Before we get into the meat of today’s Comic Art Friday post, let me remind you all that tomorrow (Saturday, May 1, 2010, for those who may stumble upon this missive in the distant future) is Free Comic Book Day. If you drop by your participating local comic book shop, chances are excellent that you can walk away with a free comic book, selected from an array of special editions generated by comic book publishers just for the occasion.
(If you’re polite, and your local comic shop proprietor is a decent sort, you might be able to wangle a couple or more freebies. But don’t get all greedy. And be sure to say “thank you.”)
Today’s Comic Art Friday is dedicated to the memory of Bill DuBay, a longtime comics writer, artist, and editor who passed away earlier this month following a battle with cancer. He was 62 years old.
DuBay worked for most of the major (and several minor) comics publishers during his career, but he’s best remembered for his tenure as writer-editor for Warren Publishing’s line of magazine-sized comics — Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella, plus the reprint series featuring Will Eisner’s The Spirit — in the early 1970s. DuBay later helmed Archie Comics’ brief, unsuccessful attempt to launch a superhero line in the 1980s, and edited Western Publishing’s juvenile comics. Like many comics pros, he eventually moved on into animation, working for Marvel and FoxKids on their various TV cartoon series.
Although I was a major Vampirella fan back in the day, when I think about Bill DuBay I think first about Thriller, that mad and wonderful DC Comics series from the early ’80s. DuBay was the writer DC brought in to finish out the book’s run, after cocreator Robert Loren Fleming walked off the project after seven issues due to a plethora of editorial challenges. The series’ other cocreator, artist Trevor Von Eeden, bolted after issue #8, leaving former Warren stalwart Alex Niño to draw the last four stories written by DuBay.
To be frank, the last four issues of Thriller concocted by DuBay and Niño don’t stand up to the first seven by Fleming and Von Eeden. The eighth issue, written by DuBay from Fleming’s outline and illustrated by Von Eeden, falls somewhere in between. As weak as the conclusion of Thriller might have been, however, I’ve always been grateful to DuBay and Niño for at least attempting to resolve a storyline that (and I’m being honest here) they didn’t fully comprehend. (I’m not sure anyone other than Fleming and Von Eeden really understood Thriller completely. I’m including myself among the semi-mystified, even though I was among the series’ few loyal readers.) The run may have ended badly, but at least it ended — instead of just stopping in midstream when its creators left.
Anyway, the dramatic drawing of Daredevil at the top of this post is the work of Trevor Von Eeden. It seemed appropriate to run it today, as I’m thinking about the late Bill DuBay… who, like Matt Murdock’s Man Without Fear, was something of a daredevil who often found himself working (as on Thriller) without a net.
And that’s your Comic Art Friday.
P.S. Spread the word: Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day!