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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 32: Moon Knight #2

Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks, with each week devoted to a single artist. First up: Bill Sienkiewicz! Today’s page is from Moon Knight #2, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated December 1980. Enjoy!

Beware the purple hand!

I figure that if I’m going to do this for the entire year, I should mix things up a bit. So every other month will be a theme month, and every other month will be random comics. For the first theme month, I thought I’d feature four artists and see how they evolve over the course of their careers. I may return to artists in another theme month (I figure the second theme month – April – will be writers, but I’m not married to that yet), but for now, let’s check out this week’s artist: Bill Sienkiewicz. I already featured Billy the Sink in this feature because I simply love the first page of New Mutants #18, but this time I’m going back to his earlier days with Moon Knight #2. This was when he was still primarily aping Neal Adams, but slowly developing his own amazing and idiosyncratic style.

This is, of course, a true splash page – it’s not part of the story, it’s a representational page of the entire story. Moon Knight stands, protecting his friends Gena and Crawley from a killer, with the title and credits on the wall behind them. The page has an interesting design – the hero is cringing, almost frightened, while the killer’s hand and weapon dominate the scene. My theory is that Sienkiewicz knows that the actual fight between the hero and villain won’t be very interesting – the killer is a garden-variety psycho, and Moon Knight takes him down rather easily once he finds him – so he’s trying to change our perceptions in the splash page to make the bad guy loom larger. This is a more psychological tale than a simple good guy-vs.-bad guy battle, but given that it’s a standard Marvel superhero comic, that’s tougher to sell. This page promises something that really isn’t in the issue, so it’s false advertising, but it does draw the reader in, so perhaps they’ve forgiven Doug Moench by the time they finish. Sienkiewicz, of course, makes sure the blade slashes through both the title of the story and Moon Knight’s chest. I’m going to assume he also lettered the title, making it look bloody as befits the title (if it was letterer Annette Kawecki, I apologize – whoever did it, it’s a nice effect). I have no idea why the hand is purple, unless it’s simply supposed to be in shadow. The design also angles the page slightly top left to bottom right, so our eye slides easily along that axis to the hand leading onto the second page and the caption boxes at the bottom. It might be a ruse to get us into the story, but the splash page is fairly effective.

Doug Moench, typically a verbose writer, manages to tone it down just enough so that Kawecki can cram his purple prose into boxes around the edge of the page. Even so, Moench does get in an impressive eight “blood”s in the prose (out of 46 words), so that’s something. I am a fan of Moench’s, but he does tend to get a bit flowery with his words. Luckily, for the most part on this series, he knew enough to let Sienkiewicz do his thing.

This is extremely early in Sienkiewicz’s career (Moon Knight was the first book he worked on), and he shows that he knows what he’s doing with design even as he’s trying out ways to draw. He gets very different, of course, as we’ll see over the course of this week.

Next: More Sienkiewicz! More Moon Knight! In the meantime, more archives!

11 Comments

If you’re going to follow the evolution of a particular artist, please include BWS!!!!! The change in his style during his short tenure on Conan alone would be hugely interesting!

This is toned down?

[...] Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 32: Moon Knight #2- comicbookresources.com Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks, with each week devoted to a single artist. First up: Bill Sienkiewicz! Today’s page is from Moon Knight #2, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated December 1980. Enjoy! I figure [… [...]

Chris: I may, but I don’t have a lot of early Windsor-Smith, so that might be a problem. Maybe this year I’ll pick up some of those old Conans and do him in a later theme month.

Michael: You haven’t read much Moench, have you? ;) This is seriously toned-down!

I can almost see the Sienkiewicz-to-be coming through. It’s almost unthinkable that anyone else would ink him, even that early.

The Crazed Spruce

February 1, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Great idea for a twist on this feature. If you’re taking requests, how about showing either John Romita Jr. or Stuart Immonen’s evolution in style later this month?

Just wanted to say I really loved this issue as a kid.

Love this feature too!

Crazed Spruce: Yeah, I forgot to ask for requests. I already have the second week done, but that leaves two weeks unaccounted for! Those are two very good artists – I’ll have to think on it …

I second John Romita Jr.

Greg, if you want to do BWS but don’t have the comics in question let me know. I have all but one of his Conan the Barbarian run….but not his Savage Tales work alas!

i call it…a harvest of remembrance. bwah-hah-hah….

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