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Mysterioso

Today Ken Parille looks at the “elegantly bleak, un-cinematic minimalism” of Harvey Comics:

In Casper the Friendly Ghost, for example, Casper’s repeated attempts at friendliness are thwarted by his ghostliness—he accidentally scares would-be companions. The company’s visual strategies are equally basic: this page from “Search Party” consists of sparsely-filled, same-sized panels all drawn as ‘wide shots’ (showing the full character and his environment) and colored with a limited flat palette. But we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that Harvey’s reliance on a few narrative ‘blueprints’ guarantees an uninteresting comic or reflects an unexceptional design sensibility. The more we look (or at least the more I look) at this page, the more carefully organized and attractive it becomes.

And Rob Clough reviews Windowpane.

Elsewhere:

Only comics by way of baseline ideas: TCJ-contributor Naomi Fry on the power of teenage artifacts, Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love and other matters.

Here’s a big and fun blog account of this year’s Angouleme from Drawn & Quarterly.

Maurice Sendak will have a school named for him Park Slope, Brooklyn, just around the corner from me.

Here’s a delightful cave-boy strip (cave-man culture is always a winner) by the man better known for lettering for Milton Caniff: Frank Engli.

TCJ-interviewee Ed Piskor on his upcoming residency in Ohio.

Cartoonist Marian Churchland buys an apartment, draws beautiful tree-dwelling.

And finally, TCJ-columnist R. Fiore needs a little visual aid assistance. He asks if you can locate this image on this here Internet: “there was a panel from a DC comics story that showed up on a number of blogs. It was the character Darkseid sitting in a chair in a hotel room or something like that, chatting with another character. I think it showed up repeatedly because it just looked so weird to have Darkseid sitting in a normal chair like a normal person, when he actually ought to be on a throne in a cave.”


12 Responses to Mysterioso

  1. Joe McCulloch says:

    GIS “Frank Quitely Darkseid” – should be the first result.

  2. Shawn Starr says:

    It would either be the Quitley image Jog mentioned (from that weird retelling of the DCU they did a few years back, just before relaunching the entire line) which i believe has Darkseid talking to Orion (circa Kirby’s New Gods) or from the Countdown to Final Crisis series which has him talking to Mary Marvel (she has a white variant costume with a black bolt in this series)

    (This Tumblr of Darkseid sitting in chairs has both instances: http://darkseidchillingonacouch.tumblr.com/ )

  3. patrick ford says:

    Nice column by Ken. As far as the divide between balloons and captions and pictures goes I think most often if there is a problem visually it’s because the artist and writer are not the same person. Likely that Casper page is by Warren Kremer, and if it is it’s almost certain Kremer wrote it. Harvey employed a lot of writer/artists on it’s kids comics including Kremer and Howard Post who wrote and drew all those old Little Hot Stuff comic books.
    At EC there were a couple of different situations. On the stories written by Kurtzman all the balloon and caption placements were by Kurtzman because he supplied detailed layouts to the artists, or drew the material himself. With the Feldstein stories the balloons and captions were already on the art board when the artist began penciling, so the artist could at least compose the drawings to suit the text, not a very flexible system, and one which would kind of cripple some of the techniques Ken described Kremer using.
    BTW Kremer was more or less THE MAN at Harvey and before he began drawing Casper, during a time when Harvey was publishing horror comic books which were as grotesque as anything published by EC it was Kremer who designed some of the most gruesome covers of that era. Things like Black Cat #50 (penciled by Lee Elias) were designed by Kremer. Here’s a nice blog post showing the rough to complete cover development at Harvey. http://www.raggedclaws.com/home/2011/05/07/look-here-black-cat-mystery-51-prelims-and-printed-cover-by-warren-kremer/

  4. patrick ford says:

    None of those guys are Darkseid. I knew Darkseid. Those guys are no Darkseid.

    Jack Kirby: “Darkseid is like Patton, he would sleep with his troops in a field. That would never bother him. It’s his goal that counts. “

  5. Don’t know which image he’s thinking of, but I immediately thought of a page from the Giffen/deMatteis bwahaha-era Justice League. It shows up as first result if you GIS Darkseid Oberon.

    These are all references to a Kirby splash from O’Deadly Darkseid, right?

  6. No comment thread for Ken’s column? I just wanted to say that, in a weird synchronicity, I also wrote a formal analysis of a Kremer (most likely) Harvey ghost story, a couple of weeks ago: http://abstractcomics.blogspot.com/2013/01/might-as-well-be-abstract-part-3.html

    Also, ’52 is really early, that’s the first Harvey “Casper.” Their graphic and narrative style gets much more complex quite quickly.

    Also, Patrick, Sid Jacobson wrote a lot of the Harvey stories, including many (or most?) of Kremer’s. Admittedly, the situation at Harvey, for both writers and artists (especially inkers!) is seriously under-researched.

  7. patrick ford says:

    Andrei, Could be Jacobson wrote the stories. In ALTER-EGO #89 Kremer said:

    “I started there in ’48,’49,’50. Once those years came around I was in solid with them. They started having me do everything. There was nothing I didn’t do. I even wrote scripts.”

    Kremer does mention one Casper story he wrote called GING GONG which was a King Kong takeoff.
    He describes Jacobson as the editor, but does mention writers, so it probably was later on with thing like Stumbo and Richie Rich where Kremer began writing a lot.

  8. R. Fiore says:

    You may call of the dogs — Tom Spurgeon got me the image I was looking for.

  9. R. Fiore says:

    Or call off the dogs. Or Karloff the dogs.

  10. patrick ford says:

    BTW: In looking at the Jacobson interview in the same issue there is no mention of the Casper type material, the focus is on the pre-code stuff. This is too good to not pass on though.

    Sid Jacobson:

    The “Colorama” cover is a self portrait of Warren, the twisted face. What he did was draw himself and then go like that (Jacobson crumples a piece of paper) and throws it on the floor, and then he drew it.

  11. patrick ford says:

    Should have added Jacobson said Kremer penciled and inked his own stories and Kremer’s wife lettered his work.

  12. Lou Copeland says:

    Carl Orff fed frogs? That’s so sweet.

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