Sunday, August 15, 2021

Sy Grudko - The Timely/Atlas Years


In my last blog post HERE, I uploaded my long-lost interview with artist Sy Grudko. Sy came to my attention in the early 1990's simply because he was so obscure, having done only a handful of Atlas stories in the early 1950's, then seemingly vanishing without a trace. One of Sy's startling revelations to me was the fact that he actually started at Timely in 1947, something I did not even suspect. As Sy related, his first assignment was a 2-page Human Torch filler that I've determined was published in Human Torch Comics #32 (Sept/48). This filler was penciled and inked by Sy, and I've further spotted George Klein as a background artist.


Sy went on to say his only other memory of his Timely staff tenure of 1947-49 was crime comics, and only as a penciler. Looking at a timelining of the Timely crime comics, That leaves only 5 real possibilities to find his work. Timely's crime debut occurred nearly simultaneously with the publication of Official True Crime Cases (which changed to All-True Crime after 2 issues) and Justice Comics, both cover dated Fall/47. In 1948 came CrimefightersLawbreakers Always Lose, a single issue of Crime Exposed, and the book-length Complete Mystery, which changed to True Complete Mystery

Lets parse this further. What issues of each fall into the time frame of having been drawn in 1948 and 1949?

  • Official True Crime Cases / All True Crime - issues #26-36 
  • Justice Comics - issues  #4-14   
  • Crimefighters - #1-10
  • Crime Exposed #1 (one-shot)     
  • Lawbreakers Always Lose - #1-10  
  • Complete Mystery / True Complete Mystery - #5-8 (we can remove #1-4 book-length issues) 
We can also thrown out Casey Crime Photographer #1-4, the 2 crime issues of Amazing Mysteries #34-35 and the first 2 crime issues of Suspense #1-2. Add further that Sy was only penciling and an inker would further water down an already rudimentary style, making good, predictable IDs difficult. But let's try anyway!

Comparing my records with that of Jim V. Jr, Jim came up with 7 possibilities, 6 in Justice Comics, 1 in the Crime Exposed one-shot. I looked over every single one of them and nearly all pre-date the job # of the Human Torch filler, #3379. Jim's guesses also pre-dated the revelation from Sy himself. Additionally, nothing in any of the 7 stories give even a hint of Sy's work to me, as they are all heavily inked by inkers I recognize. One story I even see Gene Colan in panels. So it's a complete wash out. One day I will re-visit the Timely crime comics and do a deep re-index of all the stories, looking for IDs missed decades ago. But not now.

Following the firing of the Timely staff at the end of 1949, Sy went elsewhere, returning to freelance 14 additional stories between the end of 1951 (published in 1952) and 1954 (published in 1955).


(1952- 1955)


  1. #9617 STRANGE TALES #6 (Apr/52) “The Eyes of March!” (4p.)
  2. #9790 ASTONISHING #11 (Spring/52) “Reign of Terror” (4p.)
  3. #9947 ASTONISHING #12 (Apr/52) “Horror Show!” (4p.)
  4. #A-123 BATTLE #9 (June/52) “The Road Back!" (4p.)
  5. #A-128 SPORTS ACTION #12 (May/52) “A Letter for Lenny” (5p.)
  6. #A-409 SPORTS ACTION #13 (July/52) “Too Hot to Handle” (6p.)
  7. #A-417 ASTONISHING #15 (July/52) “The Skeleton” (5p.)
  8. #A-549 WAR ACTION #4 (July/52) “Breaking Point!” (6p.)
  9. #A-756 BATTLE #12 (Sept/52) “Don’t Shoot!” (5p.)
  10. #B-118 SUSPENSE #23 (Oct/52) “The Man in Black” (5p.)
  11. #D-927 UNCANNY TALES #19 (Apr/54) “Timber!” (4p.)
  12. #E-083 ADVENTURES INTO TERROR #30 (Apr/54) “Don’t Nod” (4p.)
  13. #E-179 ARROWHEAD #1 (Apr/54) “Sequoya” (5p.)
  14. #F-443 WILD WESTERN #41 (Feb/55) Two-Gun Kid: “Desert Destiny!”(5p.)

The stories break down genre-wise to....

  • Pre-Code Horror - 7 stories
  • War - 3 stories
  • Sports - 2 stories
  • Western - 2 stories

#1) #9617 Strange Tales #6 (Apr/52) “The Eyes of March!” (4p.) [w-Carl Wessler]

#2) #9790 Astonishing #11 (Spring/52) “Reign of Terror” (4p.)

#3) #9947 Astonishing #12 (Apr/52) “Horror Show!” ( p.)

#4) #A-123 Battle #9 (June/52) “The Road Back!" (4p.)

#5) #A-128 Sports Action #12 (May/52) “A Letter for Lenny” (5p.)

#6) #A-409 Sports Action #13 (July/52) “Too Hot to Handle” (6p.)

#7) #A-417 Astonishing #15 (July/52) “The Skeleton” (5p.)

#8) #A-549 War Action #4 (July/52) “Breaking Point!” (6p.)

#9) #A-756 Battle #12 (Sept/52) “Don’t Shoot!” (5p.)

#10) #B-118 Suspense #23 (Oct/52) “The Man in Black” (5p.)

#11) #D-927 Uncanny Tales #19 (Apr/54) “Timber!” (4p.)

#12) #E-083 Adventures Into Terror #30 (Apr/54) “Don’t Nod” (4p.)

#13) #E-179 Arrowhead #1 (Apr/54) “Sequoya” (5p.)

Excellent work with a beautiful splash page.

#14) #F-443 Wild Western #41 (Feb/55) Two-Gun Kid: “Desert Destiny!”(5p.)

After the magnificent job done on "Sequoya", Sy was given a Two-Gun Kid script, which ended up being the final work he did for Stan Lee.


  1. I love that period. Thanks for putting the images up.

  2. Michael,
    I'm so grateful to you for bringing my father's work to light.
    Thank you!

    1. You're very welcome, Diane! I just wish I'd been able to know your dad better. He seemed like a fascinating guy.

  3. Michael, my sister sent me the links to your posts. I also want to send my thanks for your exhaustive research.

    1. Jeff, you are very welcome. I'm glad to be able to do it!

  4. My Grandpa was truly an amazing man! Thank you for this!I loved reading it!