Back over in Krazy Komics, in addition to the forementioned "Silly & Ziggy, " "Baldy," "Toughy Tomcat," and "Posty," Ed Winiarski would draw "The Creeper and Homer ," a strip that would be a showcase for frequent caricatures of Timely bullpenners like himself, Sekowsky, Klein, Fago, Goodman, and Lee. Winiarski's "Creeper and Homer" has an interesting history. It started as "The Vagabond" in U.S.A. Comics #2-4 about a man donning a costume to become crime-buster "Chauncey Throttlebottom". In Comedy #11 "Vagabond" suddenly becomes a "humor" feature (as mentioned above) with Chauncey becoming a "real" hobo, stalked by "The Creeper", who promptly took over the feature. Then in Krazy Komics The Creeper re- surfaces in the Homer feature becoming "The Creeper and Homer" for most of the run as well as "The Creeper and Crawler" occasionally.
Krazy Comics #5 (January 1943)
Other features like "Skinny Bones," "Inky," and "Super Baby" (with art that looks like that of Pauline Loth) would come and go during the early issues. With issue #12 (Dec. '42) Comedy Comics converted to all funny animal content, and Timely settled into three concurrently-running funny animals books-- Comedy, Terrytoons,and Krazy-- added to the non-funny animal humor Joker.
In Comedy, in addition to Vince Fago's "Floop and Skilly Boo," we find Kin Platt on "Widjet Witch," Al Jaffee on "Waldo & Ferdie," and Ernie Hart on "Skip O'Hare," as well as other features with art not presently identified .
By comics cover-dated March 1943 Vince Fago has assumed the position of Editor-in-chief, as Stan Lee enters the armed services. This probably corresponds to books being on sale in December 1942 and of course the issues carry work completed at least two or three months earlier.
Terrytoons #5 (Feb. '43) lists Stan Lee as "Editorial and Art Director" and #6 (March '43) lists Vince Fago as "Editorial and Art Director." The transition is as simple as that. Although his duties now doubled and trebled, Fago still manages to maintain the artistic chores on his features in Terrytoons and Krazy Komics. Except for a 9-page, Stan Lee-scripted, Fleischer-inspired "Little Lester" in Krazy #5 (Jan. '43), Fago will continue on "Frenchy Rabbit" and "Dinky" in Terrytoons, as well as "Posty" in Krazy, up through 1945.
Terrytoons #4 (January 1943)
As 1943 progresses, Ernie Hart debuts "Super Rabbit" in Comedy Comics #14 (March 1943), and the same roster of creators continue throughout the year. For the record, the roster of Timely funny animal artists of 1942-43 include the following: Vince Fago, Al Fago, Mike Sekowsky, George Klein, Kin Platt, Al Jaffee, Ernie Hart, Moss Worthman, Jim Mooney, Dave Berg, Chad Grothkopf, Pauline Loth, and David Gantz. Jack Grogan laid out stories for a time, but drug problems reportedly led to his being fired. According to Vince Fago's recollections, Grogan never did Super Rabbit by Ernie Hart any finished art. Al Fago did not work directly for Timely but for his brother Vince, doing inking, backgrounds and his distinctive lettering in a freelance fashion. Writers included Stan Lee, William Clayton, and Joe Calcagno, as well as writer/artists Hart, Gantz, Platt, Jaffee, and Vince Fago.
One of the most visually stunning features to come out of 1943 was the three part feature "Inky And The Pied Piper" that ran in Krazy Komics #7, #8 & #9. The artwork , while unsigned, appears to possibly be the pencil work of either Chad Grothkopf or Moe Worth (both similarly wonderful artists) with gorgeous, lush inking by possibly other hands.
different times, in different panels, I could swear I see elements of Kin Platt
and even David Gantz backgrounds. The overall effect is breathtaking and is quite
possibly the prettiest funny-animal artwork you will ever see. The final detective
work on this short-lived feature remains to be determined but it shows just how
difficult it is to discern credits on features produced in an assembly line fashion
with diverse hands pencilling, inking and others possibly chipping in.
By 1944 an influx of new artists began to swell Timely's funny animal line. Joe Beck, Doc Ellison, Harvey Eisenberg, Violet Barclay, Chris Rule, Frank Carin and Milt Stein began appearing. Even Carl Wessler cameoed a story or two. Milt Stein becomes the Timely funny-animal powerhouse and his vibrantly chaotic rendering fills almost all of the new titles that expand the lin-up: All Surprise (Fall '43); Funny Tunes (Summer '44); and Comic Capers , Ideal Comics, Ziggy Pig & Silly Seal, and Super Rabbit (all Fall '44). Then, in 1945 (most with Fall cover dates), still more titles made their debuts: Funny Frolics, Krazy Krow, Animated Movie Tunes, Dopey Duck (which will change to Wacky Duck), Komic Kartoons, Silly Tunes, and Comics for Kids. 1946 would even see Terrytoons spin off their most popular character Mighty Mouse into his own title for 4 issues into 1947. Vince Fago's art continues on "Dinky," "Posty," and "Frenchy Rabbit" through most of 1945, with "Posty" appearing in a variety of titles outside of Krazy Komics. Milt Stein's art style becomes Timely's funny-animal "house" style from 1944-46 and it becomes increasingly difficult to discern who drew many of the features as the decade progresses as much of the art homogenizes into a "Stein-esque" rendering.
Animated Movie-Tunes #1 (Fall/1945)
While the exact date of Stan Lee's return to Timely's helm is unknown, Vince may have gone back to freelancing for a while before leaving for good by the end of 1945 or early 1946. Either that or there was enough Fago inventory to last into 1946. During this late 1945 / early 1946 period , Fago's art appears to adorn additional features like "Krazy Krow", "Tubby" (previously drawn by Kin Platt) and even "Silly Seal/Ziggy Pig".
Timely had expanded into the teen-humor field by 1945, and titles like Patsy Walker, Millie the Model, Tessie the Typist, Dolly Dill, Georgie, Margie, Frankie, Willie, Rusty, Oscar, and Jeanie proliferated all over the stands throughout the rest of the decade. Except for the earliest issues of Tessie, Millie, and Patsy Walker, this expansion was orchestrated and supervised by the now-returned Stan Lee.
Funny animal titles are now short-lived, and the sub-genre begins to wane. For
the most part, the Vince Fago era of Timely Comics is over. For roughly three
years, Fago supervised and helped produce some of the best funny animal comics
on the stands. Having brought an animator's sense of pacing and dynamics to the
page, Vince always gave his best to an appreciative audience. Along with his art
and editorial duties, Vince laid out not only Timely's funny animal covers but
also a goodly number of their super-hero covers, providing cover concept sketches
for even Alex Schomburg.
With this overview, we salute Vince Fago and have attempted to shed a needed light on another fascinating and long neglected facet of Timely Comics history.