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Kent Blake of the Secret Service #1-14 (May 1951 - July 1953).

Kent Blake 7Kent Blake was a government operative who often went undercover to locate communist agents.

When the Korean War broke out, he was swiftly sent to the theatre of war to carry out guerilla missions, often behind enemy lines.

Kent continued to work for the Secret Service until the modern day, when he was killed by Ryan, a minor crook. Never willing to leave a case unfinished, in life or in death, his ghost returned to draft in the aid of costumed crimefighter Spider-Man in capturing his killer (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #13).

Tom Gill (June 3, 1913) was an artist for comic books from the 1940s to the 1970s. The only training he had was going to Pratt Institute for a few Saturdays when he was a teenager. He began his career in 1940 at the New York Daily News art department, where he drew the first map of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. At this stage, he was trying very hard to learn how to draw.

During the 1940s, he freelanced artwork on the title comic of the Blue Bolt comic book, as well as on the Billy the Kid comic. He left the Daily News and syndicated a comic strip, Flower Potts, for the Herald Tribune. Meanwhile he started teaching at the Cartoonist and Illustrators School. He also worked on the newspaper feature Ricky Stevens, before turning to freelance comic book illustration in 1949.

From 1949 to 1953 he did Romance comics for Harvey Publications. Gill started getting assistants on his comic book work. Jimmy Christensen, Keats Petree and Bernie Case were Gill's assistants but there are others in the list: Ted Galindo, Joe Sinnott, Danny Crespi, Herb Trimpe and John Verpoorten.

Joe Gill have a funny story about Stan Lee: " When things were slow, I’d go up there looking for work. I went up there one time in the late 1950s, and there was nobody at the desk, nobody at the window, nobody anywhere. So I called out, and then gave sort of a taxi-cab whistle, and finally I heard, from way in the back, [high, distant, muffled voice], “Whaddaya want?” I called, “Somebody back there?” And I heard, [high, distant, muffled voice], “Yeah, I’m back here.” So I followed the voice into the back, and there was Stan Lee, way in the back, almost in a closet. I said, “Stan! What the hell are you doing back here?” And he said, “Well, damn, don't you know business is lousy, and when business is lousy, Goodman puts me in a closet!” [laughter]."

Tom Gill"Stan and I were pretty close in a social way. He gave a big party once, and invited me and a bunch of other guys. At that time, he lived near Idlewild Airport, which is now Kennedy. He had a butler, a lovely wife, and a beautiful home. We had a great evening; he really extended himself. I think the occasion was that he had just become a member of the National Cartoonists Society. The party didn’t end until 6:00 in the morning, and I only got one hour of sleep before I had to fly out of the country on a NCS junket. My wife Lolly managed my features while I was on these junkets, because I was so far ahead of the scripts. At one point, my assistants called her and said, “Gee, Lolly, where are the scripts?” She called up Stan, and he sent them a script right away. It was a romance story, and the secret to doing those is to draw everybody on their toes, as if they’re dancing with everybody else, even when they’re just in conversation. There are just certain mannerisms that you do with fellas and girls, y’know? Well, seems that Keats Petree needed a script, and when the story came in, Lolly gave it to him. Now, Keats was a great Western artist, and in the script, this guy was supposed to come up the stairs and say, “Oh, hello, and how are you?” And again, they’re supposed to be on their toes, y’know, because this is love. Well, not for Keats: Keats had this guy planted like he was waiting for a bull to charge! And he looked like he was going to rip the girl’s arm off, y’know? [laughter] So it was well drawn, but the dramatics were all wrong. Lolly didn’t know any better, and she sent the art in to Stan, who received it at about the same time as I got back. He called me up and said, “What the hell is this?” He hit the ceiling, and said he was never going to give me another damned love script. That’s why later on I did war stories for him. I really knocked myself out doing them, because I wanted to make up for that romance story."

"In those days, you never told anyone that you weren’t doing it all yourself. This was the hypocritical part of it. For instance, the first bit that I got from Western was a whole book, maybe 35 pages, and they wanted it in about 20 days! How can you do?!! Now there
were some guys who could bat out a hell of a lot—the “wrinkle-happy boys” and stuff like that—but my kind of stuff had to be pretty straight drawn. And they didn’t want to know if you had assistants working on the stories."

Kent Blake's deathJoe Gill did for AtlasApache Kid” for Stan, and “Red Warrior” (with Joe Sinnott), and “Kent Blake of the Secret Service, ” as well as some crime, horror, science-fiction, and war stories. He did some crime stories for DC, too, stories that revealed themselves in the last panel.

“Stan would give me stories with no dialogue. I never saw anything like it. He would give me a written plot, and then he would put the dialogue in after I brought the art back. I never saw such a thing. I was too busy with other accounts. Dell was so steady and constant. I did stuff for them when I didn’t even know who they were. I would just go up to the Toy Building at 23rd Street and 5th Avenue—it’s still there—and pick up assignments. I didn’t always know which publisher I was working for."

He began a longtime collaboration with Dell and eventually Gold Key/Western Publishing, where he worked primarly on the Lone Ranger comic until the 1970s. He went on to draw more than 135 Lone Ranger comic books, one of the longest records of any cartoonist on any comic book series. He also drew for the Bonanza and Hi Yo Silver comic books.

"I went there and showed Oskar LeBeck my stuff. He had an office there, had a couple of people, and he looked very well organized. He kind-of liked what I did and gave me some scripts. Once when I went up there, he had kind of a bullpen, because he also did animated stuff (Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, etc.). Something came down and hit me on the head from behind a partition. I looked up, and this pleasant-looking guy had a big smile on his face, and he said, “Gotcha!” [laughs] Who was it but Walt Kelly!"

In addition, Gill worked as an art educator at various New York regional schools. He helped founding the School fo Visual Arts, and was affiliated with this school for many years. Despite losing his eyesight late in life, Gill continued to teach art at area community colleges.

“I didn’t quit The work just stopped. Well, I suppose when you live long enough, your past catches up with you. Or like my wife Trish quotes, ‘As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” I was on my way to my grandson’s wedding in Bourges, France, when I received a beautiful magazine, Illustration, with eight pages of tributes to me from people crediting me with helping them in their careers. One, Tom Moore, credits me with helping him start his 50-year gig at Archie
Comics. It was so touching to find how warmly they still remembered me.

I was also pleased to be an invited guest of the 2004 San Diego Comic-Con, where Trish and I met dozens of fans and many cartoonist acquaintances. I was especially honored with their Inkpot Award for outstanding achievement in comics arts. In January, Harvard University made me their featured mentor of 2004. We filmed a public service TV announcement urging all to “Share what you know.” They had me helping a young high school student as my drawing of Tonto and The Lone Ranger looked on. It was a surprise when people would say to me weeks later, “I saw you on a poster in the railway station.” Turns out the public service poster on mentoring was sponsored by The MetLife Foundation and Harvard Mentoring Project, with space provided by Viacom. NBC also came to my studio to shoot a segment on mentoring for The Today Show. It featured me and my first mentoree, Jim Christensen, who later did two comic strips of his own.

I’m an adjunct faculty member at Westchester Community College, and I teach at Duchess Community College. I also am a consultant for SVA. Maybe I can’t see well enough to draw details anymore, but that doesn’t mean my career’s at an end. As we used to say in the comics: “To be continued!”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Alter Ego Magazine #43.

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