There’s an impressive parade of artists born in July. Of present concern is the birthday of one Murphy Anderson, who came into this world on July 9th, 1926 (and ceased to exist in 2015, at 89, no doubt moving into some parallel dimension).
His work on the Atomic Knights or Hawkman is fondly remembered… but I’ll concentrate on some covers dear to my heart from DC’s science-fiction titles because sci-fi + great art = squeals of enjoyment. Anderson had no trouble portraying any number of far-fetched monsters or depicting incredible situations in his crisp, clean style that made his audience willingly suspend disbelief. Ah, okay, I called it “science-fiction”, but it often crosses the line into fantasy, or horror, with occasional detours into superhero, or just plain quirkiness. To follow the loopy logic of the stories contained in the pages of the following publications, one has to abandon the notion that A leads to B, and prepare oneself for a wild romp through the whole alphabet. Great art certainly facilitates this – the story may leave me scratching my head, but Murphy Anderson’s illustrating chops provide a firm ground to anchor to.
Without further ado, the great Murphy Anderson and some of his artwork!
For instance, take a look at some of the creatures featured in DC’s Strange Adventures through the decades. Anderson’s gallery of characters includes, but is not limited to, startled fishermen, anthropomorphized atomic clouds, and Middle-Age barbarians from another planet, all impeccably drawn.
Another favourite series for its oft-striking covers is Mystery in Space. I love it when Anderson invents “space” animals composed of body parts from several Earth species. It’s indubitably fun, and children often have a great time inventing new creatures, but it takes chops to draw the result and make it work, anatomically and aesthetically.
Despite my general resistance to superhero stuff, here’s a cover featuring the Spectre, whose classy costume is easy on the eyes.
And one for the road…