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Battlefront #1-48 (June 1952 - Aug. 1957).
Morton "Mort" Lawrence is an American comic book artist and penciller. At one time he worked for Harry "A" Chesler, whose studio was one of a handful of comic-book "packagers" who created complete comics for publishers looking to enter the emerging field in the 1930s-1940s.
In the book “Carmine Infantino” by Jim Amash, Carmine recalled he was an apprentice around 1940 at Harry Chesler’s studio. He was paid by Chesler "a dollar a day, just [to] study art, learn, and grow. Mort Lawrence was there…We got to be very friendly, and then later on I shared an office with him. We had an office just below Bernard Baily’s. I think, he and I together. We, of course, were in the Dixie Hotel. We used to pick up women there. We’d come into town and wave at them. He was married to a beautiful red-headed woman at the time…He eventually moved out of town. I don’t know where he moved to, but I don’t think he did comics any more. He did something else…He looked like Clark Gable, by the way. A big, tall, handsome guy; a nice, lovely personality. He was talkative to a degree. You had to know him first. He was interesting.”
Mort Lawrence worked as a comic book artist during the 1940s and 1950s. In the 1940s he worked through the Iger Studio, drawing stories for Regor Comics and Spark Publications. He drew 'Black Terror' for Better Publications and did many features for Hillman (cars, romance, war, crime, western), as well as features like 'Lobo, the Wolfboy', 'Nuggets Nugent' and 'Wild Bill Pecos' for Orbit Publications. In the 1950s he made 'Captain Steve Savage' for Avon Comics and several war, religious, mystery, crime and western features for Marvel/Atlas.
There isn't much information out about Mort Lawrence. Most is tangential to the career of "bigger" names. A general description of his career goes "Mort Lawrence. Lawrence hailed back to the Timely hero titles, specifically Sub-Mariner in the mid 1940's and had a short run freelancing for Stan Lee from 1953-55. His art is one of consumate elegence, with fine feathering in the inking."
In an interview with Gary Groth, Gil Kane recollects that "[after working with Kirby and Simon at DC] I was hired by Bernie Baily. I was already 17 at this point, and it was my last year before I went into the service. I met Carmine [Infantino] again at Bernie's and he and I formed a partnership as penciler and inker -- I was penciler and he was inker. We worked for Bernie, he was on salary and I was working freelance. A lot of guys were leaving Bernie's -- there were some very good guys there despite the artist shortage, but I'm telling you, jobs were just like syndicate jobs: somebody had to leave or go into the service. Bill Everett had to leave so a guy named Mort Lawrence got the job of doing Sub Mariner. It was like hitting the lottery. All of a sudden you went from $30 a week to $150 a week. It's not possible to tell you what $150 meant in those days.
G: Why were they paying so much money?
K: They paid higher page rates. Don't forget that the agents got a good portion of the page rate for himself. You only got dreck when you worked for an agent."
Later in his career, Lawrence was working in the same studio as Syd Shores. "By 1952, Syd was tired of working at home and wanted to get away from the monotony. He opened a private studio with Mort Lawrence (who was doing Wanted Comics and several westerns for Orbit), and Norman Steinberg (an artist for Atlas-primarily doing war books) in Hampstead, Long Island-later they were to move the studio to Freeport. By 1955 they had planned to make the studio a showcase for local artists not commercial enough to have their own gallery, but promising enough for their work to be on commercial display. They also planned several syndicated strips, incorporating advertising into the actual artwork, and got so far as to have samples and finished artwork on the project. The death of Norman Steinberg stopped their plans and ended the studio altogether. Mort Lawrence quit comics entirely and headed west while Syd returned to his studio at home and continued free-lancing for the major outfits, notably ATLAS."
Most memorable from that period perhaps is that Lawrence worked on the failed superhero revival at the 50's Atlas, as recollected by Romita, Sr. in an interview with Roy Thomas:
"RT: When I showed you the splash for the first "Captain America" story in it [Young Men #24], you said it was by Mort Lawrence, though you drew the rest of the story. You thought he might've been slated to be the original artist.
ROMITA: I think he started the story and Stan stopped him, for some reason. When I came in, the splash was done and it was signed "Mort Lawrence." Stan asked me to do the rest of the story. I'm not sure if there were any panels underneath the splash or not.
RT: The two other panels on that page in the printed book are by you. In fact, the only "Captain America" work in 1953-54 that wasn't by you was that first splash - one story totally drawn (and signed) by Lawrence - and I presume the first of the three covers of the Captain America title - #76, which has that thin-line approach for backgrounds we were discussing - and there's a cartoony smile on Cap's face.
ROMITA: Stan probably had somebody touch it up. Whoever was out in his waiting room, Stan would call them in and have them do corrections on the spot."
Probably the last Lawrence's published work was “In Your Hat”, Journey Into Unknown Worlds #40, December 1955.