Saturday, February 23, 2013

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Raeburn Van Buren

Raeburn Van Buren had a flourishing career in magazine and pulp illustration before Al Capp approached him to draw Abbie an' Slats, a strip about a tough New York kid transplanted to his aunt's small country town...Born January 12, 1891 in Pueblo, Colorado. My first job was a sketch artist for the Kansas City Star. All the pictures produced in the Star were pen and ink. Good training at the time, fires, murders, courtroom scenes, etc., were my chores for the next three and a half years. Then I landed a new gig drawing in old Life magazine! So I headed for New York and finally the big money. Pulp magazines, illustrations and gag drawings  kept me in beans and tobacco: then came the war and two years active service in the 7th Regiment, New York. Considerable luck found my lovely wife and fifteen years  as a regular illustrator (367 stories) for The Saturday Evening PostCollier's Magazine, Red Book, etc. Then in 1937 in came my strip "Abbie an Slats" and thirty three years of the most exciting and fruitful years of my exciting life. Retired in 1971. Now I am painting, fishing, playing golf, and "dreaming".


Monday, February 18, 2013

Marvel Spotlight: Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze

In October of 1972 Marvel Comics tried to bring "Golden Avenger" into their stable of comic titles with Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze #1 written by Steve Englehart based on a Roy Thomas plot, with artwork by Ross Andru and Jim Mooney. Over its two year run of eight comic issues, the title adapted four of the pulp series early favorite books including, The Man of Bronze, Brand of the Werewolf, Death in Silver, and The Monsters. Graced with good stories and strong cover art by artists including Jim Steranko, John Buscema, and Gil Kane, Doc and his "Fabulous Five" associates unfortunately never took off with Marvel's many fans. One interesting cross-over book starred the amazing Spider-Man was produced and a  one-shot Giant Sized movie tie-in to the George Pal motion picture starring Ron Ely in the title role was published in 1975. This classic Golden Avenger even turned up in one issue of Marvel Two-In-One #21 teaming up with the Fantastic Four's Thing! Perhaps his 1930s origins were hard to work into the modern Marvel Universe time line, though Doc also had splashy eight issue run in their Curtis black-and-white magazine Marvel produced from 1975-1977 with some fantastic Ken Barr cover art.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Archie Comics: The Double Life of Private Strong

In June 1959, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon published a title for the new "Archie Adventure Series", The Double Life of Private Strong, introducing the patriotic character, The Shield. Not related to the prior characters who shared the same name and similar costume in other  books, the Shield's real identity was that of Lancelot Strong. Strong's scientist father developed a method to create a superhuman being by expanding the mind, which he experimented on his infant son. Once his father was killed by foreign agents trying to discover the secret, Lancelot was adopted by a farm couple and raised as their own son. As the youth entered his teens, Lancelot soon discovered the truth about his background and his many super powers. Strong had incredible  strength, the power of flight, near-invulnerability, super vision, an ability to generate lightning, and other wonders. Discovering a flag inspired costume left for him by his deceased father, he became the masked superhero, The Shield.  Joining the Army, Lancelot acted like a foolish country bumpkin, while leading a double life as the superhero Shield on the side (hence the title of his comic). DC Comics soon notified Archie Comics of their concerns, claiming that The Shield was too similar to Superman, so after two short issues, his comic was cancelled to prevent a lawsuit, with Simon and Kirby moving on to their next project.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gold Key's...Brothers of the Spear

Today it's common place to see black and white heroes fighting side by side in comics, film, and television, but fifty years ago it was very rare. Gold Key's Brothers of the Spear was a ground breaking series that secured it place as a first in American comic's history. An original feature that was created by Western Printing's writer Gaylord Du Bois and artist Jesse Marsh as a backup feature to Tarzan #25 in 1951, it ran continuously until issue #156 in 1966. Acclaimed artist Russ Manning helped develop his clean no nonsense style on the series before being chosen to take over the Tarzan title from his mentor and friend, Jesse Marsh, years later. The "Brothers of he Spear" were a black son of a Zulu chieftain, Natongo, and his adopted white brother, Dan-El, who was a member of the lost white tribe of Africa. As sub-chiefs of the tribe in the land that would become modern day Botswana, they had many exciting adventures using their superior spear play. Protecting their jungle realm from other warring tribes and eventually winning their respective thrones, they both took beautiful wives who later shared in their many adventures. After years of publication as Tarzan backup stories, the brothers finally got their own seventeen issue series with spectacular interior art by Filipino artist Jesse Santos, with later issues drawn by the talented Dan Spiegle. The covers, like most of the Gold Key titles of the period were painted, showcasing the talents of George Wilson and other comic masters at Western.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Atlas/Seaboard Comics: John Targitt...Man-Stalker

Starting in June of 1974, the short-lived Atlas/Seaboard Comics line was started by Marvel Comics founder Martin Goodman, who had left the company in 1972 after he sold it in 1968. Wanting to compete with DC Comics and his old company Marvel, Goodman hired Warren Publishing veteran Jeff Rovin to handle the color comic titles and Stan Lee's brother, Larry Lieber, as editor of the black-and-white magazines. Trying to draw the best talent to his new company, Goodman promoted a creators' rights revolution, offering the highest rates in the industry, returning artwork to artists and author ownership to original character creations. Unfortunately, only twenty three comic titles and five comic magazine were produced before the company folded in late 1975. So let me start out this new series of posts with their "Executioner" inspired character. John Targitt was special agent for the FBI whose family was killed by the mob while rival hoods were deposing of another gangster. Leaving his position with the government, John becomes a "one man army" against the mob and other evil villains like Professor Death as the masked vigilante Man-Stalker. With solid cover art for its three issue run by Dick Giordano, Rich Buckler, and Frank Thorne, the uninspired story lines and quirky interior illustrations by Howard Nostrand never found an audience, but that was Atlas Comics in a nutshell.