Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Still Going!

A great comicbook creator is kinda like the Energizer Bunny; their careers keep going and going. Here's a couple artists who kept me going to the spinner rack back in the day, and keep me haunting the comics shops to this very day!

Mike Grell: I've discussed "Iron Mike" a bit before (see the article about his return to the Warlord), but he's so great, he deserves mentioning again! I first discovered his work in the back of Adventure Comics (during the creepy Spectre run) as the new Aquaman artist. His figures were a bit stiff and lanky, but his layouts and storytelling was fantastic, and his inking was very slick and modern. I next grooved to his work in Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes as he took over the art chores from Dave Cockrum (who went to Marvel to do some inking and kick of some obscure mag...X-something or other...). I hated to see Cockrum go, but Grell was a more than able replacement. His costume designing wasn't quite up to Cockrum's level, but his outer space scenes more than made up for it. He was so good at depicting great sci-fi, he was tapped to do the art on Denny O'Neil's revival of Green Lantern/Green Arrow, which took on a more sci-fi/super-hero bent than the renowned O'Neil/Neal Adams "relevant" GL/GA series of the early 70s. Mike Grell outdid all of that with his next project, Warlord. Combining the great Edgar Rice Burroughs' creations John Carter of Mars and Pellucidar, Grell crafted DC's most successful new character since the dawning of the Silver Age. The combination of fantasy, sci-fi, action, adventure, and great characterization made Grell and Warlord legends. When the 80s dawned and new publishers with creator incentives came a-calling, Grell concocted the "reverse Warlord", Starslayer (a barbarian whisked into the future) and Jon Sable, Freelance, arguably Grell's greatest creation (though I still have a soft spot for Travis Morgan). Sable ran through most of the 80s, even spawning a short-lived TV show in the 80s and a prose novel in 2000. After Sable, Grell returned to DC and re-booted Green Arrow into a gritty vigilante for the late-80s/early 90s. Since that time he's also worked on comics featuring characters from James Bond to Iron Man, including his own creations for Image Comics, Shaman's Tears and Bar Sinister. He recently did an "incentive cover" for Action Comics featuring the LSH, and his return to Warlord is on the horizon. Grell sure lives up to his "Iron Mike" nickname!

Jim Starlin: One of my all-time favorite writer/artists, Jim Starlin has shown great staying power for over 35 years. From fanzines to Iron Man to Captain Marvel to Warlock, he defined "cosmic" comics for Marvel, treating us to the wildest science fantasy epics ever. He also managed to create a few enduring characters for the House of Ideas, as well. If you've never heard of Shang Chi (Master of Kung Fu), Thanos, Gamora, or Drax the Destroyer, I don't know why the heck you're reading this blog! (Unless it's to make up for a misspent lifetime--then that's cool.) After his Marvel stint, Starlin did some crazy/cosmic stuff for Warren's black and white line (Darklon the Mystic), and played around in DC's sandbox on titles like Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes (them again!), DC Comics Presents, and a few covers here and there. Starlin then helped Marvel get it's creator-owned material off the ground with Epic Illustrated (Metamorphosis Odyssey), the first Marvel Graphic Novel (Death of Captain Marvel), and the Epic Comics imprint (Dreadstar). Starlin moved Dreadstar to First Comics for a while, then spent most of the 80s and 90s writing things like Batman (including the infamous death of Robin storyline, "A Death in the Family"), Cosmic Odyssey, the Weird, Batman: the Cult, and various Thanos-centric "Infinity" mini-series' for Marvel. For Malibu's Bravura line, "Judo" Jim wrote and drew two mini-series featuring his 'Breed character. He still writes some and draws a little for Marvel and DC, his most recent work being the Hawkman Special. Starlin is still cosmic after all these years! (Hey, Jim! I just gave you the title to your biography!)

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