365 Reasons to Love Comics #357
I’m unleashing the full fury of another comics legend in the column today! Click if you dare! (Aaaarchive!)
357. Jim Steranko
Despite a relatively small comics career, Jim Steranko made a massive impact on the medium, resulting in a slew of homages and imitators, and yet, no one’s managed to truly recapture the spirit and experimentation present in his work. There ain’t nobody else like Steranko.
Before he exploded onto the comics scene, Jim Steranko had led the life of a magician, carnival performer, musician, and, most notably, an escape artist (inspiring Jack Kirby’s Mister Miracle). Eventually, he made the leap into comics, first through Harvey, and later Marvel, in the 60s. There, he ended up on Strange Tales, and quickly took over the Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD segment of the book, where he really got noticed.
He turned the superspy serial into a means with which to experiment with the comics form, and it’s here that be became a true artist. From his layouts and use of shadow to his incorporation of collages and optical illusions into the art, he really made it his own. No one had ever seen anything like it, and I still don’t think anyone has. Steranko’s Fury was truly unique and utterly gorgeous, from the covers through the interiors. His art was hip, surreal, and sexy– the book became a psychedelic masterpiece.
Look at those layouts! Look at those effects! Look at that love scene (albeit toned down from Steranko’s original version because it was too, too sexy for kids)! Look at that Dali-esque cover! Amazing work.
Steranko’s run on Nick Fury was fairly short-lived, though it was the longest run of sequential art comics he’d produce in his career. He also drew small stints on X-Men, Captain America, and short stories in a few other titles, continually playing with style or layout to improve the aesthetics of the form.
Jim Steranko still does the occasional comics project, but he’s mostly settled into a role of historian and occasional publisher. Still, one has to appreciate his powerful contributions to the industry and to comics as an art form. Steranko’s gone in directions no one else has, even decades later, and for that, he’ll always be one of the greats.
For more, hit up the Wiki; loads of info and lots of links for your browsing pleasure.