Way back when (early 70s) I was talking to renowned comics writer/artist Howard Chaykin in his upstart studio about my inability to increase my work speed. He suggested that I pick up some cover assignments at Marvel because covers paid rate and a half, as well as having high visibility. Seemed like a pretty persuasive argument for digging up some cover assignments.
By coincidence, the next time I dropped by editor Carl Potts' office, he was struggling with the layout for a Defenders cover. I causally asked if he would be interested in having me take a crack at it. He had me look the script over and, sitting on his office couch, doodled out a rough for the cover above. (I wish things always worked so smoothly in the comics world.)
He had Bill Sienkievicz do the inking. I was a bit skeptical of the decision since Bill's approach is/was radically different than mine but really liked the result.
See the printed cover
Jim asked Sandy about the above artwork.
Carl Potts was the editor on this six-issue Solomon Kane mini series. This was another character dreamed up by the prolific author who created Conan, Robert E. Howard. Carl asked me to adapt "The Homecoming", one of REH's best pieces of writing, as a back-up feature. "Great," I thought, "love that poem — full of melancholy and the sorrow of a restless heart."
Only problem is that Carl wanted the entire adaption crammed into two pages. I protested, but to no avail. Well, the job was a complete disaster. Bad penciling, inking, coloring, lettering and reproduction. A real embarrassment.
A few years later I got it into my head to adapt the poem again and this time do it justice. Think I was planning on five pages but never got passed the first (below). So it goes.
With the recent announcement that Netflix is bringing Marvel's "Defenders" to its services, Jim thought he would ask Sandy about a 1983 Defenders cover.
Carl Potts was the editor on the Defenders book, a buddy from our days at Neal Adams' Continuity Studios, and if I recall correctly, he pretty much gave me free rein on the cover, letting me do a "symbolic" representation of the group. That is, the scene I came up with didn't have to depict any actual event in the issue.
Even by superhero standards, the Defenders was a weird-ass group. I could never get a read on that book (though, yes, it might have helped if I had actually read any of the stories.) The original creators took the most unlikely characters and tossed them into the same title. And the composition of the group seemed to change with mind-spinning regularity. Fortunately, I was under no pressure to include all the team members on the cover and so I cherry-picked, selecting the ones I thought would work well together visually.
Alan Weiss did another stellar job inking my pencils and I colored it, as I did all my covers.
Years later, a fan commissioned me to do a recreation of the cover. This practice might sound odd to the uninitiated, but fans who missed out on buying the original of a favorite cover sometimes hire the artist to "recreate" the work for them. I have mix feeling about this idea. On the one hand, redrawing a piece gives you the chance to work out all the annoying flubs you committed the first time round. On the other hand, given my propensity for spending an absurd amount of time worrying about minutia, reworking a piece until I get it right isn't a good idea. When I'm at the board sometimes, late at night, I imagine myself some retched character from an Edgar Allan Poe story, neurotically reworking details no one will ever notice on a drawing that'll never be finished.
Though I did improve some of the drawing in the recreated version of this cover, my preference is for the original, largely cause Alan's inks are just so gritty and rich with texture.
Defenders #124-related images from Sandy's archive are below
Plunkett-fan Jim Harris interviewing Sandy about past and present projects.