Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Happy Birthday to Aparo and Austin!

This week we are celebrating the births of two of my all-time favorite comic-book artists, Mr. Jim Aparo and Mr. Terry Austin!

If you are not a comic-book fan you have probably never heard of either of them. :-( HOWEVER, you have probably seen their work. Jim Aparo is most famous for drawing Death In The Family,  the murder of the 2nd Robin, Jason Todd, in 1988. Terry Austin was the inker for the John Byrne X-MEN run in the mid-80s; if you saw any of the X-MEN movies then you know of his effect on the series, as the movies stuck very closely to this Chris Claremont-Byrne-Austin series.

Jim Aparo was born on August 24, 1932. I first came across Jim Aparo as the artist of a very creepy Spectre series in ADVENTURE COMICS. I was buying the book because the back-up featured Aquaman; a few months later Aquaman took the lead spot and got the lead spot artist, Jim Aparo. It was years before I realized that Jim Aparo had drawn AQUAMAN comics back in the 1960s!

Besides Aquaman Jim Aparo was also the main artist on the Batman team-up book, THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD. I bought most of those issues, too. When that book folded it was replaced by BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS, which was another Batman team-up book; this time Batman and a set roster of characters such as Metamorpho, Black Lightning, and Katana. I read this book for several years, too.

Unfortunately, Jim Aparo died on July 19, 2005. He was almost 73 years old.

Terry Austin came into this world almost 20 years to the day after Jim Aparo did. His birthday is August 23, 1952. Happily, he is still with us, inking and pencilling various projects.

I first came across the work of Terry Austin in the Giant Justice League Special in 1976. He drew what to me is still the *best* version of the Justice League of America I have ever seen. The only quibble I have (and it is *minor* is that a few months later Hawkgirl joined the group. It would have been PERFECT if she had been included here. Oh, well...!)

At that time he was causing a sensation as the inker of a new penciller named Marshall Rogers. Along with Steve Englehart, the three of them re-created BATMAN for a generation. They stayed on DETECTIVE COMICS for nearly a year, and in that time made what many people (including me) consider one of the all-time great Batman storylines.

I have no idea how he got the assignment, but also at about this time I was lucky enough to have him re-draw MY letter column idea for THE TEEN TITANS comic-book. For years each book had its own letter column logo and name. TEEN TITANS, however, only had a name but no illustration. So DC ran a contest to come up with a new illustration idea. Believe it or not, my idea of having the Titans on stamps won!  Although it only lasted two issues (!) it was still my moment in comics history. (You can read the whole exciting story here on the Hey Kids! Comics blog run by my pal Rob Kelly.)

Soon after this Terry Austin moved over to Marvel and began work on THE X-MEN. He helped stoke the phenomenon that is Wolverine, and has never had to worry about work, haha!

I have never met either of these gentlemen. Jim Aparo passed away before I could get meet him. Terry Austin hasn't been at any convention that I have. If I ever do meet Mr. Austin I know which two comics I want him to sign....!


No comments:

Post a Comment