"Talkin' bout my generation.." The Who
After teaching school for three years in the early seventies I left that profession to try and pursue a much easier line of work: drawing comic books. I didn't have any training; the only art course I had even had in college was just art appreciation. But I had grown up loving the graphic story medium and had been doing my own attempts at the craft since I was eleven or twelve years old. How much harder could it be to do it professionally.
|(An early sample page by Milgrom and myself)|
|(My contribution to Milgrom's Title.)|
|(One of Starlin's stories inked by Milgrom for Title.)|
Two of my close friends that I had known for several years from my fanzine days were Jim Starlin and Al Milgrom. I had lost touch with them for a bit, but as I became more reinvolved in the comics scene we started to get together quite often . Jim had just returned from a stint in the navy and he had developed a real polish to his work. His storytelling had always been top notch. Milgrom was trying to establish himself as an inker and was doing as terrific job finishing much of the pencil work Jim was producing. We all contributed stories to a fanzine- actually a strip zine-that Al published called Title. In our youthful enthusiasm we were probably the only people who thought we'd all go on to long and fruitful careers in the comics.
What actually changed things for me was when Starlin started getting work. Up until that time, the idea that I could get a job in comics was a bit of pipedream- like moving to Hollywood and becoming an actor. It went against the midwestern factory town mentality I grew up with. But now I had a friend who had succeeded. It brought home to me that fact that this was a real possibility. Of course, I had a lot of work to do before I was ready to move forward.
|(A few pages of Al inking my work.)|
Of course, Milgrom was a great help in getting my career started. He introduced me to a good number of folks at both Marvel and DC, as well as bringing me to Continuity Studios where Neal Adams allowed all the orphaned freelancers in town to hang out and watch the real talent , like himself, Dick Giordano and Jack Abel at work. Al and I also took a trip out to Connecticut that led to me doing several stories for Charlton Comics. Later on in our careers Al was the occasional editor of my work and certainly inked a number of stories. He was always a good friend.
|(Terry doing his magic on some of my pages.)|
|(My pencil of the cover.)|
|(A recreation of this cover I did last year for Shaun Clancy.)|
|(One of my pages from Terry's C&D adventures.)|
|(This used to have a wonderful personalized inscription...but the ink has faded. Write me another,Walt.)|
Kirby influenced us all and overwhelmed most of us. Part of it was the reality of the business: you could get work if you imitated Jack. But once you got work it was difficult to move beyond that and the superhero genre. John Byrne was one of the best in that vein. He came into the business as an exceptional artist, but working for Marvel he never really moved forward to another level. The advantage of starting out bad or mediocre is that you can always improve. When you are already very good, it is very difficult to keep improving; especially in comics where sales were far more important than creativity.