Tag Archives: DC Comics

Kirby 100, Part 2

We’re back for anoth­er install­ment, cel­e­brat­ing Jack Kir­by’s 100th birth­day this month!

This time out, it’s the Chal­lengers of the Unknown. The pen­cils for this draw­ing came into my hands years back as a pho­to­copy. I believe the orig­i­nal came from a sketch­book Kir­by filled for his wife Roz, which saw print (in un-inked form) as a book enti­tled Jack Kir­by’s Heroes and Vil­lains. It looked like it would be fun to take a crack at ink­ing this draw­ing, so I did. And just recent­ly col­ored it for its appear­ance here.

There are a num­ber of inkers who got the oppor­tu­ni­ty to han­dle Kir­by’s pen­cils over the years. I like a num­ber of them for dif­fer­ent rea­sons (though if forced to, I could name a favorite). In the case of Chal­lengers, this strip is one of the rare instances of of Kir­by being inked by Wal­ly Wood. If you haven’t seen the pair­ing before, it’s kind of hard to imag­ine, but you’re in for a treat. Wal­ly Wood was a great artist in his own right, and the com­bi­na­tion of Kir­by and Wood on Chal­lengers (also on the syn­di­cat­ed news­pa­per strip Sky Mas­ters of the Space Force) plays to both artists’ strengths. Check it out, if you get the chance.

Chal­lengers is also sig­nif­i­cant in that it’s also pos­si­ble to view the strip as a dry run for the Fan­tas­tic Four: both are teams of four who go off on a flight at great risk, some­how sur­vive it, then in the wake of that expe­ri­ence, decide that it’s their call­ing to look into the unknown. There’s even an ear­ly Chal­lengers sto­ry where one mem­ber devel­ops flame pow­ers briefly!

There’s more to come, before the end of the month.

Hap­py Kir­by 100th!

It’s the “S!”

FCA Elliot S! Maggin CoverSor­ry it’s been so long since I post­ed any­thing new here! It’s time to do some­thing about that.

Here’s a pre­view of the cov­er I did for an upcom­ing issue of FCA, appear­ing in the pages of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego. This issue fea­tures an inter­view with comics writer Elliot S! Mag­gin (he was includ­ing an excla­ma­tion mark after his mid­dle ini­tial in those days). Mr. Mag­gin was one of the writ­ers who were called upon to write DC’s revival of the orig­i­nal Cap­tain Mar­vel and the Mar­vel Fam­i­ly, in the ear­ly ’70s.

Those with an astute eye will real­ize that this illus­tra­tion forms some­thing of a book­end with the Den­ny O’Neil cov­er I post­ed some months back. Keep­ing that visu­al asso­ci­a­tion was at the FCA edi­tor’s request, since both O’Neil and Mag­gin were the main writ­ers for the Cap­tain Mar­vel revival.

The back­ground art I’m using here comes from sto­ries Mr. Mag­gin wrote (just as the art I used on Mr. O’Neil’s por­trait cov­er came from Cap­tain Mar­vel sto­ries he’d written).

Though the cov­er date says May, this issue should hit the stands some­time in April. I’m look­ing for­ward to read­ing the arti­cle myself!

Denny O, AKA Sergius O

FCA Denny O'Neil CoverHere’s a pre­view of anoth­er cov­er I did for FCA, appear­ing in the pages of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego mag­a­zine. Though the cov­er date is Sep­tem­ber of this year, I believe the mag­a­zine will actu­al­ly be avail­able in August.

For those who don’t know, DC Comics brought back the orig­i­nal Cap­tain Mar­vel in the ear­ly ’70s. The Big Red Cheese had been miss­ing from the spin­ner racks for sev­er­al years by that point, so his reap­pear­ance was great­ly looked for­ward to by a num­ber of fans. Includ­ing some younger fans like myself, who had seen very lit­tle of the char­ac­ter pre­vi­ous­ly, but knew that they real­ly liked what they saw.

Den­ny O’Neil was one of the writ­ers tapped by Edi­tor Julius Schwartz to write this revival. In fact, Mr. O’Neil wrote the sto­ry in Shaz­am! #1 which brought the Mar­vel Fam­i­ly and com­pa­ny back into the mod­ern age. FCA #187 fea­tures an inter­view with O’Neil about his work on the title.

Using what ref­er­ence I could find online, at Edi­tor P.C. Hamer­linck­’s request, this was an attempt at a por­trait of Mr. O’Neil as he might have looked around the time he was writ­ing the com­ic. The back­ground art (I has­ten to add) is not mine! It’s scans of actu­al pan­els from some of the Cap­tain Mar­vel sto­ries Mr. O’Neil wrote, drawn by C.C. Beck him­self. Scanned straight from my own per­son­al copies of those comics, of course. 🙂

I’m Not Batman!”

Golden-Batman-for-Web-by-Mark-LewisI know what you’re think­ing. You’re look­ing at my draw­ing and going, “Hey! He goofed up! He col­ored that draw­ing of Bat­man yel­low!” Nope! It’s because it’s not Batman.

Some­time back, in cruis­ing around the inter­net and fol­low­ing var­i­ous links, I stum­bled across an arti­cle on a pop cul­ture site called Top­less Robot, talk­ing about a num­ber of Kore­an car­toon char­ac­ters who might hit the view­er with a sense of, mmm, déjà vu, shall we say. One that some­how stuck with me was the Gold­en Bat­man (or sim­ply the Gold­en Bat, as he was some­times referred to).

Dif­fer­ences between Bat­man and the Gold­en Bat­man don’t start and end with their cos­tumes. They gave Gold­en Bat­man the pow­er of flight (which sort of makes sense for a char­ac­ter named after a crea­ture who flies), as well as super-strength (shades of the old Bat­man sto­ry “Bat­man– The Super­man of Plan­et X”!). And that’s not all! Gold­en Bat­man can fire laser beams from his fin­gers. What do you think of that, Caped Crusader?

You can actu­al­ly find the Gold­en Bat­man car­toon on YouTube in five parts, if you’re curi­ous enough to see it. Dubbed into Span­ish though, odd­ly enough. Seem­ing­ly not avail­able in Eng­lish, for some reason.

Before “Before Watchmen”

The image I’m post­ing this time is not a new one (it’s already over in the Gal­leries side of my site), but I’ve had some friends make the case that with DC Comics doing all their “Before Watch­men” books right now, it’s a good time to call atten­tion to it anew here on the front page.

There’s a sto­ry behind this piece. A friend of mine in the ani­ma­tion field, Lance Falk, has these sketch­books he pass­es around. They have art by some amaz­ing artists. Chances are if you can think of some big name artist, Lance very like­ly has art by him or her in one of his books. Way back when we were work­ing on “The Real Adven­tures of Jon­ny Quest” togeth­er, Lance asked if I’d be will­ing to do a sketch for his then-cur­rent book. It’s both huge­ly flat­ter­ing and daunt­ing, once you see the lev­el of work oth­ers have done.

Lance sug­gest­ed he might like to see the Watch­men done as if Kir­by had drawn them. I wound up mak­ing a whole cov­er pro­duc­tion out of it, as if it were done in the mid-’60s. Lance was very hap­py with the end result, and I was huge­ly relieved that it was well-received.

Fast for­ward some months lat­er (maybe even a year), and I find out that this sketch­book had been cir­cu­lat­ing fur­ther. It had crossed orig­i­nal Watch­men artist and co-cre­ator Dave Gib­bons’ path in Lon­don. When I first heard he’d seen the book with my draw­ing in it, I must admit I was tak­en aback. But Lance assured me that Mr. Gib­bons actu­al­ly got a big kick out of what I’d done. Once again, I was huge­ly relieved.

Fast for­ward to more recent times, and the pub­li­ca­tion of Mr. Gib­bons’ book, Watch­ing the Watch­men, which com­piled all kinds of back­ground mate­r­i­al on that piv­otal work. He appar­ent­ly liked this Kir­by Watch­men cov­er well enough, he asked me if I’d mind his includ­ing it in the book. What do you think I said? 🙂

Thanks much, Lance and Mr. Gibbons!

With One Magic Word…

Final­ly I get to show off the last of those two items I teased back in Decem­ber. I gave a fur­ther peek at it here. It’s anoth­er cov­er done for FCA, which appears in the back of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego mag­a­zine. This one was obvi­ous­ly done up to look like one of those issues of Secret Ori­gins that DC Comics pub­lished in the ear­ly ’70s. I loved those as a kid, because back then they were one of the rare venues where you had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to see any of that gold­en age com­ic material.

I’ve talked in pre­vi­ous posts about how much I liked the gold­en age Super­man and Bat­man. But with­out a doubt, my favorite gold­en age char­ac­ter would have to be Cap­tain Mar­vel. When DC brought him back from pub­lish­ing lim­bo in the ear­ly ’70s, I was already primed for it. I’d read about the “Big Red Cheese” in our local library’s copy of All in Col­or for a Dime, as well as in The Ster­anko His­to­ry of Comics. Some­thing about the visu­al and the idea of the char­ac­ter hooked me, even with­out ever hav­ing seen a sin­gle Cap­tain Mar­vel sto­ry yet.

Not to dis­miss the sto­ries, but a huge part of the appeal of those gold­en age Cap­tain Mar­vel comics for me is the art. As the char­ac­ter’s design­er and main artist, C.C. Beck set the tone there. Most gold­en age com­ic book artists doing super­heroes looked to the news­pa­per adven­ture strips for their inspi­ra­tion. They most­ly tend­ed to fall into one of two schools: it was either the illus­tra­tive real­ism of Fos­ter and Ray­mond, or the more impres­sion­is­tic approach of Sick­les and Can­iff. Instead, Beck looked to the “fun­ny” por­tion of the fun­ny pages for his inspi­ra­tion (like Jack Cole did with Plas­tic Man). The result was a strip that had a look and feel like no oth­er. And of course, the writ­ing played a role in mak­ing that pos­si­ble too.

While the high­er-ups at Faw­cett may have want­ed Bill Park­er and C.C. Beck to just give them a knock­off of Super­man, that was not what they got. They got some­thing bet­ter. Many read­ers back then must have thought so too; at the peak of the char­ac­ter’s pop­u­lar­i­ty, they were pub­lish­ing Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures bi-week­ly and sell­ing 1.3 mil­lion copies of each issue!

I know some­times mod­ern fans have trou­ble with Mr. Tawky Tawny and some of the more whim­si­cal aspects of the strip, but for me, the clas­sic Cap­tain Mar­vel mate­r­i­al is inspi­ra­tional stuff. I wish I could tell you of a rel­a­tive­ly cheap and easy way to lay hands on that work if you haven’t seen it, but it seems hard­er to come by these days.

Yet More Teasing

Things are real­ly busy here. I fin­ished one of the projects I teased last month, but I still can’t show off the whole thing quite just yet. How­ev­er, rather than let the month pass with­out post­ing any­thing, I thought I’d at least show a por­tion of the final art. It’s anoth­er faux com­ic cov­er (some­thing I’ve done a lot of). This one I’m quite hap­py with (So is the client, which is always a good thing when you can man­age it), and I look for­ward to when the whole thing can be shown!

Once Again, a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Well, I find myself in a strange posi­tion at the moment: buried under a num­ber of var­i­ous side projects. It’s unusu­al for me to get hit all at once like this, so I’m not quite sure what to make of it. They’re all the kinds of inter­est­ing and chal­leng­ing assign­ments that are hard to say “no” to, and should be a lot of fun to see through. Got­ta keep them all mov­ing though. If you can imag­ine me fran­ti­cal­ly jug­gling to the musi­cal accom­pa­ni­ment of the “Sabre Dance,” you’ll get the idea.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, though I’ve got all these projects going, they’re all just works-in-progress at the moment. None of them are done and ready to post. Even if they were, some of the peo­ple I’m doing them for might not be ready for me to put them up quite yet. And with the hol­i­days so close, I don’t think I’m going to have time to do any­thing else spe­cial for my site right now. So in lieu of that, I hope maybe some sneak peeks at a cou­ple of the works in progress will suf­fice for the moment. It’s either that, or let this month go by with­out post­ing anything.

One brand new item I can point out: I am pleased to announce that I am now being rep­re­sent­ed by Ellen Ann Mersereau, who works with a ros­ter of some of the most tal­ent­ed cre­ators in the busi­ness. You can find her con­tact info over to your right in the sidebar.

Wher­ev­er you are, what­ev­er your cur­rent cir­cum­stances, I hope the hol­i­days are good to you; that you have a good Christ­mas, and an excel­lent New Year!

She’s a Sensation!

Though DC’s big reboot has already been sprung on us, I had one more image in that poster style that I had to try. Might as well com­plete the tri­fec­ta, right?

So this time out, it’s Won­der Woman. If you’ve read my pre­vi­ous posts on these gold­en age char­ac­ters, I real­ized I kind of uncon­scious­ly set up a pro­gres­sion; I men­tioned that I liked Super­man, but lat­er con­fessed I liked Bat­man a lit­tle more. So you might be expect­ing me this time out to say I liked Won­der Woman the best. But you’d be wrong.

Sor­ry to say, I real­ly was­n’t all that into Won­der Woman as a kid. I appre­ci­ate the strip much more now as an adult than I did back then, for its his­toric sig­nif­i­cance as well as some of the aspects that are unique to it (the fan­ta­sy ele­ments, the mytho­log­i­cal, etc.). Per­haps the gold­en age art (by H.G. Peter) looked a lit­tle heavy-hand­ed and crude to me in some ways as a kid. Look­ing at it now, I have more of an appre­ci­a­tion for it (It feels at times like a sort of car­toon ver­sion of an Albrecht Dür­er engraving).

Won­der Woman is an inter­est­ing con­cept that seems to be a tough one for writ­ers and artists to get a han­dle on. And even if they man­age, it seems hard to get a han­dle on it such that it will engage peo­ple and get them to buy the book (Which is prob­a­bly the more impor­tant point). Many approach­es have been tried with vary­ing degrees of suc­cess, and some don’t get tried at all. But Marston and Peter must’ve had a han­dle on some­thing when they cre­at­ed her. She’s sur­vived this long and man­aged to become part of our col­lec­tive pop cul­ture men­tal land­scape, rec­og­niz­able even to non-comics read­ers. I think that’s worth a lit­tle salute here.

A con­fes­sion: this poster is a loose homage (which I acknowl­edged in how I signed it) to an orig­i­nal poster by Lud­wig Hohlwein. In study­ing his work online, I stum­bled across one poster that just seemed a nat­ur­al to adapt for a Won­der Woman image. It all but cried out for it. So that is what I did!

I Shall Become a BAT!”

The clock is count­ing down to DC Comics’ big reboot, and it’s still got me think­ing back on the orig­i­nals. I thought I should get at least one more post in here, before it hap­pens. Super­man was look­ing a lit­tle lonely.

Like I said in my pre­vi­ous post, I’ve always had an attrac­tion to the ear­ly gold­en age ver­sions of some of these char­ac­ters, despite the occa­sion­al rugged­ness in exe­cu­tion. There was a pri­mal kind of ener­gy there that per­haps got lost a lit­tle bit along the way, as the artists and writ­ers got bet­ter at their craft, and began to for­mu­late the rules for how you were sup­posed to do this sort of thing.

Last time, I copped to hav­ing an affec­tion for the gold­en age Super­man. But if pushed, I’d have to admit that I prob­a­bly liked the gold­en age Bat­man just a lit­tle bit more. Those ear­ly strips just dripped with mood: dark shad­ows, misty nights with almost always an enor­mous full moon, and plen­ty of strange char­ac­ters for the Bat­man to go up against. When I first began to encounter this stuff in those DC 100-Page Super-Spec­tac­u­lars as a kid, I had no prob­lem at all under­stand­ing why kids encoun­ter­ing these sto­ries for the first time on news­stands back in the gold­en age were attract­ed to it. This stuff cap­tured your imagination.

In the same vein as the Super­man poster, here’s one fea­tur­ing Bat­man in that ear­ly 20th Cen­tu­ry Poster Style. This time out, I did my ver­sion of a clas­sic pose that Kane used a num­ber of times in those ear­ly issues. A very big “Thank You” to Bill Fin­ger, Bob Kane, Jer­ry Robin­son, George Rous­sos, and all the rest of Kane’s “ghosts” over the years who made Bat­man what he was!