A look at the career of comics artist Jim Aparo.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Aparo on the Web: The Spectre

At The Bronze Age of Blogs, Pete Doree treats us today to "The Wrath of the Spectre". Pete offers up some well-deserved praise for the Orlando/Fleischer/Aparo/Carley run from the 1970's in Adventure Comics, and serves up scans of the first installment for your reading pleasure. I was struck by this comment of Pete's:
[Aparo's] art also had the 'cool' factor, something indefinable that only Gil Kane's could match. Every one of his characters somehow just looked unspeakably cool, like the greatest Rat Pack movie never made.
Well said, Pete! Anyone who's seen Jim's rendition of the Spectre's alter ego, Detective Jim Corrigan, would probably agree. Corrigan wasn't the only stylish and suave gentleman to grace Jim's pages--I'd add his renditions of Bruce Wayne, Oliver Queen and Scott Free to the Aparo "Rat Pack", just for starters.

Elsewhere on the web, the Groovy Agents serves up Brave & Bold #116, a team-up of Batman and the Spectre that ran contemporaneous to the Spectre solo series that Pete samples (see above).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

One Wreck of a Cover!

Here's a look at one of the few comics missing from my own Jim Aparo collection, the cover to Charlton's Grand Prix #31, from 1970. Nearing the end of his stint at Charlton, Jim supplied this smashing piece of art. To the best of my knowledge, it was Jim's only contribution to the racing comics genre (Charlton, I believe, was the only publisher of American color comics still exploiting the subject by the 1970's). That's Jim's distinctive lettering on the "Last Chance" title, by the way. Charlton was often quite happy to let Jim letter his covers (not the logo, of course), unlike DC, which was far pickier about its cover text. I've usually found that comics artists struggled--often unsuccessfully--when they tried to convey the speed and excitement of racing. Depicting a crack-up like this obviously makes the job a lot easier, with the wheels spinning off the axle and comics-style impact explosion, but I especially love the way Aparo incorporated his trademark landscape tilt to add dynamicism to an already-energetic design. I'll bet the Charlton editors wished they'd assigned Jim a few more of these kinds of jobs after seeing what he turned in here.
Jim would revisit the race tracks a time or two in his career at DC, although not in comics devoted specifically to the genre. Typical of the comics vets of his generation, he could and would draw anything he was assigned to draw, any setting, any time, any genre. And as evidenced by this terrific piece, he usually drew it very, very well.