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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

THE UGLY MAN - Joe Maneely and Stan Lee

Everybody knows Marvel Comics.
Back in the late 40's and 50's Timely/Marvel was also known by the name ATLAS.
These pre- Marvel-Age Atlas comics are some of the coolest comics of the 50's, because Stan Lee always had wonderful artists in his 'bullpen'. Before Jack Kirby emerged as Marvel's #1 artist in the 60's, Stan Lee's favorite go-to artist was the multi-talented Joe Maneely.

Joe Maneely had a unique artistic style where he developed a beautiful hatching technique for shading his characters. He drew the successful syndicated newspaper comic strip 'MRS. LYONS CUBS', written by Stan Lee. He is perhaps most famous for his wonderfully detailed and historically accurate rendition of THE BLACK KNIGHT. Known for his amazing speed as well as his beautiful detailing, Maneely's work was soon gracing covers for nearly every comic in Atlas' line. His talent allowed him to vary his style to fit several genres without missing a beat, and his art for romance comics was as good as his sports comics, and his westerns, and his science fiction/fantasy, and his humor, and his horror comics...ah yes, his horror comics!

Maneely's eye for details helped him to create some truly incredible horror imagery of the 50's, including one of the all-time greatest pre-code horror covers,
ASTONISHING #30 from 1954.


Sadly, the world of comic books lost one of it's greatest talents in 1958, when after a night of drinking with companions from the Atlas bullpen, including pal Bill Everett, Joe Maneely was killed in a tragic train accident. He was 32 years old.

From SUSPENSE # 23, 1952, comes our tale from the team of Lee and Maneely, with it's tongue firmly in it's cheek. It's horror with a patented Stan Lee humorous twist ending, drawn with glorious and revolting perfection by the inspiring Joe Maneely.


For a treat, you can click here and go to THE HORRORS OF IT ALL to see another classic Atlas horror story by another comic book legend, Bill Everett, the cover story from the same issue! Don't miss it!


  1. Most disturbing part of Ugly Man for me is the way the colors alternate between red & green... Native American Medicine Men had an old saying: 'Red & Green mixed, makes poison.'

  2. Lysdex,

    You know you just described
    the whole Christmas season?

  3. WoW .... you got another blog Apocolyte...Neato.
    Hey I love this post, and the awesome-ly gory cover...did anyone notice that in the first panel page one, above the dude with the glasses' head... there's an ad for Combat Kelly. Pretty cool huh? Thanks for the educational leg up on Joe Maneely. I heard the name , but never knew the story behind it, or why his stint was so brief. You can tell he was heavily influenced by Elder huh?

  4. Back in the 1950s, I felt Maneely should have been drawing for EC.

    Bhob @ Potrzebie

  5. Thanks for the plug... love Maneely, never knew he died in a train accident (hopefully he wasn't conducting!)

  6. That ugly man is beautiful!

  7. Thank you all for the comments!
    Thanks for pointing out the ad! Atlas was always good at promoting it's comics! Sneaky! And I don't know whether he was influenced by Elder, but I agree they have certain similarities in style.

    That's interesting! I agree, he probably would have fit right in! His later work in the first few issues of CRACKED and his other humorous work show he would have been a good fit for MAD, too! Another Atlas artist who I feel could have done well with EC is Bill Everett. His humorous stuff is on par with the best.

    Your welcome! Ha!

    Yup! Ugly is in the eye of the beholder...or something like that.

  8. Joe Maneely. was a great artists looks at those images he was impressive the cover of Astonishing has to be one of the most graphic ever done back then, it is absolutely perfect

  9. Joe Maneely is my maternal grandmother's brother. I now have an 8 year old son who is just short of obsessed w/ comics, superheroes and Stan Lee. Its great to tell him that his great uncle was such a talented man. We all wonder what could have been

    1. I apologize for the delayed response...I haven't been around for a long while. Thank you for posting your thoughts and sharing. Mr. Maneely was a talented artist and his influence is still felt today. What could have been, indeed!