Comic Book Artist Bullpen edited by Jon B. Cooke (book review).

October 16, 2021 | By | Reply More

Now here’s an oddity. Once upon a time in 2003, there was a fanzine called ‘Comic Book Artist Bullpen’ that ran for 7 issues, interviewing comicbook professionals, specially George Tuska, Frank Bolle, Fred Hembeck and Terry Beatty and then a double-sized issue devoted to Jack Abel, with contributions from a lot of other people. If you’re sucker for interviews, then this is a great look into the industry before Jon B. Cooke came to TwoMorrows and started ‘Comic Book Artist’.

Although I wasn’t much of a George Tuska (2016-2009) fan, seeing samples of his other work with the first interview really shows how much of an all-rounder he was. Constructively, I think he would have looked better with stronger inkers.

Frank Boll’s (1924-2020) life from his interview was a non-stop artist, always finding work and kept on going if not drawing and inking then certainly painting towards the end of his life. I’d loved to have seen some pictures of them. He was also a lifetime friend of Leonard Starr, who drew ‘Little Orphan Annie’ for an extended period from the time they started at art school together, helping him out from time to time. Looking at his list of credits, I can see why we had so few distributed in the UK and can’t really remember Dr. Solar over here. His history is very revealing and worth reading.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the Jack Abel Tribute. It was originally started by Rick Parker as a magazine but got way laid by finance and ultimately sent to Jon Cooke for consideration and this is the reprint of said material. Amongst them was 32 contributors who wrote and illustrated the Jack Abel (1927-1996) they knew at work. I got the idea that away from inking many comicbooks before correcting them that he was interested in sport, family, sleeping and being a friendly guy, well except to Terry Austin occasionally. Watch out for the tree leaves.

The interview with comicbook social commentator/cartoonist Fred Hembeck will hardly surprise people of his geeky roots or his recall of comics and magazines he read as a youngster. I’m still sorting out in my head that the design on the top of his cartoon head is a hair style and not a split brain. Rather interestingly, it was Bill Mantlo who gave him his break into Marvel Comics with an illustrated ‘Printed Circuits’ in Iron Man # 112 and he spread out from there. I was surprised to see Hembeck can draw ‘normal’ art but agree with him that he’s not really an action artist. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from his interview but it was certainly entertaining.

Terry Beatty is most associated with illustrating the ‘Ms. Tree’ stories with Max Collins and ‘Adventures Of Batman’ for DC. He’s also a bona fide geek as he relates in his interview here and his art career from hard work far more than art class. His career goes beyond that but he has lasted in the industry.

The selling point for Jack Kirby is showing the illustrations he did for the 1960s Topps baseball cards.

Finally, a selection of colour art from all the other gentlemen for additional entertainment.

I can see why TwoMorrows took Jon Cooke on from these seven issues and he carried on in pretty much the same tone with ‘Comic Book Artist’ ever since. If you’re a sucker for interview books, then this selection here will certainly entertain you.

GF Willmetts

October 2021

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 175 page illustrated softcover. Price: $24.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-60549-105-9. Direct from them, you can get it for $24.95 (US))

check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com and https://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_56&products_id=1632

Tags: ,

Category: Books, Superheroes

About the Author ()

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.

Leave a Reply