John Romita Sr.
One of the most symbolic moments of Superman is when he changes from his guise as Clark Kent to become the Man of Steel. The idea that the wearing of a costume imbues some kind of unquantifiable power is a key part of what makes superhero comics work; otherwise, they’d just be adventurers and action heroes.
But speaking of change, changes in superhero costumes have become as much a part of the comics as the heroes themselves. From Superman’s early days with his golden emblem to the modern “S” today and on through to other years (including Batman’s countless wardrobe changes), the design of a superhero isn’t static and a redesign has proved, many times, to be just the thing to make a character work.
In this week’s “Six by 6,” I pinpoint six of the most dynamic and powerful redesigns in superhero comics. Redesigns that saved a character from obscurity, put them in a new light or simply simplified what was already there.
Vintage comics and original comic art brought in $4.4 million over the weekend during a Heritage auction in New York City, Artinfo reports. Among the bigger sales were a CGC-graded 6.5 copy of Detective Comics #27, for $567,625, and John Romita Sr.’s original cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #121, which fetched $286,800.
As we noted on Friday, Dave Gibbons’ original cover art for Watchmen #1 sold for $155,350, with the first three covers going for a combined $216,892.50. John Higgins’ color guide for the first cover was bought for $7,767.50. The remaining covers for the 12-issue landmark series are expected to go up for auction later this year.
Wired.com delves into the history of the 12 covers, which were purchased at a Sotheby’s auction in 1993 by former Wizard Publisher Gareb Shamus for what’s been reported to be in the neighborhood of $26,000. The article doesn’t repeat that figure, but it does say what was paid was “a bargain price” (for instance, Higgins’ color guide for the cover of Watchmen #1 was picked up for $50, which was then five to 10 times the usual price).
John Romita Sr.’s original cover art for the landmark Amazing Spider-Man #121 has reached $268, 875 in online bidding ahead of a live auction scheduled for today in New York City.
The piece is being offered as part of Heritage’s Vintage Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction, which includes Dave Gibbons’ iconic Watchmen covers, an original Calvin and Hobbes strip by Bill Watterson, and 10 pages from Dave Sim’s Cerebus: High Society.
The Amazing Spider-Man #121, “The Night Gwen Stacy Died,” was a defining moment not only for Peter Parker but for the comics industry; as Heritage Auctions notes in its description, some point to the story as the end point for the Silver Age. (This was the end of innocence for comics,” Arnold Blumberg wrote in Comic Book Marketplace. “It remains one of the most potent stories ever published.”)
As the comics community continues to process the news of Joe Kubert’s death, everything else feels very secondary. One way of honoring the legendary artist and teacher is by appreciating his art, and the art of his peers. Steve Niles discovered this series of art jams featuring a Kubert Hawkman alongside Wendy Pini’s Elfquest characters, Neal Adams’ Conan, Dave Cockrum’s Human Torch, and others. The rest of the jams include characters drawn by C.C. Beck, John Romita, John Byrne, George Perez, Gray Morrow, Dave Sim, Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Curt Swan, Jim Aparo, Milton Caniff, Hal Foster, Al Williamson, Chester Gould, and the list goes on and on.
I don’t know the history behind these pieces, but it occurs to me that many of these comics legends are still with us. In addition to saying our good-byes to Mr. Kubert and offering appreciations of his work, another great way to honor his legacy might be to reach out and express similar appreciation to living creators whose work we love.
Creators | How did Darwyn Cooke get involved with the Before Watchmen comics? “I was kind of dragged into it kicking and screaming by [DC Comics Co-Publisher] Dan DiDio. He had been discussing this for what does amount to several years now, and the first time he had approached me about it, I had actually turned it down simply because I couldn’t see doing anything that would live up to the original. And, it was about a year later, the story idea that I’m working on now sort of came to me and I realized that there was a way to do the project, and I had a story that I thought was exciting enough to tell. So I phoned Dan up and said, ‘Hey, if you still got room, I’m in.’” [Rolling Stone]
Creators | Ron Marz discusses Prophecy, his upcoming comic that turns the whole Mayan calendar thing into a crossover event that will bring together an eclectic group of characters, and defends the idea of crossovers in general: “If your objection is “they’re not in the same universe,” or a crossover somehow offends your sense of continuity, I’d suggest you’re missing the point. More than any other medium, comics are about unfettered imagination, about making the impossible possible. If you’re going to let some perceived “rules” prevent you from telling an exciting story, you’re just not trying very hard. Having a sense of wonder, of discovery, is much more important than following some set of perceived rules and regulations.” [MTV Geek]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
Congratulations, Dark Horse: You pretty much own my first $15 for the week, with Dark Horse Presents #8 ($7.99) and Star Wars: Dawn of The Jedi #0 ($3.50) both being my go-to new releases for the week. DHP has the new Brian Wood/Kristian Donaldson series The Massive launching, as well as more Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson and new Skeleton Key by Andi Watson, which is a pretty spectacular line-up, and the new Star Wars book coincides with the latest flare up of my irregular longing to check up on that whole universe’s goings-on. Apparently, I’m keeping it local this week, who knew?
If I had $30, I’d add Action Comics #6 (DC Comics, $3.99) and OMAC #6 (DC Comics, $2.99) to that pile — I’m particularly treasuring the latter before it goes away, although I have to admit that the time-jumping nature of these Action fill-ins has gotten me more excited than I should ‘fess up to — as well as a couple of Ed Brubaker books, Winter Soldier #1 (Marvel, $2.99) and Fatale #2 (Image Comics, $3.50). I wasn’t bowled over by Fatale‘s debut, but it intrigued me enough to want to give it another go, while the noir + super spy sales pitch for the new Marvel series pretty much guarantees my checking the first issue out at the very least.
When it comes to splurging, there is nothing I would buy – were I rich enough — more quickly than IDW’s John Romita Sr. Amazing Spider-Man Artist Edition HC ($100), because … well, it’s classic Romita as the pages originally looked on his drawing board. How anyone can resist that (other than the price point), I don’t know.
I suppose it’s the mark of a good film that months after it’s release you’ll find any excuse to post any tangentially comics-related fanart thereof on the comics blog you work for. By that standard, Nicholas Winding Refn’s Ryan Gosling vehicle (rimshot) Drive is a pretty good film. And Miklós Felvidéki’s Drive-themed cover version of Jazzy John Romita Sr.’s famous “Spider-Man No More!” image over on the always delightful Covered blog is a pretty good piece of fanart. Still, given that the Driver’s jacket had a scorpion on the back in the film, I’m sure one Mac Gargan is pretty p.o.’d that Spidey’s biting his style…
Be a real hero and check out the remake next to the original at Covered, then visit Felvidéki’s website.
The Amazing Spiderman #88 (1970), page 6. John Romita.
John Romita came to his decades-long tenure on Marvel superhero comics from a career as a solid-to-outstanding illustrator of romance stories, and when he arrived he was asked to pencil his first costumed-action book over rough layouts by Marvel’s main stylistic voice at the time, Jack Kirby. He learned his lessons from the King well. Decades after Kirby had ceased to be the company’s prime mover, young artists recruited by Marvel were still sent to learn their fundamentals from Romita.
Four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves … welcome to day three of our holiday gift-giving guide, where we ask comic pros:
1. What comic-related gift or gifts would you recommend giving this year, and why?
2. What gift (comic or otherwise) is at the top of your personal wish list, and why?
A great big thank you to everyone who helped us out this year, including the ones who’ll be showcased tomorrow. Be sure to come back then for our big wrap-up!
1. The Simpsons/Futurama Crossover Crisis. Leela helps Maggie deal with school bullies. Homer and Bender go drinking. England invades the USA. Come on, you need this.
Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery. The most ludicrous and wonderful supporting character from Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol got his own miniseries, and it’s just now being reprinted for the first time. I loved this miniseries when it first came out, and I’m gearing up to love it all over again.
Starstruck. The great Lee/Kaluta sci-fi epic, now between two robust hard covers. I should declare an interest: I wrote the intro. But I did that because it’s awesome beyond the feasible limits of possible awesomeness.
2. A Very Peculiar Practice, season 2. Wow. Just how much of my life right now is ’80s nostalgia? I think I need to get some professional help. Probably from Duran Duran.
Mike Carey has written numerous comics (and a few novels) over his career, including Lucifer, My Faith In Frankie, Ultimate Fantastic Four and Hellblazer. He currently writes X-Men: Legacy and The Unwritten.
Welcome to another edition of Shelf Porn, where Robot 6 proudly shares the shelves and collections of fans around the world. Today’s collection comes from across the pond, as Robert Menzies shares his statues, comics and even a Marvel No-Prize with us.
If you’d like to see your collection here, send a write-up and some jpg images to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now let’s hear from Robert …
Heritage Auctions expects the original art for the cover to Amazing Spider-Man #49 to go for around $100,000 when it goes up for auction later this month.
Drawn by John Romita Sr., the cover features Kraven the Hunter and the Vulture double-teaming Spider-Man. According to Ed Jaster, senior vice president at Heritage Auctions, it’s only the second cover by Romita they’ve offered for auction.
In addition to the Spider-Man cover, several other comic-related items will go up for bid in Heritage Auctions’ Signature Vintage Comics & Comic Art Auction on Aug. 17-18. These include Victor Moscoso’s original treatment for the wraparound cover to Zap Comix #4, Steve Ditko’s original art for page 17 of The Amazing Spider-Man #12, a George Herriman hand-colored Krazy Kat Sunday comic strip and a page of art from an unpublished Superman story by Joe Shuster, Paul Cassidy and Wayne Boring.
Comic strips | After outsourcing all editorial, production, sales, marketing and distribution functions for its 150 comics and other features to Universal Uclick earlier this year, United Media closed the doors on its Madison Avenue office in New York on Friday. [Comic Riffs]
Comic Books | A copy of Detective Comics #27 owned by multimillionaire hotel heir Ben Novack Jr., who was murdered in 2009, could go up for auction and end up paying to defend his widow Narcy Novack. Narcy is facing charges that she had the comic fan and his mother murdered, plundered his bank accounts, then tried to pin the crimes on her own daughter. Narcy’s daughter, May Abad, has persuaded a Broward County judge to hold off on the auction and give her at least 14 days to find suitable storage and insurance for Novack’s massive collection. [Miami Herald]