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Monday, March 20, 2023

Top Tens: Joe Kubert

Joe Kubert was simply a comic book legend. To list all his achievements in a career that spanned 70 years would take a lot more space than I have on this blog. Joe’s first professional work was in 1942 where he drew a 6 page Voltron strip for Holyoke Publishing’s “Catman Comics" before working on Blue Beetle for Fox comics. But is was at DC Comics where Joe moved into a differnet league inking the first issue of the silver age Flash and drawing the first 1960's revival of Hawkman. He created/ co-created DC’s western character Firehair , the Unknown Soldier, Enemy Ace, Tor, Viking Prince and Ragman. In the 1970’s he drew and wrote DC’s successful Tarzan comic and with his wife Muriel set up The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic art. But it is for his long association with DC’s Sgt Rock & Easy Company characters, stating in DC's "Our Army at War" comic 195, that Joe will be best remembered. Below are some of my favourite Joe Kubert covers:
"Atom and Hawkman" issue 40 (1968/1969) -When sales on the Atom and Hawkman's comics began to slide the two comics combined, continuing the numbering from the Atom's title. Sadly the comic would only last for another 5 issues before being cancelled. I had no idea that this title even existed until 1976 when on a holiday I came across this issue in a market stall for the pricely sum on 30p (less than the cost of a new comic of that time) .
"Justice League of America" issue 72 (1969). One of the earliest comics I have in my collection.
"G.I. Combat" issue 140 (1970). I only have 2 issues of "GI Combat" both of which I only bought for their amazing covers, this one and issue 168 by Neal Adams.
Batman issue 344 (1982).
"Tor" (Heavy Hitters -Epic comics) issues 1 (1993) - This was a large size 4 issue mini series based on Joe Kuberts 1950's character Tor. The artwork in all 4 issues is stunning. Sadly the larger size format didn't catch on (I managed to pick up all 4 issues for £1 in 1995).
"Blitzkrieg" issue 3 (1976).This was a strange title looking at the war from a German soldiers point of view. The comic only lasted 5 isuses with some wonderful art by Ric Etrada (isssue 1-4). I only picked up this issue as I loved the Kubert cover.
"Our Army at War" issue 207 (1969) - One of my favourites from Joe Kubert's legendary run on this character/title. This also featured some excellent Kubert pencils on the main story.
"Our Fighting Forces" issue 150 (1974) - Truth be told I'm not actually a fan of (US or UK) war comics but Sgt Rock and the "Loser" were two titles that I would pick up now and then for the great artwork alone. Sgt Rock would regularly feature the art of Russ Heath (when Joe Kubert wasn't on the pencils) and the "Losers" featured the work of John Severin before Jack Kirby started a weirdly entertaining run on that title.
"DC Comics Presents" issue 66 (1983). Not only a nice Kubert cover but Kubert also provided the internal art on this Len Wein story.
Mystery in Space issue 113 (1980).
An interesting extra: A page from "DC special " issue 5 " from 1969 (cover below) which featured a fun 4 page intro story "The Cartoonist at home!" featuring illos of Joe's children including Adam and Andy Kubert who of course would become comic book superstars in their own right. The last panel features fellow comic book legend and (allegedly) "man about town", Russ Heath.

Monday, March 13, 2023

The 1973 Spinner rack - Part 2: DC

Following on from my last post featuring some of my favourite Marvel comic book covers from 1973, I thought I would show some of DC's best. While Marvel may have been causing a major stir in the UK at this time with their expanding weekly UK comic line and their innovative monthly US titles, DC were also producing some great comics and covers including the above issue of Superman number 263 by the legendary Neal Adams. Below are a selection of some of the other great DC comics I picked up in 1973:
"Secret Origins" Issue 5 (Cover by Nick Cardy) - At this time DC were producing quite a few top quality all reprint comics including "Wanted", Black Magic" , "Strange Adventures", and "Challengers of the Unknown". This issue of "Secret Origins" reprinting the Spectres (rather dark for the time) origin by Bernard Baily is a stonewall classic wrapped up in one of Cardy's best ever covers.
"Justice League of America" issue 108 (cover by Nick Cardy). Following on from JLA issue 100 (and 101-102) which featured the Seven Soldiers of Victory and the JSA, Len Wein, Dick Dillin, and Dick Giordano treat us here to another tale (starting in issue 107 - which I have never read) featuring more old school heroes. This time we are introduced to the heroes of Earth X (the old Quality comics characters) most of whom were new to me at this time.
"Swamp Thing" issue 8 (cover by Bernie Wrightson) - This was my first "Swamp Thing" comic. I can still recall seeing this issue in my local newsagent and the excitement of reading this tale by Len Wein’s beautifully illustrated by Bernie Wrightson. Wonderful stuff!
"Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes" issue 200. (Cover by Nick Cardy ) - I loved the Legion of Super-Heroes at this time and this issue by Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum featuring the wedding of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel was a bronze age classic featuring cameos by what seemed like 100s of characters.
"Brave and the Bold" issue 109 (Cover by Jim Aparo) - Brave and the Bold was another of my favourite titles. As good as the stories were, I mostly looked forward to seeing Jim Aparo's version of various DC characters each month. Here he draws Jack Kirby's "Demon" character with aplomb.
"Phantom Stranger" issue 26 (cover by Mike Kaluta). I didn't actually buy this copy in 1973 but my pal gave me his copy to read so it (kinda) counts.
Plop! issue 2 (Cover by Basil Wolverton) - One of DC's most underrated books. As a 13 year old I found this genuinely fun (maybe not funny) featuring some wonderful cartooning by the likes of Steve Ditko, Alex Toth, Sergio Aragones and Wally Wood.
"Strange Adventures" issue 241 (cover by Nick Cardy); By this time Strange Adventures was all reprint but as Adam Strange was new to me I had to buy this issue when I saw it. The Stories by Gardner Fox and Carmine infantino were interesting, but it was Nick Cardy's cover that really sold this comic to me.
Superboy issues 195 (Cover by Nick Cardy) -I have rambled on about this comic before, not for the main Superboy tale but for the back up story "The One Shot Hero" by Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum / Murphy Anderson.
Detective Comics issues 435 (cover by Dick Giordano and Gaspar Saladino). This was another comic where the back up tale "Jason Bard" by Frank Robbins stuck in my memory more than the main story. At the time I found Robbins art crude but intriguing. Today I find Robbins art full of action and a total joy.
"Sword of Sorcery" issue 2 (cover by Howard Chaykin and Bernie Wrghtson). As far as I am aware this was DC's first real attempt and a sword and sorcery comic and whilst it wasn't up to the standards of Marvels "Conan" it had its merits. Sadly, the title only lasted 5 issues.
"Superman" issue 265 (Cover by Nick Cardy).
"Challengers of the Unknown" issue 79 (Cover by Joe Kubert) - This was another of DC's all reprint titles reprinting Jack Kirby's classic Challengers tales.

Monday, March 6, 2023

The 1973 Spinner rack - Part 1: Marvel

As I have mentioned previously 1973 was my favourite year for comic books. This was recently reinforced to myself when I was thinning out my comic book collection and putting to one side a pile of comic books that I had no intention of getting rid of. On checking this pile I noticed that almost everyone came from 1973. So before I put these back in their comic boxes I thought I would show some of those great Marvel comic covers purchased by 13 year old me in 1973. The above issue the “Amazing Spider -Man” 120 (cover by John Romita ) was only the second ever US Spidey comic I had seen and it wouldnt be too long after this that Marvel stopped sending ASM to the UK as he had his own UK weekly comic book.
Defenders issue 9 Cover by Sal Buscema
Avengers issue 116 cover by John Romita/ Michael Esposito. I vividly remember picking up the above Avengers and Defenders comics on a weekend family holidy in Blackpool. At the time I had no knowledge of this multi team battle, which was a pretty exciting comic book event back in the day.
Iron-Man issue 63 cover by Gil Kane /Michael Esposito.
Captain America and the Falcon issue 160 Cover by Gil Kane .
Captain America and the Falcon issue 166 Cover by Rich Bucker / Frank Giacoia - For a few years Captain America was my favourite Marvel title, mostly as it seemed to be regularly avaiable in the Glasgow area and or course for Sal Buscema's excellent art.
Savage Sub -Mariner issue 69 - cover by John Romita
Amazing Adventures issue 18 (cover from Internet as my copy is very badly riped) - Cover by John Romita.
Warlock issue 5 - cover by Gil Kane. This was the first Marvel comic that I really didn't like but I soon became a big fan of Warlock once Jim Starlin took over the reigns.
Conan the Barbarian issue 26 -Cover by John Buscema/ Ernie Chan. This was my first Conan comic book and although. I may have just missed Barry Smiths classic run on the title this was an excellent issue to start my facination with the character. This was another comic I purchased on a family weekend holiday break in Blackpool.
Amazing Adventures issue 18 -cover by John Romita. I have previously blogged on my affection for this comic book.
Kull the Conqueror issue 9 - Cover by Marie and John Severin. Another of my all time favourite comic books thatI have rambled on about in the past.
Sgt Fury - Issue 110 -Cover by John Severin. I only bought this issue as I wanted have a copy of as many comic book titles as I could get, even although war comics were of little interest to me. Next up a look at some of my favourite DC covers form my favourite year.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Page turners: Jerry Ordway

Jerry Ordway started his comic book career working in fanzines and small press comics in the early – mid 1970s on titles like “Tim Corrigan's Superhero Comics “ and his own self-published fanzine “Okay Comix”. However, it was in 1980 when he attended a DC comics talent search at the Chicago Comicon that his talents were recognised and he was offered work as an inker on DC’s anthology comics including "House of Mystery", "Weird War Tales" , and "Mystery in Space". After the success of his inking work he was offered work as the pencil artist (and inker) on DC’s “All-Star Squadron” , “Infinity, Inc” (which he co-created with Roy Thomas) “DC Comics Presents”, “ Secret Origins “ and “Crisis on Infinite Earths” . Below are some of my favourite pages from this amazing artist that effortlessly merges the classic comic story telling and art of the 1960s/1970's with that of modern day comics:
I first became aware of Ordway’s amazing art (and writing) in 1986, when along with writer/artist John Byrne and writer Marv Wolfman, he helped revamp the Superman franchise on the “The Adventures of Superman” title (a continuation of the original Superman title). His work on this title ( art and writing) was simply stunning as can be seen by the above splash page from issue 448 and issues 450 and 454 below.
In 2012 Ordway drew the Challengers of the Unknown for “ DC Universe Presents” issues 6, 7 & 8. This series contained some of Ordway’s best art as can be seen from the page below from issue 6.
Jerry Ordway is probably best known for his amazing work on DC's "Justice Society Of America" comic, which is one of the very few superhero comics I pick up (especially is Mr Ordway is on the book as can be seen in the last 2 JSA illo's below). The pages below are from JSA issue 23 (2009), JSA issue 25 and JSA (Vol 4) issue 2 (2023 -which features 4 pages of excellent Ordway art) ) - The Power Girl splash above is from the JSA Annual issue 1 (2008).
A final selection of Ordway splash pages: "All New Atom" issue 19 (2008), "Tom Strong" (ABC) issue 20 , " Wildstar - Sky Zero " (Image - 1993) issue 2 and "Adventure Comics" (Vol 2 issue 5) from 2010.

Top Tens: Joe Kubert

Joe Kubert was simply a comic book legend. To list all his achievements in a career that spanned 70 years would take a lot more space tha...