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Saturday, February 20, 2010

This Week's Suspended Animation - Comics Legend Alex Schomburg

Throughout the decades, there have been men and women who were in comics for a short time, yet made a significant impact. Alex Schomburg was one of those people.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Schomburg's career as a professional artist began in the 1920's, when he worked in commercial art with his brothers. Afterwards, he produced lantern slides (For a form of slide-show popular in the early 20th century.) for National Screen Service. He also did freelance art work for various pulp magazines, such as Startling Stories, Uncanny Stories, Flying Aces, and many more.

His comics work began in the late 1930's, and, to this day, Schomburg is remembered most fondly for being the chief cover artist for Timely/Marvel. Having illustrated covers for nearly every Timely title during his run, and having drawn each major character, his work is noted for being clear, vivacious, and often the best feature of the comic book it adorns.

Schomburg's covers have been described as outrageous, flamboyant, spectacular, meticulous, and more than once, as something akin to organized chaos. A telling indication of the impact of the artist's work, Stan Lee once said, "I've always felt that Alex Schomburg was to comic books what Norman Rockwell was to the Saturday Evening Post."

Schomburg's work was seen on the covers of All Winners Comics, Marvel Mystery Comics, All Select Comics, The Young Allies, Submariner, Human Torch, Green Hornet, Speed Comics, and Black Terror, to name just a few. It is said that within the decade in which he worked in comics, he produced over 500 covers.

After he left comics, Alex went on to ply his trade in science fiction magazines and novels. His illustrations adorned the covers of many science fiction books, including some by Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. He was also the first artist hired by Stanley Kubrick to work on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Over the years he won many different awards for his work, in the fields of science fiction and comics, alike. He died in 1998.

The work of Alex Schomburg is highly recommended. However, most of his projects will be out of financial reach for the average fan. Seeking reprint material is the wisest course, an example being Chroma: The Art of Alex Schomburg, by Jon Gustafson.

Review by Mark Allen