by Michael Vance & Dr. Jon Suter
April 7, 1999
Reviews in this issue:
Comics Legend Jack Cole
Comics Legend Jack Cole
Jack Cole wore every hat in comics, and some large, floppy shoes as well. It was flexibility, both figuratively and literally, that made Cole successful as a writer, editor and artist during the early days of comics.
Born in 1914, he broke into magazine cartoons in 1935, then into comic books at the Chesler Shop (1937-1939). As was true with all 'shops', Chesler produced features for many different publishers who lacked their own artists and writers.
He found early recognition with his work on the superhero's Daredevil and Quicksilver, and with the villain The Claw. But it wasn't until his creation of Plastic Man that Cole entered the roll of a Master.
No one has ever duplicated Cole's 'big-foot' art and viewpoint on Plastic Man. His subtle, visual humor and the distinct personalities of his characters is evidence of Cole's unique talent.
Plastic Man began as a crook who fell into a vat of chemicals. It gave him the ability to stretch his body into any shape imaginable, and Cole had a vast imagination. Shaken by near death and his mutation, this crook converted and became one of the most imitated superheroes.
Cole's comics work included: "Peewee Throttle" (Globe, '38); "Officer Clancy", "King Kole's Kourt" (Centaur '38); "Comet", "Manhunter" (MLJ '39); "Dickie Dean", Silver Streak, Daredevil, "Claw" (New Friday,'3941); "Hi Grass Twins" (Novelty, '40); "Quicksilver" ('40), Plastic Man ('41-50), Midnight ('41-2, '45-'49), Death Patrol ('41-'44), the Barker ('44)--all Quality Comics; and crime comics for Gleason (late '40s).
Cole also sold cartoons to many magazines including Boy's Life and Playboy, worked on The Spirit daily comic strip ('42-3) and his own strip, Betsy & Me ('58). Tragically, Cole took his own life in 1958.
Jack Cole was an early master of comics, and his work is highly recommended.
Some older comics are expensive and difficult to locate. Price guides or comics dealers help. Comic shops, conventions, mail order companies and trade journals are best sources. Prices vary; shop around.
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