Friday, April 27, 2012

Bob Oksner--Comic Artist

Bob 'n' Boone

I have only one (issue #2) of the five issues of Pat Boone, an oddball DC comic from 1959. Today when people think of 1950s pop music they think of Elvis and the early rock 'n' rollers. At the time, though, this squeaky-clean descendant of old-time crooners out-polled and outsold them all. This comic was part of DC's attempts to cash in on Pat's popularity. He also did guest shots in DC's regular titles, like Superman.

Though Pat Boone is in comic book format, it's more like a fan magazine. Numerous text features offer teen advice, record reviews, and celebrity bios. There are two comic stories, but even these go out of their way not to look like comic stories. There are no panel borders or balloons. Typeset dialogue floats in space with an occasional pointer if the speaker isn't obvious from the artwork.

The only reason to pay any attention to Pat Boone is Bob Oksner's superb artwork on the comic features. One concerns Pat's family life and co-stars lots of little kids. The other features Pat's fan base, teenage girls. Oksner draws in a more illustrator-y style than usual. Obviously he's working from photos, but there's so much spirit and skill in his drawings that the photo basis isn't overpowering.

Both stories are pleasing to the eye, but the lead story, the teenager one, takes the prize. The figures are full of life, with great posing and beautiful expressions. And the girls actually look like girls rather than the twenty-somethings who passed for teenagers in romance comics of the period.

Here's the story.


peter bangs said...

I had all five issues of this title at one time and they're worth seeking out for Oksner's artwork and as a hysterical oddity. It also makes a fantastic contrast to Oksner's work on The Adventures of Jerry Lewis. Shame all this stuff is unlikely to ever be seen in a Showcase reprint.

Smurfswacker said...

You're right, Peter. Oksner's Jerry Lewis offers quite a contrast. Another Oksner project I always loved was Angel and the Ape too (though sometimes Wood's inks overpowered Oksner's pencils).

Another interesting feature in this issue of Pat Boone is two pages of gag cartoons by Mort Drucker.

Anonymous said...

(e-mail) Joe Horne, I meant...

Paul Chadwick said...

Man, that's entertainment.

Love the banana split line, some sort of touchstone of teenagerhood that must be mentioned.

jim said...

Oksner's artwork in the teen-age story is just beautiful. The border-less panels are a nice touch & very unusual at that time for the very conservative DC.