#3: Steranko’s Fury

Welcome back to Absolute-ly, a feature that focuses on what comic should receive the “absolute” treatment: any story from any publisher.  A call to arms of hardcover comic book fans.


Unfortunately Jim Steranko is a name fading from the collective comic book memory, to its detriment.  Exploding onto the comics scene in the late 1960s and then quickly leaving the medium, he stands out as a master of page layout, design and motion.  He takes Marvels classic Kirby action sequences and slims the characters down, elongating their lithe movements.


Story elements become part of the page, going beyond basic boxes and immersing the reader.  Nick Fury is navigating the hazards of an enemy fortress so segments of a paper maze adorn the page.  Next up is another of his signature moves, a full-page figure amongst the panels.


As he migrates from Strange Tales to full on Nick Fury Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. we’re treated to jaw dropping intro pages, blending text and imagery as masterful as Eisner.


Rapid colour changes and elements to divide the page are used beautifully.  The telephone cord tying the explosion of the first panel throughout the page.


Heavy text pages with full illustration to further the story, later to be used in full effect in those new fangled “graphic novels”.  And we can’t ignore the psychedelic colours of the era pulsing out at the reader.

Marvel has treated the reader a few times in the last decade to Steranko’s Nick Fury, recoloured and heavy cleaned up for modern print.  Check out Nick Fury Agent Of SHIELD, Marvel Visionaries Jim Steranko, Marvel Masterworks Captain America and Marvel Masterworks Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD.  Those pages should be readily available for Marvel to get off the benches and produce an Absolute format hardcover on this master of the comic medium.

Scott VanderPloeg Written by:

Editor-In-Chief. Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans. Joe Shuster Awards Harry Kremer coordinator.

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  1. September 1, 2011

    Awesome column.

    Steranko’s amazing because he’s the first artist to really borrow from other artists at the time. He’d draw in Kirby’s Marvel Manner while borrowing Will Eisner’s storytelling techniques, Wally Wood’s lighting and Krigstein’s pacing.

    He’s an amazing artist who really should still be producing work. I wonder what he’s doing nowadays?

    • September 2, 2011

      answer to Peter:
      Cover to Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes. 13 pages of remastered Red Tide chapter 1 in Dark Horse Presents #3. New painting for STAR WARS ART:COMICS. Afterward for Captain America Omnibus. 

        • September 2, 2011

          My understanding is that Jim wants it to be something new and experimental in some fashion, whereas Vanduard basically just wants to put out a standard art book.  Compare Steranko:Graphic Prince of Darkness to Steranko:Arte Noir.  

  2. September 2, 2011

    Except that Marvel has never done Absolute editions, at best you might see an Omnibus of all of Jim’s Marvel work (there’s not that much), but that’s the same hardcover size as the Visionaries book. If Marvel were to start doing Absolute sized books, this is not where the would start – I’d think something like Marvels would top the list.

    • September 2, 2011

      Agreed Kevin, but Absolute-ly is a fanboy wish list to bring the article’s contents to a large format art book. I doubt any of the column’s featured books will ever see this format.

  3. September 2, 2011

    Maybe Dunbier will find enough Steranko OA to do an Artist’s Edition…

  4. September 2, 2011

    That would be great. I’d love to see his pencils..

    Also: Thanks Tony.. I’ll believe Red Tide will be re-released when it’s in my hands though.. been burned too many times in the past now.

    CBD Trivia: This was originally going to be titled ‘Super Size This’ but we thought ‘Absolute-ly’ just sounded better!

  5. Mike Huddleston
    September 2, 2011

    Thank you Scott for posting this excellent report on one of my all time favourite artists Jim Steranko. I can tell you the first copy of his work I picked up (at the bus depot way back when) was Strange Tales #159. I bought it because Captain America was on the cover. I didn’t like Dr. Strange or Nick Fury much back then. When I opened the book I was hooked. I bought the rest of the run and the first 8 issues of Nick Fury. Issue 8 was the last because I found out that Sterenko had left the book, and it just wasn’t the same.

    Less definately isn’t more when it comes to Sterenkos comic work. I wish there had been alot more of it.

    Thanks again,

Make It Good.