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  1. #1
    It's Too Quiet Red Oak Kid's Avatar
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    Default In Focus Closeup Look at Artists Who Might Not Be Appreciated Too Much

    Alden McWilliams.

    I was only dimly aware of the work of Alden McWilliams from the occasional backup stories that appeared here and there in DC comics in the 70s. And I wasn't much impressed. I think he did something for an Atlas Seaboard Police title.

    But I Googled his name today and was very impressed with his lengthy resume of comic book and strip work. I was very intrigued with a SF comic strip he did in the 50s called "Twin Earths".

    http://www.toonopedia.com/twinerth.htm

    Anyone have any thoughts on Al McWilliams and has anyone ever seen the Twin Earths strip which seems to have been reprinted several times in comic book form?
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    Senior Member MDG's Avatar
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    When I first saw Al McWilliams art, I thought it was Al Williamson under a (pretty lame) pseudonym--a lot of similarities. I really don't remember where I first saw his work, but I knew who he was when I read the first Justice Inc. (Probably Warren--I know in retrospect he has stories in BK Tales of Mystery, and other Gold Key books, but w/o credits I wouldn't have made the connection as a kid.)

    I've seen various Twin Earths strips, but never "read" it.
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  3. #3
    world of yesterday benday-dot's Avatar
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    I mostly know Al McWilliams through his Gold Key work. I always looked forward to coming upon a GK book with his art in. I pegged it as better than average. It was always very nicely of the illustrative mode.

  4. #4
    *choke* Dan B. in the Underworld's Avatar
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    I have, I believe, about a half-dozen of the compendiums (compendia?) of Twin Earths dailies & one of the Sundays, & I'm keeping an eye out for those I don't have. I like McWilliams' stuff a lot, having become acquainted with it (not that I knew him by name then) in various Gold Key "mystery" titles in the late '60s.

    Probably the first time I ever really noticed him by name was (assuming I'm remembering correctly here) as the artist on a pb I picked up circa the mid-'70s adapating, I believe, Bram Stoker's Dracula. Seems like it was reprinted from early issues of Creepy.

    His name has come up on this forum before, of course. Others have mentioned how reminiscent his work was of Gray Morrow's; I very much concur.
    I tend to split superhero comics fans into "People who like Krypto" and "People who don't like Krypto."
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    Senior Member JKCarrier's Avatar
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    I haven't seen much of McWilliams' work, but I do have a copy of a Spider-Man storybook he did the illustrations for:

    http://www.spiderfan.org/comics/revi...n/gb_6417.html

    It's really nice work, love that painted cover (and Doc Ock's expression!).
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  6. #6
    In Moderation Lone Ranger's Avatar
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    I like Alden McWilliams' art quite a bit.

    As I've stated elsewhere - I really dug his art on Justice Inc., and thought it fit the feel of that series than Kirby's art (how's that for heresy?)

    Like b-d and MDG, most of my exposure to his work has been via the Gold Key titles, as I read several of his horror/mystery stories and thought he was a good fit on Star Trek. If memory serves, he also did some Red Circle work in the mid-70s - so there's definitely a connection to Gray Morrow.

    I do have an old issue of National Comics (#38) with his art - that's going way back to 1944. His artwork was quite a bit different that it looked in the 70s, but still quite attractive, fitting in with the Quality Comics house style.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member InfoBroker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Oak Kid View Post
    Anyone have any thoughts on Al McWilliams and has anyone ever seen the Twin Earths strip which seems to have been reprinted several times in comic book form?
    Early chapters of the the Twin Earth strips were reprinted in the late 80s or early 90s in a format similar to the large EC reprint tabloids (also from the 90s).

    I shall try to open up some time to scan some pages this evening.

    -jb the "time is of the essence" ib -
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  8. #8
    It's Too Quiet Red Oak Kid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by InfoBroker View Post
    I shall try to open up some time to scan some pages this evening.

    -jb the "time is of the essence" ib -
    That would be nice. I knew McWilliams' comic book work had been discussed here before, but it was the info about his extensive comic strip work that prompted me to start this thread.

    As the Toonapedia entry on Twin Earths pointed out, it was pretty ahead of it's time for a SF strip in 1952. It wasn't a Flash Gordon type strip with a heroic figure for the lead. But maybe it wasn't unusual for such a strip to be in newspapers. Maybe the newspaper comics sections were more diverse in those days, just as the comic book market was more diverse.
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  9. #9
    *choke* Dan B. in the Underworld's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Oak Kid View Post
    It wasn't a Flash Gordon type strip with a heroic figure for the lead. But maybe it wasn't unusual for such a strip to be in newspapers. Maybe the newspaper comics sections were more diverse in those days, just as the comic book market was more diverse.
    Part of it may also have been the fact that UFOs in general were pretty topical at the time. (The famed sightings over Washington, DC, occurred in July '52.) Also, what were probably the first big sf movies -- The Day the Earth Stood Still & The Thing from Another World -- had come out the previous year.
    I tend to split superhero comics fans into "People who like Krypto" and "People who don't like Krypto."
    Basically, if you miss the wonder of a dog flying around in a little Superman cape, you're in the wrong hobby.

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  10. #10
    Senior Member InfoBroker's Avatar
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    There was some editorial material in the reprints that talked about the difficulties getting Twin Earths up and running. The UFO craze of the time did help turn the tide as Dan mentions. I shall try to post some of that as well.

    -jb the "unidentified non-flying" ib -
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  11. #11
    Senior Member InfoBroker's Avatar
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    Usually to help sell a new comic strip to newspaper, the syndicates would have the cartoonist creators develop material to be use as "ad copy" and art "drops" to appear in the papers prior to publication.

    Here's the half page promotional "drop" that was used to "sell" and explain Twin Earths to the readers



    Here's a close up on the text material.

    I also liked this drop art that appeared right here in Minnie-sew-tah.


    The first dailies broke right into the action of the main characters and the intrigue of there being a twin earth on the exact opposite side of the sun. This one dominated by females.



    Take note with this early strip that instead of dates they are numbered sequentially. This is because, when pitching a new strip, cartoonist were required to provide the syndicates with several weeks of sample material. It could vary, but most required at least six weeks of completely finished strips (drawn, lettered and inked), another 4 to six weeks of finished pencils, and perhaps another six to 10 weeks of full scripts along with pencils roughs.

    What we are seeing here is the actual presentation dailies, and since the was no known date for if and when they would be published, the numbers were in place to keep them in order as they were handled by syndicate editors.

    Going forward, I will provide hyper links for most if not all the artwork. This page is going to take forever for Dan and ROK to load as it is, for which I do apologize.

    Also, if you want to see 2x version of these first dailies then feel free to click here and here.

    I am providing those larger scans so you can study the line and brushwork in more detail. Although take that with a grain of two of newsprint textured salt. The source for these reprints is the actual printed strips and were reduced slightly for these early 1990s reprints. Not to knock what the publisher did, the quality here is very good, and not reduced as much as the Fantagraphics Peanuts strips are (my only grip about that very nice reprint series).

    -jb the "WOW! Ten Bucks indeed" ib -
    Last edited by InfoBroker; 04-23-2008 at 08:59 PM.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member InfoBroker's Avatar
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    The initial plot focuses on the presence of the Twin Earth, and the implication that its discovery has for our earth.

    http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x...otThickens.jpg

    As the strip matured, the line quality became more free flowing, all though the poses still tended towards a certain amount of stiffness. It was pretty obvious when there was and wasn't photo source being used.

    http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x...mondSchool.jpg

    It was also obvious that the comic art influences were heavily based on Alex Raymond and his school. For the more refined, it should be noted that the creators were reading a lot of science fiction, along with science fact articles (except for the twin earth and its position in space), at least when it came to the early, 1950s pre-manned space flights understanding of how things worked just a few miles up from the surface of the earth. Included in that influence would be a lot of visual sourcing from several Science Fiction/Fact art pioneers like Wiley Ley, Kelly Freas, Cheesley Bonestell, Fred Freeman and Rolf Klep.

    http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x...spaceswim1.jpg
    http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x...spaceswim2.jpg

    I found this sequence to be fascinating, fun and appealing to read even in the 1990s. While I can't prove it, I'm pretty sure the space swimming and the references to "infinity above and below were inspired by the chapter called "This Side of Infinity" written by Joseph Kaplan for the now classic Space Science book (also from 1952) called Across the Space Frontier.



    -jb the "wishes he had his Wernher Von Braun metal lunch box from grade school" ib -
    Last edited by InfoBroker; 04-23-2008 at 10:22 PM.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member InfoBroker's Avatar
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    Now the Sunday strips are of interest in that first, they were drawn much later (by several months I'm guessing) that the initail daily strips. Also, they run an entirely separate plot continuity from the dailies, and they wisely start right away with direct involvement in seeing the spaceship's interiors along with other aspects of the Twin Earth's advanced technologies. (It would be several weeks into the dailies before the main cast is brought aboard the space discs.

    http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x...er/sunday1.jpg
    http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x...er/sunday2.jpg

    As you can see (assuming you clicked the link), the viewpoint is from that of a young boy, probably 12 years or so in age. I'm guessing both of these aspects of the Sunday story line were suggested (strongly) by the syndicate editors and it was clever to do so. First it resolved immediately the desires of the readers to see inside the space ships, and by using a young boy, it provides character identification and viewpoint for young people, whose participation in reading the strips was much higher on Sunday afternoons that it was during the week.

    I find the Sunday pages to no great surprise more flowing in panel layout, and style. This comic strip lasted for 11 years. I don't thing it was reprinted in its entirety by R. Susor Publications. I have 1 issue of Sundays, and issues 1,3and 4 of the dailies. Not sure why the second issue wasn't part of the set. I bought these from Bud Plant circa 1996-97 or so. If you can find them, these early episode make a great read.

    -jb the "wouldn't mind a trip to this Twin Earth anytime" ib -
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  14. #14
    It's Too Quiet Red Oak Kid's Avatar
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    That is awsome stuff. Thanks for all the hard work.
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  15. #15
    In Moderation Lone Ranger's Avatar
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    I agree with Mac. Great work JB - that stuff looks wonderful, I've never seen it before.
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