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Thursday, December 13, 2007

An S.A. "Classic" - Amazing Adventures/War of The Worlds

I really enjoy watching an artist's work improve with time. In comics, it means seeing them become more comfortable with a particular character, or characters, as they begin to inject more of their own ideas, and the character becomes "theirs." One of the greatest examples of this phenomenon I have ever seen is P. Craig Russell's work on Marvel Comics' Amazing Adventures Featuring "War of The Worlds" in the mid-'70's.

Russell began his work on the book in 1974 with issue 27, and, with the exception of three issues, continued as premier penciller through its cancellation with issue 39. As his work progressed, readers saw him take artistic ownership of Killraven (the main character), as the futuristic warrior lead Earth's rebellion against the Martian race.

Though most impressive when inking his own work, Russell's pencils were still some of the best Marvel had to offer when finished by inkers such as Jack Abel and Sonny Trinidad, who also worked for Marvel at the time.

One of the most striking characteristics of Craig's art was his use of storytelling, or panel-arrangement on a page. Much like Jim Steranko's work on Marvel's Nick Fury, Agent of Shield, events flowed through some pages in a style that was as reminiscent of some "fine" art, as it was comic art.

Also impressive was his sense of design. Russell arguably produced some of the most imaginative, and visually horrific, monsters and villains in Marvel's history.

Don McGregor handled the writing for this issue-run, and credit must be given to his very involved plots, as well as his ability to pack a lot of story into a 32-page pamphlet.

Not highly sought after today, these Amazing Adventures issues may be found in your local comic-dealer's fifty-cent, or even twenty-five-cent boxes. Of course, you wouldn't have to bother if Marvel would just produce a trade paperback collection...

Comic conventions and online auctions are also a good place to inquire.

Amazing Adventures, published by Marvel Comics, 32 pages.

Review by Mark Allen.

An S.A. "Classic" From 2001 - Comics Legend Steve Ditko

The world is full of imagination, of wonderful glimpses into other worlds and times that lift our spirits out of boredom or even trouble.

Born in 1927, comics legend Steve Ditko has added much to that wealth of imagination. Artist and occasional writer, Ditko rose through smaller publishers to the height of popularity in the early 1960s with his co-creation of Spider-man and his work on characters like Doctor Strange and The Hulk for Marvel Comics.

It is impossible to know if his fresh style was the natural result of Spider-man's attributes or sprang completely from Ditko's mind. After all, Spider-man "does whatever a spider
can" which includes hanging upside down from ceilings or from the sides of walls at wild, inhuman angles. Whichever is true, Ditko helped change comics pages of panels stacked like orderly building blocks into dynamic and ever changing visual dances as Spider-man swung head-down and butt-up through the canyons of New York City.

Best known as an innovative artist with a well-defined and firm life philosophy, Ditko did much to liberate static comic book page layouts through his innovative style of visual storytelling. That Ditko's distinctive style is seldom plagiarized is tribute to the power and singleness of his vision and art.

Ditko's work includes: Fantastic Fears (1953, Farrell), Black Magic (1953, Prize), Capt. Atom, Blue Beetle, Question, Gorgo, Konga, Black Fury, SF, War, Weird Stories (1953—'68, Charlton), Weird Tales (1955-'57, St. John), Spider-man, Hulk, Doctor Strange and Weird Tales (1956-'66, Marvel), Noman, Dynamo (1966-'68, Tower), Nukla, Get Smart, Hogan's Heroes (1966, Dell), Creeper, Hawk and Dove (1968, National), and Fantasy (1966, ACG). Ditko also drew for various Warren magazines including Creepy (1966-'68), Witzend (1969-'70), and created the philosophical character "Mr. A" for several magazines.

His work is highly recommended.

Michael Vance