New York Comic Con 2022 was held on October 6th to 9th at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. It was an exhausting but fun experience. One of my favorite parts of the convention was once again Artists Alley, which featured a large, diverse selection of comic book creators.
Here are some of my favorite creators who I met at New York Comic Con this year. I have included links to their work, so you can check them out for yourself.
One of the great things about NYCC is it gives you the opportunity to meet creators who are visiting from outside of United States. I’ve been enjoying the work of Italian artists Marco Santucci and Maria Laura Sanapo over the past few years for DC Comics and other publishers. I’ve been interacting with them on social media, so it was definitely nice to actually get to meet them.
In my mind Dan Jurgens is one of the definitive, all-time great Superman artists. I loved his work on the character in the late 1980s thru the mid 1990s. He also did very good work on Captain America for Marvel Comics and the Image Comics series Common Grounds. It was a pleasure to finally meet him and be able to let him know how much I have enjoyed his work.
It was good to see The Hero Business creator Bill Walko at NYCC again. He’s got a really fun art style. The Hero Business is such an enjoyable series. If you haven’t read it yet then I highly recommend ordering the upcoming The Hero Business Compendium to be published by New Friday Comics, the creator-owned division of Lev Gleason Publishing. The Compendium will be a 472 page book in oversized graphic novel format collecting the complete ten year The Hero Business saga and is scheduled for release next month.
It’s also always good to see artist Russ Braun at comic cons. He’s a genuinely good guy and a talented artist, having drawn the classic Batman storyline “Venom,” War of the Gods and Fables for DC Comics, as well as regularly collaborating with writer Garth Ennis on a number of projects, among them Battlefields, The Boys and Jimmy’s Bastards.
Not to sound like a broken record, but it was also great to see Andrew Pepoy again at NYCC, back for the first time since before the pandemic. He’s an amazing artist and a good person. Andrew has a few advanced copies of this long-awaited new The Adventures of Simone & Ajax book Lemmings and Tigers and Bears! Oh, My! at the show. I’m looking forward to receiving my copy in the mail soon.
Alex Saviuk and Keith Williams were the art team on Web of Spider-Man from Marvel Comics when I was in high school in the early 1990s. I really enjoyed their work on the series. I don’t know if it was coincidence or design, but they ended up sitting next to each other in Artists Alley, so I wanted to get a photo of the two of them together.
Lynne Yoshii has a beautiful art style. I first discovered her work on the great Gotham City Garage series. She since drawn stories for several DC Comics anthology specials. I’m looking forward to reading the recently released Nuclear Power graphic novel from Fan Base Press that she illustrated.
Bought a copy of Empty Graves: 31 Horror Portraits by Dave Fox which contains some incredible, creepy artwork. Dave Fox has been working on a series of horror portraits over the past few years, and it’s nice to have them all collected together. He really knocked these out of the park, capturing the spooky, eerie essence of some of horror cinema’s most iconic villains & monsters.
These were just a few of the talented creators at New York Comic Con. It was an enjoyable show, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to attend it.
Wishing a very happy birthday to comic book artist Alex Saviuk, who turns 70 years old today.
Saviuk’s career in comic books began in late 1977 when he started working DC Comics. Among his early assignments were Green Lantern / Green Arrow, The Flash, Superman Family and back-up stories in Action Comics and DC Comics Presents.
The first time I recall seeing Saviuk’s work was in Action Comics #571, which came out in early June 1985, shortly before my ninth birthday. Behind a shocking, attention-grabbing cover by Brian Bolland was “Mission to Earth,” a rather offbeat, humorous story written by Bronze Age Superman scribe Elliot S! Maggin, penciled by Saviuk, inked by Dave Hunt, lettered by David Weiss and colored by Gene D’Angelo.
“Mission to Earth” sees the alien robot Thresher222 teleport to Earth in search of a cure for the nova radiation that is destroying his fellow living machines. Thresher222 materializes in the Arctic near Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Unfortunately the journey leaves the robot with amnesia. Before Superman can solve the robot visitor’s identity problem, he has another emergency to tackle: In his other identity of Clark Kent, he’s supposed to interview Superman on television. For whatever reason Batman isn’t available to do one of the impersonations he usually does when Superman and Clark need to appear together, so the Man of Steel asks Thresher222 to don a rubber mask and assume Clark’s identity on live television.
Unfortunately the guest that “Clark” has to interview before Superman is Metropolis Councilman Gregg, who is running for Mayor. Gregg proceeds to spew a torrent of political nonsense, overwhelming the already-unbalanced robot, resulting in his head exploding on live television. Saviuk does an amazing job of depicting the left- side of “Clark’s” head going kablooey, an image superbly complemented by Maggin’s sardonic narration. Even now, almost four decades later, I still look at that page and start giggling uncontrollably.
In 1986 Saviuk made the move over to Marvel Comics. After working on a number of fill-ins for Marvel, including three issues of Amazing Spider-Man, at the end of 1987 Saviuk became the regular penciler on Web of Spider-Man beginning with issue #35. Editor Jim Salicrup also brought onboard writer Gerry Conway and inker Keith Williams with that issue.
Other than very short runs by Greg LaRocque and Marc Silvestri, Web of Spider-Man really didn’t have a regular artist for its first three years, and was frequently plagued by fill-in issues. This changed with Saviuk’s arrival. He remained on Web of Spider-Man thru issue #116 in 1994, and during his nearly seven year long run only missed a handful of issues. For most of his run Saviuk was inked by Williams, with later issues embellished by Sam de la Rosa, Don Hudson and Stephen Baskerville.
I’ve previously commented that I felt that Saviuk was overshadowed by Todd McFarlane high-profile runs on first Amazing Spider-Man and then the adjectiveless Spider-Man series. That’s unfortunate, because Saviuk was doing quality work month after month on Web of Spider-Man. Saviuk’s association with the web-slinger would extend well beyond Web.
In 1989 Saviuk penciled the graphic novel Amazing Spider-Man: Parallel Lives, in which writer Gerry Conway explored the complicated intertwined histories of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. Accompanying Conway and Saviuk were inker Andy Mushynsky, letterer Rick Parker and colorist Bob Sharen.
Parallel Lives allowed Saviuk the opportunity to do his own interpretation of many classic Spider-Man moments, among them the iconic “Face it, tiger… you just hit the jackpot!” scene originally depicted by John Romita in Amazing Spider-Man #42.
From 1994 to 1997 Saviuk penciled Spider-Man Adventures / Adventures of Spider-Man, which was based on the animated series that was airing at the time. After that, from 1997 to 2019 Saviuk was the penciler on the Sunday edition of The Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip.
So, yeah, Saviuk drew Spider-Man continuously for over 30 years. I definitely consider him to be among the all-time great artists to have worked on the character.
In addition to his DC and Marvel work, Saviuk has drawn for several other publishers. In the late 1990s he penciled several issues of the comic book adaptation of The X-Files published by Topps Comics. In the 21st Century he’s drawn a number of stories for Fantomet, the Swedish edition of Lee Falk’s costumed hero The Phantom published by Egmont, as well working on a few issues of The Phantom comic books published in the United States by Moonstone and Hermes Press. Saviuk also drew several covers for Big City Comics in 2006.
I met Saviuk a couple of times at comic cons, and he came across to me as a good person. He did a really nice Spider-Man sketch for me. I also got several issues of Web of Spider-Man autographed by him, among them the infamous “Spider-Hulk” story from issue #70 plotted by Gerry Conway and scripted by David Michelinie.
Having been exposed to gamma radiation leeched out of the Incredible Hulk in the previous issue, Spider-Man himself became big, green & angry. Of course by the end of the issue Spider-Man was restored to normal. Nowadays if Marvel did this they’d probably give Spider-Hulk his own series, or team him up with all of the other Hulk knock-offs, or something. In any case, Saviuk pulled of the task of rendering “Spider-Hulk” without the character looking too ridiculous.
More recently Saviuk has drawn several variant covers for Marvel, among them on the five issue miniseries Symbiote Spider-Man, continuing his lengthy association with the web-slinger. He is also a frequent guest at comic book conventions, where he draws amazing sketches & commissions, many of which can be viewed on his Instagram account.
Happy birthday, Alex Saviuk. Thank you for all the amazing artwork throughout the years. I hope there’s many more to come.
When I first got into comic books in the second half of the 1980s, and continued reading them as a teenager in the 1990s, one of the names I would frequently see in the credits was Keith Williams. He worked on numerous series: Alpha Flight, Transformers, Action Comics, Web of Spider-Man, Quasar, Robocop, Sensational She-Hulk, U.S.Agent, Ravage 2099, The Mask, Star Wars, and so on.
Keith is one of the various comic book creators who I have been fortunate enough to get to know on social media. He has always come across as a genuinely good person. Given Keith’s lengthy career, I felt it would be interesting to speak with him about his work in the medium.
This interview was conducted by e-mail between April and May 2021.
BH: Hello, Mr. Williams. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Let’s start with the basics. When and where were you born? When you were growing up did you read comic books? What other interests did you have when you were young?
Keith Williams: Thank you for asking, Ben. I was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 16, 1957. My grandma gave me my first comic. It was Batman issue 184. I must have been 9 years old at the time. I always loved comics after that. I enjoyed watching astronauts fly into space, and for a while I wanted to be one.
BH: You attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan from 1976 to 1980. How did you find that educational experience?
Keith Williams: It was wonderful! The main reason I went SVA was because Will Eisner, the creator of The Spirit, was teaching there. My major was in Cartooning and Will brought fun and a lot of knowledge about the art and business sides of comic books. The other classes were fine and rounded out my art experience. I still have great friends that I talk to from my time there.
BH: I understand you entered the comic book field as a background inker in the early 1980s. How did that come about, and which artists did you assist?
Keith Williams: I knew Howard Perlin from high school, working on school shows together. He introduced me to his father Don Perlin. At the time he was the artist on Ghost Rider. I had shown him my inking samples. He saw that I had potential and took me under his wing. He mentioned my name up at Marvel when they were looking for a background inker for Mike Esposito. I was hired and have been working in comics ever since. Besides Mike Esposito there was Joe Sinnott, Bob Wiacek, Andy Mushinsky, Al Milgrom, Terry Austin, Vince Colletta, John Byrne, Bob Hall and a few more.
BH: Why did you decide to focus on inking?
Keith Williams: I focused on inking because I learned that I was better at it. I had great people to learn the skills of inking from. Inking became my foot in the door.
BH: At Marvel Comics, you were also the first person to join Romita’s Raiders, the art apprentice program initiated by editor-in-chief Jim Shooter and run by art director John Romita. What specific sort of work did you find yourself doing as one of the Raiders? How do you feel it helped you in terms of honing your skills and preparing you for a career as an artist in the comic book industry?
Keith Williams: As a Romita Raider, I, and the other Raiders were art correctors. We would fix storytelling if the panels didn’t flow correctly. If a character was wearing the wrong costume we would correct it. Assist John sometimes in cover design. John Romita was the Art Director at Marvel [and] everything would go through him meaning pages of art and he would assign us to fix things that needed fixing. While we were there as Raiders, we received a master class on how to create a comic.
BH: What was your first credited work in comic books, and how did you get assigned that job?
Keith Williams: My first credited work [was] Sectaurs for Marvel, 1985. I inked over Steve Geiger, another Raider. I think I started on issue 4. Mark Texeira moved on and they needed a new art team. It was a mini-series which ended on issue 7. I got the job because I was lucky enough to be in the office at the time.
BH: In late 1984 you became John Byrne’s background inker beginning with Alpha Flight #19. You provided background inks on several issues of Alpha Flight, and when Byrne moved to Incredible Hulk for his all-too-short run you accompanied him. After Byrne left Marvel for DC Comics where he oversaw the successful post-Crisis revamp of Superman, you were his background inker on Action Comics in 1987. How did you come to do background inking for Byrne? What was the experience like?
Keith Williams: Mark Gruenwald, one of the editors at Marvel, came up to me and asked if I was interested in working with John Byrne on Alpha Flight as a background artist. Of course, I said yes. It was a great experience.
BH: It’s noteworthy that Byrne saw that you were credited on all of those stories as the background inker, something that at the time was not expected, much less required. Do you find that this helped your career? Certainly as a young reader it was probably the first time I noticed your name.
Keith Williams: John put my name on the cover of the books and my name was right beside his in the credits. I would also get pages from the books we did. No other inker had ever done that for a background artist or would expect that to be done for them. I will always be grateful to him for doing it. He helped my career because of it.
BH: Later on you had the opportunity to do full inking over Byrne’s pencils on Avengers West Coast #53 in late 1989 and on several issues of Sensational She-Hulk in 1991. How did you like that experience? As a reader, I felt you did a good job. Looking at that Avengers West Coast, in particular I was very impressed by the detailed, intricate inking you did on the sequence with Immortus in an alternate timeline where Queen Elizabeth I was executed instead of Mary, Queen of Scots. The storyline in She-Hulk where she ends up in the Mole Man’s subterranean kingdom and fights Spragg the Living Hill also had a lot of interesting, detailed work by Byrne. You did a fine job embellishing all those caves and rocky textures.
Keith Williams: Actually, working fully on John’s pencils, scared the daylights out of me. As an artist, you always feel there is still so much to learn. Am I ready? I guess I was. All of the background inking got me ready to do full inks with John and I loved making his lines come to life.
BH: Jumping back a bit, you and penciler Alex Saviuk became the regular art team on Web of Spider-Man with issue #35, cover-dated March 1988. How did you get that assignment, and how did you find it working with Saviuk? You stayed on Web of Spider-Man through issue #85 in early 1992, so I’m guessing it was a good experience. Of course, as you were a freelancer, I’m sure you were also grateful to have a regular monthly assignment.
Keith Williams: Jim Salicrup was the editor on the Spider-Man books at the time. He must have seen my work here and there in the office and tried me out. I worked over Steve Gieger on an issue of Web of Spider-Man and then worked with Alex. I guess he saw something in us working together and we stay together for almost five years.
BH: Speaking for myself, I find Saviuk very underrated. I feel he was overshadowed by Todd McFarlane on Amazing Spider-Man, which at the time was in the spotlight. I think that was a shame, because you and Saviuk were doing good, solid work month after month on Web.
Keith Williams: Alex is a great artist. I feel he’s up there with Romita in style. It was very enjoyable working with him.
BH: You worked on a wide variety of titles throughout the 1990s, inking a diverse selection of pencilers. I wanted to briefly touch upon the work you did for Dark Horse. You inked Doug Mahnke on The Mask Strikes Back and Bill Hughes on Star Wars: Droids, both of those coming out in 1995. Any particular thoughts on those two jobs? Mannke and Hughes both seem to have detailed penciling styles, so I wondered how you approached inking them.
Keith Williams: Doug Mahnke’s style on The Mask was different than any I‘ve encountered. It was zaniness stuffed into reality. Bill Hughes had more of a cartoon style which fit into the loony situation the Droids were put in. I try to go with the flow of the penciller. With Doug it would be more of a hard edge, using crow quill Hunt 102 pen point nibs. With Bill it more of a softer look. I used a Winsor Newton Series 7 No. 3 brush and a Gillotte 290 flexible pen nib.
BH: In 1994 you became the regular inker of The Phantom newspaper strip written by Lee Falk, inking George Olesen’s pencils. You were on the strip until 2005, when Olesen retired. Had you previously been a fan of The Phantom? Although it isn’t especially popular here in the States, it has an absolutely huge following in other parts of the world such as Sweden and Australia.
Keith Williams: I wasn’t really a fan of The Phantom. That was because it wasn’t in any of the newspapers in New York. I did learn to like it. The Phantom has a great cast of characters.
BH: I’ve heard working on a daily newspaper strip described as a grueling, endless treadmill run. What did you think of the work? How was it different from monthly comic books?
Keith Williams: I really had no idea what it was like to put out a six day strip every week. There was no time for a real vacation. So, even when I would go away on a trip, the Phantom would be with me. I’m not really complaining, because it was always better to have work than not. It was different than a comic book because, working on dailies, you only had as much as three panels to work on for a strip.
BH: Finally, what have you been working on in the last decade and a half? Do you have any new projects coming out soon?
Keith Williams: Actually, I got to work for Marvel again with the help of Ron Frenz in 2019. It was a 10 page story in Thor the Worthy. Other than that, it’s been conventions and commissions for me.
BH: If people are interested in hiring you for commissions, what is the best way to get in touch with you?
Keith Williams: You can DM me on Instagram or Facebook: keithwilliamscomicbookart. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The challenge: Pick a subject and find a different artist every day for that subject. I chose “coffee.” From the work of how many comic book artists can I find examples of people drinking coffee? I post these daily on Facebook, and collect them together here.
31) Rich Buckler & Joe Sinnott
“The Mind of the Monster” from Giant-Size Super-Stars #1, penciled by Rich Buckler, inked by Joe Sinnott, written by Gerry Conway, lettered by Artie Simek, and colored by Petra Goldberg, published by Marvel Comics with a May 1974 cover date.
The Incredible Hulk leaps into Manhattan and passes out in a deserted alley. Transforming back into Bruce Banner, the cursed scientist heads over to the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building headquarters, hoping Reed Richards can find a cure for his condition. Only Ben Grimm, the Thing, is home, but he welcomes Bruce, telling him “Guy’s like us’ve gotta stick together.”
The Thing asks the frazzled Banner “Ya want some java?” A grateful Banner accepts, and the Thing brews him a cup of coffee using some weird-looking Kirby-tech. “Don’t look at me, Banner — it’s one’a Stretcho’s dohickeys.” Yeah, leave it to Reed Richards to take something as simple as a coffee maker and transform it into a ridiculously complicated device!
The Think lets slip that Reed was recently working on a “psi-amplifier” to restore his lost humanity. An eager Banner decides that with a few modifications the device can cure both of them in one shot. Unfortunately they don’t wait for Reed to return before proceeding with the experiment, and of course something goes wrong. Next thing you know, we have another epic battle between the Hulk and the Thing, but with a twist: the Thing’s mind is in the body of the Hulk, and vise versa. Hilarity ensues… hilarity and several million dollars worth of property damage.
As explained by editor Roy Thomas in a text piece, Giant-Size Super-Stars was a monthly oversized title that would rotate through three features: the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and Conan the Barbarian. After this issue was released Marvel changed their plans. Spider-Man and Conan both received their own quarterly Giant-Size series, and Giant-Size Super-Stars also became quarterly, renamed Giant-Size Fantastic Four with issue #2.
The creators behind “The Mind of the Monster” were the regular Fantastic Four team: writer Gerry Conway, penciler Rich Buckler, and inker Joe Sinnott. They all do good work on this entertaining tale of swapped identities and smashed buildings. Buckler does a fine job showing via facial expressions and body language that the Thing and the Hulk have switched bodies. Longtime FF inker Sinnott does his usual great work finishing the art.
32) Rick Burchett
Presenting a double dose of caffeinated cliffhangers starring those two-fisted aviators the Blackhawks! Action Comics Weekly #632 is cover-dated December 1987, and Blackhawk #2 is cover-dated April 1989. Both stories are by the creative team of artist Rick Burchett, writer Martin Pasko, letterer Steve Haynie, and colorist Tom Ziuko, published by DC Comics.
I was sad to hear that longtime comic book writer Martin Pasko had passed away on May 10th at the age of 65. Among the numerous characters Pasko worked on was the revamp of the Blackhawks conceived by Howard Chaykin. Pasko chronicled the aviation adventures of Janos Prohaska and Co in serials published in Action Comics Weekly, and then in an all-too-short lived Blackhawk ongoing series.
Pasko was paired with the great, underrated artist Rick Burchett. I’ve always enjoyed Burchett’s art. His style is simultaneously cartoony yet possessed of a sort of gritty verisimilitude (I hope I’m articulating that in an accurate manner). Pasko & Burchett chronicled the Blackhawk’s post World War II adventures which saw the ace pilots becoming embroiled in the Cold War anti-Communist activities of the newly-formed CIA.
Within the pages of the Action Comics Weekly #632, the Blackhawks have been tasked with transporting chemist Constance Darabont to West Berlin to pick up an experimental batch of LSD. Unfortunately for Prosahka and his team Constance is murdered in Berlin and replaced by Nazi war criminal Gretchen Koblenz. On the flight back the diabolical Gretchen spikes the Blackhawks’ coffee with the LSD, pulling a gun on Olaf Friedriksen when her deadly ruse is discovered!
Blackhawk #2 ends on a much less life-threatening note, but certainly one that is just as dramatic. Over morning coffee Janos and the Blackhawks’ assistant director Mairzey ponder the current whereabouts of the missing Natalie Reed, as well as wondering what will become of Natalie’s infant son. Mairzey tells Janos that she has been considering adopting the baby. Suddenly an unidentified figure enters the room and announces “I was always afraid to tell you this before… but I’m the father of Natalie’s baby…”
The Blackhawk serials written by Grell & Pasko and drawn by Burchett were among the best material to run in Action Comics Weekly. I’m happy they’ve finally been collected together with the excellent Blackhawk miniseries by Chaykin. Hopefully a second collected edition will reprint the ongoing series by Pasko & Burchett.
33) Jack Davis
Today’s art comes from “Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone” in The Haunt of Fear #21, drawn by Jack Davis, written by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines, lettered by Jim Wroten, and colored by Marie Severin, published by EC Comics with a Sept-Oct 1953 cover date.
When I was a kid I preferred the sci-fi stories from Weird Science and Weird Fantasy, but as I got older I developed a taste for EC’s horror titles. I guess my dry, offbeat sense of humor came to align more closely with EC’s macabre pun-cracking horror hosts.
“Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone” is the story of Ulric the Undying, who makes his fortune staging very public, very violent deaths from which he miraculously recovers each time. In a flashback, we see that Ulric was previously a nameless bum on skid row who was approached by Dr. Emil Manfred. Over a cup of coffee, Manfred claimed that he had discovered the secret of a cat’s nine lives, and offered to surgically transplant that ability into the bum, with the end goal of gaining wealth & fame. Manfred is successful and “Ulric the Undying” is created, but this being an EC horror story, of course things eventually take a very nasty turn for all involved.
Jack Davis was a frequent contributor to EC’s horror anthologies, illustrating many of their most famous, or perhaps infamous, stories. Davis was certainly adept at creating moody atmospheres perfectly suited to Al Feldstein’s scripts. His artwork was also appeared regularly in EC’s satirical comic books Mad and Panic. Following the demise of EC’s comic book line he drew trading cards for Topps. From the 1960s onward David, who was renowned for his caricatures, did a great deal of advertising work, movie posters and magazine covers. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 91.
34) Ross Andru & Frank Giacoia
Amazing Spider-Man #184, penciled by Ross Andru, inked by Frank Giacoia, written & edited by Marv Wolfman, lettered by John Costanza, and colored by Glynis Wein, published by Marvel Comics with a September 1978 cover date.
I recently learned of this storyline thanks to Brian Cronin of Comic Book Resources. In the previous issue Peter Parker had asked Mary Jane Watson to marry him, but she turned him down. A despondent Peter returned home, only to discover someone was waiting for him in his apartment! On the splash page of this issue, we discover who: Betty Brant, secretary to Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson, and Peter’s girlfriend from way back when. Betty, who is all glammed up, has let herself into Peter’s apartment and made herself a cup of coffee to await his return. Now that he’s home, Betty greets him with a very warm welcome.
There’s just one itsy-bitsy problem here: Betty married Ned Leeds a few weeks earlier, and she is supposed to be in Europe with him on their honeymoon.
Yeah, that’s the old Parker luck at work, all right. You propose to the woman you love but she turns you down, and when you return home you find your recently-married ex-girlfriend has broken into your place, raided your supply of coffee, and is looking to have a fling with you. Oy vey!
The subplot of Betty attempting to hook up with Peter, and Peter being very tempted in spite of that whole “just married” thing, went on for nearly a year. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that it all ends badly for poor Peter.
Penciling this tale of torrid emotions and pilfered caffeine is veteran comic book artist Ross Andru. After two decades of working for DC Comics on such titles as Wonder Woman, G.I. Combat, The Flash and Metal Men (the last which he co-created with writer Robert Kanigher), Andru came to Marvel in 1971. He penciled Amazing Spider-Man for five years, from 1973 to 1978; this was one of his last issues. Andru is paired here with well-regarded inker Frank Giacoia, who had previously embellished ASM during the early part of Andru’s half-decade run.
35) Alex Saviuk & Al Wlliamson
Web of Spider-Man #91, penciled by Alex Saviuk, inked by Al Williamson, written by Howard Mackie, lettered by Rick Parker, and colored by Bob Sharen, published by Marvel Comics with an August 1992 cover date.
Following up on our last entry, it’s another Spider-Man page featuring Peter Parker, Betty Brant, coffee and… oh no, Betty’s throwing herself at Peter again, isn’t she?
Okay, what’s actually going on here is that Betty has been working undercover on a story for the Daily Bugle. She’s investigating the organization belonging to the international assassin the Foreigner, the man behind the murder of her husband Ned Leeds. When Betty happens to run into Peter in the street she locks lips with him and drags him into a nearby diner so that she can give him the information she’s been collecting to pass on to Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson. Unfortunately the people who are following Betty see through her ruse and attack the coffee shop. What follows is Spider-Man spending the rest of the issue trading blows with a pair of the Foreigner’s armored goons in the java joint, which of course gets demolished. I hope the owners had their insurance premiums paid up!
Betty had spent a long time after her husband’s death traumatized & vulnerable. This was the beginning of a new direction for her, as she quit being Jonah’s secretary, became more assertive, and began a career as an investigative journalist for the Bugle.
The pencils are by Alex Saviuk, a really good artist who had a long run on Web of Spider-Man, from 1988 to 1994. I think Saviuk’s seven year stint on often gets overlooked because this was at the same time McFarlane, Larsen and Bagley were also drawing the character, and with their more dynamic, flashy styles they consequently receiving more attention. That is a shame, because Saviuk turned in solid, quality work on Web of Spider-Man. I enjoyed his depiction of the character.
As we can see from this page, Saviuk was also really good at rendering the soap opera and non-costumed sequences that are part-and-parcel of Peter Parker’s tumultuous personal life.
This week longtime comic book artist Joe Sinnott announced his retirement, bringing an official end to a career that spanned nearly seven decades, from 1950 to 2019.
With the recent passing of Marvel Comics writer & editor Stan Lee, the decision was made to bring down the curtain on the Amazing Spider-Man newspaper comic strip that he had been scripting since 1977. The 92 year old Sinnott, who has been inking the Sunday installments of the newspaper strip since 1992, decided this would be an appropriate time to formally retire.
Here is the Sunday March 17th installment of the newspaper strip. As I understand it, this was written by Roy Thomas, penciled by Alex Saviuk, inked by Joe Sinnott, and lettered by Janice Chiang. It’s a pleasant coda to the comic strip continuity with Peter and Mary-Jane Parker departing for a vacation in Australia. Since this is the wrap-up of the strip, I think we can safely assume that for once Peter and MJ will actually have a nice, relaxing time, and no super-villains will be following them Down Under.
Y’know, it’s funny… when the news broke that Sinnott was at long last calling it a day, the very first thing that popped into my mind was that he actually began the process of retiring back in 1991.
Sinnott’s last monthly assignment for Marvel Comics was Thor, inking / finishing the pencils of Ron Frenz for two and a half years, from issues #400 to #429. A few months after Sinnott’s final Thor issue, in the letters page of #433 (cover-dated June 1991), Frenz wrote a heartfelt tribute to his collaborator. Frenz explained that Sinnott was taking “his first steps towards a well-won and laurelled retirement.”
Well, it appears that Sinnott really enjoyed drawing, and possessed a genuine love for comic books, because it took him until now to finally retire. During the past 27 years, in addition to inking the Sunday installments of the Spider-Man strip, Sinnott contributed to several projects, among them the Marvel: Heroes & Legends special, the Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Comic Magazine miniseries, a pair of Untold Tales of Spider-Man annuals, and Fantastic Four: The Lost Adventure.
Fantastic Four: The Lost Adventure was published in 2008. It reconstructed & completed the long-lost “final” FF story that Kirby plotted & penciled way back in 1970 right before he departed Marvel for DC Comics. Nearly four decades later Stan Lee finally wrote the script for this story. Joe Sinnott’s embellishments had been an absolutely perfect match for the Fantastic Four stories Kirby penciled in the mid-1960s, so of course he was the first and only choice to ink this special.
It was always a pleasure to see Sinnott’s occasional returns to the comic book biz over the past two and a half decades. I regard him as one of the all-time greatest inkers / finishers in the history of the medium. His stellar work inking Kirby was just one part of his career. Over the decades Sinnott did superb work over numerous other pencilers, among them John Buscema, Rich Bucker, George Perez, Ron Wilson, John Byrne, and Ron Frenz.
Over the past decade Sinnott has also been very involved in Bob Almond’s Inkwell Awards. The “hall of fame” award the Inkwells give out is named, appropriately enough, the Sinnott.
I have been fortunate enough to meet Joe Sinnott at comic book conventions several times over the years. I can definitely tell you that his talent is matched by his kindness. Each time I met him he came across as polite, enthusiastic and gracious.
Above is a photo I took in 2011 of Joe Sinnott with another great creator, Walter Simonson, at the Hawthorne NJ comic con. It’s always awesome when you meet creators whose work you enjoy and you discover that they are also genuinely nice people.
Congratulations to Joe Sinnott on bringing to a close a long and distinguished career. I hope he enjoys his retirement, because he definitely deserves it.