Friday, November 2, 2012

Jerry Robinson (1922-2011) - The Timely Years

This post was planned way back in December of 2011 in response to Jerry Robinson's death on December 7 of that year. It was pushed back when we were dealt a second blow exactly one week later on December 14 when Joe Simon likewise passed away and I instead put a tribute together honoring two of the medium's founding fathers:

Jerry Robinson and Joe Simon

With that sad month long behind us and an additional 9 months working on my book "The Secret History of Marvel Comics" with Blake Bell, I want now to show exactly what Jerry Robinson did in comic books "after" he left National for good in the late 1940's. Most Robinson career retrospectives zero in on his work at National from about 1940 to the end of the decade as the basis of his comic book career. His start with Bob Kane, his work developing Robin and his credit with creating the iconic Batman villain The Joker, are all expectantly covered, as is his work on Vigilante, his collaborations with Mort Meskin, and his influence on Steve Ditko and Bob Forgione. Also covered is a post-National career in a smattering of other comic book venues, syndicated strips, political cartoons, commercial art, his career as an educator, an author and as a advocate for the creators and the history of the medium.

What frequently gets left out is the fact that other than a bit of non-DC 1946-49 comic book work and early 1960's work for Western, there was one more major comic book thrust for Robinson at a time when hero comics had waned tremendously and were pushed aside by all new genres of titles across the entire industry. This genre work gets lost in the nostalgic crucible of golden-age heroes and their ever-present stamp on the consciousness of popular culture. The company was Timely.

According to Jerry, while teaching at the School of Visual Arts, Robinson would invite guest speakers and one of these guest speakers was Stan Lee, editor-in-chief of Timely Comics. Stan asked Jerry if he was interested in doing work for the company and Jerry accepted Stan's offer.

I did my part in making this work known. Back in 1999 I contributed to a Brazilian documentary on Jerry's career "focusing" just on his post-National career. The title, (translated from the Portuguese) Jerry Robinson : Professional Cartoonist - Life After Batman pretty much says it all. I met the filmmaker, Marisa Furtado, at a New York convention. I had just given Jerry a "bound" set of all the stories he did for Timely Comics (a formidable amount, as you will see below) and Jerry excitedly showed them to Marisa, who ended up using some of them for a section on Jerry's crime work for Stan Lee in the early 1950's. As I mentioned in the 12/18/11 post, some of them were even crudely "animated" to extremely interesting and humorous results:

Jerry Robinson Documentary Clip

To state it bluntly, Jerry Robinson's post-National career in comic books was spent nearly 100% (ok, let's say 95%) with Stan Lee and Timely/Atlas. From 1951 through 1956, he worked in crime, horror, science fiction, westerns, romance and even religious comic books. The work is often fantastic, incredibly detailed and a visual treat predominantly overlooked by fans and standard Robinson biographical essays. Happily, the material was covered in the recent biography Jerry Robinson - Ambassador of Comics (1) and as I did speak to the author N.C. Christopher Couch early in the books preparation, perhaps I helped a tiny bit to give the material its due.

Several tiny errors did creep into the book's Timely section though, and I'll be picky and correct them. On page 96 Couch states that Stan Lee was hired as a teenager at Timely by his cousin Martin Goodman. This is somewhat incorrect. Stan Lee was Martin's wife Jean's cousin. Couch also lists Timely titles Jerry Robinson worked on, mentioning Astonishing Adventures and Weird Worlds. This is actually a conflation as the titles should be Astonishing and Adventures Into Weird Worlds. Also, there was no real title called Marvel. The correct title was Marvel Tales. Lastly, Couch states that Robinson collaborated with Stan Lee over the next ten years, in virtually all the genres the company was publishing. In reality it was a total of only 5 years across a 6 year period from cover years 1951 to 1954, and 4 short stories in 1956.

But first, a word about his covers.....

Jerry Robinson : The Timely/Atlas Covers

I count 14 covers by Jerry Robinson for the Timely/Atlas period between cover dates Sept/52 and Mar/54. They break down into: 9 War covers, 4 Religious covers and 1 Romance cover. Here is the full list in order of publication:
  1. Battlefront #4 (Sept/52)
  2. Battlefront #5 (Oct/52)
  3. Battle Action #6 (Nov/52)
  4. Combat #6 (Nov/52)
  5. Men In Action #8 (Nov/52)
  6. War Adventures #10 (Nov/52)
  7. War Comics #13 (Nov/52)
  8. Young Men #18 (Dec/52)
  9. Men's Adventures #19 (Mar/53)
  10. Lovers #51 (July/53)
  11. Bible Tales For Young Folk #2 (Oct/53)
  12. Bible Tales For Young Folk #3 (Dec/53)
  13. Bible Tales For Young People #4 (Feb/54)
  14. Bible Tales For Young People #5 (Mar/54)
I will cover the actual cover images in the body of the post below.

 Jerry Robinson : The Timely/Atlas Stories

Of note, some of this material is finally becoming available in recent hardcover Atlas Era Marvel Masterworks volumes. As of this writing, three Jerry Robinson horror/fantasy stories have been reprinted in:

Atlas Era Strange Tales Vol 2 (reprinting issues #11-20)
Atlas Era Journey Into Mystery Vol 1 (reprinting issues #1-10)

But this barely cracks the surface of the bulk of the work. By my count, there are 87 stories by Jerry Robinson for Timely/Atlas between 1951 and 1953, with an additional 4 stories (spread across 4 different genres) in 1956, bringing the total to 91. One story was reprinted in 1955 (and there are also the aforementioned 14 covers drawn).

Before we get into the body of the work, I want put to rest a credit attributed to Robinson in Jerry Bails' Who's Who of American Comics. There's a single 1949 credit in the title Lovers.  Looking over the title reveals four 1949 cover dated issues, #23 (May/49), #24 (July/49), #25 (Sept/49), #26 (Nov/49).

Working backwards, #26 has stories by Gene Colan, Russ Heath, what looks like Bill LaCava, Hy Rosen and somebody with Chris Rule.

#25 has stories by Pete Tumlinson with possibly George Klein, Hy Rosen with Joe Kubert and King Ward.

#24 has stories by Mike Sekowsky possibly with Chris Rule, unknown, and possibly Hy Rosen.

#23 has stories by Mike Sekowsky with an inker, somebody (maybe Lin Streeter) with Chris Rule and somebody definitely not Jerry Robinson , maybe Chris Rule with somebody (Val Barclay??).

That leaves a single story, issue #24's #5429 "Deceit!" (6 pages). I don't believe this is Jerry Robinson. I'm not sure exactly who this is, there's a surface slickness that could remind someone slightly of Robinson with an inker who toned down all the distinctive Robinson elements but overall I'm stumped. Since just about 100% of the romance material for the books in 1949 was turned out by the staff with different pencilers and inkers, it doesn't seem to make sense to think Jerry Robinson dropped by to pencil a story as a freelancer.

With that disputed credit put to bed, we can now examine Jerry Robinson's "real" start for Stan Lee at Timely. Out of 91 total stories Jerry drew, the genre breakdown is:

27 War
17 Romance
18 Crime
14 Horror/Fantasy
11 Religious
3 Westerns (one later reprinted in 1955)
1 Spy

Here is the entire list of stories in the approximate order they were done, sequenced by job number. What follows after that will be some highlights in the various genres, consisting of splash pages and a few stories in their entirety.

  1. #7053: Man Comics #7 (Apr/51), "The Killer!" (8 pages)
  2. #7447: Western Outlaws & Sheriffs #68 (Aug/51), "Snake Cantrell" (7 pages)
  3. #7924: Spy Cases #5 (June/51), "The Case of the Missing B-29!" (6 pages)
  4. #8082: Amazing Detective Cases #6 (May/51), "Danger in the City" (8 pages)
  5. #8309: Justice Comics #22 (July/51), "The Big Break" (8 pages)
  6. #8567: Man Comics #10 (Oct/51), "The Black Robe!" (6 pages)
  7. #8663: All-True Crime #47 (Nov/51), "The Mouthpiece" (7 pages)
  8. #8674: Marvel Tales #103 (Oct/51), "Behind the Mask" (7 pages)
  9. #8803: Crime Must Lose #9 (Oct/51), "Nick Dorgan ... The Boss" (8 pages)
  10. #8808: Mystic #5 (Nov/51), "The City That Vanished" (8 pages)
  11. #9029: Love Adventures #8 (Dec/51), "Beyond Reach" (6 pages)
  12. #9113: Justice Comics #25 (Jan/52), "The Death of Danny Lewis" (7 pages) [w-Carl Wessler]
  13. #9229: Crime Cases Comics #9 (Jan/52), "13-13 Center St." (7 pages)
  14. #9256: Crime Can't Win #9 (Feb/52), "When the Mueller Gang Struck" (7 p.) [w-Carl Wessler]
  15. #9297: Crime Exposed #11 (Spring/52), "Too Rotten to Live!" (7 pages) [w-Carl Wessler] 
  16. #9521: Crime Can't Win #10 (Apr/52), "Dragnet" (7 pages)
  17. #9788: Crime Exposed #12 (Apr/52), "Death House Break" (6 pages) [w-Carl Wessler] 
  18. #9817: All-True Crime #50 (May/52), "Shoot To Kill" (6 pages)
  19. #9860: Justice Comics #28 (July/52), "Terror in the Streets" (6 pages)
  20. #9874: Crime Cases Comics #11 (May/52), "Death of a Mob!" (6 pages) [w-Carl Wessler] 
  21. #9925: Crime Exposed #13 (May/52), "Road Gang" (6 pages) [w-Carl Wessler] 
  22. #9931: War Adventures #3 (Apr/52), "The Final Salvo" (5 pages)
  23. #9982: Man Comics #14 (May/52), "Bouncing Betsys" (5 pages) [w-Hank Chapman]
  24. #A-03: Crime Can't Win #11 (June/52), "D.O.A. (Dead On Arrival)" (6 pages) [w-Carl Wessler]
  25. #A-91: Battle #9 (June/52), "The Big Bog!" (5 pages)
  26. #A-361: Battlefront #1 (June/52), "Operation Killer" (Phase 1) (6 pages) [w-Don Rico]
  27. #A-362: Battlefront #1 (June/52), "Attack!" (Phase 2) (5 pages) [w-Don Rico]
  28. #A-363: Battlefront #1 (June/52), "South to the 38th" (Phase 3) [w-Don Rico]
  29. #A-364: Battlefront #1 (June/52), "O.K." (Phase 4) (7 pages) [w-Don Rico]
  30. #A-544: Battlefront #2 (July/52), "The Marines Strike Back" (6 pages)
  31. #A-545: Battlefront #2 (July/52), "We'll be Back" (5 pages)
  32. #A-546: Battlefront #2 (July/52), "Mission Danger" (5 pages)
  33. #A-547: Battlefront #2 (July/52), "The Charge!" (7 pages)
  34. #A-659: Battlefront #3 (Aug/52), "Spearhead!" (7 pages) [w-Don Rico]
  35. #A-660: Battlefront #3 (Aug/52), "Kill or be Killed" (6 pages) [w-Don Rico]
  36. #A-661: Battlefront #3 (Aug/52), "Breaking Point" (5 pages) [w-Don Rico]
  37. #A-662: Battlefront #3 (Aug/52), "Follow-up" (5 pages) [w-Don Rico]
  38. #A-682: Uncanny Tales #3 (Oct/52), "Crazy" (3 pages) [w-Stan Lee]
  39. #A-804: Battlefront #4 (Sept/52), "Mopping Up!" (7 pages)
  40. #A-805: Battlefront #4 (Sept/52), "Airborne Attack" (5 pages)
  41. #A-806: Battlefront #4 (Sept/52), "The Death-Trap of General Chung!" (6 pages)
  42. #A-807: Battlefront #4 (Sept/52), "Captured by the Reds" (5 pages)
  43. #A-862: Lovers #42 (Oct/52), "The Real Thing" (6 pages)
  44. #A-974: Battlefront #5 (Oct/52), "Behind Red Lines" (6 pages)
  45. #A-975: Battlefront #5 (Oct/52), "Suicide Mission" (5 pages)
  46. #A-976: Battlefront #5 (Oct/52), "The Decision" (5 pages)
  47. #A-977: Battlefront #5 (Oct/52), "Breakthrough" (7 pages)
  48. #B-195: Love Romances #26 (Jan/53), "Bachelor Girl!" (6 pages)
  49. #B-281: Battle Action #6 (Nov/52), [Battle Brady] (6 pages) [w-Hank Chapman]
  50. #B-294?: Battle Action #6 (Nov/52), [Battle Brady] (7 pages) [w-Hank Chapman]
  51. #B-384: Astonishing #20 (Dec/52), "Living Doll!" (5 pages) [w-Stan Lee]
  52. #B-395: Adventures Into Weird Worlds #13 (Dec/52), "Where Dead Men Walk!" (7 pages) 
  53. #B-490: Marvel Tales #111 (Feb/53), "I Can't Stop Changing!" (6 pages)
  54. #B-531: Battle Action #7 (Dec/52), "Don't Stop!" (5 pages) [w-Paul S. Newman]
  55. #B-534: War Comics #15 (Jan/53), "Army Policy!" (5 pages)
  56. #B-622: Girl Confessions #22 (Jan/53), "Without Love!" (7 pages)
  57. #B-637: Mystery Tales #7 (Jan/53), "Rudolf's Revenge!" (4 pages) [w-Stan Lee]
  58. #B-885: Lovers #48 (Apr/53), "Will You Marry Me, Miss Smith?" (7 pages) [w-Stan Lee]
  59. #B-950: My Own Romance #27 (Mar/53), "That Old Feeling" (6 pages)
  60. #B-988: Strange Tales #17 (Apr/53), "Feud!" (5 pages) [w-Stan Lee]
  61. #C-089: Girl Confessions #24 (Mar/53), "The Lonely Nights" (7 pages)
  62. #C-???: Suspense #29 (Apr/53), "Strong as an Ox!" (5 pages) [w-Stan Lee]
  63. #C-210: Girl Confessions #26 (June/53), "The Man I Must Marry" (6 pages)
  64. #C-468: Journey Into Mystery #9 (June/53), "The Only Man in the World" (6 pages)
  65. #C-522: Journey Into Mystery #10 (July/53), "The Wrong World" (6 pages)
  66. #C-766: Love Romances #29 (July/53), "The Real Jim Blaine" (5 pages) [w-Paul S. Newman]
  67. #C-863: Girl Confessions #28 (Sept/53) "Bobbie's Blind Date!" (5 pages) 
  68. #C-884: Bible Tales For Young Folk #1 (Aug/53), "In The Beginning..." [Genesis 1,2,3] (5p.)
  69. #C-957: Girl Confessions #27 (Aug/53), "There's Something About a Soldier" (5 pages) 
  70. #C-969: Uncanny Tales #13 (Oct/53), "Where There's Smoke" (5 pages)
  71. #D-002: Lovers #54 (Oct/53), "Skin-Deep" (6 pages)
  72. #D-094: Love Romances #31 (Sept/53), "Forever is a Long Time!" (6 pages)
  73. #D-187: Bible Tales For Young Folk #2 (Oct/53), "The Psalms Of David" [24th Psalm] (IFC)
  74. #D-188: Bible Tales For Young Folk #2 (Oct/53), "The Kingdom of Heaven" (1 page)
  75. #D-189: Bible Tales For Young Folk #2 (Oct/53), "The Parable Of The Tree That Was A King" (inside back cover)
  76. #D-190: Bible Tales For Young Folk #2 (Oct/53), "There Shall I Be" [Matthew 18, 19-20] (1p.)
  77. #D-203: Girl Confessions #30 (Jan/54), "The Man Who Left Me" (6 pages)
  78. #D-217: Justice Comics #41 (Nov/53), "Shark Bait" (6 pages)
  79. #D-283: Bible Tales For Young Folk #3 (Dec/53), "The Death of John the Baptist" (5 pages)
  80. #D-338(a): Bible Tales For Young People #4 (Feb/54), "The Magnificent" (1 page)
  81. #D-338(b): Bible Tales For Young Folk #3 (Dec/53), "I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes" (IFC)
  82. #D-338(c) Bible Tales For Young Folk #3 (Dec/53), "Jacob's Ladder" (1 page)
  83. #D-338(d) Bible Tales For Young Folk #3 (Dec/53), "The Lord's Prayer" (1 page)
  84. #D-405: Lovers #56 (Dec/53), "Lover's Moon" (6 pages)
  85. #D-413: Secret Story Romances #2 (Dec/53), "Linda's Other Love" (6 pages)
  86. #D-554: Mystic #26 (Jan/54), "The Old Witch" (4 pages)
  87. #D-585: Bible Tales For Young People #5 (Mar/54), "Wise Sayings from the Proverbs" (1p.)
  88. #J-470: Gunsmoke Western #35 (June/56), "Manhunter" (5 pages)
  89. #J-508: Mystery Tales #42 (June/56), "The Captive" (4 pages)
  90. #J-727: Stories of Romance #8 (Sept/56), "Beneath a Tropic Moon" (4 pages)
  91. #K-129: Tales of Justice #62 (Oct/56), "The Lucky Stiff!" (4 pages)

In addition, the second story above, "Snake Cantrell" (7 pages) in Western Outlaws & Sheriffs #68 (Aug/51), was reprinted in Western Thrillers #4 (Feb/55), a generic western title seemingly created to burn off older western inventory. The title lasted 4 issues composed entirely of western reprints, some from as far back as 1949, before changing to Cowboy Action with #5 (Mar/55) and lasting through issue #11 (Mar/56). Issue 5 also contained reprints.

[**** Love Tales #60 (Feb/55) and #61 (Apr/55) from this same time period, likewise contained reprinted romance stories in the title's first 2 issues back after a 30 month hiatus and an inexplicable clerical error causing issue #59 to be skipped.]

Now for the highlights, let's start at the beginning. One important thing to note is that all of this work was done out of Jerry Robinson's studio at the time, and his studio had assistants. His main assistant was Bob Forgione, an artist well known to Timely/Atlas aficionados. Other assistants and also students of Jerry from The School of Visual Arts include Steve Ditko, Jack Abel, Stan Goldberg, Don Heck and Eric Stanton.(4)

The strongest influence on these pages is the hand of Bob Forgione, who frequently inked a great deal of this work. I won't point out all of the Forgione work below but will mention it when it's overpowering.


Jerry Robinson's very first story for Timely/Atlas was an 8 page western story published in Man Comics #7 (Apr/51), "The Killer!". Here's the entire story to set Robinson's Timely stage, followed by a few other western splashes. This first story in particular, in exclusion to all the others that will follow, hints at the most singular influence of Robinson's recent past work with Mort Meskin, an obvious stylistic memory still vaguely clinging to his rendering.

#7053 Man Comics #7 (Apr/51) p.1

#7053 Man Comics #7 (Apr/51) p.2

#7053 Man Comics #7 (Apr/51) p.3

#7053 Man Comics #7 (Apr/51) p.4

#7053 Man Comics #7 (Apr/51) p.5

#7053 Man Comics #7 (Apr/51) p.6

#7053 Man Comics #7 (Apr/51) p.7

#7053 Man Comics #7 (Apr/51) p.8

Robinson's second story was another western, "Snake Cantrell", published in Western Outlaws & Sheriffs #68 (Aug/51). This story was later reprinted in Western Thrillers #4 (Feb/55) for the reasons mentioned above.

#7477 Western Outlaws and Sheriffs #68 (Aug/51) p.1

Robinson's final western was one of 4 total stories he came back to do in 1956, "Manhunter" (5 pages) in  Gunsmoke Western #35 (June/56).  The author is Stan Lee, who was writing an inordinate amount of non-character western anthology stories at this time. This would be the final of 7 total collaborations between Lee and Robinson. All will be discussed and shown below. Here is the full list.

Stan Lee & Jerry Robinson Collaborations:

  1. #A-682 "Crazy" (3 pages) in Uncanny Tales #3 (Oct/52)
  2. #B-384 "Living Doll" (5 pages) in Astonishing #20 (Dec/52)
  3. #B-637 "Rudolf's Revenge!" (4 pages) in Mystery Tales #7 (Jan/53)
  4. #B-885 "Will You Marry Me, Miss Smith?" (7 pages) in Lovers #48 (Apr/53)
  5. #B-988 "Feud!" (5 pages) in Strange Tales #17 (Apr/53)
  6. #?????? "Strong as an Ox!" (5 pages) in Suspense #29 (Apr/53)
  7. #J-470   "Manhunter" (4 pages) in Gunsmoke Western #35 (June/56)

#J-470 Gunsmoke Western #35 (June/56) p.1
Script: Stan Lee

#J-470 Gunsmoke Western #35 (June/56) p.2

#J-470 Gunsmoke Western #35 (June/56) p.3

#J-470 Gunsmoke Western #35 (June/56) p.4

#J-470 Gunsmoke Western #35 (June/56) p.5


The Spy genre at Timely/Atlas consisted of a handful of titles splintering off the crime comics line starting with Spy Cases #26 (Sept/50) (continuing the numbering from the teen humor title The Kellys) and followed by Spy Fighters and Kent Blake of the Secret Service in 1951.(2) These books started out as a hybrid of crime/adventure and spy/intrigue stories and began to introduce war-themed covers and stories by cover date Aug/51, ultimately converting to full war content cover month Mar/52. By Apr/53 they changed back to crime/adventure/spy/intrigue (concurrent with a slew of war title cancellations) and themselves ceased publication before the end of the year. A final spy title, Spy Thrillers, had a brief 4 issue run in 1954-1955 straddling the comics code as 2 issues were published pre-code and 2 issues post-code, with the usual post-code changes and ridiculous modifications.

#7924 Spy Cases #5 (June/51) p.1


Although one doesn't normally associate the name Jerry Robinson that closely with romance comics, he nevertheless drew 17 stories (and one cover) for Timely/Atlas between 1951 and 1956: 16 from 1951 to 1953 and one straggler in 1956. This was Jerry's least favorite genre to work in and he thought the scripts sub-standard. To compensate, "he enlivened them with striking angles, disturbing reflections, and sensuous heroines." (1)

Out of 491 different Timely-Atlas-Marvel romance comics issues released between 1948 and 1963, Jerry Robinson drew a single romance cover, Lovers #51 (July/53). And what a cover it is! Robinson composes a gorgeous scene of newlyweds walking down the steps of a church with a flower girl tossing flowers, waving relatives and a tearful maid-of-honor. All the elements are perfectly balanced to give the reader an extremely pleasing scene of romantic bliss.

 Lovers was a long-running Timely/Atlas romance title that ran 64 issues from #23 (May/49) to #86 (Aug/57). After issue #58 (Aug/52) there was a 30 month break until #60 (Feb/55) with #59 being accidentally skipped due to a clerical error. As will be discussed shortly below, Robinson will have 3 romance stories in this particular title, in issues #48 (Apr/53), #54 (Oct/53),  and #56 (Dec/53).

Lovers #51 (July/53)
Cover art by Jerry Robinson

Now the stories. We'll start with his earliest, the only romance story in 1951, "Beyond Reach" (6 pages) in Love Adventures #8 (Dec/51):

#9029 Love Adventures #8 (Dec/51) p.1

#9029 Love Adventures #8 (Dec/51) p.2

#9029 Love Adventures #8 (Dec/51) p.3

#9029 Love Adventures #8 (Dec/51) p.4

#9029 Love Adventures #8 (Dec/51) p.5

#9029 Love Adventures #8 (Dec/51) p.6

It took almost a year before his second romance effort, "The Real Thing" in Lovers #42 (Oct/52), a 6-pager with a gorgeous splash. This particular issue of Lovers is an exceptional issue, with stories by Carmine Infantino (with Gil Kane, as per Carmine to me in 2002), George Klein, the team of Brown and Gantz (Ben Brown and David Gantz), and Jerry Robinson:

#A-862 Lovers #42 (Oct/52) p.1

Here's a sampling of the rest:

#B-195 Love Romances #26 (Jan/53) p.1

#B-622 Girl Confessions #22 (Jan/53) p.1

The next story, "Will You Marry Me, Miss Smith?", in Lovers #48 (Apr/53), is one of the seven stories scripted by Stan Lee for Jerry Robinson. The other 6 were 5 horror/fantasy stories I'll show down below and the western already seen above.

#B-885 Lovers #48 (Apr/53) p.1
Script: Stan Lee

#B-950 My Own Romance #27 (Mar/53) p.1

#C-089 Girl Confessions #24 (Mar/53) p.1

#C-210 Girl Confessions #26 (June/53) p.1

#C-766 Love Romances #29 (July/53) p.1
Script: Paul S. Newman

#C-863 Girl Confessions #28 (Sept53) p.1

#C-957 Girl Confessions #27 (Aug/53) p.1

#D-002 Lovers #54 (Oct/53) p.1

"Forever is a Long Time!" is a story that looks like something happened in the inking stage. In fact, there are a slew of concurrent romance stories by other artists in other books that bear this same "hollow", "ghost-like" inking. I'm wondering if it's actually a bad printing defect across the romance line on several stories rather than deadline problems necessitating a rushed staff inker to quickly ink sparse pencils. A handful of Ann Kirkpatrick's Timely romance stories look like this, as do several others'.

#D-094 Love Romances #31 (Sept/53) p.1

#D-203 Girl Confessions #30 (Jan/54) p.1

#D-405 Lovers #56 (Dec/53) p.1

#D-413 Secret Story Romances #2 (Dec/53) p.1

Jerry waited almost three years before his final romance story for what was now definitely "Atlas". "Beneath a Tropic Moon" (4 pages) in Stories of Romance #8 (Sept/56) was his only post-code romance installment and Jerry's art is slightly more simplistic as he knocked it out in 4 short pages to accommodate a post-code script purposely lacking in melodrama, instead relying on vapid talking heads and harmless, non-threatening idealized romance. I even have a vague suspicion about another hand here that I cannot shake. One panel reminds me of Werner Roth (can you spot it?) and the entire story subtly hints that it was caressed by Vince Colletta in some manner short of actual inking. I'm not willing to pull the trigger on these thoughts but they hover above the story to me like an ephemeral mist. The coloring and printed color registration is seriously less than optimum, a problem with all the books at this particular time period.

Here's the entire story:

#J-727 Stories of Romance #8 (Sept/56) p.1

#J-727 Stories of Romance #8 (Sept/56) p.2

#J-727 Stories of Romance #8 (Sept/56) p.3

#J-727 Stories of Romance #8 (Sept/56) p.4

Horror / Fantasy

Jerry Robinson drew 13 pre-code horror/fantasy stories for Timely/Atlas between 1951 and 1953. He then returned (like the romance story above) for a final post-code 13th story in 1956. Five of these stories were scripted by Stan Lee.

The first story is "Behind the Mask" in Marvel Tales #103, (Oct/51), a tale of human greed and comeuppance. I don't have a color copy of this story but did manage to find page 1 in a black and white British reprint I possess. Following that will be page 2, a page of the story's original art.

#8674 Marvel Tales #103 (Oct51) p.1
(image taken from a B&W British reprint)

#8674 Marvel Tales #103 (Oct/51) p.2 (original art)

The second story is "The City That Vanished" (8 pages) in Mystic #5 (Nov/51). This taut thriller by an unknown author is written under the umbrella of cold war paranoia, relating the story of three American cities that vanish off the face of the earth leaving gaping craters in their wake. A top military scientist deduces the fact that a hostile alien race has used some sort of magnetic traction beam to "lift" the cities off the planet. In retaliation, the military prepares a "ghost" city filled with atomic and hydrogen bombs, which when predictably lifted up into space ignites a firestorm to destroy the hostile race. The story ends with human success but the fact is that millions of people died in the cities already taken.

#8808 Mystic #5 (Nov/51) p.1

Here is the original artwork to the splash page above (1):

#8808 Mystic #5 (Nov/51) p.1 (original artwork)

After nearly a year of crime and war stories, Robinson returns to horror/fantasy with the short 3-pager "Crazy" in Uncanny Tales #3 (Oct/52), scripted by Stan Lee. A skewered variation of this story later appeared in an episode of The Twilight Zone, "You Drive", written by Earl Hammer, Jr. for the series' 5th season in January of 1964. There are some great close-up head-shot panels of sweating fear, a technique that would influence a young Steve Ditko.

#A-682 Uncanny Tales #3 (Oct/52) p.1
Script: Stan Lee

#A-682 Uncanny Tales #3 (Oct/52) p.2

#A-682 Uncanny Tales #3 (Oct/52) p.3

The next story is also scripted by Stan Lee, "Living Doll" in Astonishing #20 (Dec/52), and has the strong influence of Bob Forgione. As mentioned, Forgione was a student then an assistant to Jerry Robinson (working out of his studio) and doesn't actually appear as a pencil artist at Timely until a year from now in late 1953. (His first solo story is "Pursuit!" in Astonishing #23, Mar/53).  In this story it looks like Forgione is the inker on the story over light Robinson pencil breakdowns.

#B-384 Astonishing #20 (Dec/52) p.1
Script: Stan Lee

#B-384 Astonishing #20 (Dec/52) p.2

#B-384 Astonishing #20 (Dec/52) p.3

#B-384 Astonishing #20 (Dec/52) p.4

#B-384 Astonishing #20 (Dec/52) p.5

Robinson's fourth pre-code horror/fantasy story was "Where Dead Men Walk!" (7 pages) in Adventures Into Weird Worlds #13 (Dec/52), and another example of Bob Forgione flat-out nearly drawing the entre story. I wonder if I'm correct in seeing Forgione's later frequent Atlas inker Jack Abel here also, another artist who was known to have worked out of Jerry Robinson's studio. The inks on this story appear different from the previous story above.

#B-395 Adventures Into Weird Worlds #13 (Dec/52) p.1

#B-395 Adventures Into Weird Worlds #13 (Dec/52) p.2

#B-395 Adventures Into Weird Worlds #13 (Dec/52) p.3

#B-395 Adventures Into Weird Worlds #13 (Dec/52) p.4

#B-395 Adventures Into Weird Worlds #13 (Dec/52) p.5

#B-395 Adventures Into Weird Worlds #13 (Dec/52) p.6

#B-395 Adventures Into Weird Worlds #13 (Dec/52) p.7

"I Can't Stop Changing!" (6 pages) from Marvel Tales #111 (Feb/53) is nothing spectacular story or art-wise. Much of the story looks decidedly non-Robinson to me but I have no suggestions as to who. Perhaps a different assistant than the usually noted Bob Forgione.

#B-490 Marvel Tales #111 (Feb/53) p.1

"Rudolf's Revenge" (4 pages) from Mystery Tales #7 (Jan/53) is a third horror/fantasy Stan Lee scripted story. But there is something potentially even more interesting than Bob Forgione here. Look at the man in the background of page 2, panel 6. In fact, look at the entire page. It reminds me so much of Steve Ditko that I momentarily shook my head in astonishment. My answer is "not likely", but it bears an enormous similarity to Ditko's style (a style heavily influenced by Mort Meskin, Robinson, and also the young Joe Kubert). Ditko studied under Robinson at The Cartoonist and Illustrators School starting in 1950 (3), but I don't know of any reference that has indicated Ditko ever worked for Robinson or assisted on his studio's projects. Ditko, of course, later also absorbed from Mort Meskin at the Simon & Kirby studio, later explaining in an article titled "Why Steve Ditko Likes Mort Meskin" in the March/65 issue of The Comic Reader :

1) He knows how to draw good proportions, etc., and can handle any type of story well 
2) His panel compositions are consistently superior to most artists, 
3) And most importantly, he is a truly remarkable storyteller.

So... the Ditko-esque style of Robinson's studio that then influenced Ditko himself?  This story pre-dates Ditko's earliest known published work, Ajax/Farrell's "Stretching Things" in Fantastic Fears #5 (published cover date Feb/54) and "Paper Romance" in Gilmore's Daring Love #1 (cover dated Oct/53).

The comments section is open!

#B-637 Mystery Tales #7 (Jan/53) p.1
Script: Stan Lee

#B-637 Mystery Tales #7 (Jan/53) p.2

#B-637 Mystery Tales #7 (Jan/53) p.3

#B-637 Mystery Tales #7 (Jan/53) p.4

Robinson's fourth pre-code horror/fantasy story with Stan Lee was "Feud!" (5 pages) in Strange Tales #17 (Apr/53). This story was recently reprinted in Atlas Era Strange Tales Vol 2 (reprinting issues #11-20, introduction by yours truly).

#B-988 Strange Tales #17 (Apr/53) p.1
Script: Stan Lee

Robinson's fifth story with Stan Lee was "Strong as an Ox!" (5 pages) in the final issue of Suspense, #29 (Apr/53), the same issue containing the four page Stan Lee and Joe Maneely's anti-Wertham screed "The Raving Maniac". The strong presence of Bob Forgione is again felt here and it almost looks like he actually drew this story!

#C-??? Suspense #29 (Apr/53) p.1
Script: Stan Lee

#C-??? Suspense #29 (Apr/53) p.2

#C-??? Suspense #29 (Apr/53) p.3

#C-??? Suspense #29 (Apr/53) p.4

#C-??? Suspense #29 (Apr/53) p.5

The  next two stories are kind of cool! They are a rare pair of continued 6 page stories from Journey Into Mystery #9 (June/53) into #10 (July/53). Both stories lead off their respective issues and both seem to be inked by Bob Forgione. Continued stories are extremely rare in general in Atlas genre comics. This is the only example I can think of in the entire horror/fantasy line. Robinson will also render continued stories in the Atlas war title Battlefront, details to be examined shortly.

These two stories, "The Only Man in the World" and "The Wrong World", were reprinted in Atlas Era Journey Into Mystery Vol 1 (and discussed in the introduction I wrote to the volume).

At the end of part 1 in issue #9, a blurb at the end informs the reader : "Don't miss the amazing sequel to this macabre tale in the next issue of Journey Into Mystery ... called "The Wrong World!".

At the start of the sequel in issue #10, a blurb states that "In response to numerous requests from our readers, we present a sequel to "The Only Man in the World!", which appeared in the previous issue of Journey Into Mystery!".

So which was it? A planned 2-parter or a sequel due to reader demand? I suppose we can't have it both ways as there was no time to get any reader demand feedback. C'mon Stan, just admit it was a planned 2-parter!

The first story is a tight, if silly story about an alien invasion that renders the world depopulated by a cyclotron machine that stops time itself. The main human, a scientist, accidentally causes humanity's erasure by destroying the cyclotron, thinking he's actually "saving" humanity by destroying the time-stopping machine. At the end, he vows to restore humanity.

In the sequel, after restoring the machine and re-starting time (and somehow restoring humanity) before the alien dictator can start a global nuclear war among his own alien people now populating the earth, the human scientist nearly gets trapped in the alien's dimension, before making it back to a silly send-up in the final panel, unfortunately negating what had been a decent enough sci-fi thriller.

#C-468 Journey Into Mystery #9 (June/53) p.1
(Part 1)

#C-522 Journey Into Mystery #10 (July/53) p.1
(Part 2)

Three months later is our 12th Jerry Robinson horror/fantasy story, "Where There's Smoke" (5 pages) from Uncanny Tales #13 (Oct/53).  The writer is unknown.

#C-969 Uncanny Tales #13 (Oct/53) p.1

The  penultimate Robinson horror/fantasy story is again 3 months later in Mystic #26 (Jan/54), "The Old Witch". This story was brought to my attention by my pal Ger Apeldoorn, who wrote about it in his blog "The Fabulous Fifties: on June 9, 2013 :

I can't seem to link to the exact post so I just linked to the blog itself and you can find the date easily. Ger also believes the unsigned author of this story is Stan Lee but I don't have any opinion one way or the other as I'm strictly focusing on the artwork.

My paper records had this story down as Robinson?, Forgione? My digital records had it as unknown so that explains why my initial list for this blog missed it. The story is very unusual in that while unsigned, it is unmistakable that Robinson's hand is here. It is equally likely that Bob Forgione is here as well (in my opinion) a third hand. I see Robinson on page 1,3 and 4. I'm not sure he's doing layouts or only select panels. On page 2 I see no Robinson whatsoever! Here's the entire story for your own consideration:

#D-554 Mystic #26 (Jan/54) p.1

#D-554 Mystic #26 (Jan/54) p.2

#D-554 Mystic #26 (Jan/54) p.3

#D-554 Mystic #26 (Jan/54) p.4

As already seen in the western and romance titles, after a hiatus of nearly 3 years, Robinson returns to draw a single post-code fantasy story, "The Captive" (4 pages) in Mystery Tales #42 (June/56). While the story is watered down, non-threatening post-code pablum, the artwork comes the closest in seeing the emergence of Jerry Robinson's post-comic book style of illustration and cartooning. Look carefully at this story and you will see the rudiments of what I call his Flubs and Fluffs style of commercial illustration:

#J-508 Mystery Tales #42 (June/56) p.1

#J-508 Mystery Tales #42 (June/56) p.2

#J-508 Mystery Tales #42 (June/56) p.3

#J-508 Mystery Tales #42 (June/56) p.4

June 5, 1966 True Classroom Flubs & Fluffs Sunday strip

 Religious / Bible

Bible Tales for Young Folk / People ran 5 issues in 1953 and 1954 telling illustrated stories of the Old and New Testaments by a who's who of Atlas artist royalty. Jerry drew covers to issues #2,3,4,5 as well as 11 interior spots across all 5 issues: 2 five-page stories and 9 one-page features. Other contributing artists included Sam Kweskin, Don Rico, Joe Sinnott, Fred Kida, Syd Shores, Bernie Krigstein, Bill Everett, Joe Maneely, Sid Greene, Paul Reinman, Harry Anderson, Chick Winter, Gene Colan, Mort Lawrence and Louis Ravielli.

The covers inter-spaced with the story spots below are very simply composed, without distracting backgrounds or cover copy, and against light pastel shades of color cover. Issue #3 and #5 probably had white backgrounds as the years most likely played havoc with turning the coloring off-white and often a not unattractive beige almost sixty years after the fact. I think Marvel could do very well packaging this series with their biographies of Pope John Paul II and Mother Theresa, aiming such a religious "omnibus" at certain religious segments of the reading public.

Here are highlights of the 4 covers and all 11 interior spots.

Let's start fittingly at....(ahem)... the beginning......

Issue #1 (Aug/53):

#C-884 Bible Tales For Young Folk #1 (Aug/53) p.1

#C-884 Bible Tales For Young Folk #1 (Aug/53) p.2

#C-884 Bible Tales For Young Folk #1 (Aug/53) p.3

#C-884 Bible Tales For Young Folk #1 (Aug/53) p.4

#C-884 Bible Tales For Young Folk #1 (Aug/53) p.5

Issue #2 (Oct/53):

Bible Tales For Young Folk #2 (Oct/53)
Cover art by Jerry Robinson

#D-187 Bible Tales for Young Folk #2 (Oct/53)
Inside Front Cover : The 24th Psalm

#D-188 Bible Tales for Young Folk #2 (Oct/53)
Matthew 13, 44-49

#D-190 Bible Tales for Young Folk #2 (Oct/53)
Matthew 18, 19-20

#D-189 Bible Tales for Young Folk #2 (Oct/53)
Inside Back Cover : Judges 9, 7-57

Issue #3 (Dec/53):

Bible Tales For Young Folk #3 (Dec/53)
Cover art by Jerry Robinson

#D-338 (B) Bible Tales For Young Folk #3 (Dec/53)
Inside Front Cover: The Book of Psalms

#D-283 Bible Tales For Young Folk #3 (Dec/53) p.1

#D-283 Bible Tales For Young Folk #3 (Dec/53) p.2

#D-283 Bible Tales For Young Folk #3 (Dec/53) p.3

#D-283 Bible Tales For Young Folk #3 (Dec/53) p.4

#D-283 Bible Tales For Young Folk #3 (Dec/53) p.5

#D-338 (C) Bible Tales For Young Folk #3 (Dec/53)
Genesis 27, 42, 28, 10-19

#D-338 (D) Bible Tales For Young Folk #3 (Dec/53)
Matthew 5, 6, 7; Luke 6, 20-49; Luke 11, 2-4

Issue #4 (Feb/54):

Bible Tales For Young People #4 (Feb/54)
Cover art by Jerry Robinson

#D-338 (A) Bible Tales For Young People #4 (Feb/54)
Luke 1, 26-56; Luke 2, 1-7; Matthew 1, 18-25

Issue #5 (Mar/54):

Bible Tales For Young People #5 (Mar/54)
Cover art by Jerry Robinson

This is the only entry I'm unsure about. It's unsigned, looks like Robinson and I cannot account of any other Atlas artist from this period it could otherwise be. So take it with a question mark.

#D-585 Bible Tales For Young People #5 (Mar/54)
The Proverbs


By far, my favorite Jerry Robinson Timely/Atlas stories were in the crime genre, where he drew 18 total stories (7 scripted by Carl Wessler) and nearly always carried the lead story in any given issue.  They break down into sixteen in 1951-52, one in 1953, and as he did in the western, romance and fantasy titles, returned for a single post-code crime story in 1956. The earliest stories depict some of his all-time greatest splash panels.

From the start, Jerry hit the ground running with "Danger in the City" (8 pages) published in Amazing Detective Cases #6 (May/51), a terrific, taut psychodrama into the mind of a criminal, with wonderful panels of panic, sweating close-ups and swirling anxiety. I also see the hand of Bob Forgione in this story. This title has a long convoluted history in Martin Goodman's publishing line (starting as a crime magazine, switching to a comic book and then returning to a crime magazine) and I discussed it here: Amazing Detective Cases

The author is unknown:

#8082 Amazing Detective Cases #6 (May/51) p.1

#8082 Amazing Detective Cases #6 (May/51) p.2

#8082 Amazing Detective Cases #6 (May/51) p.3

#8082 Amazing Detective Cases #6 (May/51) p.4

#8082 Amazing Detective Cases #6 (May/51) p.5

#8082 Amazing Detective Cases #6 (May/51) p.6

#8082 Amazing Detective Cases #6 (May/51) p.7

#8082 Amazing Detective Cases #6 (May/51) p.8

Robinson's second crime story for Timely was another long 8-pager, "The Big Break" published in Justice Comics #22 (July/51). Justice Comics was Timely's earliest and longest running crime comic book, debuting  with #7 (spinning off from Wacky Duck #6) simultaneously with Official True crime Cases #24 (spinning off from Sub-Mariner Comics #23, while in mid-run!). The title was the only crime comic to last "through" the comics code, changing to the safer Tales of Justice with #53 (May/55) and continuing until the Atlas implosion, ending with #67 (Sept/57).  The author here is unknown.

#8309 Justice Comics #22 (July/51) p.1

The next story, "The Black Robe" (6 pages) is really a crime/adventure story but a hidden unknown gem in the Robinson catalogue. It was published in an early war issue of Man Comics, #10 (Oct/51), an issue featuring an ultra violent Joe Maneely Korean battleground scene cover, but otherwise filled with non-war adventure/action stories, and in this case, a crime/adventure story. Included below will also be the original art for this splash (1):

#8567 Man Comics #10 (Oct/51) p.1

#8567 Man Comics #10 (Oct/51) p.1 (original artwork)

"The Mouthpiece" (7 pages) was published in All-True Crime #47 (Nov/51), the title previously known as the aforementioned Official True Crime Cases. The author is unknown.

#8663 All-True Crime #47 (Nov/51) p.1

Another classic splash can be found in "Nick Dorgan ... The Boss" from Crime Must Lose! #9 (Oct/51). Once again I suspect Bob Forgione is heavily involved here.

#8803 Crime Must Lose #9 (Oct/51) p.1

Seven out of the next 11 pre-code crime stories were scripted by Carl Wessler, a  scribe who almost single-handedly authored the entire Timely/Atlas crime line of 1951-52, writing almost 75% of the line during these years. 

First up is the seven page "The Death of Danny Lewis" from Justice Comics #25 (Jan/52), featuring one of my favorite crime splash panels:

#9113 Justice Comics #25 (Jan/52) p.1
Script: Carl Wessler

The original art to this wonderful splash (1):

#9113 Justice Comics #25 (Jan/52) p.1 (original art)
Script: Carl Wessler

Next is the hard-hitting "13-13 Center Street" (7 pages). This story scripted by an unknown author is the lead story in an otherwise near all Carl Wessler issue of Crime Cases Comics #9 (Jan/52).

#9229 Crime Cases Comics #9 (Jan/52) p.1

#9229 Crime Cases Comics #9 (Jan/52) p.2

#9229 Crime Cases Comics #9 (Jan/52) p.3

#9229 Crime Cases Comics #9 (Jan/52) p.4

#9229 Crime Cases Comics #9 (Jan/52) p.5

#9229 Crime Cases Comics #9 (Jan/52) p.6

#9229 Crime Cases Comics #9 (Jan/52) p.7

Carl Wessler returns to script "When The Mueller Gang Struck" (7 pages), published in Crime Can't Win #9 (Feb/52):

#9256 Crime Can't Win #9 (Feb/52) p.1
Script: Carl Wessler

A third straight Carl Wessler script on "Too Rotten to Live!" (7 pages), published in Crime Exposed #11 (Spring/52). The Spring/52 cover date is an anomaly seen across the line this year as Stan Lee attempted to burn off inventory. 

Here are some other strange out-of-the-blue quarterly cover dates across the line in the early 1950's:

  • Adventures Into Weird Worlds #4 (Spring/52)
  • Astonishing #11 (Spring/52)
  • Crime Exposed #11 (Spring/52)
  • Suspense #16 (Spring/52)
  • True Secrets #16 (Spring/52)
  • My Friend Irma #17 (Spring/52)
  • Adventures Into Terror #4 (Winter/52-53)
  • Combat Casey #8 (Spring/53)
  • Kid Colt Outlaw #26 (Spring/53)
  • Millie The Model #40 (Spring/53)
  • Miss America #50 (Spring/53)
  • My Own Romance #28 (Spring/53)

#9297 Crime Exposed #11 (Spring/52) p.1
Script: Carl Wessler

"Dragnet!" (7 pages) from Crime Can't Win #10 (Apr/52). Author unknown. A different inker on this story for certain.

#9521 Crime Can't Win #10 (Apr/52) p.1

Another Carl Wessler story, "Death House Break!" (6 pages), from Crime Exposed #12 (Apr/52):

#9788 Crime Exposed #12 (Apr/52) p.1
Script: Carl Wessler

"Shoot to Kill" (6 pages) was published in All-True Crime #50 (May/52). The author is unknown.

#9817 All-True Crime #50 (May/52) p.1

"Terror in the Streets" (6 pages), was published in Justice Comics #28 (July/52). The author is unknown and Bob Forgione is the inker..

#9860 Justice Comics #28 (July/52) p.1

"Death of a Mob!" (6 pages),  Crime Cases Comics #11 (May/52), scripted by Carl Wessler.

#9874 Crime Cases #11 (May/52) p.1

"Road Gang" (6 pages), Crime Exposed #13 (May/52), scripted by Carl Wessler and with Bob Forgione inking.

#9925 Crime Exposed #13 (May/52) p.1

Jerry Robinson's next pre-code crime story was "D.O.A." (6 pagers), published in Crime Can't Win #11 (June/52), and scripted by Carl Wessler.

#A-003 Crime Can't Win #11 (June/52) p.1

Robinson waits nearly a year and a half before his final pre-code crime story, "Shark Bait" (6 pages), published in Justice Comics #41 (Nov/53), around the time of his work on Bible Tales for Young Folk. I think there are other hands here, although I'm not certain Bob Forgione was still working for Robinson at this time, having had one solo story already published for Stan Lee and tons of stuff for other companies. The work does look like Forgione and possibly with Jack Abel also. The author is unknown.

#D-217 Justice Comics #41 (Nov/53) p.1

And lastly, just like the single romance, western and fantasy stragglers we've seen, Robinson returns in 1956 to draw one last post-code crime story, "The Lucky Stiff!" (4 pages) in Tales of Justice #62 (Oct/56), the post-code version of the long running Justice Comics. This is the very last story Jerry will ever draw for Stan Lee and Timely/Atlas. The author is unknown as is the inker.

#K-129 Tales of Justice #62 (Oct/56) p.1

#K-129 Tales of Justice #62 (Oct/56) p.2

#K-129 Tales of Justice #62 (Oct/56) p.3

#K-129 Tales of Justice #62 (Oct/56) p.4


We've finally reached the last and most voluminous Timely genre Jerry Robinson contributed, war comics, without a doubt his finest work for the company. 

Timely had already begun a small line of "adventure/action" type comic books with the appearance of Man Comics #1 (Dec/49), followed by True AdventuresMen's Adventures and Young Men Comics. It took the start of hostilities on June 25, 1950 and Martin Goodman's decision to immediately start a line of war-themed comic books with Timely's War Comics #1 (Dec/50), to literally inaugurate the entire genre of war comic books. Goodman would mimic this transition in his magazine line when his revived Stag (and soon also Male and Men) converted from adventure content to depicting war covers and interior war stories.

War Comics #1 was followed in succession over the course of 18 months by Battle, Combat Kelly, War Adventures, Battle Action, War Combat, Battlefield, Men In Action, War Action, Battlefront and Combat, as well as the conversion of the adventure title Man Comics and of spy titles like Spy Cases, Spy Fighters and Kent Blake to full war content in what I call the first Atlas wave of war titles. There were a few changes (attempts at character-themed titles as War Combat changed to Combat Casey and Men In Action changed to Battle Brady), but the first round of cancellations happened by the spring of 1953 as the Korean conflict wound down and hard-core war comics lost their luster (even EC cancelled Frontline Combat, advertising the decision in a full page editorial). The genre did continue along rather successfully (although tepidly) through the comics code, but the guts of the books had been taken out. War comics without violence??? The genre ended quietly with Battle #70 (June/60). (2)

From 1950 to 1960, Timely/Atlas released 512 "full" war comics issues and an additional 21 "partial" war comics issues. Of these, Jerry Robinson turned in 9 war covers (including 5 alone in the single cover month of Nov/52) and 27 stories. Many of these covers are brutal and xenophobic pre-code depictions of the police war in Korea against a communist threat and cold war background, the geopolitical event that jump started the entire war comics line across the industry.

Here is the war cover breakdown:

Battlefront #4 (Sept/52)
Battlefront #5 (Oct/52)
Battle Action #6 (Nov/52)
Combat #6 (Nov/52)
Men in Action #8 (Nov/52)
War Adventures #10 (Nov/52)
War Comics #13 (Nov/52)
Young Men #18 (Dec/52)
Men's Adventures #19 (Mar/53)

As for the 27 stories, they appeared in only 12 total issues due to the unique fact that Jerry drew all 4 stories in the first five issues of Battlefront!

Robinson drew on his experiences actually visiting Korea to entertain the troops with a group of cartoonists put together by The National Cartoonists Society, where "he absorbed the terrible reality and firsthand tragedy of the Korean conflict. He did extensive research on military uniforms and equipment and on what the battlegrounds looked like."(1)  Said Robinson, "I really tried to get the drudgery, the brutality, the horror, even the smell. The Korean War was like World War I, and I wanted to convey the same emotional response I had watching the World War I antiwar film All Quiet on the Western Front".(1)

I would say Jerry succeeded.

Some of the stories below are extremely violent, the authors and illustrators not shying away from accurate descriptions and depictions of the brutal hell of warfare being played out in the newspapers and the newsreels.

Jerry's first story is "The Final Salvo" (5 pages) published in War Adventures #3 (Apr/52).

#9931 War Adventures #3 (Apr/52) p.1

This was followed quickly by "Bouncing Betsys" (5 pages) in Man Comics #14 (May/52), scripted by  Timely's most prolific pre-code war comics scribe, Hank Chapman. By my count, between cover dated June/51 and Feb/54, Chapman scripted 176 war stories in 16 different war titles. These are the "signed" stories. There are almost certainly more that have gone unsigned and waiting to be discovered by world class author-spotter Martin O'Hearn.

#9982 Man Comics #14 (May/52) p.1
Script: Hank Chapman

Third was "The Big Bog!" (5 pages), a brutal tale of a hellish Korean winter campaign in the snow.

#A-091 Battle #9 (Jun/52) p.1

What happens next is unheralded in the annals of Timely/Atlas non-humor genre comics. Cover date June/52, Atlas introduced a new war comic titled Battlefront. The writer on the new book was Don Rico and the art chores were assigned to Jerry Robinson... the entire book! The splash panel to the first story has Robinson's signature and right under it "stories by Don Rico". This was something unseen before, that being an entire genre book with the same art team throughout. But it gets better. The 4 Rico/Robinson stories are actually chapters in a 4 part, 23 page war panorama, an artistic tour-de-force mostly unknown to the comic public at large. Each splash has a "Phase" at the top telling the reader what part it was. For 5 full months Jerry Robinson devoted all his efforts to these 5 monthly issues, doing little else for Stan Lee.

Battlefront #1 (June/52):

So here we go as "The Editors of Battlefront Proudly Present..." 

PHASE ONE: "Operation Killer!" (6 pages)
PHASE TWO: "Attack!" (5 pages)
PHASE THREE: "South to the 38th" (5 pages)
PHASE FOUR: "O.K." (7 pages)

PHASE ONE: "Operation Killer!":

The story open as a propaganda piece, with dual purpose to 1) question "why" we are in Korea in the first place and 2) make sure the public knows what the hell was going on over there and the sacrifices our boys were making in this U.N. "peacekeeping" war, requiring support back home.

Right at the start, author Don Rico begins... "Look closely at this face! It is the face or war.. The face of an American fighting  for our peace! Through his eyes you will see that fight... The fight that had to be won!"

#A-361 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.1
Script: Don Rico

The story pulls no punches. Like Harvey Kurtzman in the classic EC war comics, a war correspondent broadcasts from Tokyo that fresh troop replacements are being sent to join the Eighth army of Pyongyang. In reality the troops are not so fresh and as green as can be, ridiculing the red army for not being "real" armies like the US fought in the recent world war. In the first night-time dust-up, in the numbing cold of the Korean October, one of the kids takes out 3 reds and is seriously affected by his first "kills".

#A-361 Battlefront #1 (June52) p.6 panel 6
Script: Don Rico

PHASE TWO: "Attack!"

The chapter opens with a G.I. writing a letter to his brother, a veteran of Normandy. He begins to describe his company, then begins to describe his company's attack as they headed to the Yalu river.

#A-362 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.1
Script: Don Rico

Explosions all around them, they make it as the snow is falling, commenting about how easy that was with only minor casualties. Then all hell opened up! It was a trap! The pen drops from the letter writer's hand and a soldier pulls a sheet over his body. 

#A-362 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.5
(original artwork)

#A-362 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.5
Script: Don Rico

#A-362 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.5, panel 3-7
Script: Don Rico

#A-362 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.5, panel 8
Script: Don Rico

PHASE THREE: "South to the 38th":

The unit is decimated by constant enemy attacks and bombardments. December is a brutal month dealing with the enemy and the just as deadly cold and snow. With most of the unit dead, a decision is made to retreat back to the 38th parallel and the major covers the troops ragged retreat, only to be killed by a grenade. 

#A-363 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.1
Script: Don Rico

#A-363 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.4
Script: Don Rico

A-363 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.4, panel 8
Script: Don Rico

As the remnants of the troop makes it back south to Kaesong, meeting up with other American troops, one dogface asks his superior a question and gets a startling answer:

#A-363 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.5 panel 3
Script: Don Rico

Which pretty much sums up the prevailing home-front feeling about this "non-war" in Korea, a feeling that would nearly split the country in half during the next decade's "non-war".


The troops are angry. They are angry that they're getting beat, angry that they don't have the manpower and guns to fight back, and most importantly, angry that the government doesn't give a rat's ass about them.

#A-364 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.1
Script: Don Rico

#A-364 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.1
[Original artwork]

#A-364 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.3 panel 1- 2
Script: Don Rico

The troops come upon a orphaned child that nearly gets run down by an American tank. The child is afraid of the Americans, even though they're on his side. 

#A-364 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.3 panel 4-5
Script: Don Rico

The child eventually takes to the soldiers, one in particular, and they protect and feed him while they wait for the inevitable one-sided battle ahead.

#A-364 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.5 panel 7
Script: Don Rico

#A-364 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.6 panel 7
Script: Don Rico

As the troops wait for the next brutal Red Communist offensive against their position, out of the blue comes the American cover they had been waiting and hoping for. The Reds are decimated and pull back in retreat. 

As the troops get ready to leave, they remember the child. The soldier makes his case to the uncomprehending boy, in effect, making his case to the reading public back home about the reason the American forces are in Korea and the support they need back home. 

#A-364 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.7 panel 2-3

#A-364 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.7 panel 4-5

#A-364 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.7 panel 6-7

Battlefront #2 (July/52):

Issue #2 continues the pattern of four connecting stories. The voice on these stories are a bit different so with no script credit on the pages, I am unsure if this Don Rico again. Also, the timbre of the stories falls back on conventional storytelling and away from the more overt propaganda resonations.

The story picks up after the end of the last issue. In "The Marines Strike Back" (6 pages), the United States decides to send in reinforcements and the marines are called in. The first story shows four guys named "Joe" in civilian life, a ballplayer, a farmer, a Broadway stage hoofer and an out-of-work ex GI, all called back to active Marine duty. Leaving behind their ballclub, their sweethearts, their farm and their mother, the four are glad to be back in action as "gyrenes" for Uncle Sam.

#A-544 Battlefront #2 (July/52) p.1

The second story appears to have certain panels assisted by Bob Forgione. "Mission Danger" (5 pages) tells the story of Monk Higgins, paired up with Marine Joe Pinelli the ballplayer. Monk is thrilled to be with his idol and does everything to impress the major leaguer, hoping to get a tryout with the big team back home after the war is over. Monk goes too far in his efforts to show off his eyesight, grenade-throwing arm and speed, ultimately getting picked off by a sniper when he disregards a call for being careful.

#A-546 Battlefront #2 (July/52) p.1

In "We'll Be Back!" (5 pages), It's April and the gyrenes are in retreat. Joe Adams (the farmer) and Joe Hoffman (the Broadway hoofer) are paired up. Adams allows a group of farmers pass, feeling sympathy for them in his kinship with their profession. The farmers turn to be Red  soldiers and Adams goes berserk with a killing frenzy knowing he had been fooled. After slaughtering them all he rallies the group to press on and "the charge" begins.

#A-545 Battlefront #2 (July/52) p.1

Finally, "The Charge!" (7 pages). It's September and the four guys named "Joe" lead the charge forward. From different civilian backgrounds, they hate each other, all they have in common is their first name and the fact they are all Marines. They hate their Sergeant, Joe Wicsowski, the career soldier, and their Sergeant hates them. So their Sergeant Joe takes them all on a risky recon mission. Joe Pinelli takes out a hidden Red sniper ... and goes down. Joe Hoffman next acts as a decoy for the rest to ambush the enemy.. and goes down. Joe Adams takes out a tank with a grenade.. and goes down. Only the Sergeant Joe Wicsowski, the career soldier, is left. Radioing back that the recon was a success and that all was clear, he takes a bullet from one last red, before killing the commie in return. He goes down. "The Charge" can now go on. For four guys named Joe, it is  ... The End.

#A-547 Battlefront #2 (July/52) p.1

Battlefront #3 (Aug/52):

Issue #3 continues the format of all-Robinson story art (inked by Bob Forgione) and again the 4 stories are linked as chapters in one long 23 page war journal, scripted again by Don Rico. This time the story is told through the eyes of a tank, "Spearhead - I am a tank and this is my story" (7 pages), a narrative technique (using inanimate objects of war or mundane military situations to build a story) utilized frequently by editor and frequent writer/artist Harvey Kurtzman in classic EC war stories (examples such as Jack Davis' "Mud" and "Jeep" in Two-Fisted Tales #25, Jan-Feb/52 and #27, May-June/52 respectively) mirrored back at Atlas by Don Rico here and Hank Chapman in stories like Chapman's "Chain of Command" in Battlefield #1 (Apr/52), Russ Heath's "The Monster!" in War Comics #9 (Apr/52), and even as late as the Kirby/Ditko masterpiece "A Tank Knows No Mercy!" in Battle #70 (June/60). It's no secret Stan Lee and scriptors Hank Chapman, Don Rico and others had their eye on what Kurtzman was doing at EC. They did it in the horror books (Suspense/Menace) and they did it in the war books.

The story opens up from the tank's point of view, during the run-up to the battle "Spearhead!" (7 pages). The tanks are pushing on and finally suffers a direct hit. On it's side, on fire, it wonders about her crew inside. From the outside, soldiers frantically try to get at the crew who must be dead by now... Chuck, the handsome one, Willie, the comedian, Jake, the scholar, Hickey and Peewee. Her crew. As the fire burns the story flashes back to her manufacture and commission. Her crew assigned to her and her early victories against the Red Communist hoards. And her latest assignment, the "spearhead"

#A-659 Battlefront #3 (Aug/52) p.1
Script: Don Rico

The second chapter, "Kill or be Killed" (6 pages) opens up as the convoy rolls along. In the midst of a tense bombardment Hickey, the ammo feeder, loses it and has to be relieved of his duties. Finally, to keep order, Willie has to sock him to shut him down. When he comes to, his comrades say he just hit his head and passed out, never telling him he had lost his cool and buckled under the stress. 

#A-660 Battlefront #3 (Aug/52) p.1
Script: Don Rico

#A-660 Battlefront #3 (Aug/52) p.6, panels 1-2

#A-660 Battlefront #3 (Aug/52) p.6, panel 5

Chapter 3 is the "Breaking Point" (5 pages), as the brass adds a top war hero, Lieut. Lawrence Blazer, to the crew. Hickey now has to do all he can not to break down in front of the hero as the Reds hit the convoy hard and frequently as Hickey breaks down again. The tank withstands all comers and Lieut Blazer feels for the kid. Then when on reconnaissance, the Lieut. takes Hickey with him and after being spotted by the enemy, runs out to draw their fire, getting hit in the process. Hickey goes berserk, firing at all comers until out of ammo and the danger past.

#A-661 Battlefront #3 (Aug/52) p.1
Script: Don Rico

#A-661 Battlefront #3 (Aug/52) p.4, panel 8

#A-661 Battlefront #3 (Aug/52) p.5, panels 7-9

Finally, the "Follow-Up" (5 pages). The tank is battered and creaking. The convoy rolls on, taking fire from small arms. The tank returns fire, decimating the enemy. The lead two tanks are crippled. Now "we're" in the lead. Then it appears... a Red T-34 Tank! A peer! It belches fire and we're hit! We take the enemy out in return but we're done for. 

And with that we're back up to the present. The tank is burning and her crew is feared done for. Then all of a sudden the hatch opens and and the crew is carried out alive. All of them!

#A-662 Battlefront #3 (Aug/52) p.1
Script: Don Rico

#A-662 Battlefront #3 (Aug/52) p.1
(original artwork)

#A-662 Battlefront #3 (Aug/52) p.5, panels 3-5

#A-662 Battlefront #3 (Aug/52) p.5, panels 6-7

Battlefront #4 (Sept/52):

With issue #4 Jerry Robinson takes one more step on this title, adding even the cover assignments! Battlefront #4 and #5 are both 100% Jerry Robinson art productions (with Bob Forgione), cover and interior 23 pages broken up into 4 interlocking stories.

Battlefront #4 (Sept/52)
Cover Art: Jerry Robinson

The strange thing about this 4 part story is that the job #'s are all out of order: A-806, A-807, A-805, A-804. How can you write the ending "Mopping Up!" first? 

So first up is "The Death-Trap of General Chung!" (6 pages). The author is unknown.

General Chung (taking over from a previous Red commander who committed suicide upon his failure to defeat the U.S. troops), plans to kidnap an American Colonel, hoping to spring a trap against the Americans who try to rescue him.

#A-806 Battlefront #4 (Sept/52) p.1

#A-806 Battlefront #4 (Sept/52) p.1
(original art)

Leading thousands of Red troops to their death as bait, Colonel James Rogers is "Captured by the Reds" (5 pages) and held for a what the Reds hope will be a rescue mission, one they can use to crush the allies.

#A-807 Battlefront #4 (Sept/52) p.1

The Allies respond on all fronts, fighting inch by inch. The Reds think they are victorious but then the Americans surprise them with an "Airborne Attack" (5 pages).

#A-805 Battlefront #4 (Sept/52) p.1

Forced to address his troops over the radio and tell them to retreat, Colonel Rogers instead tells them to fight on, knowing that to do so will mean a bullet from his captors:

#A-805 Battlefront #4 (Sept5/2) p.5 panel 6-7

And finally "Mopping Up!" (7 pages).

#A-804 Battlefront #4 (Sept/52) p.1

#A-804 Battlefront #4 (Sept/52) p.2

But Colonel Rogers wasn't dead after all! He's escaped and overpowered his captors, killing General Chung in the process.

#A-804 Battlefront #4 (Sept/52) p.6

#A-804 Battlefront #4 (Sept/52) p.7

Battlefront #5 (Oct/52):

Another "all-Robinson" issue (including the cover), and the final one. With issue #6 the experiment was deemed a failure and cancelled, the title reverting back to a generic anthology war title. I note the heavy art influence of Bob Forgione in this story.

Battlefront #5 (Oct/52)
Cover Art: Jerry Robinson

The story opens up with "Behind Red Lines" (6 pages). This could be Don Rico scripting but I have no real way of being certain. Tensions run high in the Fifth Regiment as Sergeant Evans, a tough as nails soldier, disobeys orders for the last time and is busted down to Private by Lieut. Harston, who Evans calls a "yes man". The uneasy couple is then sent out on a reconnaissance mission to determine the strength of the Red Captain Tsang's encampment and Evans spots a sniper who turns out to be....

#A-974 Battlefront #5 Oct/52) p.6 panels 6-8

"Suicide Mission" (5 pages)

#A-975 Battlefront #5 Oct/52) p.1

The women professes to be Meo, an American educated anti-communist Chinese spreading sabotage among the Reds. Uneasily, they take her into their confidence and she proves her worth by distracting a Red guard with her feminine wiles as the American soldiers take the distracted sentries out. Finally they approach Captain Tsang's encampment and the plan is for Meo to distract the Red soldiers again. But something goes wrong! Meo is talking to the Reds but nothing is happening.  Then all of a sudden they are surrounded and overpowered. They are brought to Meo...

#A-975 Battlefront #5 (Oct/52) p.5 panel 6-7

"The Decision" (5 pages)

#A-976 Battlefront #5 (Oct/52) p.1

Captain Meo Tsang and her small regiment has plans to take on the entire Fifth Regiment. During their captivity the soldiers insult her as a cold fish not worth of being a woman and she surprises Evans!

#A-976 Battlefront #5 (Oct/52) p.3 panels 7-8

The plan is to string them up and use them as decoys!

#A-976 Battlefront #5 (Oct/52) p.5 panels 6-8

"Breakthrough" (7 pages). Oh boy! Love those 1950's cultural mindsets. No Red dame can resist blue-blooded American machismo!  Here's the entire story to get the full effect!

#A-977 Battlefront #5 (Oct/52) p.1

#A-977 Battlefront #5 (Oct/52) p.2

#A-977 Battlefront #5 (Oct/52) p.3

#A-977 Battlefront #5 (Oct/52) p.4

#A-977 Battlefront #5 (Oct/52) p.5

#A-977 Battlefront #5 (Oct/52) p.6

#A-977 Battlefront #5 (Oct/52) p.7

And if anyone wants to see what exactly a Bob Forgione panel looks like, it's this one!

#A-977 Battlefront #5 (Oct/52) p.7, panel 5

With the discontinuation of book-length war stories, Jerry Robinson is given a turn on the war character Battle Brady. Battle Brady was created by Hank Chapman and Joe Maneely as an on-going war character feature in Battle Action #5 (Oct/52), joining Combat Kelly and Combat Casey (first in War Combat #5 and then in his own title with #6) as Korean War fiction characters.

Maneely would frequently be used to launch new Atlas character features (in the same way Jack Kirby would in the 1960's) and then turn over the reigns to other artists. In this case, the feature was immediately turned over to Jerry Robinson for a single issue, drawing the cover plus 2 Battle Brady stories in Battle Action #6 (Nov/52), whereby the feature was then handed to the Syd Shores studio of Shores, Norman Steinberg and Mort Lawrence, who produced the rest of the character's 36 total appearances in Battle Action, Battlefront, 3-D Action, War Comics, Combat Kelly and his own title Battle Brady. The War Comics and Combat Kelly appearances were inventory.

So here's Battle Action #6 (Nov/52), the cover and the untitled Battle Brady stories #B-281 and #B-2?? (the printing is awful - I can't read the number!) scripted by Hank Chapman. Both stories are 5 pages long and both have Bob Forgione in them. Both are also unspectacular. This cover was probably also rendered additionally by Carl Burgos (in his role as cover editor) as all the hay-like shadings on arms and faces are his trademark.

Battle Action #6 (Nov/52)
Cover art by Jerry Robinson

#B-281 Battle Action #6 (Nov/52) p.1
Script: Hank Chapman

#B-2?? Battle Action #6 (Nov/52) p.1
Script: Hank Chapman

We end with one final pair of generic Korean War stories. "Don't Stop!" (5 pages) in Battle Action #7 (Dec/52) was scripted by Paul S. Newman.

#B-531 Battle Action #7 (Dec/52) p.1
Script: Paul S. Newman

The last Jerry Robinson war story was "Army Policy!" (5 pages) in War Comics #15 (Jan/53), the only Robinson war story with a 1953 cover date. The rest of 1953 would be filled with Religious, Romance, Horror/Fantasy and a single crime story (all detailed above). The author is unknown.

#B-534 War Comics #15 (Jan/53) p.1

And here are the rest of the War covers Jerry Robinson drew where he didn't have stories inside:

Combat #6 (Nov/52)
Cover art by Jerry Robinson

Men In Action #8 (Nov/52)
Cover art by Jerry Robinson

War Adventures #10 (Nov/52)
Cover art by Jerry Robinson

War Comics #13  (Nov/52)
Cover art by Jerry Robinson

Young Men #18 (Dec/52)
Cover art by Jerry Robinson

Men's Adventures #19 (Mar/53)
Cover art by Jerry Robinson

That sums up Jerry Robinson's fairly extensive career for Stan Lee at Timely/Atlas. Some of the work is superlative and extremely well crafted, others are pedestrian. A lot of it was turned out by Robinson's studio and included contributions by other hands including Bob Forgione and Jack Abel. Except for a short stint at Western in the early 1960's, this was Robinson's last hurrah in comic books, punctuating one of the finest careers the medium has ever known. A career now sadly missed.

 Sources & Footnotes:

All comic book covers and story scans above were taken from my own collection, except :

  • #8674 Marvel Tales #103 (Oct/51) p.2 (original art), from Heritage Auctions
  • #8567 Man Comics #10 (Oct/51) p.1 (original art), from Jerry Robinson estate
  • #9113 Justice Comics #25 (Jan/52) p.1(original art), from Jerry Robinson estate
  • #A-362 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.5 (original art), from Jerry Robinson estate
  • #A-364 Battlefront #1 (June/52) p.1 (original art), from Jerry Robinson estate
  • #A-662 Battlefront #3 (Aug/52) p.1 (original art), from Jerry Robinson estate
  • #A-806 Battlefront #4 (Sept/52) p.1 (original art), from Jerry Robinson estate
  • #B-988 Strange Tales #17 (Apr/53), from Atlas Era Strange Tales Vol 2
  • #C-468 Journey Into Mystery #9 (June/53), from Atlas Era Journey Into Mystery Vol 1
  • #C-522 Journey Into Mystery #10 (July/53), from Atlas Era Journey Into Mystery Vol 1
  • 6/5/66 Flubs & Fluffs Sunday strip original art, from Heritage Auctions 
  • #J-470 Gunsmoke Western #35 (June/56), from my friend, collector and historian Dusty Miller

The non-Heritage original artwork above from the Jerry Robinson estate was originally published in Jerry Robinson - Ambassador of Comics, by N.C. Christopher Couch, published by Abrams in 2010.

Script credits above for Carl Wessler and Paul S. Newman were sourced from the writers' actual work records obtained through the generosity of Robin Snyder.

Script credits for Stan Lee, Don Rico and Hank Chapman were credited on the actual story splashes in the printed comic books.

Special thanks to Mike Feldman for pointing out that I somehow missed the #13 signed Robinson story in Crime Cases Comics #9 (Jan/52). Mike saved me the trouble of scanning my book by providing the scans above.

  1. Couch, N.C. Christopher, Jerry Robinson - Ambassador of Comics; Abrams, 2010
  2. Vassallo, Dr. Michael J., The History of Atlas War Comics, Atlas Era Battlefield Masterworks (introduction), Marvel Entertainment, LLC, 2011
  3. Bell, Blake. Strange and Stranger - The World of Steve Ditko, Fantagraphics Books, 2008
  4. Amash, Jim. You Don't Know if You Can Do Something Unless You Try It!, Alter Ego Magazine, August, 2004, TwoMorrows