This morning I absent-mindedly picked up one of the loose comics laying in piles around my studio–some for using in collage, some for reading. Avengers no.134; April, 1974; “the Origin of the Vision”, Steve Englehart, author.
The art, early -seventies-era Sal Buscema– is unmistakable.  But there’s something more to Buscema’s work on this ish—an energy, a dynamism, there’s color in the ink work, variation in the lines, light and dark–chiaroscuro-& more–there’s something of the cartoon in there. This is good stuff!
For better or worse, Sal Buscema was probably the only penciller whose work didn’t suffer for being inked by Vince Colletta. No matter who inked him, he still looked like Sal Buscema–i.e., Big Brother John in a hurry. But not on Avengers 134.  Not when inked by Joe Staton. In these pages, Sal Buscema looks complete.

If you’ve read my post over at the “pood” blog announcing JOE STATON as the newest contributor to the upcoming issue no.4, then you know I am indeed well chuffed.
(And if you haven’t read the announcement yet–?!?– check it out here-then come back!)

 I’m sure that for Joe, issue no. 134 of the Avengers is long forgotten– but almost forty years later, I’ve still got it, still cherish it,  for no other reason than for those yummy inks.
Both Kevin and I have been big fans of Joe Staton’s work since picking up the original Charlton run of E-Man back when we were teenagers. E-Man’s blend of traditional super-heroics and light comedy were unique in the early ’70’s(a time of increasing “realism” in super-hero comics),  reminiscent of the kind of comedy-adventure that had its origins a generation earlier, in Roy Crane’s “Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy“, E.C. Segar’s “Popeye“, C.C. Beck’s “Captain Marvel“, Carl Barks’ “Donald Duck“, and Will Eisner’s “The Spirit“.

As a teenager interested in making comics, I discovered that the style of E-Man suited my own burgeoning tastes, a predilection best illustrated in my own 1990’s-era Dr.Speck, itself heavily indebted to Joe Staton and Nick Cuti’s creation.

It was no small thing to chance comedy in a super-hero book–not in those days. Nor was it commonplace to introduce an overtly cartoon-y style back into superhero comics–not when the demand was more and more for grand illustration–in the style of Neal Adams, or Alfredo Alcala over John Buscema. (Grand stuff indeed!)
But E-Man -and Joe Staton-(along with a few others, most notably Frank Robbins-himself a Sunday Adventure strip vet)-did it, and did it well,  helping to open the door for later artists such as Bruce Timm, and the altogether broader, more pluralistic aesthetic environment that exists in super-hero comics today.

If it seems an odd combination–an upstart, supposedly art-comics-y anthology and a venerable mainstream comics creator, consider this: the overriding impetus behind “pood” was my love of  the Sunday Funnies and a desire to see that format renewed somehow(something I felt was begun with DC’s “Wednesday’s Comics”, but that didn’t go far enough). With the addition of Joe Staton in issue no. 4, pood has the chance to bring that wish full-circle, joining with a great mainstream comics creator deeply invested in that tradition–and now working on one of the mediums most iconic vehicles, Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy!

Dick Tracy copyright 2011 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

pood no. 4 is in July’s “Previews”!
Order Code: JUL110903 F POOD#4(MR).

Find it on page 246 under the BIG IF COMICS imprint!

The July Previews goes on sale June 29th!