365 Reasons to Love Comics #71
We interrupt your regularly-schedule theme week to pay tribute to a brilliant comics creator who passed away earlier today. The theme week will continue tomorrow. But today, we sing of the glories of another brilliant, unsung hero of the comics industry.
71. Arnold Drake
As I sat down to write the entry I’d planned for today, I also happened to skim the CBR frontpage and heard the terrible news: Arnold Drake had died. I was crushed. This man was the Grant Morrison of his era, accept no substitutes.
Drake created a lot of fantastic and downright strange characters like the Doom Patrol, Deadman, Stanley & His Monster, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. These stories were filled with freaks, aliens, robots, negative creatures, talking gorillas, brains in jars, murdered circus performers, bodily possession, lisping kids and their pet beasts, and more. No idea was too far-fetched, and everything came together in a manic, nigh-insane manner that was no less brilliant and weird than some of your favorite strange comics today. All of these creations are deserving of their own spotlights in this column, and such a thing will hopefully come to pass in the future.
In Bob Hope Adventures, he also created, along with the recently late and awesome artist Bob Oksner, Super-Hip and Benedict Arnold High, one of the weirdest little ideas that took the title over for a stretch:
In addition, he wrote for such titles as The Adventures of Jerry Lewis, Blackhawk, the first Captain Marvel series from Marvel, Challengers of the Unknown, Phantom Stranger, Plastic Man, Space Ranger, Star Trek, Tommy Tomorrow, the X-Men, and even Little Lulu.
He also co-wrote what is considered to be the first graphic novel, It Rhymes with Lust. IMDB also tells me he wrote such wacky films as The Flesh Eaters and 50,000 BC (Before Clothing). I can only imagine the wondrous horrors that lie within those movies.
In recent years, Mr. Drake had been making the convention circuit. A couple years ago at San Diego, he even composed and sang a song during a panel. The link to watch the performance is here. It took forever for me to load it, but if you can manage it, watch it. It’s fun.
In 2005, Arnold Drake won the first Bill Finger Award, given to those terrific creators who had not received enough recognition in the past. He most certainly deserved it.
Rest in peace, Mr. Drake. You were a brilliant comics writer and you’ll be missed. I hope DC puts out Showcase volumes of Doom Patrol, Deadman, and the like so that your work can be shared with present and future generations.
(I see Greg H has posted a similar memoriam post below this one. Me, I wouldn’t mind if we get seven Arnold Drake posts today.)