Thursday, 25 November 2010
|Pencils by Jack Kirby. Images copyright MARVEL COMICS|
Following on from the previous post, here are a few more examples of the difference that colour (or, to be more precise, choice of colour) can make to a printed page. The first example, above, is how the cover of JOURNEY Into MYSTERY #83 would have looked (more or less) back in 1962. Compare it against the much brighter, recoloured version from the first printing of MARVEL MASTERWORKS Vol. 18, 1991/ '92. (Note: A far superior version, more faithful to the original, appears in the recent softcover edition of THOR MASTERWORKS.)
|Art by Walter Simonson. Images copyright MARVEL COMICS|
What a difference colour makes. Not convinced? Take a look at these basic, flat-coloured examples of JACK KIRBY & VINCE COLLETTA THOR stories from the TALES Of ASGARD 1984 Special (Vol. 2, No.1). Alongside are the newly coloured, multi-hued MATT MILLA pages from the hardcover edition of the same tales. (First available as a 6-part mini-series.) The pages are given a whole new dimension, enabling them to go toe-to-toe with many contemporary offerings available in comics shops today.
A while ago, the U.K. mag AVENGERS UNITED reprinted the Tales of Asgard series in its original form, and it was generally met with an indifferent, sometimes even hostile reaction. It seems that kids of today have been spoiled by the photo-realistic, more complex colour-art in contemporary stories, and couldn't quite take to the four-coloured classics of yesterday. I'm pretty sure that, had MARVEL/PANINI been able to present the Matt Milla versions (which hadn't yet been done), the response would've been more positive.
I think it can only be a matter of time before Marvel start colouring all their stories from yesteryear in this same fashion and then re-presenting them as 'definitive versions' in deluxe, hardcovered volumes. As I said, it certainly gives them a whole new dimension and might help them to appeal to younger readers not yet steeped in the company's glorious history who seem to have an aversion to older material. (Hard as it is to believe.)
|ISBN # 9780-7851-3921-8|
The Complete TALES Of ASGARD is available now from all good comic shops (and has been for some time). And here, for completists, is the cover to the original 1968 TOA Special. (Vol. 1, No. 1.)
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Saturday, 20 November 2010
Back in 1973, I was surprised to see quite a number of copies of JOURNEY Into MYSTERY With THOR #1 gracing the spinner-racks of various newsagents in my home town. The Annual was dated 1965, which - in 1973 - was more than half my life away at that time. Furthermore, I had first read the main story (THOR Vs. HERCULES) in the FANTASTIC Holiday Special published by ODHAMS PRESS in 1968.
Anyway, even as a mere callow youth - I recognized that this mighty MARVEL masterpiece was a genuine collector's classic and well-worth buying. Why had it taken eight years to make an appearance in shops though?
As most of you will know, American comics came over to this country as ballast, so could potentially lie about in the holds of ships or darkened warehouses for months or even years before finding their way to newsagents' outlets - hence the occasional spotty distribution of some issues. If that is what happened in this case (though it's by no means certain), then, ironically, the black and white reprint of this story was on sale a whole five years before the original colour publication.
However, regardless of whether it was the first U.K. appearance of this issue or simply the discovery of a few misplaced copies, it was a welcome addition to my growing collection of U.S. comics and I was glad of the delay.
Strange to think that erratic distribution sometimes had its advantages, eh?
Friday, 19 November 2010
|BBC Pebble Mill Studios, Birmingham|
I remember watching the original incarnation back in the '70s, either on my dinner-break during school or work, and there was usually at least one feature or interview which was interesting enough to delay me from stirring from my chair when I should have. The four original presenters (I think - no research spared) were MARION FOSTER, BOB LANGLEY, DAVID SEYMOUR and DONNY MacLEOD. In fact, big Donny once presented a programme about the MOD (a huge festival about Scottish and Gaelic music) from my hometown, and - if memory serves - I think I actually saw him wandering about my local shopping centre at the time.
Anyway, there I was, sitting in my friend's car, outside the now nearly deserted studios. (Though there still seemed to be a trickle of traffic in and out the main gates, suggesting that it was not yet completely abandoned.) Parked in the very street that I (and a significant portion of the population) had hitherto only ever seen through the studio windows as Marion, Bob, Dave or Donny interviewed some second-rate celebrity eager to plug his or her latest book or record.
I couldn't miss the opportunity. Leaving my friend in the car (he was too scared to accompany me), I got out and wandered over to the unmanned security booth outside the main gates of the entrance to the car park. I smiled into the camera, gave a thumbs-up, and - open sesame - the gates swung inward to allow me access. I was in. I spent the next 20 minutes wandering around the back of the studio, exploring the famous gardens from which PETER SEABROOK had presented his segment of the show. (I now wish I'd lifted that abandoned plastic watering jug as a memento.)
|Pebble Mill logo|
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
|THOR The Mighty - from the cover of FANTASTIC Annual 1968. Copyright MARVEL COMICS|
I'll probably get a fair bit of stick for this rather boastful reminiscence, but believe it or not, when I was a young lad at primary school, I was regarded as the best artist in my class, if not the whole school. Now before you fall about laughing, that wasn't (and isn't) a figment of my imagination - it just happened to be the consensus of opinion amongst teachers and pupils alike. Naturally, there must've been a few artistically inclined individuals who resented and disagreed with this generous assessment of my abilities, but - if so - they remained the (silent) minority.
However, I couldn't really take credit for my place atop the heap. After all, I was merely regurgitating the styles of artists of the calibre of KIRBY, BUSCEMA, DITKO, COLAN, SWAN, ANDERSON - and a whole host of others. Because of that, my drawings tended to have more impact and therefore made a lasting impression. What follows is an example of what I'm talking about.
One day I and two of my fellow pupils (JULIE CUMMINGS and BILLY McCLUSKEY) each produced a drawing or painting that was regarded as so good that we were taken around the school to show them to the other classes. Billy had drawn (in pencil) a scene of two boxers pounding it out in the ring (he was a big fan of, and maybe even related, I think, to a famous boxer of the same surname), and Julie had drawn (also in pencil) a lake scene with swans gliding serenely over the surface. Both were very nicely done, if I recall correctly after 40-odd years. As for myself, I had painted a picture of THOR, standing on a mountain top and holding aloft his hammer to the heavens.
Every class we visited, the result was the same. We'd stand in a row whilst the teacher indulged in a bit of preamble, and then raise our pictures for the class to see - only to be met with cries of "Look - it's Thor - Wow!" and similar exclamations of awe and wonder. Now, truth to tell, my picture was probably not much better-rendered than Julie's or Billy's - but the subject was more dynamic (and in colour) and, consequently, almost guaranteed to draw the attention of just about everyone in the room. Hardly anybody took a second look at the the pictures of my two despondent classmates - some never even took a first.
Poor Julie and Billy - they must have hated me.
Anyway, what's the point of the story? Merely that I often look back on those days and wish that I was as good an artist now for my age as I was then. For a 9 or 10 year old I was "hot" - as an adult I barely qualify as lukewarm. What's the old saying? Ah, yes, I remember.
"NEVER REST ON YOUR LAURELS."
Posted by Kid at Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monday, 15 November 2010
|Enlarged, cropped scan of image below|
First of all, you'll have to forgive the quality of this painted cartoon - on account of it being enlarged from a two inch image in a photograph taken at an angle through glass, resulting in it being slightly distorted, stretched, and not too clear. It didn't help that I used shiny gold acrylic ink to paint the helmet, buttons and belt-buckle, as it reflected the flash, but the actual framed picture is really quite nice. It's a caricature of a friend's kid, and the proud parents were as pleased as punch with the result. In fact, I was too.
|Framed & mounted original|
It was at that point I realized that this teacher had nothing to teach me. Here was I, eager to ascend to a higher plateau of artistic accomplishment, only to be hindered by someone who was content to keep me at the level from which I was trying to advance.
Friday, 12 November 2010
|Images copyright MARVEL COMICS|
It's common knowledge that MARVEL's STAN (The Man) LEE sometimes rejected JACK (King) KIRBY's initial cover ideas and asked him to come up with another approach. Such was the case with FANTASTIC FOUR #20, perhaps on the grounds that the good ol' FF - being covered with a coating of plaster - were not quite as dynamic (or recognizable) as Stan felt they should have been. (And a stunted ALICIA MASTERS seemingly sprouting from the back of the menacing MOLECULE MAN wouldn't have helped.)
A few years back (1997 to be precise), The JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR printed a stat of the pencils of the unused cover, and I was consumed with a desire to see it in finished form. I enlarged The THING slightly (Jack often drew him too small, compared to his original towering stature in FF #1) and "fixed" Alicia's position in the background. I also decided to render the foursome without the plaster coating, the better to be able to see them. TJCK printed it in one of their issues, but I forget which number. Once again, there are a few areas which could stand improvement (The MOLECULE MAN lettering in the cover blurb for example) and maybe one day I'll eventually get around to doing it.
Thursday, 11 November 2010
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
|A more polished version of Jamie Smart's Desperate Dan|
|Another slightly smoother look|
What I will say, however, is this. To all those old-timers who aren't too keen on his Dandy pages, take a look at his website. Divorced from familiar characters we all know and love (and let's face it, who - with the possible exception of KEN H. HARRISON - could compete with DUDLEY D. WATKINS?), his pages don't seem as jarring as they do in DCT's relaunched comic.
Posted by Kid at Wednesday, November 10, 2010