Saturday, August 21, 2010

Strange Saturday: Paul Smith and Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange hasn't been lucky in terms of sales, but when it comes to artistic talent, he magically attracts the best: Steve Ditko, Gene Colan, Barry Smith, Frank Brunner, Michael Golden, etc.  In the 1980s, after he had set the comics world on fire with the X-Men, Paul Smith drew a handful of issues starring the mystic master.

Doctor Strange 56 cover by Paul Smith, 1982

Doctor Strange #56 was Paul Smith's second issue.  The cover really stands out in my memory, because it's beautiful, elegant, and efficiently designed.  The "shot" is taken from an angle below so that you can see the stars and planets in the background.  Doc doesn't need to fight anyone, to sling any spells or fight Dormammu to be cool.  He's just ultra-cool enough with his look, costume, Eye of Agamotto, etc.  The cover was drawn in 1982.

Tom Horvitz has the original cover over on ComicArtFans.  Would love to have a good scan of the original.

Doctor Strange 56 splash by Paul Smith and Terry Austin

Here is the original splash page to that issue, inked by Terry Austin, who had worked on the series since Marshall Rogers took over a couple of years before.  Austin was the perfect inker for Smith.

This 1980s period was a particularly good one for Doctor Strange--I heard Brian Bendis talking about the Smith run on Word Balloon a while ago.  Check out Essential Doctor Strange Volume 4 TPB (v. 4), which contains the above issue, as well as the Roger Stern / Marshall Rogers storyline where Clea ultimately breaks Doc's heart.  It also includes the Michael Golden story in issue #55 that inspired many artists to work on Doctor Strange.  Nuff Said!

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