Friday, June 06, 2008

It's A Bird!

Friday comic book day.

Have you ever wondered why Spiderman's foe, The Vulture, is such an old guy? The villian of this story may be the visual inspiration for this famous Lee and Ditko creation.

As promised, today we bring a story from the unjustly forgotten Quality series The Barker. One of the first stories for this series, which first appeared in National Comics as the lead feature and later had a shortlived comic bok of it's own, was drawn by Plastic Man creator Jack Cole. Maybe even the first one. But soon after that he left the series to Klaus Nordling, one of the Quality regulars. Nordling had worked with Will Eisner, as had most of the Quality staff. He also assisted Eisner on his comic book weekly (which featured The Spirit in the lead) by being the fourth artist to draw the four page Lady Luck stories. My fellow blogger Michael T. Gilbert has shown many of the terrific splash pages Nordling did for that series on his journal at And a couple of Barker stories have turned up here and there in the internet, due to it's circus freaks connection.

The Barker was a very funny and well drawn series about a circus Barker and his circle of freakish friends. The plots were of the same genre as Plastic Man, Mr. Mystic and other Quality comedy series. I don't know if Nordling wrote his own stories, but he certainly contributed some wonderful splash pages to his stories. In that respect he rivals (and in my opinion sometime even surpasses) Will Eisner on The Spirit. The stories are quite long, 11 to 13 pages, as was usual on the Quality lead series.

Whoever wrote or drew the script for this story, from the first moment The Birdman appears, we immediately see the connection to Spiderman's later foe The Vulture. I don't know if he was already doing his own stories (to be dialogued by Stan Lee) or is he was working from an outline provided by Lee. But it would surprise me if Lee mentioned in his outline that The Vulture should be an older guy. The main influences on his work he mentions are Joe Kubert and Mort Meskin (both influences are very visible as well). But Ditko was still young and a big comic fan when these books appeared, so he will probably have seen them.

I hope to lure some Ditko fans to this blog with this post. Maybe they can enlighten me.

The rest of you enjoy the excellent work by Klaus Nordling.


MDG14450 said...

Thanks. I've loved Klaus Nordling's art since I first saw a Lady Luck story that was printed in one of the Kitchen Sink Spirit mags. Soon after, I was able to pick up an issue of The Barker--one of my few Golden Age books--dirt cheap at a comic show. Great characterizations, fluid drawing--on a par with Jack Cole's work.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

More next week.