Legendary Artists Needed on Cap, not No-Name Newcomers

Written: 14 October, 1997

Recently I posted a message on the Green Lantern board mentioning how Jim Starlin would be guest-pencilling GL #95 in December. Terry Austin would be doing the inking. Wow, I thought. Got to buy that when it comes out, and I never buy new issues of GL. If DC wanted me to get more of their comics, they'd put great artists like Starlin on their books instead of some of these lousy new artists whose names are unknown to me. This reminds me also of a remark a friend made circa 1993 when he noticed a Top 10 fan-magazine poll of favorite comics artists. Jim Lee and other hot new artists dominated the poll. Barry Windsor-Smith was also on the list. My friend laughed at the idea of Smith, a longtime illustrator who has had many portfolios in addition to comics work, sharing a list with these shallow upstarts, since Smith's talent and ability obviously towered over all of them. I've gotten some 1990s Iron Man Annuals in recent years and the thing I found most enjoyable about them was when they had classic artists like Don Heck, Gene Colan, and Steve Ditko doing the art for short stories in them. And, to bring this back to Cap, the only new Cap comic of the 1990s I've really wanted to get, with the same kind of excitement as getting older Cap comics, is John Byrne's Batman & Capt America. Knowing Byrne's work over the years, I know and trust it will be enjoyable.

So, my question is...Shouldn't Cap's comic also feature more legendary artists instead of no-name newcomers? To use Green Lantern as an example, we have seen GL's 1940s artist Martin Nodell, doing the art for at least two GL stories in recent times (All-Star Squadron Annual #3 and GL v.3 #19). But the only Joe Simon Cap work we have seen since the Golden-Age, to my knowledge, was in the Collector's Preview issue (he inked the cover and some of his Cap paintings were shown in an article). Maybe Joe Simon could be persuaded to do another special Cap issue.

Okay, okay. I know what you are saying. Ron Garney is doing the art for Cap and that's who the fans want. But I think it would be nice if more artists who had a history with Cap, and higher name recognition than Garney (and, dare I say it, greater talent?) were permitted to do special fill-in issues or stories for the Annuals (as was the case in the Iron Man annuals I mentioned earlier). Let me give some more examples.

John Romita. Although he has retired, he is still actively illustrating special projects and the odd fill-in issue (such as pencilling Untold Tales of Spider-Man #-1). Romita has quite a history with Cap, having drawn the 1950s version of Cap and then having another brief run circa 1971.

Jim Steranko. Where has this guy been hiding? He did two covers for The Fly (an Archie superhero comic) in 1983. If he could do two Fly covers, surely he could at least do another Cap cover. And in the era of the graphic novel, Marvel has been short-sighted not to offer this man his own project, to do whatever kind of book he wants.

Gil Kane. Drew Cap VERY briefly here and there through the 1960s and 1970s, especially in Tales of Suspense for a few issues. Maybe Cap wouldn't be the best place for him (I can think of many other characters I wish he'd draw first, starting with Thor), but if I was editor, I'd want him to do something for Cap: a cover or an Annual story, at least. Currently he is scheduled to pencil Doctor Tomorrow #8 (Layton doing the inking) which will be released in December, and various projects for DC now and then.

Dick Ayers. Last I heard he was penciling a series called Dr. Wonder. Given the good job he did with Archie's Shield in 1983-84, Cap would seem a natural. I'm not particularly a fan of his style -- his faces sometimes seem lopsided to me -- but would be a good choice for a back-up story in the old 1960s Kirbyesque tradition should one be needed.

Sal Buscema. Currently doing various art jobs for DC. The idea that he has not penciled an issue of Cap since circa #285 is astounding. (Am I correct on this or not?) Just as Colan and Heck were brought in for the Iron Man Annuals, in recognition of their importance to the history of the character, so should Sal Buscema be an honored guest-artist for Cap.

Rich Buckler. He seems to go from comic to comic, company to company, very quickly. Still, a good choice for Cap. Has a style that's a cross between Kirby and Neal Adams.

Frank Miller. The imagery of the American flag is just too powerful for Frank to get away from. Give this man a Cap graphic novel.

Jim Starlin, John Byrne, Mike Zeck, Dave Cockrum, George Perez, Dave Gibbons, Russ Heath (good choice for a WW2, people-oriented story), and other big-name, long-time talents would be good for fill-in jobs or special projects. Let's hear your own choices!

Okay, okay, I know. Garney is doing Cap. We will be blanketed with Waid/Garney Cap because that is what the fans want. Someone I've never heard of will be drawing Iron Man. Perez on Avengers is one of the first times in years where I thought Marvel finally came to its senses and put a great artist on a book once again. It's hard to settle for Garney when one knows how many other more legendary Cap artists are out there -- ones who haven't contributed so much as a pin-up for the series in ages.

All right...*sigh*... bring on the Garney Cap...the huge chin...the pouting mouth...the shadow on the top of the nose (instead of beneath)... the Sharon Carter who looks like Barb Wire... the Sharon who wants to kill Nick Fury ...brrrrrrrr (*shudders, shakes head in dismay*)....