Thursday, 16 August 2018

The Silver Surfer vs. Spider-Man

John Buscema hated drawing superheroes. He also hated drawing cityscapes and people in modern dress.
You can tell, can't you?


  1. First read this tale in Blackpool in either '73 or '74 and thought it was very entertaining (still do). Can't understand when people say this series was boring, 'cos for its time it was at least as entertaining as anything else on the stands.

  2. I never thought it was boring - slightly ahead of its time if anything.

  3. Have to respectfully disagree with you guys - once you got past the novelty of the double-sized issues, The Surfer quickly degenerated into a dull, preachy & unentertaining comic. Lee's stories were basically either the Surfer fighting Mephisto to save his soul or having a misunderstanding with an established hero that led to a fight. All while the Surfer cemented his 'Morrissey of the Spaceways' persona by whining about man's inhumanity to man and other living creatures. Buscema's art was equally tepid - it was obvious that he didn't care about what he was doing & just phoning it in. Frankly, I always thought it was a real shame that Kirby left Marvel before we ever got to see his version of the 'Savage Surfer' - because I'm sure that would've been awesome.

  4. Buscema redrew panels from this story in How To Draw the Marvel Way.

  5. Oh yeah, that last splash of Kirby's issue is amazing. Fair play though, K, differing opinions is what makes this stuff interesting.

  6. Very true, PD. Personally, I thought Kirby's Surfer issue (#18) proves that Stan was right in giving the series to Buscema. When jack first drew the Surfer, he had grace, fluidity and poise, but eventually Jack made him blocky, stiff and stilted. I was never fond of his later Surfer art.

  7. Don't think it's right to judge Kirby's Surfer by his final goodbye to Marvel in Silver Surfer 18. By then he'd been totally used, misused and abused and filled with blocky stiff inhuman rage, and probably drew the issue with gritted teeth and clenched fists.

    When Stan Lee announced that Buscema would be doing the Surfer book three years earlier Kirby was busy drawing up an elaborate origin saga that we will never see.

    John Buscema was a glorious artist but his Surfer books feel utterly soulless. I think all along he knew this was wrong, wrong, WRONG, and that only Kirby could really do this character justice.

    Instead of the full majesty of the Power Cosmic, we got Archie Andrews/Norrin Rand and Veronica Lodge/Shanna Bal.

    Stan Lee's worst. moment. ever.

    1. I'd be interested in reading about Jack's intended version of the Surfer's origin, even though it seems pretty obvious from his first FF appearance that he was merely a 'created being', brought forth by Galactus for a specific function - find 'food' to feed him. In that sense, the Surfer's origin would be much the same as Ardina's in Lee & Kirby's 1978 graphic novel - in short, an instant creation.

  8. Honestly didn't think this one would
    split the room as much as it has. I guess because stan restricted the surfer's appearances as much as he did back then, especially when he occasionally turned up in defenders, he always felt a bit more special to me. I can totally see the whole whinging surfer thing, but i do genuinely enjoy this series. And for those who don't, as always, I completely respect your opinion.

  9. When van mark says "John Buscema was a glorious artist but his Surfer books feel utterly soulless", I have to agree 100%. The man was capable of great work - but he was also capable of... well, 'Drawing Comics The Marvel Way'. In other words, taking short cuts to crank out mediocre pages. A shame, too - because as previously stated, he could do wonderful work. Savage Sword of Conan #5 comes to mind.

  10. Not sure who I'd agree with in this case - Buscema did some fine work on the Surfer book (OK, I confess I'm most familiar with #1) but this issue looks particularly, er, rushed. Most noticeable is the general lack of backgrounds - and Adkins inks are way below what he'd been capable of; his work is usually much slicker.

    Perhaps it was this seeming lack of enthusiasm that had Stan offer the book to Jack, only to pull the rug out from under him after (after the sales figures on previous books came in?).

  11. Part of why I get so riled whenI consider how Kirby was treated around this time is the endless wondering of what might have been.

    Apparently when he lost the Surfer Jack Kirby resolvedto not create any new characters for Stan and Marvel. He kept on with FF and Thor and other books but few characters or concepts appeared.

    New ideas were worked on after his daily page quota was complete, and didn't appear until he moved to DC and unveiled the New Gods Fourth World titles.

    Imagine instead if Kirby had been given the Surfer book, plotting it with scrpits by Stan Lee. I'm pretty sure that the Surfer would have found his way off Earth pretty quickly, and that the Fourth World characters and worlds would have been introduced as a whole new Marvel Comics playgound

  12. I'll respectfully disagree with some of the assessments of Buscema's SURFER art. The third and fourth issues, with Mephisto and Thor co-starring, were masterpieces. The issue with the Stranger was also a standout, though not on the same level. Repetitiveness did set in when the page count dropped, but Big John was still working in his own style, as he did on the contemporary SUB-MARINER strip, rather than the more Kirbyesque look he adopted after Kirby left.

  13. I agree, Kevin, and John 's Subby was brilliant. I think he only really started phoning it in towards the end of his run on Conan, but that's a whole other post and conversation!

  14. Fwiw, I agree that the third and fourth issues looked great (particularly the latter with Sal Buscema on inks - for my taste Joe Sinnott was just a bit too smooth).

    But the problem with the Silver Surfer wasn't the quality of the artwork as such, but rather that good as he was Buscema just wasn't creative in the sense that the "Marvel method" at the time required.
    I wouldn't go quite so far as to say his work was "soulless", but the Surfer was a bit of a boring read as a result.
    Which, to be fair, is really the fault of the writer.


  15. The only time I've ever enjoyed the Silver Surfer was in his original Fantastic four appearances and then in the Defenders. He's a pretty dull character with no visual appeal to me, anyway. And inspired all those other cosmic sports-hero ripoffs like the Black Racer, Gaard, etc.