Today most mainstream comics artists struggle with a monthly schedule, but back in the day, people like Jack Kirby would draw pages a day, especially in the early days of Marvel. So lets have a wee look at who did draw pages in huge numbers…
Kirby drew nearly 18,000 pages of comic art but he’s topped by John Buscema who was also one of those artists who’d just work and work, but they’re all topped by Curt Swan who again, drew and seemed to draw Superman for a century. Swan was again, solid and reliable and looking through that list is looking at a list of artists who (mostly) hit their deadlines, put out in many cases splendid work, and could draw comics, not pin-up pages.
As Todd McFarlane has said, some artists today are too busy drawing pin-ups while failing to put the work in to build up a body of work that will stand the test of time and fashion. Even someone as painfully dull as Don Heck carved his place in comics history and will be remembered in 100 years while <insert hot artist this week> will maybe hit a footnote.
A lesson then for upcoming artists is to put the work in. Because if you don’t in 30 years time you’ll still be hacking out pin-ups while the other person who did do the graft is doing half the work for twice the money.
IT is 2020. Brexit is happening and the UK is out the EU, while Scotland and Northern Ireland pontificate about independence and unification respectfully. Things are simply, fucked at best and it is safe to say things are a tad delicate at the moment, so here’s Marvel Comics coming smashing into the room like Lewis Capaldi swigging from a bottle of Buckfast.
Here’s Marvel’s latest super-team, The Union.
I mean, really??
Then there are the new characters, like Kelpie. the Scottish, McScottish, shortbread, Nessie, och aye the noo member!
And Snakes, the Northern Irish character probably made of snakes, potatoes and Guinness because that’s all Marvel editors know about Northern Ireland.
What is a pity is that the hugely talented Paul Grist is writing this, and Union Jack the character that sort of inspired his Jack Staff creation.
Grist himself has said he’s pointed issues out with editorial to deaf ears, and I do hope Grist makes a success of this but I can’t help thinking this is tomorrow’s 50p comics today because the lack of understanding of UK politics is not going to help drives sales on this side of the Atlantic, while I can’t see folk caring on the other side.
Ah well, they might make a film of it I suppose…
If there’s one artist which defined the superstar artist of the early 90’s and of Image Comics especially it is Todd McFarlane. Creator of Spawn, which is now the longest-running independent comic in the USA, McFarlane has been in the industry for nearly 40 and frankly, doesn’t need to be working on a monthly comic anymore but he is because he clearly loves comics.
McFarlane is also deeply controversial, and amazingly to him, still relevant and he’s got a point. There are no superstar artists of his scale in the American comics business right now, which makes his comments on the industry vitally important if you’re a young artist wanting to be the next McFarlane.
I hesitate to call this video on Cartoonist Kayfabe an interview as at times it crosses into being a lecture which is much more interesting. So sit down with a pen and paper, take notes and enjoy…
Stan Lee has a certain reputation among a section of comic fans in that, basically, he nicked credit where he could for decades refusing to give creators the credit they deserved. Lee started creating a certain myth for himself back in the 60’s and it more or less stuck with much of the general public til his death.
So considering how controversial creative ownership is with Lee, you’d think a comic that came out today, in February 2020 would get it right?
Stan Lee had nothing to do with the creation of Captain America. That was a Joe Simon and Jack Kirby creation which is easily discovered if one has access to the internet, but whoever put that credit together is either so stupid you wonder how they can walk without shitting themselves, or they did it deliberately. Either isn’t good.
But this is only a multinational professional publishing company we’re talking about…
These are two bits of amazing footage from the very early years of the comic convention. This first clip is from 1971 showing fans at a New York convention which included the great Jack Kirby as a guest. At this point, Kirby had left Marvel for DC so he was hot at this point. There’s no sound but it still is an amazing bit of archive.
The next clip is from 1973 and is a bit longer. Again there’s no sound but there’s some hugely evocative images here of things like Warren Publishing’s stand at the convention, and of creators like Gil Kane.
So much of this early time is in danger of being lost to comic historians let alone fans, so thanks to the people at Comic Book Historians for posting them on their page.
The internet can still be a wonderful thing. The bit of footage I’m posting here is of a tour round Spartan Press in 1977, which to most people sounds incredibly boring but to comic book fans above a certain age especially, it’s the Mecca of comic books as this is where nearly every American comic book was printed for decades.
When I worked for Neptune Distribution in the 80’s and early 90s I was totally familiar with Sparta, as we’d get their boxes all the time. For us in the UK, this would be a Friday when we’d get our shipment from the US before picking them for shops across the UK. Many a week would end up with me down the pub covered in newsprint, but DC Comics and Marvel moved more and more of their titles to other printers who could do better justice to the art in their titles. The problem with Sparta Press is their comics are wonderfully bits of nostalgia but cheap newsprint fades with time, so take say, a Daredevil comic drawn by Frank Miller in the late 70s and its likely to look dull and faded. Better printing stock and techniques made Sparta obsolete.
So to have this video pop up in my recommendations is a joy. This is deep pop culture history so enjoy…
Donny Cates is one of Marvel’s ‘hot’ writers, and he really doesn’t want you to pirate his material. This seems a reasonable request, as after all, your average comic creator isn’t raking in the coin unless they’re a Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns or indeed, a Donny Cates. Most creators are doing enough to make a living, but there’s a large number of people pirating work like Cates’s own Cosmic Ghost Rider.
Now when you pirate something you might think you’re hitting it to Disney, or whatever mega-corporation publisher, but all you’re doing is stealing comics so creators don’t get paid, not to mention the entire chain of producing to selling comics loses money. Also if you’re pissed off that <insert title here> is canceled, or that wee comic shop you went into is gone, then think of how many times you pirated a comic denying that sale to a title, income to creators and retailers and realise that you helped cause that. That in fact, you’re part of the problem and that you need to take responsibility rather than whining at creators pointing out the problem online.
Digital comics are cheap. There’s plenty of cheap comics out there if you’re near a shop, or a convention. There’s no need to steal from an industry where so many are struggling.