Saturday, October 28, 2017

Action Comics 419 Cover by Neal Adams: Superman streaking into the sky! (Updated Oct 2017)

I am a Neal Adams fan as I am sure many of you are. I love his Superman covers, he did dozens from the late 60s to the early 70s. My favorite cover is a 100 page Super Spectacular that I wrote about here, but a close second is this Action Comics cover.


Action Comics 419, drawn by Neal Adams, inked by Murphy Anderson, and some collage work by Jack Adler using a real photo. It's a super (pun intended) cover showcasing the classic Man of Steel. The image of Superman has been lifted off this cover and used in all kinds of merchandising. I believe this issue of Action Comics is the first one edited by Julius Schwartz, who took over from Murray Boltinoff.

Update October 2017: I met Adams at a con 2 months ago & asked him about this cover. He said Jack Adler did not provide the photo background, it was Adams himself who did the collage. Also he didn’t really like Murphy Anderson’s inks, too slick in his opinion.

Action Comics 419 original art

Here is the original art to the cover with notes to the letterer about the cover blurbs below. One interesting thing about this original art is that it is now owned by David Mandel, a veteran writer in Hollywood who has worked on Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Veep and many other shows. He owns many other classic original art covers from the Bronze Age as well as this one.


In addition to a new editor, the letter column header also changed, showing Clark Kent changing into Superman through a phone booth (remember those?) at super speed!

How many times have you seen the image of Superman from Action Comics 419 used in merchandise? Cups? Books? I would love to know. Please leave a comment if you had ever seen this elsewhere.

New Action Comics 419 cover redone by Neal Adams

Update October 2017: At the convention where I met Neal Adams, he had a huge booth with posters for sale, including this new take on the Action Comics cover, pencilled and inked by Adams. The city scape below is also redone.

Nuff Said!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Superman and Batman by Gary Frank

Gary Frank is making a big splash this year with the publication of The Doomsday Clock in late November. Here are some illustrations of the World's Finest team...

Superman by Gary Frank

Superman, which is the classic version with the underpants on the outside of the costume!

Batman by Gary Frank

Batman, more like the Miller Dark Knight version with the barrel chest and thick utility belt.

Batman and Catwoman by Gary Frank

Batman and Catwoman together...since they are due to be married?

Nuff Said!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

San Francisco Comic Con 2017 and Doctor Who

Last weekend (labor day 2017) I attended San Francisco Comic Con 2017. Now I haven't been to a con in over a decade. The deciding factor for me to attend was the fact that Peter Capaldi was going to be there. Since becoming a Doctor Who fan, I had thought about flying to another city to attend a con with a famous Doctor. And now here would be the latest Doctor, in my own backyard, no traveling required! I told my wife she was saving at least $1000 this way, but she did not buy that for a second.

I managed to Moscone West around 9:30. I got my pre-paid wristband (courtesy of EventBrite) quickly but we all had to line up on the second floor before going through the 1st floor doorways! Up and down the escalator. Members of the 501st Legion walked by and entertained us while waiting. Once through the gate I made a bee-line for the photo op tickets and got one for the first session. $100 a pop, you might think it was outrageous but I thought it was a good deal not having to pay for airline and hotel.

After the photo op ticket purchase I went to the autograph line for Capaldi just before 10:30. Another $100. From what I read elsewhere, Doctor Who stars like Capaldi, Smith and Tennant can make $200-300K per con appearance. I can believe it by how the fans lined up. I waited for about an hour before getting Peter (now we are on a first name basis) to sign my copy of Doctor Who Magazine 500. I think his daughter was with him ("she's my companion") helping to sort out where to sign the various things brought to him. Capaldi is very polite and charming in person, a real gentleman. I didn't have much to ask but he did comment on my t-shirt.

Next there was a panel discussion, where a young girl asked if we would possibly ever see Clara again! Capaldi hesitated for a few moments before answering in a way that would not break this little girl's heart. Then he finally answered, one day you may see her again. A possible spoiler for his final episode in December 2017? He also answered a couple of questions that were similar in nature. Would he play the Doctor again for Big Finish audio? Would he play the Doctor again in a multi-Doctor story? Both answers were the same: Capaldi felt it was time to move on from Doctor Who after his regeneration in the Christmas Special 2017. He didn't shut down the idea of playing the Doctor ever again - but indicated it would be several years before such a thing might happen. This might be done to give Jodie more time to breathe as the new Doctor, but it could also be done if Peter takes on a new role with a new show by Armando Iannucci; he might want to distance himself completely from the good Doctor. I started wondering if that also meant Capaldi would stop doing convention appearances after his next job begins. We will have to see.

At 3:20 pm the photo op started; we were told to be there 15 minutes before. I think I got there about 3:05 and it was already a very long line! But it was a lot of fun to wait in line with the other fans. There were a couple of young guys dressed up as Capaldi, one in the black jacket with red trim, the other in the red velvety jacket. Another one was dressed up in a very unique costume, a cross between Doctor Who and Capt Jack Sparrow. The line moved slowly but finally we got to see Peter and everything went quick. I brought 2 sonic screwdriver's, the new blue one for the Twelfth Doctor and the other one for the Eleventh. Naturally, Peter held the one unique to his character. I could not stop smiling. Peter was again very polite, welcoming, and he was so great with the young children in the family ahead of us.

I spent the rest of the con getting comics signed by Neal Adams, Michael Golden, Bill Sienkiewicz, Ryan Sook, etc. They were all great people to chat with. Neal Adams could talk for hours about the comics industry and I would be enraptured. I learned a couple days later that Peter Capaldi did walk the floor at some point and met both Sienkiewicz and Golden, courtesy of artist Mike Perkins who had a table there.

It was a great con to attend and worth it to come out of my hermit shell. My only complaint was that there appeared to be no panels with Adams / Sienkiewicz / etc on their careers. The panels seemed to be about cosplay, writing, creating comics, etc. The two biggest panels must have been for Capaldi and Bruce Timm.

Will I attend another con again? I suppose that would be determined by Matt Smith or David Tennant appearing somewhere close by home. Otherwise, this may be the last one ever in my life. Nuff Said!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Kirby 100 - A look at 2001 A Space Odyssey - The Series

I made it a goal to re-read all of Jack Kirby's mid-seventies Marvel work this year. I hadn't liked it when originally published, but now I find them to filled with Kirby's wonderful imagination. See my reviews of The Eternals and Captain America's Bicentennial Battles. Yesterday I wrote about 2001 the movie adaptation, here it's 2001 the color comic.

Kirby 2001 the series

The series I had the least hope for in terms of quality was the color comic series, 2001 A Space Odyssey. I collected these at the time but had no earthly memory at all, other than Machine Man appeared in issue 8 and that became a spin-off book. But I was wrong...this 2001 series is freaking great! The artwork on many splash pages is just bonkers, as you can see above.

Kirby 2001 the series - Vira the barbarian

This seems like a very experimental series for Kirby. The first issue seems like a replay of the main 2001 plot, with different characters. Many of the stories have the same ending as the movie: the Monolith appears and accelerates the aging process in someone to transform them into a Star-Child. But in issue #2, he does a short story about Vira the She-Demon. Half of the story is about Vira encountering the Monolith and learning how to use fear to subjugate the Neanderthals. The other half of the story is about Vera Gentry, an astronaut on Ganymede who also encounters the Monolith.

Kirby 2001 the series - Romans

Another story takes place later on, with a character called Marakwho encounters the Monolith and figures out how to make use of swords, shields, wheels, water barrels, and other things to make his army more successful. He's not the most admirable character. But we can see civilization slowly advancing.

Kirby 2001 the series - armor

The series has no connection to Marvel. It has no plot that carries on between issues except for the occassional two-parter. It's like an anthology series that can take place in any time period. The only thing they have in common is an appearance by the Monolith.

Kirby 2001 the series - station

One issue could be set in the time of barbarians. Another was set in a future where people play virtual reality games based on superheroes. I suspect Kirby always wanted a free floating anthology and this gave him the vehicle to do it.

Kirby 2001 the series - cosmic trip

It lasts for 7 issues in this anthology format, then Machine Man appears in issue 8 - where he was called X-51 at first.

Kirby 2001 - Machine Man meets the Monolith

The connection to the 2001 stories is tenuous; Machine Man sees the Monolith at one point, which gives him some insight as to what to do next. But it launches a new series, one separate from the 2001 license and wholly owned by Marvel. I shall cover that over on Giant-Siz Marvel. Nuff Said and Happy 100 Jack Kirby Birthday!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Kirby's 2001 A Space Odyssey: Treasury Special

In 1976, Marvel Comics welcomed Jack King Kirby back to the fold. As part of his return they published a Marvel Treasury Special adaptation of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. I recently re-read this and was blown away by the scope of Kirby's work in this oversized format. I doubt this can ever be reprinted again. Others have written longer essays about how great this is, I prefer to look at a few of the mind blowing splash pages...

Kirby 2001 - blown through the hatch

David Bowman getting blown through the hatch back into the spaceship so he can take out Hal.
Kirby 2001 - moonbase
The incredible double page spread of a shuttle zipping across the moonscape with a base / mineral city below it.

Kirby 2001 - Bowman destroys Hal

Dave Bowman removing Hal's memory discs, the most dramatic scene from the movie.
Kirby 2001 - a trip

The final trip that Bowman takes, courtesy of the Monolith, is even wilder than the one from the movie.

Kirby always believed that comics were a great art form and deserved presentation in different formats and graphic novels. This was one time he was able to prove his point very skillfully. This Treasury special is well worth buying used on eBay if you are a Kirby fan. Nuff Said!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Alex Toth and The Batman

I just joined the Alex Toth: Toth of the Town group on Facebook. Lots of great Toth illustrations there, and stories too of Toth in the industry. I always love joining a group and seeing artwork that is new to me. Toth did some great Batman illustrations in his day and I thought I would revisit some of them here.

batman adventures 25 alex toth pinup

The one above is incredible! It is from Batman Adventures #25, 1994. Kind of stunned me as I had never seen it before.

Batman card Toth 2002

A birthday card he drew in 2002 for someone named Mark...Evanier? Chiarello?

Batman salute Toth

A 1990 salute to the the 1940s and the Batplane. This appeared in the Batman 3D comic from 1990.

Toth on Batman logo 2002

Toth giving his version of the Batman logo.

Alex Toth Batman 1995 pinup

I found this in Phil Hester's Comic Art Gallery, not sure where this originally appeared. Some anniversary issue for Batman or Detective?

Batman - Black & White 4 alex toth cover

One of my favorite covers, so simple and elegant. Batman Black and White #4 from 1996.

Detective Comics 442 Death Rides the Haunted Sky

Detective Comics 442 was a great 100 page giant with the lead story by Toth and Archie Goodwin, Death Flies the Haunted Sky! I always admired the splash page here with the logo and the kinetic action. It would have made a great cover.

Batman Toth letter on Detective Comics

While digging around I found this letter that Toth wrote explaining why he did not like the splash page and the colored / published result! I was shocked! I still think this is a masterpiece. But Toth had exacting standards for himself and others. Nuff Said.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Otto Binder, Mort Weisinger and the Silver Age Superman

The Silver Age Superman era was crazy fun, filled with creations like Lex Luthor, Braniac, Kandor, Bizarro Superman, various flavors of Kryptonite, imaginary stories, etc. I read all these as a kid; at some point it became fashionable to dismiss all of the expanded Krypton mythology - John Byrne jettisoned all of it in his reboot. Lately I've been missing it and buying back some 80 page giants to reminisce. Every time I see one of these silver age Superman covers it pulls my heartstrings.

A lot of these innovations were the creation of Otto Binder, a science fiction writer who had worked on Captain Marvel stories before his Superman work. Binder did the same thing on Superman that he had for the Big Red Cheese: expanded the mythology of Superman and his universe.

The other famous influence on Superman's Silver Age era is the editor, Mort Weisinger. I heard stories about Weisinger's dominating editorial style. Jim Shooter wrote about his time working for Weisinger as a teenager in the 1960s. Yet at the same time, under the right circumstances, Weisinger could be generous, as in this story where he treated Shooter and his Mom on a trip in NYC. I have always wanted to know more about Weisinger and his time with Superman. He had a great influence on the series for over a decade.

Superman Forever is a podcast I just discovered, produced by Bob Fisher. Bob just produced two of the most incredible episodes on Mort Weisinger! The first episode is where Bob has a conversation with Weisinger's son, Dr Hank Weisinger. It was very insightful. They all knew how Mort could be overbearing at home, yet considerate at other times. He wasn't a tyrant all the time and loved to write and work. One of the best parts of this is how Weisinger got a lot of products for free through his article writing. But there are many other tales of the Superman comics that Hank remembers. The second episode is a conversation with Arlen Schumer, the historian who wrote the coffee table sized Silver Age of Comics book a few years ago, about the Weisinger era. Among many other topics!

I loved these 2 episodes so much I've subscribed to Bob's podcast. He has another episode dedicated to Lex Luthor's silver age trilogy involving the planet Luxor. It's quite good and making me want to buy back some silver age Superman comics. Nuff Said!

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