VENUS #17 December 1951
Bill Everett original artist
|She was the Goddess of Love, no doubt about it. But that OTHER title she apparently aspired to--The Queen of All Genres--well, THAT wasn't quite the slam-dunk her initial honorific turned out to be, lemme tell ya!...|
|Maybe we're getting a little too personal
with a fictitious character here. After all,
it was "Merry" Martin Goodman (as
his editor-in-chief, Stan Lee, would christen
him a decade later--somewhat sarcastically,
it should be added) that put the his pretty
put-upon protagonist through the wringer
time and again during her tumultuous 19 issue
run for the Timely/Marvel line of 1948-1952.
No, I don't own any of these half-century old comics, folks, but I don't have to. The cover of each and every one of them shows up in the second volume of the indispensable PHOTO-JOURNAL GUIDE TO COMIC BOOKS, compiled by Ernst and Mary Gerber. Just glancing through their artistic progression tells their story loud and clear.
The boastful blurb "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World!" adorns covers 1, 2 and 4. The art and situations on covers 2 through 5 make the book look more and more like a companion title for the Millie and Patsy Walker teen-targeted gagfests of the era. Things change abruptly with 6, 7, and 8, as the new blurb of "Romantic Tales Of Fantasy" is prominently displayed above the title, with the identifying tag-line, "Goddess of Love", showing up under the VENUS logo on 6 and 7. Moreover, the art on these three issues emulates the then-popular love comics genre, with issues 7 and 8 hosting lushly illustrated--and oh-so-glamorous--cover paintings. Then, things take a sharp and, ultimately, scary turn...
Issue 9 and 10 exude a science fiction slant, with first "Amazing Adventures" and then "Unusual Adventures" as their new-found motto du jour, but aliens and space monsters are just a warm-up for the REAL trials and tribulations our elegantly gowned girlie--who, yes, manages to appear on each cover regardless of the ever-changing subject matter--will have to face in her final nine issues. The newest, longest--and last--tag-line hung on Ms. Venus' colorful comic book adventures was "Strange Stories Of The Supernatural", and boyoboy, they WEREN'T kidding, not by a long shot!...
Satan, Zombies, empty graves, living Gargoyles, the end of the world--even skeletons trying to sneak a smooch from our not-so-game gal-pal--THAT'S what the changing market--and Goodman's chameleon-like quest to move books at ANY cost--meant to the Goddess of Love, who suddenly and somewhat incongruously found herself helplessly caught up in a whirlwind of gruesome horror and excessive gore! Yipes! But, if it's any small consolation, should these covers be believed, at least she managed to remain both beautifully coiffed and nattily dressed at all times, WHATEVER her pre-code predicament may've been...
So, anyway, if I myself don't actually possess any of these post-war publications, HOW'D this wretched redo come about? Simple. I did it as a gift for my good pal--and world class Bill Everett acolyte--Rocco Nigro years and years ago, using, yup, HIS copy. On a technical if decidedly tedious note, along with the previously posted VAULT OF HORROR #30 redo, the VENUS #17 rescribbling was drawn the same size as the published image, a format I abandoned long ago, finding it instead far easier to enlarge things rather that try and fit sometimes teeny-tiny details into a smaller illustration area. (So far, these two are the only ones done that way to make it on-site.) With this charming little terror tableau, there wasn't any such problems, as all the necessary bones of our scraggly skeleton crew are present and accounted for! As for Venus and her brunette antagonist, it was just a matter of conjuring up the notion of a blood-drenched feud between an ersatz Betty and Veronica, and voila!! Ain't WE got fun?!?...
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World Encounters Strange Stories Of The Supernatural And Maybe A Few Romantic Tales Of Fantasy, Too--All Brought To You By The Most Reactive Publisher In The Comics Field--now, THAT'D be a slogan! Truth in advertising--who'd a' thought?...
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