Monday, August 6, 2018

Marvel-ous Monday Groovy Guest Post: Mike Mikulovsky on "Vengeance Is the Copperhead!" by Wolfman, Brown, and Janson

Mighty Mike Mikulovsly is back, this time with his reminiscences of Daredevil #125's "Vengeance Is the Copperhead," part two of DD vs Copperhead. You can read part one right here, if you missed it last month...

When I spotted DD #125 (June 1975) on my local news vendor's stand, I wasn't disappointed. With yet another great cover by Gil Kane, inked again by Klaus Janson, we see Copperhead's copper armor. Shades of a certain Golden Avenger! My only disappointment was the interior art wasn't by the then usual stunning Gene "The Dean" Colan, but by new DD artist Bob Brown, who did a decent job. It helped a lot that the interiors were also inked by the impressive Klaus Janson.  Once again it was great seeing Copperhead in his trench coat & 1940's style fedora hat, which gave the stories that film noir look and feel to them. This time he even had a cool looking car. I always thought it was supposed to be a 1960 Ford Thunderbird.  It gave him a Green Hornet feel to me. This issue we learn more about the Copperhead's secret identity. We see him blow a door away with a Green Hornet type of sonic sting weapon, too. He used his poison dart/ knockout  gas gun once again, as well.




















In September of 1998, I went to a show at the Thunderbird Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota. To my huge surprise Gene Colan was there! They hadn't even put his name on their guest list on the flier I got in my mailbox down in Wisconsin. Gene was doing sketches, so of course I asked him if he could do one of Copperhead for me. I didn't have copies of these issues with me, but he actually remembered the character and drew it from memory! I mean this was 23 years later! This amazed me because he only drew like 6 full pages with Copperhead in DD #124. About a hour later, he invited me to sit with him. I ended up sitting with him for almost four hours. I like to talk a lot, but he made me look like an amateur. He did like 90% of the talking! It was a very memorable day in my life. He was impressed that I knew about so much of his work. He agreed with me, too, that Copperhead should have been an anti-hero of The Shadow/ Green Hornet type for Marvel. 

It sounded like he suggested this to his editors, but they didn't care, I guess. I'm not sure, but maybe that's why he left DD, to do Tomb of Dracula later? We'll enough of my rambling. I hope you enjoyed these issues of DD as much as I did as a 13 year old. And I hope you enjoy them just as much I still do, today. Here's the sketch Gene did for me at that show. I really regret not having him do many commissions for me. Oh, well, at least I met him in person once. We became good friends that day, and for the next few years he'd call me by phone every month or two.  We'd also frequently exchange e-mails. Gene was a true gentleman, and he cherished his fans. I miss the man and, of course, his art. 

10 comments:

  1. Great post, Mike! I have a lot of fond memories of those Daredevil issues from that time period, and Bob Brown did some really memorable stuff around that time: Batman, Avengers (especially the Avengers/Defenders clash and the Zodiac stuff), and particularly Daredevil. I know what you mean about meeting some of these incredible artists. While I never had the pleasure of meeting Gene Colan, I have met and talked to several of these legends-Dan Spiegle (a true gentleman and a very nice person), Paul Gulacy (a hour-long conversation, with dueling impersonations-he did a terrific Charles Bronson), Kelley Jones (a really nice guy with interesting opinions about both the industry and politics), and Russ Heath (he gave me a Lone Ranger comic that was just terrific after I gave him several minutes of pure fan-boy worship. Just a giant in the industry, but you would never know it. The guy I really connected with was Herb Trimpe. When I met him in the early 2000's he had transitioned to a new career-high school art teacher. He had gotten fed up with the jobs drying out and needed health insurance and retirement benefits. We maintained contact over the years (I'm also a teacher, so we would talk shop, mostly). Always great when your heroes don't disappoint you. Thanks for the post, and I hope to see more eventually.
    Best,
    John

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    Replies
    1. Another teacher! I wonder how many teachers we have here in Groove City? It's so cool that so many of us are teachers--when I was in school, I had many teachers that hated comics, many that were indifferent to them, but never met one into comics. Now, WE'RE the teachers! Another victory for our side!

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    2. Not only that, but I have bound collections of classic comics in my classroom that I allow students to check out and take home. Ditko's Spider-Man reprints (the Marvel Tales ones from the 80's are particular favorites). Just trying to keep the flame burning!

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    3. I met a Gene Colan a couple of times. New York and Minnesota, if I remember correctly. I think he was a little ticked the second time as I brought all his Doctor Stranges from his first run (Issues # 172-183). But he signed everyone for free. His sweet wife Adrienne was always with him. I dutifully pulled all my Herb Trimpes to sign but he was a no show. That was my one chance since he is no longer here. I've met Paul Gulacy many times as he is one of the many creators who has made his home in Portland OR. He also is usually with his beautiful wife or daughter and just a down to earth guy, reflecting his Ohio Midwestern roots. I have his entire brilliant Master of Kung Fu run signed. Russ Heath I regrettably missed due to the job I had at the time where I worked 12 hour night shifts and didn't get off till 6:30 in the morning. Same reason I missed Rich Buckler, Carmine Infantino and Nick Cardy. I should have pushed my self harder as I was only in my 30s and the last 3 are no longer with us.

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  2. Copperhead was a great character! Should have had his own book! But, like many cool and interesting characters, Marvel bumps him off while recycling other boring characters!

    Mike

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  3. I used to go to the shows at the Thunderbird Motel in Minnesota, too. Always got great deals in rebuilding my silver/bronze age collection. One show I met Dave Sim, who graciously drew art for everyone seeking his autograph.

    As to the Daredevil at hand. I was never a fan of Bob Brown. He was too DC for me and a lesser catch for Marvel than Cockrum, Wolfman, Wein, Kane to name a few. But under Janson's transforming inks he was beyond tolerable, almost desirable. And Wolfman was obviously having fun with the character. He did a better job with DD than those before or after himself such as Isabella and Gerber. I loved the Copperhead character, a sendoff to the pulps that came before my time. As a testament to Janson there was a seamlessness between the Colan part 1 and the Brown part 2.

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  4. That Kane cover really looks like it was inked by Tom Palmer. Why do you credit it to Janson?

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    1. According to the GCD, it's inked by Janson. Their styles are pretty close (at least early Janson), but I'm pretty sure it's Janson.

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    2. Early Janson looked like the Adams/Giordano Continuity Studios
      he came from. And no that cover did not look at all like it was inked by Tom Palmer.

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