Saturday, March 19, 2011

Original Art Stories: Kraven's Last Hunt Part II

Welcome to a celebration of the brilliance of J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck’s Kraven’s Last Hunt.  Over the next few days you’ll see as much of the original art that I could track down, most of it courtesy of dealer Mike Burkey, who has a lot of it for sale over at his site, Romitaman.  Feel free to send down comments, the last post will be devoted to reactions to the art on display and the storyline itself, so if you want to be featured, then shoot me down an email.

Spread out over two months and six issues, Kraven’s Last Hunt marked a major milestone, not only for the character of Spider-Man, but also for comic books as whole.  Not only was it one of the first major crossovers for Marvel, it remains one of the only crossovers in which each issue was just as essential to the story as the others.  This was achieved by giving all (then) three Spider-Man books over to the one creative team, writer J.M. DeMatteis and artists Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod.  This was the first time that such a cross-over, running throughout three separate titles with the same creative team, had ever been done and it not only set a precedent, but also a benchmark that has rarely, if ever, been topped.

DeMatties pitched the idea of Kraven, always a borderline unstable second tier Spider-Man villain, of taking his obsession with Spider-Man to explosive levels.  The effects of the story would be felt for years to come and it was a story where the truism that ‘nothing will ever be the same’ actually did apply.  DeMatteis crafted a story that would reach the outermost limits of what comic books could offer at the time, and Zeck and McLeod would then break through those limits to create a story that holds it’s own with anything that Marvel, or comic books in general for that matter, has produced.  Years later the same creative team would re-visit the story to craft an epilogue, telling a different side of the same story from peter Parker’s viewpoint, as the ghost of Kraven sought peace.  Instead of presenting that story throughout the individual titles, this time a graphic novel format was deemed to be more appropriate.

The story of what happened to the original art is equally as fascinating.  The entire story, complete with covers, was sold, intact, to an Italian collector, who then stored it away and refused to part with it.  The only way that anyone could obtain any Kraven’s Last Hunt related art was via preliminary sketches, recreations and, in a round about manner, buying original art from the sequel.  In 2007 the collector decided to offer the entire series for sale and was contacted by many collectors, all eager to own a page.  Eventually Mike Burkey made contact and quickly sealed a deal to buy the art, although the collector decided against parting with the first issue.  Mike then sold the fifth part, complete, to yet another collector and has been selling off pages ever since. 

The art reveals an incredibly powerful story indeed.  As published the story had an impact beyond belief, and seeing the pages in their original black and white form gives a heightened sense of drama.  The use of shadow and light, and the use of Spider-Man’s black costume, elevates the impact and drama of the story to new levels.  Zecks precise pencil line was complimented perfectly by Bob McLeod’s superb inking.  It’s rare to be able to see entire issues in their original form and the hope is that people will see these pages and gain a new appreciation for the story itself.  And before you ask, the reason I'm starting with Part II of the story is because the original art for Part I hasn't left the hands of the original collector, thus it's not been scanned.  The same applies for Part V, but hopefully, in the future, all of the art will on display (if you own Part I or Part V, or own page 9 of Part IV, or any of the covers or prelims then please email me - if need be then names won't be mentioned), but, until then, without further ado, welcome to Kraven’s Last Hunt – the original art, and feel free to click on any image for a larger view.

NEXT: Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #131 and Mike Zeck Speaks!

1 comment:

Don Hudson said...

It's great to see the art in black and white! Love it.