Saturday, May 29, 2010

Original Art Stories: The 1973 F.O.O.M Art Contest

There's a reason why I love keeping and reading old fanzines and the like. One of the main reasons is that they're so bloody hard to come by here in Australia, or, at least, they were. In the 1970s I kept hearing about this thing called F.O.O.M (Friends Of Ol' Marvel), but until the 1980s I'd never seen it.  I was very happy to finally get the chance to start buying issues of it, along with other magazines that I'd only ever heard about, such as Amazing World Of DC, Marvelmania and several others.

When I finally sat down to read them there were several delights in store.  In a way I'm glad I reached a certain age before I began to read them as I could appreciate them more, and find the nuances that Steranko, and later, Tony Isabella and others, all placed into the magazine.  One of my favourite parts though would have to be the art contest of 1973.  Announced in the first issue, the contest called for anyone and everyone to send in their own creations, either hero or villain, which would then be used in a Marvel comic.  But not just any comic, the new character would feature in the (then) upcoming relaunch of the Uncanny X-Men!  To put things into perspective, at the time the X-Men weren't as attractive as, say, The Avengers, but hey - it was a Marvel comic.

The winner was a creation called Humus Sapiens, as designed by one Michael A Barreiro.  I'm sure that Michael was excited to know that his character was earmarked for the X-Men and sat back and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Until 2001 when the Humus Sapiens finally popped up in issue #55 of Thunderbolts.  I guess twenty eight years isn't that long to wait.

What surprised me were some of the losers in the contest.  I'm pretty sure that the Michael Barreiro who created Humus is the same Mike Barreiro who had a short career as an inker, mainly at DC comics, in the early 1990s.  Mike, if you're out there, then drop me a line!!

Mike's creation beat out the following, amongst others.  First up is Absorba-Man, a Kirby style character, thought up by none other than Steve Rude.  If you need me to explain who Steve Rude is then you need some assistance, but Rude = Nexus amongst others.  The Dude is one of the finest artists out there and his paintings are to die for.

Next up is Solar Boy by one T Von Eeden.  The T stands for Trevor - yes, this candiate for the Legion Of Super Heroes was done by a very young Trevor Von Eeden, the same Von Eeden who would create one of the most unique visions that has ever graced Batman, co-created Black Lightning and drew the amazing Thriller mini-series.

Here we have, well, Mr Nameless by Tom Lyle.   Tom hit the ground running in the late 1980s and made his mark on characters such as Batman, in particular the Robin mini-series, Spider-Man and Warlock.  Tom worked for Marvel, DC and a host of other companies and, if my mind hasn't failed me, he now teaches sequential art at the Savannah College of Art & Design.

What makes the final entry interesting is the name.  The Wolverine would have been a perfect name for a character in the X-Men, but, alas, it wasn't to be...or was it?

I'll leave the last word to none other than Fred Hembeck, who explained, in the early 1980s, what happened to Humus Sapiens. Click it to read it - you'll love it.

Over to you Fred!

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