Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Panel of the Week - Train Kept A-Rollin'

In May of 1946, Scarlet found herself tangled up in an intense love triangle that resulted in her wrecking not one, but two weddings. She then decides she needs to get away from the Windy City for a while, but finds herself without a train ticket. So she puts her talents to use and hitches a ride. This panel shows Scarlet at one of her most vulnerable times in her history - literally and figuratively wrapped in a whirlwind, but still hanging on. Little does she know that this will lead her to the "unconquered wilderness" of the Okefenokee Swamp to have one of her weirdest adventures yet...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Panel of the Week - Cover Girl

This week's panel differs from the norm in two ways. 1) It is not actually a panel from a strip, but the cover art used for Harvey's Invisible Scarlet O'Neil #2 published in 1950. 2) The art is very similar to that of creator Russ Stamm, but is most likely the work of Al Alvison who produced a lot of covers for Harvey Comics during this time.

I recently discovered the original artwork on eBay and though I could not afford to bid, I was happy to see this rare look behind the scenes of one of Scarlet's comic covers. The scene depicted is from one of the most popular story arcs originally drawn by Stamm in a series of Sunday strips from the late 40's in which Scarlet finds herself in the Stone Age and must face "The Fight for Survival." The story is reprinted almost in its entirety in Scarlet's second issue for Harvey Comics.

The cover art is not an exact reproduction of any of Stamm's original panels, but it does nicely convey the same tone, atmosphere and story elements of the arc. Which was standard work from Al Avison, a solid penciller and inker during the Gold and Silver Ages of comics. According to information from the Lewis Wayne Gallery:

AL AVISON (b. 1920) worked extensively for Timely Comics, co-creating the speed-powered hero The Whizzer. He and Syd Shores succeeded the Simon/Kirby team on Captain America and he also drew The Vision, Young Allies, and Blonde Phantom among others. He spent a year at Fawcett drawing Captain Marvel, and in later years did a lot of work for Harvey, working in many different genres.

This is the original cover art for Invisible Scarlet O'Neil #2, published by Harvey in 1950. Although "signed" (photostat) by ISO'N creator Russel Stamm, this is almost certainly the work of Avison, who has written his name on the back of the art, as he often did.

The image above is the hand-painted color guide for the cover. Thanks so much to the Lewis Wayne Gallery for the opportunity to see this piece of original cover art. I only wish I could have placed a bid! And speaking of great Scarlet covers...STAY TUNED!!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Panel of the Week - Scarlet's First Love

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, this week's panel shows off Scarlet's first love interest introduced in the comic strips. "Red" Penn was a tramp turned successful radio crooner thanks to some help from an invisible source. It was in February sixty-eight years ago that Red finally had the courage (and the funds) to ask Scarlet out, and creator Russell Stamm was all too happy to provide them with the "Perfect Date."

Despite the wonderful evening, Red and Scarlet's relationship did not last. There was the standard soap opera melodrama to be sure, but there was also a war going on and Red became a naval aviator. The last strip that I've seen features Red called back to the air corps and promising to marry Scarlet when he returned. It appears he never did.

In honor of Red and first loves everywhere, take some time to celebrate your loved ones this Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Panel of the Week - Scarlet's Last Panel

The 1950's were not kind to Scarlet. Super-powered female characters were fading from the comic pages. In order to save his signature character, creator Russ Stamm dropped the "Invisible" from the title and focused on dramatic soap opera stories as opposed to those of intrigue, mystery, and adventure. One of the supporting characters, "Stainless Steel" grew in popularity and by 1954, he became the title character of the strip. After 13 years, Scarlet was driven out of her strip with absolutely no fanfare whatsoever. This week's panel from July 6, 1954 is the very last one to feature her that we have been able to find. It is the final known image of Scarlet by Russ Stamm (or anyone else for that matter) that was ever created.

I'm pleased to report that there are more new panels featuring Scarlet on the way! I've had the good fortune to have seen some the work being done on the new graphic novel and I can't wait to share. Scarlet may have ended her comic career badly in the last century, but we'll make sure she is treated well in this one!