All written content ©2013 Mike Pascale. Visual content ©2013 its respective owner(s).
Well, we barely made it a month without more obituaries. But sadly, today we pay tribute to Ray Harryhausen and Dan Adkins.
Ray Harryhausen: Dean of Dynamation
To say Ray Harryhausen was a legend is like saying Elvis was famous. He is to stop motion animation (which he coined “Dynamation”) what Mr. Presley was to rock ’n’ roll. Percentage-wise he probably inspired as many followers too. I loved his work on everything from MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (where he collaborated with his mentor and stop-motion pioneer Willis O’Brien) to ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (with Raquel Welch in her first iconic role) to his SINBAD films to the original CLASH OF THE TITANS. Ray also directed nine films, as can be seen at his IMDB profile.
Sure, those who grew up on CG effects can scoff at the so-called “crudeness” of the early stuff (much like I used to scoff at the “crudeness” of old cars before I appreciated their history), but Harryhausen’s place in film history and influence on those CG effects loved so much today is undeniable and indelible.
Interestingly, one of the best articles on Ray was in last week’s Financial Times. You can read about his wonderful career and amazing achievements at Ray’s official website. Not as many people are aware that Harryhausen was one heck of an artist too, as you can see from the drawings below:
Thankfully, Ray Harryhausen had a long and productive career and life and lived long enough to see the influence of his work and the many tributes by his disciples who went on to great things.
Dan Adkins: Jack of all Characters, Master of Fun
Was Dan Adkins under-rated and under-appreciated? Definitely. But not by those in the know. Dan began as an assistant to Wally Wood (one of several to witness Wally picking up a guitar and singing in happy times) but carved his own place in comics history by inking pretty much anyone who was anybody in the Silver Age, from Kirby to Colan to Steranko and beyond. Like most in the Marvel bullpen, Stan Lee anointed Adkins with an affectionately alliterative appellation: “Dapper Danny Adkins.” He also contributed pencils, storytelling and illustration in all sorts of places for all sorts of publications.
I don’t have an official count but I know Dan worked on nearly every major Marvel character. I recently came across his excellent inks on Gene Colan’s Daredevil. The WORLD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMICS specifically noted Dan’s art and storytelling on Thor, Doctor Strange and the original X-Men, as well as his contributions to the original T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. Not to be stopped there, Adkins’ art graced several issues of Warren’s EC-rivaling magazines CREEPY and EERIE.
According to historian Bill Schelly, Dan came up with the original idea for what would become Wally Wood’s premier “pro-zine”, WITZEND (after a couple title changes). Jim Steranko recognized Adkins’ skill and had him contribute many gorgeous toned pencil and rendered works to his wonderful MEDIASCENE tabloid-sized magazine, a couple of which are shown here–including what I consider one of the best renditions of a “lifelike” Hulk I’ve seen.
I wish I had met him, and I wish there was a book published on his wonderful work and copious career. Perhaps some generous and knowledgeable soul will do so in the future. For now, we’ll have to content ourselves with the impressive body of work Dan Adkins leaves behind, as well as that of the seminal stories to which he contributed and other artists whose styles he influenced. Thanks, Dan!
P.S.: If you’d like an original art commission from me as a tribute to Dan, Ray or anyone else, with any character, just ask Craig here!