Friday, October 21, 2011

Making a Splash: Jim Aparo's Spectre

One of the all-time great horror-superhero series was Michael Fleisher and Jim Aparo's Spectre revamp that ran in Adventure Comics #'s 431-440 (October 1973-April 1975). A lot of folks forget, however, that while Aparo inked every tale, three of the Ghost of Jim Corrigan's tales were penciled by other folks--one by Frank Thorne and two by Ernie Chan (then under the pseudonym Ernie Chua). While Jim's inks are powerful enough to make the other two artists' singular penciling style a perfect fit for the series, there are subtle differences. Can you pick the three fill-ins out of this stack o'splashes? (Without cheating and looking at the credits, that is?) Enjoy!


  1. It was his SPECTRE stuff that made me check out his earlier PHANTOM from Charlton. Aparo is badass because he drew those books within the comics code, yet they're still creepy.

  2. Only the Frank Thorne one threw me...and, I'm ashamed to say, threw me from the day I picked that comic off the rack waaaay back then to right now, and that's easily my favorite story of the series!

    I had come to love Gwen despite her particularly vapor-headed penchant for walking into danger, and what happened to her at the hands of the Spectre (AND that creepy, creepy old man) freaked me right the hell out -- as did that final-panel shot of the creepy old geezer's burning face.

    Daaaaamn, Spectre, you scary! I'ma go dig those babies out and read 'em again right now.

  3. I had meant to dig the trade collection of these stories out and give them another read this Halloween, then I saw that DC is bringing out all the Spectre stuff in a Showcase volume this winter.

    So I packed up my plans and I'm very much looking forward to reading these classic Spectre tales later in the year, if not early 2012.

    This stuff by Aparo (and Thorne and Chan as you rightly point out) cut a deep swath in my imagination at the time. The brutality of the comics was a fresh thing and really had impact.

    Comics were a tad antiseptic in the years up to this, and this series really shook things up.

    Rip Off

  4. Great splashes! Aparo was able to come up with some really clever compositions and title lettering in this series.

    I do have a question - How come these stories have a credit for "Art continuity" and "Story continuity"? Is the Spectre so complicated that they need a continuity cop?

  5. Some of those issues really freaked the audience out when they were published, pushing the Comics Code to the limit with stories that were almost (repeat, ALMOST) EC Comics-level in their goriness.
    Fleisher was a controversial figure between this series, Jonah Hex, and a novel, Chasing Hairy, some people (including Harlan Ellison in a notorious interview in Comics Journal) thought Fleisher was certifiable!

    Personally, I thought the Spectre stories were GREAT, but Chasing Hairy sucked!

    The whole "Avenging Spectre" plotline was resolved in GHOSTS, when Dr Thirteen became involved. Aparo did the covers, but not the stories themselves.

  6. The easiest way to know if Jim Aparo only did inks? Check the lettering...

    Jim was the ORIGINAL triple threat: Pencils, Inks, AND Lettering-- the man did it all! It's a shame he didn't get more fan respect when he was alive...

  7. Ian, eventually DC explained Russell Carley's unique "continuity" credit in a letter column. It meant panel-to-panel continuity—he did imaginary layouts, you could say. After Fleisher plotted the story, Carley helped him figure out what action each panel should contain in the full script that the penciller would be expected to follow. After a while, Fleisher figured he had picked up the knack and Carley no longer helped him.

  8. You know, I find myself really liking the Frank Thorne one too. I'm chalking it up to Thorne's ability to draw pretty girls.



Blog Widget by LinkWithin
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!