Monday, January 6, 2014

Adolescent Behavior : Kathy (Part 1)

Kathy was a short lived entry into the “Archie sweepstakes” by Standard Comics. She was introduced to the public in the February 1948 issue of THRILLING COMICS as a minor back up feature. The creative team behind the strip is unidentified at the GCD and remains a mystery. Here is the splash page to that initial story.

The art in her premiere episode is very distinctive, stylized and modern for the time.
That might have been enough to make Kathy a remarkable feature but ultimately that was not to be. Instead the most distinguishing things about the series is a shortage of any real editorial direction and a total lack of artistic continuity. In her two year life, the Kathy character was reimagined by a whole host of artists.

For example, take her second story, which ran two issues later. The sophomore effort of the feature was drawn by Ralph Mayo. 

Mayo’s art is certainly lovely but it is somewhat inappropriate for a teenaged comedy. While there are some ‘cartoony’ elements in it, Ralph mostly stays near the style he used on adventure strips. Besides that he made wholesale changes in the character design. The raven haired girl from issue 64 is now a blonde and her parents hold little resemblance to the ones seen earlier. Well that latter trait is staple in the series.

In 1949 Kathy left the pages of THRILLING COMICS to reside in her own title; KATHY. In issue 11 Art Saaf was enlisted to work upon the strip. I find his style much more complementary to the teenaged comedy milieu than Mayo’s. At this point Miss Crane is now a fiery redhead!

If Kathy is remembered at all, I’ve no doubt that that’s due to the two stories where Frank Frazetta was called upon to use his considerable talents. One of these, “Cake Fake” was posted on Destination Nightmare earlier. So here is the other one “Shutterbugs” a collaborative effort between he and Ralph Mayo.

The schizophrenic art styles on Kathy are so odd that they deserve further exploration. You’ll see more in part 2.


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