Friday, February 11, 2011

Lo, There Shall Be An Ending!

Fantastic Four King-Size Annual, Lo There Shall Be An Ending

A hard thing for me to announce to all you Titanic True Believers, but this is the end of the blog known as Giant-Size Marvel!  After 300+ posts over the past three years, I have just run out of steam.  Lately, every time I think of something to write about, I discover that other nostalgia bloggers have covered the same material, and doing a great job of it, too!  (See my blogroll at the lower right.)  One of my favorite all-time blogs is the classic Dial B for Blog.  I admired Robby for both his taste in comics and his great design work, which I can’t hold a candle to.  Like Robby, I think some blogs should not run forever; I have said enough about Marvel Comics and it is time to move onward and upward.  You can still catch me on my other blog, Giant-Size Geek, where I discuss Marvel/DC Comics, Science Fiction, books, TV, and all kinds of geeky stuff.

I tried, in the beginning, to cover everything Marvel—modern comics, videogames and movies—and found that to be too difficult.  Writing about all the new stuff wasn’t much fun.  While there have been some bright spots in modern superhero comics, during the past few years I seem to be losing my interest and connection to them.  I keep coming back to the comics of my formative years, the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  I think in writing this blog, I love those comics more than ever.  And I love them in their original form, on cheap newsprint with staples or glue, even more than slick trade paper or digital format. 

Over the past week, I’ve featured some of my favorite comics covering the Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange, Marvel Monsters, the Thing, Giant-Size Marvel comics and FOOM.  There are some other articles that cover some topics which were special for me…

Amazing Spider-Man 121 Savage Tales - Red Nails intro Marvel Premiere 1 cover by Gil Kane
And a few off-beat articles that I enjoyed writing…

Judge Margarito Garza and his creation, Relampago, by Richard Dominguez Artie Simek 1975 tribute James Sime, owner of Isotope Comics (Dec 2009)
I have truly appreciated all the comments and emails that I have received.  You guys are all Keepers of the Flame, Merrily Marching in the Marvel Society of my mind, and I shall always be your Friend Of Old Marvel.  When we meet in the Great Bullpen of the sky, we shall exclaim:

Excelsior - last panel to Stan Lee Meets Silver Surfer by Mark Buckingham, 2007

Excelsior!  As Mark Buckingham illustrated in the Stan Lee Meets Silver Surfer special, the characters inspired by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and a legion of other talented creators are truly unforgettable.  And now, one last image from the Bullpen Bulletins page to sum it all up…

Marvel masthead

Make Mine Marvel! 

Nuff Said.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Favorite Giant-Size Marvels of the 1970s

When I created this blog back in 2008, I needed an idea for a title.  My favorite Marvel Comics from the 1970s were always the Giant-Size titles that sold for 35 or 50 cents.  Just the thought of extra pages of Marvel-ous content made me heart beat a little faster.  Here are some of my favorite titles from this era...

Giant Size Super Stars 1

Giant-Size Superstars #1, featuring the Fantastic Four and wildest Thing versus Hulk match ever, was one of the first giant-size titles.  The story by Gerry Conway is fun, light-hearted, a done-in-one romp that is perfectly constructed.  The artwork by Rich Buckler showcases Marvel over the top action in the best way, with a fight that goes from skyscrapers to the subway system.  I first wrote about this comic in 2008.

Giant Size Superheroes 1

Giant-Size Superheroes #1 followed a month or so later, with another whopper of a story by Conway, where Spidey's misunderstood monsters teamed up: Morbius and the Man-Wolf.  I couldn't imagine how these two got together, but it was an interesting setup.  The art by Gil Kane featured some great midnight action in New York City.  I mentioned this comic earlier in my look at Morbius' creation.

Giant-Sized Avengers 2 1974 cover by Romita, Wilson, etc

At this point you may think all my favorites were the first issues of the Giant-Size books.  That is true--except in the case of this one.  I longed for these Giant-Size comics to somehow tie into the story from the regular monthly titles.  Steve Englehart finally broke this barrier with Giant-Size Avengers #2.  Kang the Conqueror had attacked the Avengers in the regular monthly title, clobbering Thor, Iron Man, and The Vision into unconsciousness.  And kidnapping the Scarlet Witch and Mantis to boot!  Kang left the Swordsman behind, because he was a loser.  Bad mistake!  In this issue, the Swordsman recruits Hawkeye and the two of them start to unravel Kang's plan for world domination.  The climax of this story had a big revelation--the Celestial Madonna was actually Mantis--and the Swordsman died trying to save her.  One of my favorite Avengers stories of all time.  The artwork by Dave Cockrum, who also inked himself on this issue, is one of the best art jobs of his career.  I noticed that Doug and Karen mentioned this issue in their recent article on The Vision.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

FOOM: Artwork by Steranko, Kirby, Buscema, Colan, Starlin and more!

FOOM envelope featuring the Hulk

The Bronze Age Babies blog has a great series every Friday where they cover F.O.O.M., Marvel’s fan club from the 1970s.  I thought I would share a few memories of my own.  I signed up for this club right after I saw the ad in Marvel’s Bullpen Bulletins page.  After a while, I had forgotten about joining—and then I received an giant envelope in the mail—with the Hulk’s green head staring at the viewer!  The mailing label was affixed in the white space of the Hulk’s mouth.

I was blown away just by the great design behind even the envelope!  I wonder if Steranko, who was behind the first year of the F.O.O.M. club, came up with it.  I managed to buy a F.O.O.M. kit a number of years ago and took this scan of it, in a near pristine state.

FOOM poster by Jim Steranko

The FOOM membership kit also arrived with this stunning poster by Steranko.  With the Silver Surfer in the forefront, pointing the way for heroes of the Marvel Universe.  You have all the big heroes here: Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, the Thing, etc.  But you also have representatives of some smaller teams: Black Bolt from the Inhumans and Angel from the X-Men.  Angel is wearing his costume designed by Neal Adams in the last few original issues.  If you are wondering why the Black Widow is here, this is probably due to the fact she was sharing space with Daredevil at the time.  It is a bit strange that she is the only female super-hero represented.  A great poster that I threw away or gave away at some foolish point, but I was lucky enough to get it a few years ago.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thing Tuesdays: Six Shattering Pin-Ups of Ben Grimm by Moebius, Byrne, Deodato, Smith, and Rude

I have posted over 25 images of my favorite rocky hero, The Thing.  Here are a few of them that are very special...

moebius the thing

The Thing poster by Moebius has always gathered a lot of attention here on my blog.  I think people forgot that Moebius did some Marvel work in the 1980s.  This poster really captures something craggy and cool about Ben Grimm.  You can also view Moebius' Iron Man poster and his Silver Surfer cover for Marvel Age.

Mike Deodato's Thing and Franklin Richards

Another illustration that I found very good and out of the norm was this one by Mike Deodato, showing the Thing hanging out with his nephew, Franklin Richards.  This is fun and kind of sweet, reminding you why the Thing is such a great character.  He can be tortured, he can be cranky, but he is also just a plain joe who hangs out with his adopted family.  I also just think this may be one of Deodato's best drawings ever.

Marvel Two-In-One 1 1973 Thing and Man-Thing cover by Gil Kane

Here is one cover that I somehow missed until now: Marvel Two-In-One #1 from 1973.  The launch of a brand new team up series, it was the Thing's own title with guest stars each month.  The first issue was written by Steve Gerber, who decided it was high time that Ben Grimm visit Florida and the monster known as Man-Thing.  Terrific cover by Gil Kane.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monster Monday: Six Macabre Covers by Adams, Ploog, Land, Kane and Brunner

In the past years on this blog, I've shown dozens of covers and illustrations from Marvel's Legion of Monsters during the 1970s.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Tomb Of Dracula 1 cover by Neal Adams

Tomb of Dracula #1, cover by Neal Adams from 1972.  This kicked off the whole Monster craze at Marvel which would last a few years.   This title didn't really take off until issue 7 0r 8, when Marv Wolfman took over as writer, but it was my absolute favorite in terms of both story and art.  Neal Adams actually got to draw a story for this character in the black and white magazine, Dracula Lives #2.  Click on all posts tagged Tomb of Dracula for more.

Mike Ploog Monster of Frankenstein 2 cover, 1972

The Monster of Frankenstein #2 continued Marvel's spin on Mary Shelley's novel.  The cover by Mike Ploog captures how distraught the Monster was after finding his Bride, murdered by his enemy, Dr. Frankenstein.  I loved this cover so much, I traced it and convinced girls at school that I had created it all on my own.  Hey--at least I stole from one of the best.  Click on all posts tagged Frankenstein for more.


Werewolf by Night, from the one-shot special published in 2007.  This is the only modern era cover in this bunch, for two reasons.  One, I couldn't get a great scan of Werewolf by Night #1.  Two, Greg Land did knock it out of the park with this cover, which appears to have been a character he waited a long time to draw for Marvel.  The story by Mike Carey was very good as well.  Too bad Marvel didn't continue on with this direction.  Click on all posts tagged Werewolf by Night for more.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Strange Sunday: Five Mystical Pin-Ups of Dr Strange by Colan, Brunner, Golden, Smith, and Davis

I have posted over 20 images of the Dr. Strange over the are five of my favorite illustrations.

Doctor Strange 177

It seems like I am one of the few fans of Doc's superhero outfit that first appeared on this cover to Dr. Strange #177 from 1969.  I love this cover by Gene Colan--I even had a poster of this on my wall back in the day.  I wrote about this in 2009, Dr. Strange Masked Superhero, I had a number of comments telling me this was the worst thing that ever happed to Doc.

Dr Strange, Master, Student, Apprentice

Frank Brunner is another one of my favorite Doctor Strange artists, who drew the series when Steve Englehart started writing it in the 70s.  This giant-sized pinup, which first appeared in Marvel Treasury Edition #6 from 1975, shows Doc in his trippy 70s new age glory, along with Clea and the Ancient One.  Stare at this piece while listening to John Lennon's Across the Universe to get into the proper groove.  I wrote about this in 2008 in an article titled Ancient One, Doc, Clea by Frank Brunner.  You can see a scan of the original inked version there.

doctor strange golden portfolio

Of all the artists who worked on Dr. Strange, Michael Golden had the biggest impact with just a couple of issues and covers.  He produced the wonderful Doctor Strange portfolio in the early 80s.  The cover to the folio was this great illustration with Doc about to use the Orb of Agamotto.  I just love the fine details of the drawing here.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Silver Surfer Saturday: Five Illustrations that Soar by Kirby, Buscema, Byrne, Jusko, and Davis

Over the years I've posted over 25 Silver Surfer are five of my all time favorites.

Silver Surfer by Jack Kirby and Al Gordon with really nice Colors by Artist-Colorist Supremo, John Heebink

Jack Kirby, the co-creator of Norrin Radd, of course is the grand master of drawing this character.  While I love a lot of the Fantastic Four covers, this illustration, inked by Al Gordon, knocked me out when I saw it on Al's Flickr page.

Silver Surfer 4 cover by John Buscema, 1968

John Buscema drew the Surfer in a more sleek, stylized truth, I saw Buscema's version first and regarded it as the model.  It took me quite a while to appreciate Kirby's approach.  But my all time favorite Buscema drawing is this cover to Silver Surfer #3, where he fought Thor on the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard.

Silver Surfer 1 v2 by John Byrne Tom Palmer 1982

John Byrne only drew the Silver Surfer a few times, most notably in this 1982 Silver Surfer one-shot special.  I thought this was a great story, wrapping up several years of continuity, and it was the first time that Byrne had worked with inker Tom Palmer.  The cover is magnificient--the Surfer longingly gazes at the cosmos in the way that Jeff Spicoli looks at the waves in Malibu.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Marvel Fanfare 45 pinups by Bob Layton, Marshall Rogers and Sandy Plunkett

Marvel Fanfare 045 Iron Man armor hall by Bob Layton

You have probably seen this famous illustration of Iron Man in his Hall of Armor, drawn by the inimitable Bob Layton.  But did you know that this image first appeared in Marvel Fanfare #45?  It was later made into a poster and used as the cover for trade paperback covers.  I hope Layton got compensated for this, surely one of the most iconic Iron Man drawings ever produced during the 1980s.

Marvel Fanfare 045 classic X-Men by Marshall Rogers

Marshall Rogers got the opportunity to draw the original classic X-Men in this pinup.  I think he captures the crazy fun of the early team, in their blue and yellow uniforms, quite well.  I love the Beast bounding towards the reader.  Ah, I miss the days of Hank and Bobby at the Coffee A-Go-Go.  Do you think that will make it into Matthew Vaughan’s X-Men First Class movie?

Marvel Fanfare 45 Scarlet Witch pinup by Sandy Plunkett

Sandy Plunkett is like a rare gem that I love to find from time to time in back issues, especially in Marvel Fanfare.  This illustration of the Scarlet Witch among sabre-tooth tigers looks like it takes place in the Savage Land.

If you liked these, take a look at Wednesday’s Marvel Feature pinup special featuring Byrne, Golden, and more.  Nuff Said!

Thor Thursday: Walt Simonson Battle Armor from Marvel Fanfare #45

Thor by Walt Simonson from Marvel Fanfare 45

From the Marvel Fanfare #45 all pin up issue, here is Walt Simonson drawing Thor in his Battle Armor, which was used during Walt’s run on the series.  Marvel Wikia describes this perfectly: Forged of Asgardian Steel and enscribed with the sacred Runes of Odin, Thor's Battle Armor helped protect his body while dealing with the curse of Hela.  Nuff Said!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Marvel Fanfare 45 pinups by John Byrne, Michael Golden, Brent Anderson, and Paul Smith

Marvel Fanfare 045 Michael Golden Captain America

Marvel Fanfare #45 from 1988 was a special issue devoted to pinups.  Editor Al Milgrom picked some notable artists to contribute this stellar issue.  Michael Golden’s Captain America pinup here is a prime example.  How many times have you seen Cap take down Hydra agents?  Many times, but never like you see it here in Golden’s pinup.

Marvel Fanfare 045 Ka-Zar, Shanna, Zabu by Brent Anderson

Brent Anderson contributed this pinup featuring Ka-Zar, Shanna the She Devil, and Zabu in their native Savage Land.  Zabu is stealing the spotlight here.  I hereby declare Anderson to be the definitive artist for Zabu!

Marvel Fanfare 045 Green Goblin by Paul Smith

Paul Smith drew this excellent illustration of the Green Goblin flying above Manhattan on his glider.  Love the angle of this picture.

Marvel Fanfare 45 cover by John Byrne 1988

Here is the cover to Marvel Fanfare #45, featuring Al Milgrom lining up all the Marvel Universe stars (featured in this issue) for their portraits to be taken.  I’ll share some more pinups from the issue tomorrow.  Nuff Said!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Thing Tuesday: Doc Savage meets Ben Grimm

Marvel Two-In-One 21 1976 cover by Ron Wilson and Joe Sinnott

Here is a rip-roaring cover from 1976 by Ron Wilson and Joe Sinnott from Marvel Two-In-One #21.  A great team-up between Doc Savage and The Thing, even though they never met in person—the story took place in two different time periods.  I love how The Thing punches his way toward the reader, and Marvel’s version of Doc Savage looks pretty cool, too.  You can tell right away that Sinnott inked this cover, his style on The Thing is easily recognizable.

Rich Buckler MTIO21 Doc Savage Thing Black Sun Marvel Two-In-One guy on ComicArtFans

I did a search on ComicArtFans to see if anyone had the original art to this piece.  I didn’t find that, but I did discover MarvelTwoInOne76 guy commissioned this piece by Rich Buckler, showing the two heroes facing off against the villain of this story, Black Sun.  He has a nice story behind how he received this artwork from his friends, you can read about it here on ComicArtFans.  You can also visit his Yancy Street Preservation Society.  Nuff Said!