Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Black and White Wednesday: "Bruce Lee" by Sands, Staton, DeZuniga, and the Tribe

Mike Nasser's (Michael Netzer's) awesome frontispiece.
It was 38 years ago today that the real master of kung fu, Bruce Lee died oh-so-mysteriously. His life,movies, philosophy, and fighting style became, not only the stuff of legend, but made the late actor a cult-hero--no, a full-fledged icon. Books, magazines, articles, and films too numerous to mention have been made about the life of the young man who made himself known to the world playing Kato on the short-lived but highly-influential Green Hornet TV show. Thanks to his movies (and yes, the tons of imitators), Lee had made the words "kung fu" not only household words, but a full-out craze. It was a rare instance, indeed, if Young Groove made the trek to the local newsstand without seeing some sort of Bruce Lee related magazine cover on the racks during the 1970s. But as far as Ol' Groove can tell, there was only one biographical comicbook based on the life and times of the founder of Jeet Kune Do during the Groovy Age, and that was in Marvel's Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #28 (August 1976).

It was only fitting that Marvel would create such a comic, since without Lee, DHoKF, one of Marvel's most successful b&w mags, would never have come into existence. They had done many articles about Lee, but never thought to create comicbook stories about him. That idea, according to John Warner, came from the fans. Outgoing editor Archie Goodwin got the ball rolling, planning the concept of doing a comicbook version of Bruce Lee's life, but it was under incoming editor Warner that the issue actually saw print. Marvel went outside their deep talent pool and tapped journalist Martin Sands to write the script, but the art fell to two well-known, but wildly different, artists: penciler Joe Staton and inker Tony DeZuniga (aided by The Tribe). Only during the Groovy Age did Marvel have the freedom and vision to produce a comic like..."Bruce Lee". Enjoy, Groove-ophiles!
Ken Barr's iconic cover.

Thank Gorn for the scans!


  1. A truly unusual match-up of penciler and inker that works better than I would have expected.

  2. I can't help but think of the Noel Sickles proposed daily newspaper strip starring Bruce Lee. I love all the Marvel B+W work, but Sickles would have nailed the likeness and his art is supreme.

  3. Very cool Groovy One!I loved Bruce Lee & still do, that man was truly super human. This issue & the next blew me away as a teen. I was heavily into martial arts like everyone else. I forgot who drew this issue. Boy it looks great! WOW!

    I'm sure this issue sold out. Everything with Bruce Lee & Chuck Norris on it back then did. Only the White Tiger series came close to being my favorite stories in the DHoKF! Speaking of the WT man were his stories dark & gritty!Love to see those one day also.

  4. Even all these years later, Bruce Lee's loss is still deeply felt. When I was a twelve year-old in '74 I used to sneak into his R-rated movies when they showed 'em on Hollywood Boulevard. Lee was -- still is -- like a real-life superhero. Broke my heart when he passed.

  5. Recently bought a stack of DHOKF at a con real cheap ( why are back issues of this mag always going for astronomical prices?! )It was a bit of a filler issue for me, as no White Tiger or Rudy Nebres on Iron Fist,but always good to see DeZuniga, even if the actual writing is nothing to write home about ( and he burys Staton's style )I wonder if this is a huge 'must have' for Lee fans?

  6. OH NO! I loved reading this, but the the thumbnails for pages 57 and 58 both link to page 58, so we miss the climax of the story! Please fix!

    The combination of Staton and DeZuniga is totally unexpected and fantastic! Staton really benefits from heavy inks like these, so it's odd that he didn't get them very often.

  7. Fixed it, Matt. Weird glitch on Blogger's end. Re-upped the page and it works fine, now.



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