Sunday, June 20, 2021

A Julius Schwartz Picture is worth 1000 Autographs

 

Julius Schwartz was turning 70 years old in 1985 and his co-workers at DC Comics decided on a nice surprise gift for him: they would produce Superman #411 behind his back and it would feature Mr. Schwartz himself in the milieu of Superman. Producing the issue secretively was quite a task considering Mr. Schwartz was the editor of that comic book!

The cover featuring the two main characters of the issue was drawn by Dick Giordano. After the art was photographed for publication, about 1000 admiring co-workers found a place on the artboard to offer their good wishes and then the page was presented to Mr. Schwartz as a gift.

Look at all these names!



Sunday, June 13, 2021

Aliens on the Cover of USA Today

 


Last weekend's edition of USA Today had the above front page. Some subscribers reading that headline must have been horrified! Did you receive from any other outlet this news about "Hybrid babies born across the US"

Not likely. Because it wasn't 'news' at all. Shown above is in fact not the front page of USA Today but rather the front page of a 4-page Special Advertising Section that enveloped the 'actual' newspaper. 



So what was it all about? The entire section was an advertisement for the new Netflix series based on the DC Comic known as Sweet Tooth. I think it's possible that some people believed what the front page of that newspaper was telling them just like listeners to 1939's radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds believed that earth was being invaded from another planet. Right?




Sunday, June 06, 2021

Juan Ortiz and Comics

 

Who is Juan Ortiz? Good question! There are many facets to the answer but all roads eventually lead to Rome.

There was a Juan Ortiz who drew about 36 stories for DC Comics between 1977 and 1979. Mostly they were back-up stories but they often featured medium-to-high-profile characters like Batgirl and The Legion of Super-Heroes and the Golden Age Green Lantern.

On the day that I met writer Alan Ekblaw in 1978 that gentleman mentioned to me that my artwork reminded him of the work of Juan Ortiz! (Mr. Ekblaw and I went on to collaborate on a few light-hearted romps that were published in The Buyer's Guide for Comic Fandom.)

Then 1980 arrived and Juan Ortiz was nowhere to be found in the comics world. Poof!

Fast-forward to 2004. Eight issue of an independent title named Silver Comics were published between 2004 and 2006. The publisher and main creative driving force behind that series was Juan Ortiz!

The first issue featured a cover by Frank Brunner:

and the third issue featured a cover by Nick Cardy:

But after the eighth issue, Silver Comics was not heard from again.

Fast forward to 2013. An artist drew a poster to convey the essence of each episode of the original Star Trek television series, a total of 80 posters that were collected into a book. That artist was Juan Ortiz

While it might be theoretically possible that I'm writing about two or three different artists named Juan Ortiz, a 2017 tweet from comics superfan Jay Zilber made it fairly clear that all of the above accomplishments are to be attributed to a single person. I thank Juan Ortiz for so many decades of great artwork!



Saturday, May 29, 2021

A Free Karl Kerschl Comic

 

For years I have enjoyed the work that Karl Kerschl has done for DC Comics and found myself wishing there was more of it to enjoy.

The gentleman devotes more of his time to online comics creations of his own, and he would like to get you to visit his side of the playground.

Courtesy of Karl Kerschl himself, the complete first issue of his Death Transit Tanager is available for you to read over here. Enjoy!

(And if you find yourself liking what you see so much that you decide to subscribe to Mr. K's website, many extra features like a recording of K.K. inking a Jack Kirby Captain America page will become yours to explore.)  




 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Girl Kane by Gray Morrow


Gil Kane drew quite a number of self-portraits of himself through the years, like the above which was printed in Witzend in the 1960s.

But for today let's focus on a portrait of Mr. Kane that was drawn by another artist.

Gray Morrow was a fabulous comics artist who, for reasons I've never understood, was never widely appreciated by comics fans. For today let's focus on a portrait of Gil Kane drawn by Mr. Morrow.



All-Star Western was a DC Comics title begun unceremoniously in 1970 with reprints of stories from 1959 and 1960; even the cover was a reprint! But editor Dick Giordano got down to business with the second issue of the title, commissioning a cover from Neal Adams to grace an issue of all-new contents.  The first-ever appearance of El Diablo was in All-Star Western #2 and above, from the collection of longtime hayfamzonder Joseph Lenius, is a page from that story.


Please do look closely at the bottom tier of that page, and especially at the final panel.


Gil Kane by Gray Morrow!

Apparently Mr. Morrow was in quite a playful mood because other pages of that same story feature drawings of editor Giordano and artists Al Williamson and Angelo Torres and fan/entrepreneur Phil Seuling. All-Star Western is definitely an instance of a comic title whose second issue was far better than its first!





Friday, May 14, 2021

The Other Side of Alex Toth

 


Everyone agrees that artist Alex Toth was a genius of comics. Above is a late-in-career self-portrait of the gentleman.

I myself have never owned any drawing by Mr. Toth, but let me show you a page that I came across on the internet.


Mark Howland owns the above page of original artwork and, in his description of it, he writes "As a mere twenty-year-old, Alex Toth penciled and inked this Sierra Smith, Western Detective story which appeared in Dale Evans Comics #6 in 1949. By contrast, when I was twenty, I was lucky if I could find two matching socks. Some have said that Toth is the artist’s artist, in other words, the artist whose work many other artists collect."

Mark adds that Mr. Toth not only drew Sierra Smith, he co-created the character with Joe Millard. This I did not know before!

But wait, there's more to this story.

Collectors of original artwork know that they sometimes get an unexpected bonus. Once in a while a page has additional drawings by the artist on the back of the page. That is the case with the above Sierra Smith page! Here is what is on the back of that board:


Great, right? I invite you to read Mark Howland's full essay on this page of artwork over here.






Friday, April 30, 2021

Jimmy Olsen is Animated Again!

 


 They were lost but they are found!

 

Jimmy Olsen #143 was published by DC Comics in 1971. The issue was written and pencilled by Jack Kirby, inked by Vince Colletta, heads redrawn by Murphy Anderson, and was lettered by John Costanza.


I have owned the original artwork to page 5 of that issue since the mid-eighties. Proudly have I owned it! It is the only splash page in my collection of Kirby artwork. But about ten years ago, it got even better.

 

At my request and through the magic of Photoshop, the artwork was transformed into an animated gif by Jeanette! The process is performed on a digital image so the page of original artwork is unharmed in every way, but it's as if the page has come to life! So much fun!

 

There are two versions of the gif, both shown here. They were lost for the last few years but I'm glad to report that they turned up again last week. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!