on Golden Ages

Eddie Campbell’s recent post on varying perspective includes a tangential reference to Alex Raymond and includes an example from Raymond’s short-lived collaboration with Dashiell Hammett, Agent X-9 (1934-35).

Check out this action sequence:

Raymond X-9 strip by Dashiell Hammett and Alex Raymond

Agent X-9 strip by Alex Raymond (June 8, 1934?)

Jack Kirby gets so much attention as an action innovator that I’ve been trained to think of pre-Kirby action comics as dry and lifeless. Marvel’s marketing efforts have a lot to do with this; Lee and Buscema in How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way (1978) spend many pages explicitly drawing attention to the ways in which the revolutionary “Marvel style” (created in the 1960s by Kirby) uses extreme angles to make each panel more exciting.

From How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema. On the left, a conversation drawn as any comic book company might present it. On the right, the same conversation presented in the Mighty Marvel Manner!

From How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema. On the left, a conversation drawn as any comic book company might present it. On the right, the same conversation presented in the Mighty Marvel Manner!

It’s interesting to see Raymond demonstrate here that it is possible to get a lot of energy and power out of a scene without upsetting the steady POV.

Like this gallery of Action Comics covers (of which Joe Shuster’s are my least favorite), it makes me wonder at all the hoopla regarding Batman and Superman when the real 1930s action was happening elsewhere.

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Leigh Walton talks comics and maybe other arts. (RSS)
He also works for the very excellent publisher Top Shelf Productions (which does not necessarily endorse the views and opinions, etc, herein).

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Header by me. Contains an interpolation of the final panel from All-Star Superman #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Speaking of which.

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