Monday, February 6, 2012

Groove's Faves: "Only the Computer Shows Me Any Respect!" by McGregor and Russell

Many are the reasons for Ol' Groove's love of the comics of the 1970s, not the least of which are the over-the-top, bombastic, experimental, thoughtful, lyrical, elegant, and compelling works of author Don McGregor. Fans of today see the profusion of wordage on one of Don's pages and shrink away in horror. To Ol' Groove, Don's like Stephen King: wordy, yes, but capable of such beautiful turns of phrase that they leave me wanting even more. I know Don's not crazy about us sharing his works online, but I hope he can forgive me if I just have to share once in a blue moon. His work on, especially, Black Panther in Jungle Action and Killraven/War of the Worlds in Amazing Adventures made such an impact on Young Groove--and they still impact me. I hate to see Don's masterpieces hidden in some dusty corner, forgotten. My hope is that someone who hasn't sampled Don's wares might be led to go out and buy the Masterworks and/or Essentials collections of his works.

It didn't hurt that Don found himself paired with some of the most brilliant and innovative artists of the Groovy Age. Rich Buckler and Billy Graham on Black Panther were mind-bogglingly magnificent. P. Craig Russell on Killraven/War of the Worlds reached a level of craft that has rarely been matched.

Just look at "Only the Computer Shows Me Any Respect!" from Amazing Adventures #32 (July 1975). The cover and splash let you know that you're in another world--a scary, despairing, yet somehow beautiful future. As McGregor plays mind-games with our cast, challenging Russell to respond with innovative layouts and experiments with prose and pictures, we're treated to a myriad of events that would take months--years, even--to experience in today's decompressed comicbook style. Killraven's trip through a psychic concert, Old Skull's butterflies and talking squirrels, Carmilla's facing death, M'Shulla's glorious battle, Hawk's back-story--complete with a kind-of guest appearance by Hodiah Twist (!), and the battle with the dragon, while short, all have depth and weight and give us satisfying glimpses into our heroes souls. To top it off, the last panel gives us a life-lesson that applies even more today! And all for a mere quarter...

















7 comments:

  1. Yep, it was always my favourite Killraven story - especially the Hound of the Baskervilles section.

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    1. Yeah, that story-with-a-story/sorta-guest appearance was truly far-out!

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  2. Groove, you and the rest are probably aware of them, but I just wanted to mention the other Don McGregor/Hodiah Twist stories that are worth checking out: the first, in Vampire Tales #2, with Rich Buckler art; and Marvel Preview #16, with gorgeous Gene Colan/ Tony DeZuniga art (although Mcgregor was slightly re-written by editor Richard Marschall, who took the writing credit too!). Great stuff!

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    1. Right on, Jeff! Truth to tell, long ago (and oh so far away) I actually gathered info to share that first McGregor/Buckler Twist tale, but for some reason never posted it. I'll have to dig that baby up. Thanks for the reminder, compadre!

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  3. The Killraven strip was my first taste of Mr Craig Russell's art, No.37 to be precise (from the old spinner racks!)and I wasted no time in tracking down all the others. I've always been a big fan of Don McGregor and still feel that his Jungle Action series ranks as one of the best all-time runs of any comic book company. I also have his Sabre graphic novel with art by Paul Gulacy which is well worth a mention!

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  4. I think every time you post something by McGregor and Russell I come on and comment about how much, like you, this comic series meant to me as a teenager...this isn't my favorite (that would be #'s 28, 29 & the magnificent #34) but it was top notch just the same, and Russell really pushed himself to do all the different scenarios. The Hodiah Twist interlude made an impression on me, too- it was the first time I'd seen the character, though I think I'd seen the name mentioned in a letter column, and I enjoyed the, if you'll excuse the expression, "twist" on Holmes Don gave us.

    Thanks for posting this!

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  5. Groove says: "My hope is that someone who hasn't sampled Don's wares might be led to go out and buy the Masterworks and/or Essentials collections of his works."
    Done and done: have the Black Panther Mastwerworks and the Essential Killraven. Although I'm still wondering why there are no color reprints of these Killraven stories, especially since Russell himself did the coloring in a few issues...

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Note to "The Man": All images are presumed copyright by the respective copyright holders and are presented here as fair use under applicable laws, man! If you hold the copyright to a work I've posted and would like me to remove it, just drop me an e-mail and it's gone, baby, gone.

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