Some people love a man in uniform. Me? I love a robot in a trench coat. It is truly an iconic look. Bynocki may be a more infamous robo-foe for Shang-Chi, but this assassin robot sent to London to take out Reston while repeating the phrased "Mr. Reston, I presume" is pretty cool. The Kane cover may be a bit misleading as the robo-action is wrapped up in the first few pages. That said, it is a pretty good fight as Shang-Chi ultimately turns the robot's weapons against itself. Ultimately, the issue is much more focused on espionage and detective work but a great cold opening with a neat looking robot is a smart way to kick off a storyline.
First, let's acknowledge the fact that Stan Lee was not the only person in love with alliteration. This name of this series has never easily rolled off my tongue (nor my keyboard). This is a terrific series. I was getting close to a full run until I needed some money and changed gears and sold them all. The Riders are based on a radio serial and their adventures are pretty typical for the era - think post-WW2 Boy Commandos on the frontier. For lovers of Bob Powell artwork, this is heaven. His stuff looks amazing here, serving as evidence that he is a true master. You also get terrific features such as The Lemonade Kid and Ghost Rider, with some early Dick Ayers art. I know that many of these stories have been reprinted a various points by AC Comics but it would be tremendous to see them all collected in a single volume.
Today is Frank Miller's Birthday. I don't want to get into his health, his politics, his opinions or his Spirit movie. If you've read this blog for a while, you know that I'm a huge fan of Miller's run on Daredevil as well as much of his 80s work. Not so much the later stuff like 300 and Sin City, but let's stay positive. What I want to remind everyone about today is that Frank Miller was an amazing cover artist. He has a wonderful sense of design and drama as evidenced by two of my favourite covers from childhood: Spectacular Spider-Man #52 and Power Man and Iron Fist #67, both of which have been featured here before. Here's a cool and unique cover that you may never have seen. It is from one of the final issues of the early 80s Superboy series that never really seemed to find its groove.
This issue is like being overwhelmed by the choices on a menu at a great restaurant. It is unbelievable that editor Joe Orlando was able to bring this much talent together and squeeze them into a mere a 26 pages. Let's start with the Mike Kaluta cover. It's a wonderful blend of pulp and fantasy and would have definitely stood out as being unique on spinner racks back in late 1972. I met Mr. Kaluta 15 or so years ago and asked him to sign my copy - so it now has two signatures. His signature is one of my favourites. The cover is inspired by the lead story, drawn by the great Alex Toth. It's a great revenge tale with a truly nasty ending. I note that it was written by Lynn Marron. I don't know anything about her other than a small handful of horror credits for DC and Warren. There's a neat two-pager with a Hitler angle
by Frank Redondo. Gil Kane fans will be interested to hear that he also wrote his fantasy tale here and it has a slight Blackmark vibe. Finally, the issue launches the Captain Fear storyline by Robert Kanigher and Alex Nino, a serial that seems to harken back to newspaper strips while also being ahead of its time. This is a true Hall of Famer.
Sal Buscema celebrates his 79th Birthday today. If anything can convince me to put my work aside for a while and blog again, it's the opportunity to talk about Our Pal Sal. As I understand, not everyone has always been enamored with Sal's work. During the 70s, whether the likes of Neal Adams, Jim Starlin and Frank Brunner were trying to expand our collective minds, artists like Sal Buscema simply got to work cranking out great stories and turning them in on time. Several years ago, I had a wonderful email exchange with Steve Engelhart in which he praised Sal as a wonderful collaborator.
When I close my eyes and think of comic book images from my formative funnybook years (let's say 1976 to 1983), I am amazed by how many of those got their start at Sal Buscema's drawing board. From Cap's shield crushing him (thanks to Graviton) in Avengers #158 to the truly eerie 'glass men' from Incredible Hulk #262. That image of the swimmer still creeps me out. How about that Spectacular Spider-Man #1 cover? There's a reason we all picked that one up, right? It grabs your attention. Here's to Sal Buscema.! I wish you the happiest of Birthdays!
I never read any Speedball during its initial run. I was in high school and likely thought it looked a little silly and juvenile. I was an idiot. I now look for charm whenever I go comic book shopping. I quite like the series as it does capture some of that Marvel Age magic. This cover is also a real throwback as Ditko seems to combining the work he did for Marvel, DC and even Charlton in the 60s here. Sure, there's a lot going on, but I really like a cover that tells a story. As far as late 80s and early 90s Ditko covers go, this one is a keeper.
So there I was last night, reading my copy of Lone Ranger's Companion Tonto #17, when it dawned on me. I love this series and I have never talked about it. If you have spoken to me about comics over the years, you'll know that I am a huge fan of Dell's Lone Ranger series and am nearing completion of a run of painted covers. I am also a big fan of the spin-off series starring Tonto. In fact, it may be one of Dell's most consistently great series. Ever. What's so great about it? Well, let's start with the painted covers. As with the Lone Ranger, these beautiful covers are provided by the likes of Ernest Nordi and Don Spaulding. If you think they look great one your computer screen, wait until you hold one of these in your hands. If Dell is guilty of anything, it is that often the interior artwork and storytelling do not measure up to their covers. That is not the case with Tonto as the stories by Paul S. Newman are engaging and the artwork by the great Alberto Giolitti is stunning. If you do not recognize that name, flip through your old issues of Turok. That's the man's artwork. It is a beautiful marriage of detailed pencils and textured inks. I need to put together a full run of Tonto, pronto!
What a great time era for The Avengers. I feel like I hopped aboard at the perfect time as there were some fantastic stories in the 150-200 stretch. I particularly love this one. I sat down to read it again the other night and I was surprised by how many images were permanently burned in my brain. This one is jam packed with heroes as the Guardians of the Galaxy are along for the ride. There are also a ton of cameos; everyone from Two-Gun Kid to Doctor Strange. The tension over leadership styles between Cap and Iron Man was also very believably written by shooter. The best moment, however, is when the team is humiliated by Gyrich due to the lack of security at Avengers mansion. Within a few panels, he becomes the character you love to hate. I just adore it.
I recently re-read this one for the first time in 20+ years. This particular stretch of Ghost Rider issues really appealed to me when I was a kid. It has aged quite well, and this particular issue is a standout. Roger Stern borrows a page from Todd Browning and brings some 'freaks' to the Quentin Carnival. The story packs an emotional punch as the carnival's tragic 'Cave Man' Jeremy is a wonderfully fleshed out character. When you're a kid, you don't necessarily track the creators. It's amazing how many of my favourite stories and images from the late 70s and early 80s were drawn by Bob Budiansky. The richly textured panels work wonderfully here, as they truly add some atmosphere to the tale. This is a great one!
Since chatting about him last week, I've had Ruben Moreira on the brain. I was flipping through my copy of DC Showcase Presents: Tales of the Unexpected Vol. 1 last night and I spotted a cover that I had never taken note of before. Even through the murky black and white reproduction, I could tell that it was a stunner. I have always been intrigued by the Sargasso Sea, so it's very cool to see the concept used for a 50s sci-fi cover. I found a colour image online and was even more impressed with this moody cover as it uses a wash. I'm not sure if Moreira did this himself or if he employed the tales of Jack Adler. In either case, it's an eye catcher. The stories themselves are also very solid, with artwork by both Jack Kirby and Mort Meskin among others. I'm normally quite happy to have everything in a inexpensive collection, but I really, really, really want to own this book for the cover.
Hey everyone. Here's the second test run of the show I'm contemplating. I've actually really been enjoying talking about funnybooks and not just writing about them. I'm thinking that I may stick with this one a semi-regular basis and have guests on to discuss a variety of topics. If that happens, I'll set it up with a libsyn account and get it on iTunes.
Yes, these stories have been reprinted elsewhere. Yes, $30 is still $30 and may seem like a lot to pay for black and white reprints. Here's the thing, though. John Severin is one of the greatest comic book artists of all times. This book collects so many wonderful stories that I think $100 would be a bargain (of course, I'm saying all of this after buying it for $20). The team of Kurtzman, Severin and Elder is as strong a team as you'll find and they gelled together perfectly in the war genre. There are some powerful stories in this collection, but it is also sprinkled with humour and wonderful characterizations. I feel as though Severin's illustrations are well suited to a black and white reproduction. While I'd love to see Marie Severin's wonderful colours, I'll happily forgo the colour if it keeps the price tag reasonable. This is an essential collection and will look great on anyone's shelf. Next stop for me might be the Aces High collection for some George Evans aerial artwork. Trade Mark: A
Here's a Gil Kane Marvel cover from the 70s that you might not have seen. Breaking up a string of Living Mummy covers was this issue, featuring The Headless Horsemen. I see this one far less often than I see other issues from this series and I am not sure why. It's a terrific cover featuring an incredible sense of design and motion. I like Ernie Chan's inks here, as he adds some nice texture, especially to the skull. The skeletal body contrasts beautifully with the cloak and I really like the full moon in the background. I'm not sure that I love the greenish hue on the horse, but it is rather unique. The eyes and snorting nostrils are what seal the deal for me. This is a lesser known, but tremendous Kane cover.
Hey everyone. I've decided to give a SOTI podcast a shot, as a companion piece to the blog, as a companion piece to the blog.
I hope the link works (it's to a free hosting service - I may switch to libsyn if I keep this going, but this is really just a test). You can either listen directly or download to your drive. I won't get an RSS feed going until I decide to stick with it. Have a listen and let me know what you think!
I do not know how I got my hands on a copy of this issue. I would have still been only 5 years old during the summer of 1978 and Mad was not part of my regular reading rotation at that point in my life and I can't see my parents buying it for me. That said, I remember reading that first Star Wars parody as well, so I must have had an older neighbour or relative letting me read them. There's some good stuff in this one, including parodies of both The Spy Who Loved Me and What's Happening. I liked those at the time because I was familiar with the source material. Too often, I didn't understand the parodies in Mad or Cracked as I hadn't seen the film or TV show in question. The main reason this particular issue has stuck in my brain 36 years later is the story about punk music. This would have been my first 'exposure' to punk and I was shocked. That panel of the band urinating on their fans at a concert remains etched in my brain. Or should I say 'blecched' in my brain.