Week 38: Doll Man Sandwich

I’m continuing to limit my Splash picks to ones I find in the eBay piles I’m working on during the week. My hope is to add some splash pages yet unseen online.

John Spranger pencils and inks on this splash from Doll Man #16, Spring 1948. This is a tough perspective and I think Spranger pulls it off nicely.

The splash to Silver Surfer #1 from 1982 gives us some great John Byrne lines. I’ve always thought this book to be undervalued.

Charles M. Quinlan delivers a splash that would make our EiC Scott happy, full page with no distractions. It’s fun finding pages like this as I rummage through my eBay piles.

Another one for Scott, this time Gil Kane finished off Amazing Spider-Man #101 with a bang. October 1971.

And bringing up the rear we have this Bill Ward Torchy splash from Doll Man #15. Easily today’s winner!

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

Articles: 1700


  1. Ok, I try not to be a dirty old man, but that Torchy is just a beauty. I really do not like Bill Ward’s later, overtly sexy work done when he left comics to do cartoons for men’s magazines. That didn’t stop me from handling several reprint collections over the years, and I think at one time we were dealing directly with him, like we did with Wally Wood when HE was reprinting Sally Forth, Cannon and doing The Wizard King. But that’s another story…

    When is someone going to collect THE COMPLETE BILL WARD TORCHY? That would be great! I have all the source material for them.

    Bill Ward’s work at Quality, on adventure strips like Blackhawk, was above average and the girls always stood out, but he couldn’t hold a candle to Crandall. But on Torchy, he was king…astonishly great cheesecake. Torchy got her start in Dollman #8 in 1946, then began running concurrently there and beginning in Modern #53, in both titles. This was nine issues after Military Comics became Modern Comics, with #44.

    Ward also excelled at romance work for Quality, once the love boom began around 1949-50. His covers and lead stories are in high demand today for clean polished inks and again, beautiful women. He worked on the initial issues on most of Quality’s love books. I am still trying to score a few of these, they are not all easy to find.

    Gill Fox should get a nod also, he took over Torchy with Modern #90 and in Dollman #25, where she also appeared as a backup strip.. Not up to Ward, but he still did well. He also did work starting with #1 on Torchy”s own short-lived title, that began about this time, 1949, and lasted six issues. Fox was INCREDIBLY prolific at Quality, doing early covers across most of the titles, beginning in 1939, and hundreds of back up stories, including another cheesecake strip, Choo Choo, which ran right along with Torchy in Modern Comics!

    The name John Spranger was throwing me, I should know it, but I was drawing a total blank. Not Dick Sprang, not Frank Springer (whose name I have a mental block about…maybe this is why). I looked him up on Lambiek, and there’s a long, well-illustrated piece. Just to entice you into reading it, here’s two paragraphs:

    Comic book artist
    Almost nothing is known about John Spranger’s personal life, except that he was born in 1922. Spranger started in the early 1940s as a comic book artist through the Binder Studio and then the Eisner-Iger Studio. He drew for many Fawcett and Quality titles and features, often with Andre LeBlanc as his inker. He surely made an impression, as Gil Kane would mention in an interview with The Comics Journal in 1996 (#186) that “at one point he was probably the best artist I ever saw in comics”.

    *. *. *

    Further life?
    And here ends the road for John Spranger. Did he die in 1959 and was that the reason for his replacement? He was only 37, but weirder things have happened (although that would have been a reason for people like Jules Feiffer and Will Eisner to mention it, when talking about him). Did he turn to advertising or storyboarding? No one ever mentioned it or showed some of his work. Gil Kane said Spranger had a nervous breakdown and was institutionalized after his work on ‘The Saint’, while Albert Beccatini mentions Spranger as an assistant on Leonard Starr’s ‘On Stage’ as late as 1972. It’s a mystery only Simon Templar himself could resolve.

    Bud here again. Turns out, Spranger was very highly respected. He was working for Eisner on the weekly Spirit section, after serving in World War II. Jules Feiffer (also on Eisner’s staff) said of him “When I first worked for Will there was John Spranger, who was his penciler and a wonderful draftsman; better than Will.”

    And Lambiek says he ghosted for Jack Cole on Plastic Man, looking so much like Cole it’s hard to tell the difference. They essentially doubled the Plastic Man stories with his help, increasing the frequency of the solo Plastic Man title. Meanwhile Plas also carried on as Police Comics’ cover feature, after he took it over from Reed Crandall’s Firebrand, starting with issue #5. Plas was the cover and lead feature in Police after that, all the way to #102.


  2. Bud, you have me googling John Spranger now, I’m also looking for more examples of this man of mystery’s art. And I did not know Bill Ward was involved in the early Quality Romance books, more things to look for!!

  3. While I again think you nailed some good splashes… I personally don’t think Torchy holds a candle to Rick Howard!

  4. The John Spranger mystery will haunt me …and worse still will likely remain unsolved.
    Damn you Walt and Bud
    This needs a “Dateline type of investigation.

  5. Shirley SPRINGER
    Shirley Spranger died on January 13, 2015 at the age of 96. After working as a Librarian in the General Research Division, Shirley spent many years in the Economics Division until her retirement in 1981.
    She was very dedicated to public service and had a remarkable knowledge of the collections. Her husband, John Spranger, was an artist at the New York Herald Tribune where his comic strip work was considered classic in its field. Her niece, Susan Conzo, let us know that Shirley was a resident of Kings Row Senior Residence in Middletown, NJ for many years after her retirement.

    A start… 🙁

  6. Good work Dave. Did you pin down when Spranger passed away? That was VERY ambiguous.

    I’m thinking all these years of collecting Golden Age, and The Quality group in particular, and I don’t know his contributions, i will study his style and see if I can begin to identify his work.

  7. I got as far as Ancestry.com Bud….and their links to possible answers requested money to access files. I do regret my money so often wasted on Ancestry.com….my monthly fee wasted on leads that require more money

  8. Its kind of interesting that Shirley Sprangers name was Miss Springer. I’m sure the couple shared some quiet chuckles over the similarities of surnames.

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