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.

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