Mark Evanier had a great piece a few years back on the great character actor, Frank Nelson, who is best known for his routine of playing clerks at various establishments, where he would greet a customer’s inquiry with the response, “Yessssssssssssss?” In any event, Evanier recounts a story of a cartoon show looking for someone who can do an impersonation of Frank Nelson for a character, and someone asks, “Why not just get Frank Nelson to do it?”
That sort of thing happens a lot, and it especially happens in comic books, where we see titles that try to evoke the style of certain creators, while those creators are still alive and willing to work! It just so happens that not too many people are willing to find work for the Frank Nelsons of the comic world.
Tom DeFalco, though, is one.
This is not to say he is the ONLY one. Ed Brubaker has found places to use Russ Heath, Gene Colan and John Romita in his works. Scott Allie always seems willing to use great older artists. And I’m sure there are others I am not thinking of (Marc Guggenheim just had Gene Colan show up in his last issue of Blade).
However, I think DeFalco deserves a bit of attention for his treatment of older artists, as well as the loyalty he has shown to the artists who worked with him in the past.
Right now, DeFalco’s Amazing Spider-Girl is penciled by Ron Frenz and inked by Sal Buscema. I do not believe DeFalco even ever worked on a comic book with Sal Buscema before (at least not on a regular basis), but when no one else was hiring Buscema, one of Marvel’s great artists of the 60s and 70s (and 80s and 90s), DeFalco was there to employ him on a Spider-Girl spin-off series, Buzz. And when Spider-Girl got a new art team, Buscema was on board, and has been inking Spider-Girl for the past four years.
Meanwhile, DeFalco has managed to find a way to work with artist Ron Frenz as often as he can, while also finding places for other artists that he has worked with in the past, such as Pat Olliffe and Ron Lim, even when guys like Lim weren’t finding much other work in mainstream comic books (Olliffe has worked pretty regularly).
The best thing about it is that you can tell that it is clearly not a case of pity or anything like that, it’s just that DeFalco thinks these guys are good, and WANTS to keep working with them. That sort of respect is great to have in the industry.
Heck, the original art team on Spider-Girl, Pat Olliffe and Al Williamson, even get CREDITED in the CURRENT issues, as Artist Emeritus!!!
That’s pure class all the way by DeFalco.
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