Wednesday, March 2, 2016

MY COLLECTION #37), THE BLACK CAT BY LEE ELIAS

37) March 1, 2016
I’m taking a few days off from my serialized posting of the original art pages to my uncollected 1994 graphic novel, “The Mark In America” to post and blog about one of the highlights of my collection, the complete set of all 9 pages of original artwork, by Lee Elias, to “Banker’s Holiday”, starring the Black Cat. The story was first printed in “Black Cat” #2, published by Harvey Comics in August/September 1946, reprinted in “Black Cat” #10 (1948), and still later in “The Original Black Cat” #5, published by Lorne-Harvey in 1991. These are pages #8 and 9.







After the ever-increasing virtuosity of pages 1 through 7, pages 8 and 9 are disappointing. The ending 2 pages of this story feel perfunctory; the events on page 8 need at least one, maybe two more pages to play out satisfactorily. Instead of a reprise and resolution of the eye-popping splash panel, we get no horse, (except for those of the posse’s, arriving in panel 1, then disappearing for the rest of the page) no tree, no foiled lynching. Panel 2 doesn’t address the question of how Black Cat got off the horse, untied her hands, etc, and is even indifferently drawn (all 3 figure-groupings seem to be on different eye-levels). It feels to me like a cheat, like all those “Superman” covers from the 60’s that relate only tangentially to the actual stories within.
Actually, these two pages DO have something going for them, uninspired as they are: Eye read. Elias is quite masterful in his placement and posing of figures so that events seem to play out effortless along the direction of left-to-right/ up-to-down eye read, both within each panel and over the pages as wholes. This is equally true throughout the rest of the story but is more noticeable on these 2 pages without the distraction of the brilliant graphics, exquisite drawing, etc.
Quibbles aside, there are moments of pleasure to be had:

Page #8 Panel #1: Nice dramatic lighting on Rick and the posse, showing up just in time. It would have been even nice if the shadows had been carried through onto Rick’s face; the current treatment undercuts the cinematic-ness. One wonders if there was some sort of editorial restriction on the placement of black shadows on main character’s faces, especially in such a way as to hide their eyes.

Page #8, panel #4:  Beautiful brush-work on Black Cat’s hair, playing up its luminous silkiness.

Page #8, panel #6: Dramatic hard shadows on the bank robber as Black Cat shoots the gun out of his and, poetic-justice-payback for him doing the same thing to her on page #2, panel #6.

Page #9, panel 1, which has a pleasing rhythm of figure placement across the length of its “pan” (as in “camera pan”, where the reader’s eye acts as camera, reading left to right across the panel.)


These are pages #8 & 9 of 9 from “Banker’s Holiday”, starring Black Cat, from Black Cat #2, published by Harvey Comics in 1946.

1 comment:

Neil Hansen said...

Have you ever gotten the black and white Black cat reprints that Alfred Harvey put out? They are a gas. Recently, I just picked up the Australian Tarzan 19 published by K. G. Murray in Australia, and I learn that lee Elias did Tarzan according to the index penciling the first story called "The Diamond Belt." You may wish to check it out. It actually shows the first page from the story. Here is the link: http://ausreprints.net/content/main/?issue=31804

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