Images © Curtis Publishing Company.
America first met Superman in the pages of ACTION COMICS #1 cover-dated June, 1938, after several years of development and failed attempts to sell it as a newspaper strip by creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. He revolutionized the the young comic book publishing market, and by 1941 was selling extremely well in ACTION, SUPERMAN and WORLD’S FINEST COMICS. I’m not sure how long it took journalists to start writing about the character, but an early, historic article appeared in this issue of THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, one of the most popular and important magazines of the time. Among other things, the article gave lots of attention to creators Siegel and Shuster, and included a photo taken in the office of publisher Harry Donenfeld that features the only known image of a famous Superman painting by H.J. Ward before it was revised by another artist. I wanted to read the article and see that original photo for myself for my own blog article about the painting, so I found a copy of the POST on eBay and bought it. Here’s the article in full with comments. Continue reading
When I received photos of a painting of Superman’s face by Stanley Kaye (above in an uncredited photo) from the owner, Merredith Lowe, I knew nothing about Kaye. A little research revealed he was one of the most prolific inkers of Superman stories in the 1940s and continued to work for DC Comics until 1962. Continue reading
Superman on paper by Stanley Kaye, 1942, courtesy of Merredith Lowe. Superman © DC Comics, Inc.
A few weeks ago I received some photos of the above painting in an email from the owner, Merredith Lowe. Merredith had seen what I wrote about a famous Superman painting by pulp artist Hugh J. Ward that hung for many years in the offices of (then) Detective Comics / National Comics, and now DC Comics. Continue reading
My friend Ron Jordan brought another old friend, Dave Hunt, to visit me today. Dave and I were neighbors when I lived in central New Jersey, and we were both working for DC Comics at the time. I was on staff, Dave was inking lots of comics pages. I saw Dave for the first time in about 20 years at the Asbury Park Comicon this past April, but we didn’t have too much time to talk, so it was good to spend several hours gabbing today.
Dave is no longer doing any comics work, but he had a long career. He was hired by Marvel in (I think) 1973, working in the bullpen with Danny Crespi and Morrie Kuramoto doing art corrections. He soon began lettering (including finishing the last job lettered by Artie Simek, though he doesn’t remember what it was) and doing background inks for Frank Giacoia. He tried coloring for a while, then began doing full inks. Some of his favorites that we talked about were issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN over Ross Andru pencils, including an early appearance of The Punisher. Dave had been inking MARVEL TEAM-UP over John Byrne when he was lured to DC by a higher page rate and a contract. “If I had stayed on X-MEN and had kept the original art, I’d be rich,” he said, with a smile. That was the one that got away.
At DC he did a lot of work on many titles, and remembers favorite pencillers he worked with being Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger. I did a little background inking for Dave on at least one issue of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY pencilled by Kurt. There were also stories about nightmare jobs. Dave inked a DC movie adaptation of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS over Gene Colan pencils. After the book was finished, one of the movie stars decided he didn’t want his likeness in the comic, so Dave had to go in and re-ink all those faces. Then another star did the same thing, more re-inking. Then they changed the end of the movie. Colan and Hunt had to do new pages very quickly. Then they changed the ending of the movie again. And a third time! This is why licensed properties can be really bad to work on…!
We had a great visit. We looked at my small collection of original comics art, shared a pizza, and talked for a few hours. I hope to see Dave again soon. Thanks to Ron for bringing him down.
Before comics and Sunday newspaper strips were colored using computers, there were a variety of other methods, some using photography, some not. I’ve talked about the process used at DC Comics when I started there in the late 1970s HERE and HERE, but the very first was the Ben Day method, invented before 1900. It was a difficult and time-consuming enterprise that took years to learn, and was probably only done well by a few elite craftsmen like Jack Adler, before his DC days. On his blog, Phil Normand has written a superb ESSAY ON THE BEN DAY PROCESS, which I recommend highly!