Sunday, 21 May 2017

RIP Rich Buckler



Aw jeez, and now we lost Rich Buckler too. Although I have to be honest and say that Rich wasn't my favourite artist in the Bronze Age, and that as a kid, his constant swiping drove me crazy, I did admire his design sense, especially on Black Panther and Deathlok, which was probably his magnum opus.
Deathlok was a great character, and Rich clearly loved him as much as we all did. Even though Doug Moench wrote most of the series, you could tell it was really Buckler's baby all the way.
Like in this issue, the first one I ever bought, where Rich takes over script and art and threw me slap bang in the middle of the story with not a clue to what was going on, but it all absolutely rocks, especially those first three pages. Can you imagine a Marvel hero treading the American flag into the dirt these days?
















7 comments:

  1. Weren't you debating the merits of Bill Mantlo somewhere in the comments recently, Pete?
    Much as I enjoyed reading this, Deathlok got better with the Mantlo scripted issues. It still didn't make any kind of sense, but it was a glorious car crash of nicked 70s dystopian sf ideas. It could almost have been written by Pat Mills!
    Plus, Buckler looked a lot better with Klaus Janson's inks. Some of his earliest Marvel work I believe (along with the Jungle Action-era Panther funnily enough...)

    -sean

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  2. Agreed and seconded, Sean. Mantlo tried to make sense of Deathlok so you have to give him that. And Buckler with Janson came close to Neal Adams patented sheen in some respects.

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  3. About Rich Buckler, both commenters are spot on. I'd like ato add that Buckler swipes were a good analysis of Adams and anyone else from which he borrowed. It was also easier to copy a Buckler pose than an Adams pose because Neal Adams was just too illustrative and detailed at the time where Buckler was more comic booky.. Too add, Buckler's storytelling here is superb.

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  4. Turan, Emissary of the Fly World22 May 2017 at 15:32

    Something I found notable at the time about "Deathlok" was the extent to which Marvel promoted it as a Rich Buckler creation. His name was prominently featured in the advertising, there was an article in the official fan magazine FOOM which stressed his involvement, and the first issue of the comic even had a short two page story giving a fanciful account of how Buckler created the character. This was quite unlike the usual "From the House of Ideas!" style of promotion, which emphasized the company over the individuals. Marvel obviously thought Buckler was going to be a major asset for them, so perhaps this was done to keep him happy. Or, perhaps Marvel was more or less forced to do this, as Buckler could prove the ideas came from him--"Deathlok" was essentially a recycling of a story he did for Skywald a couple of years before, "The Mechanical Cannibals."

    Another interesting element of the original promotion from "Deathlok" is the extent to which it sold the series as "Cyborg hit man for hire!" That was indeed the original premise, but it was quickly dropped in favor of "victim of a conspiracy fights back!" I am guessing that the Comics Code Authority raised some objections.

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  5. Don't know that it was that unusual for FOOM to acknowledge creative input. After the 60s, haven't disputes with Marvel generally been about rights rather than credit?

    Buckler's star rose quickly at Marvel because he was exactly what they were after at the time: an artist who was efficient, reliable and able to update the Kirby derived house style with a fairly convincing grasp of the (then) recent innovations of Adams and Steranko.

    Actually, now I think about it, Buckler drew comics pretty much the same way Bill Mantlo wrote them.

    -sean

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  6. Yeah, I always wondered what happened to that whole hitman thing, but then as we've said, Deathlok did seem like each issue was written as it went along ( never stopped it being great tho' )
    I do recall Don McGregor being given several pages in FOOM to plug his never completed Dragonshade with Tom Sutton ( which morphed into the prose collection Dragonflame ).
    Neither Don nor Rich were exactly backwards about coming forward so maybe that's why Deathlok got such a plug, but you're right, Sean, any publisher would prefer a reliable pro like Buckler or Tuska over those with flashier styles who maybe didn't want to stick to deadlines.

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  7. George Tuska? Yeah, I should maybe have added that it doesn't necessarily follow that whats best for publishers is also best for the reader :)
    Just read an old FOOM piece on Deathlok posted at Diversions of the Groovy Kind and they certainly were very enthusiastic about Buckler, "the guy who approached Jack Kirby's genius on the FF and Thor" apparently.

    -sean

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