The Original Black Cat

This time out, for no special reason, here is the original Black Cat. I’ve kind of had a soft spot for Harvey Comics’ version of the Black Cat from the golden age for a while now.

If you’re not familiar with the character, behind the Black Cat’s mask in the comics was actress Linda Turner. She’d started out her career originally as a stuntwoman, but had successfully transitioned into becoming a lead actress. The various skills she’d picked up during her stuntwoman career enabled her to fight crimes and solve mysteries incognito as the Black Cat. The ’40s Hollywood milieu gave her stories a little different feel from other, more typically NYC-flavored superhero comics.

Several artists drew her stories, but the artist most associated with the character would have to be Lee Elias. Elias was clearly a Caniff disciple, and he did that style very well. He gave his heroine (and the strip in general) a real charm and appeal.

Obviously I didn’t bother trying to mimic Elias’ work here. For some reason, I envisioned this from the beginning as using a vector-based Adobe Illustrator approach. Yet another experiment. The beauty of this being my site, I can experiment with all kinds of approaches.

If you’re curious to see some Black Cat comics for yourself, I’m not sure where you could buy them now (without paying the usual prices for golden age comics). I picked up a set of reprints some years back now via Bud Plant (and thanks once again to my buddy Eric Wight for alerting me to those back then!). Unfortunately though, I don’t think those are in stock anymore. But, the good news is, you can view just about every issue of Black Cat online, courtesy of The Digital Comic Museum (What a great resource!).

And that’s a wrap for this one!

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6 Responses to The Original Black Cat

  1. John G. Pierce says:

    I’ve been a fan of this character ever since Harvey issued a reprint book back in the early 60s. Of course, the reader has to overlook such matters as the fact that a movie star, having a very recognizable face, could not possibly disguise herself convincingly, or even that the grueling schedules of movie-making would hardly leave anyone with either time or stamina for crime-fighting. Ignore all the problems — not really that hard to do — and she is one great character!

    • Mark says:

      I knew this post would appeal to you, John. 🙂
      I think the Black Cat’s a lot of fun, and would love to see someone do something with her again, maybe as a ’40s Hollywood period piece. My inner fanboy sort of imagines what you might get if the right individual (say Darwyn Cooke, for example) took a shot at it. I think it would be a blast!

  2. Nice drawing of a favorite Golden Age character!

    • Mark says:

      Thanks, Will! Glad you like it. You’re another artist who’d be a natural to draw new Black Cat comics.

  3. A bunch of these Lee Elias classics are available on the Digital Comic Museum (http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/index.php?cid=574). Registration and CRB/CBZ/PDF format comics are free. I’ve been reading them on the old iPad.

    Lee ported Milton Caniff’s model of adventure and whimsy. In reality, a half-naked petite couldn’t physically defeat a bunch of goons twice her size. That wasn’t the point. As pure fiction in a “Before Before Watchmen” world where our reality is only a reference point, the stories are entertaining and fun.

    • Mark says:

      I view these things as sort of conventions of the genre. Like the fact that nobody recognizes Clark Kent behind his glasses as Superman just because they don’t. In the context of the stories, it doesn’t bother you. You go along with these things because the stories are entertaining and fun, as you point out.

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