Controversial! Fun And Also Games! First Comic Book related blog to be featured in the Australian National Library's Pandora archive. 2016 Rondo Award nominee. Pop culture, music, film and comic book expert. Would be willing to write for biscuits.
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Original Art Stories: The Face Of The Grim Reaper: Sheldon Mayer's Batman
(l to r) William Moulton Marston, H. G. Peter, Sheldon
Mayer and Max Gaines in 1942
Sheldon Mayer was one of the original artists who help build
DC Comics – he was there at the start of the company in 1935, leaving for a
brief sojourn at Dell Comics.When he
finished up with Dell in 1938 he returned to DC and there he remained until
well into the 1980s, first as an editor, and then as a writer/artist, notably
on the strip Sugar and Spike.If Mayer
had only done Sugar & Spike then he’d have cemented his place in history,
but possibly one of the finest acts that he ever did was to pull a submission
from a rejection pile and insist that a chance be taken – the submission was a
comic that people have heard of – Superman.The rest, as they say in cliché land, is history.Superman wasn’t the only character that Mayer
helped along – he is credited with the editing and development of characters
such as the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman and Wonder Woman.He also created Black Orchid, Scribbly, Red
Tornado and Leave It To Binky.
One thing that Mayer didn’t was draw the major superheroes
that he helped along.He predominately
confined himself to drawing cartoon-style books, bigfoot art as was known,
dabbling in the hero market only occasionally, and then mainly with Red
Tornado.However in the mid 1970s he was
moved enough to write, edit and draw, an original Batman story that never saw
print.According to DC, the story was
done so that Mayer could show DC how Batman should be handled.DC held onto the story and finally published
it as part of their Batman Vault, where it can be found (if you want to see the
final art).What I’ve posted here is as
much of the preliminary art that I could locate over the past few months.I was started on my search with the purchase
of the first set of prelims from art dealer Larry Shell – one of the best art
dealers that there is.From there it’s
been a long hunt, and it’s not over just yet.
As can be seen from the original splash page, the story was
originally called, ‘The Girl Who Wasn't There’.The story was then re-titled ‘Marvellous Miranda’, and eventually ended
up being titled, ‘The Face Of The Grim Reaper’, both titles can be seen on the
original envelope that DC sent used to send the art back to Mayer back in the
day.The shame is that Mayer didn’t do
more such stories as his approach to characters was refreshing and unique, and
in a time when the focus was on realistic art, as evidenced by the likes of
Neal Adams and Jim Aparo (to name but two), seeing an alternative approach to Batman
wouldn’t have done any harm at all.
Mayer passed away twenty years ago, on the 21st
of December, 1991.He may not get the
wider recognition that others do, but his role in the creation of the comic
book industry and medium as we now know it should never be underestimated, nor
should it be forgotten.If all he’d done
was rescue Superman then that would have been more than enough, as it was he
did far more, but generally it was behind the scenes, and in a time when
credits weren’t as forthcoming as they are now.As a tribute to Mayer, here’s some generally unseen art from his only
Be warned - read this, take note and learn the easy way - we've learnt this lesson the hard way.
As people who read this stuff on some form of a regular basis might be aware we're off to New York in just over a month. Three weeks in New York, one week in San Fransisco. The key, for us anyway, is booking some decent accommodation, so we decided that, as we're going to be in New York for three weeks solid, that we'd go for a serviced apartment over a hotel room. So we started looking on the proper web-sites for places until we found one. Great location, it does exist, great photos - the lot. Perfect for our needs. The other half made contact with the 'owner' via the web-site and made arrangements to pay. We were asked to pay via MoneyGram, no biggie and no alarm bells started to ring - we've not done this before and all seemed normal. We made the first payment and got an email back from the 'owner' saying he'd gotten the payment and could we fix th…
Let's nip this right in the bud now and call this image bullshit (as Penn & Teller would say). Yesterday a link was emailed to quite a few people, showing the image you see on the left, which is supposedly the Jack Kirby version of The Amazing Spider-Man. If it the art was genuine then it'd rewrite Marvel history as we know it. There's one slight problem though - it's a hoax, and not a very good one at that. Someone has taken the Giant Man image from the splash page of Tales To Astonish #51 and doctored it, using a logo taken from page #183 of Joe Simon's Comic Book Makers book and parts of the design that Steve Ditko drew for one of Robin Snyder's books (in which he discussed the differences between Jack Kirby's discarded version of Spiderman and the final, Steve Ditko-Stan Lee version of Spider-Man) and mashed them all together. As to why anyone would want to do that, or what end they hoped to achieve is beyond me. But then that's life.
Go and have a read, and, more importantly, pass the word on to everyone and anyone who is thinking of travelling anywhere and booking. First rule of thumb - NEVER pay anyone via a money transfer system such as Western Union or Moneygram. They assist the scammers, and once your money is gone, those companies couldn't care less. They've got their cut. Make sure you pay in such a way that you've got recourse - if it's a money transfer then it's a scam, as far as I'm concerned.