Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fantastic 1960s Green Lantern Comics Covers

I've mentioned before being a comic collector as a kid and I kept a healthy interest in the medium ever since. The crazy thing is that, as I matured in the 1970s, so did the comic book industry with a fresh influx of talent blooming just as I was coming to the age when it was natural to put the four color mags away. I bought the odd mainstream comic book all the way into the 1980s when the Hernandez Brothers, Pete Bagge and Dan Clowes and that crowd came to the forefront and revolutionized the industry in a fresh and exciting way.

I thought I would share with you some of my favorite Green Lantern (but not Green Lantern / Green Arrow) covers during the silver age of comics, the 1960s.

TV Blog / Green Lantern Comics #20 / Classic DC comics 1960sGil Kane and Murphy Anderson were two of my favorite artists from the DC stable. They were polar opposites in style but somehow penciler Kane's fluid style meshed well with inker Anderson's detailed, illustrative approach. Here's a perfect example, Anderson consistently put his all into everything he rendered.

These comics, along with Batman, Detective, Flash and Justice League, were edited by Julie Schwartz who had a unique talent for creating covers that I found intriguing as a kid.

So much so I had to buy them to find out how the hero solved that weird situation. Schwartz's comics mostly had a sci-fi influence, his heroes were generally faced with some perplexing scientific anomaly or a conundrum with a mystical bent.

GL 30 / classic comic books of the 1960s / TV Blog

GL 30 / classic comic books of the 1960s / TV Blog GL 30 / classic comic books of the 1960s / TV Blog

There were so many spectacular GL covers during this period it's hard to single out only a few. Just look at the composition on these. Kane & Anderson teamed for some great covers and a few amazing stories early on but the tales were mostly inked by the bland and stiff brush of Joe Geilla. Then Sid Greene took over the interior inks and spoiled Gil Kane's dynamic pages with his oppressive, gooey style.

Green Lantern was one of my favorites even though I started reading after the Kane & Anderson glory days. I was fascinated by the concept, a guy with a ring that can manifest almost anything instantly.

That's why the movie has a good shot at being good, it's a simple but effective idea.

By the time I came around to reading GL, around number 60, the title was being passed around to different second tier artists like Jack Sparling - until Gil Kane returned with a vengeance with this spectacular cover that he inked himself and a vibrant story sadly stifled by Joe Giela's graceless inks.

During his absence from GL, where he wrote & drew his own ground-breaking (on so many levels) publication His Name Is Savage and other titles, Kane had matured into a more dynamic artist.

GL 30 / classic comic books of the 1960s / TV BlogGL #69

The very next issue sported a bold cover illustrated by Gil Kane with a cool story by the great John Broome. Teamed with inker Wally Wood, the legendary EC artist, this comic blew me away.

The few times when these two artists were paired were always amazing, Wood had a way of bringing out the best in Kane, taking his expansive layouts to new heights while leaving his own distinct, high-gloss sheen on the pages. Another great example are the 3 issues they did together the year before, for a short-lived comic series based on the action figure Captain Action. Those are some of the best comics of the 1960s.

I couldn't wait until the next issue but, sadly, Wood was gone as quickly as he came.

GL #73 - (December 1969)
GL 30 / classic comic books of the 1960s / TV BlogAnother super all-Kane cover but the insides of this issue and the next were inked by Murphy Anderson and the results were probably the best of GL's run until Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams took over the tile with issue # 76. You can see why Kane became Marvel's number one cover artist during the 1970s.

I actually had the pleasure to interview Julie Schwartz and Murphy Anderson in the mid-1980s at a comic convention. It was a real thrill, I took a stack of Schwartz and Anderson's DC comics from the 1960s & 70s and we discussed the dynamics behind those publications.

Julie Schwartz in particular enjoyed the experience, they both had a great deal to be proud of in their past work. They created a vivid world of excitement for a generation of kids that resonates decades later in multi-million dollar movie productions.