Sunday, 25 July 2010
Saturday, 24 July 2010
Friday, 23 July 2010
Nearly 25 years ago, as the lettering artist of 2000 A.D.'s STRONTIUM DOG, I decided to have a go - purely for my own amusement - at drawing ol' JOHNNY ALPHA in the style of the strip's artist and co-creator, CARLOS EZQUERRA.
A few years later, 2000 A.D.'s then depute-editor ALAN McKENZIE bought it for possible publication in one of the reprint mags, as the page size would accommodate the dimensions I'd drawn it in. (When I'd first drawn it, 2000 A.D. was of the same scale, but changed not too long after.)
However, I don't know if it was ever published - so here it is, perhaps for the very first time anywhere. Remember, it was drawn a long time ago, so please be gentle.
|Images copyright MARVEL COMICS|
When MARVEL announced the release of FANTASTIC FOUR - The LOST ADVENTURE a couple of years back, I was quite excited. After all, how could it be anything other than interesting to see what the legendary JACK KIRBY had originally intended for this tale before STAN LEE revised it into a flashback, bookended by new JOHN BUSCEMA artwork? And it was interesting - but it certainly wasn't the blockbusting, overwhelming experience we were all led to expect.
JOHN MORROW, in his introduction, says that Stan and John's version was "a real mess that, quite frankly, didn't make much sense". I disagree - if anything, it was Jack's version that was somewhat lacking in that department. It's no secret that Jack wasn't trying too hard in his last few months at Marvel, and was content to produce entertaining, but less than earth-shattering, one-off, basic stories as he marked time 'til moving to DC COMICS. The coincidence of a bust of JANUS being unearthed at almost the same time the FF battle a villain of the same name is a tad too contrived. Stan could no doubt have diluted this aspect with a bit of clever dialogue, but instead of running with a one-off tale, he made better use of the character and used the story as a prologue to a two-part adventure in the Negative Zone.
Also, by editing out the twin that Jack introduced, Stan's clever twist in the tale of the 'brother' being the evil manifestation of Janus himself is more in keeping with the 'two-faced' aspect of the name, and resulted in a far more satisfying resolution to the episode. Sure, it would've been nice if Jack had drawn the complete issue, but Big John B's input isn't too distracting, thanks to Joltin' JOE SINNOTT's inks.
Jack's story wasn't bad - but Stan's version had more depth, more characterization, more drama, more conflict - and, ultimately, far more entertainment value - not to mention being much more satisfying. At least, that's how I see it, but I suppose it's really rather subjective as to which presentation is better. In the final analysis, the most that can be accurately - and objectively - claimed is that the two versions are merely 'different' - and only slightly at that. Stan and Jack might not always have agreed on which direction a story should go, but neither of them ever produced a "mess" in their lives.
In Volume 11 of FF MARVEL MASTERWORKS, JON B. COOKE suggests in his introduction that Stan's decision to delay the story may have been due to "spite from a hurt ex-partner". I confess that I was surprised by this comment - and even more surprised that Marvel printed it. To introduce this unfounded and unwarranted speculation from out of nowhere is recklessy irresponsible. In what way would the printing sequence of a one-off story have affected Jack - by then an ex-contributor? The idea is ludicrous and clearly without merit; there is no evidence to suggest that Stan's decision to delay the story is attributable to anything other than taking the time required, as editor, to work on what he saw as problems with the plot.
Thursday, 22 July 2010
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
|Copyright relevant owner|
While we're discussing GERRY ANDERSON-related subjects, let's take a look at another beautiful piece of artwork - this time round the front cover of the 1966 STINGRAY ANNUAL, painted by RON EMBLETON. There's no point in saddling this piece with needless verbiage from me - art like this speaks for itself.
|Images copyright relevant owner|
It's said that a picture is worth a thousand words - here's two pictures which prove that little adage a thousand times over. Above, the cover of the 1966/'67 FIREBALL XL5 Annual; below, the cover to one of the disc holders in the complete DVD collection of the same programme.
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
If you haven't yet got yourself a copy of the excellent The VERY BEST Of BLACK BOB, I'd suggest you purchase it as soon as you can. My local Waterstone's had only three copies - and they say that the publisher (Waverley Books) has none left in stock. This is a must-have for every true fan of U.K. comic strips. The only thing better would've been if they'd issued facsimiles of the original eight books. I'm lucky enough to have five of them, the 1959 edition being my favourite. ('Cos that's the one I had when I was a kid.)
With an introduction by Morris Heggie, and an index by Ray Moore of every Black Bob tale ever published. Superb value at only £9.99.
Calling all SUPERCAR fans! Back in the '60s, GOLD KEY published four Supercar comics. Last year, artist Evi De Vie re-created the cover of issue #2 as a limited-edition print, which I suspect are long gone. However, he recently signed fifty 16 x 20 proofs - so check out the following link for details of how to obtain one. Better be quick!
Here's the official spiel:
FULL BOOST VERTICAL! Gold Key's Supercar comic from the 1960's featured beautiful painted covers featuring the Black Rock labs crew in adventurous or dangerous settings.
Now, artist Evi De Vie has recreated the cover to issue two, featuring Supercar and crew flying over a nuclear submarine surfacing in the Antarctic! Our highest quality giclee prints on heavy duty, acid-free archival paper accurately recreate the original painting in every way.
Evi De Vie is an American illustrator, and one of the original designers for the Lunar Models. Lunar Models was the original American sci-fi garage kit company and De Vie worked on many of the company's models. He has been a fan of the Anderson's Supermarionation and live-action shows since childhood.
This unique reproduction is the result of many painstaking hours of work and the result is stunning. Supercar majestically passes above the ice floe as the men below wave. In the cockpit, Mike, Professor Popkiss, Jimmy and Mitch look down at the scene. Evocative of the best comic art of the 1960's, this print is a must-have item any Anderson collection.
Sunday, 18 July 2010
In case you were wondering, ol' SPIDEY's web is attached to an overhead helicopter - unfortunately however, he's been hanging on since Glasgow and he's now over Blackpool, so his arms are tired. What a great cover though, I'm sure you'll agree.
This was a cracker of a Summer Special, featuring SPIDER-MAN MEETS Dr. STRANGE, the origin of DAREDEVIL (abridged), The TORCH MEETS The ICEMAN, The CLOAK BATTLES The CRAFTY CROW, Mr. KNOWALL'S FUN PAGE, The SWOTS & The BLOTS, THOR vs HERCULES: WHEN TITANS CLASH!, SAMMY SHRINK, BRIAN'S BRAIN, full-colour pin-ups, plus a few other things I've doubtless forgotten. I only have to look at this and I'm back in 1968. Ah, happy days.
Unfortunately, though I little knew it at the time, the POWER era was coming to an end. A mere three or four months later, FANTASTIC was incorporated into SMASH!, which itself only lasted in its then-present form for another four or five months - before being relaunched in March '69 as a more traditional type comic in the VALIANT vein. That meant no more weekly MARVEL heroes (not counting TV21's dabbling with a few of them) until The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL was launched on the very last day of September, 1972.
Anyway, enjoy these awesome images from the only ODHAMS PRESS Summer Special ever to feature the sensational superheroes from the Mighty Marvel stable. It's a genuine collectors' item.
|BATMAN & ROBIN copyright DC COMICS|
|Image copyright REBELLION|
Back in the 20th century - 1973 to be exact - an envelope addressed to myself popped through the letterbox one morning. Being only 14 or so, receiving personal mail wasn't a regular occurrence for me, so naturally enough I wondered what it was. I soon found out - a postal order for £1, along with a cover-note telling me that my "Creepy Creation" would be featured in the very next issue of SHIVER & SHAKE.
When the day arrived, I rushed out and bought a copy. Nevertheless, thrilled as I was about my moment of fame (to say nothing of my untold wealth), I was surprised to see that it seemed to be my actual drawing that had been printed - albeit with a super-duper, touch-up inking job by the mighty KEN REID. I'd hoped that my original drawing would be good enough to be published as is, but I was resigned to the likelihood that it would be completely redrawn by Mr. Reid himself.
But no - all the glaring imperfections of my original art were still all-too obvious - surely Ken would've fixed them if he'd completely redrawn my submission from scratch? Honest - that really appears to be my basic drawing under the super-slick inking style of the artist of FRANKIE STEIN and FACEACHE and loads of other characters. The wings are a bit more ornate than I would've rendered them, but what you're looking at is a genuine Robson/Reid collaboration.
Ken wasn't the only one to recognize quality when he saw it, though. (Relax - my tongue is half in my cheek.) A few years later, someone traced my character and submitted it to a competition in one of MARVEL's U.K. weeklies (I think) - and was one of a 100 runners-up. To add insult to injury, I'd also entered the competition and was amongst the top ten of those 100 runners-up, but my prize of a Treasury Edition must have been lost in the Twilight Zone because I never received it.
So feast your eyes - the only Kid Robson/Ken Reid drawing in existence. (I suppose his name really should come first - but it's my blog. And he got paid far more than a £1 for his share of the work.)