Saturday, November 8, 2014

Days of passed past

So, I want to make a big shout-out to cyber-pal Marc Burkhardt. We've been rattling around the same back alleys of the comicsweblogosphere for some time and have crossed paths pleasantly many times. Marc's still at the blog business and he's even got a Tumblr version, but I seem to run into him more and more on the Twitter. And it was there that he recently gave me a nice gift.

It's just a non-sequitur  Tweet, but it worked on me like a geeky version of Proust's madeleines.

You see, back in the early seventies, when I was a veritable comics-reading machine, the X-Men weren't the pop culture phenomenon they are now. In fact, their comic had essentially been cancelled - it was still being printed, but for about four years they were just reprinting the comics from about eight years earlier. They ended the practice before they caught up to themselves and destroyed the space-time continuum, but what's really important is that they were reprinting those Thomas-Roth stories that Marc is talking about.

And I loved them.

I particularly loved Roth's art. Roy Thomas himself is said have thought Roth's art was not suited for superheroes, since he was really a romance and westerns guy, but I totally dug his look and his diagrammatic approach to action:

He really did shine in the non-combat bits, though. Thomas and Roth created a fauxhemian beatnik world every time Hank McCoy and Bobby Drake (Beast and Iceman) would visit their favorite coffee house (decades before the Starbucks era), and it was a hoot.

Ah, those were the days, my friend. Not as flashy as today, what with the super-duper computerized color printing and grimness & grittiness and the every-comic-is-a-movie-treatment-in-disguise stuff. It was just action and adventure and fun - with some great art.

Roth died way too young, succumbing to cancer at age 52 in 1973 - when I was still reading and enjoying his earlier work. He continued to work in comics until his death, and will always be remembered for his work on the (in)famous Lois Lane race-switch story I am Curious, Black.

My past few days of googling and remembering has been an authentic joy, and I wanted to thank Marc and share the love. Peace out.


  1. I loved those too. I'd completely forgotten about them. Roth's style now reminds me of Bruno Premiani on the Doom Patrol: his solid, conservative approach made the weird more real.

  2. Sometimes when I talk to my younger comics-fan friend about artists, I will something like "he was a great draughtsman" and they don't get the sense of the compliment I am paying.

  3. That makes me a little sad, but some of them will come to understand it, I suspect.