Tuesday, March 31, 2009

You've Come a Long Way, Baby: Barry (Windsor-) Smith on Ka-Zar

Who'da thunk it, Groove-ophiles? Back in 1968, Barry (Windsor) Smith was a struggling new artist, an obvious disciple of Jack Kirby. Interesting, quirky, but with a long way to go, as is quite evident by viewing his Ka-Zar cover (inked by Herb Trimpe) for Marvel Super-Heroes #19 (December 1968).

Fast forward to 1970/71. "Bashful Barry" was famously taking the world by storm on Conan the Barbarian, but he was also applying his mucho-improved penciling prowess--ironically, based on that cover--to the Lord of the Hidden Land in the pages of Astonishing Tales (issues 3-6, September 1970-March 1971). What a difference a couple of years made!

As they did in Conan, Marvel tried pairing a variety inkers with Smith's pencils over the course of this short Astonishing Tales run: Sam Grainger, Frank Giacoia, and Bill Everett. Barry's pencils were very strong on these issues, his style really asserting itself, so the merry-go-round of inkers didn't hurt the quality of the art at all, in Ol' Groove's opinion. In fact, Giacoia (AT #5) meshed with Smith much better than he did on their Conan team-up (Conan #5, February 1971), Grainger's inks (AT 3-4) were on par with Sal Buscema's Conan efforts, and Bill Everett--well, Golden Age great Bill Everett really "got" Barry's pencils. I, for one, would have loved to have seen some Smith/Everett art on Conan. Have a look at their pairing from AT #6 (story by Gerry Conway) and see if you don't agree...


Monday, March 30, 2009

Diggin' Ditko: "Quote: the Raven!"

What's happening, Groove-ophiles? Ol' Groove's only got time for a li'l quickie today, but I think you'll dig it! From Charlton's Haunted #28 (April 1976), here's a dungeon-dwelling Ditko diversion--"Quote: the Raven!"


Sunday, March 29, 2009

We Interrupt Your Sunday Funnies With the Following Meme...

Joe Bloke, my ever-lovin' pally over at Grantbridge Street & other misadventures and His Name Is... has memed Ol' Groove. Being the good sport that I am, and since it was my main man, Joe, that sent it, I'm gonna give this a shot. Once. This time only. After this, Ol' Groove is retiring from the meme biz. Once is fun, but I do have a secret identity to protect y'know....

The Rules
1) Link to the person who tagged you.
2) Post the rules on your blog.
3) Write six random things about yourself.
4) Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5) Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

And awaaay we gooo!

1. When I was around 4 years old, I was playing Batman with my dad (he was the Joker) in the living room. I got the bright idea that the only way to knock him down was to get a good running-go and take a flying leap at him. I started in the hallway at the far end of the house, ran all the way back into the living room, jumped--and completely missed him, hitting the side of my head on the coffee table and slicing my earlobe, leading to my first trip to the hospital and first stitches.

2. Teen Groove wanted to be a disc jockey. I had a stack of records, a turntable, and a Mr. Microphone and would do hour-long "shows" that the kids in my neighborhood could tune in to. I became an expert at "cueing" records by watching Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinatti.

3. I never ate corn until I was in my 30s. And discovered that I love it.

4. I ran the scoreboard at my kids' basketball games for about 4 years. I didn't cheat even one time.

5. I fractured my elbow from a fall I took while roller skating to Tony Orlando and Dawn's "Knock Three Times". The elbow healed quickly and I still love to listen to TOaD.

6. I sing baritone in a gospel trio. I've been doing that for nearly 25 years.

Whew. That was actually easier than I thought. And kinda fun, too. Thanks, Mighty Joe!

Okay, the following Groove-ophiles consider yourselves "tagged". If you don't wanna play, no sweat, but if ya do, have fun!

Pat at Silver Age Comics

Chris at Pop Culture in the Pumpkin Patch

~P~ at Sanctum Sanctorum Comix

Andy Kuhn at Kuhnart

Uranium Willy at the Uranium Cafe

Mike Middleton at Aparofan's World of Comics


Sunday Funnies: Go West, Young Plop!

More PLOP, Groove-o-pilgrims! First here's the saddle slappin' story of a cowboy wannabe by Steve Skeates and Nick Cardy from PLOP! #4 (December 1973/January 1974), "Now and Then!"

And from PLOP! #6 (April/May 1974), here's Lee Marrs' hilarious "The Showdown of Sonata!"


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Those Groovy Saturday Mornings: The Adventures of Gulliver

Any of you Groove-ophiles remember spending part of your Saturday mornings watching the adventures of Gary Gulliver and his dog Tagg on ABC between September 14, 1968 and September 5, 1970? How 'bout in re-runs as part of the Banana Splits and Friends? If you do, you're gonna dig this trip down memory lane. If you don't, well, you still might dig this cartoon-to-comicbook adaptation from Gold Key's Hi-Adventure Heroes #1 (February 1969).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Famous First Fridays: George Perez

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! It's about time we took a look at the first published work of the amazing Mr. George Perez, don'tcha think? Mr. Perez's art has been wowing us for three-and-a-half decades on titles like the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Justice League of America, New Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wonder Woman, Action Comics, Infinity Gauntlet, JLA/Avengers, Brave and the Bold, Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, and so much more. But like everyone else, George had to start somewhere--and that somewhere was with a two-page filler in the back of Astonishing Tales #25 (the premiere of Deathlok--remember?) in May of 1974. Here's another look at the "real origin" of Deathlok, written by Doug Moench with art by Perez and Mike Esposito for all'a you with short memories.

But Ol' Groove ain't gonna stop there! We wanna see George's first, full-length comic, don't we? Well, buried deep within the yellowing pages of Monsters Unleashed #8 (August 1974), we find the treasure we're looking for--the final Gullivar Jones, Warrior of Mars* story! Titled "A Martian Genesis", this story wrapped up the Gullivar Jones saga that had begun in Creatures on the Loose #16 (December 1971).

Not bad for a start, huh? From there, George would do more black and white work most notably on Sons of the Tiger--where he helped co-create White Tiger-- in Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. He'd soon start his first series, Man-Wolf in (surprise!) Creatures on the Loose, beginning with ish #33 (October 1974). From there it was on to the Avengers and super-stardom. Of course, Perez would continue to grow and improve, his art would become more intricate and stylized, his storytelling skills would become among the best in comicbook history. We love ya, George! Especially those of us who knew ya "when"!

[*More on Gully in the future. Meantime, check this out!]


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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

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!