Friday, September 12, 2008

The last daughter of Krypton

Today's Comic Art Friday is dedicated to my Supergirls:
  • My daughter KM, who brings her mother and me joy every day...
  • My adopted niece Alicia, who is recovering from a serious accident...
  • Alicia's little sister, my goddaughter Shelby, who, if she turns out anything like her mother, will be quite the Superwoman someday.
For me as a comics reader, Supergirl has always represented the triumph of hope and innocence. The artists and writers who chronicled her early adventures — especially the late, great Jim Mooney, who drew Kara Zor-El's stories for a decade — seemed to understand that.

As the 1980s rolled around, the editorial team at DC Comics believed that Supergirl needed to either grow up or die. So they forced her to do both: They aged her into her mid-twenties (for two decades, Supergirl held chronological stasis at a perpetual 16 or 17), then famously killed her off during 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths. The DC Universe remained without its Maid of Steel for most of the next 15 years.

Supergirl is back now, in her own monthly series. After a sketchy beginning, it appears that her creative team is slowly getting a handle on how Kara ought to be portrayed.

Like many female superheroines, Supergirl has undergone frequent costume changes over the years. My favorite of her many ensembles has always been the one she wore in the mid-1970s, which saw Kara in a V-necked blouse and shorts (the latter far more practical for flying around than her traditional skirt). That's the outfit seen here, in this jaw-dropping pencil commission by Matthew Clark, the longtime artist of DC's Outsiders and Adventures of Superman.

Jeremy Colwell — a talented artist in his own right — enjoyed Matthew's rendition of Supergirl so much that he painted this color version, displayed on his blog. Jeremy's hyper-realistic take on Matthew's pencil art is worth checking out.

Paul Abrams, whose comics credits include DC's Viper and Marvel's Avengers, Excalibur, and Savage Sword of Conan, drew this Supergirl pinup in a style that combines classic and modern approaches: The crop-top costume and sleek figure are of recent vintage, while the wide eyes recall the signature technique of Jim Mooney. Inker Bob Almond added superb finishing touches.

When Paul saw Bob's completed inks, he asked Scott Kress of Catskill Comics to color the piece digitally. Here's the sweet result of Scott's efforts.

I like Scott's approach to this piece very much. The simple, bright hues really say "comics" to me, in contrast to the darker, more densely layered computer coloring that's most often seen in today's comics. But then, I'm old-school like that.

Today would be an excellent day to give the Supergirl(s) in your life a big hug, and a "You go, Supergirl!" I'm just saying.

And that's your Comic Art Friday.


4 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Anonymous Anonymous offered these pearls of wisdom...

Have to disagree that Supergirl was held at 16-17 for 20 years. Within a decade of her debut, she was attending Stanhope University, and by the very early 1970s she graduated and was working for a San Francisco tv station. She then stayed in her 20s for a while, moving to being a private school guidance councilor and then a soap opera actress.

Oddly enough, it was her immediate pre-Crisis situation which de-aged her, with no in-story explanation, back to being a college undergrad in Chicago.

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Tom Galloway offered these pearls of wisdom...

Sorry about that...the preceding was me.

9:02 PM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Tom: I'm sure you're right -- you usually are. :)

I was thinking that Kara/Linda didn't get to Stanhope until the early '70s. I will defer to your superior grasp of the chronology.

9:08 PM  
Blogger Joel offered these pearls of wisdom...

i just read the latest supergirl comic. i still don't like the direction dc's taken her since letting peter david go. so...plain. i'm surprised they haven't created some sorta "gossip girl" theme to capitalize the "mean girl" phenomenon dominating the media

12:40 PM  

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