Week 16: Here and There

This week I just aimlessly let my thoughts go just to see where they would take me.

I’ve always loved Howard Chaykin, he gives us some high quality pre-stylized Chaykin in this splash from Detective Comics #441.

Some week’s ago I included that famous Romita panel from Amazing Spider-Man #50, the one where Parker throws the Spidey costume in the trash and walks away, that was July 1967. Mr. Romita must have been a Carmine Infantino fan because you can’t tell me he wasn’t influenced by this great Infantino splash from Flash #161, May 1966.

Dave Cockrum gives us a gorgeous splash page to introduce the New X-Men in this famous splash from Giant Size X-Men #1, I like it better than the cover.

I’m a proud Hamiltonian so I thought I’d show off some local talent. Aram Alexanian drew comics in the early 1940s for Bell Features, he was a celebrated Canadian Whites artist and he was just a kid while doing it. After the War Aram’s dad told him it was time to join the family business and he went on to become very successful. He always kept a deep love for comics and comic art. Here is a splash for an unpublished hero called the Black Commando – morphed into the later published Super Commando. Again I stole this one from a great Ivan Kocmarek articlie you can check out right here.

And bringing up the rear we have this nice piece… Jose Delbo and Vince Colletta get all the credit.

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Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.
Articles: 1589

16 Comments

  1. Ha! Great group of art. Wonder Woman bringing up the rear, it made me smile!

    Chaykin is a big fan of the history of illustration, as well as comics, he knows the work of masters like Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Mead Schaeffer, Franklin Booth (who directly inspired Berni Wrightson’s Frankenstein), the stars of their day in magazines and book appearances.

    A collection of his vintage 1987-89 Blackhawk work just came out from DC. As much as fans and collector’s neglect this title (and Military & Modern, with 102 more Blackhawk appearances), the new book is selling well To my customers. So did DC’ one lone archive, decades ago now.

    Poor Blackhawk even gets overlooked when there’s talk about comics that ran uninterrupted from the Golden Age into the Silver Age—its always just Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. But the team did, with 250+ consecutive issues, 99 from Quality (the first 8 issues were Uncle Sam Quarterly), the rest from DC. But DC so badly ran them into the ground, at the end, they, never have lived that down.

    Plastic Man, Dollman, and the Marvel Family also survived the post-WWII super hero purge. This saw the end of The Flash, Green Lantern, Cap, Sub-Mariner and The Torch…and nearly every other Golden Ager. It was only Quality and Fawcett calling it quits that ended the runs of the top-tier Golden Age heroes. Fortunately DC continued the Blackhawk run (and also G.I. Combat) without missing a single monthly issue, with December 1957 issues. DC also continued Quality’s romance title, Heart Throbs, after a four-month hiatus…

    Still, Howard Chaykin knows the Blackhawks from their heyday, first drawn (and co-created?) by Will Eisner and Charles Cuidera, then drawn by Reed Crandall and Bill Ward, and all through the “atomic” era with great villains (Killer Shark) and iconic covers, by Dick Dillon & Charles Cuidera, such as “The War Wheel.”

    As Chaykin has done here here with Batman, he takes inspiration from the past, but artistically brings it up to date. To me, Batman splash is a homage to first seminal stories in Detective Comics.

    (Whew, I did bring it back around to your post…)

    Nice nod to the Canadian whites, too. Unpublished yet!

  2. Chaykin has been a controversial figure and I have always distinguished him as a creator rather then strictly an artist, but thats not to say the man can’t draw… he simply dies it all!
    While I live the 60’s run on the Flash with that great Infantino art, the Spidey was the more powerful of the ‘quit’ images even if it did come second!
    Your right Walt… the X-Men splash IS better then the cover! Always live seeing those examples if the Canadian Whites!
    That Wonder Woman is entirely gratuitous Walt… and you know it!
    Bud, maybe you would know, there was a War Wheel in Airboy as well! Do you know which came first?

  3. A little off topic here (sort of), but I think the only Quality hero that DC actually did justice to was Plastic Man. His 1960’s revival was well worth the price of admission. Although like so many things, his latest reincarnations leave much to be desired. Blackhawk was an OK continuation that I think benefited tremendously from the karma associated with so much WWII stuff through the 60s. And of course the evolution of the Blackhawks didn’t hurt, but it never had the same ……..immediacy it did with Quality. Can’t say I much cared for Chaykin’s run on Blackhawk but I do like the splash page for Detective.

  4. Thumbs up to all but X-Men. I never was a big Cockrum fan (although he apparently signed my copy of GS XM #1 before I bought it for $1.50), and that Beast face is quite enough for me.

    I don’t think anybody was quibbling with the name “Wonder Woman” from that perspective. Except Princess Diana. It makes sense that DC would not be looking for that angle on their classy star. Turns out the owner of this magic – um – lasso is actually Orana, replacement WW.

    The Black Commando splash is my favorite because it has the most heart, but the Chaykin gets my vote for best art. I like the Flash for its composition and impact, but otherwise a bit too simple for my tastes.

  5. Walt, Bud,I love Blackhawk. Always did. But it was an adventure comic written for children. The Quality version requires a higher reading ability, as did most 1940’s comics. Kids simply could read better. The writing slowly devolved, but it was still a childrens market. Even Superman and Batman had some incredibly childish issues. Eventually the comic market evolved into a young adult market. Childish stuff was gone. Good buy Harvey, Gold key, and such.
    Also I think Blackhawk sufferrred from the Racist Stigma. Their illustrations of Chop Chop were horrifying.
    http://images.furycomics.com/viewer/1c/1ccbc04b87aa68e98a77eccc7a7118fc/0.jpg
    and
    https://www.toptenz.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/racistsuperheroes2.jpg

    Having a early Black hawk collection, an early Walter Lantz New Funnies collection, soon became a bit of an embarrassment. I think this hurt both series going forward, as both were examples that comic historians would use as examples of comic book racism.

    And silliness in Batman comics early sixties….as comics were for kids
    https://i.ebayimg.com/images/i/381539027772-0-1/s-l1000.jpg

  6. Bud, your comment shows just how much there is still to discover, thanks.

    I was never into Blackhawk, not sure why but I don’t think I’ve ever read an issue. Nice link Dave!

    Chris, thanks for going behind the scenes and getting us the back story on Orana!

  7. Walter, get your hands on that old DC Blackhawk Archive, or find any tBlackhawk stories from Military #12 (the first Reed Crandall issues) to #21. Those are the best. But when Reed went into the military, Bill Ward was ok, not great. Bikl’s Torchy began after Military changed to Modern Comics and was better suited to him. But Reed came back after the war, and Modern around #62 into the #70s or so are pretty good, although a simpler, more styled Crandall…he may have picked an inker other than himself.

    My favorite actual Blackhawk Comics issues are not the earliest, again Crandall did little there until the ‘teens and 20s numbers, and they can be uneven. But the last 52-page issues, circa #32-40 have some great covers and stories. It could be Crandall went back to inking his own work here. You lose Crandall around #60, but the weird villains and red menace stories in the mid 1950s, say up to around #80 or so, are still mostly wild and fun, just not soectacular.

    It was still a decent book under DC for the first few years, but more standardized. Lady Blackhawk, who began with occasional appearances in Blackhawk #134, provided some welcome variance.

    But those first Crandall stories during the war, they are the best. Maybe you can see them on one of the digital sites. Superb splash pages, beautiful damsels in distress, sometimes hardy ladies fighting with the resistance or the underground in France or other countries conquered by the Nazis. Or gorgeous bad girls every so often, a double problem for our lads. And really nasty Nazis, of course, to dogfight with in the skies, in those brilliant 2-engine Grumman planes of theirs, or to wade into with fists or bullets, on land…

    Like The Spirit, or James Bond, every so often Blackhawk would be alone and get the crap beat out of him, but the boys would eventually find him, or he would figure out an escape from a date with death, in a dungeon and castle stronghold.

  8. Bud, I picked up that DC archive after an earlier discussion here. I’m glad you posted above, because I have to say that I put it down after the first couple of stories. Paging ahead it does look like the Crandall stories are more polished. The archive only goes to #17.

  9. Good deal, Chris. Glad you checked it out. I had the San Francisco copy of Military #15, one of the very few comics I got out of my store’s buy of most of that collection. Also got a restored Marvel Mystery #31, oddly enough. Makes no sense it was restored by Tom Reilly. So it may have come along later, restored by a 3rd party. Can’t remember when I got it, but it has his stamp on the back cover.

    But the Military #15 disappeared and I haven’t found it in years. I am afraid a visiting dealer/collector, who shall remain nameless, might have walked off with it. Or it’s misfiled here, somewhere…Strangely enough, I bought several Military issues around #14-22 from, wait for it, Howard Rogofsky back in the days that all books listed were “Good to Mint” condition in dealer catalogs. These were stunning, VFN copies. Still have them, paid $2.50 each, which was probably no bargain at the time, if they hadn’t been so nice. This would be ‘66-‘68 maybe. My one happy Rogofsky story. Usually we all stayed way clear of him, his conditions were terrible and prices were crazy high.

    Dave, “the writing devolved” hits the nail on the head For DC’s later Blackhawks. Did it ever, topped off by the notorious costume change and aliens stories…as bad as any of the God-awful Batman/Detective issues by Schelly and various Bob Kane “ghost” artists.

    The racism didn’t bother me as much in Blackhawk, the Chop Chop situation was not as flagrant, but that may just be me. Worse was the attitude towards enemy Germans and Japanese, but that was everywhere during the war, certainly not any different in Blackhawk stories. I just have to accept it was a different time. I am much more appalled by treatment of Blacks, in even run of the mill humor strips, and by beloved artists like Eisner, right into the war years. That to me is more unforgivable.

  10. Well I did a bit of looking around and found the War Wheel came out in the Sept 1952 issue of Blackhawk by Reed Crandall! Ernest Schroeder drew the Wheels of Eboli for the Dec. 1952 issue of Airboy! Same concept but three months apart. Could Crandall have influenced Schroeder… possibly but seems awfully close in time. Either the came up with the concept independently or the knew each other and both ran with the idea. I am not sure if the concept made it to the sci-fi pulps but have seen images of rolling flying saucers doing the same sorts of damage! Sorry for the digression.

  11. Bud, Rogofsky is a point of great nostalgia for me even if I agree with your assessment. I bought my first “real” back issues from him (late sixties books that I bought in the early seventies), and I’ll never forget my excitement when they arrived wrapped in brown paper (of course no box, no boards, no bags). Mine were on the lower end but I was too young to care. I don’t think he was selling Golden Age books, particularly in that condition, for those prices by that time.

  12. Gerald, hey, don’t apologize. I haven’t yet, and I know I digress more than anyone here. It’s fun to off on tangents, why the heck not?

    I am starting to wonder what one of the “chat line” sites, or whatever they are called, would be like to join. But here Walter and Chris keep giving us a new post that can get us all started. I know Roy Thomas has an Alter Ego discussion group, but haven’t logged in on that yet either.

    Chris, you must be older than you sound. That’s supposed to be a compliment.

    We were just super cheapskates as kids, had to be, we had no real money, even when we got our first store going in ‘68. A complete EC collection came up then, Rudi Franke’s, and for $600 it was a steal in today’s terms, but an impossible number to most of us. One buddy, who had, like Michelle, 3-4 years on us, worked for the Post Office parttime while going to school. He was a wheeler dealer already and bought it. But he brought over parts of it and I think I blew maybe $100, $150 on parts of it. But $600, just not feasible money to most of us then.

    My other Rogofsky story is way, way back, maybe ‘65 or ‘66. A comic buddy of ours had WAY more money than any of the rest of us…he was in college and/or working, too. We (the San Jose guys) were mostly still in 8th grade or just starting High School…anyway, he sent Rogofsky $12 or not more than $15 for a copy of Fantastic Four #1.

    And it looked like shit, all taped up, Fair at best. And that was a really high price then. It was slightly later, I had a lower grade copy, and I did a trade UP on a better copy another buddy had, and I think we valued his vg+, maybe fine copy at…$6. Or maybe that was what I gave him $6 for the condition difference. Anyway, my point was Howard was considered very expensive in those days…and unreliable. I think my first buddy returned the book after some haggling.

    I was buying back issue Marvels in those very first days, ‘65 on, from our boy Buddy Saunders, for .35, .50, or even as high as .75. He’s was the source for reasonably graded and priced recent issues, i.e. early to mid sixties DC and Marvel, when I was 12-13 years old.

    Now we are good friends, and I do a ton of business back and forth with his MyComicShop, which I just learned boasts 100 employees. Amazing, this is 55 years later and we are both still at it. And so is our mutual friend, Michelle Nolan, who should be reading this…she was also part of the San Jose gang, and that first store, but with 3-4 years on the rest of us, in college.

    And I can speak for Buddy AND Michelle in this, we are all of us still having fun. I get to spend time with both at the OAF-Con every year.

    How’s that for digressing?

  13. Good stuff! I too bought some FF books from Rogofsky in the early 70’s! Mine were also wrapped in brown paper but were all FN! If I recall his mimeographed catalog was partly typed and partly hand written! I may still have one if I look! Got some of my Golden Age comics from Robert Bell if my recollection is right…

  14. Hey Bud… one if the reasons I love CBD and Chris’s site IS that we are older! I have looked at some of the other comic discussion sites and don’t care for the layout, the demographic seems much younger, and most seem to loath the Silver Age, acknowledge the Golden Age, think comics really got off the ground during the Bronze Age, and think the 90’s was the greatest age… which are all counter to my thinking!

  15. Gerald, that’s pretty sad! I go into A-1 Comics down in Sacramento, its an hour away, so every 2 months or so, and I will spend quite a long time going carefully thru his Golden Age. And So I observe SO many collectors coming in but all they want are keys, mostly Bronze Age or modern, i rarely have anyone else wanting to look at the Gold or even Silver Age that I am going through. I think Brian sells more of it on Ebay than in the store, and he has the hands-down best stock of Gold and Silver in Northern California.

    At the shows I hear this too, so often its all about Hulk #181, or the latest hot modern era key, in high grade of course. 9.2 this, 9.3 that…

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