Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Best time-waster of the week (so far)

-Tom Spurgeon goes into some of the reasons why the early development of Image was a tragic era for the comics industry. I kind of hinted at this the other day, but I really think Image was a lost opportunity for the comics industry. The speculator bubble was bound to burst, no doubt about it, but a healthy Image would have softened the blow. Instead, the bubble busting coincided with the moment when consumers lost confidence in Image mark 1. There were too many late books, too many books farmed off to other people (under work-for-hire arrangements, as Spurgeon points out), and generally not enough quality. Instead of working towards conditioning the market to follow creators rather than intellectual properties, too many of the Image founders were more concerned with establishing their IPs as launching pads for multimedia empires. Which isn't to say that they owed the industry anything--many people would have done the same thing if in their position. Plus hindsight is 20/20 and all that.

Still: in 1992/3, I thought we were on the verge of a total revolution which would open up the comics industry to all kinds of publishing opportunities.* I don't think the industry is impervious to change, but the things changing it now are more nebulous, like the role of bookstores or the internet. There are opportunities there, to be sure, but there isn't the same sense of malleability. The Image founders had the opportunity to shape the industry, and they passed it up. I don't know if that kind of opportunity will ever present itself again. And that's Image's biggest legacy, more than crappy Michael Turner art.

*I was 16 or so at the time, but still.

-Mark Evanier posted a link to this jam poster of most of DC's biggest intellectual properties, c. 1987. I'd never seen it before, but it's kind of my personal ideal of an afternoon time-waster, in that I can't figure out who drew what. I mean, some are obvious: Kubert drew Hawkman, Gibbons drew Rorschach, "Bob Kane" drew Batman and Robin. And others are immediately recognizable due to style, despite the artist having no direct association with the character (eg, Gilbert Hernandez drawing Hourman) But there are a few others for which I have no idea. Doesn't help that I can't read the signatures very easily. Anyway, here are the ones I can't figure out:

Bill Sienkiewicz-I have no idea. The position of his signature would indicate perhaps Enemy Ace, but I'm guessing that's actually Dave Stevens' work. Ragman would be another possibility, but that has to be Keith Giffen. That leaves...Plastic Man? Is that plausible?

Steve Rude, Jaime Hernandez, and Jim Steranko-Their signatures are all bunched together. I'm guessing Steranko drew Mr. Miracle, since he was supposedly the real-life inspiration for the character. And I'm pretty confident that the GA Flash is Hernandez' work. What, then, did Steve Rude draw? Robotman? Did he have any connection to that character? Or did Steranko draw Zatara (I think that Zatanna is Grey Morrow, right?)? If so, Rude probably drew Mr. Miracle.

Gene Colan-I can tell which character he drew (the one between the Spectre and Robotman), but who is that?

Steve Lightle- One would assume a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, but I don't see any of them. Unless I'm missing Jim Aparo's signature, I have to think that Michael Kaluta drew the Spectre. Jan Duuresma almost certainly drew Arion. Who does that leave? The Ray? Lady Blackhawk? Robotman, assuming Rude didn't draw him? Actually, Robotman looks more like Lightle (or what I remember Lightle looking like) than any of those other characters. Is it possible that Rude drew Lady Blackhawk?

Related: why aren't there any Legion members in this poster? Or are they there and I'm not seeing them?

P. Craig Russell-I assume it's the chalk white woman who I would have assumed was the 1987 version of the White Witch had I not decided that Russell was the artist. Now I'm not sure who that character is, but I'm pretty convinced that it's Russell's art.

Anyway, great fun and whatnot. I await humiliation in the comments, as I slap my head in realization that I missed something obvious.


Todd C. Murry said...

White Witch is there, Legion member-wise (between the question and the GA Green Lantern). Aparo's sig is there, near the left side, under Aquaman (well, a little to the left of under Aquaman, more directly under Simonson's Manhunter), which I think is his.

I think it's pretty neat, though all of the artists didn't seem to give much of a crap about standing placement/size/perspective (look at Grell's Warlord, or Lil' Warlord, as I like to call him... on second thought, that sounds uncomfortably like an anatomic nickname, and I am backing off).

I think Lighte did robotman, and Giffen did the White Witch, but I lack the time to try to really blow the picture up so I can see her (my monitor makes the whole picture real muddy, but especially her).

Todd C. Murry said...

On second thought, I think you're right... I'm assuming these drawings are from the year stated, and Giffen's art was at it's chunkiest in thers of line wieght, so White Witch (definitely her) by Russell. Ragman (just look at the shadow folds in the cowl) by Giffen. I thought Guy Gardener might be Giffen for a second, but it was obviously Joe Staton on second look.

Paul said...

The Spectre looks a lot like Lightle to me, actually.

Tom Bondurant said...

I'm guessing Rude drew Mister Miracle, because he drew a Mister Miracle Special (written by Mark Evanier) around the same time. Likewise, Steve Lightle was the artist for the 1987 Doom Patrol relaunch (written by Paul Kupperberg).

By the way, as you may remember, Lightle was replaced on DP by Erik Larsen, and the book was "cancelled" from newsstand publication with #18. It continued, however, as a "New Format" book in the Direct Market under the new creative team of Grant Morrison and Richard Case.

The Gene Colan character ... no clue.

Paul said...

Nope, you were right...Lightle did Robotman.

Or are we supposed to be playing without looking at the order of the names in the caption?

Dick Hyacinth said...

1. Oh, I don't see how you can play without using the signature order.

2. I didn't actually remember Lightle being on Doom Patrol, but I did remember Larsen.

3. So then, is that Steranko on Zatara, or what?

4. I assume that Aparo must have drawn the Phantom Stranger, based on signature placement. Did Kaluta have any connection to the Spectre, c. 1987?

5. Meant to have mentioned this in the original post, but who drew Martian Manhunter? Art Adams? If not, who did he draw? If so, why?

6. Also meant to mention this before: it seems almost quaint that DC had so many of their non-superhero properties so prominently displayed. Especially in light of all the characters conspicuous by their absence: the Metal Men, Challengers of the Unknown, Jonah Hex. I can't imagine Tomahawk, Cain, or JUDO MASTER AND SARGE STEEL being that prominent today. I guess you can chalk those last two up to Dick Giordano being executive editor.

Jones, one of the Jones boys said...

I second(or fifth or whatever) the notion that Lightle drew Robotman. Lightle drew him long and skinny like that.

Jones, one of the Jones boys said...

And, by an amazing coincidence, Johanna Draper Carlson just answered the Gene Colan question. It's "Silverblade", who first appeared in...1987.

No, I'd never heard of him, either.

John Jakala said...

That's definitely Rude's style on Mister Miracle (and as Tom B. pointed out, Rude illustrated the Mister Miracle Special around that time).

And, yes, Arthur Adams drew the Martian Manhunter. I think the chin & jaw give it away.

Plus, whoever posted the image listed the names in order from left-to-right starting with the back row. So, yes, Steranko drew Zatara.

j_ay said...

I’d say Sienkiewicz drew Plastic Man. Not a ‘classic BS’ work, but the smile seems like early BS. A bit self-portrait-ish, even.