Sunday, April 29, 2007


Joe is one of the best cartoonists around, only not enough people know it.
I first encountered his work in the CHARLTON COMICS title PRIMUS, which was a licensed from tv property, based on a then-current program starring Robert "Here Come The Brides" Brown.
We had the Ivan Tors produced tv show that the comic book was based on running locally in Boston at the time, and I liked it, though it probably is a second rate attempt at the earlier SEA HUNT, from Tors also, but I bought the comic, starting, I believe, with issue #3.
At the time, in my opinion, the quality of the Charlton printing was not as good as it was when Dick Giordano was running the company, during the 1960's, and I was grabbing up their "Action Hero Line", but I liked the drawing in the book, which showed a lot of good touches even with the badly trimmed pages and the less than vibrant color my copy had.
When I heard that Charlton was getting a new super-hero title, E-MAN, ready, I subscribed to it, and was delighted that the printing was better, that they mailed the subscriber copies _flat_, and that it was draawn by "that guy who drew PRIMUS".
I later got into buying any Charlton mystery comic that had a Staton job in it, and, already a Charlton fan since 1966, I was buying CPL, Bob Layton's fanzine which had some Charlton material ("four out of five robots read CPL, the other one sells 'em"), and was later a subscriber to the "official" Charlton fan magazine, THE CHARLTON BULLSEYE.
But, to get to my topic again, I loved E-MAN, and Joe Staton's cartooning.
I was disappointed when E-MAN was discontinued, but during the run of the title, I bought a copy of one of the SF magazines that had a Staton drawing in it, and I was certain that Staton would still be drawing more for Charlton, or elsewhere.
Joe did draw EMERGENCY!, a Charlton comic derived from the Jack Webb produced tv series, note that this was the color comic, as opposed to the Neal Adams' Continuity Associates drawn magazine that Charlton put out, and handled similar chores on their comic of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN.
I had issues if MIDNIGHT TALES, a fun-to-read mystery comic from Charlton, I believe there is some Staton material in there also.
But I wanted _more_!!!
And I got it!!!
I met Joe at a comic book convention in New York City, in 1976, which was run by the great Phil Seuling. I asked Joe to draw an encounter of "E-MAN MEETS PLASTIC MAN", and he came up with a beauty, which we called "Best Two Out Of Three", and I have the piece to this day. I was thrilled when Michael Ambrose ran it, after I made him a copy, with his Joe Staton interview, in BACK ISSUE magazine a while back, by the way. The thing about all this is, a few years later, Joe was at DC COMICS drawing PLASTIC MAN!!!
What a kick that is for me to this day!!!
Anyway, Joe drew a lot of work for DC, and still does to this day, employing a couple of different styles, which enable him to draw anything from GREEN LANTERN (Staton was once an assistant to GREEN LANTERN cartoonist great Gil Kane), to "Power Girl" and "The Huntress", plus their series with the "JSA", in that legendary title ALL-STAR COMICS, to titles based on the WB Animated series comic books of BATMAN, SUPERMAN, in the great 1990's style those had down so well, to those intrepid "Mystery Machine riding meddling kids" in SCOOBY-DOO.
Joe also drew a wonderful fantasy tale for an issue of WITZEND back in the 1970's, which is a real treasure, and a favorite of mine.
Joe also drew the brilliant story in the last issue of the long-running DC COMICS title THE BRAVE & THE BOLD, in it's original incarnation with BATMAN team-ups, and a tremendous "prestige format" BATMAN two issue title with BATMAN versus "Two-Face". Just excellent comic book work!!!
You can also see Joe's work on the web these days, at places like:


Joe has also drawn anew E-MAN story recently, that came out as the one-shoe E-MAN RECHARGED, and I hope we see more!!!
E-MAN, by the way, has such a potent, however small, fan base, that he has appeared from other publishers besides Charlton, including the sadly-defunct FIRST COMICS, COMICO, and others!!!

I hope that we see cartooning by Joe gracing comics pages for many more years to come!!!


In a wonderful book about this cartoonist, Hank has given us a name that readers of his most famous creation now know, so the book got the title THE MERCHANT OF DENNIS, and that book goes into great detail about Hank's strip, DENNIS THE MENACE.
I've been a fan of "Dennis" for about 45 years, a fan of both the syndicated panel and the Sunday strip in the newspapers, and the old live-action television series of "Dennis", starring Jay North.
Hank once referred to that program as "that tv thing", but I loved it, particularly I loved THE DENNIS THE MENACE STORYBOOK, which adapted episodes of the tv series into short story form with beautiful color illustrations. My childhood friend, David B., had a copy, and I did not, but I managed to finally find one at a comic book convention in the late 1980's!!!
Oh, I love the "Dennis" paperback books, from the 1960's, also, and I have a big stack of the DENNIS THE MENACE comic books put out by FAWCETT, these go from the early 1950's into the late 1970's, and there are some later "Dennis" comic books put out by MARVEL.
Just now inserting here that I recently purchased a real DENNIS bargain, a fourth printing, from the early 1960's, of DENNIS THE MENACE: HOUSEHOLD HURRICANE.
It is interesting to note that this paperback book has 62 cartoons that were _not_ in the original hardcover printing!!!
An absolute JOY to read!!!
Hank Ketcham did not produce all of the DENNIS material, a pair of gentlemen named Al Wiseman and Fred Toole, and several others, including Owen Fitzgerald, who had been with DC COMICS humor titles, produced a lot of the (long) comic book stories. But the thing about the Dennis character and his family, friends, and even that grouchy neighbor, Mr. Wilson, all have one thing in common: the superb draughtsmanship of Ketcham and his "ghosts".
Ketcham left his mark on the animation industry also, having worked for WALT DISNEY at one time, plus "Dennis" also made it to television, in an animated special called "Mayday For Mother", this was followed by a later series of cartoons, that were made in Japan, but broadcast in English.
Ketcham also produced another syndicated feature, HALF HOTCH, about a US Navy man, this series was also beautifully drawn. Even though Ketcham's work is not done in a realistic manner, all objects are so carefully delineated it is easy to tell what everything is, and the people and places look like the people in your own town!!!

--additions and edits and more will follow!!!



Frank Robbins developed and drew JOHNNY HAZARD for newspaper syndication, and worked on that feature for approximately thirty years, and it is a grand example of an adventure strip for the papers, in the tradition of TERRY & THE PIRATES and STEVE CANYON, both creations of another great newspaper strip cartoonist, Milton Caniff.
Frank also wrote many BATMAN scripts for DC COMICS, during the late 1960's and into the 1970's, and drew a few BATMAN jobs, and some issues of THE SHADOW as well, during the 1970's.
I first became acquainted with Frank's drawing in the pages of THE MENOMONEE FALLS GAZETTE, a now-defunct newspaper that was nearly all reprints of the best in adventure comic strips, back in the 1970's. I loved the series, especially the "jaunty" way in which Johnny was drawn, as well as the bold figure work on the other characters and the carefully designed and well structured layouts, and have since sought out as many reprints of the series as I could find.
But, when Frank began drawing for DC COMICS in those early days of the 1970's, I had a difficult time, at first, with looking at his pages, particularly on THE SHADOW, where he replaced cartoonist Mike Kaluta, who had a totally different style. It seemed to me that Frank's comic book pages looked like "aluminum foil splashed with ink", and I compared them to the puppets in the "Super-Marionation" television series THUNDERBIRDS. I later concluded that Frank was having a bit of difficulty adjusting to the difference in format between newspaper strip and comic book pages.
Now I love both his syndicated work and those old comic books.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


It saddens me greatly that this cartoonist, best known for drawing some wonderful BATMAN stories, written by Steve Englehart, in DETECTIVE COMICS, passed away recently.
He was only in his 50's.
That's not why I have listed him here, however.
The BATMAN run Marshall drew is one of the finest efforts ever in comic books. Marshall's drawing is superb, it is flawlessly designed, the _architecture_ in his panels is beautifully linear and elegant, and one feels for his delineation of Bruce Wayne and Silver St. Cloud, understanding that these two characters have "real" body language and really do love each other.
During the 1970's I was at a comic book convention with a friend, and this young man walked by us, he was carrying a largw stack of bristol board, we believed that he was Howard Chaykin.
We sprinted after him, calling out "Mr. Chaykin! Mr. Chaykin!". He turned and smiled and told us "I'm not Howie Chaykin, my name is Marshall Rogers." This was around the time Marshall first began working for DC COMICS, before those BATMAN stories came out, but, anyway, Marshall was so nice to us.
But that's not why I put him in this blog, I put him here because he was one of the best cartoonists ever to work on BATMAN, which, after almost 70 years of BATMAN stories coming out, in _thousands_ of pages of drawing, Marshall Rogers' contributions are among the best!!!
Thanks to GRAND COMICS DATABASE for the image:




Dan DeCarlo was one of the greatest "good girl" cartoonists ever to work in the comic book industry, he also drew "naughty' cartoons for men's humor magazines.
DeCarlo drew hundreds of pages for ARCHIE COMICS, including JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS, named after his wife, Josie, and also worked on many, many pages for BETTY & VERONICA, SABRINA THE TEEN-AGE WITCH, and of course, the company's flagship title, ARCHIE, and many others.
At one time, when JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS was first in an animated series on television, back in the 1960's, Dan's name was in the end credits, unfortunately, there was litigation between Dan and ARCHIE COMICS near the end of Dan's life, and, now, the prints of that cartoon that air on Cartoon Network have had Dan's name removed from them. Some of them, at least, I've seen them myself.
Dan worked on _endless_ numbers of pages for ARCHIE COMICS, the ones he drew from scripts by Frank Doyle and George Gladir are among the best, fortunately ARCHIE did begin printing credits for their writers some time ago, so you can often pick out comics with work by DeCarlo and these two writers fairly easily in your comic shop's back issue section.
But wait!!!
Dan also drew many, many pages of comics for ATLAS/MARVEL COMICS during the 1950's, including MY FRIEND IRMA, based on a radio show, and made into a movie with Dean Marrtin & Jerry Lewis, and HOMER THE HAPPY GHOST, among others. There is a good-natured quality to his work, and his "girls" are just so cute!!!
Dan should not just be a footnote in comic book history, his friend Gene Colan refers to him as "Danny" to this day, so, I do also.
Danny, we miss you!!!



The great Leonard Starr drew comic books for many years, for a variety of different publishers, but he has two really big claims to fame:

1} Developing and drawing the excellent syndicated strip MARY PERKINS: ON STAGE for about twenty years!!!

2} Taking over the flagging feature LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE and re-invigorating it and making it consistent with the hit Broadway musical, ANNIE, and drawing the comic strip version for years.






The late Kurt Schaffenberger, a dapper, mustachioed chap I had the pleasure of meeting in the 1980's, drew both the original CAPTAIN MARVEL and SUPERMAN, and, amazingly drew CAPTAIN MARVEL at both FAWCETT and DC COMICS!!!
FAWCETT had begum publishing CAPTAIN MARVEL in the pages of WHIZ COMICS, not long after the premiere of SUPERMAN in ACTION COMICS, from the 1938 incarnation of DC COMICS, as a way to get a pice of the, er, action, on caped strong men.
CAPTAIN MARVEL's stories were written and drawn in a lighter style than SUPERMAN's were, and, guess what, these comic books often outsold SUPERMAN, thus, it went that DC took FAWCETT to court, and along running lawsuit followed, and FAWCETT essentially dropped publishing comic books almost completely, in the early 1950's.
While FAWCETT was still publishing CAPTAIN MARVEL and related titles, Kurt Schaffenberger was a major force in the good captain's army. Along with CAPTAIN MARVEL's best known cartoonist, Charles Clarence, or "CC", Beck, and such great illustrators as Mac Raboy, Marc Swayze and Jack Binder, and, taking a light approach like Beck's, long-time cartoonist Pete Costanza, CAPTAIN MARVEL, his sister, MARY MARVEL, and CAPTAIN MARVEL JUNIOR (beautifully rendered by Mac Raboy), "the Marvel Family" had many whimsical and charming adventures.
Ironically, FAWCETT decided to settle the lawsuit, and DC ended up owning the rights to the characters, and, ultimately, a good deal of FAWCETT's other comic book properties as well.
Both Kurt Schaffenberger and Pete Costanza, as well as writer Otto Binder, ended up working on SUPERMAN related comic books at DC!!!
It was there that Kurt got me as a fan, drawing wonderfully "goofy" LOIS LANE comic books, which, in my estimation, made SUPERMAN, Lois, and LANA LANG into a comics version of television's I LOVE LUCY.
These are brilliant works, totally entrenched in 1960's culture, with Lois and Lana wearing Jackie Kennedy era clothing, particularly Lois, with her ubiquitous pillbox hat, and Lana being slightly more modern-looking. Kurt drew about 80 issues of LOIS LANE, and also drew other features for DC, until he departed the company in the late 1960's.
Kurt also drew for ACG COMICS, acompany that, apparently had an "incestuous" business connection with DC.
In the 1970's, Kurt returned to DC, again drawing the SUPERMAN family of characters, from LOIS LANE, to SUPERMAN'S PAL: JIMMY OLSEN, to the "Captain Marvel" feature, now called SHAZAM!, because MARVEL COMICS had trademarked the name CAPTAIN MARVEL for their own use.
Kurt had not lost any of his great talent in his brief hiatus from DC, and ultimately drew some beautiful SHAZAM! stories, inking the pencilled work of the late Don Newton (see that blog entry soon), and these jobs are very nicely written, by the late E. Nelson Bridwell, or ENB, as he was known.
Mr. Schaffenberger later retired and his life came to an end in New Jersey.

--additions and edits and more to follow!!!


The late Jim Aparo drew nearly 100 issues of DC COMICS' BATMAN team-up title, THE BRAVE & THE BOLD, as well as that "darknight detective's" own title and his feature in DETECTIVE COMICS for that company.
Earlier in his career Jim had attempted to sell a few newspaper features, which were not successful, but have been printed subsequently, and had his first big break drawing the comic book incarnation of the King Features character, THE PHANTOM, which had been created by Lee Falk in the 1930's,in a number of issues that he pencilled and inked, as usual, for CHARLTON COMICS.
Jim also drew a number of AQUAMAN stories at DC, in a wondefully written group of comic books from DC, that teamed him with the very imaginative Steve Skeates (pronounced like ice skates are), and Editor, Dick Giordano.
When DC discontinued publication of THE BRAVE & THE BOLD, with it's 200th issue (!!!), Jim was continuing to draw BATMAN team-ups, in the series BATMAN & THE OUTSIDERS, which involved the 1960's character, METAMORPHO THE ELEMENT MAN, a character that first appeared in THE BRAVE & THE BOLD, in a story written by Bob Haney and drawn by Ramona Fradon, and several new creations of writer Mike W, Barr, ad visually created by Jim.
Jim's version of BATMAN is fondly remembered and much missed by many members of the "baby boom" generations.

--additions and edits and more will follow!!!

Friday, April 27, 2007


Carmine Infantino is one of the great living cartoonists, and is best known for drawing BATMAN stories in that character's eponymous title, as well as in DETECTIVE COMICS, and THE FLASH, during "The Silver Age Of Comics (1956-1969, in my opinion) ". His BATMAN work in the early-to-mid 1960's, and later, was perhaps most famous for bringing about the "New Look" BATMAN, with more sophisticated and well-designed drawing than the series had previously had, and the introduction of the yellow moon to BATMAN's chest insignia. Mr. Infantino also drew the stories of "Adam Strange", an Earthman who was transported to a far off planet for many issues of MYSTERY IN SPACE, subsequently reprinted in STRANGE ADVENTURES, and "The Elongated Man", the "stretchable sleuth" who also appeared in DETECTIVE COMICS. Mr. Infantino has been quoted more than once, indicating that the feature 'Detective Chimp" was one of his favorites. This strip about a chimpanzee and his "pet human", Sherrif Chase, is also one of my favorites of the many series that Carmine illustrated. The gentle and charming strip had one story reprinted in DC SPECIAL #1, the "All-Infantino Issue", and that comic book was my best introduction to Carmine's work, and that Detective Chimp, Bobo, even though I had read comic book stroties that Carmine had drawn for about four years already by the time DC SPECIAL #1 was on the newsstands. Mr. Infantino also created the visual look for the new BATGIRL, to make the comic book continuity work with the current season of the then popular 20th CENTURY FOX television series BATMAN, in 1967-1968. All of these works were published by DC COMICS, then known as NATIONAL PERIODICAL PUBLICATIONS, though the cover colophon did read "DC", short for the original name of the firm, DETECTIVE COMICS, rather than that comic book itself.
Carmine also worked on the syndicated newspaper feature BATMAN, first during the "Batmania" craze in the 1960's, and again, following the success of the 1989 Tim Burton film, BATMAN, starring Michael Keaton, and also drew that "caped crusader" for small comic books that were inserted as "premiums" in the breakfast/snack food, Kellogg's Pop Tarts.
An aside is that Carmine had earlier developed a very nice looking comic strip, called HOMETOWN, that was intended for newspaper syndication, and was not sold. I would guess that the pain caused by the failure of HOMETOWN was lessened by his success with the two runs on the BATMAN syndicated feature. Samples of HOMETOWN can be found in the 1970's DC COMICS "house magazine", THE AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS, issue #1, that spotlighted Carmine's career.
Mr. Infantino became editorial director of "DC" in 1967, then the actual publisher shortly thereafter, and, sadly, rarely drew for publication until the mid-to-late 1970's, though he did draw the first appearance of Christopher Chance, "The Human Target", which ran in an issue of SUPERMAN's companion title, ACTION COMICS, in 1972 (the series was drawn by other cartoonists in later issues). "The Human Target" also was a television series, though very short-lived, during the 1990's, and starred soap opera "heartthrob" Rick Springfield.
Mr. Infantino's post as DC publisher was taken over by Jenette Kahn in 1976, and the illustrator soon appeared with work in the pages of DC's chief competitor, MARVEL COMICS.
During his stint at that comic book publisher, Carmine drew SPIDER-WOMAN, and stories for SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP, but, most famously, he illustrated the comic book version of the blockbuster 1977 movie, STAR WARS.
Carmine's work on that feature visually recalled his "Adam Strange" series, and a lot of earlier work, at DC, a company that he would later return to. For MARVEL, one character that Infantino worked on was "The Shroud", a supporting player from SPIDER-WOMAN that much resembled his earlier BATMAN at DC.
Carmine drew a number of short stories for the large format black & white comics, CREEPY and EERIE, for WARREN MAGAZINES, these stories are lovely to look at, as a number of interesting cartoonists collaborated with Carmine, "inking" his work to finish it from the pencilled form for publication.
After this period at MARVEL, then at WARREN, Carmine again was working at DC, returning to drawing THE FLASH, and drawing a revised version of the 1960's series Dial H For Hero", in ADVENTURE COMICS. This series was unique in that readers could create their own characters, and send their ideas in, and some of these were accepted and actually used in the stories. The well-known science fiction writer, Harlan Ellison, was one of these individuals!!!
Mr. Infantino is still with us today, and is sadly no longer drawing, but I am very happy that David Spurlock's company, VANGUARD PUBLICATIONS, produced a book, THE AMAZING WORLD OF CARMINE INFANTINO, a combination art collection and biography of the octogenarian's life and career, the "international standard book number" code is here to search on the internet for this book:

--additions and edits and more will follow!!!


"Wayne's work was never boring, and he never left you snoring", is my comment about the late cartoonist, not only one of _the_ great illustrators of SUPERMAN, but also a talented painter and syndicated strip cartoonist, Boring had a long career.
According to Wikipedia,

Boring was born in 1905, I recall his passing in 1987, and was struck by the impact his passing had on me, as I knew he had drawn SUPERMAN comic books for 25 years, and had drawn the character CAPTAIN MARVEL for MARVEL COMICS briefly, in the early 1970's, but I had only seen Wayne's cartooning in old comic books or reprints for many years.
To understand this, you must be aware of the two things that most struck me about Wayne's SUPERMAN.
1} He always drew Clark Kent's eyeglasses so they appeared to be way off of his face.
That was one of the first things that, while I was only a six year old child, reading SUPERMAN comic books for the first time, in 1963, that enabled me to recognize cartoonists' art styles.
2} Wayne also had another "signature" in his SUPERMAN jobs that made his work easy to spot, he drew SUPERMAN with an immense, "barrel" chest.
These small points endeared Mr. Boring's work to me, and, that I knew his work so early in life, made for a combination of a nearly lifelong enjoyment of Boring's illustration.
If you look at his depiction of TITANO THE SUPER APE, from the classic story in SUPERMAN # 138, from 1960, you will see a great example of Boring's SUPERMAN, plus it is a truly fun story, and the character, Titano, doubtlessly inspired by the wonderful 1933 movie, KING KONG, you will also see why the story was adapted into animated cartoons _twice_, first in the Filmation series THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (1966), and more recently, in the mid-to-late 1990's KIDS' WB program, SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.
It occurs to me now, having reviewed this entry on June 8th, 2007, that I left out another of Wayne's "signatures" in this discussion, his fabulous futuristic cities. When you see his elaborate cityscapes of the planet Krypton (Superman's birthworld), they are truly breathtaking, and, this is helped by the sparkling primary colors these drawings are rendered in. Most often the colorists names are unknown in these older stories, though we often have an inkling of who the colorists are in the more modern eras, it is sometimes purely guesswork for the comic books of the 1930's to around 1970, or, even later. Nonetheless, whoever was/were the colorist(s)on these Wayne Boring SUPERMANs deserves praise. That individual added much to the work of one of the cartoonist greats in SUPERMAN's long history.
Wayne parodied his own work in the pages of NATIONAL LAMPOON following his departure from DC COMICS, in some scathingly funny cartoons focusing on his former DC editor, Mort Weisinger, who had been with DC for many years, and had also been "story consultant" for many of the telvision episodes of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN.
During the 1960's a bevy of Wayne Boring's SUPERMAN works were reprinted, and I was fortunate to grow up reading many of these adventures. The series of 80 PAGE GIANTS that DC issued in those days provide a cornucopia of non-boring Boring artworks, including one of my favorite stories, "Superman's Return To Krypton".

--additions and edits and much more to come!!!


Neal Adams drew some of the finest super-hero comic book pages during the 1960's and 1970's, in a much praised, bold, cinematic, and realistic style that owes much to some earlier purveyors of such material, but the style was made the signature of Neal's work in comic books, and makes him hit near the top of many people's lists of "best" and "favorite" comic book artists, comic strip artists, or cartoonists.
Neal drew samples of "Adam Strange", the DC character, when Neal was a boy, and submitted them to DC. He did not land a job there then, but he did have some early super-hero work published by ARCHIE COMICS.
I believe that Neal's big break came drawing the syndicated newspaper feature of BEN CASEY, based on a hugely popular tv program of the 1960's, and this was a truly woderful showcase for Neal's style. Vince Edwards, who played the tough, uncompromising tv doctor, was much like Adams' later portrayal of SUPERMAN. The strip was written by Elliot Caplin, brother of the famous cartoonist behind LI'L ABNER, Al Capp, and there were truly topical themes in the strip. Adams was the perfect artistic choice for delineating this maverick medic, and the work was foreshadowing his future, much loved comic book work.
Neal went on to produce pages drawn along the lines of MAD Magazine cartoonist work by Mort Drucker, for THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE and THE ADVENTURES OF JERRY LEWIS, of all things, for DC COMICS, but these are really fun to look at!!!
The next big phase of Neal's career that I know of still found him drawing pages for DC, including some gorgeous covers for WORLD'S FINEST COMICS and DC SPECIAL, but it was shortly after these, that Neal really hit the nail on the head with comic book fans, when he took over drawing the character "Deadman", co-created by the late Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino, in the pages of DC's STRANGE ADVENTURES. The series centered on the wandering spirit of a murdered circus acrobat who was stuck wandering Earth to find his killer, and the series had him going from place to place and helping people he encountered along the way.
"Deadman" would inhabit the body of the person he was trying to help, or their friends or enemies bodies, and do things that would assist the troubled individual. Neal drew some beautiful pages for the feature, which was later "borrowed", in my opinion, for the plot of the famous movie, GHOST, with Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg.
Around this time, when the DC series GREEN LANTERN was on the brink of being discontinued, Neal was given the opportunity to re-invent it with writer Denny O'Neil, and the team, along with such inkers as Bernie Wrightson (for one issue), Frank Giacoia (same) and Dick Giordano (for the rest, I believe) made GL a conservative and otook the recently altered character GREEN ARROW, portrayed him as a passionate liberal, and sent the two of them traveling the country, a la the movie EASY RIDER.
These issues of "GL/GA" seem rather dated today, but remain very popular with many fans, and are among the best drawn of the "realistic" style of comic books ever, and have been reprinted numerous times, in many formats, from standard comic book format to "luxury, slip-cased hardcover book editions", and all good comic book fans ought to read these.
I do want to pint out that Neal was almost certainly, in my opinion, influenced by such artistic predecessors as Stan Drake, Leonard Starr, and John Prentice, as well as advertising illustrator Tom Scheuer, and the work of the ad agency, Johnstone & Cushing. All of this has been covered elsewhere, in other discussions of Neal's career.
Neal also drew some brilliant issues of X-MEN around this time, for MARVEL COMICS, but that title was failing as well, and DC discontinued GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW, for multiple reasons I suspect, and MARVEL dropped X-MEN, which would become, ironically, one of the copany's most successful series from the mid-1970' s forward to now, and become the basis for several blockbuster theatrical features and more than one animated cartoon for television.
The next big thing for Neal would wear a long cape and a symbol with a bat on his chest...

--additions, edits, and MUCH more will follow


While he is famous now as an educator, helping train young cartoonists how to draw and how to establish themselves in the world, Joe Kubert spent years as a cartoonist & comic book editor for years before that, and is now renowned for his work _writing_ comics as well.
The man who gave the "look" to SGT. ROCK and HAWKMAN in the 1960's, despite that Murphy Anderson morphed the rugged Kubert HAWKMAN into a slicker looking character when he drew the series, has drawn so many comic book interior pages and covers, and developed so many innovative ideas in both comic books and comic strips, as well as starting The Joe Kubert School Of Cartoon Art, it would be very difficult to enumerate all of his published endeavors.




A brilliant cartoonist whose work graced the pages of many a comic book line was Alex Toth, a very spirited and independent individual who, despite his enormous talent, never became well-known to the average person, though his later work, mostly in animated television cartoons, was seen by millions (more later). Mr. Toth, recently deceased, drew a good deal of pages for DC COMICS, in it's various incarnations (in the 1960's), such as "Eclipso", in HOUSE OF SECRETS, and a tremendous team-up of "The Flash & The Atom" in THE BRAVE & THE BOLD and a teriffic romance comics serial "20 Miles To Heartbreak", in the 1970's, as well as an astounding BATMAN story in that decade, plus a beautiful "Challengers Of The Unknown" story, and an absolutely astounding SUPERMAN & BATMAN team-up, in a SUPERMAN ANNUAL, in that decade also, and, for MARVEL COMICS, EC COMICS, and he has owned his own creations, such as BRAVO FOR ADVENTURE, THE FOX, and THE VANGUARD. In the 1980's Mr. Toth drew some beautiful work for RED CIRCLE, recalling the hard-boiled pulp mahazines of days gone by, these works included the title THE BLACK HOOD. Alex also drew many superb pages for the romance comic books of STANDARD PUBLICATIONS (in the 1950's), and these works are beautifully designed and sophisticated examples of comic book story telling. Mr. Toth also drew materials for The U.S. Armed Forces.Toth's best-known comic book work, though, is probably his superb and vigorously rendered art for DELL's issues featuring Walt Disney's ZORRO.Toth drew only a small number of ZORRO books for DELL, but the exquisite drawing by Toth for these books is so appreciated by comic book enthusiasts that the stories he drew have been collected in book form by two different publishers, ECLIPSE COMICS and IMAGE COMICS.Toth also drew such television based titles as 77 SUNSET STRIP, and a whole slew of movie adaptations.Much of the late part of Toth's career was occupied with drawing "storyboards" for animated cartoons, for such series as SPACE GHOST and BIRDMAN & THE GALAXY TRIO, for Hanna-Barbera Productions, SKY HAWKS and HOT WHEELS, for Ken Snyder Productions (HOT WHEELS was also a DC comic that Toth also drew five issues of), and also the cult classic show SPACE ANGEL.
Alex was also well-known for the wonderful hand-lettered missives he would send out to friends and fans, I received one of these in about 2001 or 2002. You have to see these to believe them, they have doodles as well as Alex's intricate personal style of hand-lettering. I will print some pictures here when I can get at them, perhaps of some of the excellent animation model sheets by Alex that are in my collection.
Many have described Alex as an eccentric or curmudgeon, but he was a rugged individualist who had no time for nonsense, especially after the passing of his wife, Guyla, but he always had time for a friend.


My good friend Gene has drawn just about all the major comic book characters in history, over a 60 years long career, working on the detective comic book KEN SHANNON at the beginning, in the late 1940's, then, from the 1960's to the early 1980's, working on a long run of characters for MARVEL COMICS, including DAREDEVIL, SUB-MARINER, DOCTOR STRANGE, IRON MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, THE AVENGERS, TOMB OF DRACULA and HOWARD THE DUCK.
Gene's work is very moody and Gene draws "outside the box", breaking up his comic book page panels in truly unusual ways and taking the reader past many traditional forms of comic book "grammar", enabling Gene to show the comic book enthusiast worlds never before dreamed of.
Mr. Colan also drew a movie adaptation for MARVEL, in magazine format, of the film METEOR, and produced work for magazine runs of DRACULA and HOWARD THE DUCK for MARVEL COMICS also.
During the 1960's Gene also set a standard for producing comic book work in a "wash" style, using various tools such as markers to give a very gray set of tones to his horror tales for WARREN MAGAZINES.
These titles, CREEPY and EERIE, were more expensive and more adult in nature than your average comic book of the era, and publisher James Warren lavished special attention to this line of black & white magazines, bringing a level of highly talented cartoonists rarely seen all at the same company to the US newsstands.
The 1980's saw Gene leave MARVEL to go and work for MARVEL's biggest competitor, DC COMICS, on the company jewels, such as SUPRMAN, in the mini-series, THE PHANTOM ZONE, and BATMAN, and WONDER WOMAN. Gene also worked on NIGHT FORCE, re-uniting him with his former TOMB OF DRACULA collaborator Marv Wolfman on this horror title, and the science fiction series, J'EMM: SON OF SATURN. One of the best comic books Gene drew during this era was an experimental series, NATHANIEL DUSK, an old-fashioned private detective saga produced in part from Gene's pencilled illustrations, rather than the traditional way of having an "inker" go over the graphite renderings with heavy, balck, india ink to make the drawings reproduce easily. This series, written by Don McGregor, is a real triumph in comics storytelling, and is one of my favorite series of Gene's.
Other series worked on by Gene include RAGAMUFFINS, a nostalgic look at kids of days gone by, and CURSE OF DRACULA, yet another take on the famous vampire.
Mr. Colan is now aged 80, and, while he is officially "retired" he is creating stunning commissioned work, which you can contact Gene directly about through his website, GENE COLAN'S VIRTUAL STUDIO", at

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Thursday, April 26, 2007


Mr. Cardy is one of the greatest comic book _and_ comic strip artists of our time, having illustrated for both of these ends of the comic art field, as well as having a long career designing movie posters.
Born with the name Nicholas Viscardi, Nick has drawn his comic book material under the name Cardy, and his non-comics work as Cardi.
(continues after legal business)

Cardy's syndicated strip work includes assisting the great Will Eisner in his studio, and producing LADY LUCK as a companion feature for Eisner's "The Spirit Section, as well as producing art for the series TARZAN and CASEY RUGGLES, and writer Sean Menard and Mr. Cardy have recently released a book with a generous, annotated compilation of these and other strips, that is now available. I will be posting the title of that book once I can doublecheck it.
Cardy's work for comic books includes drawing the series DANIEL BOONE, AQUAMAN, BAT LASH, TEEN TITANS,
THE BRAVE & THE BOLD, and literally _hundreds_ of covers for DC COMICS, as well as drawing material for MARVEL COMICS' CRAZY Magazine, and other pieces for that company.
Recent years have seen continuous interest in the work of this master illustrator, and his career has been covered in depth in a number of places, but I want to give you my own spin on Mr. Cardy's work.
I first encountered Nick Cardy's work in the pages of both TEEN TITANS and AQUAMAN, but I am not sure which came first for me.
I was so taken with the "accessibility" of the characters Nick drew, they were so real to me, at about the age of eight, and I knew that I would follow Nick's career as long as I could.
My young eyes saw Aquaman's teen ally, Aqualad, as a symbol for what I could be, under the right circumstances, and I even had the vague notion at my tender age, that I could some day become a hero like Aquaman, of course, that was a silly notion of childhood, but childhood hopes are what make us the adults we later become, and allow us to establish our own identities and our character, and virtues.
It was easy, then, to let the escapist fare of the comic book world mold what would become both my vocation and avocation in later years, and I owe Mr. Cardy a great debt for that, even though he'd never know it.
I met Mr. Cardy's former agent, the late Walter Lawrence, at a comic book convention in Boston, MA. a number of years ago, and was disappointed that Nick was not with him. I was able to purchase several items from Mr. Lawrence, some TEEN TITANS, BAT LASH, and AQUAMAN pages, all wonderful elements of my small, private, comic book museum. I may also have picked up a page from THE BRAVE & THE BOLD then, but that may have been bought at another time.
In any case, Cardy's work, then, and now, "spoke" to me in a very special way.

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The late Don Heck had a long career in comic books, drawing everything from a movie theatre premium of THE VIRGINIAN, to advertise the movie with Joel McCrea, to violent crime comic books for COMIC MEDIA in the 1950's, to a diverse group of science fiction and suspense work for ATLAS COMICS, the MARVEL COMICS of the 1950's, to the 1960's MARVEL COMICS' features IRON MAN and THE MIGHTY AVENGERS, to DC COMICS romance titles, and on to their "Batgirl" and "Jason Bard" series in DETECTIVE COMICS, with BATMAN, and WONDER WOMAN and the super-team title, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, as well as STEEL: THE INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN, a Heck co-creation.
Mr. Heck's work was sadly mis-understood and therefore much-maligned by those who could not understand the true beauty of his work, and was later facing many personal demons following the death of his beloved wife.

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Steve Ditko, a reportedly mild-mannered, but very firm in his personal beliefs, individual portrayed THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, a character he co-created with MARVEL COMICS' Stan Lee, in a manner no other cartoonist has been able to equal or surpass since the iconic web-swinging wall-crawler debuted in 1962.
Ditko, known to hold very dearly on objectivist beliefs, says he wants his work to speak for itself, and I am happy to leave it at that.
Mr. Ditko's long list of co-creations, including SPIDER-MAN, DOCTOR STRANGE: MASTER OF THE MYSTIC ARTS, and his earliest super-hero work, CAPTAIN ATOM, as well as his version of BLUE BEETLE, all display a unique acrobatic style that makes them at once fantastic and believeable, sweeping gracefully over cityscapes and plowing through gangs of thugs with equal aplomb, but, the fantasy creation DOCTOR STRANGE takes it even further, materializing in other dimensions to battle the forces of evil.
Ditko's most personal creation, the objectivist and Ayn Rand-ian MR. A, is profound and simple at the same time, telling the evildoers he confronts that "A IS A", and that there is no compromise, only GOOD or EVIL.

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The late Curtis Douglas Swan drew SUPERMAN and his related characters for approximately 50 years, in a humanistic, and believable fashion, very much befitting one of the world's greatest super-heroic icons.
Having worked on earlier projects such as BOY COMMANDOES, following a stint on the US ARMY publication, STARS & STRIPES, Curt was able to take on drawing the adventures of The man Of Steel quite comfortably, and drew the syndicated newspaper feature version of SUPERMAN also.
Curt's portrayal of SUPERMAN was no as dynamic as earlier SUPERMAN cartoonists like that of co-creator Joe Shuster, or that of Wayne Boring, who had a long run, drawing SUPERMAN with a massive barrel chest, and visiting exquisite futuristic cities, but Curt's gentle SUPERMAN had a quiet, inner strength that belied his calm exterior, and the SUPERMAN stories of the 1960's that were inked by the late George Klein, and those from the 1970's inked by Murphy Anderson, are among some of the finest adventures in the nearly 70 years long history of The Last Son Of Krypton.

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COVER IMAGE (C) Copyright Marvel Characters, Inc.

Jack Kirby Lives!!!
Jack Kirby really left the living world in 1994, but his creations will live on forever, in one form or another, many of them have already stood the test of time. The recent "death" of CAPTAIN AMERICA, co-created by Joe Simon with Jack, seems to be a short-lived publicity stunt, and Cap, a wonderful symbol of the United States of America, is not a relic that should be buried in the memories of a small number of comic book fans, he is a figure who was created over 60 years ago, and he, like Jack Kirby, should be long remembered.
Kirby, who not only co-created CAPTAIN AMERICA, but also THE FANTASTIC FOUR, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, THE MIGHTY THOR and many other characters, with former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief and writer, Stan Lee, had a dynamism in his work that is rarely equalled and never surpassed, in the world of comic book art.
There is a power and glory to the unique acrobatic poses and stunts that Kirby characters are depicted in, and performing, and this is what I love about Jack's work. There is also a rich humanity in Jack's super-characters, whether one believes that God created humanity in God's image or not, or if there even _is_ a God, it is hard to deny the God-likeness of Kirby's heroes.
They have an innate raw beauty, most exquisitely portrayed in Jack's initial four titles for DC COMICS during the 1970's, in such titles as NEW GODS, MISTER MIRACLE, FOREVER PEOPLE, and SUPERMAN'S PAL: JIMMY OLSEN, yes, that Jimmy Olsen. These titles, comprising the beginning of what was called "Jack Kirby's Fourth World" brought DC COMICS and the world of comic book fans the character Darkseid, an immense villain whose soul reson for being is to be in control of everything, and Kirby pulled out all the stops to depict his heroes grappling with this hideous force, probably the only DC COMICS baddie that is as easy to root against as The Joker.
The world of Kirby's Gods, shown in both MARVEL COMICS' THE MIGHTY THOR and in these above described Fourth World titles, is an immense, sparkling place, where saints and sinners alike abound, in an excess of grand and glorious power and pageantry, the stuff of which has rarely been seen before or since, in comic books or elsewhere.
Earlier in Kirby's career, he and partner Joe Simon brought the comic world two genres, that of the "kid gang" strips, perhaps inspired by "The Dead End Kids", from movies, in the form of THE NEWSBOY LEGION and BOY COMMANDOES, BOYS' RANCH, one of the best comic books of all time, and BOY EXPLORERS for one genre, and that of "Romance Comics", which comprised a huge portion of those comic books both published and sold during the 1950's and 1960's. The drawing and plots of these comic books, generally more adult in nature, were superbly drawn by Simon & Kirby and their "shop", a highly gifted group of cartoonists who worked harmoniously with Joe and Jack, to produce some wonderful comic books. The shop staff, consisting of Bill Draut, Mort Meskin, John Prentice, and others were all very fine cartoonists in their own right, and seem to have been truly inspired by working with Jack Kirby.
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To See Jack's Work And Support His Legacy, See:


I've already discussed the career of this GIANT of the cartooning world in one of my other blogs, but here are some of the reasons I love his work.

***THE SPIRIT stories are the comic book equivalent to good, short movies. They are full of great "camera angles", inventive "set design" and are among the first adventure comic material to have a really fun, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. This opinion is evinced not only via the drawing, which, from the wonderfully designed opening, or "splash", pages is always dramatic and dynamic, but also by the writing. Naturally I know that writing is not in and of itself _cartooning_, but writing and drawing bond together to make comic book, strip, and animation art. Good writing can usually not save bad drawing, and good drawing cannot often save bad writing.

***The "graphic novels", longer format stories, written and drawn by Mr. Eisner, are fine examples of this sort of comic book work. Will's heartfelt, autobiographical stories are often sad and touching, but not sentimental or "schmaltzy". His most famous graphic novel, A CONTRACT WITH GOD, first presented in brown ink, to give it an old-fashioned look, and the later work, TO THE HEART OF THE STORM are very rich in their portrayal of the times they tell of, and the individuals who walk through their pages. THE DREAMER, a mix of fact and fiction, perhaps, that delves into the history of the early days of comic books, is sad and nostalgic, recalling a tough time in the world, but a time that was saved for many with the appearance of comic books for a mode of escape from the world's harsh realities.

***Eisner was an educator, who used comic book formats to teach not only drawing, but also to teach individuals in the US Armed Services preventive maintenance. His vision in using comics as an educational tool are unsurpassed, and his talent for this is something that could and should be continued worldwide.

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