Maurice Bramley, Part II
Kevin Patrick and myself had an email exchange about Bramley and in the process more information has come to light. Thus we can now add this into the mix. According to Kevin;
"Local comic artist/collector, Daniel McKeown, wrote an insightful article about Bramley's work for Horwitz, and made a compelling argument that Bramley was a prolific 'swiper' of plots/page & panel layouts from the Timely/Atlas stories that appeared in Horwitz's line of war comics.
"Bramley, to my knowledge, was born in 1910 and was a prolific illustrator/commercial artist throughout the 1930s & 40s, working on weekly magazines, newspapers, pulp novelettes, etc.
He even did some propaganda posters for Australia's war effort during the 1940s - and his association with Horwitz Publications seems to have begun in the mid/late 1940s.
"Bramley did virtually all of the covers for Horwitz's line of US (mainly Timely/Atlas) reprint comics, which included war (Combat Kelly, Sgt Fury & Howling Commandos), Westerns (Kid Colt, Two-Gun Kid) and early Marvel superheroes (I just picked up the 1st issue of Horwitz's 'Daredevil' reprint, which has a 'cover' version of Bill Everett's original cover for Marvel.)
"After Horwitz ceased publishing comics around 1965-66, Bramley seems to have dropped off the radar - though I do have select issues of a Western comic he wrote & drew for Page Publications (Yaffa), titled 'Fastest Gun', which (judging by the 15 cent cover price), probably date from around 1970-71.
"But after that - who knows? If MB was born in 1910, then chances are he could've died anywhere between the 1980s or 1990s."
It appears that Bramley doesn't get some of the respect that he clearly deserves. Bramley was a damn fine illustrator, his advertising work is as good as anyone elses from the era (you can find an example here, dating from 1943) and his cover art is as good as any other Australian artist, including Chatto and Dixon. It's true that some of Bramley's interiors do let him down, yet at times there'll be a splash page that, again, is as good as anyone else.
Kevin and myself discussed how we believe that Bramley is an Australian equal (respect wise) of an American such as Don Heck or Werner Roth. Both Heck and Roth were more than capable draftsmen, both have a volume of work that stands out. However both men were put down during their life times (Heck was given the ultimate insult of being called the worst artist ever by Gary Groth) yet both are now getting their due respect. Bramley is in that boat. He might have swiped - name me an artist who didn't, or doesn't - and his work might have lacked the consistency of a John Dixon but then not many were able to match Dixon, and that includes any artist anywhere. What Bramley did have, same as Heck, was a style that's not been duplicated since. Now that might mean that his style was bad and not worth it, but I tend to believe the opposite is the truth - it's a unique, distinctive style (another artist in this category is the under-appreciated Don Newton) and difficult to duplicate. Time to give Bramley his due methinks.
In the meantime, some more Bramley for your eyes to feast upon, and more to come.
PHANTOM COMMANDO #16
Written and drawn by Bramley. Now this is odd. Everything I've seen indicate that this title ceased in 1965, yet this issue was released in 1970. However as it's a Page/Yaffa publication it's more than possible that this is a reprint, but the numbering, #16, picks up from the Horwitz run (ended with #15).
THE OUTLAW KID #3
I'm not exactly sure if this cover is by Bramley. Certainly it has some of his trademarks, yet it's not signed, and Bramley almost always signed his covers, even if he did hide the signatures in the backgrounds. It is a Horwitz book, and it does have Timely/Atlas reprints of both The Outlaw Kid and the Black Rider, so it's very possible.
On closer inspection I'm kinda leaning towards it being either a splash, cover or panel drawn by American artist Doug Wildey. Wildey drew a heap of this kind of material for Timely, so it's more than possible that it's his, or someone swiping him style (which is why I can't rule out Bramley just yet, or at least until I get concrete proof).
THE OUTLAW KID #29
Definitely a Bramley - it's signed. More Timely/Atlas reprints, this time all Outlaw Kid. That's a cover that, if it'd appeared on an American comic at the time, would still be talked about. Check out the detail and the line-work.
THE WESTERN KID #27
The Bramley signature is hidden in the dirt on the lower left hand side. Dated 1971, this is a Page book with yet more Timely/Atlas era westerns.
KID COLT OUTLAW #88
This cover always makes me smile. Dated 1969, this book was released by Page and again features Timely/Atlas reprints. The entire book was reprinted - cover and all - two years later. That's right, issue #92 in the series just features a new price and issue number, otherwise it's the same comic. This happened quite a lot with the Australian reprints, Page/Yaffa were just as notorious for repackaging their reprint material as what Newton were. In some cases it was even more so and I can't help but wonder if the thought process was if it was reprinted then no-one would have noticed, two years means a new audience (at least it did back in the late '60s/early '70s) and the money is there. I'm sure Bramley wasn't paid twice for his cover art though.
I'll say right here, right now, that I'm in the market for Bramley comics. If anyone has any, or knows who does, then point them my way. I guess the real goal would be to own the original art to some of Bramleys comic book work, but that just ain't gonna happen.