Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Sponsored Comics: Willis Barton, MD

Well now here's an interesting one. Willis Barton MD is, as far as I know, the only comic strip ever about a plastic surgeon. That's almost as odd as my very favorite doctor strip, The Adventures of Peter Goldstream, Crusading Urologist.

The art on this strip by the pseudonymous Otto Graff is really intriguing. Obviously there's a lot of Stan Drake/Alex Raymond influence. Am I crazy or is there some possibility that this is the work of a very young Neal Adams? I swear I'm seeing some of his signature flourishes in some panels. Adams would have been a tender 19 years old at the time, but hey, the guy had a major syndicated strip at age 22, so why not? What say you?

Neal Adams never mentioned this strip. And I read a lot of interviews with him. He did mention working with Tom Sawyer early on in his career. I have stuff of his in Boy's Live where you can clearly see the connection. If Adams did this (and I do see what you mean here) this must have been before that and he must have been even younger.

I think you should show us more...

This one has more swipes than Shelly Meyer. Before I read your commentary, I thought, "Gee, Stan and Neal and maybe Alex, too."

This could have been done by anyone (except me). Hmm, maybe even... Shelly?

Fun stuff.
Hi John -
Sheepishly I have to admit not knowing Shelly Meyer. I know Sheldon Mayer, but you couldn't possibly be referring to him. Anyhow, Leonardo de Sa wrote me privately that he thinks this is Mel Keefer, and he's going to check with him to see if Mel recalls doing the feature. He's a better candidate for two reasons - one, I think he was in California, and two, from what I've seen of Keefer's work its full of swipes like this strip. I'll pass along anything I here from deSa.

I think John is actually referring to Shelly Moldoff, who was famous for his Alex Raymond swipes when he drew the Golden Age Hawkman. In later years, Shelly ghosted Batman for Bob Kane.

Best wishes,

Michael T.

You must have me confused with somebody else, I did *not* email you on this subject. Having said this, I don’t believe the strip could’ve been drawn by Neal Adams, not even in his youth. Mel Keefer is a definite possibility, though. I hope you get some confirmation from whomever wrote you privately, again not me...
My Best,
Leonardo De Sá
Please excuse the error, that message was from Alberto Becattini.

Most likely this is Vernon Rieck's work again. The long "b" in "by" is characteristic of him as is the sly "OTTO GRAPH" in the box as the signature. He had ghosted on Mary Worth, and was always developing copycat strips that spoofed known comicstrips of the day.He had a very sly sense of humor and loved puns.
This is definitely Mel Keefer, as can be confirmed in his own site: http://www.melkeefer.com/
I came across an original comic strip "Jest In Fun" signed Hector West, does anybody know any info on this artist. I haven't had any luck. David H.
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