… drawn by a terrible hypnotic fascination, the gangster peers deep into Jim’s dark eyes and glimpses — DEATH! » — “The Spectre”, More Fun Comics no. 52 (Feb. 1940)
Today, we salute
Bernard Baily (April 5, 1916 – January 19, 1996), recalled nowadays as co-creator of (with The Spectre Jerry Siegel) and Hourman (with Ken Fitch) and conjurer of many of the 1950s most notorious comics covers… but there’s much more. Let’s take a look, shall we?
To my knowledge, there aren’t a lot of Golden Age superheroes whose costumes were so perfectly designed in the first place that no change whatsoever has been required over time. The Spectre has to be exhibit number one in that case. More Fun Comics no. 64 (Feb.1941, DC); It’s curious that the Golden Age’s arguably most merciless avenger would wind up in the pages of “More Fun”. « The Spectre… was notable in the character’s original run for imposing violent retribution against evildoers. In Siegel and Baily’s first story, Jim Corrigan, upon being introduced, is immediately killed by being encased in cement and thrown into a river. A God-like figure intervenes and returns Corrigan to Earth to combat evil as The Spectre. In that first outing, The Spectre uses the power of his mind to skin an assassin alive, leaving only a skeleton. » [ ] Read The Spectre’s nasty source ! origin tale
This is Weird Mysteries no. 2 (Dec. 1952, Stanley Morse); Read it ! here
« Be assured that the death certificate will read… death from natural causes! Yes — hah hah, natural causes! » Baily provides a strikingly modern cover for the final issue of Fawcett’s Suspense Detective, no. 5 (March, 1953). The insides are also top-notch, with thrillers by Baily and Mike Sekowsky. Read it ! here
Here’s Weird Tales of the Future no. 7 (May 1953, Stanley Morse); The stench is palpable, Bernie.
One of the images that most undermined the comics industry’s case during the 1950’s furor over horror comics, this is Baily’s eye-searing cover for Mister Mystery no. 12 (July 1953, Stanley Morse). , the censors (or was it the collectors?) termed it. « Injury-to-eye motif Don’t worry, Mac, the sharp stick’s hot to make sure yer peeper don’t get infected. Now hold still! »
Behold Mister Mystery no. 14 (Nov. 1953, Stanley Morse); this one rarely turns up in any condition. Hey, tentacles!
In the Silver Age, Baily was back at DC, but straight superheroics weren’t his thing; here’s a rare exception. I must say, his Flash looks great, with the appropriate runner’s physique. This is The Brave and the Bold no. 56 (Oct.-Nov. 1964, DC), featuring , scripted by Bob Haney and illustrated by Baily. Raid of the Mutant Marauders George Kashdan, editor.
Baily’s bread-and-butter during the Silver Age was SF and fantasy stories for DC’s anthology titles. Utter balderdash, but often highly entertaining, thanks to that very ‘anything goes’ approach and a solid cadre of artists. This is Strange Adventures no. 186 (Mar. 1966, DC); read it , you’ll see what I mean. here
Whither National Brotherhood Week? Baily was also editor Jack Schiff‘s go-to guy for a series of public service ads that ran throughout the DC line during the Silver Age. This one, appeared in books dated April and May 1966); Love those What’s Your B. Q.*? (*Brotherhood Quotient) control questions.
By the 1970’s, Baily’s work was seen as quaint and outmoded. Editors sometimes experimented with inkers, in this case Bill Draut, whose own style, while out of vogue, produced interesting results when paired with DC’s most outré pencillers (e.g. Jerry Grandenetti, Ric Estrada…) This Baily-Draut splash appeared in Secrets of Sinister House no. 8 (Dec. 1972, DC); lettering by Ben Oda, ‘Auntie’ Eve and her birdie by Michael Kaluta.
« Lousy, filthy, stinking hobo! He’s no better than the rats themselves! He’s in a class with them! » Grizzled Baily showed fine form in this late-career corker published in House of Secrets no. 107 (April, 1973, DC). Evidently inspired by Stephen Skeates‘ squalid tale of a rising flood, greed, murder and , the veteran artist lovingly rendered the precarious, musty milieu of musophobia . In fact, the entire issue sets a high water mark for HOS: beyond a so-so Winner Take All! Berni Wrightson cover, the book unusually contains two Alfredo Alcala yarns, one rendered in his realistic style and written by Jack Oleck, the other drawn in his delicious cartoony fashion and scripted by Arnold Drake. Read the issue ! « here Whew! A lot more going on back then than even I realized! », commented Mr. Skeates upon being reminded of this story, a few years ago.
Another lovely late-period job was A Night in a Madhouse ; it appeared in The Unexpected no. 148 (July 1973, DC), scripted by Carl Wessler. Read it ! here
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