Caleb Orecchio here with thoughts on the art of Kull the Conqueror #3 by John Buscema and Klaus Janson. Plus, you guessed it, links!
Here are some thoughts on one of my favorite look-but-don’t-read comics. Below are some highlights from the book I always refer to:
Often when I am tired or depressed about comics, I will dig out Kull the Conqueror #3 (vol. 3). Penciled by John Buscema with inks and colors by Klaus Janson in 1983. I don’t “read” it because the writing sucks, but I love looking at the artwork.
This is during a time when Buscema was no longer the next best thing to Kirby. He’s basically been dethroned by the likes of John Byrne and Frank Miller. He’s more or less the barbarian guy at this point. On the other hand, Janson is really hitting his stride. Post Miller-Daredevil and Pre-Dark Knight Returns, Janson is becoming one of the most sought-after inkers of the 80s. So it’s a bit of a transitional yin-yang comic and it harmonizes perfectly; the solid, “generic” drawing of Buscema laying the foundation down for Janson’s scratchy, energetic lines and rich colors—it just sings for me. The seasoned veteran fuses with the ambitious dynamo.
The above spread is one of my favorite “passages” in the book. Notice the first panel on the left page. The clouds are green and yellow without any dividing lines in the inking to indicate any division of color. Usually an inker would have a line to “hold” the colors, basically guiding the colorist where the colors change. But since Janson is doing both, he can think in color. Color and lines combine to a point that feels much more cohesive than most mainstream comics of the time.
And look at that torch. Instead of inking the outline of the fire, Janson cuts out the zipatone (dots) to make the fire seem more alive and bright. I also really like how he used brown to yellow to white to show the range of the torch. Again, no holding lines—and notice the sparse inking where he knew he wanted to use brown.
I could go on and on about the little ways Janson makes this book interesting, but again, keep in mind that Buscema was a really solid penciler. He literally wrote the book on drawing Marvel comics. The concrete drawing of Buscema I think really let Janson stretch his legs; and I assume Buscema had a generally quick turnaround so I imagine working with Buscema lent itself to an inker or colorist taking their time to push themselves if they so desired.
I will cap this off with an excerpt from Amazing Heroes No. 155 where Andy Mengels’ interview with Janson is the cover story for the issue. This is 1988—post-Dark Knight Returns, and Janson is gaining more penciling and writing credits.
if you don’t know, now you know
- Matthew Thurber writes an excellent article for Artsy–“10 Cartoonists Every Art Lover Needs to Know”
- Françoise Mouly and Genevieve Bormes talk to Gary Panter at The New Yorker about his new book, Songy of Paradise.
- Sally covered this last week but I just really like this Mardou comic about her pregnancy and firing her doctor 38 weeks in. If you missed Friday’s post, give this comic a look. It’s so achingly personal, I cannot recommend it enough.
- I heard about this via Desert Island‘s Instagram—art from Dan Clowes’ tenure at Cracked over on Last of the Spinner Rack Junkies.
- Last but not least, there’s a new comics publisher in my hometown. This is indicative of Dayton, OH’s cultural taste: horror/fantasy—general genre.
Suzy and Cecil – 6-26-2017 – by Sally Ingraham
Joanie and Jordie – 6-26-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio