Tag Archives: Neal Adams

Nick Cardy

nick cardyIf you’re a youngun, you might not know the career of Nick Cardy.  He was one of the very few Golden Agers comic artists still with us until this week, where he passed away at the age of 93.

Nick Cardy was a pillar of DC Comics during my childhood, and a great deal of my love of comics manifested itself while reading comics that he drew.  Especially comics he drew the covers of…

Speedy Teen TitansThis is a couple of pages from the first DC Comic I ever read: Teen Titans #6.  I probably knew who Batman was from the TV show, but I had this comic because Robin was in it.  I was five years old, and Robin and the Teen Titans were HUGE in my life when I was very little.  This sequence, where Speedy shoots at his friends while BLINDFOLDED was incredibly exciting when I was five.   I still own this comic. It’s missing its cover and some of the pages are scribbled on, but I’ve never lost it.

teen titans 14

This comic scared the HELL out of a year later.  Not only does Robin visit the GRAVES of his friends (complete with ghosts!), but for some bizarre reason, he takes off his costume and mask and spends half of the story in his underwear.  It’s such an odd sequence that it stuck in my head for years.

teen titans 16

Then THIS Titans vs. a Giant Book cover came out.  Again, I’m about six years old when I saw this, but something weird happened when I did….I think I understood the difference between a striking and clever composition and regular old comics right then and there.  Cardy was doing something outstanding here and I could recognize it.   Look at that cover, who could MISS it?  I still own my copy of this one, but it has the damn cover.  It’s actually in pretty good shape.  The little kid in me didn’t want that cover harmed in any way.

superman batgirl

In the 70s, when I was about twelve years old, I finally figured out I could subscribe to comic books and get them in the mail!  I think I subscribed to about twenty series, and constantly asked for subscriptions for birthdays and Christmases.  This issue of Superman (with that magnificent Cardy cover) was the first comic book that ever arrived in the mail at my house.  It was folded in half, which I didn’t like, but it was magical to get a new comic book or two at my front door about every other day.   Most of them had Cardy covers.

christmas with superheroes

Speaking of Christmas, long time readers of this blog know my affection for this particular comic book.  I put this Nick Cardy cover up online for all to see every Christmas, and the tradition will likely continue for years to come.   This image is as close to joy in a line drawing as my nostalgic brain can wish for.

girls loveNick Cardy covers were SO good, I bought Romance Comics and other icky girl titles if he did the cover.  I bought this at a convention when I was about fifteen, and my friend actually made fun of me.

batlash 2This gorgeous cover lured me into a lifetime love of Bat Lash.  And he SAVED the West.  Trust me.  Cardy did the interiors on this series and I gobbled up every one.

At this point, I’m going to be quiet, and let you enjoy a treasury of the man’s work.  93 years old is a great run at this planet, and he left us SO much gorgeous comic art.  I envy you folks if you’re seeing any of it for the first time.

action 418

action teeth

aquaman 37 aquaman 50

batlash 4

girls romance love 70

superboy 186 superboy 189

witching hour 4

Thanks Nick.  You were an intimidating inspiration to this aspiring artist when I was growing up.  Every cover I ever draw, I’m conscious of wishing it was half as good as your stuff.

Ty the Guy OUT!

This issue of Teen Titans:

neal titans with nick


…was an impossible dream when I was a kid.  Neal Adams wrote the script, and did the layouts and Nick Cardy did the finished art.  Two of my favourite DC artists of all time, working together on the favourite series of my youth.

I own a couple of pages of the original artwork from this issue, given to me (because of a story too long to tell here) by the very generous Neal Adams.  So there’s a little Nick Cardy in my house this very moment, and there always will be.

And then there’s this:

booster 21The very first comic series I worked on professionally for DC featured the aliens introduced in (and not seen since) that issue of Teen Titans by Adams and Cardy.

Cool, huh?


Fan Expo Canada 2012: SATURDAY

It’s a busy, busy day for me today…

I’m moderating a panel, Neal Adams:  Spotlight. I love Neal Adams–have I ever mentioned that before? That will be a joy to do…

At 5pm today, I will be hosting a couch-less verion of ON THE COUCH WITH TY TEMPLETON:  Industry Roundtable. Should be an interesting discussion…

Stop by my table in Artists Alley, P30A and say hi! And don’t forget to get a copy of HOLMES INCORPORATED #3 while you’re at the con. If you don’t see them at my table, head to Booth 614, or Rachael Well’s booth A165.


And don’t forget–if you’re interested in taking any of my classes at COMIC BOOK BOOTCAMP, you can ask me or Keiren Smith about them, at P30A/B. Come by and pick up a flyer.

Ty the Guy OUT!!

Top Ten Reasons to Love Neal Adams. YAY!

Yeah, the new Justice League just came out and the whole re-tooling of DC 52 has begun and the blogoverse is all a-twitter and a-tumblr with opinions.  And I’ll be getting to that, I promise, but not today.

Today, I talk about something a lot more personal.

See, I’m going to a convention in Montreal in a few weeks, and my favorite living comic book creator, Neal Adams, is going to be there.  I mentioned this to someone at a convention last weekend, and I swear to god, this fan said “You mean the guy who does Batman Odyssey?”  Unfortunately, I had no pistol to whip this guy for thinking that was the whole of Adams’ career, but I do have a blog, and I fire back with the best ammunition I have available:  Fifty caliber truth bombs.

For those who might mistakenly believe it’s all about the Odyssey, you’re overlooking a decades-spanning career in which Neal wrote and drew some of the most memorable comics of all time…

Read this. It's a bowl full of chocolately goodness in ways you just don't see coming.

But forget about that…and forget about Neal creating or defining some of the most popular characters in the comics industry…

including these guys.

…and forget about how freaking BEAUTIFULLY Neal draws….

This is a page from Neal's FIRST PUBLISHED COMIC BOOK STORY in an issue of Creepy for Warren Magazines!!

Forget all that.  Here are…


10)  He’s fought for creators’ rights his whole career. 

Publishers didn’t give back art to their creators until the eighties – often destroying pages after they’d been printed or giving them away to fans as souvenirs.  The scumbags in the corner offices always believed they owned the physical objects, when no legal or moral argument ever suggested they did. Neal was essential in the public fight with Marvel to get back artwork held illegally from Kirby which helped establish that original artwork is now returned to us all.

Thanks Neal, I owe you that one.

9)  He put his foot up Warner Brothers’ ass for Jerry and Joe.

Back in the 70s, when Jerry Siegel tried one last time to sue for the rights to Superman and lost again, Neal Adams took it upon himself to champion their cause.  He wrote articles for major publications, refused to work with certain companies, and created enough of a fuss that Warner Brothers was publicly shamed into tossing their forgotten creators a bone just before the Christopher Reeve movie came out.  Siegel and Shuster both received credits on all Superman product from that time forward, and they were given a pension and full medical benefits from the giant corporation, primarily because it was suddenly too rat-bag awful for them not to.  Neal was a big part of that public embarrassing of Warner Brothers, and his wagging finger of tut-tut helped make one of the WORST mistreatments of creators a little bit right.

Neal (in the back, sporting groovy 70s hair) with Siegel and Shuster (and Batman ghost artist Jerry Robinson). Heroes all.

8 – He was the first artist to move between Marvel and DC without using a pseudonym.

Guys like Gil Kane had to pretend to be “Scott Edward” when freelancing for more than one company before Neal defied the unwritten rule in the late 60s, working on X-Men and Deadman at the same time, and giving creators the dignity of their own name from that moment forward.  Mike Esposito was “Mickey Demeo” when he freelanced at Marvel in the 60s, fearing he’d be fired by DC.

But Neal Adams was Neal Adams.

That’s hardcore.

Pictured: "Scott Edward" before Neal let him borrow some balls.

7)  Neal Adams has theories about the nature of the Earth and basic physics that are unusual.

The Earth is constantly expanding, blowing up like a balloon, according to Neal, and it’s doing so by spontaneously creating matter at the core.  Also, if you drain the Mediterranean, you’ll find the ruins of ancient civilizations.  Sure, this is fringe stuff discredited by many in the scientific community, but Neal insists upon examining it, often at length if he corners you and you don’t have a weapon.  He even has youtube videos explaining it.  Watch.

Some people think this theory is kookoo for coco-puffs, but having talked to him about it once or twice, I think those conversations make Neal interesting.  What’s wrong with looking for alternatives to the accepted way of thinking?  Whether it’s right or not is almost irrelevant.  What matters is that  Mr. Adams is not just sitting around eating spray-on cheese and watching Dancing with the Stars.  He gets big points for having a curious mind.  And who knows…he might be right?

Stand back, this is going to blow.

6)  He Sometimes Refers to himself in the Third Person.

And he’s capable of doing it everyday conversation.  There’s something wonderfully perfect about it. He’ll sometimes drop a sentence on you like, “Would you like to hear what Neal Adams thinks about that?”.  It’s stunning the first time you hear him do it, but it grows on you.  I did a Batman illustrators tour with Mr. Adams  years back in France and Belgium, and learned that if you paid attention, he’d include this rhetorical flourish up to a dozen times a day when talking to the fans.  Who does that?  I think it’s magnificent.

You want to know who does that? Neal Adams does that, that's who.

5)  He Came up with the idea for Image Comics decades before Image Comics did.

Neal started up Continuity Associates before Jim Lee and Todd Macfarlane were gleams in a fanboy’s eye.  It was a studio where comic book creators could work for commercial and movie storyboard jobs –  high paying projects between DC and Marvel gigs – that eventually launched its own comic book imprint – “Continuity Comics”. They published creator-owned series outside the pre-existing system and it was run by, and for, creators.  The biggest success was Bucky O’Hare, which I heard made a gob-bucket full of cash for Michael Golden and Larry Hama when it was turned into a TV series in the 80s.   Golden wouldn’t have made that money at Marvel or DC back then, but he had Adams at his back.  The only real differences between Image and Continuity was that Continuity came first, and the quality of the artwork at Neal’s company was better.

Me eldest son adored this comic and TV show when he was but a lad.

 4)  In his glory days, he was movie-star handsome. 

Gaze upon him, ye mighty, and tremble.

(And as he matures, he’s mature movie-star handsome, let’s not kid)

That might not be a reason for ME to love him, but can I get a shout out from the ladies?  In an industry where most of us look more like Comic Book Guy that we’d like to admit, it was part of Neal’s mystique that he was a good looking dude the first time I ever saw him in person.  He’s probably hung like a horse too, the bastard.

3)  He wasn’t afraid to take any assignment when he was starting out.

That doesn’t seem like an important thing, but it is.  It really is.  Most artists nowadays have a high opinion of what they will or will not do.  They’re sure they’re on a path to stardom and don’t want to stray from it.  But Adams started off his career at Archie Comics because it was honest work.

Yup. That's Neal Adams drawing Archie in the 60s. Take that you whiny prima donnas.

It was experience, and it was a foot in the door.  After Archie, Neal sharpened his skills doing the Ben Casey comic strip for a while, and when he became so good a draftsman that DC couldn’t turn him down, he finally got the assignments from DC editors he’d been waiting for.

Yup, That's Neal again, doing his first cover for DC.

I’ve known artists who turn down their first pro gig because they feel they know better than the editor about where their talents lie.  Of course these Bob Hope covers and Jerry Lewis stories weren’t what Adams should have been doing at the time, but he patiently put in the effort, paid his dues, met his deadlines and showed off he was reliable.  That’s what a man does when he goes to work.  There’s as much inspiration from that as there is from his skills as an illustrator, and you whippersnappers can take that to the bank.

2  He made comics grow up.

In collaboration with Denny O’Neil, the pair took the moribund, Adam West inspired franchise that Batman had become, and revitalized it into the oh-so-cool Dark Knight character that he is today, with stories like Secret of the Waiting Graves, The Joker’s Five Way Revenge  and all those marvelous Ra’s Al Ghul stories.

The Five Way Revenge: Perhaps the greatest single issue of a comic book in the 20th Century. Tim Burton and Chris Nolan would be making Pee-Wee’s Playhouse VI if it wasn’t for this.

And when Wein and Cockrum hit gold with the stunningly popular All-New All-Different X-Men in the late 70s, it was the award winning and sophisticated Roy Thomas/Neal Adams run they were inspired by, not the more juvenile Lee/Kirby issues (as fun as those might be).

I got yer X-Men ground zero, right here.

And O’Neil and Adams cemented their reputation as makers of comics for adults in these three panels from Green Lantern #76.  Suddenly Goldface and The Lamplighter weren’t enough to keep the college kids reading.

Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman are late-to-the-game pussies compared to Denny and Neal.

1)  He essentially invented the modern age of comics.

By using a swinging sixties commercial art style and the emerging sensibilities of TV storyboards instead of the illustration and cartooning forms that had been prevalent throughout the previous forty years, Neal single-handedly picked up the industry on his shoulders and put it back down someplace else…someplace that folks over 18 could relate to. It’s not like we didn’t have realistic illustrators before Neal (Alex Raymond and Hal Foster pre-date him by decades), but Neal played with the depth of field, the body language, the “camera” angles, and the basic layout of the page with figures breaking out of their panels, and imaginative design ideas like no one since Will Eisner.

This page was drawn more than forty years ago, and the layout looks as modern as something published this month.

Neal took up Eisner’s innovative page designs and ran off with them like an Olympic athlete.  Along the way he inspired nearly everybody who followed him, and even a few who came before him, who started to adopt his exciting new style after they got a look at Neal.  Look at Alex Ross, or Jim Lee, or Steve Epting, or anyone drawing comics who’s worth a damn, and you’ll find at least a hint of Adams’ layout rhythms, if not the illustration style itself.  As much as we might all adore and respect all the giants of cartooning history, the comics of 2011 resemble Adams’ vision more  than Kirby’s, Kurtzman’s or Eisner’s, and that’s a fact.

It all changed after these pages.

There you have it.  If I haven’t convinced comics fans around the world that you owe Neal Adams a giant kiss and a humble thank you for his talent, his mind, his influence, and his generosity, then you may all leave the room and smack yourself with a horsehair brush.   And if you come to the convention in Montreal head over to his table and thank him personally.  You’ll tell your grandkids someday that you met the John Lennon of Comics, or the Mozart of Comics, or the Einstein of Comics…whatever metaphor you want.

Personally I like to think of him as the Neal Adams of comics.

Ty the Guy OUT!


I’m lucky enough to own a few pieces of original Neal Adams artwork – a generous gift from Neal he kind of gave me when we did that European tour together ten years ago.    However, on that tour, I picked up a special treasure from another member of the Adams clan:  His son Josh was ten years old, at the time, (about the same age as my eldest son), and that delightful kid drew me a picture of Robin on the back of a beer coaster one evening, based on the animated style I was known for.  It’s been up on a shelf next to my drawing table ever since.  Nowadays Josh is working in the biz, drawing Doctor Who and Batman a bit.  But I still have this early work, done when he was ten years old.

Ten years old. How cool is THAT?!?

Unseen Batman Animated Art. But NOT from Batman Adventures!

Zounds!  Can it be true?  Did I work on more than ONE incarnation of Animated Batman?

Yup.  I’ve worked on a few different animated Batmans. Long before there was Batman the Animated Series, there was the cartoon Batman commercials I did for Zellers Department stores back in the 80s.

As regular readers of this blog might know, I drew practically every frame of this commercial (and a few others), except the last few seconds with Penguin fighting off the words at the end.  Killing Joke had recently come out, and I had a Brian Bolland thing in my head (which is why Bats looks like that), mixed with my Mad Magazine/Kurtzman/Elder style at the time (which is why all the characters overact like that) ..but this isn’t what I’m talking about… I’m talking about this:

unseen Batman: Brave and the Bold comics!

When the new, animated Brave and the Bold DC series started up a while back , I wanted in, and called up DC to practically BEG them to let me draw an issue of the tie-in comic book.  I’m a bit of an animated Batman fan, you know…

and the fine folks at DC comics were kind enough to let me twist arms, threaten family members and offer to do it for free if need be.  So I got a script for an issue and started plugging away…

It was a fun tale, with damn near every guest star you could think of:  Aquaman, Green Arrow, Guy Gardner, Plastic Man, Animal Man, and a PILE of others!

…including some delightful surprise guest stars who have never been on the TV version of the show, so I had the wonderful fun of getting to design them in the new style.

I won’t tell you who the guest stars are, or show you my designs quite yet…because DC never printed this story, and in theory still MIGHT some day, and I don’t want to put out any spoilers or give away the ending.  But it’s been a couple of years since I drew this issue, and when I asked about it at the office recently, I was told they had no record of the story being drawn, or even existing….and with the new re-launch of everything DC coming up, I’m starting to believe it will never see the light of day anywhere but here.

I’m a little disappointed in that outcome, as it was a full 22 pager which I penciled and inked, and it got lost in the office shuffle somehow.    Crossed fingers, and good behavior might eventually lead to it being published, but I’m currently in a not-holding-my-breath mode, so at least I get to show off some of it here.  At least the not-ruining-the-story pages.

There’s MORE non-Dini-Verse animated Batman lying all over the house, including pages I did for the Super-Friends series like this one:

Can you figure out the awful puns that adorn this page? I'll give you a hint: The first one is "butterfly".

There’s a few of these puzzle pages, penciled, inked, lettered and coloured by me, which was a rare treat, as I usually don’t get to do that.  At least the Superfriends stuff got published, but I’ll bet none of you ever saw it.

That’s the nature of the job.  I’m just a dancer and DC calls the tune, my friend.   But at Art Land, it all eventually gets shown off.

Stay tuned for more B&B pages in the near future, more puzzle pages, and some of my super-secret animated Justice League pages from before there WAS a Justice League Adventures.  Written by Roger Stern, penciled by Me the Guy, and inked by Burchett, in a story never published in a DC comic!

Who says this isn’t the Batmanimated Age of Blogging?

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, your BONUS Batman Brave and the Bold moment:

My first ever Deadman comic purchased by my older brother, and still in my collection...not a bad place to meet the character, eh?

Neal Adams and Brad Templeton. It’s their birthday today, and comics (and I, personally) owe them both thanks

Happy Birthday guys!

One is my big brother, and one is my big influence, and they’re both born June 12th. (**Neal’s birthday is actually June 15. I think some fan site had posted the date wrong, as a number of people were wishing him Happy Birthday on the 12th —Keiren June 2012)

My big influence!

If you don’t know that Neal Adams has done more for creator’s rights than anyone in the history of our biz, then shame on you.  And if you didn’t know that Neal has done more for the ongoing popularity of such characters as Batman and the Joker, than anyone other than Finger and Kane, then you don’t know your history,  and later in the week, I’m going to be schooling you with a Neal Adams Top Ten (stay tuned).

My big brother!

With his work as both chairman and board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and his pioneering articles on copyright law and trademark (available on his websites, and downloaded hundreds of thousands of times), Brad Templeton has been watching over your online rights as a creator even when you didn’t know he was.   When the comics world goes all digital over the next few years, you’ll have Brad Templeton to thank for helping make it possible.

Neal’s 70 today and Brad’s 51, and I’m privileged that I know them both.  You guys should be so lucky.

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, you BONUS Neal Adams Moment:

In the 85 year history of comic books, this issue by Neal Adams and Denny O’Neil might be the greatest single super-hero comic book every produced.

Top Ten Dead Characters in Comics

It’s Memorial Day weekend, now coming to a close.   So we memorialize, just a wee bit.

We’ve lost a few recently.  Dennis Hopper, who was alternately too f-ing cool for god, and too f-ing messed up for reality, or the safety of his wives…  Gary Coleman, who was kidney-punched by fate too many times to make fun of, and Art Linkletter, who once killed a grizzly with his bare hands, just to feel the warm blood against his skin.  And oh, we’ve also lost the Gulf of Mexico, probably because the locals thought it was an illegal immigrant, and got a little trigger-happy.

And the grim reaper scores another three to nothing shut-out!

But I say, let’s focus on death in the more “zombie and ghost” way this Memorial Day weekend.  It’s irreverent, cost-free, and harmlessly offensive!


Not the ones that death took from us, but the ones that death made entertaining!


pretty. all so pretty.

She was a murdered reporter named Elisa and I think her sister did something she didn’t approve of, and her parents drank…and she  had guns and a real low cut top under her cape/hoodie thing and she was very attractive, especially for the issues drawn by Adam Hughes.


But OH, those issues by Adam Hughes, and those covers, and those collected graphic novels with the all new covers, and those special edition posters, and all those amazing images of this character “GHOST” were just EVERYWHERE for a while.  It sucked us all in.  We all liked her.  I wish I could remember a thing about what happened in any of the stories.  I know I read some.  I know it’s my fault for not remembering a thing but those Adam Hughes posters.


Not the one you’re thinking of.  This is the Deadman co-created by Neal Adams and Henry Beard for the National Lampoon.  It featured the adventures of Hamster Tollhousecookie La Brea, the IV – Eurotrash heir to La Brea fortune, who dies in a car accident (after purposely swerving into a tourist family to cushion his impact).  Hamster’s body is stolen by a passing scientist, curious to see what he can do with this curiously unscathed corpse, and through a series of curious events, the impervious cadaver becomes a weapon in the fight against crime.

“Deadman” is hurled from rooftops, left in the road as a speed bump, and shoved against doorways, righting wrongs and bringing the city to justice.  A Weekend at Bernie’s super-hero, only created years before, when it was a still funny idea.

I laughed til I peed when I was twelve years old.  It was drawn by NEAL ADAMS and DICK GIORDANO furshlugginer’s sake!  Easily as  funny as TARZAN OF THE COWS, only with more dead bodies.

#8:  The Haunted Tank

This was a twisted favorite with me.  The Haunted Tank is about a little Sherman Tank in WWII, and the squad who runs it, and the bickering ghost of some Confederate General who haunts the tank, because he’s related to the squadron’s leader.   It’s SORT of a spooky/comedy/action book, where the ghost gets the tank out of scrapes by saying “Lookie over thar” a lot, or sometimes it wakes them up by shouting at them, or it says encouraging things like “I nevah gave up when I was fighting to keep slavery legal, now was I?”, or did I just imagine that?   Anyway the ghost didn’t participate so much as nag and act sort of holier than thou and stuff while Nazis shot at them.  And the still-living members of the team usually figured a way out of a death trap by answering some riddle the sadistic ghost would make them solve.

I don't think the Germans can see me, bwah...so you're on your own again!

It was drawn by the legendary Russ Heath, possibly the best illustrator of war and/or  western titles the industry ever had.  So I had no choice but to collect as many of these as I could.


It's the silly kind of morbid!

This beloved spokesperson for the “fun” aspects of Early Onset Death, was everywhere when I was a kid, but some dreadfully unfunny big budget films, finally killed Casper the Friendly Ghost off about ten years ago.

The thing about Casper, was that he was a GHOST.  And that meant that every time I read a Casper comic, I had to envision THIS…

The sky is blue. The sun is warm. My foot is stuck. I hear a train.

EVERY TIME, I saw this image of living Casper, mere moments before his death.  What was he like?  Who were his parents?  Did anyone ever solve his obviously grisly murder (or else why is there a ghost left chained to this earth, huh?)?!?   I was waiting for this mystery to be solved, and for the idiot girl in the red outfit to go the hell home!  “Screw you, Wendy.”  After all these years, yeah, I said it.  “GO HOME! We don’t LIKE YOU!”

It also took me no time to decipher that Casper is clearly the same cursed soul that separated out to form the demon-sprite Hot Stuff, Casper’s Demonic Evil twin in the Harvey Comics Mythos.  Sadly,  HOT STUFF is  remembered primarily as a tattoo hiding somewhere on the dried-up body of Baby Boomers who recall being tough at some point.

Trust us, if someone your grandmother’s age saw someone with some manly HOT STUFF ink fading into the yellowing haze of his arm skin, she’d think he was “Hard-Core”.

I promise you nothing but a world of hurt, baby.


Shwinggg. Yeah, baby! My references are as dead as her skin!

First off, she was created by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred, so we’re two-thirds of all right before we begin.  Add to the fact that she’s named “Moonbeam” and can reanimate the recently dead, talk to spirits, take machine gun fire, hang out with Gwen Stacey, and look pretty hot doing it, all while being technically, and actually dead.  That’s a kick-ass zombie-girl you could take home to mom.

What the...? Is that who I think it is...?

Her crowning achievement was never published, however, for back in 2003, Dead Girl and the X-Statix gang were involved in a story in which they would revivify the corpse of Princess Diana and make England’s Rose into a zombie-X-Man mutant crime fighter.  I’m not making that up.   Dead Girl would be TOP of the dead heroes list if she’d pulled that one off.

Damn, that is so weird. How can I not have it?

But the world never saw it, as the stories were halted before war broke out between the allies, killing millions.  But for one brief, shining moment, X-Statix was sticking it to the man.  Or the Ma’am, in this case.  The ones on the money and the stamps.

#5:  Phantom Cop of Hong Kong, from PLANETARY #3. 1998

With their series PLANETARY, Warren Ellis and John Cassady had me at “Hello”. (Actually the first line of dialog is, “Your coffee tastes like a dog took a leak in it.” which is how we say hello in Canada.)

The comic was about these kooky “field” investigators who go looking for the paranormal, and constantly find it, in weird versions of trademarked characters the author didn’t want to actually pay for.  I was dug in for glory with issues #1 and #2, but  issue #3 cemented me as a fan for life, because of the Phantom Cop of Hong Kong.

The Twilight Zone/Hong Kong action/ Tarentino Phantom Cop takes over issue #3.  Murdered by a dirty partner, Phantom Cop spends his nights blowing holes in the heads of various bad guys, with his suspiciously un-spectral guns, and casually revealing the most basic secrets of the universe to anyone who will listen.  Life, death, god, he’ll tell you everything he knows, then he’ll shoot you in the temple.  I rolled around in this comic and made it my secret friend for about a year after it came out.  A decade later, I’m STILL waiting for more of my PHANTOM COP.  MORE PHANTOM COP!  YOU HEAR!


This character is so ripper top-gear it makes me want to fair dinkum up the apples and pears, cor, rightie matey-o, or whatever they say in the UK when they’re not drunkenly savaging their cousins with  bagpipes, one way or another.

I’ll just say it straight: Judge Death is the thrice re-animated zombie corpse of an inter-dimensional serial killer/evil twin of Judge Dredd, looking to execute everyone in its path as a preemptive strike against doing something illegal, as only the living can do.

If you couldn’t follow that, you shouldn’t be reading comics with the big boys.  Judge Death was created by Alan Grant and Brian Bolland, because they’re that nasty-schoolyard cool, or they were when it was the Eighties, and cool people pushed nails through their face.

Judge Death’s biggest claim to immortality comes from something he said a lot in his earliest adventures.  “Gaze into the face of Death!” he would hiss at you, all mean-mutha and stuff.  Not a bad catchphrase.  But it led to this:

When I saw this, I went just a little bit gay for Judge Dredd...just a little.


Okay, like all slowly rotting corpses, the darlings of the double 00 decade have overstayed their welcome by now- but it’s hard to pretend we didn’t LOVE the Marvel Zombies when they first showed up.

After a delightfully evil debut in the Ultimate Fantastic Four, (by Mark Millar and Greg Land), the Marvel Zombies spun off into a miniseries by Kirkman and Phillips that changed the game.

Brains. Brains. Brains...

The miniseries played the story as such a punch-to-the-face satire of bloated, ignorant consumption culture, all the while disguising itself as a harmless, viscera-flinging romp, that fans ate it up like the sugary dessert topping it was.

My favorite recurring bit came in the second series, when Zombie Hank Pym lost the top half of his skull, including most of his brains, and continued to insist he was smarter than everyone else.

best FF team EVER.

EXTRA POINTS:  The Zombie FF eventually perform the single best escape-from-a-trap scenes in Fantastic Four history, IMHO, proving that Zombie Reed Richards is still going to outwit you, dumbass.


AGH! I'm being shot by a TV Character!

Yes, THIS is the one you were thinking of earlier.  Created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino but mostly made famous by Neal Adams, and I love it just because I do.  I don’t care that the ghost who solves his own murder had been done before.  I don’t care that the one armed man he’s hunting is stolen directly from THE FUGITIVE TV series.  I don’t care that the story ends up making no real sense… and god turned out to be a really hot chick who could turn into trees or something, and mostly the afterlife seemed to be a vacation spot in Tibet.  Who knows what any of that was about?

Do you care what it's about? It's pretty...like GHOST was!

It was mostly drawn by Neal Adams when I was a kid, and that was enough for me.  He teamed up with Batman a lot, too, and I can’t shake me my Deadman jones.  I will always show up for a Deadman comic, just to be disappointed, I’m sure, but I’m there like he’s my bestest friend.

#1:  The Spectre

The Beheaded store dummy trick!

This is the badass of undead super-characters.   The embodiment of god’s wrath.  The shaker of worlds.  The most powerful being in the DC universe.  If you get him angry, a cross-crisis miniseries breaks out and DC continuity is doomed.  KEEP HIM AWAY FROM ME!


Created originally by Jerry (Superman) Siegel and Bernard (The Spectre) Bailey, in the 40s, the Golden Age Spectre was the ghost of murdered cop, Jim Corrigan, brought back to life to hunt down his killer.

But 1974 was when the Spectre found his spark, his bliss, and his power tools.  Under direction from the gooey, shocking brain pan of writer, Michael Fleisher, and the gorgeous pencil and ink work of Jim Aparo, the 70s Spectre didn’t just punish murderers, he turned them into pudding and sucked them through a straw, and then spread the pudding on hot coals, and then smashed the hot pudding with a shovel, and he did this with such casual sadism EVERY MONTH, that I’d have crawled through broken glass, and slept in a dog cage to see the next issue.  I’ve may have said too much, right there, but I don’t care who knows.

Seriously, what is WRONG with this guy?

This Spectre cut up the villains with spectral buzz saws and flying phantom axes.  He turned one into glass and broke him into shards.  Some he set on fire.  Some he melted into puddles of cheese.   These stories were so deliciously sick, that former  wunderkind Harlan Ellison once said Fleisher had to be “certifiably bug-fuck crazy” to write like that, and Harlan was sued for defamation by Fleisher because madman Mike couldn’t tell that was a compliment (see the Harlan Ellison wiki entry: look under “Controversies”.

Help me, I'll never play Jenga again!

This is the gold standard about how ghosts should treat the living.  Toss us around like rag-dolls.  Beat us and turn us into rubick’s cubs and ground beef.  I for one, welcome our ectoplasmic overlords.

You know, it occurs to me, this column was better suited to Halloween.




I hate this guy. So should you.

I’m sorry for what happened to James O’Barr, and I understand that he created The Crow as a form of therapy to get over the senseless death of his girlfriend – but too many douche bags at too many Halloween parties dressed like this character all through the 90s, in the theory that it would get them some from a goth/emo chick, that I cannot forgive The Crow for starting any of that up.


These are words. Spawn fans will therefore, never read them.

Yes, I understand Spawn is undead.  I understand that Spawn was a very successful comic book/movie/cable cartoon series.  But I’m afraid I’ve read Spawn, and I’ve seen the movie, so I know that the whole thing is sub-literate nonsense that sometimes looks real purty.


Couldn’t care less.


That’s all for today.  See you in the coming days with new pages for sale, and new cartoons every weekend.  Plus THE WINNER IN THE HOVERBOY “NAME YOUR FAVOURITE VILLAIN” CONTEST!

Breathe…it will be okay.  Just breathe.

Ty the Guy

for more of my lists, check HERE

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Wizard World Toronto, a little convention art, and the GREATEST CON SKETCH OF ALL TIME!

Uncle Ty's Convention Sketches. Ready in just FIVE MINUTES

I just got back from Wizard World Toronto, and boy, are my arms not tired.

Not because I live in Toronto (and the flight back wouldn’t affect my shoulders, get it?)  but because I spent the weekend, not sketching particularly much.  No more than thirty  sketches over a three day weekend, and at a big convention, I usually do fifty on the Saturday alone!   At first I

One of my less embarrassing con sketches of Kara Zor-el.

thought it was me…did I have a piece of meatloaf hanging off my face?  Did I wear my misanthropy on my sleeve too obviously, or was it the whiff of urine on my street clothes?

No, it was happening to almost everyone at Toronto Wizard Con, (other than Dale Keown and Richard Pace, who seemed to have a crowd around for a while on Saturday, and Adi Granov, who had a minor crowd on Friday).  The attendance was thin, and mostly wrestling fans there to see the Iron Sheik and his pals.  It’s always a bad sign when you start doing sketches for the other con guests or dealers because neither they, nor you, have anything else to do for the next ten minutes.

Too bad… The Wizard folks were nice to us.  LOVELY volunteers, good people…they set up my bootcamp lesson/con panel and promoted it (surprisingly well attended, thank you), and were handing out the water and smiles.   It was Wizard’s first big convention in Toronto, and I was rooting for them.  Let’s hope there’s a few tweaks

Fans love Batgirl. And a lot of fans like her bum. I do what I'm requested...

and fixes before next year rolls around, and the thing rivals San Diego in the future.

The low point came on Saturday when some douche-twerp couldn’t resist the demon on the shoulder telling him to pull a fire alarm.  It emptied out the convention center in the middle of Saturday afternoon—taking nearly an hour to sort out whether we were burning up in a fire, or doing the world’s biggest HOKEY POKEY.   Not everyone came back when it was over.   Hats off the perished souls of Wizard Con Toronto, 2010—you will be remembered.

Highlights include:   being seated next to Gail Simone and Her Mysterious Husband, with Dave Ross to my left, and Kent (Planet of the Apes) Burles to my right.  With things a tad slow, I got to hang with the legendary Gail Simone and Her Mysterious Husband, and  got to see Dave Ross’s new pencils for an amazing Star Wars comic he’s working on, and  laugh with the always

A very non-Adventures style Joker. Dig that crazy haircut.

charmingly French Canadian, Yanick Paquette, and drool over piles of just gorgeous AGENTS of ATLAS original art by my buddy Leonard Kirk.   Len is one of those illustrators I’m openly jealous of, partly because he does THE best convention sketches on the planet

The rule with me at a con is, you get the sketch for free, but it’s done in five minutes.  That way, everyone who wants one gets one, and I give back a little for the fans.  You guys deserve it.  But we artists rarely get to see our con sketches after we let you have ‘em.   About one out of ten, I pull one off that I wish I could hold onto…it captured just the right gleam in Joker’s eye, or the right gesture as Robin jumps off a building.  I sometimes ask if the fan could scan it for me and send me a copy when they get home, but after twenty years of doing this, I have less


than a dozen scans of con sketches to show you, and hardly the best of the best.

Zombie Homer is the only one from this year,  as I used to think my BONGO contract forbids sketching the Simpsons, but Ken Wheaton (fellow toiler in Springfield) informs me, I can doodle inside published Simpsons books, just not regular sketch books and on blank pieces of paper…  Ken had a PILE of copies of TREEHOUSE OF HORROR: DEAD MAN’S CHEST for people to buy, so I did more Simpsons doodles this weekend than anything else.

As promised, here’s my favorite con sketch of all time, and the recipient was lovely enough to send me one.

A once-in-a-lifetime-art team.

It was in Paris, and I was seated in between Bernie Wrightson, Neal Adams, and Scott Hampton.  A group of BATMAN artists were touring through Belgium, France and Switzerland and enjoying all the lovely sauces we got with every meal, when some Euro-fan asked if Mr. Wrightson minded inking

Another Paris sketch from '92, featuring Tintin and the original appearance of ELSEWORLDS T-SHIRT BATMAN, seen last month!

the Batman portrait/sketch I had just done for him.  Watching my meager sketch be inked by Bernie was mind blowing enough, but then watching Scott Hampton add those moody water colours, I came this close from stealing the image back for myself…I have the scan though, and I share it here with you guys…the word’s only Templeton/Wrightson/Hampton collaboration.

Neal Adams did not participate in the sketch, but I have something better from Neal…something I’ll show you guys in a future post.  I have to keep the suspense going SOMEHOW.

Ty the Guy

Oh, and PS:  This week, I’m promoting this new Simpsons collection, NOW ON SALE.  I’ve got a fun pin-up inside, and the rest of the book is okay too, I suppose, if you like hysterical comic books.

In hardcover. Kirby says: "Don't Ask! Just Buy It!"


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Sad to hear about Dick Giordano passing away.

Ah, damn it.  Who didn’t love Dick Giordano?   We lost him over the weekend.  Not unexpected, but still…

silly sexy fun

Both of this blog’s regular readers might have noticed

The "New" Joker

how often his name or his work has come up around here, which is notable, considering how rarely I mention any other cartoonists in this solipsistic e-rag.  He was part of those delightful Lois Lane covers from last week, he inked the issue of Batman (#251) which I consider one of the two most important comic books of my life, mentioned a months or so ago on Art Land.

But let’s talk about this.

This issue is a very close second for my favorite Batman story of all time, and once again, Denny O’Neil and Dick Giordano are on the creative team responsible for it.  The cover is gorgeous, and the art and story inside are great…a Twilight Zone style tale of Batman traveling to another dimension where he again witnesses the murder of his parents, and changes THAT Bruce’s destiny.  It’s been reprinted many times, most notably in THE GREATEST BATMAN STORIES EVER TOLD, so I’m not the only one who loves this issue.

The idea of the story stuck in my head my entire life, and when I was asked to write a “try-out” issue of Batman Adventures all those years ago, the first

Not the same story, but the same idea.

thing that occurred to me was “What if I could make Batman re-live the murder of his parents, and change the destiny of another child…?”  The story I wrote is not at all the same to Denny and Dick’s masterpiece, but I certainly drew water out of the same inspirational spring as the above issue, and my script was well enough received that I’ve been writing comics for a living ever since.

But, what really blew my head into brain chunks about Detective #457 was that it showed me how much Dick Giordano was responsible for the greatness of those Neal Adams comics that I thought Dick had been “just inking”.  This was a comic drawn with beautiful realism, perfect line work, dramatic lighting, phenomenally beautiful women, and all the things that made those Neal comics wonderful, only Neal wasn’t around for this issue.  It turned out DICK WAS THE GUY who had been doing much of that all along.  And there was a subtle difference in the storytelling.  It was somehow more accessible, more “readable”, more directly told, than I was used to from this familiar style, and in many ways I LIKED IT BETTER!

THE most beautiful versions of the women of DC in the 70s

As a kid, I copied the images from ‘Tec #457 over and over.  I traced a copy of the cover so I could see it without the logo covering up the ears (hated that!).  There’s a panel inside of Batman swinging over the city, that I hand-copied as a three foot high poster that hung on the back of my bedroom door for years.  From this issue on, as far as I was concerned, Dick Giordano was one of the greats, the gods, the Beatles of DC comics.  I know, I know… he’d been great all along, but this is when I discovered it.

In the delightful Neal Adams cover above (for the magnificent Adams/Giordano Superman vs. Muhammad Ali giant comic) the crowd is filled with “real” people.  Jimmy Carter, Sinatra, Wolfman Jack, Raquel Welch, and so many others.  There’s a map on the inside cover to tell you who everyone is, but when I got it, I tried to see how many I could figure out on my own.  Up in the crowd, about eight or nine rows back, was a couple of people I assume to be Warren Beatty and Clark Cable, and some kids nearby.

amongst the Jackson Five, George Carlin and Lt. Columbo, this is NOT Clark Gable and Warren Beatty

It turned out to be Neal Adams and Dick Giordano and family.  I thought Neal had drawn he and his partner a lot more handsome than they probably were…and it was pretty cool to discover that they really did look like that when I met them a year or so later at conventions.

I got to know Dick just a little, over the years I worked at DC, and the  two things I remember most about him, was that he always looked great, (he could wear a suit and a mustache like a pro)…and that he loved talking the craft and comics with anyone who wanted to start up the conversation.  In those days, when Dick was our fearless leader, it was inspiring to see him in the DC  hallway, and to know he was still producing top flight penciling and inking work at home, after a full day at the office.

When you're great, you never stop being great.

And talk about inspiring,  he was still producing it, right up until the end.  The March issue of Jonah Hex, 2010, was the work of the one and only Mr. Giordano, head into your local comic store and pick one up, and enjoy the last work of a creator who inspired more than one generation.

Ty the Guy


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Comics that Matter (to me, anyway)

One of the nicer things that my vast fame and fortune has brought me is that I get interviewed from time to time about the comics that were most influential on me and my career…the comics that matter.  And I’ve been asked enough that the answer is down to a science now.

The first one is BATMAN #251, THE JOKER’S FIVE WAY REVENGE.  This is the first DC comic I ever purchased with my own money, and WOW, what a doozy to start with.   There’s a great saying that goes–“The Golden Age of everything is 12 years old”.  That’s when your opinions form, that’s when you find the best version of TV, movies, comics, fiction, girls…the stuff that you measure all the others against for the rest of your life, and this is one of the comics that falls into that category for me.  I often wonder if I’d be doing this for a living if my first comic had been something by lights lesser than the great DENNY O’NEIL and NEAL ADAMS!  And it’s not just a comic by these titans, it’s the comic that re-introduces the Joker to the world, with a brand-spanking-new homicidal bent to him like never before.

In previous years, the Joker had been a tepid character…robbing banks with rubber chickens, and kidnapping clowns, and the like (gems like “JOKER’S MILLIONS” were still undiscovered by me at the time, so I didn’t know Joker much beyond his TV show version…) But this story involves Joker murdering his entire gang, just to make sure he got the one member who was an informant.  He kills these guys with bombs, electrocution, and ends with tossing an old guy into a shark tank, wheelchair and all.  Illustrated by Neal Adams in his “new” exciting style, this was like no other comic I’d ever seen, and I instantly wanted more, more, more.  Sadly, Neal only drew one further  Batman comic (for a while anyway) before handing the series over to the wonderfully skilled Irv Novick…but it didn’t matter.  I was addicted to both Batman and Neal Adams for the rest of my life, and still am.   As an adult, I go back to this comic and re-read it, and I use it as a teaching tool in my TORONTO CARTOONISTS WORKSHOP classes to show off story and character construction.  Fortunately, it’s not just my own nostalgia that makes this comic a classic, and everyone I show it to, is as blown away by it as I am.

Next up:  These two issues of the Avengers were the first two Marvel comics I owned.  Purchased by an older brother when I was about seven years old, and left (in very lovely condition) at my Grandmother’s apartment until years later when I got to read them, probably at the age of twelve.  Again…for a first introduction to these characters of Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Blank Panther, Yellowjacket, Wasp and of course…the Vision…this was a magnificent place to start.  EVEN AN ANDROID CAN CRY is often cited as one of the best written superhero comics of the sixties, and I’d be in no position to argue.

Roy Thomas‘ script is touching, exciting, and intelligent, something this child of STAR TREK and TWILIGHT ZONE (my favorite shows as a kid) recognized as different from the other stuff that comics were about.  And the artwork by John Buscema and George Klein is stunningly good.  It remains, to this day, my mind’s eye version of the what the PERFECT Marvel comic artist should strive to achieve….with layouts that jump around the page, but still lead the eye correctly from panel to panel.  Human bodies, drawn with exquisite anatomy and detail, are leaping and jumping from the first page to the last, and the second issue in the two parter is essentially a long conversation about what to do with the android in the building that tried to kill us.  A conversation?!?  And it was that exciting and lively?  If I ever get half this good as either a writer or a penciler, I get to retire with a smile.

These three comics (along with a few issues of Mad Magazine, Tintin and Asterix that were also left to me by older siblings) are the bedrock foundation of my love of this biz.  If, instead, I’d purchased as my first comics, BROTHER POWER THE GEEK, PATSY WALKER, or RED WOLF, we can rest assured I’d be a baker or a plumber at this point in life.

Besides getting me into the lifestyle…I’ve been influenced more directly by these comics by mining them for scripts and images more than once.  Seen above, my cover for BATMAN ADVENTURES #31 is clearly an homage or an all out steal of the #251 cover.  At the time I drew it, I was not conscious of the similarity, but that’s what an influence is…it’s there inside your brain telling you “If you want to make it more dramatic, make the Joker one hundred stories tall!” without realizing why you’re doing it.  It’s not theft, it’s INFLUENCE…

The Vision story I stole far more directly.  When I was assigned the writing chores with AVENGERS UNITED, one of the first scripts I turned in was a re-working of Thomas/Buscema’s original VISION story, only with the twist that my issue was called “Androids Can’t Cry”, and I switch out the ending.  This one I WAS conscious of ripping off, and I had so much fun playing in the sandbox that had been there since I was a child, it’s hard to explain the joy.  When I met Roy Thomas, years later, the first words out of my mouth were babbling nonsense about apologizing for stealing his story, but I couldn’t help myself, etc.  I’m certain he walked away from the meeting believing I was a madman and has mercifully forgotten me.

Since I brought ’em up, next time out in “COMICS THAT MATTER” I’ll discuss the early Tintin and Asterix and Mad stuff that sits inside my brain, below even this superhero stuff.

Ty the Guy


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Hoverboy-Friday on SUNDAY! CURSES!!

Once more, knee-deep into the land of Hoverboy we go, fellow inter-tube travelers, and this time, we’re exploring the wonderful world of the infamous “HOVERBOY CURSE”.

Most fans of The Battling Bucket know that co-creator Bob Stark ran down both his dog and his gardener the day after he created Hoverboy, in an accident the police dismissed as “hi-jinx” in their official report.  But the death of his beloved dog Skippy, and his casual acquaintance, Carlos the groundskeeper, would haunt Stark for the rest of his life.   Often, Stark would wander to the end of his driveway on Stonebrook Terrace and stare intently at the trees found there, where he would then start to whistle violently, calling for either the dog to come “do his business” or the gardener to “Trim these damn shrubs!”.   These episodes increased as the creator got older.

Some consider this tragic car accident the official start of the curse.  Others cite the meteor strike that killed Stark’s parents the week later.  Certainly the meteor strike was more memorable, singling Stark’s family out so specifically from the  crowd like that at the baseball game.  Either way, from that month  forward, and until his death at the hands of overzealous mall security officers in 1982,  Bob Stark’s life and the life of his creation, Hoverboy, were surrounded by mysterious and bizarre tragedies with a frightening regularity.

As this is the fiftieth anniversary of “The Day the India Ink Died”, when most of the staff of Vigilance Comics was killed by a dose of weapons grade botulism toxin that was accidentally spilled into the machine that wrote out the company cheques, I thought I’d focus on the curse and the cartoonists.   (Steve Ditko, the only survivor of the famous Vigilance disaster, had refused to cash his cheque for Hoverboy #37 that month, as he claimed later it was “against the higher laws” to do touch money throughout all of February.  Famously, when Ditko co-created Spider-Man with Stan Lee two years later, he would insist on being paid entirely in trousers and butter.)

The twenty eight cartoonists who died on February 13th, 1960 were not the only Vigilance artists to die mysteriously.  In fact, the regularity with which these poor ink stained souls would pass away was so frequent, that amongst working illustrators, a Hoverboy job was known as “taking the last gig”.   So great was the fear of the curse, that creators such as Kirby, Adams, Steranko and Toth stayed away from Hoverboy throughout their lives.  Lucky for us they did avoid the curse, and got to spend long years working at their craft.  Well, except for Steranko, the lazy bum.

At any rate, let us now pay tribute to some of the other unlucky craftsmen who “took the last gig”.  This is but a partial sampling of the many Hoverboy artists and writers who died of suspicious circumstances.  The loss to the golden and silver age of comics cannot be calculated, but some experts estimate it at around eight thousand dollars in unpublished art.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolled for these guys…but good.



Ty the Guy