Pros Under Pressure

After writing the last column which featured the great Daredevil # 45 cover that had Gene Colan inked by Jim Steranko, a couple of other comics came to mind with interesting artist/inker combos. These were unique and rare combinations and ones I thought were worthy of sharing with you.

Captain America 112 page 13The first one is Captain America # 112. This was smack dab in the Jim Steranko run on Cap. If you can call 3 issues out of 4 a run, that is. Now as history tells the story (Jack Kirby Collector #5) it became very obvious that Steranko was in no way going to finish his 3rd issue on the title in time.This is on a Friday and the book needs to go to print on the Monday. So Stan calls the real Silver Age Super Hero, Jack Kirby, and asks if he can do it over the weekend! Jack says yes and basically crafts a story based on fishing Cap’s mask out of the river which was where Steranko left Cap at the end of #111, and does a retrospective of Cap’s career and does a masterful job as only the King can!

The interesting choice of inker on this issue is George Tuska. He was certainly a long time pro in the business, and who had become well known as the artist on Iron Man. If Jack drew it over the weekend then George must have inked it over the weekend! I urge you to go back and look at this book. Does it in any way look rushed to you? It is a great blend of Kirby and Tuska that is one of my favorite Cap books! Non stop Kirby action from start to finish!

Captain America 114 interiorThe next was right after Steranko’s last issue (#113) and it was drawn by John Romita Sr. Now Cap was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in the 1940s, and when Jack left the title he was replaced by a very young John Romita Sr. Shortly after Romita took over the book it was cancelled, and the insecure Romita largely felt responsible for its cancellation. There is a difference in styles that are apparent immediately but both are excellent storytellers, and Romita certainly learned well from Jack how to pace a story and make the action dynamic. He also excelled at making Sharon Carter look vivacious! Now this issue was inked by Sal Buscema. Big John’s younger brother had just broke into the business by inking John on the landmark Silver Surfer title; this is the same month Silver Surfer #6 came out. So he had just come onto the scene and was making his mark on Silver Surfer #4-6 and in a few months would take over the Avengers.

Captain America 115 interiorThe third is Cap’s next issue, #115, which features my favorite Cap story of all time art wise. Big John Buscema and his brother Sal create another masterpiece featuring the Red Skull, in a cosmic cube story (has a much better ring than “the Tesserac” don’t you think) that has the Skull change bodies with Cap for the story that would be completed by Gene Colan moving forward in the storyline. Take a look at the last page with the Skull now with Sharon Carter in his arms! What a great team the Brothers Buscema were at this time in their careers!

Fabulous storytelling and artwork and all under less than stellar circumstances. Rushed ? Yes to all three but once again these are issues everyone needs to revisit.

Are they Keys? No not at all. But boy are they worth their weight in Gold to this ‘Son of the Silver Age”!

Continued happy collecting!

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Dennis De Pues
Dennis is an admitted "Son of the Silver Age", having grown up with the influences of Silver Age greats: Kirby, Colan, Romita and Buscema.Three decades later, he is the creator of Crash!! and Galloway Park. More is definitely on the way.
Articles: 260

4 Comments

  1. Great post and insight on these books Dennis. I have gone on record as saying issue #112 looked like a filler issue to me (but I still liked it). I know this will sound silly but I think I felt that way mostly because of the way Captain America’s face looked on the cover. I would eat my shorts if that was a Jack Kirby drawn face on the cover. It just didn’t like his work to me. The story inside was more of chance, or last chance for all Kirby may have known at the time, for Kirby to take one last crack at drawing Cap. He went all out – all those old villains and he advanced Sterenko’s story line to boot.

    It tells you a lot about Jack Kirby (and George Tuska) and how important Captain America was to him if he drew this on a weekend, when he was leaving the company. As you said “real pros”.

  2. It really is mind boggling how anyone could do 22 pages over a weekend and also get it inked!Looking at this book again gave me that same sense, as you say ,that Jack really put in an action packed yarn, and enjoyed it thoroughly.
    I never liked Tuska inking Big John Buscema in his early Avengers run before George Klein came on board.I think that will be the subject of another column.

  3. You should try working in advertising Dennis. That’s why there’s a high rate of burn out of art directors and storyboard artists. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that deadlines are a necessary evil. As arbitrary as they may seem, nothing seems to get done without them.

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