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Scott’s Classic Comics Corner: Underappreciated Artist Spotlight – Pat Boyette

Many people may not be very familiar with Pat Boyette’s work, as he did not do much work for DC or Marvel. Others may not really know what to think of his style at first glance. It is unique to say the least. In the late 60s, when the funnybook world was shifting towards the Neal Adams standard (which is a fine standard); Pat Boyette was still telling stories in his own way.

I’d imagine some people would see his art today and think it was too rough or even amateurish. Once you actually start to read the story and see how he is able to move the narrative along through his wonderful layouts and economic action sequences, you really get sucked into the comic.

Boyette was far more than a comic book artist, though. He was a true renaissance man dabbling in television broadcasting and filmmaking and was in his 40s when the landed in the funnybook business in the mid-60s. The bulk of his work was for Charlton, but he also contributed to DC, Warren and Skywald among others. His line work is fairly spare and his characters are often given very flat, Picasso-like faces with cat’s eyes. This may seem odd at first, but once you get a feel for Boyette’s way of telling a story, it all comes together.

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When Dick Giordano moved to DC, he tried to salvage the faltering Blackhawk series by parachuting in Pat Boyette. Many will claim that the final two issues were the best Blackhawk stories of the Silver Age, and I won’t disagree. Unfortunately, it was a case of too little too late and we never got the chance to see a long run by Boyette on the title. Boyette also drew the infamous ‘Children of Doom’ story at Charlton, and co-created the Peacemaker with Joe Gill. Boyette was sufficiently talented to change his style to fit the story, as could be seen with his detailed and lush work for “Death of the Wizard” in Creepy #39.

I’ll be the first to admit that Boyette’s style was not my thing when I first saw it, but as I dug deeper and deeper into the Charlton library, I slowly found myself falling in love with his work. I love his Phantom, but he has the distinct disadvantage of drawing it between the Aparo and Newton eras. His work on Flash Gordon, Jungle Jim and Korg, 70,000 BC was incredibly imaginative and exciting. I assume that he also designed the Mr. Bones character for Ghost Manor – my favourite of the Charlton ‘hosts’.

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More and more, though, I’ve found myself drawn to Pat Boyette’s covers. The samples above show that he was comfortable producing both line drawn and painted covers. His images are always striking, tempting the reader to look inside. While those of you who frequent my blog know that I go a little nuts for Ditko covers; Boyette covers ain’t far behind these days – especially the painted ones. If you ever stumble upon a cheap Charlton book with Boyette artwork in the bargain bins or online, do yourself a favour and give it a try.

Here are links to a couple of bio/tribute pages. I recall reading a wonderful obituary from Mark Evanier, but I can’t seem to track it down online.

Lambiek Bio

Don Mangus Tribute

For more random talk about all sort of classic comics, please stop by my blog:

Seduction of the Indifferent

9 Comments

Great choice. As I’ve noted before in the Classic Comics Forum, I was somewhat put off (like you, I see) by Boyette’s stuff when I first encountered it as a kid. I think I began appreciating his style when I came across his work on, of all things, the “Tarantula” feature in Atlas Seaboard’s WEIRD SUSPENSE. Somehow, he was able to capture & convey the … I dunno … numinousness (numinosity?) of a good horror story.

These days, I’ll happily buy anything he drew.

Pat Boyette was never really my “cup of tea”. As you state in your article, he started drawing The Phantom after Jim Aparo’s great run and nothing could ever top that. His figures were always too stiff, and the facial expressions hardly ever differed from panel to panel.

I’m looking for a comic that I use to read as a young girl in the local library. It was actually a book with a compliation of the same comic in it. It had the following characters as I remember them: a small boy, a scottish terrier dog, a bald headed professor and a bearded guy that later remined me of Popeye’s nemises Bluto. They were always having adventures sometimes getting into trouble and having to get bailed out of one jam or another. I also remember they liked to go into outerspace in a ship that reminded me of Flash Gordon. I just loved looking at this but I cannot remember the name of it. It had a very ’50ish, ’60ish look if I am rembering that right in the way it was drawn and colored. I was a young girl in the late ’60′s early ’70′s so I hope you can give me some idea. It’s been really bugging me not being able to remember the name of it.
Thanks for any help you can give me.

Betty, from your description of the characters and the fact you found it in a library, I’m thinking it was probably Tintin.

Thank you! Greg! Do you know how long this has bugged me! When I saw the picture I remembered like a movie reel in my head. But I did really think they went to outer space. Did they ever do that? Anyway thanks so much. Now, can anyone tell me if it is available to purchase? I’m so glad I found this site! I’m not that new to using the internet so this just makes my milineum. (how do you spell that)?

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I’ve actually seen Boyette’s movie Dungeon of Harrow. It’s completely insane, like one of those Charlton horror comics come to life. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’d recommend it, at least not to anyone who isn’t already fond of no-budget insanity, but it’s certainly unique.

Agree with your comments re: Pat Boyette. His art wasn’t polished, but it was appealing and unique. I enjoyed many of his horror stories for Charlton, as well as his Warren work. For someone who didn’t really start drawing comics seriously until relatively late in life, his art is great. But, perhaps an acquired taste for some. Doesn’t matter, the work was good and often great.

Timothy Markin

June 3, 2012 at 1:20 pm

For Betty above, it was indeed The Adventures of Tintin, a Belgian comic by Herge (Georges Remi), of which I am a huge fan. Tintin, Capt Haddock and Prof Calculus did indeed go to the moon in a two part graphic novel in the early 1950s. Great stuff and I implore everyone to check it out and also see the Spielberg movie!
As for Pat Boyette, I remember enjoying his work when I was a kid and loved The Peacemaker through the 1978 Modern Comics reprint. (The Modern comics were great and I am very nostalgic over them.) My perception of Boyette’s art is Alex Toth by way of Milton Caniff. If he wasn’t influenced heavily by either of those comics greats, then I’ll eat my hat!

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