Friday, August 30, 2013

Marvel's Most UNUSUAL 1960's Annual

As summer winds down, my thoughts often drift to childhood, circa the mid-late 1960's, specifically July and August, when school was a distant memory and a walk to the neighborhood candy store offered the additional anticipation of purchasing a big, fat Annual. Marvel produced its share of truly SPECIAL Annuals in that period, which not only featured exciting, longer stories, but a variety of special features. Creators included Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Gene Colan, Dick Ayers, Larry Lieber, John Romita, Roy Thomas, John Buscema and Don Heck, who often did their best to provide fans with a roller coaster ride, all at the cost of twenty five cents.

The BIG Millie the Model Annual # 1 had the distinction of being the first of two titles to receive a summer edition, the other being Strange Tales Annual # 1, reprinting Jack Kirby drawn monster tales. Both Annual debuted in June, 1962. Stan Goldberg cover art and coloring. Artie Simek lettering.    

While the superhero titles were given the most publicity (and sold to a large contingent of males) there were OTHER Marvel Annuals, the ones most boys didn't have much interest in, although a few probably sneaked a peek at their sisters comics. Millie the Model was one of Marvel's earliest Annuals and, judging from its longevity, was one of their best sellers. Millie ran uninterrupted for nine years (1962-1971), a record that puts it in the ranks of Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man and Sgt. Fury. After a two-year hiatus in 1972-73 (when Marvel severely cut production of Annuals, likely due more to time constraints and the amount of product they were publishing) Millie returned for two more reprint specials in 1974-75. In addition Mad about Millie and Chili Specials were both represented in 1971, albeit in reprint form.

Just as Marvel included special events in their superhero Annuals, the same occurred in the "girl" line. Millie the Model Annual  # 4, 1965, subtitled:  "the most gorgeous girl in all the world!" has the fashion queen traveling around the world in a full-length extravaganza. Millie, is, of course, a QUEEN size Annual, with glamour substituting for thrills in the cover copy. Stan Goldberg pencils, possible inks and colors; Sam Rosen letters. The interior story is by Stan Lee and Al Hartley, with art by Goldberg with possible inking assistance by Sol Brodsky.   

Millie's Annual also included features that appeared in the monthly title, such as clothing designs and hair styles sent in by fans, pages YOU can color, and a special feature that Stan Lee copied from his other Annuals, pin-ups. Here Lee uses those pages to reference past guest-stars in Millie's comics, sans commentary but with a pointer displaying the original cover.      
The long-running Patsy and Hedy was granted a single Annual in the summer of 1963, consisting of reprinted material.

Patsy and Hedy Annual # 1 and only, art by Al Hartley, lettering by Sam Rosen, coloring likely by Stan Goldberg. 

The most unusual Annual, however, appeared in the summer of 1965 

 Patsy Walker's Fashion Parade # 1, Summer 1965, Al Hartley pencils, Frank Giacoia inks?, Sam Rosen letters.

What's so unusual about this annual? There are no stories featuring Patsy, Hedy or any of her cast of characters. The entire issue consists solely of dress designs, hair styles, riddles and activity pages, all no more than one page.

 The splash page of Patsy's Fashion Parade introduces readers to the book. This appears to be a new page by Stan Lee and Al Hartley (and Sam Rosen lettering, for those of you who just HAD to know!)

Sue Storm never looked like THIS in the Fantastic Four! Because these comics were intended for girls, it was ok to show them in lingerie. If only us boys knew, sales would surely have escalated! Al Hartley pencils; Frank Giacoia inks; Terry Szenics lettering. Copy likely by Lee's corresponding Secretary, "Fabulous" Flo Steinberg.  

Here Lee gives a nod to "Adorable Al Hartley" whose art appears throughout the issue. Aside from the splash page, the rest of the issue appears to be material reprinted from early issues of Patsy Walker and/or Patsy and Hedy, with some new copy added.

An attractive, humorous page by Stan Lee and Al Hartley, one of the few to feature dialogue or scenery.

A Patsy coloring page. Stan Lee occasionally included pages like this in his western titles. It's too bad we didn't get similar pages in the monster books. I would have loved to color Spragg, the Living Hill!

I'll close out this post with an ad for the girl line that appeared in the Annual. It's always interesting to discover unusual titles, and it got me to wondering what a Marvel Tales Annual would have looked like in the same format in 1965, consisting only of special features, pin-ups and diagrams of the various heroes, villains and supporting characters, with art by Kirby, Ditko, Wood, Colan, Heck, Ayers, Roth and Powell. I suspect it would have been - as they used to say - a collectors item.

Many of the images displayed are from the collection - and scanned with the permission of - that darling of Timely-Atlas, Michael J. Vassallo!      

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Patsy and Hedy No More!

As noted in my previous post, by the mid-1960's Marvel's "Girl Line" was dwindling down. Patsy Walker, who originated in 1944 and received her own title in 1945, had a healthy twenty year run, ending with issue # 125, Dec 1965. Her spin-off title, Patsy and Hedy, appeared in late 1951 and ended in late 1966. A single Annual appeared in 1963. With the cancellation of Modeling with Millie in 1967 (which began as Life with Millie in 1950), only Millie the Model remained, but the era of soap opera dramatics concluded when the title reverted back to humor in the Archie mold.      

Patsy and Hedy's final issue. The "Gals on the Go-Go" have nowhere to go. Al Hartley pencils ?: Frank Giacoia inks, Sam Rosen letters. Patsy and Hedy # 110, Feb 1967

This issue included a change of format, one inspired by the many teen magazines such as 16. The decision was likely made before the title was cancelled. The cover promotes a new column, and features head shots of David McCallum (heart-throb of The Man from Uncle TV show); Mia Farrow (star of Peyton Place, a very popular and well written prime-time drama; Ms. Farrow moved on to a successful screen career); Elvis and Peter and Gordon. The British duo had their biggest hit in 1963, "A World Without Love", a catchy tune written by a guy named Paul McCartney. You can see them perform the song here:


"Patsy and the Prince!" opened with a 14 page Patsy and Hedy tale, scripted by Denny O'Neil and drawn by Al Hartley. There are no inking or lettering credits: Hartley may have inked the story, although the thick lines suggest George Roussos involvement . Sam Rosen does his usual expert job on letters.   

 "Dreamdust" is a three page column "written by Patsy and Hedy", although it may actually be Denny O'Neil who worked on the script. Page one includes info on "The Screen Scene", with talk about the Beatles, Sean Connery and his latest Bond movie; David McCallum. the Girl from Uncle TV show, Stuart Whitman, Joey Bishop and a plug for the new Marvel-Super Heroes cartoon. Why miss out on a little self-promotion?

Page two focuses on Mia Farrow, David Jannsen, who was still running on the classic television show "The Fugitive", Peter O'Toole, Sonny and Cher, Elke Sommer, Elvis and points to "New Sounds", including The Loving Spoonful and the Who. 

Page three continues discussion on the music scene, with tid-bits on the Rolling Stones, Gary Lewis and the Playboys and Joan Baez (now that's a diverse group of musicians!). "The Fashion Bag" closes out the column with fashion info, including illos by Marie Severin!

A Pin-Up of Peter and Gordon follows, drawn by Al Hartley (although Peter looks eerily similar to Alfred E. Newman!)  

The rest of the issue included the usual feature pages and letters column, but this page is of particular interest:

The "Academy Award Fashions" page references the Fantastic Four (and if this pin-up only featured Patsy or Hedy, I don't think they would have gotten away with "the terrific two" line!). The Academy of Comic Book Arts and Science was a real award, originated by Jerry Bails and posted in the fanzine Alter-Ego, so this page was clearly written by someone who knew of its real world origins. Denny O'Neil wrote the opening tale, so he may also have written this page, but perhaps Roy Thomas (who was involved with Alter Ego early on and took over from Jerry Bails. Hmmnn, I seem to recall Roy is still producing Alter Ego, one of the best publications on comics and its history) may have had some input. Roy originally thought he wrote the last issue, but when I sent him a page he realized that Denny took over for him when Stan put him on Sgt. Fury. Roy's last issue was actually issue 105, which coincides with the first issue of Sgt. Fury he wrote (#29, April 1966). I'll check with Roy about this page and update if I receive further info. Substituting for the Alley awards here are the "Stanleys", of course. Al Hartley pencils; Mike Esposito inks?; Sam Rosen letters. 

I hope you enjoyed this look at a little seen, late period Marvel Girl title. I'll probably be back with some more surprises in this area again. 

This issue is from the collection of, and its images used by special arrangement 
with Dr. Michael J. Vassallo.  



Saturday, August 10, 2013

Missing credits in Marvel's humor and soap-opera comics

One area of comic’s research that is lacking are credits on Marvel’s Soap Opera and humor line of the 1960's and early 1970's. There are many gaps on titles such as Millie the Model, Modeling with Millie, Patsy Walker, Patsy and Hedy, Chili  and others. While Stan Lee began providing a credit box on the splash pages of his superhero and westerns they included the inker and letterer along with the writer and artist (beginning with Fantastic Four # 9, December 1962). Lee continued the policy of ‘signatures” in the romance and humor strips, so they often remained with the credit reading  “ by Stan Lee and Stan G.” (Goldberg), or “by Stan Lee and Al Hartley”. The role of the inker (and letterer) was often left out, and it is assumed by many that Goldberg and Hartley inked their own work. This is often not the case, particularly with Stan Goldberg. In his interview with Jim Amash in Alter Ego # 18, Oct 2002, Goldberg explained:

“George (Klein) inked some of my work, as did Frank Giacoia, John Tartaglione, Paul Reinman, Sol Brodsky, Vinnie Colletta and anybody else who was around. Al Hartley inked me on Patsy Walker….”

Since I currently only own a handful of these comics in my collection I’ve been unable to correct many interior stories for the GCD, although I have viewed many of the covers and provided information there. With the assistance of that walking encyclopedia of Timely-Atlas lore, Dr. Michael J. Vassallo, I’ve been able to pore through many of his comics (and borrow some), although he too does not have a complete collection of the 1960s-1970s titles. Nevertheless, I’m adding credits to the GCD with info culled from Michael, and will continue to do so whenever I can in the future.

I thought it would be interesting to show a few examples of the various inkers that have worked on the teen humor-soap titles, some mentioned by Stan G, as well as a few others, with a few surprises along the way.

Patsy Walker #117, October 1964. Stan Goldberg pencils ?; Vince Colletta inks, Sam Rosen letters and likely Stan G. colors as well. Image from the GCD.

In the case above it's pretty easy to distinguish the soft, feathery inks of Vince Colletta over what I believe is Stan Goldberg pencils. Although Al Hartley pencilled many Patsy's, Stan G. filled in from time to time as well. Colletta could be seen that month inking the cover and interior of Daredevil # 4 and the "Tales of Asgard" strip in Journey into Mystery.

"Patsy's Graduation Day", Patsy and Hedy # 95, August 1964. Stan Lee's stories for the soap opera titles sometimes informed his later superhero work. Patsy and Hedy graduated high school thirteen months before Peter Parker, with the two questioning if they should go on to college or begin a career. It's interesting that Stan did not go the standard rout, avoiding concerns about marriage and parenting, as was usually the case in this period. Sometime later Patsy's boyfriend Buzz became a soldier in Vietnam who came back wounded, storylines that rarely found their way into the more "adult" superhero fare. While the title page only reads "Stan Lee and Al Hartley", the inking is by Chic Stone. While his ink line is not as distinctive as it is on Kirby's work (which was concurrent with FF # 29 and Journey into Mystery # 107), there are some tell-tale signs, such as his inking on hair and clothing. Letters by the prolific Artie Simek.

An early Roy Thomas script. While there is a credit box on the splash page, it reads "Edited by Stan Lee; Written by Roy T.; Art by Stan G." Inking here is by Sol Brodsky. Sol's inking has a very clean, crisp look, evident in the faces of the figures in panel one, as well as the clothing in panel four. While Sol's main function in this period was in production, he also wrote scripts for the girl titles on occasion, as well as pencilled and inked strips on westerns as well. From Modeling with Millie # 45, February 1965. The cover to this issue features a Millie face by Jack Kirby, for the story behind that read my earlier blog post here:

Frank Giacoia adds his attractive brush to Stan Goldberg's pencils, with Sam Rosen letters and likely Stan G's coloring as well. Roy Thomas authored the story featuring the Gears, a rock group who are referred to on the cover as "cooler than the Beatles and kookier than the Kinks!" Roy confirmed that he wrote the cover copy, which I surmised, since I doubted Stan would know who the Kinks were! From Millie the Model # 135, February, 1966.

In "Cherleading, Millie Style" John Tartaglione provides the inks. The lines on Millie's cheek in panel four is indicative of Tartaglione's style. Mr. T was then inking Sgt. Fury, Daredevil and X-Men. Script credited to Denny O'Neil (as Denny O.) Stan G. pencils and likely colors, with lettering by Morrie Kuramoto. From Millie the Model # 146, February 1967.  

 Bill Williams penciled a few Millie stories in 1967, although he drew many strips over the years for Dell, including Henry Aldrich. When I first saw Williams art I though it was actually the work of Tom Sutton, whose style bears some similarities to Williams (Sutton began working for Marvel in 1967). Williams is credited on the splash, along with writer Gary Friedrich, but the inking is by an old Timely-Atlas veteran, George Klein. While there is not a lot to go by in this story, I noticed his ink line, specifically on clothing and hair. Lettering looks like it may be by another newcomer to Marvel in '67, John Verpoorten, who initially did a little drawing, lettering, inking and became Marvel's production man. "Someday, My Playboy Will Come" from Millie the Model # 151, July 1967. The cover, incidentally, is by Ogden Whitney, who worked for Marvel for a short spell, drawing a Shield story, a run of Two-Gun Kid stories and a few Millie covers.

While I struggled to discern Klein's distinctive inking traits in the first story, since, like a few other inkers, pretty much traced over the pencils, I was surprised to discover that the third story actually had a Klein inking credit! (uncredited lettering by Morrie Kuramoto). As noted, this was a rarity and may have been added accidentally, since Klein was still working for DC in 1967. It would be a year or so later when Klein's inking graced the superhero line, over artists such as Gene Colan, John Buscema and Jack Kirby, and fine work it was.

Mike Esposito's inking is usually easy to identify. He has a very light line as evidenced on the faces, clothing and hair on this page. Esposito was also inking the "Iron-Man" and "Hulk" strips this month. Stan Goldberg pencils?; writer unknown (there were no credits in this final issue of Patsy Walker, # 124, December 1965, although its likely either Al Hartley, who wrote many of the previous issues, or Denny O'Neil, Gary Friedrich or Sol Brodsky wrote the story; Roy Thomas told me he didn't script this issue, but did write the final issue of Patsy and Hedy). Patsy was likely replaced on the schedule by Fantasy Masterpieces, which debuted the following month) but it is worth noting that the fashions are credited to one Tara Jean Thomas, of Jackson, Mo. Roy's sister!

I'm not entirely sure of the inker on this story, although it reminds me to some degree of George Roussos. It doesn't look like he had any concurrent work for Marvel at the time, but its possible he helped out occasionally. From Patsy and Hedy # 105, June 1966. Denny O'Neil story; Stan Goldberg pencils; Sam Rosen letters.

Splash page to Chili # 8, December 1969 

The mid-1960's were not kind to Marvel's soap opera line. The long running Patsy Walker was the first to get the ax; the final issue was # 124, December 1965. Patsy and Hedy continued a while longer, until # 110, February 1967. Modeling with Millie followed four months later, with # 54, June, 1967. They were replaced on the schedule with the likes of Ghost Rider and Not Brand Echh. The flagship title, Millie the Model, survived, although the October 1967 issue (#154) instituted a change. 

With soap opera dramatics floundering, Publisher Martin Goodman likely ordered Stan to follow in the footsteps of the popular Archie line. This was actually a return to Millie's original humor format, and it apparently sold well enough, since it was followed by similar product in early 1969 (April and May dated comics) Mad About Millie and Chili. Marvel continued to issue similar new and reprint material into the early 1970's. Stan Goldberg, was quite comfortable returning to the bigfoot style, although inkers continued to remain anonymous. Chili # 8, Dec 1969, has a Stan Lee and Stan G. byline, although I'm certain it was inked by none other than Bill Everett.    

As noted earlier, the simpler styled art in these stories does not leave lots of room for an inker to add many flourishes. Still, there are little touches that I thought would be interesting to point out. The sharp lines in the sky-line and building, as well as the shadow on the street was something I've seen in other Everett inked strips.

Everett also appears to have inked the second story, "When the Joint Starts Jumping!" The final panels figure on the lower left has distinctive inking on the shirt.


Everett likely inked three out of the four stories in this issue. The last story, "The Livin' End!" features little touches on the taxi and point to Everett's contribution. Throughout the issue there are several signs that Everett was the inker, including his way of inking hair. 

While this is only a small sampling of the many uncredited inkers that worked during Marvel's prime period I hope to discover more in the years head. I'll be sure to report more such discoveries in future blog posts.

With an "Officer Joe Bolton" tip of the hat (it's an inside joke!) to Doc V, aka Michael J. Vassallo, fellow Yancy Streeter and one of the shining lights of comics fandom.