Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Friday, October 20, 2006

CAW Part 3: Jack Kamen

For my third Cheesecake/ Beefcake Appreciation Week post, I'd like to pay tribute to one of EC's most underrated artists: Jack Kamen.

After freelancing for several different publishers (including a few issues of Superior Publishing's Brenda Starr and Ellery Queen comic books ), Kamen's first EC work was in the Pre-Trend romance comic Modern Love. When EC switched to the "New Trend" of horror, science-fiction, and crime stories, Kamen continuted as one of their most reliable artists, despite the drastic shift in subject matter. EC even published a famous in-joke story "Kamen's Kalamity" (Tales from the Crypt #31), humorously depicting Kamen's difficulty in adjusting to the horror genre. However, I always felt that Kamen's clean "romance-comic" style was an asset rather than a disadvantage; the wholesomeness of his art made for an effective ironic contrast with the sordid subject matter.

And, of course, he drew gorgeous women.

Even in the crime stories that dealt with husbands getting rid of their "plain" wives in favor of a glamorous mistress, the supposedly "plain-jane" spouse was still very attractive. And when the character was supposed to be sexy, she was even more so.

It was difficult to choose a single piece of artwork to represent Kamen for Cheesecake Appreciation Week, and yet at the same time, the choice was obvious: The splash page from "Beauty and the Beach" from Shock SuspenStories #7. The story itself may very well be the most misogynistic in EC's not-exactly-woman-friendly oeuvre--the wives are "punished," not for infidelity or any of the other more conventional transgressions, but because they dared to have careers of their own--but Jack Kamen's art is as beautiful as ever.


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