Saturday, March 5, 2011

Help with Bill Everett credits on Heroic Comics

(The newspaper headline for this story should be "Do you see any Everett in this Music Master story from Heroic Comics #13, but here's some context first...) Ahh, the fun one has when putting together a book about comic artwork from the 1930/40s when credits were nowhere near as meticulous as they are today...and, sometimes, many artists could contribute to a particular story, clouding the credits even more. This is mostly owing to the "Shop" mentality in the Golden Age of Comics. "Funnies Inc." was the Lloyd Jacquet shop, featuring numerous artists like Bill Everett, that packaged comics for publishers. Sometimes, even when an artist signed his name to a story, there was no guarantee that it wouldn't pass through other hands to finish up the pencils on backgrounds or when it needed the inks finished to rush it out the door. These people had no time or inclination to care about history, that we'd be looking at these books 70+ years later with such an eagle eye.

The two volumes of The Bill Everett Archives that I'm putting together are relatively straightforward in presenting Everett as Everett. Luckily, we have a great resource like the Grand Comics Database that lists credits in detail for almost every comic you can plug into the search engine.

Everett's work on the Hydroman character is amongst his best of the era and it can be found in Heroic Comics. Starting with issue 1, Everett did all the work up to issue #9, but then his involvement gets a bit hazy. The covers stop being signed by Everett after #6, but #7 -  - looks clearly like Everett, #8 and #9, though, not clearly so much. The Hydroman looks like Everett, but the Man O' Metal character looks like two different artists drew him each time. The GCD lists H.G. Peter as the cover artist and Stephen A. Douglas (S.A.D.) is listed as the creator of Man O' Metal. Anyone want to take a guess at this?

Issue #10 is not signed by Everett (for the first time on the run). The GCD listing, however, credits it as being signed by Ben Thompson and while I don't disagree that this looks like Thompson (perhaps with some assists by Everett, or Everett inking/touching up?), if you'd like to take a look, you can click here to go to the page on the Golden Age Comics public domain downloading site and take a look for yourself. Thoughts?

Issue #11 of Heroic Comics has a cover signed by "S.A.D." (for Stephen A. Douglas, a Golden Age editor at Eastern Color, who published Heroic Comics), even though the GCD listing says it's by Everett. The GCD listing also credits the Hydroman story to Everett, even though in the first panel, it says "by Ben Thompson." Ben doesn't do a bad Bill Everett in some panels and you can click here to download issue #11 to take a look. Thoughts? Any Everett here?

Issue #12 (May '42) has no Everett on Hydroman (again, the GCD listing has Everett doing the script, pencils and inks for Hydroman, even though "By Ben Thompson" is above the masthead, but this is the first appearance of The Music Master. The splash panel says the character was "Created by Stephen A. Douglas". Here's the cover to #12. Thoughts from anyone on whether this is pure Everett, some Everett, no Everett? Who else?

Issue #13 is where it goes off the beam. The cover date of May '42 for issue 12 is the same cover date of Marvel Mystery Comics #31, Bill's last work on the Sub-Mariner before he goes off to War. Again, the GCD listing has Everett doing the script, pencils and inks for Hydroman, even though "By Ben Thompson" is above (can't see a whit of Everett here). But it's the Music Master story here that is interesting. There are elements of Everett, some panels that definitely look like Everett (page 3, panel 1), some inking that looks similar to Everett, but there's clearly somebody else at play here, but who? Stephen A Douglas? I don't (the world doesn't?) have enough of his work to know the difference.

Here are scans of pages 1 to 3 (click on to enlarge) of the Music Master story. Anyone care to comment on whether or not they see Everett here and who else?

Issue #14 has no Everett Hydroman work, and there's another Music Master story, again only saying "created by Stephen A. Douglas". It doesn't look like Everett at all in any panel.

I don't have issue #15, but I'll "go out on a limb" here and say the GCD listing is also wrong here for the Hydroman story. Can someone please confirm this? Issue #15's cover date is Nov '42 and Everett enlisted in the War in Feb '42.

And then there's this Stephen A. Douglas person. Editor as Eastern Color in the 1930s for sure, but brief cover art and creator of some of the Eastern Color characters? Anyone have more on him?

There's more magic that I've unearthed in my work putting the Bill Everett Archives together and I'll comment on that tomorrow! Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Page 2 & 3 look like Everett pencils, or lay outs at least; even the layout of the lettering.