Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Greatest Adventure: Omac, One Man Army Corps

One of Jack Kirby's DC creations that has been revived time and again, Omac, One Man Army Corps, debuted in his own title in October of 1974. In an alternate timeline, a Great Disaster will destroy Earth in the late 21th century, so a group of friendly aliens created the Global Peace Agency to stop threats to our planet's security. To monitor the world aggressive forces they developed a satellite called Brother Eye and chose a simple stock boy, Buddy Blank, to lead Project O.M.A.C.. When called upon to prevent a global threat, Blank is transformed into Omac and charged with alien energy provided by the all-watching Brother Eye. This "one man army" has superhuman strength, superior intellect, protective shielding, and near invulnerability from his computerized overseer orbiting high above Earth. With only an eight issue initial run, Omac appeared over the years in other DC titles and was used in two very different story timelines. In the first he was able to prevent the Great Disaster, and his grandson grew up to be DC's Tommy Tomorrow, but in the other, Omac failed as beasts took over the planet and Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth became his offspring in this alternate reality.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Marvel Spotlight: The Avengers

One of the earliest super teams created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, The Avengers debuted in their own title in September of 1963. Originally consisting of Iron Man, The Wasp, Thor, Ant-Man and The Hulk, the green skinned goliath soon left the feature and was replaced by a recently revived WWII hero, Captain America. With the Captain dominating the storylines for the next dozen issues or so, the entire team eventually resigned as new members Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch joined the roster. As often as team members changed over the years, so did the artist which drew the feature including, Don Heck, Gene Colan, Bob Brown, and the brothers John and Sal Buscema. But most comic fans fondly remember the few issues written by Roy Thomas in 1972 when the Scarlet Witch fell in love with The Vision, illustrated by Neal Adams who was at the top of his game in layouts and penciling at that time.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Society of Illustrators Profile: Jon Whitcomb

With a mother who was an art teacher, and a father who made a career as a drafting instructor, you might say that illustrator Jon Whitcomb was predestined to have superior artistic talents. Having plenty of access to art supplies as a child, Jon's interest in drawing began at an early age and steadily grew over the years until he finally decided to make art his profession. Eventually attending Ohio Wesleyan University and Ohio State, Jon did pictures for school publications and posters for a local theatre company. Upon graduation the artist worked for various studios doing advertising, travel and theatre posters. Moving to New York in the early 1930s, Whitcomb had developed his colorful, simple, direct style, especially in rendering the perfect glamorous American woman image.

Always able to portray the latest in dress fashions and elegant decor, the artist excelled in numerous magazines including Good Housekeeping, The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, and Collier's. When WWII broke out, Whitcomb was a Lieutenant in the Navy doing his duty as a mine sweeper, before the military discovered his drawing skills and a transfer to the Pacific as a combat artist. After the war, Jon did a series of monthly articles and sketches starring the latest motion picture stars for Cosmopolitan as well as their covers and other spot illustrations. Sometimes working as much as eighteen hours in a single day to accomplish all his writing and illustration duties, Whitcomb lived and worked in his beautiful home with studio in Darien, Connecticut. His clean direct style attracted a legion of imitators, but only Jon Whitcomb was a true original and master of this specific genre of illustration.

Friday, May 6, 2011

John Cullen Murphy...In His Own Words

I was born in New York City in 1919, and reared in Chicago, where I attended the Chicago Art Institute. In 1934 I was a model for Norman Rockwell, the noted illustrator, for several of his paintings. He also gave me great encouragement in my art work. I attended the Phoenix Art Institute, Grand Central Art School, and the Art Student's League. I studied with Franklin Booth, George Bridgeman, Sidney Dickinson, and Charles Chapman. I painted cover for Columbia and Liberty magazines in 1939 and 11940.While I was in the Army, I traveled all over the country.I also saw service in Australia, New Guinea, The Philippines, Okinawa and Japan. I painted portraits of many outstanding generals: MacArthur, Krueger, Kenny, Eichelberger and others.Also did the on-the-spot war paintings for the Chicago Tribune.

I came out of the Army as a Major, and began doing paintings and illustrations for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Look Magazine, Colliers and many more. Most of these illustrations were in the travel or sports vein.Elliott Caplin, brother of Al Capp, contacted me with an idea for a new strip in 1949. I agreed to illustrate it, he to write was to be called Big Ben Bolt, and it was sold immediately to King Features Syndicate. It's been going ever since. Elliott Caplin lives near me, and he sends me scripts every week. They are different stories for the daily and Sunday strips, and they require a great deal of research. In my employ is George Raymond, younger brother of the late Alex Raymond.Raymond does research and lettering, and roughs out picture ideas. I do all the final work except the lettering. I frequently use real people... neighbors, friends etc. as models. Ben Bolt in a prize-fighter and I have an extensive background in that sport. I have a studio separate but adjacent to my one hundred year old Victorian home. When not drawing, I am painting.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Frank Frazetta's... Johnny Comet

In January 28, 1952, twenty four year old artist Frank Frazetta started his only stint in newspaper strips with Johny Comet, McNaught Syndicated newest feature that added a Sunday version on February of the same year. Credited to writer Peter de Paolo, a real race car driver in his own right who acted more as a technical advisor, the feature was actually scripted by Earl Baldwin. The story revolved around California midget-car races and fifty-lap showdowns, a handsome driver named Johnny, and his lovely blonde girlfriend, Jean Fargo. A big hunk of a man whose only interest was the races, his shapely gal could never get his mind on other subjects. Unfortunately the stories never lived up to the pulsating power of Frazetta's lovely ladies or dynamic race cars as they encountered a world of oily car mechanics, shady garage proprietors, small-time chiselers and big-time crooks on and off the track.

Early on, Peter de Paolo's car-racing tips that accompanied the Sundays helped authentic the pit-stop feel of the strip, but in August of 1952, the syndicate decided to drop the Sunday continuity to showcase self-contained gags. For some unknown reason the strip was renamed to Ace McCoy in November. Even Frank Frazetta's superior artwork, an artist who could handle an adventure or gag episode equally well, could not save the strip which only lasted untill February of 1953.