Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tales of Suspense #20 Interiors


This is one of my favorite Kirby covers from the pre-hero Marvel period.

Here is what the the production of the early Marvel bullpen looked like as the teams were coalescing, waiting for the day when Marvel would make the move to go toe-to-toe with DC Comics in the creation of new superhero books.
Most of the monsters created by Jack Kirby made a single appearance. He wrote and illustrated hundreds of such stories. But every once in a while he would go back to a creature he'd created before, or perhaps there was enough fan reaction (generally in the form of sales) so that Stan Lee would ask for another story featuring one or another of Kirby's monsters. So it was with Colossus. Kirby seemed willing and able to revisit this monster with this yarn: "Colossus Lives Again"!

Kirby would often break up a story into parts or chapters. He'd end with something of a cliff-hanger or story break, and continue the tale with a unique chapter title. He excelled at imaginative ways to delineate a story by way of text and balloons and sub-titles. Here we see him at work with this gimmick, but without as much flash as in some of his stories.

Don Heck was generally called upon to do one of the stories in the sf and horror books. But in this issue it was Dick Ayers who got the job. Ayers was one of Stan Lee's go-to journeymen. He was mainly an inker, working with just about everyone who did pencils for Goodman's outfit. But sometimes he was given a job to pencil. This one was just such a situation.

A typical and absolutely wonderful Ditko title page. He excelled at these things. Every time I open one of these pre-hero Marvels I find myself wondering if Ditko was perhaps challenged by the older and frankly more talented Kirby. Did he use the other man's work as a kind of goal, or a bar against which he might measure himself? I sometimes think so, and at times he met and exceeded that bar.

I love this last page. The story is one that I can see appealing to Ditko. The mindless masses too stupid and incurious to grasp a chance when it comes to them. One sees the wise, bearded philosopher-king at the end. That last panel is intriguing, too. It pre-dates both Roger Dean's and AVATAR'S airborne islands.


MarkGelbart said...

Somewhere buried in my old comic book collection (I've got hundreds but haven't really looked through it in years) I think I have a comic book with Colossus Man in it.

It was published around 1970 for one of Marvel's monster comics, but I bet it was a reprint from one of the earlier stories. I think Marvel had a title that was called something like "Monsters on the Loose" and I bet they were all reprints of stories they did years earlier. Of course, to a 10 year old kid, it was all new.

I bought it at the corner store where they sold 3 comic books without the covers in a single plastic bag for 25 cents. I have a bunch of old comic books that are worthless because they have no covers--maybe about 5% of my collection.

HemlockMan said...

Yeah, Marvel reprinted the hell out of the old monster stories from the pre-hero days. Mainly Kirby and Ditko stories, but other work as well.

Comics from the 1970s have really picked up in value in the last ten years or so. I never held them in high esteem because I was spoiled as a kid growing up around genuinely old comic books in huge stacks in my dad's warehouses and storage rooms. I was reading comic books from the 1940s and 1950s...books that were genuinely rare and stories that inspired kids.

Coverless comics are a hard sell unless they're really old and/or rare. But if you get a kick out of reading them, that's all that matters.

MarkGelbart said...

My memory came back to me--it was called "Creatures on the Loose."

Here's a link to a few of the issues.

The whole series probably consited of reruns of the late 1950's early 1960's monster comic books.


HemlockMan said...

Yep. CREATURES ON THE LOOSE was one of the reprint titles. Great stuff! I always liked Fin Fang Foom!

Kirk G said...

Didn't Tony Isabella do a title for Marvel in the 70s called "I, Colossus"? I seem to remember the phrase, "IT-The Living Colussus". Was it the same concept?

HemlockMan said...

I do know that some of the monsters from the pre-hero days of Marvel were revived in later years as superheroes/supervillains. Most notably FIN FANG FOOM. As I vaguely recall, Colossus was one of those, but I don't remember who wrote the revival yarns.