Such evolution does have precedence, although in title only, not character. Entertaining Comics' title Moon Girl went through a similar, if not as extensive a morphological change during its run. Starting cover date Fall/47, Moon Girl and the Prince #1 changed to Moon Girl for the next 5 issues, although all 6 issues featured the same character and storylines. With issue #7 (May-June/49) and #8 (Summer/49) the title changed to Moon Girl Fights Crime, reflecting the crime genre wave engulfing the newsstands. #7 featured Moon Girl in all the stories against a slew of more pedestrian underworld "crime" types. #8 featured Moon Girl in the lead story only and the rest were straight pre-code crime stories (not unlike Captain America's Weird Tales #74's Cap lead and 3 pre-code horror back-up stories). The final four issues of #9-#12 morphed even further, changing to a straight romance comic titled A Moon, A Girl ... Romance, with the only vestiges of Moon Girl now left as singular, non-connected words in the title only! At least Venus was the consistent star throughout all of her 19 issues!
This fact has a second Timely connection no one realizes as the very first book published by Ogden Nash in 1925, the children’s book “The Cricket of Carador”, (co-written with Joseph Alger) was illustrated (and featured cover art) by none other than Timely staff artist Christopher Rule!
|Christopher Rule cover and interior art|
|VENUS #1 (Aug/48)|
|Venus #1 (Aug/48) p.1 splash|
| GIRL CONFESSIONS #25 (Apr53) |
p.3, panel 3 -(George Klein)
|Venus #1, story 2 p.1|
|Venus #2 (Oct/48)|
|I guess we'd call this a "spanking panel"|
|Venus #3 (Dec/48)|
|Timely anti-censorship editorial #1 (Nov & Dec, 1948 Timely issues)|
|Venus #4 (Apr/49)|
|Venus #5 (June/49)|
|p.17, panel 5 (Joe Maneely????)|
- [Job number anomalies of Maneely splash pages with very early job numbers, predating "The Kansas Massacre of 1864" in Western Outlaws and Sheriffs #60 (Dec/49), are due to Maneely drawing new splashes in early 1950 on older job-numbered inventoried stories from 2 or even 3 years back. ]
|Venus #6 (Aug/49)|
Here are two Valerie Barclay inked panels from this story:
Researching Joe Maneely’s career extensively for a book I'm writing, and after accounting for nearly all the work he did “before” his alleged arrival at Timely in late 1949, I was puzzled by the huge gaps in his 1949 output, both while still contributing minimally to Street & Smith in the early part of the year before they closed down in April, and his entry at Timely on minor features in later 1949. Where was he? I still don't know, but if this Maneely-esque guy is Maneely after all, I suppose that starts to fill in some gaps and he could have contributed to Timely in 1949 more than I ever realized. Yet this is still all speculation and I'm truly not positive on this. A closer look around many of the other titles in the schedule may reveal more, but look below at these panels from this story:
|Venus #6 , p.5, panel 6|
The man on the left stirs the Maneely radar in me...
|Venus #6 , p.6, panel 5|
And even more so this other man on the left.....
|Venus #6 , p.15, panel 5|
|My Love #4 (Apr/50) (splash)|
|My Love #4 (Apr/50) (splash)|
Some early Street & Smith panels....
|Top Secrets #5 (Sept-Oct48) p.2|
|RED DRAGON #3 (May48) p.4|
|Venus #7 (Nov/49)|
The cover date of November 1949 also puts this issue right in the middle of that startling entity known as the "Timely Romance Glut," the largest subset of the greater, "Industry-Wide Love Glut." There were exactly 22 Timely romance titles being published at this exact month with 8 more to be added by January 1950.
Here are some samples of possible pitched-in hands.....
Below on the left is page 10. Below in the right is panel 3, with a Christopher Rule Venus face/head.
Below on the left is page 14. Below on the right is panel 3, with what looks like an Ed Winiarski man's head.
The back-up is a 6-page romance story about love and deception that I enjoyed a great deal (the romantic that I am!). I didn’t even see the telegraphed ending, although in hindsight it was obvious. (The “blind” romantic that I am!). The art is unknown and I’m tempted to wonder if this is Nina Albright but Albright is better than this. So I don't know.
VENUS #8 (Feb/50):
My guess on the cover to issue #8 is that this may be (and likely is) by Peter Driben, a well-known industry pulp and pin-up artist that Martin Goodman used quite often on his crime magazines, 1942-1945 crime digest paperbacks, painted comic book covers in 1949-50, and girlie-related humor publications, both bedsheet and digest types in format. Driben is probably best known for being the main cover artist for Robert Harrison's notorious string of girlie magazines Beauty Parade, Eyeful, Titter, Wink, Whisper and Flirt.
Here he is on the cover of Martin Goodman's longest-running true-crime magazine, Amazing Detective Cases. The poses are nearly identical. From cover date November 1941 to November 1942, Goodman used painted covers 11 times across 3 different titles. Other cover artists used were Norman Saunders and Cardwell Higgins.
|Amazing Detective Cases Vol 1, #8 (Dec/41) - Peter Driben cover art|
Issue #8 is basically a 17 page, three chapter romance story that happens to feature Venus and Whitney Hammond. We get away from mythological trappings this issue (except for a quick Jupiter appearance) and the romance influence is the strongest of any Venus story. I think I see Werner Roth in this story and the inking reminds me of Morris Weiss’ romance work. If Roth is here, it lays claim to being his earliest work for Timely/Atlas/Marvel. (He certainly is in the next issue, #9). The splash reminds me of Paul Reinman but I believe that may be just a coincidence.
Venus embarks on a quest to find the long lost boyfriend of a young woman who writes Beauty Magazine asking for help. This leads to a convoluted plot where Venus finds the boyfriend, he falls in love with her and then Whitney gets jealous (with Della’s help, naturally). The boyfriend is finally reunited with his now stricken and bedridden ex, but he just doesn't love her, that is not until Venus enters her body, with her charm causing him to fall in love once and for all.
VENUS #9 (May/50):
I cannot make out any cover artist on issue #9, a great fantasy scene taken from the climax of the story inside. The woman has the air of Christopher Rule about her, but this is just a feeling. It's actually a great little fantasy cover as Venus is pulled between the despicable machinations of Loki and her earth-bound love interest Whitney Hammond.
Two Venus stories and two romance tales fill this tome. Werner Roth takes the first chapter of this lead 19 page story as Della recaps Venus’ origin from issue #1 and contemplates how she can swindle Whitney Hammond away from her. That's Werner Roth's Venus in the splash panel! Whoever was involved with assembling this issue really had problems with story titles! The cover gives this story's title as "Whom the Gods Destroy!" The splash of chapter one gives the title as "The Man She Dared Not Love!" and the actual title of chapter one is "A Pact With The Devil!". So what is going on here??? What is the title of this story???
Meanwhile, Beauty Magazine staff artist Marvin Klee enters and professes his love for Della, trying to serenade her with a god-awful tune from his piccolo. This is an obvious parody of Stan Lee himself, who was well-known to annoy workers at Timely with tunes on his recorder!
Back on the “planet” Venus (yes,
Mike Sekowsky seems to take a partial role in chapter two at the beginning. See that man looking at you in panel one? That was penciled by Mike Sekowsky.
Werner Roth returns in chapter 3. Loki makes another appearance as he plots the downfall of
A short 3-page romance story is next. The splash looks like a new Mike Sekowsky add-on and the story seems a jumble of stiff, unidentifiable panels and pages (although naggingly familiar from a Timely perspective).
A second romance story of 6 pages ends the book, this time by Maurice Del Bourgo, who can also be found drawing a romance story in Loveland #1 (Nov/49).
|#6381 Venus #9 (May/50) p.1 - Maurice Del Bourgo art|
The romance text story has illustrations by a woman signing her name “Joan”. Joan appears in 6 other romance issues in 1950 and I always wondered if this could be Editor Stan Lee’s wife, Joan? Another guess by Hames Ware is Joan Wenzel, the sister-in-law of artist Al Wenzel, known to have done some romance work for Lev Gleason in 1950. The mystery persists...
A beautiful full page house ad for Venus appears near the end of this issue. And as will be seen below following this ad, Timely was really pushing Venus internally, as house ads appeared throughout the girl's line of comic/magazines (Miss America & Junior Miss), touting the lovely "Goddess of Love". Venus was definitely targeting the young teen-age girl reader.
|House ad - VENUS #9 (May/50)|
Here is a collection of other house ads featuring "The Goddess of Love":
|House ad :|
MISS AMERICA Vol 7, #12 (July/48)MISS AMERICA Vol 7, #13 (Aug/48)
|House ad - MISS AMERICA Vol 7, #23 (June/49)|
|House ad - JUNIOR MISS #35 (July/49)|
|House ad - MISS AMERICA Vol 7, #27 (Oct/49)|
|House ad MISS AMERICA Vol 7, #31 (Feb/50)|
With the end of issue #9 Venus will change genres next issue as a harder fantasy slant takes over. Needless to say, the very, very best is yet to come!
- All Venus cover scans, Venus house ads, EC cover scans, Goodman magazine scans, Timely & 'Street and Smith' non-Venus panel, and Ogden Nash's book scans, come from the author's collection.
- All interior Venus story scans come from the Venus Masterworks volume. No sense further risking damage to my own books!
- Credits were a compilation of Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr., Hames Ware and myself, with the final voicings done by yours truly.
|Venus and Della from VENUS #5|
|Western Life Romances #2 (Mar/50)|
|Girl Comics #3 (Apr/50)|
|True Adventures #3 (May/50)|
|Whip Wilson #9 (Apr/50)|
|Whip Wilson #9 (Apr/50)|