Friday 29 June 2012
Thursday 28 June 2012
I've only met ALAN MOORE twice. The first time was in 1984 at a comic mart in the MOIR HALL in Glasgow's MITCHELL LIBRARY, and the second was in 1985 in the 2000 A.D. offices in KING'S REACH TOWER in London. On that first occasion STEVE MacMANUS gave me my break into the comics industry and, afterwards, the 2000 A.D. team, Alan Moore, BERNIE JAYE, various other comics people and myself, invaded the CENTRAL HOTEL for a chat and a little light libation.
Posted by Kid at Thursday, June 28, 2012
Wednesday 27 June 2012
|Copyright MARVEL COMICS and CONAN PROPERTIES, Int.|
Most people will be aware that, when MARVEL decided to launch their CONAN The BARBARIAN four-colour comicbook back in 1970, Big JOHN BUSCEMA was first choice as artist to illustrate the swarthy Cimmerian's action-packed adventures. Only one problem with that however - too expensive. There was a severely limited budget for the comic and writer ROY THOMAS was already paying more than Marvel's publisher MARTIN GOODMAN had authorised for the rights to use ROBERT E. HOWARD's sword and sorcery swashbuckler.
Well, the rest is history. The less-expensive BARRY SMITH (later WINDSOR-Smith) was assigned the task of bringing Conan's comicbook career to life, which he did with verve and vitality as befitting the bold barbarian's bombastic and bloodthirsty battles. As we're well aware, John Buscema eventually did become the series' regular artist (drawing more issues than anyone else), but what might that first adventure have looked like had he pencilled the premiere issue as originally planned?
Fortunately, such a possibility isn't merely confined to the realms of speculation as, in 1994 - nearly half a century after Conan's debut issue - Big John finally brought his artistic magic to that '70s tale from Conan The Barbarian #1. Personally speaking, I'd have preferred to see the story drawn with a more traditional grid-layout without the page-bleeds, and in colour as opposed to black and white. The last panel in particular cries out for colour - or even some kind of shading to indicate the moon against the night sky, as described in one of the captions. As it is, it's short on some sorely-needed atmosphere and lacks the impact of Smith's earlier version.
However, despite being robbed of the opportunity to compare 'like-with-like' in the strictest sense, it's fascinating to see Big J's take on Thomas's titanic tale, although it would have been even better had JOE SINNOTT or TOM PALMER performed the inking chores. Perhaps one day they'll reprint it in colour and give readers a better idea of what could have been had "the Michelangelo of comics" (as Smilin' STAN 'The Man' LEE dubbed him) drawn the Hyborian hero's dynamic debut all those years ago.
Anyway, enjoy "The COMING Of CONAN!" from the June '94 issue of The Savage Sword of Conan the Barbarian #222. Take a look at Conan's first appearance here - then come back and say which visual version of the tale you prefer - and why.
(The two pages below should be read as a double-page spread.)
(Like below. Click to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.)
Posted by Kid at Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Tuesday 26 June 2012
Sunday 24 June 2012
|Copyright relevant owner|
Take a look at the first picture on the third tier of the above page - I believe that's ROBERT BARTHOLOMEW (otherwise generally known as BART - though perhaps it's ALBERT COSSER) who was the editor of Wham!. It really is a good likeness, regardless of which of the two gentlemen it is. How do I know? I occasionally saw this him around the hallways of KING'S REACH TOWER when I was down in London, and MARC JUNG (sub-editor of BUSTER) identified him (as either Bart or Cos, can't quite remember). Imagine my surprise when, a few years ago, I was leafing through some old letters and found one from the late-'70s from LOOK & LEARN (in response to an enquiry of mine), signed by 'Robert Bartholomew', the editor. It hadn't clicked with me at the time, but just think - I had the autograph of an editor from one of the favourite comics of my youth and didn't even know it!
BIFF (below) later turned up in THUNDER as SAM, a fact which LEO BAXENDALE wouldn't have been happy about as he wasn't paid for the re-use of the ones he'd drawn. It was his annoyance at this that later caused him to quit U.K. comics altogether. The irony is, had publishers not defrayed the cost of a weekly title by reprinting a limited number of old strips, they might not have been able to publish the comic to begin with - or continue with it if circulation started to fall. Result - less work to go around for jobbing cartoonists. (Or vastly reduced page-rates for everyone.) Catch 22?
And now - the one you're all waiting for - FRANKIE STEIN by Ken Reid - in colour. Who says this blog doesn't deliver the goods, eh? Given the rather abrupt way the tale ends, I can't help but feel it's a page short. When I first read it, I turned over the last page expecting it to continue on the following one - but nope, that's all there was. Ken's pages towards the end of his career lacked the vitality and spontaneity of his earlier work, being somewhat stiff and stilted - but here we have him at his absolute best, so be sure to savour every brushstroke and penline.
Posted by Kid at Sunday, June 24, 2012