PREVIEW: Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Universe Presents: The Atom"
Many people may not be very familiar with Pat Boyette’s work, as he did not do much work for DC or Marvel. Others may not really know what to think of his style at first glance. It is unique to say the least. In the late 60s, when the funnybook world was shifting towards the Neal Adams standard (which is a fine standard); Pat Boyette was still telling stories in his own way.
I’d imagine some people would see his art today and think it was too rough or even amateurish. Once you actually start to read the story and see how he is able to move the narrative along through his wonderful layouts and economic action sequences, you really get sucked into the comic.
Boyette was far more than a comic book artist, though. He was a true renaissance man dabbling in television broadcasting and filmmaking and was in his 40s when the landed in the funnybook business in the mid-60s. The bulk of his work was for Charlton, but he also contributed to DC, Warren and Skywald among others. His line work is fairly spare and his characters are often given very flat, Picasso-like faces with cat’s eyes. This may seem odd at first, but once you get a feel for Boyette’s way of telling a story, it all comes together.
When Dick Giordano moved to DC, he tried to salvage the faltering Blackhawk series by parachuting in Pat Boyette. Many will claim that the final two issues were the best Blackhawk stories of the Silver Age, and I won’t disagree. Unfortunately, it was a case of too little too late and we never got the chance to see a long run by Boyette on the title. Boyette also drew the infamous ‘Children of Doom’ story at Charlton, and co-created the Peacemaker with Joe Gill. Boyette was sufficiently talented to change his style to fit the story, as could be seen with his detailed and lush work for “Death of the Wizard” in Creepy #39.
I’ll be the first to admit that Boyette’s style was not my thing when I first saw it, but as I dug deeper and deeper into the Charlton library, I slowly found myself falling in love with his work. I love his Phantom, but he has the distinct disadvantage of drawing it between the Aparo and Newton eras. His work on Flash Gordon, Jungle Jim and Korg, 70,000 BC was incredibly imaginative and exciting. I assume that he also designed the Mr. Bones character for Ghost Manor – my favourite of the Charlton ‘hosts’.
More and more, though, I’ve found myself drawn to Pat Boyette’s covers. The samples above show that he was comfortable producing both line drawn and painted covers. His images are always striking, tempting the reader to look inside. While those of you who frequent my blog know that I go a little nuts for Ditko covers; Boyette covers ain’t far behind these days – especially the painted ones. If you ever stumble upon a cheap Charlton book with Boyette artwork in the bargain bins or online, do yourself a favour and give it a try.
Here are links to a couple of bio/tribute pages. I recall reading a wonderful obituary from Mark Evanier, but I can’t seem to track it down online.
For more random talk about all sort of classic comics, please stop by my blog:
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.