Comic Books

In February 1940 Gregor Duncan began contributing to a field still in its infancy: comic books. He made his comic book debut in the pages of the Whiz Comics #1, featuring the very first appearance of the original Captain Marvel. While Duncan never drew the “Big Red Cheese” himself, he did draw the initial installment of Golden Arrow, along with back-up stories featuring “ace newshawk” Scoop Smith, and Dan Dare, also an “ace”, but in the field of private detecting.

While Duncan drew only the origin story of Golden Arrow, set in the old west, the character had a 13 year run in the comic book. Scoop Smith had a shorter shelf-life, lasting only until issue #6 of Whiz Comics, with Duncan drawing all of the episodes. Duncan’s own tenure lasted longest on Detective Dan Dare, drawing him until issue #17, which appeared in May 1941. That was Duncan’s final work for Fawcett, with other artists taking over the drawing chores on Dan Dare.

While there are tell-tale signs of Duncan’s drawing style in his comic book art, most notably in the faces of the characters and the pen work in the shadows, his drawing appears rather rushed, not an uncommon trait given the stature of the industry at the time. Quality often took a backseat to quantity, as editors expected the artists to churn out artwork, often with a sweatshop mentality. Given Duncan’s other publishing obligations, it’s no wonder the art looks hurried in comparison to his other work. With Duncan’s ability to size up subject matter quickly, it’s a shame he wasn’t involved with the industry for a longer run, as he could have been a perfect fit for comic books. Wendell Crowley, the longtime Fawcett comic book editor, lamented the tragedy of Duncan’s early passing, stating that he was about the most talented of Fawcett’s early comic book artists.

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