|Pop Culture Gadabout|
Thursday, August 07, 2008 |
( 8/07/2008 07:20:00 AM ) Bill S.
KAMEN: Read on Mark Evanier's blog this a.m. about the death of EC artist Jack Kamen. A prolific artist for the fifties era comic line, Kamen was much maligned in his day as the least favorite of the EC artists. Though a six or seven-pager with his byline could usually be found in most of the line's horror, s-f and crime comics, it's telling to note that when the horror comics first started seeing reprints in the sixties as Ballantine paperbacks, neither of the first two collections contained any of Kamen's pieces. The first Kamen illustrated horror comic I remember reading was his sole entry in the Nostalgia Press collection, EC Horror Comics of the 1950's, a humor piece entitled "Kamen's Kalamity" that made fun of his place in the comics line.
Per Mark, it's the artist's "clean shiny drawings" that seemed most out of whack with the rest of the line's artists, though some of the other ECers - Johnny Craig and Wally Wood, in particular - could be just as spotless with their work. To my eyes, it was more the fact that Kamen never seemed capable of truly letting himself go in the more outlandish horror comics. Unlike the equally prolific Jack Davis, for instance, you rarely got a sense of unrestrained imagination at play.
The artist was at his best, though, doing twisty crime comics. His acquisitive dames (there is no other word for 'em), in particular, are lovingly and believably rendered - as are his male dupes. Picked up a volume of Crime Suspenstories this morning to page through one of Kamen's entries: there's an appealing B-movie flatness to it that more visually inventive artists never quite attain. Kamen had it down, which is one of the reasons EC kept him in the bullpen.