George Evans (1920-2001) was born in Harwood, Pennsylvania. He studied drawing through a correspondence course but later he also took a more formal education. Already as a teenager, he worked for magazines and journals. Evans contributed both to comic books and syndicated strips. His lifelong preoccupation with old airplanes was an inspiration at work. It was also as a flight engineer he served during World War II.
After the Second World War he worked for Fiction House until 1949. He started drawing panel frames and erase drawings of pencil sketches. A dreary job, but at least he sat next to Frank Frazetta while doing it. When he showed his art presentation portfolio, he got regular drawing jobs.
Graham Ingels from Better Publications was one of the first handing Evans drawing tasks. Later, it was Evans, who brought Ingels over to Fiction House and EC. Here were jobs for them both at the horror series 'Strange Suspense Stories', 'This Magazine is Haunted' and 'Worlds of Fear'. He also contributed to western and romance titles. Evans considered his work for Fawcett as the best he produced, and he liked the atmosphere among colleagues and staff. He was one of the publisher's top artists in the 1950s.
After the Senate hearing on comics, Evans went over to Impact with 'Piracy', 'Terror Illustrated', 'Crime Illustrated' and 'Shock Illustrated'. After the EC years Evans continued to Gilbertons Classics Illustrated with 'Romeo and Juliet', 'Lord Jim', 'The little Savage', 'In the reign of Terror', ‘The Crisis', 'The Buccaneer', 'The Three Musketeers', ' The Hunchback of Notre Dame', ' Oliver Twist’, 'Julius Caesar' and 'In Freedom's Cause'.
In the syndicated comics, Evans worked as assistant to George Wunder on 'Terry and the Pirates'. Sometimes he worked in Warren’s 'Blazing Combat' and 'Eerie’ magazines. At Gold Key it was 'The Twilight Zone' and 'Ripley's Believe it or Not'. In the 1970s he worked for National Lampoon.
Al Williamson handed 'Secret Agent Corrigan' to Evans in 1980, and the series ended when Evans retired in 1996. The series would otherwise have closed down in 1991, but since it was still popular in Europe, it continued for five more years. His last work was in 'Flash Gordon's Sunday pages in 2001.
I have chosen to show George Evans in this presentation with one of his best comics, and without comparison the one making a huge impression on me, the Classics Illustrated's version of ‘The Three Musketeers'. It was even a comic, which he signed on the opening page, and it is a brilliant piece of comic craft. It presents the same impact as the 1948 George Sidney movie with Gene Kelly as D’Artagnan, which might have been an inspiration.
The artists at Gilberton were not completely anonymous. On some of the oldest Classics Illustrated there are credits. Alex Blum and Henry C Kiefer are often names encountered there. However it was not these artists I cared about. There was also a dark but evocative contributor, who wanted to stand by his work and sign it. His name was Norman Nodel, and he often hid his signature somewhere on the opening page.
The quality of printing also meant something. Fortunately, I have some first editions on thin paper where the colors are subdued and beautiful. Later, the paper became coarser and absorbed more color, and the colors became then too dominant, which reduced the aesthetic impression. The example here is printed just as it ought to be.
The Scandinavian publisher later became Williams, which took care of the European versions of Dell's and Gold Key's range of comics. Since they often appeared in color, they obviously had a competitive appeal going for them in relation to the black and white comic books from SEMIC/Interpresse.
I have a collection of 216 issues of the magazine divided in albums with 12 comics in each with the official series logo printed at the bottom of the spine. The series began in Denmark 1957 and continued for over twenty years with 227 numbers, nearly half of which produced in Europe. As with the Gutenberghus’s use of Disney material the ‘Illustrerede Klassikere’ ran dry of usable American original editions, covering only about 160 titles, some of which are not versioned in Europe. The Danish print run is also available in the corresponding Norwegian and Swedish versions, undoubtedly co-printed. You could actually collect these series, as it kept available in reprints for a new batch of collectors.