Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Forgotten Batmen: Six Who Left Us Begging for More

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Ask most folks who the definitive Groovy Age Batman artist is and you'll probably get Neal Adams or Jim Aparo. Maybe Irv Novick or Marshall Rogers (my fave!) or Michael Golden, or Don Newton. You might even get Bob Brown or (it happens!) Frank Robbins. I dig all of those talented titans, personally, but there are six super-stars who lent their talents to a few Batman stories...too few...and I (and you too, maybe) would have loved to have seen more from 'em? Who dey? Follow me...

Howard Chaykin: DC kept him busy on Sword of Sorcery, their horror and war mags, but the creator of Dominic Fortune and American Flagg! on drew one Batman tale during the Groovy Age. It was during Archie Goodwin's legendary run as writer/editor of Detective Comics on a tale called "Judgement Day" in 'Tec #441 (March 1974). Chaykin's art at this time hearkened back to the Golden Age, but with a definite 70s vibe that made it extra cool in my eyes. (You can read the whole story here.)

Rich Buckler: Rich did tons of covers, back-ups for Robin, Rose and Thorn, Black Lightning, Hawkman, and so many more--but he only did two Batman stories during the Groovy Age. One was the extremely gorgeous "Batman's Greatest Failure!" (from Batman #265, April 1975) which you can read here) inked by Bernie Wrightson and written by Michael Fleisher. Buckler also drew "The Mad Hatter Goes Straight" inked by Vinnie Colletta over a story by David V. Reed (Batman #297, December 1977). Rich's Batman is big and strong, powerful-yet-athletic, with a lantern jaw that would do Bob Kane proud!

Michael Netzer: Like Buckler, Netzer (known during the Groovy Age as Mike Nasser) drew only two Batman stories, but man, were they memorable jobs! On "The Dead on Arrival Conspiracy" (DC Special Series #1, June 1977), Netzer, with inker Joe Rubinstein, gives us a sleek Batman combining the best elements of Neal Adams and Jim Aparo. Just over a year later with "Hang the Batman" (DC Special Series #15, Summer 1978), Netzer and Rubinstein's talents have matured and developed into a more stylized, hyper-realistic way that points toward guys like Bryan Hitch.

Jim Starlin: Another member of the "two-fer" club, our fave cosmic artist drew a few covers and a frontispiece for Batman Family, but only two Batman tales. Both were inked/finished by P. Craig Russell and appeared in Detective Comics numbers 481-482 (September-November 1978). Starlin's uber-muscular Kirby/Ditko fusion could get "grim and gritty" (as Judo Jim had proven on Master of Kung Fu), while Russell's almost delicate inks gave the whole thing an almost Victorian look that really suited Starlin's story. (Oh, yeah, you can read those mini-epics here and here.) Starlin would return to Batman in the 1980s...as a writer.

Mike Grell: Iron Mike Grell is best known for his stellar work on Legion of Super-Heroes, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and of course, Warlord. He did manage to squeeze in five Batman jobs; one self-inked (Detective Comics #455, October 1976, yep, read it here), two inked by Bob Wiacek (Batman 287-288, February-March 1977), and two inked by Vinnie Colletta (Batman #289-290, April-May 1977). Grell is another artist who is equally adept at both sci-fi and grit, so he was a great fit for the Darknight Detective. Lithe and graceful yet grim and powerful--yeah, Grell's Batman hinted a bit toward the even more stylized Batman of Marshall Rogers.

Walt Simonson: Okay, Wondrous Walt drew seven Groovy Age Batman tales, but that still wasn't enough for moi. Watching Simonson's style develop over those spread-out seven issues is worth a post in and of itself (help me remember to do that, fellow-babies)! Beginning with the Batman/Manhunter team-up in Detective #443 (July 1974, which you can read here), to 'Tec #450's "The Cape and Cowl Deathtrap" (May 1975, read it here)--which is my fave, with its short-eared, stocky, winged caped Gotham Goliath, to the beginning of the Steve Englehart era with the long-eared powerhouse inked by Al Milgrom in Detective Comics numbers 469-470 (February-March 1977), to Batman #300's (March 1978 read it here) Dick Giordano-finished Batman of the Future, to more Giordano-inked goodness on Batman numbers 312 and 321 (March and December 1979), Walt's Batman was always exciting and dynamic. Whaddya expect from a guy who's still wowing us with his amazing art to this very day?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Black and White Wednesday: 1973 FOOM Character Contest

What it is, Groove-ophiles! Jaunty Jim Steranko mentioned it in his editorial in FOOM Magazine #1, but it wasn't until getting the second ish that Young Groove realized that Marvel was really serious about their FOOM Character Contest. All'a those cool looking characters other FOOMers were coming up with spurred me into creating...Bird Boy! Thankfully, Marvel was merciful as well as mighty, and didn't run my illegible illo (complete with traced Neal Adams Robin head! Though they did include my name in the contestants list in FOOM #3...)

Bet you'd like to see all of those cool creations the elite of Marveldom Assembled concocted for FOOM numbers 2-4, wouldn't ya? As ever, Ol' Groove aims to please...







Winner Mike Barreiro had to wait a little longer than expected for his character Humus Sapiens to make his debut...28 years, in fact! Yep, though Humus Sapiens won the 1973 contest, he didn't appear in a Marvel comic until 2001...and even then, it wasn't in X-Men, but Thunderbolts, and as Humus Sapien, sans the "s" at the end of his monicker. Dunno much about the character, but his power must be super-patience...

Did'ja notice there is a character in there by the name of Wolverine? And check out the background depicting his origin. Makes ya go, "hmmm", huh?

And did you catch some of those contestants' names? Are they who we think they are? Steve Rude? Trevor von Eeden? Rich Larson? Grant Miehm? Mike Chen? Dough Hazlewood? Bill Morrison? Steve Saffel? And who did I miss? Any of you Groove-ophiles represented in those pages?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Odds N Ends: World's Finest Table of Contents Part 1

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Yet another new feature makes it's dazzling debut this dynamite day: Odds N Ends. Odds N Ends will feature those off the wall, hard to categorize things yers trooly thinks about when he should be doing other things. Like right now I need to be working on remodeling my merely magnificent man-cave, but here I yam yapping about the contents pages that graced the first era of World's Finest Comics' Dollar Comics Era (the 80 pages for a buck era, in other woids). Talk about your artistic extremes! When we flipped open the covers of World's Finest numbers 244-252 (January 1977-May 1978)! we saw Neal Adams (or at least his studio), Kurt Schaffenberger, George Tuska and Vinnie Colletta, and Steve Ditko all strutting their stuff, doing their doggonedest to make a table of contents page interesting. Did they succeed...?
Swan and Anderson on Superman/Batman, Netzer (Nasser)/Austin on Green Arrow/Black Canary, Gray Morrow on Vigilante, and Sherman and Wiacek on Wonder Woman

Monday, February 25, 2013

Marvel M-Ad-ness: Letters Page Teaser Ads

Hey, hey, hey, Groove-ophiles! Remember those little teaser ads Marvel occasionally ran at the bottom of their letters pages back in the early-to-mid 70s? I really dug the way they used the cover art as the background, placing the logo to the side with those hand-drawn "pages" fanning out from the "comic book". For some reason those ads really, really grabbed me! Here are a few of Ol' Groove's faves. What are some of yours?




Friday, February 22, 2013

Making a Splash: DC Comics 40 Years Ago this Month

Let's do the time-warp and head for the Sensational Seventies Spinner Rack to see what kinds of delights DC dished out waaaaaay back in February, 1973...









G.I. Combat #160





Lois Land #130

Our Army at War #256



Superboy #194



Tarzan #219






Witching Hour #30


 Some kind of variety goin' on there, huh, Groove-ophiles? And that's not counting the reprint and romance mags!

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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.

All other commentary and insanity copyright GroovyAge, Ltd.

As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!