Fingers and Foes Original Art

By | Wednesday, October 11, 2023 Leave a Comment
About a decade ago, I picked up the original art for Allan Salisbury's June 2, 1974 Fingers and Foes Sunday strip. You probably haven't heard of the strip; it only ran for a few months. Salisbury would later find more success with Snake Tales.

But let's take a look at the art in question...
I'm not really familiar with the strip outside this one page. I gather it mainly focused on the villain side of superhero genre (unlike what we see here), but largely poked fun at the genre conventions on the whole like the joke we have here.

The joke isn't very good however. Not only is basic play on words pretty old -- even in 1974 -- but the execution is pretty weak too. The victim uses the exact same piece of dialogue twice, the two women's lines seem reversed, and pantyhose isn't exactly a synonym for spandex.

The art is not exceptional. There's almost no line weight variability at all. The perspective on the phone booth is horrible. The Mr. Kleeno figure isn't drawn very well in the first place, and is absolutely identical in the final four panels in the second.

Despite not really knowing anything about the strip, and finding the fundamentals of at least this particular strip lacking, I bought it for a few reasons. First, it was cheap. Less than fifteen bucks, and that included the shipping.

Second, the Iron Man reference. I don't particularly care for Iron Man as a character, but it struck me as a curious choice to drop in here. There's no visual suggestion that Mr. Kleeno bears any resemblance to any iteration of Iron Man (even the 1941 Canadian version). And, even if you had no idea what Iron Man actually looks like, there's nothing about Mr. Kleeno's costume to suggest the name "Iron Man." Also, this is 1974 -- well before the Robert Downey Jr. movies that gave the character any broad media attention; the character was, at best, as C-list superhero for most people. It seems like a completely-out-of-left-field name to drop in when so many others would probably work better there.

Then there's paste-up job. You can see the glue staining on the 5th and 6th panels. What you can't see very well is that the original art is actually wrapped around another board, and the original panels 5 and 6 were physically cut out. The new art, then, was laid between the original and this backing board. BUT THEN, a new panel 5 was pasted on top of that! And, while the border for panel 6 is drawn on the first paste-up, there's another paste-up on top of that featuring the new figure; but it doesn't cover the whole panel and you can see the edge of that paste-up about 1/4" in, where Salisbury tried drawing from one piece of paper to the next, and his pen got caught up for a second on the edge of the paper. It's just such a strange confluence of changes that I found it extraordinarily intriguing.

But, hey, that's just me. I find it really useful to understanding comics in general to study how all of it works, down to the physical aspects of creating them in the first place. Fascinating stuff, even in those instances where the end result is NOT as spectacular as something produced by a Walt Kelly or a Neal Adams.
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