Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The Shadow #10. E.R. Cruz; man of mystery.

The Shadow #10, E R CruzWho knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

Not me.

Who knows anything at all about E.R. Cruz, DC mystery-artist extraordinaire?

Not me.

Not Wikipedia either. He doesn't even have his own page. He has a page on the DC Database site. This is it. Not exactly revealing is it? This has to be one of the great scandals of our age. I mean, even I have a Wikipedia page. Admittedly, I had to put it there myself but still...

The Shadow #10, E R Cruz
But perhaps it takes a man of mystery to draw a man of mystery and, whatever and whoever E.R. Cruz is or was, if ever there was anyone born to draw the Shadow it was the Filipino artist.

His work on the strip doesn't have the energy and quirkiness of Frank Robbins but it avoids the sterility of Mike Kaluta and gives it a somewhat filmic look as well as tying it into the world of DC's horror and mystery mags where it belonged.

So, what's the deal? In Night of the Killers, some small time crooks hold up a bank and take the local judge as a hostage.

As it turns out the judge is in on it and, with the aid of his trusty autogyro, the Shadow soon sorts everyone out. In writing terms, the tale suffers from the same problems as Michael Fleisher's Spectre stories of the same vintage which is the inevitability of the protagonist's victory against heavily outclassed foes. Basically, this is Brazil vs your local pub team and, surprise surprise, the pub team gets a beating.

The Shadow #10, E R Cruz
There's also a strange lapse in which, early in the tale, the Shadow's henchman Shrevvy spots a vital clue to the mystery. At the time a big deal's made of this. Trouble is, at the tale's resolution, we still haven't been told what that clue is. I'm assuming it's something to do with the judge's behaviour as he's being kidnapped but, having scoured the pages in question, I can't see any sign of it.

Still, in the end, as is his nature, the Shadow's always going to be more about style than substance and, in the hands of the only man on Earth more mysterious than the Shadow, it more than delivers on that score.

11 comments:

Booksteve said...

http://lambiek.net/artists/c/cruz_er.htm

Steve said...

Thanks for the link, Booksteve. I must admit that was actually where I found out he was Filipino (the only fact about him I seem to know). Bearing in mind how much work he's done, and for major publishers, it is amazing how little info there is about him knocking about. Sometimes I feel there should be more love out there for these unsung heroes of our childhoods.

cerebus660 said...

Steve, if you can find a copy I recommend you get hold of Comic Strip Artist, Vol.2, no.4, published by Top Shelf. This is a Filipino artists special with tons of amazing artwork from Nino, DeZuniga, Alcala, Redondo and... ER Cruz himself. There's a nice little piece on Cruz's work but no biographical details.

Steve said...

Thanks for the tip-off. I'll see if I can get a copy. I've always been a sucker for the art in DC's horror and mystery mags, so it sounds right up my street.

karla said...

E.R cruz is my grandfather! {= i saw ur web cuhz im trying to do a slide show of all the work his done. and im so proud of him. Happy Thanksgiving!

Steve said...

Hello, karla. Thanks for dropping by. He has indeed produced some beautiful work in this time. :)

R. W. Watkins said...

I think I can remember reading on the internet that Mr Cruz died a few years ago. I can remember telling my friend Boyce on the phone one night because he was always such a big fan. So am I, for that matter. His long, black, drooping, shadowy style was perfectly suited for a title like The Shadow. I have a few old issues of House of Mystery, Witching Hour, Unknown Soldier, and Weird War Tales that feature his artwork. In fact, the sadistic, incestuous father in my latest 'Dark Glimpse' cartoon on the home page of The Comics Decoder (google for it) was based on an ER Cruz image from 'This One'll Scare You to Death' (House of Mystery #225, 1974)--one of my all-time favourite horror/suspense stories from the '70s, and thoroughly believable.

Steve said...

I think E R Cruz is still alive, although it's so hard to find information about him, I couldn't claim to be sure.

R. W. Watkins said...

Yes, there is indeed a big curtain of mystery surrounding Mr Cruz. I suggest that we make further connexions with the young lady commenting above, Karla, who claims to be his granddaughter. She might bring us up to date if she's genuine--and I see no reason why she shouldn't be.

I remember a few years ago, there was a bit of a long and haughty debate on a couple of the forums regarding whether or not former youth actress Michele Gallagher (tomboy 'George' on ITV's late '70s version of The Famous Five--the CBC carried it here in Canada) was still alive. Along the way, I came across the email address of one Sean Gallagher, who claimed to be her son. So I contacted him, and he confirmed that, yes, his mother had indeed died (circa 2000, if memory serves me correctly), and he filled me in on the tragic details leading up to her suicide (which, as promised, I've withheld from the public and kept in confidence). So I guess it never hurts to ask....

Then again, Steve, maybe you could follow Jonathan Ross's example in his pursuit for Steve Ditko, and do a special for British television: In Search of E R Cruz!

Steve said...

I was thinking of doing a documentary; "In Search of Me." I like to think it'd be easier and require less moving around.

R. W. Watkins said...

'In Search of Me': I think that was the secret to Norman Mailer's novels!

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