Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Another day, another BSBdG to send out- this time to WALT SIMONSON, who is 62 years young today!

Just like with Kaluta, Kirby, and Colan, Simonson's groundbreaking art was galvanizing to me as a young man- his playful use of onomatopoeia, his dynamic figures and layouts, all were some of the most exciting things I had ever seen, comics-wise, in the mid-to-late 70's. I'm pretty sure the first place I saw it was on the excellent Manhunter backup feature he did with Archie Goodwin in Detective Comics, issue 438 to be exact. Yes, that was chapter 2. Yes, I was always late for the party, even at age 13. After that, I made it a point to pick up anything I saw Simonson's byline in, even though he often was inked by some pretty dodgy inkers. His exciting take on Dr. Fate in First Issue Special #9, his excellent take on Captain Fear in Adventure Comics, brilliant stints on Hercules Unbound (especially when self-inked, towards the end- they had Wally Wood inking him early on- Wood was one of the greats, but his inking style didn't mesh with Walt's pencils) and Metal Men, as well as two of my all-time favorite Batman stories- one, which appeared in Detective #450, titled "The Cape and Cowl Deathtrap", which featured a GREAT one-panel shot of Batman leaping, in a pose that I'd never seen anyone attempt with Bats before...he also took the radical step of drawing Batman with SHORT EARS, for the first time since at least the late 60's. Also, the above-represented Batman #312, which made me a lifelong fan of the poorly-regarded Calendar Man character.

When he went to Marvel as the 80's began, I wasn't quite as thrilled...but after I saw his take on Thor, which many fans revere to this day, I wasn't quite as disappointed. He did sone good work after that, especially on Fantastic Four, and it was interesting to read his Star Slammers graphic novel, which was visually sharp but light in the story department...but he seemed to get mired in the X-book/Shooter regime quagmire that claimed many fine writer/artists back then...and despite some good covers for both companies, it wasn't until his smart and energetic 90's take on Jack Kirby's Orion that I started paying attention again. However, that didn't last long- I didn't care for his Elric take at all, and I haven't seen anything of consequence since.

However, Simonson is a creator who always demands one's attention, no matter what he does...and for all the thrills of my teen years, I will always revere the man's work. Hope he's having a great day.

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