In Memory of Mike Sekowsky

Sekowsky, born on November 19, 1923 (it was a Monday), was another of those precocious, tireless, versatile pioneers of the comic book industry, such as Joe Kubert, Carmine Infantino and Alex Toth. He started out with Timely Comics in 1941.

I’ve always enjoyed his mature style most, as it became more eccentric and more distinctive, without sacrificing an iota of storytelling and compositional ability. We’ll come back to the topic with some examples in tow, but for the present, here’s a select gallery of his covers over the years. I stayed away from the more obvious choices… we hardly need to revisit his introduction of the Justice League of America (Brave and the Bold no. 28, March 1960), for instance.

I’m reminded of an old joke (usually) told about Beethoven: « A tourist is sightseeing in a European city. She comes upon the tomb of Beethoven, and begins reading the plaque, only to be distracted by a low scratching noise, as if something was rubbing against a piece of paper. She collars a passing native and asks what the scratching sound is. The person replies, ‘Oh, that is Beethoven. He’s decomposing. » This jazzy Mike Sekowsky / Mike Peppe (attributed) cover tableau sadly doesn’t turn up in any of the inside tales. Typical. This is lucky issue 13 of Standard/Better/Nedor Comics’ Adventures into Darkness (Dec. 1953.) And if you’re in the proper mood, the whole thing’s available for your reading pleasure right here.
« Sorry, old buzzard! Pick on someone your own size! » One of the last new supermen of the Golden Age, the absurdly well-endowed Captain Flash came along just before the Code did, in November 1954. Captain Flash’s adventures were published by tiny Sterling Comics, which released a handful of titles in 1954-55 then vanished. Bad timing. Captain Flash gained his mighty powers through accidental exposure to cobalt rays, if you must know. Thrill to his heroics right here:
« Blazes! And if I remember my Bat-lore, that’s the flying bat-cave he’s using to charge that bank! Hit the brakes, stoop-skull! » Bob Haney and Mike Sekowsky bring the wacky to this issue of The Brave & Bold no. 68 (Oct/Nov. 1966), with the saga of “Alias the Bat-Hulk“! Script by Haney, pencils by Sekowsky, cover inks by Joe Giella and story inks by Mike Esposito. Gotta love the cackling peanut/rogues’ gallery!
I’ve always had a soft spot for Gardner Fox and Sekowsky’s JLA, but no-one else’s, really. Especially late in their run, when things got increasingly bizarre. This is Justice League of America no. 61 (March 1968). Cover by Sekowsky and Jack Abel.
Ah, the always fun “screw you, hero!” cover theme. This is Green Lantern no. 66 (January, 1969), pencilled by Sekowsky and inked by Murphy Anderson, an unusual but effective combo. Within, «5708 A.D. — A Nice Year to Visit — But I Wouldn’t Want to Live Then!» is scripted by John Broome, pencilled by Sekowsky and inked by Joe Giella.
The final issue of the Atom as a solo book. He would team up with Hawkman for a few issues (with gorgeous Joe Kubert covers), but all in vain. The Atom no. 38‘s (Aug./Sept. 1968) « Sinister StopoverEarth! » is written by Frank Robbins, pencilled by Sekowsky and inked by George Roussos. Cover by Sekowsky and Jack Abel.
While newly-ensconced editorial director Carmine Infantino seemed to have boundless faith in Sekowsky in the late 1960s and early 1970s, pretty much every one of his creations and revamps turned out to be box office poison… but they were often bold, and certainly different. His take on Bob Kanigher and Ross Andru‘s Metal Men was odd, at times baffling, invigorating… and, at six issues, quite short-lived. This is Metal Men no. 38 (June-July 1969).
« Do we dare follow? Keep your distance now… don’t let it know you’re there! »
Nick Cardy crafted the majority of DC’s The Witching Hour’s gorgeous early covers, some of his finest work. But… *this* understated beauty was pencilled by Sekowsky and inked by Cardy. The picturesque results are set in the selfsame 1930s Universal Studios backlot Balkans of the mind so dear to several generations of monster-loving artists and kids. This is The Witching Hour no. 3 (June-July, 1969.)

– RG

11 thoughts on “In Memory of Mike Sekowsky

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