Saturday, 12 January 2019

The Lost Cody Starbuck



Special treat time. And our old pal and FOOBA Mark Frazer has come up trumps again. Last time he found us the unpublished Barry Windsor-Smith Thing. This time, well, it's a Howard Chaykin / Cody Starbuck story that, as far as we know, has never been printed in English.

Here's Mark: This was either published in 1981 or 1982 in Spain by 'Josep Toutain' - who had collected all the previous Starbuck stories in two other volumes - the B & W stuff horribly coloured, by the way - using plates from the Starbuck portfolio as covers.
It's listed in The Art Of Howard Chaykin bibliography - but only as non-English 'European album' with no other information available.
I found it quite by accident when I was doing a simple search - and it turned up the three Starbuck volumes. I had never heard of them being collected like that & I wanted a look-see. I clearly got more than I bargained for - the lesson here being sometimes it pays to be curious.
I can't imagine why Heavy Metal or somebody else never picked this up.

Now a caveat: As with BWS's piece, I did facebook Chaykin to seek his permission to post this. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to respond, which is completely understandable, Howard Chaykin having about a million better things to do with his time than talk to the likes of me.
So just a note to Howard: If you come across this now, or at any time in the future, absolutely no offence intended, just a wish to show off this stuff to fellow fans.
And if you want it removed from the site, of course I'll do so immediately.
Hope you don't though, 'cos it's wonderful!
































29 comments:

  1. Peak Chaykin work, just prior to his American Flagg masterpiece at First Comics. I'm amazed Flagg is not remembered as a definitive '80s comic like Dark Knight Returns or Watchmen, but by 1990 First Comics had disappeared into a black hole of sorts & many titles were tied up in legal matters. That may be what made Flagg fall off the radar. Those first dozen issues, written & drawn by Chaykin, were his tour de force.

    Now it's like he's a forgotten entity. Had to dig hard to find a Buck Rogers mini-series he drew for an indie publisher three years ago. Pretty generic hackwork, sad to say. But Chaykin in '70s & '80s comics was something special, a kindred spirit to Walt Simonson.

    Regards,
    Chris A.

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  2. What, you couldn't be arsed to translate it for us? Now I'm going to have to put some effort in...
    Just kidding Pete, thanks a lot for posting this.

    I gather Chaykin regards American Flagg as his first really accomplished work and tends to be a little dismissive of his earlier stuff.
    You can understand why he thinks like that, as Flagg really was a creative leap forward for him - particularly as a writer - but theres still plenty to enjoy in his Heavy Metal/painted era.

    Mind you, I still really like Monark Starstalker, so what do I know?

    -sean

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  3. As I've said before, I love Monark Starstalker and really wish he'd got a series back then.
    I think Flagg's rep is growing over the years, Chris and I can understand, as Sean says, why Chaykin dismisses his older stuff compared to it, but Cody Starbuck was great too ( as was Gideon Faust for that matter ).
    BTW I twittered Grant Morrison today to tell him this strip exists and ask if there's any chance Heavy Metal could translate and print it. Let you all know if anything happens.

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  4. Definitely agree that Flagg should be remembered with Watchmen and Dark Knight (and - having heard him in full flow on the subject a couple of years back at a London con - so it seems does Chaykin).

    But Chris, did you not like Buck Rogers?
    Ok, Chaykin's digital artwork is something of an acquired taste - one that I haven't really got either - but it was a great read.
    Not as good as, say, his more recent Midnight of the Soul, but still entertaining.

    -sean

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    1. Haven't read Midnight of the Soul. Will have to look into it. He also did a satirical "tell-all" mini-series called Hey, Kids, Comics! last summer.

      Regards,
      Chris A.

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    2. Looking forward to catching up on that when the collected book comes out next month. Seems a bit like it might be a bit Kids From Rec Road Chaykin style (be afraid, Pete, be very afraid).

      -sean

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    3. Not at all unfortunately ( or fortunately depending on your point of view ). I've read the first few issues, and it's a very vitriolic history of comics. Blackly entertaining but doesn't have a good word to say about anybody!

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    4. So... its only like the bits about Arnold Lipshitz then?

      -sean

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    5. I didn't like Howard Chaykin's digital art on Buck Rogers at all. Oversimplified figures and oversaturated colors were a major turnoff for me. Chaykin lost his momentum in mainstream comics and never regained it when he took a hiatus from comics to work in television. It is very hard to go away and come back, and still have a career. Very few do.

      Gene Poole

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    6. I'm right there with you about the digital art/overblown computer coloring. I recently saw Chaykin's SHADOW graphic novel and it really got in the way to the point of being obnoxious. Of course, nothing beats Dark Horse's reprints of the BWS Conan's for sheer vileness. Those were some ugly=ass books.

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    7. Oh god yeah. Absolutely appalling.

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  5. This was a real treat to find, as I've always loved Chaykin's painted work far more than anything else he's done over the years & I've often lamented that he never returned to it except for the occasional cover.

    Not that I don't echo the love shown for Monark Starstalker & American Flagg - 'cause I do - but in my humble estimation, nothing beats the sheer beauty of his work in EMPIRE, THE SWORDS OF HEAVEN and the last two CODY STARBUCK stories.

    Here's hoping that this is now in the public eye, that someone with some authority can publish a translated version for poor bilingual-challenged chaps such as myself.

    MF

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  6. Chaikin's page design, whether it be painted or in pen and ink, never ceases to amaze/ Always educational in terms of storytelling.And I also think American Flagg was underrated by the masses. Solid satirical writing with provocative themes. Dialogue rings truer here tannin Dark Knight or Watchmen which both had tendencies of sometimes being over the top.

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  7. Not forgetting The Stars My Destination & 'Seven Moons Light Casts Complex Shadows' from Epic. I'd love to read this one in English too!

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    1. Now, lets not forget the colour Dominic Fortune from the Hulk mag either...

      -sean

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  8. I even liked his early rough-around-the-edges work for DC like Sword of Sorcery & Ironjaw. Chaykin has had a great run. It just seems he is not as well known today as he should be.

    Regards,
    Chris A.

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    1. Correction: Weird Worlds Presents Iron Wolf (not Ironjaw).

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  9. Flagg's good, but as far as Chaykin's artwork is concerned I consider this period to be his absolute finest. I'd love to see comprehensive collections of the painted Cody Starbuck and Dominick Fortune stuff.

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  10. Hi American friends:

    I´m writing from sunny Spain. First of all to send a huge thank you very much for exhuming this. And then to try to cast some light on this lost Starbuck.

    Josep Toutain published the early Starbuck stories colores, yes. But the color was not that bad. As a matter of fact, maybe the colorist was the same anonymous who did an excellent job in Starstruck original epic graphic novel. It´s a matter of tastes, of course, and I stick to black and white, but color doesn´t hurt.
    Also he published the Cody Starbuck Heavy Metal graphic novel.
    All the above were published in serialized form in the pages of Comix Internacionacional, during early 80s.
    We jump 10 years or so. In the pages of Krazy Comics, a spanish magazine about (sure you have guess) comics, appeared checklisted that Toutain was gonna publish a volume collecting every Starbuck story.
    Well, sadly It never happened. Worst of all, Toutain went out of bussiness.
    And then another publisher, Ediciones Zinco, which was the DC publisher at that time, started a short lived try on keeping on with Toutain stuff. We are talking now of mid 90´s or so.
    They released the 3rd volume of the complete works by Berni Wrightson, the 12 and the 13rd of Corben complete works, Den:dreams, and Den Elements (or some title like that, they wehere numbered as Den 4 and 5) and, TA-DAH! a short lived revamp of Comix Internacional that lasted just 6 issues.
    In the pages of this revamp, appeared for the very firast time the lost Starbuck. And, as long as I´m aware, this is the only country in the world where this have appeared.
    So, it was released with more than 10 years of delay.
    It would be wonderful if Chaykin himself explains the story behind this, because the story is terrific, even if I feel it to be the end of a cycle. A glorious one, I must add. The one of the Chaykin painter.
    Ah, and these never, ever were collected in 3 books. Maybe you are talking about some scans.
    All the best.

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  11. Now, about Chaykin. For my money he´s one of the two greatest american modern Masters of comic book Art (in capital letters). The other one is Michael T. Gilbert. Both are some kind of ying and yang. Both are as different, as equally great.
    In the case of Chaykin, almost every of his works were masterpieces until the 90s (certainly, I don´t include here "For your eyes only" -lol). Then he began with a long string of uninteresting work (for my tastes) until "American Century", a series that is a true MASTERPIECE. Anyhow, I couldn´t stand his
    "Challengers of the unknown". But, surprise, surprise, "Mighty love" (that was made before but published later) has to be included in any Chaykin top10.
    Since then, he has develop some commercial stuff that doesn´t suit my tastes. But also a looong string of masterpieces that are instant classics:"Dominic Fortune" (Max version), "Black kiss 2" and "Black Kiss XXmas in July special", "Midnight of the soul", "Marked man", "Satellite Sam", "Divided states of Hsteria", "Hey kids, comics"... And if I have hear it right, he´s gonna publish sooner or later another entry in the "Time2" series, perhaps his most glorious achievement... and a royal pain in the ass to translate.
    About Gilbert, this is a different story,and a long one. Sure you know "The wraith", "Mr. Monster", "Mann and superman", "Elric" or his "Batman" entries, every one of them superb and excellent. But please, stick to that: "A dream of milk and honey". This is the stuff Masterpieces are made off.
    All the best.
    And thanks for the great work you are doing in this excellent page!!!

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  12. "A dream of milk and honey" was so great, that even Will Eisner send a letter of congratulation to Gilbert.
    The rest that came later (Wraith, Elric, Mr. Monster, et al the aforemented) were equally Masterpieces, but are more known by general audiences. Well, if you have not read "Origins" or "The Hemo-Boy story" (as published in issue 2 of Mr. Monster) or if you have never, ever read the latest Mr. Monster serials in the pages of Dark Horse presents, and pubslished all across 2011 and ahead, do yourself a favor: stop reading it, and go for it. In mycomicshop you can find them ridiculously cheap!!
    But before it, please, somebody have to exhume the two part "A dream of milk and honey". This should be reprinted in a cofee table format. And the originals should be in the MOMA, next to the originals paintings of "My stars my destination", by Chaykin.
    Holy Toledo. What a great comic book artists you american have.
    We USED to too. Sniff, sob, tear.

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  13. Hola Anonymous ( tell us your name if you can - always like to know who I'm talking to ) Thanks for the comments & information.
    Yes, you Spanish did indeed have some great artists, especially in the Bronze Age, especially at Warren & DC, and I agree Michael T. Gilbert is wonderful.
    Love Mr. Monster, and I actually thought I'd put up 'A Dream Of Milk & Honey' here on the blog, but I can't find it now. Did you get Star*Reach & Imagine in Spain or was the story reprinted elsewhere?
    I'll put it up again soon anyway.
    BTW I liked Chaykin's Challengers AND Mighty Love! Different tastes make a comic nation, as I say.
    I'm English by the way, though I don't know where most of our regular commentators hail from. Be interested to know how far this blog reaches...

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  14. Hola Pete:

    Anonymous no more. My name is Manuel Ruiz. Happy to hear that you are a Chaykin/Gilbert fan too. I´m sure you´ll be glad to hear that I suggested to Michael Gilbert to take a look to your wonderful blog in general, and to your "The Wraith" entry in particular. Reading it, gave him some good memories.
    I encourage to contact with him through Facebook about posting his masterwork "A dream of milk and honey". I think he will be flatered to hear that there are fans out there that appreciate his Art.

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  15. Also nice to hear that you happen to appreciate spanish artists too. Have you ever heard about "Mis Miedos" (My fears)? This is a superb series Enric Sio did in early 70s. Dreamlike short horro tales, heavily influenced by Guido Crepax (another genius) but with a voice of his own.
    It was published in serialized form in Drácula magazine in horrendous color. There is just a compilation, incomplete but in glorious black and White published in France by Dargaud editor with the title "Mes peurs". You can find it quite cheap in amazon.fr.
    Here´s one of the stories included, Lisita. The eerie story of a pretty Little girl that pretends she´s dead just to scare her mother... to death!!
    http://ricardovigueras.blogspot.com/2008/02/mis-miedos-de-enric-si-lisita.html
    Manuel Ruiz
    PD: You reach very far. I´m writing from South Spain, and been a follower for years. "The Visible man" is one of my favorite entries in your excellent blog.

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  16. Hola Manuel! That's great news about Michael, I'll definitely facebook him ( again, I must've imagined putting 'Dream' up here, so I absolutely will as long as it's ok with him )
    Yes indeed, I know of Mis Miedos, I have the Dracula version and it's great. As I've said on the blog in the past, the Spanish Invasion of Warren was the next step up for me and my friends in the UK at the time, in terms of discovering a whole other style and way of storytelling to the Marvel / DC style we were used to. Sio is another I should feature here too.
    BTW The Visible Man is a classic!

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  17. Hola Pete! You are a box of surprises. An english citizen knowing Enric Sió? Gosh! The poor man is totally unknown in my country, a situation really, really unfair, but not as uncommon as one could think off. I mean: I´m sure you like Pepe "Vampirella" Gonzalez too. Have you ever seen the series of 3 documentaries that are on youtube about him. He died and somebody throw to the garbage hundreds of his gorgeous originals.
    Being a spanish genius doesn´t pay :(
    Ah, before I forget, you have in England some great Artists too. As a matter of fact, Pat Mills is the Colonel Kurtz of european comics. And I have scheduled to buy for next Halloween "The Dracula files". Excellent stuff.
    Also two of the most terrific european directors are english: Peter Greenaway and the sadly recently late Nicolas Roeg.
    Don´t know if you happen to like movies too. In that case, I left you with three magical words: IVAN ZULUETA, ARREBATO
    My lips are sealed!
    Best wishes
    -Manuel Ruiz

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  18. As I say, Warren really got those of us paying attention into that whole new world of art, and of course, Pepe is high at the top of that list. 'The Art Of Jose Gonzalez' & 'Masters Of Spanish Comic Book Art' are two semi-recent purchases for me.
    Wasn't aware of those documentaries - I'll go and seek them out this weekend!
    'The Dracula Files' Yes, a great one from Scream with the fantastic Eric Bradbury - again as I've mentioned also, a lot of our great UK strips were actually drawn by non-Brits - Jesus Blasco & Francisco Solano Lopez to name two faves I've posted here in the past.
    BTW I think Pat would love being referred to as the Colonel Kurtz of european comics! Is everyone checking out Pat's blog with his 'Storyteller' series of posts? Superb stuff if you're not reading it already, especially if you write your own stuff like me.
    I think I may've seen Arrebato, y'know. I just googled it and it looks familiar....
    Gracias Manuel!

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