Monday, April 30, 2012

The Avengers - The Order Changeth!

These days when a creative team switches up on a comic it's much ballyhooed, as the new team is touted and interviewed and given all manner of opportunities to spoil their forthcoming efforts by a ravenous comics media maw.

John Buscema

In olden times such changes often went without comment or official notice. And that was mostly the case when Steve Englehart took over for Roy Thomas, the writer who had transformed The Avengers into a must-read book set at the core of the flowering Marvel Universe and who was stepping up and out to take the Editor-in-Chief role vacated by Stan Lee.

By his own account Englehart started off confident and tried to imitate the man who had preceded him. The first story "Stainless Steve" did for the title was to conjure a visit by the Avengers to the Savage Land where they encountered the Savage Land Mutates, creations of the X-Men arch-nemesis Magneto in the final issues of the misunderstood mutants.

Neal Adams & Tom Palmer

Here are the villains of the day, described neatly in a single panel, something modern comics could benefit greatly.

John Buscema & Jim Mooney

It wouldn't be long before Englehart brought back their creator too, having both Magneto and the X-Men on for a couple of issues.

Gil Kane & Frank Giacoia

John Romita & Joe Sinnott

Soon enough though Englehart would find his voice on The Assemblers, making them very much his own team and leaving his mark indelibly on the them and on the Marvel Universe as a whole.

But in the beginning it was a rather quiet change indeed.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

All-Star Swipes!

In this week of super-team celebration, here's a classic cover featuring the original comic book super-team, the Justice Society of America. All-Star Comics #36 is a iconic comic cover which as been swiped many times. The original is by Irwin Hasen using the artwork of various folks to make the figures accurate.

Recreation by Irwin Hasen.

Irwin Hasen

Jerry Ordway

Carlos Pacheco

The earlier, similar cover to All-Star Comics #4 has been swiped itself, always with adoration for the original.

Everett E. Hibbard

Dick Giordano

Here are some more great homages from Twomorrows! All are crafted with great skill and with a gentle wink to the history they reflect.

Everett E. Hibbard

Murphy Anderson

Murphy Anderson

Mike Sekwosky & Murphy Anderson

George Perez

Irwin Hasen

Jerry Ordway

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Charlton Cheesecake!

Sick magazine was one of the more successful Mad-inspired magazines, beginning in the summer of 1960 and lasting many years and tumbling through several publishers. Charlton got hold of the property in the late 70's and put out the satire magazine until 1980.

A key artist during that time was the ubiquitous Jack Sparling. Sparling did covers and lots of stuff for the mag, but one feature which he gave a special touch was "Cher D'Flower" an ongoing strip about a reporter who conducts interviews. But during this time period, she did her interviewing with exceedingly little clothing on.

This is pretty provocative stuff for the time and for a magazine which was often shelved right next to the other comics from Charlton, Marvel, DC, Archie, and Harvey.

Cher rated one cover appearance, if you look hard at the crowd of caricatures on the Sparling effort for the front of the June 1978 issue.

Here's a typical Cher D'Flower three-pager from the period.

For more Cher D'Flower check out this link.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Mort Walking!

Here are some charming original art pieces for covers in Charlton's Beetle Bailey and Sarge Snorkel comics. The artwork is signed "Mort Walker" but most likely it's a ghost. Frank Johnson is a likely candidate.

I love the expression on Sarge's face above and how it's mirrored by his pampered pooch.

I've had students like this.

And I'd imagine this is an early design for smart bombs.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

"C" Is For Creeper!

As comic book fans we often celebrate the accomplishments of Steve Ditko. As one of the original architects of the Marvel Universe, alongside Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Ditko gets high praise indeed, adulation in fact. He is the co-creator at least of Marvel's most successful property The Amazing Spider-Man and he also developed Dr.Strange.

But Ditko is a guy dedicated to his own philosophy, an objectivist view of the world which makes each man or woman the hero of their own story and which rejects the judgment of others. Ditko has long held himself aloof adding to his mystique and I think its that personal decision which has created mystery which has added to Ditko's appraisal in the larger scheme.

He did leave Marvel of his own choosing and go to lowly Charlton where he labored and revised a number of heroes, most notably Blue Beetle, who was transformed into a high-tech version of Spidey. He also created The Question, a pure Ditko hero who drove home his Randian philosophy more directly and loquaciously.

Then Ditko went to DC, and while his stay was not long he did create Hawk and Dove and most famously The Creeper. The Creeper is a blend of Spider-Man, Blue Beetle, and The Question, a reporter who is super-humanly agile and who by dint of high technology can change his identity quickly and dramatically. Of all Ditko's creations for DC only The Creeper remains really recognizably the hero Ditko conceived.

Thanks to Joe Bloke, here is a link to The Creeper's debut story from Showcase.

Steve Ditko currently produces the comics he wants to make and distributes them through is friend and agent Robin Snyder. He though has had a long career filled with some nifty heroes, and some well-drawn comics, and like any professional some misses and near-misses. It's the nature of the beast. Ditko we can be sure always gave his all though, and perhaps that is what we celebrate about him most, his dedication to craft.

Below is a Creeper cover gallery. The Creeper was drawn by Ditko exclusively until the sixth issue when Gil Kane had to step into finish the story. For whatever reason, Ditko stepped away from DC at this time and left his creations behind. He was though instrumental in getting Dick Giordano, the former Charlton editor to come over to DC and bring with him talents such as Jim Aparo, Steve Skeates, and Pat Boyette.

Gil Kane

Neal Adams

Neal Adams - My first Creeper story!

Here's the cover of the 70's revival of The Creeper by Ditko.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"B" Is For Bomba!

Jack Sparling

One of the great journeyman artists of comics was Jack Sparling. It seemed at times that every other comic I picked up in the late 60's and early 70's was drawn by the evidently reliable and speedy Mr.Sparling. While he was rarely any editor's first choice for a comic, he was often the second choice picking up a series and drawing it until it disappeared.

That certainly was the case with DC's Bomba the Jungle Boy. Leo Summers drew the first few issues of the comic, but Sparling came in behind him and finished up the short seven issue series about the Tarzan wannabe hero who was a sturdy part of the films thanks to former Tarzan star Johnny Sheffield's portrayal on screen of the classic Roy Rockwood 1926 creation.

What prompted DC to bring Bomba the Jungle Boy to comics in 1967 is anyone's guess, but it gave Jack Sparling a chance to create one of his greatest covers, seen above. Likely this cover was designed by Carmine Infantino. But whatever the case, Sparling's image is dynamic and the colors fairly vibrate with intensity.

Here is that cover in the raw minus its copy.

And here is the original and very impressive image.

This comic got the full treatment as part of this blockbuster ad.

Another dynamic Sparling effort is the cover to the fourth issue.

Here's the original to that one.

And here's another version with the logo intact.

Below is a cover gallery for Bomba the Jungle Boy. In a short run, the series turned out some fantastic covers. George Kashdan was the editor of the series through its fourth issue and Dick Giordano fresh from Charlton took over with the fifth installment.

Carmine Infantino & Charles Cuidera

Dick Dillin & Charles Cuidera

Jack Sparling

Jack Sparling

Jack Sparling

Later DC reprinted some of the Bomba stories in a few of their 100-Page Tarzan comics, but since they had lost the license for the character he was renamed "Simba".

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