The huge, sprawling tapestry that is the Marvel Universe has been built by hundreds upon hundreds of talented creators over the years, so it's sometimes hard to remember that the entire affair was begun by just a small handful of people trying to turn out a line of comics under tight restrictions from the Comics Code and even tighter deadlines. And in those formative days, the vast majority of the fledgeling company's visuals were provided by a core four consisting of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Don Heck, and Dick Ayers.
Dick Ayers was born in Ossining, New York on April 28, 1924. His interest in art was encouraged by his parents from an early age. He began contributing comic strips to military newspapers while serving in the Army Air Corps in World War II, and upon leaving the service, studied with Burne Hogarth at New York's Cartoonists And Illustrators School, and launched his professional career working for Superman co-creator Joe Shuster in the late 1940s. He found employment at a number of publishers over the next decade, working at Magazine Enterprises (for whom he co-created the supernatural western hero Ghost Rider), Charlton, Prize, and Atlas (soon to be renamed Marvel).
The Marvel Unlimited app is a gigantic, messy cache of awesome and terrible old comic books: a library of 13,000 or so back issues of Marvel titles, available on demand for subscribers with tablets or mobile phones. Like any good back-room longbox, it’s disorganized and riddled with gaps, but it’s also full of forgotten and overlooked jewels, as well as a few stone classics. In Marvel Unlimited Edition, Eisner-winning critic Douglas Wolk dives into the Unlimited archive to find its best, oddest and most intriguing comics.
Two spin-offs of Guardians of the Galaxy launch in recent weeks: The Legendary Star-Lord and the already-surprise-hit Rocket Raccoon. Marvel Unlimited's got a fairly thorough, if not quite complete, selection of most of the Guardians' previous appearances, especially the ones in the Annihilation/Annihilation: Conquest/Annihilators sequence. But their prehistory is worth digging into, too, and there's some choice proto-Guardians material in the archive.
Dick Ayers passed away this past Sunday, less than a week after his 90th birthday. He had a long and distinguished career in the comics industry, producing quality work for dozens of companies in a career that spanned eight decades -- most notably as one of the major artists who created what is now known worldwide as The Marvel Universe.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 hits stores today, a new series by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven that hopes to boost the profile of Marvel's space-faring super-team ahead of next summer's movie release, so that when your non-comics friends ask you, "Who are these Guardians of the Galaxy?", you don't answer, "the who-dians of the what-now?"
But... who are the Guardians of the Galaxy? They're actually talking owls from a series of fantasy novels about... no, sorry, my editor is telling me that is not correct. Let's see... the series tells the story of Jack Frost, Santa Claus, the Sandman and... no, I'm getting another note here, hang on... A talking raccoon and a tree? That can't be right.
If you're feeling a little confused, don't panic! ComicsAlliance is here to tell you everything you need to know about the Gladiators of the Gridiron! And then some.
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