Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.35: LB Cole

No.35: LB Cole

Leonard Brandt Cole’s entry point into the emerging comic industry in 1939 was as a freelancer on Don Winslow, The Flash and Lash Lightning. And after three years’ experience, he joined the company that would prove pivotal in his career – Continental Magazines. Equally importantly, he would assume his position in the newly named company not just as an artist but also as editor and art director. Words: Andrew Colman…

Cole’s impact with Continental Magazines was rapid and twofold. By late 1943, Cole, who was still in his early 20s, had started his tenure on the book that artistically would shake up the medium and also prefigure the rise of non-superhero comics seven years later – Suspense Comics. After issue 3, which featured a tour de force Schomburg adventure cover (that also gained enormous recognition thanks to Gerber’s journals) Cole began his sequence of covers that predated the horror comics of the ‘50s, many of which had the calling-card motifs, colour-schemes and simplicity that would be a hallmark of his later self-published work. Issue 8, which featured a human-headed spider catching victims in his web, and issue 11, which had a grinning Satan figure showering criminals with cash, have become noted classics with collectors, and were loaded with symbols and themes that were to recur throughout his career as a comic artist.

By the mid-1940s, Cole’s artwork was to reach its defining stage, with several covers that were to prove transitional, and landmarks in comic cover art. Firstly there were the triumvirate of science-fiction covers on books that previously had been essentially adventure or “aviation” titles that focused on World War 2 fighter pilots – Contact 12, Captain Flight 11 and Captain Aero 26.  Each had a deep black background, with simple compositions that were finished in bold, garish prime colours, with no cover blurbs or dialogue. These psychedelic, gaudy works were referred to by Cole as “poster color covers”, and they were designed mainly to stand out amidst the plethora of other books on the newsstand. In many respects they ushered in a new style of art for Cole, who was to infuse his work with greater dynamism and intense colours from thereon. The geometric simplicity of Contact 12 and the bold, op-art and more detailed futurescapes of Captain Aero and Captain Flight were a major departure for Cole and the medium. Never a fan of super-hero comics (primarily because “everybody else was doing it”) Cole brought in his love of science-fiction and horror to re-energize his interest.  Just as important was his work on the last seven issues of Catman, and Mask Comics 1 and 2 (issue 2 being his personal favourite cover). Mask 2, possibly the most sought after of Cole’s books by collectors, was another leap forward for the artist – again featuring a laughing devil in the foreground, surrounded this time by fallen souls languishing in hell. Cole had great expectation for the success of the book and its baroque, florid cover, and he was not to be disappointed.

Cole reached the peak of his career when he decided to form Star Comics in 1949, this time retaining sole control and not farming his talents out to other publishers. For the following half-decade, Cole produced dozens of books, mostly sporting his idiosyncratic, individual look on the cover. From Crime comics (All Famous Crime, Guns Against Gangsters, Spook Detective Cases, Thrilling Crime Cases) to Romance Comics (Top Love, Confessions of Love) to esoterica like Sport Thrills, Cole, like his contemporaries at Atlas and other publishers, binged and purged on every genre. However, his time at Star is mostly characterised by Horror and Jungle comics – Blue Bolt Weird Tales (oddly enough the only science-fiction title on the Star roster) Ghostly Weird Tales, Startling Terror Tales, Terrifying Tales and Terrors of the Jungle being the standouts. The classic cover to Startling Terror Tales 11 is very much redolent of Suspense 8 from several years earlier, but even more bizarre and grotesque.  Each of the classic titles used the familiar palette of black or red backgrounds with simple compositions that drew the reader to the focal subject matter – by now Cole was a past master of luring the casual newsstand purchaser towards his books.

 

After the pre-code period ended and the loss of his publishing partner, Cole persisted until the early 60s at several comic companies before leaving the industry to go in to commercial illustration. Cole’s profile in comic history was more or less forgotten by fandom with the onset of the Silver Age and the return to dominance of the super-hero genre, but with the rise of fan magazines in the 1990s and internet sites devoted to artists such as him, it is now thankfully easy to enjoy the genius of his poster-color covers.

 

Here’s links through to the other entries in our 101 Greatest so far as well

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.37: Bill Everett

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.38: Robert Crumb

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.39: Mac Raboy

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.41: Jim Starlin

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.42: Mike Zeck

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.43: Adam Hughes

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.44: Daniel Clowes

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.45: Gene Colan

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.46: George Perez

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.47: Michael William Kaluta

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.48: Cary Nord

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.49: Frank Quitely

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.50: Mike Ploog

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.51: Johnny Craig

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.52: Darwyn Cooke

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.53: Steve Dillon

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.54: Gil Kane

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.55: Michael Zulli

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.56: John Romita

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.57: Joe Maneely

 

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.58: Marshall Rogers

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.59: John Severin

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.60: Alex Toth

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.61: Brian Bolland

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.62: David Mazzuchelli

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.63 Reed Crandall

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.64 Harry Anderson

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.65 Nick Cardy

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.66 Matt Wagner

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.67 Bryan Hitch

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.68 Shawn Martinbrough

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.69 Al Feldstein

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.70 Nestor Redondo

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.71 Tarpe Mills

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.72 Eduardo Risso

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.73 JH Williams III

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.74 Irv Novick

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.75 Dan Zolnerowich

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.76 Gilbert Shelton

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.77 Tommy Lee Edwards

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.78: Sean Phillips

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.79: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.80: Dan DeCarlo

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.81: Marie Severin

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.82: John Paul Leon

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.83: Jim Lee

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.84: Denys Cowan

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.85: Ross Andru

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.86: Paul Gustavson

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.87: George Evans

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.88: Michael Golden

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.89: Matt Baker

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.90: Todd McFarlane

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.91: Fiona Staples

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.92: Carl Barks

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.93: Carmine Infantino

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.94: Alan Davis

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.95: CC Beck

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.96: Syd Shores

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.97: Bob Fujitani

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.98: Tim Sale

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.99: Jim Aparo

https://tripwiremagazine.co.uk/headlines/tripwires-101-greatest-comic-artists-of-all-time-no-100/

https://tripwiremagazine.co.uk/headlines/tripwires-101-greatest-comic-artists-of-all-time-no-101/

 

The post Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.35: LB Cole appeared first on TRIPWIRE MAGAZINE.

No.35: LB Cole Leonard Brandt Cole’s entry point into the emerging comic industry in 1939 was as a freelancer on Don Winslow, The Flash and Lash Lightning. And after three years’ experience, he joined the company that would prove pivotal in his career – Continental Magazines. Equally importantly, he would assume his position in the newly
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