Tuesday, November 4, 2014


For a while, I've been combing my hundreds of Charlton comics in search of any yet-to-be-credited Bill Molno efforts.  Why, I have no idea, since the list of credited Molno efforts is already a huge one, but I reckon I'm motivated by historical curiosity.  And obsessiveness.  Two things that frequently set up shop together.

Anyway, Molno had a habit of not signing his work, which, needless to say, ups the challenge of locating and identifying him (you think?), especially on those occasions when a finished job included only the signature of the inker.  Here are two such examples of same from Battlefield Action, No. 49 (Feb., 1962):

No Charlton buff, however, will have any trouble identifying the above efforts as Molno on pencils and Vince Alascia on inks.  But this next example, the cover for the June, 1958 Billy the Kid, isn't as easy.  Well, unless you're me, and you can see Molno-drawn faces in your sleep.  (Hasn't happened yet, but give it time.)  Here we see one of the Molno-est faces in the history of Charlton, but with only Rocco Mastroserio's signature (as inker) to guide us.  His John Hancock is under the gun barrel:

Inside, we encounter an extremely Molno/Mastroserio story, but, again, with only Mastroserio leaving his i.d. (as "RAM").  But Bill is there--trust me.  Just compare the story narrator's face with Billy's on the cover.  They're both pure Molno:


Here's the first page of the story.  The gunfire flashes, the low angle, the stern faces=Molno:

The November, 1957 Kid Montana cover (below), was taken from the splash panel of a Molno/Mastroserio tale, "Kid Montana" (which, naturally enough, introduces the kid).  Both the tale and cover credit Rocco only:

But the story's pencils scream "Molno" (well, not literally) all the way down to the overly-lanky cowboys, the half-baked punch, and the stock old-guy-with-the-white-beard Molno character.  I'd bet my Fisher Price farm set on my Molno/Mastroserio credit.  (I'm not much of a gambler.)

Next, an unsigned Rocco cover (taken from an interior splash) for Strange Suspense Stories, No. 46 (March, 1960).  Do the faces look a little Molno-ish?  (The tidy, compressed layout sure does!)

Looking inside, we see the Molno/Mastroserio face to end all Molno/Mastroserio faces--the big guy gawking at the little guy in the panel following the splash:


Another possibility, albeit slight, would be Molno with Sal Trapani, but to my eyes Trapani's Charlton inking possesses less flow and detail than Rocco's as a rule. So, I'll stick to my verdict, even with nary a signature in sight.  I say Rocco/Bill:

This last example, from the No. 7 Navy War Heroes (March-April, 1965), has a Mastroserio signature and inks which look like only his, but the crimped, sparsely detailed objects in the background look like someone else's contributions.  As in, Bill's, c. 1964-1965:

Here are three pages from this issue, all of them Molno, featuring people, ships, and layouts which closely match those of the cover:

Therefore, I cautiously assign a Mastoserio/Molno credit to the cover.  A definite Mastroserio and a ? following the Molno credit.  The search continues.



  1. Lee - Once again you've pretty much convinced me on all the id's with the possible exception of Army War Heroes, this may be an all Mastroserio cover that looks close to Mono because Rocco based it on the interior story (which I've seen occur numerous times on Charlton covers with different artists). I'm greatly enjoying these Molno posts and you have been crowned (by me, anyway!) as the Mono expert first class.

  2. Thanks, Nick--I'm flattered! And sorry for the delay in getting to your comments--I just now noticed them! Normally, Blogger comments show up in email, but either they're being blocked by my email or some setting needs to be changed here. Someday, I'll get the hang of this program....

    I'll go with your take on the War Heroes cover, i.e. that Rocco was following the interior art style. Crimped backgrounds are a feature of 1963-65 Molno art--or, more accuracy, crimped background details. It makes for an interesting contrast with his 70s-comeback art, which was sketchy but richly detailed. As I'm sure you've noticed, Molno seems to have vanished from Charlton between the late 1960s and about 1973, with a very occasional war comic one-pager to prove he was still in the biz. I've been meaning to start a Molno log to organize all the data I've gathered, but I'm much better at hunting out details than saving and sorting them, so... it's catch-up time. Thanks again.

  3. I'd be interested to learn what Molno was up to in the late 1960's-early 1970's. Work outside of comics? Coloring books? magazine illos? Working on Charlton's magazine division?