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Monday, January 01, 2007

EC - Red Knight (Severin)

Red Knight
art by John Severin, story by Harvey Kurtzman
Two-Fisted Tales #29[#12] (1952)

Kurtzman and Severin give us a short history of Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron of the First World War, with five single page vignettes of some of his air victories, each introduced with panels of the beginning of his letters requesting acknowledgement for each battle, and then switching to the narrator describing the details. The whole thing is wrapped up in a framing sequence of the Baron's plane landing in No Man's Land and his dead body being pulled out.

Severin's art is really given a chance to shine here, with no dialogue and comparatively sparse captions in the flashback sequences, he captures the movement in the air well, and the occasional quick glimpse of the pilots' faces reveals a lot beyond what the script has. He's helped a lot by the lettering of the sound effects (by Ben Oda, I believe), which are well used in various ways to establish a sense of distance in some scenes, to describe the movement of the planes in others, and the pattern of the gunfire elsewhere. A real early showpiece for how lettering technique could be used to enhance the storytelling (which Oda would do a lot in MAD as well).

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