Friday, September 6, 2013

Cartoonists Make Better Lovers: Ogden Whitney

Growing up in the 60’s as I did, I came upon my love for comic books during the height of the Silver Age Superhero boom. Despite this, I still made time for other genres too. Horror, humor, war, classics, Movie & TV tie ins were all consumed in my voracious comics reading habit. However, in my maleness, there was one milieu that I didn’t dare explore; Romance comics. Besides them not being “butch” enough, a quick scan through them found nothing of any particular interest by me. It’s only as an adult that I’ve come to have any appreciation for the genre. Looking at them now, I realize the fatal error in my logic. Nothing of interest? How about beautiful depictions of women done by some of the best cartoonists of the comics industry? So I’ll be posting a series to explore this ‘forbidden fruit’.
For the initial entry, our subject is Ogden Whitney. He was born in 1918 and was another member of the group of artists inventing the comic book during the medium’s infancy. His earliest cited job was published in ADVENTURE COMICS #42 in 1939. The following year he took over the Sandman strip for Craig Flessel and he co-created the character Skyman with Gardner Fox.

To folks of my generation he is best remembered for the ACG character Herbie. This unique and bizarre strip about a obese child found an audience and survived to be published for 23 issues between 1964 and 1967.

In 1954 Whitney drew “Jailbird Romance” in an issue of ROMANTIC ADVENTURES. The story managed to combine both the Love and Crime genres that were popular then. His draftsmanship on this job is remarkable and is as fine as anything that I’ve ever seen by him.

Sadly Ogden Whitney’s life did not end well. He was an alcoholic and in his later years extremely dependent upon his wife Anne. When she passed away he could no longer function and was eventually forcibly evicted from the apartment the couple had resided in for many years.


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