Saturday, June 14, 2008

Earl Norem's "Transformers: The Car Show Blow Up"

Here is Earl Norem's artwork for the Marvel Big Looker storybook "Transformers" The Car Show Blow Up"

The book features the "Post Movie-era" Autobots and Decepticons as they try to foil Galvatron's scheme to steal a human-built "robot car" (Try not to think too much about this one...)

All in all, it's one of Norem's more low-key romps. Not a ton of action. But Kup does get captured in fine Princess Daisy-style. Also, there are some goofy Bot and Con faction symbols superimposed on the characters. I can only assume this was some last minute choice by Marvel or Hasbro. I remember as a kid thinking "Why the hell would they mess the art like that?" I'm sure product identity is the answer.


Earl Norem Art for GI JOE "Operation Ragin River"

Here is Earl Norem's beautiful artwork for the Marvel Big Looker storybook "GI JOE: Operation Ragin River"

The book features the "Serpentor-era" Joes once again, as they try to re-take the St. Louis Arch from Cobra.

Earl Norem Art for GI JOE "Operation Star Fight"

Here is Earl Norem's gorgeous artwork for the Marvel Big Looker storybook "GI JOE: Operation Star Fight"

The book features the "Serpentor-era" Joes, but they are still battling Cobra Commander (I guess it'd be pre-Serpentor...)

In a nutshell, Cobra hijacks a space shuttle, the Joes stop them. It's not Shakespeare, it sure looks incredible.

A little details that I love, and Norem does this in other books, is that the Joes aren't constantly geared up. I seemed like in the cartoons and comics, the Joes ate, crapped, watched tv, etc in vests, backpacks and helmets. Check out Airtight, Lowlight, Mainframe and Dialtone sitting around off the job at the HQ.

Another thing is the level of realistic violence. Cobra is in a firefight to take the shuttle and it looks like people are taking hits. Roadblock shoots cobra troopers. Mainframe gets winged by a bullet. The army fights back, gunning down Cobras. And the best is the fight in the shuttle as it's launching. Roadblock punches a Cobra out the open shuttle door.

It's a spectacular book, art-wise. It's GI Joe, if GI Joe was done as mid-60s pulp fiction, with a few touches of early James Bond.


Neglected: The Underappreciated Art of Earl Norem

Norem's cover for Marvel Books' "GI JOE: The Spy Eye" (Cover artist only)

I've been meaning to do this for a while now, but scanning is one of my least favorite things to do in the world.

Scanning tons on pages in a row...I figure while everyone else in hell is pushing boulders up hills, that's what I'll be doing.

But, posting art created by Earl Norem is the duty of any fan of his work. Why, because he has gone virtually unknown. You've probably seen his work, especially if you grew up in the 80s, read comics in the 70s, or men's adventure or western magazines in the 50s and 60s.

Norem's career spans 50+ years. He's created hundreds of works of art. He's worked on well know and beloved properties like GI Joe, Transformers, Masters of the Universe, Conan and Star Wars. Men's adventure magazine, comic books, fantasy and role-playing games, Marvel magazine covers, posters, Reader Digest and Classics Illustrated. He was so prolific, I wouldn't even begin to know how to start a bibliography of his work. It's probably impossible, unless Earl himself complied it.

Norem's cover for Golden's Super Adventures Book "Masters of the Universe: The Magic Mirrors" (cover artist only)

Norem's a classic illustrator in the best possible sense of the phrase. He can bring a realism to even the most preposterous scene. His compositions are energetic and dynamic. They have an atmosphere unto themselves. He's able to boil the action down to one explosive scene, capturing a key moment in time. The paintings are like the absolute best possible scenes that you can imagine while reading a good book. Actually, a Earl Norem painting is usually better than anything your mind can conjure up.

Men's magazine interior illustration for "The Violent Five"
Look at the composition. The Hero has the girl in his arms and he flies a jet, while in the back a guy punches a guy firing a gun!

Norem's cover for Marvel Magazine's "Planets of the Apes" #21

Norem's cover of Action for Men.
Norem makes the most ludicrous situations look possible. A guy punches another off a boat with a golden babe and Go-Go Dancers in cages, all the while harpooners zip up on jet ski boats. I don't think any story could live up to that image.

How Norem's name isn't uttered in the same breath as the greats like Kirby, Steranko, Frazetta, and Eisner is beyond me.

Plans are to randomly post Norem's work on the blog. All posts will have a "Earl Norem" tag. Anyone is welcome to use my scans on their sites. My scans will have the "Underappreciated..." tag and the url tag, otherwise the image is something collected online, i.e. I'm not the source and should not be credited for it. If you decide to crop the title and URL off, that's cool to. If possible post a link to the blog. Mainly I just want to raise as much awareness as possible and get Earl Norem's work online so it can be appreciated and enjoyed by everyone.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Happy Friday the 13th!

Celebrate with Jason!
If you get the "Chiller" channel on cable or satellite, tune in this evening for their Friday the 13th movie marathon. They repeat it tomorrow afternoon, if you miss it tonight.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Coloring Book Mondays Vol 1: "Shogun Warriors"

I'm going to semi-regularly post some vintage coloring book pages on what will be known as "Coloring Book Mondays" Something light and breezy at the start of each week.

This week: Shogun Warriors: Starring DRAGUN!

This is an odd one, mainly because across the board, Shogun Warriors have been giant robots. Cartoons, comics and the toys all show this. But not the good folks at Whitman Publishing. Dragun is a very human-sized robot, doing normal human things when he's not occasionally fighting robot bats at the beach.

Lets take a look, shall we...

Print and color" or "save and electronically color" these until your heart's content.

Tag! Your it! aka "The Old Price Tag Sticker Post"

I was going through a box of old stuff in the basement (kids books, coloring books, etc) and was digging on the old price tag stickers that were still on the items. You don't see too many place using them anymore (Kmart is the only place that comes to mind). As a collector of all sorts of old nonsense, I like it when they're left on. It's the history of the item boiled down to a 1" square space. And, when it's something from your youth, it triggers the memories of when you first bought the item.

It's like "Yeah, here's that GI Joe coloring book from Walgreens that was bought to keep me quite on a visit to an elderly relative in a nursing home 25 years ago."

And thanks to retaining important memories like that, now when I go to Wal-Mart to buy trash bags, I end up walking out with Night Court season 1, egg rolls and a "Tiger Force" Flint GI Joe figure instead...

Anyway, I think they're fun little reminders of yesterday; from stores long gone or still going strong.