Hallowe’en Countdown II, Day 23

« It was the town dandy! That spiffy cigar-store indian! Within the impact of a second I knew what I had to do! »  – Ron gets it wrong.

It’s become a historical footnote that, before fully settling into their (for a time) winning formula of lighthearted, cartoony monomania with Casper, Richie Rich, Little Dot and their ilk, Harvey Comics had published, pre-Code, some of the most, er… transgressive horror comics in the field. And before he settled down to designing and pencilling the lion’s share of Harvey Comics‘ admittedly inventive and arresting covers, art director Warren Kremer had fulfilled many of the same in-house duties in the more daring and diverse pre-Code years. A remarkably inventive and versatile artist, Kremer’s true worth has historically been obscured by his retiring, behind-the-scenes status, as well as the Harvey family’s plantation mentality. Today, let’s take a peek at the nuts and bolts of his collaborative partnership with cover artist Lee Elias, who would go on to become one of DC’s most straight-laced artists (though his talent remained undimmed.) It would seem, and it’s quite understandable, that a lot of artists who’d merrily produced horror comics in the early 1950s got burned by the ensuing censorious witch hunt / backlash… and became quite timid thereafter.

Warren Kremer’s original cover sketch and colour guide.
… and his instructions to the final artist, in this case Lee Elias.
As it appeared in print, this is Chamber of Chills Magazine no. 19 (Sept. 1953.) Marvel borrowed the title in the 1970s… Harvey clearly had no further use for it.

Another one? But of course!

Kremer was evidently a believer in the « tilt the drawing to make it more dynamic » rule of layout (as DC’s Carmine Infantino notoriously was)
Kremer to Elias, again. An illustrator is quite blessed indeed when he gets to work with such a talented, insightful and friendly art director.
Elias’ finished version, as it appeared on the stands. This is Witches’ Tales Magazine no. 21 (Oct. 1953).


8 thoughts on “Hallowe’en Countdown II, Day 23

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