Jul 21, 2009

Speed on Paper (Smash Comics 37, Nov. 1942)

In an earlier Speed On Paper design study, we looked at Jack Cole's unsurpassed ability to inject his characters and stroylines with manic energy. Here is another stellar example, from Smash Comics #37 (November, 1942, Quality Publications).

The story features MIDNIGHT, one of Cole's longest-running characters. Originally designed by Quality publisher Everett M. "Busy" Arnold as a knock-off of Will Eisner's instantly sucessful THE SPIRIT, the feature very quickly morphed into one of Cole's richest and most unique creations.

This story, Cole's 14th MIDNIGHT episode, is one of my favorites. It is brimming with graphic invention as the characters smash the panel borders and zoom off the page. This 9-page gem respresents perhaps the apex of Jack Cole's invention in putting speed on paper!


  1. Wow--amazing story. Page seven drops my jaw. Thanks so much for posting this. Your whole blog is amazing! I hope you are able to publish a book. Good luck!

  2. I'd pay for a collection of the Midnight stories just to compare and contrast The Spirit.

    I LOVE The Spirit but am also a Jack Cole/Plastic Man fan, too!

    Too bad I missed the All-Star Squadron issues with Midnight. Have about a 1/3 of The Spirit Archives DC published, though. Great stuff!

    One thing I hate about copyright -- you have all these companies run by people who DON'T KNOW what the companies own! They keep old books, comics, and films under lock and key and the stuff just rots away and gets forgotten.

    There are cheaper ways to get this stuff out than expensive Archives/Masterworks hardcovers. Nice DVD sets with digital restoration are a start. Heck, I'd take photo or scans of the old comics unrestored to make a it a bit cheaper, too!

    It's sad so many of these great stories haven't been seen in for 50-, 60-, and even 70 years. Sure, Batman and Superman reprints are all over the place but what about the lesser characters like Johnny Quick, Midnight, the original Vision, and so on????

  3. Question, is there any chance that Cole DIDN'T write this story? The art certainly looks like him, but the story seems oddly-spotty in relation to his earlier Midnight stories. Also, would you say this is the first example of Midnight's turning into more of a comedic type character than the more serious crime-fighter tone of the earlier stories?


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