Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Swash" Buckler Saturdays: "A Slight Detour"

Throughout my comics career I have had the pleasure of working in every genre except romance.  My mainstay was super-heroes, but I would often venture into other territories if the artistic terrain was challenging enough.

Over the years I have illustrated science-fiction, fantasy, sword & sorcery, horror, jungle adventure, the supernatural, westerns, pirates, classical literature, historical tales, American folklore--you name it, and I probably drew it in a comic book story.

Just for fun I thought I would take a slight detour here and leave super-heroes behind temporarily to delve into some of that other material.  Some of it is rather hard to find, so I'm doing my part to sort of rescue this stuff from obscurity.

In many ways the artwork on these stories was actually tougher to draw than non-super-hero material!  Not much of it could be drawn "off the top of my head", so hours and hours of research was a necessity.  The art, overall, had to have an illustrative look to it, and to get the "realism" and drama across lots of "drawing chops" were required.

It was around 1979-1980 that I did a lot of pencil art for Dick Giordano when he ran his commercial art business out of his Stamford, Connecticut art studio.  On weekends I would drive out to visit him.  I lived in the North Bronx at the time so it wasn't a long trip.

Along with Superman and Wonder Woman stories, I did a lot work on adaptations of classical literature that was packaged in book and record sets by one of Dick's main clients, Peter Pan Records.*

This work included Robinson Crusoe, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Robin Hood, Davey Crockett, and Huckleberry Finn--all of them long time favorites of mine.

These classic stories were very special to me because they brought back childhood memories of all those Walt Disney movie versions I had viewed on television.

I am a voracious reader so I had already read many of those books in school, too (this was just before I discovered comic books).  Many of the literary works being adapted to comics at that time had been required reading in my school days, along with all of the duller academic stuff (if it wasn't "Invisible Man" or "Three Musketeers", "Treasure Island" or "Time Machine"--or something adventurous along those lines--it was always a chore for me to read).

As you might imagine, those literary high adventures made an indelible impression on me at that early age.  It was the drama and heroics that I found so appealing.  Seeing the movie versions later in my teens just fueled my already overactive imagination!

I had no idea back then that one day I would have the opportunity to create my own artistic versions in comic book form!  And the accompanying recorded "radio dramas" were pretty cool too!

For a while there Peter Pan Records was putting out a wealth of material--and they went by the name of Power Records also.  I don't know much about the company but they seemed to be well financed.  Alas, they weren't all that successful.

And let's not leave out their generous super-hero output (which included, over the years, comic art by Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, Russ Heath, Ross Andru, and a host of other fan favorites).

I collaborated with Dick Giordano and penciled one Superman story and one Wonder Woman story, both of them book-length.  Like I said, these book and record sets are hard to find, so I have here included a few scans from both of those books I worked on.  And just for the heck of it, here's a couple of scans of earlier covers I did for The Hulk and Spider-Man too.

 (*For more details on Peter Pan/Power Records visit the Power Records blog--home of most of the above pics--Groove.)


  1. As a kid I had the LP with 4 Spidey adventures, including the Bells of Doom and the Dragon Men. This LP did not have the full illustrated stories with it. So, thank you, Rich, for directing me to Power Records where I can now read the entire Draco story you illustrated so well. Nice work! So cool to see the pictures after all these years! My inner child is reeling with excitement.

  2. I had that 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea book when I was about 8 or 9 years old. It fired up my imagination somethin' fierce. I had no idea till now that you did the artwork on it, but it certainly explains why I was drawn to your comic work a few years later.

    Thank you for keeping my 9 year old self from getting bored all those years ago! :)



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