Monday, October 25, 2010

Marvel Spotlight: The Black Panther

An African king who also acts as a part time superhero, the Black Panther was introduced by the team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as a minor character in Marvel Comics Fantastic Four #52 in July of 1966. After a few issues, the jungle lord was not seen until he resurfaced as a new member of The Avengers with issue #52 in late 1968. With the success of these try-out books, T'Challa got his own title starting in the sixth issue of Jungle Action in 1973 with excellent scripts by Don McGregor and powerful artwork by artist Rich Buckler. Later, one of the few black artist's in comics, Billy Graham, finished out the introductory series with remarkable energy and surprising serious story lines as the King of Wakanda spent half his adventures between Africa and America. Jack "King" Kirby returned to his creation in the late seventies for a two year run done in his unique classic style, before Marvel decided to relaunched the Black Panther once again in the eighties as a darker, grittier character with policeman Kevin Cole donning a bullet-proof costume he found in an alley to fight crime as a ruthless vigilante outside the realm of the law.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Direct Currents: The Spectre

With his debut in the Golden Age of comics appearing in More Fun Comics #52, 1945, the Spectre is one of the longest lasting of DC characters with thrilling adventures over the past sixty years. When police detective Jim Corrigan and his fiancee Claire Wilson were captured by local crime boss, "Gat" Benson, Jim was quickly knocked unconscious, placed in a barrel of cement, and dumped into a raging river. Corrigan's deceased spirit, now in a black void was traveling towards a light, but unexpectedly prevented to reach its goal. A Voice told Corrigan's spirit that his mission on Earth was not yet finished and had to return to fight evil with the supernatural powers he now possessed. As the dreaded Spectre, he confronted Benson, driving him mad, and overcame his thugs to rescue his beloved Claire. Since only Benson and his gang knew of his death, Corrigan returned to the police force, animating his body once again for his daily work as a detective. But as night falls, Corrigan unleashes his avenging spirit on the evil and wicked of his adopted city of New York. Provided with almost unlimited supernatural powers, the Spectre is capable of virtually any feat in his relentless fight against crime.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Charlton Comics... Captain Atom

The first Charlton superhero creation by artist Steve Ditko, Captain Atom, debuted in Space Adventures #33 in 1960 for a successful thirty-three issue run. A United States Air Force officer, Captain Nathaniel Adam, was offered a bitter deal after being convicted of treason. To spare his life, he was to join a top-secret nuclear research project. Wrapped in a cocoon of alien metal, placed on top of an H-bomb and detonated, our hero seemed by all accounts to be instantly vaporised. However, what actually occurred was a totally new Adam was created and transported some twenty years into the future. While the real Nathan Adam was left stranded in a void, this new creation enlisted in the military and was given the alter ego of Cameron Scott, to protect his identity as Captain Atom. The alien alloy that coated his body made our hero have the ability to fly, super strength, fire atomic blasts, and even absorb nuclear energy, though it would often cause a quantum leap into the future. Fighting his arch-enemy called Monarch,(the real Nathan Adam who somehow escaped the void), Captain Atom has been entertaining readers for many years at Charlton and later DC Comics, after they purchased the rights to all the comic company's popular stable of characters.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Fred Harmon

Born February 9, 1902 in St. Joseph, Missouri. My parents migrated to a Colorado ranch that same year. Was raised cowboy and still ride rodeo appearances and operate my own Pagosa Springs, Colorado, ranch. Have done advertising, and newspaper art. Before creating Red Ryder in 1938, my first art job was in animated cartoons, Kansas City. Married Lola Andrews. One great son, a television engineer, New York. One grandson. My home and studio are in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Member of the Society of Illustrators, New York City and charter member of our National Cartoonist Society. I had no formal art training. Besides working in comics, I enjoy doing Western oils. In 1958, I received the Sertoma Award as Colorado's outstanding citizen. Hobbies include horses and traveling in my truck-camper studio. Ambition... to keep the tubes wet and stay out of the poorhouse.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Leonard Starr...In His Own Words

What art training I had, I received at the High School of Music and Art in New York City, my home town, and Pratt Institute. I think, however, it's accurate to say that most of the knowledge I now have I acquired on my own. It's the hard way, and I don't recommend it. You find yourself struggling with basics that should be be second nature, and the backing and filling involved is a deplorable waste of time. I would have preferred a full academic background in the old tradition.Up until the time I began On Stage I did advertising and editorial illustration, and ghosted several comic strips. Fortunately, I have friends in different areas of show business, so I was able to enlist their assistance in matters of story material and accuracy when I started to draw On Stage. Show business gossip has been a valuable source of material, and most of my stories have their basis in actual incidents and personalities.

When I use an actual person, which is quite often, I have them pose for the situations in which they will appear. I enjoy this, for in addition to the realism thus gained, it gives me practice in achieving likenesses in different angles and expressions. To avoid having characters look too much like one another, especially those in the same episode, I try to make certain that they all have different head shapes, and that the hair mass on each is distinct. One of the major frustrations is the process of reproductions of art work. This varies so much, and the quality is so inconsistent, that it's almost impossible to tell how much detail and refinement of technique one should use. Even with luck, the reader rarely sees anything close the original drawing, and I don't know any way to combat this. Like most cartoonist I know, I aim for the middle, and hope for the best.

I use 3-ply paper and India ink, and since I ink almost entirely with a brush, it is thinned considerably with distilled water for easier flow. Because of this the ink won't stand much erasure, so I draw with a 7H pencil, which is light in tone but leaves a strong impression. Then I erase the pencil drawing with kneaded erasure, lighting the impression still further, but leaving a drawing clear enough to ink. This, then, precludes the necessity of erasing the finished ink drawing at all. My assistant, on the other hand, does terribly intricate background drawings with a old 104 penpoint, and ink that's barely liquid, that you couldn't erase with a sandblaster. I use a No. 3 brush for practically everything. I've always resisted switching tools once I'm "warmed up." I'm afraid it will break the trance-like state that I find necessary to produce large quantities of work under deadline conditions.