Saturday, October 13, 2007

It was twenty years ago today...

...give or take a few months.

After working at GEM Studios for eight years, doing storyboards and finished art I decided to pursue some comic book work. I enjoyed superheroes, but I wasn't too thrilled with the idea of drawing them. Norm Abramoff owned a small comic book shop in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and one day while we were talking I mentioned that I was interested in creating comics. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a surprise hit, so doing a small press comic seemed feasible. By chance I had my portfolio in the car, and while looking through it Norm suggested licensing a well known property and turning it into a comic book series. The Honeymooners was a big late night syndication hit on TV, so he thought that property might be a good candidate for publishing.

Norm and I partnered with Triad Publications and produced the Honeymooners for three years. The best part of the job was managing and directing a small group of freelancers- friends and co-workers I'd met and whose work I admired. My buddy Vinny Abbruzzese would help me out on cover art by airbrushing our logo, while Susan Sykes and Ted Camut would assist me in rendering the story pages. I'd do the inks and color the figures to set the lighting and Susan and Ted would take it from there. When they were done I'd make a final pass over it. Some sequences, like the midnight snack and exploding hot dog were solo efforts. Vic Spadoni supplied color tinted covers for a few issues, as well as cover art for issue four. The 48 page Christmas Issue would have been cancelled without the help of Brian Postman, who provided two full page pencils and lots of color work.

A young Jimmy Palmiotti did some retouching for us on a photo of wrestler Lou Albano and a carousel horse for our interior covers of the Coney Island issue. And Evan Dorkin expressed interest in working with us, but he never did for some reason or other.

John Reiner of the comic strip Howard Huge (Parade magazine), helped out with page layouts for the issue in this post, but I don't have any recollection of how he became involved. Maybe our publisher, Ron Merians hired him to help me get ahead of schedule. I almost had the chance to work with Jim Fern, but it never happened.

A big highlight in the run was when the legendary Jack Davis illustrated a wrap-around cover for our "Coney Island Baby" issue. One of the biggest, most beautiful pieces of illustration I've ever seen. I wonder where it is now?

The greatest part of the whole experience was working with breakdown penciler Win Mortimer. Win began his carreer at DC in the late '40s, and was one of their most prolific cover artists. In the early '60s DC began publishing Batman Annuals. Their cover art was usually a large Batman figure and a few reproductions of the covers from stories reprinted in the issue. Win's covers were always my favorite, so you can imagine how happy I was to work with him. He was a consummate professional, always getting his pages in early, and every panel was perfect.
At least until I got in there and mucked it up with my inks.

It was lots of work and lots of fun. I hope you enjoy these images.


Peter Emmerich said...

Just to let you know I have all my copies safely stashed away- as a little boy in Bensonhurst these comics, like the show, were a must have!

I love mine and I have to get you to autograph them when I come out there in the summer!

Vince M. said...

I'm so happy to know that you bought these books and cared about them enough to hold onto them, Peter. Looking forward to your visit.

PJ said...

You know, you should approach Dark Horse and see if they would be interested in putting out the complete issues in a trade - might get some more mileage out of old work.

Stuff looks great as it did when it first hit the stands!

Ry's Photo Blog said...

Wow. That's a lot of work! Very admirable.
Thanks for the history....And to think, I've been sitting next to a legend all this time.

Vince M. said...

Thanks for the kind words, Ry and PJ.
As far as a collected edition goes Dark Horse would be a good choice for publisher. Lately they've been doing a lot of Harvey collections and Little Lulu's, and a few years ago they published Solar, Turok and Magnus collections. I'm sure I have every page of art from the thirteen issues produced, and with a bit of photoshop and new digital lettering they'd clean up nicely.
Maybe I'll make a few calls and see what comes of it. I'm guessing there will be a couple of legal hurdles involved in securing the rights and making sure that contributors get their due, but it would be nice to see these in print again. I think I even have an unpublished Win Mortimer solo story in the files, plus countless sketches and promo art.

PJ said...

You could have interviews with the people who worked with you on it, background info, character design sheets and the like. I think it would make a nice package - you might also check out TwoMorrows (publisher wise) as well.

Pasquale said...

Hi Vince;
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment,(I don't have many friends with blogs)much appreciate it;
It's my first visit to your blog(I don't have much time to see them)what a beauty!!
I have probably seen these comic pages years ago,lots of work,did u also colour the pages as well?
For the time beeing I'm not working in Comics,too hard;

Vince M. said...

Thanks for the visit and the kind words, Pasquale. I worked with a few different colorists, providing overlays and art direction. I also colored most of the covers and at least half of the story pages.
Sorry to hear you're not currently working in comics, your pages looked good.

Thanks for the push, PJ.

Kimberly M. Zamlich said...

Wow! Beautiful and prolific--as always! Thanks for sharing your work and experiences!

Vince M. said...

Thanks, KimZam. I love the Frankenstein paintings you've posted, very cool!

Blurkers: Check 'em out.

Pasquale said...

Forgot to say,if you want more exposure for your blog go to mine and click on the blogosphere;
same for everyone else of course;

Kelvin said...

Wow...those are awesome.....thanx for sharing the interesting story too...

Vince M. said...

Will do, Pasquale. Thanks.

Hey K-Dawg, thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed this one.

Oscar Grillo said...


Vince M. said...

Thank you so much for saying so, Maestro. You've made me feel ten feet tall.