Tag Archives: Golden Age

Allied against the Axis

We’re at Day 3 of Howard Simp­son’s month-long cel­e­bra­tion of Jack Kir­by on social media! Open to all cre­atives, you can find the work on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt is the Young Allies. I must admit that once you get out­side of Cap­tain Amer­i­ca, the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner, I am less famil­iar with the Time­ly char­ac­ters than I am with DC’s Gold­en Age offer­ings. Cre­at­ed ini­tial­ly by Joe Simon and Jack Kir­by, the Allies were a kid gang group that appar­ent­ly first appeared in the pages of Cap­tain Amer­i­ca under the name “the Sen­tinels of Lib­er­ty.” They proved pop­u­lar enough to be spun off into their own title. Simon and Kir­by did­n’t stick around for that long.

The Allies were anoth­er kid group who fought the Axis. Led by Cap­tain Amer­i­ca’s side­kick Bucky and the Human Torch’s side­kick Toro, the rest of the group (from upper left) includ­ed Hen­ry “Tub­by” Tin­kle, (-cringe-) “White­wash” Jones, Jef­fer­son “Jeff” Sandervilt, and Per­ci­val Aloy­sius “Knuck­les” O’Toole.

The Young Allies sto­ries haven’t been reprint­ed very much, and for good rea­son. If you both­er to dig up art­work online (like I had to in order to do this draw­ing), you’ll see why. Poor White­wash is treat­ed in this hor­ri­bly racist way in the strip. Not that the oth­er char­ac­ters appeared to be much more than a col­lec­tion of stereo­types either (the fat kid who’s eat­ing all the time, the tough kid who’s always look­ing for a fight, etc.).

Any­way, I hope you enjoy what I did with them. See you again tomorrow!

Commandos Calling

It’s Day 2 of Howard Simp­son’s cel­e­bra­tion of Jack Kir­by on social media! I explained a lit­tle more about it yes­ter­day. It’s basi­cal­ly open to all cre­atives, and if you want to find out what peo­ple are doing on your favorite social media plat­forms, you can use the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt is the Boy Com­man­dos. They were a Simon and Kir­by cre­ation for DC Comics back in the Gold­en Age, and a big sales suc­cess that last­ed well beyond WWII, run­ning from 1942 all the way to 1949. Simon and Kir­by had a lot of suc­cess with kid gangs. The Com­man­dos were a group of orphans from dif­fer­ent coun­tries who fought the Axis, com­mand­ed by Capt. Rip Carter (upper right cor­ner). At the very bot­tom left cor­ner in the der­by is Brook­lyn (I don’t know if he was ever giv­en a last name), and on his right is Jan Haasan from the Nether­lands. Above them are André Chavard of France on the left, and to André’s right is Alfie Twid­gett from England.

I hope you enjoy, and stay tuned for tomor­row’s drawing!

I Have a Vision!

Long­time vis­i­tors to my site will know that I’m a big Jack Kir­by fan! August hap­pens to be the month Jack Kir­by was born, on the 28th. Real­iz­ing this, Howard Simp­son came up with a great idea: a month-long cel­e­bra­tion of Kir­by and his work online, via social media. I believe it’s open to any cre­atives, and the idea is “the more, the mer­ri­er.” If you want to search them all out and see who’s doing what on your favorite plat­forms, they should be hash­tagged #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es. I haven’t usu­al­ly done a lot of social media chal­lenges, but I could­n’t pass this up. Strap in; it’s going to be a busy month!

The first prompt is the Gold­en Age ver­sion of the Vision. If most peo­ple are aware of the Vision at all, it’s prob­a­bly Mar­vel’s Sil­ver Age ver­sion of the char­ac­ter. The Gold­en Age ver­sion was pub­lished by Time­ly (the name Mar­vel was known by dur­ing most of the Gold­en Age), and despite some visu­al sim­i­lar­i­ties with the Sil­ver Age ver­sion, he was a dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter. Instead of being an android, this Vision was a super­nat­ur­al being who could trav­el into and out of our world via smoke.

I’ve set cer­tain para­me­ters of my own for my con­tri­bu­tions this month. They’re all going to be for­mat­ted like this, basi­cal­ly por­traits in small squares. I’ve also elect­ed to stick to the lim­it­ed old school col­or palette that com­ic books used on their inte­ri­or pages for many years. There’s a method to my mad­ness that will hope­ful­ly pay off at the end of the month, if I can pull off what I’d like to accomplish.

Hope you enjoy! Stay tuned!

The Captain and the King

If you’ve vis­it­ed my site before, you might know that awhile back I was dubbed the de fac­to “cov­er edi­tor” for FCA (the Faw­cett Col­lec­tors of Amer­i­ca), a “mag­a­zine with­in a mag­a­zine,” appear­ing in Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego (pub­lished by TwoM­or­rows). Occa­sion­al­ly, I actu­al­ly do a cov­er myself (like the one you see here). This time, I not only did the cov­er for this upcom­ing issue, I also wrote the article!

The issue of Alter Ego in ques­tion is focused on comics creator/writer/artist Jack Kir­by. Most of you know that he did work for Mar­vel and DC, and maybe you’re even aware that he did a hand­ful of work for oth­er pub­lish­ers too. But per­haps you don’t know that he also did work for Faw­cett, and fair­ly ear­ly on! That’s what my arti­cle is about. FCA Edi­tor P.C. Hamer­linck knows I’m a big Kir­by fan, so he reached out and asked me if I’d like to write this.

When most peo­ple think of the orig­i­nal Cap­tain Mar­vel, they prob­a­bly recall the work of C.C. Beck (whom I am also a big fan of). But many don’t know that Joe Simon and Jack Kir­by also worked on Cap­tain Mar­vel, and very ear­ly on in his existence.

I go into more detail in the arti­cle, but the short ver­sion is that Faw­cett could see they had some­thing big going on with Cap­tain Mar­vel in Whiz Comics (a title he shared with oth­er char­ac­ters), and they real­ized it would be a real­ly good idea to also have a reg­u­lar ongo­ing solo title fea­tur­ing Cap­tain Mar­vel. Faw­cett’s first stab at this appears to be a book called Spe­cial Edi­tion Comics. They did­n’t do anoth­er one of those, and my guess is that Beck told them he could­n’t do both that and Whiz Comics by him­self sus­tain­ably over the long haul, so they regrouped.

Deter­mined to find a way to make this hap­pen, their next attempt was Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures, and for the first issue, they reached out to the star comics team of Joe Simon and Jack Kir­by. Simon and Kir­by were already work­ing full time for anoth­er pub­lish­er, but they took on this chal­lenge (work­ing after hours) with­out let­ting any­one know about it back on the day job.

The result is some­thing I deal with in the arti­cle, but when it came time for a cov­er for this issue of FCA, I had some thoughts. The real cov­er to Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures #1 strikes me as look­ing odd­ly like an after­thought, as if the edi­tors went, “Whoops! This needs to go to press now, and we for­got to have any­one do a cov­er!” I thought at first that it might be just a pho­to­stat of an exist­ing Cap­tain Mar­vel run­ning fig­ure, but P.C. Hamer­linck was told by Beck him­self that some­one came to him one day in the office, said they need­ed this draw­ing “right now,” and he just did it. The cov­er does­n’t even have a prop­er logo! They just slapped some type­set­ting across the front of it.

So my thought was, “What if instead of being an appar­ent last minute after­thought, they had Kir­by do the cov­er?” One of the sto­ries in par­tic­u­lar seemed to lend itself pret­ty well to the kinds of cov­ers he was draw­ing around this time peri­od, so that’s what I went with. I’ve done draw­ings like Kir­by before (you can find some of them around here on my site). But this cov­er was a real chal­lenge, because in this com­ic, Kir­by and Simon were try­ing hard to do their ver­sion of Beck. So in effect, I had to imi­tate an artist while he was imi­tat­ing anoth­er artist! I’ve nev­er done that before. It was a bit of a brain-bender.

I hope you like the result, and if you’re inter­est­ed in read­ing the whole sto­ry, check out the article! 

Venus Makes a Timely Appearance

When you’re a comics geek, and you’ve also had a few cours­es in Art His­to­ry, I sup­pose you’re liable to occa­sion­al­ly come up with stuff like this.

Some of you know that before Mar­vel Comics set­tled on that name, the pub­lish­er went by a cou­ple oth­er names. They start­ed off as Time­ly, then lat­er changed to Atlas in the ear­ly ’50s, before final­ly set­tling on Mar­vel in 1961 (Though as you can see from this image, they did briefly toy with using the name ear­li­er). While I know a bit about Time­ly’s out­put dur­ing the War, I must admit that my aware­ness of their out­put post-WWII is very spot­ty. It’s not like Mar­vel has often reprint­ed that material.

Once the War was over, gen­er­al read­er inter­est in super­heroes seemed to fade, and all comics pub­lish­ers were look­ing to find new mate­r­i­al that would cap­ture read­er inter­est (AKA sales). Venus appears to have been one of Time­ly’s attempts at this. While I have not been able to actu­al­ly read any of these comics, when you look at the cov­ers, the title appears to suf­fer from some­thing of a mul­ti­ple per­son­al­i­ty dis­or­der. It’s not quite sure exact­ly what it wants to be.

The book starts off look­ing like some sort of comedic romance title, then lat­er shifts into some kind of qua­si-hor­ror/mys­tery title. It was like they start­ed off with an idea, found the book was­n’t quite sell­ing the way they’d hoped, so they tried tin­ker­ing and throw­ing dif­fer­ent things at the wall while still pub­lish­ing it, to see if some­thing else might stick.

Any­way, look­ing at the Venus cov­ers, I remem­bered Bot­ti­cel­li’s “Birth of Venus” from my Art His­to­ry class­es, and it occurred to me that per­haps Time­ly had missed a bet by not hav­ing an artist do some sort of an homage to that paint­ing on a cov­er. So I thought maybe I’d rec­ti­fy that (70-some years lat­er), just for the heck of it. Maybe that was too “high brow” of an idea for them to both­er with. Maybe it still is, but I had to try it out (and get the idea out of my head). Hope you folks like it.

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!

Call the Nurse!

This is a bit dif­fer­ent, in that I don’t usu­al­ly do a lot of top­i­cal, cur­rent events-relat­ed things.

It’s impos­si­ble not to know about Covid-19. I’m aware that we have front­line work­ers, espe­cial­ly in the med­ical pro­fes­sion, who are deal­ing with it on a dai­ly basis. And for some rea­son recent­ly, I was think­ing about nurs­es and super­heroes, and thought of this odd­ball old Gold­en Age comics char­ac­ter called Pat Park­er, War Nurse.

Start­ing off as a straight strip in Speed Comics #13, about the adven­tures of a British nurse in WWII, appar­ent­ly it must have been felt by Har­vey Comics that she was­n’t dynam­ic enough in that form to help boost sales. So they end­ed up giv­ing her super­pow­ers and a cos­tume. At one point, she was even the leader of a group called the Girl Com­man­dos. Her last comics appear­ance was in March of 1946.

My brain start­ed to think about what would hap­pen if you updat­ed Pat Park­er, send­ing her into bat­tle against Covid-19. After all, she was a “war nurse.” She looks a bit dif­fer­ent here, because it did­n’t seem prac­ti­cal she’d bat­tle this with her orig­i­nal out­fit: bare midriff, short shorts and no facial covering.

And after the fact, I real­ized what I’d done was prob­a­bly also sub­lim­i­nal­ly inspired by anoth­er draw­ing I saw on LinkedIn by the very tal­ent­ed Thomas Perkins.

So this is my slight­ly sil­ly, but no less sin­cere, trib­ute to those med­ical per­son­nel on the front­lines. Thank you for your super­hu­man efforts. You are superheroes.

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!

Weird Colors

It was recent­ly point­ed out to me that in Sav­age Drag­on #235, Erik Larsen had reprint­ed a bit of my old Big Bang Comics work. This was orig­i­nal­ly part of a larg­er sto­ry­line (I believe called “The Time­bomber”) spread over three issues, where Erik had loaned Big Bang Edi­tor Gary Carl­son the use of his Sav­age Drag­on char­ac­ter, and Drag­on was being bounced around through time, inter­act­ing with mul­ti­ple Big Bang char­ac­ters in dif­fer­ent eras. 

Gary had me con­tribut­ing to this sto­ry in sev­er­al ways, but the one that’s rel­e­vant here is that I pen­ciled and let­tered a three page seg­ment (nice­ly inked by Patrick Tuller), where Drag­on met up with Big Bang’s Dr. Weird. It orig­i­nal­ly appeared in Big Bang Comics #12. I chose to draw it in the style of Gold­en Age comics artist Bernard Bai­ly, prob­a­bly best known for his work on DC’s Spec­tre and Hour-Man strips. I also attempt­ed to match the let­ter­ing seen on those strips, which I’d assume is Bai­ly’s, but I don’t know for certain.

Back when I was orig­i­nal­ly work­ing on this, there were hopes that the issue might be print­ed in col­or, but it end­ed up in b/w. Because there had been that chance though, I actu­al­ly had done some col­or guides for the seg­ment, and I think I mailed col­or pho­to­copies of them to Gary.

Fast for­ward to this three-pager’s appear­ance in Sav­age Drag­on #235: Final­ly it gets to be seen in col­or! Even if any­one had remem­bered their exis­tence, the copies of my orig­i­nal col­or guides were like­ly nowhere to be found, so this was recol­ored from scratch. I thought per­haps vis­i­tors here might enjoy com­par­ing the two ver­sions, see­ing where some choic­es are the same, and oth­ers are different.

Just a cou­ple of comments/observations about the new ver­sion. I appre­ci­ate the fact that the col­orist who did this for re-pub­li­ca­tion stuck with the old school col­or palette. When you’re try­ing to do some­thing that looks and feels like a gen­uine old com­ic, noth­ing ruins the illu­sion faster than a col­or approach that isn’t from that time period!

Also, I noticed that a sort of end­ing cap­tion was added at the end of page 3 that was­n’t part of the orig­i­nal. Who­ev­er did it either recy­cled por­tions of the let­ter­ing I had done ear­li­er in the sto­ry to get what they need­ed, or attempt­ed to let­ter it from scratch so that it looked like my faux Bernard Bai­ly let­ter­ing. Either way: again, try­ing to pre­serve the illu­sion that this was the real deal. So: thumbs up for all of that!

 

Junior! Come Down from There!

It’s been awhile since I post­ed any­thing here! Time to rec­ti­fy that.

You’re see­ing a cov­er for an upcom­ing issue of FCA. Faw­cett Col­lec­tors of Amer­i­ca is a sort of “mag­a­zine with­in a mag­a­zine,” appear­ing in the pages of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego, a comics his­to­ry mag­a­zine pub­lished by Twom­or­rows. Roy dubbed me FCA’s de fac­to “cov­er edi­tor” awhile back, and I will glad­ly accept that title!

Pen­cils for this cov­er were by my good friend Vic Dal Chele. Inks/embellishment and col­ors by me. I went with an old school col­or palette, along the lines of what you might have seen used for a cov­er either for an issue of Mas­ter Comics, or Cap­tain Mar­vel Jr. I thought peo­ple might enjoy see­ing it here with­out the mast­head or any of the oth­er type that will be there on the print­ed cover.

We tried to cap­ture some­thing of the look of Cap­tain Mar­vel Jr.‘s pri­ma­ry artist, Mac Raboy. Vic’s worked on a lot of shows over the course of his ani­ma­tion career (many of which you would imme­di­ate­ly rec­og­nize), but one of his first was the Shaz­am! car­toon that Fil­ma­tion pro­duced in the ear­ly ’80s. So it’s far from the first time that he’s drawn Cap­tain Mar­vel Jr.!

This will be the cov­er of FCA #214, appear­ing in the pages of Alter Ego #155, out in Octo­ber from Twomorrows.