TWO FISTED TALES #26 (1952)
HARVEY KURTZMAN

If Crandall's cover to Master Comics #26 exemplifies our attitude as a nation during WW II, so to does Harvey Kurtzman's cover for Two Fisted Tales #26 reflect the mood surrounding our involvement in the Korean conflict. In a wonderfully dramatic and simple image, a beleaguered, frostbitten American soldier props up his wounded buddy, and from a darkly expressive face almost hidden beneath his helmet proclaims: "Some say us Marines RETREATED from the Changjin Reservoir! Heck! We didn't retreat! We just ADVANCED in another direction!" By the time this book was released the United States had been in the war for almost 2 years and many Americans were either indifferent or disenchanted with the "police action" after enduring the terrible hardships and loss of WW II. The soldiers here, in comparison to depictions in the '41-'45 period, are battered, haggard men. The drawing alone sans dialogue would have been powerful enough--the look on the face of the main soldier, his breath steaming out while the snow falls in fist-sized flakes around him, says volumes--but the addition of dialogue gives us an added insight into the mind of the retreating soldier and is a poignant commentary on the pride and will of the American Marine. Like many great covers, Kurtzman allows the central image to speak for itself, with a simple sky blue background silhouetting the weighty, forlorn figures. The color scheme, also designed by Kurtzman (he prepared color guides for all of his covers) is a masterpiece. Using color holds for the snow on the men and in the sky, he creates a time, a place and a mood which combine for a truly special cover.

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