Comic Book Artist #13 (magazine review).

OK, so I’m having a lucky run of picking up job lots and the third contains a selection of the short run ‘Comic Book Artist’ (get really confused because there are two volumes and this is from the second, although its only listed as such on their website) and as there was a mention of a further interview with Gene Colan about his ‘Tomb Of Dracula’ work, seemed the best place to start. Let’s pick out some highlights.

Jon B. Cooke interviews Roy Thomas about his time as deputy to Stan Lee and then his own tenure as editor-in-chief at Marvel in their 1970s horror titles revival. It’s more revealing as to how they tended to saturate the market than bringing in major successes first, although that’s how Timely worked in the past. He does touch on using SF authors, paid by fee, for the likes of ‘Unknown Worlds Of Science Fiction’. The reason that they’ve never been reprinted has been because they’ve actually lost the contracts so if you are after these stories, keep your eyes out for the original issues.

Probably the biggest interview is with Marv Wolfman, again by Jon B. Cooke, on how he was editing Marvel’s black-and-white magazines and ‘Crazy’, where he was told to use mostly, with the exception of Marie Severin, non-Marvel folk. In between all of that, a little matter of a 60 issue run on ‘Tomb Of Dracula’. I think the most telling part was how much the parent company, Cadence, would not so much interfere but just do things without telling the Marvel staff.

The interview with Gene Colan by Tom Field covers his transition to doing ‘The Tomb Of Dracula’ and his problems with editor-in-chief at the time, Jim Shooter. It also means I need to find a copy of Comic Book Artist # 14 to see his reply on that. I know Shooter micromanaged and there are aspects of perfection in this and although Colan wasn’t happy on a team book, but ‘The Avengers’ was a pretty prestigious title to be given. I think everyone, readers included and I was one of these, were surprised at ‘Tomb Of Dracula’s continual success.

Cooke’s interview with Herb Trimpe, who had retired from comicbook illustrating to teaching by the time of this interview, gives insights into the 1960s-70s Marvel Bullpen when it was a joy to work there before it got too serious. It reminds me of the saying that comedy is a serious business and forgetting the fun. Trimpe was also self-effacing, knowing his strength was in telling a story than his art, which I would agree with. Storytelling in any format is an art that not all people are good at. For comicbook art its as much panel composition to make the right point.

The interview with comicbook writer Gary Friedrich gives, amongst other things, how a functioning alcoholic wrote scripts, preferring character-driven against plot-driven stories. I should point out that Friedrich was quite candid about his condition but also shows a remarkable memory of his time at Marvel and insight into the people in the bullpen.

A practice I tend to do with these older interviews is whether the person involved is still alive. Comicbook artist Don Perlin actually is. Cooke’s interview is lengthy and gives some insight how Perlin did any work available to make money and then get himself rehired as a penciller. It does show a contrast to what probably happens today.

The interview, this time by Jon B. Knutson, is with writer/editor Tony Isabella with incidental art by Marie Severin. I hadn’t realised how radically different the early designs of Tigra were. Again, another interesting point for those starting out, you have to take work that you might not want to do but do a good job at it to get more work

Finally, an interview with comicbook artist Pablo Marcos, still going strong. Born in Peru and in common with many foreign artist, Marcos was a prolific artist. Seeing some of his work here shows what an accomplished texturist he is.

It’s very weird that for a magazine that was on comicbook artists, there was a lot of text, making it a worthwhile read.

GF Willmetts

May 2023

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 112 page illustrated magazine. Price: $  (US). ISSN: 401-783-1689. Direct from them, you can get it digitally for $ 5.99 (US))

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Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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