Monday, February 22, 2010

Groove's Faves: "The Night of the Beast!" by Denny O'Neil and Frank Robbins

Friday's Doc Savage post got me in a pulpy mood, Groove-ophiles, so I hope you'll indulge me as I share one of my all-time favorite comic mags with ya--this one starring The Shadow. We've rapped many times about Frank Robbins' controversial turn as the artist on the Shadow, especially considering he was filling in the the stupendous Mike Kaluta, but danged if I don't love this particular Robbins art job at least as much as the art in the Kaluta-illustrated issues. And it certainly doesn't hurt that Denny O'Neil turned out a particularly poignant and praiseworthy script for "The Night of the Beast!" So here it is, from Shadow #7 (July 1974). Bet you're gonna dig it!


  1. Thanks for reminding me of how fine Frank Robbins work was. I realise it's heresy, but I'd go for Robbins every time over Kaluta, which is no insult to the latter, an undoubtedly fine artist. But Robbins had such a command of what he was doing, especially when he was inking himself. Even that final panel is perfect, the tree to the bottom left whipping back in the wind as the Shadow's laugh runs top left to bottom right on the page; the perfect use of shadow on the wrecked building giving it the kind of solidity you rarely see in comic book art .... I hated Robbin's work when I was a kid. As with most things, I was wrong.

  2. I, too, was slow to come around to liking Robbins, and The Shadow #5 was my first exposure to his work. Robbins' gangly figures and jagged panel layouts were just too different from the more graceful and pulpish Kaluta's. It didn't help that even at age 14, I was already a hard core Kaluta fan, which I remain to this day. It was with this issue, though, that Robbins began to win me over through the sheer energy and expressiveness of his style- and this remains my favorite of his Shadow stories.

    Kinda wish I know who O'Neil was modeling "Morag" Mayne after...that's an anagram if I ever heard one, and Robbins seems to draw her a bit like a redheaded Kate Hepburn. But then again, most of Robbins' women look like Hepburn to me, so I don't know.

  3. I actually had this issue in my collection for a number of years. In fact, when I started collecting in the 80's, I found this at a flea market and bought it for mere chump change. It was a great story, a latter-day retelling of the "Hunchback of Notre Dame" of a sort, except that this "Hunchback"'s love was never returned.

    As for Morag Mayne, that sounds more like a name out of Dick Tracy, truth be told. Looked more like a Garbo type than Hepburn.

  4. Cool story, cool Robbins art! I really enjoyed his work on The Invaders. Thanks GA!

  5. On a whim I bought the tpb of Marvels THE INVADERS and was so blown away, I had to contain myself to keep from reading the volume in one sitting. Today I find this nice suprise on the blog! Frank Robbins is blowing my mind! I can see why he's so polarizing; reminds me of Frank Thorne, in a way. Wasn't crazy about eithers work when I first saw them, suddenly I "got it" and then I couldn't live without them. Robbins' work here was breathtaking! I'd say he's, at least, Kaluta's equal on this series. Can't wait for more. Thanks a million, Groovy One!

  6. I was never a fan of Frank Robbins but I've always felt that, with The Shadow, he found exactly the right strip for his style. I actually prefer his work on the strip to Kaluta's.

  7. Lovely artwork. As a comic book-reading boy, I remember being indifferent to Robbins' style.

    Upon viewing his art, I was fascinated, but also had a revulsed feeling to the poses and characters. I recall books like Human Fly and Invaders. Somewhere I also equated his style with brutality and panic?

    Thanks for posting this story!

  8. Hey, hey! Just discovered I share the same birthday as Frank Robbins - September 9!



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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.

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