Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Unpublished Gems: Justice League of America

Here is another interesting variant of the published cover for Justice League of America #66 for November of 1968. Though not signed it appears to be by laid out by Carmine Infantino, tightened up by Dick Dillin, and inked by Joe Giella. There were a handful of artists DC favored to grace their covers as shown on this Neal Adams' version of the "Dirty Half-Dozen" chosen for print. Compared to the Infantino unpublished piece below, it couldn't have been more different with a triumphant JLA scaring their foes or Adams' super heroes running in terror! Perhaps editor Julius Schwartz just enjoyed the Neal's take on the scene over Carmine's interpretation. Born in 1925, Carmine Infantino attended both the School of Industrial Arts and the Art Students League in New York City, and broke into comic books as the illustrator of Timely's Jack Frost feature in 1942. In 1946, he began working at National Comics (DC), illustrating the Golden Age superheroes Flash, Green Lantern, Black Canary, as well as the Western, Johnny Thunder. In the fifties Infantino's drawings evolved into a streamlined, design-oriented style, influenced by artists Edd Cartier and Lou Fine. Perhaps Carmine's most celebrated work was his Silver Age re-launch of The Flash, which he drew for eleven years from 1956 to 1967. During this peak period of his career, the artist also drew various features including, Adam Strange, Batman, and the origin of Deadman. From the late sixties to the late seventies, Infantino served as the Editorial Director and then publisher of DC Comics. He oversaw many new innovative titles like Bat Lash, Captain Marvel, The Creeper, Hawk and Dove, The Shadow, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Jack Kirby's Fourth World titles, and Joe Kubert's Tarzan comic books. Under his reign many artists now became editors at DC for the first time. When Infantino was replaced by an executive at DC, he returned to the art board and drew features for Warren Publishing, Marvel, and DC Comics before his retirement.

Friday, April 19, 2013

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Frank Bolle

A talented artist who did a major part of his career at Gold Key and Charlton Comics, Frank Bolle, drew countless  characters for those two companies including The Phantom, Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom, Grimm's Ghost stories, Love Diary, Starstream, Twilight Zone, Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery, Buck Rogers, and many others. He also "ghosted" numerous strips over the years for cartoonists that needed a break from their ever present  deadlines. Here is his brief bio... Born in New York, June 12, 1924. I started out by drawing on any scrap of paper that I could find. I went to the High School of Music and Art from 1943 to 1946. Later I served with the Army Air Force and concluded my military career on Okinawa by the sea. On my return, I worked on comic books while I was still studying at the Pratt Institute. I drew pictures for various childrens' books and adventure magazines. I also wrote and illustrated children stories. I still free lance and cartoon features for "Boys' Life" magazine. Now I'm doing "Winnie Winkle" Sundays and dailies. I try to find time to do some oil painting or watercolors. I still look forward to getting to work in my studio. For physical exercise, I help my wife, Lori, everyday around the barn where she keeps her horses which she trains and shows. We both had the unique experience of delivering our mare's first foal. My son, Frank, to our surprise turned out to be a cartoonist too.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Make Mine Marvel: The Living Mummy

With his first appearance in Supernatural Thrillers #5 from August of 1973, Marvel Comics added to its stable of horror characters N'Kantu, The Living Mummy, created by writer Steve Gerber and artist Rich Buckler. Starting out as the monster who haunts Cairo, Egypt, after a few issues the character was transported to the streets of New York to continue his reign of terror with writer Tony Isabella and artist Val Mayerik. A son of a tribal chief from Africa from three thousand years ago, N'Kantu and his people were captured by Egyptian slave traders who forced their captives to build monuments to the current Pharaoh, Arm-Set. As N'Kantu and his followers eventually revolted and overthrew their captors, N'Kantu slays Arm-Set, but not before the African prince is sprayed with a mysterious paralyzing liquid by the evil priest Nephrus. Transformed into  a "living mummy", our hero now revives three thousand years later to start his rampage of Nephrus surviving descendants. With a super strong rock hard body, the Mummy is vulnerable to fire and electricity as he fights mystical villains across time and space in the Marvel Universe for this short-lived series.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Gold Key Comics...Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom

Another of Gold Key's popular super hero books from the 1960s was the power packed Doctor Solar Man of the Atom. Dr. Raymond Solar was a physicist who was exposed to a massive amount of radiation in an attempt to save a fellow scientist, Dr. Bently. Bently lost his life due to sabotage in a nuclear power plant by the evil Dr. Rasp, an agent of the mastermind named Nuro. Solar survived the accident, but soon discovered that he now had powers to convert his human form into any kind of energy. The use of these powers though depleted his "store" of energy which would require the physicist to re-expose himself to extreme radiation for his replenishment. Using his new found powers, our atomic hero began searching for the villain Nuro, who would clash with Dr. Solar many times. Nuro often used a robotic "double" of himself called Orun in his many schemes, and later even transferred his mind into the android, now known as King Cybernoid. In the first five appearances Doctor Solar did not even have a costume until the fifth issue, when he created a suit designed to shield others from his deadly radiation, that also made his skin turn green when using his powers.  Since "Doctor Solar" was his 'real' or 'civilian' name, he often went by "The Man of the Atom" when fighting criminals. With an original run that lasted twenty seven issues, from October of 1962 to April of 1969, he also appeared in a cross-over issue of The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor. In the early 1980s, the series was resumed with issue #28 and lasted four more issues, and has recently been reprinted in its entirety in a hard back format.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Buried Treasure: Star Hawks

On October 3, 1977, Star Hawks premiered as a new science fiction strip with a Sunday and daily format based on the adventures of Interplanetary Law Service officers Rex Jaxan and his partner Chavez as they battle interstellar criminals. Star Hawks combined the talents of renowned science fiction writer Ron Goulart and famed comic artist Gil Kane. In Gil's classic adventure strip style, he roughly based the look of Rex on a younger James Colburn and his robust friend on the bald-headed actor Victor McLaglen. The strip was also unique in introduced a two-tiered format to daily newspaper comics, effectively making each daily a mini Sunday in which Kane could experiment with lavish layouts. Unfortunately this new daily look also took more space as newspaper editors passed on the feature for other strips, until the Star Hawks dailies adopted the standard single-tier format. By the final days of the series, Archie Goodwin, Roger McKenzie, and Roger Stern, had taken turns writing the adventures, with Ernie Colon and Howard Chaykin finishing out the art chores. Running three and a half years, this fast paced feature with its monsters, robots, and space ships included some great villain cameos drawn to portray Issac Asimov, Dik Browne, and even Kane himself as the evil villain Smiler Tryce. In all there were one thousand two hundred and fifty two strips and Kane won best story strip from the National Cartoonist Society for 1977, before the saga ended on May 2, 1981.