Rich Buckler – RIP to a comic book great!

… and on Gardner Fox’s 106th birthday, I also honor a Golden & Silver Age great!

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I was very sad to hear of the death of comic book artist Rich Buckler today.  Here is his Wikipedia entry (note his death had yet to make the page):

Rich Buckler (born February 6, 1949) is an American comic book artist and penciller, best known for his work on Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four in the mid-1970s and for creating the character Deathlok in Astonishing Tales #25. Buckler has drawn virtually every major character at Marvel and DC, often as a cover artist.

As a teenager in Detroit, Buckler attended the initial iterations of the Detroit Triple Fan Fair, eventually running the convention along with originator Robert Brosch in 1969–1970.

Buckler’s first comics work was as a teenager with the four-page historical story “Freedom Fighters: Washington Attacks Trenton” in the King Features comic book Flash Gordon #10 (cover-dated Nov. 1967). At DC Comics, he drew the “Rose and the Thorn” backup stories in Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #117-121 (Dec. 1971 – April 1972).

Buckler drew the first three issues of writer Don McGregor’s Black Panther series in Jungle Action vol. 2, #6-8 (Sept. 1973 – Jan. 1974), a run that Comics Bulletin in 2010 ranked third on its list of the “Top 10 1970s Marvels”. He fulfilled a decade-long dream in 1974 when assigned to draw Marvel’s flagship series, Fantastic Four, on which he stayed for two years.  During this period, Buckler created the cyborg antihero Deathlok, which starred in an ongoing feature debuting in Astonishing Tales #25 (Aug. 1974). Also during this period, Buckler hired the young George Pérez as his studio assistant.

Buckler collaborated with writer Gerry Conway on a “Superman vs. Shazam!” story published in All-New Collectors’ Edition #C-58 (April 1978). He drew the newspaper comic strip The Incredible Hulk for approximately six months in 1979. A Justice League story by Conway and Buckler originally intended for All-New Collectors’ Edition saw print in Justice League of America #210-212 (Jan.-Mach 1983). Buckler and Roy Thomas then created the World War II superhero team the All-Star Squadron in a special insert in Justice League of America #193 (Aug. 1981) which led to the team’s own title the following month.

Buckler worked for Archie Comics in 1983 and 1984, when that publisher briefly revived its Red Circle Comics superhero line, and he recruited Cary Burkett to write the Mighty Crusaders title. In 1985, Buckler returned to Marvel and briefly drew The Spectacular Spider-Man with writer Peter David, where they produced the storyline “The Death of Jean DeWolff”. He also served as editor for a short-lived line of comics by Solson Publications, where in 1987 he created Reagan’s Raiders.

He is the author of two books: How to Become a Comic Book Artist and How to Draw Superheroes. In 2015, he became an Inkwell Awards Ambassador.

 

I remember his covers of the comic books I collected during the Bronze Age, but as I searched for his comic book covers on the internet I was stunned at how prolific he was; at least with the comics I collected. He was everywhere! He, Jim Aparo and Ernie Chua seemingly accounted for 75% of DC covers in the 1970s! I may only slightly be exaggerating! Here are some examples of the man’s work. I still have all these issues …

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Today also marks the 106th birthday of Gardner Fox, prolific comic book author whose writing helped create the Golden Age and whose creations still exist in one form or another. He was the creator or “… co-creator of DC Comics heroes the Flash, Hawkman, Doctor Fate and the original Sandman, and was the writer who first teamed those and other heroes as the Justice Society of America. Fox introduced the concept of the Multiverse to DC Comics in the 1961 story “Flash of Two Worlds!” …” (from Wikipedia).

 

Two comic book great are being remembered today. Thank you both for your wonderful bodies of work. You and your talent are both missed very much!

 

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Justice League of America #132

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#6

Justice League of America #132

JLA_v.1_132

Published monthly, thirty cents, July

Cover artist: Ernie Chua (the date under his signature is 1975)

Editor: Julie Schwartz

            The Justice League of America debuted in late 1960 in The Brave and the Bold #28. After a three-issue try-out, they were awarded their own magazine a few months later. There has never been a month without at least some kind of version of the JLA published by National or DC – gaps as publicity stunts aside…

            Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman joined together to fight evil. 

            Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky wrote and drew the first several years of the series and the editorial reigns were held by Julie Schwartz.  This was Schwartz’s third try at reviving Golden Age characters – updating them for a modern audience.  The Flash and Green Lantern were rousing successes, so he tried again in the pages of Brave and Bold!  This time he brought back the old Justice Society of America: changed the name to something “more exciting” (someone once said a Society makes them sound like they got together to have tea) and updated the roster with the few heroes available at the time.  There was really no one else around: Adam Strange?  He’s good, but harder to work into a plot than Aquaman, so instead he was a frequent guest.  Roy Raymond TV Detective and Rex the Wonder Dog wouldn’t work, Challengers of the Unknown and the Blackhawks would make things too crowded.  Superboy would be impossible!  Batwoman? Robin?  Nah!  Green Arrow?  Oops, forgot about him – he’d join in Justice League of America #4.

            Eventually Fox and Sekowsky left the writing and art chores to others. Some issues were drawn by Neal Adams! But eventually the art was given to Dick Dillin.  Some fans dislike his art even to this day. I loved it! His are the images I have when I think of the Justice League – not Sekowski’s, not Lopez, not Heck’s, not Lee’s nor anyone who drew the later and latter versions of the group. Dillon is my  … Dylan.

            Plus in this particular issue he draws Supergirl! Oh, yummy …

supergirl

            This image is from the next issue, but still …

            Justice League of America was always a sales powerhouse for DC, with only a handful of magazines selling better (Superman for example). Its dip in sales during the 1970s was proportional with the industry as a whole.

            But even in the dip. Marvel was outdoing DC, in buzz if not in sales. Trying to catch up – something DC started in the mid-1960s and continues to this day – DC kept story threads going from issue to issue in some of their comics; Justice League of America included. This bicentennial issue is a fine example: it is part two of a two-part story, but the thread (Supergirl searching for her cousin) continues into the next issue; her search then becomes its own two-parter.

            As is the case with this magazine, the thread is interrupted by the annual JLA/JSA summer multi-parter. One of Justice League of America’s most unforgivable crime in this vein came in the next year with issues #139: Steve Englehart took over the writing chores for an incredible run of issues, but the annual JLA/JSA summer team-up stopped the story in its tracks. When it returned to the storyline (the Construct attacks during dissension amongst the JLAers), it had lost steam and Englehart was gone by issue #150 with his events and changes to the group’s dynamic forgotten.

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            The inner front cover features a different Hostess ad from the Bicentennial comics so far. Instead of “Superman Saves the Earth”, we have “The Cornered Clown” starring the Joker!

            The annual sales statement “required” of every comic book published showed this magazine was selling 193,000 copies*. A fair amount for the time – and today as well!

            “The Beasts Who Fought Like Men”, Gerry Conway   ( w ), Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin (a).

             This story is continued from the previous issue. Returning from a mission in space, the Justice Leaguers not involved in the events of the previous issue are attacked over New York City by Queen Bee and her intelligent swarm! They dispatch the swarm, but Queen Bee escapes. Perhaps they can track her whereabouts in their satellite headquarters…

            … whence they are attacked by Green Lantern foe Sonar! Last issue, Sonar developed a “credit card” that would help him control humans as soon as they touch said card! Instead, the cards made humans as dumb as beasts and as a side effect made animals as intelligent as humans! Sonar defeats the JLA but runs away when nearly bested by Supergirl, who at that moment entered the satellite searching for Superman.

            The team splits up; half go to Washington DC to fight Sonar, who are then also attacked by animals from the Washington Zoo.  Sonar is caught after being nearly trampled by an elephant.

            The other half goes to Chicago to fight Queen Bee. During the fight they discover that although Sonar created the human/animal link, Queen Bee controls it! The two villains were unknowingly in cahoots! Queen Bee is also defeated.

            JLA members missing since the last issue are found – except for the Man of Steel!  Supergirl asks the JLA’s help in finding the missing Superman.

 

 

JLA Mailroom: featuring comments on issue #128; Bob Rozakis answered and commented on the letters. Paul Emrath of Milwaukee, WI (positive), Glenn Rowsam of Oakland, CA (positive – and praises Wonder Woman’s return to the group); DK Thomas of Brunswick, ME, Michael D Dargay of Royal Oak, MI, and Fred Schneider of New York, NY are given brief comments discussing an age-old question argued to this day: is Green Lantern’s oath necessary to recharge his ring?

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            This issue is reprinted in the trade paperback Showcase Presents: Justice League of America Vol. 6.

 

 

* Here is a sample of sales figures published in DC’s annual “required by law” financial statement for 1976:

Brave and Bold: 151,000

Justice League of America: 193,000

World’s Finest: 132,185

Adventure Comics: 104,309

Superman: 216,122

Superman Family: 156,636

 

 

            Shameless plugs department: Some of the information in this blog is gleaned from my new ebook: The Brave and the Bold – from Silent Knight to Dark Knight, an index of the DC comic book. Available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords websites. It’s free, so get it now!

 brave-and-bold-cover

           The Barnes and Noble link is here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-brave-and-the-bold-michael-curry/1120872264?ean=2940046443011

 

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Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.