38) March 2, 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 my small collection of original art by Lee Elias. This page is from “Warfront” #7, page #2 of the story “Medal for Smitty”. Published by Harvey in June, 1952, drawn by Lee Elias.
Lee Elias has been compared to Milton Caniff for obvious reasons, but this page actually reminds me more of George Wunder (Caniff’s replacement on “Terry and the Pirates” when Mr. C left to create “Steve Canyon” for a rival syndicate). I think that’s largely because there’s little spotting of blacks on this page even though is seems to be inked mostly with brush. The fluid, chunky energetic line work mostly compensated for the lack of shadow, thought I wonder why he made that choice (not to spot blacks). I’ve seem several examples of work like this from Elias, including the dealer I purchased the Black Cat story, “Banker’s Holiday” that I posted the pages of last week. He’s so excellent at it that it seems perverse when he eschews it. This page is worth study for the manner is which Elias uses brush strokes to simulate drapery folds on the soldier’s uniforms. Frequently he creates a swirling feel, especially in multi-figure groupings. My favorite example of this is panel 2. Unfortunately the effect is slightly undercut because he doesn’t go in tight enough; there’s too much air around the figures. Or maybe not. Interestingly there’s an almost symmetrical balance of negative to positive space in the panel.