Monday, September 07, 2009

L. B. Cole

L. B. Cole was one of those classic Golden Age comic book artists who did mostly cover art (over 1,500 of them) for a wide and weird variety of comic books, primarily in the 1940s. Most of them were much better than this, but I love this one because it's so screwed up.

The bad guy/human fly (the guy with the horned owl hair-do and suction cups on his hands and feet) seems to be a floor below Gunmaster Gregory Gayle (the good guy with the .357 Magnum with a 3.5" barrel). But he's also on the same floor. Gayle's elbow is half-way down to the second floor below yet his armpit is on the same window sill that the human fly is looking up from. Unless human fly guy is a midget. But given that the average distance between floors in a building is 10', fly guy is about a 9' midget. Maybe Gayle is huge. The jacket on his forearm is the same size as fly guy's head.

I like how the windows open outwardly on the fourteenth floor of a high-rise office building, just in case you need to lean out and shoot someone. Also notice that it looks as if the 12th floor has four windows and the 14th floor has three windows. It's an illusion. The fourth window on the fourteenth floor is there, it's just obscured by the shadow of Gayle's huge jacket. Looks like the awning below is trying to look up to see what's going on.

Between the windows, the mullions, the venetian blinds and the vertical holders, this is a perspective artist's nightmare.

Check out some samples of L. B. Cole's good covers at this link:

I met L. B. Cole when he was a guest of the San Diego Comic Con in 1981. I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun it was to talk with him. As I recall, most of the cartoonists I'd bumped into all day were lamenting the fact that there was no place to go after the convention closed down for the evening, no place where everyone could relax, have a bite to eat, have a drink and hang out with fellow cartoonists and friends. I found a place nearby called Ten Downing Street, a small pub-like restaurant/bar that closed early on weekends because business was slow. I made arrangements with the owner, who normally closed up at 6 PM, to stay open until 10 PM in exchange for a guaranteed full house of drinkers and eaters. He agreed and I had a lot of help handing out flyers to a select horde of cartoonists and friends who took over the bar at 6 PM. A really good time was had by all. It was one of those great events where cartoonists, assorted pros and their friends could hang out, mill about, drink, eat and chat.

I forget if it was a particular Scotch or Bourbon that Cole liked, but whichever it was, I bought a bottle and took it to the bar, set it down in front of Cole and, with some help, we pretty much polished it off by 10 PM. Before we were both completely blitzed, he did this sketch for me. Wow! Isn't it great?


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