Tag Archives: Comic Cover Recreation/Reinterpretation

I Dare You!

There’s a sto­ry behind this one. Of course! Isn’t there always? 😀

But first; there are prob­a­bly some of you scratch­ing your heads, going, “Huh? That’s not Dare­dev­il!” It’s under­stand­able that you might only know about Mar­vel Comics’ ver­sion of Dare­dev­il, from the comics and the recent Net­flix series. But back in the Gold­en Age of comics, there was a dif­fer­ent Dare­dev­il, pub­lished by Lev Glea­son. The char­ac­ter’s title sold very well, run­ning for about 16 years, until sales fell (like many super­hero titles did post-WWII). This Dare­dev­il had a kid gang who hung around with him called the Lit­tle Wise Guys. The boys had tak­en over his title by the time the book ceased pub­lish­ing, Dare­dev­il him­self hav­ing gone MIA about six years pri­or to that.

But I should get back to the sto­ry behind this re-cre­ation/rein­ter­pre­ta­tion. Ear­li­er this year, I was chat­ting with direc­tor Dan Riba (known for his work on Bat­man: the Ani­mat­ed Series, among many oth­er car­toons). In the course of our con­ver­sa­tion, he men­tioned that he’d recent­ly had an online inter­ac­tion with movie pro­duc­er Michael Uslan, via the Book of Faces. Some­where out there on the inter­net, Mr. Uslan had stum­bled across my ear­li­er re-work­ing of Mar­vel’s Cap­tain Mar­vel #1, replac­ing the Kree ver­sion with the Gold­en Age Faw­cett orig­i­nal, as if Mar­vel had bought the rights to the char­ac­ter from Faw­cett.

Dan told me that Mr. Uslan liked my cov­er, but did­n’t know where it had come from (The inter­net some­times has a way of strip­ping us cre­ative folk of cred­it for our work). Dan informed him that it was my work. In reply, Mr. Uslan won­dered if I had ever con­sid­ered doing a sim­i­lar thing with Dare­dev­il #1, rework­ing it as if in some alter­nate uni­verse, Mar­vel had bought the rights to the orig­i­nal Gold­en Age char­ac­ter instead of invent­ing their own new ver­sion. (Some­where, I read that this was actu­al­ly con­sid­ered briefly).

I told Dan that I had­n’t thought of that, but it was an inter­est­ing idea. The con­ver­sa­tion moved on from there, and I did­n’t think about it again. At least not for a lit­tle while. But this thought kept peri­od­i­cal­ly cir­cling back into my brain. And as occa­sion­al­ly hap­pens, it got lodged in there. When that hap­pens, I’ve found the only way to get it out is to actu­al­ly do the thing. So here it is!

Re-cre­at­ing and re-imag­in­ing this cov­er was a much big­ger chal­lenge than my Cap­tain Mar­vel #1 was. In the process of dig­ging in and work­ing with a cov­er image like this, you come to real­ize cer­tain things about it. One is that for a Mar­vel Comics cov­er of this vin­tage, it’s a very busy cov­er! It’s almost more like a DC Annu­al or 80-Page Giant cov­er of that era.

I have a the­o­ry about the rea­son why this cov­er is so unchar­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly busy for Mar­vel. It’s only a guess, mind you, but I sus­pect that orig­i­nal­ly the cov­er was going to be just the pri­ma­ry image at left. That part looks to have been drawn by Jack Kir­by, while there are oth­er hands in the rest of the art. Three of the Fan­tas­tic Four heads are just the paste-up art they used in that comic’s cor­ner box! I can’t help but won­der if some­one (per­haps Stan Lee, or maybe Mar­tin Good­man) felt like this new title need­ed more of a sales boost than just the one image, so the main piece of art was reduced and shoved to the left, and all the addi­tion­al text men­tion­ing Spi­der-Man and the Fan­tas­tic Four was added in that col­umn on the right.

Adding to my sus­pi­cions are all the tan­gents that exist­ed on the orig­i­nal, which I made an effort to fix here. They feel like the sort of thing that hap­pens when art is re-worked after the fact by oth­er hands, in ways the ini­tial artist did­n’t plan for.

There are a cou­ple addi­tion­al things I should men­tion, because of course there are sto­ry bits about this new/old ver­sion that I worked out in my head while doing this cov­er. I fig­ure Mar­vel might have giv­en Dare­dev­il fold-up boomerangs that he could store in his belt (see dia­gram). And at first I was­n’t sure what to do with the spot at low­er right where Fog­gy Nel­son was on the orig­i­nal cov­er. Who could I put there? But as I thought about it, the idea of aging up the Lit­tle Wise Guys to teenagers (ala Rick Jones), and hav­ing them form a band seemed like a good way to go. They’re rep­re­sent­ed here by Scare­crow. It was­n’t too hard to take his hair­cut from his Gold­en Age look and turn it into more of a Bea­t­le cut.

Thanks to Mr. Uslan and Dan for plant­i­ng the bug in my brain!

Art Vs. Artist!

So there’s this thing, and I guess all the cool kids are doing it over on the Twit­ters and the Insta­grams. It’s called “Art Vs. Artist.” You put some of your work togeth­er in this for­mat, along with a pic­ture of your­self in the cen­ter. It seemed like some­thing that might be sor­ta fun to take a crack at, so here we go!

To be hon­est, I’m not entire­ly sure what all the rules are (if there are any), so I’m prob­a­bly break­ing some of them. I did get the idea that this was sup­posed to cen­ter around faces, so there’s at least that. Some of these sam­ples are more recent and oth­ers slight­ly old­er. At the moment, I feel like this works pret­ty well. If I were to attempt this again tomor­row, it’s pos­si­ble I could pick a few oth­er images.

I feel like I might be break­ing one of the rules with my pho­to in the cen­ter. It’s (obvi­ous­ly) not a cur­rent self­ie. Not by a long shot! That’s a 12 year-old me, on my birth­day. If you could see more of the pic­ture, you’d see I was attempt­ing to paint a pic­ture (using oils) of the USS Enter­prise fir­ing on a Klin­gon ship. Why that pho­to? I fig­ure: don’t we all start some­place like that as artists? Every­thing else flows from that.

When Titans Clash!

Long­time vis­i­tors to this site may remem­ber that I got my start in ani­ma­tion work­ing on X‑Men: the Ani­mat­ed Series. That meant my first boss was Lar­ry Hous­ton, who I came to con­sid­er both my men­tor in the busi­ness, and a friend. Lar­ry’s now get­ting to enjoy much-deserved recog­ni­tion for his con­tri­bu­tions to X‑Men, as well as a num­ber of oth­er car­toons peo­ple think of fond­ly from their youth.

But before he got into ani­ma­tion, Lar­ry aspired to do comics. And he did! In his 20’s, he self-pub­lished three issues of his own com­ic, The Enforcers, with a lit­tle help from his friends.

Those comics have been out of print for years. But not long ago, Lar­ry decid­ed to re-pub­lish them all togeth­er in one big col­lec­tion. You can pur­chase it off of Lar­ry’s site, using the link above, in either dig­i­tal or phys­i­cal form. Orig­i­nal­ly his comics were in black and white (as was typ­i­cal for inde­pen­dent comics in those days), but this time it’s in full col­or!

I ordered myself a copy, and I found it a real blast. You can feel the excite­ment on the page, that “we’re doing our own comics!” Of course there are some rough edges, but you can see Lar­ry and friends learn­ing their craft and improv­ing vis­i­bly with each issue. It’s cer­tain­ly bet­ter than what I was doing in my 20’s! The art has a real ener­gy to it, and so does the dia­logue. There’s this ’70s Mar­vel/qua­si-Roy Thomas feel to it. I real­ly enjoyed the com­ic quite a bit!

So this is a bit of fan art on my part, recre­at­ing the cov­er of the col­lec­tion (which was also the cov­er to the orig­i­nal issue #3). But of course, it’s not just a straight re-cre­ation. I always have to have some kind of spin on it, or re-inter­pre­ta­tion. In this case, the idea was to tweak it slight­ly in some aspects to make it look even more like a main­stream com­ic from that late ’70s peri­od. Except for one or two pan­els, these sto­ries feel like they could have seen print in a Comics Code-approved book of that era.

So Lar­ry: thanks, and much respect always! Hav­ing read these sto­ries, I’d real­ly like to see you do some new comics with your char­ac­ters, using all the sto­ry­telling craft you’ve picked up in the inter­ven­ing years.

Lar­ry Hous­ton’s The Enforcers are ™ & ©1975, 1978, 1979 and 2018 Lar­ry F. Hous­ton.

Captains All!

Some of you will rec­og­nize this as a re-cre­ation/rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of the cov­er of Whiz Comics #2, first appear­ance of the orig­i­nal Cap­tain Mar­vel in the Gold­en Age.

This was inspired by a sto­ry a friend told me a few weeks back. Like me, his default set­ting when some­one says “Cap­tain Mar­vel” is to think first of the Faw­cett Comics orig­i­nal. His wife does­n’t par­tic­u­lar­ly read a lot of comics, but she’s famil­iar with the char­ac­ter through him. Recent­ly, he and his wife were out at the movies. They were look­ing at the posters for com­ing attrac­tions. One was for Mar­vel’s Cap­tain Mar­vel film. My friend’s wife looked at the poster and was puz­zled. “Um, why is Cap­tain Mar­vel a girl?”

Look­ing around online, there seems to be more than one per­son out there who’s a lit­tle con­fused as to why these dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters have the same name. I’ve seen forums where this ques­tion’s been asked. Peo­ple who know what’s going on try to explain, only to per­haps go into too much detail, caus­ing the eyes of those who asked the ques­tion to glaze over and regret their hav­ing asked. So I’m not going to get into all that here.

This just appealed to my sense of fun to make this swap. It’s not like I haven’t made a char­ac­ter swap like this before! I’ve even swapped pub­lish­ers on this one. In my mind, this would’ve been pub­lished by Timely/Marvel. I even gave the Cap­tain a new/old logo, in line with the kind of logos they used back then.

And like many of you, I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing what Mar­vel has done with their Cap­tain Mar­vel in the movie!

What They Shoulda Done,…”

FCA Captain Marvel Adventures #23 Cover Re-creationThis is a re-cre­ation/re-inter­pre­ta­tion of the cov­er of Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures #23, done in col­lab­o­ra­tion with my friend and ani­ma­tion biz men­tor, Lar­ry Hous­ton. You’ll note there are some sig­nif­i­cant changes, if you com­pare this cov­er to the orig­i­nal.

This re-cre­ation came about because of an upcom­ing issue of FCA (the Faw­cett Col­lec­tors of Amer­i­ca), with an arti­cle dis­cussing minor­i­ty rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Gold­en Age comics. Since the arti­cle’s appear­ing in FCA, the pri­ma­ry focus was to be on Steam­boat, an African-Amer­i­can char­ac­ter who appeared for a while in the ear­ly Cap­tain Mar­vel strips.

Now, fea­tur­ing Steam­boat pre­sent­ed a prob­lem. He was always depict­ed in that stereo­typ­i­cal and racist way that most African-Amer­i­can char­ac­ters were por­trayed in comics at the time. So what were we to do about a cov­er for this issue?

Nei­ther FCA Edi­tor P.C. Hamer­linck nor myself thought it was a good idea to use images of Steam­boat from the orig­i­nal comics on the cov­er, and for the same rea­sons, I did­n’t feel right in ask­ing an artist to gen­er­ate new art depict­ing him as he appeared back then.

Anoth­er thought was to do a new draw­ing depict­ing Steam­boat in a non-racist way. But then that raised the ques­tion of how peo­ple would even be able to rec­og­nize who he was sup­posed to be, since it would be so far afield from his orig­i­nal appear­ance.

P.C. came up with the idea of doing a re-cre­ation of Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures #23, only done in a sort of “what if there weren’t the racial stereo­types in old comics?” kind of way. Look­ing over the orig­i­nal cov­er and its ele­ments, I real­ized this was the way to go. We could make this idea work. Even though Steam­boat would look dif­fer­ent from how he’d been por­trayed in the Gold­en Age, read­ers would still be able to iden­ti­fy him because there was a con­text for it.

I’d also been think­ing of try­ing to get some new and dif­fer­ent voic­es involved in some of these FCA cov­ers. Though Lar­ry Hous­ton is prob­a­bly best known for his ani­ma­tion work, he’s always had a deep love for comics too. And I knew that pos­i­tive por­tray­als of African-Amer­i­can char­ac­ters in car­toons and comics has always been a sub­ject Lar­ry cared a great deal about. So I thought maybe this cov­er could be a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for me to team up with Lar­ry. I asked him if he’d be inter­est­ed, and he agreed to do it.

Lar­ry pro­vid­ed me with a good, tight lay­out, which I took the rest of the way, even adding dot pat­terns and aging.

You get to see it here as the com­ic cov­er alone, sans the FCA copy. This issue of FCA (#203) will be appear­ing in the pages of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego #144, out in Decem­ber from Twom­or­rows.

Doc, I’m Seein’ Spots Before My Eyes!”

Little Dot #11 Re-CreationThough it might look to some like I’m pret­ty much exclu­sive­ly a fan of super­heroes, I actu­al­ly enjoy many dif­fer­ent types of comics. And late­ly, I’ve had rea­son to go back and re-exam­ine a lot of the old Har­vey Comics.

I’m dat­ing myself by admit­ting it, but I remem­ber when they still pub­lished Har­vey Comics. The pub­lish­er did many dif­fer­ent types of mate­r­i­al over the years they were in busi­ness, but they’re best known for pro­duc­ing real­ly good comics for kids, fea­tur­ing char­ac­ters like Casper the Friend­ly Ghost, Richie Rich, Lit­tle Audrey, Lit­tle Dot, Lit­tle Lot­ta and many oth­ers.

Like a lot of comics fans around my age or old­er, I have fond mem­o­ries of read­ing Har­veys, pur­chased off the spin­ner racks of the local drug­store or 7‑Eleven. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, aside from a very brief revival in the ear­ly ’90s, Har­vey ceased pub­lish­ing comics a long time ago, so kids today have rarely had the priv­i­lege of meet­ing those char­ac­ters.

I had­n’t real­ly looked at any Har­vey books in a long time, so it was some­thing of a rev­e­la­tion to go back and re-exam­ine some of those sto­ries recent­ly with a more expe­ri­enced artist’s eye than what I pos­sessed as a child. I was pleased to find that the work stands up excep­tion­al­ly well! The char­ac­ters are well-designed and well-drawn. Though uncred­it­ed in the comics them­selves, the tem­plate was estab­lished by artists Steve Muf­fat­ti and War­ren Kre­mer, and the oth­er Har­vey artists (like Howie Post, Ernie Colón and Sid Couchey) worked to main­tain that high lev­el of crafts­man­ship.

I thought it might be fun to re-inter­pret one of the old Har­vey cov­ers and take it in a more flat and graph­ic direc­tion. Lit­tle Dot #11 seemed like a real­ly good can­di­date. I redrew the cov­er on paper first, then used Adobe Illus­tra­tor to com­plete the job. Enjoy! 🙂

What It Was, Now Is

CMA #2 Original Head RestoredIt’s high time I put up some­thing new here! I guess this qual­i­fies. It’s kind of simul­ta­ne­ous­ly old and new, you could say.

For the 200th issue of FCA (appear­ing in the pages of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego #141), I was approached by edi­tor P.C. Hamer­linck with a chal­lenge. A col­lec­tor named Har­ry Matesky had bought the orig­i­nal art for the cov­er of Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures #2 (you can see the pub­lished com­ic here.), and made a dis­cov­ery. The head of Cap­tain Mar­vel on the pub­lished cov­er was actu­al­ly a paste-up, and under­neath it was a dif­fer­ent draw­ing! P.C. asked if I would be will­ing to try to com­plete the orig­i­nal head, so we could see what the cov­er might have looked like if C.C. Beck had gone ahead and fin­ished it. Game on!

I was pro­vid­ed with high res scans of both the orig­i­nal cov­er art as pub­lished, and a pho­to­copy of the art with the orig­i­nal head removed. It was a bit more tricky than a sim­ple “con­nect the dots” exer­cise, as the out­er con­tour of Cap­tain Mar­vel’s face was basi­cal­ly miss­ing. I heav­i­ly ref­er­enced the way Beck drew him, try­ing to make it look as much as pos­si­ble like his work. And it had to dove­tail into the exist­ing linework as seam­less­ly as pos­si­ble.

Once I had it inked (dig­i­tal­ly), I had to dig­i­tal­ly paste up the restored head over the clean scan of the pub­lished cov­er art. At this point in the restora­tion, I ran into an unfore­seen dif­fi­cul­ty. As some of you might know, pho­to­copiers can some­times intro­duce a bit of dis­tor­tion or skew­ing into their out­put. For most every­day copi­er uses, you don’t notice some­thing like that, and it’s not a prob­lem. But here, where I real­ly need­ed the two ver­sions to line up accu­rate­ly, it was a prob­lem.

After I was final­ly able to get it sort­ed out to my sat­is­fac­tion, I then had a clean new/old black and white orig­i­nal for the cov­er, which I col­ored to match the orig­i­nal pub­lished ver­sion. It appeared as the cov­er for FCA #200, which I believe is avail­able right now. But here, you get to see it with all the orig­i­nal Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures mast­head copy intact. It was fun to get to col­lab­o­rate with C.C. Beck a lit­tle bit here, across the gulf of time and space!

Now That’s Just Darling!

Darling Romance #1 ReworkedHey, every­body! It’s anoth­er com­ic cov­er recreation/reinterpretation. This time, it’s the cov­er of issue #1 of Archie Comics’ Dar­ling Romance. You can see the orig­i­nal cov­er here.

I’ve per­son­al­ly nev­er been all that big a col­lec­tor of romance comics, though the best of them have had some real­ly great artists. An inter­est­ing bit of his­to­ry: the guys who pio­neered the genre? None oth­er than Joe Simon and Jack Kir­by! Those who are only famil­iar with the more two-fist­ed, action-packed side of their work might be sur­prised to hear this, but it’s true. They launched the first romance com­ic, Young Romance, in 1947. And in the wake of its sales suc­cess, many oth­er pub­lish­ers fol­lowed suit with their own romance titles.

Simon and Kir­by’s work in this genre is unsur­pris­ing­ly ener­getic and live­ly. Many of the sto­ries go places one would­n’t typ­i­cal­ly expect a romance com­ic sto­ry to go. If you get the chance to see some of these sto­ries for your­self, it’s worth the time. I’m told it can be hard to track down the orig­i­nal comics, but thank­ful­ly, there are reprints avail­able in books like Young Romance: the Best of Simon & Kir­by’s Romance Comics, and it looks as though there might be oth­er sources on the way too.

Maybe I should talk a lit­tle bit about this Dar­ling Romance cov­er. I know noth­ing at all about this com­ic, but the cov­er image spoke to me. I thought it would be fun to take the orig­i­nal pho­to cov­er and do a draw­ing instead, push the mod­el’s looks even more in the direc­tion of Bet­tie Page. Also, I felt like giv­ing the whole thing a pulpi­er, hard­er-edged look. Just for fun. 🙂

She’s a Wow!

Wow Comics 12 ReworkedHere’s a recreation/reinterpretation of the cov­er of Wow Comics #12, fea­tur­ing Mary Mar­vel. You can com­pare it with the orig­i­nal here.

Mary debuted in Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures #18, where Bil­ly Bat­son dis­cov­ered to his sur­prise that he had a twin sis­ter, from whom he’d been sep­a­rat­ed at birth. It turned out that the mag­ic word that turned Bil­ly into Cap­tain Mar­vel also worked to turn Mary Batson/Bromfield into the super­pow­ered Mary Mar­vel.

Mary’s “visu­al father” was artist Marc Swayze. I was hon­ored to be asked to do an FCA cov­er fea­tur­ing Mary, as a trib­ute to Marc Swayze for what would’ve been his 100th birth­day. It was post­ed here a while back.

Reg­u­lar vis­i­tors to this site have heard me say before that when doing these recre­ations, I like to have some kind of fresh take or approach, so that I’m not just repeat­ing exact­ly what was done before. So imag­ine this, if you can: some alter­nate world, where Faw­cett did­n’t cease pub­lish­ing comics. Instead, they kept on pro­duc­ing new four-col­or adven­tures for Cap­tain Mar­vel and the Mar­vel Fam­i­ly. Maybe at some point in the late ’50s or ear­ly ’60s, Faw­cett licensed Mary to an ani­ma­tion stu­dio for a series, and Wow Comics was relaunched in sup­port. It was kind of what was play­ing in the back of my mind when I did this, at any rate.

I can almost hear the announc­er’s voice: “Boys and Girls! It’s time now for the adven­tures of Mary Mar­vel! The Shaz­am girl!

…Suddenly a White Rabbit…”

Marvel Team-Up #131 ReworkedYou’re see­ing a rein­ter­pre­ta­tion here of the cov­er to Mar­vel Team-Up #131. I must con­fess that I know absolute­ly noth­ing about the White Rab­bit, or how much of a con­nec­tion she has to the char­ac­ter that appeared in the Lewis Car­roll book Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land. I don’t have a clue about Frog-Man either. I’ve nev­er read this com­ic.

So why did I do this cov­er? Sim­ple: when I saw the orig­i­nal, I thought there was some­thing fun here that could be rein­ter­pret­ed. If you look around my site, you’ll see that I do things like this on occa­sion. I even got to do it once for the late, lament­ed Cov­ered Blog before they called it a day. Though they’re no longer doing cov­er rein­ter­pre­ta­tions there, I think the idea is still worth pur­su­ing from time to time here.

While more or less straight recre­ations can be fun too, tak­ing an orig­i­nal cov­er and try­ing to find a fresh angle or spin to put on it can be even more fun. In this case, I thought ren­der­ing it in a dif­fer­ent style to make the humor­ous intent of the sto­ry more obvi­ous would be a fun thing to do. And it seemed appro­pri­ate to use the Mar­vel Pop Art Pro­duc­tions cor­ner box with it.

For once, that’s pret­ty much all there is to say for this one!