Monday, April 6, 2009

Emil Gershwin's Crime and Punishment

We all have our favourite artists, across a variety of media, but outside of a formal art education, how we discover the artists we come to like sometimes owes more to happenstance than anything else. I've liked Alex Toth's work in comics and animation for a long time, but it was only through a letter Toth wrote to Emil Gershwin's family that made me take note of Gershwin's work. As well known and admired as artists like Toth can be, it's easy to forget that artists of their calibre have their influences as well, and it's always worthwhile to see where that path leads. (Case in point: it was Genndy Tartakovsky's 'Samurai Jack' that led me to Charley Harper.)

Emil Gershwin worked in comics during the 40s and 50s for a variety of companies, including Fox, National (now DC), Quality (also now DC), Lew Gleason, and others. He did some superhero work - Starman, Kid Eternity, Captain Marvel, for example - but primarily he did genre work: crime stories, science fiction, and adventure strips.

Toth's letter to Gershwin's family praising their dad's work isn't online anymore, but this is what Toth wrote elsewhere about Gershwin as an influence: "...liked it as a blend of Alex Raymond's 'Flash' head/figural work - and Crane's dot-eyed and cartoonysimple doll-like figures, etc., a hoot, to me - always a fan - thru all his phases - via many publ'rs' books!"

From Crime & Punishment #28 (Lew Gleason, 1950), here's Emil Gershwin:

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