Monday, 12 July 2010

Tony Salmons with check list added

In honour of this months "The Strange Adventures Of H P Lovecraft" from Image.

Around twenty years ago I bought the above G.I.Joe comic when it was seriealised in the the back of Transformers weekly. It was hands down the ugliest comic I'd seen at that point. Unbelieveable. Off model, ugly girls and a pretty good story which always makes bad art feel worse (imagine if it was drawn by Ron Randall!!?!?!?!).
I was also disappointed when Mignola drew X-Force 8. Were I a little older I probably would have hated Bill Sienkiewicz on New Mutants.
A few years later when I realised that people like Kevin Nowlan, Bret Blevins, Mike Mignola, Klaus Janson were great and had all kicked off their careers working at Marvel under Jim Shooter I ended up digging through titles like Marvel Fanfare, Marvel Premier etc which you could always find cheap.
I came across this great Hulk story in Marvel Fanfare. Kirby lines with Frazetta ballet, strange colours but really a lovely little strip.

He did a five issue mini called Dakota North which was fine but I came to realise that he'd done very little over the years.

James Robinson and Archie Goodwin until recently had managed to get the most work out of him between the almost four issues of the EXcellent Vigilante mini (with Mark Chiarello on colours, also recently collected by DC after more than a decade) and a stand-alone issue of Batman: Legends Of The Dark Knight. He had worked on Bruce Timm's Batman Adventures so has been busy and when you follow his super fluid storytelling you understand why.

According to an article I read with/by Toby Cypress, Salmons has burnt a lot of bridges over the years and many won't work him which is a sin. Below are first a Thor/Iron image which shows what we might have had if his early Avengers series had come off. Following that is a story from Penthouse Comics (the only two I own, I hasten to add...). Ninteen pages in a smutty comic so I guess not too many have seen it. Enjoy and check out the Lovecraft book at 160 pages, first issue free here

In my opinion, the Tony Salmons books worth tracking down are:
Dakota North 1-5 though not a great read!
Doctor Strange 2nd Series 64
GI Joe 69
GI Joe Yearbook 3 from 1986 or thereabouts
Captain America Red White and Blue
Adventures Of Lovecraft
Vigilante Miniseries 1-4
Legends Of the Dark Knight 85
Batman Gotham Knights 4 (Batman B&W collected in Batman B&W Vol 2

There's also a characteristically unfinished website


Anthony Hope-Smith said...

I used to have his GI Joes in reprint but lost em over time:-(
Remember that yearbook back-up he did with the store robbery? Beautiful stuff. And I covet that sketchbook with the Avengers pieces, etc.
He is one of my all time favs, easily in my personal top 5.
So...Leonardi, Salmons...which unsung great are you going to be covering next? Blevins perhaps?

David N said...

Those pages are beautiful.

I bought that same issue of Transformers, I believe, and I always liked that Vigilante mini, but I (obviously, wrongly) never really paid much attention to Salmons. Did he do a Legends of the Dark Knight one-shot?

Will Shyne said...

Anthony,I've a vague idea for who's next. That Tony Salmons sketchbook has some awful pixelated reproduction in it but I'll keep an eye out for it.

David, I'll amend the post to include a small checklist. To be honest, there'd be no other kind. I thinks he must have averaged over thirty years about 10 pages a year. THe LOTDk is issue 85 and is great!

Felicity Walker said...

With Tony Salmons, it’s always a gamble. Some of his G.I. Joe stuff is great; some is ugly. Like so many great comic artists, his best work was in the 1980s. His work since then has been OK, but with a lot of weak spots. Desperate for more Tony Salmons, I bought the issues I could find of that Vigilante comic, but was disappointed in the art. Same with the Lovecraft thing. He averages about one good panel per comic now, versus almost the whole comic being good back in the glory days of Dakota North.

Will Shyne said...

Hi Felicity,
Each to their own. I think it's pretty crazy stuff but I don't think his storytelling's ever in question.
I think Dakota North was great but I see it now as a signpost of where he's going. His first Marvel work was forcing himself a bit into the Marvel model. I think he definitely grew into an aquired taste but it's definitely good for me.

Anthony Hope-Smith said...

Have to say that it is when he is at his most idiosyncratic that I like him best. His panel compositions are stunning and uniquely his. They are unusual, but they always work. Likewise his poses and figure-work, his lighting, and most importantly his storytelling; and he is able to do all this whilst still communicating the narrative in a clear fashion.
He is that rarest of things in an industry that suffers overpopulation by far too many popular journeymen and imitators - an artist.

I do also love the more 'reined in' Salmons' Dakota North, I have to say. And I have to confess to enjoying the rather silly story. But then I do have an admittedly high threshold when it comes silly. So long as it looks great, I'm good.

Anyway, just popped on to say I love that Iron-Man sketch. Salmons is well my favourite Kirby 'descendant'.

Jeff with one 'f' said...


I own the Iron Man sketch- Tony sold it to me in...02 or 03- the sketchbook image is from a scan that I sent him after I brought it home.

Thanks for posting the Penthouse piece. Tony showed it to me years ago and I've been meaning to track it down ever since. I remember watching him draw a sketch of the female character from memory- sexy as hell.

Tony is a great guy who is criminally underappreciated.

Will Shyne said...

You're a lucky guy.
I didn't love the Lovecraft book but I loved the art. I dug out my Vigilantes just the other day.

I wonder if there is any value in being loved by few. I'm sure it doesn't pay the rent.

Piperson said...

I've been a huge fan of Salmons work since Marvel Fanfare #19!
I love his loose style, and his inks are amazing! His other Marvel Fanfare work is amazing as well, the Hulk story in MF #17 being one of my favorite depictions of the Hulk ever.
I've been chasing down his work in the last 10 years. I'm really happy to see your posts and the love here.
It's true that I've found his work to be inconsistent. I found his Vigilante OK. It had some amazing moments but it wasn't full of the stuff that I appreciate in Salmons work.
My favorite work of his was Murky Waters written by James Robinson.
Thanks again for the great post!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how to contact Mr. Leonardi for work? Freelance work on a privately owned comic.

Will Shyne said...

Hey Piperson,
That's great stuff you've got there. I hadn't seen the story that isn't Batman from Penthouse or that Robinson strip. ABout time for a big collection of his work. Wonder where he might still have friends?
IDW, Image? Somone's gotta be up for it!!

Will Shyne said...

Hey anonymous,
No idea how to get hold of Leonardi. Difficult enough to find original art by the man let alone contacting him directly.
Good luck.

Nathan Aaron said...

Dakota North wasn't actually a mini series, but rather an extremely short lived ongoing, due to very bad sales.

I LOVED me some Dakota North! The character later showed up in Cage (Power Man's series) and most recently in Daredevil (before the latest relaunch.)

Loved Tony Salmon's work on the book, as well! Very distinct style. Perfect for the model/runway vibe they were going for with that book.

Will Shyne said...

Marvel tried so much weird stuff in the 80s. Even if it didn't stick, there are some real gems out there. Didn't realise it was intended to be an ongoing. Probably for the best as Salmons probably wouldn't have lasted much longer on a monthly schedule.