Category Archives: Features

Artful Obsessions: Panther’s Page

With the Black Panther movie approaching the $1-billion gross revenue mark, it’s clear the enthusiasm and appreciation for this movie — and more importantly, what it represents — is likely without end. It’s sets an intimidatingly high bar for the inevitable sequel, but given the intelligence of the story and characters in the first, it’s something Marvel Studios and the creatives who crafted the film can achieve.

The Panther pandemic means the property has remained at the forefront of my mind as of late. Previously, I revisited my review of the first issue of the Priest-helmed Black Panther series from 1998. Now, I’m turning my attention once again to the only Panther-related piece in my collection of original comic art.

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Letter Bugs – A Blast From My Past

Once in a blue moon, I run a feature here on the site spotlighting letters penned by comics industry professionals back when they were fans. Generally, I do this when I happen upon such a piece in an old comics letter column in a back issue I’m reading. However, lots of people have been logging such letters in the digital age, and it’s much easier to find these messages from people of creative of influence in the medium.

So, the other day I was Googling my own name (as just about all of us are wont to do from time to time), and I happened upon something from my past of which I had no memory. Thanks to the Grand Comics Database, I discovered that I had a letter printed in a Superman comic published in late 1988 (though I’m not suggesting I’m of any influence in the industry).

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The Art of the Steal

The ever-vigilant Terry Beatty, professional comic artist and comic art collector, posted links to “original” art listings on eBay through his Facebook profile over the weekend, calling into question their authenticity. Beatty has an excellent eye and track record for this sort of thing, and as a collector of comic art myself, I’ve always been interested in the field and instances of fraud.


I clicked on one of the eBay links Beatty posted and then on the list of all items this particular seller — collections_of_art — was offering through the auction site. I was immediately drawn to what was reportedly a sketch by the late, great Superman artist Curt Swan, listed for $999 US. It’s been more than three decades since I saw the original version of that so-called sketch, but I immediately recognized it as a figure from cover art from the classic “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” story by Alan Moore and Swan.

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Spidey on Trump’s Threads

It doesn’t matter where you are, what you’re doing or with whom you’re speaking — it’s next to impossible to avoid references to Donald Trump these days. From social media to social situations, from televised fiction to telephone conversations, Trump is everywhere. Of course, comics — and especially the super-hero genre — have always served as an escape for the masses.

An even safer bet for refuge in comics are back issues. I’ve been poring over dozens of older comics — dating back a couple of years to a couple of decades — as of late, finding some charming storytelling, some impressive work and some clunkers as well. I’ve been making my way through a stack of old Spectacular Spider-Man issues the last couple of days, enjoying the artistry of Sal Buscema.

And then I hit Page 6 of Spectacular Spider-Man #171, published in late 1990, and I was jolted from my escapist reverie.

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Justice

With an adult comics enthusiast (me, for the record) and a seven-year-old in the house, comics and their representations in other media often factor into the holidays in our homestead. This year was no exception, with Santa dropping off a super-hero video game for the boy, among other items.

My wife — aware our son has been learning how to play chess at his after-school program and that my father, brothers and I often played chess during my youth — picked up this little number when she spotted it at a discount dollar store in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

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All-Stars Game


A DC comic came to a DC television show, but it only “flashed” on screen for a couple of moments. In this week’s episode of The Flash on the CW (CTV in Canada), we catch a glimpse of super-hero-in-training Ralph Dibny (not yet dubbed the Elongated Man) reading a comic book. I spied right away that it was an issue of Young All-Stars, a 1980s comic set during World War II.

A quick search online yielded a screen capture (seen above), and then a perusal of the Young All-Stars cover gallery on the Grand Comics Database uncovered a match to issue #20 (released January 1989), written by Roy and Dann Thomas, with art by Michael Bair, Ron harris and Tony DeZuniga. Its appearance as a prop in “When Harry Met Harry,” episode six of Season Four of The Flash, was a delight for this longtime DC reader.

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Comic Art Listing Looks a Bit Sketchy

The market for original comic art, commissioned comic art and sketches by noted professionals in the medium has exploded in recent years. Pieces that were once valued at less than $100 are now selling for hundreds more. Four- and five-figure prices for sought-after art and artists is commonplace these days. With the rise in demand and corresponding rise in prices comes an unfortunate side effect: fraud.

Phony comic art has definitely circulated in the marketplace, so buyers have to be knowledgeable and aware so as to avoid being fleeced. In addition to reading comics, I’m a collector of original art, and as such, I’m always scanning the marketplace for affordable pieces. Ebay has been a great resource to get bargains, so I peruse the original comic art listings on the site almost on a daily basis.

I stumbled across a piece Sunday that caught my eye; well, truth be told, it was the listing title that caught my eye: “BLACK CANARY FULL FIGURE original art commission by DARWYN COOKE (BEAUTIFUL).” I have three sketches from the late artist in my convention sketchbook, and I’ll always treasure them. As a fan of his work, I’m always up for a glance at something else he did.

As I looked at the scan of the sketch included in the auction, I immediately had some questions about it.

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Artful Obsessions: It’s Pronounced Voit-KEV-itch

Everyone has their favorite incarnation of the Justice League, be it the Silver Age original, the JL Detroit team, Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s return of the Big Seven, or perhaps (and most definitely in my case) the humor era begun in the late 1980s by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire. I don’t think anyone has ever mentioned the two-year stint on Justice League America from the mid-1990s by writer Gerard Jones and artist Chuck Wojtkiewicz, which saw a new lineup launched in the wake of Zero Hour.

I have very few issues from this run on the title, which surprises me a little, since included in the team roster at the time were Infinity Inc. alums Nuklon and Obsidian, characters I’ve loved since they were introduced in All-Star Squadron in the early 1980s. Despite my lack of connection with this era of the JLA, I jumped at the chance to pick up this board from Justice League America #98. The price was right, and there was a lot about the page that appealed to me.

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Charting a Course


A comic artist with a quarter century of experience in the industry, including memorable projects involving Batman for DC Comics, is heading back to school, but he’ll be the teacher and anybody, anywhere can attend classes.

Bo Hampton — an Atlanta, Georgia-based artist known for such comics as DC’s Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Batman: Castle of the Bat and Legend of Sleepy Hollow from Image Comics — launched Drawing for Comics on Nov. 1. It’s an online course teaching comics illustration, and Hampton is delivering it through a series of videos, as well as options for live Skype assessment sessions.

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Artful Obsessions: The Art of War


I’ve never been much for war comics, though there have been occasional exceptions of strong storytelling that really grabbed my attention. But my extensive comic-book collection really includes very few war comics, just the occasional issue here and that was a part of a larger lot I picked up at flea markets or the like over the years. I have several issues of DC’s original Weird War Tales among the many long boxes around my place, but I honestly don’t recall if I’ve read them all (I ought to rectify that, especially given the vintage-comics kick I’ve been on as of late).

Despite that lack of nostalgic connection to war comics, when I spotted a page from Weird War Tales for bid online recently, I definitely wanted to try my hand at winning it. The reason wasn’t due to the content, but rather the era from which it originated and the unusual pairing of artistic talents who crafted it. I was fortunate enough to have landed the board and added to my collection, and when I finally got it in my hands, I realized it was a treasure-trove of classic comics craft details.

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Artful Obsessions: Challengers Accepted!

The Challengers of the Unknown have been with us for 60 years (!), having debuted in Showcase #6 (cover dated February 1957). The characters enjoyed a few more appearances in Showcase before moving onto their own title the following year. It’s noteworthy in that it’s one of the many long-lasting creations of the King, the late Jack Kirby. It’s actually such a beloved DC property, I’m surprised a Challengers one-shot wasn’t listed among the planned comics DC is publishing in August to mark what would have been the legendary writer/artist’s 100th birthday.

Now while a Kirby page (of any description) isn’t with my budget when it comes to comic-art collecting, I did manage to acquire a Challengers page recently for an affordable price on eBay. And it was from my favorite incarnation of the Challengers: the 1997-98, Steven Grant-penned series featuring a new lineup of Challengers. It boasts a cool X-Files vibe, featuring paranormal investigations against the backdrop of the DC Universe.

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When Love Turns to Greed

I was pleased to find my local comics retailer stocked copies of Love Is Love, the softcover comics anthology aimed to benefit the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., earlier this year. I’d informed the manager of the shop that I’d be interested in a copy if his boss had ordered some. It turns out I was quite lucky to get my hands on it, as it’s selling out all over the place. It’s also rising quickly in the ranks of Amazon’s most popular books this week.

The project was spearheaded by comics writer Marc Andreyko, who managed and herded an inordinate amount of talent, and who even got DC Comics and IDW Publishing to facilitate the book’s publication. To call Love Is Love a success would be as major an understatement as referring to the mass shooting that sparked this creative reaction as a tragedy. It clearly brought out a lot from those involved – emotion, personal connections, generosity of time – not to mention what it evokes from and instills in those who read it and appreciate it. There’s a second printing on the way, and Andreyko noted on Facebook that there’s also a third printing in the works.

Sadly, it appears Love Is Love is something quite different out of others: profiteering.

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Artful Obsessions: Gene Therapy

The late Gene Colan is definitely best remembered and honored for his work on Daredevil, Howard the Duck and, perhaps most notably, Tomb of Dracula. However, because I was exclusively a DC devotee in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I came to discover his work on such books as Batman, Wonder Woman and Night Force. As a kid, I wasn’t all that enamored of his style, to be honest, but over the years, I’ve definitely come to respect and appreciate his craft. His style is incredibly distinctive, and I’m pleased I’ve finally managed to add a sample of his work to my collection of original comic art.

The original comic art board I recently acquired is Page 18 from Jemm, Son of Saturn #6. The 12-part Jemm series is a rather obscure footnote in Colan’s career (though the title character did show up briefly in a villainous role in the first season of the new Supergirl show). A little online research reveals it was originally intended as a Martian Manhunter book before DC editors nixed it (as J’Onn J’Onzz was about to return in the pages of Justice League of America in the early 1980s).

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