Monday, June 15, 2015

The Good Girl Art of Humorama

Publisher Martin Goodman's Humorama was a line of digest-sized magazines produced under at least twenty different titles (Breezy, Cartoon Parade, Comedy, Eyeful of Fun, Fun House, Gaze, Gee-Whiz, Humorama, Instant Laughs, Jest, Joker, Laugh Circus, Laugh Digest, Laugh Riot, Popular Cartoons, Popular Jokes, Romp, Stare, Snappy and Zip) featuring single panel girlie cartoons and black-and-white cheesecake photos of pin-up models. Bettie Page, Eve Meyer and stripper Lili St. Cyr, plus actresses, Joi Lansing, Tina Louise, Irish McCalla and Julie Newmar all graced the pages of this popular men's magazine over its ten long run. The line was published from at least the mid-1950s to mid-1960s using some of the best pretty girl artist's in the business at the time including Bill Ward, Bill Wenzel, Dan DeCarlo, Jack Cole and many others. Run by family member Abe Goodman, these titles were profitable for the company because the contents were inexpensive and production costs were minimal in comparison to the more complex full-size magazines published by the company.


Friday, May 15, 2015

A Few Modern Political Cartoons...

Modern editorial cartoon, also know as a political cartoon, is an illustration containing a commentary that usually relates to current events or personalities. Editorial cartoonist typically combine artistic skill, hyperbole and satire in order to question authority and draw attention to corruption and other social ills. Political cartoons can usually be found on the editorial page of many newspapers, but are sometimes placed on the regular comic strip page. Most of these cartoonists use visual metaphors and caricatures to address complicated political situations, and thus sum up a current event with a humorous or emotional picture. In modern political cartooning, two styles have begun to emerge. The traditional style uses visual metaphors and symbols like Uncle Sam, the Democratic donkey and the Republican elephant; or the more recent text-heavy style, as seen in Doonesbury, tells a linear story, usually in comic strip format. Regardless of style, editorial cartoons are a way for artists to express their thoughts about current events in a comical manner. A political cartoon commonly draws on two unrelated events and brings them together incongruously for a humorous effect. The humor can reduce people's political anger and so serves a useful purpose. Such a cartoon also reflects real life and politics, where a deal is often done on unrelated proposals beyond public scrutiny.



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Rafael Lopez Espi Gallery

Self taught artist Rafael Lopez Espi began his long career in 1953, initially drawing war stories for the Symbol Publishing House. His work also appeared in The Press doing portraits, and in comic stories Atlantis and The Drums Bruc for the daily National Solidarity. Soon afterwards, he went to work for Josep Toutain's agency, where the artist started out doing comics for the colored supplement of La Prensa.  Later on, Espi drew romance comics for the British girl magazine Glamour, followed by various Western strips. During the 1960s  his work increased in the foreign market drawing for both Bardon Art and Luis Ferraz, with whom he created the adventure series Don Starr. Other successful Westerns followed including Rex Raven, Billy McGregor and Riffle, as well as several war and romance stories for the British publisher Fleetway such as Air Ace, Battle, Roxy, Marilyn, Valentine. After his military service in 1964, Espi collaborated with the Spanish publisher Toray on Sioux, Tales of the West, Robot 76, and Galaor Editions drawing Lawrence of Arabia. But the creator perhaps is best remembered for his sixteen year run with Vertex Editions painting hundreds of covers based on the original Marvel Comics creations as well as his comic series Mytek. Rafael left the comics scene for several years to concentrate on book covers for German publishers and various toy advertisements until in 1992 when he then collaborated with the Swedish agency Dalger Press, creating the girl's comic Conny which appeared in the Swedish magazine Häst Min, and was reprinted by the German comic Bastei Verlag. The artist then returned to expand on his extensive portfolio of illustration work. 



Sunday, March 15, 2015

Adventure Comics "The Wrath of ... the Spectre"

From his first appearance in the Golden Age in More Fun Comics #51 (Jan. 1940) the Spectre was has been one of DC comics most long lasting characters. Created by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily, the series began when hard-boiled cop Jim Corrigan, on his way with his fiancée to his engagement party, was murdered by being stuffed into a barrel filled with cement and then drowned. His spirit was refused entry into the afterlife however, instead being sent back to Earth by an entity referred to only as "The Voice" to eliminate evil. This started his long career wreaking vengeance on criminals. But my first encounter was in the Bronze Age 1970s revival, as DC brought the Spectre back in  Adventure Comics #431. Beginning with the 12 page "The Wrath of ... the Spectre" in issue #431 (Feb. 1974). Writer  Michael Fleisher, and artist Jim Aparo produced ten stories through issue #440 (July 1975) that became controversial for what was considered gruesome, though bloodless, violence. The story goes that once editor Joe Orlando was mugged, he quickly decided the world needed a really relentless super hero. The Spectre came back with a vengeance and quickly became a cause of controversy. Orlando plotted the stories with Fleisher, as they emphasized the gruesome fates of criminals who ran afoul with the character. With The Comics Code recently liberalized, the series pushed its restrictions to the limit, often turning evildoers into inanimate objects and then thoroughly demolishing them. Jim Aparo's slick art showed criminals being transformed into everything from broken glass to melting candles, but Fleisher was quick to point out that many of his most bizarre plot devices were lifted from stories published decades earlier. In the series' letter column, some young fans indicated uneasiness with this new depiction. In issue #435, Fleisher even introduced a character that shared their concerns, a reporter named Earl Crawford. The series was eventually canceled with scripts written but not yet drawn, but fortunately these remaining chapters were penciled by Aparo and published in the final issue of Wrath of the Spectre, a four-issue miniseries in 1988. But enjoy the story that started it all, the first and probably best of these tales featured below...