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Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Mitchell's Fetish Art - Devil's Work

Mitchell - Staked Out (Devil's Work)

 In the 4th article of my series about WWII comic books, I showed an image of a British soldier staked out in the desert  and speculated about it's considerable homoerotic and fetish potential. In this image I flesh that fantasy out. Literally so, because this unfortunate captive has had his shirt ripped open and his shorts and underwear removed, exposing him to the full power of the desert sun (amongst other hot things).

This may not be the only torture he has suffered, the fifth stake suggests. But he's not an information-bearing officer like the original scenario. He's a mere private, a young man barely past the age of conscription.
Have his colleagues arrived too late to save him?
Is a touching and sexy reunion with his 'special chum' in the unit imminent?

For those of you who are mystified by my interest in ancient Boy's Comics,
I hope this goes some way to explaining it.
~
In my re-imagining I drew heavily on the original image (below) but did not attempt to fully emulate that artist's technique in which deep shadowing is used to create the impression of a setting sun. This might be a metaphor for the ebbing away of the life of the victim following lengthy exposure and torture and also the long search by his unit as they scoured the desert trying to find him.  The shading of the sky rather than the ground adds an ominous note, but seems counter-intuitive until you think about the deep blue tones of dusk in the tropics. The contrast reinforces the impression of a bleak parched landscape

Staked Out (original image from War Picture Library No 1765 'Tough Guy', p36)

My admiration for the original artist grew as I recreated the rescue vehicle, approaching in a cloud of dust. In the original picture, it is created almost entirely by shadowing but still seems to show incredible detail. The mudguards and headlights for example. On the side of the lorry a few patches of white trick the eye into seeing bulk and hidden detail that is amazingly convincing. 
Check out the economy of the victim's facial features as well.

The pattern of shadowing is not entirely consistent, the stakes suggest a different direction for the sun (perhaps indicative of a different source image) but that's a minor quibble. When you consider that this picture is just one out of a total of 130 in the whole book, the attention to quality is astonishing. It's also a superb lesson for any aspiring artist (in which group I include myself) of the importance of creating shape in an image, not just tracing outlines.

Incidentally, the expression 'Good grief' used in the speech bubble was fairly archaic even back in the 1960's and indicative of a 'good upbringing' in which outright swearing was forbidden. As a Sergeant Sam Kingsby (what a terrible surname that is!) would probably have had a more earthy background. The expression has since been devalued somewhat by it's adoption as a comical catch-phrase in the Charlie Brown cartoons.

For other War Comic fantasies click on the label below
View Bizarre Brutality No 2

War Picture Library was published by Fleetway Press (IPC)

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