Monday, January 31, 2011

Monster Monday: Morbius versus Blade!

Adventure Into Fear 24 1974 Morbius cover by Gil Kane and John Romita Sr

I need a little something extra to get me going on this particular Monday.  How about this snazzy 1974 cover to Fear #24?  Morbius the Living Vampire versus Blade the Vampire Slayer!  The cover, penciled by Morbius creator Gil Kane, is classic Marvel action.  Even better, it was inked by John Romita Sr.

Fear 24 original cover art by Gil Kane and John Romita

Here is a scan of the original inked cover, which I found on the Gil Kane Unchained page on Facebook.  Nuff Said!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Strange Sunday: From the Marvel Vault Dr Strange cover by Mario Alberti

Doctor Strange From the Marvel Vault cover by Mario Alberti

A reader named Toby sent me this nice high-res image of a new cover by artist Mario Alberti!  This is the cover to Doctor Strange: From the Marvel Vault #1.  I love the details on the walls framing the orb like window on Doc’s Sanctum Sanctorum.  From the Marvel Vault is the byline of inventory stories being published for the first time, ala Marvel Fanfare.  This one should be good, written by one of my favorite Doc Strange writers, Roger Stern, and illustrated by Neil Vokes.  It has languished in the Marvel Vault since 1998.  I can’t understand why Marvel doesn’t have Stern do a new monthly series, but I will take what I can get.  Nuff Said!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Two Amazing Heroes covers by Todd McFarlane

Amazing Heroes 170 Marvel heroes cover by Todd McFarlane 1989

It has been such a long time, I had even forgotten that Todd McFarlane ever drew mainstream Marvel characters!  But he was all the rage in the late 1980s, and this cover for Amazing Heroes #170 shows that McFarlane could draw the big characters quite well.  I really liked these Preview specials that AH would produce.  This idea of Wolverine, Human Torch, Captain America and Spider-Man bursting out of the interior pages was a good one.

Amazing Heroes 179 Spider-Man 1990 cover by Todd McFarlane

In 1990, McFarlane produced the cover for AH #179, to promote his brand spanking new adjective-less Spider-Man series that broke all sales records.  I never thought of their being a Bob Kane influence on McFarlane’s work…but now I can see it a bit.  Nuff Said!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thor Thursday: Walt Simonson pin-up with a little inspiration by Gene Colan

Thor Iron Man Hulk by Gene Colan and Walt Simonson

Here’s a pinup that Walt Simsonson worked on to raise money for a Gene Colan benefit last year, featuring Thor, Iron Man, and the Hulk riding a crazy space bike.  Thor and Hulk are done in Simonson’s style, but with Iron Man, Walt managed to portray him in Colan’s classic style.

Iron Man by Walt Simonson in style of Gene Colan

Here is close up view of Iron Man in one early stage of this drawing.  Colan had a way of drawing IM’s helmet, where the facial expressions came out of the mask.  Simonson nailed that and other classic details, like the larger rings around Iron Man’s gauntlets, shoulders, hips, and boots. 

You can find these and other great Simonson pieces on The Official Walter Simonson Page on Facebook. For Gene Colan news, visit The Invincible Gene Colan Blog, as well as Clifford Meth’s blog.  Nuff Said!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Salute to Killraven by Don McGregor and P Craig Russell

Marvel Fanfare 045 Killraven by P Craig Russell

I was a big fan of Don McGregor & P Craig Russell’s work on Killraven during the 1970s.  It had a short but sweet run with some of the most lyrical stories ever done in Marvel’s history.  Killraven fans kept hoping for the return of the rebel warrior and his band of free men, M’Shulla, Carmilla Frost, Old Skull, etc.  Marvel Graphic Novel #7 in 1983 was a great return to this world, but that was the swan song.  You will notice the above pinup by Russell is dated 1989.  It appeared in Marvel Fanfare #45, an issue devoted to pin-ups.  When I first saw this, I thought, wow, they called up Craig and had him do a special illustration!  However, there may be more to the story.

On the Killraven Wikipedia entry, there is this tidbit of inside-comics:

In the late 1980s, Don McGregor wrote 50 to 60 pages and P. Craig Russell began illustrating a final story, "Killraven: Final Battles, Final Lies, Final Truths" (also referred to as "Final Lies, Final Truths, Final Battles"). The story never saw print, according to McGregor, because Marvel would not assure Russell the company would print the story in Marvel's best format at the time. In this intended finale to McGregor's story, "Killraven would take that war back to the intruders" on Mars itself.

Amazing Adventures 39 Killraven cover by Craig Russell

While I like that pinup a lot, I prefer Killraven with longer hair.  Hey, I’m bald like Old Skull, and a guy has got to dream, right?  Amazing Adventures #39 was the last issue to feature Killraven (or War of the Worlds) and I loved, loved this cover by P Craig Russell.  It is a very iconic cover, capturing the spirit of these freedom fighters.  Old Skull (looking really envious of Killraven’s hair) holds a flag, somewhat like the classic Iwo Jima photograph from WW 2.  The horse is straining at the reins, buckling to be free.  The wind is at their backs and an explosion is going off in the background.  Even the caption reading THE FINAL GLORY just gives you chills.  I looked around for the original artwork to this cover and have not been able to find anyone who has it.  One collector wrote on ComicArtFans that this was a Holy Grail!  I am sure many fans would love to own it.

I think when I bought this comic, I had already known it was cancelled.  I was pretty disgusted, because it seemed like all of Don McGregor’s books at Marvel were getting shut down.

AA 30 Killraven data sheet

There were obviously many more tales that McGregor had planned for Killraven.  Just look at this data sheet from Amazing Adventures #30.  This was a fact file written by Martian intelligence on their greatest enemy.  We learned here for the first time that Killraven’s brother, Joshua, was alive and had been given the name…Deathraven.  Oooooo.  A lot of sub plots and elements were teased and meant to pay off over time.  The one about Deathraven did, finally, in the Marvel Graphic Novel #7 that I mentioned earlier.

Amazing Adventures 29 Killraven cover.

Marvel has tried to revive Killraven a few times without McGregor and Russell.  Joe Lisner did a Killraven one-shot in 2001 and Alan Davis did a 6 issue mini-series in 2002.  While I appreciated Davis’ artwork, it was still missing that lyrical collaboration between the original creators.

Another cover that I’ve always admired is the one above, to Amazing Adventures #29.  Killraven is a madman with a sword, jumping on top of that aerial sled to slice and dice those guys before it goes over the cliff!  I have always assumed this cover was penciled by Gil Kane and inked by Russell.  Marvel Wikia states that it was all done by Russell alone.  Some other sites disagree.  What do you think?  Nuff Said!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Strange Sunday: Dr. Strange Wallpaper for the Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle

Doctor Strange on the Sony Reader

I’ve been into e-readers the past few years.  I started off with the Sony Reader 505 and last year upgraded to the new Sony Reader Touch Edition 650.  One of the things I liked about this model was that it had the ability to upload wallpaper and change the screensaver image.  Of course, the first thing I have to do in that case is to put comic book images on the device!  The one you see above is an Alan Davis pen/ink drawing from the Stan Lee Meets Doctor Strange special from 2006.

Doctor Strange 56 Dr Strange Golden Dr Strange Brunner Barry Smith Doctor Strange Dr Strange Davis GS Defenders 1

You can see here a collection of Doctor Strange artwork by Paul Smith, Michael Golden, Frank Brunner, Barry Smith, Davis, and Gil Kane that I’ve converted to black and white images.  These all look great on my pearl e-ink device, they should work fine on the Amazon Kindle as well as the Sony readers.

For more comic-book themed wallpapers for Sony Reader and Kindle (both Marvel and DC Comics), check out my article on Giant-Size Geek.  Nuff Said!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Silver Surfer Saturday: Marvel Fanfare 45 cover by John Buscema

Marvel Fanfare 51 Silver Surfer cover by John Buscema

Big Al Milgrom, the editor of Marvel Fanfare, was wise enough to commission this beautiful wraparound cover for a Silver Surfer story in issue #51, circa 1990.  It features some Thor-ish goodness as the Surfer battles Magog on Earth.  The story was written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Buscema and Jack Abel.  It features a Surfer still earth-bound, fighting against a dirty Kree plot, and has guest appearances by the Fantastic Four and Doctor Strange.  Not to mention Mantis, one of Englehart’s favorite characters.

Marvel Fanfare 051 Editori-AL

The Editori-AL for this issue explains the origins of this story.  You may remember that Marvel launched a new ongoing Surfer series in 1987, by Marshall Rogers and Englehart.  Originally this was going to be a 12-part maxi series, each one double sized and drawn by Buscema, just like the original 1960s series!  When the plan was changed to make the series an ongoing title, plot lines changed and Marshall Rogers (who had enjoyed great success with Englehart over at DC Comics) became the artist.  The first issue of the original series was written and drawn by Buscema, but never published until this issue of Marvel Fanfare. 

Al Milgrom did everyone a great favor by pulling out these unused inventory stories into Marvel Fanfare.  Makes me wonder how many other stories have been lost throughout the years?  Nuff Said!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Heroes and Villains Poster by John Romita Sr and Alex Ross

Heroes and Villains Poster by John Romita Sr and Alex Ross

Back in 2004, Alex Ross teamed up with Marvel’s classic artist John Romita Sr to produce this poster, commemorating all the characters that Romita had a hand in creating/designing for the company.  I saved a number of scans from Ross’ website that highlight key characters.


Mary Jane Watson is front and center, in her famous Face It Tiger, You Hit the Jackpot! pose.  She’s framed by Robbie Robertson (editor of the Daily Bugle) and Captain Stacy (father of Gwen).  Man-Wolf and Gibbon are here, too, but take a look at that fellow behind Robbie: The Sentry (golden age version).


The lower right corner features Wolverine, in a pose reminiscent of his first appearance in Incredible Hulk #181.  Ms. Marvel is also in this area, featuring her bikini bottom costume which made a welcome re-appearance during the Dark Reign storyline.


The left hand side features Spider-Man villains: The Kingpin, Shocker, and Rhino.  Not to mention Spidey’s extra appendages taken from Amazing Spider-Man #100!  Luke Cage is bustin’ out in his Tiara as Hero for Hire.  I was really happy to see Steve Gerber and Jim Mooney’s Omega the Unknown represented in this pantheon as well.


This panel showcases a few more offbeat characters.  Satana, the daughter of the Devil, is shown her classic Romita outfit on the left.  Namor the Sub-Mariner got a regal new costume designed by Romita (and Reed Richards) in a last ditch effort to revitalize Namor’s sales.  Misty Knight, from Iron Fist, is here, along with Spitfire from the Invaders.

I don’t have a good close up of the upper right quadrant, but take a look at the big poster scan on top of this post.  That area contains Brother Voodoo, Medusa, Mantis, Black Widow, and The Falcon’s new winged costume.  And a character from a great short story that Romita did with Stan Lee in Savage Tales, one of The Femizons!  Whoever bought this poster was very lucky indeed.  Nuff Said!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thing Tuesday: The Thing on Coney Island by Steve Rude

The Thing on Coney Island by Steve Rude
Here’s a great Thing pin-up that I picked up on Steve Rude’s Facebook page.  The Thing relaxing on a sunny day in Coney Island, but always thinking of those darn Yancy Streeters.  Nuff Said!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monster Monday: The Golem!

Strange Tales is a unique title in Marvel Comics history.  It hosted many weird heroes, from Doctor Strange to Brother Voodoo.  When Brother Voodoo’s run only lasted 5 issues, there was another monster ready to take his place.

Strange Tales 177 The Golem cover by Frank Brunner 1974

The Golem first appeared in Strange Tales #174 in 1974.  He only lasted three issues!  Strange Tales #177, with a beautiful cover by Frank Brunner, was his last appearance.  This wasn’t exactly a memorable storyline on par with other Marvel Monsters at the time.  But it did do a good job of introducing readers to the myth of the Golem, a creature made out of clay to protect the Jewish people of Prague from persecution.  We were shown how the Golem could be controlled by writing on his forehead: emeth (meaning truth) activated the Golem, while meth (death) shut it down.

The biggest contribution this comic made was to prepare me for references to Golems in other stories.  Michael Chabon’s novel The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay has a scene where Joe Kavalier escapes persecution by hiding in the coffin of the inanimate Golem of Prague.  Ted Chiang’s wonderful story Seventy Two Letters features a professor named Robert Stratton, who goes on to create new ways of creating and controlling Golems.  When I read both of these stories, it was mind blowing—at last, someone else had read Strange Tales #174!  Perhaps they did not—but I felt like my 25 cent investment here had paid off decades later.

To my surprise, The Golem has appeared in other Marvel titles over the years!  See this Wikipedia article for more details.  Nuff Said!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Strange Sunday: Spider-Man Team-Up with Doctor Strange by Gabriel Hardman


Gabriel Hardman did this wonderful Spider-Man and Doctor Strange Team-Up illustration last year.  You can find more of Hardman’s work on his deviantART page.  Nuff Said!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thor Thursday: Movie posters for US and International Releases

Thor International Poster

I cannot get over the fact that a Thor movie will be in the movie theaters in May!  Regardless of the quality of the film or changes to the classic Stan Lee / Jack Kirby storyline, I think it’s great that many people will be introduced to the Asgardian mythos for the first time!  The poster that you see above is the version for International (re: Europe) movie theaters.

Thor US One Sheet Poster

Here is the advance one-sheet poster for the United States theaters.  I prefer the International poster, it seems a bit more dramatic.  Both of these advance posters do nothing to convey the wonders of Asgard.  I am hoping this is just because they are advance teaser posters and some other versions are coming later.  The Europeans also get to see Thor 1 week ahead of US.  Not fair, we created Thor!  Well, if you forget about Vikings and Norse origins.  There will be a lot of kids who see this film and have no idea about those—hopefully they will look them up.


Last year at Comic-Con 2010, Marvel released this “poster” featuring production concept art of a battle between Thor and Loki in the film.  I think the costumes look superb.

I think all Marvel fans are waiting to see how this film turns out.  From the trailer we can see that the origin story has been altered.  The film doesn’t start with Dr. Don Blake finding the hammer and turning into Thor.  Presumably the film makers want to start off with plenty of action, with Thor fighting the Frost Giants and triggering a war that was unnecessary.  Odin sends Thor to Earth to learn humility and separates him from Mjlonir. Kenneth Branagh did say at Comic-Con that there is some Don Blake stuff in there—if I had to guess, I’d bet the screenwriters will borrow Dan Jurgens trick in his version of Thor—having the Thunder God somehow merge his existence with Blake to save his life.  Then he would once again become worth of wielding Mjolnir and go on to whup the Destroyer’s ass in the last act.

Mere conjecture on my part.  Let’s hope that Thor is on the same level as the first two X-Men films, rather than the Fantastic Four movies.  Nuff Said!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Art of John Buscema: Classic Marvel Heroes on this 1978 cover!

Art of John Buscema cover

This cover appeared on The Art of John Buscema, a 1978 special that focused on Big John’s artwork.  Classic Marvel fans will appreciate this cover, featuring Buscema’s renditions of Conan, the Avengers, Thor, Silver Surfer, etc.  Even Howard the Duck (a real superstar at that point in Marvel History) is represented!

Art of John Buscema 1978 cover pen-ink
Here’s the black and white version of this cover.  This magazine sized retrospective was published by Sal Quartuccio.
Marvel Convention 1975 poster by John Buscema and Joe Sinnott

And here’s another Classic Marvel shot by Big John that I featured a while back, a poster Buscema did for a Marvel Convention in 1976.  Nuff Said!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thing Tuesdays: Chris Stevens Hulk vs Thing

Chris Stevens is an artist working in mixed media who has a visual style that I love.


Here is Chris' take on a Hulk vs Thing battle.  In his behind the scenes comment for this piece, Chris remarked:
This was my attempt at a Bernie Wrightson layout. Everything piled up on the left side and totally vertical. It was a fun piece.
It does have the feeling of a Wrightson piece.  Nuff Said!

Link: Chris Stevens on deviantART

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monster Monday: Art Adams Man-Thing pin-up re-mastered as Thunderbolts variant cover!

Thunderbolts 154 Man-Thing variant cover by Art Adams

I have featured this Man-Thing pin-up by Art Adams on more than one occasion. I think it’s a great rendition of Marvel’s muck-monster.  Now Marvel has decided to use this great pin-up as the alternate cover for Thunderbolts #154 (coming in March 2011). Wow!  I didn’t think this would look good in color, but I was wrong.  The colorist went berserk filling in all kinds of details on Manny’s body.  I love the fog at the creature’s knees.

Art Adams Man Thing

Here’s the original pin-up, which I originally featured back in 2008.  Man-Thing rules!  Nuff Said.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Strange Saturday: Craig Russell’s Alternate Cover to Dr Strange Annual #1

Stephen Donnelly on ComicArtFans has this nifty piece of art, Craig Russell’s cover to Dr. Strange Annual #1
 from 1976!

Dr Strange King-Size Annual 1 alternate cover by Craig Russell

I think this piece is great.  I certainly looked forward to this annual when it was published, having been a great fan of Russell’s Killraven.  I’m pretty sure this Annual appeared right around the time War of the Worlds ended.  Russell usually did the covers on that series, but not on this issue, which I found to be quite…strange!

Doctor Strange King-Size Annual 1 1976 cover by Dave Cockrum

Instead, Marvel went with this cover by Dave Cockrum.  It’s not a bad cover for the era.  I think I see some Romita in there, either the inking or the design.  The biggest problem with the cover is that it is a lie.  Clea is shown in a captive bubble, but she only appears on a couple of pages and makes a quick exit.

Doctor Strange Annual 1 1976 splash page by Craig Russell

I know Russell eventually did a new take on this tale in 1997’s Dr Strange – What Is It That Distrubs You, Stephen?  one shot.  I have that one, too.  It was good, but somehow it lost the charm of the original story.  Take a look at the splash page above, from the 1976 annual.  Even with the fading colors and old paper, still looks wonderful today.  Nuff Said!

Friday, January 7, 2011

George Perez: The Maestro And His Toys, from Hulk Future Imperfect

I’m back!  Like a bear emerging out of hibernation, I’m functioning once again—thanks to coffee.  I told you that I hated the holidays—I had to sleep in a coffin after Halloween just to escape the torture!    Time to look at the electronic long box of commissions and scans, just like this fellow megalomaniac…The Maestro!

The Master by George Perez
George Perez shared this wonderful pen and ink piece over on his Facebook fan page.  Perez is notorious for cramming lots of details in the nooks & crannies of his drawings.  He has the best excuse here, showcasing the Future Hulk’s mad trophy room.  Here’s a few that I can name:
  1. Thor’s helmet.
  2. On the wall underneath: Pictures of Warlock (New Mutants), Beast, Inhumans, Daredevil.
  3. Wolverine’s skeleton.
  4. Silver Surfer’s surfboard.
  5. Wonder Man’s uniform?
  6. Superman’s shirt.
  7. Doctor Strange’s cloak.
  8. Nova’s helmet.
  9. Ant-Man’s helmet.
  10. Captain America’s mask & shield.
  11. Hawkeye’s bow and arrow.
  12. Ultron’s robotic head.
  13. Spider-Man’s mask.
  14. Thor’s hammer.
  15. Wrecking crew thunderball?
  16. Doctor Octopus’ arms.
  17. The Thing’s picture of the left side of the Maestro’s leg.
  18. The Vision’s head on the Maestro’s leg.
  19. Iron Man’s helmet in his right hand.
  20. Cyclops visor on top of the TV.
There is a lot more I didn’t name.  Do you see those bottles on the left, right under the Beast’s picture?  Do those have some meaning or are they just decoration?

An outstanding commission by Perez.  Whoever owns this should be bursting with Marvel pride!  Nuff Said.