Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bernie Wrighson Frankenstein Portfolio

The first of Bernie Wrightson's three Frankenstein portfolios. This was released by Tyrannosaurus Press in 1977 in a signed and numbered limited edition of 1000.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Book on Reed Crandall

A new book on Reed Crandall has been announced from TwoMorrows Publishing. The author is an expert on Crandall and has been working on it for a long time. I'm sure it will be an excellent resource on an artist too often overlooked by today's fans.

From the publisher's website: "From the 1940s to the ’70s, Reed Crandall brought a unique and masterful style to American comic art. Using an illustrator's approach on everything he touched, Crandall gained a reputation as the “artist’s artist” through his skillful interpretations of Golden Age super-heroes Doll Man, The Ray, and Blackhawk (his signature character); horror and sci-fi for the legendary EC Comics line; Warren Publishing’s Creepy, Eerie, and Blazing Combat; the THUNDER Agents and Edgar Rice Burroughs characters; and even Flash Gordon for King Features. Comic art historian Roger Hill has compiled a complete and extensive history of Crandall’s life and career, from his early years and major successes, through his tragic decline and passing in 1982. This full-color hardcover includes never-before-seen photos, a wealth of rare and unpublished artwork, and over eighty thousand words of insight into one of the true illustrators of the comics."

It is scheduled in July, order a copy through your local comic store or pre-order direct from the publisher.

In the meantime, below are some scans for Reed Crandall's art on some covers of Modern Comics.

Modern Comics #77, September 1948.

Modern Comics #78, October 1948.

Modern Comics #79, November 1948.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Al Feldstein Science Fiction Paintings

First Landing, circa 1992

Cover for Squa Tront #3, 1969. This painting hung in EC publisher Bill Gaines' office.

Weird Fantasy #11 recreation.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Frank Frazetta Creepy Covers

Creepy #1, April 1965.

Creepy #3, June 1965.

Creepy #4, August 1965.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Swamp Thing Around the World

Bernie Wrightson's run on Swamp Thing is some of the most reprinted art of that era. The muck monster has been particularly popular in Europe, with many foreign language publications of the saga. This point will highlight a few, but by no means all of them.

The cover on the right is from one of my favorite editions. They were published in Denmark by Rune Press. These were the first foreign Swamp Thing comics I bought. They are large, magazine-sized and the first album reprints the first issue and the origin story from House of Secrets #92. The next two volumes, Patchwork Manden and Varulvens Nat reprint the next four issues. The books are printed in black and white with glorious reproduction, every fine line and twist of the brush shows up. These must have been printed from the original negatives or first generation stats. I don't know if the series continued to reprint the rest of Wrightson's run on the title. The only possible drawback to this edition would be if they did not reprint all of Wrightson's issues of Swamp Thing. Below is a panel from Swamp Thing #4.

The French publisher Les Editions du Fromage printed a beautiful set of Wrightson's complete run in two volumes. These boast the same superior reproduction of the Dutch editions but are slightly smaller in size, they measure 7.25" x 10.5". The first volume reprints the story from House of Secrets #92 and the first five issues of Swamp Thing, the second volume the remaining issues #6-10.

They were published sometime in the late-1970's and worth the sometimes hefty price if you really appreciate Wrightson's fine linework. Short of an IDW Artist Edition, this is the best presentation you will see of this historic run. Below are a couple panels from this edition.

Next up is a set of two German volumes: Das Ding Aus Den Sumpfen and Die Nach Der Fledermaus. These both measure a little over 6" x 10" and are printed in color. They were printed in 1990 by the publisher Carlsen Verlag.

The coloring in them as the same as DC's The Roots of the Swamp Thing reprint series from 1986. The first volume reprints issues #1-5 and the second volume reprints the remaining issues and the Swamp Thing story from House of Secrets #92.

Another German offering is Die großen Phantastic-Comics #57 - Sumpfding - Ein Leben für die Ewigkeit. This magazine sized issue sports the front half of Bernie's painting for the cover of The Roots of the Swamp Thing #1 and reprints the first two issues of the comic. Again, the coloring is the same as 1986's The Roots of the Swamp Thing. I couldn't find any references to any subsequent issues of Swamp Thing in this series. The cover is pictured below.

Last is a bizarre little Spanish volume: La Cosa Del Pantano published by Toutain Editor. There is no publication printed in it. This is magazine size and utilizes Wrightson's Swamp Creature from his Color the Creatures coloring book as a cover.

This reprints the origin story from House of Secrets colored by someone who favors yellow and pastel hues. A shot of some of the interior pages is below. The colors are actually much more washed out than the photo shows. It also reprints the first four issues of the comic in black and white. The reproduction is serviceable, but nowhere close to quality of the French of Dutch editions discussed above. I don't have any more information about this, I don't know if they published subsequent issues or not.

I hope you've enjoyed this little tour around the world with Swamp Thing. When I first ordered the Dutch editions from a catalog in the pre-internet 1980's I wasn't even sure what I was getting. But now with resources like the Grand Comics Database and being able to order from European eBays and Amazons the hunt is much easier but still a challenge. I can promise if I find anymore foreign Swamp Things, you'll see them here!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Al Feldstein's Junior Comics

The comic book Junior was created, written and drawn by Al Feldstein. Feldstein went on to write, draw and edit for the legendary line of EC Comics and took over the editorship of MAD magazine after creator Harvey Kurtzman left. Junior, and its companion title Sunny were both great examples of cheesecake and the "headlight" style of comic book art. Here's a selection of Feldstein's eye-catching covers. A complete collection of both comics are available from IDW.

Junior #9, September 1947.

Junior #10, November 1947.

Junior #11, January 1948.

Junior #12, March 1948.

Junior #13, April 1948.

Junior #14, May 1948.

Junior #15, June 1948.

Junior #16, July 1948.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Mark Schultz: Portfolio

Portfolio: The Complete Various Drawings by Mark Schultz. Flesk Publications, 2015. Measuring over 11" x 12", with the hardcover weighing in at over five pounds and the limited, slip cased hardcover over six, this book is sure to fix your thirst for Mark Schultz's exquisite artwork.

The slip-cased limited hardcover is beautifully designed and bound. Even though I don't have the regular hardcover, I'm sure it is up to Flesk's usual production standards. The book starts out with introductions by Zander Cannon and Schultz and goes on to collect all five books in the artist's Various Drawings series of sketchbooks (the first four volumes are which are sold out from the publisher).

I called these "sketchbooks" and that's probably wrong. While many of them can be classified as sketches and many of them are preliminaries for later finished works, the art in here offers completely fleshed out concepts and impeccable line work and shading even in the preliminary stages. There are also may finished and inked works, many of them private commissions.

For fans of Schultz's Xenzoic Tales, there's lots of cover preliminaries of Hannah and Jack, plus lots of character studies, sketches, and finished art for Xenozoic projects both completed and unrealized.

There's also plenty of work illustrating or inspired by the works of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Schultz began his comic book career wearing his influences on his sleeve, most notably Wally Wood and Al Williamson's work for EC Comics' science-fiction novels, later on you could tell he'd been studying Franklin Booth and Alex Raymond. While there are still shadows of these artists and others in Schultz, he has gone to forge his style in the heroic and illustrative manner of his predecessors. The real revelation here is the artists' skill with the pencil. The subtle shadings and tones and tones which layers of depth to a fog shrouded swamp highlight his mastery of the medium.

If anyone was a fan of Xenozoic Tales and wonders what Schultz has been up to lately, this book will more than answer the question. If you're fan of bravura illustration in the classic masters and pulp styles, this book will appeal to you also.

Both the limited slip cased hardcover and the regular hardcover are available direct from the publisher. The first two volumes in his new "sketchbook" series are also available, Carbon and Carbon 2. Below are some more pictures of the limited hardcover.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Michael Kaluta Sketchbooks

These were published by IDW between 2012 and 2015. The contain sketches and drawings from throughout Michael's career. In these you can see the germination of some of his published works and also the beginnings of some unrealized projects

I have all these for sale in my eBay store.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

EC's Shock Illustrated

Shock Illustrated was part of EC's short-lived "Picto-Fiction" line. The third issue was printed but publisher William Gaines could not afford to have them bound. The publisher bound 100 to 200 copies of that issue and they were given away or sold to fans who ordered the issue. It remains a holy grail for many EC collectors.

Shock Illustrated #1, Sep-Oct 1955. Cover art by Jack Kamen.

Shock Illustrated #2, Winter 1955, Cover art by Rudy Nappi.

Shock Illustrated #3,Spring 1956. Cover art by Rudy Nappi.

Frank Frazetta art from the unpublished fourth issue.