November 10, 2011
The Golden Age Superhero Champ by Mark Heike
When comics historians talk about the great superhero artists of the Golden Age, all the familiar names come up-Jack Kirby, Mort Meskin, Reed Crandall, Joe Kubert, Alex Toth- and with good reason. They all did their share to construct the visual mythos that became the great American comic book costumed hero, and no one could question the quality of the artwork they produced. But when the query comes as to what artist drew the most different super types during the early years of the comic book, the answers come up a little different. Arturo Cazeneuve and Ken Battefield, two journeymen types who worked for virtually every publisher and art packager at some point during the 1940s would probably rank pretty high on the list-but don’t quite make it to the top, according to my research. Based on my count, the artist who drew the most different costumed characters during the Golden Age of comics may just be one of my all-time favorites; Bob Fujitani. Breaking in at Will Eisner’s famed Tudor City studio in the days before World War II, he cut his teeth laying out stories for Lou Fine to finish in order to help the slower artist try to meet deadlines. He quickly developed a very atmospheric and distinctive style making his work very easy to recognize once he went out on his one. And the fact that he signed most of the stories he drew with his familiar “B. Fuge” byline didn’t hurt. Bob’s excellent work graced such strips as Shock Gibson and The Zebra for Harvey Comics; Catman, The Reckoner, The Hood and The Gray Mask for Holyoke /Continental; Bulletman and Mr.Scarlet for Fawcett; Captain Truth for Cambridge House; Lash Lightning and The Sword for Ace Publications; The Black Angel , Flying Dutchman and Iron Ace for Hillman; Crimebuster and Black Diamond for Lev Gleason; and perhaps his finest, The Hangman for MLJ. I myself have noticed Bob’s work on at least one splash of The Green Lama from Spark Publication-obviously pinch-hitting for another perenially-late artist, Mac Raboy. And that isn’t taking into account the numerous strips he worked on as part of a team of artists for Quality in the Tudor City days. Various experts have identified Bob’s hand stories featuring The Ray, Black Condor, Uncle Sam, The Blackhawks and others. If your interested in checking out some of Bob’s riveting early efforts, we’ve run a number of them in AC’s acclaimed Men of Mystery series, like a superb example of his work on The Hood in Men of Mystery #74, Cat-Man and Kitten in MOM #37, The Sword in MOM #81, or Shock Gibson in MOM #83. And that’s just a handful. Feel free to search Bob’s name in the web shop, and you’ll find lots more.