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Monday, June 11, 2007

Sketch Week II, Part 1: Jim Aparo - 2001


Ok--I'm just going to say this upfront. There are better drawn sketches in this book, more unusual, more complex, but none will mean as much to me as this one by the late, great Jim Aparo.

A friend of mine at the time who knew someone who knew someone contacted Jim and commissioned this for my thirtieth birthday--an awesome gift, to say the least. Not only did I grow up reading Aparo's Aquaman, but once he passed away a few years ago I realized this sketch is literally irreplaceable. There will never be another chance to get the great Jim Aparo to draw Aquaman.

On the rare occasions I have shipped this book to someone for a sketch(like I did for Craig Hamilton a few months ago), when I fill out the FedEx form and get to the "declared value" section, I think of this sketch and want to write "priceless."


Anonymous said...

Jim rocked! He was a brilliant artist (I fell in love with his 'THANE' series at Charlton, 1965-ish, a back-up in their HERCULES title by Sam Glanzman) but also a real sweetheart. He drew one issue of BRAVE & BOLD that I wrote, a rather forgettable issue teaming Batman with Lois Lane, circa 1980. I didn't get a chance to meet Jim until about 1996, at a comicon in Chicago. When I went over to introduce myself, he not only *remembered* that one story out of hundreds he had drawn ("Yeah, sure, you wrote that Lois Lane team-up."), but pretended it didn't suck. I got to work with Jim a little, later on, when I did licensed publishing at DC. He was never anything less than a gentleman and a professional.


rob! said...

>>BRAVE & BOLD that I wrote, a rather forgettable issue teaming Batman with Lois Lane, circa 1980<<

take this for what you will, Paul, but i remember buying that issue off the newsstands when i was ten, and i loved it!

so much so that, even tho over the years i got rid of 95% of my 15,000+ collection, that was one i held onto, and still have!

glad to hear Jim was a nice guy, too. ive always gotten that feeling from interviews he did, and even being willing to do this sketch and personally autograph it, too.

Anonymous said...

Put me in the camp that remembers that issue. Lois Swinging in on a rope to save Batman from Metallo, right? It was the first time I saw Lois as something more than just "Superman's Girlfriend".

Aparo is one of my heroes. I could go on for hours about him. Glad to know he was a great guy to boot!


Anonymous said...

I remember that issue, too. I thought it was good. If I remember correctly, it was either right after or right before a long group of fill-in artists, and I remember it being a breath of fresh air for both the story (which showed Lois as totally competent on her own) and for the wonderful Aparo art.

Anonymous said...


I met the man in NY City at a convention in 2000 or 2001. He signed my original art to Adventure Comics #451 and my ratty old copy of Adventure Comics #441, the first comic I ever bought with my own money.

I got to shake his hand and blurt out in perfect "fanboy-ese" that he was "the best artist ever." A few years later I commissioned an original Jim Aparo piece through Spencer Beck at The Artist's Choice. When the package arrived there was a note on a small slip of paper that said "Thanks for being a fan - Jim Aparo"

Yes, Jim Aparo was "the best artist ever." And Rob, this is my favorite sketch you;ve posted so far. No offence to all the fine artists that grace your sketchbook but I doubt severely it'll be topped in my mind, either.

Oh, and that Lois Lane team-up was darn cool, Paul.

Anonymous said...


Just seconding the idea that Mr. Aparo was-

-an under-appreciated Giant (his Charlton PHANTOM is one of the best Ghosts Who Walk ever!)

-a great guy. Very kind & humble when I came up to his lonely table at a little St. Paul's Con here in NYC a few years back (the geeks were all lined up at the flavor-of-the-month and/or semi-nude bimbo tables.)

Quietly thankful, as he signed my home-bound collection of his ace SPECTRE mini.

(And, as proof of his work-by-mail status, he asked, "did you write it?" Nope - all props to Mike Fleisher!)

RIP, Jim - and Thanks.

-Craig W.

Louie Joyce said...

Jim Aparo, easily the definitive Aquaman artist in my eyes. Love his work, and i'd love to own an Aquaman sketch (or any sketch) by him. You are one lucky guy.

As much as i can't stand Eric Larsen's run on Aquaman, issue #52 is one i'll always enoy reading simply because we get to see Aparo drawing Aquaman again.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, guys. It's usually a surprise to me when some of these stories are remembered at all...and ALWAYS gratifying to hear when they're remembered fondly.

I recently had occasion to call Nick Cardy to do an illo for me here at the Weekly World News. He couldn't do it (damn!!!) but we spent some time chatting and I told him that my absolutly favorite comic that he drew was TEEN TITANS #13 (1968), a take-off on Dickens's XMAS CAROL. If you're not familiar with that issue (it was reprinted in the SHOWCASE PRESENTS TT volume), Nick's art was...stunning! I mean, MORE stunning than it usually was, and the colorist did an AMAZING job (alas, the reprint is in B&W), using a very subtle pastel palette unusual for the cheap separations and crappy printing and paper of the day. I was blown away by it when I first read it in 1968 and it remains one of my favorite comics of all time.

Well, Nick proceeded to tell me the story behind the story!! (The short version: he wanted a page rate raise, but Murray Boltinoff, his editor, said there was some talk about the quality of Nick's work by the higher-ups: they were using him for so many things that he was overextendd and maybe not doing his best on every job because of the pressure and there was talk of maybe dropping him. Nick went into "Oh YEAH?!?!?!" mode and, as TT #13 was next up on his board, he decided he was going to draw the shit out of it and show those idiots something.

He got the raise AND stayed on to become one of DC's most valuable assets (remember, he was DC's default Cover Artist for years).

((I gotta say, even after 30+ years in comics, having worked with or met many of the greats, moments like that one with Nick are still priceless! And weird little things still thrill me: when I was waiting on line to see SUPERMAN RETURNS at the DC preview, Neal Adams came walking up to join the line and, seeing me, said, "Ahh, it's the non-evil Kupperberg!" (my brother Alan worked in & around Neal's Continuity Studios for years) and all I could think was "NEAL ADAMS KNOWS MY NAME!"...And don't even get me started about being able to pick up the phone and call a guy like Joe Kubert, who will greet me with a expansive, "Paul, how the hell are ya?"))

Once a fanboy, always a fan boy!

Anyway, the moral of the story is: Always be nice to us old fart creators...we can tell you some pretty cool stories, you l'il whippersnappers!


rob! said...

>>"Ahh, it's the non-evil Kupperberg!"<<

hmmm...i emailed Alan via his site asking about an interview, but never got a response. maybe cause he's evil? :)

when i go to cons Sketch hunting, i always look for the older guys since A)they're the guys I grew up reading, and 2)they always seem so appreciative someone has kind words about their work, as opposed to the Hot Guy of the Month who always seems Too Cool for School.

Anonymous said...

Dear Paul, Rob, & all-

I'm surprised "Mr. Treasury" hasn't already said this, but the TITAN-ized "Carol" is also beautifully featured in one of the "DC Xmases."

That's where this lover of "The Fifth Gospel," as Dickens' classic is otherwise known, first read the very nice adaptation, one family Christmas Eve.

-Craig "sometime Scrooge portrayer" Wichman

rob! said...

good call, Craig. youre right, it did appear in a treasury:


...as well as in a digest:


...DC sure got their money out of that story!

Anonymous said...

Great stories Paul! I love the TT's Swingin' Christmas Carol! I must have it reprinted 9 times. And the original!

The next issue of TT, with "Quit Robin, Quit!" is another Cardy masterpiece. The cover is one of the best Robin-featured covers ever, if not the best!