Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Stories We Never Got To See: Steranko's Talon

Probably the all-time king of unrealized projects, and one it's it's unlikely we'll ever get to see at this late stage, is Jim Steranko's barbarian hero Talon.
First mooted as far back as 1968, he first appeared ( I think ) in the fifth issue of Wally Wood's Witzend:

Jim then gave us the gen about Talon in the 3rd issue of Savage Tales:

But it just never happened. Maybe after Conan got his own slot in the comics, Steranko didn't see the point. Didn't stop him returning again and again to this most tantalizing of characters though, as Talon popped up in the ad pages of Atlas' debut issues, shilling for Jim's own Mediascene:

Then helping to keep your Steranko collection safe in this beautiful comic binder:

We are indebted, by the way, ( as they used to say on That's Life ) for these last scans, this being the binder our old pal Sean Phillips keeps his own Steranko collection in, next to that signed poster at the start.
Anyway, Talon The Untamed, as one of those ads calls him, next graced the cover of Epic:

And over the years, more sketches and pieces have popped up. Maybe these aren't specifically Talon, maybe they are, only Jim knows for sure.

Even Bruce Timm wants a Talon story:

It'll probably never happen now. We can dream though, can't we?


  1. You could probably do a week on unrealised projects - I'm still waiting for issues 3-10 of Big Numbers.

  2. In the 4th issue of the DallasCon Bulletin in 1969 there was a double page pitch for Talon, with a full page of nothing but crammed text (by publisher Rich Hauser, I think, who was responsible for the EC fanzine Spa Fon), breathlessly describing the project in obsessive, pornographic detail. Here's a couple of passages; the CAPS were in the original text:

    "INTERIORS will be 30-50 PAGES of PURE Steranko handicraft, a COMPLETE SWORD AND SORCERY ILLUSTRATED NOVEL. THIS IS A REVOLUTIONARY NEW FORMAT, NO advertising, NO limits on the artist and writer. FULL OF DRAMA, PLOT, CLIMAX, CONQUEST, SEX, BATTLE, AND BLOODLUST 0f EPIC PROPORTIONS. There will be no Juvenile Code holding this effort back...only STERANKO'S sense of TASTE and excitement will guide him, and HE HAS VOWED TO OUTDO HIMSELF, to get everything he wants to say about SWORD AND SORCERY out of his system. HE WILL WORK UNCENSORED, UNCHAINED, for a SPECIAL AUDIENCE--YOU!"

    "RIGHT NOW, investigations are being made to see whether the REVOLUTIONARY TALON VISUAL NOVEL can be printed in a REVOLUTIONARY LIFE MAGAZINE SIZE at a reasonable cost. IF it is to be printed in this GIANT WAY after our cost survey, extra charges to cover the extra printing costs ONLY will be added to the tentative $5 cost. BUT THINK OF IT--ILLUSTRATED SWORD and SORCERY the size of LIFE MAGAZINE. BATTLE SCENES THAT COVER A WHOLE TABLE, SPREAD OUT! It would be worth a few extra pennies..."

    Are you ready to send in your order yet? Whew. This goes on and on; I thought you'd appreciate the flavor which helped build up anticipation for this unrealized dream tome.

    "Life Magazine Size" is the tabloid size Steranko used on his History of Comics, which came out the next year. At the time of this ad, the idea of Sword and Sorcery Comics was something of a fever dream in fandom. And Steranko had a prescription for the fever...

  3. Whew. Pornographic is the word. I'm spent just reading it.

  4. "LIFE magazine sized" .... sounds like Steranko invented the Marvel Treasury format six years before it actually happened...

    As for the "Even Bruce Timm wants a Talon story" thing -- well, yeah, sure -- but the hero in the above piece is actually meant to be Leigh Brackett's Eric John Stark -- done in a style that's intended to resemble a mash-up of Steranko and PLANET STORIES cover artist Allen
    Anderson. So, you're half right (kinda)