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Underappreciated Artist Spotlight – Dan Spiegle

Here’s Scott’s next piece – BC.

Dan Spiegle rarely gets mentioned among the funnybook greats, but over recent years I’ve noticed a real trend towards a greater appreciation of what he brought to the 4 Color world.

My first exposure to Spiegle work was likely Gold Key’s Space Family Robinson #42, but I really started to notice him as an arist (not knowing his name, just style) with the Nemesis back-ups in Brave and the Bold. Let me get this out of the way – I was not a fan. I thought it was all very ugly and amateurish. I was young, what can I say?

Over time, I really grew to enjoy his work. He manages to infuse the page with a lot of life and is a master storyteller. His characters all seem real, and he draws the best thugs in the game. What surprised me most while trying to compile art for this thread was how incredible he was at drawing background scenery and landscapes.

His 80s Blackhawk run is my favorite – although I love every Korak story I see.

Here are some examples of his art. The first is a wordless page from Crossfire.

It is beautifully constructed. I’d love to see Mark Evanier’s script for that page (paging Mr. Evanier…. Mr. Mark Evanier).

The next page is from the Archie Comics Groupʼs Red Circle title, the Black Hood.

This page could almost be wordless, as the story moves along beautifully and the emotions etched on the faces tell the story. It is downright Tothian. Perfect storytelling.

Finally, hereʼs a gorgeous double page splash from an early 70s issue of Star Spangled War Stories.

You can see just how committed Spiegle is to totally engaging the reader and immersing them in the setting.

If you’re not convinced, take another look at Spiegle work (Blackhawk, Space Family Robinson and Korak can be found for peanuts) and just let this master tell you a story.

18 Comments

I absolutely loved Crossfire! I am annoyed now that the DNAgents reprint is in B&W… And presumably any Crossfire re-prints that might spin-out of it will be too…

Dan was awesome and his work with Evanier really sang!

Chris Dingsdale

August 27, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Totally in agreement! Dan is criminally underated and should be regarded as a true great of the industry. I’ll wager any professional artist in the industry would agree.

How good would a deluxe hardcover reprint of his and Mark Evaniers’ “Blackhawk” be?

I just re-read the great revival of “The Secret Six” that ran in Action Comics Weekly. Great Spiegle work there.

Can we get some of these focusing on Golden Age artists?

I’ve got a list around here somewhere…

I’ve never seen his work before, but man does this look good.

Yeah… his Blackhawk run in the 80′s… definitely the best portrayal of that group ever done (thanks to him, as well as Mr. Evanier). I’d kill for a hardcover.

Spiegle is truly wonderful. He’s been one of my favorites for years. Nobody can draw REAL people like Dan Spiegle… he draws the widest variety of faces I’ve ever seen.

Hey DC… give us some Blackhawk and Nemesis Showcase volumes, pretty please?

I’d love to read his run on Blackhawk, I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, and yet I’ve never gotten around to picking it up. His work on Crossfire is fantastic though.

One of the first comics I owned was Blackhawk #252, which I loved as a kid. I recently went back and re-read it and was pleasantly surprised to see that Mark Evanier was the writer, since I’m a big fan of his now. As a kid, though, I think the Spiegle artwork attracted me to the comic more. That War Wheel was awesome. I’d love to see a collection of the rest of the run.

Dan Spiegle is one of the greatest artists in the history of American comics. He deserves to be elected to the Hall of Fame. It’s a shame that he spent so much of his career toiling in obscurity.

I remember his old Gold Key stuff mostly. He did some good work for DC with Secret Six in Action Comics Weekly.

Holy crap is that awesome!

Oh yeah, Spiegle’s work really highlights the shortcomings in a lot of modern artists’ work.
It’s not enough to be able to draw ‘pretty pictures’ (or ‘hawt chicks’ or whatever), you have to be able to tell a damn story.
Great piece, Scott.

I learned to draw from pouring over Dan Spiegle comics in the 50′s and 60′s. Back then he drew comics for Dell based on TV series such as Maverick, The Rifleman, The Untouchables, Texas John Slaughter, Shotgun Slade, The Invaders, and The Green Hornet. He also drew comics based on Disney movies, such as The Parent Trap, Mary Poppins, Son of Flubber, and Old Yeller. What I loved about the TV comics was his attention to detail. Maverick looked just like James Garner and The Untouchables looked like Robert Stack. The Rifleman’s rifle looked right. The Green Hornet’s car Black Beauty looked right. The Invaders’ ray guns looked right and when the Invaders died, the red glow looked right as they evaporated on the page.
Dan should get a lot more credit. For years at Dell, they never let the artists sign their work. He was always the best of the Dell artists. Somebody else illustrated the Cheyenne TV comic and it didn’t look like Clint Walker. But Dan illustrated the comic based on the movie Yellowstone Kelly and it looked exactly like Clint Walker.

We got Dan to do a cover for our Captain Action Special #1- out in April. And it looks beautiful!

Hands down, Dan Spiegle has for more than 25 years been my favorite comic book artist. Nemesis. Blackhawk, Crossfire. Scooby Doo. Hopalong Cassidy. Secret Six. I never tire of looking at his work.

Timothy Markin

June 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Does anyone know that Spiegle is Frank Miller’s top influence? (However, the crap that Miller is putting out now, that’s not saying much.) Over the past 35 years, I’ve lost track of how many comics I’ve bought or started collecting solely due to Dan Spiegle being the artist. Last year when I weeded out unwanted comics from my collection, there were numerous issues I would have otherwise junked if not for the Spiegle art, regardless of who wrote them. (Omega Men and Power Pack, anyone?) When I was a kid, I acquired a small collection of 1950s Dells and so many of them had Spiegle art and I still have them! (Nemesis from Brave and the Bold was wonderful and I’ve often lamented that DC hasn’t collected it in any form, despite Nemesis having become a presence in the DCU via Wonder Woman.

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