Thursday, October 28, 2010

Where's Johnny? (Dredging Up The Past Part X)

(This is probably going to be the last of my re-posting of old pieces from my past blogs.  This one is from The Word From On High and is presented here for no other reason that it happens to be one of my favorite posts from that blog.  Note that I was writing for a more general audience on that blog, not just comics fans, who are the target audience for this effort.  Thus the parenthetical phrase defining my terms.)
The Silver Age of Comic Book Art, written and designed by Arlen Schumer, is a beautiful over-sized coffee table book featuring heavily illustrated profiles of eight prominent comics artists of the 1960's, the era known to comics fans and historians as the Silver Age. (The Golden Age, by the way, was the era that began with the publication of Action Comics #1, featuring the debut of Superman, in 1939 and lasted until approximately the end of the Second World War. The Silver Age begins in 1956 with the first appearance of Julius Schwarz's updating of DC's Golden Age Flash character in Showcase #4 and most historians have it ending somewhere around 1970--which seems to be the cut-off date that Schumer uses in this volume.) The artists include are: Carmine Infantino, Steve Ditko, jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Joe Kubert, Gene Colan, Jim Steranko, and Neal Adams. All had distinctive styles that made them fan favorites. Ditko, Kirby, Steranko and Adams were also groundbreaking visionaries whose innovations changed the ways that comic books told stories. All eight are worthy of inclusion in a book that purports to present an overview of one of the comic book industry's most creative periods.
Now, some might make a case that Don Heck should have been included. I have never been a fan of Heck's work, but he was perhaps the 2nd hardest working artist of the early Marvel Age, surpassed only by the "King" himself, Jack Kirby. Heck followed Kirby on such features as The Avengers, Giant-Man, and The X-Men,and was the first artist on Iron Man--though the character was designed by Kirby. 
A more significant omission, in my opinion (nothin' humble about it, baby!), is "Jazzy" John Romita. Romita began at Marvel on Daredevil, and soon took over as artist on The Amazing Spider-Man with #39 (thus paving the way, by the way, for Gene Colan's lengthy run drawing Daredevil) when Ditko left the "House of Ideas"for reasons that have never been fully explained but that most assume to be "creative differences" with Stan "The Man" Lee. Romita came to the world of super-heroes from a background in romance comics and the style he developed working in that genre perfectly suited the slick, sub-plot intensive "soap-opera" style of stories that Lee was turning out. Romita's depictions of Peter Parker and his friends and enemies would define the look of the feature well into the 1980's.
A man who contributed so much to the success of Marvel Comics is certainly worthy of recognition as one of the greats of the Silver Age.

No comments:

Post a Comment