Tuesday, August 19, 2008

just one pic, but a nice one...

From 1988, the cover to DC Comics' CHECKMATE #2, by the late, great Gil Kane. This is a reasonably simple, very comic-booky image, but I like that simplicity, and the vaguely early-1960s crime/noir/Charlton Comics feel to it. Kane is one of those artists whose work, no matter what era it came from, to me seems to evoke that early 60s feel (I'd say the same about Gray Morrow, Russ Heath and a few others), I think stemming from the use of fine lines (it's helped, I'm sure, but the fashion choices- the brown suit with striped burgandy shirt and no tie- or the silenced revolver that looks straight off the poster for "Blast of Silence"), and other things that make me wish I had more of a vocabulary for describing things that I like about the pretty pictures...

Kane (real name Eli Katz) had kind of amazing career in comics, starting in the 1940s on DC titles like ALL-STAR COMICS, ADVENTURE COMICS and ALL-AMERICAN WESTERN. A lot of his best and most well-known work came in the late 1950s and 1960s, at DC, working on SHOWCASE, STRANGE ADVENTURES and MYSTERY IN SPACE on characters like Adam Strange, the Atom and Green Lantern (Kane's work on Green Lantern is probably his best known). Later in the 1960s, Kane was one of the originators of the graphic novel format, working with Archie Goodwin on HIS NAME IS SAVAGE and BLACKMARK, both written by Archie Goodwin. During the 1970's he did a stint at Marvel, working on DAREDEVIL, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, CONAN, OMEGA, THE INVADERS, THE CHAMPIONS, STAR WARS and STAR TREK, among others (he was very prolific). In the 1980s, he returned to DC, working on SUPERMAN, ACTION COMICS, GREEN LANTERN, SUPERBOY, SUPERGIRL, THE SWORD OF THE ATOM miniseries and others. Kane remained active in comics up until his death in 2000.

CHECKMATE, meanwhile, was one of many great, underrated titles released by DC in the late 1980s, really one of their most creative periods. Written by Paul Kuperberg, it featured some similarities and several crossovers with John Ostrander's SUICIDE SQUAD (very well covered in out Deadshot posts) from the same era, as well as MANHUNTER, also by Ostrander (with Kim Yale). Some of the characters in the series included the slobby ex-cop Harvey Bullock, from Batman, and a female version of the Vigilante character introduced in Teen Titans, who had his own Marv Wolfman-scripted series throughout the 1980s (some issues had Gil Kane art). The series has been by writer Greg Rucka revived in recent years (as has MANHUNTER, written by Marc Andreyko) as an espionage/political intrigue with superheroes book, and is one of my current favorites titles (as is MANHUNTER). Anyway, that's a lot of set up for just a cover, so enjoy...

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