From shadow to light: the life and art of Mort Meskin
From Shadow to Light: The Life & Art of Mort Meskin is a coffee table art book, biography, and critique of one of the 20th century’s most influential and unjustly neglected Golden Age comic book artists.
Mort Meskin’s comics career spanned almost 30 years, from the 1940s to the 1960s. His drawing, chiaroscuro technique, and storytelling are considered by connoisseurs of the form to be among the most sophisticated of his time — on a par with peers such as Joe Kubert and Steve Ditko. His passion for his drawing was equaled by his skill, and the consistently high quality of his oeuvre in the disreputable comic book format blurs the distinction between high and low art. Yet he is known mostly among hard-core aficionados today, eclipsed in the history books by many of his peers, some of whom he profoundly influenced. Among Meskin’s fans and admirers are Jim Steranko, Alex Toth, Carmine Infantino, and Jack Kirby. From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin finally gives this neglected artist the recognition he’s due.
The first artist to draw Sheena of the Jungle, Meskin worked in such diverse genres as romance, crime, and Western comics. Following World War II, he formed a studio with Jerry Robinson. He later worked for Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, and later still with Stan lee at Atlas (Marvel). During the 1950s and ‘60s he helped DC Comics define their mystery and science fiction lines. From Shadow to Light compiles for the first time the best of Meskin’s art from his comic book career, his post-comics advertising career, and his fine art — including many pages reproduced from original art.
“Mort shifted gears/viewpoints/emphasis and methods throughout his career, each on another switch back, sidestep or leap ahead which brought just one more entertaining facet of his talent to the fore. Mort invented, questioned, assessed, discarded, tested, reached out... more than ten other cartoonist of his time — ever searching, finding, losing, winning... ah, but always learning. His restlessness kept him facile... as he learnt, tested, and applied... so did we, his observers and students.” — Alex Toth
“Mort Meskin was a consummate professional, dedicated to his work. A great talent.” — Jack Kirby
“Like so many others, Mort is one of comics’ unsung heroes, but time often has a way of resolving the situation.” — Jim Steranko
“The guy was terrific and had an influence, not only on me but on a hell of a lot of other guys that were in the industry. Carmine Infantino. Alex Toth. All they guys who came into the business at my time knew of Mort and knew of Mort’s stuff and loved it.” — Joe Kubert
“Mort Meskin was a genius.” — Jerry Robinson and Carmine Infantino
"Recent years have seen a growing interest in the early years of the comic-book industry, shining a light on the pioneers of the art form. Few individuals are more deserving of this attention than Meskin, whose abilities surpassed nearly all of his contemporaries. One of the few comics artists of the era who’d had formal training (at the Pratt Institute), Meskin’s illustration skills, panel compositions, page designs, and dramatic lighting displayed a sophistication that was largely wasted on the mundane superhero and genre stories of the 1940s and ’50s. Although Meskin’s work is today known only to hard-core comics aficionados, he was a major influence on artists who went on to far greater renown, including Joe Kubert, who learned from inking Meskin’s pencil drawings as a teenager, and Steve Ditko. Brower, a former art director at the New York Times, supplies revealing biographical information, insightful critical assessments, and, most of all, page after page of Meskin’s brilliant work, much of it reproduced from the rare original drawings." — Gordon Flagg, Booklist