Saturday, October 13, 2012

Retro Review: Stuntman #3 (and unpublished)

The post-war comic book boom faced its inevitable bust. Harvey Comics' Stuntman book (created by comics legends Joe Simon & Jack Kirby) was cancelled after only two issues. Issue #3 (October 1946) went out only to mail subscribers, and then only in black-and-white. These stories, along with a few unpublished tales, only found themselves published in full color years later in Simon & Kirby collected editions.
Actor (and amateur detective) Don Daring, his movie stand-in Fred Drake, and actress Sandra Sylvan are good friends who manage to get into a variety of troubles. When needed, Drake is able to sneak away, returning to save his friends as costumed hero The Stuntman. This template of storytelling may have had a finite number of possible tales, but they were far away from reaching that limit when the book ended.
By issue #3, the pattern of these stories was well established, and the combination of mystery, action, and humor that Simon brought to these is terrific. There was a story of a "rehabilitation center" for criminals, where they could go to rest and relax, which was such a great concept.
The previously-unpublished work includes a pair of 2-page spreads for stories that were not completed (or at least have never been discovered) and a story whose art was completed by a staff worker. It is in this comparison with another artist's work that Jack Kirby's style appears most distinct and original.

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