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March 15, 2009

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Darla Dixon

I think it could have been done by the same artist. Although you're seeing a different style, he was probably capable of creating both. I like to create all different styles of art myself. I mostly do realistic pencil portraits (for clients) but I also like to draw silly cartoon-like stuff in pen and ink, and I've also done some impressionistic and modern art paintings that people who think they know my art would be shocked to see I have created. So I say Hibbard probably did this stipple portrait.

John Nowak

It's an interesting problem, isn't it?

I could easily imagine Hibbard's work looking dramatically different depending on the circumstances. Maybe it was

HIBBARD: I've been playing with stippled portraits. Check out this Flash -- I've been working on this at home after work for two months.

vs.

HIBBARD: I have to finish this page today or I'll get docked.

which would, I think, account for a big differentce in quality.

Of course, maybe it was a fan-produced work that ran uncredited.

Mark Engblom

Darla-

Although there are artists like yourself who can work in dramatically different styles and mediums, that's a pretty rare thing. So, while I'm certainly open to Hibbard having created the stipple portrait, I still find it hard to believe something at that level was created by the same guy responsible for the interior story's somewhat crude cartooning.

Now, something like John's first scenario (Hibbard bringing in something he's slaved over and nursed along for months) could be a possibility. But there are clues in Hibbard's cartooning that suggest it's not likely he was capable of the Flash portrait. Maybe Hibbard was, indeed, a more "realistic" artist who was just trying to pay his bills through comic book work and couldn't quite "get" cartooning. Whatever the case, it's definitely a mystery I'd love to solve.

Kelson

The article on E.E. Hibbard in The Flash Companion (John Wells interviewing Tom Brevoort) certainly seems to believe that this page was in fact completely drawn by Hibbard himself.

Hibbard came from a background as a commercial illustrator, and went back to that career after he left comics. The article quotes Sheldon Mayer as comparing the early comic artists who came from either illustration or cartooning backgrounds, saying that the illustrators were technically better, but the cartoonists had a better sense of story and expression. Hibbard was apparently one of the few from an illustrator background who understood what the comics business wanted: "He learned to draw the way he would have if he had started out a cartoonist, and when good craftsmanship was needed, he could provide it."

He later became known for paintings of wildlife (signing as Everett Hibbard), as you can see here. Admittedly these are from later in his career, but looking at them I have no problem believing he could have done that portrait of the Flash.

I've also got a scan of a couple of panels from All-Flash #14, showing cameos of himself and Gardner Fox, which show much more detail than the regular characters.

I'd be really interested in seeing some of his other comics work for comparison (though most of it seems to have been on The Flash).

Mark Engblom

I'm so happy I sent you an email regarding this mystery, Kelson!

For those of you who aren't aware, Kelson is the proprietor of the fantastic Speed Force website, which is devoted to all-things Flash. Check it out!

The information you've shared has made me reconsider my opinion on Hibbard's role. Thanks so much for the links and, as far as I'm concerned, solving this perplexing mystery for me!

Kelson

Glad I could help!

WesC

Out of curiousity Mark, do you do art in any different style than the cartooing style we see on this site?

I ask only because your response to Darla seemed to indicate that. Of course maybe I'm reading to much into your response).

I try to work in a variety of different styles, with different mediums and different approaches. I'll leave it up to others to judge the relative success of those efforts, but like Darla my work differs from according to the piece.

Of course for me that might be a case of "Jack of all trades, master of none"

Like I said, just curious.

Thanks.

Mark Engblom

Yeah, I do different stuff in addition to cartooning, some of it more illustrative, some of it more graphic design.

I guess my main disconnect with Hibbard's Flash portrait came from how wide of a gulf there seemed to be between that level of skill and the level of skill Hibbard showed in his more cartoony stuff. When a professional artist does have the skill to work in "polar opposite" styles and mediums (which I maintain is actually pretty rare), the level of quality usually seems consistent. That's why the crude cartooning of Hibbard's Flash stories seemed like such a night and day contrast with the portrait.

I'm probably not making much sense, and to some extent I feel like I've talked myself into a corner...but I guess seeing that level of work coming out of a "down and dirty" Golden Age artist remains quite a surprise.

Wes C

I think you're making perfect sense.

It is a very different piece of work from his cartoony style.

I wonder if he slaved over that drawing and still received the same page rate for it as he did with the stuff he just cranked out?

Probably so...

Hey, I found it an informative post, up until now I had never even heard of Hibbard.

Mark Engblom

The page rates being what they were then, it wouldn't surprise me to learn he didn't get any extra for the portrait. Perhaps it's something he'd done on his own, or for some other Flash project, and thought it would be a good opportunity to get it published. Interestingly, another issue of "Clamor" magazine is featured later in the story (when Flash's reputation is restored), this one sporting Hibbard's cartoony Flash...so obviously the realistic portrait wasn't a requirement of the script.

Just one of those mysterious Golden Age things, I guess!

suedenim

Having little talent for or knowledge of art techniques, my first reaction was:

"Huh, this kinda puts the lie to that whole 'Jay Garrick protected his secret identity by constantly vibrating his facial muscles' thing, doesn't it?"

Mark Engblom

Hah! Great point, suedenim. I haven't read enough of Jay Garrick's Golden Age adventures to know if he was actually doing the blur trick at the time, or if that was something added following his Silver Age revival.

suedenim

From the small sampling of Golden Age Flash stories I've read, I got the impression that (somewhat unusually for the time) they didn't fuss overly much with secret identity shenanigans in that feature. IIRC, girlfriend/later-wife Joan learns the secret right off the bat, and it certainly wouldn't take the World's Greatest Detective to figure out that the former "leadfoot" now setting college football records might be this "Flash" character.

Jay's wikipedia page seems to bear this idea out - that even when he technically had a secret identity, he was pretty casual about maintaining it.

Pat Curley

It's also quite possible that Hibbard was drawing down to the comics style of the time. I know he was a very early Flash artist, but it's my recollection that he didn't do the first few stories. The idea that a creator came along and used his own personal style for a character was not established back then.

Mark Engblom

Ehh...not quite sure if I agree with that. There were plenty of strong, individual styles that appeared in Golden Age comics. Jack Burnley's Starman, Shelly Moldoff's Hawkman, Simon & Kirby's Sandman, Peter's Wonder Woman, C.C. Beck's Captain Marvel, Mac Raboy's Captain Marvel Jr., Jack Cole's Plastic Man, and Wayne Boring's Superman were all great examples of unique, individual styles that didn't fit with a larger "house" or industry-wide style.

Pat Curley

I'm not suggesting that there was one house style, just that Hibbard may have been copying the style used on the first few Flash stories by--okay, I'll look it up--Harry Lampert. Checking the GCD, Hibbard started with Flash Comics #3.

Mark Engblom

Well, whatever the case, Hibbard's Flash artwork seemed very different (in ways both obvious and subtle) from the portrait on the story's first page. With the portrait's level of finesse and technical mastery, I would have assumed to see more of that cross over into his panel work.

genie junkie

I don't think switch-hitter style drawing is that "rare."

Anyways, my question is what is that copyright stuff in the caption. Does that mean that the drawing was of a real photo (or modified version of one) contained in that magazine? I guess it could just be for using the title "clamor" but the nose and eyes just kinda look like they came off a model or photo, don't know... could be crazy.

suedenim

Hmm, never knew this before, but apparently "Jolaine Publications" was the formal name of All-American Comics, the original copyright holder. (Which a lot of people also don't know - that DC, for several years, was two separate companies - not just in terms of editorial separation, but literally two separate corporations.)

Odkin

Here are some examples of fine art by Hibbard.
http://www.squidoo.com/EEHibbard

He was a very good artist. He was also a very good *cartoonist*, which is how he drew comics, in the style of the day.

He could do both, and I'm sure he rendered that photo-style graphic of the Flash. HOWEVER... it is also very likely he used a model or photo reference which might turn up. I suggest looking for classical images of Mercury.

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