Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Original Art Stories: The Evolution of A Golden Age Story - Heroic Comics & Tony Tallarico!

It’s very rare that an opportunity to dissect a sixty year old comic book story arises, but thanks to some fortuitous purchases of late, we now have that chance.

Heroic Comics was published by Eastern Color Printing Co./Famous Funnies, and ran from 1940 through to 1955, lasting 97 issues in total. Initially titled Reg’lar Fellers Heroic Comics, the series would further be renamed, first to Heroic Comics to New Heroic Comics. The series was finally wound up over a battle with the Comics Code Authority, who objected to the strong war themes that the book began to carry towards the end of its run. I’ll be running some of those war stories in the coming weeks, so you’ll be able to make your own mind up. The main issue with the CCA was that the series contributed to juvenile delinquency in the form of excessive violence. Yeah, right. The premise of the series was a simple one – they featured real life heroes, as opposed to fictional superheroes. Great stuff and rarely seen these days, indeed it’s a premise that’s rarely been seen since the series was wound up.

There is an issue of the CFA-APA that details the contents of Heroic Comics, but then those articles are for the exclusive few, and not for the masses, something I have to say I do object to. Knowledge should be shared, profited from, absolutely, but at least shared. But that’s a story for another day. Back to the subject on hand.

This story began with a clipping sent to Famous Funnies Publications by its clipping service. I can tell you one of the clipping services that they used, although not the name. One clipping tha came with this lot originated from New York - no great surprise there - and it was a Press Clipping Bureau located at 165 Church Street, New York. This clipping appears to have come from The Esso Refiner, Vol 22, #17, 25th August, 1950.

From there a letter was drafted and sent to the Esso Refiner, formally requesting the contact details of the two main people mentioned in the article itself. Things were clearly easier back in 1950.

The next step was a reply from a General Superintendent from Esso, containing the contact details for both men, along with a request that a copy of the finished story/comic book be also sent to Esso for their files. I can't help but wonder if they still have it somewhere. I like Lawrence Hill's nick-name...'Bunker Hill'.

Once the contact details were established letters then went out to each man that the story would cover. The letters were standard Famous Funnies consent letters, formally requesting that permission be given to tell the story in question, and requesting further information, such as photos, additional clippings, all the good stuff. Usually the photos were returned, but clearly some weren't.

On the back of the release letter for Joseph Culver, Mrs. Joseph Culver has written a letter that clearly describes Joe Culver and his role in the story, which differs slightly from the original article. However Mrs Culver assures us that her version is the 'fact truth'.

Lawrence Hill's letter has the legend "Tony - for okay!" written on it in pencil. I expect that this means that the story has been okayed by the editorial team and that Tony Tallarico has been approved as the artist.

From here the script was written. I have no idea who wrote it, but someone who knows about Famous Funnies should be able to identify it as it has the last name 'Peterson' on the top left hand corner. The script has minor changes and alterations and Tallarico followed it very closely.

The next step is the logical one - from script to art. Below is the original art for the story, as it appeared in an issue of New Heroic Comics! The art is the classic 'twice up', far too big even for my A3 scanner.

If anyone can provide scans of the story as it was published, along with the details, then great. There's a few more of these stories to come, for all to enjoy.

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