Sunday 29 May 2011

Fatal Consequence For Femme Fatales

I was chatting to David Ashford author of the forthcoming Art of Denis Mcloughlin the other day and the subject drifted on to how in Westerns in the forties and fifties, there were two kinds of love interest.

Here's love interest number 1).

Cathy Downs as dependable bride to be Clementine from John Ford's beautiful and elegiac masterpiece; My Darling Clementine.

Trouble is that Clementine's intended is Doc Holliday (Victor Mature) who is in servitude to the demon drink and as a consequence spends the bulk of his hours of consciousness in the local saloon, where the lovely Chihuahua (Linda Darnell) has him well and truly wrapped around her dainty finger.

Chihuahua is the epitome of love interest number 2).

Just look at the contrast.

Yuppity .. you just know that Clemetine is the solid kind of gal that'll be good for child rearing, home making and baking the best ever blueberry pies this side of the Pecos.

Whereas Chihuahua is merely a beautiful flake. Burlesque dancing, singing, performing in revue and drinking with the boys are not skills to be inculcated into right thinking, God fearing wimmen no siree!

So the only solution is for Hollywood to apply it's own morality and ensure that any woman as exciting looking but otherwise devoid of any hint of domesticity as the lovely Chihuahua ends up like this:

But notice how though Chihuahua has taken the bullet meant for old Doc, even in her moment of extremis the old fuddy duddys have stepped in and removed all her make up and swept her fringe off her forehead so that she appears almost as angelic as Cathy Downs.

Apart from the fact that Cathy has trumped Linda by wearing a head scarf reminiscent of Florence Nightingale.

Actually the only people who emit any warmth in this sad scene which always has your poor old blogmeister weeping into his Kleenex are Doc and Chihuahua. Henry Fonda's brilliant portrayal of the Wild West equivalent of Gordon Brown has by this stage of the story awakened Clementine's reforming zeal, Aspberger's lawman being an even bigger challenge than drink sozzled gunslinger.

But the actuarial conclusion of the insurability of love interest number 1). versus love interest number 2). is like a complete no-brainer.

Hot women as in the sort that you could never take home to mother are heading to hell in a handcart.

This code of morality was of course extended into comics.

Here's one of many Will Eisner hotties that were only around for the seven pages that it took to relate a Spirit story.

and here's Ellen Dolan daughter of Commissioner Dolan as the Eisneresque answer to Cathy Downs:

and if you think that's bad just look at the fate of the fabulous looking Annette as lovingly delineated by Denis McLoughlin:

And again note how dull Roy Carson's girl Friday is in comparison.

Ever get the impression that someone's trying to tell you something???

The Spirit © DC Comics 2011

Archive editions of all Will Eisner's Spirit comics are available here.

Friday 27 May 2011

Blame It On McLoughlin!!!

OK! OK! I know that postings on this blog have been a bit erratic as of late but counsel for the defense would like to advance the thesis that your old blogmeister has been trying to maintain his illustration practice whilst also working on the book that has been bubbling away for a year or so, namely the definitive look at the life and work of Denis McLoughlin whose 'noir's style cover art has attracted devotees and collectors on both sides of the Atlantic.

The book The Art of Denis McLoughlin to  be published next Spring, is written by Denis McLoughlin's good friend and biographer David Ashford as well as containing an account of the artist's life, art and influences written by Denis McLoughlin himself. The book will feature reproductions from the surviving original artwork, "pulls" in high quality print, never before seen photos chronicling the artist's life and page after page of some of the most stunning artwork ever to see print in the 20th century.

So here's some teaser spreads and the current promo that will be going out on the latest Book Palace catalogue.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Latest Commandos and A Classic That Deserves a Reprint

Calum Laird the editor at Commando HQ has sent me the latest details of the newest editions of this long running, in fact longest running UK pocket war comic.

Included in the line up is one really weird story; Desert Monster with three typically non-conformist Commando types tackling the Afrika Korps with the aid of a strange invention. The sort of script that made Commando so different to it's Fleetway rivals War Picture Library, Battle Picture Library and Air Ace Picture Library.

Here are the first four pages from this story as drawn by Quesada, with some beautiful inking somewhat reminiscent of Matias Alonso.

And to round off this posting and as Commando are now opening up the vaults back to those mythic early years here is some real Spanish bravura art by one of David Roach's favorite artists - Gonzalez created shortly before he commenced working with James Warren creating some of the loveliest ever artworks for Vampirella.

Perhaps we ought to petition Calum and his team to include this masterpiece on their reprint schedule.

All images © DC Thomson 2011.

Commando No 4395

Nightmare In Stalingrad

Take a mission to a city under siege where two armies were locked in a battle to the death. Add in a sadistic and murderous NKVD officer and a mind-control device, powerful enough to turn any man into a fighting fury, and what do you have?
   Just another day at the office for the Convict Commandos…

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Benet
Cover Art: Benet

Did you know you can vote for your favorite bunch of Commando Heroes on our Facebook page? Headline Heroes, Convict Commandos or Ramsey’s Raiders.

Commando No 4396


Karl Braun ⎯ a German fighter pilot who hates the Nazi regime ⎯ deserts and stows away on a ship to the Far East. When he gets to the Philippines, though, war has followed him and he finds himself a prisoner at a small jungle airstrip.
   His Australian captors want to hit back at the invading Japanese and hatch a plan to use a battered Avro Anson aircraft as a makeshift bomber. They also have a P40 Tomahawk fighter but no pilot…or do they?

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Morahin
Cover Art: Ian Kennedy

Commando No 4379


“No, Herr Hauptman, I have not been out in the sun too long. With my own eyes I saw it…it had six sides, as many guns as a pocket-battleship and moved like a great crab at about one hundred kilometres an hour. A tank? No, it wasn’t a tank. It was more like a monster…”
   And after that report from a badly-frightened radio operator came into Nazi HQ, a wave of fear swept the desert. What was the Thing that struck from the shadows like a prehistoric beast? Only four men knew…and they were all listed as dead!

Introduction by Calum Laird, Commando Editor

It’s strange, I remembered this story very clearly from 40-odd years ago yet it wasn’t until I read it again for its re-issue that it struck me that whoever came up with the idea for the A-Team had been beaten to the punch by decades. Not only do we have the mechanical wizards, we even have a cigar-smoking hero!
   At the age of 11, the creation of The Thing — the Desert Monster — fired my imagination so much that I tried to build a model of one myself. Of course I didn’t manage but that just made the heroes so much the better.
   So, I challenge you have a look at this one and tell me that Lars, Alf, Jack and Tex — created and given form by Messrs Skentleberry and Quesada — aren’t better that their modern counterparts. The A*-Team, that’s them!

Story: Skentleberry
Art: Quesada
Cover Art: Lopez Espi
First Published as No 298 (November 1967)

Commando No 4398


A truckload of Italians who wanted only one thing — to surrender. They’d had enough of the war, getting shot at by their own side as well as the British, and now they simply wanted out. They would surrender to anyone who would have them.
   But what was that over there, glinting in the sun? A gold pocket-watch, and beside it and English pilot, staked out to die of thirst…

Introduction by Scott Montgomery, Commando Deputy Editor

Commando heroes have had their share of charms and mascots through the decades and, at first glance, this story seems to be about English pilot Ben Larrigan’s lucky gold pocket-watch and whether it’ll see him safely through the war.
   However, a truck-full of cowardly Italian soldiers, desperate to surrender, are the real stars ⎯ especially Gino Coppa, the hyperactive sergeant who refers to himself in the third person and unexpectedly bursts into song with his chums every now and then. He’s a marvellous creation, appearing in a memorable desert adventure.
   We’re lucky that the Commando vaults are full of such gems and I’m lucky to have had the chance to select and share this brilliant tale with you 30 years on.

Story: Cyril Walker
Art: Enriquez
Cover: Ian Kennedy

First Published as No 1528 (July 1981)

Monday 23 May 2011

More McLoughlin Magic

As I'm currently editing what promises to be THE definitive work on the master illustrator and designer Denis McLoughlin, I thought I'd share some of the non "noir" elements that will be appearing in The Art Noir of Denis McLoughlin.

His story was shaped by an over riding ambition to create the sort of art that fuelled his dreams, when as a teenager he was working at Ward and Copley producing airbrushed art work of pots and pans for catalogue producers when photography was still sufficiently hit and miss to require copious amounts of air brush retouching if you wanted accurate representations of the contents of the 1930's home. Better therefore not to bother with photography at all and just airbrush all the domestic bric a brac in the first place.

No time  wasted retouching, no expenditure on unusable photos - just hand the whole job over to a graphics studio and let them sort it.

Little wonder then that the fifteen year old Denis McLoughlin would skip lunch to wander through Manchester's bustling streets to one of the few outlets  that sold these exotic magazines called pulps all the way from the U.S.

So here's one such magazine illustration by Rafael De La Soto and here is Denis's reworking of it some years later - perhaps not his finest ever artwork but fascinating none the less.

Plus some more Mac goodies including a super Buffalo Bill dps and some really vivid use of two colors on another Buffalo Bill artwork.

Lovely stuff indeed!

Thursday 19 May 2011

Once Upon A Time Two Guys ...

... ended up drawing action strips for a comic about a little blue hedgehog.

The year was 1994 and whilst yours truly found himself drawing a bunch of guys from a video game called Streets of Rage a young artist by name of Jon Haward was drawing the other action strips that rotated around this fortnightly publication otherwise known as Sonic the Comic. Jon's strips were Shinobi and Eternal Champions and it was immediately apparent that here was someone who could invest his work with real punch.

Sadly the action strips were eventually pulled from Sonic, so that more and more of the cute little blue hedgehog could fill the pages of his comic and then eventually the comic itself disappeared. Jon stayed true to his dream and eventually ended up creating the artwork for (imo) the best comic strip adaptation of Macbeth ever. A lot of other readers are evidently of the same opinion as this comic is by far the most successful of Classical Comics impressive range of adaptations and has sales and awards as added endorsement of it's in your face chutzpah.

In between and beyond, Jon has created a lot of other gutsy and vibrant work and he has intriguingly just launched a new blog which for students of comic strips (or graphic novels) will I think find both informative and entertaining. It's devoted to the layouts that he has been busily creating for another Classical Comic adaptation currently in the pipe line. This time it's Hamlet and Jon's new blog not only shows his working drawings but also his thought processes and rationale behind each page he posts up.

You can also check out how the working drawings are being transformed into finished line work at David Lorenzo Riviera's blog.

Well worth a visit to both sites.

Here, as an appetizer, is some of Jon's fantastic artwork.