Comics

The Phantom Stranger No. 33 Cover by Jim Aparo

In the early 70s, both DC and Marvel went to a cover format that put solid colour behind the masthead and boxed in the cover art below it. It might have made covers more consistent and easier to lay out, but to my eye it was cramped and did a disservice to the power a good cover could generate to get a potential reader to pick up the comic off the newsstand. It put production convenience and cost control before editorial and artistic decision making. Penny wise and pound foolish is another way to express it.

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The Brave & the Bold No. 122 Cover by Jim Aparo

Swamp Thing was a great comic, and the issues done by creators Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson are classic horror tales, but the book's sales waned in other creators' hands. For the remainder of the 1970s, Swampie was relegated to reprints, and guest-star appearances like this one in B&B.

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The Brave & the Bold No. 116 Cover by Jim Aparo

Another of Aparo's inset covers for a 100-page The Brave & the Bold. A creepy idol comes to life in a supernatural team-up of Batman and the Spectre.

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Valley of the Dinosaurs No. 2 Cover by Fred Himes

1974 was the prehistoric year for Saturday morning TV shows on the three major American networks. NBC debuted the live-action The Land of the Lost which would live the longest at three seasons, ABC had the live-action Korg 70,000 BC which survived one season, and CBS green-lit the animated Valley of the Dinosaurs which also lasted a single season.

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Vengeance Squad No. 5 Cover by Pete Morisi

From 1976, Vengeance Squad was a Mission: Impossible-style trio of operatives in crime-fighting adventures. Beginning with issue No. 2, it was drawn by veteran artist Pete Morisi, who by this point in his career was drawing in a highly-stylised and simplified art style.

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The Brave & the Bold No. 112 Cover by Jim Aparo

In early 1974, DC Comics decided to turned part of its line into 100-page comics for 60¢ after previously releasing specials and one shots in similar sizes and price points. Accompanying the normal features were reprints from DC's large library of material. It was my generation's introduction to the deep well of Golden and Silver age stories.

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Wonder Woman No. 184 Cover by Sekowsky & Giordano

Coming in the middle of the New Wonder Woman run – where Diana lost her powers and resembled Emma Peel more than an Amazon princess – we have this issue where her warrior roots are front and centre.

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The Brave & the Bold No. 87 Cover by Sekowsky & Giordano

I've always loved this cover with Batman driving a Formula One car of the era. But it wasn't until I found a scan of the original art that I realised I liked it even more. Behind the trade dress and flat orange background colouring, there was a great European mountain village and the wheel the Speed Racer-style villain had just sheared off the Wayne Special.

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Wonder Woman Neal Adams OG

Wonder Woman Pin-Up by Neal Adams

I'm less of a fan of the Wonder Woman as warrior than I am of her original conception with bracelets she used to bounce bullets off of, and a Lasso of Truth that forced bad guys to own up to what they'd done. But, her popularity now is due in part to the current conception of her kicking butt while wielding a sword and shield.

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Madame Xanadu Pin-Up by Michael Wm Kaluta

Michael Wm Kaluta has been associated with Madame Xanadu from her first appearance in Doorway to Nightmare No. 1 in 1978.

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Night Fighter and Sky Giant by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created Captain America for Timely Comics (later to become Atlas and finally Marvel Comics), and in the post-war period continued to create comics for their own publishing ventures as well as other publishers.

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World's Finest Cover by Jim Aparo

Jim Aparo spent most of his comics career at DC Comics, associated with Batman, Aquaman, Spectre and a plethora of team-ups in The Brave and the Bold. He was a triple threat, pencilling, inking and lettering his stories.

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Wonder Woman by Colleen Doran

For the better part of 40 years, Colleen Doran has had a diverse career in comics, encompassing her own epic saga A Distant Soil, assignments from publishers both large and small, and collaborating on graphic novel projects with writers at the top of the field.

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DC Special Series No. 26 Superman and His Incredible Fortress of Solitude Cover by Andru & Giordano

One of DC's best tabloid editions was nearly its last. An all-new tale by Roy Thomas, Ross Andru, Romeo Tanghal, Gaspar Saladino and Jerry Serpe, it used the rich mythos of mementoes in Superman's Fortress of Solitude as its backdrop.

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Batman by Alex Toth

It's just a sketch. 40 years old and fading. But nothing of its power has diminished. Few people could distill a drawing down to its essence as well as Alex Toth. Running across something like this is always a welcome surprise. Like finding a sapphire on the sidewalk.

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Wonder Woman and Donald Trump by Ramona Fradon

Ramona Fradon was one of the few female artists working in professional comics in the late Golden, Silver and Bronze Ages. She had a great run on Aquaman, co-created Metamorpho with Bob Haney, and later did The Super Friends comic. In her 90s, she's still going strong with commissions.

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Flash Gordon by Jim Keefe

From 1996 to 2003, Jim Keefe was the writer/artist of the Flash Gordon comic strip, the last in a long line of great cartoonists on one of King Features' most prestigious strips. It's a testament to his work that it remains in circulation on flashgordon.com for today's audience.

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Marvel Treasury Edition No. 30 - X-Men Fractures by Dave Cockrum

Rarer than regular tabloids that reprinted popular material were the special editions that contained new material prepared expressly for their oversized pages.

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The Mechanoid Associates by Paul Gillon

The world was different in the early 80s. No internet meant limited paths to new information. And for me as a teenager living in a small Canadian town, we were even more isolated from the dynamism of large cities. So when I discovered that Heavy Metal magazine existed on the newsstand, it was my first exposure to European comics and their creators, as well as some of the most progressive North Americans: Jean 'Mœbius' Giraud, Enki Bilal, Caza, Philippe Druillet, Richard Corben, Howard Chaykin and many more.

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Marvel Treasury Edition No. 29 by Severin & Tartaglione

If you were reading comics between 1975 and 1980 or so, tabloid-sized comics were a wonderful thing to find on the newsstand. Oversized with cardstock covers, they most often reprinted older material. Seeing some of your favourite stories printed big was an awesome thing to experience.

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Time Warp 6 OG

Time Warp No. 6 Cover by Michael Wm Kaluta

Time Warp lasted five issues in 1979-1980 before DC Comics cancelled it. But it's well-remembered among a certain era of readers for its imaginative sci-fi stories and amazing covers by Kaluta.

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Daredevil Poster by Frank Miller & Klaus Janson

It had made Miller a star creator, first joining Daredevil as its penciller and then becoming its writer as well. Aided and abetted by Klaus Janson, the finishing inker and colourist played a larger and larger role over time as Miller's pencils became simplified layouts.

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Green Lantern Takara OG

Green Lantern by Marcio Takara

For this colouring and packaging commission, the client wanted this ink-wash drawing turned into a vintage Green Lantern cover.

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Claw the Unconquered OG

Claw the Unconquered by Michelinie, Chan, Giffen et al

Claw the Unconquered was a DC Comics title that debuted in 1975. DC wanted to get a piece of the market Marvel had established with adaptations of Robert E Howard's Conan the Barbarian, Red Sonja, Kull the Conqueror and Solomon Kane. Editor Joe Orlando talked with writers, and after a false start settled on David Michelinie. Claw emerged as a Conan-like character at first, and the art supplied by Ernie Chan – himself a Conan contributor over at Marvel – for the first seven issues of the comic deviated little from that conception.

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Foom 9 OG

FOOM No. 9 Cover by Jim Starlin

Here's another cover to FOOM, Marvel's 1970s fan magazine. Jim Starlin was making waves at Marvel as a writer and artist with a strong interest and ability in science fiction and all matters cosmic. He began with Captain Marvel, injecting new life into that character, and by the time of this issue in 1975, he had revived and was revolutionising Adam Warlock.

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FOOM No. 14 Cover by John Buscema & Tom Palmer

FOOM was the successor to the MMMS and was the fan service of the MCG. Translated for the less geeky: Friends of Ol' Marvel was the successor to the Merry Marvel Marching Society and was the fan service of the Marvel Comics Group.

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Claw New Colour

The Case for New Comic Book Colouring Directions

This comes up every time we talk about reprints and collected editions:

Should original colour separations be used, or should the colour be updated to take advantage of improved production and reproduction methods?

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Salvation Run No. 7 Cover by Neal Adams

I came across the pencils for this 2008 cover by Neal Adams, loving the energy. So this time out we're going to go backward from the published cover to the pencils, and then back up to a new final version with inks and colours by myself.

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Star Hunters No. 1 Cover by Rich Buckler and Bob Layton

One of the casualties of the DC Implosion was this science fiction swashbuckler which debuted in DC Super Stars No. 16, and then continued for seven issues of its own magazine between November 1977 and 1978.

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Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country Cover by Jerome K Moore

It was the last time the original Star Trek crew would be together and they sent the original cast off with a great story helmed by writer/director Nicholas Meyer – the man who'd been behind a lot of great movies: Invasion of the Bee Girls, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Time After Time, The Day After, and two previous Trek films, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

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Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of Robin, the Boy Wonder

Debuting in 1940, Dick "Robin" Grayson changed Batman from a vengeful, lone creature of the night into a parent with a young ward. At the time, comic book publishers added junior versions of the main characters in an effort for kids to have someone to relate to that was closer to their age, not realising the obvious – kids wanted to be the adult hero, not the sidekick.

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New Teen Titans 21 OG

The New Teen Titans v1 No. 21 Cover by George Pérez

From its launch in 1980, The New Teen Titans was a hit for DC Comics – arguably bringing some Marvel-style storytelling and energy to a team of young characters. And as a popular book, it was prime real estate to introduce new series, especially if it was Titans writer Marv Wolfman's new project. The Night Force was nothing like Titans, but I thought it was good and still have my copies today.

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Phantom Joan Boix Colour 1 Og

Chronicle Chamber's Phundraiser for the Australian Bushfire Appeal Comic

Created by Lee Falk in 1936, and joined by a succession of artists beginning with Ray Moore, The Phantom comic strip continues to this day. The character has enjoyed a large international following, and new comic books are published in Sweden by Egmont and in Australia by Frew.

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Star Trek DC v1 No. 1 Cover by George Pérez

In the US, Star Trek comics began with Gold Key and they spanned 1967–79 with tales based on the original series. With the release of Star Trek – The Motion Picture in '79, Marvel picked up the licence and published from 1980–82.

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The Last Action Hero No. 1 Cover by Jerome K Moore

1993 brought the Arnold Schwarzenegger action-comedy The Last Action Hero to the summer viewing season. Plans were made to have the movie adapted into comic book form at Topps, and Jerome K Moore was attached as the artist.

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The Barren Earth by Gary Cohn & Ron Randall

Throughout its run, DC Comics' The Warlord – created by Mike Grell – was the anchor of the publisher's fantasy books. It also meant a number of new fantasy series were carried in its back pages. In No. 63, The Barren Earth debuted and appeared in most issues until No. 88. It continued in a four-issue mini series Conqueror of the Barren Earth.

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Star Trek DC v2 No. 16 Cover by Jerome K Moore

Star Trek has supported a number of comic book series, almost from the beginning of the original series. Gold Key, then Marvel had the licence, but it wasn't until it landed at DC Comics that the property found its footing and enjoyed longer runs. A return to Marvel in the 90s was short lived, and IDW has been steadily producing quality series for a number of years now.

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Wonder Woman 249 OG

Wonder Woman No. 249 Cover by Buckler & Giordano

It's a great Wonder Woman drawing by Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano. Plus Hawkgirl is fluttering about like a pigeon, and some assassin with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher behind them is about to learn the effect of Newton's third Law of Motion as he swings free there on a painting platform.

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Incredible Hulk Annual 5 OG

The Incredible Hulk Annual No. 5 Cover by Kirby, Abel & Romita

This was the second appearance of Groot – made famous in recent years by his association with Star-Lord in the Guardians of the Galaxy films from Marvel. But 11-year-old me had wangled the price of a comic out of my mother as a way to keep me occupied while we attended my cousin's wedding.

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Captain America 1 OG

Captain America No. 1 Cover by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby

Coming a year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour – the event which precipitated the US's entrance into the Second World War – Captain America was created by two young Jewish New Yorkers: Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. With the Nazi government in Germany already persecuting Jews and other groups they wished to eliminate, Cap was the perfect patriotic avatar for young Americans eager to get into the war in Europe. Punching Hitler square on the jaw is an iconic depiction of the Golden Age of comics.

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Superman 344 OG

Superman No. 344 Cover by José Luis García-López

It's most likely unique in the history of Superman covers. Superman, bright and happy, gets his powers from our yellow sun, at the mercy of Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster on a dark and stormy night with no Batman to help him combat their supernatural forces. And drawn with dramatic flair by García-López, coming into his own and on his way to becoming the recognisable look of DC's licensing art.

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Swamp Thing No. 6 Cover by Bernie Wrightson

Swamp Thing is one of the great American comic book horror characters. During its initial run at DC Comics in the early 1970s, each issue was a mini masterpiece by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson.

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House Of Mystery 231 OG

House of Mystery No. 231 Cover by Bernie Wrightson

Bernie Wrightson had just come off his groundbreaking run with writer Len Wein on Swamp Thing. He would move onto other projects, like the shared working space with Michael Wm Kaluta, Barry Windsor Smith and Jeff Jones which would be documented in the book The Studio and his illustrated Frankenstein.

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Iron Man 67 OG

Iron Man No. 67 Cover by Gil Kane and Mike Esposito

I have to admit, I've never read many issues of Iron Man, but when a lady at work said her son liked Marvel more than DC, I figured ol' Shellhead would be appreciated for one of my restoration and re-colouring posts. It ended up being a fun piece to work on.

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Hawkman Pencils by Patrick Olliffe

A little over a year ago, the latest Hawkman series began, this time with writer Robert Venditti and artist Bryan Hitch. After many a year of reboots, retcons and retreads, most leave me feeling pretty meh. However, this retelling of the Hawkman mythos rivals Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben's re-envisioning of Swamp Thing in the 1980s.

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Starslayer No. 1 by Mike Grell

Mike Grell spent the 1970s at DC Comics drawing Aquaman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, The Legion of Super-Heroes and his own creation, The Warlord. As the 80s opened, he entered the growing direct market with another creation: Starslayer. Published by Pacific Comics, Grell wrote, drew – and likely lettered – the first issue. Original colour was by Steve Oliff, one of North America's best of his era.

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Wizard No. 10 Cover by Rob Liefeld

Rob Liefeld had started at DC, then moved on to Marvel where he co-created characters like Cable and became one of their most-popular artists. In '92, he and other artists left Marvel to form Image Comics, and Liefeld's book was Youngblood.

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Wolverine 10 OG

Wolverine No. 10 Cover by Bill Sienkiewicz

By 1989, Bill Sienkiewicz had cemented his place in comics as a creator to be watched. With early work on Moon Knight, moving on to The New Mutants, a great Dune movie adaptation, and stunning painted and collage work on Elektra: Assassin.

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Fightin Marines 110 OG

Fightin' Marines No. 110 Cover by Pat Boyette

From April 1973, another great example of Pat Boyette's clear, simple and powerful drawing style with a Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero and a US Grumman F4F Wildcat flying over a US aircraft carrier under attack.

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Flash Gordon 15 OG

Flash Gordon No. 15 Cover by Pat Boyette

Flash Gordon was created by Alex Raymond. It first appeared in newspapers in early 1934, and was a competitor to Buck Rogers which pre-dated it by a few years.
Flash has been adapted to serials, movies and comic books, and is one of the enduring characters of its era.
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