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Here’s another item that was buried sufficiently deep in a closet that it survived the house disaster… and a great photostatic keepsake it is. It’s the splash page and additional art from a Superman story I wrote — and for fans of the classic era of Superman, there’s no mistaking the drawing style. The artist is Wayne Boring.
Wayne’s history with Superman runs deep. He was hired as a ghost artist for the Siegel and Shuster (Superman’s creators) studio in the mid-1930’s, and eventually became the main, credited artist for the Superman newspaper comic strip. When Siegel and Shuster split from their comic book publisher, Boring was hired by that publisher as a staff artist and became one of the main artists for the Superman comic book line for decades thereafter. His style couldn’t have been more distinctive; his Superman figures were the ones who looked like they were jogging across the sky rather than flying.
Wayne Boring had long-since retired when I began writing Superman stories for Editor Julius Schwartz in the mid-1980’s.
Around that time,I was invited to stop in and give a talk at my alma mater, The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, New Jersey. I had attended the school in its earliest days and we alumni were frequently invited to give a progress report whenever we were in town.
I’m still sorting through boxes of stuff from my house which flooded a while back, and every so often I discover an item that 1) survived the disaster, and 2) I’d pretty much forgotten ever existed. The process has been like a very soggy Christmas; I keep finding soggy presents amongst the soggy lumps of coal. So I decided to post some of these forgotten treasures as the mood strikes.
You didn’t know Howard the Duck ran for president? Here’s a campaign button that Marvel issued during the ’76 race, featuring Howard and his slogan “Get Down America!’ He didn’t win but perhaps he can be drafted this time around.
This image of Howard was drawn by the great Berni Wrightson, best known for his co-creation, Swamp Thing. Actually, Berni is better known for his intricate and controlled, dollar-bill-engraving-quality linework and his shadow-drenched atmospheric compositions.
Howard the Duck was created by writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik. He was an incidental character in Adventure Into Fear #19 (1973), caught the attention of readers, and was spun off into his own title (1976). And, there was a movie.
Incidentally, Frank Brunner, the artist who drew the first issue of Marvel’s Howard the Duck comic, will be the featured guest at this weekend’s Queen City Comicon. I’ve never met Frank (who also drew some of the more memorable issues of Doctor Strange), so here’s my chance! (And yours!)
I’m saddened to hear about the passing of Murphy Anderson, at the age of 89. He was one of those artists whose work was so perfect that, when I was a young kid and reading my first comics, it never dawned on me that a human hand could be behind those pictures. They just had to magically roll off of a printing press somehow.
Eventually I got to meet Murphy and saw him once in a while, back when I was doing a few Superman stories for our mutual editor, Julius Schwartz. I never saw him without a coat and tie, and he was one of the more soft-spoken and unassuming giants I’ve met.
When Murphy learned I was from Cincinnati, he got as excited as I’d ever expect to find him. He recalled for me his past visits to Cincinnati, and in particular to the Ohio Book Store on Main Street, his area destination for buying vintage cartooning and art books.
At the time that I met him, Murphy was currently doing a series of stories featuring Golden Age characters for DC’s Secret Origins title, an assignment he said he really enjoyed.
Murphy inked one cover (pencils by Howard Bender) for a story I wrote, an Action Comics issue. That was a big fat checkmark on my bucket list, to be able to count him among my collaborators, but more importantly, to have been able to get to know him even just a bit.
Got these in the mail yesterday: The first two issues of a comic zine, The German Spider-Man, produced by my friend Peter Stangenberg, whom I first met at the Pittsburgh Comic Book Show in, I think, 2013. I LOVED finding these zines in my mailbox, as I so seldom receive stuff like this through the mail these days. Now it’s all online or down at the comics shop. But these take me back to my early fanzine-collecting days of Star-Studded Comics, Trumpet Magazine, Dallascon Bulletin, The Buyer’s Guide For Comics Fandom, The Comics Reader, Stan’s Weekly Express — all that stuff that had the smell of ‘homemade,’ the days before it all became too slick and institutionalized and the line between fan and pro became so blurred.
Anyway, Peter sent me these because I contributed some art for the April issue, and he was nice enough to feature me in an extensive interview for the August issue. My knowledge of the German language is nil, so reading the pages is a bit of a trick, but I love browsing and looking at the illustrations, and Peter’s love and enthusiasm for the subject matter comes through loud and clear. I have owned many of the comics, books and magazines pictured and discussed in the pages, so these issues of The German Spider-Man were a fun time capsule for me.
I’ll add additional links when I get them from Peter.
Continuing with my sketches from Cincinnati Comic Expo.