Friday, June 19, 2009

Famous First Fridays: Jim Starlin's First Pro Comicbook Story

Jim Starlin epitomizes the Groovy Age for me, man! His mind-blowing, far-out, psychedelic style of both writing and drawing...His boundless, cosmic imagination, his martial-arts laden battle scenes, his mastery of color... Starlin's the real thing, baby! Like so many other Groovy Age super-stars, Jim started out in mimeographed fanzines like Star-Studded Comics, Fantastic Exploits, and Dr. Weird (reprinted in 1994 by Caliber/Big Bang), then self-published his own fan mag, The Eagle in early 1971. By late 1972, he was doing cover art for Marvel Comics' British reprint weekly, The Mighty World of Marvel. Plant your peepers on a few of these diamonds in the rough, Groove-ophiles!

I suppose he proved himself pretty well with that gig, 'cause his career just snowballed after that. Starting with this li'l beauty, "Judo" Jim's first professionally published story in Journey Into Mystery #1 (July 1972). Written by another all-time fave Steve (when're-ya-gonna-do-a-guest-blog-for-me-pal?) Skeates and inked by none other than Marvel's Master of the Macabre, Mike Ploog. With co-creators like that, Jim was set for super-stardom! Steve originally wanted to call this story "Joint Dream" but editor Roy Thomas nixed that title and changed it to "You Show Me Your Dream--I'll Show You Mine" because the Comics Code would, y'know, rather have story titles with sexual references than titles with drug references. (Nobody's perfect, Roy--we still love ya!) Here 'tis!

Next came Jim's first cover for Marvel's U.S. comics, Amazing Adventures #15 (August 1972), which was followed by a smattering of covers for Marvel's reprint books. Next came a taste of things to come as Jim drew three pages of Iron Man #53 (September 1972) and several pages of Avengers #107 (October 1972). Jim then drew the Man-Thing story in Fear #12 and his first full-length strip, Iron Man #55--notable for the introduction of Thanos--both mags appearing in November, 1972. Another horror-short in Journey Into Mystery #3 (also November 1972), another smattering of covers, a couple filler pages on the Beast strip in Amazing Adventures #17 (December 1973)...Jim was really truckin', baby! December was kind of a high/low month for Starlin. His waaaaaay-out collaboration with Steve Gerber on Iron Man #56 got both he and Steve G. fired from the mag by Stan, himself. But, the ever-talented Mr. Starlin also made his debut on Captain Marvel (#25), from where he would make his everlasting mark on comicbook history.

Don'tcha just love happy endings?


  1. The first time I ever saw Jim Starlin's work was in Iron Man #55. I was a regular Iron Man buyer and loved George Tuska, but Starlin's work knocked me out. There was something about it.....very unique....that really worked for me. There was a lot of energy there! "Cosmic energy", as it turned out!

    Unfortunately, I missed all of his Captain Marvel and Warlock stuff when it came out (I caught up with it later in back issue bins). Didn't have the money to collect everything back then, though I sure wanted to!

  2. Jim Starlin's covers for the British comics are more attractive than many of the concurrent American Marvel Comics which were often too cluttered. BTW, Joe Sinnott inked the covers, and that never hurts!

    Nick C.

  3. I seem to recall seeing his name in the credits of the Amazing Spider-Man, around #113, along with Tony Mortellaro. TM was presumably doing the backgrounds (kept sneaking his name onto billboards), no idea what Jim's role was.

    Did those British reprint weeklies get any kind of distribution in the US? If not, how did you find out about them?

    B Smith

  4. Man, what a godsend to have Starlin's first story for Marvel in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY 1 (Oct 1972) inked by Michael Ploog. Starlin must have been immensely pleased.

    There's one other story Starlin did the same month for DC, in HOUSE OF MYSTERY 207, also Oct 1972, a 2-page story titled "The Spell". Accompanied by a fantastic cover and splash page by Wrightson, an outstanding 10-page story by little-known but very talented William Payne, and an excellent 9-page demon-boy story by Sheldon Mayer and Jack Sparling. A great issue from start to finish, the Starlin 2-pager is just the icing on the cake.

    With Starlin's CAPTAIN MARVEL and WARLOCK runs that soon after followed, as well as his more brief runs on MASTER OF KUNG FU and SAVAGE TALES, Starlin I think better than anyone evolved the work that Lee, Kirby and Ditko founded. Even more so with his later "Metamorphosis Odyssey" in EPIC magazine 1-9, THE PRICE, and DREADSTAR graphic novels. And good as the first 5 issues were of the DREADSTAR comic series, I think it eventually suffered from its own longevity and success, and lacked the closure of the painted-art stories, and his earlier CAPTAIN MARVEL and WARLOCK runs.



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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

Note to "The Man": All images are presumed copyright by the respective copyright holders and are presented here as fair use under applicable laws, man! If you hold the copyright to a work I've posted and would like me to remove it, just drop me an e-mail and it's gone, baby, gone.

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As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!