Wednesday, July 29, 2015

War Is Hell (But Necessary) 11

Chapter 11

It became harder and harder for Chapman to see the positive side of the Korean war.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

War Is Hell (But Necessary) 10

Chapter 10

The more America got caught in the Korean war, the more negative Chapman became.

Monday, July 27, 2015

War Is Hell (But Necessary) 9

Chapter 9

Let's catch up with some Chapman stories before I move on the the second part of my presentation. I am continuing chronologically.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

War Is Hell (But Necessary) 8

Chapter 8

Hank Chapman is a complete storyteller, who uses words and images together to make the greatest impact. He may have picked up the four panel tier from Harvey Kurtzman, or even Stan Lee, who liked and used it as well. But that was not the only storytelling trick that make him such a complete comic book writer. He used whole pages...

.. sound effects...

.. small panels...

.. and surreal effects.

All helped by the best artists of his time, all not working for EC.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

War Is Hell (But Necessary) 7

 Chapter 7

Yesterday I looked in some more detail at the story Truck Convoy. What this story shows, is not only Chapman's grim pessimism about the war. It is also extremely well told. I don't know if Chapman saw or read Harvey Kurtzman's war comics. But his use of sequential panels with little more than sound effects is similar and disproves the numerous claims that this device as unique to Kurtzman and that he was the only one using it. Of course, one could try to argue that it was not Chapman doing this, the he was merely the writer. Harvey Kurtzman sketched his lay-out and his artists followed them meticuously. Hank Chapman merely worked with a typewriter.

He did this sort of tiers with Joe Maneely.

Russ Heath.

George Tuska.

Werner Roth.

Joe Sinnott.

Paul Reinman.

Robert Sale.

Dave Berg.

Bernie Krigstein.

Syd Shores.

 Sam Kweskin.

And (probably) Mort Meskin.

If you follow the link you will find more from each of these artists.

Friday, July 24, 2015

War Is Hell (But Necessary) 6

Chapter 6

Discussing yesterday's story. A great example of Chapman's qualities as a storyteller.


"It's June in Korea... but don't expect pretty flowers! They can't find the sun... because the dead are in the way!" That's the start of the story called Battle Convoy in Battle #6. It is drawn by Russ Heath, who depicts the action with extreme realism.

The hero of this story is corparal Hank Stern, who is stuck being a truck driver when he want to be fighting at the front. When the narrator warns him that being at the front is not all it's cracked up to be, he looks straight at the reader and says: "Aw, shut-up! What are you butting in for?!"

Is it a coincidence that the hero's name, Stern, is also the name of Harvey Kurtzman's former studio mate Charlie Stern? Probably, but worth noting anyway.

The narrator doesn't shup up, though. He tells him about the horrors of the front line:

"Don't go shouting off your mouth like that, corporal Stern. Yelling that you want to be in combat doesn't mean that you are a brave man... it means you're foolish. While you are screaming to get up to the front, every G.I. up on the line is cursing the day he was sent into combat. And they have reason to curse... the Chinese have launched another of their vicious Jen Hai (human sea) attacks."

He then shows the attack while quoting Lord Tennyson, John Pierpont, General Sherman and William Shakespeare. 

"But you wouldn't know about all that, corperal Stern... because you are tucked away safely in your sack."

But Stern is a stubborn man. He wants to have a medal and will do anything to get it. When he is asked to join a convoy of trucks to deliver ammunition to the front, he takes first position. 

The convoy leaves. "And twenty trucks loaded with ammunition roll into the night..." 

Of course, the convoy gets attacked and it all goes wrong. 

Corperal Stern't truck is the only one to make it through. He will get his medal... but it wil have to be posthumously.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

War Is Hell (But Necessary) 5

Chapter 5

Where Harvey Kurtzman might have shown that innocent lives were lost, Chapman seems to believe that there are no innocents and that everybody dies anyway. I will show it in full today and discuss it here tomorrow. The artwork is by Russ Heath, who illustrated some of Chapman's best stories.