Strange Tales Indeed

Strange Tales no. 181-Starlin’s Ditko homage! “1000 Clowns” is Starlin at his most completely wacked. There’s the clowns, of course, Gamora(wow!) and Pip the Troll, but if that’s not enough there’s pie throwing–and it sure looks like Roy Thomas getting the pie in the face–and Warlock in full clown drag, including the red rubber nose, which was a really good look for him, believe it or not. At the end of this ish, having faced the Madness Monster within himself, Adam Warlock admits to being insane, which is always a good finish for a superhero comic. All in all, a classic, and as I look back on it, a formative influence on me. (Just check out my book “fandancer” to see what I’m talking about.)

For such a cosmic guy, Starlin loved to draw earthy, taught bodies with lots of rippling musculature.  You’d imagine something more ethereal for cosmic space opera, but Starlin’s stylizations were and are perfect for these explorations of outer and inner space–they somehow endow these cosmic psycho-dramas with the necessary weight and terra-firma, so that they seem tangible, when it’d be all too easy for them to float off like the fluff of dreams.
Strange Tales no.181 is another of JS’s fallen figure compositions, and the first Warlock cover I drew for this little project. I drew it quickly– basically, I just wanted to see if I could draw Warlock upside down–and colored it just as quickly. Another of the Uniroyal ball point pen drawings–that pen encouraged a real loose, gestural approach. It was never meant to be more than a sketch, a momentary diversion while waiting for ol’ Saint Nick and watching the snowfall. (Saint Nick has come and gone, but that snow doesn’t know when to stop!)

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