DS: "revascularize poorly" -- that is, blood flowing properly through the veins after surgery. I got this information from a plastic surgeon I was visiting. Ears reattached in 1956 he didn't think was plausible and then checked his medical school textbooks to be sure of his facts which I've related here.
EK: A couple of notable sources mentioning Drake’s ear injury from the Sep 6 crash are found in:
1) The immediate aftermath of the crash in The National Cartoonist Society newsletter for 27 October 1956, edited by McGowan (“Mac”) Miller, which stated, “…a deep bow to Bob (Long Sam) Lubbers, for jumping to the rescue in helping Stan Drake out with “The Heart of Juliet Jones”, while Stan was having an ear sewed back on (emphasis mine)……. It’s good to see you around Stan, in one handsome piece.” (Box MAC.P107/Folder 17, Milton Caniff Collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.)
2) Leonard Starr’s interview for ALTER EGO #113 October 2012 page 36 (TwoMorrows Publishing): “Stan was thrown clear; his ear was almost torn off (emphasis mine) and his shoulder was dislocated. They managed to sew the ear back on and put his arm in a sling.”
Leonard Starr also related another anecdote involving Stan Drake and a near injury to his ear while talking about Drake being stationed in the Pacific on Tinian, an island formerly held by the Japanese during WWII:
“Stan was sitting on the ground having a cigarette, his back against a jeep, when a bullet pinged into the metal an inch from his ear. There were still some die-hard Japanese soldiers in the caves serving the Emperor after Tinian had been taken. Stan took the bullet personally and joined the squads swinging Bangalore torpedoes into the caves.” (THE HEART OF JULIET JONES, Vol 1. page 7, Classic Comics Press, 2014)
DS: The Hal Foster quote is from Bill Crouch Jr.'s 1974 interview with Foster in CARTOONIST PROFILES magazine #22 (CARTOONISTPROFILES.COM).
DS: The Jeff Jones quote is from "Jeffrey Jones' Magical Times" THE WARREN COMPANION ((TwoMorrows Publishing 2001 pg.57), interview by Jon B. Cooke. The Jeff Jones portrait is traced from a 1978 photo by Sean Smith. The FLASH GORDON Sunday page is 1 September 35 and was found in Russ Cochran's GRAPHIC GALLERY 9 on page 17
DS: The RIP KIRBY panel in upper right was traced from the third panel in the 20 October 55 strip which appeared on page 53 of Todd Hignite's COMIC ART No.2 (Winter 2003) illustrating "Something Cool: Alex Raymond, RIP KIRBY and the Rise and Fall of the Photorealistic Comic Strip" by Armando Mendez. Bernie Wrightson portrait was traced from a photo by Bob Keenan which appeared in the 1978 NEW YORK COMIC ART CONVENTION program booklet. The Bernie Wrightson panel was traced from "The Pepper Lake Monster" (EERIE No.58 July 1974 Warren Publishing).
DS: RIP KIRBY panel was traced from the 16 November 50 strip.
DS: RIP KIRBY panel in top right is, again, from 16 November 50. Alex Raymond's many activities were documented on page 282 of Tom Roberts' ALEX RAYMOND HIS LIFE AND ART. Alex Raymond behind the wheel of his Bandini sports car was traced from a photo by Ray Burns that appeared in Tom Roberts' ALEX RAYMOND HIS LIFE AND ART (pg. 286). RIP KIRBY panel in lower right was traced from the strip for 16 February 54 from a print-out of the original art found on Heritage Auctions' website (HA.com).
EK: Background on Raymond's Bandini and its history can be found here on the RM Sotheby's Auction House listing for Sep 7 2015 (59 years and 1 day after the fatal crash).
From pg 2 of RIP KIRBY THE FIRST MODERN DETECTIVE: COMPLETE COMIC STRIPS 1954-1956 [VOL 4] from IDW
From The Daily Sikeston Standard for Mar 13, 1954
DS: Page 6 - Alex Raymond picture traced from a "Syndicate publicity photo, about March 1946," Tom Roberts' ALEX RAYMOND HIS LIFE AND ART pg.284.
DS: Panels traced from RIP KIRBY on this page: 16 November 50; 23 June 53; 2 October 50 and 12 September 50
DS: Ray Burns portrait traced from photo on pg.16 of IDW's RIP KIRBY 1951-54 collection (Vol 3. pg.16). Ray Burns quote is from Tom Roberts' ALEX RAYMOND HIS LIFE AND ART pg.256. Alex Raymond quote is from ALEX RAYMOND HIS LIFE AND ART pg.257. The RIP KIRBY strip on the "drawing board" is traced from 26 February 51. The RIP KIRBY panel at right is traced from the 5 October 53 strip. FLASH GORDON panel at bottom traced from 8 December 35. Scans from HA.com
DS: "The Crushed Gardenia" splash panel is traced from TOTH:BLACK & WHITE (Auad Publishing 1999) where it is credited as being copyright 1953 Standard Comics Inc.
EK: The story is available to read at https://pangolinbasement.blogspot.com/, along with a wealth of Alex Toth material (the original post was from a link to "the Annotated Toth" at tothfans.com, but the link for “The Crushed Gardenia” appears broken). From Toth's commentary about his work on the story at the blog:
“I’d filed down a ‘speedball B-6’ flicker lettering pen nib, to not only letter - but ink - all of this storyset. I wanted a clean monotonous line - a dip pen nib gave it to me - it was only later after delivery of it that Herb Field ‘Standard Comics’ letterer, intro’d me to the newly arrived from Germany ‘rapidograph’ pen series - monotonous line and all - and I, at once, adopted it for years in its many linewidths. Did some filing-down of them, too, to get a nice calligraphic line - my restless experimentations were a learning experience. It was the early / mid 1950’s, Japan was marketing new varigated (sp.) felt/fibre/ballpoint/tipped disposable pens that I sampled all of to stay on top of the game. Delightful testing of them all - leaks / dogbombs and other -skipping faults in them - soon corrected by the mfrs - made inking with ‘em fun. Serious bizniz too! So, this job was a one-off gig via speedball. My drawing/ storytelling / characterizations/ took a new road in this story - attitudinal sea change. I’d found other ways to approach the script- get the feel of it. Lowkey, really - till action demanded hotting up - and design was used more agressively (sp.) - so the work wasn’t newsreel - literal - but has an abstract element in and of its strung together continuity. It just felt different, in the doing to final inks! No big thing - yet to me, marked something new and off beat / other minded - I realized, in time - my searchings led to little surprises.”
Interestingly, Toth goes on to talk about some of the influences for different aspects the story, including drawing the pictures of literal “highbrowed types, “with big high foreheads, full squarish profiled heads, small ears” like Mike Sekowsky and Dan Barry and “maybe Milt Caniff, too?” before mentioning that George Tuska was an influence as well: “His attention to clothes - style - himself a natty sharp dresser, his ‘crime comics’ good / bad guys were made more so via the cut of their suits / jackets / shirt collars / ties - hats - he made me notice - added to my awareness - tho I’d clipped countless newspaper / mag ads for men’s clothing, simple li’l gray wash tones and snappy simple linework, ‘London Fog’ raincoats, etc. - through the 40’s and 50’s, etc. - and had to be alert to female fashions, too.”
Nowhere does he mention Alex Raymond or RIP KIRBY in the above, even though it sounds exactly like he’s describing Alex Raymond’s style on RIP KIRBY.
However, in Toth’s 1968 interview in SETTING THE STANDARD (Fantagraphics, 2011, edited by Greg Sadowski, page 19-20), Toth gives his opinion on Raymond:
“I was never a great Raymond fan. I loved Flash Gordon when I was a kid, but what always bothered me later on was that everything was a little too neat, a little too slick, too pretty and effeminate. In Raymond’s later Rip Kirby, I saw the same old clichés that I’d seen before in Flash Gordon. I question carrying on the Raymond Style to the point where practically any new illustrative strip of King’s must take on that same gloss. It’s all à la Raymond. They tried that on me too, when I sought taking over the Perry Mason strip in the late ’40’s. Hearing they were looking for another artist, I showed [King Features editor[ Sylvan Byck my work. He seemed pleased, and gave me three days of script, saying “Let’s see how you’d set these up,” then added, “but in the Raymond technique, of course.” I handed back the script. “The name is Toth, not Raymond. You’ve got Raymond and all the others who imitate him, willingly or not. Sorry, but I won’t.” And that capped my entree* to King’s court. I never did Perry Mason. Were Raymond here to witness the absurd lengths to whIch Sylvan Byck has gone in imposing his style on other talents, he would be Byck’s most vociferous detractor, I’m sure. Just like Publisher-Hall Syndicate, with the Mary Worth impress everywhere.”
DS: I had to laugh when Eddie forwarded me this quote. It seems to me that the more talented the artist, the more they were likely to have had a profound negative response to RIP KIRBY. I attribute this to the high watermark Raymond had -- twice! -- set for comics illustration. Hal Foster could be rationalized away because PRINCE VALIANT wasn't a comic strip, per se, it was illustrated fiction. That is, those who aspired to be (and secretly needed to believe) that they were the best in the field -- Toth being a good example -- hadn't even gotten over FLASH GORDON as stylistic game-changer when they were forced, in 1946, to contemplate RIP KIRBY as the commercial illustration/comics fusion tour de force that it was. Their egos got the better of them and they invented rationalizations to explain why RIP KIRBY wasn't worth looking at…so they wouldn't have to look at it and be forced to recognize how many quantum levels above them Raymond was. Al Williamson and Frank Frazetta are the lone exceptions to this, I think. In one of the more extreme instances, I remember asking Gene Colan -- the fish-eye photorealist -- what he had thought of RIP KIRBY when it had debuted. He had no idea what I was talking about. 'I know JACK Kirby,' he said. 'I've never heard of RIP Kirby.'
My assessment is that Alex Toth adopted many of Raymond's RIP KIRBY illustration tropes in early 1946 and, when he realized he would never be able to draw consistently at that level, that his drawing talent was extremely limited when compared with his designing talents, he retreated to a modified Noel Sickles cartoon realism and spent the rest of his life deprecating Raymond and his work. Artistic sour grapes. "EVERYBODY LOVES FLASH GORDON; EVERYBODY HATES RAYMOND."
Bernie Krigstein panel traced from "Suppressed Desire" SPELLBOUND #17, (Atlas Comics, 1953); JOHNNY COMET daily 22 January 1952 traced from page 62 of Russ Cochran's GRAPHIC GALLERY 10
DS: Alex Raymond picture traced from "Syndicate publicity photo, about March 1946" page 284 Tom Roberts' ALEX RAYMOND HIS LIFE AND ART; top two RIP KIRBY panels traced from 11 July 49; bottom RIP KIRBY traced from 25 October 50 strip
DS: "The Caged Songbird" is the title given by IDW to the storyline. An earlier reprinting through Pacific Comics Club called it "The Missing Nightingale" which is where I got my term "nightingale brush strokes"; top panels traced from RIP KIRBY 25 October 50 strip; bottom left panel traced from RIP KIRBY 27 October 50 strip; bottom right panel traced from RIP KIRBY 20 October 50
EK: The Edenfall song from "The Caged Songbird" storyline was mentioned in newspapers at the same time, most notably in an article published in newspapers on Nov 8, 1950 (what would have been Margaret Mitchell's 50th birthday) where 'Rip Kirby' discusses his investigations into the origins of the song (with some circumspect findings). As we'll see later, this article, "Edenfall", and "The Caged Songbird" storyline itself are rife with metaphysical connections, allusions, and rabbit holes.
The Robesonian Newspaper, Lumberton, N.C. Nov 20, 1950, page 3
The News-Herald (Franklin, Pennsylvania), Nov 8, 1950
DS: top panels traced from RIP KIRBY 25 October 50; Susan Reed, according to Wikipedia, turns out have been actually a very prominent "first wave" American folk singer in the 1950s (as opposed to "second wave" acts like Bob Dylan, Peter Paul & Mary, Joan Baez, etc.). Reed's career fell victim to the Hollywood Blacklist of the 1950s when she was accused of having communist sympathies. There's an audio recording on YouTube of a radio program she did for the US Defence Department in 1961 (presumably to try to restore her good name). I wasn't able to find any recording of "Edenfall" by her. A very clear version of the publicity photo appears on page 13 of IDW's RIP KIRBY VOLUME 2 1948-1951. Reed was presumably inspired to contact Raymond because Melody Lane was depicted playing a harp in the strip --which was Reed's own preferred folk instrument (an unusual choice for any popular performer). You'll notice the locked door directly behind her. Unless Raymond was working in a broom closet in the Ridgeway Center in downtown Stamford, I suspect his drawing board was dragged over to where he and it could be seen in proximity to the locked door. An editor who had been keeping up with storyline doubtless wanting to draw an analogy between Alex Raymond and the Cornelius L. Van Dorp character who locks Melody Lane up in his house. Since I'm pretty sure that Raymond's move to the Ridgeway Center was to facilitate adulterous liaisons with young women, it seems a good example of Comic Art Metaphysics in action: real world actions enacting fictional world actions and fictional world actions enacting real world actions.
Bottom left RIP KIRBY panel traced from 4 October 50 strip. Bottom right RIP KIRBY panel traced from 3 October 50 strip.
EK: A recording of Susan Reed appearing on the radio in the 40s can be found here.
DS: I'll have more to say in future issues about Ward Greene's Comic Art Metaphysical Connivance which was quite extensive and entirely conscious, I'm pretty sure. Top left strip traced from RIP KIRBY 10 November 50; top right traced from RIP KIRBY 25 October 50; Nedda Van Doon panel traced from 29 December 48; inset panel of RIP KIRBY shaving traced from 9 December 48. It's interesting to note the similarity in last names between Cornelius Van Dorp and Nedda Van Doon, both storylines featuring "nightingale brush stroke women".
DS: Both panels on this page traced from RIP KIRBY for 9 November 55 (Stan Drake’s 34th birthday) from the storyline: “The Laughs on Giggles.”
EK: Some digital examples of how the Nov 9 1955 RIP KIRBY strip appeared in newspapers of the time (taking into account the scanning methods and technology the strips were subjected to when they were uploaded to the newspaper archives)
The Birmingham News
The Daily Standard
The Daily Nugget
The News Herald
DS: Panel on this page traced from RIP KIRBY 31 October 55. The story I heard was that Al Williamson "liberated" the RIP KIRBY originals in his possession from King Features Syndicate when he saw them being used to soak up rain or snow tracked in from out-of-doors. There are verified anecdotes of RIP KIRBY originals being on the King Features premises (a cartoonist who was given a bunch of them to study when he was trying out and who, years later, auctioned them on eBay ; the fact that King Features was able to send a number of strips to John Prentice for reference when he took over the strip after the fatal accident). Al Williamson having been as honest as the day is long it's hard to imagine any other circumstance under which he would have "liberated" original artwork not his own. No idea what year the "liberation" would have taken place.
EK: The CLASSIC UK COMICS ZINE website (https://davidprice5.wixsite.com/classicukcomicszines) has a copy of an interview with Al Williamson from 1969 in the Irish fanzine HEROES UNLIMITED #7 (pg. 39, edited by Anthony Roche), where Williamson discusses some of the problems with reprinting Alex Raymond's work at the time:
Al: That book that Nostalgia Press has printed is the only thing in the last 20 years of Alex’s that has been printed well, because all the foreign reprints of his work have been from bad reproductions; they were redrawn, they censored the girls, added panels - what they did to his work was incredible, it was it was so awful. But the book is beautifully printed, and it’s straight from proofs and originals, so nothing has been retouched. Everyone who’s seen it has been very impressed, finding it even better than they remembered. If it weren’t for the hairstyles and things of that nature, you wouldn’t even know it was done thirty years ago.
H.U.: How about the ‘King’ reprints of Alex’s work?
Al: “Oh God, not those! The way it came about was that Bill Harris got the idea of buying back the rights to reprint their own work from these Italian publishers. They are the ones who had reprinted all the Flash Gordon stories, but they had reprinted them very badly because they were taken from poor reproductions. These had been redrawn, and awful colouring had been applied. Nobody there knows the old stuff, so they figured, “So this is what it looks like. He wasn’t so good, was he?” Without checking, they go ahead and do this atrocity, because of course, they figured that the old Raymond would bring in the money. They didn’t realise that it was so badly done. It never occurred to me then that it might hurt our book, but it seems that some people thought it was going to be like the comic-book, and didn’t buy it. But I never thought that this would happen, because the ad mentions that they were taken right from the originals and proofs.”
H.U.: But how were we supposed to know that the King books were not also taken from proofs and originals?
Al: That’s true. Anyway, those who saw the book were quite amazed. One fellow thought that someone had redrawn the book, but done it well. As a matter of fact, he thought that I had done it, which was a great compliment, but I explained that the book was all Raymond, and no-one else had touched it. Of course, Nostalgia Press did not have proofs of Flash, and if it hadn’t been for yours truly and the help of Mrs. Raymond, who had the art, you wouldn’t have this book. Mrs. Raymond had the missing proofs that I did not have in my collection and she was most kind to lend them to us. I really hope the books sell, because if it does, we’ll do the early material. I personally think the book is very nice (though I don’t care for the way the cover was done.) What I was mostly concerned with was the printing, what had to be perfect; otherwise ‘forget it, Charlie!’ But I like the size and feel of the book; I don’t like the cover or its colour I don’t like some of the montages, which were not the way I would have liked. I would have done this myself, but just did not have the time.
DS: Top panel traced from RIP KIRBY for 26 October 55; RIP KIRBY panel in panel 3 traced from RIP KIRBY for 23 October 53; bottom panel traced from RIP KIRBY 2 June 56; STEVE CANYON "framing" traced from STEVE CANYON 21 November 48
DS: top strip traced from RIP KIRBY for 22 June 53; middle strip traced from RIP KIRBY for 7 June 54; bottom strip traced from RIP KIRBY for 2 July 53
DS: Frank Frazetta panels traced from "A Love of My Own" (pg.5) originally presented in PERSONAL LOVE No.24 (Famous Funnies, 1953). I picked this page because it was the best reproduction of Frazetta's impossibly fine lines on a comic BOOK page (which is what Bernie was referring to) that I own, in LEGACY: SELECTED DRAWINGS AND PAINTINGS BY FRANK FRAZETTA (Underwood Books 1999) -- although I'm pretty sure Bernie was actually talking about THUND'A or WHITE INDIAN. The Wrightson quote is from my interview with him for COMIC ART NEWS & REVIEWS in 1974. BEN CASEY strip traced from the 19 December 65 Sunday page by Neal Adams as reproduced in THE NEAL ADAMS TREASURY 2 (Pure Imagination, 1979). The Neal Adams quote is from a phone conversation I had with him centred on the FOLLOWING CEREBUS "Neal Adams, Niagara Falls and Other Forces of Nature" piece. I mentioned to him that he and Williamson and Raymond and Stan Drake had the worst reproduction on the worst newsprint available and yet they did probably the finest lines ever attempted in commercial illustration, knowing that most of them wouldn't reproduce. That was Neal's rejoinder.
EK: The full story for "A Love of My Own" is available to read at comicbookplus.com (with scans of some of the original art included, although not the one used here. The same scans can be found on HA.com).
DS: Traced from the first panel of the "Kismet Kildare" storyline, RIP KIRBY 27 December 54 ; "See you in the funny papers" Neal Adams promo traced from THE NEAL ADAMS TREASURY 2 (Pure Imagination, 1979). The quote itself I would have heard from either Joe Rubinstein, Marshall Rogers or Bill Sienkiewicz since they were the only guys who knew Neal well enough to relay a direct quote. Which still doesn't mean that Neal ever actually said it. An axiom is "an established rule or principle or a self-evident truth"; a bromide is "a commonplace or hackneyed statement or notion". Which one you think it is would depend on what you thought of the brush as a drawing instrument.
EK: Not the source of the quote, but the website nerdterm30.com has a 2007 interview with Neal Adams that touches on inking and brushes:
"NA: Oh. I prefer Neal Adams. I think I’m one of the best inkers around. I know that sounds egotistical, but when I did the Ben Casey strip I did it for 3-1/2 years and I based my inking on the best inkers in the field and I learned skills that other people didn’t learn. I trained under, when I was in high school at night I did animation for a guy named Fred Ang, who did animation for a Japanese animator and he could handle a brush like no American and he taught me how to use a brush and when I look at Americans ink with a brush it seems to me that they’re like gorillas holding a brush. The man taught me and I learned from Stan Drake how to handle the most sensitive pen that there is out there. If you hand a 290 pen point to any typical inker all they’ll make is a blob on a piece of paper, so I learned an awful lot about inking. The best inker outside of myself at DC was Dick Giordano. The best inker for me at Marvel at that time was Tom Palmer; Tom Palmer continues as a terrific inker, but neither one of them, I mean if you look at the work of them over my stuff you see a total opposite of style. One very rough and very slashy and one very tight and very controlled and mine falls somewhere in between, but it’s more a kind of a classical ink style that you would get from Charles Andy Gibson or the Japanese brush painters or whatever. So my stuff is better served by myself. Nowadays there are better inkers around. I mean since then…you have to remember that we worked at a very, very difficult time where people were slashing and hacking at stuff like crazy. Now you have inkers that actually know how to ink very well and they’re willing to do the job.
DS: Traced RIP KIRBY panels on this page: upper left 21 June 55; middle right 21 July 55 ; bottom left 22 June 55
DS: Traced RIP KIRBY panels on this page: upper right, 15 August 55; all the others 27 December 54