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CSBG Archive

Steve Englehart’s Back Pages

Every day this month I will share with you the first (at least as far as I know) U.S. professional work by a notable comic book creator. Here is an archive of the creators who have been featured so far.

Today’s featured creator is Steve Englehart!

Enjoy!

Steve Englehart has had a prolific career as a comic book writer, perhaps most notably during the 1970s, when he had legendary runs on Captain America, The Avengers, Justice League of America and Detective Comics. It’s rare for any comics from this era to resonate with modern viewers, and yet Englehart has had multiple runs that have received a great deal of attention today (with only his Justice League run not currently in print as a collection).

While he gained fame as a writer (today he is a popular novelist), Englehart began his comics career as an art assistant to the great Neal Adams. In fact, Englehart’s first comic book work was as an artist, on a Vampirella story for Warren Publishing. I am going to skip that one and show you his second story, because his second story as an artist was also the first story he was involved as a writer!

Gardner Fox had done the script for an issue of Warren’s Eerie (#35), and Englehart was the artist (again, though, since he was working with Adams, Adams was helping him on the art – some inks, some layouts, etc.), and he fiddled with Fox’s script. Can you imagine your first writing job being to mess around with the script of a great like Gardner Fox?

Here is the result (from September 1971)…

In February 1972, Englehart’s first solo writer job came out for Marvel Comics, in Monsters on the Prowl #15…

Soon after, he was given the regular assignment on the just-started Beast series in Amazing Adventures and, well, the rest is history!

12 Comments

I dig the Syd Shores art!

That dig at New York City in the Pterodactyl story has gone unanswered for nearly forty years. I call on our NYC-based comics writers to add a baseless swipe at Englehart’s home base of Oakland CA to their next published work, so that the scales are balanced at last and this East Cost/West Coast beef can be put to rest without bloodshed.

Wow! How is it that we never got more art from Englehart?

I kinda dig that Englehart artwork. I had never heard that he was originally also an artist.

Englehart on his art:

I began my comics career as an art assistant to the great Neal Adams. I have no idea what Neal saw in me other than a love of comics, and perhaps a kindred spirit, because I was not really much of an artist when he took me on. He taught me, fed me at his house, taught me to distrust authority, and was in all respects the man who solidified whatever it is I’ve become.
He had, at this time, a script by Denny O’Neil for the VAMPIRELLA magazine, and he threw me right into it. I did layouts for some pages and he did the pencils; then he did layouts for other pages and I did pencils. I inked it; he inked it. And when we were done, he insisted that my name go on it beside his! Now this, folks, was and is unheard of. Many artists have assistants, and none of them credits his assistant. But Neal wanted to get me a published credit so I could start a career. That’s the kind of guy he is.

As it turned out, I never could get my hand to draw pictures as well as my mind envisioned them, and so I became a writer – but a writer who thinks like an artist, thanks to Neal Adams.

Man, you can sure look like an artist with Neal helping you.

There are a lot of guys who are now just writers who started out as artists. Bendis and Brubaker immediately pop to mind. Bruce Jones (of that Hulk run several years back, among other things) started as an artist also. I hadn’t known that Englehart had been an artist.

I know there are others, but they aren’t coming to mind right now. Perhaps Brian would want to do some sort of feature about artist/writers turned just writer?

I’ve been blogging about my experiences in reading a large portion of the Marvel catalog. I’m currently in the early 70’s and have been reading a ton of Englehart lately and I have to say that he is amazing at getting what makes characters interesting and highlighting it. I love it.

Yeah Englehart in the 70s was just a wonderful writer. Not sure what happened later as most of his work after the 70s I found pretty mediocre with a few exceptions.

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

March 22, 2011 at 11:49 am

@Travis Pelkie

“I know there are others, but they aren’t coming to mind right now. Perhaps Brian would want to do some sort of feature about artist/writers turned just writer?”

Alan Moore was also an artist.

Yeah Englehart in the 70s was just a wonderful writer. Not sure what happened later as most of his work after the 70s I found pretty mediocre with a few exceptions.

Yeah, when I got into my early teens and started really noticing who the writers were, Englehart was on West Coast Avengers and Silver Surfer, and I formed an impression of him as kind of a hack with a tendency to pile on mob scenes of guest stars. It was only later that I looked back on some of the comics I’d loved for years and realized he’d written a lot of them. I stand by my dislike of his ’80s stuff, but that doesn’t lessen my enjoyment of the great work he did in the ’70s.

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

March 22, 2011 at 2:27 pm

@buttler

“Yeah, when I got into my early teens and started really noticing who the writers were, Englehart was on West Coast Avengers and Silver Surfer, and I formed an impression of him as kind of a hack with a tendency to pile on mob scenes of guest stars.”

What? No. Englehart’s West Coast Avengers and Silver Surfer were awesome. And who could forget his Coyote and Green Lantern? That was awesome defined.

Oh yeah, I enjoyed Coyote. I wasn’t crazy about his GL run at the time, but it sure looks better now than most of what followed it (except Gerard Jones, whom I did like).

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