web stats

CSBG Archive

Scott’s Classic Comics Corner: Underappreciated Artist Spotlight – Rudy Nebres

This time around, I take a look at artist Rudy Nebres, who did some excellent work during the 70s and 80s but never became a household name.

Rudy Nebres is something of an anonymous comic book creator. He was among that tidal wave of Filipino creators who hit the American comic book scene in the 1970s, but he never achieved the popularity of Alex Niño or Tony DeZuniga. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason for this, but one likely factor is that he never had a long run on any title or character.

Like many of his contemporaries, Nebres got his start at DC with a handful of stories scattered through the various horror anthologies, beginning with House of Mystery #210.

Nebres migrated over to Marvel, and made significant contributions to their black and white magazine line, with notable contributions to Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. Nebres’ eye for anatomy and his fluid inks helped infuse his action sequences with some incredible style.

Unfortunately, Marvel’s magazine line went the way of the Dodo bird. Nebres moved into color comics, and was often assigned the task of ‘embellishing’ or providing the ‘finished art’ over the layouts of the likes of Carmine Infantino, Jim Starlin and especially Gil Kane on John Carter, Warlord of Mars. I feel that Nebres added an organic and almost feminine quality to Kane’s work, and that they suited each other quite well on that project.

During this time, Nebres contributed plenty of solid work to Warren’s line of black and white magazines including Eerie, Vampirella, 1984, 1994 and the Fighting Armenian strip in The Rook.

Nebres found work all over the place during the 80s, with further contributions at Marvel, some work on Archie’s Red Circle relaunch as well as some of the new, independent publishers such as Pacific and, more recently, CrossGen.

I am not sure exactly why Nebres does not have a larger body of work. He did go on to work for Neal Adams’ Continuity Studios, migrating into the world of storyboards and commercial art, cutting down on his funnybook stuff. Perhaps it is due to bad timing, as his skills may have been best suited for the fantasy and horror genres, which saw a decline in popularity not long after his arrival on the scene. It’s too bad, as he never got the recognition he deserved.

For more comic book talk, stop by my blog Seduction of the Indifferent

18 Comments

Definitely one of my favorites from the ’70s, especially when (as mentioned in the article) inking Gil Kane.

I think he did some Dr Strange or maybe Dracula. I remember good stuff from him…

The only Nebres I’ve got is a Dr Strange issue in the #20s from the mid/late 70s – pretty good IIRC. At the time Nebres seemed to be another addition to the disproportionally good list of Dr Strange artists.

For a B-list character whose title has been cancelled many times, Doc’s had from the start in the 60s to the 70s (off the top of my head): Ditko, Everett, M Severin, Colan/Palmer, B Smith, Brunner (with Adams & the Crusty Bunkers), Colan/Palmer again, Starlin, Nebres, Russell, Colan again (with Palmer? I know Green inked him), Rogers, Paul Smith…

No specific mention of his work on Savage Sword of Conan? That’s what immediately springs to mind when I think of Nebres.
Also, I’d never seen his work inking Kane…that is simply gorgeous.

I really enjoyed his Swamp Thing issues, particularly issue 15 with the creepy radioactive swamp children. It’s probably the best post-Wein/Wrightson issue until Alan Moore comes along.

As soon as I read “Rudy Nebres,” I thought “John Carter, Warlord of Mars.” I always loved Gil Kane but the softening and deeper textures that Nebres added to Kane’s harder edges were perfect for that title. As a “Comic Fan of a Certain Age,” I’m loving your columns on the likes of Nebres and Alcala.

I usually am on the same wavelenght as you Scott, but, Boy! do I have to disagree on you about Rudy Nebres inking on Gil Kane’s John Carter Warlord of Mars.

For me, the optimal Gil Kane art is when he inks himself. I loved his rough bold inking style. It gave power to his already dynamic art. Rudy Nebres was a fine artist but his inking was too overpowering when he went over somebody else’s pencils. Kane’s art lost a lot of it’s strength and power under all that extra wavy and organic lines. I hate they try adding that “feminine” quality you described on powerful artists like Gil Kane or Jack Kirby (Vinnie Coletta’s awful inks also tried to make the King’s art smoother or more “feminine”… yehch!), or on more recent artists like Walter Simonson or John Romita jr.

I recently bought a complete set of Marvel’s John Carter Warlord of Mars and I will probably sell it back on Ebay soon mostly because I thought Nebres’s inks ruined Gil Kane’s art.

But I like Rudy Nebres fine when he draws and inks his own stuff.

"O" the Humanatee!

February 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I agree with Kirbydotter about the effect of Nebres on “vigorous” artists like Kane or Infantino. Like so many of the Filipino artists, Nebres had gorgeous linework that was a pleasure to look at but sapped the energy out of their drawing. In fact, I’ve noticed that linework that is too lush and “regular”* often works against action-oriented stories; it seems to arrest the eye and thereby interrupt the flow. Unlike Kirbydotter, I feel this negatively affects Nebres’s own self-inked work, despite all the twisty-turny anatomy. Nestor Redondo, who did the most beautiful drawing of all the Filipino artists who did American work, suffered from the same problem. (Patrick Joseph: You’re thinking of Redondo, not Nebres, on Swamp Thing.)

Major exceptions to this generalization about the Filipino artists included de Zuniga, the brilliantly insane work of Alex Nino, and Steve Gan (http://www.alanguilan.com/museum/stevegan.html), whose work was described correctly in Comic Book Artist, Vol. 2, no. 4, as “something of a cross between John Buscema and Al Williamson.” (That issue was devoted to Filipino artists and has an excellent A-Z guide to Filipino artists in US comics.)

Heimdall: I’m 99.9% certain that’s not Nebres inking Kane; it’s Nebres inking Infantino. I really wish the CSBG bloggers would give clearer art credits. For example, the Power Man/Iron Fist page above was inked by South American artist Ricardo Villamonte over Nebres’s pencils.

* By “regular” I mean that they use very similar marks all over their drawings, not only on every piece of anatomy but even on non-animate things. Bernie Wrightson’s inks, for example, are lush but not regular.

I’m a huge fan of Rudy Nebres’ work. He is one of my favorite artists from the Filipino “school” of comic book artists. He did incredible work on Vampirella, and actually returned to the character in the 1990s when he drew a few issues during the time Harris had the license.

Rudy Nebres is an excellent artist, but one minor comment- He didn’t ink Swamp thing 15- that was Nestor Redondo, also an excellent artist

Well, beauty certainly is in the eye of the beholder.

I enjoy the work of many inkers on Kane, especially Kane himself. I have an original Kane cover inked by Kane and it is gorgeous. Personally, I like Nebres over Kane on JC of Mars. I would not like that look on something like the Atom, though. It all depends on the project.

to O the Humanatee: That is Kane – that’s what my eyes tell me and that’s what it says on the issues title page. As for the PMIF page – that was thrown in as filler – I wasn’t really worried about the credits. Each CSBG contributor has their own style and technique. None of us get paid for this, and I am sure that everyone (including me) tries their best to provide entertaining and informative reads. Some things will ultimately slip through the cracks, as I know that I do not have the time to double and triple check every credit I insert – so I usually just note the material ones. I have moved from a weekly column to twice a month because it was becoming a chore – and I don’t want it to be any more cumbersome.

"O" the Humanatee!

February 2, 2011 at 10:19 am

Let me apologize to you, Scott, and to Heimdall, for my misidentification of Kane as Infantino. I pride myself on my ability to recognize penciler/inker combos, at least from that era, and in this case my pride led me astray. (FWIW, the long horizontal panels, the hands in panels 2 and 3, and the composition in panel 3 looked like Infantino to me. The anatomy and poses in panel 5 certainly look more like Kane, and I should have listened to the part of me that was saying so.)

Even worse for me, looking back over John Carter issues to double-check those credits after your comment showed me that the Kane/Nebres art worked better than I remembered. It is still a little less vigorous than other inkers would have made it, but it has a lushness that does a nice job of conveying the alien setting. I certainly agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – I’m sorry if I suggested otherwise.

I appreciate the hard (and unpaid) work that you and the other CSBG bloggers put in. (How Cronin does what he does I’ll never understand!) I only mind the absence of artist credits when art is the subject of a post. I came of age noticing the strong effect different inkers could have on a penciler, and at a time when art was viewed as more important than it seems to be to the current generation of comics readers, weaned on the superstar writer concept. (I’m ancient at 52.) So I feel there’s some educational value in giving full art credits – but I can see that it represents extra effort.

Thanks for featuring one of my great countrymen. Nebres was amazing.

For my money though, the most underrated Filipino artist of that era was Jess Jodloman. http://www.comicscube.com/2010/08/reclaiming-history-jess-jodloman.html

‘O’

First of all, Brian has succesfully cloned himself several times over. That’s the secret.

Secondly, I can speak for the other bloggers on here – but I do try to speak to the art as much as I can, but must admit to overlooking the inker from time to time when my piece is more focused on the penciller’s work. Over time I have come to appreciate the full impact a inker can have on the artwork for better (Mr. Wood) or worse (a rushed Colletta).

I love Nebres work, though I recall that at the time I didn’t like his inks over Gil Kane on John Carter. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the art, it’s gorgeous, but I’m also a huge Kane fan (I have a couple of pieces of his Superman work from the early ’80s) and Rudy’s inking style overwhelmed Gil’s more kinetic forms that I love so much. (My favorite inkers on Kane were Dave Cockrum, Kane himself and Tom Sutton. Oddly, I’ve never really cared for Sutton’s solo work.)

Rudy also did some work for Byron Priess’ Weird Heroes series of illustrated novels and inked John Buscema on the Warriors of the Shadow Realm Weirdworld trilogy for Marvel Super Special (I think he drew or inked the cover to the Weirdworld debut in Marvel Premiere as well).

Hugo Sleestak

May 31, 2011 at 10:18 pm

I thought that Nebres was beyond perfect for the inking job on the John Carter series. I remember seeing Kane’s work just a few years later on the Star Hawks newspaper strip, and it was like seeing a version of John Carter with all of the blood drained out of it, simply because Rudy and his organic, gorgeous brushwork wasn’t there to save it. Sometimes Kane needed to be overpowered a little bit, just as Romita overpowered Kane when he did the penciling on some classic Spider-Man tales.

It’s true that the artists from the Philippines often didn’t have the raw power of the best American creators, but they had an ability to draw the reader deep into the page, with every nuanced turn of the brush.

At that time ( 70′s, 80′s ), the lush brushwork was a trademark of the Phillipino artists. Nebres was a perfect example of that tradition. As inkers, it seemed a bit heavyhanded for many pencillers. A lot of these guys ( like Nebres, Redondo, Alcala etc ) should have been pencilling and inking themselves as they were artists in their own right…not just inkers.

Another Philipino artist who is highly underappreciated is Gerry Talaoc. He did some fantastic work on DC horror anthologies as well as the Unknown Soldier. He did pencil and ink his own work most of the time. His work looked like Frank Robbins as inked by Alex Nino. Great stuff!

Luis Dominguez is another.

Kevin Phillips

April 27, 2014 at 8:39 am

I am also a huge fan of both Kane and Nebres. I thought their work on “Warlord” was some of the best art appearing in the old 4-C pulp mags. I seem to recall a comment by Kane (in the Comics Journal?) where he paid Nebres a left-handed compliment, saying how beautiful Nebres’ inking was, but that maybe Kane’s own art was a bit overwhelmed by that inking.

I think that could generally be said of almost all the Filipino artists/inkers. I recall a backup story in the B&W Conan magazine which was done by Kane and inked by the great Nestor Redondo. I greatly regret having lost that issue: very different artists coming together for some really brilliant art. And talk about different! Let’s not forget Alfredo Alcala inking Jack Kirby on “Destroyer Duck”!

Speaking of JK: Does anyone know of an instance when Nebres might have inked Kirby?

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

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.

Browse the Archives