Original Art Stories: Jim Mooney's Elvira

I can’t say that I was a huge fan of Elvira, either as a person or as a character, before Jim Mooney worked on the title. The idea of a big haired, gothic, large breasted woman sounds appealing on paper, but, for some bizarre reason, in the flesh it just looked trashy and not in a good way. It might just be me, but generally when you’re a male and make such comments other males call you gay, as if you’re supposed to want to have sex with any female out there. Different tastes I guess. Plus Elvira just wasn’t that, ahem, big here in Australia at any stage of her career. Indeed most Australians probably still have no idea who she was/is and would have recognised Peggy Bundy before Elvira in the early 1990s. Elvira was purely an American phenomena, much the same as Howard Stern remains.

Jim Mooney did some stellar work on Elvira, as he did on everything he touched. These pencils show that Jim, much like Joe Sinnott, and unlike a lot of other artists, never lost his touch as he aged. If anything he applied the lessons that he learnt through the years and got not only faster, but better. Jim’s speed is now a thing of legend, but no matter how fast he could pencil the quality never diminished. As you’ll see everything in the final inks was there in Jim’s pencils, backgrounds and all. It’s a far cry from some artists who simply stop drawing backgrounds or hire others to draw them in, uncredited. Jim did use assistants, but that was earlier in his career with DC Comics. At this stage the blue pencils were pure Mooney.

The inker, Louis Lachance, did a damned good job with Jim’s pencils. According to Richard Howell, who was the writer/editor./publisher at Claypool Comics (where this work appeared in its final form), “I remember Jim being very happy with the look of the finished art. After the first team-up, Jim requested Louis for the second.” This story is the second and appeared in Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark #31 in November 1995. These pencils are amongst the last full pencil jobs that Jim Mooney would do as he dedicated himself to inking soon after, ultimately retiring as much as Jim Mooney would. Drawn in 1995, it’s still an amazing job from an artist who’d been pencilling comics since 1940.

When Louis sent these scans through to me he also added some comments. “I inked two stories of Mr Mooney’s,” said Louis, “the first one was pre-computer for me, so I photocopied it, unfortunately losing the beauty of the blue pencils. This second story I scanned in colour. I felt the mix of ink and blue pencils made for some very neat looking originals indeed (not to mention the quite deep yellow colour of the paper stock). Inking those pages was a very high point in my Claypool work. Mr. Mooney paid me the compliment of requesting I ink this story after seeing how the other one turned out. Some of those pages have no grey pencils whatsoever and are entirely in blue, absolutely gorgeous stuff and this is the work of a man who was 80 at the time! Absolutely amazing!”

What instantly strikes me is the similarity between Jim’s Elvira work and his earlier work on Pussycat, especially the sketch to the right and the Elvira splash page. Other than the hair and subtle differences in the faces the two characters could be one and the same and a lot of the same poses are used. Still, as Jim once told me, he drew all of his girls naked and only added in clothes when asked to. He did enjoy drawing the saucier things in life, and had no problem drawing naked ladies (although he’d do his best to get Streaky into any Supergirl commission, even if she was naked) so Jim drawing Elvira was almost too logical. As it stands, Jim’s Claypool work and Elvira art remains some of the last published full art from him. Jim finished as he started, as a damned good artist who didn’t take short cuts and provided value for money in anything he did.  Sadly not all of the pages are there, but what is there is well worth looking at, and to make up for it I've thrown in a couple of bonus pages from another issue.  And inkers, click on the blue-lines for nice big scans - go ahead, print them out and ink away.  Just make sure you send me a scan to post here if you do.





Doug Brunell said…
Great post. Great blog. Your dedication is appreciated.

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