A Tribute to the of






One of the great side benefits to this gig has been discovering titles and stories I'd likely never have seen any other way.  While the Webmaster is an old Edgar Rice Burroughs fan and probably still has that shelf full of his work,[Webmaster: Yes, my friend, to this day they rest on that very shelf you remember. I still recall the first ERB book I bought. Sporting a great Neal Adams' cover, who could resist? Not me!] I have yet to catch the bug, but obviously at one point, DC had the licensing of the characters.  I do remember those Kubert covers for Tarzan, but I'd never seen "Weird Worlds," a series that ran for a while in the 70s.  I seem to recall Tony DeZuniga mentioning to me that for a while a lot of the DC titles went "weird," as in Weird War Stories, Weird Western and the like.

Let's take a peek at Weird Worlds #2 from October/November of 1972.  Denny O'Neil is our editor and while at first glance that cover looked kinda like a Joe Kubert effort, the Grand Comic Book database says it was penciled by Joe Orlando and get this, inked by Carmine Infantino.  That seems a bit odd to me as he was publisher at the time and frankly didn't do much inking to begin with, but I'll take their word for it for now.  I'm actually flipping to the backup story for this review.  It's an installment in the Pellucidar series, aka the world at the Earth's core and is titled "Slaves of the Mahars!"  We're further told it's based on the novel, "At the Earth's Core," and is written by Len Wein.  Alan Weiss did the pencils and the inker is listed as "C. Bunker."

The scene looks a little like something out of Planet of the Apes.  A couple of men in loin cloths named David Innes and Abner Perry are fighting off (and losing to) the Sagoths, who seem to be semi-intelligent ape-like creatures.  At any rate they're wearing clothing, jewelry of sorts and using crude weapons.

There is another human in their midst named Ghak and it's a little hard to follow since the story began in the last issue, but there is some sort of sub plot involving Hooja the Sly One and Dian the Beautiful.  It seems David somehow inadvertently insulted her.  Soon the enslaved men are marched to Phutra, the city of the Mahars.

Phutra, it seems is a buried city and they are soon descending a massive limestone staircase.  The entire place is apparently lit through an elaborate system of tubes and reflectors, has a state of the art ventilation system and features Mahars, which look a lot like sharp-teethed Pterosaurs.

As near as I can tell Abner is the brains of the outfit with a keen interest in science and David is mooning over Dian, wondering how to find her.  Meanwhile they've got other things to deal with and are soon led to an arena that would put you in mind of a Roman coliseum and with some of the same goings on.  In this instance a couple of rebellious slaves are being thrown to the beast in there, which resembles more than anything a massive bison with excessively long horns.  Then a creature like a saber-toothed tiger is released at the other end.  The man and woman are armed with a spear each, but this doesn't look good.

Interestingly, while the beasts charge from opposite ends of the arena, they engage one another rather than the slaves.  After a terrific battle and some help from a few well-placed spear thrusts, both beasts die, but not before the bison creature has damaged the arena enough to allow a charge of slaves to run amok.  In the confusion, David Innes escapes, determined to find the Mechanical Mole, whatever that is, and to return to rescue his comrades.

Unfortunately Innes gets lost and stumbles across a canoe and paddle and starts to make good use of it when the owner shows up and pursues him, swimming madly toward the vessel, stone hatchet in hand when abruptly he is seized by a huge sea serpent.  Innes gives aid and by using a handy spear he manages to convince the creature to free the man, who boards the boat and wordlessly offers a hand of friendship, ending this chapter in the series.

I think I could get into this.  It looks like an intriguing storyline and while I can't do it justice with words, the artwork is very impressive.  I guess it should be with the host of talent working on it.  "C. Bunker," of course stood for the Crusty Bunkers and if the Grand Comic Database is correct, the list of hands that touched these 12 pages included Bernie Wrightson, Carl Lundgren, Jim Starlin, Larry Hama, Ralph Reese, Neal Adams, Alan Weiss, Frank Brunner and Greg Theakston.  There is a fascinating citation in the GCD entry:

Adapted from the novel At the Earth's Core. Inker credit from later letter column & Greg Theakston (May 8, 2006). First Crusty Bunker job. Per Alan Weiss, "For sure the story in Weird Worlds # 2 is the first Crusty Bunker inking orgy... You can see (Frank Brunner's) inks on the Mahars. All those guys up at Continuity helping out a fellow freelancer in distress. Adams inked most of the figures. You can see a clearly Starlin figure panel 3 on page 8.Jim helped out penciling some background stuff and some background figures and I think a couple of animals. Ralph Reese spent half a night on the background in panel 4 on page 9. He also inked the sea serpent on pages 10 and 11. Wrightson inked the gorilla guys on the first two pages. The humans in the splash panel are my own inks, with Neal on the bottom panel. Page 2 has my inks on humans in panels 1,3,4, and maybe 5. Panel 2 looks like Neal on David, with me on Abner and the bearded guy (Gak?) ( how's that for slicing it about as thin as it gets?)." (May 9, 2006)

With that, here is the second in my series of interviews with former Crusty Bunkers.  This time Larry Hama was gracious enough to answer my questions via e-mail:

Bryan Stroud:  How did you end up at Continuity?

Larry Hama:  My friend Ralph Reese was working there and told me that desk space was available for 50 bucks a month. This was in 1973 or thereabouts. Neal Adams was still in partnership with Dick Giordano then.

BDS:  What did you do there?

LH:  I worked on freelance jobs with Ralph and picked up advertising storyboard, comp and animatic work from Neal on the side, as well as Crusty Bunker stuff.

BDS:  Who did you meet there?

LH:  Sergio Aragones, Russ Heath, Carl Potts, Klaus Janson, Jay Scott Pike, Bob McLeod, Pat Broderick, Joe Rubinstein, Joe D'esposito, Mike Nasser (Netzer,) Marshall Rodgers, Terry Austin, Jack Abel, Mike Hinge, Lynn Varley, Jim Sherman, Bruce Patterson, Frank Miller, Eric Burden, Cary Bates, Vicente Alcazar, Sal Amendola, Greg Theakston, Bob Wiaceck, Bob Smith, Cathy-Ann Thomas, and probably hundreds of others.  I already knew Kaluta, Wrightson, Jones, Vaughn Bode, et al from Gothic Blimp Works and First Fridays.

BDS:  How long did you spend time there?

LH:  I kept my desk space there for something like five years.  In the beginning, I had the drawing table in the front room next to Neal.

BDS:  What did you learn?

LH:  Everything.  I was at the font.  The single most important thing I ever learned about drawing was from Neal:  "Stop settling."

BDS:  Was there any payment for your work?

LH:  Absolutely.  There was a per-panel rate for storyboards and a complex system of divvying up the Crusty Bunkers money.  Advertising paid way better than comics in those days!

BDS:  Legend has it you were the first to coin the term "Crusty Bunker."  True?

LH:  Not true.  I designed the t-shirt- actually, I think I penciled it and Neal inked it.  It was Kris, Neal's daughter who came up with the name.

BDS:  Any particularly fond memories?

LH:  Too many to recount here.  I spent 12 to 14 hours a day there, seven days a week for years.

BDS:  Did the gathering at Continuity start informally or through renting of space by other artists?

LH:  Neal encouraged people to stop by.  (All the bad coffee you could drink- it put me off Cremora for life.)  The original Continuity @ 8 E. 48th St. (the building no longer exists) was only three blocks from DC and nine blocks from Marvel at the time, so it was easy to make the side trip if you were coming into town to go to either.  National Lampoon was close by, too.  Warren was only two subway stops away as well.

BDS:  Was it pretty much a 24-hour operation?

LH:  Pretty much.  Most advertising jobs came in with a deadline of "yesterday."

BDS:  Did you interact much with Neal?

LH:  If you sit next to somebody all day, every day, you end up talking about a lot of stuff. I owe Neal a lot. If he called me at 3:00 AM and said I had to come help him get rid of the body, I'd have to show up.

BDS:  What, if any, benefit was your association there to future work?

LH:  Everything.  Neal got me my first DC pencil job by promising to ink it.  Working at Continuity got my foot in the door throughout the entire comics biz.  Neal's influence on comics goes way beyond his drawing skills.  It's largely because of his efforts that incentive payments and other artist's rights that we take for granted exist. Neal also spearheaded the fight for Siegel and Shuster.

I appreciated Larry taking the time and sharing some of his memories.  As everyone knows he's a triple-threat talent with plenty of credits as an artist, editor and writer and his contributions to the industry are legion.

The Webmaster and I thank you once again for your patronage and hope you will continue to find it worth your while to swing by.  Comments and questions are always appreciated.  Please address them to me at: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Until next time…

Long live the Silver Age!



© 2000-2010 by B.D.S.

Interview copy edited by Larry Hama


This feature was created on 05/01/00 and is maintained by

B.D.S.

 





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