ISSUE #26: Gone but Not Forgotten – Part 2

Hello again, my fellow hunters. I was very jealous of those of you who managed to get to Baltimore, last weekend. I hope you dug out some amazing gems while you were there and had a blast. Hopefully, I’ll be able to attend next year as it seems to be the high point in the con season.

Last week, we spoke about artists that we have lost who have contributed a great deal to the comics medium. I hope you enjoyed that article as we are going to continue the topic, this week. Thank you to those who took the time to comment, last time. I very much  enjoyed reading your thoughts. No one, however, mentioned artists they miss most, but I hope you all will tell me who they are, this week, as I plan to do one more of these based on some of YOUR favorites rather than my own.

As we embark on this week in comics, I think many of us are looking forward to seeing whether Venom will live up to expectations or let us down. Reviews are already beginning to trickle in from early screenings and they seem to be quite mixed. Similarly, many of us are probably drowning under new speculation on virtually unknown titles that have been optioned for various television shows. I mean, really? Ice Cream Man, already?

Maybe it’s better than I remember from the first issue, but if that’s the level of storytelling we have to look forward to on our screens, I am not psyched. I, for one, am definitely investing less and less money into these flash-in-the pan properties that either won’t ever get greenlit or, if they do, won’t even last a season. Instead, I’m focusing more on the types of books I mention in these articles; books that have merit even if they don’t always have spec value. It’s a much more enjoyable (and cheaper) way for me to experience comics, these days.  

For this week, I have selected a new group of five artists who have passed away and I have based the selections on quite differing contributions to the comic book world. Some have given us exquisite compositions, others have enormous bodies of work and still others have unique styles that have heavily influenced other artists.   

Here they are…

 

1. Frank Frazetta (b.1928 – d.2010)

Death Dealer #3 (2007 Series)

PUBLISHED: Image Comics – June, 2007

 

Known more for his exquisite and darkly rendered painted covers on Eeerie, Creepy, Vampirella Heavy Metal and the like, Frazetta’s style is coveted by many and rightly so. The depth and detail of his pieces along with the mastery of the media is quite breathtaking. As such, many collectors JUST collect his work, no matter what it was put on.

A small modern title from Frazetta (and, originally, Glen Danzig and Simon Bisley, as well) titled Death Dealer, often goes unnoticed and underappreciated as it is not part of his “classic” period. Originally published in 1995 by Verotik Publishing, reprinted by EEE in 1998, and later picked up and extended by Image in 2007, these covers are just as good as anything from Frazetta that came before and are extremely inexpensive. It’s a nice entry point for those looking to grab some great Frazetta work without breaking the bank.

This particular cover sums up the best of Frazetta’s style in its dark and violent mood and beautifully rendered paint work. The stark contrast between the lighter “fire” backdrop and the dark foreground figure not only lends amazing depth and contrast, but is also the opposite of what we might expect and is, simultaneously, a trademark of much of Frazetta’s work. With that said, one cannot go wrong with any of the covers as they all are phenomenal works worth appreciation. Do yourselves the favor of checking them all out.

 

2. Gil Kane (b.1926 – d.2000)

Ghost Rider #19 (1973 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – August, 1976

 

Gil Kane is often not associated with the “great” artists of the Silver and Bronze Ages and, to a degree, I can see why some might say that. In comparison to some others like Adams, Wrightson, Romita, etc., there can be something a little lacking in many of his works.

However, Kane is a throwback to an earlier (and simpler) version of comics where covers were fun and impactful, often telling major parts of the story plot. Inasmuch, the modern idea of cover art does not translate well into what folks such as Kane and Kirby and others were trying to accomplish.

Many would list Kane under the “serviceable artist” category, but I see him as more than that; he was one of the artists that structured the initial ideas of some of our favorite characters (In Kane’s case, he was especially instrumental in re-creating the Green Lantern character in his extremely long run on the title). I relate this idea to Star Wars: A New Hope.

Watching that film alongside modern Sci-Fi may seem slow and even arduous to modern filmgoers, but without it, we would not have the same environment in film, today. It was a necessary stepping stone to get us where we are. I feel Kane is one of those necessary stepping stones for comics.

The cover I’ve singled out here, though, is quite bold and shows Kane at his best. It is visually striking, has fantastic depth and yet, still manages to show a key plot point of the story. Factoring in those variables, together, shows the prowess of Kane.

 

3. Carmine Infantino (b.1925 – d.2013)

Detective Comics #371 (1937 Series)

PUBLISHED- DC Comics – January, 1968

 

In addition to other DC work, namely on Flash, JLA and Green Lantern, Infantino is probably best known for helping to resurrect the failing Batman titles that had become rather silly by the mid-1960’s. Taking a more serious approach to the character (which met with some controversy), the new version was a success and ushered in the darker version of Batman that we all very much still enjoy, today. The mantle was picked up by Neal Adams who continued that darker tone, thus solidifying Batman’s popularity, once again; a popularity that would never wain again.

The cover I’ve chosen, above, is one of my all-time favorite covers. Man, it gets me every time I see it. It’s flirtatious, very much a product of the times (it would be tough to get away with this type of cover in the modern day-and-age without controversy) and has a great layout. Batgirl was still new (having been introduced only 12 issues prior) and as a result of its comedic nature along with it being an early cover appearance, it has become a sought after cover, but it can still be gotten cheaply.  

 

4. John Buscema (b.1927 – d.2002)

Wolverine #8 (1988 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – June, 1989

 

Well, this one may not be quite as far off of people’s radars as some of the other covers I’ve chosen, but for some reason, it’s still an easy snag at $10-$15. This cover has also become somewhat sought after by certain groups of collectors, but also largely forgotten about by others.

It’s a fun cover with great simplicity and all sorts of contrast in both color and figural work which sums up Buscema’s work well. Not Buscema’s most memorable cover, Avengers #57, 1st appearance of Vision, is almost definitely his most sought after cover, but this one is close for some. It is one I always look for (and often find cheaply) in the bins.

Some collectors I speak to consider this a “key,” but many others don’t even know it exists. Nothing “key” happens in it, yet it has the feel of a classic cover. As such, some might argue that it shouldn’t be included on this list, but at a buy-in often below $10, it fits the bill for me. I just found one in a dollar bin, last week (and it’s not the first time I’ve done so).  

I’ve chosen Buscema for his sheer body of work (mostly at Marvel). His enormous runs on Avengers and Fantastic Four, alone, are enough to rank him highly. However, I am partial to his smaller bodies of work like that which graces covers of Wolverine, Ms. Marvel, etc.

 

5. Gene Colan (b.1926 – d.2011)

Tomb of Dracula #48 (1972 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – September, 1976

 

Gene Colan has always been the master of clean and fluid lines. As a matter of fact, it’s quite possible I enjoy his interior work more than his covers, which is quite a rare thing. I especially enjoy his Daredevil work and am always amazed just how starkly his work stands apart from other interior artists of the time. Having worked in virtually every corner of the industry, from Romance to Horror to superhero and pretty much everything in between, Colan left his lasting stamp on comics regardless of what fraction of it you like best.

This particular cover, as stated above, demonstrates Colan’s clean linework and understanding of figural composition. This particular cover is a standout in that it is a close-up which is rare for Colan. As such, his talent can be seen in clear detail. While all of his Tomb of Drac covers are awesome, this one really captures a mood and a moment that few covers do. Its macabre nature and impending evil are a steal at $10 or less. Go grab one for yourself.

 

*****

And again, dear readers, we are at our trail’s end. I hope you enjoyed this one as much as I did writing it and that you find appreciation for some of the artists we have lost and will not be getting further work from. As such, please, please, let me know which artist you miss the most in the comments. Until next time, as always, thanks for reading and happy hunting.

 

 

 

 

 

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