Thursday, July 28, 2016

Original Art Showcase Episode 7 (Howard Chaykin)

    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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  1. Fun Fact 7: Howard is colour blind and has explained that is the reason he has used zip-a-tone so heavily in the past.

    1. Thank you, Otto!

      I had no idea until you told me! Thank you for a great fun fact!!

  2. Thanks Tex, I didn't know some of those tidbits.

    Not so fun fact: Delroy Lindo had been cast to play Dominic Fortune on "Marvel's Most Wanted" (the now cancelled Agents of Shield spin-off series.)

    Fun Fact 2 & 3: both can be true. For art and story telling, SW is not Chaykin at his best. I'm not sure it even makes the top 10 of Chaykin sci-fi comics. Anyone who likes it should hunt down some of Howard's other work. You'll be so happy. (Hey, I haven't read his Heavy Metal stuff...)

    DC had an implosion '75-78. In 1975 Marvel was in the same mess as DC. SW#1 was a big hit, partly due to Mark Hamill hyping it at SDCC '76. Grocery stores had polybag 3 packs with consecutive issues and they kept reprinting 1-6. That's how I got issues 1-12 and became a "collector" (in my mind).

    1986 ended the series. In '93 the entire industry had a massive implosion, 2 years after Dark Horse started making new Star Wars.

    1. Good to hear from you, Robbie!

      I hope you are well.

      I heard about Lindo's casting. That was a head scratcher. I would have liked to have seen how it all worked out.

      Here's some of Chaykin's Cody Starbuck from Heavy Metal for you:

      I thought the DC Explosion began in 1975, when DC started adding a lot more titles to their roster. Then they hired of Jenette Kahn in 75 or 76 as well, and as publisher, she facilitated some changes that came back to bite DC in the rear - but not before helping to get those cool 70s DC live-action shows onto the air. From what I've read, all would have been well if not for a terrible winter that killed people, and comics sales, (impossible to distribute the comics), which I've read led to the Implosion in 1978. Are you saying DC was imploding the entire time? You probably know more about the situation than me - I read about it, you lived it.

      I never got ahold of a Star Wars #1, except for a cool minty copy for Marvel UK. At least that came with a paper X-Wing Fighter. LOL!

      The Big Crash. Another happening I've read extensively about. I've listed to my LCS owner talk about it at length - he doesn't even deal in back-issues anymore. I did read lots of the Dark Horse Star Wars comics later though - I was surprised that they went back to Marvel. It seemed like DH had made so many great stories in the SW Universe, and kept the fires burning, and then YOINK! But, I guess with Lucasfilm and Marvel all belonging to Disney, I should have seen it coming.