Thursday, June 6, 2019

75th Anniversary of D-Day : 3 Atlas War Stories




Today, June 6, 2019, is the 75th anniversary of the most critical juncture of the Second World War, "Operation Overlord," the Allied amphibian assault of 160,000 troops on the beaches at Normandy, France. Facing withering, dug-in Nazi opposition, 10,000 Allied casualties paved the way to turning the tide of war and liberating Europe from the dark half-decade grip of Fascism. On this solemn day, with the average age of a World War II veteran approaching 93, we salute their heroic sacrifice and thank them for their service from the bottom of our hearts.

Six years ago on this blog, I wrote a long, detailed history of Atlas war comics HERE.  What jump-started the genre in 1950 was not the Second World War, but the Korean conflict. As the industry dove into war comics, Atlas took it to the extreme, promulgating scores of titles across the newsstands, titles written and drawn by veterans of WWII, giving the stories a riveting, often first-hand intensity. 

Today, I simply want to present three stories dealing with D-Day

1) The first below, titled simply, "D-Day", appeared in the prime pre-code years of the genre, published in WAR COMICS #19 (May/53), and illustrated by Joe Certa, a veteran artist who got his start in 1946 working in the Lloyd Jacquet shop. Certa would work all over the industry eventually doing his most notable work at D.C., including the Martian Manhunter.

The story is a condensation of the events of the day, told from both Allied and German perspectives, with a bit of corny Nazi dialogue thrown in. The writer is unknown.











2) The second story in WAR COMICS #43 (Sept/56) is fronted by a D-Day cover rendered by Carl Burgos, one of the most prolific Atlas cover artists of the post-code period. In fact, Burgos had an unofficial title as "cover editor". His covers are usually quite stark and moody.

The story is titled "Decision on D-Day" and the artist is the great Mort Drucker, a future giant of the DC Big 5 war titles and master caricaturist for Mad Magazine. Drucker drew around 65 stories for Atlas from 1954 up to the Atlas Implosion in the Spring of 1957, 23 of them were War stories. Although handcuffed by bland post-code content restrictions, the story of a tank's survival told from her crew's perspective, Drucker was nevertheless able to provide exciting visuals, quick-cutting the action across small panels. A very neat little story.












3) Our third and final story appears in a Post-Implosion issue of BATTLE, #60 (Oct/58). By post-implosion, I mean a title that survived the wave of cancellations caused by publisher Martin Goodman's distribution fiasco. In the War comics genre, from 15 titles running in early 1957, only 3 survived the Implosion, and all three (Battle, Marines in Battle and Navy Combat) published nothing but inventory for the next year. By 1959 only Battle remained and began publishing new stories, including art by Jack Kirby, starting cover date June.

"D-Day Minus 1" was drawn by Johnny Craig, one of the former titans of the EC line, now out of work and freelancing for Stan Lee on a tiny handful of stories. And when I say handful, I mean handful. I count only two stories by Craig, both published in the post-implosion period, inventory fillers from the time of the Atlas implosion.

After a colorful, early-morning splash panel, the plot of the story shows the day-before preparation of the troops leading up to D-Day itself. The writer is unknown.









Epilogue:


I want to finish away from Timely/Atlas with the greatest D-Day comic image ever put to paper, the quintessential war cover by the greatest creator the field ever had, Jack Kirby's FOXHOLE #1 (Oct/54), published by Mainline. The horrors of war are juxtaposed against the irony of the human condition in a way only a master could compose. Kirby based the image on the painting "High Visibility Wrap" by Joseph Hirsch, published in the book Men Without Guns (The Blakeston Company, 1945).


The painting got even more mileage in 1951 when Martin Goodman put it on the cover of his men's magazine STAG (2nd version) Volume 2, #1 (June).





Epilogue #2: 


I came across this brand new book last week. It's part of a series of illustrated history comic books on the second world war. Written by Jay Wertz and drawn by Sean Carlson, it's really a tour-de-force in visually depicting the subject matter. The narrative is compelling and the artwork gorgeous. I recommend it highly and will try to acquire the other volumes concerning other campaigns. From the inside front cover, "Pearl Harbor," "Bataan," "Midway," and "Guadalcanal" are all available. I'm going to look for all of them! Their website is www.worldwariicomix.com





A 2-page centerfold spread will give you an idea of how beautifully rendered this series is....




Bibliography:

  1. War Comics #19 (May/53), "D-Day" (6 pages), art by Joe Certa
  2. War Comics #43 (Sept/56), "Decision on D-Day" (5 pages), art by Mort Drucker
  3. War Comics #43 (Sept/56, cover art by Carl Burgos.
  4. Battle #60 (Oct/58), "D-Day Minus 1" (5 pages), art by Johnny Craig
  5. Foxhole #1 (Oct/54), cover art by Jack Kirby
  6. Stag Vol 2, #1 (June/51), cover painting by Joseph Hirsch
  7. D-Day (2019), World War II Comics 



Saturday, May 4, 2019

OT : Tales from the New York Daily News Sunday Comics (#6) : Happy 100th Anniversary to HAROLD TEEN by Carl Ed!




Happy 100th anniversary to the third comic strip to ever appear in the New York Daily News, Carl Ed's HAROLD TEEN!

The strip made its debut 100 years ago today, May 4, 1919 in the pages of the Patterson family owned Chicago Tribune (run by News publisher Joseph Medill Patterson's cousin, Robert R. McCormick) and joined Patterson's New York Illustrated Daily News on June 26th as a daily feature. From there it became one of the most influential strips ever on the popular culture of the roaring twenties.

The best portrayal of the feature's origins comes from author John Chapman, whose seminal "Tell it to Sweeney - The Informal History of the New York Daily News" recounts the trials and tribulations of the first 40 years of the country's first and most successful tabloid newspaper........


"The third comic in the News was "Harold Teen," drawn by Carl Ed - Carl Frank Ludwig Ed, who pronounces his last name Ead. No other strip hd so wide an influence on the language, dress, and antics of American children.

Ed was born in Moline, Illinois, in 1880 and attended Augustana College at Rock Island, Illinois. He spent his early newspaper years on the editorial staff of the Rock Island Argus and was city editor when he resigned in 1917. In 1918 he went to the Chicago Evening American as a sports cartoonist. The same year he transferred to the Chicago Tribune and in 1919 he began "Harold Teen" as a daily and Sunday feature.

The comic made its debut in the News daily only, for there was no Sunday News. The News dropped "Harold Teen" in 1953 - for teen-agers had become a different breed of cat. During the 1920's, Harold Teen and his companions, including Shadow, either introduced or popularized such youthful phenomena as bell-bottom trousers, exaggerated plus fours, marked-up tin Lizzies, autographed sweat shirts, illustrated raincoats, broad-toed shoes, and the gedunk sundae, which was two scoops of ice cream in a glass of chocolate, to be taken with a bib. Teen's phraseology swept the land - "Fan mah brow!" "pantywaist," "lollypopsie," and "big hunk of stuff" being samples."


Now for the sake of accuracy, my research has revealed that HAROLD TEEN actually was dropped by The News in 1950, replaced with Dan Spiegle's HOPALONG CASSIDY, but sporadically appeared in 1950-51 coinciding with the expansion of the Sunday News "Country" Edition of the paper on September 17, 1950.

From the July 29, 1950 issue of EDITOR & PUBLISHER:

"In a bid for more pre-date sales, the New York Sunday News will add eight extra comic pages Sept. 17 for circulation outside the metropolitan area, Executive Editor Richard W. Clarke disclosed. The move will provide a minimum of a 24-page comic section for the country edition."

"The additional pages will include four Chicago Tribune - New York News Syndicate strips: "Timmy," by Howard Sparber, "Aggie Mack" by Hal Rasmusson, "Texas Slim" by Ferd Johnson; and "Harold Teen" by Carl Ed. The News had dropped "Harold Teen" to make room for the "Hopalong Cassidy," Loa Angeles Mirror Enterprises comic. Two pages are being drawn especially for the expanded section: "Laughing Matter" by Salo, who does the daily panel for the syndicate; and "Rufus," new dog page by Jeff Keate."

The Salo mentioned above was cartoonist Roth Salo. The expanded Part 2 section looked like this......




I own a complete, unread, near-mint country edition collection of 1951 Sunday sections and I can report that the experiment appears to have been dropped following the January 14, 1951 section, leading to what I believe is the very last appearance of HAROLD TEEN in the New York Sunday News comics. The strip did carry on elsewhere until it petered out on November 18, 1959.

Allan Holtz reports additional facts in his indispensable tome American Newspaper Comics....... 

Running Dates: May 4, 1919 to November 18, 1959
Creator: Carl Ed
Syndicates: Chicago Tribune, Chicago Tribune - New York News Syndicate
Notes: Sunday started first, followed by Daily on 9/25/19.

Jeffrey Lindenblatt reports that an extra daily ran in the NY Daily News in their Sunday edition 5/1/21 - 4/16/22, 7/16/22 - 2/18/23. It is unknown if they were "new" dailies created for the News, or recycled.

Bob York assisted in the early 1930's
Rick Fletcher reports he was an assistant sometime before 1950.
Alberto Becattini cites Bill Perry as an assistant on the strip (confirmed by John Chapman in "Tell it to Sweeney", p.152)

Carl Ed's obituary states the last strip would be published on 11/18/59 but nothing has been found past 9/26/59.

I currently have scanned in my files 79 samples of Carl Ed's HAROLD TEEN Sundays and 7 dailies which spans the years 1919, 1924-1951 in the NY Sunday News comics. I will present this below and keep the archive open as I continue to scan and add samples ongoing. The debut Sunday below from May 4, 1919, is from the Chicago Tribune and courtesy of my pal John Wells.

***  (I also have two samples of Carl Ed's short-running topper strip JOSIE, that rarely ever ran in the NY Sunday News comics. In fact, I've only seen 2 examples "ever", one in the News, one in the Chicago Tribune. On both occasions, it ran as a separate strip on another page.One sample of an even scarcer topper is also below, THE ABSENT-MINDED PROFESSOR, dated October 29, 1933, and right under that week's Harold Teen Sunday) ***


May 4, 1919



April 20, 1924







May 4, 1924








May 18, 1924








May 25, 1924





October 29, 1933



March 11, 1934




February 3, 1935



March 3, 1935



May 5, 1935



May 26, 1935



June 23, 1935



July 28, 1935



August 4, 1935



December 8, 1935



December 15, 1935



September 20, 1936



October 18, 1936



January 3, 1937




February 7, 1937



March 14, 1937



March 21, 1937





April 4, 1937





May 9, 1937




June 6, 1937




September 5, 1937



December 11, 1938



December 18, 1938



January 1, 1939



April 9, 1939



May 28, 1939



July 23, 1939



January 14, 1940



January 21, 1940



January 28, 1940




June 26 1940




June 22, 1941



November 23, 1941




December 7, 1941







March 13, 1942




August 21, 1942





October 21, 1942




December 5, 1942





January 23, 1943



September 26, 1943



December 5, 1943



January 23, 1944



February 6, 1944



February 27, 1944



April 16, 1944



January 28, 1945



August 15, 1945



October 14, 1945



December 16, 1945



March 17, 1946



May 12, 1946



July 21, 1946



August 25, 1946



September 19, 1946



October 20, 1946




April 13, 1947



May 18, 1947



November 23, 1947



October 10, 1948



October 17, 1948



October 24, 1948



November 7, 1948



November 28, 1948



December 5, 1948



December 12, 1948



January 9, 1949



January 16, 1949



February 6, 1949



February 20, 1949



March 6, 1949



March 13, 1949



March 20, 1949



March 27, 1949



September 4, 1949



September 11, 1949



October 16, 1949



October 23, 1949




October 30, 1949



November 13, 1949



November 20, 1949



December 17, 1950



January 7, 1951



January 14, 1951




Josie topper running as a separate feature:

August 21, 1938 (Chicago Tribune)



January 1, 1939




SOURCES:

  1. The Vassallo collection of The New York Sunday News comics sections spanning 1924-present.
  2. Chapman, John; Tell it to Sweeney (1961), Doubleday & Company, Inc.
  3. Editor & Publisher, July 19, 1950
  4. Holtz, Allan; American Newspaper Comics (2014), University of Michigan Press