Auction Spotlight #9

Cave Girl issue 13 splash by Bob Powell, 1943, sold for $6,572.50. Source.

Bob Powell is an artist that just doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Very active from the 1940s to the 1960s, he produced a lot of pages. The market until this point has kept his work at much lower prices, and this is the very high end of the Powell market that’s not Batman or Daredevil.

Advantage Seller. Part of the price is for Bob Powell, part because it’s a splash page, but most of it is coming from the subject matter: a scantily clad woman running from crazed savages, with that element of promised violence. Great piece, but

Scott VanderPloeg
Scott VanderPloeg

Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at AE Index and eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans.

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Steve V.
Steve V.
6 years ago

Bob Powell, (real name was Stanisav Robert Pawloski) is regarded as one of the old-time classic comic book artists. His earliest work for Fox on Dr.Fung and Green Mask is somewhat forgetable. After all he was only age 22!

For Fiction house he ghosted Sheena. Jungle comics were his love before Cave Girl!

Sometimes he used the name Major Ralston and did plenty of work in the early 1940s for every publisher and including many many covers. Man in Black was a series where the original art pages have survived from 1942 to 1946. Black Cat and Green Hornet too!

In the 1950s he again worked for Stan Lee on the atlas horror series Menace. This was the height of pre-code horror! Horror was his forte. He was also a staff marvel artist on 1950 to 1957 Atlas and in particular The Submariner!

Powell best remembered for his 13 issues pencilled in 1965 for Marvel. But lets not. entirely omit his Good Girl Art! — Cave Girl.

Also remembered for working with Norman Saunders on various bubble gum and Batman cards, and his early involvement with Blackhawk. Hows that for a varied career?

Magazine Enterprises (ME) really hit its stride in the post-WW2 years, ME steered clear of supheroes and focused on genres such as western, war and jungle. They had a stable of strong artists including Dick Ayers, Mart Bailey, Ogden Whitney and Frank Bolle but Bob Powell was perhaps their most prolific during the 50s. He contributed more than 100 stories and dozens of covers for the company!

Powell was a great fit for M.E. as he (and his staff) could draw just about anything. MR has a number of strong war books including American Air Forces and United States Marines. Check out this page from U.S. Marines #7 from 1952. American bombers take out a communist convoy in a page so well laid out that it could have been wordless!

Powell contributed to most of M.E’.s western titles. For my money, Bobby Benson’s B-Bar-B Riders (that’s a mouthful) is one of the more entertaining western books of the early 50s, much of it due to Powell’s artwork. I thought I’d include this wonderful full page map of the B-Bar-B Range and environs in west Texas. Powell was good at action, but also a pretty adept cartographer!

In the 1950s Powell was perhaps best l known for his jungle work, as he did a ton of work for Fiction House in the 40s. M.E. entered the jungle with titles such as Cave Girl and Thun’da. World: meet Frank Frazatta!

Powell worked on Cave Girl issues 11 to 14. Issue 13 has a great splash! But not as good as Frazatta!

On Thunda issues #2 to 6, Powell had the rather daunting task of replacing Frank Frazetta who did Thunda issue #1. Frazetta who had drawn the first issue was irreplacable but in 1952 noone really cared much about read-and-toss comics – as long as the cover hooked readers into spending their dime!

Powell did superheros for M.E. right before its bankruptcy. It exists as a footnote in comic book history because it introduced some of the earliest ‘Silver Age’ heroes on record. Characters such as Strongman and The Avenger showed that Powell also had a knack for the capes and tights crowd!

In 1965 Stan Lee rehired Powell. We obviously all know and remember that Stan Lee had Powell do some work at Marvel pencilling. Giantman 65 to 69 in Tales to Astonish. Those issues killed the dying Giantman title they were meant to save. Not great inking by John Gienta but the penciling by Powell just looks too small and uninspiring. Giantman died in the care of Powell. Then Hulk in Tales to Astonish 73 and 74. Hulk was so ugly that sales began slipping under Powell’s penciling. Then Powell did the human torch stories in strange tales 130 to 131. The Torch died in issue 134 in Powell’s care losing the title to Nick Fury. Powell was not offered Nick Fury!

In the mid-60s, Powells big cover was stange tales 131 -The bouncing ball of Doom! This led to Daredevil 9 and 11 penciled by Powell and inked by Wally Wood. These 3 issues were the best of his marvel work in my opinion. But Daredevil sales were slipping and Romita Sr. brought in to save the title. Then Colen saved Daredevil from the fate that befell Giantman and the Human Torch as a solo title!

Powells work suffered from too much detail and lacked the eye-popping jump-off-the-page attributes of Jack Kirby’s art. A good inker could correct this and could give more-pop to the heros with heavy spot-blacks like in Daredevil!

Bob Powell died suddenly in 1967 at age 50!

I am not a big fan of Cave Girl by Powell. I feel Frazatta was the master of Thunda and that entire gendre with Powell being the rush-job sucessor when Frazetta could not do such high quality for such low pay of $8 a page.

Powell’s work survived and hit the market early when his estate liquidated in 1967. Powell art is not rare, as he was proliffic. But his art is hardly considered in the quality level as Frazetta!

Powell was a journeyman for almost every comics company, and perhaps the only company he did not work for was D.C. Powell worked for Fiction House, Fox, M.E., Marvel, Archie, Fawcett, Hillman, Street and Smith, St.John, Atlas, Quality, and even Ziff Davis.

D.C. was thought to only hire the best and was paying the highest $18 a page and perhaps Powell was not regarded as good enough for D.C!

When M.E.Enterprizes went bankrupt, it would be interesting to see those charactors like Jet Powers and Major Inapak drawn by Powell for D.C. but it never happened!

I do not personally regard Powell’s Cave Girl (dressed like a Frazatta “babe” in leopard skins) as anything more than a Frazatta impersonation with Frazatta “apes” throughout. * (by Frazatta apes I mean both monkey “apes” -and a pun on copying too!)

I agree its a BIG advantage to the seller of the splash to Cave Girl 13. He can parle his newfoud $$$ into a real Frazatta! The Frazatta estate is being liquidated and a Frazatta original can be had for the price of a dead Powell Cave Girl rip-off immitation!

The buyer of the splash to Cave Girl 13 should consider it a Frazatta tribute, and the buyer learn a hard lesson. Never buy art because you like the ape on the cover!

D.C. was famous putting apes on covers just to sell more books. Maybe people bought D.C. covers with apes hoping Frazatta ape stories would be inside.!?

In this case, the moral of this sad story of ADVANTAGE SELLER is –do not accept an inferior substitute Powell when the master Frazatta is coming around the corner. Accept nothing but the best!

Steve V.
Steve V.
6 years ago

Cave girl has her feet together, but not under her body, so anatotomically incorrect for someone running. Cave Girl is standing defying gravity. The baby seems to have a strange Cave Girl voodoo doll that does not fit Africa. One native looks stiff, the other like he is lunching on a knife. Nothing much seems to be drawn correct and all poses look swiped and out of place.