Today’s dose of inspiration is without a doubt the coolest person to ever work in comics, James F. “Jim” Steranko. Born 1938 in Pennsylvania, Mr Steranko was drawing from a very young age. Influenced, like many, by the standout Sunday comic strip art of Milton Caniff, Alex Raymond, Hal Foster, and Chester Gould.
In 1957 Mr Steranko got his foot in the the comic industry as an inker. His first published penciled work was in Spyman #1 (1966), which he wrote the story “The Birth of a Hero”. It was published under Harvey Thriller, an imprint of Harvey Comics.
It wasn’t until he moved to Marvel Comics that he really made a name for himself. Working on the spy stories of Nick Fury, Mr Steranko really started to stretch the comic medium. He experimented with layout and sequencing, and most notably bought in elements of Surrealism, Pop Art, Op Art, and graphic design. What Mr Steranko was doing was groundbreaking, and caused waves not only in the comic medium, but also in film too.
In 1969 Mr Steranko formed his own publishing company, Supergraphics, and in 1970 and 1972 published The Steranko History of Comics volume 1 and 2 respectively. These tabloid-sized books, written by Mr Sterenko also featured the first, and in some cases only, interviews with many creators from the comic book Golden Age. At the time the volumes were well received, and today are very sought after. Although, not everyone agreed with their content. At a San Diego Comic-Con Bob Kane had a few word to say to Mr Sterenko about his chapter on Batman, what unfolded is priceless. Last year Mr Steranko explained the whole story on twitter.
Outside of comics Mr Steranko has also shared his talents as a concept artist for film, including Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark and Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. He has also worked on movie posters, production designs and has written an episode for the DC Comics animated TV series Justice League Unlimited.
Unsurprisingly his amazing contributions to the comic industry has earned him many awards, not least a Shazam Award for Outstanding Achievement by an Individual, and a place in the esteemed Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.
I have only scratched the surface of what an important person Mr Steranko is to the industry, to find out more check out The Drawings of Steranko website. Also, a small but nice collection of his work can be seen here, and of course you should follow him on twitter.