John Romita was the artist that as a kid I recognized as THE Spider-Man artist. It was around that time that instead of buying a comic book because of the character (Spider-Man, Batman, etc.) I started following the artists.
The following is a pic from 1993 when I was on staff at King Features. It was at some cartoon art exhibit (I forget where). My friend Jerry Craft made a point of taking the picture as I could barely get out the words, “Me like your art good.”
Jump ahead to 2002 and I’m the writer/artist of the Flash Gordon newspaper strip, and being that I had decided not to renew my contract, my tenure on the feature was winding down. I was able to get some pretty high profile artists in the past to do a guest spot with the art chores (George Evans and Al Williamson), so for my final year I solicited a few more of some of my favorites.
As King didn’t pay me much for Flash I couldn’t offer Mr. Romita much money – his decision to do it pretty much hinged on the fact he grew up on Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon Sunday page. To grease the wheels some more I also mentioned that Joe Kubert had done the strip just a few weeks prior. (More on that in a previous post.)
Romita’s Flash Gordon Sunday page came out shortly after the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie came out in 2002. In one of our talks over the phone he mentioned that one of the things he really took pride in was the prominent role Mary Jane had in the movie as he was the artist that brought that character to life in the pages of the Spider-Man comic book. (More on that in a previous post as well.)
As mentioned, I grew up on Romita’s artwork. His graphic design sense and storytelling ability is a constant source of inspiration. And to work with him on a Flash Gordon page was one of those high water marks that professionally just can’t be beat.
This particular edition got me to thinking about the time frame that Romita did this work.
The issues in this collection are from around 1972. Jack Kirby has been gone not even two years and Romita is now the go-to guy for Marvel, jumping from Spider-Man to the Fantastic Four to Captain America and then back to Spider-Man…
During this time in the early 1970s, Romita is also doing art direction and handling spot and sequential art on a myriad of other projects.
What amazes me about the work spotlighted in this Artist Edition is that you can tell the speed he has to attack these issues because of deadlines (blue line, white out, paste-ups). At that speed you’re walking the high wire without a net, and the artwork is still stellar!
If you’re a Romita fan, than this is definitely a book you want to pick up – I can’t recommend it highly enough.
And if you want to check out more of Romita’s artwork online, be sure to check out Mike Burkey’s web site: Romitaman.com
A wealth of Romita art, and where most of the art in this Artist Edition came from!
Ending with a pic of John Romita and his wife Virginia hard at work in the mid-1970s.
Here’s wishing them peaceful deadline free days from here on in!