Friday, March 5, 2010

Famous First Fridays: John Romita Jr.'s Marvel-ous Debut

What's happening, Groove-ophiles! For this Famous First Friday we're taking a look at John Romita Jr. (aka JRJR), who made his debut during the Groovy Age, quickly reached super-star status, and has held on to said status to this very day. Ol' Groove thinks JRJR is comicdoms' answer to Aerosmith--'cause JRJR and the Bad Boys from Boston still know how to rock, baby!

Besides, if there were ever a person born to draw Marvel comics it is JR. His pappy, John Romita Sr., was pretty much Mr. Marvel (art-wise) after Jack "King" Kirby left (and after whipping fandom into a frenzy on Spider-Man during the Silver Age), becoming Marvel's art director, and having his stylings plastered on everything from plastic rain coats to lunch boxes to yo-yos. JRSR didn't really want JRJR to follow in his graphite and India ink-stained footsteps, but fate--and natural born talent--won out. JRJR toiled away as one of Romita's Raiders doing art corrections, cover/splash layouts for Marvel's British comics line, and other jobs various and sundry. Then came the fateful day JRJR was tapped to draw a short Spidey back-up (Marvel, circa 1976/77 started creating short back-ups to help battle the Dreaded Deadline Doom) that found its way into the back of Amazing Spider-Man Annual #11 (1977). Written by Sparkling Scott Edelman (hi, Scott! Got any goodies on this tale?) and inked by Amiable Al Milgrom "Chaos at the Coffee Bean!" looked something like this...

Soon after, JRJR was handed the artistic reins on Iron Man--and it was off into the stratosphere. It didn't hurt that Young Mr. Romita was teamed with writer David Michelinie and inker Bob Layton. Didn't hurt, either, that they hit the ground running with the famous "Demon in a Bottle" storyline. Next came the uber-popular Contest of Champions mini-series--another hit. After that, the inevitable happened--JRJR took over drawing Amazing Spider-Man, and he was out of the stratosphere and shooting towards the stars, baby! JRJR seems to have made his mark on most every Marvel title, making them cooler by his very presence: Daredevil, X-Men, Punisher, Thor, Hulk, Wolverine, Black Panther, Sentry, Eternals--and soon, the Avengers. Ol' Groove might be persuaded to pick that formerly favorite title up again! Thanks a lot, JRJR!


  1. I wrote a little bit about that on John's birthday last year:

    But to make a long story short—being John Romita Sr.'s son hurt not helped his ability to get work!

  2. I thought CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS flopped. Wasn't that the one that was supposed to tie in with the Russian Olympics but the US pulled out so no tie-in, no publicity, it was just dumped on the market months later after a quick rewrite and then no sales?

    Or am I thinking of something else?

  3. I absolutely LOVED his run on Iron Man. And his art was the only reason I read X-Men in the 80s. His style was so clean and simple while still getting the point across. He was the Patrick Nagel of comics, I swear.



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