Sunday, November 25, 2012

Direct Currents: The Demon

One of Jack Kirby's new series created for DC Comics in 1972, The Demon was a creature called Etrigan, created by the powerful sorcerer Merlin at the fall of King Arthur's Kingdom of Camelot. As the evil Morgan LeFey overran the castle, Merlin unleashed a demon from hell to defend the realm, though the creature was doomed to defeat by LeFay's overwhelming forces. Placing a spell on Etrigan causing him to transform into a human, Etrigan lived on through the succeeding centuries to present day Gotham City. Now under the name of Jason Blood, our hero was unaware of his alter ego until he fell under a spell that transforming him once again into The Demon. At first Blood despised his demonic self wanting to destroy it, but eventually he tried to integrate the two personalities with disappointing results. As Jason Blood's human side grew colder and less humane, the demonic side grew more intelligent and ruthless. Fighting Morgan LeFay and other supernatural menaces, The Demon is different from his family in Hell choosing to defend humanity from mystical threats probably due to Blood's humanizing influence. Being superhuman strong and agile, the creature can often case spells, breathing fire as he speaks his weird rhyming verse that has a macabre effect on his listeners. So when evil forces threaten our world, Blood calls upon the horrible Demon to fight once again.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gold Key Comics...Mighty Samson

Created by writer Otto Binder and artist Frank Thorne in July of 1964, Mighty Samson, was a wandering barbarian adventurer who lived in a devastated area around New York after a future nuclear war. A mutant giant himself, Samson used his strength and street smarts for the good of mankind, keeping a promise to his dying mother. He now fights radiation-spawned mutant beasts and men as he loses an eye in his debut issue by killing a lion/bear creature and using his hide as a cape. Nursed back to help by the beautiful Sharmaine, and her scientist father, Mindor, the trio set off on many unusual adventures around "N'Yark" in its thirty two issue run. Graced with some beautiful painted covers by Morris Gollub, Luis Dominguez, and George Wilson, Thorne's rugged interior pencils and inks were equally a perfect match for the post apocalyptic series. Unfortunately, Frank Thorne left after issue #8 as the series continued under Binder and new artists, Jack Sparling, Jose Delbo, and Jack Abel. An original  series created by Western Printing, who owned the Gold Key line, Mighty Samson lasted until 1969, with a few issues years later in the mid-1970s and finally a last appearance in 1982, though it was licenced for a short time to the Mexican publisher Editorial Novaro under the title Mighty Sanson.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Hal Foster

I was born on August 16, 1892 in Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada. Later moved to Winnipeg and became a trapper. My business career interfered with duck-hunting, so I started to illustrate mail order catalogues. Married Helen Wells in 1915 - irresistible! Have two sons. Went prospecting in 1917. In 1921 I bicycled to Chicago - one thousand miles, illustrated by day and attended art school at night. Began the "Tarzan" Sunday page, liked my work, and then created "Prince Valiant". Have traveled widely for the authentic background material used in my strips. "Prince Valiant" has been awarded the Banshees "Silver Lady" and the National Cartoonist Society "Reuben". A movie has been made by 20th Century Fox and many books have been published. I am in the Museum of Cartoon Art Hall of Fame, won the "Segar Award" and the "Gold Key Award" of the National Cartoonist Society. I moved to Florida from Connecticut in 1971.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Buried Treasure: Dick's Adventures In Dreamland

Newspaper pioneer W.R. Hearst wanted to "incorporate American history in the adventure strips of the comic section" so he persuaded his friends at King Features to create Dick's Adventures in Dreamland. Our hero was a young boy about twelve named Dick who was the lead-in to each historical happening as shown in the first adventure where Dick is advising Christopher Columbus on how to obtain financing for his voyage of discovery. Max Trell was chosen to script the historical adventures as the artistic chores fell into the very capable hands of Neil O'Keeffe. Produced only as a Sunday feature without word balloons but descriptive panel's like Prince Valiant, the strip debuted on January 12, 1947. Having the luxury of a full page format, O'Keeffe had room to lay out well rendered compositions setting the time, place, and social conditions in great detail. Dick dreamed his way into riding with Paul Revere through Lexington and Concord, crossing the Delaware with George Washington, and assisting Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans, just to name a few episodes. Upon the death of Hearst in 1951, Dick's Adventures quickly went from full, to half, to a smaller third-page size, starting a decline in readers as the featured eventually folded in October of 1956.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

An Alex Toth Gallery

Born June 25, 1928, Alex Toth was truly an artist's artist, encouraged early on to pursue his talent enrolling in the High School of Industrial Arts, and making  his first professional sale at age fifteen, illustrating pieces for Heroic magazine. Inspired by the great newspaper cartoonists Caniff, Raymond, and Foster, young Alex wanted to follow in their footsteps but found that the industry was "dying" as he moved on to comic books. In 1947, Toth was hired by Sheldon Mayer at National Periodical Publications where he worked for five years  on the Golden Age characters, Dr. Mid-Nite, Green Lantern, Atom, and Flash before ghosting the western Casey Ruggles strip for Warren Tufts. Moving to California in the early 1950s, Toth worked for Standard Comics drawing romance, war, and crime yarns, before being drafted to the U.S. Army. While stationed in Toyko, he drew the strip Jon Fury for the base newspaper, the Depot Diary. Next, working for Dell Comics upon his return to Los Angeles, his superlative storytelling led him to work in television on the Space Angel cartoon show and his eventually landing a position at Hanna-Barbera Studios. His work in design and storyboards on Space Ghost, Birdman, and other classic cartoons for the company made an indelible mark on the medium and inspired many of our finest artists today. Later the artist worked for DC, Warren, Red Circle and other companies until his passing by a heart attack at the drawing table in May of 2006 at the age of seventy seven.