Friday, January 29, 2016

Secret Origins

The Amalga-Mates: The World's First (and Second) Siamese Twin Superheroes!
Part 2
by Terence E. Hanley

Tim Corrigan penciled and lettered the first part of "The Case of the Nutcase" for Five Star Comics #2, published in Spring 2012. Larry Blake, Gary Gibeaut, and I, calling ourselves "Many Hands," inked it in February, shortly before publication. At about that time or a little after, Larry penciled the second part of the story and sent it to Tim for his letters and inks. Tim was fast and finished the job in short order, but we didn't get around to publishing Part Two until Spring 2013 in Five Star Comics #3. The script on both parts was mine, with changes and additions made by Tim Corrigan.

Each part of "The Case of the Nutcase" has a different look to it. You would expect that, knowing that different artists worked at different tasks on each part. For example, Tim used a fine pen for his inking of Part Two. His touch was light. That lightness of touch was helped by Larry's use of drawing board measuring about 11 x 16 inches. That gave Tim plenty of room to work. Larry's penciled art is about 10 x 15 inches, a standard size for comic book pages. Comic book publishers of course reduce their pages by about one-third for printing, thereby sharpening the image and making fine lines even finer. That's standard practice in Five Star Comics, too, and it improved the look of Tim's already very fine inking.

Tim, on the other hand, used board measuring 8-1/2 x 11 inches for Part One. His original art is about 7 x 10-1/2 inches. In other words, the original art is not much bigger than the printed size, which is about 6-1/8 x 9-1/8 inches. As I understand it, Tim always worked fairly small. That tendency is probably explained by the fact that, when he was a kid, Tim was unaware of the concept of photomechanical reduction. He thought artists worked at the size their art was printed. Maybe Tim's light touch was a result of working in smaller dimensions. If so, maybe we should thank childlike naïveté for the many fine lines that flowed from Tim's pen. For what it's worth, Franklin Booth (1874-1948) made pen-and-ink drawings that looked like engravings because, like Tim, he thought the artists of his childhood drew that way. He didn't know that the illustrations he saw in books, magazines, and newspapers at the time were printed from engraved blocks of wood.

Tim's small drawing paper on Part One was good for his own purposes, but it posed a challenge for us as his inkers. The surface of the paper Tim used is fairly glossy, too. It doesn't take a pen line very well, and the pencils are hard to erase. Also, we were rushed (as comic book artists so often are), and we didn't do what we would have considered our best work. In the end, Larry, Gary, and I are responsible for the coarse and heavy look of Part One of "The Case of the Nutcase." The gray tones I added using Photoshop--a first for me--only added to its heaviness. As you might guess, I prefer the look of Part Two to Part One, and I think the story in the second half works better as well.

About midway between the publication of the two parts of "The Case of the Nutcase," Tim Corrigan announced his retirement from comics and small press. That was in November 2012. I wonder now if "The Case of the Nutcase," Part Two, was Tim's last published comic book story. In any case, in retiring, Tim wanted to spend more time on his music and with his family. Last summer, on August 22, 2015, Tim died unexpectedly at his home in New York. He was only sixty-four years old.

Tim was Irish and I am Irish. He looked like he could have been one of my dad's brothers. I like to think that we had a shared heritage, not only going back to the Emerald Isle but also to a childhood love of the comics. He was funny, easygoing, good-natured, enthusiastic about comics, and supportive of other artists and of small press in general. Invariably dressed in a flannel shirt, with a long, gray ponytail down his back and glasses perched on the end of his nose, he liked to roll his own cigarettes and devour popsicles, one after another. He read a comic book I drew when I was about ten years old and, perhaps remembering his own childhood of drawing comics, treated it with tenderness. He called it charming. We might say the same thing of Tim Corrigan.

To be continued . . .

The first page of "The Case of the Nutcase," Part One, from Five Star Comics #2. Tim Corrigan penciled and lettered the story, while Larry Blake, Gary Gibeaut, and Terence Hanley inked it.

A page from "The Case of the Nutcase" Part Two, from Five Star Comics #3. Once again, Tim lettered the story, but those are his inks over Larry Blake's pencils. Note the fineness and precision of Tim's line. I meant "The Case of the Nutcase" to be a send-up of superhero comics, but that doesn't really come out until Part Two and the sequence about The Fantabulous Five . . . minus one, the unfortunate Human Scorch, who "died tragically in issue number 748," a "landmark issue" of "The World's Greatest Comic Book."

Art copyright 2012, 2016 Larry Blake, Tim Corrigan, Gary Gibeaut, and Terence Hanley
Script copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley
Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

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