Week 2: Wood's Doom

Grading comics allowed for the large and vibrant vintage comic market to expand exponentially. Gone was the worry of missing pages, of undetected restoration, of missed cropping and of buying over graded books. All this had come at a cost because another thing gone was the interior art.

This column will celebrate the Splash page. You know, that page you will never get to see again because your comic is locked and sealed in a hard plastic case.

I think your jaw will drop with some of this art and I think you may even be tempted to crack that case open to see these gems first hand.

I’m still trying to find a groove for this post, I think I will try three splash pages next week and explore some more unique art styles.

Who says you need Jack Kirby for an epic Doctor Doom splash? Wally Wood does great work for Astonishing Tales #1 from August 1970.

A young Jack Kirby from June 1942 and his splash for the Manhunter story in Adventure Comics #75. An issue like Adventure comics #75 had about four or five great splash pages in it because comics in those days had multiple stories.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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  1. Woody precludes Darth Vader by a couple decades. I think Lucas and crew had some top drawer inspiration here, looks like Vader on the Death Star or at least a empire battleship!

    Great splash in the EC tradition. And just 15 years after the last issue of Incredible Science Fiction, #33, with one of my very favorite Wood cover…with a similar theme.

    Nice catch on the Manhunter…that is really unusual Kirby work, with an innovative attempt at Greytone-like appearance.

    These Adventure issues with S&K are primo. Between this and More Fun, you’ve got Starman, The Spectre, The Sandman also by S&K….this 1941-42 era even outshines some of the more hallowed DC titles like Batman and Superman.

    Lots of creativity and innovation in these two anthology titles, but by 1943-44, S&K were gone and The Spectre became an ordinary crime fighter with a dimwit sidekick. Jack Burnley had left Starman, who was also fighting run-of-the-mill crooks. Many of the top creators, like Kirby, enlisted or were inducted and were off to war by then.

  2. Great splashes. I agree with Bud on Doom inspiring Vader, I like Dr. Doom much more than Vader.

  3. Both fantastic.

    The pose in the Doom piece reminds me more of the setup of Weird Science #13’s cover.

    Bud, I guess you mean that S&K were (mostly) gone on interior art? Their cover run on Adventure extends until Superboy takes over in 1946. Some great covers out to the end of the war including the beautiful and rare #93 featured in the late lamented Undervalued Spotlight #403.

    Another piece of art trivia that maybe Bud can speak to: what was with the giants walking around on these wartime (and other) covers? Lots of characters: Sub-Mariner, The Shadow, Uncle Sam, Manhunter, even Phantasmo (another super undervalued key – Undervalued Spotlight #242) were depicted as giants. A very cool effect but today would be a visual non-sequitur as there are many “actually” giant superheroes.

  4. Now that you mentioned it Chris the giants theme was quite prevalent on those GA title, would love some insights from Bud on those. I also like the Doom/Vader connection, never gave it much thought before but now that you mention it I can see it.

    I love the motion on even the early Kirby art, things are so hectic and break neck at the bottom and to the right, Kirby has the page buzzing with motion and activity.

  5. While Lucas sights his inspiration as Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon… I think your on to something with Doom! I agree with Tim that I like Doom better because he seems a much more complex character.
    The depiction of hero’s as giants may be poetic license of the times, but it is curious that it didn’t inspire someone to create a giant hero in the 40’s… unless there is one that I have forgotten or missed!

  6. Chris, Kirby’s last story art on the Manhunter feature was in Adventure #80. He continued to do the cover AND every Sandman story only to #90. Gil Kane ghosted a story “Signed” by Jack in #91, after that he was gone from the stories with not even a phony credit. He continued to do just the covers to #97, took two issues off, then finished with #100-102. I have these issues, but I’m lazy (or busy…) so this data is from GCD. I think its mostly accurate.

    If you guys care to, search Jack Kirby under penciller in GCD, then run the list chronologically, it is amazing to see how prolific he was before and after this period. Its obvious that as he pulled back from his work in Adventure, he kept working in Star Spangled on the Newsboy Legion, and he did tons of Boy Commandos art, both in their own (new) title and as a backup feature in Detective, beginning in #64 or 65.

    He loved those kid gangs. Twomorrows just last week published a new book, Dingbat Love, which has yet another Kirby kid gang…the poorly named Dingbats. He created this just after he left Marvel, circa 1969-70. No wonder this one never made it out of the chute at DC. I think kid gangs were long past their prime by then, and I can’t get over the misnomer of a title. This was all news to me. Twomorrows claims this is the very last unpublished full stories by Jack, done for several magazine-format titles that were water-down, in In the Days of the Mob and Spirit Workd, or just never published, like The Dingbats, Soul Love, and True-Life Divorce!

    Boy, this does, to me, show how much Stan and other editors were necessary to compliment and, dare I say it, guide Jack. I have always felt his best storytelling was done when Joe Simon and Stan Lee were involved. As an artist, he’s king, but its tough to be a double threat and be a brilliant writer, also. Eisner, Steranko, and others are exceptions to the norm.

    Walter, that’s a good question about the popular “giants” theme. I suppose it goes back to fairy tales, where giants have always been popular. Maybe like DC’s gorilla covers, some publishers found that giant characters boosted sales. I’d like to think that Jerry Siegel’s early Spectre stories and covers, where he grew giant sized and even could dwarf a planet, had some influence. But that’s ‘cause I love these early stories in More Fun, not based on any research.

    Alex Schomburg may have also helped popularize this, when he’d play with perspective on those Timely covers with the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner. They sometimes came through as giants as they fought the Nazis. Surely he was an influence on other cover artists during the early to mid forties.

  7. Thanks for putting the spotlight on one of my favorite runs: Wood’s Dr Doom. An artist at the top of his game and a great splash page!

  8. Gosh I have to Disagree with Bud here. Kirby could write..plot for sure….all or most all of his art has the story and dialogue beside or above the panels. Stan could edit and modernize Jacks communication-Dialogue for today`s audience, Jack was much older, born in 1917…and his boy Commandos and News boy legion were huge sellers. Perhaps tastes change, Jack went to the well too often, or, Like Tarzan, Popeye, Mandrake..these properties were huge, but are so big, that the audience at some point becomes indifferent. Similar things occur today. The Punisher was Marvels biggest property for ten years…isn`t so now. His movies and TV series fail, his comics barely sell. Even Spiderman…who would have thought that an Avengers Movie, a Black Panther movie, a Capt Marvel female version movie would all out perform at the box office any of the well made Spiderman movies.
    Stans favorite creation..hell he didnt even know who it was and why he was in FF 48 until Jack explained to him. After Jack created him, Stan took ownership, and writers had to get his permission to use the character.
    Jacks writing and art both got clunky after 1968…resentment over promises broken , age, 18 months in the trenches, all this caught up to Kirby. But the brilliance still shone through. Just less often .Jack was the real deal. He served overseas and had some dangerous assignments. Stan born in 1922 joined the WW2 effort and guarded our east coast. Same draft rules that protected John Wayne I guess.

    See Foxhole and Our Fighting forces for some great Jack Kirby writing.
    Two great sources to consider…




    and heres a Dr Doom done best. By the guy who created him. And yes Lucus has admitted Dr Doom did inspire him.


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