Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"The Return of the Mummy" by Dick Briefer

I have a couple of Frankenstein stories to post, then I am going to post a whole bunch of Dan Gordon next week; so I hope everybody loves Superkatt!

This story, The Return of the Mummy, really highlights some great cartooning. The composition in each panel is nice and clean: the characters are nicely posed, there is no clutter and very few tangents. The information in each shot is processed quickly on first sight. Backgrounds appear where background detail is necessary, and are abandoned where it is not (especially page 4, where aside from one lone column, there are no backgrounds at all). The other side of the coin is demonstrated by the last two panels of page 2 and the first two panels of page 3: the backgrounds quickly establish location and a sense of the distance traveled from the boat to the tomb.

There is an excellent use of spotted blacks in the design throughout, especially on pages 3, 7, and 8 (the use of shadows in the third and fourth panels of page 7 are especially nice).

The fight scenes, as usual, are very fluid; they almost look like gesture drawings at times. My favorite panel may be the last one on page 6, which is a wonderful still image of pure cartoon action.

Briefer's babes always look like silent film vamps, don't they? Although Cleopatra's resemblance to actress Theda Bara could easily have been intentional, as she did portray the Queen of Egypt in 1917.

Here is "The Return of the Mummy" from Frankenstein #16 (Nov-Dec 1948):


  1. Love this post, Doug!
    And you're right, cartooning here is really inspired. And talking about Briefer skills, that's the same that saying it's about perfect!
    Your favorite panel in this story is mine's too. Looks like a Dunc and Loo panel, eh? I think the story, though, it doesn't measure up to the drawing. (Anyway, I have to admit that my favorite Briefer's Frankenstein is the most accurate to Shelley's original)
    I agree with you again (again!) regarding the graphic information. When action arrives in the story, Briefer removes everything can take away strength and dynamics (even the frames of the panels) and it works so well!
    By the way, that first panel of page 5 had to shock really the kid readers. You can feel those hands pressing the actor's throat!

  2. Doug: I only became aware of Briefer recently (from the recent trade paperback of his Frankenstein stuff), but man have I been missing out. I love his style. My favorite panel is on page 7 panel 3, where the two are running into the great hall, shadows running along the floor from their feet. I love dramatic angle stuff like that. His characters never looked stiff or posed, even here where they are very small. Super post and thanks.

    And who doesn't like SuperKatt? Bring it on! -- Mykal

  3. Gabriel: I agree with you about the story here; but I tend to forgive a lot of Briefer's weaknesses as a writer because I think his ability as a visual storyteller are very strong. He has a great imagination and a pretty fully realized world that his characters live in, but he does occasionally fall short when it comes to dialogue, and resolving his stories.
    I can understand your fondness for Briefer's horror stories (issues #18-33)...they are quite remarkable. That is one angry monster...he is on an almost constant rampage! It is one of the superior iterations of Frankenstein's monster in any medium (I like it second only to the original trilogy of Karloff films).

  4. Mykal: I love that panel too! I think that is one hallmark of the great cartoonists, the ability to pull off those wild perspective shots and establishing depth and weight in their drawings. You can see it in Barks, Wiseman, Kelly, Bolling, pretty much all of the classic MAD cartoonists, etc...

    Superkatt is coming! I'm just going to post what I have, which is about maybe six more stories (if I find them posted elsewhere I will just link to them instead).

  5. i love Briefer's way with vamps- they remind me of a young lady i was "seeing" in the 90's...


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