Captain America #2 Orientals part 2 by Norris Burroughs   1 comment

Moving on to part two of this story, this is the page that for me really stands out from the rest. Assuming that Crandall drew page five, I find it difficult to believe that anyone else on the short list could have inked it in this fashion. First, allow me to bemoan the quality of the printing, even though this is one of the clearest pages in the Masterworks Volume. Look carefully at the last two panels and observe the etching lines in the musculature of Captain America and Bucky. Then look to the right and notice the folds in Steve Rogers’ shirt and hat. Look at the shadow in the hat’s brim. Even the inking in the telephone poles in panel one is a cut above what we’ve already seen.  This is what I am referring to as the Fine/Leyendecker look.  Sadly, much of the detail that I’m calling your attention to is obscured, but we must work with what we have.

If we study the sample of his artwork below, we can see that this early twentieth century illustrator often used parallel hatch lines with his brush within the shape of a fold of clothing or in the shadows of faces or  hair. Leyendecker also had a way of using highlights in a distinctive, almost marble sculptural way to separate and define the planes of a face or body part, article of clothing or object, bringing out a refined look in his figures and their surroundings.

Reed Crandall, emulating Lou Fine brought his own version of this ultra sophisticated style to the wild rough-hewn dynamics of S&K studios.

The fact is that those last three panels of Cap #2’s page seven bear little resemblance to anything previously seen, with the exception of a few touches here and there on each page. The clothing folds in Steve Rogers shirt look nothing like the clothing folds on Benson in panel one of page two. This is why I conclude that there is either another inker here, or that Crandall selectively remembered the penciling he had done and simply forgot that he had done some inking as well.

Sadly, we don’t see much more of that style in this particular story. As a matter of fact, the following pages are a total departure. I will skip page six because of stated reasons. It is somewhat unremarkable and looks to have been drawn by Simon and possibly inked by Liederman or a quick job by Simon. It is the next two pages that are positively weird. They are rendered in a very heavy handed style, somewhat similar to the inker I previously referred to as illustrator, yet different enough to posit yet another hand entirely. The style is well over the top, with an over abundance of black spotting and think holding lines.

Page seven looks like Kirby pencils, but details such as clothing folds are laid in as if done with a trowel. I’m wondering if this could be Al Gabrielle, as I recall Greg Theakston mentioning that Gabrielle and Al Avison started inking in this issue.

Page eight is no better, with a bizarre close-up of Steve Rogers in panel five and a heavily etched three quarter head shot of the leering Benson in panel eight.  The inker is using a lot of unnecessary lines to embellish faces. At this point, I would really appreciate an ID on some of the other inkers listed in the Masterworks Volume. It’s getting rather late in the game for me to be guessing so much.

After page nine which I omit, the artwork deteriorates suddenly. Page ten below looks to be Kirby pencils, inked by another newcomer, possibly Avison, but only small areas suggest his work to me here.  I do see some touches that look more like him later on in the story.

There is a wonderful  pose of Cap throwing a punch in panel three, but it’s drawn so loosely and inked so sloppily that it doesn’t quite cut it. Much of the remainder of the story is so awful that it insults the beauty of the opening pages. I’ll try to find the enthusiasm to finish the story in the next post. There is enough interesting new stuff here to comment on, despite the poor quality of the inking and the printing.

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Posted February 8, 2012 by norris burroughs in Uncategorized

One response to “Captain America #2 Orientals part 2 by Norris Burroughs

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  1. As always when looking at the early Captain America I’m disappointed at how awful it is compared to something like The Lone Rider. As pointed out here, the material Kirby was doing for The Vision was miles better than this stuff. Of course the reason is Kirby wasn’t penciling and inking most of this stuff. It’s early shop work.

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