Comic Book Artist No. 3 Winter 1999 (magazine review)

June 28, 2015 | By | Reply More

One of the odd side effects of reading some of TwoMorrows books and website is seeing the adverts for earlier editions of their books and magazines and then finding, especially with the latter, that they are out of print and only available digitally. If I’m especially interested in a particular title, then I would do what I would do in the pre-Net days, keep it on my list and hope eventually it will turn up on a price that I could afford in paper format. Case in point was ‘Comic Book Artist No. 3’ from 1999 as it featured an extensive Neal Adams interview about his ‘Marvel Years’ and, not surprisingly, sold out. There’s an earlier issue covering his ‘DC Years’, but I’ll deal with that another time. I actually pulled it at a reasonable price late last year but only now found a spot to fit in some reading time. The lesson is if you want something enough at a price you can afford then be patient, things do happen or I have incredible luck. Likewise, if its in my review pile, it gets read earlier. 🙂

CBA #3 cover

Nearly half this magazine is a 40 page interview with Neal Adams, with a selection of art and cover vignettes, often seeing the pencils as well as the inked finishes. What was most prominent was how Adams treated his Marvel work as an opportunity to experiment away with storytelling from the tightly plotted DC work he was doing at the same time. He explains that working between the two styles allowed him to keep his art more balanced rather than staying only with one house.

Uncanny X-Men _56 - Page 13

At the time, mostly because of the so-called 60s feud where you only read one or the other company, I was with Marvel at the time and when Neal Adams arrived in X-Men # 56, it was certainly a revelation, chief amongst these was you could really believe a man with wings could fly as, in the opening splash, Angel glided behind the aero-jet showed. What was there not to love? Although I dropped out of comics shortly after # 66, mostly through lack of availability in the local newsagents, I ended up missing most of his later Marvel work until I accidentally got back into reading them in 1975 and when I could afford them, filled in some of the gap years from there and DC Comics. Having Adams’ professional side of the time is quite illuminating, especially in how much he did in plot development, just relying on the likes of Roy Thomas to do the dialogue later. I can understand why he felt the need to work with people he knew and felt a little messed up when things were switched. A demonstration of how much trust that has to be built up in the creative community. When you add how story length was changed at short notice, its not difficult to see any artist getting fed up and wanting to move on.

The back of this magazine is literally upside down but its not a printing error. Presumably, the digital version is the right way up or you can have people either standing on their heads looking at the screen or the VDU turned upside down. Editor Jon B. Cooke didn’t have enough material and Roy Thomas had too much for ‘Alter Ego’ and was allowed to put his excess here. Of particular interest was an article by Steve Ditko about the complications of who created a character, especially one who climbed up walls. Seeing how Kirby originally envisaged Spider-Man compared to Ditko’s more famous look, he might well have a point. It’s rather weird seeing how the ideas were groped until something original emerged. There’s also an extensive letter from Bob Kane from the ‘Batmania’ magazine where he asserts his position that he created all thinks related to Batman although as history has shown and proven now that writer Bill Finger did actually do the things he said he did. What is so fascinating about these magazines is how they unravel history and vague memories, often with detailed written accounts. Roy Thomas’ own account of a pair of characters he owned that were heading towards the Hollywood treatment for a time highlights another aspect of ownership. Although he doesn’t say as such, it’s not difficult to understand why the companies want to own their characters outright than to deal with permission from multiple people.

There’s a lot more but even for a magazine issue that is sixteen years old, it is still relevant and the historical pieces aren’t likely to date. If you want to restore your nostalgia kick, this makes for a fabulous issue.

GF Willmetts

June 2015

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 96 page illustrated magazine. Price: was $ 5.95 (US). Direct from them, you can get a digital version: $ 3.95 (US))

check out website: http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_56&products_id=271

 

Category: Comics, Illustration, Magazines

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 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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