Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Tale Of Two Heroes

As a lot of you who read this blog know, I'm a huge Jim Aparo fan and my favorite comic as a kid was The Brave And The Bold. Issue #161 from April, 1980 was one of my favorite issues. It guest starred my favorite DC space hero Adam Strange and it gave Aparo a chance to draw some science fiction elements which I always thought he was very good at. This particular story was written by Gerry Conway instead of Aparo's usual B&B partner Bob Haney but it's still a great story with plenty of examples of Jim's fantastic storytelling ability. As usual his splash pages made a big impression on my 10 year old mind and this one was no exception.
Here's an example of Aparo's great sense of sci-fi design. While he wasn't quite as good as Carmine Infantino in this regard, I still really dig how he drew the towers of the planet Rann.
And of course Aparo could draw action scenes with the best of them. I wish he would have drawn more Adam Strange stories.
In addition to all the great action, there were also cool ads and extra stuff in late 70's DC books. I always enjoyed the subscription ads and if they were drawn by Aparo, all the better.
These books were always entertaining and I miss those days tremendously. But I can always dig these gems out of their boxes anytime I want to and enjoy my favorite era of comics , the Bronze Age

Monday, November 28, 2011

Star Wars Infantino Style

Like a lot of kids in the late 70's, I loved Star Wars and comics. So naturally I bought every issue of Marvel's Star Wars book that came out right after the movie. For a lot of those early issues, the legendary Carmine Infantino took care of the art chores, ably inked by Bob Wiacek. At the time, I couldn't stand the art. His style didn't mesh with George Lucas' universe in my nine year old mind. But now I really like it. Carmine was great at science fiction, as his stints on several of DC's sci-fi books in the 50's and 60's proved. This page depicting the Millennium Falcon taking on two TIE Fighters proves Carmine had the material down.
I've met both Carmine and Bob Wiacek at different cons and was lucky to get a Carmine style Darth Vader sketch from Bob.
These issues mean a lot to me. They're wonderful reminders of my two favorite things in childhood, comics and Star Wars.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sgt. Fury Special #3 1967

After watching the Captain America movie again the other night on DVD, I started to get interested in re-reading the exploits of Cap's cinematic band of soldiers, the Howling Commandos. Of course the Howlers were led by Sgt. Nick Fury during the book's run in the 1960's. It was one of the few Marvel war books and since I always preferred DC's war books, I never got many issues of Sgt. Fury, which I'm kind of bummed out about because it was a pretty good book. A lot of the art was done by the great, underrated Dick Ayers. He signed this particular ish for me back in the mid 90's and for some strange reason I had him do a sketch of DC's main war hero Sgt. Rock.
Dick's art in this special from 1967 is really good. I especially enjoyed the pin-ups in the back of the book introducing the Howlers to those who weren't that familiar with them.
Although this particular special dealt with the modern day Nick Fury and his former Howlers in Viet Nam, it still had the flavor of their WWII adventures. Marvel just published the first volume of the Essential Sgt. Fury this week so I'll have a good head start in my collection.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Batman: Year One

The other day I watched the fantastic animated adaptation of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's seminal 1980's mini-series Batman: Year One. They captured the flavor of the book perfectly and it was almost identical to the actual comics. I really, really liked it. It made me want to dig out the comics. For some reason, I didn't buy the original issues when they came out. I think it was because they came out in the 2-3 period after Crisis On Infinite Earths when I stopped reading comics (I refer to them as the dark years). In 1989, I picked up a beautiful hardback book collecting Year One plus other Miller Batman classics like The Dark Knight Returns, Wanted: Santa Claus Dead Or Alive, and The Mark Of Batman. I reread these stories and was struck once again by how innovative and unique they were.
I was lucky enough to meet David Mazzucchelli at a convention in New York City in 2002 and told him how much I liked Year One and he was kind enough to do a quick sketch of the Dark Knight for me.
I really hope Warner Brothers Animation and DC continue to put out these great animated movies. They're turning out to be a lot better than the live action stuff they've put out in recent years.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More Original Art

Here are the remaining four pieces of original art in my collection. Like I said earlier, I wish I could afford more. Maybe the next time I go to a big convention like San Diego, I can pick up some more pieces. First up is page 16 from Superman #293 by the one and only Curt Swan.
And finally we have three pages by the wonderful Irv Novick, pages 2 and 5 from Detective #425 and page 3 from The Flash #235. Irv has always been my favorite Flash artist, probably because his version of the Scarlet Speedster was the first one I was exposed to and his Batman was highly underrated. I'm really glad I got these pieces.

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Original Art

One of the areas of collecting I've always wanted to get more into is the original art area. I think finances are the main reason I haven't been able to start a big collection but I do have a few pieces I've picked up through the years. Here are a few of them with their printed pages included.Justice League #155 page 16 by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin
The Brave And The Bold #169 page 2 by Jim Aparo
Superman #303 page 9 by Curt Swan and Bob Oskner
Stay tuned for some more Swan plus a triple threat of beautiful Bronze Age pages by the awesome Irv Novick in the days to come.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Gold Key's The Twilight Zone

I've been watching a lot of The Twilight Zone on the wonderful new MeTV Network and it's whetted my appetite for some of the old Gold Key Twilight Zone comics. Published from 1962-1979, it featured the standard Gold Key style story and art based on the popular series. Of course, my favorite part of Gold Key books of the Silver Age were the painted covers. Every series they put out then featured a lot of these and they were mostly excellent and The Twilight Zone was no exception. Here are a few to demonstrate the typical quality of these paintings. A lot of them were uncredited but an artist named George Wilson was credited with some of them starting in the late 60's. He drew the cover to issue #23 from 1967.
The rest of these are uncredited but they all appeared within the first ten years the book was published. I need to look out for these on Ebay or the next con I go to. I'm sure I'll enjoy them although maybe not as much as the actual show.
Once again, thanks to the fantastic Grand Comics Database for the cover scans.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Magic Of Darwyn Cooke

I've recently been getting into the great artwork of Darwyn Cooke. Best known for the seminal Silver Age influenced 2004 mini-series The New Frontier, Cooke's retro cartoony style fit perfectly with the story of the Justice League's formation in the 1960's. I love the way he draws women and his sense of 60's style is simply wonderful. Here are a couple of more New Frontier covers that stand out to me.
Cooke also did a lot of other stuff for DC and other publishers. Check out some of these beauties courtesy of the Grand Comics Database. I especially like the JSA and T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents covers.
I really hope I get to see him at a con soon. Over at the Comic Art Fans site, there are a bunch of beautiful con sketches he's done over the years. Darwyn Cooke, a true modern age artistic giant.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cancelled: Two Super-Heroes

I was digging through my collection of my all time favorite comic The Brave And The Bold and decided to re-read some of the late 60's team up tales before the likes of Neal Adams and Jim Aparo got their talented mitts on the Caped Crusader and his pals. This particular ish, cover dated February-March, 1967, is a good example of how the book was during the "go-go checks" era. It sports a great Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella cover but the interior art by Johnny Craig and Charles Cuidera doesn't live up to the cover. It's not bad at all. It just doesn't have the style of Infantino. That's not a knock on Craig. Not many had Infantino's talent for design and storytelling. The art inside is actually kind of charming. I love the DC house style of the Silver Age and this fits in quite nicely with that. Here's the splash page.
During this period in DC's history, I tended to enjoy the ads inside the books almost as much as the mags themselves. For example, I love this Sgt. Rock Battle Stars ad. Who could resist an 80 page war giant?
Of course this book came out right in the middle of Batmania, the intense popularity of the character caused by the great, yet radically different from the comics, Batman TV show. What little kid in 1967 could resist having their own "pop" gallery?
I had fun reading these pre Bronze Age B&B's but give me Haney and Aparo any day.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Alex Toth's Zorro

I recently picked up a great collection Image Comics put out in 2001 of Alex Toth's run on Western Publishing's adaptation of Disney's classic 1950's Zorro TV show. I love the show but had not seen any of the comics. Toth was the perfect artist to convey the swashbuckling heroics of the masked hero. Although the original books were printed in color, the black and white reprints bring out his work even more. I love his use of blacks to convey the mystery of the main character.

Although the art is fantastic, I got the sense that Toth was limited some by the scripts, which were taken practically verbatim from the TV screenplays. There's a lot of dialouge spread through these stories, which limited Toth's storytelling abilities, although a static head drawn by Toth is still pretty great.

Of course Toth's women were always fantastic and this fiery senorita is no exception.

I was really thrilled to be able to read these stories and see Toth's masterful artwork on a character I really love. These strips are further proof that Alex Toth was one of comics' finest and most innovative artists.

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