Sunday, October 30, 2005

Frank Robbins


How about them apples? My sites been up for ages but I've always been neglecting this part of it! And what is 'this part of it', you may ask? Why, it's a place where I can absolutely rant inncessantly about one of the greatest loves of my life: comic books. I figure it's much safer for me to dork out here about the Frank Robbins Shadow books I picked up at San Diego Con than to some absolutely random poor schlob on the streets! Honestly, I find I have to express my thoughts on some of the comic books I get, otherwise I feel like I might blow up! Once I get my sequential art rantings and geek- outs off my chest though, it's safe for me and innocent bystanders to walk the streets once again! So lemme start it off!

If you came in here through my website, you may have noticed that the characters on there are some superheroes I made up when I was a kid. Gunman, Vaser, V-2 and Captain-T were just some of my favorite childhood superheroes that I made up. I've just found recently that's it's been pretty liberating and actually very joyful for me to TRY to think like how I did when I was a kid and add that into my work. Apparently I was pretty prolific in my young age. I was spitting out tons of comics and ideas. Thank you very much to my Dad who always took home some paper for me to draw on from work, and my Mom who kept all my comic books all these years (who knows maybe I'll do more of these "revamps")! Maybe visiting my old comics also brought back a sense of nostalgia? Of the good old days? Back when I didn't have a care in the world and I would submerge myself in the fictional world bound together between folded pieces of paper and 2 strips of stapler wire.

So when I went to the SD con this year (2005) it's no surprise that some of the comics I sought out there were a mix of nostalgia and respect. I've been recently getting into Fr
ank Robbins' art, or better still I've been starting to understand it. One of the very first comic books I ever bought was the DC comics run on The Shadow. Now, in the Philippines (that's where I grew up by the by), original US comics are expensive. So I believe this book company in the Philippines called National Book Store did reprints and sold them there for cheap. Of course there were only a few select comic books. So I never really could 'follow' an on-going series. Anyways! The first comic book I can remember buying was The Shadow #7. Can't remember how old I was, but I do remember plowing through a huge batch of piled up comic books to get it! Never really knew the Shadow then, nor really knew of Frank Robbins' work, but I guess I must've liked what I saw somehow!

It's just recently that I've learned that I would appreciate an artists work when I'm able to 'understand' it. Can't quite put it in words but it's a certain point in my aristic understanding that I start to get and appreciate another artists work. Otherwise people could recommend it to me or say someone was brilliant, but I'd think it looked bad. For instance, I didn't like Charles Schulz's work. I didn't like peanuts. I didn't like the way it looked. Yeah, I was a moron; I didn't 'get' it. But when I did? My brain exploded. It was mess. Serious.
Here's another example: I hated Jack Kirby's work. Hold on, hold on don't freak out on me! Hated it because I didn't understand it, my brain was too small. Lockjaw? Dude, looking at that thing made me wanna puke. Something about the line weight of his moustache! Nowadays I LOOOVE Kirby's stuff (this'll be another different post!). Something clicked. Same deal with Alex Toth. And now with Frank Robbins (I haven't understood them yet but I'm making my way to Milton Caniff and Noel Sickles!).
Frank Robbins' stuff is amazing! At the San Diego Con I bought his DC Shadows #5, #7, #8. I simply am awestruck with his shadow stuff, it's so loose, so free and dynamic! I love his inkwork, the brusyness of it all. My artwork gets way too tight and if I could even get a fraction of the confidence he has when he lays down his blacks? I'd be a pretty happy camper! On the sides are pages 5 and 12 from The Shadow #7. Take a look at page 12's last panel where the S
hadow shrugs the cops off by acting " a steel spring uncoiling...". That line and this specific panel burned itself into my brain when I was a kid! I loved the imagery and the wording of it! On my nostalgia trip, reading through the issue, I even went so far as to read the letters page in this book (c'mon you do it too!). Apparently, people back then HATED his work on the shadow ( and apparently they still hate it now!). I guess everybody loved Kaluta's prior run, that when Frank Robbins filled in, they got all thrown off by it! Here, I'll quote you statements from letters in The Shadow #7:"As usual, the writing and the story were good. I wish I could say the same about the art. I own a Detective comic with Frank Robbins' art for The Batman. I dislike that art. On The Shadow, I dislike it even more.
In order to make up for issue#5, issue #6 has to better than the masterpiece Mike Kaluta promised" -Michael A Berger

Ouch. As an Artist by trade I can tell you nothing hurts more than people wanting ANOTHER artist to make up for your horrible art . Here's another fav of mine:

"The magazine hit the stands Wednesday. I picked it up and glanced through it between fits of uncontrollable rage. After I brought it home and knocked down a Dr. pepper to regain control, I read it. Boy was I wrong! I liked it!! Granted , it was a different artist with a different style, but it was actually good enough to relate the stories occuring in the "dirty thirties". And When I got back to the letters page and read that Kaluta would be back with a masterpiece, I screamed with joy.
Don't get me wrong - I want Kaluta permanently on The Shadow. But if you can't keep him, then I want Robbins." -Robert Kovalski
Double ouch. My favorite line: " was actually good enough ..." wow what a compliment. And with Roberts last line I'm sure he meant well but lemme tell ya, it absolutely SUCKS to be someone's second choice! Take it from me I'm pretty good at it! Hmmm, I wonder if this is what Larsen felt when he took over after McFarlane on Amazing Spider-Man? :)

Mike Kaluta's the man. You can't mess with him. But dang! Frank Robbins deserves his props too! Over to the right are some of my favorite drawings Robbins did of ultra cutie Margo Lane in jungle safari mode, and a seriously cool looking mummy! Looking at Robbins' other works in Shadows 5 and 8 is just so much fun! This panel on the bottom from The Shadow #7 is another image that my subconscious just latched onto when I first read it. How cool of a drawing is that?!
I also took a leap and bought some of Robbins' Johnny Hazard stuff. There was this nice man at the SD con selling compilations of this stuff and I bought some off of him for relatively cheap. I got volumes 1, 15 and 22. And they are a blast to read! I think my favorites are actually the latter storylines when Hazard's not quite as involved with the war. Anyway if you're interested in looking for some old Johnny Hazard's (or even just old reprinted comic books in general) here's that guy's info:

Tony Raiola Books

And before I go, here's a strip from one of my favorite storylines in Johnny Hazard.

So that's my rant for the day! Til next time! Aydeeeyos and God Bless!
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