Friday, July 17, 2009

Famous First Fridays:"Cyrano's Army"--Walt Simonson's First Published Story

In August 1972, a young artist named Walter Simonson made the trek to DC Comics' New York offices. The whole visit had been a bit of a bummer until he sat down at a table in the coffee room and began chatting with some of DC's "new guys"--Howard Chaykin, Michael Kaluta, and Alan Weiss. While they shot the breeze, Kaluta took Simonson's portfolio to production man Jack Adler, who took the portfolio to publisher Carmine Infantino. "After a few minutes, Jack comes racing back into the room and he says, 'Carminewantstoseeyouletsgo"--that's how it came out."* Simonson walked out of the DC offices that day with three back-up scripts, the first of which was for editor Joe Orlando's Weird War Tales#10 (October 1972). Simonson drew the story we're about to read on the ping-pong table at the house he was sitting. There seems to be a theme that runs through these Famous Firsts in regards to the beginnings of the really great artists of the Groovy Age; through humble beginnings are super-stars born (though Walt never seems to consider himself a super-star, Ol' Groove--and a lot of you, I'd bet-- certainly do). Here's that first strip, in all its four color glory, written by one of the all-time-best, Len Wein. Preeesenting "Cyrano's Army"!


What the hey--while we're at it, how 'bout a gander at Walt's first cover art?


Before long, Simonson hooked up with Detective Comics editor Archie Goodwin to create Manhunter, which led to a career that allowed Walt to draw (and usually write) nearly every major superhero, from Batman to the Hulk to Thor to the Fantastic Four to the X-Men to Orion of the New Gods; sci-fi comics including Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Alien, Battlestar Galactica, and Robocop/Terminator; not to mention the fantasy worlds of Michael Moorcock and so much more. That humble visit nearly 37 years ago turned into a life-long career that's produced tons of magnificent mags that have given fun and enjoyment to millions. See, Walt--you are a super-star!

*Modern Masters Volume 8, p. 12. July 2006. TwoMorrows.

4 comments:

  1. Never saw this before - loved it. Thanks for posting! And yes, Simonson rules...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Heck, yes! I hadn't seen this one either. Love it.

    (I'm going on vacation in a couple weeks, but I set up some posts in advance: there's a Simonson page from Sword & Sorcery, an old DC book with Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser!)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey Groovy One!
    I especially loved his work.On the first two issues of the Rampaging Hulk magazine in 1977. That was a great magazine. Even though with issue#10. They put his stories in the then prsent day & tied it in alot with the tv series. It still was a great mag. I just wish Walter had stayed on it for a few years & Marvel had kept his stories in the early days or atleast in the Marvel Universe. Then the Hulk tv series universe.

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  4. Walt Simonson is absolutely a MASTER comics artist, and a fine designer to boot. Only when Chaykin did AMERICAN FLAGG did I think that Howie surpassed Walt in terms of design. Both have done great work, but Walt seems to have hung in there longer and more consistently (Chaykin has taken excursions in to TV production which have caused long absences from comics).

    Regards,

    Chris A.

    ReplyDelete

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