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 Last time he found us the unpublished Barry Windsor-Smith Thing.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!
































20 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.

    ReplyDelete
  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

    ReplyDelete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
  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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
    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

      Delete
    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!

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

      -sean

      Delete
    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

      Delete
    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.

      Delete
    7. Oh god yeah. Absolutely appalling.

      Delete
  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

    ReplyDelete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
  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!

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

      -sean

      Delete
  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.

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

      Delete
  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.

    ReplyDelete