Thursday, April 7, 2016

If I Had a Buck... Keith Pollard Art

Martinex1: In the late Bronze Age, there was an artist from the great city of Detroit who handled the challenges of penciling key Marvel monthlies simultaneously.  The artist is of course the wonderful Keith Pollard, and from 1978 through 1980, he had overlapping long stints as penciller on Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man,  and Thor. The expectation of output at that time was tremendous, and Mr. Pollard turned out some of my favorite comics.  Aside from his interior work, he was a go-to cover artist for Marvel.   He not only handled the previously mentioned work, but his cover art appeared on titles not limited to Avengers, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Captain America and Power Man.  He stayed with Marvel through the 80's with a brief foray into DC for Green Lantern and Vigilante.   He is also known for his work in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

There were a lot of prolific artists of the period such as John Byrne and George Perez, but to put it into perspective Keith Pollard penciled FF from issue 193 to 206 (missing only one issue), ASM 186 to 205 (with others filling in on 6 intermittent issues), and Thor 286 to 320 (missing only 4 issues).  By my count and including other sporadic titles, he completed 65 full interiors from April of 1978 to May of 1982.   I also counted 81 covers he did during that same period.  

That output alone would be tremendous, but his art was also so powerful.  As you can tell from the below samples he had a mastery of the Marvel characters and his lines and storytelling are very clear.  In the early 90's Keith Pollard stopped working on comics.  I sure wish he hadn't because for me that ended a great time for comic covers. 

So here is your challenge.  You have a single greenback and comics to buy.  Note: Once again these comics are in the quarter bin; four-for-a-dollar.   Tell us your choices and share your input on Keith Pollard's art and his career and his impact on your collection.


Edo Bosnar said...

Love the focus on Pollard, one of the unsung heroes of the Bronze Age Marvel. As you noted, he was a workhorse, yet he still produced very solid, lovely art.
Nice selection of covers here as well; back in the day, I had the pictured issues of Amazing Adventures, Fantastic Four, Micronauts and Nova, and acquired that issue of Inhumans as well.
Also interesting that you included an issue of the elusive Justice Machine - I had only a single issue of that series, #3, bought in one of my first trips to a comic book shop. After a few offerings from Pacific Comics, that one was among the first indie comics I remember buying, and I thought it was just the coolest thing ever. I also recall even then it was hard to find - as that issue I had was the only one I ever saw - and now it's rare to find any online dealers that have the complete set of those original issues when it was still being published under the Noble imprint.

As to my four picks, I'm going to avoid getting any of the ones I had before, and go for, naturally, Justice Machine #5, PPSSM #21, Thor #305 and Vigilante #1 - the latter three just because the covers are just so damn good-looking.

Anonymous said...

I mainly remember him for Thor #294-299 which were the "Wagnerian Ring Cycle" issues - I was absolutely gripped by that story, all that Germanic myth with the Rhinegold etc. I'd pick Ghost Rider, The Inhumans, Peter Parker and Nova...because it was the final issue,oh no - poor Nova !!

Doug said...

That Nova cover was always, for me, the best in the entire series.

While I don't really understand the physics or physiogomy of it, I do always like the way fast flying or spinning characters (Red Tornado, Whirlwind, Nova) are drawn with only their torsos static. Great visual, if implausible.

I think when we discussed Pollard several months ago it was mentioned (and Martinex does so again today) that he did anniversary issues in ASM, FF, and Thor all within a few months of each other. As two of those mags were "flagships" for Marvel at the time, that's quite an honor.

And I've always heard that Pollard was a nice guy, on top of all that talent.


Redartz said...

Great choice for a buck challenge, Martinex1. Pollard did fine work and helped create some of my favorite issues of Amazing Spiderman (the Black Cat introduction,issue 200, and the following Punisher issues). I had many of these originally, but have none of them now. Soooo, for my picks: Spectacular Spiderman, Micronauts, Iron Man and Vigilante (like Edo, I was struck by the cover- it was specifically that cover image that led me to buy it way back when).

Doug said...

I didn't say which ones I'd get. Like others, I'll choose books I did not already have and go with War of the Worlds, Daredevil, Thor (return of Gabriel the Air Walker!!), and Vigilante.

The Micronauts cover is also a good one. I think I had the first issue of that book but no others. A pity, due to what I've always heard was spectacular Michael Golden artwork.


Anonymous said...

I was never a huge fan of Pollard, there was something about his art which was a little too wobbly for me, but I loved the way he would lay out a cover – very cinematic, by which I mean like a cinema poster, the point is to convey a powerful sense of the contents rather than capture an actual event from the story.

I always use the Buscema Bros as my high and low tide marks (anything better than John is fantastic, anything worse than Sal is not good enough) and Pollard kind of falls in between for me.

For my four: Every issue of Nova was imported into the UK except that last one. The gap between me collecting the first 24 and getting that 25th one was about 35 years, so I was never so pleased to see anything as that particular Pollard cover.

For my others, MOKF #26 (though I would have preferred the cover artist – Kane as usual – to have done the interior. Astonishing Tales #36 (Pollard inked it…although the thing I love most is the cover, which was Watanabe) and FF 200 – I remember the build up to that landmark issue was so exciting, knowing it was going to end with the ultimate showdown with Doc Doom. Before the next 362 ultimate showdowns, obviously.


Martinex1 said...

That Thor with Gabriel was one of my favorite issues as a young teen. I really felt for the robot Gabriel and the young kid he befriended. Thor is kind of the heel in that issue. The fight the cover depicted was a good knock down drag out. The follow up issue with Firelord seeking justice for his friend was just as good.

The Micronauts issue is from their second run. I did not follow that as closely. But I did enjoy Acroyear and Bug's relationship throughout. They were kind of the Beast and Wonder Man of the Micronauts.

That was one of the first issues of Iron Man that I bought myself. People may not like the Mantlo era and the Midas storyline but I enjoyed it, particularly this issue.

So for me, it's those three plus Justice Machine.

Cheers. Thanks all.

Doug said...

RE: Justice Machine. I am pretty sure that prior to today I'd not heard of that title.

But then, I was always a Marvel/DC snob when seeing Charlton, Gold Key, Atlas, etc. on the newsstands and magazine racks. So much so that I never cracked open the covers to see that it was largely the same creators I'd known and loved lurking within!


J.A. Morris said...

I'll take FF #200 and ASM #200, I guess they would be about $.50 a piece since they were "double-sized." There goes my buck. I wonder if Pollard is the only artist to pencil the 200th issue of two different series?

I'd say my favorite Pollard work was his collaboration with Wolfman and Sinnott on the FF. That team had a nice 20-odd issue run on the title. I think they're often overlooked, since they came between Perez and Byrne's first run on the FF.

Anonymous said...

I always liked Pollard's Amazing Spider-Man run; following Kane and Andru can't have been easy.

My four picks would be: Spectacular Spidey, Daredevil (which I actually had way back when), Vigilante (which kind of started out as Marv Wolfman's take on the Punisher, if I remember right), and Avengers.

Mike Wilson

Anonymous said...

Hmm I'd go with Spidey, Thor, Inhumans and War of the Worlds!

Keith was definitely one of the unsung heroes of the Bronze Age as Edo said; it's great to see that he gets the love and appreciation from fans like us here.

- Mike 'Pulsatin' Pollard' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Ian said...

His cover for PPTSM is one of my absolute favourites.

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