Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th: "Born Loser" by Oleck and Toth

What it is, Groove-ophiles! Whaddya doin' hidin' under the covers? Oh, it's another Friday the Thirteenth, huh? Well, in Groove City ya don't have to worry, 'cause Friday the Thirteenth is good luck around here! We always find some other poor, wretched soul or two to dump all the bad luck on--like Homer and Judith from House of Mystery #194 (June 1971). Which one is the "Born Loser"? Only Jack Oleck and Alex Toth know for sure...
Oh, yeah! A Bernie Wrightson cover!

Don't forget to "rap with Carmine" about the infamous price hike!


  1. Two great artists but I wonder who influenced whom in regard to the cover and the splash?

  2. Thank you,Mr Groove!
    Hmm,Mr Toth was 42 years old when he pencilled, inked and lettered this doozy.
    Mr Oleck wrote his first story in comics 1939 and he died 42 years later.
    And,it is now (almost,I know I know) 42 years since Mr Oleck came up with this lovely little tale of a born loser.
    42!A coincidence?I think not.
    FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH!If you look,you shall find.
    /Mr Anonymous

  3. Berni Wrightson based his cover on the splash page by Toth, as is evidenced by the job order numbers in the lower left corner. Wrightson's cover was done on duoshade paper which is no longer made (sniff). Duoshade is a chemically treated paper: after pencilling and inking the artwork, Berni then used a brush with the formulae (two different ones) to activate the screen tone effects in them. Duoshade allowed artists to get much more intricate effects than what regular screen tones (zip-a-tone) could achieve, and much more easily. Now, of course, the computer has superceded all that...and there's no more original art with half tones (sniff sniff) --- where's my kleenex?

    Wrightson has drawn at least two comics stories which make heavy use of duoshade: "The Hunters" (published in 1971 in BADTIME STORIES anthology) and "Cool Air" (published in 1974 in EERIE #60).


    1. It is a great effect. Am I right in thinking that Jeff Jones made use of the same technique on some of his covers at that time?

      About the job order numbers: what exactly do they signify? Is it a reference to the date? All these years and I never knew what they meant.

    2. Not the date, but the order in which the assignments were given. If you had a stack of DC comic books from the '70s, especially a single title, then you'd see the initial of the editor ("J" for "Joe Orlando" on the mystery books), and the number in order of the assignment given.

      As for Jeff Jones' covers for some of the mystery mags and for WONDER WOMAN #199, those were done in ink wash, not duoshade. Ink wash is diluted ink so that you have actual grays as well as solid black ink. Wrightson's HOUSE OF SECRETS #92 cover (first appearance of the Swamp Thing) and HOUSE OF SECRETS #94 (with Mr. Hyde carrying a woman in a white Victorian dress) were also done in wash.


  4. OK, it's always a groovy ride to see Toth's comic work. Thanks much for posting as always. But. I gotta question for discussion by all of us groovephiles: What exactly was/is so attractive about the 70's comics, especially Marvels? I've been intently studying this and considering this for years and I'd like very much hear what the die-hard fans of that era think.

    So, please think about this and post your veiwpoints, friends. Really anxious to hear this!

    Thanks very much, everyone! - Scott Rosema

    1. There was a lot of schlock published in the '70s, to be sure, but the cream of the crop had that "analog warmth" that the best music, television, films, etc. of that era also had. By 1975 comics' actual story page count had shrunk from 24 to 17 pages, and the coloring began to look horribly garish. Prior to that, however, the best stuff was amazing..."the stuff that dreams are made on," to quote the bard.

      Comics had not yet decompressed either. Individual pages usually had 5-6 panels (splashes excepted), and both creators and fans understood that COMICS ARE NOT MOVIES. They are a unique form with some overlaps with film, theater, literature, cartooning, fine art, illustration, pulp fiction, etc.

      The best artists INVESTED THEMSELVES into the stories. Today's artists crank out pages, and the writers take three issues to tell a story fit for one. The result: no compression (intensity) - just like a car engine that won't run either - and the medium is DYING as a result.

      The best comics of the early to mid '70s were GEARED TOWARDS REASONABLY INTELLIGENT CHILDREN and yet written so that adults could enjoy them as well. The code was on its last legs, and so there were still moral parameters - and - shocking as it may sound - many writers and editors were still morally sound FAMILY MEN who wanted to EDIFY young readers. That is completely gone now.


  5. This strip makes my head hurt. It seams like Toth did at least a hundred things in this strip that are far from conventional. Every chance to mess with a standard comic layout - for better or worse - are taken. Using black gutters and then breaking up the action and dialog within panels with black lines... for pacing or design? Both? arbitrary? The angular word balloons for that overbearing script and running the word ballon tail down the middle of an arm. A master class in what happens when the master goofs off... maybe.



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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

Note to "The Man": All images are presumed copyright by the respective copyright holders and are presented here as fair use under applicable laws, man! If you hold the copyright to a work I've posted and would like me to remove it, just drop me an e-mail and it's gone, baby, gone.

All other commentary and insanity copyright GroovyAge, Ltd.

As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!