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Month of Art Stars: Artist’s Choice – Reed Crandall

Every day this month I’m going to feature the work of a great artist, only instead of me picking the artist to feature, they will be picked by their peers, fellow professional comic book artists who are picking out artists (from the past and present) who they think deserve special attention. Do note that most artists I asked about this gave me multiple answers and I picked out one choice out of a number of suggestions, so these are not definitive answers, like “Artist X likes Artist Y and he thinks all other Artists are terrible!” Here is an archive of the artists featured so far!

Today, we have the pick of Aaron Lopresti, longtime Marvel and DC artist who most recently has been the artist on Ms. Marvel for Marvel and is now is currently the regular artist on Wonder Woman for DC Comics. You can check out his website here.

Aaron’s pick is Reed Crandall.

Reed Crandall was, to put it simply, one of the best artists of the Golden Age (and considering the company he was in, that’s saying a lot).

He first made a name for himself working for Quality Comics, primarily working on Blackhawk stories in a number of titles.

Here’s his work on Blackhawk story from Military Comics….

Look at all that detail! And the dynamism! Just awesome line work.

Here’s a Blackhawk story from Modern Comics…

Also strong stuff.

He did other Quality Comics work, including a little work on Kid Eternity…

Crandall also did a lot of great work at EC Comics towards the end of their run…

Spooky stuff!

Here’s a nice taut depiction of insanity by Crandall…

Crandall basically bummed around various comic book companies for the rest of his career, which ended in the early 1970s (after moving to Wichita to take care of his ailing mother). He actually was working as a janitor and night watchman at a Pizza Hut when he suffered a stroke. He never really recovered and spent the remaining years of his life in a nursing home.

But boy, what an artistic legacy he left behind!

Thanks to Aaron for the pick!

17 Comments

Great choice by Aaron; Crandall was really underrated, just beautiful work. Huge influence on Bernie Wrightson as well, who in turn influenced Aaron early on in his career. Great stuff!

Man, that is some nice looking stuff. Are there any collections of the old school Blackhawk comics? I’d love to read those.

Jazzbo, DC reprinted the earliest Blackhawk stories in an Archive edition that includes the first story posted above. (And just in case anyone was wondering, the Blackhawks foiled Chinese water torture — the drip-drip-drip in the last panel of that tale — by singing “She’s the sweetheart of Sigma Chi”!)

Crandall’s pencil is all over the the past century of comics, from the Golden Age to the early Bronze Age. And his quality of work never diminished. As Brian highlights his Blackhawk was king; however, I’ll only mention that some of the work he did for Warren Publishing in the 60′s is just as good as his earlier EC or Quality work. Thank you Aaron and thank you Brian.

Those Blackhawk pages remind me of Mike McKone.

And those horror tales! The facial detail! Marvelous. That Vault of Horror twist ending is brilliantly grotesque.

I didn’t know there was an Archive edition of any Blackhawks comics. Thanks for the tip, Ajit.

Man, I know the gore in those EC comics is what made the company’s name, but Quality sure knew how to up the body count ante! That’s a lot of death in just a couple of pages. I want to see how the Hawks made it through those two stories now!

Reed Crandall was a master at his craft. I read once about how Dick Giordano tried to get Reed back on Blackhawk before its first cancellation but things didn’t work out somehow, probably due to his personal troubles. I wonder if anyone who worked or knew Reed at that Pizza Hut in the 70′s had grown up reading his comics and not known who he was. Sad way to go, but his legacy lives on in the many artists he’s influenced.

What a great choice – he was definitely one of the best Golden Age artists (if not the best in that earlier phase of the Golden Age); it’s unfortunate that you didn’t mention (or post scans of) his Firebrand stories from the first 10 or so issues of Police Comics in the early 1940s. The art just makes those stories stand head and shoulders above all of the other features in any given issue (and that even includes the early Plastic Man stories by Jack Cole!)

Man, Crandall was awesome.

A little disappointed to not see his Warren work represented here; it’s a whole step up from all this, as good as it is (and it’s very good indeed).

Reed was absolutely superior…his work for Warren on Creepy etc. was without equal. His work there often was on gothic, Victorian era tales of the macabre. Check out Vampires Fly at Dusk, Hot Spell or Curse of the Full Moon (Creepy 1,7 and 4). It is such a shame he became alcoholic, I only hope he knew how much his work was appreciated during his life. I have never seen an artist with his style and ability. He evoked a sense of being in the story rather than just reading it.

Reed was the VERY BEST artist Busy had working for him…so detailed…absolute brilliance…astoundingly talented and died in a old folk’s home..where is the justice in that….we miss you Reed…you will always be remembered.

Thanks for the pics. Reed Crandall was my grandfather and all I have is one postcard he drew.

Mr. Crandall was one of my all time favorites.
Some day I hope to visit his grave in Newton, Kansas.

I knew Marvel Cartoonist Aaron Lopresti from the ages of 12-17. Mostly, I knew him in 9th grade in junior high in Beaverton Oregon. We also had Spanish together in 7th grade. Also, we both played basketball for Highland Park Junior High, Aaron on Varsity, me on JV.

Aaron was fun to be in school with. He was very nice to his classmates, and quite popular! He was a student government leader and an exceptional basketball player at Beaverton High School in Oregon. He and I both share a love for drama in junior high. We also found out as high school sophomores, that the Drama teacher would force his talented students to choose either (performing for him in his musicals) or participate in sports–it was one or the other–and did he show it when I chose tennis over performing in Camelot in the spring of ’80.

I am happy my old classmate Aaron is succeeding personally and professionally. Kevin Shea
Woodland, CA

TOTALLY FREAKIN’ AWESOME!

Being an “old horror” guy, I’ve long been a fan of E.C. Comics. Reed Crandall did some truly amazing work there. “From Here to Insanity” is one of the best drawn stories I’ve seen in my life. I was fortunate enough to recently find a copy of Shock Suspenstories 14 where the story first appeared. Geek boy heaven.

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