superheroes that were to dominate the genre for many years to come, in his earliest representations he was perhaps the epitomal superhero of the early golden age. And, even here, we see a story still with lots of over-the-top behavior, even if the villain had neither a death ray nor a huge fortress in the mountains.

Of course, in real life, it wouldn't be just Dr Diale who went to prison. I was thinking just yester-day of Richard John Jahnke. Bobby would be thrown back into confinement for a number of years, regardless of any justification for his multiple acts of violence.

Kirk said...

Hmm...Even his women seem to have square jaws.

Wm Byron said...

Loving the charm and crudeness of this one. And even considering the escapist fantasy of this story, I loved the last panel's logic: 'Oh, you know it's the same old story: radium underground, so the doctor simply went to the complicated process of drugging people to the point of an apparent death so he could revive them as slaves in an underground radium mine- YOU KNOW HOW IT IS" as if this happened all the time :D