Saturday, December 13, 2008

Original Art Stories: The Ghosts Of Avengers Annual #10

Appearances can often, at times, be very deceiving. For years people have naturally assumed that the credits on certain comics were always correct, not so. The more I dig the more I learn about these books and who actually worked on them and more often than not the stories behind the stories can be just as interesting as the stories themselves.

In putting together Armando Gil's web-site, I had the chance to do the first part of an in depth interview with Armando. Naturally we spoke in detail about the Avengers Annual #10, which Armando inked over Michael Golden, one of the first times they worked together and probably the best known. Michael Golden recalled his views on the book in the recent Vanguard biography, Excess: The Art Of Michael Golden, "The books whole plot was contained in four or five typewritten pages," says Golden. "The last half of the main story, being the climax of the story, literally read: Then the Avengers show up and there's a big fight, ending with the defeat of the Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants... or something to that effect."

Armando recounted his memories of the work, "I really think that Michael Golden needs to be credited for most of that look. The guy really put his heart and soul into the pencils and all I did was try to be honest with it. I followed one little theory that Rubinstein imparted me with, because I used to hang out at Neal Adam's Continuity studios, and he said, "An inker isn't supposed to overwhelm the artist, he's supposed to enhance the artist." In some cases where you get breakdowns then it's a different attitude. I just tried to stay as true as I could to Michael Golden's work which is why I think Michael Golden asked me a bunch of times to work on his stuff."

Then Armando let me into a secret, "...(Joe) Rubinstein kept bugging me to ink a page...(so) I gave him one page out of the book to ink." The page you're seeing next to this text is not inked by Armando, it's inked by Joe Rubinstein. I had heard this rumour previously and indeed Joe himself had verified it quite a number of months ago, but until now I'd never been sure of which page Joe had inked. I emailed Joe and asked if he recalled which page he'd inked. Joe's reply was that he couldn't remember the number but he did recall the action. Replied Joe, "I inked the page with a long horizontal panel of Wanda using her power with a double lighting effect." Armed with this knowledge I scanned the page and sent it to Joe who instantly verified that it indeed was the page that he'd inked.

Things then got better. As we were discussing the X-Men I asked Dave Simons if he'd ever drawn them professionally. Dave replied in the negative but added the qualifier, "...unless you count that one page in the Avengers annual by Golden & Gil that I ghosted." That instantly raised my interest so I asked Dave to elaborate on the hows, wheres and whys of the page in question. "Most of the page is flames," says Dave, "which is why Armando let me ink it - no faces to give it away. We were all friends and lived in the same area. I knew it was special and that I'd probably never have a shot at inking a Golden page again." Thus the page you're now looking at is the Dave Simons inked page, the only time he ever worked, albeit ghosted and in a round about way, on both the X-Men and over Michael Golden's pencils.

None of this might be of much interest to the average person or even the average art collector, however to some it can be fairly vital. The owners of the two pages in question have probably been under the impression that they own pages penciled by Michael Golden and inked by Armando Gil. While they don't they do own something very unique instead. And this is not to take anything away from Armando Gil; his work on the book is still some of his best and is a showcase as to why he's considered to be one of the best inkers of Michael Golden's pencils by the majority of art collectors and comic book professionals alike. As Golden has used Gil on several occasions since, and on creator owned properties, one would assume that Golden also shares that view. Do the credits need to be adjusted? Probably not, now everyone is aware of who did what there's no need to adjust anything else.

And that closes a mystery that most people weren't probably aware even existed - the ghosts of Avengers Annual #10.

8 comments:

Mike O'Brien said...

It wasn't a secret that Rubinstein inked a page, Golden talked about it and the page he inked in the interview he gave to Spectrum magazine. In fact, Golden was a little pissed that Rubinstein inked the page since he doesn't like his inking. I didn't know that Dave Simons inked a page, though. That was interesting to find out.

Danny said...

Mike, which issue of Spectrum was that, and do you have a copy of the magazine?

Brian Postman said...

interesting story danny...i never knew about those 2 pages....

armando did a great job of inking my only dr. strange story...he also pencilled the final page,because i started working on a marvel team-up job,and jumped into doing that...the doc strange was an inventory job that was in the "vault" for 10 years!...

dave166 said...

Fans should be cautioned against reading too much into this "ghosting" business. It was just FUN for us to do bits on each other's jobs.

Danny said...

True, but I just love finding this kind of stuff out - makes me look at a story with different eyes.

Anonymous said...

I've read the same thing on artwork by Bernie Wrightson. When he was in the studio with Jeffrey Jones, Barry Windsor Smith and Michael Kaluta, he'd asked them to ink pages for him. I know for a fact Swamp Thing has pages inked by Jeffrey Jones. He was never credited for it though.

Back to that Avengers annual though, I remember that particular issue. Wasn't that the first appearance of Rogue? I remember getting that issue for free at Todd's Model Shop when I was a kid. You got a free comic with every purchase, and I picked that one. Good memories.
George "The Stooges"

Mike O'Brien said...

Yes, I have it somewhere. When I get a chance, I'll dig out the issue, scan the interview and email it to you.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

I actually called this issue one of the best single comics of the decade in a post... or something like that. It was a truly seminal book, with the artwork! Love knowing the background of stuff like that.

Howzabout the fact taht Jim Steranko inked a tier of Gulacy that appeared with an Adkins byline? Do you know that one? Artists have always helped each other, without the rest of the world knowing how it all comes together.

Somewhere JG Jones has in his sketchbook the designs that he and I did for Marvel Boy's chest insignia, or the desigins that Ron Lim and I did for Iron Man's armor!