Comic Art Friday: A quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore

Here’s an interesting historical fact: 165 years ago today — January 29, 1845 — Edgar Allan Poe’s immortal poem The Raven was published for the first time under its author’s byline, in the New York Evening Mirror.

Considered by many — your Uncle Swan included — to be among the greatest American poetic works, The Raven is without question one of the most recognizable, most referenced, and most frequently parodied poems ever written. It made its author a literary superstar in his own time, and an influential and culturally pervasive writer to this day.

What does this have to do with comic art?

Not one doggoned thing.


"Blackbirds of Prey," pencils by comics artist Rags Morales

It provides a ready excuse to delve into my archives and pull out this Common Elements classic. No ravens here, exactly, but a pair of fine black birds nonetheless.

That’s ace aviatrix Zinda Blake — better known as Lady Blackhawk, of the famous Blackhawk Squadron and more recently of the Birds of Prey — on the left. Her winged companion is one Samuel Wilson, familiar to most as Captain America’s longtime partner in crimefighting, the high-flying Falcon. The artist behind the pencil for this heroic pose-off is Ralph “Rags” Morales, whose work for DC Comics includes several series that fit today’s “ravenous” theme, including Hawkman, Nightwing, and Black Condor.

Speaking of Poe (and I was)…

Just 10 days ago, the legendary author’s fans celebrated the 201st anniversary of his birth. Every January 19 for the past 60 years, a mysterious black-clad figure has visited Poe’s gravesite in Baltimore in the early morning hours to perform a silent tribute: a toast with a glass of cognac, and a deposit of three roses on the writer’s tombstone. This year, for the first time in six decades, “the Toaster” — as the nameless individual has come to be known — did not appear as previously. Perhaps he (or she?) has at last joined the literary giant in the Great Beyond.

Quoth the Raven… “Nevermore.”

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.

Explore posts in the same categories: Comic Art Friday, Dead People Got No Reason to Live, Good Reads

2 Comments on “Comic Art Friday: A quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore”

  1. Damon Says:

    One of the great things about commissioned art is getting to see an artist draw a character you’d probably never have the opportunity to see him draw otherwise. With his DC exclusive contract, its unlikely you’ll ever see him draw the Falcon in a comic. But come to Uncle Swan’s blog, and there it is! Another excellent Common Elements triumph.

    • SwanShadow Says:

      Damon: This is one of those pieces that I have to break out every now and again, just to remind myself that I have something this cool in my collection. It’s simple and straightforward, but beautifully rendered. I’m hoping to get Michael Bair, whose inks go with Rags’s pencils like hot sauce goes with chicken wings, to embellish it someday.

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