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Fantagraphics Celebrates Marvel Comics’ Top Artist of the 1950s, Joe Maneely

Fantagraphics is celebrating one of Marvel Comics’ top artists of the 1950s, Joe Maneely, with The Atlas Artist Edition Vol. 1: Joe Maneely, a full-color, oversize collector’s volume featuring 38 complete and never-before-reprinted stories, including 11 electric and spine-tingling stories written by Stan Lee. Sadly, Maneely died at the age of 32, but left behind a sprawling and impressive body of work. The book showcases the full range of his artistic chops, with 256 pages of glorious genre storytelling from the golden age of comics — including horror, humor, crime, science fiction, war, and westerns.

Joe Maneely was known for his draftsmanship, his versatility, and his speed. He could draw horror, science fiction, war, crime, Mad-style humor, Westerns, and funny animals with equal dexterity. His tactile, chiaroscuro graphic approach to storytelling has made him a legend among the comics cognoscenti, but because he rarely drew super heroes and his life ended tragically at age 32, he has never been given the attention his short but incandescent career deserves.

As Dr. Michael J. Vassallo writes in the book’s introduction, “Unlike many other artistic contemporaries of his Atlas tenure, who all entered the industry around the same time, dabbled there and then further blossomed in the Silver Age — Gene Colan, Steve Ditko, John Romita, and John Buscema, for example — Maneely never had that second act, and in the 1950s, he was considered more accomplished than even that talented quartet. It’s hard to say how comic-book history might have been different if Joe Maneely had lived, but, unquestionably, whatever he would have done would have been wonderful.”

The Atlas Artist Edition Vol. 1: Joe Maneely presents a cornucopia of Maneely’s work for Marvel (then called Atlas) including:

  • Westerns (Kid Colt, Black Rider, Ringo Kid, Wyatt Earp, Two-Gun Kid), pre-code horror (“Haunted!”, “The Raving Maniac”, and the classic “Your Name Is Frankenstein”),

  • Space Opera (Speed Carter),

  • War (Combat Kelly),

  • Mad Magazine-style parodies from the pages of Crazy and Riot,

  • Cold-war intrigue and paranoia,

  • and Maneely’s pride and joy — his Arthurian champion, The Black Knight. 

The Atlas Artist Edition Vol. 1: Joe Maneely is the second volume in Fantagraphics’ ongoing series of Atlas reprints following the critically acclaimed release of The Atlas Comics Library No. 1: Adventures Into Terror Vol. 1. Stories from Marvel’s Atlas line have barely been reprinted, but Atlas holds a special place among aficionados of the genre, producing more horror titles and issues by far, than anyone in the industry. While the quality of EC’s six horror/sci-fi titles was unsurpassed with their elite cadre of talent, Atlas was the equivalent of the B-movies studio, churning out anywhere from 8 to 12 different horror titles a month, giving a wider array of artists, including some of the best craftsmen of the era, a chance to show off their talents: in addition to those already mentioned, plans for future volumes include titles focused on Bill Everett, John Romita, Bernie Krigstein, Jerry Robinson, Harry Anderson, and Matt Fox.

The Atlas Artist Edition Vol. 1: Joe Maneely is available now.
For more info, follow Fantagraphics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
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