Monday, October 26, 2015

Remembering Murphy Anderson (1926-2015)

By now, you've probably heard about the passing of comic book great, Murphy Anderson. I don't know if there's anything I can say that hasn't already been said about the comics giant, but a man as wonderful as he was deserves as many tributes as the internet can hold. 

The artist at work
Photo via Berserker Books

When I look back on my childhood and all the people I was lucky enough to meet at conventions, Murphy Anderson immediately comes to mind. Even though I was just a kid, I was always struck by his kindness and charm -- not to mention, his low and distinctive voice. Anyone who heard him speak will keep that voice with them for a long time. I know I will. I can hear it as I write this!

You may not think of romance comics when you think of Murphy Anderson, but like so many artists of the Silver Age, he worked on a handful. His romance pencils and inks may not be as identifiable as some artists, but I am getting to know them better as time goes on. Below are a few examples I have in my collection.

Perhaps the most unforgettable story Murphy worked on was "I Found My Love at the Woodstock Festival!" if only for its sheer novelty. I continue to be unsure of the penciler, but the inks are by Anderson.

"I Found My Love at the Woodstock Festival!"
Falling in Love #118
(October 1970)
Though disputed, "Will No One Trust Me Again?" from Girls' Love Stories #155 appears to have been inked by Anderson (via Joe Orlando's records).

EDIT: Most likely not Anderson (see comments)
"Will No One Trust Me Again?"
Girls' Love Stories #155
(November 1970)

I see a few possible artists in the pages of "Too Good to Be Loved," but the GCD credits Anderson with pencils and inks.

"Too Good to Be Loved"
Girls' Romances #149
(June 1970)

"Unloved and Unwanted!" demonstrates Anderson's expressiveness as an inker. The characters are so dynamic and practically jump off the page! The original signed page can be seen here.

"Unloved and Unwanted!"
Girls' Romances #151
(September 1971)

As we continue to lose the talented folks who were the backbone of the industry for so long, I'm comforted to know that their legacy lives on. In these pages, in our hearts, and in Murphy Anderson's case... in my ears. Rest in Peace, kind sir.

10 comments:

  1. Dear Jacque: Hi!

    I am so sad to hear about this. If I had to pick one favorite artist from the silver age of comics, it probably would be Anderson. His art on Hawkman was so beautiful, and the romance work you feature above is equally fine.

    I was startled to see that when Anderson started his comics work at DC in the early 1950s, he was only in his mid-20s! He had such a mature style already in those years that I assumed he was older.

    You are so lucky to have had the chance to meet and interact with him. Thanks for your lovely tribute, Jacque!

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    1. Hawkman -- YES! :)

      I am also surprised when I hear how young some of the Golden/Silver/Bronze age artists were when they got their start!

      Thank you so much for reading, David!

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  2. Nice tribute to Murphy Anderson. May he rest in peace. From Star Pirate in Planet Comics way back in 1943, through Lars of Mars and Captain Comet in the 1950s, through inking Adam
    Strange in the 1960s and Superman in the 1970s, his art always had such a poli8shed look. He was really hitting on all cylinders on the first 20 or so issues of Hawkman from 1964 to 1967.

    My best guesses (and these are only guesses) for whose pencils are under Murphy Anderson's inks are John Rosenberger (who was doing Lois Lane at the time) on "Unloved and Unwanted!" in Girls' Romances #151 (September 1971) and Bob Brown (who was doing Superboy at the
    time) on "Too Good to Be Loved" in Girls' Romances #149 (June 1970). Bob Brown isn’t known
    to have done any romance stories, and I was all set to name someone else, before I took a second
    look. The young girl's face just reminds me of Bob Brown's art, somehow.

    Re: Supergirl TV pilot. There were some changes from canon that I thought were unnecessary,
    but the lead actress did a good enough job of playing young and innocent to keep me tuning in.
    At least until they go all dark and gritty like Arrow. (Why do they pronounce it Aero???)

    Jake Oster

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    1. Thank you, Jake!

      I am also weary of Supergirl going too dark and gritty. If it does, I think they'll lose me.

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  3. Hi Jacque,

    Nice to see some examples of Anderson's romance art. Jake may be correct about the art ID's although I'm not 100% certain. I concur that the woman's pose in the second panel of "Too Good To Be Loved" reminds me of Bob Brown's work. I don't see any sign of Anderson in "Will No One Trust Me Again?" Perhaps the work of Jack Katz?

    I only met Mr. Anderson once or twice and I agree that his Distinctive voice and warm personality remains memorable.

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  4. The GCD (per info from Robin Snyder) has John Calnan credited on pencils and Joe Giella as possible inker for "Will No One Trust Me Again?"

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  5. Not that I'm an expert on Anderson's pencils, but a few points that should help spotting his full art jobs at least a little:
    He used wide gutters -- the space between panels.
    He often slipped a signature or initials into a job.
    His pencils are kind of stiff.
    As for your examples: First panel shown I'm certain is all Anderson. Second one seems untouched by Anderson at all. Third and fourth: Just inks. In the case of the third, I barely recognize it as Anderson; maybe too much of what was shown was inked by his assistants. (Allen Milgrom assisted him ca. 1969-70; if I recollect, Dave Cockrum also assisted Anderson.)

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  6. I was lucky enough to interview Murphy way-back-when. He was a gent, and I loved the guy.

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    1. Do you have any of those interviews with Murphy digitized and up on Youtube? Please share the link if you do!

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  7. Thank you everyone for your really great insights on identifying Anderson's work! My didactic personality wishes identifying artists was an exact science, but much of it remains best guesses based on other works (including work in other genres). Here are some additional thoughts based on your comments:

    1.) "I Found My Love at the Woodstock Festival!" - This one continues to stump me. A previous commenter on the original post for that story thought maybe Estrada on pencils, but I am more inclined to think it is entirely Anderson. The only thing stopping me, there are a few panels in the story that just don't look like Anderson, and his initials are nowhere to be found.

    2.) "Will No One Trust Me Again?" - According to Robin Snyder's corrections noted at http://martinohearn.blogspot.com/2015/06/girls-love-story-corrections-from-joe.html it does appear that Anderson was not involved (I will leave the panel up, but note a correction) From what I am getting out of O'Hearn's post is that Anderson was paid for it, but he gave payment to his assistant Calnan who actually penciled it? Am I interpreting that correctly?

    3.) "Too Good to Be Loved" - I am going to go out on limb here with this one as far as pencils. After looking at it some more, I can kind of see Mortimer -- especially in that first panel in the example here. I'm unfortunately not familiar with Brown's work to make a guess there.

    4.) "Unloved and Unwanted!" - After looking at the original pages of the story (http://www.anthonyscomicbookart.com/ArtistGalleryRoom.asp?ArtistId=929) I can see Rosenberger

    Thanks again everyone! I've said it before and I'll say it again -- artist ID's are a work in progress but provide an exciting challenge as well! :)

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