Friday, May 7, 2010

Art Appreciation: John Giunta ... and some other thoughts

Today's stories, by John Giunta, are from Spitfire Comics # 1 (August 1941) and Star Studded Comics # 1 (1945), both of which can be found at your favorite Golden Age comic book downloading site.

This post would have been available earlier in the week, but "" wanted to be difficult every time I tried adding the story pages. Lots of rambling after the stories.

Frank Frazetta passed away on the 10th. While I'm not a huge fan of his work, I am a fan of one of the men he worked with when he broke into comics. Frazetta has been quoted as saying the following:
"When I was about 15 someone in my family introduced me to John Giunta. He was a professional artist who was working for Bernard Bailey's comics publishing company and he really wasn't a very personable guy. He was very aloof and self-conscious and hard for me to talk to, but he was really very talented. He had an exceptional ability, but it was coupled with a total lack of self-confidence and an inability to communicate with people. Being around him really opened up my eyes, though, because he was really that good. He had an interesting style, a good sense of spotting and his blacks worked well. You can see a lot of his influence even today in some of my ink work."

John Giunta is one of my favorite Golden Age artists, mostly for the work he did during the mid-1940s, which is about the time Frazetta was working with him. There aren't many sites out there that have a ton of information about Giunta. He started working in comics in the 1930s. If I had to guess, I'ld say his first major work was at Comic Corporation of America (aka "Centaur Comics") on The Magician From Mars series that ran in Amazing-Man Comics, with artists Malcolm Kildale & Michael Mirando. From what little I know about his career, he went on to produce the Magician From Bagdad story, then would work on characters like Blue Bolt, Sky Wolf & Air Boy (Air Fighters Comics), The Tracker (Suspense Comics), Mr Nobody (Terrific Comics), Red Cross (Captain Aero Comics) and Snowman (Tally-Ho Comics). Since my main interest is Public Domain material, I don't pay much attention to what he might have done at companies like Marvel or DC (sorry), but checking-out either the Grand Comic Book Database or Jerry Bails' Who's Who site should help you out if you want to learn more about what features Giunta worked on.

Moving right along ...

Breygent Marketing Inc has a set of cards called "Golden Age of Comics: Heroes & Villains". It's not clear exactly how many cards in the set there are supposed to be, because the entire set is made-up of sketch cards drawn by dozens of artists. The quality of the artwork is all over the place, but the site is still worth checking-out if you have time to kill. You can find images of the cards featuring characters like Fantomah, The Blue Circle, The Arrow, The Black Hood, The Ray, Miss Victory, Madam Satan and many more.

Although it wasn't much of a surprise to me, news broke recently that "" (aka Free Comics Online) was shutdown by the FBI. If you have no clue what the site was about, it claimed to be an "online library", offering for free viewing (but not downloading) thousands of titles for folks to read online. It's not the only free comic site to disappear, as another site (more of a blog with links where you could download who knows how many titles) is also no longer available. This second site did a better job of flying under the radar, but apparently didn't fly low enough, since it was taken down due to the violation of the host's "Terms of Service".
I'm not sure how I feel about news like this. On the one hand, I understand the lure of reading comics without paying for them. On the other hand, it's illegal to infringe on someone's Copyright, regardless of how it's justified by those that do so. Maybe if the comic industry did a better job of making comics easily available (especially older series they don't reprint), or priced their digital comics in a way that made more sense (since they're cutting-out costs like printing & distribution), sites like Free Comics Online wouldn't exist at all.

I've added another link to the "Cool Comics Links" section: "The Big Blog of Kids' Comics". The thing I like about the site is all the Supermouse stories that get posted, but there's plenty of other "all ages" comics for folks to read.

And now for something completely different ...

Stupid Penguins! What a disappointment for them to lose to Montreal. Good choice not playing Fedotenko, Pittsburgh. Not like he was a playoff performer or anything (that's sarcasm, by the way). Like the "Habs" have a chance of winning The Stanley Cup, especially if the San Jose Sharks make it past Chicago, or if The Flyers can make history and beat the Bruins in game seven to face-off against the Canadiens in the next round. Do I think Montreal can beat Boston? Yup, but I doubt they could beat the Blackhawks should Chicago beat the Sharks, so "No Stanley Cup for you!"
Ok, maybe I'm a little bitter since I like seeing teams repeat as Stanley Cup Champions, and I'm a big fan of the Pens, so maybe I simply want Montreal to lose to somebody. I also don't want to see a boring series during the playoffs, and I view Montreal/Boston as a cure for insomnia, unless Zdeno Chara scores a hat-trick in every game (don't laugh. With all his skill, he could do it!).

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