Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Sight Unseen--3

Win-Win for Win (Mortimer)
While digging out my Ray Bailey page yesterday I also unearthed this sample daily strip by Win Mortimer. I bought it on ebay a couple of years ago when several lots of material from this project surfaced. Unfortunately I didn't write down the name of the strip and I no longer remember it. The older guy with glasses was the hero. Mortimer did quite a lot of work on the project, including complete strips, inked but unlettered strips like this one, and penciled-only strips.Canadian illustrator James Winslow Mortimer had a long career in both comic books and newspaper comic strips. He's best known in the former for his work on 1950s Superman and Batman covers, but he did everything: romance, spooky stories, classics adaptations, you name it. In strips he's usually associated with David Crane, a continuity strip about a small-town minister. However he also created and drew adventure strips for Canadian newspapers.

I have always preferred Mortimer's newspaper work to his comic book material. The format seemed to bring out the best in him. This sample strip spotlights his knack of drawing pretty girls (albeit in a very unrevealing nightgown), as well as his gift for character faces like "Unckie."

The strip is drawn on good old Craftint Singletone paper. Craftint was a technology for creating grey tones in line artwork, permitting greater tonal range without the expense of halftone cuts. An invisible pattern, usually dots or crosshatch lines, was printed on sheets of Strathmore bristol. After inking his drawing, the artist applied a clear developing fluid with pen or brush. The developer brought out the pattern. Singletone paper had one pattern, while Doubletone paper had two, one light and one dark. The "light" grey might be crosshatch lines going in one direction while the "dark" grey would have lines going both directions. Craftint paper was popular in newspaper strips through the 1960s, when drastic reduction in original sizes made it impractical.

Mortimer inks everything except large black areas with a flexible steel pen. The artwork is exceptionally clean, without corrections. No visible pencil work remains. The art is big, roughly 7x23 inches. It's a nice piece by an under-appreciated artist.

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