Monday, May 28, 2007


I was pleased to see a nice interview with Ramona Fradon in ALTER EGO, one of the best magazines about the history of comic books that is on the current market. Though I wrote the beginnings of this entry _prior_ to the release of the AE issue with the Fradon interview, I have added this small bit as an introduction to my blog entry, and will be adding more soon.

Ms. Fradon was one of the few female cartoonists working in the comic book business during the 1950's, 1960's, or 1970's, but she was one of the best cartoonists overall in the comic book industry.
Ramona worked primarily for DC/NATIONAL COMICS, drawing such series as "Aquaman", in ADVENTURE COMICS, METAMORPHO: THE ELEMENT MAN, first in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD< where he made his debut, and, later, in his eponymous title. Ramona later came back to DC during the 1970's to draw a new series of PLASTIC MAN issues, and, also, SUPER-FRIENDS, a comic book based on a Saturday morning Hanna-Barbera cartoon that featured such DC COMICS stalwarts as SUPERMAN, BATMAN, AQUAMAN, and WONDER WOMAN.
Ramona is married to cartoonist Dana Fradon, of THE NEW YORKER, and has been making the rounds on the US Comic Book Convention in more recent years, and has collaborated with Marie Severin on a couple of projects.
I will be posting some scans of Ramona's cartooning work here later, and probably fleshing out this post, so, this is...

Saturday, May 26, 2007


It is difficult for me to write an entry about this man, and not refer to him as "Johnny", or as "Ring-A-Ding" Romita, names I know him by from reading MARVEL COMICS, but since he is one of the elder statesmen of the comic book world it seems foolish to think of him that way, and, there is a JohnRomita, Jr., so I guess it is more practical to refer to that "friendly neighborhood cartoonist" in a more serious manner.
Mr. Romita's journey as a cartoonist began with his work for ATLAS, the generally used name to refer to the 1950's incarnation of MARVEL COMICS. John drew a few CAPTAIN AMERICA stories in those days, but most people think of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN when John's name comes up.



Mr. Smith, whom I had the pleasure of meeting years ago in Boston, was an integral part of THE STUDIO, with his mates, MW KALUTA, JEFFREY JONES, and BERNIE WRIGHTSON (blog entries either here or being developed as of this writing).
Smith was virtually two different individuals, or it seemed so for a while. His inexpert work on the MARVEL COMICS titles NICK FURY: AGENT OF S.H.I.E.LD. and DAREDEVIL did indicate that there was talent there, but it seemed that Smith's forté was creating homages to other cartoonists.
Suddenly, however, Smith "set the {comic book} world on fire" with his stunning drawing on the licensed MARVEL COMICS series CONAN THE BARBARIAN. Famed comic book scribe Roy Thomas, one of MARVEL's first writers to work on writing many of the MARVEL titles other than Stan Lee, the great "face" of the company, and co-creator of many hit titles, took the pulp magazine creation of the late Robert Ervin Howard and teamed with Smith on 22 issues of the title. Howard's character had newfound popularity due to the 1960's best-selling reprintings of the Howard stories, by LANCER BOOKS, which had dynamic covers by legendary fantasy painter, FRANK FRAZETTA. Sadly,for the artistic end of MARVEL's early CONAN run,the non-Smith two issues were drawn by Gil Kane, and one issue was a partial reprint. I do not mean to dismiss the work of Kane, a brilliant cartoonist whose work on CONAN was embellished by RALPH REESE, but a new title should have more artistic continuity than that. It is unfortunate that Frank Frazetta did not paint covers for MARVEL's slew of CONAN-related titles.
In my opinion, the title lost much of it's lustre when Smith left the book, having outdone himself on the last few books, even though the new artistic choice was John Buscema, who knew how to draw as well as any of the best cartoonists in the comic book business. It is all relative, like how some film buffs will only accept Sean Connery as "the" JAMES BOND, or the way in which many other movie enthusiasts only want to see Basil Rathbone as SHERLOCK HOLMES, but I could never get into Buscema's CONAN.
Smith also drew a few beautiful atmospheric and stylish issues of THE AVENGERS, not to be confused with the television characters of that name from Smith's native England.
After Smith's departure from CONAN, and then MARVEL COMICS, his work began to appear under his own imprint, GORBLIMEY PRESS, and there was another burst of talent evident there, Smith now began to call himself Barry Windsor-Smith, and therein lies further reasoning behind my assertion that he almost seemed like two people.
Smith was not drawing his own comic books, but creating lavish "fine art" type works.
Oddly, though, the perception of there being "two Smiths" is not limited to my earlier points, as Smith went through other periods in his career, drawing other titles for MARVEL, like a revamped version of JACK KIRBY's character, MACHINE MAN, who was spun off from MARVEL's adaptation of the film 2001: A SPACE ODDYSSEY.
Smith also _wrote_ and drew "Weapon X", a chapter series that appeared in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS, a series about the origins of the very popular character "Wolverine", from the comic books about the X-MEN, which of course are now an immensely successful theatrical movie series, and some earlier animated cartoons.
Smith also re-invented himself again, drawing comic books such as ARCHER & ARMSTRONG and a new version of DOCTOR SOLAR, MAN OF THE ATOM, now simply called SOLAR, at VALIANT COMICS, for former MARVEL editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter.
These new works made Smith's drawing seem more homogenous, but, also, showed a more confident, less experimental _comc book cartoonist_.
I love the early Smith CONAN books, and much of his other comic book work. but the older Smith seems content to "just draw comics", rather than create artistic masterpieces, though I do believe that some of his fine art works truly _are_ masterpieces, within the world of fantasy illustration.
To make his career yet more innovative, though,Windsor-Smith also created the large format comic book BARRY WINDSOR-SMITH: STORYTELLER, for DARK HORSE COMICS, which carried three different BWS drawn features, and on of these begat the "spin-off" graphic novel. AD ASTRA IN AFRICA.
Barry also drew works for MALIBU and IMAGE COMICS, keeping his drawing visible in regular comic books, and then working with Gary Groth and Kim Thompson at FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS to collect examples of his work, with text, in two books called OPUS, not to be confused with Berk Breathed's comic strip penguin.
In any case, Smith's work is bound to be long-remembered, he is indeed a "cartoonist great", even though I am uncertain as to how the nearly sixty year old Windsor-Smith would feel about my calling him that.
Thanks to Wikipedia, th internet encyclopedia, at

for refreshing my memory on the career of BWS!!!

Friday, May 25, 2007


He was called "Shelly" by his friends, and, I'll bet you that just about everyone wanted to be friendly with this great writer-cartoonist-editor.
Sheldon Mayer created the comic book character SCRIBBLY, who appeared early on in THE GOLDEN AGE OF COMICS, then reappeared somewhat later, when Shelly moved over to work at an early incarnation of DC COMICS, the ALL-AMERICAN comics group.
SCRIBBLY later had his own hilarious title, for 15 issues, and they are wonderful and funny comic books.
While Shelly labored as an editor at DC/NATIONAL COMICS for years, he is probably best known for creating, writing, and drawing SUGAR & SPIKE for nearly 100 issues, from 1956 to 1971. Shelly would sign the stories with his initials, causing some readers to wonder who "S.M." was.
I'm telling you, no matter how bad a day I've been having, the antics of these infants can put a smile on my face.
With "Tomorrow's Teenagers", Shelly depicted a wild world, where the toddlers had their own language, one not understood by adults, and the poor little ones, who tried hard to communicate with their parents, just could not understand why their parents could not "speak perfectly good baby talk".
Shelly was forced to put his pencil down due to eye trouble, but later produced some new SUGAR & SPIKE material for the non-US market, and some of this material has surfaced in English language digest sized comic books from DC COMICS, but it does not seem that DC has any interest in reprinting this series, as of 2007, but I hope DC will some day.
DC did, however, produce a set of lovely, soft toys of S&S, which would really make good bookends for a set of reprint volumes of S&S.
As if his legacy of being an editor and writer cartoonist for SUGAR & SPIKE would not be enough, Shelly co-created the wonderful mystery character, "The Black Orchid", for ADVENTURE COMICS, during the 1970's. Further, Shelly wrote much of DC's intended series adapting THE BIBLE, but only one issue was published of this series, however, though it was in a glorious and beautiful "tabloid" format, and this was illustrated by Joe Kubert. I believe Shelly also wrote a similar project, KING ARTUR, and, more sadly, that never saw print at all, that project was partially illustrated, at least, by Nestor Redondo, a brilliant cartoonist from the Phillipine Islands. Shelly also wrote other stories for DC in that time period, and some of these were drawn by master cartoonist Alex Toth, who appears as another entry in this blog.
Of further interest, SUGAR & SPIKE appear in a toy ad,in the 1960's,in work produced on film strips that kids would have been able to project on the wall.
Sadly, the toy itself was not ever produced.
Also, many S&S fans believe that the S&S comic books are the inspiration for the long- running NICKELODEON acrtoon series, RUGRATS.
I do not know if there is any truth to this, but I would not be surprised.
One further thing is that, Shelly also tried to market S&S as a syndicated newspaper feature, which, alas, never came to fruition.
Shelly based S&S on the behaviors of his own children.
Talk about art imitating life!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007


I've been saving this one, not being exactly sure how I would start this entry off.
I mey Murphy Anderson a few years ago, it was a great pleasure for me, as I had gotten Murphy's frequent penciller-collaborator from the SUPERMAN titles in the 1970's, the late Curt Swan, to sign a page from SUPERMAN # 233, way back in 1977!!!
That page, from 1971, was part of a now legendary run of SUPERMAN, that not only saw the (temporary) elimination of Kryptonite from SUPERMAN comic books, but also introduced Julius Schwartz, already a legendary science fiction agent and comic book editor, as the new editor of SUPERMAN!!!
Curt Swan signed my page in 1977, as I already indicated, and it took almost thirty years for me to meet Murphy to have him add his signature to Curt's!!!
Let me tell you, though, it was worth it!!!
I not only got to chat with Murphy, thanks to my dear friend marc, who has known Murphy for years, but I got to question Murphy on a subject I had heard discussed on the internet, converning the 1950's PHANTOM STRANGER stories that Murphy had drawn.
What a great time it was to meet Murphy, who has been a hero of mine since I bought comic books he drew in the 1960's, fresh off of the newsstand!!!
These titles include HAWKMAN, THE SPECTRE, and SHOWCASE, what beautiful drawing Murphy did in these issues!!!
Not only did I love Murphy's pencil work, I was just in love with his inking of the pencilled pages of the great Carmine Infantino. The covers that Carmine pencilled, and Murphy inked, which came out for a long run from the 1960's into the 1970's, are gorgeous. Infantino's impeccable cover design, which pay more attention to design than most, and less attention to the finish needed to make a cover look beautiful, were fabulously complemented by the smooth inks of Murphy's magic brush.
The cover of a 1970's SUPERMAN, pencilled by Infantino, and inked by Murphy, with a black background, is one of my all-time favorite covers.
Besides work I have already mentioned, Murphy drew the syndicated newspaper strip BUCK ROGERS during the 1950's, and drew "The Atomic Knights", written by the great Gardner F. Fox, for Julie Schwartz at DC, and inked Carmine's pencils on various issues of THE FLASH, and also Carmine's pencils on "Adam Strange", in MYSTERY IN SPACE, reprinted later in STRANGE ADVENTURES, where I first read them.
Some of these are currently available in DC's ADAM STRANGE ARCHIVES, of which one volume is now in print.
Murphy was also involved in producing the advertisements for a number of Aurora Models kits that were in DC COMICS during the 1960's, including not only DC heroes, but, also television series like THE RAT PATROL
I am just remembering that Murphy drew a couple of the short-lived installments of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "John Carter Of Mars", for DC COMICS' WEIRD WORLDS, when DC had the comic book rights to the TARZAN and related caharcters during the early 1970's. Murphy's John Carter work was beautiful and literally breathtaking for me, and, while I am a big fan of Gray Morrow's, and admire the the experimental stylishness of Sal Amendola, Murphy was perfectly suited to drawing John Carter, and I prefer his work on the feature to when Dave Cockrum, Gil Kane, and Ernie Colon drew it for MARVEL COMICS' title JOHN CARTER: WARLORD OF MARS, though I enjoy the work of those cartoonists on the Burroughs characters as well.
Murphy is also well-known as a true comic book fan, having a good collection of certain key issues, and being a scholar himself about comic books and strips.
I cherish my meeting with Murphy, and will add more later, so, this is...


Thursday, May 17, 2007


I know that Dan has not drawn anywhere near as much, at least that I am aware of, as the other cartoonists in this blog, but his graphic novel KINGS IN DISGUISE, with writer James Vance, is one of my most favorite books ever.
While "KINGS" was originally serialized in comic book format, the hardcover collection I have that reprints the comic book under one cover actually reads like a novel, albeit an illustrated one.
The dark subject matter, beautifully drawn and truly moody, is a terrific homage to the world of hoboes and of the past.
I will add in some illustrations later, but I did want to get this entry up, if only to let anyone who wants to read a really good book know that this one is out there!!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Dan drew BETTY & VERONICA, and many other comic books, for ARCHIE COMICS for many years, and the title JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS he developed for the company was named after his wife.
"JOSIE" was the inspiration for two different Saturday morning cartoon shows during the 1960's, and a live action theatrical film very recently, as well.
Before Dan worked at ARCHIE, his work could be found in the pages of ATLAS COMICS' titles like MY FRIEND IRMA, and also adorned those of many "girlie" magazines and "joke books".
Besides the hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of comics pages Dan drew for ARCHIE, Dan's style has been imitated in the ARCHIE SERIES comic books by several other cartoonists, making Dan's work a permanent legacy to the comic book world, even though Dan himself is gone.


Sunday, May 6, 2007


Bernie, the current spelling of this cartoonist's first name, is how he called himself when I first encountered his magnificent cartooning in the early part of the 1970's.
DC/SUPERMAN/NATIONAL COMICS, the company we know today as DC COMICS, began issuing the 100 PAGE SUPER-SPECTACULARS with "number 4", for reasons unknown. An apt choice, though, as the actual first issue in this format was entitled WEIRD MYSTERY TALES, and that's where I believe I "met" Bernie.
Bernie drew some fabulous, full page introductory pieces for each section of this groundbreaking comic book, one with a science fiction theme, one with a monster theme, etc.
I knew that the appearance of Wrightson work in DC COMICS would have a profound effect on the comic book industry!!!



Jim drew sweet and lovely "Supergirl", the cousin of SUPERMAN for years, but there never was a SUPERGIRL title per se, at least in the time frame when Jim would have been available to draw one.
I love the Mooney SUPERGIRL stories, they are almost quaint in the way that they portray "The Girl Of Steel", and, I am sure, there were many young, female readers scooping them up when they were being published, but, unfortunately, something changed, and the demographics for female comic book readers must have dropped drastically, in the early 1970's.
Jim's SUPERGIRL, however, is only one of the many features he worked on over the years, and all of them have the Mooney "stamp" on them, whether you are talking about his early series TOMMY TOMORROW, or his SPIDER-MAN inking jobs at MARVEL COMICS.


Saturday, May 5, 2007


Saturday, May 5, 2007
Well, it has really become an annual tradition!!!
Here in the US, and elsewhere, the first weekend of May is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, in which participating comic book specialty shops all around the world can get free comic books to pass out to their customers.
I love this, and it is a wonderful way to attract new customers and develop new audiences for comic books, when so much of unused potential for getting new readers is wasted.
I will be dropping by the shop my buddy Steve owns, in Waltham, MA:
THE OUTER LIMITS, now at a new location, at 437 Moody Street !!!

Here is a link to visit, maybe you will visit the shop near you!!!

Here also is a partial list of retailers involved, from Diamond Comics Distributors FCBD website:

Alakazam! Comics
Atomic Comics (Arizona)
Cape (Dallas, TX.)
Captain Blue Hen (Newark, DE)
Chatuaqua Comics (New York)
Chucks Comics (Essex, MD)
Comic Book Ink (Tacoma, WA)
Comic Cubicle (Virginia)
Comic Fusion (New Jersey)
Comic Quest (Evansville IN)
Comics Cave (GREECE)
Comics Kingdom (Baltimore, MD)
Comics, Legends and Heroes (Arizona)
Earthworld Comics (Albany, NY)
Happy Harbor (Edmonton, AB)
Hobby Centre (Ottawa, ON, CANADA)
House of Heroes (Torrance, CA)
Krypton Comics (Omaha Nebraska)
Neptune Comics (Waukesha WI)
Rays Mini Video & Comics & VideoRays-ComicEmporium1
Readers Den Comic Shop (South Africa)
Richard's Comics and Collectibles (Greenville, SC)
Rookies Sportcards Plus (Phoenix, AZ)
Samurai Comics (Phoenix, AZ)
SpazDog Comics (Arizona)
Strange Adventures (Halifax, NS)
The Silver Snail (Toronto, ON )

Friday, May 4, 2007



The late Reed Crandall drew gorgeous comic book stories, including the best of the Golden Age of Comics' BLACKHAWK tales, and drew more gorgeous stories all the way up to about 1970, unless I am mistaken, and I also like his WARREN MAGAZINES adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe works, which were written for the comic book format by the late Archie Goodwin, one of my favorite comic book writers.
I will be adding to this entry later on, so, it is...






Thanks to My Pal Hoy Murphy, from the Yahoogroup DC History, for the scan to the KULL cover, originally published by MARVEL COMICS, (C) COPYRIGHT THE ESTATE OF ROBERT E. HOWARD

I would have put the lady of this brother and sister team first, but brother John started earlier in the comics industry than his charming sister Marie did, and, I initially contemplated giving them separate entries, but they worked together so beautifully I decided that I'd cover both of their careers in one entry.
John Powers Severin has been drawing comic books for about 50 years, yes, I do need to research his work more, but this blog is continually updated as I get more information.
John drew many different genres of comic book stories for years, including some beautiful westerns, featuring a native American character, "American Eagle", for WESTERN COMICS, a comic book title, not a publisher, that is.
John pencilled many pages that were inked by Will Elder, who will be the topic of a not yet written entry here later on.
Marie Severin, who pencilled the beautiful drawings on ten famous issues of MARVEL COMICS' licensed title, KULL THE CONQUEROR (in the 1970's),a creation of Robert E. Howard, the man behind CONAN THE BARBARIAN, is a brilliant humor cartoonist as well.
After Marie pencilled the KULL stories, Big Brother John added his beautiful inking touch to give the series an elegant, period atmosphere.
Marie, who began her comics career coloring the pages at EC COMICS, where brother John was doing some work, is also well-known for her cartooning for MARVEL COMICS' parody title NOT BRAND ECCH, one of my favorite comic books ever.
Brother John also inked Herb Trimpés work on a long run of THE INCREDIBLE HULK, also in the 1970's.
John Severin, however, has long been involved with CRACKED Magazine, one of the most successful imitators of MAD, drawing that title's mascot, Sylvester Smythe, the company janitor, as well as the strip SAGEBRUSH.
I did just hear that, as of May 21st, that DC will be publishing new stories of the great 1960's Western, BAT LASH, which will be illustrated by none other thatn John Severin!!!
It will be a field day for old fogeys like me!!!



Bruce Timm helped, with his associates and friends, Alan Burnett and Paul Dini, to almost singlehandedly revolutionize the adventure cartoon for television, when he helped bring BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, as well as one of SUPERMAN, and others, to life in the early-to-mid 1990's.





José began his US comic book career drawing for GOLD KEY COMICS, drawing stories for THE TWILIGHT ZONE,and I've seen a couple of these, but José is best known in the US for the wonderful drawing he has done for DC COMICS, especially on SUPERMAN "team-up" stories for DC COMICS PRESENTS, the licensing project ATARI FORCE, the early DC Graphic Novel STAR RAIDERS, many wonderful covers, one of my favorites, CINDER & ASHE, and, even DC's "in-house" style guide, which cartoonists use to keep their renditions of a character looking the way DC wants them to look.
An entry on the internet encyclopedia states that José was born in 1948, I believe he is originally from Argentina, I hope that someone will correvt me if I am wrong.
I love the sleek and graceful dtaftsmanship in José's work, it is along the lines of Alex Raymond, the artisitic creator of FLASH GORDON, and, also, it recalls the drawing of another FLASH GORDON cartoonist, Al Williamson, another accomplished comic art draftsman.
Any time I see a comic book drawn by José I am certain that the panels will be beautiful to look at, if not wonderful to read as well.



Some say that Joe Kubert, who was editor of the DC comic RIMA THE JUNGLE GIRL, drew layouts for that 1970's title.
Nestor Redondo, a gifted cartoonist from the Phillipine Islands is the credited individual for drawinh the series.
In my opinion, Nestor, who drew hundreds of pages of comic book work in his native land was from a whole family of wonderful illustrators, and, in my opinion, Nestor was the best of them.
His work on RIMA is absolutely lovely, it has the lyric beauty of the likes of Hal Foster, who drew PRINCE VALIANT, and of Alex Raymond, who was the original illustrator of FLASH GORDON, and is considered by many to be the creator of FLASH.
In a sort of throwback to the heyday of anthology comic book fashion, the featurette in the back of RIMA was Alex Niño's exquisitely drawn extra-terrestrial epic, SPACE VOYAGERS. I do not believe that there have ever been any more differently drawn companion series in one comic book. Please see my future blog entry here for my further comments on the work of Alex Niño.
Getting back to Nestor, his RIMA series is one of the last of the "jungle girl" features, though such modern comic books as CAVEWOMAN harken back to the era when comic books were full of scantily clad women running through places like the African Rain Forests.
The RIMA comic book was based on a novel by William Hudson, from 1904. Entitled GREEN MANSIONS, this book was also made into a 1959 novel that starred lovely Audrey Hepburn, under the direction of Mel Ferrer!!!
The comic book RIMA does not bear much resemblance to the filmic one, but she is nonetheless beautiful. RIMA only ran as a comic book for seven issues, but I remember soaking in the gorgeous drawing in it like it came out yesterday.
Whether I was admiring the work of Nestor, or that of Alex Niño, RIMA was an artistic feast for the eyes.
DC also gave Nestor the assignment to follow the departed Bernie Wrightson on the original SWAMP THING comic book. Nestor's ST was gorgeous also, but did not seem to compare well to the muck monster as delineated by Wrightson. New writer David Michelinie took the character down a different path than original writer, and co-creator of the series, Len Wein, and, for reasons unknown to me, but I suspect it was due to flagging sales, SWAMP THING was soon discontinued.
Nestor also drew _many_ mystery stories for such DC titles as HOUSE OF MYSTERY and HOUSE OF SECRETS, his lush style being ideally suited for the "gothic" aspect of many of the tales intitles of that type.
I do not have much in the way of examples of Nestor's work from The Phillipines, but I will be posting some of his illustrations here soon.
I must also mention here that Nestor definitely completed some pages for the never published KING ARTHUR series that was to be published by DC in it's large "tabloid" format. This is unbelievably sad, as I once saw some of that work on the internet, and it was beautiful beyond belief.
As one of many creators brought in to the US from The Phillipines, an idea of Carmine Infantino, then the publisher at DC, with cartoonist Tony Dezuñiga initiating the arrangement there, Nestor stands, in my mind, as the most gifted.
His drawings never disappoint the eye, or the imagination!!!


Eli Katz was born in Riga, Latvia, acoording to his notes that appeared in a couple of different places, I recall reading that from memory, I guess these remarks were in the first BLACKMARK paperback, I am not sure where else, but, what, you ask, does this have to do with Gil Kane?
Eli Katz took on the name Gil Kane, and ended up having about a fifty years long career drawing comic books under that name, that's what!!!
Gil was a teenager when he began drawing comic books, he worked with Simon & Kirby on their features in ADVENTURE COMICS, which was quite an achievement in itself, but Gil ended up drawing a long list of characters.
For DC, Gil was _the_ cartoonist on GREEN LANTERN and THE ATOM during the 1960's. He also drew THE FLASH for DC in that decade. He drew THE INCREDIBLE HULK and CAPTAIN AMERICA for MARVEL COMICS in that decade, as well as the re-designed version of MARVEL's character, CAPTAIN MARVEL, not to be confused with the earlier version, from the 1940's, and drew SPIDER-MAN for MARVEL in the 1970's, not to forget his drawing "The Raven", for the wonderful T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS series, created, in part, by the legendary Wallace Wood.
Also during the 1960's, Gil developed the more adult comics magazine HIS NAME IS... SAVAGE!, which was a stunning and violent comic book about US Presidential assassinations, and, while it seems to have been a failure, I believe that this was caused by distribution problems, not by any lack of talent on Gil's part.
Gil also developed the paperback graphic novel BLACKMARK, which is a lovely work, and, though subsequent paperback books of the series never saw print, FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS later reprinted the first one, and, I believe, may have printed the second one also.
Gil also drew covers for some best-sellers by John Jakes, no small accomplishment, that!!!
Gil drew TARZAN and STAR HAWKS for newspaper syndication as well, and returned to draw more GREEN LANTERN jobs for DC, and a new version of one of his old characters for DC, in the series SWORD OF THE ATOM.
In the late 1980's, Gil worked drawing "storyboards" for the Ruby-Spears animated series SUPERMAN, for Saturday morning broadcast, teaming Kane with comic book writer Marv Wolfman, whom he had worked with earlier in the decade, on SUPERMAN and ACTION COMICS. For reasons unknown, this animated SUPERMAN series is ignored, and little known, by today's fans, but I liked it!!!
Another major of achievement of Gil's was drawing the hardcover comic book, THE LIFE STORY OF THE FLASH, a beautifully produced long-form comic book,
One of Gil's final jobs was also for DC, working with the great inker, Kevin Nowlan, on a lovely SUPERMAN "Elseworlds" story, "Distant Fires", which was printed in "prestige" format.
Mr. Kane passed away in January, 2000.


The late Don Newton left us at a tragically young age, after an all-too brief second career as a comic book cartoonist. Previously, Newton had been a schoolteacher, and left that position to begin drawing comic books on a full-time basis at the age of 40.
Newton had been drawing for fanzines for many years, I first saw his work in a fanzine in about 1970, but his work on THE PHANTOM, for CHARLTON COMICS, in the mid-1970's, was his first professional job in comic books, unless I am mistaken, and that led to more later on.
Don's THE PHANTOM was a moody incarnation of that character, who, despite the many of the African jungle locales of his adventures, often appeared in a very brightly depicted fashion.
Newton's work looked beautiful, even in the Charlton books, which were printed in a cheaper way than those of DC COMICS, MARVEL COMICS, etc. Newton's interior drawings, and the acrylic paintings he provided for the covers, though, were so good that did not matter, and Newton's work on the title soon gained him a large fan following.


Thursday, May 3, 2007


Mike made a big splash professionally, in the comic book world, when he began a long association with THE SHADOW, by drawing that character for some of the issues in a brief run at DC COMICS during the 1970's, but Mike's career began prior to that, when he rendered some beautifully nostalgic fanzine pieces. In any case, the Kaluta drawing on THE SHADOW, and some BATMAN related comic books is lovely, and these make up a very small part of Mike's long history in the comic art world.
Mike also drew the covers for DC's mystery title, DOORWAY TO NIGHTMARE, featuring "Madame Xanadu".



"Big Mike" is probably best known for illustrating about sixty issues of the original JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA series from DC COMICS, when it was still officially "National Periodical Publications", during the 1960's, but that came after a long run of drawing comic books that began during the 1940's, fondly known as "The Golden Age Of Comics".
I love Sekowsky's work on JLA, and his wild turn on "The Maniaks", a DC COMICS attempt to cash in on the success of THE MONKEES, I believe (in DC's SHOWCASE), and, in this three issue run, Woody Allen even appeared in the story!!! Then, we have Mike's mid-1960's work on Gold Key's THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., and for his contributions to TOWER COMICS, on T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS, but my favorite Sekowsky period has to be that in which he worked for DC on WONDER WOMAN, serving as _editor, writer, and illustrator_ in some issues, and when he produced the drawings for the DC "try-out" book SHOWCASE, drawing the brilliant JASON'S QUEST, the wonky MANHUNTER 2070, and then handling the artistic chores on THE VIGILANTE in ADVENTURE COMICS. Mike also drew the "Supergirl" feature in ADVENTURE, but that is not as satisfying for me, personally, as these other series, though I do admit I have a sentimental fondness for it, for a reason I cannot be sure of, anyway.
The last part of Mike's life as a professional cartoonist included drawing a few jobs for MARVEL COMICS, and for Martin & Chip Goodman at their new ATLAS COMICS, and then Mike spent the rest of his time in the animated cartoon business, where he worked with Jack Kirby, on fan-favorite THUNDAAR THE BARBARIAN, from Ruby-Spears Productions.
I am in the midst of researching some of Mike's other comic book work, so, that means that this is...


Tuesday, May 1, 2007


While many think of Dick as "Neal Adams' inker", he drew much lovely comic book work on his own for years, and, during the 1960's, was Managing Editor at CHARLTON COMICS, then, a comic book editor at DC COMICS, and then, following a long association with Neal Adams' CONTINUITY ASSOCIATES, he became Managing Editor at DC, starting in 1981.
Dick has produced beautiful drawings, particularly of female characters, including WONDER WOMAN, BATGIRL, and MODESTY BLAISE during his career. His polished inking style lends much grace to his own work, and the work of many other cartoonists. Dick has probably worked on most of the major comic book characters at one time or another, consistently bringing the same sleek look to one comic book after another, but never falling into an artisitic rut.
One of my favorite series that benefitted from Dick's artwork is the tough private eye feature SARGE STEEL, from his days at CHARLTON COMICS. This character seems to come straight out of a Frank Sinatra movie of the early 1960's, and was written in a hip, terse style, with gorgeous drawings of those great 1960's automobiles, and, of course, the signature Giordano women.
When Dick was running things in the comic book division of magazine publisher Charlton he brought out a wonderful group of ccharacters that he called Charlton's "ACTION HERO LINE", these were fun to read series such as CAPTAIN ATOM, JUDOMASTER, THE PEACEMAKER and others, and Dick's series "Sarge Steel" was the featurette in JUDOMASTER.
Dick was hired over to DC COMICS, though, and that line came to an end, but Dick was able to bring most of the Charlton adventure characters he had a connection with to DC, following the closing of Charlton's comic book division, in later years.
When Dick came over to DC, great cartoonists, including Steve Ditko and Pat Boyette, came over with him. It was an artistic bonanza for DC, with Ditko working on BEWARE THE CREEPER and THE HAWK & THE DOVE for them, and Boyette's work on BLACKHAWK was wonderful, however short-lived.
At that time, Dick was editing AQUAMAN, TEEN TITANS, and other titles for DC, he developed a great, personable style for communicating with the fans, in the lettercolumns of his titles, and was regularly concluding those columns with the catch-phrase "Thank You and Good Afternoon". Dick produced some beautiful books during his tenure as editor, they were not huge sellers at the newsstands, but were acclaimed by fans and critics alike.






A friend of mine once called Russ Manning "the Ernie Bushmiller of comic books", and he meant this in a derogatory way!!! I think my buddy was very misguided, as I am a BIG fan of the work of both Bushmiller, the creator of the NANCY strip, and of that of Russ Manning, the cartoonist behind one of the best futuristic comic books ever, MAGNUS: ROBOT FIGHTER 4000 A.D.
Manning produced only 21 issues of this series for GOLD KEY COMICS, over 40 years ago, in the early 1960's, but it stands as one of the truly unique and great science fction premise comic books of all time.
Manning's sleek drawings, combining both believably depicted robots and idealized human characters, is definitely linked in the John F. Kennedy era. Like Carmine Infantino's drawing on DC COMICS' "Adam Strange" feature, there is a very "clean cut" look to the characters, both male and female, that makes me think of JFK and his Camelot, when heroic young men stood up for things they believed in, and their distaff partners stood with them.
I do not mean to imply that I believe Manning's Leeja Clane or Adam Strange's Alanna were secondary to their male mates, or that they should have been, or that Jackie Kennedy should have been an accessory of Jack's, _or_ that women should EVER be considered less important than men, but I want to keep things in perspective.
The era of MAGNUS, that is, the era in which MAGNUS first appeared, was one in which women were often "stay at home moms", and Magnus' paramour. Leeja Clane, was a forerunner of more adventurous women of the real world, who would soon be abandoning their kitchen counters and oven mitts and seeking something much more rewarding, and, rightfully so.
The MAGNUS comic book stories, which happened in a world where human beings were to be slowly subjugated by rebellious robots, are told in a very compelling fashion, that makes us cheer as MAGNUS karate chops his way through the machinery, which is rendered on it's own unique way, a way that is at once similar to, and different from, the machinery drawn by Jack Kirby, or the machinery drawn by Wallace Wood, though it is closer in style to that. We can practically believe that humankind could one day be enslaved by robots.
Russ also drew another series, THE ALIENS, that ran as a featurette in MAGNUS, this was yet another beautifullt delineated Manning project.
Later MAGNUS works would be produced by the likes of Mike Royer, a former assistant of Manning's and well-known as an inker of Jack Kirby's comic book work, plus a top-notch cartoonist for THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY, and other MAGNUS issues, by cartoonists such as the great Dan Spiegle, and others, are good, but they do not resonate with me the same way that Manning's MAGNUS works do.
We can root for MAGNUS in a very special way, that only true heroes can bring out in us.
Russ Manning also drew the syndicated TARZAN newspaper feature for a long time, and worked on the series BROTHERS OF THE SPEAR, and even drew such one-shot comic books as RICKY NELSON IN HONG KONG, but Manning also drew several issues of SEA HUNT, derived from the television series that starred Lloyd Bridges. Manning's research and exquisite drawing of underwater locales really paid off for him here.
Russ also drew some lovely issues of the tv series based comic book 77 SUNSET STRIP, and a long run of the TARZAN comic book, from 1965 through 1972.
Perhaps even more famous than some of the above, but not as much linked to them, Russ Manning also drew the newspaper adaptation of STAR WARS, early on in it's lifetime. Russ' version of the George Lucas movie is not as well-known as that of Al Williamson, who took over later, but it is no less lovely to behold. Russ had a gift for drawing nifty likenesses of real people, and this, combined with his elegant science-fiction backgrounds and flowing drapery, makes his STAR WARS stand out.
More recently, DARK HORSE COMICS has re-issued some of Russ' TARZAN work, by arrangement with the copyright holder, EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS, INC.
Russ Manning passed away in 1981, leaving not only a wonderful legacy for present and future comic book readers to enjoy, but also, "The Russ Manning Award", which is given annually to new cartoonist discoveries who show great promise.

Thanks to Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopedia, which I used to doublecheck some historical facts!!!