Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Who was Rex Maxon?

Here's a pleasing Plesiosaur from Rex Maxon, the artist responsible for the very first Turok, Son of Stone story. But other artists would take over the comic soon enough, with Maxon mostly relegated to doing 4 page mini-features, but, still, over the years, he was called to do a few more featured Turok stories. Maxon was much more a stylist than Giolitti, who drew most of the stories form '62 on and whose realism could often turn sketchy and banal. Maxon's tiny educational features, like "The Plight of the Plesiosaur," from issue number 9, September-November, 1957 enlivened many a dull issue. Maxon's dino's were less fierce than Giolitti's, but I admired the former's ability to simplify and create a more "equivalent" visual world than the literal, illustrational Giolitti. Buying an issue and finding the feature stories drawn by Maxon always gave me a flush of pleasure. I'd scrutinize them at length like I would, as an adult, pore over Delacroix's late career Moroccan paintings.

Maxon had roots in drawing strips for the newspapers back in the 20s, 30s and 40s, and his draftsmanship and sense of form have the feel of strips and comics from those decades. From 1929 to 1947, he drew the daily Tarzan strip; but the Sunday Tarzan strip was taken from him in 1931 and given to future Prince Valiant artist, Hal Foster. It's been pointed out elsewhere that, when Maxon took on the first Turok issue in 1954, he used several ideas from a Foster Tarzan strip that featured the characters wandering into a "lost land," including a few images, e.g. below (Foster, left; Maxon, right). When, nearly a year later, Dell published another Turok issue, another, less gifted but more illustrational, artist took over. Perhaps Dell saw Maxon's style as old-fashioned?

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