Friday, March 29, 2013

Ray Bailey assists Caniff

Bailey Rocks!
Anyone who's followed this blog knows I admire the work of Ray Bailey, a Caniff-school artist who worked both in comic books and newspaper strips.

Bailey started developing his personal style on a contemporary Western strip, Vesta West, in 1942. In 1945 he launched an aviation-themed adventure strip, Bruce Gentry. In 1951 he drew Tom Corbett, Space Cadet for a couple of years. After that he went into comic books. He did some of his best work for Dell, including TV tie-in's, movie adaptations, and several issues of Steve Canyon. After Dell spun off from Western Printing to become a separate company, Bailey continued with Western's  Gold Key line doing stories in weird titles like Boris Karloff. His last comic work seems to have been for Tower (Undersea Agent) circa 1967.

Biographies always say Bailey assisted Milton Caniff on Terry and the Pirates. I've wondered just what he did and when. Bailey's personal style looked so much like Caniff's that spotting his assistant work is a tough job. But while leafing through a pile of 1945 Terry Sundays, I found what I believe are Bailey backgrounds.

It's all in the Rocks. Nobody inked rocks exactly like Bailey, and he put them in every strip he drew. Bailey rocks were based on Caniff's rocks from his Sickles stage, the mid- to late-1930s. But Caniff rocks were Caniff rocks and Bailey rocks were Bailey's.

This rockin'-out Sunday is dated 3 June 1945.


Ger Apeldoorn said...

I even wonder if Ray Bailey didn't introduce the 'standing rock' to Terry or develope it there. A particular place to look is the whol Raven sequence. My guess is Bailey did the rocks there as well. Today The Stripper's Guide has a Fu Mnchu strip from the Chicago Comic Book from june 1940 that is drawn in a style that looks like a cross between the stiffer Chicago school (ranging from Gould to Moores with Fletcher and Hamm inbetween) and pre-Sickles Caniff - and t has a standing rock. Could that be by Bailey? I know he worked for Caniff in late 1942 (or at least, that's when Caniff's influence is starting to show in Vesta West) and before that I thin he was in the army. But where was he in 1940. All this is in preparation for my eventual book on the Caniff imitators.

Smurfswacker said...

This is an interesting question. The handful of Vesta West strips I've seen are drawn in a somewhat generic just-figuring-it-out style and don't have Bailey Rocks. I haven't seen enough VW to make a blanket statement. The Raven Sherman question is complicated by Caniff having said that Noel Sickles was involved in that story. Perhaps they started out as Sickles Rocks?

Bill Klatt said...

I have some original artwork by Ray Bailey. It looks like he was commissioned by Allen Saunders to create characters for Steve Roper. There are 8 original characters drawn.

If you are interested I can e-mail you a pic or post one here if I can figure this out. :)

Smurfswacker said...

Bill, I would LOVE to see those character drawings. Bailey continues to be one of my favorite artists. There isn't half enough known about his career. I wonder if anyone out in Internet land ever met him.

Kevan Edinborough said...

I have an original work that I believe was penned by Ray Bailey in 1941 from the Second World War (it's my facebook profile picture) "kevan edinborough"
It's very funny - and even has a self portrait of Ray. I'm more than happy to mail you a .jpeg of the whole thing, if you are interested. I'd be really interested in finding out if it is the same Ray, as he was clearly a good friend of my father, who is also caricatured brilliantly therein. All Best.