Infinity War News! Release date moved up one week! Hulk movie profile! New Entertainment Weekly cover with the Hulk!

As the Avengers: Infinity War movie release date gets close, more news is coming out. First up: Marvel just announced that the release date will be moved up one week to premier on April 27th which means that we will get to see the premier at the same time as other countries (I still don’t understand why the States have to wait). Next; Entertainment Weekly has announced 15 covers for the movie, including a really nice cover featuring the Hulk. Finally, an image and profile for the Hulk’s character in the movie has been released. See below for images (click to enlarge). So much good news and a shorter wait = total WOOT moment! Make mine MCU!

 

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Toys“R”Us Hulk figures from Avengers: Infinity War available online now!

The first two Hulk figures from the Avengers: Infinity War movie are now available online at Toys“R”Us. The initial figures are the 6 inch Hulk with Infinity stone ($12.99) and the Titan Hero series 12 inch figure ($14.99). Links and images are below.

Marvel Avengers: Infinity War 6 inch Action Figure – Hulk with Infinity Stone

Marvel Avengers: Infinity War Titan Hero Series 12 inch ActionFigure – Hulk with Titan Hero Power FX Port

I am hopeful that this is just the start and that we will see more figures coming soon. I ordered mine already and will update as more items become available.

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Sideshow Hulk Statue by Iron Studios available for pre-order!

Sidesow just posted this as available for pre-order. I think it looks great and $109.99 for a Sideshow piece isn’t too bad. It isn’t at a large scale which keeps the price down if you are looking for a nice movie based statue for your collection. Shipping is scheduled for July-Sep time frame.

 

Hulk

Statue by Iron Studios

Thor: Ragnarok Art Scale 1:10 Battle Diorama Series

ABOUT THIS STATUE

Sideshow and Iron Studios are proud to present the Hulk Statue from the Thor: Ragnarok Art Scale 1:10 Battle Diorama Series.

Based on original 3D references from the hit film Thor: Ragnarok, the polystone statue is hand-painted and includes a diorama base.

License: Marvel
Type: Statue
Materials: Polystone
Manufacturer: Iron Studios

WHAT’S IN THE BOX?

The Hulk Art Scale Statue features:

  • Based on original 3D references from the movie
  • Made in Polystone
  • Hand-painted
  • Includes base
 ADDITIONAL DETAILS & DIMENSIONS
Expected to Ship
Jul 2018 – Sep 2018

Item shown is a prototype. When shipped, the final production piece may differ in appearance.

Product Size: 14.76″ H (374.9mm)*
Dimensional Weight: TBD
Int’l Dim. Weight: TBD
* Size and weight are approximate values. 
SKU: 903401
UPC: 751320300881
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The new Hulk comic series will be horrific … but that’s a good thing! Read more to learn about The Immortal Hulk

The Hulk is finally getting a comic series relaunch and this time he is no longer incredible, now he is immortal … at least he isn’t red or sporting a beard or faux-hawk. At long last, the one and only Hulk/Bruce Banner will make a return to Marvel comics! The setup for his return is currently playing out in the Avengers: No Surrender story arc which will lead up to a new ongoing series titled The Immortal Hulk starting this June! Why does the series use the immortal descriptor? Well, apparently, Bruce Banner will walk the earth during the day, while the Hulk will come out after nightfall. But here’s the catch: Bruce can be killed during the day but the Hulk will always come to life at night, hence the immortal tag and horror theme. If you are familiar with the Hulk’s history, you will recognize the homage to the character’s early day/night activity as depicted in the original 6 issue comic series so this plays well as an homage to the Hulk’s origin. The horror theme is also a great nod to the inspiration that Stan Lee drew from the Frankenstein and Jekyll/Hyde horror stories when creating the Hulk. See below for a teaser description of the series:

When night falls across the Marvel Universe its heroes must be extra vigilant because that’s when the monsters come out; both the human and supernatural kind. This summer though a new monster with incredible strength will lay claim to the night. During the day this savage creature will be chained inside the psyche and fragile physical form of a human, but when the sun goes down the savage and undying brute will run free.

Al Ewing (writer) and artist Joe Bennett’s new ongoing series Immortal Hulk will carry a horror themed approach with the Hulk being more of a monster at night. The Hulk as a monster? Yeah – that works for me! Below are a few excerpts from a CBR interview with Al and Joe which I highly recommend reading if you want some great insight about the story and the art for the series.

Al Ewing: Okay – to begin with, the title character is Bruce Banner, and Bruce Banner is the Immortal Hulk, the World’s Mightiest Mortal, the Green Goliath, the Strongest One There Is, et cetera, et cetera. A lot of people have been a little wary that we’re actually bringing him back for keeps this time, so I figure this is as good a place as any to confirm that yes, this is Banner, he’s back, he’s got an ongoing solo series and he’s not going to die again any time soon. In fact, that’s kind of the point.

Joe Bennett: Tom Brevoort asked me if I’d be interested in a new Hulk series featuring unique visuals and atmosphere. Al’s scripts really evoke those elements, too, so I decided I should approach the book with a style reminiscent of Bernie Wrightson. The Green Goliath will have a darker and more nocturnal look in this book. I’m trying to evoke the feel of all those great Warren magazines like Eerie, and Creepy

Al Ewing: Banner can die. The Hulk can’t. If you shoot Banner in the head – he’ll fall over dead. He’ll lie there all day, dead as dirt, growing cold, getting stiff… right up until the sun goes down. And then… well, night is the Hulk’s time. And the Hulk remembers.

A couple additional teases of note are the introduction of a female reporter named Jackie McGee which is an obvious homage to the TV series character and the inclusion of Walter Langkowski, aka the Sasquatch within the story. The cover art by Alex Ross looks fantastic and is a great homage to the Hulk 105 issue (wow, lots of homage going on here). I have been cautiously optimistic about this series but this story now has me hooked and expecting great things! The anticipation to see what Marvel has in store for our favorite Jade Giant is sky high! See below for some sneaked artwork for the series – click to enlarge. Enjoy!

BONUS – are we going to see the end of Cho as the Hulk?

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New Hulk toys are coming! News from Toyfair, Infinity War, and more!

It’s time for more Hulks toys, figures, etc. and some news is starting to trickle out via various outlets (here and here). Of most interest to me is the merchandise that will come out from the Avengers: Infinity War movie as it might provide an idea of how Hulk will be used in the movie. So far, it looks like the Hulk’s role in the movie might be minimal as there aren’t many items being sneaked but that could just be a ploy to keep things under wraps. I know that I am hoping for more Hulk than the early previews appear to suggest. Stay tuned for more updates!

I have captured a few images below and will provide additional updates as they become available:

New Hulk Titan heroes – looks pretty similar to previous releases and I am assuming the tech feature will have a quote or two from the movie with an obligatory “Hulk smash” thrown in for good measure

Avengers: Infinity War Cup Toppers Include Iron Man, Spider-Man & Groot – I will chase the Hulk version for sure

Marvel Studios Hulk and Hulk buster 2-pack – this is from a new line celebrating the first 10 years of the MCU and will be a sure pick up as it looks great!

Hulk figure with Hero Vision from Avengers: Infinity War movie – yes please!

Infinity gauntlet – not Hulk related but an amazing piece none-the-less! Just look at the size, detail, and articulation of this thing! Not to mention the sound effects (see video from my LCS having fun with one of these). After seeing this, I think we need some newer and bigger Hulk fists!

Click images below to enlarge. Enjoy!

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The real Hulk coming back in Avengers issue 684 and he’s angrier than ever!

Marvel has announced for a while that the original and only true Hulk will be returning to comics but now we know exactly when (March 2018) and where (Avengers 684), just not how. According to recent IGN news, the Hulk (Bruce Banner) will make his return in the pages of the Avengers comic next month. Comics haven’t been the same since Hawkeye “killed” the Hulk with a special arrow designed by Banner back in 2016 and I am very much hoping that this is truly the Hulk and not another gimmick. Please marvel, no Red Hulk, faux Hulk, or anything other than the one, true Jade Giant that we all love! I have already marked this issue for the pull account – you should do the same!

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Interview and Podcast with Our Pal Sal Buscema

sal-buscema-pictureHere’s a treat for fans of our pal Sal Buscema, an interview conducted by Bryan D. Stroud at Comics Bulletin back in October of 2015. It’s a great insight into Sal’s career and some good discussion surrounding his self-proclaimed favorite character, the Incredible Hulk. I have copied the article in it’s entirety in the event the link would get broken in the future and have linked directly to the site where it includes nice imagery intermixed with the dialog. I have highlighted the Hulk related discussion in green in case you just want to focus on that part of the interview, although I suggest a full read as it contains several interesting points, including Sal’s first professional gig as an artist, his brother John, breaking in as a Marvel artist, his preferred artist tools, his artistic influences, working with Herb Trimpe, and much more.

Hulk emotions

If you read this and still need more Sal, give this podcast I posted in 2013 for a good listen that focuses entirely on the Hulk.

Part One:

Bryan D. Stroud: Do you remember what your first published piece of art was?

Sal Buscema: That would have to be in 1959 as far as commercial work, but actually as I think about it, I’ll bet it was something I did for the Army because believe it or not my MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) in the Army between ’56 and ’58 was as an illustrator for the Engineer Corps, which surprised the heck out of me, so I couldn’t tell you precisely what it was, but that would probably be the first professionally published thing I ever did. I was attached to the Engineer School at Fort Belvoir and worked there for almost two years doing those illustrations for the Engineer Corps.

Of course I worked with John (Buscema) on comics before I got into them myself. He was working for Dell Publishing at the time and occasionally when he got into deadline problems I would work with him doing backgrounds, inking them and that kind of thing in order to help him out.

BDS: Did you have any formal training?

SB: My only formal training was where both John and I attended, which was the High School of Music and Art. Are you familiar with the movie and T.V. show “Fame?”

BDS: I am.

SB: Well, that was the school they were talking about. Of course at the time they were doing “Fame,” the movie and the television show, it had expanded to not only music and art, but had expanded to the performing arts also. So it is now the High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts. It was quite a school that was established by the Mayor of New York, Fiorello LaGuardia. He thought it was necessary to have a school that dealt with the fine arts and serious music and it really was quite a school. We had 4 symphony orchestras, believe it or not and the art curriculum was pretty difficult. I was commuting from Brooklyn and would leave my house probably about a quarter to seven in the morning and take a subway to the school. It was actually located pretty much in the heart of Harlem on 135th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in New York City just on the other side of CCNY. The art curriculum was extensive and very, very good. Unfortunately, being a kid and not being too bright I just didn’t take full advantage of it, but I guess enough of it rubbed off on me so that I could at least try to make it a career.

That was the extent of my formal training. John went on to Pratt Institute for a year or two, I think, which was a very, very fine school at the time. I wanted to get right into the business and am not sorry that I did. It was probably one of the best decisions I ever made. And that’s at an age where you’re not usually making very many good decisions, but it worked out for me and I’ve never regretted it. I had the opportunity to go to Cooper Union in New York City which was a very fine art college, but it dealt primarily with fine art and I wanted to get into the commercial end of the business, so I declined that and got a job as an apprentice and as they say the rest is history. So aside from the training I already mentioned, I’m primarily self-taught.

BDS: I’m genuinely surprised that you didn’t have more formal training. Your work has always been lovely.

SB: Having been doing this now for nearly 60 years, I developed the belief that no one can teach you to be an artist. You have to learn on your own. You can get guidance, which is essentially what you get in school. Unfortunately there are some schools that misguide you, which is just an unfortunate fact of life. There isn’t much you can do about that. At the period of time when I was looking for more extensive training there really weren’t very many good schools to go to, so I just jumped right into the business and learned right on the job. In that respect it was a very good beginning for me.

BDS: So you were in the commercial side of the industry to begin with?

SB: Yes. My first job was in a commercial art studio and for the first 13 years of my career I was a commercial illustrator, graphic designer and whatever the rest of it might entail.

BDS: That’s usually the goal of many artists, and yet you went into comics. How did that come about?

SB: It was my desire to do comics initially, but when I was ready to do comics the comic book industry was pretty much dead. We’re talking about the 1950’s. I graduated in ’53 and in the early ‘50’s you may remember the big scandal about comic books back then. Of course if they compared them to what they’re doing today they would be like children’s stories. It’s amazing how the times change. The industry was so depressed that John had to get out of it also and go into other areas of commercial art because there just wasn’t any work available, much less so for a beginner like myself. This is why I was forced to go into other areas of commercial art. It was wonderful, wonderful training for me. I was very happy with the results and if I had to do it all over again I would not change a thing.

BDS: Do you recall the page rates when you were getting your start?

SB: Let’s see, I always use John as kind of a yardstick because he was 8 years older than me and got started in the business with Timely and Stan Lee when he was 20 years old. That would have been 1948. He started working for salary, but as things began to deteriorate somewhat in the industry he went on to become a freelancer and I would say that the page rates were, for the top people, and of course he went on to become one of the better known people in the business, probably in the area of $35.00 to $40.00 a page, perhaps as much as $50.00 penciling and inking.

If you had enough work and a reasonable amount of speed you could make a living. Of course salaries back then were much lower than they are today. He did all right until the bottom fell out of the industry.

BDS: When you made the transition to comics did you start at Marvel?

SB: Yes. I was very fortunate. Is’ a funny story, actually. John accidentally met Stan Lee in Manhattan one day. They just bumped into each other on the street. They got to talking, discussing the old days and this was years after John had left Timely and went into other areas of commercial art and Stan was asking him about his desire to do comics because he said the business was coming back. This was probably right around the late ‘50’s or early ‘60’s.

He said, “John, we’re looking for people, so if you want back in, just say the word. We can pay better rates and business is really picking up and we need good people.” So that’s what he did. He was commuting from pretty far out on Long Island to Manhattan with the commercial art job that he had and while he was making a good salary it was really a burden for him because he was commuting 4 hours a day and it was just killing him. So when this opportunity presented itself where he could be a freelancer and work at home, he jumped at it.

Now when I heard about that and heard that the industry was doing well again I decided I needed to take a crack at it. He’d mentioned it to me because we communicated by phone and I worked for about a year because I had to learn how to do comics. I’d never really done them except for the little bit I’d done with John. The big thing was superheroes by the likes of Jack Kirby, Gene Colan, John Romita, Sr. and their peers and they were flourishing. Marvel was doing very, very well and so I decided to take a crack at it. I worked up a 6-page story, just in pencils, I really wanted to ink. That was my first love. I just wanted to be an inker, but John said they were looking for pencilers, so I thought I’d try that and then adjust from there.

I made up the samples, Stan saw them and he liked them and consequently I worked for Marvel for over 40 years.

BDS: Wow! You can’t ask much more than that.

SB: No. I’ve been very blessed. It’s been a wonderful career and I’m still doing it. I will continue to do comic books as long as people want me to do them, although now I’m just doing inking and have been for the last several years. I enjoy that thoroughly. It’s a lot of fun. All you’re doing is finishing the work, to be blunt about it, as opposed to a penciler where you’ve got to put in a lot of thought into the storytelling. The pacing, the design of the story, page and panel layout, breakdown, it’s just so much more difficult and so much more work. As an inker, you get the stuff that’s already penciled and finish it off and have a great time doing it. To me it’s just a lot more fun.

I enjoyed penciling very much. I did it for many, many years and worked on just about every character that Marvel had and I did enjoy it a lot, but it is a lot of very hard work. It requires a lot of thought, effort and energy and comparatively, inking is a blast. I could do it in my sleep. There’s a little hyperbole there, but that’s the way I look at it. Inking is just a lot of fun and that’s why I enjoy it so much, because to me it’s really not work.

BDS: What more could you ask? According to another friend of mine who is an industry pro, he’d seen your pencil work before and said it looked like your primary method was breakdowns. Was that your usual approach?

SB: I was asked to do breakdowns. One of the things that I was blessed with was strength in my storytelling ability and I was pretty fast. I was able to crank out stories at a pretty good rate of speed. It took me a few years to get to that point, but once I got there it came fairly easily to me. Because of that ability, Marvel would come to me frequently and ask me to do fill-in jobs where they were having deadline problems on given books. So in order to expedite things and to get the stories done faster I would do what they called breakdowns, where pretty much everything was there. My breakdowns were fairly tight. The only thing that was lacking were the blacks and if you’ve got a good inker they know where to put the blacks and they would follow my stuff pretty well.

With breakdowns you could turn out a story a lot faster. Since Marvel came to me frequently and asked me to do this additional work, obviously I could not do really tight, finished pencils on all of them because the time just didn’t allow, so I would go with breakdowns and it got to be a pretty normal thing. I enjoyed that a lot better when I was penciling and inking my own books. I would just do breakdowns for myself because then I could do the finish work with the inking.

At one point for Marvel and I was penciling and inking two books a month. That was a real boon to me because the way we worked back then, rather than the computer driven world of comics today, I would pencil the book, or rather do breakdowns and then the dialogue would be written and the lettering would be done and then it would come back to me for inking. Then it was a matter of doing the finish work with the ink. I actually draw better with a brush than I do with a pencil. Why, I don’t know. It just seems to be the way things are. Anyway, that was a real boon to me because I enjoyed the inking more than the penciling, so it was just a nicer way for me to work. I did that for a lot of years at Marvel and of course a lot of other guys did, too.

Again, my breakdowns were pretty tight, so if another inker got a job to do on my pencils, everything was there for him. He didn’t have to do any guesswork or redraw anything. Essentially what breakdowns were in my case was just straight line. No blacks, no shading, nothing of that sort. What you saw in the comic book was what I did in pencil without any of the blacks that would appear in the finished product.

BDS: What were your favored tools?

SB: At the time Windsor-Newton were producing the best brushes in the world, but their product really deteriorated in later years and frankly I’ve had a lot of problems finding good brushes. I switched to a pen for a period of years because I could not find good brushes that would work the way I wanted them to work. I was fortunate enough to find some brushes produced by a small company in Ireland. Apparently an elderly retired couple decided they wanted to have a little side business and became the American distributor for this company. The name of the brush is Kolinsky. They’re really good brushes, though not as good as the best Windsor-Newton brushes were years ago. Still, they do what I want them to do.

As far as pencils, I just use a good old HB or plain old No. 2 pencil. I’ve also used Pelican ink for years, but have found it difficult to get it from my distributor in large bottles. I have also had good luck with an India ink made in Japan. It’s good quality, a nice dense black and I’m delighted to have found it because I can get it in large bottles which of course reduce the cost by a considerable amount. Unfortunately I can’t tell you the brand name because it’s written in Japanese. (Laughter.)

Part Two:

BDS: Who were your artistic influences?

SB: The old masters, of course such as Michelangelo, who was one of the greatest draftsmen who ever lived; Peter Rubens, who was another absolutely magnificent draftsman; the more modern classics, I just absolutely fell in love with the work of John Singer Sargent. Rembrandt obviously was one of my all-time favorites.

Where commercial artists are concerned I would list Robert Fawcett, which is a name that’s probably not terribly familiar. He was with the correspondence course known as the Famous Artist’s School, which was started by Albert Dorne back in the ‘50’s and it became a really outstanding school for commercial artists. It was composed of the twelve top commercial artists of the day. Al Parker was one while Albert Dorne was the president and founder of the school. Robert Fawcett, probably one of the greatest draftsmen America has ever produced; his work was absolutely exquisite; he did story illustrations for Colliers magazine and in fact all of the major magazines of the time which are now all defunct unfortunately. And of course Norman Rockwell was another member at the school.

At any rate, I was greatly influenced by Robert Fawcett. His drawings and illustrations were just magnificent. He did a series for Colliers Magazine many years ago written by a descendant of Arthur Conan Doyle and they were about Sherlock Holmes. He did these absolutely magnificent illustrations that were just beautiful and what’s ironic about it is that the guy was color blind. His wife was also an artist and she would help him with the colors.

That’s a short list, but right now I’m just very much into John Singer Sargent. The man was an absolute genius. When I look at his paintings I just cannot believe the brush strokes. The control that he had and the mastery of color were simply unreal.

BDS: You’ve had a lot of wonderful collaborations over the years. Does anyone particularly leap to mind as especially enjoyable to work with?

sal-buscema-hulk splash

SB: As far as the guys I’ve been working with recently, Ron Frenz, who I think is probably one of the top five guys in the business today. He’s a tremendous storyteller and a wonderful draftsman. His stuff is so dynamic and powerful. Tom DeFalco. These are two very good friends of mine. We are not only colleagues in the business, but we’ve known each other for many years and they’ve been just a joy to work with. We did Spider-girl together and the work has kind of petered out a little bit, but Ron and I are working together now for IDW Publishing in California on G.I. Joe and various other projects.

Before that, Mark DeMatteis, who is a terrific writer who comes up with just wonderful stuff. When I first started working on the Hulk I was working with Len Wein. He and I had a wonderful relationship and I think we did some good stuff together. You must remember I’ve been at this for over 44 years now and sometimes the names aren’t that easy to access, even though I had some terrific experiences with many, many good people.

I loved inking Herb Trimpe’s stuff. He and I collaborated on a recent job for IDW and it was the first time in about 35 years that he and I have worked together. I loved inking his stuff.

BDS: I’ve heard only good things about Herb. He seems to be one of those salt of the earth guys.

SB: He really is and the funny thing about that is Herb and I communicated maybe once or twice over the years on the phone and that was the extent of it. We didn’t know each other except through our work. Recently Ron Frenz was attending a comic book convention in Baltimore and I told Ron that since it was convenient we were going to meet and have lunch together and come to find out Herb Trimpe was also there as a guest so for the first time in over 40 years I got to meet Herb Trimpe in person. He was just one of the finest gentlemen you’d ever want to meet. He’s a super guy and I’ve only heard wonderful things about him and it was just a joy to see him there. We talked for a while and it was just really a lot of fun meeting him after all these years of collaborating.

As a matter of fact, when I first started talking to Stan Lee about getting work at Marvel, the first guy that he showed me, whose work he used as an example of what he wanted in storytelling was by Herb Trimpe. Herb was a wonderful storyteller. It was very graphic, very simple and very straight forward and very well done. He was the first guy I saw up there at Marvel in person being utilized by Stan Lee.

BDS: Did you have a favorite character you worked on over the course of your long career?

SB: Absolutely. My favorite would be the Incredible Hulk. Far and away. I love the character and did it for almost 10 years. As a matter of fact Herb did it for 7-1/2 years and I did it for almost 10 and what’s so funny is that there was a book produced a couple of years ago that was a history of the Incredible Hulk and neither one of us are in there. (Chuckle.) I find that really extraordinary since between the two of us we had 17 or 18 years’ worth of work illustrating that character. He and I had a good laugh about that. Maybe they were just highlighting the more recent talent. Just the nature of the business I suppose. Anyway, that is definitely my favorite character and I’d work on him in a minute given the opportunity.

BDS: Do you feel like they’ve done him justice on the big screen?

SB: I felt like they finally captured him very well in The Avengers. Better than the first two films. The first movie certainly had its moments, but I just didn’t care for the movie that much or for the story that much. I think they really got carried away and never felt like Ang Lee had a feel for what the character was all about. I didn’t like the fact that he was 25 feet tall, for example and I really felt like they missed the boat. Now I thought some of the animation was excellent. He was a little too good looking for my tastes.

I thought the second movie was much better in terms of the story. In a lot of instances I didn’t think the animation was that good. The drawing of the figures just wasn’t that good. It had its moments, too and was superior to the first movie, but in The Avengers I thought they really captured what the character was all about. It was a lot of fun and they even managed to inject some comedy into it and I really liked it. I just think they finally hit their stride. The first two movies, especially the first, just missed the boat. The second one was better and I thought The Avengers was excellent.

BDS: I’m with you. I was with everyone else in the theater audience laughing my head off at those two particular scenes.

SB: (Laughter.) They were hilarious and it was like he was a big kid. This 6-year old mentality with the strength of a billion guys was absolutely hilarious. I think it’s part of what makes the character interesting and so much fun to do. The possibilities are almost limitless with a character like that.

BDS: You’ve worked both Marvel method and full script. Do you have a preference between them?

SB: Oh, yes. Marvel method far and away. One of the reasons I’d given up penciling was because first of all I’d had enough of it. I think I’d just gotten to the point where I was oversaturated. I didn’t want to do any more penciling. Essentially, I’d retired. Even though I want to continue working I was officially retired some 11 or 12 years ago.

Working full script is just an absolute bore. I think it was the genius of Stan Lee who came up with this concept of working by giving the outline of the story to the artists and telling them to flesh it out and this is what created the excitement of Marvel comics. It made them head and shoulders above anything else that was being produced in the ‘60’s, ‘70’s, ‘80’s and even the ‘90’s and made them the biggest selling comic book company in the world. I think it was because of that method. The stories were so much more dynamic. I mean who can tell a story better than Jack Kirby, pictorially speaking? Stan recognized that the gift these guys had and said, “Let me just give them their head. Let them do whatever they want to do.” The result was fantastic. To this day I cannot understand why it was abandoned.

I don’t even look at comic books any more. I was at Borders a month or two ago and out of morbid curiosity I walked over to the comic book end and picked up a couple of Spider-Man books and one or two others and leafed through them and I had to put them back on the shelf. I can’t stand looking at them anymore. I don’t know what’s happened to the medium of comic books, but that’s not what they’re doing anymore. They’re just not doing comic books anymore. They’re trying to reproduce movies in comics and it doesn’t work. It never will because it’s a completely unique and different medium.

They’re working on them full script. I speak with Ron Frenz frequently and he’s doing work for DC occasionally and doing work for Marvel occasionally and they’re all working from full script and he can’t stand it. He hates it and for the reasons I stated. It’s so restricting. It’s a case of the writer telling the story by telling the artist what to do, where to place the characters, what he wants in every panel. It just doesn’t work as well. We, as artists, think visually. I know they say writers think visually, too, but it’s just not the same. I think it shows in the difference of the product between today and the product of the heyday of Marvel. There is no comparison as far as I’m concerned.

It’s interesting. I don’t do conventions any more, but when I was, especially back in the earlier days, most of the attendees were children; kids or at least young people. Then there was this extraordinary change in later years. The last dozen or so conventions that I did revealed to me that the people waiting in line for drawings or autographs and so forth were 30, 40 and 50 year-olds. And every one of them telling me, “I don’t buy comic books anymore, when I want to read a comic I re-read my old ones. I just don’t buy them anymore.”

This is why the industry is about 20% of what it used to be. I don’t understand why this is not recognized by the powers that be. The only conclusion I can come to is that they are strictly trying to satisfy their own creative egos. That’s the only way I can put it. They’re not interested in selling comic books. When we were doing comic books, to us it was a business. We were in the business of selling comic books and we sold a ton of comic books. There was a time when Marvel had 50 or 60 titles a month and if a comic book was selling in the 40,000 to 50,000 range per month, it was on the bubble.

I just heard a story recently where the editorial staff at Marvel was all excited because their top Spider-Man book sold 50,000 copies. This is what’s happening now and I just find it extraordinary. When I was doing Spider-Man there were four separate Spider-Man books. Mine was in third place and it would sell anywhere from 220,000 to 230,000 copies a month. Combined, the four books sold over one million copies a month. Now they get excited over 50,000. And as I said, 50,000 in sales for a particular issue back in Marvel’s heyday probably would have led to that book being canceled because the sales weren’t good enough.

So that’s where we’ve come and I don’t understand why. I don’t understand the thinking anymore. The comic books we used to do are being produced on film now. They’re certainly not being produced in the books. I have no idea what they’re doing and I just don’t even look at them anymore.

BDS: The last new books I enjoyed were John Severin’s art on Dark Horse’s “Witchfinder.” John Severin was just the best at vintage western work and this was a showcase for him. I was especially impressed where some pages had no dialogue at all because it didn’t need it.

SB: Exactly. One of the nicest things that ever happened to me, pertaining to what you just said, when Mark Dematteis and I were working together on Spectacular Spider-Man in the book where Harry Osborn dies, I got very emotional about that because Mark wrote a beautiful plot for me to flesh out the story with and the last couple of pages are the very emotional part where Harry passes away and Peter is overcome with grief and goes to Mary Jane about it and she’s overcome and it was just really an emotional trip for me and I guess I put a lot of that into the last two or three pages of the book and Mark wrote absolutely no dialogue. He called me up to tell me. He said, “Sal, those pages were so beautifully told that they didn’t need any dialogue, so I didn’t put any in.” That was one of my proudest moments in my career because coming from a guy like Mark DeMatteis, who is just an outstanding writer; it really moved me a lot. It was very touching.

BDS: What higher compliment could you receive?

SB: That’s what comic books are supposed to be. Comic books are supposed to be pictures, telling a story. The ideal that we always worked for on a monthly basis was to tell the story so that it didn’t need any dialogue. And of course it’s a pipe dream, because you’ve got to have dialogue, you’ve got to have descriptions and so forth, but this was what we worked toward. I have no idea what they’re working for today. I look at pages of panels of heads talking to one another and I have no idea what’s going on and I don’t care. (Chuckle.)

It’s very sad. It’s a wonderful medium, but it’s dying a slow or maybe pretty rapid now, death. Thank God for the movies because we can kind of rejoice when we see these movies and most of them are wonderful. I never miss them and have frankly been disappointed in very few of them. Most of them have been very well done.

BDS: You did one recent project that was kind of interesting to me when you inked the Retroactive Flash from the ‘70’s for DC.

SB: Is that the thing with all the gorillas in it?

BDS: That’s the one.

SB: Oh, yeah. The penciler was a guy from Spain, I believe and one of the reasons they asked me to ink it was because I think the guy was just very, very rushed. They must have given him a ridiculous deadline and if I’m not mistaken it was something like a 28- page story. It was more than 22 anyway. (26 in my copy.) Essentially what they wanted me to do was tweak it a little bit. It looked to me like the guy just banged out the pages because he had a ridiculous deadline.

He’s a pretty good draftsman and looks like he’s a pretty decent storyteller, but the pencils left something to be desired. So being a penciler myself I think they just wanted me to tweak it. It was somewhat of a fun job. I was very reluctant to do that to another penciler because I didn’t like it done to me when I was penciling, but in this case I think it was necessary because some of the panels just seemed to have a lot of stuff omitted. Let me put it that way. It was kind of an interesting job. I saw the finished product when I got my comps and it looked okay.

BDS: I thought so and it was just interesting to me to see your work on a DC book, even though it’s far from your only DC work.

You mentioned your new work with IDW. How did that come about?

SB: The work at Marvel and DC kind of dried up and I just want to keep working. Not out of financial necessity, but I just happen to be one of those weird people. First of all, I enjoy what I do so much that I don’t even consider it work, but I’m also one of those individuals that think that work is good for you.

When you retire, what do you do for 24 hours? Well, you sleep for 8 and you recreate for 8. What do you do with the other 8? There’s just so much recreating you can do and I was climbing the walls after a while and I said, “I’ve got to get some work.” Keep busy. I decided I’ve got to keep working as long as people want me to work, if for nothing else to maintain my sanity.

So I knew one of the editors at IDW. I had done a cover or some small work for him that he’d asked me to do and he used to work for Marvel, so I called his number and he wasn’t in so I left a message and told him what the situation was and I said I was trying to get some work because I want to work. I didn’t hear anything back and then I guess it was 5 or 6 weeks later when I got a call from Chris Ryall who was the editor-in-chief at IDW and they said they had gotten the message from this other editor’s voice mail and that he was no longer with the company and they just hadn’t changed the voice mail and they were really sorry that they didn’t get back to me sooner. So they had just discovered this message that I’d left and they said they’d be more than happy to have me do some work for them and I said I was delighted to hear that and here we are. I’m doing work for IDW now. I appreciate it and they’re a smaller company, but they seem to have their act together and I’m working with a good young penciler there along with working with Ron Frenz on G.I. Joe. I’m working with Lee Ferguson who is a very talented young man and we’re working on a book called “Forgotten Realms” where it’s actually a licensed product having to do with the Dungeons and Dragons game.

It’s good, solid stuff and I’m enjoying it thoroughly. I really am. It’s fun inking different people, too. My philosophy is that you’ve got to keep busy or you just sit and sign your own death warrant. The body and the brain need to be kept active.

BDS: Do you do much in the way of commission work?

SB: Oh, yeah. I’ve got an agent and we’ve got a 25-year relationship and he comes through with commissions fairly frequently.

BDS: Have you tried you hand at painting?

SB: It’s something I’ve tried in the past and it’s something that I always want to get to, but for some reason I just never get to it. But it will happen. I know it will because all I have to do is open one of my books on John Singer Sargent and I get inspired and I start to think, “I’ve got to do something. Paint a portrait or a landscape or something.” I’ll get around to it one of these days.

BDS: I know that among your interests is something that two of your peers have also done, namely Frank Springer and Joe Rubinstein who have both hit the stage on occasion.

SB: Oh, you’re talking about Community Theater. I’m a ham from way back. I did stuff in school and then one year when I was well into my 40’s I decided it would be fun. I was looking for another activity and thought, “Why don’t I try Community Theater?” I wound up doing it for over 20 years.

It wore off after a while. It was fun while it lasted and I met a lot of wonderful people and made a lot of wonderful friends. It was just a really terrific experience. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Sal Buscema self portrait 2014

 

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