Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Awesome Ink: Dave Cockrum

Hey, hey, hey, Groove-ophiles! The Dave Cockrum-inked John Buscema cover that ran in our Tarzan  #3 post yesterday reminded me about a great idea our pal James Sanders III about doing a post about Delightful Dave's incredible inking skills! (Plus, that gives Ol' Groove an excuse to dust off our Awesome Ink department!) Yeah, we mostly remember Mr. Cockrum as a penciler (on LSH and X-Men, natch), but he inked tons of stuff that you might not remember! Of course, Dave was his own best inker, and you're pretty much familiar with that, so let's focus on how his breathtaking brush-strokes made our faves look even more magnificent...and how he even elevated some of our most put-upon pencilers to a brand new level of excellence!

First, let's hit the high-points: Dave's steadiest home was Marvel. Except for X-Men, most of his work for Marvel was as an inker and a cover artist. Man, did those slick, modern inks shine on guys like Rich Buckler, Jim Starlin,  John Buscema, and Gil Kane! Check it out...

Some of Dave's earliest work was at DC, inking Bob Brown on back-ups like The Fabulous World of Krypton (from Superman #260) and Lilith (from Teen Titans #41). But at Marvel, Dave's Murphy Anderson influence morphed into an even slicker and more modern (I keep saying that, don't I? Dunno a better way of describing Cockrum's talent, I s'pose...), and yes, 'cause it was Marvel, more action-oriented and bombastic style...

Delightful Dave even brought out the very best of workhorses like Dick Dillin (at DC), George Tuska, and Don Heck...

Avengers #106

Avengers #107

And how about those little seen dream-teamings with guys like Sal Buscema,  Jack Kirby, Gene Colan, George Perez, and Val Mayerik...

Layouts by Alan Kupperberg

And how 'bout these covers with Dave's inks over Marie Severin, Al Milgrom, and Rick Hoberg?

Man, what a talent. Ol' Groove sure does miss his work. He left a truckload of magnificence behind for us to enjoy, though, didn't he?


  1. Groove,

    When you're right, you're right.

    James Chatterton

  2. Boy, does Dave Cockrum’s artwork get my juices flowing. As I’m fond of saying, he’s one of the best the industry ever produced. And such a nice man. I interacted with/fan boy worshipped him from 1986 – 1992 at the NYC cons while I lived there. He still had a deep love of comics. There wasn’t a hint of bitterness for having co-created Marvel’s best-selling characters in the X-Men with little financial benefit to him.
    I first encountered him in Superboy # 191, which I picked it up on the way home from high school. Bowled over by the beautiful artwork from someone I’d never heard of before, I became a lifelong fan. When he came over to Marvel I rejoiced at another coup for the House of Ideas.
    Soon his magnificent blacks were sprucing up pencils all over Marvel. Regarding Avengers # 106, Rich Buckler and George Tuska never looked so good! His collaboration with Jim Starlin in Captain Marvel # 26 makes me wish they had teamed up more often. Except for a little bridging in Avengers # 107 I don’t think they ever worked together again.
    Anyway, thanks for allowing a long-winded trip down memory lane with one of my favorite artists. It’s hard to believe he’s been gone for almost 10 years now. I have about 30 comics he autographed for me and an output that I’ll enjoy for years to come.

  3. Great, great post, Groove. In some cases it was a great stroll down memory lane. And I quite agree with you: Cockrum was - besides being a first-rate penciler - an absolutely extraordinary inker.

  4. Thanks for so much Cockrum to peruse! Like keythd23 above, I interacted with him at cons, hanging out at his table while he drew and talked. He was great to his fans, an easy person to interact with (and he and wife Paty would engage in fun repartee). I grew up outside Philly, so I saw him at cons in the NJ/Philly area in the late '70s. I always loved seeing his work; he helped make those teenage years of mine fun.

  5. Another awesome display by a master artist Groove! Yeah, Dave the Dude Cockrum sure was great. He's gone now but he left us a classic body of work! Thank you Mr. Cockrum!

    - Mike from Trinidad & Tobago.

  6. Wow! Thanks for educating me on inkers and the difference they make! If I had to do a double-blind taste test I would have guessed those first three pages were Neal Adams. Groove - you are really rocking out the columns lately! Thanks!

  7. I loved the lush full feel of Cockrum's early inks, and thought his lines thinned out or something later in his work. Even though the later stuff was more refined and technically skilful the early stuff looked so slick.

    1. I think he was using a brush in his earlier inking and a pen in his later. I think the brush work looked slicker: all shiny and futuristic.

  8. I stared, enraptured and enchanted, at the X-Men 97 cover for hours on end, no hyperbole...



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