Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Complete Detective Cases, December 1940 / Joseph Simon Art Director
Complete Detective Cases v02n06 (1940-12.Postal) (Dregs, P.I.)
Get the scan here.
Let's step back a couple of years tonight to the very beginning of the 40s with a look at an early issue of Complete Detective Cases, which I believe was Martin Goodman's first foray in the true crime format. Shortly after would come Amazing Detective Cases and National Detective Cases, and some of these early issue list Joe Simon as Art Director. Goodman had spent his career thus far in pulps, and the early 40s show him branching out into some fresh ground with comics, a number of joke magazines, these detective mags, and who knows what else. Always one willing to follow a trend, I wonder if there was some sort of upsurge in the popularity of these magazines at the time. He must have sold a good number, because they certainly aren't scarce on ebay or anything. The covers tend to be black and white (with red or green) at this point, and some of them like this one have a nice noir-thing going. Others leave less to the imagination and feature bound women up front and stories revolving around sex are picked for cover items.
Contents. Not a very interesting contents layout at this point. But here we see Joe Simon, Art Director:
I knew that Simon was involved in the layout and art for Goodman's pulps at the time (I'm thinking Marvel Stories) but was surprised to learn he was doing the layout and some illustration for these true crime publications. In scouting about for this post, I was pleased to find a couple of excellent pages on the subject at kirbymuseum.org. I shouldn't be surprised that acolytes of The King have chased this stuff down, he has some truly devoted fans.
This page introduces the subject and shows a number of pages of art. I love the last image from Joe Simon, it's very cool to see golden age artists working with washes and in some other mediums that you don't see in the comic work.
This page gets into the way the photo splashes are laid out and suggests that this work might have led Joe into some more dynamic layouts in his comic work. Indeed, the way splashes are arranged in these old photo-magazines is an art unto itself, the way photos and illustration and text are layered to make the eye move across the page is great magazine craft and I think Simon showed a real penchant for it.
The mag leads with "Love Monster," a good choice, the effect of the horned shadow is awesome. Look at how much is going on on this page, 3 photos, 2 of which blend into each other as they fade behind the text. The portrait might have been airbrushed? I've wondered looking at some of the pics in here if they are artist renditions or just touched up.
Another nice layout that keeps the eye moving, this time with a spot illustration thrown in. Is this Kirby? I'm not very good at artist identification (and honestly haven't given much attention to early work from these two), so I'm only venturing a guess. Some of the spot illustrations are cool, but some of the illustration is awkward. Undoubtedly, though, there are some cool illustrations to be rediscovered in these magazines.
One of the primitive illos I'm referring to. The eyes are odd on a couple of these peeps
I like this one though
I read this story last night and had it pegged for a fabrication. I thought it was just told too well and that some of the details were fishy (making your father-in-law live out back in a shed?!?), but indeed this is a true story of murder from 20 years earlier, I thought the execution (cough, of the story) was well done. A couple of links I found at the NYT that show the story's veracity and perhaps how the writer bent the details.
Police hold husband and father, hunt brother 1922/12/21
A second one, won't describe. no spoilers! read the mag first.
McCoy tells me he's looked up a few of these before and found them all to be true. It makes for some fun internet sleuthing. You, too, can be a detective.
I leave with another fun posed photo. I've heard that bachelor life can get a little hairy. Dating is dangerous!
Crime Never Sleeps, next time on darwin scans - a look at my absolute favorite true crime mag, Women in Crime, hot damn.