Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Foreign Favorites: Tiffany Jones

The Daily Sketch's unprecedented two page center spread debut on Wednesday November 11, 1964 of Tiffany Jones, not only introduced their dynamic new character, but the feature's creators as well. Billed as the first all-girl comic strip team in history, Pat Tourret provided her delicate fine-line drawings while Jenny Butterworth wrote the polished well written scripts, which started in a daily format that following Monday. This nineteen year old fashion model was a sunny, real switched-on, with-it girl of the swinging sixties which developed an instant fan following. Readers loved this pert, lively bachelor girl, who was portrayed as every man's dream date, and every girl's best friend next door.

Tiffany Jones was conceived by a strip editor at the Associated Newspaper group who teamed Butterworth, who was a wife of a comic page editor with a degree in English, and Tourrett an accomplished artist and colorist on the various girl British weeklies they produced. By the time Tiffany had reached her one hundredth paper in May 1967 with the Chicago Sun Times, she was already a syndication smash! This beautiful feature eventually reached twenty three countries on five continents, with fifty five newspaper outlets in Canada and America. When the Daily Sketch unfortunately folded, Tiffany Jones quickly moved to the Daily Mail continuing her adventures into the seventies and even inspiring a feature film in 1973 starring actress Anouska Hempel in the title role.

Friday, December 18, 2009

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Doug Wildey

Born in Yonkers, New York. I have always liked to draw. I started my art career drawing comic books for Street and Smith Publishing in 1947. Civilian Navy attachment: Barber's Point Naval Air, Hawaii, during World War II. Served briefly as cartoonist on my base paper. After illustrating several hundred comic books, I was offered "The Saint" strip, daily and Sunday for the New York Herald Tribune Syndicate (1959-1962). I moved my family (wife Ellen, two daughters, Debbie and Lee) West in 1952 and we settled in Tucson, Arizona. Migrated to Hollywood in 1962 where I put in a spell as a layout artist in an animation studio. Joined Hanna-Barbera Studios as a staff art director where I created television's "Jonny Quest". At present I reside in Van Nuys, California, where I write T.V. and screen treatments. I am a member of the Writer's Guild, America. Hobbies: ping pong, poker, and pool. I like the promise that films hold for the adventure strip style of cartooning - both for television and for motion pictures. Upcoming more T.V. series.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Greatest Adventure: Adam Strange

From his debut appearance in DC Comics' Showcase #17, archaeologist Adam Strange was used to being in difficult spots, but when fleeing from savages in a hostile South American jungle, he found himself struck by the transporting Zeta Beam sending him to the planet Rann. Little did they know that the first city of that alien world, Ranagar, initial attempt to communicate with humans unexpectedly brought them Earth's first interstellar spaceman! Strange quickly learned the language and customs from his beautiful girlfriend Alana, and her scientist-father Sardeth. Our hero soon becomes Rann's first citizen and savior protecting Rann from all types of alien invasions... often using some bizarre weapons like huge magnifying glasses to burn their futuristic cities, or weird space vacuums to suck up their inhabitants. From natural disasters to internal warfare, nothing was too complicated for Adam to solve with his quick analytical mind, flying rocket-pack, and handy ray gun. But despite Strange's love for Alana, he cannot remain on his adopted planet for long since the Zeta Beams effect soon wear off sending him back to Earth, where he must calculate when the next beam with strike, to be there for his next transport before it's gone.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Comic Art Legend: Don Newton

One illustrator I never had the pleasure of meeting was the ultimate fanzine artist who turned pro, Don Newton. After recently looking over a large collection of Rocket’s Blast Comic Collectors, I marveled at all the different Golden Age character drawings Newton produced in this, and other various fanzine he did in the sixties. Born in Pennsylvania, the Newton Family moved to Arizona when the budding cartoonist was a child to help with his chronic asthma. Years later, now teaching high school art classes in Phoenix and searching for old comics for his extensive collection, Don discovered comic fandom in its infancy and joined the Science Fiction and Comics Association, and started contributing artwork for all the fan publications.

These wonderful magazines sometimes provided reports about the big comic conventions, and Newton was often found as a guest of honor at these shows. Usually sporting his trademark Captain Marvel costume in their contests, he also contributed door prizes of his fantastic art to some lucky winners. Aside from the many Batman, Captain Marvel, Blue Beetle, Captain America, Hawkman, Tarzan and other sketches featured in Rocket's Blast Comic Collector, Don improved his growing artistic skills on an exciting adventure strip entitled The Savage Earth which ran for over a year till its climatic ending.

But while still active in the fanzine market, Newton never stopped trying to jump into the "Big Leagues" at Marvel and DC Comics. Unfortunately the companies at that time preferred their staff to be in the vicinity of New York, so Don settled for the lower wages and his first real break with Charlton Comics. His professional debut was in Ghost Manor #18 in 1974, and he continued to produce horror titles (though he didn’t care for the subject) over the next year until chosen to draw The Phantom, which is considered by many to be his best work at Charlton. His striking painted covers produced on The Phantom whose original pages were lavishly penciled and inked, are highly sought out by collectors around the world today, always bringing high prices!

Still active at Charlton, Newton tried to springboard his new professional experience to Marvel, where he did a smattering of issues and covers on The Defenders, Conan, and others, before landing at DC Comics. Working with his old friend and inker, Dan Adkins, Newton drew Aquaman, The New Gods, Star Hunters, World's Finest, and his best know work, Batman, which finally gave him enough financial support to quit his teaching job to be a full-time artist. But one of the illustrator's greatest goals was to draw his absolute favorite character, "The Big Red Cheese" himself, Captain Marvel. After studying under the original creator, C.C. Beck, who often appeared at comic shows with him, in early 1978 Newton was signed to draw Shazam! and the rest of the Marvel Family.

He completed some of his best work at National, before a better salary enticed Don back to Marvel Comics for more contract work, and a chance to draw another beloved character of his, Captain America. Since John Byrne did not want to give up that title, Newton was promised to illustrate The Avengers (starring Cap) with his favorite inker, Joseph Rubinstein, who he had worked with on The New Gods. However, with just a handful of issues under his belt, Don felt a bad choice of an inker on his pages, Dan Green, and sporadic work, motivated him to return to DC Comics, never to work for Marvel again. Newton continued his career drawing the Green Lantern Corps, which were well received and was slated to do the another Golden Age great, The All-Star Squadron in the new Infinity Inc. comic.

But even a body builder and known “health expert” couldn't survive a massive heart attack that left Newton in a coma that finally took the artist's life at the young age of forty-nine. Only a few stories were printed after his death including an All-Star issue that friend Joe Rubinstein took leave from Marvel to embellish for Don's last published work in Infinity Inc. #13, in 1985, a year after his untimely death.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Darrell McClure

Born 1903 in Ukiah, California. At nine I moved to San Francisco. Art school at night, fourteen and fifteen my first professional jobs. At seventeen started animated cartoons when available, logging camps and ranching interim. Started seagoing, sailing ships & steam. To New York City on freighter. Started job with King Features Syndicate in 1923. Took on "Little Annie Rooney" in 1930 or '31. Have been contributor to "Yachting Magazine" since '24. Married in 1924, and lived in Connecticut. Served part time with Coast Guard sailing fleet WWII. Moved to Florida after wife passed away, now remarried to Navy widow, returned to San Francisco, with new wife also gained lovely daughter and three grandchildren. Jackpot! Like to paint when time permits. Love to sail boats and we do. I have nothing to wish for because I already have it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Al Capp

One of the most popular comic strips ever to grace the funny pages was Al Capp's historic feature, Li'l Abner, which ran for forty three years and inspired lots of merchandise, a television show, stage plays and motion pictures. Here is the short bio, in Capp's same satirical style...Al Capp Born in New Haven Connecticut in 1909 -- which makes me over forty. Attended primary schools in Philadelphia and Boston. First big-time job, at nineteen, with Associated Press doing "Col. Gilfeather". Fired. Job given to Milton Caniff, or Goniff - since it disappeared. Created "Li'l Abner", in 1934, for United Features and sued them for fourteen million dollars in 1948. Collected fourteen million denunciatory editorials from "Editor and Publisher". Was appointed Chairman, Cartoonists' Committee, of People to People Campaign by President Eisenhower in 1956. Didn't vote for him in 1952 or 1965.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Direct Currents: The Space Ranger

First appearing in DC's Showcase #15, Rick Starr is a New York business executive of Allied Solar Enterprises, but also secretly a guardian of Earth's solar system when disguised as the adventurer called Space Ranger. From his secret base within an asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter, our hero has a well equipped laboratory and full arsenal of weapons including his trusty anti-gravity gun, dissolverizer, explosi-discs, and thermoblaze pistol to fight crime. With the help of his girlfriend, Myra Mason, who happens to be his secretary back on Earth, and the small shape-changing alien Cryll who Space Ranger rescued from a wrecked spacecraft, the trio protect the planets in his incredible ship, The Solar King. Space ranger has stopped many invasions, menaces, and would-be conquers in his 22nd Century adventures, and even defeated his ultimate enemy, the Gordanians, with the assistance of an ally from the past, the Green Lantern named Hal Jordan.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Mike Peters

Here is one of the shortest of bios for any of the National Cartoonist Society award winning cartoonists...Mike Peters was born October 9, 1943 to Bill and Charlotte Peters. He went through thirteen years of Catholic Education unscathed. While attending classes at Washington University in St. Louis, he met his best friend and later to be his wife, Marian. They moved to Chicago where the artist worked with the Daily News art staff for one short year. Mike soon got drafted and spent two years in Okinawa. After being discharged from the army Mike became the new editorial cartoonist for the Dayton Daily News. He later started his popular syndicated feature, Mother Goose and Grimm, in 1984. He and Marian have three daughters and more awards than he think he deserves.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Even More RBCC Original Art Prices!

Here is yet another shocking report of original comic art prices from the early seventies that was published in the Rocket's Blast Comic Collector by none other than writer, Doug Moench! His four page advertisement starts out in bold capital letters "MOENCH SELLS OUT HIS FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES' SOULS! ORIGINAL ART", and continues with page after page of great pieces at wonderful prices, (in today's market). Apparently the IRS reared it ugly head, and all the writer's hopes and dreams of keeping his beloved pages went up in smoke, since he had to support foreign assassination plots, bribes to Iran, and excessive toilet paper supplies to ex-presidents... his words, not mine. But you can tell he really didn't want to sell some of these gems, though he provided discounts for the more number of pages you purchased. He would consider "haggling" on them if you wanted to buy pieces from all the various artists, not just trying to get all from one illustrator, and offered to sign them if you wish. So sit back in a comfortable chair and grab a bottle of aspirin, because you'll probably get a headache when reading over these pages and prices so Moench can "make this country what it is...and, at the moment, make Doug just a little wistful..."

Rich Buckler
Astonishing Tales #26
Cover $60
Page 1 Splash $55
2, 3, 7, $40, 15 $45

John Buscema
Master of Kung Fu #27
Page 15 $20, 16 $15

Sal Buscema
Master of Kung Fu#32
Page 16 $7, 17 $6

Paul Gulacy
Master of Kung Fu #25
Page 1 Splash $50
3 $40, 7 $40, 11 $30, 15 $25

Well, you get the idea, same great pricing on the next
twenty-two MOKF Gulacy issues or so!

Larry Hama
Marvel Premiere #17
Page 2 $35, 3 $30

Russ Heath
Ka-Zar #12
Page 3 $45

Don Heck
Ka-Zar #11
Page 3 $6

Gil Kane
Inhumans #5
Page 3o $20, 31 $15

Val Mayerik
Monster of Frankenstein #12
Page 3 $20, 14 $10

Monster of Frankenstein #13
Page 10 $5, 23 $4

George Perez
Inhumans #1
Page 6 $15, 11 $15

Don Perlin
Werewolf by Night #20
Page 15 $5, 17 $5

Giant Size Werewolf by Night #2
Page 16 $3, 17 $3, 25 $4, 29 $3

Pages for three dollars, that is not a typo!

Doug's list goes on for twenty-six issues, all about the same
except issue #32 with the first Moon Knight appearance
are running around $10 to $12.

Frank Robbins
Fear #25
Page 18 $15, 23 $15

George Tuska
Creatures on the Loose #30
Page 11 $3, 16 $4, 30 $7

There were a lot more pages by these artists and others, but I can't
seem to force myself to keep posting these numbers any more.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Greatest Adventure: The Metal Men

One of the strangest super teams to come from DC's try-out book, made their first appearance in Showcase #37, back in March 1962. More than mere robot facsimiles of humans, The Metal Men, had the minds of several noted scientists and a few unlucky bystanders that got caught in a terrible experiment gone wrong, preformed by Dr. William Magnus. The good doctor's top secret project for the U.S. Army in robotics caused these heroes to fuse with his prototype "responseometers" that erased the memories and helped animate their powerful new automaton bodies. Based on the metals they came in contact with, Gold was their intelligent and analytical leader, the friendly giant, Iron, provided the muscle, proud and self centered was the robot Mercury, timid and shy was the loyal loving Tin, dynamic Lead was big-hearted but a little on the slow side, while the lovely Platinum rounded out the team, having a crush on their surprised "creator." This fantastic team, forged in the fiery foundries of science, often sold their lived dearly for humanity's sake against foes like the Missile Men or Chemo, only to be salvaged and rebuilt once again by their duty bound Dr. Magnus.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bernie Wrightson's "The Laughing Man"

After learning all he could from studying the EC Comics and the Famous Artist School correspondence course, Wrightson started working for The Baltimore Sun as an illustrator, but was inspired a year later in 1966 at a New York comic show by Frank Frazetta to do his own stories. Two years later, with the encouragement of editor Dick Giordano, he produced his first professional work at National Comics in House of Mystery #179. Bernie continued to do numerous mystery and horror stories before producing his seminal work on DC's Swamp Thing, which he co-created with writer Lein Wein in the early seventies. In 1974, Wrightson when over to Warren Publishing Company creating some of his most chilling tales for their moody black and white magazines, which greatly suited his talents in horror art as shown in this shocking story from Creepy #95 entitled...

Monday, September 28, 2009

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Leonard Starr

Featured here is the brief NCS bio for one of the most popular illustrators of the soap opera strip genre, the multi-talented Leonard Starr! Born in New York, started doing comics in 1942 while still at Pratt Institute. Did a lot of advertising from about 1950 until I created "On Stage" for the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate in 1957. Wrote and drew the feature until 1979, at which time I was asked to revive "Little Orphan Annie", now called simply "Annie" to make it seem less dated and to reflect the highly successful Broadway musical. Created "Kelly Green" with Stan Drake in 1980 for Darguad Editeur, Paris. Started writing television scripts in the early 1970s and in 1984 I was asked to develop and write the "bible" for the animated television show "Thundercats", and also act as the story editor and head writer. Moved to Westport, Connecticut in 1970 where I still live today.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Direct Currents: Challengers of the Unknown

Four brave men living on borrowed time make up the adventurous team known as The Challengers of the Unknown that debuted in DC's Showcase #6 from January 1957 by Jack Kirby and Wally Wood. The fearless four Challengers or "Challs" they were often called were, Red Ryan a daring mountaineer and daredevil stuntman; Ace Morgan the high-flying jet pilot; heavyweight boxer and world wrestling champ Rocky Davis; and Prof Haley rounded out the team as a deep sea diver and scientific genius. A group of complete strangers that somehow survived a deadly plane crash together, that all mysteriously had their wrist watches stop at the exact moment, which lead them to believe they were chosen to dedicate their unique skills to help others in their "second chance" at life! From their Challengers Mountain base loaded with high-tech equipment deep within an extinct volcanic crater in Wyoming, the Challengers defended Earth against outer space alien threats to various super villains like the bizarre Multi-Man or the infamous Legion of the Weird. With at least ten different series over the many years at National with some early fantastic and then just average writers and artists producing the stories, the "Challs" still endure as this team uses every last minute fate granted them to benefit mankind.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Comic Art Legend: Jim Aparo

After attempting to break into the comics field in his early twenties, Jim Aparo ended up in advertising and commercial art for a few years doing fashion and newspaper ads while continuing his efforts to do comics. His first published comic work was a strip feature he created for free(trying to get some publicity) entitled Stern Wheeler, before he finally got his chance with the new editor of Charlton Comics, Dick Giordano. A self taught artist, Aparo could do it all; pencil, ink, and even letter his own pages, enjoying the complete control over of his own work. How many artists do you know that enjoy lettering their own pages, but Aparo thought it helped his layouts to place his own word balloons. Starting out at Charlton with a humor title, drawn in a cartoon style, Jim quickly worked in many genres including, science fiction, horror, romance, mystery, super-hero, and Westerns, to name a few.

Nothing was beyond this artist's skill with pen and brush rendering his realistic characters and splendid detailed backgrounds. Giordano was wise enough to give Jim a free hand in his storytelling techniques, letting the draftsman draw in a smaller format than the rest of the company and try welcomed new experimentation in layout and design. Aparo could produce one completed page a day, and was lucky enough to stay on this schedule throughout his career to keep the artistic quality at it's peak. Aparo stated his favorite work at Charlton had to be the pages he drew of Lee Falk's jungle hero, The Phantom, but he also illustrated lesser know characters such as Nightshade, The Wanderer, and Thane of Bagarth, just to name a few. When Giordano decided to make a move to DC Comics in the late sixties, Aparo soon followed him, taking over the artistic chores for Aquaman, while still doing Phantom stories at Charlton. Since both the books were being published on a bimonthly schedule, he was able to keep busy each and every month, though the page rates were dramatically different from the two companies!

The Phantom Stranger was Aparo's next venture with National, requiring him to do much more reference for these wild exotic stories about a mysterious world traveler of the occult. Being able to stay fresh was one of Jim's high points, since he enjoyed the character so much, every issue got more elaborate with his attention to details on the landscapes, architecture, vehicles, and clothing of the time period. Picking up influences from Nick Cardy, Neal Adams, and the famed EC artists of the past, Jim crafted his heroes in a lean muscular style and used a unique tilted point of view to help emphasise the action. The short-lived revival in Adventure Comics of The Spectre was a fan favorite that helped the artist "push the envelope" even further on his dramatic photo-realistic style, before moving on to his most popular character.

Aparo is best known for drawing The Batman for ten years in almost one hundred issues of The Brave and the Bold. This team-up book had the Caped Crusader meeting a new DC hero or villain every month, with the Creeper and Joker being just a few of Jim's favorite recurring side-kicks. About this time, Aparo started drawing celebrities into the pages, as a running gag with his editor, and dropping subtle clues about who would be the next monthly co-star for the many young readers enjoyment. Once The Brave and the Bold was eventually cancelled Aparo created another super-team book with Mike W. Barr, Batman and the Outsiders, which had the artist finally do pencils only for the first time in his long career on the last few issues. Aparo continued to work on his beloved Batman titles, did hundred of covers for DC Comics, Green Arrow and other special BAtman related projects before his retirement from the industry. A giant in the field of comic art, Jim Aparo made an impact that will be felt for many years to come.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Paul Norris

Paul Norris is probably best know as co-creator of Aquaman for National Comics, but he also worked in pulp illustration, and newspaper strips with his popular King Features strip Brick Bradford. Here is his short bio from a few years ago...Born on April 26th 1914 in Greenville Ohio. The '88 Album closed out my career as a cartoonist. Retirement is all that I had hoped it would be... spending the golden years with Annbeth, fifty six years and counting... taking pride in the success of our sons, Michael and Paul, in their chosen fields... and doting on our six grandchildren... playing as much golf as aches and pains can permit... feel fortunate that my life was spent as a cartoonist... what a job!! You could sleep in on those rainy mornings... the talented people I have known along the way... a real bonus.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Foreign Favorites: Air Hawk and the Flying Doctors

After years of drawing comics for various Australian publishers, John Dixon finally achieved his goal in creating Air Hawk and the Flying Doctors which debuted on June 14, 1959 in the Sydney Sunday Herald. Four years later Dixon was granted a daily in May 1963, which the artist quickly focused all his attention on, crafting the amazing stories he both wrote and illustrated. Jim Hawk was a tall blond World War ll fighter ace who flew an air charter service based out of Alice Springs, servicing central Australian. As part of his duties he also assisted the Royal Flying Doctor Service in making emergency "house calls" over the thousands of square miles of the Australian outback. Dr. Hal Wayne was Jim's close friend who inadvertently got mixed up in Hawk's adventures, as well as the lovely Sister Janet Grant, a nurse to round out the cast. Dixon's strong strips had plenty of action, drama, and suspense, showcasing his extreme attention to detail in every storyline and illustration.

The aircraft, people, wildlife, and landscapes, especially in describing the world's oldest inhabitants, the Aborigines, were all displayed with equal care and authenticity by the keen eye of this creator. Dixon, a good pilot in his own right, made this feature the ultimate aviation strip, a realistically drawn adventure for readers to experience the far-off exotic locals of Australia. Inspired by the "big three" of comic art, Alex Raymond, Hal Foster, and Milt Caniff, Dixon leaned more to the "Caniff School" in his drafting, but was also equally impressed with contemporary artist Stanley Pitt's expressive figure work. John was also blessed to be an exceptional script writer, who could easily handle any facet of producing a high quality strip. With the assistance of his wife, Eleanor, who acted as his part-time secretary, Dixon enjoyed a wonderful studio perched high on a hillside of their home at Bugan Head Beach. This delightful view was enjoyed by many, as John was a great booster of Australian talent, giving a helping hand to any who asked. Mike Tabrett took over the Sunday once Dixon got the rights for a daily, and was also assisted by comic veteran Hart Amos under John's helpful guidance. These two talented artists, who also shared a love for authentic storytelling, helped further promote the strip until it eventually appeared in Hong Kong, South Africa, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Holland, Turkey, New Zealand, Germany, France, Sweden, Argentina, and the only American appearance in the historic Menomonee Falls Gazette.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Ernie Bushmiller

Here is the brief bio of Ernie Bushmiller, creator of a popular humor strip about a cute little girl named Nancy and her street wise pal, Sluggo, whose many adventures lasted for decades in the funny papers... I was born in the Bronx, New York City. Started out as a copy boy on the famous New York World. My first strip was called Fritzi Ritz. Have been drawing "Nancy" for United Features since 1940 --- Years ago I also worked as a comedy writer for comedian Harold Lloyd -- I usually like to work at night -- no hobbies yet -- I'm just too lazy -- I would like to try to play tennis if it could be done sitting down --I live with my beautiful wife Abby in Stamford, Connecticut -- I just read the above and find myself very uninteresting.