Sep 7, 2011

Jack Cole: Colorist - Rare Golden Age Original Art (1941)

You just never know what you'll find when you troll the Web. This image has been up on Comic Art Fans for 5 years, but I just now discovered it! Sheesh! Many thanks to the site, and the art's owner for sharing this extremely rare piece! This is very likely the ONLY known page of 1940's superhero art by Jack Cole known to exist. It's the splash page from Silver Streak #10 (Lev Gleason, May 1941).
Note the "Good Luck" at the bottom. Could that be a note of encouragement to an aspiring comic book artist from Jack Cole himself? It's known that many comic book artists of the time gave pages of their original art to young visitors and fans as gifts. 

Even more interesting is the fact that this page is hand-colored, presumably by Jack Cole himself. Did Cole, before sending this page in the mail to a fan, perhaps take an hour or two and apply some color? I have long suspected that Cole colored at least some of his stories. He liked to do everything on his stories, if possible, from writing, penciling, and inking... and probably in some cases, coloring. At any rate, this page -- if it was colored by Jack Cole -- provides a clue as to the sort of color palette Cole preferred (at least in 1941!). 

A side-by-side comparison of Cole's coloring and the published version  (above) reveals that Cole had a more interesting palette, and a very different vision of the visual impact of the art than what was published. The published page has a lot of red and yellow... more garish primary colors. It is also interesting to note that, while the published page's splash panel treats the US map background as merely a non-distinguished field of light orange, Cole gives it a lighter color, making it an art element in the composition. It must have been frustrating for Cole and other artists of the time to create layouts and have the impact of them reduced by slapdash coloring. 

I've read that most of the stories at Quality Comics, Cole's main home for most of his career in comics, were colored by the color-blind publisher himself. 

The Claw vs. Daredevil story is pretty cool, by the way. We've published it on this blog in black and white, but since we are looking at color... here it is -- in its amazing, bizarre entirety in full, glorious (if sloppy) color, from a recently surfaced nice paper scan. Enjoy!


  1. Isn't there some way you could do a POD of the MIdnight book? I'd be happy to pay $25 for a print edition. I follow your blogs for the editorial content, and do check out the scans, but reading comics on a computer doesn't cut it for me at all.

    patrick ford

  2. Thanks for your comment, Patrick. I find reading comics on a computer to be less satisfying than curling up in bed with an actual printed book. I've looked into POD (Print On Demand myself. There are basically two issues for me that have kept me from moving forward. One is the cost. With all of the POD systems I've found so far, if I sold the Midnight book for $25 a copy (in a decent size, with full-color on every page), I'd be losing money. Secondly, it's not clear whether the scans I have are all print-quality. However, I am thinking about it and working on it. Thanks again!


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