The black and white magazines from the 1970s are treasures that should be on every comic book collectors list. The artwork is typically phenomenal, and the stories cool as well. One of the best of these without doubt is The Savage Sword of Conan! Each magazine is filled with stories from the barbarian and his adventures. Whether he faces a wizard, a monster, or an army, Conan will prevail!
The mags almost always have extras in them as well. In this particular issue, you’ll see a frontispiece by the terribly underrated Keith Pollard and a pin-up by Gene Day! Also, sandwiched between two tales of the Cimmerian, you get a story called “The Kozaks Ride” by Fred Blosser and some illustrations by “Marvel’s finest.” The other two stories were adapted by Roy Thomas!
The first tale, “The City of Skulls,” was a story written by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. These two sci-fi writers have a ton of credits and were obviously huge fans of Robert E. Howard! The artwork is by Mike Vosburg and Alfredo Alcala. The second story, “Wolves Beyond the Border” was written by Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp.The artwork in this story is by Ernie Chan.
Now, you may be wondering how these other names came to write stories starring everyone’s favorite barbarian. Well, the truth is, many stories were written by others after Howard’s death in 1936. They were either new material using the characters created by Howard or sometimes old material that had not been completed yet by Howard himself. Throw in an incredible painted cover by Clyde Caldwell, and you have a masterpiece of fiction brought to you by Marvel Comics!
I recently declared in a group on social media that I read the greatest Batman comic of all time, and could now die a happy man. Some thought I was joking…I wasn’t…not one bit. Yeah, I know The Dark Knight, Birth of the Demon, The Killing Joke, The Long Halloween, etc., etc. all get the critical praise, and rightly so, but my tastes are a little different (and I have read most of those stories). Batman meeting Fatman cannot be topped. A cover showing Robin getting the stuffing knocked out of him by a faux Santa Claus is pretty cool as well! The other stories in the book are good stuff and Elongated Man has always been one of my favorite ancillary characters in the DC universe. The Batgirl/Robin story is solid, but the real gem is the ludicrousness of the Batman/Fatman story. It is awesome.
When you see the glorious cover by Ernie Chan (pencils and inks), and Tatjana Wood (Colors), you know how awesome this book is going to be! The interior pages hold more delight, as Elliot S. Maggin, Pablo Marcos, Vince Colletta, Bob Rozakis, José Delbo, Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff, Carmine Infantino, Joe Giella, and more!
Another post about Doctor Strange, and this one is another favorite of mine. One of the reasons is because it has several guest appearances. The tale centers around the Doc and Nighthawk (both heroes are members of the non-team “The Defenders“), as they face off against a villain that’s been in the pages of Daredevil during this era as well. The Death-Stalker is a very mysterious villain and a sinister one too that has the power of intangibility, and a “death touch” that renders lesser men dead!
In his long career, Roger Stern (writer) has written some very compelling stories, and had some lengthy runs on titles. Of course, most everyone will gravitate to his AmazingSpider-Man work, or his tremendous collaboration with John Byrne on Captain America, but don’t sleep on his Dr. Strange stories because they are great! Tom Sutton (pencils) is most noted for his horror work, but given the opportunity, he can draw a wider range of material. Veteran artist Ernie Chan (inks) is always a welcome sight in the credits box, because he was a very solid artist that put in good work. Petra Goldberg (colors), Annette Kawecki (letters), and Archie Goodwin (editor), round out the creative team! I shall not forget awesome artist, Frank Brunner (cover), who is one of the best to ever pencil the Doc!
Of course, who doesn’t enjoy a good story where Conan thrashes some scoundrels, and then saves the beautiful woman! I know a lot of people will steer clear of a series like this because they think it’s very one-trick pony, but if you really enjoy the genre, give it a try! This story in particular has a very weird and twisting ending. Sometimes Conan can get a little weary in regards to the plot, but action is never missing nor is a mystical/magical aspect that always kept my interest. Throw in an evil sorcerer or a weird creature, and I’m in for the long run!
When you have a character with the history that Conan has, it’s now extremely difficult to cook up decent stories. That’s not to take anything away from Roy Thomas (writer) mind you, but the groundwork laid by Robert E. Howard (creator) surely deserves the lion-share of the credit. It certainly doesn’t hurt your book when you have an artist the caliber of “Big” John Buscema (pencils, R.I.P.) and Ernie Chan (inker on interiors and cover) to put forth a spectacular visual feast either! Add on Bronze Age stalwarts John Costanza (letters), and Glynis Wein (colors), and the book will ascend to the heights of greatness! Did I forget to mention the cover by the master, Gil Kane?
As my look at Marvel Premiere marches on (specifically the Dr. Strange issues), this issue is a momentous one because of the arrival of the new creative team going forward. Until now, a few different creators were involved, and they did an admirable job, but now, the theme takes a bit of a turn, and the Doc must not only continue to fight against Shuma-Gorath and its minions, but also try to deal with the death of his mentor, the Ancient One!
When I interviewed “Stainless” Steve Englehart (writer) about his fabled run with this character, he mentioned some late night brainstorming sessions between he and artist Frank Brunner (pencils on the interiors and the cover). How they would meet and carefully concoct where they wanted things to go, and why. I’ve been a part of other interviews before where a duo worked closely together on a certain title (Dan Abnett, about his work Andy Lanning), and it’s always fun to hear about these jam sessions between two great minds! The inks on this issue are by Ernie Chan, and he’s definitely one of my favorites from the decade. John Costanza (letters) and Dave Hunt (colors) round out the team on this fabulous first collaboration between two of comic book’s definitive creators from the Bronze Age!
In this, the finale of my George Perez spotlights, we will see his early Avengers work. Most long time fans will recognize it immediately, some newer comic book fans may not. Either way, get ready for a real treat, because what you are about to see is magic! With inkers such as Mike Esposito, Ernie Chan, and Pablo Marcos (just to name a few), you can’t go wrong! Perez was really the first guy post-Kirby to really elevate his style, and become an absolute rock star with his fantastic talent, and genuine personality. Let us now take the journey through some of the earliest work by this legend! Enjoy!
Today brings a double-shot of DC! Why, you ask? Well, because they’re the only two DC books left that I own from the Bronze and Silver Ages, that’s why! The Wonder Woman book features a duel with Hephaestus! Cover by Ernie Chan & Vince Colletta! Interiors by Martin Pasko (writer), and José Delbo (art)! The next book is one of my favorite covers, just because of the nonsensical “oath”, that Supes is forced to recite! Cover by George Klein & Curt Swan. Interiors by Jim Shooter (writer) and Al Plastino (art). Enjoy!