The Art Of Walter Simonson (graphic novel book review).

March 28, 2020 | By | Reply More

Oddly, the reason for my buying a copy of ‘The Art Of Walter Simonson’ was primarily to see the original pin-up he drew of the Metal Men. I had a copy of it in ‘The Amazing World Of DC Comics’ but seeing the picture with its original colouring via google felt like I needed a closer inspection.

The biggest reveal being that Gold had some reflective white on his chest. There is a 9 page portfolio at the back of this book, including two unused Metal Men covers.

However, let’s go back to the front. All twelve stories are from the mid-1970s when a 26 year-old Walter Simonson started illustrating at DC Comics, each with an introduction by him about what was happening when he did them. I had some of them when they were released but not all. In my youth, I have to confess I was usually more interested in the stories in the various realities than its creators. That didn’t mean I didn’t know who they were, just less inclined to follow individual careers. OK, story content:-

‘The Cape And Cowl Deathtrap’ from Detective Comics # 450, August 1975

‘Doctor Fate’ from First Issue Special # 9, December 1975

‘Captain Fear’ from Unknown Soldier # 254-256, August-October 1981

‘U.F.M.’ from Star-Spangled War Stories # 170, May-June 1973

‘The Return’ from Star-Spangled War Stories # 180, May-June 1974

‘Dark Side Of The Gods’ from Hercules Unbound # 11, June-July 1977

‘Chaos Among The Gods’ from Hercules Unbound # 12, August-September 1977

‘Evil Is In The Eye Of The Beholder’ from Metal Men # 45, April-May 1976

‘The Chemo Conspiracy’ from Metal Men # 46, June-July 1976

‘The ‘X’ Effect’ from Metal Men # 47 August-September 1976

‘Who Is Bruce Gordon?’ from Metal Men # 48, October-November 1976

‘The Dark God Cometh’ from Metal Men # 49, December 1976-January 1977

I should point that these comics with bimonthly at the time, hence the double months noted. I hadn’t read six of them before and I think I was missing one of the ‘Metal Men’. If you’re a completest for Simonson’s work, then this is an easy way to get some of the more obscure comics that might not be expensive just elusive.

The story content is typical of that time, more so when many in the industry saw comicbooks as dying out. DC Comics didn’t really have much in the way of being a unified universe at that time with only the team books and ‘The Brave And The Bold’ doing anything in that way.

Simonson’s art is rather stylised even back then and he preferred to ink himself when he could and he learnt some lessons along the way as he says about DC Comics’ Hercules in not creating so elaborate costumes in future that needed to be continually redrawn.

No disrespect to the various writers involved, but in many respects the stories were quickly read and nothing much for deep thinking about and were stylised for the pulp paper that was around at the time. This was also the reason why I managed to get a first edition because the paper type was very similar if you want to get the 1970s look. New paper with its crisper white paper and improved colour lustre might give a better look but would look nothing like it originally looked. Until the Baxter paper came along, we accepted what we saw without questioning it.

An interesting insight into the early Walter Simonson and a decent run of ‘Metal Men’.

GF Willmetts

March 2020

(pub: DC Comics, 1989. 208 page graphic novel softcover. Price: I pulled my copy for £14.00 (UK). ISBN: 0-930289-41-2. From the looks of things there have been a few reprints since the original I have here with new covers and changes in quality of the paper)

check out website: www.dccomics.com


Category: Books, Comics, Illustration

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.

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