Created by Leo Abas and Ben Abas
LEX BRAND was a popular prive-detective and adventurer who appeared in comics in the late forties and fifties in The Netherlands, clearly inspired by the success of Alfred Mazure's Dick Bos.
His wide-ranging adventures (Vampires? Spacemen?) were originally told in a series of small paperbacks in the Beeldverhaal format, which measured roughly four by five inches (9.5 cm. x 13 cm.), reflecting the ongoing paper shortage in Holland in the years following World War II.
The artist, Ben Abas, worked on numerous Dutch comic projects between 1947 and 1955, including Spot Morton, Kara Ben Nemsi, Texas Ranger, De Strijd der Gaucho, Tom Poes, Martin Evans and De Groene Straal, but he's best known for his work on Lex Brand, whom he co-created with his brother Leo Abas, who handled the scripts. Ben's was no great artist -- his style was -- to be generous -- raw and rough, all heavy ink and intense shading, but the weight alone conjured a foreboding and dark mood in his best panels, and his covers (particularly in the first series), despite being only two or three colours, were notable for their explosive format: iconic images of everything from drug-filled syringes and to monsters bursting from the page. It's a style that inspired celebrated American cartoonist Chris Ware, relatively unknown in 1996 to design a business card for Lambiek, the famous Dutch comic shop in the form of a mini-comic.
The series must have been popular. Its first series ran from 1947 to 1949, and a second series from 1952 to 1955, both from Bell Studio. Unfortunately, the "Seduction of the Innocent" war against comic books was not restricted to America ( in the Netherlands, they were blamed for "lazy reading"), and Bell decided not to continue the series. Meanwhile, Abas apparently having grown dissatisfied with the Dutch comic industry, moved to Australia sometime in 1955, where he ended up teaching art and working as an illustrator until his death.
But Lex persevered well into the next century, with reprints beginning to appear in the eighties, and continuing until the last one came out in 2004.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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