Friday, November 5, 2010

A Groovy Guest Post by Rich "Swash" Buckler! Famous First Fridays: Rich Buckler's First Professional Work

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Today's Groovy Guest Post is extra-special. Seems that Rich (Deathlok, Demon Hunter) Buckler discovered our brave little blog and dug it--so much that he accepted Ol' Groove's invitation to write some guest-posts! Not only does Rich rap about his early career. Not only does he share insights about his first published work (a historical back-up in Flash Gordon, of all places!). But, this far-out trip down memory lane is the kick-off to a brand new semi-series here at DotGK! Is that cool or what? Chill out, now, and dig on the righteous reminiscences Rich is layin' on us. After that, I'll be back to give ya the lowdown on "Swash" Buckler Saturdays!

But first, take it away, Mr. Buckler!

So, early days in the comics as a young artist--where do I start? Actually, I started out as a comics fanzine artist, writer and publisher, so that's as good a place as any. At fifteen years old I had already discovered comics and had a sizable collection, but that wasn't enough for me. I started going to comics conventions, ended up actually as a co-chairman on one of them (Detroit Triple Fan Fair), and met with many local "super-fans" and comics convention guests who were already professionals.

My fanzine work and early involvement in comics fandom was a highly valued creative outlet for me and also a source of inspiration that fueled my burgeoning ambition to become a comic book artist. It's a wonder, with all my fan activities and amateur publishing in those years, that I managed to work a part-time job and finish high school!

Most people in their teens don't have much of an idea yet what they want to be and do for the rest of their lives. I was different. Once I saw the printed work of Jack Kirby, Curt Swan, Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta, Hal Foster, Will Eisner, Jim Steranko and Neal Adams--just to name a few luminaries that inspired me--I knew I wanted to be a professional comics artist. I never even dreamed then of actually meeting these giants (which I did years later, with the exception of Hal Foster)!

I illustrated (and sometimes wrote) amateur comics for my own fanzine publications. All very crude first efforts (hey, I was just a teenager!), but I was already dedicated to learning my craft. My research would take me back to the thirties, forties and fifties. With all the comics reserch my journalistic skills were being put to the test (being an investigative journalist was in the back of my mind as a possible "alternate career", should the artistic aspirations not come to fruition).

At first, articles were included which showcased some of the work of other professionals (real unabashed fanboy stuff), but eventually the comics created by me and other fans took over. I wrote about most of my favorite comics artists. To illustrate the articles, I would trace over the art of Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers, and others--then re-trace that with ball point pen on to ditto "carbon sheets" for printing (a painstaking and near futile process that I would not recommend!).

For the fanzines I would draw directly on those "ditto sheets", at first in pencil, and then "inking" with a ball point pen. That's how most of the fanzine artists did it. The "ditto" (blue ink) process was the cheapest and most economically feasible way to print at that time (and offset mimeograph printing was in it's infancy and most unaffordable). The ditto printing machine wasn't referred to as a "spirit duplicator" for nothing--it's chemical fumes were incredibly potent). It's absolutely amazing that anything came out printed as well as it did.

In those days I knew and followed the work of many fanzine artists, like John Fantucchio, Biljo White, Ron Foss, Mike Vosburg, Richard "Grass" Green, Wayne Howard, Tim Battersby, and Alan Weiss. I admired these guys too! I thought for certain that these guys would make it to the professional ranks before I did.

I subscribed to many comics fanzines, like Rocket's Blast/Comic Collector, Comics Reader, and all the stuff put out then by The Texas Trio. Then I began contributing art to RB/CC, Star-Studded Comics, Comic Reader, some of Jerry Bails' publications, etc. I couldn't help it, I was driven. I had comic book ink in my blood (or, mostly then, blue "ditto machine" ink), and by that time I was totally obsessed (no other way to describe it!).

What about girls? Well, yeah, like any teenage male I thought about girls almost constantly--but I didn't think like most teenage males, so dating and females would come later once I had reached my goal of becoming a professional! There was, of course, little chance of this happening for me while living in Detroit, and realizing this I began making trips to New York where all the big publishers were.

My first published work was a back up story about George Washington printed in Flash Gordon #10. I did that while I was still living in Detroit...

How far-out was that, baby? The ever-so-talented and generous Mr. Buckler is going to be a regular writer for the Diversions--starting tomorrow with the first installment of "Swash" Buckler Saturdays! What's that going to be about? Pretty much anything Rich wants to rap about! Much of it will be more trips down memory lane (complementing his "From the Desk of Rich Buckler" columns over at the terrific 20th Century Danny Boy--and possible fodder for Rich's upcoming autobiography), insights into the workings of the comicbook industry, thoughts and observations about some of our other fave comicbook creators and their creations, and much more.

Got ya all shook up, Groove-ophiles? Good! Be back here tomorrow for the dazzling debut of "Swash" Buckler Saturdays. You're gonna dig it!


  1. WOW! Very cool Groovster! So could to hear from one of the Marvel Bullpen himself! I can't wait to hear the history. I loved everything he did at Atlas/DC & Marvel of course. Especially his Man-Monster at Atlas. Plus of course his too short stints on FF, Astonishing Tales/Deathlok, Vampire Tales & of course MAN-GOD. Is it Saturday yet? Welcome aboard Rich!

  2. Rich Buckler is one of the all time greats. Deathlok was so far ahead of its time that Marvel still can't get the character right. Put him back in the dystopian universe he was born in and leave him out of mainstream Marvel! Can't wait to read the new column.

  3. Fantastic! I look forward to more.

    Thanks Rich and Groove!

  4. Am I seeing things, or is the Cosmic Crusader in that poster The Vision from the Avengers?

    /my favorite hero from my favorite super group!



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