Tag Archives: John Buscema

Two Legends Flex Their Muscles On This Month’s Great Cover

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I’m returning to Marvel Comics, my true love when it comes to comic books, for this month’s great cover. Let’s look at Sub-Mariner #20 (December, 1969). The legendary artists responsible for this action packed cover are John Buscema (pencils) and Johnny Craig (inks).

Buscema is one of my favorites. I especially like his work from the mid to late 1960s, which included The Avengers, Silver Surfer, and Sub-Mariner. When he took over the penciling of The Avengers, readers were treated to an artist approaching the peak of his abilities. His art was something like a combination of the two previous pencilers who worked on that series. First, was Jack Kirby, then Don Heck. Buscema combined Kirby’s dynamic action with Heck’s more accurate anatomy drawing.

The results are fantastic. (I have previously written in more depth about my appreciation of John Buscema’s masterful illustrating work on The Avengers.)

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By “Crime SuspenStories #22” at The Grand Comics Database. Retrieved June 12, 2008., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17904260

Johnny Craig goes back to the days of EC Comics. EC really was an excellent producer of comic books that appealed to older readers as well as the typical kid readers of the other publishers in the 1950s. Then came Sen. Estes Kefauver’s attack on comic books which he believed were leading American children to delinquency. He was particularly displeased by EC and it was one of Craig’s covers, the infamous depiction of a woman’s severed head being held by her killer, that drew much of the good senator’s ire.

Senate hearings were convened. Witnesses were harangued. Senators displayed their righteous indignation. The industry created the Comics Code Authority. EC Comics bid the world of comic books a fond farewell, turned to publishing magazines by dropping all of its titles but one, converting that title from a comic to magazine, and Mad Magazine was born anew. Thanks, Sen. Kefauver!

Well, these two excellent illustrators combined their considerable talents to produce a great cover. It’s an action cover in which the complicated hero Sub-Mariner drops in on one of Marvel’s greatest (also complicated) villains Dr. Doom. An epic battle is about to commence!

What kid could resist such a great cover? Both characters are so well drawn. I especially like Dr. Doom’s pose. Sure, he’s wearing a suit of armor, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still jump into action. This is comic books after all. If an artist can draw it, the character can do it.

I also really like the coloring of this cover, likely to have been provided by another legend of comic books – Marie Severin. The red background is attention grabbing and the use of half-toning in the grey of Doom’s armor, along with the use of white for highlighting, gives it a fairly real-looking metallic look.

The same team of artists provide the interior art for this book and it’s outstanding!

Packing Peanuts!

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Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

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This month’s great cover…

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It’s time once again to write about another excellent comic book cover. This month we are looking at the cover of Sub-Mariner #6 (October 1968). It was drawn by the great John Buscema. I have written about Buscema and his work on The Avengers back in June, but I thought it was time to look at one of his covers. I think he, along with Gil Kane, Neal Adams, and Jim Steranko, was one of the Silver Age’s greatest comic book illustrators.

Beginning in 1968, Buscema was handling the covers as well as the interior art for the first few issues of one Marvel’s more complex characters: Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Namor had a love/hate kind of relationship with surface-dwellers. In his early appearances in the Fantastic Four stories, he could just as easily be the villain as the hero. He was complicated.

Of Buscema’s short run on this series there are other covers I could have gone with (and might in future), but I chose issue #6, because it is so dynamic. We find our hero in pitched battle with the villain Tiger Shark. We’re in close and we can see these combatants are evenly matched. The strain of their muscles is as obvious as the looks of determination on their faces. Each man feels he must triumph in a battle that looks to be to the death.

The cover doesn’t need the headline of Death to the Vanquished! The illustration alone tells us that. The use of color sweetens this fantastically dramatic image. As does the close-up view. It being a close-up is what had me pick this cover over the other Buscema Sub-Mariner cover creations.

Bravo! Mr. Buscema! Bravo!

Packing Peanuts!

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John Buscema’s Avengers

Early on in my comic collecting days, my favorite title was The Avengers. Those early days were the mid 70s and I was collecting the new books. It didn’t take long for me to begin collecting back issues of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. I wasn’t always so concerned about the condition of the books, I just wanted them in my collection. I now have virtually every one of the first 200 issues.

Well, I lack the most valuable ones. I ain’t made of money, you know! Most of it was spent on comic books. That doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Anyway.

When the Avengers started in 1963 the books were illustrated by (who else?) Jack Kirby. For a long time I wasn’t much of a fan of Kirby’s work, but I did eventually come to really like it. Kirby’s anatomy drawing was never his strong suit, but his layout and dynamic design and action drawing were top notch.

Next came Don Heck, taking over the pencils with The Avengers issue number nine. Heck was a better anatomy drawer than Kirby. His characters were more realistically drawn, if a little bit stiff and less dramatic than Kirby’s characters.

If only there was an artist who could somehow combine Kirby’s dynamic action with Heck’s more anatomically correct illustration…

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Issue number 41 introduced just such an artist: John Buscema. I think he was Marvel’s best artist in those Silver Age days. (Yes, there was Gil Kane. He was a very close second.) I really, really liked the way Buscema drew his Avengers. Big! Dynamic! Full of movement!

Compare these three fight scenes:

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Jack Kirby

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Don Heck

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John Buscema

Even without color, Buscema’s is so much more exciting and melodramatic. The others are good, I just think Buscema was simply a better illustrator. (Although, the bad guy in the center of Buscema’s drawing does appear to be wearing a metal diaper.)

Buscema’s characters were powerful and graceful. I especially like the way he drew the Vision:

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The Vision introduced to the Avengers by Buscema. Lithe and broodingly powerful. The pose reminds me of Michelanglo’s David.

I had read that Buscema never felt very comfortable with drawing superheroes. He felt his true calling was to illustrate Conan the Barbarian. And he was the artist for most of the Conan issues from number 25 to number 190. That’s a hell of a run.

John Buscema’s run on The Avengers in the late 60s was among the most beautiful and awe-inspiring work in the history of comic books. (How’s that for hyperbole?)

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“John Buscema isn’t going to draw me anymore?”

Packing Peanuts!

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