EK: This is a good place to insert the animated gifs of Jack Carson did based on the images used for this page and elsewhere. "I made them after watching 'Loving Vincent.' Wanted to see how the drawings I foolishly drew multiple times instead of just copying in photoshop looked animated." - Carson
DS: Terran space station traced from Alden "Mac" McWilliams' art for the 31 March 53 TWIN EARTHS daily. Soviet MiG fighter jets traced from uncredited Google images. Moscow area river system traced from my NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ATLAS OF THE WORLD. Terran UFO flight crew traced from TWIN EARTHS 28 January 53
TWIN EARTHS Mar 31 1953
TWIN EARTHS Jan 28 1953
DS: the 1949 date comes from "John Cullen Murphy & Big Ben Bolt", an uncredited essay on pages 6 to 10 of JOHN CULLEN MURPHY'S BIG BEN BOLT VOLUME ONE -DAILIES FEBRUARY 20, 1950 TO MAY 24, 1952 (Classic Comics Press, River Forest, Illinois, 2010). Elliot Caplin worked exclusively for King Features Syndicate from 1936 on.
DS: Alex Raymond photo was one of several used by King Features Syndicate in March 1946 to promote the launch of RIP KIRBY and was traced from page 291 of Tom Roberts' ALEX RAYMOND: HIS LIFE AND ART; Elliot Caplin's conscious choice of name for the strip, BIG BEN BOLT (he "liked the alliteration" according to John Cullen Murphy) of course, came from the poem BEN BOLT by Thomas Dunn English, a lament for physical mortality ("sweet Alice"; Ben Bolt's schoolmaster and all of his schoolmates save one, the narrator of the poem, are deceased) and time's relentless passing and an ode to Ben Bolt's unchanging endurance. As the poem concludes: "your presence as a blessing, your friendship a truth, Ben Bolt of the salt-sea gale." I believe Caplin's conscious choice of the name and the metaphysical layers I've attached to the name comfortably coexist.
DS: Big Ben photo traced from an uncredited Google image photo. BIG BEN BOLT image and logo traced from the Sunday page banner used on the strip in the 1950s
DS: Bucking bronco traced from Google image; paddock bolt traced and modified from Google image; the image of John Cullen Murphy was traced from an uncredited photo which appeared of page 40 of Roy Thomas' ALTER EGO No.42 (TwoMorrows Publishing, November, 2004) attached to Roy's own Murphy obituary ("John Cullen Murphy 1919-2004 He Posed For Norman Rockwell--And Took Over For Hal Foster")
DS: The cover illustration for the 22 November 34 SATURDAY EVENING POST was traced from a scan of it found on Jim Keefe's website: https://www.jimkeefe.com (an excellent resource for first-person histories of comic art) attached to his interview of John Cullen Murphy; photo of Norman Rockwell was traced from a 1938 photo taken by Richard Wyrley Birch of Norman Rockwell sitting in front of Rockwell's 8 October 38 SATURDAY EVENING POST cover (layers upon layers upon layers) which appeared on page 26 of AMERICAN CHRONICLES: THE ART OF NORMAN ROCKWELL by Linda Szekely Pero (Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA, 2007); Elliot Caplin photo traced and then modified from an uncredited Google image photo; 12 July 51 BIG BEN BOLT strip traced from the back cover of Classic Comics Press' JOHN CULLEN MURPHY'S BIG BEN BOLT VOLUME ONE; John Cullen Murphy's quotes are from Brian M. Kane's interview with him in THE COMICS JOURNAL 253 (Fantagraphics Books, 2003)
DS: John Cullen Murphy photo, uncredited, appeared on page 191 of Brian M. Kane's HAL FOSTER PRINCE OF ILLUSTRATORS FATHER OF THE ADVENTURE STRIP (Vanguard Productions, Lebanon, New Jersey, 2001) attached to Murphy's reminiscences about Foster ("He told me that I was his choice; as he put it, I had many children to support and the story should continue"); BIG BEN BOLT 24 February 50, the fifth daily strip. "Spider" Haines' first line of dialogue. Metaphysically speaking, this earliest narrative establishes the patriotic American bona fides of Ben-Bolt- as-Alex-Raymond-proxy, which bona fides really are unquestionable: Raymond signing up for military duty at the height of his popularity on FLASH GORDON (and with a guaranteed deferment as a national morale booster if he had chosen to go that route) was an exceptional and praiseworthy individual choice. The partly visible strip is traced from the BIG BEN BOLT daily for 15 March 50
DS: Traced from an uncredited Google image photo of the earliest version of the Polaroid Land Camera that I could find online; traced from the BIG BEN BOLT daily for 7 June 1951 and 27 November 51; "Nomen est omen" can be either conscious or unconscious, and I don't know which is the case with Elliot Caplin and "Holcomb S. Pettigrew" but I still think the double meaning exists, factually. Quotes taken from Cullen Murphy's "Introduction by Cullen Murphy" p.4-5 of Classic Comics Press' JOHN CULLEN MURPHY'S BIG BEN BOLT VOLUME ONE
DS: quotes are from Brian M. Kane's interview with John Cullen Murphy in COMICS JOURNAL 253 (Fantagraphics Books, 2003); the Gillott 303 is, indeed, not easily found. I get mine from John R. Neal Books; the image of Big Ben Bolt is traced from a Google image scan of the original artwork for the 29 November 1953 BIG BEN BOLT Sunday page
DS: "Spider" Haines definitely calls attention to himself, in a metaphysical sense: his last name appears as "Haines" in the 25 and 28 February and 1 March 50 strips on the back of his sailor shirt and his full name, "Spider Haines", on the back of his fighter's robe loaned to Ben in the 3 March 50 strip. Suddenly in the 10 April 50 strip the spelling changes to "Haynes" (indirectly but metaphysically linked to Alex Raymond, in that it was the first and, so far as I know, the last ever RIP KIRBY-style Monday character identification and plot summary strip) and then changes back to "Haines" permanently in the 12 May 50 strip. The "I" becomes "Y"--"Why?"---and then becomes "I" again. "I." "Why?" "I."; Whenever the honorific "Mr." is attached to the character's name in the strip, no matter the speaker, he is called "Mr. Spider" instead of "Mr. Haines"; Both very odd--and, I think, not metaphysically insignificant---quirks; Spider Haines panel traced from the 28 June 51 BIG BEN BOLT daily; Mangler panel traced from the RIP KIRBY daily for 18 July 46; Julio de Diego traced from the photo that appeared on the letters to the editor page in LIFE MAGAZINE for 4 November 46; it's interesting to speculate as to de Diego's motives. My guess would be that it represented another chance to get his picture in LIFE MAGAZINE--otherwise, presumably, he would have contacted King Features Syndicate either personally or through his lawyer.
EK: The original article about Julio De Diego appeared in LIFE MAGAZINE 11 March 1946 with the heading “Julio De Diego: He Paints Weird War and Peace,” with the giant half page image of Diego that Raymond used as his model for The Mangler. Several of Diego’s surrealist paintings about war were pictured along with a brief article about Diego stating, “Art critics agree that some of World War II’s finest paintings have been produced by a genial, fierce-looking Spaniard named Julio de Diego who spent the war painting in a New York Studio.” It also mentions “Julio de Diego’s pictorial war is not realistic (emphasis mine). A product of his own feverish imagination, they establish de Diego as a leader in U.S. art in a trend away from factual scene paintings,” and also describes Diego as "an incredibly rapid worker <who> turned out 45 paintings on war in the short space of three months" and "followed them with 40 cynical pictures about peace."
Using the fact the Mangler became a reoccurring villain in the strip (to the extent of becoming Rip Kirby's arch-nemesis) combined with Raymond's own quote that "the war made a realist of me," it's possible to see De Diego symbolically as kind of artistic arch-nemesis for Raymond, both for his particular style of art and the attention he was receiving while Raymond was developing and refining his own photorealistic style and working under the relentless pressures of producing a daily comic strip.
EK: Spider Haines from the 30 September 1950 BIG BEN BOLT strip. Nebulous Stan Drake illustration from newspaper promotional material for the release of HEART OF JULIET JONES in March 1953, most readily to hand The Bingham Press Newspaper for March 8, 1953 pg. 5. Julio de Diego and Gypsy Rose Lee wedding picture from the internet.
The first appearances of the RIP KIRBY characters The Mangler and femme fatale Pagan Lee are in the 27 Jun 46 strip. Julio De Diego and Gypsy Rose Lee would marry two years later in 1948, divorcing in 1955.
(Another picture from the wedding ceremony)
HARTFORD COURANT Mar 11 1948
BINGHAMPTON PRESS, NY Mar 7 1953
EK: Top left BIG BEN BOLT panel with Ben's girlfriend Charity O'Hara taken from the 18 November 1950 strip; top right from 7 March 1951; bottom left from 13 October 1951; bottom right from 17 May 1951.
EK: Image of Betty Lou Drake illustrated from The Charleston Gazette for Aug 1 1955 about the Drakes judging an upcoming pageant. BIG BEN BOLT panels from the 18 April 1951 and 24 April 1951 strips respectively.
EK: BIG BEN BOLT panels from the 14 April 1951 strip. Part of the same strange storyline which finds Ben meeting Eve (or 'Eve') on the beach and losing his inspiration and interest in boxing (as well as life in general). Between the boat being cryptically named 'Sarah Jane' (the name of Stan Drake's future wife) and the foreshadowing of a character named Eve from THE HEART OF JULIET JONES a few years later, it wouldn't surprise me if there were more resonances to Stan Drake's life under the surface of this particular BIG BEN BOLT storyline.
Genealogy sites list Sarah Jane Strickland as born on Aug 28, 1941 in Waterbury, CT and marrying Stan Drake in 1962 in Chevy Chase, MD.
EK: Flash Gordon and Dale Arden image recreated from the FLASH GORDON strip for 27 October 1941, available in IDW's FLASH GORDON AND JUNGLE JIM Vol. 3: 1939-1941, published May 2013.
TWIN EARTHS #1, published by R. Susor Publications, 1991, collecting the start of the strip from 1952. Several issues collecting most of the series were published by Susor.
This was a very difficult collection to find at the time (I believe Dave had to get a copy through a contact who carries rarer items). Hopefully at some point the series will get a nice big collection like RIP KIRBY, THE HEART OF JULIET JONES, BIG BEN BOLT, etc.
After reading SDOAR and becoming interested in the series, a reader asked in early 2022 if it was worth spending the money for the 90's reprints of TWIN EARTHS, or better to hold out in the hopes of a reprint collection. Dave's response:
Dear SDOAR Fan: We're probably a decade away...or more! ..from complete photorealism strip collections, so it's a matter of accepting however much you get: A) it's a fragment and B) you're going to get dropped off a cliff at the "end".
That having been said, the "complete" TWIN EARTHS is still going to drop you off a cliff. "This is the last daily" or "this is the last Sunday" is very different from "The End". Enjoy it for what it is: the story and art peaks are amazing and even the valleys are at a high elevation. Downloading high-rez scans online is a great hobby...putting the strips in chronological order in a digital file..wondering where each jigsaw puzzle fits and how, while enjoying the artistry that went into each daily and each Sunday in a way you don't when rushing through a collection to find out "what happens next"? Store print-outs in a binder and thumb through them any time you add a new one
TWIN EARTHS 23-27 Dec 1952
TWIN EARTHS 29 Nov 1953
TWIN EARTHS 27 Dec 1953
TWIN EARTHS 11 Jun 1953
TWIN EARTHS 15 Apr 1958
TWIN EARTHS 5 Jan 1960
TWIN EARTHS 24 Sep 1952
TWIN EARTHS 25 Jun 1958
TWIN EARTHS 20 Dec 1953
EK: Illustration of Alden McWilliams from TWIN EARTHS #2, published by R. Susor Publications, 1991. TWIN EARTHS panel from the first strip. The Susor collection lists it as being published the week of 15 May 1952, but I believe this may be a mistake and the actual start date was 16 Jun 1952, since the earliest published date I can find in the archives is for Monday 16 Jun 1952, and 15 May 1952 was a Wednesday. The Wikipedia entry for TWIN EARTHS also gives a start date of 16 Jun 1952.
EK: Top strip from TWIN EARTHS #1 for 19 Aug 1952, published by R. Susor Publications, 1991. Interestingly, the Susor collection has whited-out part of the 9 on the strip date, so it looks like "8-16" (3 years to the day after Margaret Mitchell's death).
TWIN EARTHS 8-19-1952, SUSSOR PUBLICATIONS
TWIN EARTHS for 8-19-1952, published in the Madisonville Kentucky newspaper, The Messenger
Middle strip with "Helen" threatening to shoot her husband from TWIN EARTHS for 2 Oct 1962 (what would have been Alex Raymond's 53rd birthday).
Bottom panel by John Prentice and AL WiIliamson from panel one of RIP KIRBY for 18 Jun 1963. Recreated from the EDITORIAL PLANETA-DeAGOSTINI, S.A. reprints
TWIN EARTHS 2 Oct 1952 from the NY Buffalo Evening News
EK: Middle panel from TWIN EARTHS #1, published by R. Susor Publications, 1991 for 3 Jan 1952
Bottom panel from from TWIN EARTHS #2, published by R. Susor Publications, 1991 for 13 Aug 1953.
EK: Illustration of Oskar Lebeck in the 1950s from a picture in Michael Barrier's FUNNYBOOKS: THE IMPROBABLE GLORIES OF THE BEST AMERICAN COMIC BOOKS (University of California Press, 2014)
Middle panels from 23 Oct 1952 in TWIN EARTHS #1 published by R. Susor Publications, 1991.
Bottom right panel with space station and saucer from 19 Nov 1954 in TWIN EARTHS #3, R. Susor Publications.
Bottom left panel from 1 Feb 1954 TWIN EARTHS #2, R. Susor Publications.
to be continued