Art and Artifice

Alex Nino 1974 - House of Secrets #115

Alex Nino House of Secrets

Alex Nino 1974
Story by George Kashdan "Remembered Dead"
©1974 DC Comics

In Kashdan's story, Hiram Phipps is a night watchman with a delusional infatuation with a statue of Lizzie Borden at the wax museum. Familiar with the story surrounding Borden's murder of her parents, Hiram is convinced of Lizzie's innocence, and ponders how he might prove his love by proving her innocent. When some of the statues are culled to be melted down to make new exhibits, Hiram pleads to keep the Borden figure, his request granted by the museum owner.

Hiram settles into his cohabited bliss with the waxworks, only to meet with Edna, his new neighbor, who takes up an instant liking for Hiram. Soon Hiram is conflicted between the Borden statue and Edna, and his crazy conversations with the mute statue soon drives Edna to demand that Hiram decide between her or Borden [what this indicates about Edna's sanity is not noted].

Hiram takes up his emotional crisis with the statue, the conversation entirely one-sided of course. Finally he comes to a rage and decides to return the statue to the museum for melting. Promptly thereafter the statue falls forward, the raised axe neatly coming down onto Hiram's back.

There must have been dozens of "House of Wax" variations published in the DC mystery books. What distinguishes this tale is Nino's artwork. Nino heavily blacks Hiram's pathetic figure, and the trademark Nino winding, twisted anatomy lends toward seeing the character the same way. Nino's sharp design elements derived from his figure outlines are unique and one of the particular things that Nino does so ably.

The stylized curving, interjoining strokes of ink for his figure outlines shows how Nino marshalls the necessary details that make up a "realism" drawing into part cartoon and part pure, obsessive graphic design.


Alex Nino 1973 - House of Mystery #212.
A page with various Nino artwork and his unique story title designs here.
More on Nino can be seen (including a photo of the man!) at the Philippine Comic Art Museum.

Randy Valiente has written a multi-part article on Alex Nino (in conjunction with analysis of Filipino artist Nestor Redondo) here at his blog usapang-komiks. [Note: I believe it is written in Tagalog, the Filipino language. However, if you do not read Tagalog, you can still look at the various samples Valiente has included.]

Alex Nino Page Alex Nino 1974 Artwork

Written by Erik Weems ©2004-2006
Artwork is by Alex Nino Copyright© DC Comics

Original Page 2005 | Updated November 2012

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