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"The Marvel Family"
      India ink and watercolors, 1980, by C.C. Beck
 

(Click the picture above to see a larger version.)
THIS PIECE WAS ORIGINALLY CREATED as a prize for an art contest at one of the annual Minnesota comic conventions at the old Leamington Hotel in Minneapolis. Beck was guest of honor at the 1980 con, and longtime Beck friend and correspondent, P.C. Hamerlinck (now publisher/editor of the FCA Newsletter), actually sat with him as he drew this piece. Unfortunately, P.C. didn't win it.

A guy named Shawn Van Briesen did. As Shawn recalls it, "...I won it in the art contest when I was fourteen. Chaz Truog won the '15 and older' competition and I couldn't believe it when he picked a Mike Grell sketch over the C.C. Beck."

Anyway, back in late 1988 when I was getting ready to leave Minnesota for Washington, DC and government service, Marc Karos (and I've since been told, with help from Dan Jurgens) managed to buy it from Shawn and passed it along to me as a going away present.

In a recent e-mail exchange, Shawn offered to buy the painting back, and expressed his regret over selling it.

He says that he was getting ready to move to California at the time, and selling off portions of his collection. He now feels like he was "robbed...in a moment of weakness..."

"I was begged by Marc [Karos] to sell him the painting for you. The only reason I agreed was that I was young and stupid...one thing I've always regretted was selling the painting."

Marc's version of how he bought it is a little different.

He says that Shawn wasn't a big Beck fan at the time--there weren't many in those post-SHAZAM days of the early eighties--and that the piece had languished in his basement for years. (It does show some slight moisture damage and scuffing which would support that.)

Marc did have it nicely matted and framed before he presented it to me, so it looked good regardless of its history. And I'll always be grateful to Marc for thinking of me when he saw it, and for whatever efforts he had to make to get it.

It's the prize of my collection!

"Captain Marvel and Dr. Sivana"
      Magic marker, 1986, by Dan Jurgens
 

IT'S USUALLY PRETTY EASY TO GET YOUR buddies to do sketches for you--heck, they're even flattered that you'd ask. But it's a little tougher if the pal you want to ask is actually working in comics, getting paid for drawing.

So although Dan Jurgens and I had been arguing politics, society and culture every Friday night for a few years, I'd never really considered asking him for a sketch of any kind. It would have been too much like asking my minister to preach a sermon just for me, or trying to get the barber to cut my hair for free. It wouldn't really seem fair to ask a friend to do what he does for a living and not pay him for it.

That's why it was such a cool surprise when Dan gave me this drawing as a Christmas present back in 1986. Not only did it portray my favorite character, and was my first Captain Marvel drawing by a working comics pro, but it saved me the awkwardness of inevitably asking for a sketch someday! (And this was a darn-sight nicer than what I would have asked for!)

I've never seen Dan work in a retro style before or since. But it's clearly an homage to C.C. Beck, not the usual contemporary Jurgens style, so maybe it was fun for him to do it--I hope so, because I sure enjoyed getting it!

Originally, the logo area was blank--I guess Dan was used to leaving them that way, and having the production department strip in the appropriate logo--so when I scanned this, I added the Captain Marvel Adventures logo myself.

Anyway, now all I have to do is figure out how to weasel another one out of him in his own style!


(Click the picture above to see a larger version.)

"...Captain Marvel was Based on Fred MacMurray..."
      Felt tip pen, 1992, by Denys Cowan (computer coloring by MSL)
 

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THIS SKETCH WAS A WONDERFUL surprise that arrived on my desk at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City one day.

While I was working in the speakers and seminars office there, I'd put together an anti-drug program that featured a woman from the New York City Mayor's Office--Nydia Ocasio-Gouriage--who, it turned out, was a pal of Denys Cowan. She was surprised to discover that a member of the diplomatic corps not only knew who Denys Cowan was, but could rattle off a list of his recent work.

Anyway, we chatted about comics for a bit and at some point I mentioned what a fan I was of the original Captain Marvel, and how much I'd enjoy getting a Cap sketch from Cowan. A month later, this sketch (along with a full press kit from the then-upcoming Milestone Comics imprint) showed up in the mail, with a thank you note from Ms. Ocasio-Gouriage. 

She was the one that I needed to thank! Cowan did a wonderful synthesis of his own style, Fred MacMurray and the classic Cap. Great stuff!

"Captain Goodguy, er, Marvel..."
      Felt tip pen, 1997, by P. Craig Russell (computer coloring by MSL)
 

A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, THE local comics store--Von's Shops-- finagled in-store appearances from a handful of Midwest-based comics pros who were car-pooling to the Motor City Con, and passing Lafayette on the way. I was amazed to discover, among a bunch of relative unknowns who'd be there, a name I'd known for nearly 30 years: P. Craig Russell! 

Russell has long been a favorite of mine, so I asked Von's comic manager, Seth Harding, to check whether Russell might be willing to do a Captain Marvel sketch that I could add to my collection.

Seth made the call (more about how well Von's treats me later) and the answer was yes. So I showed up, had a nice chat, and got the sketch displayed at the right. 

There was one little surprise: Russell, it turns out, is one of very few comics pros I've met who isn't a fan of (or even familiar with) the original Captain Marvel. In order to draw him, he actually had to ask for reference material!


(Click the picture above to see a larger version.)
Given that Russell is well-known as an opera aficionado, and that Cap's costume supposedly was inspired by a military costume from light opera, you'd think that someone might have told him the story and piqued his interest in the character. But I guess not.

But in any case, the more-cartoony-than-the-usual-Russell result looks pretty nifty--something like "Captain Goodguy," a Captain Marvel-inspired character who appeared in fanzines back in the sixties and seventies.

"Captain Marvel Visits Uptown Minneapolis!"
     Felt tip pen, 1988, Mark Luebker (computer coloring 1999 by MSL)
 

(Click the picture above to see a larger version.)
FOR A LOT OF YEARS, I DID THE OVERSTREET Price Guide ads for a handful of Minneapolis comic stores. It was a great way to earn trade (which saved me money on comics), and it was nice to be able to go into a book or comic store, pull a book off the shelf, open it up and see my work.

In early 1988 (my last year in Minnesota), Gary Sissala--the owner of Comic City--asked me to do what turned out to be the last such ad that I ever did. But as (bad) luck would have it, Gary and Comic City were going through some difficult times, and although I got paid for the job, Gary couldn't afford to place the ad in that year's Price Guide.

It was the only time that I actually got paid to draw Captain Marvel--although I'll admit that using him in the ad was my idea--and unfortunately, it never saw print. 

I've had the over-sized original kicking around for the last 10+ years, and watched it deteriorate. The border tape came off and it has moisture damage along the lower edge. Fortunately, I've got a stat of it somewhere--reduced to the actual size that the ad would have run in Overstreet, with Zip-a-toned added (since it was going to run in black and white, not color), just like the one that I delivered to Gary.

But for presentation here, I scanned the damaged original, fixed it up through the magic of technology, then computer colored it to show it off as I would have liked to see it published!