When it comes to no-nonsense, take-no-crap-from-anyone-type artists, at the top of the list, you'll find New Yorker, Howard Chaykin. Chaykin got his start in comics around the age of nineteen with an apprenticeship under one of the best comics artists to ever take up the pencil, Gil Kane. But Kane wasn't the only great to mentor him. Chaykin can boast the mentorship and influence of such greats as Syd Shores, Jack Abel, Wally Wood and Neal Adams.
Howard Chaykin was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1950, but due to the separation of his parents, ended up being raised a bit by his grandparents in Staten Island, NYC . As a youth, he moved around NYC, living in East Flatbush, Brooklyn and Queens. In 1969, he became a gofer and apprentice to Gil Kane, which in time would lead opportunities assisting Wally Wood in the shop he shared with Jack Abel and Syd Shores, and finally an apprenticeship under Neal Adams. Chaykin would publish his first professional art in 1971 in the military publication, "Overseas Weekly," and in 1972, he published his first work for DC Comics. Chaykin is most known as the man who took part in launching one of the most important and best-selling comics of the late 70s and early 80s,"Star Wars" vol 1, Marvel's adaptation of George Lucas' blockbuster film. Chaykin left the series to work on more adult and more complex comics titles (for smaller publishers), like "Star Reach," "Heavy Metal," and his masterpiece, "American Flagg," which I will write about at a later date - which is NOT for young readers. Chaykin also had a lucrative career in paperback book covers. However, Howard Chaykin has continued to work in mainstream comics, doing various works for both Marvel and DC.
Here is a piece that I own, done by the hand of Howard Chaykin:
Here's a panel that Chaykin did for the arc he did in "Punisher War Journal" vol 2, called "In the Blood." In this arc, a deranged guy named Ian is manipulated into impersonating the Punisher by Lynn Michaels (Lady Punisher). This piece is also signed by Howard Chaykin!
FUN FACT 1: Chaykin desires to push more mature, complex and experimental works into the realm of comic books. He has long been critical of the Marvel-Method of writing comics, and comic book writers' (not artists') lack of understanding of how to use the comic book page.
FUN FACT 2: Chaykin has stated that he considers his work on "Star Wars" vol 1 to be "the worst work of his life."
FUN FACT 3: Even though Chaykin considers "Star Wars" vol 1 his worst work, many consider it to be the comic that saved Marvel from bankruptcy. Marvel's sales were dwindling, and they needed a serious cash injection. "Star Wars" provided that. Poor DC Comics, unfortunately, had worse luck, and suffered the legendary DC Implosion of 1978.
FUN FACT 4: There is no denying that Chaykin is a stellar writer and artist, but he has been criticized because what he calls "mature and experimental" some people just call pornography. His series, Black Kiss, was banned by the UK, Canada, and Apple! I have to admit, even as a fan, there are Chaykin titles that I know to steer clear of.
FUN FACT 5: Chaykin also worked for Martin Goodman's now defunct Atlas/Seaboard comics. TEX LOVES ATLAS/SEABOARD! Anyway, he created a character there called The Scorpion. When Atlas/Seaboard and Chaykin didn't see eye-to-eye, Chaykin recycled The Scorpion into Marvel's Dominic Fortune.
FUN FACT 6: Chaykin says that Gil Kane is his greatest influence.
Say what you will, there's no denying Howard Chaykin's contributions to the comics industry - I am glad to own an art piece done by his hand.
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