Tag Archives: Golden Age

Captain Marvel is 75!

Captain Marvel at 75I was just giv­en leave to post this draw­ing. This year’s the 75th Anniver­sary of the orig­i­nal Cap­tain Mar­vel. FCA Edi­tor Paul Hamer­linck (for whom I’ve done sev­er­al cov­ers over the years, a num­ber of which can be found here on my site) was writ­ing an essay in hon­or of Cap’s 75th for Jon B. Cooke’s Com­ic Book Cre­ator mag­a­zine. Paul asked if I would like to con­tribute an illus­tra­tion to poten­tial­ly accom­pa­ny his essay, and left it up to me what to do. A 75-year-old Cap seemed simul­ta­ne­ous­ly like both an unex­pect­ed and yet obvi­ous way to go.

I was­n’t sure if either Paul or Jon would go for this idea. Maybe it would be a lit­tle too weird for a trib­ute. But I guess their sens­es of humor must some­times go a lit­tle towards the weird too.

Paul’s essay, accom­pa­nied by my illus­tra­tion, will be appear­ing in issue #10 of Com­ic Book Cre­ator, ship­ping in Novem­ber to your fin­er local comics shops every­where.

Thanks, guys! This was fun!

Hap­py 75th, Cap!

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!

Thunder Enlightening, and a Big Bang

Thunder Girl Adventures #16What you’re see­ing here is actu­al­ly a draw­ing gen­er­at­ed some years ago for Big Bang Comics. It was a fake old com­ic cov­er, done for one of the His­to­ry issues we put togeth­er. Those issues con­coct­ed a whole fic­ti­tious back his­to­ry of Big Bang as a comics pub­lish­er (bor­row­ing their for­mat from the two com­plet­ed vol­umes of The Ster­anko His­to­ry of Comics). I did­n’t ink this image; if mem­o­ry serves, the inks were by Jeff Mey­er, who also inked my work on a num­ber of oth­er projects around that time.

The col­or on this is new, though (which is why you’re see­ing it here). I was recent­ly con­tact­ed by Big Bang head hon­chos Gary Carl­son and Chris Eck­er, asked if I’d be game to final­ly add col­or to this cov­er. They’ve recent­ly part­nered with a com­pa­ny named Pulp 2.0 Press to bring back some of the Big Bang prop­er­ties, and look at new ways of get­ting them out there. I under­stand this image might even­tu­al­ly end up on prod­ucts like t‑shirts, cof­fee mugs, etc. Which would be a very cool thing to see!

So this gives me the chance to talk about a cou­ple oth­er things, while this image is up. I believe I’ve men­tioned my Big Bang asso­ci­a­tion before, but haven’t got­ten into much detail about it. Though I did­n’t entire­ly get in on the ground floor, I came in pret­ty close to it. Gary and Chris had­n’t yet pub­lished their first few issues through Cal­iber, but were begin­ning to assem­ble the con­tents when I was intro­duced to Gary at Com­ic Con. This meet­ing came about because writer Nat Gertler and I had done a one-shot for Par­o­dy Press/Entity Comics called Mis­ter U.S.: 50 For­got­ten Years (This lat­er came out as Big Bang Comics #8). PP/EC tried to solic­it for it twice. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the num­bers weren’t there. But Pub­lish­er Don Chin thought there was some­thing there that might be of inter­est to Gary for what he and Chris were work­ing on, so Don made the intro­duc­tion.

Gary and I hit it off right away. I was first brought in just to help design and draw a Simon/Kir­by-ish char­ac­ter they’d had an idea for, called the Badge. But they dis­cov­ered that I could also help with cre­at­ing logos, as well as design­ing a slew of oth­er char­ac­ters and doing occa­sion­al col­or work. I did­n’t just get to draw like Simon and Kir­by, but oth­er artists too, along the way. Plus I even had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to help out with sto­ry­line con­tri­bu­tions. It was a blast, and exact­ly the sort of thing you hope to get to do when you dream of doing comics as a kid. So, thanks, Gary and Chris!

And while I’m here, this is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for me to say some­thing about Thun­der Girl and Bill Fugate. Thun­der Girl was sort of Big Bang’s nod to Faw­cett’s Cap­tain Mar­vel. And Bill Fugate was the per­fect artist to bring her to life and draw her sto­ries. With­out Bil­l’s involve­ment from the begin­ning, she would not have been the same. Bil­l’s draw­ings just had “fun” com­ing out of every line on the page. His work was car­toon­ing of the high­est order, in the best pos­si­ble sense. I hon­est­ly think C.C. Beck would’ve liked Bil­l’s work a great deal. When­ev­er Bill man­aged to get a new Thun­der Girl sto­ry com­plet­ed for pub­li­ca­tion, it was an occa­sion. Heck, any time Bill pro­duced any comics work, you knew you were in for a real treat!

I admired many of my fel­low Big Bang con­trib­u­tors for their tal­ents and skills. With Bill, I con­sid­ered myself an out­right fan. I nev­er had the chance to meet him or exchange emails, tell him how much I tru­ly loved his work. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Bill passed away (much too soon!) back in Feb­ru­ary this year. He was not as well known a name in comics as I think he should’ve been. As I’ve told some peo­ple already: in anoth­er world, some very smart pub­lish­er would’ve paid Bill big bucks to cre­ate any comics he want­ed to draw. And those comics would’ve sold in real­ly huge num­bers.

R.I.P., Bill. You are most def­i­nite­ly missed.

Hey Franky! I’m Seein’ Double!”

Frankenstein 23 ReworkedWe’re com­ing up on anoth­er Hal­loween here, and it seems I’ve devel­oped some­thing of a tra­di­tion of doing some kind of Franken­stein piece when that hap­pens. Instead of doing just one this time though, you’ll see I got ambi­tious and actu­al­ly did two com­ic cov­er recre­ation­s/rein­ter­pre­ta-tions. Which seemed appro­pri­ate, giv­en the sub­ject mat­ter. I’ll explain.

If you ask most comics fans around my age which comics artist comes to mind first when they think of Franken­stein’s mon­ster, you’ll prob­a­bly get names like Bernie Wright­son or Mike Ploog. But fans whose aware­ness goes back a bit far­ther might give you anoth­er name: Dick Briefer.

Briefer­’s asso­ci­a­tion with the char­ac­ter in print was not only longer than any­one else’s (run­ning from issue #7 of Prize Comics through #68, as well as 33 issues of his own mag­a­zine), but he did three dis­tinct­ly dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the char­ac­ter! He start­ed with a straight hor­ror ver­sion, spin­ning right out of Mary Shel­ley’s orig­i­nal Franken­stein sto­ry. Kind of a gut­sy thing, to do an ongo­ing hor­ror fea­ture in a com­ic in those ear­ly days. From what I’ve read on the sub­ject thus far, there’s a good case to be made that it was the first of its kind.

Frankenstein #1 ReworkedThen lat­er, in 1945 it was decid­ed to retool the fea­ture as a humor­ous strip. The new, humor­ous Franky hit news­stands in Franken­stein #1. You might think it would be hard for some­one so involved with a dif­fer­ent ver­sion of the char­ac­ter to retool their vision so dras­ti­cal­ly, but Briefer did it. And the fans bought it.

That ver­sion ran its course in 1949, then in ’52 (when the ’50s wave of hor­ror comics was under way), Briefer was called to bring the mon­ster back to life yet again! Pick­ing up after the last issue of his pre­vi­ous incar­na­tion with #18, Briefer brought back a more seri­ous ver­sion of the mon­ster. This new ver­sion though was not sim­ply a revival of Briefer­’s ear­li­est ver­sion of the char­ac­ter. For one thing, the art I’ve seen thus far tends to be much more open for col­or. And the few sto­ries I’ve seen to date seem to play up more of the mon­ster’s pathos than Briefer did back when he first worked with the char­ac­ter.

I must con­fess that only recent­ly have I been learn­ing about Dick Briefer and his version(s) of Franken­stein, but it’s been fun learn­ing (I hope those who are more knowl­edge­able about this strip than I cur­rent­ly am will for­give any inac­cu­ra­cies here). Thank­ful­ly, though we no longer live in comics’ Gold­en Age, we do live in what could be con­sid­ered the Gold­en Age of comics reprints! Many old strips (like Franken­stein) that were pre­vi­ous­ly inac­ces­si­ble unless you had lots of dis­pos­able funds to buy back issues, are now being col­lect­ed and reprint­ed in qual­i­ty hard­cov­er edi­tions and trade paper­backs. A Briefer Franken­stein book is one of those that I would hope to lay hands on soon.

Oh, before I close, I guess I should get to specifics about what I did here. My Franken­stein #23 is a rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of Briefer­’s, and you can see his orig­i­nal here. Briefer­’s orig­i­nal ver­sion of Franken­stein #1 can be seen here.

Hap­py Hal­loween!

The Forgotten Ones: Bee-29, the Bombardier

Bee-29There’s prob­a­bly a lot of ground I should cov­er to explain this one, so I’ll get right to it.

In doing research for a recent project (which you’ll find out about at a lat­er date), I was point­ed towards a web­site fea­tur­ing com­ic book char­ac­ters that are now report­ed­ly in the pub­lic domain. While going through all those char­ac­ters, it struck me that there was mate­r­i­al there which might be worth min­ing for future blog posts. As a result, this will be the first of a series of posts on “For­got­ten Ones,” which I may do from time to time.

For this inau­gur­al out­ing, I chose Bee-29, the Bom­bardier. Bee-29 is unique because so far as I know, he’s the only bee super­hero! He only made a few appear­ances back in 1945, but one of them was in a com­ic named for him. In the inter­ests of sav­ing col­umn space, if you’d like to read the entry for Bee-29 on the Pub­lic Domain Super Heroes site, you can check it out here.

If you’ve vis­it­ed this site much, you’ve prob­a­bly picked up on the fact I often like to try to find an angle to approach a char­ac­ter like this, some kind of a dif­fer­ent spin I can put on it instead of just repro­duc­ing some­thing ver­ba­tim. So I thought, “What if in some alter­nate world, Han­na-Bar­bera had picked up the rights to this char­ac­ter?” Going down that path lead to my attempt at an HB ver­sion of Bee-29 on the faux Gold Key cov­er you see here, since Gold Key han­dled most of the car­toon-based comics back in the day.

Let me go on record here and say that I am def­i­nite­ly a fan of the clas­sic Han­na-Bar­bera look. Yes, I grew up watch­ing those shows, but it’s more than that. Years ago when Han­na-Bar­bera was locat­ed on the 14th floor of the Impe­r­i­al Bank Build­ing in Sher­man Oaks, mul­ti­ple times a day I would walk by these great framed cels from shows like The Flint­stones and The Jet­sons, hang­ing on the walls in the hall­way. I saw how well-designed all those char­ac­ters were, and how strong­ly sil­hou­ette-ori­ent­ed they were. The HB design­ers took the restric­tions of lim­it­ed ani­ma­tion and small TV screens, and actu­al­ly turned them into strengths.

I’ve not had a lot of oppor­tu­ni­ty to attempt that clas­sic HB look, so this was a chance to ven­ture onto that play­ground a lit­tle bit. And I’d be remiss if I did­n’t tip my hat here and say thanks to my good friend Mark Chris­tiansen, who is tru­ly a clas­sic HB mas­ter.

Mary’s Dad

FCA Marc Swayze Tribute CoverNow that it’s a new month, I’ve got clear­ance to reveal the last two of those images I teased you with pre­vi­ous­ly. These will both be appear­ing in the FCA por­tion of the upcom­ing August cov­er-dat­ed issue of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego (avail­able start­ing in July, so you don’t have to wait all that long!).

First up is my FCA cov­er, done as a trib­ute to Gold­en Age artist Marc Swayze. While the orig­i­nal order to give Bil­ly Batson/Captain Mar­vel a sis­ter may have come down from the Faw­cett front office, the job fell to Mr. Swayze to bring her to life. He designed Mary and drew at least her first cou­ple of appear­ances, before being moved on to oth­er jobs. So I think it could be argued that Marc Swayze deserves the title of Mary Mar­vel’s hon­orary father.

This FCA issue is appear­ing in the month which would’ve been Mr. Swayze’s 100th birth­day. Though he did­n’t quite make that mile­stone, it’s still a worth­while moment to pause and give trib­ute. FCA read­ers know Mr. Swayze had a long-run­ning col­umn there, enti­tled “We Did­n’t Know…It Was the Gold­en Age!” Writ­ten in a very appeal­ing­ly gra­cious and hum­ble style, the read­er got the priv­i­lege of look­ing in on snap­shots of rem­i­nis­cence tak­en at dif­fer­ent moments in Mr. Swayze’s life. It was­n’t all about the comics; this man lived a very full and rich life. Hence my inscrip­tion. He and his con­tri­bu­tions to FCA will be missed.

I was huge­ly hon­ored to be asked to do this trib­ute cov­er, and want­ed to be sure to do right by Mr. Swayze. FCA Edi­tor P.C. Hamer­linck and I bat­ted a num­ber of ideas back and forth before we set­tled on a con­cept we both liked and felt was fit­ting. My first incli­na­tion of course was to try to just flat-out mim­ic Mr. Swayze’s style, make it look like maybe he drew it him­self. But P.C. made it clear that was­n’t what he want­ed. He was after my ver­sion of Mr. Swayze’s Mary. I hope I’ve done them both jus­tice.

Binder Column HeaderThe sec­ond image (at left) is a head­er for a new reg­u­lar col­umn debut­ing in FCA the same month. You can see the title there in the art. This col­umn will fea­ture the writ­ing and rem­i­nis­cences of writer Otto Binder, a cre­ative dynamo who had an enor­mous hand in shap­ing not only Cap­tain Mar­vel and the Mar­vel Fam­i­ly for Faw­cett, but he lat­er made huge con­tri­bu­tions to Super­man’s mythol­o­gy as well! And that’s real­ly just the tip of the ice­berg. I’m look­ing for­ward to read­ing these columns and find­ing out what he has to say.

Of Mad Scientists and Big Red Cheeses

FCA Colón/RubinsteinLooks like I missed post­ing last month, due to still being pret­ty busy. Again, that’s a good thing! How­ev­er, now that it’s a new month, I’ve got clear­ance to reveal in full one of the three items I teased back in Feb­ru­ary. This is a cov­er for anoth­er issue of FCA, appear­ing in the upcom­ing July issue of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego mag­a­zine (actu­al­ly on stands in June, so you don’t have to wait that long!).

Right up front, I need to make it clear that I did not pen­cil or ink this cov­er. It was drawn by Ernie Colón, and inked by Joe Rubin­stein. If you’re famil­iar with those gen­tle­men and their work, that may sound like an unusu­al pair­ing to you at first. I know it did to me, but I’m told that they are col­lab­o­rat­ing quite a bit in recent times. (And if you’re not famil­iar with them, let your fin­gers get to googling!)

So why did I post this on my site if I did­n’t draw it? It’s because I col­ored it. FCA Edi­tor P.C. Hamer­linck con­tact­ed me to ask if I’d be will­ing to, and I said “yes.” Some­thing about the way this was put togeth­er remind­ed me a bit of those clas­sic old illus­trat­ed mag­a­zine cov­ers (for exam­ple, The Sat­ur­day Evening Post). So I tried to give the col­ors on this a lit­tle more of a painter­ly feel than I’ve attempt­ed before, though that might not be entire­ly vis­i­ble at this res­o­lu­tion. I hope Mr. Colón and Mr. Rubin­stein feel I did jus­tice to their work.

Again with the Teasing!

FCA Teaser 3BDue to “busy-ness” here late­ly (a good thing), I’m falling back on the ol’ reli­able tease once again.

The images you’re see­ing here are details from a few illus­tra­tions that have crossed my desk this month which I had a hand in gen­er­at­ing, in one capac­i­ty or anoth­er. These were all done for the FCA sec­tion of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego mag­a­zine, pub­lished by Twom­or­rows. Full images will appear on my site even­tu­al­ly, once I’ve been giv­en the “all clear” to do so. Mean­time, hope­ful­ly there’s enough here to whet your appetite to see more at a lat­er date.

FCA Teaser 3AI hope the New Year is being good to you all thus far.

FCA Teaser 3C

We’ve Got You Covered!”

Per­haps some of you read­ing this might be famil­iar with the Cov­ered Blog. If not, it’s a site where artists are chal­lenged to take an exist­ing, pub­lished com­ic book cov­er and rein­ter­pret it. The results can be inter­est­ing, and I thought it might be fun to take a shot at doing one.

I chose to rework the cov­er of Dell Comics’ Dick Tra­cy Month­ly #13, cov­er-dat­ed Jan­u­ary 1949 (If you’re curi­ous to com­pare, you can view the orig­i­nal side-by-side with mine over on Cov­ered here). But I did­n’t do it in one of my usu­al styles. Instead, I real­ized that Chester Gould’s style on Dick Tra­cy was pret­ty 2D and graph­ic to begin with, and that it might be fun to push it just a lit­tle fur­ther into look­ing some­thing like a Flash ani­ma­tion style.

I worked on a Flash-ani­mat­ed direct-to-video fea­ture, Hydee and the Hy Tops, and enjoyed it very much. The look of Flash is fun, and I would wel­come the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work on anoth­er project in that vein. I have a lot of respect for artists like Craig McCrack­en and Lau­ren Faust who do that kind of work very well. So it seemed like this would be a good oppor­tu­ni­ty to stretch some artis­tic mus­cles and try some­thing new.

The BG por­tion of this cov­er was done using Pho­to­shop, but the rest of it was done in Adobe Illus­tra­tor. If you’ve vis­it­ed my site before, you know I’ve used Illus­tra­tor for a num­ber of dif­fer­ent projects. But this project required car­ry­ing out the final image in a dif­fer­ent way from how I’d done before.

As far as why I chose to rein­ter­pret a Dick Tra­cy cov­er in the first place, I think it might be because I’ve been fol­low­ing the reg­u­lar Dick Tra­cy strip these last sev­er­al months, so Tra­cy was in the back of my mind. The strip’s been reju­ve­nat­ed by Joe Sta­ton and Mike Cur­tis, and I’ve been hav­ing a blast fol­low­ing it. If you get the chance, give it a look!