Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dave Cockrum Avengers Pin-Ups

In Foom issues 6 and 7 (circa 1974), we were treated to a series of pin-ups from a new artist who had joined the ranks of Marveldom:  Dave Cockrum!  These nifty pin-ups featured the Avengers.  I think they showcase these classic Marvel characters well, and Cockrum's artwork is top-notch.

Thor and Iron Man by Dave Cockrum in Foom 6 1974

Thor and Iron Man.  Buddies, way before Clor!

Vision and Captain America by Dave Cockrum Foom 7 1974

Captain America and the Vision.

Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver by Dave Cockrum 1974 Foom 6

Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.

Hawkeye Giant-Man Black Widow by Dave Cockrum Foom 7 1974

Clint Barton as Hawkeye, Clint Barton as Giant-Man.  Black Widow.

Mantis and Swordsman by Dave Cockrum Foom 7 1974

Mantis and Swordsman.  Cockrum was very familiar with these characters--he had drawn Giant-Size Avengers #2 the issue that featured the death of the Swordsman.  Nuff said.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Silver Surfer, Captain Marvel, Warlock by Jim Starlin and Alan Weiss

A while back I mentioned how much I loved the early Marvel calendars from the mid 1970s.  A number of fans wrote back and clued me in on where to buy these (on eBay).  Now I have several of them--your feedback was much appreciated!

One month in particular I remembered was November 1976...that one featured this juicy pinup by Jim Starlin and Alan Weiss.

Jim Starlin Silver Surfer, Captain Marvel, Warlock for Marvel Calendar 1976

The Silver Surfer, with Adam Warlock one one side and Captain Marvel on the other, against a very cosmic outer space backdrop.  (I wish I had a better scan; this one was taken from a PDF found on Alan Weiss' site.)  I was a big fan of both Warlock and CM, mainly because of Starlin's fantastic artwork and stories.  Weiss was a friend of Starlin's and a wonderful inker--but I felt like we never saw his work often enough!  On seeing this pinup, I hoped that Starlin would one day work on the Silver Surfer.  He did, years later, in the 1980s.

Check out Alan Weiss' website, Surreal Deal.  Nuff said.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Steranko Captain America cover that could be a movie poster!

Back in the 1970s, we had no internet or Marvel Wikia to give us the data on all of Marvel’s published comics.  What we did have was the Marvel Comics Index series, published by George Olshevsky.  He painstakingly listed each issue of a title, providing a snapshot of the cover and listed the title/credits for each one.

He had some great cover artists for this index series, but my favorite cover was this one featuring Captain America by Jim Steranko.

Captain America wraparound cover to Marvel Comics Index 8A

What a cover!  It could be a movie poster.  Steranko highlights everything great about Cap’s World War 2 history with Bucky, the Invaders, Professor Erskine, the Red Skull, Hitler, Zemo, and Baron Strucker.  Thrown in some American fighter planes dropping off paratroopers and the Sands of Iwo Jima flag raising for even more patriotic fervor.  Nuff said.

Steranko's Marvel Western covers

Here are a couple of Steranko covers that I didn’t even know about until I did some research!

Tex Dawson Gun-Slinger 1 cover by Steranko 1972

Tex Dawson, the Marvel cowboy who faded off the face of Earth 616.  Apparently his big gimmick was that he had a white German Sheppard (Lightning) and a black stallion (Whirlwind).  Steranko’s cover is really nifty, full-on Wild West glory.

Western Gunfights 14 cover by Steranko 1972

Here’s another cover, to Western Gunfighters #14.  Apart from Matt Slade—who might have been in Steve Englehart’s Avengers time-travel story—I don’t recognize these dudes either.  Nuff said.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Steranko’s Jungle Queen, Shanna the She-Devil

You may know that Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan began in the pulp magazines.  Ka-Zar actually first appeared in the pulps as well.  And if a man can run around in the jungle half naked, why can't a woman?  The pulp stories had women as supporting characters in Tarzan and Conan, but it took a comic book series to make a headline character.   Sheena, Queen of the Jungle was the first female character in comics to have her own title--appearing in 1942 three months before Wonder Woman.  Since that time, there's probably been more jungle queens running around than men.

Marvel decided to create their own jungle girl in 1972 when Shanna the She-Devil was published.

Shanna the She-Devil 1 cover by Steranko 1972

And A Jungle Queen Is Born!  One of the greatest covers Steranko has ever executed.  The cover, and the character, harkens back to the 1940s covers featuring Sheena.  Shanna's design is just classic, with the leopard skinned bikini that she runs around in, the claw bracelets on her legs/arms, and that wild red hair.  She's leaping out of the trees, towards the hunters, but also leaping at the reader.

Ka-Zar has his sabretooth tiger Zabu as his best bud.  Shanna has her pet leopards, Ina and Buri, who will do anything to protect her.  I thought this was a great idea, it made Shanna an animal lover and protector.  Unfortunately, Ina and Buri were killed by a villain in Savage Tales #9.

Shanna the She-Devil 2 cover by Steranko 1972

Our current era has a lot of artists who draw sexy women.  Adam Hughes, Terry Dodson, and Frank Cho immediately come to mind, although Amanda Conner is in that mix as well.  I like all those artists and their women are fantastic. 

But I think our collective senses are all too dominated by Maxim magazine.  The cover to Shanna the She-Devil #2 shows another way to draw a sexy woman.  Make her toned, athletic, and sensual with a classic face and flowing hair.  Shanna's breasts are normal sized and her ass isn't jutting out of a thong, but she's wildly appealing.  When I hit puberty, this cover was better than most Playboy magazines.

The women back in the 1970s that I liked were more normal.  Linda Carter, Victoria Principal, Catherine Bach, Heather Thomas, Markie Post, Bo Derek, Valerie Bertinelli.  I also liked Adrienne Barbeau, Raquel Welch, Ursula Andress, Loni Anderson.  Did the latter group have breast implants?  It's possible since those were developed in the 1960s.  Even if they did, those gals didn't appear too unreal.

Don't get me wrong, not everyone in comics draws unreal women.  There are lots of exceptions.  I just think Steranko has shown how a strong, lithe woman is sexier than heck.  Nuff said.

EXTRA!  Steranko's Jungle Queen on Comic Collector box.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Steranko's Doc Savage covers

Jim Steranko wrote extensively about two characters in the pulp magazines--characters that were the early prototypes for Superman and Batman.  Doc Savage and the Shadow.

I had already bought several Doc Savage paperbacks (with beautiful James Bama covers) before Marvel announced they would publish a comic book based on the character in 1972.  It was a pretty good series with nice art by Ross Andru.

Doc Savage 2 cover by Steranko 1972

Steranko drew the cover of issue #2, set against a Mayan backdrop.  The first two issues were a retelling of Doc's origin, which I had read in the first paperback.  Doc's father is killed and he traces the murderer back to Central America--the source of the Savage's great wealth.

Steranko's Doc uses the Bama design (as did the Andru art inside), with the skull-cropped hair, vest, and boots.  That was the version I always had in my head reading the paperbacks.  In the History of Comics, you can see that Doc was portrayed on those covers with blond hair and normal clothes--kind of like a muscled Robert Redford.

I love how different properties get "Marvelized".  In the logo, SAVAGE reins above everything else.  Which is funny, because Doc isn't Savage, he's like Brainaic 5 with superior fighting skills.

Doc Savage 3 cover by Steranko 1972\

Doc Savage #3 started a new storyline with the cult of the Silver Death's Head.  Doc's creator, Lester Dent, always created great names for the bad guys in his stories.  This cover features the villain standing on a map of the world he intends to conquer, while Doc faces off against his army of silver goons.  Pretty wacky.

This series only lasted eight issues, but it wasn't the Bronze Man's last appearance at Marvel.  He guest starred in Giant-Size Spider-Man #3, and later had his own black and white magazine--which also lasted eight issues!

Steranko would go onto to express his love for the pulps by painting a series of paperback covers for The Shadow.  I'll always admire Steranko for turning me onto the great history of pop culture and characters like Doc Savage.  Nuff said.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Steranko's Marvel Barbarians: Gulliver Jones and Thongor

Jim Steranko's two volume History of Comics was my favorite history book ever.  I read it as a kid and learned about the origins of comic books, which actually started before comics were even published--in the Pulp Magazines.  Magazines like Weird Tales, where Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian appeared, had great cover paintings.

Steranko's barbarian covers recall the glory of the pulp covers, but add his own inimitable style.

Creatures on the Loose 21 cover by Steranko 1972

Creatures on the Loose #1 featured Gulliver Jones standing over a princess he's just rescued, right after he slaughtered an entire army.  Pulp covers often portrayed men in their grittiest moments, while the woman on the cover was left in pristine form.  I love the color scheme on this cover.  The dead warriors in the foreground are red, the planet in the background is blue.  Was Steranko drawing Gulliver Jones or John Carter?

Creatures on the Loose 22 cover by Steranko 1972

Thongor made his first appearance in the next issue, Creatures on the Loose #22--another way for Marvel to cash-in on the barbarian craze that Conan had ignited.  The pulpish influence can be seen in the form of the woman on the steps--lying unconscious, with her backside facing the reader.  I swear I've seen that same pose in either a pulp magazine or a Frazetta cover.  Again, the hero is standing above the heroine, ready to hack and slash anything that comes to attack her.

Great covers!  Steranko advertised his own creation, Talon, in his magazine ComicsScene.  I was really excited about that, but if I recall correctly, it was never published.  Please tell me if I am wrong.  Nuff said.

EXTRA!  Steranko's Talon on Comic Collector box.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Steranko's SHIELD reprint covers

By the time I started reading Marvel Comics, around 1970, I had missed Steranko's great runs on Captain America and SHIELD.  I first encountered Nick Fury in the pages of the Avengers and Captain America.  I thought he was ultra-cool, to say the least, the first time I saw the Helicarrier in Cap's book.  During the Kree-Skrull war, Cap and the Avengers met with Fury in a space-orbital carrier.  Fury had all the toys a boy could want, a radical girlfriend in Val (with her crazy Bride of Frankenstein hair), and his best friend was called Dum Dum Dugan.

I was primed for a SHIELD solo title.  Nick Fury and his Agents of SHIELD in 1972 was my first.

Nick Fury and his Agents of Shield cover by Steranko 1972

Steranko's cover was amazing to me.  Fury and the other agents were in underwater gear, attacking a base full of crazed AIM agents in glass-enclosed secret base.  I had seen Diamonds Are Forever the year before and just gotten in James Bond.  This cover brought that Bondian style into comics, shaken and stirred with a Marvel twist.

The stories inside were Jack Kirby and Don Heck reprints.  Sure, it was a bit disappointing that the cover artist didn't draw the stories inside.  But I was thrilled to learn the early history of Nick Fury.  Whenever I read a Marvel reprint book, I felt like an archeologist opening up an undiscovered Egyptian tomb.

Nick Fury and his Agents of Shield 2 cover by Steranko 1973

The cover to Nick Fury and his Agents of SHIELD #2 was a bit more in the classic Steranko mode.  In addition to Fury, I was able to learn about SHIELD's supporting cast: Gabe Jones, Clay Quartermain, and my favorite, the bookish Jasper Sitwell.  Sitwell's rallying cry, Don't Yield, Back SHIELD!  still rings in my memory.  I can't figure out why Sitwell has dropped of the face of Earth 616.

This reprint title only lasted five issues, not long enough to cover Steranko's Strange Tales run.  Years later I would discover Steranko's 1960s work and be blown away once again.  Nuff said.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monster Mondays: Steranko's Invisible Man and Tower of Shadows

Beginning...a week of covers by the legendary Jim Steranko!

However, these aren't necessarily his most famous covers from the 1960s.  No, most of these covers were published in 1972, the year I first encountered the work of this impressive artist.

Supernatural Thrillers 2 cover by Steranko 1972

There were times when I could impress my elementary school teachers with my knowledge of Greek mythology (derived from Hercules in the Avengers), Norse mythology (Thor, of course), and classics like the Invisible Man, from Supernatural Thrillers #2 in 1972.  Steranko sells this cover beautifully.  It transports you back to a 19th century English pub with all the background details.  I was intrigued by the Invisible Man unraveling his bandages, removing his glasses, etc.  The adaption inside was well executed, recapturing the essence of the story in one issue.

Supernatural Thrillers 1 cover by Steranko 1972

Steranko also drew the cover to the first issue of Supernatural Thrillers, featuring an adaption of Theodore Sturgeon's short story, IT!  A few years later in Astonishing Tales, another character called IT! (a 30 foot tall stone giant) would take over that book.  Marvel recycled the IT! logo that you see here.  When I started to read science fiction stories a few years later, I sought out the writers I knew about from Marvel: Sturgeon and Harlan Ellison in particular.

Tower of Shadows 1 rejected cover by Steranko

There's one more Marvel horror cover that Steranko did in the 1970s, and it's infamous--because Stan Lee rejected it!  Tower of Shadows #1 featured a short story by Steranko, and he drew this cover along with it.  This was obviously a bone-headed decision on Stan Lee's part.  Steranko's cover is awesome and if he had let it go, surely Tower of Shadows #1 would have been a collector's item.  You can read on Wikipedia about Steranko's disagreement with Lee over this cover.  Nuff said.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Silver Surfer Sunday: Alan Davis

Here's a great black and white version of a pin-up that Alan Davis drew of Norrin Radd:

silver surfer by alan davis

As Elton John once said, it's lonely out in space.  Nuff said.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Marvel Funnies: Spidey Introduces the Punisher to the Electric Company

If you grew up in the 1970s, you probably watched The Electric Company on PBS.  It was an educational show for the kids who got past Sesame Street.  Spider-Man appeared on the program, along with Morgan Freeman, who played Easy Reader.  As part of the deal with PBS, Marvel published Spidey Super Stories from 1974 to 1982.  The stories in this comic were aimed at much younger kids than Marvel’s usual audience. 

It was a gateway drug for Marvel!

Shang-She and Iron Sis by John Byrne in FOOM 9 1975

The merry pranksters Roger Stern and John Byrne cooked up this faux Spidey Super Stories cover where Spider-Man says to the audience:  “Hey Kids!  Meet My Pal—The Punisher!”  As he blasts the guts out of a goon, the captions reads:  Bloody Death Scream the Guns of the Punisher!  Easy Reader says, Ouch!  Nuff said.

Marvel Funnies: Iron Sis and Shang-She

What if all the major Marvel Kung-Fu heroes were women?  That’s what John Byrne asked in this early 1975 gag from FOOM #9.

Shang-She and Iron Sis by John Byrne in FOOM 9 1975

Shang-Chi would have been called Shang-She, Iron Fist morphed into Iron Fist, and even Fu Manchu trans-gendered into Su Manchu.

Perhaps these characters exist on the same Earth as Marvel’s Femizons along with Thundra.  Nuff said.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Marvel Funnies: Jarvis does the laundry in Avengers Mansion

What’s it like for Jarvis, butler to the Avengers, on a quiet day that is bereft of attacks by Skrulls and Masters of Evil?  The cover to Foom #6 in summer 1974 allowed us a peak into the life of the greatest butler in the Marvel Universe.

Foom 6 1974 Jarvis cleaning clothes in Avengers Mansion

For Jarvis, it’s a day happily spent in the laundry room, polishing Captain America’s boots, washing costumes, and ironing the Vision’s cape.  The Avengers have left little notes on the cork-board. 

“My good man, there is entirely too much starch in my cape.”  The Mighty Thor

“Send autographed picture of me to Senator Buckley.”  Captain America.

“HELP!”  Your President.  Nixon.  I started to doubt the Captain America Secret Empire story after seeing this.

No idea who drew this cover.  Marie Severin or Paty?  Nuff said.

Marvel Funnies: 1970s Marvel Bullpen as the X-Men

Here’s another gem from Foom #10 (1975) by Paty Cockrum.  The 1970s Marvel Bullpen as the original X-Men!

Stan Lee, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Paty as X-Men, 1975, by Paty, Foom 10

Len Wein is the Beast.  Marv Wolfman is Iceman.  Duffy Vohland as Angel?  Paty as Marvel Girl.  And Stan the Man in Professor Xavier’s chair.  Nuff said.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Marvel Funnies: Storm critiques Ms. Marvel's costume, courtesy of John Byrne

Dave Cockrum was a master of costume design and among his many creations were the outfits for Storm and Ms. Marvel.  John Byrne, after he took over the X-Men, made this observation...
Byrne jokes about Cockrum's costumes for Storm and Ms Marvel, 1978 Comic Art Convention
From the booklet for the 1978 Comic Art Convention.  Nuff said.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Marvel Funnies: Marie Severin Roasts Wein, Cockrum, Claremont Over New X-Men

I found this while researching the launch of the new X-Men in 1975.  Foom #10 had a special X-Men issue, and Marie Severin drew this great cartoon:

Cockrum, Wein, Claremont burned alive by fans for New X-Men, 1975, by Marie Severin in Foom 10

Severin drew Len Wein, Chris Claremont, and Dave Cockrum getting roasted alive by Marvel's fans--for replacing the classic X-Men team in Giant-Size X-Men #1.  They were indeed apprehensive about kicking out Angel, Marvel Girl, and Iceman!  No one could foresee the tremendous success that would befall upon the new and improved X-Men.  Nuff said.

Monster Monday: Brother Voodoo cover by Gil Kane

Strange Tales #170 was Brother Voodoo's second appearance in the Marvel Universe.  Brother's first cover was by John Romita, by this one was drawn by Gil Kane:

Strange Tales 170 cover by Gil Kane

There's nothing like snakes to sell a cover, although you usually see this sort of thing on Conan or Ka-Zar or Shanna the She-Devil.  Brother Voodoo looks like he's pretty scared of them, too.  Nuff said.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Marvels of Gil Kane: Giant-Size X-Men #1 by Kane and Cockrum, one of the most famous covers of all time!

There are many classic Marvel comics covers that are iconic.  Amazing Fantasy #15, Fantastic Four #1, and Hulk #1 are in that treasured line-up.  When it comes to the X-Men, while the first issue by Jack Kirby in 1963 has a place in history, it is the cover to Giant-Size X-Men #1 by Gil Kane and Dave Cockrum that remains supreme.

Giant-Size X-Men 1 by Gil Kane and Dave Cockrum

It is hard to imagine the impact of Giant-Size X-Men #1 for a fan of Marvel's mutants.  The last new X-Men was published in X-Men #66 in 1970, although the X-Men title continued publication with reprints of the Stan Lee and Roy Thomas stories.  Through those reprints, a new generation of Marvel readers became fans of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, the Beast, Iceman, and the Angel.  From 1970-1975, the X-Men made a few guest appearances--most notably in Marvel Team-Up #4, Avengers #110-111, and the Beast's series in Amazing Adventures #11-17. 

I snatched up my copy of GS X-Men #1 the instant I saw it.  If the X-Men weren't enough, I knew that Dave Cockrum was the artist.  He had already knocked me out with the superb job he did on Giant-Size Avengers #2, and the art in GS X-Men #1 was even better.  With Len Wein as the writer, I immediately recognized Wolverine on the cover from his debut appearance in the Hulk.  All of the other mutants were incredibly new and mysterious.  I couldn't figure out why Cyclops was just behind Wolverine--in the new team--and also in the faded background with the old X-Men.



The cover to Giant-Size X-Men #1 features a classic Gil Kane motif of having the heroes running toward the reader, exploding out of the comic book page.  Kane's cover to Giant-Size Defenders #1 is almost identical.  Gil Kane's pencil layout for this cover is shown above.  Looking at this, you can see Cockrum kept the essence of Kane's figures, but adding his own take on the characters.  Kane drew Colossus with pupils and Cockrum executed it with white eyes--the way he's drawn in the comic. 

New X-Men Dave Cockrum costumes in Giant-Size X-Men 1

Cockrum's costume design for Storm, Colossus, Thunderbird, and Nightcrawler were visually stunning.  It's interesting that on this famous splash page, Cockrum is showcasing his original creations front and center--with the pre-existing Banshee, Sunfire,and Wolverine hanging in the background.

This comic has one other special place in Marvel history--it's the first all-new series that was introduced within the Giant-Size Marvel line.  The other titles (like Giant-Size Avengers, Defenders, etc) were extensions of a well established monthly series.  This revival was designed for the Giant-Size format, the story in issue 1 is 35 pages.  The next chapters in X-Men #94-95 were clearly designed for Giant-Size X-Men #2, and split into two when it was decided to resume new stories in the X-Men title.

Giant-Size X-Men #1 was the best 50 cents I ever spent in the 1970s--probably the best two-bits ever in my entire life!  Wein and Cockrum concocted a near-perfect story that introduced us to a new generation of mutants, but they acknowledged the team that came before and treated them with respect.  Sadly, I sold my copy of this comics when I was 20 and needed money for something frivolous.  Haven't we all thrown away precious comics like this for a song?  Nuff said.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Marvels of Gil Kane: Marvel Team-Up Covers

Looking back at Gil Kane's career at Marvel, he never stayed on any series for a long time, unlike his long runs on DC Comics' Green Lantern and Atom.  Probably his longest association was with Spider-Man and Marvel Team-up.  He did many Team-Up covers, here are some of my favorites...

Marvel Team-Up 13 cover by Gil Kane

I've always enjoyed the dynamic figures of Captain America and Spider-Man on the cover to Marvel Team-Up #13.  John Romita obviously inked this cover--the line work on Grey Gargoyle and the two heroes is unmistakable.  The positioning of the characters and the camera angles are pure Kane.

Marvel Team-Up 3 cover by Gil Kane

Marvel Team-Up #3 featured Kane's co-creation Morbius, attempting to bite Spidey once again.  Curses, foiled by the Human Torch!  This was the first issue of a two part story.  Spidey and the Torch subdue Morbius and take him to Professor Xavier's school, in search of a cure for the vampire.

Marvel Team-Up 4 cover by Gil Kane

Marvel Team-Up #4 was a landmark issue, because it featured the X-Men.  You have to put this issue into historical context--the X-Men's own title was effectively cancelled with issue #66.  The X-Men title was kept alive with reprints from issue #67 to 93.  But the mutants had been missing from the Marvel Universe for a few years until the Beast appeared in Amazing Adventures and this guest spot in MTU #4.  You had to be hardcore if your followed the X-Men at this point in time, and this issue was a real treat.

They tried something new to make the X-Men more exciting and dangerous--by putting them in street clothes instead of costumes!  Cyclops wore a suit, Jean Grey wore a sweater, and Angel stripped off his shirt when he needed to spread his wings.  They really did look cool and hip in the 1970s fashions, especially with Kane's art style--he did the interior art as well as the cover.  Nuff said.

Update: Comment from my old MT blog...


very nice. a great series of posts, Richard, showcasing my favourite comic artist. Kane has never been equalled for sheer grace and dynamism, he was a master of the medium, a true giant who deserves to be up there with the Kirbys and the Sterankos and the Adams'.
and, for a shameless plug, if you're a fan of good old Gil Kane comics, why not check out " His Name Is. . . " my own little blog dedicated to the work of the great man himself. no critique, no flummery, no in-depth analysis - just Gil Kane comics. the address is here:
keep up the sterling work, fella!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Marvels of Gil Kane: John Carter #2 Cover with Dave Cockrum

There are many great inkers who worked very well with Gil Kane's pencils:  Tom Palmer, Klaus Janson, and Kevin Nowlan.  My favorite inker was Dave Cockrum.  I already wrote at length about their Marvel-ous collaboration on John Carter Warlord of Mars #1.

John Carter 2 cover by Gil Kane

This cover to John Carter Warlord of Mars #2 was another standout.  Cockrum added his own style, but kept the essence of Kane's pencils.  Nuff said.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

R.I.P. David Carradine

The sad news hit the internet today that David Carradine is dead.  Some reports are saying that he hanged himself in a Bangkok hotel room, which is even more tragic.

David Carradine was one of my heroes growing up.  I watched Kung Fu every week.  Even though I loved the slow motion action, I also loved the flashback scenes in China and Caine's philosophy of peace that he tried to teach savage Americans.  I asked my brother-in-law to take me to see Death Race 2000 because I was such a fan of Carradine.  I was disappointed when he faded into obscurity after Kung Fu's demise, but I was really thrilled when Quentin Tarentino cast Carradine as the Big Bad in Kill Bill.  Carradine proved his acting chops when he delivered that Superman/Clark Kent speech that Tarentino wrote.

Naturally, being a Marvel Comics addict, my memory flashes back to this 1974 Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #4 cover...

Deadly Hands of Kung Fu 4, David Carradine cover by Neal Adams

Neal Adams did an awesome job of recreating Carradine's likeness as Caine. 

Rest in Peace, David Carradine.  Nuff said.

Marvels of Gil Kane: The Inhumans

It took a while for The Inhumans to break out in their own self-titled series, but it finally happened in 1975.  Doug Moench and George Perez were the creative team, and it was solid book, but it lasted only 12 issues.  Gil Kane drew this terrific cover to Inhumans #8 (1976).

Inhumans 8 cover by Gil Kane

Having a group of super-heroes charging at the viewer is a theme you see often, but Kane makes it really dramatic by putting everyone in a dynamic pose.  Black Bolt is flying toward the reader, Gorgon and Triton are at his side, even Lockjaw is galloping behind them, while explosions are set off in the background.  Dan Adkins inked this Kane cover.

Inhumans 8 bw cover by Gil Kane, Adkins

The original black and white version is even more impressive than the full color cover.  I found this over on ComicsFun's gallery, where you can find the original art from Kane, Kirby, etc.  Nuff said.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Marvels of Gil Kane: Mighty Marvel Western covers

Mighty Marvel Western was a reprint title, featuring the western triple threat of Kid Colt, Two Gun Kid, and Rawhide Kid.  When Gil Kane started doing some covers in the 1970s, the comics were worth collecting for that alone.

Mighty Marvel Western 43 cover by Gil Kane

I got turned onto this cover to Mighty Marvel Western #44 by one of the Two Morrows magazines.  I can't help but think it's one of the most brilliant covers I've ever seen.  Rawhide Kid looking up at an ambush--his attackers are reflected in the pool he's drinking water from.

Mighty Marvel Western 40 cover by Gil Kane

The Rawhide Kid is featured on Mighty Marvel Western #40 freeze framed during a shootout in a small town.  An unseen enemy targets his rifle on the Kid from the roof above.  No problem, the Kid's got eyes behind his back.

Mighty Marvel Western cover by Gil Kane

On the cover to issue #41, the Kid displays his solution to a showdown by shooting the guns out of out his adversary's hands.

There are a lot of logos on these covers...how did Marvel's staff ever fit them all?  LOL!  Nuff said.

Update: Comments from my old MT blog...


I spoke to Gil Kane at a convention some years ago and brought a few covers fro him to sign. When I gave him this one he noted that it was one of his favorite covers as well. I tend to agree.
Nick Caputo

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Marvels of Gil Kane: Captain Marvel

Marvel Comics' superhero, Captain Marvel, first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #12 (1967) and launched his own series soon afterward.  Captain Marvel was a Kree soldier named Mar-Vell and came to Earth wearing a white and green uniform.  After sixteen issues and fading sales, a fashion emergency was called.  Gil Kane drew the cover to Captain Marvel #17 (1969) that proclaimed one of the most extreme makeovers in comics history:

Captain Marvel 17 by Gil Kane

I think Captain Marvel's read and blue costume design is one of the greatest in the world of comics.  The yellow exploding sun in the center of his chest, the mysterious nega bands around his wrist, and the weird half-mask that exposes his hair--every detail just makes him visually unique and unmistakable.

More than just the costume design--it was the way the Gil Kane drew the character.  Don Heck had briefly drawn the new costume at the end of issue #16 and it wasn't nearly as exciting.

Besides the new costume, Captain Marvel #17 has a story that focuses not on Mar-Vell, but perennial sidekick Rick Jones.  After Rick's brief stint as Captain America's all-new Bucky ends, he leaves Avengers Mansion feeling destitute.  Holographic visions of Captain America lead him to a secret base, where he discovers the nega bands.

Captain Marvel 17 Rick Jones clangs the Nega Bands for the first time

After donning the nega bands and clanging them together, Rick Jones exchanges places with Mar-Vell, who had been trapped in the Negative Zone.  It seemed like kind of a raw deal to me, but Jones was excited to be back in the superhero game.  Gil Kane really makes Mar-Vell explode back into Earth's dimension in this full page splash.

Roy Thomas crafted this pairing of Rick Jones and Mar-Vell to become the Marvelized science-fiction version of CC Beck's Captain Marvel character.  Rick Jones slamming the nega bands together is akin to Billy Batson saying the magic word, Shazam!  After DC Comics had acquired the rights to Beck's Captain Marvel, they never published a comics series featuring the character.  Their rights to a comic book series with that title had lapsed.  Marvel Comics had latched onto the opportunity, which made perfect sense--here was a Captain named after the company.  But it completely shutdown any future comics from DC with the title Captain Marvel or Captain Marvel Jr--two comics that had a long publication history in the 1940s and 1950s.  One of the smartest landgrabs in the world of comics.

Rick Jones and Mar-Vell basically had a timesharing arrangement as far as "Earth-time" was concerned.  One stayed on Earth, while the other one watched his partner's activities from the Negative Zone.  They remained in telepathic communication, giving each other advice, or in Rick's case, making a lot of jokes.   Years later, Gerry Conway would partner up Firestorm's Ronnie Raymond and Professor Stein with a similar device.

Regardless of this nifty costume change and the Rick Jones gimmick, Captain Marvel was cancelled with issue #21.  Mar-Vell and Rick would go on to play a big role in the Avengers Kree-Skrull war saga.

Captain Marvel 22 the return by Gil Kane

While Captain Marvel #17 was a landmark issue, it wasn't the first one I bought.  DC Comics revived the Billy Batson Captain Marvel in 1972, in a comic titled Shazam!  I read that one first, but a short time later, Marvel announced they were reviving their character.  I bought Captain Marvel #22 when I saw it on sale at 7-Eleven during the summer in Phoenix, Arizona.  I couldn't quite understand why there were two Captain Marvels, but the cover to issue #22 by Gil Kane really made Marvel's version more attractive.  Mar-Vell's flying in a typical Kane pose and you've got that dude in the foreground where you can see his nostrils.  Nothing says panic like a Kane nose shot!

The cover blurb said:  He's back!  The Hero Who Wouldn't Die!  There you go, I was hooked.  Billy Batson was buddying up with Talky Tawny and exclaiming Holy Moley on every page.  Steranko's History of Comics had explained to me why kids in World War 2 went gaga over CC Beck's creation, but in the 1970s, that seemed weak to a kid raised on Star Trek and Spider-Man.  Mar-Vell had a cool costume and had returned from the dead.  There was no competition in coolness, Mar-Vell had won me over.  Nuff said.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monster Monday: Gil Kane Tomb of Dracula and Where Monsters Dwell

Gil Kane drew his share of Marvel Monster covers during the 1970s.  Here are a few favorites:

Tomb of Dracula 26 cover by Kane and Palmer

Tomb of Dracula #26 always brings a chill down my spine.  The perspective of this scene, taken right below the girl’s waist, is just perfect.  She’s walking alone down the streets of London, obviously afraid, knowing that someone is following her.  She looks around, but there’s no one behind her.  Her senses are working fine—Dracula is stalking her from the rooftop!

Tom Palmer inked Kane on this cover.  I always liked the end product when these two artisans worked together.  To my knowledge, Palmer only inked Kane on covers, never on an interior story?  If you know of one, drop me a line.

Adventure Into Fear 23

Another Kane/Palmer cover, which I’ve gushed over previously, featured Morbius on Adventure into Fear #23.  Kane’s covers to Amazing Spider-Man #101 and Giant-Size Superheroes #1 are pretty kick ass, too.

Where Monsters Dwell 17

A fan on the Comic Book Resources message board suggested I take a look at the cover to Where Monsters Dwell #17.  It reminds me of those Hammer horror films.  Nuff said.