30 March 2010

Mark Of A Hero: DICK GIORDANO Will Be Remembered As One Of The Greats

Though the comics spotlight most often shines on the hottest drawers of the day, few linger in that light for long, and far fewer still leave their permanent mark on the industry or its fans. Dick Giordano, who passed away Saturday at the age of 77,  was one of the few exceptions to that rule, and leaves behind him a heroic legacy of imagery and storytelling that defined superheroes for an entire generation.

The announcement came early 27 March 2010 from Giordano's business partner and comics creator whom he once served as mentor, Bob Layton

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

It is my sorrowful duty to announce that legendary artist/editor/entrepreneur
Dick Giordano passed away today.  Few could ever hope to match what he accomplished in his chosen profession, or to excel while maintaining great humor, compassion for his peers and an unwavering love for the art form.

His unique vision changed the comic industry forever and all of those who work in the business continue to share in the benefits of his sizable contributions. I have been honored to call him a business partner, mentor and dear friend throughout the majority of my lifetime.

We will not see his like again.
Bob Layton

Having recently just purchased one of my earliest childhood memories, DC Comics'  tabloid-sized Justice League of America Limited Collectors' Edition C-46 from 1976 which features Giordano's cover art of DC's top heroes speeding out from the JLA seal - an iconic image that has been recreated numerous times since  and put into motion for the opening credits of at least one iteration of the Super-Friends  cartoon - the penciller and inker was coincidentally on my mind the week before he died.  As a kid, the comic book stories and their writers mean little, but the pictures mean everything. In retrospect, there's no doubt that Giordano was one of the main reasons I'm reading comics today.

My over-sized Justice League comic is only one of Dick Giordano's many invaluable contributions to comics and the superheroes he portrayed. Influenced by comics strip artists like Alex Raymond and Hal Foster, Giordano began his long career in comics in 1951 as a freelance artist, doing work for the majority of the publishers at that time.  Most of his early years, however, were spent in Connecticut at Charlton Comics. By 1965, he had risen in the ranks to become the company's Editor-in-Chief, leading a resurgence of the publisher's "Action Heroes" like the Blue Beetle and Captain Atom under the pen of Spider-Man co-creator, Steve Ditko.
Giordano went to work for DC Comics in the late 1960's as an editor and inker, and along with writer Denny O'Neil and penciller Neal Adams, contributed his skills to one of the publisher's most important series of the time, Green Lantern / Green Arrow. He also lent his talents to other genre-defining books of the early Bronze Era, including Batman, and perhaps the two most significant of DC's Treasury books, Superman Vs The Amazing Spider-Man (1976) - the very first intercompany cross-over between the heroes of Marvel  and DC - and 1978's Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali, a true collector's item that DC announced will finally be remastered and reprinted later this year. 
As an Executive Editor at DC, Giordano was instrumental bringing two of the 1980's most pivotal series to print: Alan Moore's Watchmen and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.  Perhaps an ever greater achievement, many of comics best artists and writers, from Neal Adams to Jim Lee, may not be working in the industry today if not for Giordano's encouragement.

But for those of us here at the Springfield Home Office, and we expect for many comics fans across the country and the world, its Giordano's art, synonomous of superhero, that has left its greatest impression.  While non-comics folks might not recognize Giordano as the man responsible, images of his Aquaman, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, among others, would be instantly familiar to even the uninitiated. Dick Giordano's portrayal of those and many other of pop culture's greatest characters has not only forged their name in history, but also his own.
Top: Aquaman by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano
Middle: DC Heroes inked sketch by Dick Giordano 
Bottom: Wonder Woman inked sketch by Dick Giordano

To read more about Dick Giordano as well as view his comics art work, visit the artist's own website HERE.   Google Books also features a 176-page online preview of Two Morrows Publishing's Changing Comics One Day At A Time, their 2003 biography of Dick Giordano, HERE.

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