THE ART OF ARTHUR ADAMS
No.17 Jan. 2002
$6.95 In The U.S.
GRAY MORROW & GEORGE EVANS TRIBUTES • ROUSSOS • KINSTLER
Editor/Designer JON B. COOKE Publisher
TWOMORROWS JOHN & PAM MORROW Associate Editors CHRIS KNOWLES DAVID A. ROACH CHRISTOPHER IRVING GEORGE KHOURY Contributing Editors ROY THOMAS JOHN MORROW
LIVES & WORK
GREAT CARTOONISTS, WRITERS & EDITORS
THE FRONT PAGE: LAST MINUTE BITS ON THE COMMUNITY OF COMIC BOOK ARTISTS, WRITERS & EDITORS Another master goes to heaven, Deadman returns, and the vision of the late Gray Morrow ..............................1 EDITOR’S RANT: A QUESTION OF CHARACTERS Ye Ed goes on a tirade about the dilution of comic-book icons, DK2, and hope for the future............................4 COCHRAN’S CORNER: THEN THERE WERE GIANTS Columnist John Cochran gets the skinny from Greyshirt writer-artist, Rick “Comicon.com” Veitch! ..................5 CBA COMMUNIQUES: THE TORONTO AND FRENCH CONNECTIONS Vortex compatriots Dean Motter and Ken Steacy clarify the X-factor, and other missives & missles....................6 CBA COMMENTARY: LARRY IVIE ON COMIC BOOK ARTIST #14 The artist/writer responds to issues raised in our “Tower Comics: Years of Thunder” issue ..............................10 MICHELLE’S MEANDERINGS: WHY CAPTAIN VIDEO COMICS DIDN’T FLY Our newest columnist looks back at the old George Evan’s comic featuring one of TV’s first sci-fi stars ..........13 CBA COMMENTARY: ALEX TOTH—’BEFORE I FORGET’ The master artist discusses art at face value and how a simple approach is always best ....................................18
COMIC BOOK ARTIST™ is published 10 times a year by TwoMorrows, 1812 Park Drive, Raleigh, NC 27605, USA. 919-833-8092. Jon B. Cooke, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Editorial Office: P.O. Box 204, West Kingston, RI 02892-0204 USA • 401-783-1669 • Fax: 401-783-1287. Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT the editorial office. Single issues: $9 postpaid ($11 Canada, $12 elsewhere). Six-issue subscriptions: $36 US, $66 Canada, $72 elsewhere. All characters © their respective owners. All material © their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter © their respective authors. ©2002 Jon B. Cooke/TwoMorrows. Cover acknowledgements: Jonni Future, Para-Man ©2002 America’s Best Comics, LLC. Monkeyman & O’Brien, Shrewmanoid ©2002 Arthur Adams. Creature from the Black Lagoon ©2002 Univeral City Studios, Inc. The Authority ©2002 Wildstorm Productions, an imprint of DC Comics. Longshot, The Mole Man, The Thing, Wolverine ©2002 Marvel Characters, Inc. Godzilla ©2002 Toho Co., Ltd. Gumby ©2002 Art Clokey. Arthur Adams ©2002 Joyce Chin. Why are you reading this? If you’re not a copyright lawyer, you really should think about getting a real hobby, y’know? First Printing. PRINTED IN CANADA.
FRED HEMBECK’S DATELINE: @!!?* Our Pal Fred looks at the Marvel art of the late artist Johnny Craig....................................................................21 THE ART OF ARTHUR ADAMS ARTHUR ADAMS INTERVIEW: THE ARTIST’S LIFE, FROM LONGSHOT TO JONNI FUTURE A discussion with the artist (and occasional writer) about his background, career and aspirations......................22 HERO INDEX: THE ARTHUR ADAMS COMIC ART CHECKLIST The “Unofficial Arthur Adams Web site” proprietor, Vilmar Vogelaar, contributes a thorough listing ................44 REMEMBERING GRAY MORROW IN MEMORIUM: “THIS WAS A MAN!” Christopher Irving takes a journey to find the humanity and artistry of the master known as Gray Morrow ......48 PROFESSIONAL COURTESIES: FAREWELL TO THE MASTER Testimonials and anecdotes about the artist from many of Gray Morrow’s friends and acquaintances................56 GRAY MORROW INTERVIEW: SORCERER SUPREME A short conversation with the artist on his memorable tenure as artist/writer/editor at Red Circle Comics ........62 HORROR INDEX: RED CIRCLE COMICS CHECKLIST A thorough look at the short yet beautiful comics imprint helmed by Gray Morrow ..........................................64 GEORGE ROUSSOS: AN ARTIST’S LIFE GEORGE ROUSSOS INTERVIEW: ‘INKY’ SPEAKS! The late artist on his over half-century in the biz, from Golden Age Batman to modern-day Marvel ................66 GEORGE EVANS TRIBUTE GEORGE EVANS INTERVIEW: EVANS IN THE HEAVENS A delightful career-spanning talk with the late, lamented comics artist and aviation buff ..................................82 CBA TRIBUTE & PROFESSIONAL COURTESIES: GEORGE EVANS REMEMBERED Artist/writer Michael T. Gilbert and other friends on the life of the wonderful EC artist, George E.....................94 EVERETT RAYMOND KINSTLER: COMICS AND BEYOND EVERETT RAYMOND KINSTLER INTERVIEW: THE ARTIST’S PANACHE (AND PORTRAITS A SPECIALTY!) Paul Wardle interviews the great portrait painter on his origins in comic books and the lessons learned..........104 Opposite page: T-shirt design of Monkeyman & O’Brien by Arthur Adams. Courtesy of John Fanucchi & the artist. ©2002 Arthur Adams. Below: Yep, we’re apesh*t over Monkeyman & O’Brien! Here’s a pin-up of the pair by their creator, Arthur Adams. Courtesy of John Fanucchi and the artist. ©2002 Arthur Adams.
Proofreader ERIC NOLEN-WEATHINGTON Cover Art ART ADAMS Cover Color HOMER REYES, Our Hero! Transcribers JON B. KNUTSON BRIAN K. MORRIS SAM GAFFORD Logo Designer/Title Originator ARLEN SCHUMER Mascot WOODY by J.D. King Issue Theme Song ART FOR ART’S SAKE (Money for God’s Sake)
Please send all letters of comment, articles and artwork to: Jon B. Cooke, Editor, Comic Book Artist, P.O. Box 204, West Kingston, RI 02892-0204 Phone: (401) 783-1669 • Fax: (401) 783-1287 • E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit CBA on our Website at:
www.twomorrows.com Contributors Arthur Adams • Gray Morrow George Evans • George Roussos Everett Raymond Kinstler John Fanucchi • Pocho Morrow Mark Wheatley & Insight Studios Terry Austin • Bob Wiacek Michael T. Gilbert • Chris Irving Carol Petersen • Dick Giordano Marie Steinberg • Ray Cuthbert Roy Thomas • William Cain Dan Reed • Steve Cohen Alan & Pauline Weiss • Alex Toth Alan Kupperberg • Michael Netzer Terry Austin • Sal Amendola Dave Gibbons • John R. Cochran Fred Hembeck • Michelle Nolan Howard Chaykin • Dan Kraar Paul Wardle • Steven A. Ng Vilmar Vogelaar • Andrew Steven Ken Steacy • Dave Stevens Patrice • Neil Polowin • Lance Falk Larry Ivie • MadScienceMedia.com In appreciation of our friend & supporter
Terry Austin and dedicated to the memories of
Dan DeCarlo Seymour V. Reit and Ronn Foss N E X T January 2002
I S S U E
T H E
COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
C O S M I C
C O M I C S
T H E
1 9 7 0 s ! 3
A career-spanning chat with the celebrated artist/writer on his comics
The Art of Arthur Adams
Conducted by Jon B. Cooke Transcribed by Jon B. Knutson Let’s face it: Arthur Adams, since blasting onto the comics scene like a neutron bomb with his limited series Longshot back in the 1980s, is a creator of enormously fun comics. From that refreshing debut to his memorable three-issue run on the Fantastic Four (#347-349) to his creator-owned Monkeyman and O’Brien to his present-day (and some say personal best) work on “Jonni Future” in Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales (not to mention Ye Ed’s fave AA work, The Creature from the Black Lagoon), Arthur’s artistry remains eminently entertaining and pleasing to the eye. But few Arthur Adams interviews seem to exist, so we cover pretty much his entire career in the following three-hour interview, which took place via telephone on November 15, 2001, and was copyedited by the artist. Special thanks to John Fanucchi for his spectacular and herculean assistance in gathering and contributing art for this feature. Special kudos also, to Joyce Chin. Comic Book Artist: Where are you from, Arthur? Arthur Adams: We’re not going to film out of sequence? [laughs] Where am I from? That’s hard to remember; after all, I was very young when I was born. That’s complicated. I was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, many, many years ago. My dad was in the Air Force, so we actually moved around quite a bit until I was about five years old, when we moved to a little town called Vacaville outside Travis Air Force Base in California. My dad found some way to keep us stationed there was the rest of his 20-year Air Force career. It’s just 50 miles from here where I am right now, in San Francisco, California. CBA: You were born in 1963? Arthur: I was! CBA: You’re probably the youngest guy I’ve ever interviewed for the magazine! [laughter] Younger than me! Arthur: Bruce Timm isn’t that much older than me! I mean, he’s old, but…. CBA: Bruce is one of the few exclusively contemporary guys I’ve interviewed [in Comic Book Artist Special Edition #1]. He was born around 1961, I believe. Arthur: That sounds about right, he’s about 40, right? Man, he’s old. [laughter] CBA: Hey, I’m almost 43, so watch it, dude! [laughs] Did you get into comics at a young age? Arthur: Yeah, I’d always liked comics, I think my interest really started when my dad came back from one of his trips overseas, and he brought with him the first Marvel Treasury Grab-Bag, that had in it a Ross Andru Spider-Man/Human Torch story, a Wally Wood Daredevil/Sub-Mariner story… CBA: Had that holly wreath on the cover? Arthur: Yeah! I think it was a Buscema cover, maybe inked by Romita. But yeah, it’s a bunch of the super-heroes running forward, and then on the back cover, it’s them running away. It also had a real nice Gene Colan/Bill Everett Black Widow story, and my favorite was the two-parter Fantastic Four and the Avengers versus the Hulk! CBA: By Stan Lee & Jack Kirby! Was this your first real exposure to super-heroes? Arthur: The first time I really noticed. I’m sure I must’ve seen them before, but this was the first one I really got jazzed about. I’m sure I’d seen all those old Marvel cartoons… I must’ve seen some comics, because my mom once a month would go to the thrift shop and come back with a hay-bale of comics, a big pile wrapped in twine. About half of them would be romance and war comics, and those would get tossed aside, and the other half would be super-hero and monster comics. CBA: The good stuff! Arthur: Yeah! It was the stuff I liked. I now wish I’d kept some of those war and romance comics, those would’ve been pretty interesting to see now. CBA: Did you see the Marvel reprints of the old Atlas monster stories? Where Monsters Dwell, Creatures on the Loose… Arthur: Oh, yeah, sure! I love that stuff! When I first started Monkeyman and O’Brien, I had the Marvel reprint book they did, Marvel Monsterworks, with Walt Simonson’s cover as inspiration. “Van Doom’s Monster” was my favorite! It was about a big wax monster, and it didn’t really make much sense, but it sure was cool! [laughter] CBA: Did you start drawing at a young age? Arthur: Oh, I’ve always drawn. I don’t remember ever not drawing. My mom has some drawings around the house—don’t ask to see those!—and I drew everything! Mostly I drew dinosaurs, King Kong and monsters. I was crazy for all those monster movies, the Creature Features every Saturday. CBA: Did you draw your own comics as a kid? Arthur: You know, I was not intending to do comics when I was a kid. I wanted to be a paleontologist, because I just thought dinosaurs were the coolest, I was really into dinosaurs, so I Opposite page: Unless otherwise noted, all the art contributions in this section are courtesy of John Fanucchi and Arthur Adams. John gathered these treasures from numerous sources and we profusely thank him, Arthur and all who contributed to this herculean effort. This melange of Adams’ trademark characters appeared as cover for the French mag, Comics Box #34, last summer. All characters ©2002 their respective copyright holders. Right: Whether or not Arthur says he never previously cared for the character before rendering it, when it’s all said and done, perhaps Adams will be best remembered for his spot-on rendition of children’s TV character, Gumby, in two Specials drawn for Comico in the ’80s. Courtesy of Bob Wiacek, here’s the clay-based hero by Arthur. Gumby ©2002 Art Clokey. Art ©2002 Arthur Adams. January 2002
COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
Above: Arthur Adams obviously had a blast drawing three issues of Fantastic Four—#347-349—all written by Walter Simonson— where he got to visualize a new FF team, featuring the then-hot properties Ghost Rider, Hulk, Spider-Man, and Wolverine. The storyline, involving a ton of Atlas Kirby monsters and the Mole Man obviously resonated with the artist as he continued to explore like themes in his own Monkeyman & O’Brien tales. The “Monsters Unleashed” story arc was also quickly collected by Marvel, as was almost all of Arthur’s work for the House of Ideas, but the lack in shared royalties from those trade paperback books by the publisher has prompted the artist to shy away from major commitments with Marvel. ©2002 Marvel Characters, Inc.
Right: A circa-1989 Arthur Adams self-portrait in a detail from his cover for Ron Goulart’s The Great Comic Book Artist, Volume Two. ©2002 Arthur Adams. 30
Arthur: No, not at all. I’ve probably been way too wishy-washy. I’m hoping I’m getting to be less so as I get older, but… CBA: Do you see issues within the comics field that perhaps you should address more? Arthur: Gosh, no. I just want the comics industry to do well! [laughs] When various companies are doing too much of one particular book, I understand why they’re doing it, but I don’t necessarily think it’s a good idea. And then subject matter, like when Marvel was doing all the Punisher books, that bugged me, because I hated those. I thought they were pretty unpleasant, too much glorification of a guy with a gun. But you know, now I really like the new Punisher series, [laughs] and I don’t know why! Maybe because it’s written with more of a sense of humor, and I think those other issues were kind of humorless, at least for me. For a while, I was worried about things in comics getting too violent and women being too objectified. But you know the stuff I’m working on right now? [laughs] This Authority stuff? We’ve actually had to tone the stuff down temporarily because of the [Sept. 11] attack, we’ve pulled back on the violence on the first and second issues. Who am I to say things are too violent, when I’ve just drawn something that’s really horrifyingly violent here? I’m actually thinking about a new series that’s going to be really objectifying women, let’s just leave it at that! [laughs] Have I mentioned
that I’m not very smart? “I’m not very smart.” [laughter] CBA: Do you feel that, perhaps, the difference is there’s an injection of humanity within your work? Arthur: I think almost anything is okay as long as there’s some sense of humor to it. In the second chapter of “Jonni Future,” the universe is invaded by moth-women, and the description says, “they are kind of cute, but they’re just eating everything… rocks, vegetables, animals, people, everything… ” Why moth-women want to eat everything, I don’t know. [laughter] I really like what Steve Moore and Alan Moore are doing with the series so far, and I’m amazed they’re able to get as much story into eight pages and still make it relatively comfortable to draw. The moth-women are kind of terrifying! They’re outrageously shapely, but have these horrible buggy heads [laughter]… CBA: As long as you’re not aroused by them! [laughs] Arthur: No, no, no, no! [laughter] It’s just that people are going to look at this and go, “Oh my God, what happened?!?” [laughter] There’s millions of these moth-women invading the solar system eating everything, so Jonni tricks them by igniting this magnesium asteroid, so it’s burning brightly, so all the mothwomen are attracted to it, and of course, they all die horribly! [laughter] They all fall into it, and they’re exploding, and there’s flames everywhere… I’m thinking, “This is COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
Above: Arthur’s pencils to his delightful “Li’l Danger Girl” story, “Delusions of Grandeur,” from the Danger Girl Special Edition. Okay, so it’s cheesecake. But it’s really cute cheesecake! Danger Girl ™&© 2002 J. Scott Campbell.
much editorial interference in your career? Did you ever have to do much redrawing? Arthur: No, next to none. The only editorial interference I got that cropped up a couple of times was just inconsistent deadlines. That’s been a major problem. There’s one DC job I did where the writer and editor didn’t like my storytelling on one page, so they cut up the page and rearranged the panels, and I wasn’t crazy about that, I don’t think it made it a better page. But no, nothing, really nothing about changing anything radically. Scott, who just called earlier, I’d just sent him the latest “Jonni Future,” he was going on about how he liked it all except for one panel, where he thought I did a bad job on Johnny’s butt. [laughter] I told him to send me back the page, and I’d fix it. CBA: Did you view the experience of Dave Stevens with “The Rocketeer” with any interest? Did you think, “Hmmm… I’d like to go that route.” Arthur: Every couple of months I get a call, “So-and-so is interested in doing Monkeyman as a cartoon.” Several years ago, Disney couldn’t quite decide between Mighty Joe Young and Monkeyman and O’Brien as a live-action movie, and they finally went to Mighty Joe Young, because they’d already bought the rights. Also, there was a finished, more complete story.
CBA: You got pretty close, then? Arthur: Yeah, supposedly! This is all through Mike Richardson. Thank goodness Mike has the patience to deal with all that stuff, because we had one meeting with an animation company who was trying to talk us into dealing with them, doing Monkeyman as a cartoon, and so we sat down, and they’re asking us, “What’s the relationship between Ann’s sister, Oneiko? Clearly, they don’t look like each other.” “Oh, they’re half-sisters, Oneiko’s the illegitimate daughter of…” “Oh, no, no, no! We don’t want to hear about that, that doesn’t leave this room!” “Well, okay… Her name, Oneiko, actually means ’devil-child.’” “Oh, no, that never leaves this room! We’ll never talk about that again!” [laughter] All right, I don’t really need to be involved with this that much! CBA: They’re taking all the fun out of it! [laughs] Obviously, Image arrived like a bombshell on the industry… Arthur: Oh, absolutely. CBA: …these guys sold millions of copies of books… Arthur: They did! And you know what? One of my ex-girlfriends had a comic book store at the time, and you know what’s unfortunate? It got associated too much with guys who were only buying cases of books with no intention of ever looking at any of them. That’s not why I’m into comics. Just so that some guys can come into a store, pull up a whole giant stack of comics to look for the one with the straightest spine? That’s crazy! [laughter] CBA: Then put them in a slab! Arthur: Yeah! Why are you doing these things? CBA: Polyurethane them. [laughs] The greed factor really took over comics for a period. Arthur: Oh, it was crazy! I might’ve been working on The Creature, when I was asked if I’d like to make up something for myself. I said, “No, no, I’ve got to work on The Creature From the Black Lagoon.” [laughter] Which is, like I said, the only book I’ve done that’s actually lost money for the publisher. CBA: These guys at Image were making millions… Arthur: They’re making millions, and I did this book that sold like crap. CBA: Did your standard of living rise as time went by, through the ’80s? Arthur: Oh, sure! But I hardly live like an adult. [laughter] Like I was saying, I don’t drive. I’ve never driven—I don’t want to drive! For the longest time, I had no furniture; just a bed, drawing chair and table, and then just a pile of pillows on the floor and a TV, and then shelf after shelf of books and toys. Things are only better now because my wife had furniture! [laughter] CBA: Now she takes care of you, eh? Arthur: Well, she has furniture, let’s leave it at that! CBA: Your wife’s an artist? Arthur: Yeah, Joyce Chin, she’s drawn a bunch of stuff. She drew Wynonna Earp for Wildstorm years ago, and she drew the Xena comic book, first for Topps, then a little bit for Dark Horse. CBA: How did you meet her? Arthur: Strangely enough, we met at the San Diego convention, after I’d broken up with my ex of some period of time. Like I said, my ex had a comic book store, and was also—and presumably still is—Asian, [laughter] and I set myself a rule, “I’m not going to go out with anyone involved in comics or another Asian girl,” because I’d been with my ex for six years, and everyone (Diana Shutz) assumed I only liked Asian girls—she was the only Asian I’d ever been out with! [laughter] “Okay, fine, I won’t go out with an Asian girl, no one involved in comics, and so I can talk to her, she can’t be under 25.” [laughter] So, I was at San Diego, and I met Joyce, and at the time she was 24, drawing comic books, and Chinese! [laughter] But that seems to have worked out okay. CBA: How long have you been married? Arthur: We’ve only been married for about a year, but we met and started going out five-and-a-half years ago. CBA: What was the genesis of Monkeyman and O’Brien? Arthur: Erik called up and asked if I’d ever made up anything, and I hadn’t. When I’m working, I just think about the things I loved as a kid, and still love. The first thing that came to mind was King Kong. If I’d had any sense then, I would’ve made up Cavegirl, [laughs] but instead, I made up Monkeyman and O’Brien. It’s as simple as that. I COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
The Arthur Adams Comic Art Checklist Vilmar Vogelaar’s exhaustive listing of just about all of the artist’s work Compiled by Vilmar Vogelaar with Jon B. Cooke
PURGATORY: GODDESS RISING 1 Cover (AA inks, pencils by Joyce Chin) 8/99 CLIFFHANGER [Snagged (with permission) from Vilmar’s incredible “Unofficial Arthur Adams Web site,” what follows is the CRIMSON TRADING CARD SET One card, three variants (reprints Crimson #2 cover) 2001 collector’s stunning list of the artist’s work, from comics DANGER GIRL SPECIAL to soda cups, trading cards to video games. While a tad 1 Delusions of Grandeur (a Li’l Danger Girl Tale)17+covs12/00 incomplete, we think it’s certainly the most thorough (Written by AA, Hartnell & Campbell; three variant covers plus a European cover version, all by AA) index to date. Thanks to John Fanucchi for his help. Visit Vilmar’s site via the Internet at: <http://home01. COMICO COMICO BLACK BOOK wxs.nl/~vogel716/ArthurAdams/ArthurAdams.html> nn Gumby & Pokey pin-up 1 1987 (Any corrections? Please send ’em in!)—Ye Ed.] FISH POLICE 1 4/88 # STORY TITLE (WITH OTHER CREDITS) PAGES DATE V2#5 Pin-up (reprinted from Fish Police V1#5) V2#17 Fish Sticks (written by Steve Moncuse) 5 6/89 ABRAMS GUMBY'S SUMMER FUN SPECIAL FIVE FABULOUS DECADES OF MARVEL COMICS (HARDCOVER) by Les Daniels (reprints X-Men Annual cover) 1 1991 1 Gumby's Summer Fun Special + two pin-ups 46+cov 7/87 (written by Bob Burden) AC COMICS GUMBY SUMMER FUN SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL POSTER FEMFORCE T-SHIRT Promo poster for Gumby Summer Fun Special 1987 Autumn T-shirt design (art from 1985) 1987? GUMBY'S WINTER FUN SPECIAL FEMFORCE PORTFOLIO 1 Bobcat pin-up (AA pencils, inks by John Beatty) 1 1987 1 Gumby's Winter Fun Special + two pin-ups 40+cov 12/88 (written by Steve Purcell) ADVENTURE COMICS LIVINGSTONE MOUNTAIN OBLIVION 1 How to Draw the Art Adams’ Way! 2 1991 1 Cover 8/95 (written by Steve Moncuse) COMICS & COMIX AMERICA’S BEST COMICS THE TELEGRAPH WIRE ALAN MOORE’S TOM STRONG COLLECTED EDITION (HC, TPB) 19 Cover (Longshot & Rocket Raccoon jam w/M. Mignola)2/85 nn Reprints Tom Strong #4 2000 COMIC IMAGES ARTHUR ADAMS COMIC IMAGES TERRIFIC TEE T-SHIRT 45 trading cards reprinting AA’s Marvel artwork 1989 Reprints Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales #1 cover 12/01 GHOST RIDER II TOM STRONG One card (reprints “New” Fantastic Four image) 1991 4 An Untold Tale of Tom Strong (AA pencils, 8+cov 8/98 inks by Al Gordon, written by Alan Moore) X-MEN COVERS II Two cards (reprints X-Men Annual #9 & #10 covers) 1990 TOM STRONG’S TERRIFIC TALES 1 Jonni Future: The Halfway House (written by 8+cov 11/01 MARVEL FIRST COVERS II Steve Moore; Jonni Future created by Steve Moore & AA) Two trading cards (Longshot & Classic X-Men covers) 1991 TOM STRONG’S TERRIFIC TALES PROMO POSTER DARK HORSE COMICS Reprints Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales #1 cover 10/01 ALIENS: HAVOC 1 Havoc (written by Mark Schultz) 1 6/97 AMERICAN COMICS GROUP (also one sketch of rejected page) FAT FURY SPECIAL nn Cover 1998 ALIENS SPECIAL 1 Reprints Aliens: Havoc (in the same month?) 6/97 AWESOME ENTERTAINMENT LIONHEART ANIMAL CONFIDENTIAL 1-2 Covers 9/99, 1/00 1 Cover (Sam & Max) 1992 BASEMENT COMICS ART ADAMS' CREATURE FEATURES (TRADE PAPERBACK) CAVEWOMAN: PANGEAEN SEA nn New front and back covers (reprints Creature from 8/96 0 Cover (alternative version based on PSM #35 cover) 10/01 the Black Lagoon, Godzilla Color Special, Negative Burn #18, San Diego Comic Con Comics #2, and Dark Horse ART ADAMS’ CAVEWOMAN PRINT Insider #27, all relatively scarce editions) nn Print of the above image 8/01 ART ADAMS' MONKEYMAN & O'BRIEN (TRADE PAPERBACK) BLACK BULL nn Reprints MM&O’B stories from Hellboy: Seed 137 1997 GATECRASHER of Destruction #1-4, MM&O’B #1-3, and AA story in 5 Cover 12/00 Livingstone Mountain. Includes new front and back cover, BOWEN DESIGN three pin-ups and eight pages of sketches KONGZILLA RESIN STATUE nn Origin comic by AA included with sculpture 5/98 THE ART OF COMIC-BOOK WRITING nn To include new eight-page story forthcoming MAN-BAT RESIN KIT AA designs (unreleased) Man-Bat sculpture 1998 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER 1 Cover (plus “gold foil” variant cover) 10/98 CALIBRE 6 Cover (AA & Joyce Chin pencils, AA inks) 3/99 ALAN MOORE'S SONGBOOK nn Reprints Negative Burn #18 11/98 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER POSTERS Reprints Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 cover 1998 NEGATIVE BURN Reprints Buffy the Vampire Slayer #6 cover 1999 18 Alan Moore's Songbook: "Trampling Tokio" 4 1994 (written by Alan Moore, starring Godzilla-like monster) BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: REMAINING SUNLIGHT (TPB) CALLIOPE COMICS nn Reprints Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 cover 3/99 CALLIOPE COMICS PRESENTS: MUSINGS 3 Pin-up ?? CLASSIC STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE 1 Cover 8/92 CHAOS! COMICS CLASSIC STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE (TRADE PAPERBACK) LADY DEATH: THE RAPTURE 1993 1 Cover 6/99 nn Cover (reprints Classic Star Wars #1 cover) 44
COMICS’ GREATEST WORLD V4#2Cover (Hero Zero)
DARING ESCAPES 1 Cover
DARK HORSE CLASSICS: TERROR OF GODZILLA 1-6 Covers
DARK HORSE COMICS 11 Cover (w/Godzilla, Predator, James Bond, Aliens)
DARK HORSE EXTRA 1-3, 5-7 Faux MM&O’B Sunday strip (pts.1-6) 7-9/ 11/98-1/99 DARK HORSE INSIDER 2 Monkeyman & O’Brien pin-ups 2 (AA & Geof Darrow Jam, mini AA & GD interview) 27 Trapped in Lair of the Shrewmanoid (MM&O’B) 4
DARK HORSE LEGENDS PROMOTIONAL CARD One trading card (Legend creators as snowmen)
DARK HORSE PRESENTS 48 Enclosed Aliens trading card 2/91 (AA pencils, inks by Steve Moncuse) 80 Tortorus (Monkeyman & O’Brien) 10+cov 12/93 100-5 I Was the Alien (Monkeyman & O’Brien) 8 8/95 118 Gorhemoth the Garbage Heap That Walks Like a Man Part One (Monkeyman & O’Brien) 8+cov 2/97 119 Gorhemoth the Garbage Heap That Walks Like a Man Part Two (Monkeyman & O’Brien) 8 3/97 DIVISION 13 1 Cover
GHOST HANDBOOK 1 Pin-up
GODZILLA COLOR SPECIAL 1 Target: Godzilla! (AA script & pencils, break- 24+covSum/92 downs by Randy Stradley, inks by Gracine Tanaka & Steve Moncuse GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS 1 Cover 6/95 2 Cover 7/95 3 Cover 8/95 4 Cover and pin-up 1 9/95 5 Cover (AA breakdowns, inks; pencils by 10/95 Steve Moncuse) 6 Target Godzilla! 2 (AA breakdowns, inks by 24+cov 11/95 AA, T. Ishida and D. Rivera; cover breakdowns and inks by AA, pencils by Steve Moncuse) 7 Target Godzilla! 3 (AA breakdowns, inks by 24+cov 12/95 AA, T. Ishida and D. Rivera; cover breakdowns and inks by AA, pencils by Steve Moncuse) 8 Target Godzilla! 4 (AA breakdowns, inks by 24+cov 1/96 AA and various; cover breakdowns and inks by AA, pencils by Steve Moncuse) GODZILLA PORTFOLIO 1 Godzilla pin-up
GODZILLA VS. HERO ZERO 1 Cover (AA mentioned in story & has cover cameo)
GRENDEL: WARCHILD (TRADE PAPERBACK) nn Grendel pin-up
HELLBOY: SEED OF DESTRUCTION 1 Who are Monkeyman & O'Brien? (part one) 7 3/94 2 Who are Monkeyman & O'Brien? (part two) 7 4/94 3 Who are Monkeyman & O'Brien? (part three) 7 5/94 4 Who are Monkeyman & O'Brien? (part four) 7 6/94 (AA self-portrait, page seven, announcing MM&O’B series) HELLBOY: SEED OF DESTRUCTION (TRADE PAPERBACK) nn Hellboy pin-up 1
LEGENDS ART PRINT (NEW YORK COMICCON 1994) Jam art print by all the Legend creators
MADMAN YEARBOOK 1995 nn Small pin-up (reprints Madman X card)
MARTHA WASHINGTON GOES TO WAR 5 Enlist pin-up COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
Gray Morrow: 1934-2001
“This Was a Man!” A journey to discover the artist who was Gray Morrow Below: The photos which illustrate this article are almost all courtesy of Gray Morrow’s very sweet and lovely bride, Pocho, who also graciously shared her memories of her artist husband with Chris Irving in his poignant essay here. Our heart goes out to her in these difficult days and, in appreciation of her spouse’s impact on the field and her boundless generosity, we in turn will donate a portion of the profits from this issue to the Morrow Estate. Gray astride his horse in an undated photo.
“His life was gentle, and the elements So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up And say to all the world ‘This was a man!’” —Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar Act V, Scene V “He was a man,” Alan Weiss said of Gray Morrow over the phone. “He was a man.” But how does one find the man imbued in the core of each piece of his work? Gray Morrow was an illustrator in the classic vein of Alex Raymond, Mac Raboy, and Lou Fine. Rather than going the route of impossibly-muscled super-heroes punching it out in impossibly revealing costumes, Morrow drew real people in believable clothes. They were movie serial characters imposed on a comics page. No gross exaggeration. In “Recollections”, Morrow’s contribution to Streetwise, he cited his childhood influences, and his move to New York as a young man. He and a friend had met Basil Rathbone in the park one day. Still, “Recollections” was just that: a series of anecdotes and some details about Gray’s life and career. But what does it tell about the man himself? Now, Gray is dead, and the search for the true man behind the artwork begins. It is not an easy search, but one that begins with all his loved ones. Pocho Morrow stands at the door of the cabin she and Morrow shared on their 14 acres of land. She is an attractive woman, tall and with a strong build. Short, curly auburn-red hair frames her face. The A-frame cabin is swarming with artists and friends, some legendary, who cradle drinks and wander through a nicotine haze caused by cigarettes and pipe tobacco. It is noon on a chilly day, and the Morrow home is the result of a six-hour car drive started in Richmond, Virginia and ending in Kunkletown,
Pennsylvania. Their cabin is off the road and back in the woods. The mood in the cabin is festive, despite the reasons for gathering. Pocho had always promised Gray an “Old Scottish Wake,” or (as Pocho put it) an “extravagant party” with all his friends. Here Angelo Torres, Alan Kupperberg, Sal Amendola, Ernie Colón, Mark Wheatley, Alan and Pauline Weiss, and others stand to reminisce about Morrow, exchanging anecdotes and shop talk. Two strangers from Virginia are quickly welcomed. A gallery of character drawings line the upper part of the living room wall, showcasing many of Gray’s influences and childhood heroes, all drawn in a period when an injury had kept Gray out of work. The Face, Spy Smasher, Lone Ranger and Tonto, Green Hornet, the Golden Age Green Lantern, Green Llama, Captain America, Iron Man, Superman, Mandrake, Starman, Sandman… all drawn in Morrow’s realistic style and vibrantly colored, adorn the walls. It’s a wonder less-established and prolific photo-realistic artists like Alex Ross can be successful in today’s comics market, yet Morrow has been absent from comic books for years. It is Alan Kupperberg that shows Gray’s studio. An orange tigerstriped cat sits outside the garage. The studio doorknob has a brass handle in the shape of a naked woman over it. Judging by his garage studio, it is obvious that Morrow was the artist’s artist and, had he been born 20 years earlier, may have been deemed as legendary as an Alex Raymond or Chester Gould. It is chilly in Gray’s studio. Inexpensively framed on the walls is a virtual museum of cartoonist’s original work: a few Toth pieces, a Sekowsky Wonder Woman page, a female portrait drawn by Alex Raymond, as well as a Certa and Belfi Straight Arrow strip, among countless other pieces of art. Bookcases inhabit the room, filled to overflowing with reprint books of Foster’s Prince Valiant, C.C. Beck’s Captain Marvel, Raymond’s Flash Gordon, as well as pulp magazines and various reprint editions. A series of identical black, metal file cabinets feature a painstakingly collected “swipe” file, the yellowing folders neatly labeled by typewriter. All types of costume helmets and props lay throughout Gray’s studio. It is painfully obvious that Gray had the good fortune to grow up in a time where the daily adventure strip was in vogue. In today’s society of instant gratification and short attention spans, one can imagine that his abilities were too great to really be appreciated by today’s limited audience. His drawing table sits, flanked by an army of art supplies as well as another bookshelf, with some blank comic strip pages, the grids pre-drawn, and dialogue scrawled out in pencil. One almost expects Morrow’s dramatic figure to walk in, take a seat back at his table, and continue drawing the next installments of The Body. A letter on Insight Studios letterhead, dated April 2001 and placed near a personal computer, tells of the Gray Morrow: Visionary book. Joe Brozowski leans back on an old green sofa, smoking a cigarette, chatting about the shortcomings of Doc Martin’s colored dyes, and the six-strip Tarzan binge he and Gray went on one day. “I went over to his place to hang out and drink, and he had about five or six weeks of the Sunday strip to do,” he would recall a week later. “I got to his place fairly early in the day. We poured a few Scotches and said ‘We’ll do all six strips before the night is over so that we can go out drinking.’ We made it.” Admiring the great cache of supplies Gray had accrued, examining pens and brushes set up in a series of caddies and homemade racks, there is a slight yet unrealistic hope to find the one magic pen or brush that will channel all of Gray’s innate drawing ability, letting anyone draw like a master. COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
Below: When the artist was hospitalized for a spell, Gray humored himself by drawing fullbody portraits of his favorite adventure characters, rendered in full-color. The innumerable pictures were framed and remain lined on his studio walls to this day. Pocho sent us this provocative image of the Golden Age heroine, The Black Cat. Art ©2002 the Morrow Estate. Character ©2002 Lorne-Harvey Productions.
Gray’s cool demeanor got Weiss the first time he met him, introduced by Neal Adams in the 1970s, while at DC Comics. “Gray, I believe, was working on an ‘El Diablo’ page,” Weiss says of the strip he would eventually take over. “Neal introduced us, and I was trying not to gush too much, but was explaining how I was impressed with his research. When he did historical pieces, Westerns particularly, the costuming was so accurate. He didn’t just limit himself to the one cowboy gun. I’m sure he gave El Diablo Smith & Wessons, and he’d use these old Adams, and accurate clothing that fit people accurately. I was going nuts as to how impressed I was. Gray just cocked the eyebrow, smoking his pipe, and said ‘Well, that’s the fun.’ That’s about as detailed an answer as it gets. I’ll never forget it, along with his advice to never put all your eggs in one basket, which was valuable advice.” Shortly after the dispensing of some of Gray’s belongings to the “inner circle” of friends at the wake, Gray’s ashes were spread over the pond in the backyard. It was an interesting experience for Weiss: “It was a very surrealistic scene for me, but kind of nice. We all put on our coats, and she read her poem, which she had written about Gray. It was this sweet, simple little poem, and she could barely get through it without breaking into tears. She put the brave face on and said ‘Okay, that’s my poem. It might be stupid, but I wanted to read it to everybody. Now we’re all going to go outside and have a little ceremony of spreading the ashes.’ “It was Gray’s wish that his ashes be put into a Scotch decanter. She brought that out. Here we were, this quiet bunch of artists and weirdos walking out in the woods, right at dusk. I don’t think anyone hardly spoke, and it was almost single-file, since we were walking through the branches. Steranko had his trench coat almost cape-like over his shoulders. We walked out by the side of the pond. I don’t remember what Pocho said. I think she was partly addressing him directly, and partly saying ‘We know that he’s not here, these are remains. He’s up there.’ She took a handful and scattered them over the waters and anybody else who wanted to do that could do that. Most of us did, but some didn’t. Everybody would take a handful and say a little something, and then scatter the ashes over the pond. In my mind, it struck me how fitting it was for Gray, whose birthday was the same as mine: March 7, and I said ‘How fitting that, as a resting place, the waters for a fellow Piscean. Ride on, partner.’ It was strange, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like that before, but it was okay, it was nice. Again, we knew this was all symbolic, and that the spirit was elsewhere. We trooped back in and continued to party, but by then it was more a question of people saying goodbye and making their rounds. We were among the last batch of folks to leave. “She says how she’s been thinking about last Sunday ever
since, and what great friends Gray had, and how much respect they had for him, and what high regard they had for him. It wasn’t just the inside batch there, but people all over the world who really love this guy and love his work. I’d say he was a pretty damned successful artist, given all that.” The phone conversation continues leading back, naturally, to Gray and his status as a comic book artist. “You have this bittersweet irony: Does it take a guy having to leave the planet to get proper respect and have a tribute issue done?” Weiss points out. “How many of us artists are going to have to get their tribute after they’re not actually able to see it? [Although] I’m not assuming that he can’t.” Unfortunately, it seems Morrow’s career took a usual path for those most revered and talented in the comics field: Be greatly admired within professional circles, yet not widely appreciated until after you’re gone. The day before Thanksgiving, a bit more than two weeks after Gray’s death, Pocho sounds tired. She has a pumpkin pie in the oven for her family, and has to leave the phone after five minutes to get it out of the oven. “I met Gray in 1981,” Pocho remembers. “There was a house on the front of the street in New Jersey. Upstairs was Ron Wagner, who was studying at the Kubert School, and downstairs was my girlfriend Cecilia and her husband who I knew from the Cornerstone Theater that I was involved with at that time. Gray was in a small house that he rented behind us. We’d heard he was some artist, was very quiet and always wore a dark hat, smoked a pipe. You’d never see his face because he was always looking down at the ground or reading something. We always used to call him ‘The Old Man Artist.’ “One summer, Cecilia said ‘Why don’t we go to the pool?’ There was a pool over there to use. I was sitting down at the pool with Cecilia and, all of a sudden, there was a splash in the pool. Somebody slammed under the water and surfaced right in front of us and said ‘Hi, my name is Gray Morrow. Nice to meet you,’ and asked for our names.” Pocho laughs as she deepens her voice to imitate her late husband, and a hint of the woman from last Sunday’s wake surfaces. “Cecilia said ‘I live here, and this is my girlfriend Pocho. Nice to meet you.’ “He invited me out that night, but I couldn’t go because I couldn’t find a babysitter for my daughter. He figured that I didn’t want to date him and wasn’t interested. But I was interested, but couldn’t get out to Cici’s house until two weeks after I’d first met him. Then, love blossomed when I went to the studio, saw what he did, and had a great time with him. He was a real gentleman, wonderful person, and we started dating a long time. We dated seven years, until one day I bought a ring to propose to him. We went out to dinner at the Mountain View Restaurant in Dover, New Jersey. I got down on my hands and knees in front of the whole restaurant, proposed to him, and he said yes.” As seems to be habit with her, Pocho read Gray a poem as she proposed. They married on April Fool’s Day, 1988, since nobody thought they’d ever get married. They got the cabin in January, and she moved in with Gray in March. Like many artists, Gray had his own routine, where he worked “eight days a week.” “He’d get up every day for his definite first cup of black coffee. Then his second cup, and third. In the meantime, he’s in the ‘library’ if you catch my drift, and he’d read for an hour. He’d love to read four to five books a week. I’d go to used bookstores constantly for him. Then, after that at ten o’clock, he’d go to the studio and work. Sometimes, I’d go and get his favorite tobacco at the store, or a newspaper or magazine if he needed it for some swipe. Then it was back to work again. He’d finish around six o’clock, eat dinner, and then it was back to work for an hour or two. In the meantime, he’d like to take breaks and watch a half an hour of black-&-white movies. He loved old, antiquated, black-&-white! Mysteries, and Charlie Chan movies, old swashbuckler movies… he loved them all.” It seems that Gray Morrow led an existence where he was fortunate enough to divulge in his fantasies, childhood and otherwise. Perhaps that is why the Tarzan strip was among his favorite projects. Perhaps that is also why his being dismissed from the strip this past COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
Farewell to the Master His peers & friends discuss Gray Morrow: The man & his artistry EDITOR’S NOTE: It is with profound appreciation that CBA offers its gratitude to Mark Wheatley, Alan Kupperberg, and all who so quickly came to our aid in this quickly-prepared tribute to Gray Morrow. In testament to how well the man was loved by his peers, this section came together so seamlessly yet with an abiding passion. Our hat’s off to these good friends of Gray.—JBC
Below: Israeli artist Michael Netzer (formerly known as 1970s’ DC artist Mike Nasser) contributed this portrait of Gray exclusively for this tribute. ©2002 Michael Netzer.
compiled by Alan Kupperberg & Mark Wheatley
Michael Netzer artist Bearing a gentle soul and armed with a potent measure of grace, you decorated an industry of the creators you touched with your gentlemanly warmth and uncompromising honor for the truths you knew. This essence of the man in you found its expression in every piece of art you produced. With it you touched the chords of harmony and beauty in an industry drunken with the images of brash power and wanton thirst for violence. You were the one who walked softly amongst us and carried a stick too big for us to see. Your quiet manner was no indication of the inner power you showed in fending off the calls to put aside your vision of peace and harmony for the one of drama and chaos that lined the pages of our lives. You were a hopeful light that shined in a dark and fearful world… but you knew no fear. Have peace, our friend, and thank you for the inspiration you leave an industry that mourns not having heard your call. Perhaps, with your passing, we'll remember the better sides of the creative spirit. Perhaps, in your remembrance, we'll seek the better sides of our souls.
Dick Giordano artist/editor (The following was intended to be included in Gray Morrow: Visionary, the coffee table book that celebrated his art and career. In a letter asking me to write “a few kind words about my art, my paintings, my stories and comics,” Gray concluded with a request to send my text to his Tarzan co-writer, because “if I had to read this stuff you’re going to write about me, I’d be much too embarrassed…!” That was Gray. Anyway, I missed the deadline, I guess (although one was not given me) and I felt badly. Still do. But I’ll feel a small bit better if I can belatedly tell the world.) Memory fails! Did I meet Gray Morrow and first see his wonderful, illustrative work when I edited for DC Comics in the late ’60s? I really can’t remember. What I can recall is that Gray drew things as they actually looked but with style and grace, very much like my heroes Alex Raymond and Hal Foster drew… and very much like I wanted to draw. I can’t remember the precise circumstances, but shortly after meeting Gray, I was offered a story to ink that Gray had penciled. The pencils were beautiful and I couldn’t wait to start inking! Alas, I just wasn’t up to it. I absolutely destroyed his work (I felt), and it was my last such experience. While at DC, I was able to get Gray to do some work for me (never enough; he was always busy elsewhere). He beautifully designed and illustrated a number of introduction pages for the romance titles I edited. These intro pages were to create a mood, like a frontispiece, for the material that followed. Gray’s work was often the high point of the issue. Later, he created the montage-like graphics for an illustrated text feature I experimented with, I believe, in one of my romance titles. Again, Gray brought more into the work that I could have anticipated. They were stunningly different, well thought out and beautifully executed. In the years since then, Gray’s and my paths have not crossed very often but I always followed his work… and wished I was half as good!
Alan Weiss artist I met Gray Morrow up in the DC offices, in the small, windowless, practically airless art-o-graph room. It must have been 1970. Neal Adams introduced us. Gray was working on an “El Diablo” page. I babbled something about how I’d admired and studied his work since I’d first seen it years earlier in the Warren magazines. I was particularly impressed with his Westerns. His extraordinary attention to costumes, detail, and firearms demonstrated an obvious love for the genre. I asked him about all this comparatively “above-thecall-of-duty” research. Gray paused, puffed on his pipe, cocked one eyebrow, coolwise, and softly replied, “Well, that’s the fun, isn’t it?” Gray’s art always exhibited that element of fun, and more. His work radiated a quality of lively adventure best described by William S. Hart as “The Thrill of it All!” Through the years, it was my great pleasure to work with Gray on at least a handful of occasions. Though many may have been closer, I think he considered me a friend. We could always talk comics, cowboys, babes and swashbucklers. Calling to invite me to his annual summer bash, he’d always genially add, “Wouldn’t be the same without you.” 56
COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
The Sorcerer Supreme Gray Morrow on the glorious—if short-lived—Red Circle line Below: Many a comic fan (at least those on or near the East Coast) first caught a glimpse of Gray Morrow’s wonders to come in Red Circle Comics through this b-&-w line reproduction of his Chilling Adventures in Sorcery #3 cover in an ad trumpeting the shortlived line’s arrival in the 1973 Seuling New York Comic Art Convention souvenir book. ©1973 Archie Publications, Inc.
Conducted by Jon B. Cooke Transcribed by Jon B. Knutson As generous, smart and kind a man as Gray Morrow was, he was one tough interview as most of my questions were longer than his answers. When I spoke to the artist in March 2001, I had hoped to kill two birds with one stone by discussing both his Warren contributions (for The Warren Companion) and his short but very sweet stint as editor of Archie Comics’ Red Circle imprint in the mid-’70s. While afterwards Gray was kind enough to help flesh-out his Warren answers in writing for the aforementioned book, I asked if it
would be possible to visit him at his studio so we might have a fuller discussion of that short-lived but significant comics line. He graciously agreed to have me as a guest and I suggested I’d come a’callin’ sometime in the Fall or Winter. Sadly that was never meant to be. Here is our conversation regarding Red Circle. Comic Book Artist: I talked to you briefly about Charlton, and I had a mistaken impression that you had a studio when you were packaging Space: 1999. That wasn’t necessarily so? Gray Morrow: I was pretty much a lone wolf. CBA: Around the same time, the Red Circle account came along? Gray: Yeah. CBA: Can you tell me the genesis of that? Gray: Well, I don’t remember who or why they called me in, but they did. I met with Richard Goldwater [of Archie Comics], and his art director, Victor Gorelik. They asked me if I could put together a package for them. I wasn’t sure if I could or not, but I said, “Why not? I’ll give it a shot.” CBA: Were you living in New York at the time? Gray: In Brooklyn. CBA: You brought in a lot of superlative talent to work on the Red Circle books. What were your inspirations, what did you want to achieve with the books? Were they knock-offs of the DC mystery line, or were you reaching back to the EC’s, only within Code constraints? Gray: Well, I guess I was thinking more in terms of old movies and radio shows. That’s what I was trying to emulate. CBA: Who was [frequent Red Circle writer] Marvin Channing? Gray: Marvin was a friend of Alan Barber. Alan is a sort of a super film buff, like Leonard Maltin. He did several books on series-type movies, like The Thin Man, movies of that ilk, etc. He’s also done books on the old serials, or chapter plays. I used to visit him, and he’d run one of these things for me, sometimes two or three! I’d be up until four or five in the morning. [laughter] Where was I going with that? Oh, Marvin was a friend of Alan’s, and Marvin was a high school teacher who had literary aspirations. One thing lead to another, and he showed me some of his scripts, and they were printable. CBA: Did it just go through the grapevine that you wanted to package material for Red Circle? Gray: Well, I called up people I thought were the best in the field, like Alex Toth. CBA: How did you know Alex? Gray: I met him up at DC’s offices. CBA: Was it fun to work on the Red Circle stuff? Gray: Oh, yeah! It was a chance to have some control over the product, and do something that I always wanted to try. Take a shot at writing scripts myself, I had no training as a writer, but found out I could tell a story, after a fashion. CBA: You had a total approach for the books, for the initial issues that were coming out, you emulated a red circle on the cover, you had all the illustration taking place within a circle. The look of the books had some resemblance to Marvel, though just in very superficial ways—having a bar across the top, stuff like that. Was that instituted by the publisher, or were you looking to perhaps catch a little from the Marvel comics that were extremely popular at the time? Gray: Not that I’m aware of, no. CBA: So, you were handed the book Chilling Tales of Sorcery, Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch was on the cover, and they just said, “Go to town with it, and produce a book for us?” COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
Red Circle Comics Checklist The complete index to the 1970s Gray Morrow-edited titles
Compiled by Jon B. Cooke
All covers ©1973-75 Archie Publications, Inc.
BLACK HOOD 1 Unpublished Cover: ? “Black Hood” Gray Morrow/Gray Morrow 8 “It’s Murder to Beat the Odds” Marv Channing/Al McWilliams 5 “Life’s Not Like a Comic Book!” Gray Morrow (plot) Neal Adams & Dick Giordano (story & art)10 “Black Hood Hits a Sour Note”Marv Channing/Alden McWilliams 4 Notes: Did not see print during Gray’s tenure, but was published in Archie’s Super-Hero Special Comics Digest #2 (1979) and (sans “Black Hood Hits a Sour Note,” which was probably intended for the non-extant Black Hood #2) in Blue Ribbon Comics #8 (1984). CHILLING ADVENTURES IN SORCERY 3 October 1973 Cover: Gray Morrow “…Cat!” Gray Morrow/Gray Morrow 6 “A Stab in the Dark” (text fiction with illo) ?/Gray Morrow? 1 “Missing Link!” Gray Morrow/Gray Morrow 5 “Immortality Factor” Gray Morrow/Gray Morrow 5 “Haunted Gallery” Gray Morrow/Gray Morrow 6 “Essays into the Supernatural” Phil Seuling/Gray Morrow 1 Notes: First two issues were Archie Comics-style horror stories told straight but drawn in the Dan DeCarlo humorous style(!), hosted by Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Those two issues sported the lengthy title Chilling Adventures in Sorcery as Told by Sabrina, and appeared in September and October 1972 respectively, one year
prior to the Morrow relaunch. Red Circle Comics Group published “Take Care of Your Little Brother!”Marv Channing/Vincente Alcazar 4 by Archie. “Two Glass Bottles” (text fiction) 1 Note: Title changed from Archie humor mag Madhouse Glads. 4 December 1973 Cover: Gray Morrow Includes half-page house ad drawn by Gray Morrow. “Suicide… Maybe” Vincente Alcazar/Vincente Alcazar 6 Cover: Gray Morrow “Loophole” (text fiction) ? 1 96 November 1974 Marv Channing/Jesse Santos 5 “Horripilate Host” ?/Dick Giordano 6 “Never Bother a Dead Man” Marv Channing/Sal Amendola 1 “Golden Touch” Gray Morrow/Gray Morrow 5 “Essays in the Supernatural” Bruce Jones/Bruce Jones 7 “A Thousand Pounds of Clay” Don Glut/Vincente Alcazar 6 “Demon Kiss” “No Respect for the Dead” (text fiction with illustration) Essays into the Supernatural: “The Witch!” Marv Channing/Gray Morrow 1 Gray Morrow?/Gray Morrow 1 “The Devil’s Matchmaker” John Jacobson/Sal Amendola 4 ?/Vincente Alcazar? 5 5 February 1974 Cover: Gray Morrow “The Gentlest Dog on the Block” Note: John Costanza, letterer on “The Devil’s Matchmaker.” “The Two Thieves of Baghdad” Gray Morrow & Larry Hama/Vincente Alcazar 6 Includes half-page house ad drawn by Gray Morrow. “Esmé” Vincente Alcazar/Vincente Alcazar 8 Cover: Gray Morrow “Barometer Falling” Gray Morrow/Gray Morrow 5 97 January 1975 Marv Channing/Frank Thorne 6 “The Choker is Wild” ?/Vincente Alcazar 6 “The Vampire Hunter” Essays into the Supernatural: “Dragons” Phil Seuling/Gray Morrow 1 Essays in the Supernatural: “Zombies”Marv Channing/Gray Morrow 1 ?/Gray Morrow 6 Notes: “Esmé” is signed “Vincente Sarrano.” Title changes to Red “Cellar Dweller” “Heaven’s Not for Losers” Ralph Alfonso/Alden McWilliams 5 Circle Sorcery with #6. “The Earth Children” (text fiction with illustrations) MAD HOUSE Marv Channing/Gray Morrow 2 95 September 1974 Cover: Gray Morrow “Too Mean to Die” Marv Channing/Carlos Piño 5 “The Terrible Trident” Don Glut/Vincente Alcazar 6 Note: Becomes Archie-style humor title. Includes half-page house “The Happy Dead” ?/Doug Wildey 6 ad drawn by Gray Morrow. “The Vampire Hunter” is thinly-veiled “The Night of the Leopard Men” Don Glut/Carlos Piño 6 Sherlock Holmes pastiche.
COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
The Great “Inky” Roussos The late artist’s final interview on his 50 years in comics Conducted by Jon B. Cooke Transcribed by Jon B. Knutson George Roussos—nicknamed in the ’40s “Inky” for his expert use of the brush—was a very dear and sweet man whom I befriended a few years ago. I called him for an interview for The Jack Kirby Collector and ended up phoning him on a semi-regular basis just to shoot the breeze, because underneath what many viewed as a gruff, no-nonsense exterior, was a thoughtful, considerate man with no illusions about his life and work. I had the honor of visiting George and his wife Florence in their Long Island home, and we shared a wonderful dinner together at a local steak house in the Spring of 1998. George passed away in 2000 and I miss him terribly. This interview was conducted in two sessions by phone, on May 11 and Nov. 26, 1997.—JBC
Above: George Roussos’ first job in the comics field was as a background man in Bob Kane’s New York studio, where “Inky” worked side-by-side with Jerry Robinson (whose chore was to ink figures). Courtesy of Roy Thomas, here’s the team’s effort for the cover of Detective Comics #45 (Nov. 1940). ©2002 DC Comics.
Comic Book Artist: When did you start working in comics? George Roussos: In 1940. I worked prior to that, when I was in school, but that was my first job. I worked in the Spanish department, and I did corrections, putting the panels… sometimes the drawing was off, so I had to correct the lettering. Then, in 1940, I got in with DC Comics. CBA: Working for Bob Kane? George: At first, I worked directly for Bob, but since we [the art assistants] produced the stuff fast enough—and he was very slow—they decided to have us go into the office several months later. CBA: You went to work on staff at National [DC Comics], right? George: I think it was called National, right. CBA: At Bob Kane’s, you worked alongside Jerry Robinson? George: Yeah, Jerry and I worked together in the Times building, the old building. CBA: So you were both quite young. George: Yeah. CBA: Did Jerry have a lot of input on the stories? George: Not on the stories, no. Just with the inking of the figures. Bill Finger was the author, the one that really shaped the strip. Bob had rough ideas, but Bill was the man behind Batman. CBA: When you went over to National, who were you working for? George: When we went there, there was only one editor, and he was Whit Ellsworth. Murray Boltinoff was the assistant editor. CBA: What were your duties? George: Doing the same thing as I did before: Backgrounds and
lettering on Batman, and Jerry was doing the figures, and Bob would send the pages in. This way, by having us work in the office, he kept tabs on us and what was going on. CBA: Did you go to school for art? George: No, I just practiced on my own. I got the job because I knew so much about comics. I used to practice at home, and I would write letters to syndicated newspaper strip artists. I really wanted to go into syndication, though I never did. So, I got replies to my letters, but I didn’t have enough experience to fill any job they might have, so I lost out. I did receive several good scripts I could work off of. What was the question, primarily? CBA: Why comics? Why did you want to get into comics? George: [laughs] That’s a three-pronged question. [laughter] Well, I knew there were three forms of art in my time which don’t exist today. One was comics, which needed less education in drawing and so forth, and I liked telling stories, developing characters and the satire that’s involved with it, stuff like that. Then you have illustration, and I knew the work wasn’t as productive as comics. With comics you’d finish one job, and there’s always another one. With illustration, you have to wait for another story to be written, and the editor would call you in, and so on, and you had to be pretty well-polished and know how to paint. The third, of course, is fine art, which requires that you sleep out in the cold and eat once a month. [laughter] Being an orphan—I had lost my parents at a very young age—I took the practical solution, the obvious one, which was comics. CBA: Did you grow up in New York? George: Originally I was born in Washington, D.C. I was raised properly in Greece, went to school there, came back, and lived in New York pretty much the rest of my life, except when I worked on comics in England for a while. Being an orphan was the reason I went to work in comics. But I found out I’m more naturally adapted to fine art. Most artists try to be fine artists, to me it’s natural, but I could never allow it to take over, because of the economics involved, and I didn’t have the backbone to be… it requires quite a bit of character to be a fine artist. CBA: Did you admire comics when you were a kid? George: Yes, in a way. Mostly it was from the practical point of view. I wasn’t as crazy as most of the people are toward it. CBA: When you got in the business, what did you think of it when you were there? George: When I was a kid, I suppose I thought it was okay. You did the crazy things that most kids do, you were interested in this artist and all that, and you want to meet people, and blah, blah, blah… and all that, but didn’t realize my potential, which I never developed anyhow. [laughs] So, I could do a reasonably good job. In fact, I proved my point very easily… I might’ve told you we worked with a [real-life] character known as Bob Wood, on “The Targeteers.” I could dramatize with my art, I suppose, because of my background. In other words, what makes certain things is the background that you have, and that reflects on your work, and mine was rather dramatic, so drama has been almost the thing that pulled me through throughout the career. CBA: In those early years, did you like working on Batman? Did you like the character? George: I liked it, but it’s hard for me to explain… at this moment, I see it in such an odd way, you know? I would imagine that the reason I worked in comics was mostly economic. I needed a job, and that was the emphasis, primarily, on whatever I did. That’s COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
why I’ve never succeeded like the others did, because they threw themselves totally into it. I never did that. CBA: Didn’t you work in comics for the last 56 years? George: Yes. Comics and comics and comics. [laughter] Then I worked for 20 years at the same time I freelanced, I worked for General Electric. I did educational comics for them. CBA: When was this? George: 1945, if I’m not mistaken. There was a newspaper double-spread emphasizing how comics were so effective with young people, and General Electric decided this was the best way to get their message across, so we did 20 different booklets, which they gave away for free to the various schools. The publication went as far as Ceylon, they had to be done in different languages according to the country. CBA: So what were you doing on those books? George: On those, I did the complete job. A fair job, nothing to write home about. CBA: Do any of those still exist? Do you have them? George: I have some of those, yes. They’re ordinary. I wouldn’t worry about them too much. [laughs] The reason I apologize, in a way, is that I never ducked into it like the other fellas did, and therefore, I felt my work was always not quite as adequate as it should’ve been. CBA: Was there any art form you were particularly interested in—not necessarily one you worked at? George: Actually, I drifted. I did a painting many years ago which gave me the clue to my fate if I had the backbone. The painting included an artist’s drawing, and it was similar to Vermeer’s work. I was looking outside the window, trying to draw… do you know the Vermeer painting, where an artist is painting at a canvas, and there’s a woman posing with a trombone or something like that? The figure of the artist has no paints, used as a symbol, more or less, to create the dimension and so forth… a lot of things go into it. Anyway, there’s a window in front of my drawing table, and it’s all in blue, and the high buildings represented success in the future, and everything was blue, there was nothing that was realistic. On the extreme right of the painting, there’s a shadow cast from my drawing board leading to a very weird door that’s off-shape, unique, not totally square, just weird and angled. In other words, I was showing you that’s the uncertainty, trying to go consciously to the future— which was comics, syndication, etc.—my unknown character has been pulling me into this other direction. This is the interpretation I give, and I was very happy with that. That was the clue to the whole thing. It’s a rough little painting. Anyway, that gives you an idea what my feelings were. CBA: Have you continued to paint? George: I’ve done some things, but not too many, no, because of the time element. I have a particular one that I like very much, that I January 2002
COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
did on the cheapest paper you could possibly find. The art paper we drew comics on was protected by two sheets of the cheapest possible paper, about 20” x 40”, some weird size. I said to myself, “If I’m a decent artist, I can make that cheap paper come alive.” So I took the paper, and worked on it… [laughs] and the painting turned out to be one of the finest I ever did. I framed it and everything. Well, I did this scene of a ship that’s sailing, with the gray clouds up there—always the uncertainty and always brooding, the every day occurrence—and a ship is going, fighting the elements of the water, but the water was done in deep green, because the landscape, which reflects the registration below, and it’s very deep. When you look at my water, the way I interpret it, I give it volume and weight. Most people do a very beautiful shape, things with the whitecaps on things, but I don’t do that. I don’t go into that. I try to express the drama of the water and try to get this tremendous dimension. So, when I saw that later on, I said, “My God, there’s a possibility I may be good one day.” [laughter] That gives you an idea of my peculiarities, okay? CBA: Your considerations were always economic? George: Always. Being an orphan, I was raised in an orphanage. CBA: How old were you when you lost your parents? George: Quite young. I was in the orphanage for four years, and
Above: Wonderful 1941 photo of young George Roussos at his drawing table. Note the Batman cover proofs and Prince Valiant strip behind the artist. Courtesy of Marie Steinberg, George’s beloved daughter.
Evans in the Heavens A final, glorious interview with the great EC aviation artist Conducted by Jon B. Cooke Transcribed by Jon B. Knutson
Below: George Evans drawing and dreaming in a self-portrait commission rendered for a fan. Courtesy of the artist. ©2002 the Estate of George Evans.
George Evans was one of the sweetest, dearest men I have ever had the pleasure to spend time talking to. I only met him—through the Internet—a year ago January, but I was immediately charmed by his friendly demeanor and just plain niceness. We spoke on Jan. 16, 20 01, and though I had originally intended just to discuss his Warren contributions (for The Warren Companion, in which small portions of the following initially appeared), he proved such a captivating personality that we covered his entire glorious career. He copyedited the final transcript. A generous, loving, and vastly talented man, George’s spirit soars in heaven, having passed away on June 22, ’01.
Comic Book Artist: George, where are you from? George Evans: I was brought up in Pennsylvania, about 65 to 70 miles north of where I live now in Mount Joy, in a place called Coldmont. But I was actually born in a little mining town about 30 miles above that. There I spent the first nine years of my life, around coal mines, coal miners, and that was about all! CBA: And you’re about to have a birthday, right? George: I am, indeed… 81. CBA: Congratulations! George: [laughs] Thank you, I was in World War II, and who expected the way things were, that I’d get to this point? CBA: Did you draw as a child? George: Yes, I did. A lot. I remember things I could do by the time I was four. When I had an ear infection—it was chronic until an operation at about age 12—and every winter, it would flare up and I’d be house-bound. We didn’t have all those computers [laughter] and record players and DVDs and things like that, so they bought me watercolors, crayons and a lot of paper! The reading material at the time was newspapers, and the best part of them—then and now—were the comic strips. CBA: What comic strips were you drawn to? George: Wash Tubbs, Boots and Her Buddies, Freckles and His Friends… it was mostly NEA stuff, because they serviced the small-town papers. CBA: You enjoyed Roy Crane’s work? George: Oh, I loved Crane then! I bought a whole set of the books that reprinted his stuff, enjoyed them all over again, and took another trip back to childhood! CBA: That’s truly wonderful stuff. George: It is! CBA: And early on, you were how old when Charles Lindbergh made his historic transatlantic flight? George: Seven. CBA: Do you remember it? George: Oh, that made me the aviation nut I’ve stayed all my life! Oh yes, he was my hero, really. They had a song about him, and all the rest, and yes, he became my hero. CBA: Possibly today’s generation might not understand how a seemingly simple flight can make the pilot an international hero. Why was Lindbergh considered the important figure that he was in the 1920s? George: Like King Arthur, Robin Hood and all the rest of them, he was just a simple guy. While everybody else was trying, with big money financing them and all the rest, here comes this simple kind of fellow who makes a deal with an aircraft company to build him a special airplane, according to his specs, and he made it! He was the Big Hero, took the chance, put his life on the line, gambled and won! Radio was pretty primitive at the time, but if you’d read about it, they followed it, and I remember hearing people around this little town—only a couple of them had the old battery radios—and the word got out, “Hey! Lindy made it! Lindy made it!” and for a seven-year-old kid, that was marvelous stuff to hear that a guy had that kind of guts! CBA: Your interest in that flight led to a lifelong interest in aviation? George: Yes, it did, and I have it to this day. I still love COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
at me and said, “I was the bastard!” [laughter] The three of them gathered behind Bob Lubber’s taboret and watched him. Bob was a genius with a brush! I swear to God, he could do four pages a day in a working day of “Captain Wings” or whatever Planet stories he was doing, and they were watching in fascination and somebody moved and almost upset Bob’s taboret with the India ink bottle on it, and his finished pages leaning against the bottom of it, and he let out a blast and said, “I’m gonna take you son-of-a-bitch and hold you out the window and let go!” [laughter] We were on the third floor. When Al corrected me, I said it was one of the other guys, but Al said, “No, that was me he was talking to, and you know, I thought he was gonna do it!” [laughter] CBA: Al was only a teenager, right? George: He was, and yet, the stuff he showed around there was mighty, mighty good. If he had applied himself to do whole pictures and some background, I’ll bet he could’ve got work up there. But Al loved to do the swordsmen and the dinosaurs and the pretty girls, so there were all these graceful, animated figures doing this and doing that, and beautiful girls, well-stacked… but they were hanging in limbo, you know? Not in settings. He wouldn’t bother with backgrounds and the like. He would call in Frazetta or Angelo Torres—they called themselves “The Fleagles”—and often he’d call in George Evans, and among us, we’d get the thing finished, do the backgrounds or things he didn’t like to draw. I would kind of needle him about it. “Come on, Al, come on! You’ve got such great stuff here, start to do your own backgrounds and geez, you’ll be top of the heap!” He would get on the phone every now and again and say, “Can you give me a hand with this?” and what it would be is pedestrian kind of backgrounds, somebody walking the streets, somebody climbing a stairway or whatever, and I’d give him a hand, as he often gave me a hand, and when John Prentice, recognizing how great he was with figures that looked derivative of Alex Raymond—which is what John was doing with Rip Kirby, the followon of Raymond’s Flash Gordon—and he took Al down to Mexico. Then, I guess, with no other place to go to get scripts to do work, he had to buckle down and do whatever Prentice assigned him to, and I’ve read in The Al Williamson Sketchbook where he credits John with pushing him to be the success he is. CBA: To get some discipline? George: Yes, to get discipline. Exactly so. CBA: The Fleagle Boys were pretty wild, right? George: From what they tell! [laughter] I was “Old Pa,” they didn’t call me granddad, but in a sense you could feel it. Just like in the Air Force, we had a 28-year-old guy, and everybody called him “Pop!” [laughter] I would’ve been a “Pop” if I habituated with the Fleagles. CBA: When did you get married? George: Oh, I got married while I was in the service in the ’40s. I guess I’d been in a year and got married on furlough. No, it was six months before the end of the war. CBA: Being a comic book artist, generally speaking, can be a very solitary life, where freelancers work in their own home studios… George: You’re right. CBA: …but you guys were able to maintain a social aspect. Angelo Torres, Al, Frank… the Fleagle Boys, and you were always around these guys to some degree. Was that gratifying? George: Oh, it was gratifying, but that’s not quite the way it was. Al and I got together a lot. If I were going into the city I might call him and say, “I’m going to be in New York, let’s have a hot dog or something,” or if he were going into the city, he’d call and ask, “When are you going in again?” and we’d meet often in that way. And again, we’d see each other at publishers where we were both doing work, like at Fawcett and then later at EC. I didn’t know Angelo until long after. I had met Frank Frazetta, but he moved out near to us on Long Island then when we bought the Levitt house. After Al Capp chopped him off at the knees [dismissing Frazetta as a ghost on L’il Abner], I get a phone call, “This is Frank Frazetta, remember me?” I said, “I’ll never forget Frank Frazetta.” He said, “Do you have any work I could help you with?” By God, I was stunned, I really was! I did have work that he could help with, because I’d gotten to working January 2002
COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
with Dell and Gold Key and they were giving me whole books to do, so for a period of time, Frank worked with me [The Frogmen #1 and 2, material CBA will examine in our forthcoming Gold Key ish]. I penciled the stuff, he inked it, and up to the time that we left Long Island, I would occasionally still get a letter from some comic collector, some fan of Frank’s, asking, “Do you have any of the books Frank worked on with you? Do you have any of the original art Frank did with you? Do you have any stories to tell about working with Frank?” So he has made his name! [laughter] You know, the nice part about it is, people tell me still that he remembers it with pleasure, and I sure do. CBA: Back in the late ’40s, did you know Wally Wood at all?
Above: Zowie! Was George good, or what? A page from Ranger Comics’ Evans strip, “Tiger-Man,” from a gorgeous stat made of the original art, and snagged from Jerry Bails & Hames Ware’s third volume of their 1970s Who’s Who of American Comic Books. ©1948 Flying Stories, Inc. Below: Evans also worked on Captain Video. Cherce panels from #1. ©©2002 the respective copyright holder.
Evans Remembered Michael T. Gilbert on the life & loves of the former EC artist by Michael T. Gilbert
Living in Levittown George Evans was a friend of mine. We never met, but became friends through letters and Christmas cards and e-mails, over a 15-year period. Three months before his death, I spoke to him on the phone for the first and only time, and we were chatting by e-mail only a week before he fell ill. I didn’t live close enough to visit him, and I regret not having the pleasure of shaking his hand in person. Still, I feel I knew him. George’s humor and unaffected warmth made you feel like you were his pal and always had been. When he passed away on Friday, June 22, 2001, the victim of leukemia, the comic industry lost a true friend and a dyed-in-the-wool comics fan.
Above: American gothic redux. September 1941 photo of George Evans and Evelyn Roadarmel (later Evans). This beautiful couple were married for over 50 years, and remaned together until George’s passing. Courtesy of the Evanses.
George and I first began corresponding in 1985. I was digging up classic horror stories for a comic I was putting together, and wrote to him for permission to reprint one of his. George replied with a long letter, brimming with warmth and humor. We began trading letters. When I first began writing him, I was surprised to discover that George lived just a few blocks from my family’s house in Levittown, Long Island. Though I didn’t know it, we were neighbors when I was growing up. George was lucky I didn’t find out until decades later. Even as a teenager, I was a huge George Evans fan, and there’s no telling what this “wannabe” cartoonist might have done to meet one of his idols. Last year, George told me of a wonderful opportunity I’d missed decades earlier. Here’s his description of a huge party he and his wife Evelyn put on back in the late ’50s: “Al Williamson, wife, bro-in-law Alex and Roy Krenkel were out to our home for a barbecue. Our kids had friends all around town of course, and somehow word spread. I counted 17 assorted kids who with our guests first-invented ‘Calvinball’ and closed all our street. We kept sending for more dogs, buns, drinks ’til the stores closed! After dark parents came searching, I guess by instinct. When we moved away—rather, Ev visited after—one of the little (then) neighbor girls now with five of her own told us in the most
wonderful awed voice, ‘That party with Al and Alex and Roy was the most wonderful thing in my life. If you are still in touch with them— please—tell them!’ They became kids themselves for that time. (Well, hell—Al will be a kid forever, God bless him!) I, of course, was stuck roasting wieners all night! (Hey—how come you didn’t get to come ’round??? All the best, George” Oh, to have stumbled onto that party! That didn’t happen, but I’m grateful I did stumble onto George’s comics.
Hooked On EC! I first fell in love with George’s work in 1965, thanks to a series of Ballantine Books paperbacks. From late 1964 to ’66, Ballantine published five EC collections, reprinting stories from the old EC line of comics—comics many consider among the best ever done. And George Evans was one of EC’s finest artists. Ballantine’s The Vault of Horror featured the Evans-illustrated “Curiosity Killed…”— a black comedy about a henpecked husband and a wife who pecked once too often. Nobody drew henpecked husbands and battle-axe wives more convincingly than George. George himself commented on this in a recent e-mail: “…though I’d done reams of science-fiction for a lot of publishers, I wasn’t locked to it and EC quickly typecast me in the ‘lowly, average guy’ horror stuff ’til airplanes came up….” George’s deceptively ordinary “lowly, average guy” horror really knocked me out. I was particularly impressed with his take on the Al Feldstein-scripted “Blind Alleys,” reprinted in Ballantine’s Tales from the Crypt book. That creepy tale about a man who tortures blind men—and the wall of razors they erect as payback—still gives me the creeps. George’s realistic, understated art made the story truly chilling. Apparently director Freddie Francis thought so too. In 1972, “Blind Alleys” was one of the comic stories he adapted for a movie version of Tales from the Crypt. George’s understated realism was also displayed in the Feldstein/Evans adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s classic story, “The Small Assassin,” reprinted in Ballantine’s The Autumn People collection. Bradbury’s tale of a newborn baby born with supernatural intelligence and a desire to murder his parents would have seemed ridiculous drawn by a lesser talent. But it became frighteningly real under George’s pen. From then on, I was hooked on EC—and George Evans. George’s art appeared in almost all the EC titles. The stories he illustrated for Tales from the Crypt, Frontline Combat, Two-Fisted Tales, Weird Science-Fantasy, Piracy, Valor and Aces High were always first-rate. Whatever the subject matter, his amazing attention to detail made every story utterly convincing. And his covers! George crafted exciting, well-researched eye-catchers for books like Aces High and Piracy that brought the past to life. Then, shifting gears, he’d draw shockingly violent covers for Shock SuspenStories and Crime SuspenseStories. As a teenager, I studied his pictures of murder and mayhem with gory fascination.
Beyond EC Once I started recognizing his style, I began seeing more and more George Evans art. His illustrations for Gold Key’s Twilight Zone and Boris Karloff comics in the early ’60s displayed a light, comic touch. George’s art on these was perfect for stories of very ordinary people in quite extraordinary situations. Going further back, I uncovered some spectacular horror stories COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
he’d drawn for Fawcett Comics in the early ’50s, shortly before joining EC. George’s eerie stories for Strange Suspense Stories, Worlds of Fear and This Magazine is Haunted were every bit the equal of his more famous EC tales. The Fawcett movie adaptations he illustrated were also impressive. George had fun at both companies and it showed. By the mid-’50s, both EC and Fawcett were essentially gone, victims of the Comics Code and declining sales. George then found work at Gilberton, publishers of Classics Illustrated comics. Both he and fellow EC artist Reed Crandall were well suited to the material. Together and separately, they drew numerous excellent adaptations of famous novels. Their versions of Romeo and Juliet, The Three Musketeers and such were truly classics—illustrated! The pay was never great, but that didn’t stop them from doing top-notch work. George discussed it in an e-mail last September: “Classics Illustrated did pay low but no page was more than four panels, many less, and I lightened up on blacks for speed. Plus at a given point where we clashed over authenticity—they lost—and gave me a $5 raise per page! Pays to get your back up sometimes!” As this post suggests, George was a lifelong history buff. He particularly loved drawing planes, the older the better! His aviation illustrations became the standard in the field and a George Evans trademark. Planes were in the picture as early as 1946, when he began his comic career drawing features such as Air Heroes at Fiction House. In 1955, EC created the title Aces High to showcase his matchless depiction of WWI biplanes. George repaid them with some of his finest work. In the ’70s, he did a stint on the high-flying Blackhawks for DC, and drew a number of air-oriented stories for their war titles. George’s love of planes spilled over to children’s books such as 1967’s The Story of Flight and his proposed syndicated strip, The Flying Swifts. Some of George’s last works included re-creations of his stunning Aces High covers. And of course, he took every opportunity to sneak airplanes into the various newspaper strips he worked on. And there were plenty of those!
career. From 1961-73, George ghosted the syndicated Terry and the Pirates daily strip, where his attention to technical detail came in handy. At various times he also worked on Wash Tubbs, Dan Flagg, and Rex Morgan, M.D. He even drew a flying sequence in Leonard Starr’s Mary Perkins. George would also step in and give uncredited help on other strips when needed. In an amusing e-mail of June 27, 2000, he made this wry observation: “It might interest you to know that at one given point I was drawing Secret Agent Corrigan for Al Williamson; Al was drawing Big Ben Bolt signing Cullen Murphy’s name; and Murphy was doing Prince Valiant for Foster.” In 1980, George began writing and drawing Secret Agent
Above: Though he never was able to see his final printed piece, George wrote the introduction to Michael T. Gilbert’s latest Mr. Monster collection, as well as contributing the illo above. Courtesy of MTG. Mr. Monster ©2002 Michael T. Gilbert. Art ©2002 the Evans estate. Below: George and Evelyn Evans, venue unknown, 1987. Time era of ghosting George Wunder’s daily Terry [and the Pirates], according to the artist’s caption. Photo by Paul Petersen. Courtesy of George.
See You in the Funny Papers… Familiar as I was with George’s comic book work, I was caught by surprise when I discovered the extent of his newspaper cartooning January 2002
COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
In Praise of Geo. Evans Testimonials on the work & life of the artist extraordinare Compiled by Michael T. Gilbert The news of George’s death was passed to us by noted collector Ray Cuthbert via the Internet, who relayed the following information from Wallace Harrington. One minor mistake in the original e-mail was recently corrected by George’s daughter, Carol. Though George initially suffered a stroke, he didn’t have a heart attack. He died in his sleep of leukemia.—MTG
collector In case anyone did not catch the news… George Evans passed away this morning [Friday, June 22, 2001] at 3 A.M. “After walking his dog in the early afternoon, Evans decided to drive into the town where he lives. En route he had a heart attack. His wife drove him home, and called an ambulance. After he entered the hospital and was treated for the heart attack, physicians learned from routine blood work that he had an advanced form of leukemia and all treatment was stopped.”—Wallace Harrington. Below: 1990 self-portrait of the artist drawn during George Evans’ years working on the newspaper syndicated strip Secret Agent Corrigan. ©2002 the Evans estate.
retailer/patron Re: George Evans, I hope that we can see some thorough retrospectives on his work to honor him, perhaps in the reborne CBM and from TwoMorrows… He is one of my favorite artists. His EC work was often overshadowed by Williamson, Wood and others, but like Reed Crandall, Jack Davis and Johnny Craig, he was a consummate creator who always could deliver a superbly crafted story. I loved buying some of his original EC stories as Russ Cochran was auctioning them a few years ago. Gorgeous, wondrous work, from his forte, biplane tales in Aces High, to stunning covers and stories in later Shock Suspense issues. And his Fawcett pre-Code work for titles like This Magazine is Haunted is just gorgeous, as well as his many stories from Fiction House titles like Planet Comics and Wings, in the late 1940s. Go with God, George.
artist I can’t believe George is gone! Years ago, when I was still living in Brooklyn, Scott Hampton and I made a sort of pilgrimage to see some of the EC guys. Angelo Torres lived down the street from me and as I was just beginning Enemy Ace, and Angelo being the big war fan that he is, he suggested I go see George Evans. I’d already hooked up with Kubert and was teaching in his school (talk about my fanboy dreams come true! Getting to hang around Joe Kubert! <grin>). Scott was visiting and we both got real interested in this idea because we didn’t know if Evans was still, at that time, alive and well. Angelo insisted that we should go see him and he gave me his number. Well, I called him, shaking in my boots… this is one of my heroes, one of the best of the WWI air artists!… and we chatted for quite awhile. He was regaling me with stories about the necessity of being factual with “those old kites!” We could have talked for hours but he said that we’d talk at length when Scott and I got up there. Our first stop was at Al Williamson’s studio and home. I believe I’d already met Al once, but it was only briefly, but he welcomed us to his home and we all had an incredible day of digging through his studio and telling stories and sharing artwork. What I remember most about Al’s studio was the piles and piles and piles of Alex Raymond original Rip Kirby and Secret Agent strips stacked on the floor. My God! Stacks and stacks of them, packed with that wonderful line work of Raymond’s! Also there were all those proofs of Prince Valiant! Wonderful! He also showed, and allowed me to pore slowly over, his collection of The Sphere newspaper from England during the First World War. These things were jam packed with Matania paintings and drawings. What a treat! And through all this was Al’s unique brand of humor that had us in fits. In Al’s home, of course, we got to see some great examples of the Golden Age of Illustration… Schoonover, Cornwell, etc. There was the bridge page of Prince Valiant, numerous Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim pages, as well as a couple of early Jeff Jones oils. A Clement Coll or two! Well, stupidly we thought we’d only be at Al’s for maybe two or three hours… something like that and the day totally got away from us and we found ourselves still there until after dark. We were supposed to be at George’s an hour or so earlier. Al got on the phone and called him up and took the heat for keeping us there at his studio so long and George said they were going to wait dinner on us. Scott and I hit the roads and overshot our turn by about two hours! We called George from a pay phone and explained what had happened and he was getting a little put out! <grin> Told us they’d been holding dinner and we apologized again and told him to go ahead and eat and we’d get there as soon as we possibly could. We finally pulled in around midnight, if memory serves, and George and his wife Evie warmly invited us in. Their grandson Roger was there too and he was a big fan of the new stuff, work by Scott and myself. We told him what a fool he was… his granddad is George Evans!!!! Yeah… but he’s just granddad. We had a great laugh over that and no one laughed harder than George himself. I have been a massive fan of George’s work for a long, long time. Scott, too. But the one thing we always found interesting about his work was the big eyes that his characters had. We couldn’t understand how everything could be so “on” about his drawing, but that unique, little weirdness. We’d been talking about that in the car, too. Then, standing in front of the man all was made clear. George COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17
The Kinstler Panache Paul Wardle talks to the legendary artist on his comics art perfectly suited to pulp magazines, and he was one of the few comic book artists who successfully adapted the fine-line cross-hatching, In the 1940s many young artists applied for jobs in the burgeoning and sketchy dynamics of pulp illustration to comics. With solid new comic book industry, secretly hoping that it would lead to storytelling, as well as gripping intensity, Kinstler’s comic work was bigger things. For some, either because of a genuine love of the equal in quality to Frazetta, Ingels, Wood and Crandall, yet because artform, or an inability to succeed in any other field, it became a he never applied for work at EC Comics, he is not among the lifelong profession. famous names generally batted around when Golden Age comic art Though the going was slow for a number of years, Everett is discussed. Raymond Kinstler eventually succeeded in the art world beyond his Among the comics publishers for whom Kinstler illustrated, wildest dreams. His works have hung in many galleries, and his were MLJ (Black Hood Comics), DC (“Hawkman”), Avon (many famed portraits have included legendary figures in entertainment, titles), Ziff-Davis (Nightmare and others), Dell/Western (Zorro, politics, sports and the literary world, most of whom posed for Silvertip, Western Marshall, and others), St. John (also Nightmare) Kinstler in his Manhattan studio. and Gilberton (The World Around Us). Born in 1926, Kinstler grew up in New York, and was already In addition to pulp magazines and comics, Kinstler also working in comic books by age 16. His illustration style, heavily painted numerous paperback covers, ranging from the sensationalist influenced by older illustrators like Gibson, Flagg, and Booth, was to literature. It was on these books that he began to develop the painting skills that he had first displayed in school at The Art Student’s League, where he would later teach, occasionally returning even to this day. Two scholarly books of his paintings exist, Painting Faces, Figures & Landscapes and Painting Portraits. The man’s energy and determination to do things his own way in life, as well as work are excellent qualities for insuring continued development and Mr. Kinstler has somehow managed to retain these ideals without doing anything he would consider “selling out.” I spoke to Kinstler by phone from his home in Connecticut on IF YOU ENJOYED THIS PREVIEW, a Saturday afternoon in November, 1999. I was calling from an CLICK THE LINK TOapartment ORDER on THIS the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where I was ISSUE IN PRINT OR DIGITAL FORMAT! staying for the weekend. Though I was not able to visit his studio, Kinstler’s remembrances and observations were still inspiring, and I was glad to have the opportunity to get his thoughts about this portion of his varied career in print for posterity. I would like to thank William Gee and his sister-in-law Julie, and Walter Dickenson for their help and support. Kinstler was to be the subject of a major PBS documentary airing in 2001. Conducted and transcribed by Paul Wardle
Below: A 1995 photo portrait of renowned portrait painter Everett Raymond Kinstler in his Westport, Connecticut studio, taken by Tony Triolo. ©1995 the photographer.
Everett Raymond Kinstler: I was born August 5, 1926 in Manhattan, and I’ve lived there all my life. Paul Wardle: When did you move to Connecticut? Everett: My headquarters and studio is still in New York City, but [my wife and I have] a house in Connecticut, which we’ve had for three years. It’s about an hour outside of the city, so that even when I’m up here, I go back and forth. Now, I’m guessing when you were a child growing up, you #17: ARTHUR Paul: ADAMS Discussion with ARTHUR ADAMS about his career an exwere a fan(with of the early newspaper strips and turn of the century tensive CHECKLIST, and gobs of rare art), plus GRAY MORROW illustrators. I know tributes from friends and acquaintances and a MORROW inter-artists like Charles Dana Gibson and James view, Red Circle Comics Checklist, interviews with & rememMontgomery Flagg were big influences on your later work. Could brances of GEORGE ROUSSOS & GEORGE EVANS, Gallery of you talk aboutKINwhat influence they had? Morrow, Evans, and Roussos art, EVERETT RAYMOND STLER interview, and more! New ARTHUR ADAMS cover! Everett: The influences I had were twofold. They were the (112-page magazine) newspaper SOLD OUT comic strips, namely personified by Alex Raymond’s (Digital Edition) $3.95 Jungle Jim and Flash Gordon; Tarzan, which was then [by] Hal http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_56&products_id=533 Foster, not Hogarth. I want to be clear on that. And right on into Prince Valiant… again by Hal Foster. And thirdly, and equally important without question because he and I got to be good friends, was Terry and the Pirates, and I knew Milton Caniff quite well in later years when he was doing Steve Canyon. Those were the three major influences I had with regards to comic strips. I was also very devoted to motion pictures from the time I was seven and eight, and able to go to the movies. One of the great thrills of my life was in 1978-80, when three very famous movie 104
COMIC BOOK ARTIST 17