Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fear #12 / Man-Thing - Jim Starlin art & cover


Adventure into Fear v1 #12 featuring the Man-Thing, 1972 - A white policeman hunts down a black fugitive in this racially charged story. Known primarily for his super-hero work, Jim Starlin uses the same sense of innovative design and pacing. In addition to two full page splashes, Starlin juxtaposes two powerfully emotive faces in direct contrast to one another (see interior page above). Rich Buckler's inks also add a gritty intensity to the scenes. Unfortunately, the cover fails to match up to the intensity of the interior pages. This is number 1 of 1 Fear issues with Starlin art and/or covers. See today's posts or more Starlin, Fear or Man-Thing issues. See also this blog's Starlin checklist or Top 10 Starlin comics.
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Starlin cover pencils (Rich Buckler inks) = **
"No Choice of Colors" Starlin story pencils (Rich Buckler inks) 15 pages = ****
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Find on ebay: >this issue>more Starlin issues, >more Fear issues

Pictorial Romances #9 - Matt Baker art, cover & reprint

Pictorial Romances v1 #9  st. john romance comic book cover art by Matt BakerPictorial Romances v1 #9  st. john romance comic book page art by Matt Baker
Pictorial Romances v1 #9, 1951 - On Matt Baker's cover, an art gallery employee uses her feminine charms on a young artist. The empty frame on the lower right may symbolize her equally empty promises. Could the subtly placed "fragile" sticker also be a reference to her victim? Baker illustrates one new feature and a single page story. "Double Purpose Date" has its merits, but "Dishonest Love" excels due to its fine details and nuanced facial expressions. Baker's third tale, "The Road to Ruin" is reprinted from Pictorial Confessions #1 (originally titled "I Threw Away My Reputation on a Worthless Love"). This is number 6 of 21 Pictorial Romances issues with Baker art and/or covers. See today's posts, more Baker or Pictorial Romances issues. See also this blog's Matt Baker checklist.
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Baker cover pencils and inks =
***
"Dishonest Love" Baker story pencils and inks 8 pages = ****

"Double Purpose Date" Baker story pencils and inks 1 page = ***
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Find on ebay: >this issue>more Baker issues>more Pictorial Romances issues

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dark Mansion #12 - Alex Nino art


Forbidden Tales of the Dark Mansion v1 #12, 1973 - A quiet solitude permeates Mike Kaluta's introductory page, yet the image is no less effective or mysterious. Set during the age of piracy, Alex Nino's story features a handsome, murderous pirate and the consequences of his actions. Nino's art is smoother and a tad more polished than usual, implementing a finer line on most of the panels (see interior page above). The results are more fluid and approachable, almost romanticizing the era. Other artists in this issue include Mike Sekowsky, Bill Draut, Sergio Aragones, Michael Kaluta and Nick Cardy (cover). This is number 2 of 3 Dark Mansion issues with Nino art and/or covers. See today's posts or more Nino or Dark Mansion issues. See also this blog's Nino checklist.
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"Death Laughed Last" Nino story pencils and inks 7 pages = ***
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Find on ebay: >this issue, >more Nino issues, >more Dark Mansion issues

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tower of Shadows #2 - Neal Adams art


Tower of Shadows v1 #2, 1969 - As a young hippie couple meanders through the woods. a prehistoric sentient mass emerges from deep underground. Neal Adams, both writing and drawing the story, produces one of his finest works for Marvel. The opening scenes of a dark cavernous setting (see interior page above) directly contrast against the encounter of the brighter surface world. Adams' figures often break the confines of the panel frame, increasing the sense of depth. To top it off, his pencils are made even more exquisite due to Dan Adkins' exemplary inks. Other artists in this issue include John Buscema, Don Heck, John Verpoorten and John Romita (cover). This is number 1 of 1 Tower of Shadows issues with Adams art and/or covers. See today's posts or more Adams or Tower of Shadows issues. See also this blog's Adams checklist or Top 10 Adams comics.
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"One Hungers" Adams story pencils (Dan Adkins inks) 7 pages = *****
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Find on ebay: >this issue, >more Adams issues, >more Tower of Shadows issues

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Phantom v2 #67 - Don Newton art & cover (1st Newton Phantom)

The Phantom v2 #67 charlton comic book cover art by Don NewtonThe Phantom v2 #67 charlton comic book page art by Don Newton
The Phantom v2 #67, 1975 - One of Charlton comics' flagship silver age titles, the artistic reins of the Phantom are handed over to newcomer Don Newton starting with this issue. Reinforcing this change is a bold retelling of the Phantom's origin story. In contrast to previous issues, Newton infuses the scenes with darker tones, almost film noir in nature. The center spread, depicting the title character's fall, is punctuated by the meticulous background. Other highlights include the Nazi submarine interiors on page 6, the Phantom's re-emergence on page 17 and the romanticized portrait on page 23. Newton would also begin complementing his stories with a series of painted covers. This is number 1 of 7 Phantom issues with Newton art and/or covers. See today's posts or more Newton or Phantom issues. See also this blog's Don Newton checklist.
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Newton cover painting = ***
"Triumph of Evil"
Newton story pencils and inks 22 pages total = ****
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Find on ebay: >this issue, >more Newton issues, >more Phantom issues

Swamp Thing #1 - Bernie Wrightson art & cover

Swamp Thing v1 #1 1970s bronze age dc comic book cover art by Bernie WrightsonTop ten comics by Bernie Wrightson, comic book artist
Swamp Thing v1 #1 1970s bronze age dc comic book page art by Bernie Wrightson
Swamp Thing v1 #1, 1972 - Technically, this issue marks the first appearance of the second version of the Swamp Thing. Originally set around the late 19th century, the central characters from House of Secrets #92 are reintroduced within a modern day setting. Alec Holland (formerly Alex Olsen) and wife Linda are now bio-chemists working for the government on a top secret project. The Swamp Thing's new origin resembles the old, but in a different context. Bernie Wrightson, the original artist, begins an astonishing run on this series. His stunning cover shows the Swamp Thing newly emerging from the bog, water oozing from the monster's body. In the background, tree branches form an arc, adding cohesion and framing the scene. Wrightson's interiors are equally breathtaking, populated with darkened, sharply defined drawings within navigable page layouts. Three exemplary splash pages appear perfectly timed, each artistically worthy of standing alone. On the letters page, the artist provides portraits of himself and writer Len Wein. Wrightson not only delivers an outstanding premiere issue, but sets a new standard for the comic art form. This story was later reprinted in DC Special Series #2 and Roots of the Swamp Thing #1. This is number 1 of 10 Swamp Thing issues with Wrightson art and/or covers. See today's posts or more Wrightson or Swamp Thing issues. See also this blog's Wrightson checklist or Top 10 Wrightson comics.
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Wrightson cover pencils and inks = *****
"Dark Genesis" Wrightson story pencils and inks 24 pages = *****
Two text illustrations Wrightson pencils and inks 1 page = ***
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Find on ebay: >this issue, >more Wrightson issues, >more Swamp Thing issues

Friday, February 3, 2012

What If (Daredevil became an agent of SHIELD?) #28 - Frank Miller art & cover


What If (Daredevil became an agent of SHIELD?) v1 #28, 1981 - Drawn during his historic run on Daredevil, Frank Miller provides an alternate origin story that's well written but hastily executed. His drawings are loosely defined and some backgrounds are too minimal. Miller's storytelling, including pacing and panel designs, remains skillful and well thought out. The cover is the issue's high point, despite the weak Ghost Rider-featured panel below. Other artists in this issue include Tom Sutton. This is the number 2 of 3 What If issues with Miller art and/or covers. See today's posts or more Miller, What If? or Daredevil issues. See also this blog's Frank Miller checklist.
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Miller cover pencils (Klaus Janson inks) = ***
"Matt Murdock, Agent of Shield" Miller story
pencils (Klaus Janson inks) 12 pages = **
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Find on ebay: >this issue>more Miller issues>more What If issues

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Outer Space #19 - Steve Ditko art

Outer Space v1 #19 charlton sci-fi comic book page art by Steve Ditko
Outer Space v1 #19, 1958 - Like the previous issue, the three Steve Ditko stories in this sci-fi issue seem to vary in quality and effort. The first, a historical record of UFO sightings, is adequate compared to the more simplistic renderings of the second. The most interesting by far is "Ten Billion BC", a graphically sparse tale with some mildly innovative layouts toward the final pages. Other artists in this issue include Sal Trapani and Paul Reinman. This is number 2 of 5 Outer Space issues with Ditko art and/or covers. See today's posts or more Ditko or Outer Space issues. See also this blog's Ditko checklist.
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"What are the Flying Saucers?" Ditko story pencils and inks 5 pages = ***
"The Strange Asteroid" Ditko story pencils and inks 5 pages = **
"Ten Billion BC" Ditko story pencils and inks 6 pages = ***

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Find on ebay: >this issue, >more Ditko issues, >more Outer Space issues

The Sandman #6 - Jack Kirby / Wally Wood art & cover

The Sandman v1 #6 dc bronze age comic book cover art by Jack Kirby, Wally WoodThe Sandman v1 #6 dc bronze age comic book page art by Jack Kirby, Wally Wood
The Sandman v1 #6, 1975 - Despite the considerable talents of Jack Kirby and Wally Wood, both artists underperform on this cover. Despite a passable layout (borrowed from page 3 panel 1), the lack of detail suggests minimal effort. Thankfully, their collaboration of the interior story is more polished. Wood's inks increase depth and interest in Kirby's graphic layouts, nicely meshing together their respective styles. This is their only bronze age story together that I'm aware of and possibly their last collaboration. This is number 6 of 6 Sandman issues with Kirby art and/or covers and number 1 of 1 Sandman issues with Wood art and/or covers. See today's posts or more Kirby, Wood or Sandman issues. See also this blog's Kirby checklist or Wood checklist.
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Kirby cover pencils / Wood inks = *
"The Plot to Destroy Washington DC" Kirby story pencils / Wood inks 18 pages = ***

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Find on ebay: >this issue, >more Kirby issues, >more Wood issues, >more Sandman issues

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kull #14 - Mike Ploog art, Jim Starlin cover


Kull the Destroyer v1 #14, 1974 - In a slow degradation over the past few issues, Mike Ploog's artwork reaches a new low. Jack Abel's inks oversimplify the pencils, diminishing its impact and aesthetic appeal. The only saving grace is Jim Starlin's outstanding cover. Boldly composed and precisely rendered, it is one of his finest bronze age covers. Other artists in this issue include Joe Maneely (reprint). This is number 4 of 5 Kull issues with Ploog art and/or covers and number 1 of 1 Kull issues with Starlin art and/or covers. See today's posts or more Starlin, Ploog or Kull issues. See also this blog's Ploog checklistStarlin checklistTop 10 Ploog comics or Top 10 Starlin comics.
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Starlin cover pencils and inks = ****
"Black Belfry" Ploog story pencils (Jack Abel inks) 15 pages = **
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Find on ebay: >this issue, >more Ploog issues, >more Starlin issues, >more Kull issues

Top 10 Jim Steranko comics

Top ten Jim Steranko comic books My own top ten list of best comics (art and/or covers) by the artist. I've chosen and ranked them relative to his body of comic book work to date. Feel free to share your own recommendations in the comments section.

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1.
Tower of Shadows #1
2.
Captain America #113
3.
Captain America #111
4.
Captain America #110
Nick Fury Agent of Shield v1 #3 marvel comic book cover art by Jim Steranko
5.
Nick Fury #3
Nick Fury Agent of Shield v1 #1 marvel comic book cover art by Jim Steranko
6.
Nick Fury #1
7.
Incredible Hulk Special #1
8.
Strange Tales #167
Nick Fury Agent of Shield v1 #6 marvel comic book cover art by Jim Steranko
9.
Nick Fury #6
Nick Fury Agent of Shield v1 #7 marvel comic book cover art by Jim Steranko
10.
Nick Fury #7













































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See today's posts, more top 10 lists or this blog's Jim Steranko checklist. See also more series checklistsartist checklists or readers polls.

Strange Tales #161 - Jim Steranko art & cover

Strange Tales v1 #161 nick fury shield comic book cover art by Jim SterankoStrange Tales v1 #161 nick fury shield comic book page art by Jim Steranko
Strange Tales v1 #161 featuring Nick Fury & Doctor Strange, 1967 - Nick Fury and Captain America enlist the aid of Mr. Fantastic and the Thing to stop an inter-dimensional army. Jim Steranko's artwork continues to improve, using dynamic illustrations with precision details. Fury and Cap fight against overwhelming odds on an excellent splash page, but it's the two page spread at the very end that jars the senses. A wide panorama reveals the high-tech headquarters of the invasion's mastermind, the Yellow Claw. Other artists in this issue include Dan Adkins. This is number 11 of 18 Strange Tales issues with Steranko art and/or covers. See today's posts or more SterankoNick FuryDoctor Strange or Strange Tales issues. See also this blog's Steranko checklistTop 10 Steranko comics or an original page from this issue.
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Steranko cover pencils and inks = ***
"Project Blackout pt 2" Steranko story pencils and inks 12 pages = ***
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Find on ebay: >this issue>more Steranko issues, >more Strange Tales issues