Comics

Conan by Gil Kane

Featuring: The Unimaginable Menace of… THE TANGENT!!

Following up the last post, here is a really rather nice Conan pinup by Gil Kane from Savage Sword of Conan #67 (1981). What’s interesting, and unusual, about this piece is the way Gil has rendered the large demons… it’s a very stark chiaroscuro not dissimilar to the technique Frank Miller used a decade later on Sin City. As far as I know, Gil never really did anything else like this… unless anyone can point out other examples?

Anyhow, it’s a strong image.

Savage Sword 67 pinup

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Gene Colan: Ten Years On

Perhaps this was more appropriately posted back in June (the month of his passing), but as September marks his 95th birthday, that’s fine.

It’s hard to believe the great Gene Colan has been gone for ten years. And what a different (but not in the least bit better) world it is today compared to even back then.


Late ’70s Colan cover to DAREDEVIL #154, nicely inked by Steve Leialoha.

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On My Artwork

Quick post—I originally wrote this as a footnote to the previous post, but I thought I’d make it a separate entry instead, as it has some personal aspects that go on a bit of a tangent…

I’ve had a very spasmodic learning curve in terms of my artwork—and since the mid-’90s, I’ve mostly considered myself to be a writer who can draw a little.

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Club Vamporama Covers

Continuing this theme on the 15th anniversary of Club Vamporama (and the year of its demise!!), and following the Marie comparison, here’s two versions of a CV comic-book-that-never-happened cover.

Directly below is the most-recent version, from my moderately productive 2019 period. I’m still fairly happy with this. I don’t think it’s as cool or effective as the 2019 Marie portrait, but it’s OK.

Halloween Comix Cvr

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Club Vamporama, RIP

While scanning the Darkseid piece I posted last month, I also scanned two new pages of comic strip work that I was going to post on here, but ultimately decided not to. About a dozen people have seen the strip privately, and all but one gave me nice feedback on it (the other one says he will comment on it, too, when he has time)…

It was a strip entitled “The Last Club Vamporama”. And it was indeed a finale… and maybe a kind of reboot, too, but we’ll leave it at that.

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Richard Corben

Speaking of the passing of greats, I was not actively blogging last December when Richard Corben died unexpectedly, after heart surgery. Very sad loss—I was certain he had another ten years of great stuff in him. He was one of those artists whose work never really bowed to the passage of time.

Most people would only know his work because he did the iconic cover for Meat Loaf’s 1977 classic album Bat Out of Hell. And, sadly, a lot of those folks doubtless don’t even know his name.

Bat Out of Hell

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Comics: The Dying Craft Of Lettering

I no longer mind being called a Luddite. It might’ve bothered me once. Now, it’s become a lazy catchall slur meant to target anyone who has any kind of reservation about technological ‘progress’—because, after all, progress is an unalloyed good which everyone must believe in like obedient cult members.

(The concept of progress, and/or something being progressive, is not, semantically or in actuality, a good of any kind—or a bad of any kind. It’s a neutral idea that can/should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. For instance, in the negative, pretty much every terminal disease is ‘progressive’.)

Anyhow. I was all for digital tech and online stuff back in the day. And by that, I mean 15+ years ago. Maybe you have to be immersed in something for a while to start seeing the dangers properly. Digital has an insidious tendency to slowly, creepingly replace everything it touches with a digital facsimile. Often as not, the craft or physical actuality it replaces gets killed off completely… or, in cases like, for instance, film being made on film, a few stubborn holdouts will keep the organic original alive (Tarantino, Nolan, etc).

In comics there are a number of aspects you could mention, but let’s focus on LETTERING. To be blunt, digital lettering requires no craft. It’s a form of typsetting. And to any digital letterers out there, SORRY—BUT NOT SORRY. I accept that there’s skill in it—but there’s no craft.

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Inking Gil Kane’s Green Lantern

This is a bit of a reblog from when I first did this inking, back in 2018. I was pleased with how it came out, but this time I thought I’d add the other versions for comparison. My source for Gil’s pencils was Kevin Nowlan’s blog (this post specifically). I really like Kevin’s work but I wanted to try my own spin—which I think came out somewhere between Gil himself and Ralph Reese.

Anyhow, more recently, I found a version actually inked by Gil, too! So that’s an extra interest factor—there are four versions of this piece to look at here! Lemme know what you think!! 🙂

In order: Gil Kane’s pencils; Gil Kane’s own inks; Kevin Nowlan’s inks; my inks.

Green Lantern Gallery cover pencils

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The Ring Of The Nibelung (1989-90)

Written by Roy Thomas. Drawn by Gil Kane (w/assist by Alfredo Alcala). Lettered by John Costanza. Coloured by Jim Woodring. Edited by Andrew Helfer. Published in 1989-90 by DC Comics.

Summary: A squarebound, four-issue mini-series adapting Der Ring des Nibelungen, Richard Wagner’s epic musical drama, aka the Ring Cycle, based on Norse Legend and the German epic poem Nibelungenlied.

Read more about Der Ring des Nibelungen on Wikipedia. (Saves me writing a synopsis!)

The Ring has also notably been adapted in comics form, at much greater length and more faithfully to the Wagner source, by P Craig Russell in 2000; and of course, there is the two-part 1924 silent movie by the great Fritz Lang, Die Nibelungen. The Thomas & Kane version is perhaps not so different from their work on various Conan projects—it has an old school adventure comics feel. If you like those books as much as I do, you won’t see that as a drawback.

The Ring Book 1
Epic Kane art from THE RING Book One.

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Hulk #182 (1974)

“Between Hammer and Anvil”

THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS!

Written by Len Wein. Pencilled & Inked by Herb Trimpe. Lettered by John Costanza. Coloured by Glynis Wein. Edited by Roy Thomas. Published in 1974 by Marvel Comics.

Summary: Stanley Kramer Meets John Steinbeck via the Outer Limits.

Let’s talk about one of my favourite comics. There are a few reasons why this is so: the Hulk was the first comics character I really bonded with, for one thing, and it was by accident. My nan used to buy me random comics when I was a little kid, and one of them was a Marvel UK Hulk book—which I doubt my mom would have ever bought me—and I instantly liked him. I already loved the original King Kong (1933), as well as all the Universal Monsters—I was definitely a Monster Kid. The Hulk was somewhere between Frankenstein’s Monster and Kong… today, I also see a lot of Lennie Small (Of Mice and Men) in him. And I do mean the 1970s Hulk—there are a number of spins on him, but the ’70s one is IMO the best.

Hulk 182
The cover to HULK #182, by Herb Trimpe, 1974.

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