Conan the Barbarian v1 #20 marvel comic book cover art by Barry Windsor Smith
Barry Windsor Smith
Conan the Barbarian v1 #20, 1972 - Sneaking into a holy temple to recover the Turnanian's man-god, Conan runs afoul of his devilish guardian. Barry Smith's cover seems oddly composed with its side-view approach and the hound partially cropped out of frame. His interior story more than compensates, though, with its superb splash of soldiers re-boarding their warships. Panels are generally small but carefully designed and drawn. Smith is at his best on the two-page epilogue (see interior page below) where the open panels and narration suggest a more sophisticated, literary tone. This is number 18 of 22 Conan the Barbarian issues with Smith art and/or covers.
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Smith cover pencils and inks = **
"The Black Hound of Vengeance"
Smith story pencils (Dan Adkins inks) 20 pages = ***

Conan the Barbarian v1 #20 marvel comic book page art by Barry Windsor Smith
Barry Windsor Smith
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1994 magazine v1 #21, 1981 - An uncommonly strange Alex Nino cover accompanies two of his stories inside. In the first, a businessman becomes completely immersed in a computer console and becomes a shell of his former self. In the second, a lifelong criminal finds himself in a precarious position in deep space. Nino's art in both stories is visually jarring like most of his works on this title. However, they're also confusingly laid out and unclear in sequencing. In these cases, he sacrificed clarity and substance for experimentation. Nestor Redondo is credited in price guides on "Tales of the Red Planet Saloon, but I see no evidence of his handiwork. This is number 11 of 17 1994 magazine issues with Nino art and/or covers.
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Nino cover painting = ***
"Lord Machina" Nino story pencils and inks (black & white) 12 pages = **
"Freefall" Nino story pencils and inks (black & white) 6 pages = **

Alex Nino
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Star Slammers / Marvel graphic novel #6, 1983 - Making their first appearance, the galaxy-hopping Star Slammers are among artist Walt Simonson's first creations. This lengthy graphic novel spans sixty pages, including two full page splashes. Simonson's artwork shines due to his innovative layouts and masterful pacing. On pages 49-54, a creative sequence of both large and small panels perfectly capture the scene's mood and tension. The artist does a more than admirable job with the cover and one of his longest stories to date. On the back cover, artwork is repeated from one of the inside panels.
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Simonson cover pencils and inks = ***
Simonson story
pencils and inks 60 pages = ***



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Rocky Lane's Black Jack v1 #26, 1959 - Steve Ditko drew comparatively few westerns, both two of his stories appear in this issue. In the first, Black Jack (Rocky Lane’s horse) helps an old miner traversing through the vast desert. Using thin lines and graphic shapes, the artwork is stark but appealing. Ditko’s second tale tells of a city dude taught a hard lesson: toughen up or head back east. The drawings are softer and more fluid, but lack clarity. The inclusion of both styles creates a good opportunity for comparison. Other artists in this issue include Rocco Mastroserio and Sal Trapani. This is number 3 of 5 Rocky Lane's Black Jack issues with Ditko art and/or covers.
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"The Phantom Spring" Ditko story pencils and inks 5 pages = ***
"The Merciless Mesa" Ditko pencils and inks 5 pages = ***

Steve Ditko
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Marshall Rogers
Shadow of the Batman v1 #2, 1985 - Continuing to feature Detective Comics reprints, this second issue begins the Hugo Strange storyline from Detective #471 and Detective #472. These two Marshall Rogers tales are joined by a third from Weird War Tales #51. The artist's new wrap-around cover is a striking tribute to these classic stories. This is number 2 of 5 Shadow of the Batman issues with Rogers art and/or covers.
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Rogers wrap around cover pencils and inks = ****

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Carl Barks
Walt Disney's Comics and Stories v1 #237, 1960 - When his nephews acquire an underwater camera, Donald Duck spirits them away to Scotland in search of the Loch "Less" Monster. Carl Barks incorporated several sea monsters into his stories throughout the decades. They all seem to share the basic creature design, but the drawings retain a wholesome appeal. The artwork more or less meets expectations, less so the cover. This story was later reprinted in >Walt Disney Comics Digest #11 and >Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #463. Other artists in this issue include Tony Strobl and Paul Murry.
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Barks cover pencils and inks = **
"Mystery of the Loch" Barks story pencils and inks 10 pages = ***


Carl Barks
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Neal Adams
Tomahawk v1 #118, 1968 - Monochromatic greens are punctuated by touches of red on this spacious Neal Adams cover. Tomahawk's figure dominates the foreground, his limbs dividing the layout into four quadrants. Though ably drawn, Adams' composition is what captures your attention. Other artists in this issue include Frank Thorne. This is number 3 of 13 Tomahawk issues with Adams art and/or covers.
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Adams cover pencils and inks = ***

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Iron Man v1 annual #4, 1977 - The Champions make a rare crossover appearance, joining Iron Man against the villain Modok. Don Newton inks an unrelated back-up tale, featuring the kung-fu fighter Midnight (who debuted in Special Marvel Editon #16). Like his first appearance, the character is mostly drawn in black silhouette without modeling or depth. Newton rarely inked others, but his mastery of light and shadow enhances the pencils without overpowering them. Other artists in this issue include George Tuska and Don Perlin. This is number 1 of 1 Iron Man annual issues with Newton art and/or covers.
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"Death Lair" Newton story inks (Jeff Aclin pencils) 5 pages = ***

Don Newton
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>this issue >Newton >Iron Man

Rom spaceknight v1 #2, 1979 - No Frank Miller cover, despite what some comic book price guides say. The artist did illustrate appear in 4 other Rom covers. Other artists in this issue include Sal Buscema and Al Milgrom (cover).

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>Miller >Rom

Brave and the Bold v1 #12, 1957 - When an awakened prehistoric dinosaur threatens the village, the Viking Prince takes matters into his own hands. Midway through his run on the feature, artist Joe Kubert continues to impress. The opening splash suffers for lack of a background, but subsequent pages are nicely laid out and rendered. A couple of scenes utilize clever close-up sequences. This story was later reprinted in >Best of Brave and the Bold #4 and >Star Spangled War #150. Other artists in this issue include Russ Heath. This is number 12 of 32 Brave and the Bold issues with Kubert art and/or covers (not including reprints).
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"Monster of the Viking Sea" Kubert story pencils and inks 8 pages = ****

Joe Kubert
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Leroy v1 #2, 1950 - One of many Archie Andrews-type characters introduced in this period, Leroy
lasted a mere six issues. Frank Frazetta draws the illustration for one of the two text stories. Confined to a long horizontal space, the artist nonetheless surpasses the rest of the issue. His faces have clarity and emotion, The setting is minimal but strongly implied by the simple perspective. This is number 1 of 1 Leroy issues with Frazetta art and/or covers.
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"Beautiful but Sad" Frazetta text illo pencils and inks 1 page = ***

Frank Frazetta
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Jack Kirby

Strange World Of Your Dreams v1 #4, 1953 - Like the previous Jack Kirby covers, a strange dream is portrayed above a sleeping individual. By contrast, the scene is less surreal and more nightmarish and threatening. The slightly silly depiction of the murderer is largely offset by superb draftsmanship of the dreamer's face. This unique series by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby ends with this final issue. Other artists in this issue include Mort Meskin. This is number 4 of 4 Strange World Of Your Dreams issues with Kirby art and/or covers.
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Kirby cover pencils (Joe Simon inks) = ***

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Tarzan v1 #651955 - A monkey seems to be serenading Tarzan on this oddly conceived painted cover. Inside, barricaded in a cleft within the mountains, the Brothers of the Spear make their last stand against a contingent of Obelo warriors. From the lush rainforest to the rocky mountains to a decorative chamber, Russ Manning seems to draw these settings with ease. The contrasting scenes offer several compelling visuals, all within the confines of a six page story. This is number 27 of 133 Tarzan issues with Manning art and/or covers (not including reprints).
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Untitled Brothers of the Spear story Manning pencils and inks 6 pages = ***

Russ Manning
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Texas Rangers in Action v1 #8, 1957 - One of many Charlton western titles at the time, Steve Ditko contributes a short back-up tale. A wealthy landowner is intent on driving out homesteaders on his property, only to have his past catch up to him. Ditko's drawings are appropriately rugged. Highlights include the stubborn portrait on page 1 and the elegant panorama on page 3 (see interior page below). Other artists in this issue include Sal Trapani. This is number 1 of 2 Texas Rangers in Action issues with Ditko art and/or covers.
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"The Only One" Ditko story pencils and inks 5 pages = ***

Steve Ditko
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Jack Kirby (1917-1994) - Born and raised in New York City, "The King" of comics was largely self taught, emulating newspaper strips and cartoons as a young boy. His comic book career literally spans decades, starting Red Raven Comics #1 at the start of the golden age. His output was among the most prolific in comics, not just drawing but also creating or co-creating a vast universe of characters. Captain America, Boy Commandos, Omac, New Gods, Thor, Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, Black Panther, Hulk and the X-men are just a few examples. He also introduced the romance genre in comics while partnering with longtime collaborator Joe Simon. Artistically, Kirby's early drawings were steeped in classicism, but also introduced bold layouts and clever sequencing. Although known for his dynamic approach on superhero comics, the artist could tailor his work to match the genre. His romance stories were thoughtful and sensitive, while his horror tales were weird and discomforting. Over the years, his artwork would became more kinetic and expressionistic, sometimes bordering on the abstract. It's debatable when Kirby did his best work, but I'm finding extraordinary examples in almost every decade of his career. I highly recommend his 1940s-1950s runs on Captain America Comics, Boy's Ranch, Foxhole, Black Magic, Young Love, Young Romance, late 1960s Fantastic Four and early 1970s New Gods, Mister Miracle, Kamandi, Black Panther, 2001: A Space Odyssey and the Demon. Read more on Wikipedia.

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E-Man v1 #7, 1975 - In his second back-up story of the series, Rog-2000 encounters a haunted house on a dark and stormy night, with a title reference to Emily Bronte's classic novel. For a humorous parody, it is surprisingly well drawn for its genre. John Byrne' large opening panel sets the perfect tone with its gradated zipatone background and painterly wind-blown leaves. His brushwork is more skillful than others, evidenced by the textures on the burning house (page 7). This story was later reprinted in the 1985 compilation Rog 2000. Other artists in this issue include Joe Staton (art and cover). This is number 2 of 4 E-Man issues with Byrne art and/or covers.
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"Withering Heights" Byrne story pencils and inks 7 pages = ***


John Byrne
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Walt Simonson
Thor v1 #269, 1978 - The Stilt-Man returns, outfitted in new seemingly impenetrable adamantium armor. Walt Simonson nears the end of his initial run on the series. Unfortunately, he seems to expend no more effort than previous issues. Add to that the overpowering inking job by Tony Dezuniga and the artwork really falters. Simonson's cover is equally banal. This is number 10 of 55 Thor issues with Simonson art and/or covers.
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Simonson cover pencils (Joe Sinnott inks) = *
"A Walk on the Wild Side" Simonson story pencils (Tony Dezuniga inks) 17 pages = *


Walt Simonson

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Walt Disney Comics Digest v1 #52, 1975 - Many of these digest-sized issues reprint stories and artwork by Carl Barks. Two of his works are included in this case, originating from Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #132 and #161. Also included is "Ghost of the Mission", a fine Alex Toth Zorro story from Four Color Comics v2 #920. Other artists in this issue include Tony Strobl.

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