Sunday, April 24, 2011

Foreign Favorites: Jerry Spring

Belgium's Jerry Spring was created by Joseph Gillain who signed his work as Jije for the weekly comic Spirou in 1954. A dour but fearless noble figure, Spring travelled as a kind of knight errant across the Western plains with his cheerful Mexican side-kick, Poncho. This contrast of characters, superior story lines and Jije's magnificent artwork brought what could have been an ordinary cowboy story out of typical stereotypes into the realm of myth. Armed only with his twin Colts and a driving sense of justice, our hero was always his own man righting wrongs and making quite an impression with his exploits on the European market. The success of the feature helped revive the Western strip all across Europe until it original run ended in 1967. Picked up in reprints by Editions Dupuis, it was revived in 1974 to continue these classic adventures.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sensational Strips: Walt Kelly's Pogo

Carl Sandburg once echoed the cry of millions when he said: "I GO POGO." Creator of the most famous possum in the world, Walt Kelly, was born in 1913 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Kelly had a variety of odd jobs as a youth including sweeping floors in a factory that made ladies underwear in the early 1930s to make ends meet. That job that only lasted three weeks, before he became a reporter for a local newspaper. Walt had already worked for this same publisher in high school doing political cartoons when he was just thirteen years old. Later, after following his dream, Kelly worked for Walt Disney studios along with fifteen other artists to create cartoon features like Snow White, Fantasia, and Pinocchio, just to name a few. In 1948 Kelly next worked in comic books and drew political cartoons when he decided to renew drawing a favorite character from his comic book days.

Needless to say, that character was Pogo who had first appeared way back in 1943 in various comic books. After trying his luck with a handful of syndicates, who quickly turned him down on his new strip, Walt showed the feature to Bob Hall, President of the Hall Syndicate, who liked it enormously. Within five years the popular daily and Sunday was appearing in around four hundred newspapers across the country. Even today, Walt Kelly is a very famous a man, with Pogo books and other merchandise selling in the millions over the years. When asked about his methods of working, Mr. Kelly simply replied: "There are none that I know of; I just sit myself down and start drawing from scratch."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Direct Currents: Enemy Ace

With his first appearance in Our Army At War #151 in February 1965, Hans von Hammer, was one of DC's most unforgettable war heroes created by writer Robert Kanigher and artist Joe Kubert. The son of a German aristocrat, the young Baron was one of the first to enlist when World War I broke out in 1914. A model Third Reich soldier, von Hammer quickly excelled in flight school over the envy of his peers, causing an early duel of honor with a fellow cadet that gained his permanent scar on his left cheek. One of the greatest natural pilots to be seen, this "Hammer of Hell" as the Allied forces called him was soon appointed as Rittsmeister of his own Jagdstafell. Over the long and deadly years of the war, this "Enemy Ace" had over seventy confirmed kills to his credit, much to his dismay for this endless loss of life. A solitary man who kept to himself, he took no joy in his new found fame performing his grisly duties for the Fatherland. When not flying, von Hammer would aimlessly roam the grounds of his estate in the Black Forest, with his only true companion, a huge grey wolf.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Alfred Andriola

I was born in New York City and grew up in Rutherford, New Jersey. All through school at Cooper Union and Columbia , I wanted to be a writer, but I got hooked on comic strips as Milton Caniff's assistant. My first strip was "Charlie Chan" from 1938 - 42. I started "Kerry Drake" in 1943 for Publishers-Hall Syndicate. Co-authored "Ever Since Adam and Eve" in 1955, edited "The Cartoonist!" and "The Newsletter" for the National Cartoonist Society and served on several boards of governors and committees. Received National Cartoonist Society Silver T-Square Award in 1970 and the Reuben Award in 1971. Chairman of the Newspaper Comics Council and Chairman of Diamond Jubilee Committee of Comics. My interests are theater, food, writing and far-away places. I live in New York, where I enjoy my bachelor status. If I could do it over again, I'd want to be a writer, and I'd be damn glad if it turned out that I became a cartoonist!

Friday, April 1, 2011

An Esteban Maroto Gallery

Out of all the posting I've published over the past five years, the most popular by far, being viewed thousands of times more than any other article is on artist, Esteban Maroto. Born in Spain in 1942, Maroto burst on the American comics scene in the early 1970s with his captivating work for Warren Publication's horror magazines Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella. Lush, dynamic, and intensely erotic, Maroto's work quickly earned him a loyal fan following and a reputation as one of comics' most exciting and unique talents. Beside his extensive work published throughout Europe, most American fans fondly remember his brief episodes with Marvel, DC, Topps, Image, Heavy Metal, Cross Gen, Dynamite, and Continuity Comics. Offered below is a selection of images from Avon's Conan paperbacks, Red Sonja, The Atlantis Chronicles, Five for Infinity, Tarzan, various Warren pages, and other color commissions recently done by the Spanish artist.