Kurt Schaffenberger original artist
Kurt Schaffenberger deserved a lot more recognition than he ever got. To me, he was one of the greats. He had the enviable ability to draw in an entirely straight adventure style while never relinquishing the humorous underpinnings that every cartoonist has at the base of his work, whether they realize it or not. As someone who toiled on the whimsical Captain Marvel series in the forties and fifties, it's not surprising that Schaffenberger was able to illustrate the somewhat ludicrous subject matter found in super-hero comics with a dual agenda-serious enough for a wide-eyed kid to enjoy, but with just a hint of a sly wink in his ink to entertain the (slightly) more mature reader. Not an easy trick.
The other two primary Marvel Family pencil pushers, C.C. Beck and Pete Costanza, never accomplished this feat. In fairness, co-creator of the Big Red Cheese Beck never even attempted to cross over to the solemn side, nor did he need to, but Costanza's sixties' efforts never quite lost their cartooniness. His ACG work, including the tumultuous meeting between Magicman and Nemesis, lacked the gravity Schaffenberger imbued his art with. Unfortunately for us kids grabbing up copies of the tiny American Comics Group's offerings off the racks, Kurt's contributions were limited almost exclusively to the line's covers, the bulk of his output being published by the obviously more financially rewarding DC Comics. But oh, what covers he provided Richard Hughes and his merry little band of aliases!?! Just take a look at this one!! It's wonderfully composed, beautifully drawn, and sumptuously inked-and as we've learned recently, spotlighting the colors red and green ain't gonna hurt things either!! And all the while, while providing the requisite slam-bang slugfest the assignment called for, Schaffenberger never lost the twinkle in his art. Want evidence? Check the building in the background. Take a peek at the onlookers. Everyone seems to be pretty excited by what's transpiring right outside their window. Everyone one except-well, it's a bit small on the repro, so look at my redo. Close inspection will reveal a couple in a lower window who could care less about the so-called Battle of the Century taking place oh so nearby-they're smooching up a storm!?! No, folks, that's not my idea of a joke, that's Kurt Schaffenberger's idea of a joke!?! In all the years I had FORBIDDEN WORLDS #136 in my possession, I never noticed this torrid office liaison! It was buried so deep in the background that it wasn't until I sat down to work on my reinterpretation that I saw it. And when I did folks, I laughed and laughed, and then laughed some more!! To me, that's more than enough reason to consider Kurt Schaffenberger one of the greatest all-around cartoonists ever to toil in the comics' biz!! Chuckles, chills, thrills and romance-all in the same drawing!?! What more could you want???