Monday, July 9, 2012

Legends of Comics Portraits

The late Comics writer Harvey Pekar (scroll down)  is the latest in my series of portraits of legendary comics creators. Pekar, who created American Splendor comics out of Cleveland was perhaps the Dostoevsky of comics, depicting the commonplace, mundane, workaday world, brought to life by many varied artists, including Robert Crumb and myself. Pekar now joins Crumb, as well as my former instructor, creator of MAD Harvey Kurtzman, his longtime collaborator Will Elder, EC Science fiction artist Wally Wood, and the master of the grotesque Basil Wolverton as the latest portrait in my ongoing series of Comics greats.

Harvey Kurtzman

More about my years in Kurtzman's cartooning class at the School of Visual arts:
Will Elder
Wally Wood
Basil Wolverton
Robert Crumb
Harvey Pekar


  1. I hope you'll include a self-portrait in this series!

  2. What can I say other than I'll study and admire these for many hours.

    The only thing that intrigued me is why is R. Crumb seen from the side. Then I realise it's such a good move. He's always drawing himself from the front -- head on to his audience -- that this makes for a wonderfully withdrawn portrait.

  3. Drew: are you going to do a book of these? You should. Jeet Heer

  4. I'm an old fan from the Heavy Metal days, the one that sunk in the most was "Bela, how many Tor?" strip. Fun times, especially when you're a preteen who's supposed to be staring at the boobs and yet you're finding fun in the complexities of the pointillism.

  5. I love how the backgrounds say as much as the portraits. Fabulous.

  6. I also hope these find their way into a book. That straight portrait of certified loon Basil Wolverton is profoundly funny. I don't know why, though. The utter incongruity of it, I guess. He looks more like a an accountant or the president of the PTA. (But we know better - ha ha!) Have you ever painted Milt Gross? Or Walt Kelly, Elzie Segar, or Al Capp? There are so many deserving Golden Age cartoonist subjects. America sure has a treasured pop-cultural past. (What the hell happened?)

  7. WALLY WOOD (who replaced Joe Orlando as artist on Daredevil) :

    "Stan was the scripter, but I was coming up with most of the ideas. It finally got to the point where I told him that if he was the writer, he’d have to come up with the plots. So, we just sat across the desk from one another in silence."


    Once upon a time, many years ago a young man, born the son of a
    famous comic book publisher, decided to become rich and famous. He
    had no idea of how to go about this at first, lacking both the
    brains and talent to achieve this goal. But he was driven by one
    emotion, rather TWO .. ENVY and HATE. Envy for the people
    who were responsible for his enviable state, and hatred for the people
    who could DRAW. Comics are, after all, an artist’s medium. I’ve
    never read a story in comics that I’d bother with if it were written
    in novel form.
    Did I say Stanley had no smarts? Well, he DID come up with two sure
    fire ideas… the first one was “Why not let the artists WRITE the
    stories as well as draw them?”… And the second was … ALWAYS SIGN
    YOUR NAME ON TOP …BIG”. And the rest is history … Stanley, of course
    became rich and famous … over the bodies of people like Bill and Jack.
    Bill, who had created nthe character that had made his father rich
    wound up COLORING and doing odd jobs.
    And Jack? Well, a friend of mine summed it up like this .. “Stanley
    and Jack have a conference, then Jack goes home, and after a couple of
    month’s gestation, a new book is born. Stanley gets all the money and
    all the credit… And all poor old Jack gets is a so re ass hole.”

    WALLY WOOD: letter to John Hitchcock:

    Dear John;
    I read your comments on Ditko with interest. Knowing Steve, and his philosophy, well, I can’t help but agree with your conclusion. The Question was definitely giving Steve’s position on the issue of credit . . and other things. I envy him, and I can’t agree with him . . I want the credit (and the money) for
    everything I do! And I resent guys like Stan Lee more than I can say! He’s my one reason for living… I want to see that no-talent bum get his…

    STAN LEE (Origins of Marvel Comics):
    “Myself when born was christened Stanley Martin Lieber— truly an appellation
    to conjure with. It had rhythm, a vitality, a lyricism all it’s own. I still remember one of my earliest purchases being a little rubber
    stamp with my name on it, which I promptly stamped on every book and
    paper I owned— and even on some I didn’t.”