Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dave Cockrum R.I.P.

What you see here is one of the most famous and most valuable comic books ever produced. Hard to believe now, but THE UNCANNY X-MEN was one of the rare failures of Marvel Comics' Silver Age. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963, the X-Men never took off the way Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and other Marvel superheroes of the era did. Several other notable creators worked on the title during the 1960's, including Gary Friedrich, Werner Roth, John Buscema, Roy Thomas, Tom Palmer and Neal Adams (the Thomas/Adams/Palmer issues are particularly wonderful), but the damn thing never sold well, and the book was canceled with issue #66 in 1970.

Five years later, the X-Men were revived in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1, which combined a few characters from the Lee/Kirby era with a few newer characters, such as Wolverine, Colossus, Storm and Nightcrawler. The extra-large 36-page issue was written by Len Wein and drawn by 31-year-old Dave Cockrum, who first made a name for himself as the regular artist on DC Comics' SUPERBOY & THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, where he redesigned many of the characters' costumes to make them sleeker, hipper and sexier. He did the same with the X-Men.

Unlike the X-Men's initial run, GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 was a smash hit and rejuvenated the characters. Although Wein and Cockrum receive no credit on the recent X-MEN films as creators, the characters and storylines used in the movies bear more resemblance to their X-Men than to the Lee/Kirby X-Men. GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 is today one of the comics industry's most valuable books, and is the only GIANT-SIZE title that I don't own (and probably never will).

The talented Dave Cockrum died today from complications relating to diabetes. He was 63 years old. Anyone who read superhero comics during the 1970s and 1980s was a fan of his work, and will miss him.

1 comment:

k8e said...

how was your turkey day?