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Sam Glanzman Tells “A Sailor’s Story”

by  in Comic News Comment
Sam Glanzman Tells “A Sailor’s Story”

Sam Glanzman was never the most famous comics artist in the field, but the writer and artist was called by the late Joe Kubert “one of the most talented men I know.” Mr. Glanzman started working in comics in 1939 for Funnies, Inc. and went on to a long career at Dell, Charlton, DC, Marvel and elsewhere. He wrote and drew stories for DC’s recent “Joe Kubert Presents” miniseries and plenty of readers may remember him for inking Tim Truman in a series of “Jonah Hex” miniseries in the ’90s, but for the most part Mr. Glanzman hasn’t been very prolific in recent decades.

That doesn’t mean he ever stopped working, though. Glanzman is best known for two kinds of books: One is fantasy, his run as an artist on books including “Hercules,” “Kona, Monarch of Monster Isle,” “Tarzan,” “Marco Polo,” “Voyage to the Deep” — and “ATTU,” which he wrote and drew — are among the most visually inventive fantasy adventures in comics of that time. The other is for his war stories, which include the highly regarded serial “The Lonely War of Willie Schultz.” As writer and artist he drew a few dozen stories about life aboard “The U.S.S. Stevens” over the years for different publications, based on his own experiences serving in the Navy during World War II. Those stories will collected for the first time in Fall 2015 by Dover Publications, as part of the company’s new line of comics.

Dover is launching its comics imprint in April with a new edition of Mr. Glanzman’s “A Sailor’s Story.” Originally published in two volumes by Marvel Comics in the 1980s, the new volume will feature a foreword by Max Brooks, an introduction by Larry Hama, an afterword by Chuck Dixon, corrected colors by Frank Cuonzo, and a never-before-seen short story by Glanzman. When it was originally published, “A Sailor’s Story” was considered one of the great war comics, and this new edition should solidify Glanzman’s reputation as one of the great comics figures of his generation.

CBR News: For people who don’t know, or may have forgotten what is “A Sailor’s Story?”

Sam Glanzman: Exactly what it says — a story by a sailor. Sights, scenes, actions, and personal experiences, true to life. Some names of shipmates may be changed.

Before “A Sailor’s Story,” people likely knew you from the U.S.S. Stevens stories. How did you begin telling the U.S.S. Stevens stories?

I’m getting too damn old to remember years ago! But I guess most were memories or juiced up memories.

What did you want to do differently with “A Sailor’s Story” from what you had been doing with U.S.S. Stevens ?

“A Sailor’s Story” is true. The other stories were part true and part fiction.

This new edition of “A Sailor’s Story” has some new material as well. What is this new story?

The new story is actually an old story that never was published. It’s called “Even Dead Birds Have Wings,” and was originally created for a future issue of Marvel’s “Savage Tales” Vol. 2, which never came out. So it’s appearing here in print for the first time. I guess you call that “new material.”

To what degree were these stories about life aboard ship about your experiences and to what degree were they fictional stories that you’d researched?

Getting the details right in my stories was very important. I did research for everything.

The only fictional stuff was the names of some of the guys aboard ship. Except for one thing — I wasn’t an orphan. To this day, each night, I pray to God to forgive me for saying that. It must have hurt my parents terribly. Mainly my pop, he was a Sargent in WWI, gassed and wounded, a real hero. I wasn’t an orphan! The truth is, there was a person at Marvel who suggested I say it — and they had a big hand in having my story told — or not. I didn’t want to refuse for fear my book would not be published.

You started working in comics in 1939 while you were still a teenager. You were working at Funnies, Inc, is that correct? What made you interested in comics?

First question: Correct.

Second question: Drawing for fun and being paid!

You drew Blue Bolt and Fly-man early in your career, but otherwise you didn’t draw superheroes. Were you not interested in superheroes?

I just did the work I was offered and handed it in.

If people know your work they know you for one of two things. One are these war stories, which are heavily researched and detailed and realistic. The other is for fantasy comics like “Attu,” “Kona,” “Hercules.” What do you like about these two kinds of work and for you, is there something that connects them?

I didn’t have to do much research on “A Sailor’s Story” ’cause I lived it. All the war stories were as detailed and realistic as I could remember. “Attu,” “Kona,” “Hercules,” that was fun, and of course I did research on how to draw elephants, etc. But otherwise it was pure fun. Very different from the war stories.

One comic that stands out during this period is “Hercules,” which you did with writer Joe Gill and really experimented with your art style and approach.

I was having fun!

You spent many years working for Dell and Charlton on a number of series. Do you have a favorite project you worked on during that time?

For Dell, I always loved “Kona.” I just loved working on those stories. For Charlton, “The Lonely War of Willy Schultz” that I did with writer Will Franz, who created it.

I am curious about “ATTU,” which you wrote and drew. Can you talk a little about what the inspiration for these books was. Did you ever plan to do more?

I just often wonder about the stars, other plants, etc. Is there life out there? I finished book three, and I am working on book four (if I can stay alive long enough to finish it!). It should be coming out from Dover.

For people who don’t know, could you say a little about what the series is? And what we can expect to see in the third and fourth books?

“ATTU” is a story about a character I created who travels through time having adventures in different moments throughout history and in the future. For the next two books, you will have to wait and see if I get them done!

I was first introduced to your work fairly late in your career when you inked Tim Truman on “Jonah Hex” back in the 1990s. Had you inked many other artists over the years?

Wow! Man, I loved working with Tim “Timbo” Truman! We met in the ’90s. I also inked his pencils on “Turok” back then for Valiant. Other than that, I did some inks on “Zorro” for Topps around that time.

You haven’t made many new comics in recent years but you did some stories for “Joe Kubert Presents” a couple years ago. How did you end up working on that project?

Joe asked me. Joe was a good guy. He even visited me to check out my studio. Come to think of it, I don’t think he visited me as much as he visited my studio!

You worked with Kubert in the past. What was it like working with him and how did that change over the years?

Great! Joe was one fine guy! My world exploded when he died. My older brother died the same year. I’ve had a hard time holding an ink brush in my hand since then. It keeps falling outta’ my hand.

I read somewhere that you were asked to try out for a comic strip many years ago which didn’t happen because of “Hagar the Horrible.” You weren’t drawing “Hagar,” were you?

I didn’t do “Hagar.” I did one called “Sleepy Holler”, about three brothers living up in the mountains — me, and my two brothers Dave and Lew. I did lots of work on that one. Even presented it to some outfit for representation (I forget the name). The agents for that outfit took “Sleepy Holler” around to the syndicates with another comic strip, “Hagar the Horrible.” I was told that the owner of one syndicate really loved mine. But, in the end, they picked up “Hagar.” Mine didn’t sell. I was this close!

You mentioned that we should have old — and new — volumes of “ATTU” published and it was just announced that the U.S.S. Stevens stories will be collected by Dover as well. I’d love to see a collection of “The Lonely War of Willie Schultz” or a few other projects of yours.

Well, as you know, A Sailor’s Story will be coming out from Dover April of 2015. That collects “A Sailor’s Story” and “A Sailor’s Story, Book Two: Winds, Dreams and Dragons.” As for those others, if all goes according to plan, they should also be collected sometime very soon.

“A Sailor’s Story” will be released by Dover Publications in April 2015. For more information about Sam Glanzman and his work, follow his Facebook fan page.

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