Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Who Is This Guy Next To Sam Schwartz?

This is one of the first conventional "blegs" I've done in a while: can anyone identify the older man who is seated in this photo? The man standing is Sam Schwartz (or "Samm Schwartz" as he usually signed his name in comics), but I have no idea who the other man is.

And speaking of Schwartz, I recently happened upon a few comics from the "Tippy Teen" series, which actually didn't have as much of his art as I would have expected -- probably because his editorial work at Tower Comics took up much of his time. There's quite a bit of identifiably Schwartz art in these books, but much of it is by Doug Crane (who signed his own work; the others didn't), Sol Brodsky. And the best art in the books is by the moonlighting Harry Lucey, who handled most of the pilot issue for the Tippy spinoff, "Tippy's Friends Go-Go and Animal."

The interesting thing about "Tippy" compared to the many other knock-off comics is the weird sense of passive-aggressiveness that runs through it, as if the publisher was not merely trying to imitate "Archie" but show it up. This may have been because Tower Comics' president, Harry Shorten, was the brains behind "Archie" -- literally all their best people were hired by him, before he left in 1956. According to the Joe Edwards interview I cited in an earlier post, Shorten asked John Goldwater to make him a partner in recognition of what he had done for the company. Goldwater "told him where to go. Soon after, Shorten was asked to train Goldwater's son Richard as his successor.

So Shorten (who was best known as the creator and writer of the strip "There Oughta Be a Law," a successful imitation of "They'll Do It Every Time") may have seen Tower Comics as a challenge to Archie more than any other company, including the superhero companies: "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" was an attempt to cash in on the superhero and spy crazes, but "Tippy Teen" was personal, a challenge to the franchise he helped build up. That would explain the tone of ads like this, from "Go-Go and Animal" -- I don't know who the artist is, though it might be Schwartz:

Whatever the motives behind "Tippy," it had all the usual problems of the ripoffs -- characters who were at once ill-defined and obvious imitations of better-known comic characters. But it did outlast the other Tower titles, and was reprinted in the early '70s under the title "Vicki." Despite the chagrin of Jeff Rovin, who couldn't understand why anyone would reprint it, "Tippy" usually had better art than Tower's better-known but stiffly-drawn T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. Some examples:

Samm Schwartz:

Harry Lucey:

Dan DeCarlo:

Doug Crane:

Sol Brodsky, moonlighting from his editorial job at Marvel:

1 comment:

Mike said...

Considering I thought at first glance the man standing in the photo was Jerry Lewis, I'd probably not be of much help.