Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hidden Gems in Marvel Reprints

If you had the original comics you might have ignored Marvel's reprint titles, but occasionally new material surfaced, nestled in the back pages and appearing without fanfare. While a new story was occasionally noted, such as the Angel stories that appeared in Marvel Tales and Ka-Zar, there were also pin-ups that were used to fill up pages from time to time. Most of them were either taken from earlier comics or manufactured by using images from covers, splash pages, tee-shirts or vignettes from a variety of sources. The new material was likely discovered in inventory and used as needed. One such example is the Dr. Strange pin-up that was published in Marvel Collectors' Item Classics # 10, Aug 1967.

Well over a year had passed since Steve Ditko quit Marvel, so this was certainly not a new illustration. The copy on the right, likely by Roy Thomas, only noted that Dr. Strange (who had been in every issue of MCIC) was squeezed out of the issue and the pin-up was a little extra. But where was this pin-up originally scheduled for? There are two possibilities. It may have been scheduled for an issue of Strange Tales around the time that pin-ups were included throughout the line, circa Jan 1965 cover-dated issues. A Ditko Dr. Stange pin-up appeared in Strange Tales # 128, and perhaps this pin-up was scheduled for the next issue but was squeezed out for an in-house ad (one appeared in ST # 129). It's also possible that the pin-up was meant to be used in Amazing Spider-Man Annual # 2, which co-starred Dr. Strange. Whatever the case, it's truly a wonderful piece of artwork by Mr. Ditko and a treat to be found in a reprint comic.

Marvel Collectors' Item Classics # 21, June 1969, included another treat, a pin-up of Medusa by a new kid on the block.

Only four months earlier, a British lad then simply named Barry Smith produced his first work in the states, in a crudely drawn issue of X-Men # 53. Smith already had work published in Marvel UK reprints, Terrific and Fantastic, mainly pin-ups, as can be seen by perusing Kid's blog:

Smith rapidly improved, and at the time of this Medusa illo was drawing fill-in issues of Daredevil. The pin-up may have been produced as a work sample for Marvel, but whatever its origin it is an attractively designed illustration.  

Marvel's western line continued for many years, although primarily in reprint form from the 1970s on. New material appeared in Outlaw Kid, Gunhawks, Red Wolf and Rawhide Kid. In the late 1970's a number of new pin-ups were included in the back-pages of various westerns.

Gunhawk pin-up from Kid Colt, Outlaw # 227, Dec 1978

Gunhawk was a short lived western feature that appeared in the 25 cent Western Gunfighters in the early 1970s. The title featured new tales of the Ghost Rider, Tales of Fort Rango, The Renegades and Gunhawk, mixed with Apache Kid and Wyatt Earp reprints. The pin-up here has a signature of Al Hartley and Sal Buscema, but I believe the pencils are actually by Werner Roth. Doing some research I discovered something interesting. Looking at the splash of the first Gunhawk tale, that stories credits read: Jerry Siegel (who did a litle work for Marvel in this period), writer, Werner Roth artist and Sal Buscema inks. The splash page, however, is drawn by Herb Trimpe, with lettering by Morrie Kuramoto, while the rest of the story is lettered by Jean Izzo. Apparently Roth's splash page was not considered dramatic enough, and Herb Trimpe produced a new splash. I suspect that someone found the unused splash page by Werner Roth and mis-credited the drawing to Hartley (I also don't believe Hartley was working for Marvel in 1970). The bottom copy reads: "Number six in a series--collect them all!!" Over on the Marvel Masterworks site you can see all the pin-ups, thanks to Turncoat. A few are taken from cover images, but there is new work by Arvell Jones and Keith Pollard (The Night Rider) and a very attractive Kid Colt pin-up by Alan Weiss!

Gil Kane pin-up from Rawhide Kid # 141, Sept 1977 

Gil Kane produced a plethora of compelling, dynamic covers for Marvel's western reprints throughout the 1970s. I'm not 100% certain if this is a new drawing or one taken from one of his covers, so if anyone knows for sure please let me know. Kane's Rawhide Kid was a tough looking hombre, very much in the Jack Kirby mold. 

Two-Gun Kid # 136, April 1977

Paty Greer Cockrum worked for Marvel's production department for many years beginning in the 1970s, coloring and occasionally pencilling. Here she contributes a drawing on the Two-Gun Kid in his final issue. 

Rawhide Kid # 145, May 1978

Kid Colt, Outlaw # 218, June 1977 

A 21 year old John Romita, Jr. drew these two pin-ups of The Outlaw Kid and Kid Colt early in his career. Romita Jr or his father may have inked the Outlaw Kid; Kid Colt in inked by veteran John Tartaglione. Romita Jr.learned his craft from his father and was inspired by other greats like Jack Kirby. His strong storytelling techniques have served him well over the years, and his art has graced many comics, including Iron-Man, Daredevil, X-Men and Spider-Man.  

Kid Colt Outlaw # 223, April 1978. 

Here is another pin-up by comic book legend Gil Kane. Kane drew a number of  Ringo Kid covers duing its run, but this image appears to be new material. 

The original Ghost Rider had a name change to Night Rider so as not to confuse anyone with that upstart with the skeleton face. Arvel Jones and Keith Pollard art.

Alan Weiss contributed this stunning image of Marvel's long running western star. Weiss was one of the many comic book fans who found a home in the industry, working for companies including Gold Key, DC and Warren, working in many genres, from romance and horror to superheroes and westerns. Kid Colt # 226, October 1978    

Sub-Mariner King-Size Special # 1, Jan 1971

Finally, we close out with a real treat, a Bill Everett pin-up of a young Namor, included in the first Sub-Mariner Special, which featured reprints of Lee-Colan Sub-Mariner stories from Tales to Astonish. Other pin-ups were images taken from different stories, but this was new artwork. Was this originally intended for inclusion in Subby's comic? Copy possibly by Roy Thomas. 

If I discover further reprint treasures I'll be sure to share them withing the pages of this blog.

Batmite has showcased an excellent array of pin-ups and special features over on the Marvel Masterworks site. Check it out:



Kid said...

Once again, a fascinating post, Nick. I have the issues with the Dr Strange and Sub-Mariner pin-ups, which are well-worth having. And thanks for the link to my blog. Did you see the 1979 British Hulk strip I featured recently? I'll be posting another couple in the near future.

Steven Thompson said...

What a fun piece!

Oh, and yes, I'd say Tartaglione inked the Romita Jr piece. His signature is on there.

narfstar said...

I missed out on the first few years of the Marvel Age. I gobbled up those giant reprint books. I re-read Marvel Super Heroes #1 several times.

Nick Caputo said...


I certainly saw the Hulk strip and look forward to more.


I'll correct that error. I was so busy scanning I didn't take a close look at the art!


I really enjoyed those giants growing up and may post more on them in the future.

Tony Isabella said...

Though they aren't nearly as cool as the examples you reprinted, there are at least two 1990s issues of Marvel Tales that have new Rocket Racer stories written by me and drawn by Alan Kupperberg.

Nick Caputo said...

Thanks for pointing that out Tony. If I recall correctly Marvel Tales included a number of new back-ups in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Didn't Fred Hembeck have some stories included as well (along with some nice covers by the likes of Marshall Rogers and Todd McFarland).

Henry R. Kujawa said...

That Medusa pin-up may have been my 1st exposure to Barry Smith. when I looked back on it, decades later, it made me wish that maybe HE had taken over FANTASTIC FOUR from Jack Kirby, instead of John Romita, then John Buscema.

Bill Everett also did a brand-new cover for SM ANNUAL #1. That was during the wilderness years when Roy Thomas was massacreing Everet's characters. Didn't know about the interior pin-up. Thanks!

Nick Caputo said...

Hi Henry,

Bill Everett actually did the cover to Sub-Mariner Special # 2, not # 1. The cover to the first Annual was drawn by Sal Buscema, likely from a Marie Severin cover rough.