Friday, September 4, 2009

Famous First Fridays: Howard Chaykin's Professional Debut

Howard Chaykin has always been one of the most awesome comicbook stylists around. (He don't suck at writing, either!) His style has morphed quite a bit over the decades, but it's always been a recognizable, sexy/hip blend of Alex Toth, Gil Kane, Neal Adams (he had assisted both Kane and Adams, by the by), Frank Frazetta (especially in the early days), and the great magazine illustrators of the 1930s. Except in his earliest work. Take for example his debut art job for DC. When Chaykin's pencils first appeared in Forbidden Tales of the Dark Mansion #7 (July 1972), they were inked by the extremely talented but awesomely overpowering brush of Tony DeZuniga. The slick, angular style we would come to know and love "Humble Howie" for was buried under DeZuniga's rough-yet-elegantly illustrative style. Not to say the Chaykin/DeZuniga combo wasn't pleasing to the eye--it was!--but it didn't give fans a real idea of where Chaykin's art was going to take us in near the future. See for yourself, Groove-ophile! Here's "Eye of the Beholder", written by Bob Kanigher.

Chaykin's second pro job (a mere month after Dark Mansion #7) for Marvel's Fear (starring Man-Thing) #10 was also inked by an awesome-yet-overpowering master of the pen and brush, Gray Morrow. Here are a few sample pages:

Now, wouldn't ya just love a shot of pure Chaykin? How's this for starters? From the back pages of DC's Tarzan #216 (October 1972), Howard both pencils and inks an episode of Beyond the Farthest Star (written by Marv Wolfman).

Need a wee bit more? Okey dokey! Here's Chaykin's first cover, Sword of Sorcery #1 (December 1972).

That's all ya get today, but before ya know it, Ol' Groove'll be tossing an SoS post your way. And Iron Wolf. And Tales of Atlantis. And Dominic Fortune. And Star Wars... And... Stay tuned!

Update: Kevin Knowlan has informed/reminded/etc. me that the cover to SoS #1 is the work of Mike Kaluta; some sources disagree with this assessment (GCD credits the art to Chaykin and the Crusty Bunkers, f'rinstance), but Kevin's a pro and I'm not, so I'm taking his word for it. I'm leaving it up for discussion's sake , but here's the cover for SoS #2 (February 1973) by Chaykin and Wrightson. This one's signed, so I'm pretty sure I'm getting it right this time. Not even Ol' Groove is perfect. I know, I know...


  1. If you tell me those first two are by Chaykin I can kinda see an extent. But otherwise it would not have occurred to me at all. Shows what a strong inker can do.

  2. Groove:

    The Tarzan back-up is quite lovely. Any chance P. Craig Russell might have done some uncredited inking on this piece? I swear I can see hints of his style all over this.

    (I don't own a copy of this issue. I think I might need to order it!)


  3. Nice post! I hadn't seen that first story before.

    But I'm afraid the Sword of Sorcery cover was drawn by Mike Kaluta, not Chaykin.

  4. Howard is an awesomely versatile talent, as well as the guy who gave me my start in the industry as his assistant (as Kane and Adams did for him). Great post!

  5. If you could only see how red my face is now. I knew that S&S cover was a Kaluta job...that's what I get for hurrying. Nice catch, Kevin! (I'll have to put the right cover up now...)

    Thanks to all of ya for reading and commenting, by the way! You guys are the most!

  6. Groovy Agent: Man, am I loving this blog. What great Chaykin! The final panel of Eye of the Beholder belongs in the Louvre. So much greatness, I am on overload! Thanks for showing the man at many phases of his career. -- Mykal



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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.

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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!