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Thursday, May 17, 2007

What's in a name? Let your inner-Otaku speak.

I have always been in awe of people who work, in any field, in anonimity. In the Art world it's pretty rare, unless of course it's a selling point, like Banksy being a real 'underground' tagger (oh yeah).

But there are practical occassions when cartoonists have done this, in the past in particular, for instance when one worked for one of the big two comics publishers here in the UK, one may well have been 'discouraged' from working for the rival publisher. The same was true of DC and Marvel at one point, I'm sure. Which brings me to my first question, 'when is Pat Boyette art, not Pat Boyette work'?

Seems like an odd query, I know, but when Steve Ditko left Charlton comics, Pat Boyette took over some of his stuff (there's a pair of drawing boots to fill), I am now informed. Now, I have a particular comic here that I have puzzled over for years, it's Ghostly Tales #43. I'm totally sure that the first story, where the art is credited to Pat Boyette, is in fact by the great Steve Ditko, it positively reeks of Spider Man and Doctor Strange and just too many Ditko touches for it to be a ghost work - I think.

However, just to be contencious, I'm contrasting it with an uncredited Ditko page, again from Charlton, this time from The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves; and just for good measure, with another story where the artwork is credited to Pat Boyette. Now, for years I have just assumed that for contractual reasons a bunch of artists worked for Charlton on the fly, and used the psudonym, Pat Boyette, but I read on another site that Pat Boyette was real and worked for Charlton, so I'm confused and bewildered, so I'm throwing it open to you, here is the artwork for you to subject to close-reading and content analysis (you may begin, now:>):



I'm sure this is Ditko because nobody could ghost him this well, and surely nobody ghosting him would go so far as to include Ditko's almost trademark patterning in the work:


I mean, this uncredited page from The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves is clearly by Ditko and not a ghost artist, precisely because of such detail:



And whilst this form of crosshatching might easily be used by many cartoonists, it adds to the feel of the work and the weight of line and the characterization that a comics fan; a geek, if you wish, can easily recognise.

So now we turn to the second work in Ghostly Tales #43 that is credited to Pat Boyette, and we can see that whilst it is really good art, with it's own style (I know people who prefer it to the Ditko style), it is clearly not drawn by the same hand as the earlier story:


Again, let me be clear, I really like the artwork on the second story, but which of these, if any, is drawn by Pat Boyette?

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While we are all here talking about Ditko, I thought I'd show you this; it's a fantastic example of the man's pencil and artwork from one of my favourites, The Creeper (which I purloined from Dial B for Blog, a great site):


4 comments:

W.D. said...

The first story is miscredited to Boyette. I'm also quite sure this is Ditko. The second is unmistakable as Boyette. I love Boyette and in his own way he is every bit the equal of Ditko as a storyteller. Unfortunatley not so much as a draughtsman. His work was often a bit wooden and clunky with his own very distinct shorthand for faces and hands. Boyette was responsible for the second story for sure.

Steven said...

The first story's definitely Ditko, the second definitely Boyette. (Pat Boyette did work for DC too, after Dick Giordano moved over there, notably the short-lived Giordano-edited Blackhawks revamp.) Charlton's editors, esp. after Dick left, weren't always the sharpest knives in the drawer, and the sloppy hand lettering on the first story's credits suggests the credits were added in a mad dash, since Charlton's usual letterer was A. Machine, which was, literally, a machine. So someone screwed up is all. As far as I know, Ditko never really "left" Charlton altogether, and continued doing the odd mystery story for them until well into the '70s, so I doubt there was any wish on Charlton's part to purposely obscure his authorship of the art.

Pat Boyette absolutely was a real person, with a very distinctive art style.

Steven said...

right- no mystery - a miscredited comic. Not too unusual.
and ditko only left Charlton when they stopped buying stories from anyone.

Rod McKie said...

Thanks for the input Steven and WD.

Of course a simple mistake was always the most likely scenario. Although back then, in the 1970s I hadn't started working in comics and there was no internet so finding facts about the US-based comic scene was pretty remote. However, through my contacts with some magazines where I was already selling gag cartoons and hoping to sell short stories, I knew some publications had a list of female names that male writers could choose an idenity from for writing fiction - so back then the possibility that Pat Boyette was a pseudonym for a lot of artists was possible.

However, I thought this would be a good exercise for both Ditko fans and those Pat Boyette fans who feel that he is vastly under rated and a good few souls on The Comics Journal forum scouted out some great links. To which I've added a few of my own - all on the main blog page where this is reposted.