Archive for the Bookshelf Category

Bookshelf: Magnus Robot Fighter

Posted in Bookshelf with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2011 by uncannymanfrog

Dark Horse Comics has been putting out anthologies of the Gold Key Comics from back in the sixties.   These have included, “Turock, Son of Stone, “Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom” and  “Magnus Robot Fighter 4000 AD”.

Russ Manning created this series for Gold Key in 1963.    He pitched it to Gold Key editors as a futuristic Tarzan.   Instead of being raised by apes his hero was raised by a robot.  The series is set in 4000 A D, in the city of North AM, which spans the continent.  People have grown weak, and lazy because robots do all the work for them.   Even  televised sports feature robots competing against each other.  The robots  have a programmed code, which is basically Isaac Asimov’s robot rules which  are :  1. A robot must not allow a human to be harmed.  2. A robot must obey human commands, except when they violate rule 1.   and 3. a robot must protect themselves  except when it violates rules 1 and 2.

Occaisionally a robot goes bad  or begins ordering humans about…..

That’s when Magnus steps in,  smashing the robots with his bare hands.   As a robot is destroyed it emits its signature death cry. “SQUEEEEEEE”



But this is not a series about endless slugfests between Magnus and robots.  Manning takes the time to flesh out his characters, and fill his stories with details about the society and technology of 4000 AD.

His futuristic designs are beautiful,  from the smooth buildings, and streamlined flying cars to Leejah’s ( his love interest) semi transparent dress.

Check out this sleek flying car!


If there is an element of “clunk” in the series, it’s in the design of the Magnus’ old robot teacher,  1A.  Here are the first two pages of  Magnus Robot Fighter number 1.  1A gives his pupil last minute instructions before turning him loose in North Am.

Here are some beautifully painted covers from the series.  The anthology I’m reviewing includes the first six or seven stories.  These particular ones aren’t in the book.   My one and only complaint with this paper back edition is that the covers aren’t reprinted on a slick stock to really show off the gorgeous paintings.

Magnus leaves us with a warning at the end of one of the stories….  reading it now fifty years later it seems more relevant, somehow.  Perhaps in another fifty years it will be deemed as good advice,  that is if the robots haven’t banned the comic by then.


Comics I Like: Fantastic Four #43

Posted in Bookshelf, Comics I Like with tags , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2010 by uncannymanfrog

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in their best run: the first fifty issues of the Fantastic Four. Look at all the grey on the cover. Grey was often a background color inside too. It was used for all the Fantastic Four’s equipment. Grey is often replaced by colors or white in some of the reissues, such as Marvel Master Works.

The title is a favorite of mine; “Lo, There Shall Be an Ending!” always struck me as biblical, foreboding and cosmic all at the same time. Truly dark days for the Fantastic Four as Ben Grim, the Thing, became evil, thanks to a trance induced by the Wingless Wizard.  Ben had been thus for several issues proceeding this one.

Reed works on a dangerous plan to snap Ben out of the Wizards trance.

Sue Storm prays for Ben Grimm to live: “Please  Lord…don’t let Ben die…!” It’s the only time I recall a Marvel or DC character praying. Does anyone else know of an instance?  Stan Lee came up with the wildest of situations , but kept his character’s thoughts and reactions real.

This odd panel Kirby drew of Ben, still in a trance and dully looking out from Reed  Richard’s helmet gizmo is a favorite of mine.   Sci-fi, clunky and just plain weird.

Look at how simply they colored things way back in the sixties.  Today a panel like this would be colored in Photoshop with  exacting , photorealistic fire and smoke.  I think today’s detailed coloring is great.  I’m a fan of it, honest!  But sometimes I think it doesn’t serve the story.  You shouldn’t be pausing at this panel, thinking about  all the details in the explosion that todays coloring affords.   This simple coloring approach of yesteryear doesn’t get in the story’s way.  And it doesn’t over power Kirby’s art. ( Here inked by Vince Colleta).

Bookshelf: Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth

Posted in Bookshelf with tags , , , on March 11, 2010 by uncannymanfrog

This is my well worn copy of Andrew Loomis‘ book “Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth. This is THE best book you’ll find for understanding how to portray the figure in “3d” space. I’ve dozens of books on anatomical illustration in my library. If I had to pick just one, this is definitely the one I’d grab as I ran from my burning house.

First published in 1943,  it’s gone through 25 printings, the last one in 1973.  When I was growing up, I recall seeing abridged forms of this tome published by Walter Foster, those thin oversized volumes that are popular in art supply stores.  This book is 204 pages, each loaded with information on anatomy, balance, foreshortening, composition, and the tough subject of placing the anatomical figure in space.

There are lots of anatomical charts like this one in the book.  But most anatomy books feature these.  What makes this Andrew Loomis book great are diagrams and illustrations which instruct on how to think about  the figure relating to the space it occupies.  Charts like these below……

There is so much information packed into this book and Loomis knows how to make it easy to assimilate.   The book is out of print, but you can get it on Ebay Auctions.  Be prepared to pay from $100 to $200.  If you’re a starving artist, and I remember what’s that like, here’s where you can get it for free: