Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ghost Manor #29: "An Old Man"

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Former actor, TV anchorman, and low-budget movie director, Pat Boyette switched careers again in the middle 1960s. Also an artist, he went to work for Charlton Comics. An avowed Texan, he stayed home in San Antonio and worked through the mail for the Connecticut-based publisher. "Although Charlton was not known for paying big fees," he once admitted, "it gave me an opportunity that the other companies didn't offer and that was the freedom to experiment, to do as I wanted, to make changes, to be happy."

During his nearly two decades with the company, Boyette produced an impressive amount of work for such titles as Ghostly Tales, Billy the Kid, Flash Gordon, Fightin' Marines, The Phantom, and Peacemaker, whose description was "A Man Who Loves Peace So Much That He Is Willing TO FIGHT FOR IT!"

When Charlton editor Dick Giordano moved to DC, he invited Boyette to work for them. He drew two issues of Blackhawk before returning to Charlton—"DC at the time demanded a regimentation that I wasn't readily eager to adhere to."

Boyette, while he did now and then work in a cartoony style, usually drew in an attractive illustrative style. His favorites were Roy Crane, Milton Caniff, and his friend Alex Toth, whose work he felt was "a perfect marriage of the attitudes of Caniff and the attitudes of Roy Crane." Boyette, who drew also for the Warren black-and-white titles, even published a few comic books of his own. At one point he went so far as to draw a revived Spencer Spook.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Witching Hour #38: "Makers of the Mist!"

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One of Murphy Anderson's specialties has always been science fiction. His earliest professional work was drawing Star Pirate and Life on Other Planets for Fiction House's Planet Comics in 1944. A fan of Buck Rogers since childhood, Anderson was given the opportunity to draw the daily strip in 1947. He stayed with it for two years, then quit, but was persuaded to draw Buck's twenty-fifth-century adventures again for a year in 1958. For Ziff Davis's brief fling with comic books, he worked on Amazing Adventures and Lars of Mars.

Signing up with DC in the early 1950s, Anderson went on to draw such sci-fi features as Captain Comet, The Atomic Knights, and John Carter of Mars. Anderson's style changed some over the years, but always remained attractive, visually appealing, and easily recognizable. He was also an excellent inker and worked with Carmine Infantino on Adam Strange and with Gil Kane on both The Green Lantern and The Atom.

Murphy Anderson took over the production of the Army's PS Magazine after Will Eisner left it. Having formed Murphy Anderson Visual Concepts, he withdrew pretty much from comic books to concentrate on commercial art and producing color separations. His cartooning work in recent years has consisted mostly of re-creations of old comic-book covers (his own and others'), which can be seen on such magazines as Alter Ego and the 2003 edition of the Comic Book Price Guide.


Cover: Nick Cardy
Script: Gerry Conway
Pencils and inks: Murphy Anderson

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Batman #255: "Moon of the Wolf" (Neal Adams art)

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An influential and innovative artist, Neal Adams did the majority of his comic-book work after he'd drawn the successful newspaper strip Ben Casey in the early 1960s. By the late 1960s, he was working for DC Comics. Adams drew Deadman in Strange Adventures, upgraded Batman and rescued him from his TV-induced camp phase and, working with writer Denny O'Neil on Green Lantern/Green Arrow, epitomized the relevancy phase that comics went through in the early 1970s. He also drew X-Men and The Avengers for Marvel.

Neal Adams had worked for the Johnstone and Cushing art service while still in his teens. They produced cartoon and comic-strip ads, and one of their star performers was Stan Drake. The young Adams was much influenced by Drake's sketchy, illustrative style. Later he assisted Drake on The Heart of Juliet Jones newspaper strip. The work he did for comic books went beyond the house styles of DC and Marvel, bringing in a slick advertising look as well as a touch of gritty realism.

His Deadman, while causing fan enthusiasm and colleague admiration, did not prove to be a viable hero initially. The social awareness issues of GL/GA, dealing with such problems as drug abuse and racism and broadening the range of what comic books could do, gained considerable attention in the media. The magazine itself, though, was canceled early in 1972. Adams drew his modernized and somewhat sophisticated version of Batman about this time, also managing to work on The Avengers over at Marvel. His take on the Dark Knight influenced several artists who followed.

In the middle 1970s Adams was also one of those who campaigned for and succeeded in getting royalties for Jerry Siegel and joe Shuster for having created Superman. Adams started producing his own comics in the 1980s, including Echo of Future Past and Ms. Mystic. He has been far less active in comic books for the past two decades, and his Continuity Associates has concentrated on advertising and animatics.


Cover: Neal Adams and Nick Cardy
Script: Len Wein
Pencils: Neal Adams
Inks: Dick Giordano

Special surprise bonus download:

Download Batman Illustrated Volume #1

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Arrgh! #3: "The Mummy Walks" (Carl Burgos art)

Download Arrgh! #3

Things That Make You Go ARRGH!
I loved Arrgh! during the "schizoid 70s" and, while I wasn't even alive during the "paranoid 50s," it struck me at the time that Marvel Comics was trying to cash in on the success that DC Comics was enjoying with Plop! That still didn't stop me from
picking up the comic book when I spotted it on the stands. But while Arrgh! wasn't as good as Plop!, I still laughed my ass off reading this as a kid and I picked up the remaining issues as they were published.

"The Mummy Walks" is the funniest story in this issue, in my opinion, and the art by Carl Burgos is second only to that of Will Elder.

While not a major artist, Carl Burgos created one of the major superheroes. It was late in 1939, while working for the Funnies, Inc. shop, that Burgos invented the first Human Torch. Introduced in the first issue of Marvel Comics, the torch became one of the three most popular characters publisher Martin Goodman had in the 1940s. The others were Sub-Mariner and Captain America. A primitive rather than a skilled draftsman, Burgos nevertheless had a forceful style and he was good at staging the scenes of conflict and chaos that the flaming activities of his protagonist required. Aware of his limitations, Buros was proud of the fact that he never swiped. "If they wanted Raymond or Caniff," he once said, "they could look at Raymond and Caniff. The miserable drawing was all mine, but I was having fun."

Burgos entered comics in 1938, after working in an engraving plant. He was first employed in the Harry "A" Chesler shop. Next he joined the Funnies, Inc., shop, drawing The Iron Skull for Amazing Man Comics, and The Human Torch for Marvel Mystery Comics. Burgos had a fondness for androids and all three of these characters were androids.

He went into the army in 1942. When he returned, although he again worked for Timely Comics, he never quite fit in with the new look that comics had acquired in his absence. In 1966 he created a dreadful Captain Marvel of his own, a fellow who could do things like detach his fist in order to sock somebody across the street. In his final years he worked for Harris Publications in New York City.


Script: Unknown
Pencils and inks: Carl Burgos
  • from Crazy (Marvel, 1953 series) #6 (May 1954). (Pictured inset).
  • in Arrgh! (Marvel, 1974 series) #3.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Astonishing Tales #17: "Target: Ka-Zar!"

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Ka-Zar was a jungle lord before Martin Goodman ever published a comic book. Borrowing all but one letter of his name from Tarzan, Ka-Zar appeared in a short-lived Goodman pulp magazine containing short novels that chronicled his African adventures. The stories were credited to Bob Byrd. When the Funnies, Inc. shop added Ka-Zar to the group of characters they put together for Marvel Mystery Comics, Ben Thompson, borrowing as best he could from Tarzan newspaper artist Burne Hogarth, drew the feature.

The first adventure repeated the origin story first told in the pulp. Little David Rand's parents crashed with him in the fierce African jungle. His mother died, and David and his somewhat crazed dad lived on in the wild to become a sort of father-and-son Tarzan team. They made friends with the animals and David—after learning lion lingo—became especially close to a mighty lion named Zar. After his father was murdered by an evil renegade emerald hunter, David more or less moved in with his lion chum and took to calling himself Ka-Zar, which means "brother of the lion." Billed as the "guardian of the wild Belgian Congo animals," he spent a good deal of his time shooing unscrupulous white hunters out of the jungle. Eventually he became more involved with current events and was "successful in destroying Nazi and Fascist fortresses in the jungle." Ka-Zar's jungle was a somewhat spartan place, and few if any women found their way into his domain. He took his leave after Marvel Mystery Comics #27 (January 1942).

A brand new Ka-Zar, reinvented by Stan Lee, first popped up as a guest in X-Men #10 in 1965. This time around, the Lord of the Jungle was actually a British lord named Kevin Plunder. He had grown up in a tropical kingdom known as the Savage Land that was said to lie "buried far beneath the frozen wastes of Antarctica." Like the earlier holder of the title, this Ka-Zar had blonde shaggy hair and wore nothing more than an animal-skin loin cloth. Unlike his predecessor, he spoke like the Johnny Weismuller movie Tarzan.

After many guest shots and team-ups, including appearances in Daredevil, Spider-Man, and The Hulk, over the next few years Ka-Zar earned a permanent berth in Astonishing Tales. He appeared in the first twenty issues, beginning in 1970. Lee and Jack Kirby did the original stories, followed by Gerry Conway and Conan artist Barry Windsor-Smith. The jungle man moved into titled Ka-Zar in 1974, where he first met up with the feisty Shanna O'Hara, a Sheena lookalike who operated as Shanna the She-Devil. Their initially antagonistic relationship blossomed into a romance and eventually they were married. Ka-Zar was benched in 1977, but returned along with his mate in 1984. In addition to an occasional domestic spat, his life was further complicated by his evil brother Parsival, who sullied the family name by doing vile deeds as a villain known as the Plunderer. He returned once more to the jungle in the late 1990s, with Andy Kubert doing the illustrating.


Script: Mike Friedrich
Pencils: Dan Adkins
Inks: Frank Chiaramonte
Letters: John Costanza

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