Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Marion Sitton : The Atlas Years

In January of 1950 Marion was let go by Timely when they shut down their staff operation. He quickly found freelance work at Avon, Close-Up, Fawcett, Fox, Hillman and Quality, on romance, crime and western stories. Some of these can be seen on a different blog post.

By mid to late1950 he was back freelancing for Stan Lee at Timely, though now called Atlas Comics, their covers possessing an Atlas "globe" logo. The globe originally stood for the name of Goodman's distribution company but would come to be a name for the line through the 1950's.

Marion would continue freelancing for Atlas throughout 1951, 1952 & 1953 (?), primarily on crime comic stories and doing complete pencils and inks. By 1953 (?) Marion and his wife Helen would return to Texas and his last few stories were done long distance before petering out completely, as a career in commercial art beckoned.

Here is a list of all the titles and issues that feature Atlas stories by Marion. The list of 28 stories is still possibly incomplete as there may be a handful of additional western stories lurking in issues I've still not located, but for the most part is 97% complete.

ALL TRUE CRIME #46,47,49,51
CRIME CAN'T WIN #5,9,11,12

In addition, there are 4 instances of panels taken out of Marion's Atlas stories and used to illustrate text stories. They are found in ALL-TRUE CRIME #37, ARIZONA KID #4, JUSTICE COMICS #29 and BLACK RIDER #16. I'll include them at the end.

Marion's first freelance story for Stan Lee was in the title SPORTS ACTION, a 14 issue title running from cover date Nov/49 through Sept/52. Issue #1 was titled SPORTS STARS and perhaps Goodman's title changed due to the fact that there was an earlier SPORTS STARS by Parents' Magazine in 1946 and Goodman already had a long-running sports pulp called SPORTS ACTION that had ended its second run cover date Mar/48. This story was scripted by voluminous Atlas writer Hank Chapman, who wrote about 240 stories that he signed. Though he wrote in all genres, he became best known for his pre-code, Korean War era Atlas war stories, where among all the genre war stories he also gave life to Battle Brady, Combat Casey and Combat Kelly.

#7882 SPORTS ACTION #6 (Mar/51) 5 pages

The next story is Marion's first of many crime stories for Atlas, in the title AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES. AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES began life as Martin Goodman's second true-crime magazine, Vol 1, #1(June/40), running to Vol 10, #2 (July/50). The magazine then went on hiatus, returning as a crime comic book continuing as #3 (Nov/50) and running until #14 (Sept/52). The last 4 issues of the comic book were pre-code horror in content. The title then re-appeared as a true-crime magazine picking up right where it left off with Vol 10, #3 (Winter/53) and lasted into the early 1960's. This story's splash has a particularly violent panel!

#7922 AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES #5 (Mar/51) 4 pages

The third story is from SPY CASES #4 (Mar/51), a title that ran 19 issues starting with #26 (Sept/50, continuing the numbering from THE KELLYS #25) 27,28 and 4-19 (Oct/53). Begun as a spy comic book, after the Korean War started is began to feature occasional war stories and covers before converting completely to war content with #11 (June/52) through #15 (Feb/53), whereby it went back to a spy comic for its last 4 issues.

#7925 SPY CASES #4 (Apr/51) 5 pages

Marion's first Atlas western is next in ARIZONA KID #2 (May/51), a title that ran a short 6 issues. Once again, an extremely violent splash image.

#8026 ARIZONA KID #2 (May/51) 4 pages

One of my favorite crime splashes in CRIME EXPOSED #4 (June/51).

#8085 CRIME EXPOSED #4 (June/51) 6 pages

Another western, this time BLACK RIDER #14 (May/51).

#8095 BLACK RIDER #14 (May/51) 4 pages

#8177 CRIME CAN'T WIN #5 (June/51) 7 pages

#8197 THE GUNHAWK #15 (June/51) 3 pages

Pete Tumlinson cover
#8283 KID COLT OUTLAW #15 (July/51) 4 pages

Now comes the start of a long string of crime stories. The first comes by way of CRIME MUST LOSE #8 (Aug/51). This also happens to be the last Atlas crime comic issue I needed. It took me years to find a copy! The script here is by Carl Wessler who also wrote one other story in this issue, "Flaming Vengeance!". Wessler was the most prolific Crime writer in the Atlas titles. By my count, he wrote a complete total of 147 stories. These identifications are based on Wessler's own notes and records of story titles.

#8354 CRIME MUST LOSE #8 (Aug/51) 5 pages

#8668 ALL-TRUE CRIME #46 (Sept/51) 5 pages

#8751 CRIME MUST LOSE #9 (Oct/51) 6 pages

#8835 CRIME CASES COMICS #8 (Nov/51) 6 pages

The story below was scripted by Carl Wessler, who wrote 2 others this issue, "The Decoy" and "Terrance Craig - The Gangster from the Gutter!".

#8917 ALL-TRUE CRIME #47 (Nov/51) 5 pages

Another story by Carl Wessler, who wrote 3 of the 4 stories this issue, "The Racketeer", The Man Who Squealed" and the Sitton one below.

#8981 CRIME MUST LOSE #10 (Dec/51) 5 pages

Bingo!!  A Carl Wessler jackpot! All 4 stories this issue were written by Wessler, stories by Tony DiPreta, George Tuska, Marion Sitton and Cal Massey.

#9009 AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES #10 (Jan/52) 5 pages

#9248 CRIME EXPOSED #9 (Feb/52) 5 pages

Another Carl Wessler bonanza! All 4 stories scripted, stories by Jerry Robinson, Dan LoPrino, Marion Sitton and Paul Cooper.

#9255 CRIME CAN'T WIN #9 (Feb/52) 6 pages

Carl Wessler in two stories this issue, Marion Sitton and a story by Jack Keller.

#9446 ALL-TRUE CRIME #49 (Mar/52) 6 pages

Two Carl Wessler stories, Marion Sitton and Sol Brodsky.

#9522 CRIME EXPOSED #10 (Mar/52) 6 pages

Three stories by Carl Wessler this issue. Tony DiPreta, unknown and Marion Sitton. Look for Marion's tiny signature in the lower right hand corner of the second panel at the edge of the table.

#9530 CRIME CASES COMICS #10 (Mar/52) 5 pages

Horrendously muddy coloring on the next story. 

#9533 JUSTICE COMICS #27 (May/52) 6 pages

Trifecta! A third all-Carl Wessler issue! Wessler story art by Jerry Robinson, Marion Sitton, Jack Keller and Tony DiPreta. The Sitton story was written on October 5, 1951, showing that there was a 7 month lag between script and cover date, and a 4 month lag between script and publication date.

#9836 CRIME CASES COMICS #11 (May/52) 5 pages

Ask an Atlas collector who was the first artist to draw The Ringo Kid and 10 times out of 10 you'll get the same answer, Joe Maneely. But while Maneely did co-create the beloved Atlas western hero in 1954, draw the first 5 issues, the last 6 issues, and 19 of the 21 covers, he was not the first Atlas artist to draw the "Ringo Kid". That privilege belongs to Marion Sitton, who drew this story in WESTERN OUTLAWS AND SHERIFFS #73 (June/52). Ok, it's not the same Ringo Kid, in fact, this one is a villain, but it's "a" Ringo Kid! I'll post the entire story below.

Bill Everett cover!

#9920 WESTERN OUTLAWS and  SHERIFFS #73 (June/52) p.1


 A fourth all Carl Wessler issue. Wessler scripts for Jerry Robinson, Tony DiPreta, Jack Keller and Marion Sitton.

#9957 CRIME CAN'T WIN #11 (June/52)

#9972 JUSTICE COMICS #28 (July/52) 5 pages

#A-48 ALL TRUE CRIME #51 (July/52) 6 pages

#A-136 CRIME CAN'T WIN #12 (Sept/52) 6 pages

Three more Carl Wessler stories this issue. George Tuska, Marion Sitton and Marty Elkin. Great splash panel of a very realistic subway train bearing down on the man!

#A-212 CRIME CASES COMICS #12 (July/52) 5 pages

Switching gears now we have Marion's one and only war story for the long-running Atlas title BATTLE, a title that ran 70 issues from 1951 to 1960. When interviewed, Marion said he went back to Texas in early 1953 but it's not impossible he was off by one year and it possibly was 1952. That would explain the fact that this story looks like it had an inker who also added backgrounds. I'd go so far as to suggest the inker was George Klein. If Marion was back home and sent in the penciled pages, it would have been more efficient to just let someone in New York ink the story and Klein was always available, having been on the Timely staff and was currently freelancing for them also.It also explains why I've found no work by Marion drawn in 1953. I'll post the entire story below.

#A-485 BATTLE #11 (Aug52) 5 pages


And finally...

This could possibly be the very last comic book story Marion drew. Two Carl Wessler stories below, Marion Sitton and Gene Colan.  The cover date of Apr/53 throws you. This may be inventory. The crime books of this period are a mish-mash of jumbled job #'s. In this very same issue is an Ed Winiarski story with a B-860 number, which is a correct concurrent number for the cover date. If it was inventory, the story below probably was drawn in the spring of 1952. Another consideration is that this is an older unused inventory "script" left undrawn. If that were the case then this is a script that Marion may have done long distance after returning to Texas. He recalls drawing one or two in that manner before the scripts stopped coming altogether.  Another great "oncoming train" splash!

#A-469 JUSTICE COMICS #36 (Apr/53) 6 pages

 In 4 instances panels from Marion's stories were used as illustrations to accompany a book's 2-page text stories.

First we have a large, nearly half-page text illustration found in BLACK RIDER #15 (July/51). Placing the image is easy as it is the splash panel to the "Cash Devlin" story seen above in this post from THE GUNHAWK #15 (June/51).

Next is the text illustration found in ARIZONA KID #4 (Sept/51). This panel is easily found as page 4, panel 1 from the "Hank Roebuck" story in KID COLT OUTLAW #15 (July/51).

Lastly, I've found what appears to be a Marion Sitton panel in a text story used twice in two different books, the text story "Midnight Blasters" used in ALL-TRUE CRIME #37 (Feb/50)  and JUSTICE COMICS #29 (Sept/52).  The only problem I have is I cannot locate the source of the panel and the Feb/50 cover date of ALL-TRUE CRIME #37 places it in the Timely bullpen. Could I have missed the Sitton-pencilled crime story from the Timely era? It's possible. I'm going to have to go back and page through a whole bunch of 1949-era Timely crime issues now.  It's also possible I'm mistaken that's it's Sitton after all. I'll leave the jury out and welcome feedback for the moment.

Sitton-esque text illo. from ALL-TRUE CRIME #37 (Feb/50)

Sitton-esque text illo. from JUSTICE COMICS #29 (Sept/52)

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