Noel Sickles drew comics for three brief years, yet his groundbreaking work on the 1930s aviation adventure series Scorchy Smith is a milestone in the history of newspaper comic strips. Over the past 70 years, however, readers have seen only occasional excerpts of this seminal work.
Now IDW’s Library of American Comics presents Scorchy Smith and The Art of Noel Sickles, a comprehensive, oversized 352-page volume that collects, for the first time, every Sickles Scorchy strip, from December 1933 through November 1936. It also features extensive DVD-style extras examining Sickles’s life and the decades-long influence of his work, while also showcasing the breadth of his career as one of America’s foremost magazine illustrators.
Pete Hamill observed, “Sickles was the first comics artist to use the brush boldly, in an impressionistic way” as he pioneered the use of chiaroscuro and Craftint shading in comics. Together with his studio partner, Milton Caniff of Terry and the Pirates fame, Sickles created a method of dramatic comics storytelling and illustration that influenced generations of artists who followed. Longtime Spider-Man artist John Romita noted that during the 1950s, “the whole industry was copying from photostats of the Scorchy Smith dailies by Noel Sickles.”
Having blazed a trail through the comics world, Sickles left the medium in favor of a 40-year career as one of America's most successful magazine illustrators. A regular at Life magazine, his work also appeared in Look, Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, and the Saturday Evening Post. Sickles won the National Cartoonist Society’s Advertising and Illustration Award in both 1960 and 1962. He eventually settled in Tucson, Arizona and turned to painting, winning further acclaim for his Western canvases.