Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dick Giordano 1932-2010

I may be one of the worst individuals to eulogize Dick Giordano. For most of my comic collecting life, I have been a Marvel Zombie, and when he was Executive Editor at DC in the mid 80s, he was routinely kicking my beloved company's behind, shepherding such incomparable projects as Crisis, Alan Moore's Watchmen and Swamp Thing, and Frank Miller's epochal The Dark Knight Returns. So let me instead sing the praises of the man brought over from Charlton to work magic at DC in 1968, the year I discovered Horror comics. That was the year that DC got into the weird anthology business in a big way, with Joe Orlando's House of Mystery and House of Secrets, and Murray Boltinoff's The Unexpected. Whereas those titles were all re-workings of previously-existing books, Giordano came up with one that debuted at 68's end - The Witching Hour, and, whereas the other three books had their roots in EC (with Orlando providing a direct link), Giordano came up with a mystery title that captured the tenor of the times. The book was hosted by three sorceresses, modeled after the Weird Sisters in Macbeth. Mildred and Mordred were most definitely of the Old School, right down to their respective pointed hat and skullcap. But Cynthia...ah, Cynthia! She was of the Now Generation - blond, shapely, leggy, with raccoon eyeliner that would have made Dusty Springfield jealous. She would challenge the old ways, using frozen foods in her cauldron recipes, and when the three competed every midnight with tales of terror, Cynthia would counter M & M's stories of ghosts and goblins with her offerings about computers, time warps, sword & sorcery, even surfing. She embodied the spirit of the young, pushing the envelope just as Giordano pushed it with his version of a mystery book. And artists loved to draw Cynthia - just look at Alex Toth's version here. Readers grew more fond of the three sisters' framing device than they did the actual stories. Giordano's stint on TWH lasted only 13 issues, and they are begging to be compiled in an omnibus volume. Giordano was imported from Charlton to give DC a fresh, funky edge, and he delivered, but he also provided exemplary inks for Neal Adams and Jim Aparo, and it's impossible to imagine Batman from that period without Giordano's graceful, steady finishes. Of course, the rap on inkers is that they just "trace." If so, Giordano could trace better than just about anyone, but was also an outstanding artist in his own right (see his adaptation of Stoker's Dracula, with Roy Thomas, that was three decades in the completion). He could follow the lines of others, but in a career of outstanding accomplishment, Dick Giordano drew lines, extended boundaries, smashed barriers, and left an indelible mark on the history of comics.

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