Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fantastic Four Art

Way back in 1977, I picked up my first copy of the Fantastic Four, but it wasn't a comic book. Marvel Comics was publishing a series of paperback books that reprinted the early adventures of their super-heroes. One Sunday afternoon in the fall of '77, I picked up The Fantastic Four collection, reprinting the first six issues. When I got home from B. Dalton's Bookstore in The Monroeville Mall, I grabbed a lawn chair and started to read in my backyard. My intent was to read just the first couple of stories but as I read them I was thoroughly engrossed in the great storytelling by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. I'd never read anything like this in my entire life! A group of super-heroes who fought amongst themselves as much as they fought their enemies. And they acted like real people. Just because they had powers didn't mean that they didn't have problems. Needless to say I spent the afternoon reading the adventures of Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), The Invisible Girl (Susan Storm), her younger brother The Human Torch (Johnny Storm) and The Thing (Ben Grimm).
In those six reprinted issues I was introduced to the Mole Man, the shape-shifting alien Skulls, the hypnotic Miracle Man, the return of a Golden Age character The Sub-Mariner, the F.F.'s greatest enemy the diabolical Doctor Doom, and in the six issue, the team of Dr. Doom and The Sub-Mariner against The Fantastic Four.
I also read about the F.F.'s headquarters in The Baxter Building (right in the middle of downtown Manhattan!), The Fantasti-Car - the flying vehicle that looked like a bathtub that separated into four parts for each member of the team. There was also their specially designed uniforms that were made of Unstable Molecules, an invention of Reed's that flamed on with the Torch, turned invisible with Susan and stretched with Mr. Fantastic.
After finishing this book, I was a Fantastic Four Fan for life! Over the years I have been able to read all of the stories either through reprints and the regular monthly series. Of all the collaborations Lee and Kirby worked on together to create the Marvel Universe of characters, The Fantastic Four was the best!

Above is a drawing I did of the F.F. based on the art of John Byrne. Byrne worked the the series from issue #232 to issue #293 as writer and artist and had the second best run on the series behind Lee & Kirby's historic run. I didn't get to read those Lee and Kirby stories when they came out but I did with John Byrne and every month I could not wait until the end of the month when the latest issue came out.
I've done a few pieces of art where I have tried to draw like Byrne (I also did the same with Kirby) and above is a sketch I did back in the late 80's.

Below is a drawing I did as an experiment in inking. This drawing of Doctor Doom was penciled by the Great Jack Kirby and printed in the Jack Kirby Collector, a magazine devoted to art and career of the great Comic Book Storyteller.
I inked this sketch using every black pen, marker and technical pen I owned. I used all the different pens to represent the different weight in the lines of the sketch instead of fleshing them out with a brush or crow quill pen. It was something I wanted to try and was happy with the results.

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