Sunday, November 4, 2012

Big Ben Bolt 1968-05-10

(click for larger image. pencils and inks by John Cullen Murphy)

I had never heard of John Cullen Murphy before I started collecting comic book and strip art, but once I discovered his work on Big Ben Bolt, I was smitten.  In my opinion, he is one of the greats of the medium. He had a very unique style which employed fine scratchy lines, yet the work still managed to look clean and realistic.  I used to own four examples which I picked up for a song, but regretfully sold them off (save one).  Since the strip is about a boxer/detective character, I'd always wanted one of him boxing and when I saw this one come up, I couldn't resist.  This is quite a bit later than my other example (from 1961), and I actually prefer the early one, but this one has some great line work, so I can't complain.  Murphy later went on to work with Hal Foster on the Prince Valiant newspaper strip in 1970, and eventually took it over completely in 1979.  He continued on the strip all the way up until 2004 and died shortly thereafter.