The Batman’s First True Auteur

« In almost every picture, Batman looks as if he has spent the day greasing the Batmobile and didn’t bother to clean up afterwards. There is a difference between shadowing and what looks like globs of dirt and grime. » — letterhack Bob Rozakis (Detective 420, Feb. 1972), as astute an art critic as he would prove a writer

Think about it: from his initial appearance in 1939’s Detective no. 27, the Batman was always a bit of a shop product. While notorious deceiver and glory-hog Bob Kane ( Kahn, 1915-98) loved to slap his name on anything and everything, his principal talent was self-promotion. Kane’s Batman was mostly the work of far more talented ‘ghosts‘ such as Jerry Robinson, Dick Sprang, Bill Finger, George Roussos, Jack Burnley, Win Mortimer… and so on, for decades. It’s unlikely that anyone ever produced the artwork for a Batman story on their own (well, professionally), let alone wrote *and* drew one. In a nutshell, that’s the assembly-line style US funnybook industry.

As far as the caped crusader is concerned, that state of affairs would briefly change with Detective no. 416 (cover-dated October, 1971): under a particularly clumsy Neal Adams cover, the lead story, Man-Bat Madness!, was scripted, pencilled, inked *and* lettered by Frank Robbins. He would produce four more solo Batman adventures: Forecast for Tonight — Murder! (Detective Comics no. 420, Feb. 1972); Blind Justice — Blind Fear! (Detective Comics no. 421, March 1972), Killer’s Roulette! (Detective Comics no. 426, Aug. 1972) and Man-Bat Over Vegas! (Detective Comics no. 429, Nov. 1972).

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A sample from the first one-man Bat-Adventure, Detective no. 416‘s Man-Bat Madness! Robbins’ expertly fluid storytelling and confident spotting of blacks are well in evidence here.
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Opening splash from my pick of the solo Robbins Batman, Detective no. 421‘s Blind Justice — Blind Fear! [Psst! Read it here.]
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Those were the days of “relevance” in comics. The Attica Prison Uprising had just occurred…

Robbins had been scripting for DC since 1968 (starting right after the ignominious firing of many of their most seasoned writers… for presuming to ask for some social benefits after decades of loyal, and often forcibly exclusive, service*), but he didn’t get his brushes out until 1971, presumably wanting to draw his then-recent creation, Man-Bat** (Detective no. 400, June 1970).

After a final hurrah (script-only) with Batman 254‘s King of the Gotham Jungle! (Jan.-Feb. 1974), he was off to Marvel, where he did no writing, but illustrated tales of Morbius The Living Vampire, Dracula, Ghost Rider, The Legion of Monsters, Captain America, The Invaders, the Man From Atlantis, The Human Fly, Daredevil… generally while paired with inkers ranging from the decent (Frank Giacoia, D. Bruce Berry), to the inappropriate (Frank Springer) to the dismal (Frank Chiaramonte and… hello again, Vinnie). He walked away from the industry in the middle of a cliffhanger, after Daredevil no. 155‘s The Man Without Fear? (Nov. 1978). Beyond that, having endured far more than his share of fanboy sniping and editorial meddling, Robbins left comics forever, going off to paint in México. Wise man.

Robbins, as you may or may not know, was a truly polarizing figure in 1970s comics. He was the bane of house-style loving fanboys, and it seems that anyone savvy enough to appreciate him at a tender age later became a cartoonist. The ample evidence (meaning far too much) witnessed on FB comics groups has led me to shrugging acceptance that most fanboys’ aesthetic sensibilities haven’t shifted an iota from when they were twelve… and won’t now or ever.

Another dodgy character encountered in recent years is the annoyingly common “I hated Robbins then, but I totally get him now” git, which brings to mind a certain science-fiction cliché.

ChastenedHumanityA
« Yeah, we burned down his house, tarred and feathered him and ran him out of town… but looking back, he was a pretty swell guy! »  Which stories are these? Find out at the end of the post.

Back to our regularly scheduled train of thought…

RobbinsForecastA
A sample from Detective Comics no. 420‘s Forecast for Tonight — Murder! Read it here, while you can.
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A moody teaser from Detective Comics no. 426‘s Killer’s Roulette! Peruse it here .
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The precarious opening splash from Detective Comics no. 429‘s Man-Bat Over Vegas! Play the odds right… here.

How I wish he’d gotten to illustrate his moody script for The Spook’s Master Stroke! (Batman no. 252, Oct. 1973), introducing my favourite Bat-villain, seldom-seen The Spook. He was difficult to write, so they killed him off after a handful of appearances.

While Robbins wasn’t my very favourite Bat-writer, (that honour goes to… David V. Reed), he generally delivered a solid tale… but when he was in full command, he was pretty top-notch.

-RG

Even though Fox has worked for several comic book publishers, he remains most associated with DC Comics, for whom he worked more than three decades. That collaboration came to an abrupt end in 1968. Fox had joined other comics writers like Otto Binder, John Broome, Arnold Drake, Bill Finger and Bob Haney, signing a petition to ask DC for more financial benefits, particularly regarding health insurance. Since the company regarded writers as expandable people they were all fired without mercy and replaced by more obedient newcomers. » [ Source ] (incidentally, Haney wasn’t fired… at least permanently)

**Neal Adams, having waited until everyone else in the room was dead (editor Julius Schwartz passed away in 2004), began to claim that Man-Bat had been his idea, with no-one’s help. Sorry, Neal, I think you’re a bit confused: you’re thinking of Valeria the She-Bat, and she’s all yours.

Mini-quiz answers: 1) Spores From Space (Mystery in Space no. 1, May 1951, DC); written by Gardner Fox and illustrated by… Frank Frazetta. 2) The Unknown Spaceman (Mystery in Space no. 11, Jan. 1953, DC); written by Gardner Fox and illustrated by Bob Oksner and Bernard Sachs; 3) I Created Sporr, the Thing That Could Not Die! (Tales of Suspense no. 11, Sept. 1960, Marvel); written by Stan Lee, art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers; 4) The Blip! (Tales to Astonish no. 15, Jan. 1961, Marvel); written by Stan Lee, art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers.

39 thoughts on “The Batman’s First True Auteur

  1. I am one of those fans your mention who initially disliked Robbins but who came to love his work. I don’t think there is anything wrong with changing your opinions as you become older. It demonstrates that you are flexible and open-minded enough to reconsider your views and to re-examine the world with a more mature and nuanced mindset.

    In any case, this was a nice spotlight on Robbins’ work writing *and* drawing Batman. I wish he had had more opportunities to do both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gasp65 June 15, 2019 / 19:11

      Hi Ben! Oh, I completely agree with you on the virtues of flexible, enlightened maturity. I *do* salute those who’ve grown and changed their minds… particularly in these days of dug in, polarized positions. And I especially salute them for not pretending that they’d loved Robbins’ work all along (“after the war, everyone had been in the Résistance!”);

      Still, it would have been nice to have more support for Robbins back in the 70s, when he needed it, though the converts-to-be were probably, numbers-wise, a drop in the bucket compared to the raging anti-Robbins hordes. Besides, the late appreciators were likely in the undecided or just plain puzzled camp, back in the day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ben Herman: In My Not So Humble Opinion October 14, 2020 / 13:38

        I wasn’t even born until 1976! So I didn’t discover Frank Robbins’ artwork until the early 1990s when I started buying Bronze Age back issues, by which time Robbins was retired and living in Mexico. I think the very first Frank Robbins artwork I ever saw was “Man-Bat Over Vegas” which was reprinted in The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told. Now that one I actually *did* like right from the very first time I saw it, so there’s probably something to the argument that Robbins’ work for Marvel in the 1970s might have been better received if he had been able to do his own inking there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • gasp65 October 14, 2020 / 15:04

        Hi Ben! That’s certainly a fair point, and I would not have minded one bit — Robbins’ inking is so bold and rich — decisive, it’s a crucial part of my reason for admiring his work.

        As an example, though, at both Marvel and DC in those days, slapping Vince Colletta inks on pencillers wasn’t just employed as a time-saver and deadline-meeting measure… it was viewed as a commercial and fan-friendly move. I suppose history has been increasingly kind to Robbins — thank goodness!… but man, fandom was *brutal*, and not smart-brutal, either.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Krackles September 8, 2021 / 16:00

        Hi Gasp65,

        You wrote, “I guess the story got nicer and nicer to Robbins – thank goodness!… But man the fandom was * brutal *, and not smart either.”

        I want to point out that history still has a very long way to go to show Mr. Robbins a tribute to the level of his extraordinary talent.

        Regarding Marvel’s choice not to have Robbins inking himself: I checked the dates and, after Robbins discontinued his Johnny Hazard tape in August 1977, his workload certainly didn’t justify continuing to use inkers, which they did until his retirement after his last job for Marvel in November 1978.
        Worse yet, I don’t even remember a single cover illustrated by Robbins (fortunately we, at least, got plenty of Kirby!).

        I read somewhere that Mr. Thomas, indeed, chose Colletta to “soften the blow” but I will argue that it does not make much sense business wise to offer a job to a stylist like Robbins while paying a hack to bury it.

        Sorry to end this post on such a sad note but, among one of the (too) many original pieces of art that Erik Larsen lost in a fire, there was one of Frank Robbins’ most beautiful covers for The Shadow (issue 8, Night of the mummy).

        All of a sudden, I don’t feel like making fun of Erik anymore.

        Like

      • gasp65 September 8, 2021 / 16:36

        Hey Krackles! You wrote: “I want to point out that history still has a very long way to go to show Mr. Robbins a tribute to the level of his extraordinary talent.”

        Of course. That’s kind of why the tone of my post is a tad on the… bitter side.

        “Regarding Marvel’s choice not to have Robbins inking himself: I checked the dates and, after Robbins discontinued his Johnny Hazard tape in August 1977, his workload certainly didn’t justify continuing to use inkers, which they did until his retirement after his last job for Marvel in November 1978.”

        Well, that was Marvel’s assembly-line way. And by then, they certainly knew how, er… undervalued he was by the fans.

        “Worse yet, I don’t even remember a single cover illustrated by Robbins (fortunately we, at least, got plenty of Kirby!)”

        There were a few. Actually more of them than at DC, oddly-enough! Human Fly 5, 6, 8, 11, 12; Captain America 225. Invaders 28. I may have missed some.

        And there was this unpublished Human Fly cover, which some clueless dork, had Bob McLeod ink right over Robbins’ pencils, instead of going the smart route of fixing the pencils and having McLeod ink on another piece of paper to preserve the pencils. The result: https://bit.ly/3yULs9o

        “I read somewhere that Mr. Thomas, indeed, chose Colletta to “soften the blow” but I will argue that it does not make much sense business wise to offer a job to a stylist like Robbins while paying a hack to bury it.”

        I’ve heard that they only thing that saved Marvel from bankruptcy in the late 70s were the Star Wars comics’ sales. So I wouldn’t bank on finding much in the way of sound business sense from anyone in the House of Ideas.

        “Sorry to end this post on such a sad note but, among one of the (too) many original pieces of art that Erik Larsen lost in a fire, there was one of Frank Robbins’ most beautiful covers for The Shadow (issue 8, Night of the mummy).”

        I thought you knew that all along! That was explicitly what I was referring to, ten days ago, when I noted: “Poor Erik, though — Losing his Robbins Shadow artwork in a fire… that’s truly harsh.”

        Like

      • Krackles September 9, 2021 / 03:31

        Sure, Robbins pencilled a handful of covers for Marvel but when I wrote “illustrated” I was meaning pencilled and inked by him.
        At least, one cover (the Fly, issue 6) has been inked by Frank Giacoia!

        Anyway, if too many fans missed an opportunity to show appreciation, it’s safe to say that Robbins was an artist’s artist and that his work has passed the test of time like few others.

        Like

      • gasp65 September 9, 2021 / 19:36

        Krackles — you wrote: “when I wrote “illustrated” I was meaning pencilled and inked by him.”

        Ah, sorry; you confused me when you mentioned Kirby, who hardly qualifies under these circumstances!

        As for the rest: Amen, brother!

        Like

      • Krackles September 11, 2021 / 15:00

        Gaspe65,

        « Ah, sorry; you confused me when you mentioned Kirby, who hardly qualifies under these circumstances! ».

        Ha yes, that is interesting to note:
        I don’t mind good inkers on Kirby so I wonder… Is it that Kirby’s pencils are particularly inker friendly or that I’m just used to it? Colletta and Wood aside (for opposite reasons of course), whoever the inker on his pencils, the work will still be pure Kirby to my eyes. I can’t totally explain why but the King rule them all.
        With Robbins, it’s quite the contrary, I need his brushwork. With time, I would perhaps have get used to a couple of good inkers.

        Like

  2. Mark Ricard October 14, 2020 / 23:15

    First got into Robbins as both a writer and artist when I found a copy of the Russian Roulette story in 426. That was in a dollar bin back in 2004. The artwork was different but interesting. It was really the story that made Robbins interesting. He could come up some clever and offbeat plots that you do not usually see in super hero comics.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gasp65 October 15, 2020 / 16:03

      Well, that just adds to the already undeniable evidence that dollar bins should not be neglected as a source for unexpected artistic treasures. That particular story was such a tour-de-force! — It’s hard to envision any other artist doing justice to that scenario, especially without the benefit of Robbins’ storyboarding, his breakdowns. Thanks for sharing, Mark!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Scott Phillips October 14, 2020 / 23:26

    Guilty—I didn’t accept the change between the slicker Giordano/Adams style to Robbins’s brushy work easily. Now it looks perfect to me, my favorite period for the character.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gasp65 October 15, 2020 / 15:53

      Hi, Scott! As far as I’m concerned, the slate is clean: you’re quite forgiven for your past transgressions… growing refinement will do that! 😉 The 70s are also, by some distance, my favourite period of Bat-history (though I greatly enjoyed the Colan/Newton/Janson/Alcala period in the first half of the ensuing decade). Thanks for dropping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. arlenschumer June 13, 2021 / 15:35

    Hey RG–great piece on Robbins’ unique, idiosyncratic, underrated Bat-works; but you’re MISTAKEN in your post-note re: who created Man-Bat:

    “Neal Adams, having waited until everyone else in the room was dead (editor Julius Schwartz passed away in 2004), began to claim that Man-Bat had been his idea, with no-one’s help. Sorry, Neal, I think you’re a bit confused: you’re thinking of Valeria the She-Bat, and she’s all yours.”

    …because Neal did NOT “wait until everyone else in the room was dead”; he revealed his side of the story in MY article/interview with him in the (now-defunct) comics history trade mag Comic Book Marketplace #40 (Sept.1996); Neal:

    “…as for Man-Bat, the door was opened and I ushered him in…It was a sunny day and Frank Robbins had gone through his three plots and Julie rejected them all. Which Julie had a tendency to do. Robbins didn’t want to leave without having a story nailed down, but Julie was a very patient editor, so they just sat there in the same position for an hour, grunting ideas back and forth.

    “Julie turned to me in the middle of this and said, ‘Hey Adams, got any ideas?’ So I said, ‘Yeah, I have a great idea.’ He said, ‘Nah, you’re kidding.’ I said, “OK, forget it.’ Then Frank said, ‘No, what is it?’ I said, ‘Are you going to listen to the idea or are you going to hock me?’ They grudgingly listened.

    ‘”‘There’s this scientist who’s big fan of Batman. So big that he’s dedicated his work to coming up with an extract from bats that can make Batman into a real bat-man, by taking on the abilities of a bat. Through a bizarre circumstance, he takes the serum himself and turns into a man-bat!’ Doesn’t sound like a big idea now, but it was new then. If you think about it, it’s such an obvious idea, you’d be insane not to do it.

    “But Julie says, ‘You’re kidding.’ I said, ‘Julie, how is DC going to feel if Marvel comes up with a man-bat and gets away with it? Because they can!’ So Julie says, ‘Will you draw it?’ Robbins ended up writing it, and that is the origin of Man-Bat.”

    https://arlenschumer.com/comic-book-history/

    Like

    • gasp65 June 13, 2021 / 16:35

      Hi Arlen– thanks for dropping by! Well, I may indeed be mistaken about Man Bat’s genesis, and I was certainly a bit hasty to claim that Neal had waited until everyone else was dead… I didn’t want to get too sidetracked into the issue. I did however link to a piece which confirms just that, quoting (I think) from your interview with Neal, but also adds this statement from Julie Schwartz, which holds at least equal weight as evidence: « However, longtime DC Comics Batman line editor Julius Schwartz’s account of the matter differs from this. “There’s a lot of talk about who created Man-Bat,” Schwartz is quoted as saying in Les Daniels’ Batman: The Complete History, “The Neal Adams version is not my version.” » Given the opposing views, I doubt we can ever know for certain… so the official credit has to stand, for lack of irrefutable proof to the contrary.

      When it comes to certain individuals, I’m afraid I tend to take anything they say with a grain of salt and a dash of skepticism, no matter how wittily and charmingly expressed. Messrs Adams and Steranko are front and centre in the regard.

      William Lindsay Gresham (“Nightmare Alley”) opened his 1959 biography of Harry Houdini with “To the greatest living escape artist ‘The Amazing Randi’ (Mr. James Randall Zwinge), this book is dedicated with the sincere admiration of the author”. That gave me an idea: if Randi was the greatest living escape artist of the period (and he was; it’s well-documented fact), what about Steranko? A decade ago or so, I posed the question to Mr. Randi, who responded along the lines of: “Steranko is a great cartoonist, but an escape artist? There’s no truth to that.”

      Incidentally, we’ve met before: we ran into one another while browsing the shelves of Jim Hanley’s Universe at least fifteen years ago; after introductions, I praised your work on The Silver Age of Comic Book Art, but gently (I like to think) and only half-seriously took you to task for showing a heavy hand in adding a Photoshop twinkle to Vic Sage’s eye. In a ‘I saw what you did there, you rascal’ kind of fashion.

      https://bleedingcool.com/comics/man-bat-detective-comics-400/

      Like

      • arlenschumer June 13, 2021 / 18:11

        Hey, thanx for the great, thorough response! But re: Schwartz’s “The Neal Adams version is not my version”–that what IS his “version”? Because given the fact that there is NO public statement about the creation of Man-0Bat from Robbins–then that leaves only Schwartz’s & Adams’ version of events. And Neal’s, so far, sounds pretty damn convincing. Because Schwartz was known to disrespect Neal in public–like when he chided him in a letter column response, in all-caps, “NEAL ADAMS HAS MISSED ANOTHER DEADLINE!”

        Like

      • gasp65 June 14, 2021 / 15:24

        Thanks, Arlen!

        Here’s the rest of the relevant bit from Les Daniels’ book: « Adams claims he came up with the character, but so does Schwartz. The late Frank Robbins, who wrote the origin story… might have had a third opinion. »

        Neal’s account sounds, imho, like a tidy narrative polished, improved and honed by decades of telling and retelling.

        To my mind, it raises red flags to hear of two seasoned idea engines like Robbins and Schwartz utterly running out of steam and being rescued by a guy like Neal, whose forte, to be honest, lies elsewhere. This would require a break in continuity, prior events generally predicting what follows, and so on. Adams wasn’t a concept generator before, and he wasn’t after. Robbins and Schwartz both were, before and after.

        His narrative of the circumstances of Man-Bat’s genesis strains credibility not only because Adams is acting out of character, but because it also requires both Schwartz and Robbins to be out of character. Now, if we apply Occam’s Razor to the matter…

        As for the absence of Robbins’ perspective, isn’t it just a freaking shame? What stories Robbins could have told! I’m picturing one of those career-spanning, no-holds-barred, hundred-page long interviews the Comics Journal used to run. I’ll keep an eye out for something from France… Robbins was far, far more appreciated there, and there might be something from the 1970s, who knows?

        As for the public chiding… I don’t know. It’s certainly poor professional form, but who knows what aggravation and frustration led to it? And repeated deadline blowing (not to mention having to deal with the ‘where’s Neal?’ blowback from fans) IS a pretty grievous offence, if you ask me.

        Like

      • arlenschumer June 14, 2021 / 16:09

        Uh, Adams was not a “concept generator”? Do you think everything on those GL/GA, X-Men & Avengers pages were all Denny O’Neil’s and Roy Thomas’ “concepts”? Or those Bob Haney-scripted Brave & Bolds? The Deadman’s Neal worked on with various writers? You totally discredit the “illustrator” as not being a “concept generator” just because he’s not the “writer”? And on top of it all, the “concept” of a “man-bat” is a visual one to begin with! Bust most importantly, you STILL haven’t given an account of Schwartz’sd salleged “creation” of Man-Bat, vs. Neal’s story, which, in spite of your disparaging attitude towards him AND his “story,” is STILL the ONLY credible origin of Man-Bat. And as for Frank Robbins being a “concept generator”?!?!?!? Name ONE memorable story he wrote OTHER than the 3 Man-Bats Neal illustrated, or one memorable “concept” that Robbins “generated”! You critique like only a “writer” would!

        Like

      • gasp65 June 14, 2021 / 16:56

        Uh, Arlen — This is seriously going off the rails. You insist on lending total credence to a man who thinks the earth is hollow.

        To me, a ‘concept generator’ means the rare likes of Eisner, Kirby, Wolverton, Ditko, Barks, Kurtzman, Cole, Stanley, Mayer, Kremer, to keep it within mainstream comics. Universe builders.

        Working full script at DC, I’d say that yes, the writer would probably set down the concepts (with the editor and certainly with Carmine in the room), and the results would vary from artist to artist (who might not even have been attached to the project in the first place). For example: « In those days you didn’t collaborate, », explained O’Neil. “I saw Neal at parties and occasionally ran into him in the halls, but I don’t remember any instance where we sat down and talked shop.” (From Les Daniels’ book, again).

        And why am I supposed to give an account of Schwartz’ creation? If I had to pick a creator among the three, it would be Robbins… but I don’t think of it as anything more than merely an opinion, because until (and if) irrefutable material evidence does surface, we simply *cannot* know. Bear in mind that Schwartz did a ton of writing/plotting and so forth on each book he edited over the years, but never really took credit for it. That was his job as an editor, and he certainly was a hands-on one.

        And yeah, sure… Frank Robbins spent a lifetime in newspaper strips but never wrote a memorable story? Interesting… perspective. (Keeping to Batman, The Spook was a far more interesting character than Man-Bat ever was… but that’s just my opinion).

        Nice to hear I critique like only a writer, sorry, a “writer” would, let alone that I discredit “illustrators”. I guess my decades of work in illustration, cartooning and graphic design work have left no mark on my reasoning. Shame on me.

        Please, Arlen. Let’s stay civil here. Nobody needs the aggravation.

        Like

      • arlenschumer June 14, 2021 / 17:03

        If this were a court of law–or a Hollywood guild hearing over who created/wrote what in a movie–trying to decide who created Man-Bat, the ONLY viable piece of “testimony” would be the first-person account of the artist who illustrated his origin. Both the credited writer and editor are both deceased, and left NO first-person record of the creation of the character. So all of your editorializing about Adams, other writers, et al, are MOOT–because, as an historian will tell you, a first-person eyewitness account will ALWAYS carry the MOST weight in ANY historical discussion. “Case closed.”

        Like

      • gasp65 June 14, 2021 / 17:25

        Ah, so, conversely, if this were a court of law–or a Hollywood guild hearing over who created/wrote what in a movie–trying to decide who created [ insert property name ], the ONLY viable piece of “testimony” would be the first-person account of the [ insert creative role ] who [ smurfed ] his origin. Both the credited [ insert creative role ] and [ insert creative role ] are both deceased, and left NO first-person record of the creation of the character.

        I’m beginning to understand your reasoning, Arlen. A commitment to truth clearly never enters into it. “Case closed.” It’s my sandbox. 😉

        Like

  5. Krackles August 28, 2021 / 18:27

    I don’t care if Man-bat was created by Robbins or Adams or Stan Lee (who did create everything he could sign his name on and has since made Bob Kane look like an unranked amateur) because, for my money, this character will remain inextricably associated with Frank Robbins’ bold brushwork and juicy blacks.

    I admit that as a child I expressed my share of mockery for Robbins’ work on Daredevil although, at the same time, I was surprisingly fascinated for some reasons that eluded me. Fast forward a few years and my jaw almost dropped while reading his work on Johnny Hazard.

    Being a Kirby / Ditko zombie, I probably didn’t read as many Batman stories as the average DC comic fan but if you ask me which ones are the most memorables, I will instantly answer: Frank Robbins, because those are, simply put, the most gorgeous ones!

    Frankly (pun intended), I certainely would put on Robbins up there with Kirby, Mœbius in my comicbook pantheon.

    Is Neal Adams (hat off to one of my living comic idol) a concept man?
    Sure but, with all respect I owe the man, his work, while head and shoulder above most of his pairs, look kind of mundane when I compare it to either Kirby or Robbins.

    I love Adams’ run on X-Men but nothing can match Robbins’ flair for thrilling exotic adventures… Hey, if Neal gave us a creepy mutant pterodactyl, with Frank, we got Johnny Hazard fighting on a T-Rex and nothing can beat a freaking T-Rex!

    It’s a shame that Hermes Press decided to reprint Johnny Hazard in such small sized books.
    A giant like Frank Robbins definitely deserves a collection of oversized books (and T-Rex too!).

    Now, excuse me while I kiss the sky where Frank Robbins is sending Johnny Hazard flying to his next adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gasp65 August 29, 2021 / 12:11

      Thanks for dropping by, Krackles! I think that the bottom line is that there’s no Robbins like a Robbins that gets to display the full range of his talent. And indeed, the confidence of his brushwork and those, as you aptly put it, “juicy blacks” (the kind Bob Rozakis does *not* like!) 😉

      As for size, I’m most fortunate to own one Johnny Hazard Sunday strip original in my collection, and Robbins worked *big*. It’s 23 by 11,5 inches. Working from quality sources, oversized books would certainly be feasible — and most desirable!

      Like

      • Krackles August 29, 2021 / 14:36

        Thanks, I had to google for « Bob Rozakis » and I do hope for him that he has been a late bloomer and got to see the light eventually.

        Without any doubt, Robbins should always have been his own inker. Honed with decades of pratice, his mastering of brushwork was an essential part of his art.

        Unfortunately, compagnies like DC and Marvel were so much entrenched in the comicbook assembly line way of thinking that they were not able to think out of the box anymore.
        At least, with DC he got to ink some of his work and they chose more sympathetic inkers to Robbins’ style than Marvel’s ones.

        I also own several original strips and a couple of his invaders pages… Those are things of beauty.
        When I look at his work, I’m always trhilled and amazed with the sheer vitaly expressed in his work, it really is an experience that more artists should aim at. I instantly think « Jack Kirby » of course (in a league of his own!) but also, in the modern generation, of someone like Chris Samnee who’s continuously improved by leaps and bounds and has now become monstruous of maturity.

        Like

      • gasp65 August 29, 2021 / 21:38

        Well, since Robbins’ workload was heavier at Marvel, he might have figured he’d save time by just pencilling, and besides, he was still inking his own pencils on the Hazard strip (what a productive man he was!) Aside from Frank McLaughlin’s finishes on Shadow no. 9, I can’t think of any instances of Robbins not inking himself at DC… am I forgetting anything?

        And hey, if you dig Chris Samnee, you might want to check out our Samnee spotlight (and you’ll surely *love* the opening quote): https://whosouttherecomics.wordpress.com/2019/09/22/hot-streak-chris-samnees-daredevil/

        Like

      • Krackles September 2, 2021 / 15:20

        Thanks for the pointer, nice post on Chris Samnee.
        Yes, I dig his work and now that I know we share a common appreciation for Robbins (and Toth, Caniff, etc…), I’m not surprised I do. I particularly enjoyed the part where he said:« My pencils are just awful. I can’t imagine anybody else inking me nowadays because most of the work is done in the ink. ».
        I can admit that some inkers could improve (Giacoia, Wood, …) or at least add something of interest, having been raised with the Franco/Belgian approach I’m not for the assembly-line way.
        So, way to go Mr Samnee and keep on more great art!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Krackles September 4, 2021 / 20:11

        You are correct, he inked almost all his work for DC but since I was a Marvel zombie it shows in my bias and I blamed both for… *choke* Colletta!
        Also, he did shorter stories for DC that’s probably why he could manage to ink both his DC output and his work on his Hazard Strip.
        Can you believe they had Colletta inking Robbins? A crappy pen instead of a lush brush!
        I heard that Erik Larsen has framed all his Colletta inked Robbins’ original pages and they are hanging all around his house to prevent thieves intrusions. How smart!

        Like

      • gasp65 September 6, 2021 / 17:42

        Hey Krackles– you wrote:
        “You are correct, he inked almost all his work for DC but since I was a Marvel zombie it shows in my bias and I blamed both for… *choke* Colletta!”

        And that Shadow issue was basically the last work he did at DC, having already moved over to Marvel. I never could afford to be a one-company guy… in my remote small town, we got what we got, the rest being supplemented by mail-order and travel acquisitions. But if I was anything, I was a Charlton, then DC, then Gold Key, then Marvel fan. But I bought any and all Robbins and Kirby and Ditko I could get my hands on.

        I do believe that it was Roy Thomas who, in his infinite wisdom, thought putting Colletta on Robbins would ‘soften the blow’ of Robbins’ vision for the Marvel fans. Given the general reception Robbins received from the True Believers, the Rascally One may have had a point. To those of us who actually dug Robbins, however, it was a bit… insulting.

        Erik’s thief-deterrent method indeed has merit. But it’s a good thing he’s got the pages framed, because though they’ll repel thieves, they might draw flies.

        Like

  6. Krackles August 29, 2021 / 14:41

    Needless to say, the Invaders pages I own were NOT inked by the infamous Colletta.
    I also like to believe that all the Colletta inked pages in the world have been purchased by Erik Larsen, arf, arf, arf!

    Like

    • gasp65 August 29, 2021 / 14:45

      Poor Erik, though — Losing his Robbins Shadow artwork in a fire… that’s truly harsh.

      Like

      • Krackles August 29, 2021 / 14:51

        Don’t say it again!
        Each time, I want to cry… Erik knows it and he never forget to torture me with it whenever I’m caught disparaging Colletta.

        Like

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