It's the birthday today of The Mighty Richard Corben, legendary of course for his fantastic photo-realist artwork full of huge, great, pendulous swinging....well, actually pretty much everything in a Richard Corben strip is huge, great, pendulous and swinging. Let's look at a couple of humorous pieces today: First off, here's something chucklesome from the August 1975 issue of Creepy. Who would'a thunk the universe would end...like this!!
And from Fantagor, here's a typically Corben-esque take on The Garden Of Eden myth, full of loads of huge, great etc. etc.
And what about this accompanying illo for the above story, one of the all too rare collaborations between Rich & Vaughn Bode. Why didn't these two ever do a series together?
Here's a slightly odd piece, courtesy of Sal Quartuccio's Hot Stuf'. Sonny Trinidad is one of those Phillipino artists who kind of got lost in the rush next to giants like Alcala or Nino, but I always like the 'busyness' of his linework. This is a great example of that, with crowded layouts that amazingly work, and touches of Alcala, Nebres and even Buscema throughout. There's a couple of strange things about this strip tho', the first of which is the bizarre, stilted dialogue & captions. It feels like it was translated, and translated badly. Also it feels like a prologue, or at least a portion of a much larger story. When you get to the last page, check out the little 'fini' accompanied by a head shot of Lenka, our Red Sonja-esque heroine. I suspect this is a Fillipino serial that our pal Sal bought up a portion of, maybe with aims of printing the whole thing. It's good stuff, whatever it's source.
I don't normally disparage Bronze Age ads, but this one always bugged me. And everytime I come across it in a back issue it irritates me all over again. I understand that you can't give Atomic Man the exact same powers as The Six Million Dollar Man for fear of hordes of lawyers coming down on your back, but think about it: Surely, if you've only got one atomic leg that can run 200 miles an hour, doesn't that mean that your other leg would end up A BLOODY STUMP trying to keep up? Honestly, that annoyed the hell out of me.
I don't think G.I. Joe actually made it to the shores of Blighty in the '70's. I could be wrong, but as we already had Action Man doing much the same thing for Queen & Country I can't imagine Brit kids would've been interested. As for me, I'd rather spend my money on comics anyway.
Here's Bulletman The Human Bullet ( fresh from The Dept. of Redundancy Dept. ) doing his bullettastic thing in another ad from the same period. Who drew these things, anybody know? There's a bit of Romita, a bit of Leiber, and even a bit of Giacioa in there. It's like a weird mix that makes no sense. A bit like Bulletman's costume, which more closely resembles Condom Man. Were there any more of these? I'm starting to like 'em...
Ok, I've talked about this briefly before, but I'm gonna mention it again 'cos, well, I think it's funny. Looking at that Sabre post reminded me of this particular affliction that seems to affect only comic fans: I've suffered from it my entire collecting life, and it still bugs me. I am, of course, talking about getting slightly different versions of the same material. I got that Sabre run about a year & a half ago at a second hand book/comic shop here in sunny Norwich, BUT I only bought issues 3 to 14 ( when the run ended ) and not the first two issues, which reprint the original graphic novel, in colour.
At the time, the collector in me was wrestling with my common sense, and urging me to get those issues. Bravely, I resisted. Firstly, they were prohibitively expensive for material I already had, and secondly THEY WERE MATERIAL I ALREADY HAD. The other day, I popped back into that shop, and sure enough those two issues are still there. (You'd think, if you hadn't sold something in a year and a half, you'd get the message and lower the price, wouldn't ya?) Anyway, I still refuse to buy 'em. Yeah, it does mean I don't have a complete set of Sabre, which as I'm sure you all know, is the most irritating itch in a comic fan's life. And, if I did buy 'em, I could easily justify it in all kinds of ways: There's a couple of new Gulacy covers, it's in colour so that's slightly different, there might be a back up or two, there's bound to be a new introduction from McGregor, the letter pages are always good in Sabre, and on & on. But no, dammit, I'm NOT gonna succumb! This is ridiculous! How many copies of the same thing do I need?! Take Gil Kane's classic newspaper sci-fi epic Star Hawks, for instance. I've got this book, lovingly produced by Uber Kane fan Daniel Hermann, and ok, it's got a few production faults, but it's the whole series. I own the whole series of Star Hawks.
So why oh why, if I'm at a convention, and I see either of these two books do I want them?!
Well, Pete, you get a couple of new Gil covers, and anyway, they're just nice to have and...NO! NO! THE MADNESS HAS TO STOP SOMEWHERE! I've got shelves full of Essential's & Showcase's, and as an English comic fan, who originally read most of this stuff in black & white anyway, I don't mind the lack of colour. You can get a better feel for the artwork and inking. But I still want half of the original's reprinted in those books. Still want the Epic Killraven graphic novel, still want Shazam! No.3, still want a complete set of Tales Of The Zombie. Why?! It's in BLACK & WHITE!! I'VE ALREADY GOT IT!!! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME?!!
Stalker was another fantasy book that DC released to great ballyhoo in mid '75, only to last a mere 4 issues. It was one of the first professional sales of fan turned pro Paul Levitz ( who, of course, later became top banana at DC ), and like Atlas' The Destructor, was yet another masterful collaboration between Steve Ditko & Wally Wood. Unlike most of the other sword & sorcery strips released in the wake of Conan, Stalker wasn't just another hack n' slash epic, but something a little different, a little stranger. As opposed to every other fantasy hero, Stalker isn't after revenge for the murder of his family or tribe, but is trying to make up for the One Big Mistake he made which ruined everything. It's also a great costume, simultaneously suggesting Robin Hood and a demonic court jester. In terms of the art, Steve & Wally are on top form on this lost classic. Woody was always more into the fairy tale kind of fantasy anyway, and though seeing a Ditko Conan would've been wild, I doubt it would've suited his style as much as this did. If I tell you any more, it'll just spoil it, so here's the brilliant first issue.
I just can't resist it. Let's read some Classic Cheesy Claremont. Lady Daemon is from the Lethal Ladies issue of Bizarre Adventures and actually, it's reasonably free from 'tics', proving he could write a good story without all that nonsense. Even Chris' predilection for making all his characters speak in a cliched celtic lilt makes sense here for once, as these characters are actually Scottish. And the art, courtesy of Michael Golden & Terry Austin is, of course, brilliant. When they used to talk about comics being 'black & white in colour' this is the kind of thing they meant. The use of photos doesn't quite work, but hey, this was years before photoshop. And I guess, if you were in a nitpicky mood, you could mention that the death card in the Tarot pack doesn't actually mean real death, but who ever gets magic right in comics anyway? Only Steve Ditko.
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