Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Who Drew the Green Hornet?

He Hunts the Biggest of All Game...Artist ID's!

Recently I found an online reprint of Dell's Green Hornet one-shot (Four-Color #496) from 1953. Behind a really nice cover is a really nice art job by someone I don't recognize.

[Is the Hornet kneeing that guy in the nuts in panel 4?]

I found only one guess online after a lot of Googling: Frank Thorne. This seems very possible. I'm unsure because the only other Thorne art I have from the period are the two Perry Mason Sundays I posted some time ago. These were drawn the previous year. The Mason strips are sketchier and stylistically more Raymondian. Of course Thorne may have used a more finished style on the Hornet. He also may have chosen not to emulate Raymond outside of Perry. Perry Mason was a King Features strip, after all, and Thorne's editors might have instructed him to follow Raymond.Whoever the artist was did a fine job on this book. For one thing he put research and effort into his locations:
He also avoided generic posing and character design. For example his version of reporter Mike Axford is a real individual:
One source noted that the two stories in the comic bore the same titles as episodes of the Green Hornet radio show. The commentator hadn't seen the comic but speculated the stories were adaptations of the radio scripts. After reading the stories I'm convinced he was correct. The pacing and dialogue are just like the radio play's. In addition the comic book writer (I believe it's Paul S. Newman and I don't think I'm mistaken) maintained the radio drama technique of having characters constantly call each other by name so the listener can keep track of who's talking. This "tagged" dialogue sounds kind of strange in a comic book.

Anyone know which artist is behind the Green Hornet's mask?


alberto said...

Hi Ron!

Love your blog. I can confirm that the Green Hornet artist is Frank Thorne. I don't have this issue but do have other Four Colors and Dells by Thorne such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jungle Jim, and Tom Corbett - Space Cadet, and the style is the same.

By the way, his initials, F.T., might be in the very first panel. Check it out.


Smurfswacker said...

Thanks for the confirmation, Alberto. I looked for his "FT" without finding it but I'll look again. It was easy to miss.

Your mention of "20.000 Leagues" brings to mind a letter (long lost) I received from Thorne in the 1970s. I'd written asking about his Dell work. I wondered why he hadn't attempted likenesses of the actors. He explained that at the time he drew the comic the film's casting still wasn't complete! Disney advised him to make the characters up. On the other hand the production design was complete to the last rivet, so they provided plenty of photos to work from. Result: dead-on machinery, way-off characters!

Mykal said...

Sir: Considering the excellent comments and thoughts you have shared over at my blog, I thought I'd try to return the favor.

I know Thorne primarily from his work on Mighty Samson and a few movie to comic adaptations he did for Gold Key in the mid 60s. I would have said this inking seemed a bit heavy for his style, with all the cool black spotting, but I see where Alberto gives Thorne a confirm, so that's that!

Great blog!