Comic Art Friday: You can call him Al

Never underestimate the power of the Internet for bringing people together.

Back in March, shortly before WonderCon, a visitor to my Comic Art Fans gallery left a comment on one of my earliest Common Elements commissions, this charming tableau featuring Black Canary and the original 1940s Black Cat.

The Golden Age Black Cat and Black Canary, pencils by comics artist Jeffrey Moy

I recognized the commenter’s name immediately: Al Gordon, a veteran comics inker whose career spans the gamut from 1970s Marvel (Al inked several issues of Spider-Woman, among my favorite comics from the latter part of that decade), to Eclipse’s fondly remembered DNAgents, to DC’s Justice League and Legion of Super-Heroes, to ABC Comics’ Tom Strong, for which Al won two Eisner Awards. I had met Al briefly several years back at another local comics convention, and had seen him in passing a handful of times since, but he didn’t know me from Adam. (Hughes, that is.)

Al mentioned that he’d always wanted to ink something by Jeffrey Moy, the artist who penciled the drawing in question, but never had the opportunity. I shot Al an e-mail back, noting that I’d welcome the chance for him to ink this piece, and would in fact would be glad to bring it with me to WonderCon and deliver it into his capable hands in person. Al agreed to the plan.

Thus, one of my first items of business on the opening day of the convention was hunting down Al and giving him the artwork. We discussed a couple of adjustments Al wanted to make — which sounded terrific to this non-artist — and then worked out the particulars of the commission. Cash and contact information were exchanged. Then off I went to see the rest of the con.

A couple of weeks later, Al e-mailed me to let me know that he’d completed the inking. We arranged a meeting at his studio in downtown San Francisco. Here’s the finished art Al had ready to return to me.

The Golden Age Black Cat and Black Canary, pencils by Jeffrey Moy, inks by Al Gordon

In the immortal words of Emeril Lagasse, I’d say that Al kicked this up a few dozen notches. (Click the image to see a larger, sharper scan. Go ahead — you know you want to.)

As we chatted in his studio, Al and I discovered that we shared a few other commonalities besides our mutual affection for comics. Like myself, Al is a great fan of the Art Nouveau style, especially the work of Alphonse Mucha. Al showed me some illustration work he’s done using a Muchaesque approach, and it’s stunning. Also like myself, Al is a voice actor — with an impressive resume in the field (unlike myself, as yet).

I’m already thinking ahead to other projects I’d like to commission Al to do when he has time in his busy schedule. Because, you know, I’ve gotta have more of this.

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.

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