Monday, 6 January 2014


Images copyright DC COMICS

The way I remember it, I'd just arrived home after a school trip
to CULZEAN CASTLE and decided to trot along to CORSON'S
to see what new comics they had.  I came back with the one above -
SUPERMAN #204 - to add to my collection.  Of course, I could be
inadvertently combining two completely separate occasions because
of the similar impressions they left on me and the trip to Culzean
Castle may have been on another day, but that's the way I seem
to recall it and, as I'm writing this piece, I get the final say.

I believe this was the first time I'd seen ROSS ANDRU's art
on Superman, although I didn't know his name or that it was he who
had drawn the strip until many years later, but I recall the pages with
startling clarity as if I'd seen them only yesterday.  Perhaps my memory
of them was reinforced when I saw them reprinted in SUPER DC two
or three years later, and that helped embed them in my consciousness,
who knows?  The fact remains, however, that they're certainly dynam-
ically-composed pages in contrast to what CURT SWAN was doing
at the time.  (His finest hour was surely when he was paired with
MURPHY ANDERSON a couple of years later.)

The issue contained a reprint entitled "THE DUPLICATE
SUPERMAN!" (a gimmick that was used a number of times in
subsequent years - was this the first?), but see how it was labelled
 - "A DEMAND CLASSIC".  Surely a case of the editor 'demanding'
its inclusion as a cost-cutting exercise, because I can't see too many
readers (if any) writing in to demand specific stories they'd never
seen before.  Or am I being too cynical?

Anyway, that's surely enough waffle from me - I'll leave
you to get on with looking at the pretty pictures.


Gey Blabby said...

The interior art on Superman back then was often a bit of a disappointment, whether in his own comics or World's Finest. Not that it was bad, just that it felt old-fashioned and certainly not as exciting as that found on the dynamic covers by Adams or Nick Cardy.
I don't know if I would have recognised Ross Andru's art here, either, if you hadn't said it was. His layouts are a bit more exciting, although the figure work leaves a bit to be desired; that Superman figure on the bottom left of the last page of the story should never have been allowed. Andru's work here reminds me a bit of Irv Novick's efforts at the same time, as he began to adapt his drawing style to resemble what Adams was doing with Batman.

Kid said...

You're right, of course, GB - some of the figures are awkward, especially the two on the first page, but the action shots make up for it, I think. Funny thing is, I remember thinking the same thing about some of the figures when I first read the story way back in the late '60s. I must confess to also liking Irv Novick's Batman stuff.

Gey Blabby said...

Maybe a day trip to Culzean Castle was obligatory for schools in that part of the world in those days, Kid, as we went there, too. Did they ever drag you to Calderpark Zoo?

I suppose Andru and Novick are two examples of artists who successfully changed their styles to suit the times. If you compare Andru's work on Superman in this comic with what he did on the Spiderman team-up years later, you can see a big difference; and the same applies if you compare Novick's covers for Batman in the 60's with the work he did as a regular penciller a few years later.
One of my 'favourite comics of the past' was actually drawn by Irv Novick - Batman 242. It was bought for me by my granny because I was home from school lying in my sick bed with measles. It was the one issue of the original Ra’s Al Ghul stories that he drew instead of Neal Adams, and had a great cover by Mike Kaluta. It was only some years later that I wished that Adams had managed to finish it all by himself, but at the time Novick seemed like an able replacement.

Kid said...

Calderpark Zoo rings a bell, so I may well have gone there too, GB.

I think I've got those Batman stories you mention in a couple of reprint titles or books - I'll have to reread them some day.

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