Although not the most prolific of the Golden Age artists, Lou Fine has left his indelible imprint as one of the finest draftsman of his time. In a real sense, Fine was an “artist’s artist”.
Superior drawing skills coupled with an uncanny sense of composition, Fine’s work continues to be admired and collected by golden age enthusiasts. He had the unique ability to bring motion to the drawn page. There is something intoxicating about the elegant and lyrical covers created by Lou Fine.
In addition to his technical drawing prowess, the rich and unique colors chosen by Fine for his covers contribute an additional dimension that enhances his drawings.
Fine drew a number
of early features for Jumbo Comics as part of the Eisner -Iger
shop in 1938. Fine continued his association with this shop as it produced
comics for Fox and Quality Publications. For these companies he drew many
of the early adventures of The Flame in Wonderworld Comics,
Dollman in Feature Comics, The Black Condor
in Crack Comics and The Ray for Smash
Comics. Much of his magnificent artwork for these features remains
“hidden” due to the rarity of these books.
Jumbo Comics #4 (Dec. 1938)
Wilton of the West page.
Fine's first published comic art.
However, it is his covers for Fox, Fiction House and Quality Comics that have secured Fine’s stature as one of the preeminent craftsman of his time. His first covers were Wonder Comics #2 and Jumbo Comics #8 (June 1939). Although a slow and methodical worker, Fine produced classic cover after classic cover whether for Fox (for example, Fantastic Comics #3), Fiction House (for example, Planet Comics #1) or for Quality Publications (for example, Hit Comics #5).
Planet Comics #1 (Jan. 1940)
Original cover art.
His work for Fox Publications abruptly ends with books cover dated April 1940, as a result of the dispute between Fox and Eisner/Iger. Accordingly, Weird Comics #2 (probably a Joe Simon cover), Green Mask #1 (Summer 1940) and Samson #1 (Fall 1940), which are ascribed to Fine have to be re-credited (probably to Edd Ashe). Additionally, George Tuska drew Weird Comics #1, not Fine.
There is a two-month hiatus for Fine drawn covers as the Tudor City group started producing work for Everett Arnold and Quality Comics.
Comics #13 (July 1941)
A Fine Uncle Sam cover for Quality.
Wonderworld Comics #10 page 4 panel (February 1940)
Only Lou Fine would drape a cloak over the Flame’s arm
so that it will not get wet.
While many collectors have learned to admire his work, the most telling commentary about Fine comes from the comments of his contemporary storytellers:
Will Eisner- “I had respect for his towering kind of draftsmanship. He was the epitome of the honest draftsman. No fakery, no razzle dazzle- very direct very honest in his approach.”
Joe Simon- “My favorite artist was Lou Fine. He was also Jack Kirby’s favorite artist. I know that Jack was a fan of and greatly influenced by Fine’s work.”
A measure of the respect that other artists had for Fine is evident in this obviously borrowed cover concept by Charles Sultan.
Gil Kane- “A great event in my life was the purchase of a Fox published book called Wonderworld Comics 3. It was the first time I ever saw the artwork of Louie Fine, who did the cover for that issue. It absolutely changed my life....I went crazy over Lou’s stuff. Lou Fine was one of the few I feel comfortable saying was a major influence for me. What most don’t realize is that all the rest of the comic publishing community were literally slaves waiting for each new issue of anything Fine would do...as an instructional course in “how to do” comics.”
Murphy Anderson- In homage to Fine, Anderson has created a number of stunning cover recreations of classic Fine covers. “Lou Fine was a big inspiration to me. He brought a touch of class to the field. Lou was a tremendous artist who was very dedicated. Lou was one of the first artists to really take the time to do a good job.”