Mar. 1955: This month I'm going with one of the most iconic and most often homaged covers of the ’50s, Frank Frazetta’s cover to Weird Science-Fantasy #29 (colors by Marie Severin). It was the last issue of the series, leaving EC with only Mad and its New Direction line of books. It was also the last comic book work Frazetta would do until Creepy #1 nearly ten years later (unless you count the work he did with Kurtzman and Elder on “Little Annie Fanny” for Playboy.
Frazetta broke into comics at Bernard Baily’s studio in 1944 at the age of 16. His first published work was an inking job, but later that year he penciled and inked a 4-page historical story for Treasure Comics #7, and he was off and running. Through the rest of the ’40s, he didn’t pencil very many stories, though he did a large number of headers and illustrations for the short text stories comic publishers had to run in order to qualify for the lower magazine postage rates. What stories he did draw tended to be humor/funny animal stories more often than not. In fact, his first ongoing feature was a Li’l Abner rip-off called “Looie Lazybones”—ironic since Frazetta left comics to work for Al Capp on that very same newspaper strip.
In the early ’50s he was given primarily westerns—westerns being at the peak of their popularity at that time—at DC, Magazine Enterprises, and Toby, and true life stories at Eastern Color, though he worked in other genres and for other publishers as well. But it was his work for EC, starting in 1952 and usually in collaboration with his buddy Al Williamson, that really stood out.
Feb. 1955: It's been a while since I did one of these, but back to the month-by-month covers. This time it’s A-1 #129, a.k.a. The Avenger #1, penciled and inked by Bob Powell. The Avenger marked Magazine Enterprises’ last attempt at relaunching a superhero line. The A-1 title alternated between The Avenger and Strong Man for six issues before reverting back to the title’s regular fare for three issues, and finally one last issue each of The Avenger and Strong Man before the title was cancelled and the Avenger faded into obscurity.
While the first issue of The Avenger was drawn entirely by Dick Ayers (except the cover, of course), Bob Powell drew most of the stories thereafter. Born Stanley Robert Pawlowski in 1916, Powell began working in the comic industry in the late ’30s in the Eisner & Iger Shop. He drew a little bit of everything in those days, but specialized in jungle girls, particularly the “Sheena” feature. When Eisner left to form his own studio, Powell was one of the artists he took with him. There Powell co-wrote the first “Blackhawk” story and drew the Mr. Mystic strip for the Spirit section among other things. He entered the Air Force in 1943, and after the war formed his own studio doing work for several publishers. In 1961 Powell became the art director of Sick magazine, but he continued doing freelance work as well. One of his best known projects was the 1962 Mars Attacks trading card series, for which he did finished pencils over Wally Wood’s layouts. And, of course, he did several jobs for Marvel, including doing layouts for the last three issues of Daredevil that Wally Wood penciled. Powell died in 1967, just a few days shy of his 51st birthday.
Also checked off How the Grinch Stole Christmas—don't even bother asking me which one—this past weekend. For me, though I'll usually catch five or six movies/specials each year, there are only two that I am guaranteed to watch: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (check) and White Christmas. My in-laws usually stay with us Christmas Eve, and my mother-in-law, as well as my wife and I, love that one, and now our kids love it too, so we watch that right before bedtime.