Sunday, August 26, 2012

Foreign Favorites: Rahan

In February of 1969 the weekly French comic Pif-Gadget introduced an exciting new character, Rahan, expertly scripted by Roger Lecureux and illustrated by the talented Andre Cheret. This "son of the grim ages" was a caveman with a wandering spirit who traveled the prehistoric world never settling with any of the tribes he met on his many journeys. Surrounded with superstition and ignorance from the denizens in this faraway age, our insightful hero always kept an open and inquisitive mind to often achieve momentous discoveries such as the welcome use of fire and his deadly throwing spears. Always wanting to share his new found knowledge with others of his species, Rahan often had as much trouble fighting his fellow cavemen as the legion of savage beasts of his lush primitive world. Roger Lecureux's natural story lines were always imaginative and engaging, while Andre Cheret's strong graphic scenes were assertive, firm, and fabulous in this savage tale of one man's quest for survival. Extremely popular in its initial run, the series was widely reprinted across Europe gaining a whole new fan base years later.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Direct Currents: Deadman

Created by writer Arnold Drake and artist Carmine Infantio, Deadman's first appearance was in Strange Adventures #205 in October of 1967, though the character is best remembered for the early innovative work of Neal Adams at DC Comics. Boston Brand was a skilled trapeze artist and part owner of the Hill Brothers Circus who preformed nightly in a ghastly red costume calling himself Deadman to frighten the audience. One evening the performer was murdered by a rifleman with a steel hook for a right hand, and though his body died, his spirit lived on due to Brand's good deeds and the magical powers the deity Rama Kushna. The mighty Kushna told Brand he would continue to "live" until he found the man who murdered him, as the invisible spirit travelled the world on the trail of his killer. Finally catching up with his slayer, who had shot Brand as an initiation to join the secret League of Assassins, their leader suddenly murdered Brand's man before Deadman could have his revenge. Feeling cheated from his reward, Brand's ghost now asked Rama Kushna to let him remain on Earth to avenge evil until a balance could be reached and his soul  finally satisfied. Being able to possess other bodies, have the power of flight, his superior Olympic training, and eerie supernatural abilities, this spirit of vengeance continues to walk the Earth, a Deadman dedicated to the cause of justice.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Make Mine Marvel: The Silver Surfer

With his first appearance in Fantastic Four #48 in March of 1966, the Silver Surfer has become one of Marvel Comics most popular and enduring characters. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby as the minor figure of a herald for the classic three part "Galactus Trilogy" storyline, the Surfer soon became a favorite of Lee's, who initially thought he was just a "nut on a flying surfboard". Kirby following the story ideas and  brief synopsis of Lee in their usual "Marvel Method"of construction a tale, but made more of the character by adding the flying surfboard, since Kirby explained he was "tired of drawing spaceships." As the later origin story goes, a young astronomer, Norrin Radd, trying to save his home world from the planet eater, Galactus, struck a deal with the all-powerful cosmic entity. Offering to serve him in exchange for his planet's survival, Radd became the herald of Galactus warning planets of their impending doom travelling the cosmos on his silver surfboard which could fly beyond the speed of light. Christened with almost god-like powers and a silver skin, and imbued with a tiny  fraction of Galactus's Power Cosmic, the Silver Surfer finally arrives at Earth only to find the superhero team of the Fantastic Four waiting to stop him and his destroying master. The Fantastic Four convince the Surfer that his cause is wrong and he must betray Galactus to save Earth, which he does, but as punishment from his master, he is exiled on our planet. The noble Silver Surfer made other classic appearances in the pages of Fantastic Four before having his own short-lived series of eighteen issues drawn mainly by John Buscema in the 1968, and since then his many reincarnations over the years in other Marvel Comics series.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

George Tuska's Marvel Art Prices

With all the high prices for original comic art today, I thought I would go back in time again and dream about sales at the beginning of the hobby. Azusa Comics out of Port Jefferson Station in New York City ran an add in the Comics Buyers Guide back in the seventies selling pages from "one of America's outstanding comic book artist", George Tuska. They went on to explain how George was the artist for the nationally syndicated newspaper strip Buck Rogers from 1958 -1968, his extensive work at Marvel and National Comics, and how he was currently drawing the DC Superheroes daily strip. Though they talked about this other work, all they had for sale were his later Marvel pages, but with some great prices! How about pieces from The Avengers #139 pages 6, 14, 16 and #140 pages 3, 14, 18, and 28 running $7 a page. You would think those team books with all the characters would cost more that say, Marvel's short-lived Black Goliath title. But no, those hero pages were priced on average from $8 to $10 from the twenty examples from issues #1, 2, and 3. I always preferred that other team book he worked on called The Champions with issue #3 pages 14, 16, 17, 18 and 22 costing you seven, eight, ten, ten,  and twelve dollars respectfully.

The nine Champion pages from issues #4 and #6 we all in the $6-$9 range, all  signed by the artist in one of the action-packed panels. By now you know the drill, pieces from Luke Cage, Power Man issues 26 and 29 were the same $6 to $10 prices, except the page one splash for issue #29 "No One Laughs at Mr. Fish" was a whopping fourteen dollars. The most expensive page in the advertisement, and it would hardly cover postage today. The  Savage Sub-Mariner #69 pages seventeen and twenty six were only eight buck a pop! Rounding out this double page ad were pages from Marvel's black and white magazine Planet to the Apes from the fifth and sixth issues, but they all were higher with an average of eleven dollars a page! Great shots of our stars Taylor and the lovely Nova fighting apes in the Forbidden Zone. Lastly, if you were a real high roller, you could own the entire book of Planet of the Apes #4 with Taylor's imprisonment and trial from the classic movie, twenty pen and ink wash pages sold only as a unit for $125. Too bad Azusa did not have any Iron Man pages for sale at these prices.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Frank King

Born in Cashton, Wisconsin back in the days when gasoline was replacing hay as motor fuel. Moved to Tomah, graduated cum nothing and by chance got a job on the Minneapolis Times at seven a week drawing, benday and retouching for four years. Relaxed for two at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Then to the Chicago Examiner where I worked beside T.S. Sullivant. Three years more and a spot opened up on the Chicago Tribune - next to Dean Cornwell and Garrett Price this was 1909. In early 1911 I married Delia Drew from Tomah. Started "Motorcycle Mike and Bobby" and "Make Believe" Sunday in 1919. I started a small square in a half page I was making and called it "Gasoline Alley". It grew and soon took over the half page. Captain Joseph Medill Patterson promoted it to a daily strip and a Sunday page."Gasoline Alley" has had its 40th birthday and Skeezix is 39. In 1951 Bill Perry who had been my assistant for years took the Sunday page off my rounded shoulders. The Kings moved from Glencoe near Chicago to Florida in 1929. Aberrations? Sculping the fiddle, working out visual inventions.