Writing about creators that I never interacted with, and/or that have been gone from this Earth a long time, is never a difficult thing for me to do. It is however, the complete opposite feeling when someone passes away I’ve had time with talking about this medium I love. David Anthony Kraft, or more appropriately, DAK!, has been a creator I interacted with online now for a few years. He was extremely cordial to the unknown people on the other end of a fiber optic cable, so much so that I thought he was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met online.
I’d seen this name (DAK) in comic books from my favorite era, the Bronze Age, quite often as a fill-in writer, or as an editor. Getting to know him though, he shed a good bit of light on quite a few times where he did work, but didn’t receive credit (not for some nefarious reason, just because those were the times). Even doing some layouts/sketch ideas for covers and splash pages. This really made me look at his work in a very different way. It also made me go back and read some of these examples he recounted. He was always answering questions from fans, and almost always tagging people that he loved, especially Don McGregor (another great guy).
His window in the comics biz wasn’t decades long, and he’s probably most known for his comics magazine, Comics Interview (click here for an interview he did with Comic Book Historians). Here are a few off-beat selections from the Bronze Age. Godspeed, DAK!
Merry Christmas to everyone out there! This week I’ll keep with the theme of anthology books, but with a holiday story! One of Marvel’s most beloved characters is definitely Ben Grimm. His kind heart and love for his friends is one of legend, his fights with Johnny notwithstanding! This story opens up with a gorgeous splash page that really sets the holiday mood. This wild tale involves the Puppet Master, Ben, and Alicia. You see, the Puppet Master is fresh out of prison, and the shenanigans must ensue. He convinces Alicia that he’s no longer evil, and then the two of them, plus The Thing head to his homeland (Transia) as a Christmas present from the FF. It doesn’t take long for the trio to get into trouble, as Bova and Modred the Mystic join the cast in this crazy holiday issue!
Written by Mark Gruenwald, art by Frank Springer (pencils and cover) and Chic Stone (inks), colors by George Roussos, letters by Michael Higgins, and edited by Jim Salicrup! This is a very wacky issue, but so much fun. The holiday backdrop is perfect for this story and for today’s post! Merry Christmas!
Roy “The Boy’ Thomas, is one of my all-time favorite comic book creators. Not only is he one of the best writers, editors, and creators of characters (the two teams I’ll focus on now!), but also one of the best historians of the industry as well (Alter Ego). One of the things I think he did best was create teams that were retcons (retroactive continuity- meaning they didn’t exist in the same time-frame where their stories were written, but during the Golden Age instead).
Whether it was battling the Red Skull, fighting alongside The Thing against more Nazis, or arm in arm with The Invaders in the European Theater, these two teams were always right in the middle of the action! Other than Rascally Roy, these characters were brought to life by the best, including Jack “King” Kirby, Don Heck, Sal Buscema, Frank Robbins, Alan Kupperberg, Frank Springer, Vince Colletta, Joe Sinnott, Chic Stone, Don Glut, and more! Images from Marvel Premiere 28, Marvel Two-in-One Annual 2 (1976), The Invaders 41, 15, 35, 36, and 37 (1976-1978)!
As the train rolls on, and Marvel Two-in-One is still at the forefront of my coconut, this issue that was a recent purchase is ready for the spotlight! Anytime you pair two superheros together, it’s a plus, but when you add several, then the odds have just increased substantially of the book catching the eye of a potential reader. Team books offer so much with all the varying personalities, potential strife, and vast array of powers, that you can’t get out of a solo book (although Doctor Strange is the best character and his ’74 series is the best of all time). In this marvelous tale, we see a few heroes gather for a night of poker, and companionship. We see Ms. Marvel, Wonder Man, The Beast, Nick Fury, Jarvis, and of course, The Thing (also a minor character named Blake Tower, a District Attorney from the pages of Daredevil). Good action issue, but honestly, it’s all about the personal interactions between the heroes during some “down time.”
Peter Gillis is a name I know from the pages of Doctor Strange. He wrote a few stories in that mag, and did a fine job. In this book, he does an excellent job of weaving the action in with the quiet moments of the book. Also adding some great banter between the heroes as they spring into action! The art team of Frank Miller (pencils) and Bob McLeod (inks), really bring their “A” game on this book! One page in particular shows the heroes in shadow, in a smoke-filled room playing cards that is outstanding. No Bronze Age book would be complete without the letters of Tom Orzechowski and colors of Glynis Wein! And if that wasn’t enough, you get the legendary Roger Stern (another great name who has also written some very good Doc Strange stories!) as editor! And, last but not least, you get a bonus as George Pérez and Joe Sinnott give us this fabulous cover!
While I don’t “remember the Hijacker,” I do know an awesome villain when I see one! Brought to life during the great, but short-lived series “Black Goliath,” This little known villain is so generic he’s awesome! Marvel’s sister titles, Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-in-One, were both exquisite in their own strange way. Both offered characters that even casual fans would recognize, but once in a while, they’d throw a curveball at you, and have a villain (or even sometimes someone/thing from pop culture) that was completely off the wall. This is one of those times of awesomeness.
The name Bill Mantlo (writer, with an assist from Jim Shooter), is one that I hold is high esteem. Many times I’ve picked up a comic book and after reading it, was not shocked to find out it was from the mind of this gentleman. The art team is composed of two masters. Sal Buscema (pencils) and Pablo Marcos (inks), are two staples from the Bronze Age that really resonate with fans of that era and beyond. Irv Watanabe (letters) and George Roussos (colors), are also a couple of names synonymous with that period, as is editor, Archie Goodwin!
After searching far and wide (OK, not really), I’ve finally purchased a book I’ve been wanting to buy for years! Why this book? Because I love N’Kantu, The Living Mummy, that’s why! With a backstory along the same lines as Imhotep, this former warrior prince of an African tribe was put down by politics. They embalmed him alive and with a special fluid that has kept him alive for centuries! In this story, we see Ben Grimm and Alicia Masters get caught up in an Egyptian-style caper with magic and mayhem!
This issue was scripted by the very capable David Anthony Kraft. He was one of those guys that was ready for anything, and even though he didn’t have many extended runs on any specific title, the work was there and on point. The recent passing of Alan Kupperberg (pencils) was quite a shock for me. Having been friends with him on social media for a couple for years, I found him to be very friendly, and always positive. The inker, Jon D’Agostino, is someone I know nothing about, but his work with Kupperberg looks very nice to my eyes. The cover was brought to us by the awesome Bronze Age duo of Ron Wilson and Chic Stone! Veterans Diana Albers (letters), George Roussos (colors), and Tom Defalco (editor), round out the team!
I figured with Ant-Man still on people’s minds, we could journey into the past, and check out an appearance of this eccentric character. Not only do you get him, but also the blue-eyed Thing! The Thing gets sucked into a Microverse, and it’s up to Ant-Man (with an assist by Reed Richards) to bring him back in one piece. But what if Ben doesn’t want to come back? Just think about it for a minute. What if Ben is whisked away to a world where he’s adored, and not feared? Would anyone want to come back to a world where you feel tormented?
This was a great phase of this title, when you had regular artists like “Rampaging” Ron Wilson (pencils) and “Cheerful” Chic Stone (inks) bringing you fantastic interior work. Still fairly young in his Marvel career (but not comics in general), Tom Defalco (writer) gives us a solid story that emphasizes what Ben Grimm is really all about. Colors are by Christie Scheele, letters by Rick Parker and Michael Higgins. The editor is one that was an absolute rock for Marvel throughout the years, Mr. Jim Salicrup!
In this double-sized post, I’ll be showcasing a two-part story featuring the Thing, as he takes on the menace of Ultron! The good news is, he wont have to face him alone. The bad news is, that even with Machine Man and Jocasta, he’s still in over his head! The entire series of Marvel Two-in-One was just something to marvel at (no pun intended). The myriad of stories and creators was a melting pot during the Bronze Age for some of Marvel’s best, and most talented creators. Especially when you look at the fact that most don’t get the recognition they deserve. Names like Ron Wilson, Chic Stone, Tom Defalco, David Anthony Kraft, Jo Duffy, Alan Kupperberg, and so on. These professionals gave it their all, and whether you want to admit it or not, were just as big a part of the industry as some of the more recognized names at that time. They kept characters roles expanding, as well as keeping them in-line with continuity and moving forward.
This great two-part story was given to us by Tom Defalco (writer), Ron Wilson (cover and interior pencils), Chic Stone (cover inks) Joe Rosen (letters), Don Warfield and George Roussos (colors), and edited by Jim Salicrup! The inking was done by committee, but at no time did the work suffer for it. Sometimes when you get too many hands in the pot, you have a recipe for disaster, but not here! Some really good character interaction plus great humor as well. Feast your eyes on these two books!
As promised, here is the second part of the Thing/Yancy Street Gang/Jack of Hearts story! At the end of the last issue, we saw the Thing get captured by the Machinesmith, and his robots. Now, Jack of Hearts enters the fray, and the plot thickens! Everything actually looks like it’s going to get better, as Ben Grimm escapes his bonds, and attempts to attack the Machinesmith. He gets mind-controlled though, and is then sent to kill Jack of Hearts! A great brawl between both heroes ensues, and then more craziness with the Yancy Street Gang, as well!
Another great one from Bill Mantlo, and pencils by Chic Stone (RIP),but sadly, Stone doesn’t ink his pencils again (as he did in the earlier issue), and no offense to Tex Blaisdell (RIP), but the artwork was definitely sub-par compared to last issues brilliance. Not that it’s bad, but it’s just not up to the level that Stone gave us before. The colorist is Mario Sen, letters by Elaine Heinl and Gaspar, edited by Roger Stern, and the cover once again, by Chic Stone! Enjoy!
I love comic books with skeletons! Maybe it’s my passion for Ray Harryhausen movies? Anyway, this is not just a cool cover, it has a great story by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Ron Wilson, inks by Pablo Marcos, Don Warfield on colors, Karen Mantlo doing the letters, and Archie Goodwin editing! Thor and Thing must battle Seth, Egyptian god of the underworld! Enjoy!