Not many know Lou Cameron’s name today, but it is somewhat unfair, so I take the opportunity to pull him out of oblivion here. It was the artist making the biggest impression when in my childhood I read 'Classics Illustrated'.
The Danish order of release added publications produced in Europe. The theme of the new booklets were often mythology or colonial encounter with exotic peoples. There was an industrial production of these comics and only a few titles characterized by remarkable comic book drawings. An exception were the titles relating Nordic topics often illustrated in a very fine, almost artistic manner generally rising above the ordinary industrial level.
The American illustrators, who have contributed to other series than 'Illustrated Classics' has typically produced better craft in their work outside of this series. That holds true, for example with Reed Crandall, Graham Ingels, Jack Kirby, Roy Krenkel, John Severin, Angelo Torres, Gray Morrow and Al Williamson. Sometimes one cartoonist who provided sketches and another executing the inking.
When these cartoonists abstained from crediting it was perhaps because they appeared so rarely in this series’ context, but mostly because they did not feel they could express themselves freely. Due to the concept, these stories are heavy with intrigue and of course, a lot of text has survived in these adaptions. It puts a damper on the possibilities when each image must carry much of the narrative forward. There is little room for action scenes with small amounts of text. The yellow text plates has almost become synonymous with this laborious story telling.
The identification of the artists troubled by the fact that there were a number of series with this title in the US. The oldest one from the forties with line art covers were to some degree reissued later with the handsomely painted cover art we now remember, but some of the versions was redesigned in the fifties, and it is usually the ones we know from the European versions.
I trusted Kim Thompson when he told me 'The Count of Monte Cristo' was drawn by Allen Simon, but it was the oldest version, which we are not familiar with in Europe. The art we know is from a later version drawn by Lou Cameron, and it is also the comic I choose to let him be represented with here, since I have a reference to it in my book 'Matthew and the Downfall'.
When I was a child reading 'Classics Illustrated' I had it with Lou Cameron somewhat like Carl Barks. He was for me 'The Good Artist' and I could easily recognize his style. It was clear and brought the story effectively forward compared to most other cartoonists. This is evident in books like 'War of the Worlds', 'The Time Machine', 'Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde', 'The Tempest,' 'Davy Crockett' and especially 'The Count of Monte Cristo'. There are captivating facial expressions that reflect characters’ despair in a very efficient manner.
Lou Cameron was born in San Francisco in 1924 and died in 2010. He attended the California School of Fine Arts and was active as a cartoonist in 1950es and it is his versions of 'Illustrated Classics' titles which is best known abroad, but he also helped out working for ‘Atlas’ with 'Astonishing Comics', 'Journey into Mystery', 'Uncanny Tales' and 'Journey into Unknown Worlds'.
He illustrated series in the same genre for ‘DC’ with titles like 'House of Mystery', 'House of Secrets' and 'Tales of the Unexpected' as well as ‘Ace Periodicals' baffling Mysteries', 'Web of Mystery' and 'Hand of Fate'. Furthermore, he drew horror stories for ‘St. John publishing’ in their range of romance and western comics. In 1951 to 1952, he had a syndicated strip called 'So it Seems'.
From 1957, Lou Cameron also developed a profile as a pulp writer and worked under pseudonyms such as Julie Cameron, Dagmar, Mary Manning and Ramsey Thorne. It was then mostly thriller, war and westerns, especially the 'Stringer' series is well known. He wrote some 300 novels.
I will forever remember Lou Cameron as the effective straightforward dynamic artist and his character's broad smile whenever that was appropriate. The opening panel in 'Davy Crockett' is typical in this respect. 'Be always sure you are right, then go ahead'. Lou Cameron also did just that.