Sunday, November 8, 2009

Groovy Guest-Post: MAN-GOD: The Story That Was Almost Never Published!!

Dig it, Groove-ophiles! Here's a groovy Guest-Post by Mighty
Michael Mikulovsky, comicbook fan and original art collector. He's got some Man-God memories to share with ya! Take it away, Mike!

Hey Groovy Ones!

Growing up in the 70s I always loved Marvel's great B & W mags. Around 1976 however the B & W magazine marketplace was kind of slim pickings. By this time all their awesome monster mags, Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, Planet of the Apes, etc. were pretty much canceled. (All way too soon in my opinion.) Well, one of the last of these mags, besides the Savage Sword of Conan, was Marvel Preview, which had different features every issue. In the winter of 77 we had the long delayed Man-God. I originally thought it was going to be a Kirby type story. Something on the take of the Eternals. Boy, was I wrong.

I had forgotten about it, because of the many delays before it was published for various reasons. One reason being that Rich Buckler was assigned to draw it, but he had to stop after only drawing the first 3 pages, due to either too many other assignments or the flu. He's credited as the artist, but the layouts on pages 4-51 are by John Buscema. The figure of Hugo Danner on the last page was done by Dan Adkins or Marie Severin. Tony DeZuniga actually finished the pencils over Buscema's layouts, though he was credited only as the inker. To top it off it was then lost in the mail for about 2-3 weeks, but the US postal service recovered it! So it was a small miracle it actually got published.

When I first saw the cover it really caught my eye. It was by one of my favorite magazine cover painters of the time, Earl Norem. It featured a very Samson like character, and reminded me of Victor Mature (who, ironically, played Samson in the movie version). It shows Hugo Danner in tattered clothes holding up two buildings in wha t looked to me like in the middle of the great San Francisco earth quake of 1912. The story of Man-God appeared in Marvel Preview magazine#9. It was adapted by the great Roy Thomas from the 1930 book Gladiator. It tells the tale of a Hugo Danner--a superman predating the Man of Steel by 8 years! (3 years if you count when Jerry Seigel & Joe Shuster created Superman.) Was it an influence on Superman? I say YES! But the origin of his super power is scientific, more like that of Captain America/ Steve Rogers.

A scientist/college professor in Indian Creek, Colorado, creates a formula based off the strength of insects. Injecting the family kitten named ironically, Samson, the cat gains super strength, then proceeds to go on rampage across the country side. To fill his great appetite, Samson starts killing cattle before being shot by farmers. The bullets bounce off Samson. Afraid he'll be found out, the prof poisons Samson. A short time later the prof finds out his very religious wife is pregnant. Well, of course you know the rest. He can't but help wonder, "What if my child could have these great powers? The great deeds he could perform to help & benefit mankind." After their son Hugo is born, his wife soon realizes her husband had injected her unborn child with his formula. She considered unholy, especially after seeing how Samson turned out.

Hugo's origin is pretty much Clark Kent's/ Superman's except he has a huge appetite. The story starts around 1885/1899 & goes through to the mid- late 30's. This adaptation by Roy only covers the first half to 2/3's of the novel. It jumps around a bit in a few flashbacks covering his various adventures from his boyhood, college days, boxer, sideshow strongman, pearl diver, & as a soldier in the French Foreign Legion in WWI. This issue's adaptation ends with the end of WWI. Sadly part II was never done. At least not yet! Hopefully, it will be one day!

I've been lucky enough to collect 18 pages from this story so far (that's them, scattered throughout this post). I'm still looking for the remaining 32 pages by Tony DeZuniga. I hope someone out there might own some or know someone who owns any of these pages--or even just seen some at a website or at a comic con. I'd greatly appreciate any help in acquiring any more of these pages. Even if you do own some pages & are not interested in selling them, I'd still like to hear from you very much. Feel free to pass on my name & e-mail address. Thank you, Michael Mikulovsky.

Today is artist Tony DeZuniga's 68th birthday! Happy Birthday Tony! Thanks for all your years of beautiful artwork! All our best to you & your family. Here's to many more! Tony's latest masterpiece is a new 130 page Jonah Hex graphic novel.


  1. GA: Absolutely stunning black and white stuff and also - what a cover! Wow. This guy kind of reminds of Doc Savage a little. What a find! I am so jealous of those pages! Some comic book artists really shine in black and white, and it seems Tony DeZuniga might be one of them. It’s hard to imagine color not stepping on that pen and brush work a little.

    Did I mention what a beauty that cover is? Every time I look at it, it gets a little better. -- Mykal

  2. Here's a suggestion, Groove: maybe you could post sometime Alex Nino's art from "Man-Gods from Beyond the Stars," from Marvel Preview 1.

  3. Very cool. Wish you could have printed the whole story, though...

  4. Hi Mykal
    I'm very happy you enjoyed my 1st post/article for this great website. I was very lucky to have just stumbled upon a seller on eBay. I wasn't even looking for these pages. I was just bored to tears & decided to check out this guy's store.

    The first thing that poped up were 4 of these pages. I actually had panned passed them. Because, his scans were so tiny. Rich Buckler's name caught my eye. So I panned back immediately & the rest is history. Turned out he had a total of 12! six I picked up immediately, I had to work on him for about a year to pick up his origin pages.

    Then I found a few more, two were even in Turkey!If only these pages could talk & tell me of their various owners! Begining with being lost before, being published even! I just missed out on buying that beautiful Earl Norem cover also! GGGrrrr! A auction house dropped the ball. Not sending me a notice of it being up for sale!

    After, I was on their customer want list for it. A buddy told me about it, but delayed 3 hours too late to tell me he saw it. Other wise it would be matted, framed & hanging on my wall right now. Oh we'll I hope it resurfaces some day. I agree Earl Norem was a great cover artist!

  5. Hey Joplin
    I'm happy you enjoyed my post. I aked the Groovy one about possibly posting the whole story soon. Or atleast in two parts. It's 51 pages long!

  6. Mike: didn't realize it was a guest post! I'm glad you replied. You have some great stuff there, my friend. All your hard (amazingly hard) work in getting this stuff paid off! I too would like to see the whole story. -- Mykal

  7. Hi Mykal
    Sorry I didn't catch your reply sooner. I was going to reply on Sunday, but had problems for some reason here. I sent Groovy one a e-mail about possibly posting the complete story.

    I used to work at a nice chain of comic stores. It's weird how things come in waves. I mean in finding art. It'll be dry for a long period. Then WHAM, everyone is selling or buying a certain book, toy etc. We had tons of Mad & Heavy Metal no one even looked at. Then once a year the same 2-3 people would pop in & clean us out. Very strange, but that's life.

    If I can raise the $$, Both Roy & Tony have agreeded to finish Man-God for me. Let's hope for a small miracle! Beside's raising the green. That both Roy & Tony stay healthy & will be with us for awhile longer yet. Tony just turned 68 Sunday & Roy turns 69 on Nov 22nd! I guess I forget I'm now 48! Where did my life go? So I forget how old the remaing Marvel Bullpenners are now. We just lost George Tuska, ironically on Joe Sinnott's 83rd birthday. I talk with Joe almost every day! He's going strong & still pretty sharp as well.

    My plan on Man-God is since it's Public Domain. But Marvel legally owns the copyright on publishing this art. To get them to publish it complete through Dark Horse comics as a GN in color. Like they've done with the Chronicles of Conan. I think TNT could make a excellent mini-series with this story as well. Mike

  8. Both Man-God and Man Gods from Beyond the Stars will appear on DotGK in the not too distant future!

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  10. Hey Groovy one!
    I can't wait to see the whole Man-God story posted. I'm really looking forward to doing my articles on Marvel Preview#10 on Hercules. As well as on Monsters Unleashed#10 on the Wendigo! Have a great Day! Mike

  11. I'm sure most of you already know this, but for those who don't, the full story of Hugo Danner was adapted by Howard Chaykin and Russ Heath if a four-issue prestige series called "Legend", by WildStorm about 7 years ago, or so. The pages by DeZuniga were awesome, but so was the finished stuff by Heath. Worth checking out, IMO.

  12. Hi
    I was aware of the Howard Chaykin/Russ Heath mini. But I've never read it. Thanks for reminding me, I just bought the set for .75 cents a book mint off eBay. Looking forward to reading it.

    I still hope to have Roy write part II. Plus a addition possible 10 pages to part I. Then have Tony draw & ink it all. Love to see Darkhorse comics publish it. Maybe one in B & W & the other in color. Wish me luck! Have a Very Merry X-Mas!

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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!

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