A Tribute to the of

I'm probably beginning to sound like a shill for DC's "Showcase Presents" series, but I can't help it.  I really love 'em.  They're just a great, economical way to get your hands on a collection of classic stories and to quickly delve into a particular title to your heart's content.

I'd been so pleasantly surprised by the treasures in Volume I of the House of Mystery that I decided to get a copy of Volume II, the source of this edition's focus story.  The story is from issue #210 with a publication date of January 1973.  Cover art is by Mike Kaluta and the story itself is called "Body Beautiful," written by Jack Oleck with art by Jose DelboJoe Orlando is our editor par excellence.

John Bannister is stuck in an unhappy marriage of 20 years.  Martha is in full nag mode as the story opens, ridiculing John for his obsession with youth and constantly working out his 40 year old body to make it look at least a decade younger, while she, by his account, looks a decade older than her 40 years.  She vows he'll never be rid of her until the day she dies.  Little does she know that he's cooking up a plot and seems to have a "distraction" on the side in the form of cute neighbor Anne.

He studies a book on suspended animation, secures Anne's promise to wait for him, even if he dies and then sets up a trust account under an assumed name with a $200 thousand dollar stake.

Finally he comes home, announces his sinister plan to Martha, that they are both about to die, but he will return in six months due to his mastery of suspended animation and superior physical condition.  He then shoots her with a pistol.  When others come to investigate, he appears to have a heart attack.

After the dual funeral and six months in the mausoleum, he remained aware of his surroundings, but then revived himself from his state of suspended animation, triumphant that his plan had worked so beautifully.

He works his way from the graveyard back to town, but is surprised at the reaction he is receiving from those he encounters.  A policeman tries to detain him and he runs, suspecting he's been recognized.  Bannister seeks out Anne.

When he arrives at her apartment, she screams and runs and it is only then that he understands what has happened when he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror.  "He had forgotten that a body that has been dead for six months – changes – decays!  And so he laughed—wildly, insanely…until the laughter would change to tears as he would go on laughing."

So much for the perfect crime and life after "death."

I was able to conduct a short e-mail interview with this tale's artist, Jose Delbo, who, in addition to this little 8-pager, did quite a bit of work on Wonder Woman, among other projects.  For your consideration:

Bryan D. Stroud:  According to my research you began at 16 in the industry.  Was cartooning something that caught your imagination?

Jose Delbo:  Yes, I was 16 when I started drawing comic books in Argentina where I was born.  I grew up with American comics that were being published in Argentinian magazines and I loved them.

BDS:  Did you have any formal art training?

JD:  Yes, my teacher was a great Argentinian cartoonist, Carlos Clemen.  I later went on to become one of his assistants.

BDS:  You did work for nearly all the publishers to include Charlton, Dell, Gold Key, DC, Marvel and Acclaim.  How did they compare?

JD:  It's hard to compare the publishers.  In DC I did Wonder Woman and most of the heroes of DC.  For Marvel I did the Thundercats and the Transformers.

BDS:  Did you feel any particular advantage to one company over another?

JD:  I received more leeway working for Marvel because Marvel gave you just the plot instead of a full script.  That allowed me to be more creative.  At least that's how they did it when I was working there.   In general I enjoyed working with all the publishers.

BDS:  Did you have a particular editor you enjoyed working with?

JD:  I worked with almost every editor.  I have fond memories of working with Paul Levitz, Julius Schwartz and Don Daley.

BDS:  How about a favorite writer?

JD:  Again, Paul Levitz, Len Wein and more but I don't remember the names.

BDS:  You pencil and ink, but it looks like penciling might be more of a specialty.  Did you have an inker you thought was particularly good over your pencils?

JD:  Well I have several inkers who were very good in different books.  I got great guys like Al Williamson, Dick Giordano, Joe Giella and Al Gordon.

BDS:  When you worked for Tower, did you interact with Wally Wood?

JD:  Not really, at one point Wally Wood did ink some of my pages on Wonder Woman.

BDS:  Was it easier to do a comic book character as opposed to a television adaptation?

JD:  Both of them were fun.  I had a lot of fun doing The Monkees.  I enjoyed that one very much.

BDS:  Which projects gave you the most enjoyment?

JD:  Besides The Monkees, the Beatles Yellow Submarine and definitely The Lone Ranger.  I love westerns.

BDS:  What was your production rate?

JD:  Well it's hard to say.  It all depended on how difficult the script was but normally it would be two to two and a half pages per day of pencils.

BDS:  Were deadlines ever a problem?

JD:  Deadlines are always a problem for a cartoonists but I always managed to meet mine.

BDS:  You managed many cartoonists' dream by working on daily strips, both Superman and the Phantom.  How did that compare to comic books?

JD:  Again they are two different things.  It was much easier to do three panels then a full comic book.

BDS:  How long were you doing the dailies?

JD:  I don't really remember when I started or when the Syndicate canceled the strip.  I know that I penciled the Phantom for almost a year as a ghost artist.

BDS:  You were an officer in the National Cartoonist's Society.  Tell me a little about your involvement.  Who did you enjoy associating with?

JD:  I was Vice-President of the society.  For me it was a tremendous honor and emotionally rewarding as I was able to meet some of the great artists that I had always admired like Milton Caniff, John Cullen Murphy, Burne Hogarth and others.

BDS:  When did you teach at the Kubert School?

JD:  I believe that I started in the 90's and I taught up until I moved to Florida which was in 2005.

BDS:  What was your specialty, or in other words, what did you teach?

JD:  Basic Drawing.

BDS:  Who else do you remember being on staff while you taught there?

JD:  Joe Kubert (of course), Hy Eisman, Irwin Hasen, Mike Chen, Tex Blaisdell.

BDS:  Tell me about your cartoon camp.

JD:  About 13 years ago when the International Museum of Cartoon Art opened in Boca Raton, Florida, we started a cartooning program for school aged children.  It's a place where they create their own comic books, make animated cartoon movies and a variety of other activities related to comics and cartoons.  Since the first location at the museum we have run the camp at about a dozen different schools and Universities in the Florida area.

BDS:  Do you do commissions?

JD:  Only under special circumstances.

BDS:  Do you keep up with the industry much anymore?

JD:  Well, I keep track more or less of the industry but I don't work full time anymore.

BDS:  Where do you think comics are headed?  Do they still have a future?

JD:  Comics unfortunately have a tremendously hard time competing with the video games, but I believe that reading and using your imagination is something that will endure forever.  A person who reads comic books and likes to draw could be in the future a great video game designer.

BDS:  Any current projects?

JD:  I am currently working on my own Graphic Novel that I believe is a different idea than what I've seen out there.  As soon as I finish it I will start looking for a publisher.

Jose will be a guest at the Cincinnati Comic Expo in September.  If you're in the area, please pass on my regards and thanks for his indulgence. 

You are appreciated, dear reader and the webmaster and I continue to try to be your favorite resource for all good things in the Silver Age of DC comics.  To reach out and share your thoughts, just use the ever-popular e-mail: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Join us again in about two weeks for the next installment and, as always…

Long live the Silver Age!

© 2000-2011 by B.D.S.

Interview copy edited by Jose Delbo

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



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