Comic Book Heroes!
Meet five artists extraordinaire who have been crafting your favorite characters for years
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Longtime comics luminary Jim Starlin is “what’s known as a triple threat,” says Edward Murr. “He pencils, he inks, and he writes. He does it all.” This comics all-star has created dozens of the characters you know, including the villain Thanos in the Iron Man series, and brought to life many more. In the 1970s, it was Starlin who revitalized Captain Marvel (and later had the opportunity to kill him off), and brought Adam Warlock — created by his mentor Jack Kirby — to prominence. Since then, he has gone on to draw almost every significant character at both Marvel and DC Comics. But he is best known for his “cosmic” stories. Says Murr: “He thinks about characters, plotlines, and stories on a grander scale.”
Hudson Valley home: Ulster County
Starting out: My father worked for Chrysler as a draftsman, and he felt one of the fringe benefits was bringing home all the tracing paper that he could. At age eight, I was tracing comics, and I eventually stopped tracing and started drawing. I got hired at Marvel Comics during a major expansion after sending in some samples of my work, the Hulk mostly.
First thing you remember drawing? Mostly my own characters. My first professional job was a two-page story sold to DC Comics’ House of Mystery while I was still in the Navy.
Proudest accomplishment: The story that’s probably my best is “The Death of Captain Marvel.” That and Dreadstar, which had a 40 issue-long run.
Character you still love to draw? Adam Strange. He’s a big favorite of mine. I read them in the back of the station wagon going off on family vacation. And Comet — I’m taking him places they never thought of taking him before. [Comet is Starlin’s modern reimagining of a campy 1950s era sci-fi superhero originally called Captain Comet. “He was completely ridiculous, and he wasn’t the captain of anything,” he says.]
Sci-fi drama: The character Breed (top figure)
Most difficult to draw? Cars and horses — that’s why I do sci-fi. My horses look like bad dogs.
Strangest request: That’s easy. Early on, in the urinal of the men’s room at a comics convention, two fans came up to me and asked for an autograph. They couldn’t wait until we got outside?
Fanatical fans: The strangest one was back in the ’80s. A guy claimed to be Captain Marvel, said he was angry with me for killing him, and said he would get me and my family. After some digging, I found a teacher of his and learned that he had stabbed a classmate and been sent to jail.
Current/upcoming projects? For DC Comics, a miniseries titled Strange Adventures, featuring classic DC Comics sci-fi characters Adam Strange and Comet.
As-yet unfulfilled ambition: I have one last Dreadstar story I’d like to do.
Next big trend in comics? Psychedelic, weird stories coming back into vogue again.
Comics’ place in the art world? Comics and jazz are America’s original art media. But comics are the bastard child in the U.S. In Europe, they have a more respectable status. Here, they’ve basically been reduced to R&D for the movie business.
On the Web: www.starlin.com
(For our exclusive list of Valley shops where you can find all your favorite artists' works, visit our Spidey's Web feature.)
Up next: Victor Gorelick