Jack Cole’s work has always been some of my favorite comic book art and stories, ever since I read my first Plastic Man adventure in a Detective Comics 100-Page Super-Spectacular in the seventies. There was a vibrance to his artwork that even my feeble li’l ten-year-old aesthetic found immensely pleasing and fun. To paraphrase the tagline of the Plas mini-series from the early nineties, you really would believe a man could ply reading Jack Cole’s stories.
Jack Cole did a lot of different series and work, starting out doing humor strips, moving up to adventure/super-heroes and finishing with a lot of horror comics. He created Plastic Man and the man known as Midnight (a fairly blatant rip-off of the Spirit) and even ghosted for Will Eisner on the Spirit newspaper strip. His comic strip panels appeared in Playboy Magazine, and he had realized his dream of selling his first syndicated comic strip, Betsy and Me to a 1958. Unfortunately, after preparing a little over two months worth of strips, Jack Cole bought a .22 caliber gun and committed suicide.
I’m obviously not going to go into the various sordid theories for this act. Comic book creators weren’t really known outside the business back then, but Cole was one of the few exceptions. Perhaps if folks had looked at comics as an art form and not throwaways for kids, maybe more people would have realized the loss that the media incurred with the passing of Jack Cole.
Comic books are a strange business.
Today’s story is Jack Cole’s very first adventure strip, from Keen Detective Funnies Vol. 2, #11.
By the way, I keep forgetting to mention that all of the stories I’ve posted so far are available for free on-line in their original issues. Just head over to Comic Book Plus or the Digital Comic Museum to find some great reading!