Saturday, March 12, 2011

Making a Splash: "Our Pal" Sal Buscema's Captain America--Round Three

Here it is, Groove-ophiles! Continuing what is probably the most famous and celebrated era of the Groovy Age Captain America (for the first two rounds, click here and here), represented by the stupendous splash pages supplied by Sal Buscema! We start off with the amazing Secret Empire saga (which guest-starred a then mag-less X-Men!), truck on through to the "Falcon Fights Alone" arc (complete with "Who Wants to Be Captain America?"), break it down with the intro of Nomad, and wind it up with Sal's fill-in work (during the time he was replaced, believe it or not, by Frank Robbins).

Ol' Groove really digs the "secret identity" author Steve Englehart dreamed up for Hawkeye. Golden Archer is a hilarious play on both DC's Green Arrow and McDonald's trademark Golden Arches. Genius!

Soon after, Jack Kirby would return to his co-creation--but that's not all for Our Pal Sal! No way, baby! Sal will return for yet another classic Cap run before the Groovy Age draws to a close. Stay tuned!


  1. Sal Buscema is one of the best sequential artists the comic book medium has ever seen. His compositions and panel to panel transitions are a textbook in good storytelling. His drawing skills are underrated, perhaps because of his older brother's talent, but Sal is a very good artist too. Thanks for putting your spotlight on the great work Sal Buscema did.

  2. I've been loving this series. Sal Buscema is arguably the Marvel artist of the Bronze Age. Soon enough his brother would wander off into Cimmeria doing fantastic work, leaving his sibling to become a mainstay in the superhero world.

    Sal gets overlooked all too often by critics, dismissed as a hack. All the artists who seem to be able to hit deadlines with precision get the hack label alas.

    Sal is a storyteller, and these crisp clean pages are remarkable indications of him at his more dynamic.

    Rip Off

  3. AWESOME! My favorite all time Cap story lines are. The 50's Cap saga & the Nomad issues. Even though I was really bumbed for a few issues with no Capt.A, until we finally atleast got Nomad, the man without a country. Boy Sal really did some fantastic splashes & pin ups didn't he?

    He really made the Falcon & Red Wing rock as well.

  4. I agree way too many fans criticize Sal's work. They fail to remember the massive body of working he was pumping out. Like his brother John both were doing multiple books every month!

    I think they expected him to be a John Buscema clone. Instead of apprecating him for his own beautiful & unique style all his own. Keep e'm coming Groovster! Sal Buscema is one of the greats!Nuff Said!

  5. Sal will always be 'THE' Cap artist for me. He also did great work on the Defenders and several other lines in the Bronze era (loved his rendering of YellowJacket during his brief Defenders stint..!!).

    Vinnie and Frank seemed to be the best inkers for Sal, and Sal had some bad inkers (couldn't quite get the hang of Sal on Spiderman).

    No one could draw 'strength and honor' like Sal.. Steve's writing on Sam's progression was wonky at first (always seeming to fall back on the 'streets-power, baby' situations..), but it improved and went somewhere under Steve's hand, tenderly and with care (until that silly Red Skull story arc about being the Falc being his creation...).

    Sal and Steve always made me sit on the edge of my seat in anticipation of the next issue, even long before the 'Secret Empire' story.

    The team of Cap, Falc and Redwing never had better friends in Marveldom than Sal and Steve Englehart, and for that they'll always have my humble thanks. Their tenure on Cap was the fabric of my childhood.

  6. As much as I love Sal, he's my 'gold-standard' image for Cap & Falc.

    But it's down to particular artists for certain books..: I couldn't take Sal's work on Spiderman, which was about as bland as John Romita (best artist for Spidey, along with Ross Andru) on Cap&Falc..

    Nothing 'wrong' with the artists per se.., just didn't click for me on those books.

  7. A little historical fact about some of those splash pages, specifically the ones that were mid-story...

    Marvel had to cut the expenses of the company about that time, so it was mandated that each book would contain either 1 or 2 (I forget which) full page panel... this was either in lieu of a page rate increase for the artist, or because of page rate decreases for them. At any rate, instead of drawing, let's say, 22 pages, they were drawing only 20 pages and 2 panels (and if you'll notice, they are not big splash pages like Kirby would have done, with lots of detail... they are pretty much just your average panel enlarged to fit the page). So, the theory was that the price-per-panel remained about the same, and the reader got shafted. The practice didn't last long.

  8. Hey Groove!!! I'm the nut in Italy who can't stop comin' back to see what you're gonna post next! Love this site! I'm another Bronze Age baby who owned many of these actual mags when I was a kid in Gary Indiana!
    I'm starting a video series on YouTube about Super hero movies an such. I'm finally writing to ask you for a favor- one groovy-age kid to another... I'm discussing Cap's missing wings in the films by Marvel. I remember I had a mag back in the day where cap had a throwback issue with he & Bucky starring in a serial about their exploits. Drawn by the other great Bescuma- Sal, and was the first time in print I remember seeing Cap without his wings. The film makers in the story said the wings and pirate boots wouldn't make sense on film. Do you remember the issue I mean? If so and if you have it, would you mind scanning it for me so I can include it in my discussion? For the record I hated them clipping his wings in the film. Still I love them and often muse on how excited we'd have been to know that one day superhero films would rule the box office! Thanxs, & keep up the good work and God bless
    Gary7 Media Terrorist



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