Week 14: Anything Goes

No April Fools prank from me today, just some good clean splashing around.

Oh and one other thing, I’m trying to keep Making a Splash a spur of the moment post, I want to try and feel the moment each time I start into one of these so there is a danger that I will be posting a few splash pages a second time! I plan to get the year done without one repeat but you know how plans often go?!

I’ll start off with one of the most famous splash paged of all time, Bob Kane’s splash for Detective Comics #35. This has that classic hypodermic needle cover but Batman packing on the first page provides a great one-two punch.

Gene Colan is ridiculously good. I love this two page splash from Tomb of Dracula #22, page 17 and 18; they remind me of the cover to Dracula #16.

Alex Toth anybody? Toth had so much range and while there are finer art examples from him – the year is young – I really love the fun he has with this Black Canary splash from Adventure Comics #491.

The next three images I stole from Ivan Kocmarek’s great post, right here on CBD, on the art of the WECA period.

Bert Bushell puts in the leg work and comes away with a fine “splashy” page for Rocket Comics Vol 5 #5.

Anybody that has read Ivan’s posts understands one way the Canadian got around the war embargo on comics was to redraw some of them, Anglo American did this to a few of their titles. Mary Marvel appeared in Wow Comics in the USA, the splash for her “Milk of Human Kindness” story from WOW #17 can be seen below, the picture just below this one (the one in black and white) is the Canadian redraw for the Mary Marvel story that was published in Spy Smasher Vol 2 #7.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1712


  1. Ricky, the manager, was wrong. Those were all great legs.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; the WECAs were outstanding, both in art and style, and in the dramatic use of black and white, as the Mary Marvel story demonstrates.

  2. Great stuff! That Batman with the automatic is just so cool.

    Poor Gene Colan will never be a fan favorite, but at least he’s well appreciated by a small group of folks I collect his Hoplalong Cassidy work for DC, which also boasts work by Ray Burnley, Jack’s brother who did beautiful early Jimmy Olsen issues, but also Gil Kane, who finished the 39-40 DC issues with a bang!

    I’ll get this on my Facebook page and in my weekly email, these are just too good not to reach more folks. Walter, it brightens my morning!!

  3. Really Bud… Colan NOT a fan favorite?? Guess I am one of those that is… he has always been a favorite of mine even those early Marvel Superhero’s that he used a pseudonym because of contract conflicts! That Canadian Mary Marvel is great! I agree with Bud on that Batman splash as well!

  4. Klaus, I’m starting to think that Ricky the manager doesn’t own an aquarium…

    Thanks for spreading the word Bud, much appreciated.

    Gerald, you an me both! Colan is top of the food chain caliber talent, I think its the subtleties that kept him from the mega fame that Adams and Steranko got.

  5. As usual I am not going to be the cheerleader for everything.

    You can’t argue with Detective #35. Just a handful of these images fundamentally changed human culture. (Yes I said that.)

    I can’t agree with you on Colan. Never liked his style. All of his guys looked like they had acromegaly. And look at those weird contorted hands. No sir.

    The Toth is gratuitous and confusing. I would only accept this sort of thing as some experiment from the late sixties, but this was from 1982.

    The last three are for me. I really dig that panel of RIcky on the lower right. And Klaus is right – what was RIcky thinking? It should have been, “Bubbles, baby, I’m sorry but I have to work late at the club tonight…”

  6. I’ve come to greatly appreciate Colan’s work. From his early Atlas material to his stint on Iron Man in the sixties, its pretty cool stuff. I wasn’t reading many comics more much of the 1970s (college, starting two businesses), so I don’t have fond memories of Tomb of Dracula and other work of his during those years. It seems competent, and I see just modest interest in the Archives and Omnibus collections today, but it doesn’t make me want to read it. And his work for Warren’s Creepy and Eerie eas nice, too.

    My fan-favorite (lack of) comment was based on my experience as a retailer through all these years. A few years ago, a small publisher did several editions of his work, drawings, pulp art for The Spider, but response from my customers was pretty poor. Nonetheless I handled every one…I think he was getting on in years, And not doing very well, so these were attempts to channel some money his way.

    He’s never rated a major biography, and what has been done has been evokes nothing memorable as far as sales, at least for me.

    I’d be curious what Walter or any other retailers have observed regarding demand for his work.

    Honestly, I remember a time when Joe Kubert was also not attracting a lot of fan attention. The DC war guys loved his work (and I am one of those) and his pre-code and key Silver Age issues were popular with collectors. But there was no art book on him. He did a how-to-draw book that I featured on a catalog cover, and we did a full color signed bookplate for it…and sales were disappointing.

    When Bill Schelly was looking around for another book to write, after his Otto Binder biography, I suggested Kubert to him specifically because nothing had ever been done on him. Fantagraphics published it, but in a very conservation little paperback package, mostly bio, not a lot of art.

    Then a few years later, as Joe got more popular, Bill did a second volume which was a full-blown “Art of” book. In some ways I think Joe benefited from being last man standing amongst Golden Age and important Silver Age artists.

    It’s not to belittle his work, its great. But Great Work doesn’t necessarily make everyone a fan favorite. How about about Jimmy Thompson, who’s a Timely artist almost no one knows. Or Frank Godwin, who did the best-ever Wonder Woman art to fill in for Peter, and his Connie strip is superb. Or Paul Gustavson who we’ve talked about here.

    Publicity for his art school and producing renowned students, I think helped, too. But my point…for much of his career, and Colan’s, these guys were nowhere near the popularity of guys like Wood, Frazetta, Williamson, Kirby, Ditko, Toth, Murphy Anderson, Gil Kane, Frank Miller, John Byrne, etc.

  7. Walt, Bud, Chris, Gerald and Klaus,I think Colan is a comic artist superstar…Adam Austin was his pseudonym. He did fantastic work On Daredevil, Cap, Dr Strange, Iron Man, Subby,Capt Marvel and the Avengers. By the time he did Dracula, his art was watered down, and less three Dimensional…more so from TOD # 15 and on. Familiarity breads contempt sometimes. And Adams and Steranko body of work isn’t as big. Adams did more covers then full stories…but Less stories then Colan and Steranko was a wonder lad whose comic art is very limited. Avengers #63 might be my all time favorite comic…or wait, how can you surpass Tales of suspense 77 ? God, Colan was bad ass.

  8. Dave: where did I write that I did not like Colan’s art? I am not familiar enough with it to comment. I am a Golden Age fan and, more specifically, a WECA fan. If you like Colan’s art, then good for you.

  9. I suggested no such thing Klaus, I just included everyone in the comments just to be friendly 🙂

  10. Bud, absolutely Jimmy Thompson, his work on Robotman for DC and Human Torch for Marvel was masterful (I think he did make it into v2 of Ron Goulart’s Great Comic Book Artists) and he was Canadian, born in Toronto!
    For some who did know of him this was unknown for many years but info from Pulp history re-discovered his roots. The same summer that Action #1 debuted he had a Red Eagle book, (Feature Book 16) considered by some to be the first graphic novel

    I’m trying to work on an essay about him and there’s some good stuff in Paul Tumey’s blog: JIMMY THOMPSON – The Greatest Comic Book Artist You Never Heard Of: The Timely Stories 1943-47. Thompson passed away around 1949/50 leaving behind some wonderful artwork.

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