Friday, 2 November 2012

From The X-Men To The New Gods: The Great Seventies Cancelled Superhero-ish Comicbook Cavelcade, Part 1, 1970 to 1975

In which the blogger offers up the first part of a baker's dozen of much-missed, cruelly cancelled superhero - or should that be superheroesque? - comic-books from the Big Two in the Seventies. Other publishers and genres will appear in a later list. For the sake of brevity, what follows doesn't include tenures which came to their intended close or interrupted runs by creative teams who were bumped from continuing titles.  The list begins with the most recently-cancelled title, and ends with the most distant termination. There's no order of preference beyond that; 

       
1. The Shadow, by Dennis O'Neal, Mike Kaluta, Frank Robbins et al, c 1975

Much of what made The Shadow such a compelling comic in the mid-seventies was the relative lack of quality in the rest of DC's output. Debuting in late 1973 just as Marvel was beginning to lurch chaotically forward into its second great era, The Shadow was a rare example of an idiosyncratic and even innovative comic appearing in an ever-stagnating line of books from DC. The glory years of the likes of the Fourth World titles and Green Lantern/Green Arrow were long passed, and DC had slumped backwards into producing a slate of fundamentally conservative and unexciting books. With just a tiny number of truly excellent comics rolling off its presses, mediocrity beckoned. Against such a background, The Shadow shone out as the product of a quite distinct and therefore refreshingly unorthodox approach. Mike Kaluta's sumptuous, stylish evocation of the Thirties in particular gave the comic the all-too-rare sense of an auteur's imprint. The brutally violent world of The Shadow was an odd arena for his often-wistfully nostalgic and glamorous work. Yet Conan's milieu had hardly seemed an appropriate vehicle for Barry Windsor-Smith's Art Nouveau-influenced style either. In both cases, something new and fascinating had been created through the fusion of what at-times seemed a fundamental clash between style and content. In collaboration with O'Neil's efficient if watered-down-for-the-Comics-Code scripts, Kaluta's artwork transformed The Shadow into an event rather than just another comicbook.

         
Sadly, in less than a year, the meticulous Kaluta had left the comic. Although his replacement Frank Robbins produced some wonderfully idiosyncratic art, the comic had lost the innovative spark which it originally bore. Robbins' work carried an all-too-familiar and dated if beguiling style. Reaching back to the influence of Milton Canniff, his art ironically reflected a style from the era of The Shadow's heyday. Yet that inevitably seemed old-fashioned compared to the work of the eclectic generation of young Turks - including Kaluta - who briefly made their presence felt in the early-to-mid Seventies. As such, and for all its appropriateness, Robbins' artwork failed to suggest that some new fusion of illustrative delicacy and pulp-era sensibilities was being created. Though O'Neal's scripts remained as concise and respectful as before, The Shadow swiftly declined from an invigorating book which suggested that comics could be both personal and surprising to yet another competent, run-of-the-mill title.




2. The Fourth World Saga: Mister Miracle, The Forever People, The New Gods, , by Jack Kirby et al, c. 1972/2/4

The history of the superhero comic is in so many ways the history of how owners and editors have quashed the very best of the sub-genre for the most stupid, short-sighted and often selfish of motives. There's obviously no better and more tragic example of this than the cancellation of Jack Kirby's Fourth World titles in 1972. (A denuded Mister Miracle struggled on into 1974, but the comic had been essentially staked through the heart in the year in which the line as a whole was cut. *1) It's one thing to possess unfinished masterpieces by creators who sadly died before they could complete them. Yet to recall that Kirby was still at the very height of his powers when DC pulled the plug is to once more experience the same old sense of profound loss. There is never a moment when DC's failure to support Kirby's endeavours with the Fourth World becomes something which can be, through familiarity and resignation, shrugged off. Only Kirby himself could have known something of what he still had to add to this particular corner of the DCU, but the fact of its curtailment is a desperately sad one.

      
The many and varied elements of the Fourth World went on to generate millions upon millions of dollars worth of profit for DC. In comics and in merchandising, in cartoons and TV series, Darkseid and his fellow members of the New Gods have proven to be exceptionally lucrative properties. (When a Justice League movie finally arises, it's hard to imagine that Darkseid will be absent from it, just as its tough not to see the appearance of Thanos in The Avengers as something of a pre-emptive strike as well as a creative choice.) Kirby's work has paid for itself time and time and time again. What riches DC might have reaped if the company had had the sense to swallow the apparently relatively low sales of Kirby's books in 1972! In the end, everyone lost beyond the beancounters taking comfort from the next quarter's returns, although Kirby, of course, lost most of all. Thankfully, what's left is, with the Ditko/Lee Amazing Spider-Man, still the absolute pinnacle of the superhero book.

But there could and should have been so much more of it.

*1:- A first attempt to bring back Mister Miracle in the last years of the decade was also swiftly cancelled, despite fine stories from Englehart and Gerber and beautiful artwork from Rogers and then Golden. That reboot of the book could've been added to this list too.

         
3. Green Lantern, Green Arrow, by Dennis O'Neil, Neal Adams, Dick Girodano et al, c. 1972

Green Lantern, Green Arrow is all too often seen as nothing but an embarrassingly uber-Liberal polemic, purple, obvious and patronising, Yet the truth is that there's much to celebrate in the brief run of issues which the O'Neil, Adams and Giordano team produced. Though there's no denying that there's more than a suggestion of the pulpit to be found in most of these issues, there's also a fierce sense of principle and commitment that's almost entirely absent from the sub-genre in the don't-upset-the-applecart 21st century. To come across a comic that was dedicated to discussing the issues of the day through the sub-genre of the superhero is to be suddenly reminded of how blandly disconnected from all but the most general of political metaphors today's books mostly are.

       
There's also a great deal more to value in these issues than is typically credited. Few of the characters of the day ever felt quite as real as did the cast of Green Lantern/Green Arrow.(Their stereotypical politics did, after all, evoke a world in which most folks' beliefs are exactly the same.) In showing the developing and yet rarely entirely-frictionless friendship between Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen, GL/GA injected a sense of volatility as well as intimacy to what had previously been predictably wooden types. Similarly, the second-time-around romance between Jordan and an initially-wheelchair bound Carol Ferris was a heartfelt, moving business which few would associate with the comic today. And when aspects of the fantastic were reintroduced into the world-outside-your-door narratives, as in the reappearance of Black Hand or the feminist-tinged fantasy of The Harpies Are Coming, something uniquely compelling was created. Ironically enough, the super-heroics didn't overwhelm the message of the month when the book's creators let them back onto the page. Instead, they helped to balance out the admirable and yet often wearing worthiness of the project.

For all that its politics could be so sincerely and simplistically expressed as to be cringe worthy, the causes that O'Neil and Adams focused on are still every bit as relevant today. Drug abuse, racism, the destruction of the environment, over-population, corporate greed, and rampant consumerism were just some of the social problems which they discussed. In that if nothing else, Green Lantern/Green Arrow still makes most of today's output appear at best ostrich-headed and at worst flat-out cowardly.
   

4. Aquaman, by Steve Skeates, Jim Aparo et al, c. 1971

The Skeates/Aparo Aquaman succeeded in representing something of its time without abandoning anything of the character's Silver Age set-up beyond the disappearance of a few cute, telepathic undersea creatures. Indeed, a great deal of the appeal of the last few years of the comic's existence came from the juxtaposition of what was still a recognisably decent-hearted DC lead with stories which contained aspects of social relevancy, traces of the counter-culture, and a playfully inventive approach at times to storytelling. Highlights of the final year of the title included an ingenious crossover between a Neal Adams' Deadman three-part back-up series and the title character's own adventures, the bizarrely jarring scene of a drowning secretary in "Is California Sinking?", and the shocking-in-its-day death of the costumed vigilante The Crusader. Even the plot-threads which were left unexplored when the comic was dropped with issue 56 were later tied up in a Skeates-scripted edition of Marvel's Sub-Mariner, a quietly subversive touch which seems appropriate for a little-acknowledged and yet highly enjoyable and forward-looking superhero book.


5. X-Men, by Roy Thomas, Neal Adams, Tom Palmer et al, c.1970

Famously cancelled by an impatient and ill-informed Martin Goodman, who didn't wait to discover that the book was actually selling rather well, the loss of the Adams/Thomas X-Men was just one more sign that Marvel was rolling further and further back from the liveliness and innovation of its first few years.No matter what Stan Lee's peddler pitching might otherwise have declared, Marvel was in full retreat from the very unpredictable qualities of ambition and ingenuity which had made the company such a vital institution. Adams and Thomas had taken one of least successful - both commercially and artistically - of the initial wave of the company's superhero books and made it the most compelling of Marvel's turn-of-the-decade output. With the intense fusion of verisimilitude and dynamism that Adams' comics-naturalism created, the X-Men suddenly seemed to be describing something of the social tumult and uncertainty of the late-Sixties Republic. Constantly threatened by the fracture lines in the mutant community as much as by the bigots of the broader MU, this version of the X-Men appeared to represent the counter-culture of the day and its concern for difference and diversity far more than any previous take. What Lee and Kirby and Ditko's work had been to the rest of the Silver Age of the early Sixties, Adams and Thomas' X-Men was to the vast majority of Marvel's comics as the soon-to-be-Kirbyless company limped into the Seventies. Though much of what artist/plotter and scripter did involved reworking tropes from the very beginning of the title, their versions of the Sentinels, the Savage Land and Magneto's Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants have a considerable claim to being definitive.Concepts which even then seemed predictable and timeworn were made to appear both entirely convincing and often distinctly unsettling.

     
At the heart of the X-Men's appeal is the idea that they are coming in great numbers to get us because we're unfortunate enough to be different. Few runs on the property have equalled this one in convincingly evoking exactly that sense of a beleaguered, peripheralised and innocent minority struggling to find a place for itself.  The X-Men revival of four years hence, which would finally see the title rise to the status of line-leading title, couldn't have had a more solid and inspirational foundation to build from.

To be continued in the coming week. Before that, Saturday will see a very welcome guest blog from Martin Grey of the splendid TooDangerousForAGirl  I hope you'll join me, and Martin, then.
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14 comments:

  1. Oh boy, now we're talkin'!

    I can't quite account for my love of 70s comics, especially given the low regard so many professionals and fans hold the decade in. Even for all the great material 70s voices like Englehart, Moench, Wolfman, Gerber & Starlin brought to the table, there's a particular quality which looms above all.

    I think it's the reckless abandon found in the subject matter of the time. Marvel & DC of the 1980s reigned themselves in to become safe (staid), bringing out their knives to individuals like Moore and usually feeding our thirst for "new" with "new costumes." Everything was being codified (which, as an Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe alumni, I plead mea culpa).

    But the 70s? I can't imagine DC publishing Stalker at any other point in their history (it had no audience pre-Conan and by the 80s would have only had a home at First or Eclipse). Jack Kirby's Kobra. Jack Kirby's Manhunter. Goodwin & Simonson's Manhunter! Star-Lord. Weirdworld. Steve Rogers as Nomad. Some duck named Howard.

    The 70s creators' belief that comics were a dying medium spurred them on to tell whatever stories they felt like getting off their chests. Today, there's no lack of doomsayers for the industry, but a distinctly muted creator chorus at the major publishers. It's as though, paradoxically, everyone wants to stand out by behaving like everyone else.

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    1. Hello Michael:- Of course, you're right, one of the great virtues of 70s books was that there was no central control of what was and wasn't appropriate content for most of the period. It finally arrived towards the end of the decade, with Shooter at Marvel and - to a lesser degree - with Kahn after the DC Implosion. (Even then, with so many different editors at DC carrying a fair degree of independence for a good many years, the company struggled to match - thankfully - the ever-developing uniformity of Marvel's product.)

      I find it fascinating how Marvel and DC took turns in being innovative in the period. DC started off the decade with some real promise and then declined until the DC Explosion, when a brief attempt at diversity collapsed into torpor. Marvel had its second golden age from around late 73 to early 77, with the company throwing mud joyfully at the wall and having a great chorus of largely independent creators doing so. As you say, the Marvel of the pre-Shooter, post-Lee period was rich in talent and achievement, though I realise that there was a great deal of chaos, heartbreak and inefficiency at the same time.

      The period was richer than any other in the super-book's history when it comes to the Big Two's product, and that includes the first few years of Marvel. (And it was to the super-books of this period which the many and often splendid Third Wave super-books of the Eighties looked to for a considerable part of their inspiration.) We could trade off great books of the day one after the other; the Moench/Sutton Planet Of The Apes, Wolfman and Colan's Dracula, the Cockrum Legion, the Wein/Dillen/Giordano JLA, the Severins' Kull, Man-Thing and Swamp Thing, Kirby's The Losers; from the mainstream to the out-there, it could all be found along side a great deal that ... wasn't quite so admirable.

      It's something that I think can be seen from the fact that of the 5 books I touched upon in the above which were cancelled between 70 and 75, three are amongst the most influential of all time.

      Along with that belief that comics was a dying and safely out-of-the-way medium, I believe there was also a conviction that the immersive superhero universe was an appropriate medium for self-expression. The myth that Lee span about Marvel being cutting edge, constantly daring and creatively inclusive was bought into by the likes of Starlin and Gerber. Marvel wasn't initially a corporate product to them, but a means to tell better stories in ever more adventurous ways. These folks - bless them - actually bought in, no matter how briefly, to the remarkable idea that capital's intellectual property existed to empower their own imagination. Of course, that's not a belief which anybody carries anymore. I don't think you'd get in the door if anything of the sort informed your beliefs today. But it really did inspire some terrific comics!

      And from the point of the corporations, I fully understand why that couldn't be allowed to occur. Yet it can be seen by how few great super-books there's been this decade that corporate interests rarely coincide with excellence in this particular sub-genre. Great books since 2010? Daredevil. Secret Six. Journey Into Mystery. Add a few more that my weary mind will recall in the morning, and there'll still not be many of them at all. Yet arrive at Marvel in January 1975 and I count perhaps a half-dozen classics, another 6 well worth reading and a final 6 or so that wouldn't waste the consumer's time. In one single month. As David Crosby recalls saying to his fellow soon-to-be Byrds about the quality of Sixties' music when they all saw A Hard Day's Night; some eras are just better than others. There are many reasons for why that might be so for any particular art forms, but Marvel at the mid-point of the 70s was doing a fine job.

      Mind you, sales were also crashing ..... :-(

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    2. I didn't even get into the diverse genres being represented! Kids' comics, romance, comedy, westerns, horror, kung fu, jungle, war, space opera, sword & sorcery! It was the last great gasp before Marvel & DC concluded their future lay in super heroes, licensed material and some creator-owned work. Even the super hero work of the 70s had the supernatural heroes, an explosion of black heroes, female heroes, team-up books, showcase books and all-new hero teams.

      There's gold to be found outside Marvel/DC too; I'm only just beginning to experience what Charlton, Star*Reach and others were up to!

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    3. Hello Michael:- It's good to celebrate comics in this way, isn't it? I fear that I was so superhero-centred as a nipper that I never really valued the alternatives. The horror books were tightly-enough bound to the MU that I eagerly bought into them, as were the Kung Fu titles. But beyond that, I had a clear hierarchy of preference; superheroes, space heroes, kung fu, horror characters, war, westerns, horror collections, romance. And there was a hierarchy of companies too, with a few odd rule-breaking titles, such as E-Man, which rated far higher than any other Charlton title with me. In short, I'm one of those folks who helped kill the industry!

      Pah and sigh.

      Now I look back and all I can see is the riches. Dell and Harvey, Charlton and Atlas, the headshop titles and the slowly developing indy market. Add to that Britain's own tradition of weekly comics and newspaper strips and I seem to have been only sampling a bare fraction of what I could've been enjoying.

      Ironically, it was also a time of almost perpetual crisis in the comics industry on both sides of the pond. And the great mass of material was mediocre. But then, Sturgeon's Law tends to apply. The truth is, there was a greater degree of diversity coming from the "mainstream" than we can imagine existing now. Thankfully, diversity now comes from other sources.

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  2. Holy Pastafazool, Colin!

    You certainly have some astonishingly wonderful artists represented here. I love Kaluta, and Aparo, not to mention Neal Adams.

    And as over the top that Denny O'Neil could be sometimes, I have to admit that I love those old Green Lantern/Green Arrow books. This is when I realized that as dumb as Hal could be, her really had to put up with a LOT from Ollie.

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    1. Hello Sallyp:- I recall reading a discussion on a board elsewhere about a rave review I'd given to one of Jim Aparo's collaborations with Alan Brennert. The consensus was that Aparo was a terrible artist. It was at that point that I finally accepted that there was no accounting for taste, just as, of course, all involved are objectively quite wrong.

      I'm glad to hear that you've a soft spot for GL/GA. Re-reading them, I found it quite convincing that Hal should be so unsure and quite frankly ill-informed whenever he wasn't safely locked into his macho hero role. Similarly, I thought that Ollie's habit of going too far was an interesting way of presenting the character. Put the two together and the dynamic was fascinating. No-one else has ever managed to make it work like that.

      I'll never accept that Hal isn't at times rather dumb and Ollie isn't annoyingly opinionated, just like I've never believed any attempt to portray them as anything other than friends. O'Neil and Adams convinced me.

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  3. Top list, Colin. Those Shadow comics never made it to my area, I'd love to read them sometime. I've never been a Frank Robbins fan but I'm very taken by his Shadow cover here. Definitely something to track down.

    Talking of cover art, I love that you used what I assume is the cover Martin Goodman rejected for X-Men #56, as referenced in Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, as reviewed by you earlier this week ... nice touch.

    And finally on covers, that Aquaman #53 by Nick Cardy is typically beautiful - it's wonderful that Mr Cardy is still with us. Were I the Queen I'd be finding an excuse to honour him.

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    1. Hello Martin:- It's hard to remember those times when we were nippers when it was simply impossible to get hold of certain books unless you lived near one of a tiny number of comics shops or knew of a reliable mail-order dealer. Given how young I was at the time, neither was really on. The Shadow didn't start appearing until the later Robbins issues, by which time it was a book which seem leeched of its energy. Yet that was only at the time. I've since grown to adore Frank Robbins' work, and indeed, I've his Johnny Hazard collections too. What seemed archaic in the day is now obviously far better than most of the material which seemed more vital in the day.

      I did indeed use the X-Men cover discussed in Howe. I'm trying desperately not to repeat anything from the book even if I knew it before. But for those who know, that cover makes the point that Goodman was against anything of innovation in the period. Imagine, a bloke so reactionary that he staked that cover. Still, he made a fantastic living from his judgment, if not his ethics or his artistic leanings.

      And I can only agree wholeheartedly with you about Mr Cardy's covers, and his work on the interiors of Aquaman which preceded Aparo's tenure on the book. I so wish there was a modern-day equivilant to produce work for, say, the New 52 of equal quality.

      But that's just my grumpy nature talking ....

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  4. Great list! I recently reread some of the Adams/Thomas X-Men run, and boy do they hold up! I'd say they hold up even more than much of the Claremont run, perhaps even parts of the Byrne/Claremont run.

    The Skeates/Aparo Aquaman run is definitely one of the character's best, if not the best (though there have been a few other great runs). I'd disagree about there not being a modern equivalent to Cardy's work in terms of quality. Ivan Reis' interiors, in my opinion, are superior and among the best in superhero comics - second only to Daredevil. Cardy's covers, however, are superior to Reis'. Again, just my opinion. (The New 52 story, however, while having great ideas and usually good momentum, has suffered from Johns' execution, I think.)

    New Gods...well, what can one say about New Gods? It is the DEFINITIVE superhero opera, one sadly incomplete. The best followup was Morrison's Final Crisis, something I actually think the King would have liked (I think Kirby would have been very fond of Morrison). There were more ideas in a single panel of Kirby's New Gods than there were in an entire year's worth of other titles. New Gods was really an artist's attempt to deal with the fundamental questions of his time and all time in one sweeping superheroic epic.

    The chemistry in GL/GA was extraordinary, but it's the only title on this list that I don't wish could have continued on. Don't get me wrong - I loved the book, and reading it in trade paperbacks was critical to the awakening of my political and social consciousness as a kid. But I think by the end of the run, O'Neil and Adams had said pretty much what they had to say, and I feel that if they had gone on it would have felt forced and perhaps banal. I can't imagine that sort of topical series maintaining the same sort of power it had (and still has today) if it had gone on longer. Then again, who knows!

    There is one book that I would add to this list: Kirby's OMAC, which ran for 8 issues from '74-'75 before being cancelled. Now there was an truly innovative, fascinating comic, and having reread the first issue and Kirby's introduction to the series at the end of the issue recently, it feels as relevant as ever, frighteningly so. The revelry in raw masculine power combined with humanist concerns and ideals was fascinating.

    And thank you for posting!

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    1. Hello Nikolai:- One of the things that I've noticed, and which your words seem to underline, is how a great deal of the best of the 70s does stand up. As you say, the Adams/Thomas issues really do still read well. If there's a problem, then it's that they're fall on the purple side of the melodramatic, but far less than the Claremont era which followed. If that's the worst that can be said, then they're holding up pretty well. Certainly, they, the best of the Bryne/Claremont stories and the Whedon/Cassaday run seem to me to be the best of the X-Men.

      I only meant to bemoan the lack of a cover artist who's the equal of Mr Cardy. Though NC's work was somewhat polite for me, he did had a fantastic ability to develop entirely fascinating visual hooks which really made the book to which they were attached appear irresistible. I wouldn't quibble with your assessment of Mr Reis as an artist of note. I struggle with the post-Jim Lee tradition which he inhabits, but I wouldn't deny that he's hard-working and effective.

      I've always had a terrible sense that I didn't "get" Final Crisis. I'm trying to squirrel away the pennies so that I can afford the Absolute before it sells out and becomes even more expensive. As such, I'll just say that I found it tough to enjoy the story, but I have a truly nagging sense that there's something special going on there.

      I entirely sympathise with your point about GL/GA having burned through the concerns of the progressive political agenda. I think Mr O'Neil himself has expressed a similar concern to yours. Yet perhaps that might have encouraged a more subtle approach as time went by, and one in which issues were less done and dusted in 20 pages. And, of course, as time passed, so new concerns arose; the oil crisis, the resistance of middle America to change, the dissolution of so much of the counter culture into aspects of the very things it had set it against, discrimination against a host of minorities, homebreed 70s terrorism, the rise of the New Right, information technology, and so on; it's hard to think that 6 issues a year could have exhausted all the possibilities. I'm sure I'm being deliberately naive to suggest that such a project could've played out in the comics of the period, but there's nothing wrong with some wishful thinking :)

      As for OMAC, I'm a great fan of the title, and in particular, the first issue. If you're ever at all curious, you might just cast a brief eye over the following, just so that you can be sure that we're singing from the same sheet music :)

      http://toobusythinkingboutcomics.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/OMAC

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  5. Hmm, you give a good case for GL/GA continuing. Though I don't think what you suggest would have happened, I would have been thrilled if it had! Great idea.

    As for Final Crisis, it has faults, but, as always with Morrison, there's a lot there worth pondering, and I always give him credit for his creativity and inventiveness, even for the works I don't particularly enjoy (which I admit are few). I feel that, unlike some other creators, he is always trying to communicate important ideas as much as tell good stories, except for one or two purposefully "unserious" silly pieces, such as Skrull Kill Krew. I never feel shortchanged with him - just occasionally confused!

    As for Reis, I find him far superior to Lee. There's no emotive depth with Lee, just stylization. I would say that though we can certainly draw a line from Lee to Reis, I would look at Reis' work more as a continuation of Alan Davis' artwork in the post-Lee tradition. There's also an almost Norman Rockwell feel to Reis' work. He really captures in each moment he depicts the feeling of the moment. I agree with your assessment of Cardy, those covers being among the best of the 60s, I would say the best DC comics, even better than Infantino's Flash work. Man, that's such a good Cardy cover you chose.

    As such, lets just enjoy the best from both gentlemen as exemplified through their Aquaman work:

    http://onceuponageek.com/images/aquacover06.jpg
    http://namtab.com/aquablog/aquamanV8_07pg11.gif

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    1. Hello Kikolai:- Thank you :) You make a good case for Mr Reis. I think it's all too easy for me to associate my response to the style of Jim Lee - which I find is all too often vacuous - with the work of folks who appear to have been strongly influenced by him. I'll go back and try to see things through your eyes. It certainly helps if I associate him with Alan Davies' influence.

      I quite enjoyed Skrull Kill Krew! It's a frustrating work, I will admit, but there's always something to be said from seeing a comics universe from an unfamiliar point of view.

      Finally, I ought to say - and I ought to have said before - that Carmine Infantino had a significant influence, and often a very direct imput, in many of those Nick Cardy covers. There's a story which I believe Infantino himself told about Marvel being disappointed with Neal Adams' covers when they'd lured him over at the turn of the Seventies. Infantino argued that that was because the Adams' covers Marvel had so admired on DC's covers had often come from his own designs.

      None of which diminishes Cardy's achievements. Take the following quite beautiful and quite terrifying cover. It was years until I realised how HUGE that tomb-stone would have to be. It doesn't matter. The design and execution is peerless.

      http://www.comics.org/issue/22364/cover/4/

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  6. Wow...

    That cover. The expressions on Bat Lash, the little girl, and the man passing them; the art's frame; the perspective; the way Bat Lash holds the little girl yet seems to be prepared for action; the gait of man passing them; the lighting; that clean, wonderfully rendered snow; and, most of all, that damn tombstone. You're right how Cardy's covers just had a way of roping you into the story. Irresistible indeed. Thanks for sharing.

    And thanks for the info on Infantino. You're right to remind me what a pivotal role he played with regards to covers. I do wonder as to his story about Marvel, though, not that I disbelieve he's said such things or that there isn't any truth to it.

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    1. Hello Nikolai:- I'm glad to hear that that Bat Lash cover found favour with you. For me, it's one of the most terrifying covers that I came across as a lad, if not THE most terrifying. I've always thought it a comics master-peace.

      I do of course share your hesitation when it comes to tales such that of the relative skills of Infantino and Adams when it came to cover design. I offer it up in the name of interest, but I fear I offer nothing more definitive than that :)

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