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Monday, 26 February 2018

Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde -THE Mega Post You Would Have Demanded (had you thought about it)

I am only going to mention the first two films because there have been so many versions over the last 100 years!  I'll avoid Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) and the 1995 comedy version Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde.

Robert -look what you created!!!  "Robert" being Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson b. 13th November 1850 – d. 3rd December 1894

1st January, 1845 -I cannot find a photographer credit
Stevenson photographed by Henry Walton Barnett in 1893, the year before his death at the age of 44.  

Without Robert Louis Stevenson we would not have had the movies, TV shows nor the comics so thank the man.  Like Mary Shelley or Bram Stoker, Stevenson's creation has become history and each has had their characters names become part of the English language: "Ugly as Frankenstein" or "Right blood-sucking Dracula he was!" and "That bloke is a real Jekyll and Hyde -nice one minute and the next a real nasty piece of work!"

The story idea itself came from a nightmare Stevenson had -his wife, Fanny, had woken him on hearing his screams -as the Jekyll - Hyde transformation scene played out in his dream. The story as it was later put to paper, is about a London lawyer named Gabriel John Utterson who sets out to investigate the strange relationship between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll and the evil Mr. Edward Hyde.

Jekyll & Hyde In Movies

Barrymore's on-camera transformation was done without make-up initially.  Barrymore contorted his face and body and I have seen others do this (I did a very good version when I was younger) and only when we see Hyde's extended finger length (a camera trick) and later scenes is make up used.

Still looks good today.  Judge for yourself:

Above –smooth, suave and sophisticated but he can be a right bit of old rough if you prefer…mind you –the looks go then!

Before Barrymore -a 1912 version?

But has anyone heard or seen the 1912 version -unlike Barrymore there was make-up use: after a quick editorial cut.  See the difference here:

This one is notable as it stars actor -and later noted film director- James Cruze in the dual role of Jekyll and Hyde and he is said to have based his version on the 1890s stage version of Jekyll and Hyde.

Obviously no one has seen me at 03:00 hrs!  I know what you are thinking and, yes, I am going to jump into J&K in comics with the Classics Illustrated version -#13 of October, 1943.

 The cover was by Henry C. Kiefer who also used the name Karl Kief (1890-1957); Kiefer he worked on a number of covers and for several US Golden Age publishers. Interior art was by Lou Cameron (1924-2010) who was, again, an artist that contributed to various comic publishers and became a book author in his own right later.

This was adapted one knows it seems.  However, if you have read Robert Louis Stephenson's 1886 book The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde you will know that the paperback is 224 pages long and there have been 54, 64 and even a 44 pages versions (?!).  It is not easy to adapt unless you can break the scenes down in your head -the same thing script-writers will do to adapt books and you have to be able to think "visually". The original adaptor of the book I suspect was Cameron. He was a comic writer and artist and it makes sense.  Every version in comics since then has adopted the 1943 almost scene-for-scene.

That said, I recall the big argument between the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Marvel Comics on its adaption of Tarzan.  Basically, they complained that John Buscema drew scene-for-scene the same way Burne Hogarth had in the original comic version.  Roy Thomas pointed out that the Estate had made it very clear they the adaption had to be as in the book –no freedom to expand or re-write.  John Buscema kept to that rule and there was no secret that he hated Tarzan and drawing the comic –not that a reader would see this because he was a professional.  Marvel withdrew from the deal.

With Jekyll & Hyde it was probably easier to follow the 1943 version when it came to comics.

H. C. Kiefer                                                                           Lou Cameron

Classics Illustrated 013 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1947). Cameron art:

In fact, do not stop taking notes as it gets more complicated.  You see, the Gilberton Company was founded in 1942. They were publishing Classic Comics between 1941–1947 before changing the imprint name in March,1947 to Classics Illustrated.  

Prior to Kiefer’s cover there had been another credited to Arnold L. Nicks.  Well, everyone credits "art by Arnold L. Nicks" but having never seen nor been able to find a copy of this edition I have no idea whether that means cover and/or interior and those with "slabbed" copies to sell have no idea it seems -they just quote "art by Arnold L. Nicks"!

In '1947' the cover was made to look more sophisticated and less comic-booky when 'William Kunstler' painted the new version…or that is what the Grand Comics Database states. 

Above: Mort Künstler ©Long Island Picture Frame & Art Gallery

However, there are some problems here as I can find no “William Kunstler” and the date of the new cover is also incorrect. The big give-away is that the art is obviously that of Mort Künstler  (born 1927) and I know that because not only is he one of America’s most noted artists but I also got to see a lot of his work as a youngster (don’t ask) in “Men’s” magazines such as Stag or Men.

A few samples…

Long Island Picture Frame & Art Gallery has this to say about Kunstler:

"He's the premier historical artist in America - and now he focuses mainly on the American Civil War. When Mort Künstler began his current emphasis on Civil War art in the early 1980s, he had already accomplished more than a half-dozen artists could hope to accomplish in a collective lifetime. From portraits of prehistoric American life to the odyssey of the space shuttle, Mort Künstler had painted America's story - and was already renowned as "the premier historical artist in America." When he placed his focus on Civil War art, Mr. Künstler quickly established himself as the country's most-collected Civil War artist, and earned unprecedented acclaim within the genre of Civil War art.

"Mort Künstler is the foremost Civil War artist of our time -- if not of all time," says Dr. James I. Robertson Jr., the dean of Civil War historians and the author of the celebrated biography, Stonewall Jackson".

Künstler's cover for the Jekyll & Hyde book. And Künstler did not start working until the 1950s and this particular cover dates from 1953.  This is why I never go by online sources including the GCD and definitely not Ebay sellers!

Now that brings me to my ‘mystery’ copy.  I purchased this from the Classics Illustrated (UK) store of I bought Classics Illustrated no. 85 Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with a 2/- cover price. Now 2/- (two shillings) would be bloody expensive for a comic book in the 1950s and I do like to know the age of the comics I have.  When I contacted Classics Illustrated (UK) to try to find a date for the one I had –they had no idea. It was, after all, sold as an old book.

 No normal indicia as in regular comics but inside front cover has an offer to pen pals from International Classics Club, London. The back cover has a Classics Illustrated advert with Ayers & James, Sydney address and the inside back cover has a binder offer from the same company.

I had wondered whether these were just international adverts but looking at it again it did seem more likely Australian ...ah, I really can be dim at times as I have a link to old Australian comics and that led me here to the Australian CI series':

The one I have is HRN #127, published by Strato, possibly 1959. That said, according to this page it was also published as #13 in February, 1955 at 1/- (one shilling)!  I know there were cover price increases of 1/- 3d then 1/- 6d but the 2/- price tag has to make this an early 1960s edition.

That took me a few days to find out.  Make notes!

Startling Terror Tales #10 was a Star Comic published by Star Publications in May,1952. This one is said to have a Jay Disbrow and L.B. Cole cover but it is signed L. B. Cole quite clearly and I can’t see any of Disbrow’s style here. This is a 25 pages adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the art credit, pencils and inks, are credited to Wally Wood no less and  at times there is an almost Ditko-esque feel to panels.

Of course, the most famous comic book adaption of Jekyll & Hyde can be seen in toy shops, on TV, in very high profile movies and much, much more.  Whom? The Incredible Hulk, natch.  Stan Lee stated several times over the years that the Banner-Hulk characters were Jekyll and Hyde right down to how the Hulk hated Banner and used to call him "puny".

Marvel Classics Comics was a comics series which ran from 1976 until 1978 and specialized in adaptations of literary classics such as Moby-Dick, The Three Musketeers, The Iliad and so on. It was Marvel attempting to pick up the mantle of Classics Illustrated that had ceased publishing in 1971.  It was a time when comics were soaring and a new, more “high brow” series would be a feather in the company’s cap.

There were 36 issues of Marvel Classics Comics in all but 12 of these were reprints of another publisher's work. So those 12 were “in hand” while Marvel got its own original adaptions going.

According to some sources Vincent Fago's Pendulum Now Age Classics, published by Pendulum Press, had begun adapting literary classics “into black-and-white comics” beginning in 1973.  Well, not quite, because the Fago books were little paperbacks and when you check the Marvel version it is credited as “A Vincent Fago Production”. Also my copy is Academic Industries Inc. “Pocket Classics". Pendulum Now Age Comics may just have been the name Fago used to package and sell the product.

As I’ve written –comics can be real complicated and you should always do your own research.

Marvel's version had a Gil Kane and Dan Adkins cover.  When I first saw a copy I thought someone had hand drawn speech balloons -this was "someone's" work pre-printing as the Fago book had no speech balloons.

Here is the original Fago book inside the Marvel version.

The various issues featured adaptions by writers such as Otto Binder, Kin Platt, and Irwin Shapiro.  Fago had employed such great Filipino artists as Alex Niño, Rudy Nebres, E. R. Cruz and others.  All working on 52 pagers with no adverts!! Marvel really was trying to be classy.

Below the Fago Pocket Classic compared in size to the Marvel version.

But let us go back in time a little. To June,1973 and Supernatural Thrillers #4 and a Marvel adaption of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Yes, don’t ask me why the Fago deal was needed…I may have mentioned that comics is an odd business and if Connecticut is in the mix (home of Charlton Comics and it’s, uh, upright owners)….

Ron Goulart wrote the adaption while Winslow Mortimer drew it and Roy Thomas was the editor.  I am not complaining as  -why not?

Let us go back in time...look on this as a prequel -okay?

Mister Hyde first appeared in Journey into Mystery #99, December, 1963, and was created by Stan Lee and Don Heck and based on Stevenson’s Jekyll & Hyde. In fact,  Calvin Zabo was a morally abject but quite brilliant biochemist who was fascinated by the effect of hormones on human physiology. One of Zabo’s favorite stories was Stevenson's 1886 classic, and he was unhinged enough to be convinced that the experiment Dr. Jekyll performed could actually be accomplished. It became an obsession he had time to toy with after Dr Don Blake (aka: Thor) refused him a hospital job. Zabo did in fact unleash his full bestial nature in a superhuman form.

Now, like most British kids, I read these Thor stories in weekly comics and Hyde really worried me. He really put Thor and Jane Foster in great peril and when he teamed up with Cobra….


Are you beginning to see how much comics owe to Mr. Stevenson now?  Word to your mother.

In 1990, Berkley Publishing group (Chicago) published Classics Illustrated #8 –their version 
being a more stylish version with art by John K. Snyder III.  This was re-published in 2009 by Papercutz as Classics Illustrated #7.  See how complicated comics can be?

Above: the Berkley Edition. Below the Papercutz edition.
But you want to see the art, right?  Okay.

To be honest this post could go on longer but I want to deal with one last comic adaption of the story.  This one written by none other than Alan Grant and drawn by -don't faint!- Cam Kennedy.

Above: Alan Grant

Below: Cam Kennedy

If you ask "Who?" I am going to whip you to death with a wet lettuce leaf!! Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper –ring any bells?

Published in 2008 by Waverley Books this is a good adaption and the art is lovely.  What more can I write?

I think the art speaks for itself...and you can see more at the Jekyll and Hyde blog spot

I cannot do it!  I cannot pass on this one!  Yes you can!  No I can’t! Who said that?  Look, in October, 2002, NBM Publishing gave us a Jerry Kramsky  adaption of the story and they had to genius to have Lorenzo Mattotti  draw it. “Draw it” seems such a crude phrase when you look at the art.  And you may.  


And if you have not seen the 2015 TV series it is quite fun -but violent (which is why ITV in the UK pledged not to make any more -after they screened it like morons at 6pm on a Sunday!!

Here are some comic book adaptions I have not seen.  If you have copies –if you are a publisher and published a comic adaption…I am not opposed to free copies!

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