Trapped in the Nazi Stronghold part two by Norris Burroughs   Leave a comment

In my opinion, Reed Crandall draws much of Page six of Trapped in the Nazi Stronghold.  There is a beautiful quaintness in the style of artwork, and also in some of the precision feathering brush or pen work, which is similar to that seen on some earlier Crandall efforts in the first story of the issue.  However it is not as fine as the best panels of the artwork in the Ageless Orientals story, so I have to wonder if it is the same inker.  An exception would be the right hand portion of the large lower montage panel, which contains the German peasant family being herded by a Nazi soldier. There is also a bit of niceness in the folds of Cap’s dress in the circular panel inset in the larger montage. Clothing folds are a dead giveaway, as it appears that more accomplished inkers can render these details more convincingly. Although poorly reproduced, these isolated areas have a finesse lacking in much of the page.

I’d like to interject here that in a recent communication with Greg Theakston, he stated that he believes Kirby did at least rough breakdowns if not even more work on these pages before giving them to someone else to finish. He does not see any Crandall in this story at present.


I am still holding on to the notion that Crandall inked as well as drew those lovely pages in the Ageless Oriental story, until presented with another explanation.

I am providing a sample page of early Crandall here, that Jim Vadeboncoer was kind enough to send me, which shows some similarities to what I perceive as Crandall’s somewhat cartoonish style in these Captain America pages. This is from a Kayo Kirby (no connection to the King) story in an April 1941 issue of Fight Comics, and it shows a broad range of styles, from semi realistic to comic book caricature. It is almost certainly not inked by Crandall, but I see some of the same characteristics there that I do in the Cap story. For example, looking at Bucky on page six and eight, I can see that the structure of his face and hair strongly resemble those of the red headed boy in panel one of the Fight page. I see other similarities in the facial features and body language of other characters as well, which display a telltale elegance in the nature of their clothing and posture.

Lastly. since Crandall clearly appears in other parts of this comic, it seems strange to me that another unidentified, artist displaying many of his peculiarities would appear in this particular comic. Logic convinces me that it is Crandall.

However, Jim does not believe this to be Crandall. Here is his rebuttal as he compares the Fight Comics page to the Cap page.

“The first two panels in the third tier show exactly what Reed brought to the comics – real figures balanced in real space in poses that you can emulate. The kid skipping rope is really skipping. Tuffy is casual and calm with his shoulders offset to show his weight on his right leg. Kayo in the next panel is beautifully poised solidly on his left leg, with his shoulders helping to indicate the weight. The clothes on EVERYBODY drape naturally.

Now look at the Captain America page. Panel one has a figure with its back to us that is completely faked. There is no weight, nor is the anatomy correct – his left arm is impossible. The guy facing us isn’t much better. His left arm is equally improbable. The second panel isn’t wrong, but it isn’t exceptionally good, either. Panel three is a joke. The running officer is wrong – his legs, his arms, the folds on his suit – they are all faked. Compare Cap’s hand on his chin to the similar staging of the thug in panel 5 of Kayo Kirby. Cap’s elbow is higher than his chest, and it’s not foreshortening – it’s faked anatomy.”

So, perhaps this is someone else brought in who works in the style of Eisner/Fine/Crandall to bring some continuity to the otherwise slapdash story. Hopefully, we will get another opinion at some point.

Skipping page seven, page eight is another Crandall effort, with more precision brushwork on display. It is amusing to note that these hilarious images of Steve Rogers in drag and Bucky in a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit are rendered with such fastidiousness. Panels four through eight have some very good brushwork amidst clothing folds, but I don’t see such exceptional touches in this issue again, and for that matter, much more of Crandall until the Wax Statue story later on.

Page nine looks like pure Kirby, with even some of his inking interspersed throughout the page, which is most evident in panels two, three, five, six and seven. The shot of Cap and Bucky running downstairs in panel five is a standout of dynamic Kirby hyper-extension. Likewise, the small vignette in panel six of Cap and Bucky holding the lamppost and auto bumper is a miniature treasure trove of detail.

Page ten looks like loose Kirby art with perhaps some of his inks in panel six. That back shot of Cap and Bucky running is a beauty. Although a very quick draw, the pose has a fantastic fluidity to it and a good deal of acceleration due to its juxtaposition with the orthogonal of the wall. Panel one also has some effective Kirby dynamism in the torque of Cap’s figure, but it is sloppily inked. Panel seven of the machine gunner also looks to be a serviceable Kirby ink job. Panel eight is a gem, featuring a robust pile up of figures.

We will conclude this story in the following post.



Posted February 20, 2012 by norris burroughs in Uncategorized

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