Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Comic Art Legend: Ric Estrada

Ric Estrada truly is one of the last living legends in the comics field today, being born in Havana, Cuba on February 26, 1928. Estrada made his his first professional sale at the young age of thirteen illustrating the cover of a popular Cuba magazine, but his real break came in 1947 by an uncle in America and a family connection with writer Earnest Hemingway that got Ric to New York City to further his artistic studies. After attending the New York University, the New School for Social Research and the Art Students League, Estrada jumped into comic publishing working for many companies in the different genres of the time. Western, crime, sport comics, romance, war, and horror were all produced with ease and grace in his simple cinematic style for some of the best companies including, EC, St. John, Hillman, and Ziff-Davis, before landing with National Comics.

Though not a fan of most super-hero titles, preferring reality stories over fantasy, Estrada did his part in creating Power Girl, Lady Shiva, Richard Dragon, Amethyst, and other long lasting DC characters over the years with the company. But he is probably best know for his vivid war tales on titles such as, Our Fighting Forces, G.I Combat, Unknown Soldier, Star Spangled War Stories, Our Army at War, Weird War Tales, and a personal favorite, Bob Kanigher's Gallery of War. Even though he is known for his comic work, Estrada also did political cartoons overseas, advertising art, movie storyboarding, newspaper strips, and animation work in later years after leaving DC Comics. A deeply religious man, Ric was able to illustrate a comic adaptation of the New Testament that was in print for over fifteen years, and the artist is now currently changed focus to another one of his gifts, writing novels.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Paul Fung Jr.

Born Seattle Washington, March 9, 1923. Graduated from Pratt Institute. From age three, I grew up with every great cartoonist -- called all "Uncle". Marion DeBeck was my godmother. Didn't realize how lucky I was to mingle with such great company till later in life. Nor of Dad's reputation -- at four was in "Our Gang" comedies -- Did vaudeville for a few years, plus movie shorts -- then some radio kids shows, Was a New York Yankees baseball team mascot via Lefty Gomez, Gerhig & Demaggio in 1936 to 39, flew with Chaunalt, in the 14th, 7th, 5th & 2oth -- Air Force, CBI. Worked in advertising agencies after discharge in 1946. Artist, art director, production manager and account executive. Then King Features Syndicate for eighteen years as artist for special service department, drew Blondie comic book for forty years in all, over 500 comic books. Am proud of being voted best book artist and humorist by NCS in 1964 and 1980. Live on a 62 acre plot of land with my wife Carol, and a son who returned after wife problems. Daughter moved back too, after a ten year Army career. Have 4 grand children -- all girls. Working on animal cook book and entering local art shows. Still drawing (with a slanted view).

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ted Cowan & Reg Bunn's...The Spider

"I do not allow failure in my army of crime. Should we fail, I promise you a most unhealthy future." Those few lines just about sum up the delightfully creepy British strip The Spider that sprang from the boys' anthology title Lion on June 26, 1965. This strange new anti-hero, similar in ways to Italy's master criminal Diabolique, was created by writer Ted Cowan and artist Reg Bunn who spun yarns of terror and adventure for the brilliant megalomaniac 'King of all Crooks". An evil scientist who turned to crime, the mysterious Spider sported a black bulletproof high-tech suit, and wielded two spectacular guns, one shooting a paralysing gas, while the other a sticky web making mesh. This boastful Shakespearean spouting thief had a sleek helicar that looked like an overgrown French coffee press which whisked him away from the boys in blue or other crime lords that wanted to see the despicable fiend dead. With the help of his two main cronies, Professor Pelham and Roy Ordini, this trio waged all out war in their quest to take over the underworld from their secret castle hideout transplanted stone by stone from Scotland. The earlier Cowan stories were cast in a darker tone, before writer Jerry Seigel of Superman fame took over the feature adding more pulpy aspects like spacemen, sorcerers, and making the character more heroic.

But give me the early Spider thwarting New York's finest, namely Detectives Bob Gilmore and Pete Trask at every bizarre twist and turn. But if the Spider was tough on cops, he acted the same to crooks, or even his own men, who could get a shot of deforming face spray if they disappointed him in his conquest of crime. Reg Bunn created a startling figure that resembled a sinister Mr. Spock with his jet black hair and Vulcan ears that would often defy the laws of gravity with his acrobatic prowess on the Big Apple's skyscrapers. Bunn's moody imagery coupled with Cowan's zany stories had our anti-hero fighting monster arachnids, wild bears, giant pythons, and even Mirror Man projected hypnotising dinosaurs! Too bad The Shadow never caught up with his wild bombastic character, The Spider would have given him a run for his money.

Friday, November 28, 2008

National Cartoonist Society Profile: John Prentice

Born in Whitney, Texas. Enlisted in the United States Navy for six year and was bombed at Pearl Harbor Served on two destroyers thru eight major battles and campaigns. Studied at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and worked for a short time on staff for a small publishing company, then starting freelancing in New York. I did mostly comic books, advertising, and magazine covers .Started drawing "Rip Kirby" in 1956. Was awarded the Silver Plaque for best story strip three times and "Rip Kirby" is an honorary member of the Honor Legion of the police department of New York City. Member of National Cartoonist Society and Society of Illustrators. My wife, Antonia and I reside in Westport, Connecticut.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Doug Wildey's The Saint, Stretch Bannon, & Jonny Quest

One of the earliest strips Doug Wildey worked on was Leslie Charteris famous thrill seeker, The Saint. I've heard that one day the creator saw the initials of his character, Simon Templar, and imagined the nickname "Saint" would be the perfect title for his creation. His adventures have been documented in books, films, radio, comics, and television since the early thirties. Charteris even wrote his newspaper strip from 1948 to 1961, which was syndicated worldwide by the New York Herald Tribune. When Wildey was called to helped finish out the series, he took over the artistic chores from Bob Lubbers and continued in Bob's style for a few months before developing his own unique look for the character. Even though Doug relied heavily on photo references, his Saint's new look was to be of great importance in the near future. Wildey's dapper man of the world, now with a classic goatee, quickly developed into the prototype for Dr. Benton Quest of Hanna-Barbara's Jonny Quest fame. Later, other major Quest characters were developed when Wildey pitched his own Sunday strip about an globe trotting race car driver, Stretch Bannon, that unfortunately never caught on with any syndicates. But don't take my word for it, this is what Doug had to say.

"As everybody in the illustrative cartoon business has done, I once tried an automobile comic strip. Because this whole country runs on the automobile economy, right? I know at least five other cartoonists -- I can't name them all any more, but I think they include Leonard Starr, Mel Keifer, Frank Frazetta -- who all tried something with an automotive background. In my case, my guy was sort of an automobile designer. He raced cars. He had this glamorous European background, and raced on American tracks. I called him Stretch Bannon. I liked the name Stretch Bannon. Then, later on, I tried another strip about a writer-artist team that traveled the world getting into adventures. The name was Race Dunhill. So I put the Race and the Bannon together and that's where Race Bannon came from. I originally named the show (Jonny Quest) The Saga of Chip Balloo. It was a working title, I wasn't really serious, but that was it for the beginning."

But the interesting part is when you look at those few Sundays try-outs, if Stretch Bannon was an early prototype of Race Bannon, his young sidekick mechanic called "Chip" was a dead ringer for Jonny Quest, though older than the boy the series finally settled on. Apparently, the speed required of producing both a daily and Sunday strip, coupled with Wildey's comic book work, proved too much for him. As Dick Ayers wrote," Doug had me ink some of his Saint daily strips back in "60 or "61. We'd meet in a local parking lot to trade penciled strips and inked strips." You can see in some of the work the heavy line of Ayers creep in over Doug's fine line pencils which was always a stark contrast to Doug's inks, but as any syndicate man will tell you those deadlines can be a killer and you have to do what you can to keep the feature moving. As Wildey said to Russ Heath when he started to draw the short lived Lone Ranger feature,"Any illustrative strip is going to fall behind in deadlines and you will call your artist friends (to help) and stay up working all night." Well thank goodness Doug worked on all these strips from the past or we might never had all the wonderful Quest characters today.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

National Cartoonist Society Profile: George Evans

By the wee hours of the 5th of February 1920 a blizzard had buried tiny Harwood Mines, Pennsylvania up to the clothesline. It stopped the doctor, but with an assist from a midwife, I got through. Harwood's only "literature" was the newspaper, and by the age of four, driven to know what those wonderful cartoon character's were up to, I learned to read -- and have been hooked on comics ever since. A depression kid, I worked any/every kind of job I could find to buy an art correspondence school course. I began (modestly!) sending stuff to the "pulp" mags, and my first sale was at age fourteen. After three WWII years in the Air Force, I got staff job at "Fiction House" in New York. Took courses at Art Student's League but stupidly quit for work offers. I did nearly every kind of illustration work, and much comics. Ghosted bits for many "name" strips, including the "Terry and the Pirates" dailies for George Wunder that lasted thirteen years. Past fourteen years writing/drawing "Secret Agent Corrigan" for King Features Syndicate, plus commissioned paintings (especially aviation).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

National Cartonist Society Profile: Frank Kelly Freas

Well, its been a year of posts on my original comic art blog, and I hope you've all enjoyed some of the articles about my favorite hobby. Here is another in a series of profiles on the NCS artists from a few years ago, written by the creators themselves. Featured today is one of the most prolific and loved of science fiction illustrators, Frank Kelly Freas... Cartoonist, illustrator, cover artist, pin-up painter, caricaturist, educator. Kelly Freas is universally recognized as one of the most prolific and popular sci-fi and fantasy artists in the world. His work has graced the covers of hundreds of books and magazines, and illustrated stories of hundreds of authors, all of whom agree on his ability to express the inner meaning that makes a story something special. "I illustrate for readers - and for writers" says Kelly, "no story is so good that it can't be made better with good illustration."

Freas was born in Hornell, New York on August 27,1922. He was one of MAD'S premier cover artists for nearly seven years, doing most of the covers: front, inside-front, and (his favorite) the back cover with it's fake and satirical ads. His more serious work has earned him numerous awards in many areas, such as the a NATTIS Hall of Fame; Starlog's List of the 200 Most Important People in Science Fiction; and ten HUGO Awards for Best Professional Artist of the Year. Freas is the author of three published volumes of his collected works: The Astounded Fifties, The Art of Science Fiction, and A Separate Star. He resides in the Los Angeles area with his illustrator and radio host wife, Laura Brodian Freas.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Those Fantastic Filipinos!

Those fantastic Filipino artists never cease to amaze me with their phenomenal detailed work they did for DC, Marvel and Warren in the seventies and eighties. Not to mention all the pages produced in the Philippines by these comic masters way before they ever hit the American shores. I’m impressed with any Filipino work, but especially the artistry of Tony DeZuniga, Rudy Florese, Rafael Kayannan, Jess Jodloman, Rudy Nebres, Alex Nino, Jesse Santos, Alfredo Alcala, and Nestor Infante. Out of these creators, I've only been able to meet DeZuniga a couple of months ago at a local show. He was quite a reserved gentleman with an enormous talent, (his pencil work has to be seen in the originals to be believed) and has a delightfully charming wife. It was a real treat to finally meet one of my most prized comic creators who is still going strong in the business today.

Recently I ran across some Arthur Geroche factoid pages that were planned for DC’s Bible book(s), that were never published up for auction. Unfinished only at the logo, they were beautiful vivid scenes that displayed different trades, carpentry, weaving, and other professions in biblical times. I was lucky enough to purchase some Geroche’s King Arthur factoid pages about armor, warfare, and castle siege engines back in 2001 in San Diego. At that time, a friend saw, but did not purchase the Bible pages, since they were bought up before he could grab them! So finally after seven long years of waiting, here was my chance to own these beauties I’ve heard about, but never seen until now. Unfortunately, one bidder wanted these precious gems even more than I did, as I was greatly outbid at the last second. But at least I have one example of his lush delicate work. Not much more was produced by Geroche, being late to arrive to DC when the Filipino’s contributions were just about ending. The artist did only six brilliant stories for the mystery/horror anthology books that I know of, and these few unpublished factoid pieces mentioned, before drifting off with his peers to find work elsewhere in the industry.

Nestor Redondo, on the other hand was one of the earliest illustrators to sign with National in the seventies (after Tony DeZuniga) and helped bring many of his fellow countrymen to work for DC in his eleven years with the company. Best know for his beautiful run on Swamp Thing and all-time fan favorite, Rima, the Jungle Girl, Nestor ended up doing around fifty horror stories for DC. But surely one of his greatest achievements was his spectacular work on the oversized Limited Collector’s Edition of The Bible. Redondo was the perfect choice to illustrate the special project (over Joe Kubert layouts), since he was a deeply religious man who had already done a biblical adaptation in his home country in one of his comic creations. Nestor also served as art director for Pendulum Press’ Classic series of paperbacks which had many of his friends produce some real stunning little stories. Too bad you lose so much detail when printed in an average size paperback book. When the work at DC was dying out in early eighties, Redondo did a few assorted covers for Marvel and some other publishers before going into animation like many of his peers.

Another one of my beloved Filipino artists is the talented E.R. Cruz, who drew close to an astounding two hundred stories for National’s war, Western, and horror books. But the artists moody noir look was best displayed I believe in the marvelous short-lived issues of DC’s Sherlock Holmes and pulp icon, The Shadow. His extremely detailed inking style with a strange oriental feel was well displayed in those titles and the Pendulum Press issues he illustrated for Redondo, not to mention his work for Warren, Marvel, and Dark Horse. Finally, I wanted to show a page from Rudy Florese who was a solid illustrator with a beautiful graceful line as shown in this wonderful Korak page. He drew many Edgar Rice Burrughs features for DC , mainly over Joe Kubert layouts, and also a handful of chilling horror stories.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Buried Treasure: Jim Aparo's Stern Wheeler

How many artists do you know that would draw a daily strip for free just to get the publicity? Well that is exactly what illustrator Jim Aparo did for The Hartford Times back in March of 1963. With the help of fellow creator and writer, Ralph Kanna, they introduced readers to a thrilling new adventure feature about a private investigator named Stern Wheeler. Both men were working for the William Schaller Company at the time, but secretly wanted to break in to the syndicated newspaper strip market. Aparo had been trying for years to work in comics without any luck, growing tired of his uninspired commercial illustration doing diagrams and instruction sheets, with Kanna working in the Radio/TV division of the firm, and hosting a popular local kiddie TV show part-time.

Stern Wheeler with the help of his crafty assistant and pal, Wally worked for a bombastic cigar chomping boss, J.B. Shoreman for only two brief adventures, "Sea of Matrimony", with some great Aparo underwater action, and "Diamonds in the Rough", starring a beautiful mysterious jewel thief. Working long and hard on this try-out strip, The Hartford Times agreed to publish the story, but unfortunately never paid the creative team a dime! The only form of "payment" received would be their exposure to the different syndicates that would hopefully buy the property. Even with some very slick Aparo graphics and enjoyable Kanna storylines, the two voluntarily pulled the daily after a few short months, believing they were just wasting their time, and continued working for the ad agency. But both men did finally leave the Schaller Company. Kenna ended up illustrating a number of children's books and did instructional videos for his own company, and Aparo was picked up by editor Dick Giordano to draw for Charlton before Jim's move to DC and much success on Batman and other National characters.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Bill Griffith

Born in Brooklyn, New York on January 20, 1944. Grew up in the quintessential American suburb, Levittown, Long Island (a great place to escape from). Attended art school (Pratt Institute), took student loan and went to Europe. Tried in vain to be the next big thing in the New York art world in 1964-68. Failed miserably. Turned to comics for solace. Broke into the "business" in the late 60's (a dimly remembered period) with first appearances in various New York underground newspapers. Came out to comix mecca (San Francisco) in 1970, settled in for the long haul. Gave birth to Zippy weekly. Started with King Features in 1986. No sign yet of burn-out, but anything's possible. Married to cartoonist Diane Noomin. Currently doing "cartoon-o-journalism" for the New Yorker. Am I done yet?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Sheldon Mayer

Born April 1, 1917 in New York City. Started haunting newspaper syndicates and newspapers at fourteen. Earned occasionally learned often. In 1935 got published in Major Nicholson's early comic books. No money, but a very amusing contract. Same year joined McClure Syndicate in minor editorial capacity. Ghosted George Storm's Bobby Thatcher as part of the job. Left McClure 1939 to start All-American Comics with M.C. Gaines. All-American joined National Comics (me with it) in 1945. Resigned editorial directorship in 1948 to do a "novel " in comic book form - Scribbly, the kid who wanted to be a cartoonist. Had fun with it till 1950. Now having fun with Sugar and Spike, a comic book about two babies who can walk but can't talk yet. (Have a theory that humans think harder, learn more under the age of two, than they ever do later.) Hobbies: serious writing and sloppy guitar playing. Ambitions: To get my two kids through college, write a hit play (while reclining in a hammock), do a successful daily strip (the same way), and have Morris Weiss ask me for an original.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Seventies Prices on Fifteen Complete Stories

A good friend and comic artist recently said he loved my regular feature on those crazy 1970s prices "fascinating - but horrifying!" was the words he used. Well, here we go again, so everyone get ready to be scared by these prices once more. In my endless search for information about comic artwork from the past I ran across another great ad from the Comic Buyer's Guide that focused on only complete stories for sale. It's always good to know what's out there in circulation, waiting to be bought up (hopefully at these prices), but I imagine these gems of comic art are probably just locked up in a few lucky fans collections. If you like those wonderful tales of horror from Jim Warren's trend setting spook magazines from the mid sixties, your in for a real treat, since many of these stories listed are from his publications. Lets start off with a beautiful Dan Adkins tale called The Wanderer! from Warren's Eerie #9, that was an eight page story in striking wash tones for just $150. Sounds good to me. What about a moody Gene (The Dean) Colan story, For The Birds, from Eerie #10 of eight slick pages for only $150. If you wanted a Golden Age master like Johnny Graig drawing in the Silver Age, try Blood Fruit from Eerie #11, eight terror driven pages could be yours for the grand sum of one hundred thirty bucks.

Lets jump over to DC for a minute and see what was out there floating around at the time. You could tell Dick Giordano was a fabulous inker as well as a first rate artist as shown in his work on the Batman #247 story called, And A Deadly New Year, eighteen powerful pages with an exceptional splash would cost you $450. What is that $25 a page? Unbelievable. Or how about, The World of the Perilous Traps, a spectacular thirteen page Gil Kane tale staring Green Lantern fighting none other than Sinestro from issue #13 for only $350. But unfortunately it did have some slight stains on the title page, maybe that's why it was so cheep? I always loved DC's anthology books, including My Greatest Adventure #58, which this dealer had an entire eight page story, Trapped in the Land of L'oz, for $225 by comic master Alex Toth! Is a complete story not enough for you? How about the whole book, you ask? OK, I have just one by fan favorite Dick Dillin from his run on Blackhawk, issue #192 with two terrific stories. First a nine page backup yarn, The Mirage Blackhawks, where our hero obtains super powers in a mysterious floating Metropolis. Or take the title feature, King Condor's Fabulous Birds, sixteen pages of high-flying action and adventure, and both could be your for $600. These two wonders had everything this period at DC was known for, truly some wild and wonky stories at their best.

Continuing with more Warren artwork, there was a Roger Brand six page story entitled, The Haunted Sky, from Creepy #17 for a mere $90. One of my favorite artists, no matter who he was working for at the time, was the uncanny Jerry Grandenetti. His seven page story named, Rub The Lamp, from Eerie #9 was as bizarre and surreal as any of his best work, and it's twice-up too for just $12.14 a page! Now that really is a scary story in more ways than one. Another solid draftsman was featured in Eerie #4, Gray Morrow's ten page Island at the World's End cost $225. Eerie #5 from 1966 had a chilling seven page story by Rocco Mastroserio called Dr. Griswold's File for $85 that sold last year at auction for $1840.30. Would you like another titan of comic art, try a six page masterpiece called, Foragers, from the innovative Blazing Combat #3 by Reed Crandall for one hundred fifty dollars. Angelo Torres also did some marvelous war art in Blazing Combat #4, especially the seven page story called, Night Drop, an excellent wash job for $200. There was an Old Lady, was a weird little tale of six pages by the talented Sal Trapani from Warren's Creepy #16 that sold for $60, our lowest price yet. But for my money, I would just pay a little more, $65 for a six page Eerie #11 story called Witch Hunt, by Joe Orlando.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Yaroslav Horak on James Bond

Russian born Yaroslav Horak began his early career as a portrait sketch artist, but soon switched to illustration for the larger Australian magazine publishers after migrating to Sydney. His successful comic series The Mask, ran afoul with Victoria's State censors, but was soon followed by his daily outback adventure strip Mike Steel for Sydney's, The Woman's Day. A quick talent for animation and storyboards also kept Horak busy on many different projects. When given the James Bond strip in 1965, Horak's adaptation of The Man with the Golden Gun was highly praised in the new direction he approached the series. The syndicate was so pleased with their creative team that Jim Lawrence was given permission by the Fleming Trust to produce original stories for Horak to draw. Overall they worked on thirty-three thrilling Bond tales for the Daily Express and other various newspaper syndicates in Europe.

Andrew Maunsell is a graphic designer with a specialty in toy design as well as a commercial illustrator for the past twenty years. He enjoyed collecting the original Titan reprints of Horak’s James Bond and Jim Holdaway’s Modesty Blaise as they hit the stands, loving every minute of those fantastic stories of action, espionage, violence and especially Horak’s beautiful women. Maunsell first met the cartoonist when an ex-college teacher, mentioned, Jackie Horak, who had just been to visit. As soon as Andrew heard that name, he instantly inquired about her husband. She said, "His name is Yaroslav, he used to do the James Bond strips in London, have you heard of him?” Andrew said, “Of course I've heard of and know of him, but I didn’t know that he lived in Australia though! Tell me, where is he now?” She was very surprised and said "He lives just ten minutes from here!" Andrew soon struck up a close friendship with Yaroslav and now acts as his representative, and since Horak doesn’t do interviews anymore, Maunsell recalls their long conversations about his work on James Bond.

DK: Horak started out in illustration for various Australian magazines and painted portraits, before his popular comic book creation The Mask? What was his early artistic training and who were his major artistic influences? Did he mention any specific cartoonists or illustrators?

Andrew: Yes, Horak worked in Sydney and Melbourne for various magazines, in particular working with a bunch of other comic artists at Atlas publications I think, owned by a young Rupert Murdoch. This was where he learned to be a comic book artist and developed his own unique style in the mid 1950s, all the art was black and white. Captain Fortune was one of his creations and of course the original Mask comic strip/books. Which were stolen and plagiarized by the producers of the Mask movies.

Horak told me that he liked working there because he had a lot of freedom, until Murdoch returned to Melbourne from the UK one day to fire everyone and sell the printing business. In the end, to get rid of the backlog of comic books they sold them as surprise packs by mail order and you got a variety of three or four books which two were free.

As far as I know Horak’s early influences were Hal Foster's, Prince Valiant, and Alex Raymond's, Flash Gordon, he met a Russian collector friend in Sydney that showed him a huge collection of original pages of art from these early strips. But Horak showed me some big sheets of comics he had done as a teenager that were just his own made-up strips as practice that were inspired by famous daily USA features, he said. You would not recognize that this was Horak art as it looked so different, undeveloped, but even way back then he knew what he wanted to do, become a great strip artist . He always said to me, if I mentioned he was a comic book artist "no, not comic book artist, strip artist, that's what I am."

DK: How did Horak get involved with drawing the James Bond strip for the Daily Express? Was it his success with the adventure strip Mark Steel that got him the Bond job? Did he have a tryout process with samples?

Andrew: Horak was becoming disgruntled with Australia in general, nothing was progressing as had wanted and his interest in 007 started when he met a woman, in a book shop in Sydney where he was living at the time. She said this character was really getting famous, so he bought one of the original first issues of From Russia with Love to see, and he still has that book!

At the same time, he heard about London and how it was a happening place, so he just left for England. On arriving, he didn’t really know that many people there, but he was introduced to Peter O'Donnell who was doing Modesty Blaise at the time for the Daily Express and said if you want a studio space in London you can have my spare room. So that’s where he worked. Horak gave me one of his original letter heads, with this address and phone number on it.

DK: What was his relationship like with writer Jim Lawrence and how much input did Horak have on the stories after the original Fleming tales were completed? Was there a particular storyline that he enjoyed drawing, or was most important to the artist?

Andrew: Jim and Yaroslav got on very well together. Horak had great respect for Lawrence and they would talk on the phone at length. Jim was in the United States where he worked and they would discuss scripts and upcoming stories with each other, but Horak didn't have much input or influence on those stories as far as I know. Jim was the one that officially adapted the Fleming stories for strip art. Horak's interpretation of the stories into pictures is what Lawrence loved, and their professional relationship blossomed. From memory Horak enjoyed them all, but all his early strips, especially The Man with the Golden Gun, he favored.
He was introduced to Hartley Ramsay who was the art director at the Express at the time and was asked to do a number of strips and a few splash pages of James Bond art in a mock

-up wide screen style book, which I have seen and taken pictures of. The cover says "JAMES BOND by A Brilliant New Team", and it is the original and only copy. It was packed with The Man with the Golden Gun strips, which was presented to Lord Beaverbrook who owned the Daily Express, since he would O.K. all the new artists.

Even though John McLusky had started drawing the James Bond strip, they were looking for a new more edgy/violent style Bond for the 1960s. The style was instantly accepted and Horak's - James Bond was the new trend, he was told, it sold a LOT more papers.

DK: Were there certain guidelines Horak had to follow from the Express or the Fleming Trust on how to present the Bond character, things he could or could not do in print?

Andrew: Jim Lawrence was more involved with that end, and Horak followed his cartoon word breakdown of the original stories, but Horak didn't have restraints, just good gentlemanly 007 1960's style taste. The nudity was introduced very late in the series.

DK: Horak's beautiful detailed artwork has a fresh dynamic style and was different from anything in the strips, unusual angles, a strong use of solid blacks, tight close-ups, made the feature way ahead of it's time. Was his work influenced by any film makers or perhaps a certain photographer? How was he influenced by the Bond films?

Andrew: Horak only told me onf one movie that influenced him,and he drew a character from it, and that was Kurt Von Stronheim from the movie Sunset Boulevard. Kurt was the chauffeur and the director of the movie, and the character he based on Kurt was Barron Schark, one of his lesser known villains. But when you look at the two characters together, you get an insight into Horak's adaptive mind, which I had never seen before.

DK: Did the artist always like to work in a 6” x 21” format for the thirty-three Bond stories he illustrated, and what was his daily work habits? Did Horak work from Lawrence full scripts, and what artistic instruments did he prefer? Did he have a swipe file or projection device to get the fantastic architectural backgrounds, and did he ever have any assistants?

Andrew: Yes, he always worked on the large scale, drew all the details down with no projection devices, and only used a brush to ink, which he showed me how we would burn the pointed top off with a lighter, so it was squared off on the end. The rest was just pure skill, and no assistants ever.

DK: Do you think his style changed over the twelve years Horak drew the feature? Do you think the earlier Fleming stories had a more "gritty" feel, with a hard linear style and extreme angles, when compared to the later strips?

Andrew: Horak told me he always tried to stay consistent and keep the art to a high standard, I could see that his 007 style changed very little, always interesting. I rediscovered Horak’s art again when I went to Fiji in 1987 and picked up a paper, The Fiji Sun for May 4th, in my hotel lobby and I saw Horak’s strip art as if it were the 1960s again, an episode I'd never seen before about a sea dragon! Loved it. Little did I know that eighteen years latter I'd meet Horak himself.

DK: Were there any changes in working for the Sunday Express or the Daily Star in the later adventures that were syndicated throughout Europe? I know Horak has a large following worldwide being printed in hundreds of newspapers. What kind of response did he get from his fans, and did any one country have the largest following?

Andrew: Horak didn't speak much on this subject.I'm not sure if he knew where most of the fans were but I think the bulk of his fans were in the United States and the rest were scattered around the UK and Europe. I get Horak art requests from Norway and Germany a lot.

DK: I noticed McLusky's heirs were selling some of his original strip art, but understand Horak unfortunately does not have any of his dailies. Was it the syndicates or the Fleming Trust that has held back all his artwork?

Andrew: I think that all the 007 strip people want are the Horak ones, and I don't think there was much love loss between Horak and McLusky while at the Express. Horak never worked at the Daily Express address, only freelanced from his London studio. No, he is not happy about it at all, and wants an explanation as to why McLusky' and O’Donnell have had their art returned to them.

DK: Did Horak have contact with other cartoonists that were drawing at the same time period he illustrated Bond he enjoyed, like Jim Holdaway, John Dixon, Sydney Jordan, or others?

Andrew: Horak told me at the time he associated a lot with fellow artists, especially Jim Holdaway, who was sort of doing the female version, Modesty Blaise of his 007 strip, also Dixon of Air Hawk fame and Jordan who drew the Jeff Hawke series. He told me they used to swap strip art with each other, and I've seen an original Holdaway and Romero Modesty Blaise in his art pile, he calls it. He recently had some contact with a few of his fellow surviving artist, don’t recall the names? But they were very glad to see him back in UK. Horak is quite a character! He, at the age of 77 years crushed my hand when I first met him, he doesn't know his own strength!

In the UK recently he presented Pierce Brosnan with a portrait of the "Brosnan Bond", at a UK fan club occasion, in Horak's new rough style. I have a full size copy of it and he also did one of Ursulla Andress, which he didn't get to present to her for some reason, the large original ink on paper is of her in a bikini depicted from Dr. No. with two diving knives.

DK: Is there anything else Horak would like to say to your fans about his work on the James Bond strips, and what does he think of the Titan reprints?

Andrew: He values his fans and really appreciates that people still remembers him after all this time as the 007 artist, it was certainly the highlight of his career. Horak has tried to produce a few more pieces of 007 art for fans, but now at 80 he is slowing down a bit, but he's really super tough, so he probably out last me, thirty years his junior. The Titan books he could be more enthusiastic about if he got some royally out of it. Horak has got some incredible stories, once he went to some party in 1960s London for actors, writers, and it was to do with a James Bond movie promotion, when he literally backed into Sean Connery! Now how many artists did that ever happen too.

I want to thank Andrew Maunsell and Yarsolav Horak for taking the time to answer these questions about Horak’s long career as the premier 007 artist and Andrew's association with him as his agent. I am sure all the Bond fans worldwide will enjoy the insights you both provided today about the artist's work on one of the most popular British strips of all time.