Rathcone part Two by Norris Burroughs   2 comments

Moving on to page five of the Rathcone story, we open with a classic Kirby action pose. It is the three-quarter back shot of a smashing roundhouse left that Cap has delivered to the trench coated killer. Ink-wise this is a difficult call to make. It may be Liederman hitting his stride and working well over tight Kirby pencils, but the Cap profile on top left panel two says Simon to me. I’m more inclined to believe that it’s mostly his inking here.

The last panel has that crosshatch again, and the very nice shading that is similar to the Steve Rogers face on page five of the origin sequence. This looks like the work of that facile fourth hand that I’ve been suggesting might be George Klein. I’ll skip the following page, again citing a combination of copyright concerns and poor art. This is one of the duller pages, so I don’t feel bad about omitting it. Page seven is no gem either, a rush job with sloppy inking probably by Liederman, and a really terrible drawing of Rathcone shaking his fist. Cramped seventh and eighth panels don’t help matters much.

Please note that when I say terrible, it is merely in the context of comparison with Simon & Kirby, which is a very high standard to uphold.  This story doesn’t really pick up steam until page eleven. However in the interests of scientific artistic exploration, I will move on to page eight, where we may perceive some notable work that stands out from the rest.  First off, the page, like much of the book is poorly reproduced. Ink lines disappear and it is frustrating to attempt to study them.

The first panel is nice and dramatic, but the rest are fairly mundane. The page design is pretty boring and drawn too quickly.  However, the fifth panel contains some fairly remarkable etching lines in the face of the bald Nazi strangler on the right. This particular face looks to be rendered by a hand different from the remainder of the page. Could this be Kirby, working with an extremely fine brush, or someone else again?

Panels seven and eight contain some pretty weak drawings, as Bucky descends a staircase. However, upon turning the page, we encounter a somewhat  inventive page design, commencing with a truncated full figure of Bucky on the far left peering into a doorway.

An arrow directs us right to panel two, lest we incorrectly look down at the circular third panel. We next see Bucky in a long shot looking at the perspective of a chessboard manned by miniatures of Cap, Rathcone and him. This is a nice panel, with orthogonal lines converging on Bucky somewhere on the horizon, but it’s really too small and loosely inked. It would have made a really spectacular large panel.

The next four panels are missteps, literally and figuratively as Bucky, in panel five runs from the room to the right, but then you see his figure breaking the panel border and running down and diagonally back left to panel seven. There he is again running towards left and is tripped by Rathcone.

Again, I must add that I feel that looking at much of this story, I am more and more inclined to believe that this is Simon’s page design. Initially, I was resistant to Simon’s claim that he laid out much of the first issue, but the more I study this stuff, the more I am willing to take Simon at his word. This book is so rushed that the writer/artist team surely did everything conceivable to meet the deadline. This process could certainly have included Simon doing loose panel breakdowns or even pencilling full figures and backgrounds.

What seals the deal for me is seeing that Kirby experiments with this sort of out of phase panel thing later in the issue in the Hurricane story, and as you can clearly see in the page below, his execution is vastly more successful. One can only once again bemoan the fact that Kirby never got an opportunity to do the quality of work on Captain America that we see in this Hurricane story. There the arrows are entirely unnecessary. The action flows effortlessly from panel to panel and the eye goes to wherever Kirby wishes it to. The figure of Hurricane in panel two takes us immediately to the panel below where he strikes the green figure. His spayed legs bring us back left to the panel with the man holding the supine woman. Her legs then bring us right-ward to the charging Hurricane.

Thankfully, as we shall see in our next post, the last several pages of the Cap story are better composed and drawn, and therefore less painful to study.



Posted January 29, 2012 by norris burroughs in Uncategorized

2 responses to “Rathcone part Two by Norris Burroughs

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  1. I agree, Norris, that this story is primarily laid out and drawn by Simon. I think the more dramatic panels involve Kirby inking/redrawing some faces, but little more than that. I see ALL of the Cap figures on page five as so-so Simon work. The very notion of Kirby drawing that next to the last panel is farcical. In fact, it looks VERY much like a Wally Wood MAD parody panel of a decade later.

    Only bare traces of Kirby here, IMHO.

    Peace, Jim (|:{>

  2. Jim,
    The Wood” Mad” parody line is hilarious. Thanks again for the input.

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