Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sal Buscema Interviews

When I was growing up, Sal Buscema seemed to be drawing every comic I bought. And if he wasn't, I was wishing that he had.

Even though he was illustrating stories for Captain America, the Defenders, the Hulk, the Avengers, Spider-Man and many others, I still wished he would've been able to squeeze in time to draw "The Justice League of America". His work was dynamic and emotional, even though it sometimes seemed a lot of those emotions were expressed through clenched teeth and angry eyebrows. But that's what comics were about then: high adventure as good heroes banded together to take on menaces that threatened the people of Earth. There were no Neil Gaiman-esque civilized confrontations here (not that there's anything wrong with that); these confrontations were filled explosions of force lines as opponents slammed away at each other with enchanted hammers, shields, energetic force blasts, and fists. Lots and lots of fists. Fists that knocks out teeth and forced the recipients to feel unbelievable pain because it was all right there in their faces as they flew into the reader's POV.

Readers of Akira Toriyama's "Dragonball" would've been right at home here.

When I was younger, I loved Sal Buscema's work on the Defenders and the Avengers because it meant lots of colorfully costumed characters fighting each other in a giant steel-cage match with New York City as the enclosing ring. Now I look back and I'm amazed at the levels of energy and artistic composition involved. Heroes and villains zoomed about and kept the energy on the pages very high, so that anyone thumbing through these comics would've seen lots of movement and excitement going on. Surely, things happened in these books. SO different from the slow decompressed movement of many comics stories today.

With all that movement, Sal Buscema would've been a natural artist to have drawn DC's Flash.

It's been a joy to rediscover Sal Buscema's development as a storyteller in Marvel's Essentials books. It's really interesting to see his earlier work in the occasional Sub-Mariner story or in his older Avengers stories. The Avengers stories sometimes reflected a Steranko dynamic, especially in the stories around the first Zodiac team, while some of the later Captain America stories were influenced by the sword-and-sorcery images of Conan.

Anyway, all of this is a long introduction to three podcasts listed here, which feature interviews with Our Pal Sal. I haven't listened to them yet, but I'm looking forward to doing so.

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