DC

Detective Comics No. 481 Unpublished Cover by Jim Aparo

Books come and books go, and in the latter half of 1978, DC Comics was in the throes of The DC Implosion and nearly half their titles disappeared.

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Batman Family No. 20 Cover by Jim Starlin

It was the best Batbook of its era, and it had gotten there with new talent like Marshall Rogers, Mike Golden, Joe Staton and others breathing new life into the Batman family of characters.

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Superman Pin-Up TPB Cover by Neal Adams

Neal Adams is recovering from an illness that nearly claimed him, and we're all reminded that those whose work we love won't be around forever. And when Adams can still knock it out of the park, it's a testament to a life spent practising his skills, and that we always look forward to seeing more from him.

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Batman No. 313 Cover by José Luis García-López

This is an amazing symbolic cover. On the surface, it's merely a clever division of Two-Face's hideout, but if you extend the idea to the tragedies these antagonists have endured, it's even more interesting.

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BEM No. 28 Cover by Brian Bolland

BEM – or Bemusing Magazine was a British comics fanzine of the 1970s and 80s, and I've had a scan of this cover in my files for a bit, meaning to do a new colour version.

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Batman No. 340 Cover by Jim Aparo

Jim Aparo became so strongly associated with DC heroes like Aquaman and Batman that we sometimes forget that he was a solid horror artist and in an alternate reality could have spent his career working in DC's anthologies.

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Time Warp No. 4 Cover by Michael Wm Kaluta

As ever, I'm a sucker for a Time Warp cover drawn by Michael Wm Kaluta. How the trumpet player ended up with demons/angels on a rock in space is anyone's guess, but it was certainly headier stuff than your average DC fare of the day.

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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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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 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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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 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 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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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 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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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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Adventure Comics No. 469 Unpublished Cover by Jim Aparo

Covers get drawn and re-drawn all the time. For Adventure Comics No. 469 from March 1980, Jim Aparo drew both the Plastic Man and Starman scenes. But when it went to press, the Plastic Man scene had been re-drawn by James Sherman. The revised scene was more compelling and better staged by Sherman, with Plas and Woozy cowering in the corner while Alex Pinkus cuts a swath of destruction with his ray gun.

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DC Special Series No. 1 Cover by Neal Adams

DC Special Series was a catch-all for the one-off specials DC released over the following years, beginning with Five-Star Super-Hero Spectacular in 1977. The series spanned comics, tabloids and digests, and the Special Series was likely done to reduce the number of US postal permits DC had to apply for. A paperwork hassle to be sure. But the Special Series is well-remembered by Bronze Age DC readers for some truly great comics.

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Adventure Comics No. 477 Cover by Andru & Giordano

Regular readers of these posts will know my affection for this run of Adventure Comics, with Levitz and Ditko's Starman as one of the features. With issue No. 477 from November 1980, the series was only one issue away from being done. With No. 479, a revamped version of the 1960s series Dial H for Hero would premiere.

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A Batman Cover That Was Never a Batman Cover by Jim Aparo

In 1976, Jim Aparo was known for being the regular artist on The Brave & the Bold. So, finding this scan of a cover he did that year for The Comic Reader is a nice score. Here it is in colour for the first time, packaged as a Batman cover.

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The Secret Six No. 1 Cover by Frank Springer

E Nelson Bridwell and Frank Springer co-created The Secret Six, and the characters first appeared in this No. 1 issue of their comic. The powerful and innovative cover by Springer is also the first story page.

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Ronin Colouring Commission

About a year ago, a client approached me through the site to colour a Rōnin figure he'd commissioned from Frank Miller, and I was glad he did. Rōnin is my favourite of Frank Miller's work.

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Wonder Woman No. 306 Unpublished Cover by Gil Kane

Towards the end of the Bronze Age, Wonder Woman's popularity was at a low, the book better known for The Huntress back-ups than the main feature. Gil Kane drew a number of pin-up-style covers for the book during this time, including this one for No. 306, cover dated August 1983.

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Christmas with the Super-Heroes No. 1 Cover by John Byrne

John Byrne had come to DC Comics to relaunch Superman in 1986 in the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths. He also contributed to other titles, like this cover in 1988 for a special of reprinted Christmas stories. Having found a scan of the original art, 30 years on I wondered what something a little less starkly white might look like. New packaging and colour.

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Earth III Crime Syndicate by Bob Layton

A few years back, Bob Layton posted this commission based on the cover to Justice League of America No. 29 by Murphy Anderson. I accurised the trade dress, coloured it up, and neglected to post it for whatever reason. Here it is now.

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Adventure Comics No. 467 Alternate Cover by Dave Cockrum & Dick Giordano

Published in January 1980, Adventure Comics No. 467 brought back Plastic Man and introduced a new Starman. However, before that issue hit the stands, DC had thought of combining Adam Strange with Plastic Man. They took the idea far enough to have Dave Cockrum and Dick Giordano put together a cover.

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Strange Adventures No. 144 Cover by Murphy Anderson

Who says DC Comics of the early 1960s were dull and boring? The Atomic Knights wore medieval armour and rode Dalmatians across the post-apocalyptic landscape of 1986. That took some pretty wacky thinking to come up with, whether writer/creator John Broome consumed illicit substances or not.

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Detective Comics Annual No. 4 by Tom Grindberg

Published in 1991, 'Tec Annual No. 4 was a showcase for young Tom Grindberg, then emulating the bronze-age Batman work of Neal Adams, in particular the original Ra's al Ghul saga from Batman Nos. 242–244.

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Super Powers No. 2 Cover by Jack Kirby

In 1984, DC moved their toy licensing from Mego and awarded it to Kenner. The result was The Super Powers Collection. A successful toy line, DC cross-pomoted it with a refreshed Super-Friends animated series from Hanna Barbera co-branded with the toy line, and comics mini-series published yearly from 1984 to 1986.

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Superman Family Colouring Commissions

The 1960s Superman books were the last time superheroes could be as innocent and corny and fun as they were. The world was changing, and the comics would change with it. In many ways, they got better. More inclusive, more culturally aware, and deeper than the light ambrosia of a young reporter with a signal watch, and a neurotic girlfriend who cared more about her place in Superman's orbit instead of her own needs as a person.

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