News of Dick Giordano’s passing spread quite quickly through the comic book community. In the past few days, many have lauded him for his unique mixture of professionalism and talent. I can’t really add much more to the chorus of praise, but I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to pay my respects to the man, his career, and to some of his notable work.
Let me begin by stating that for anyone looking to learn more about Dick Giordano, I highly recommend Michael Eury’s excellent Dick Giordano: Changing Comics One Day at a Time. As much as I’ve admired Giordano’s work over the years, it wasn’t until I read this book cover to cover that I full comprehended just how important a role Giordano played in the industry. Eury did a tremendous job and it is certainly one of the best comic book creator biographies I’ve ever read. I first read it 5 or 6 years ago, and it’s one of the small handful of creator biographies that I return to as reference on a regular basis. It includes the classic Meanwhile… column from 1983, in which Giordano described a day in his life.
Many people speak of Giordano’s work at DC or even his time overseeing the Action Heroes line at Charlton. He had done more than a decade of pre-Action Heroes work for Charlton in just about every genre under the sun. Many of these books are relative bargains, and fairly easy to track down. By his own admission, Giordano became a car nut partly because of the time he spent on Charlton’s various hot rod books. If you’ve never read a hot rod book, I highly recommend tracking down one of Charlton’s titles. They are a lot of fun.
Charlton’s romance books are also often paid very little lip service, but many of them were quite good, and Giordano’s fingerprints are everywhere. He had a real knack for the genre. Do you like science fiction? Check out Giordano channeling Wally Wood on this Space War cover!
In the mid-60s, Giordano masterminded a shift in many of Charlton’s titles, introducing the Action Heroes line, bringing aboard some new talent like Jim Aparo and Denny O’Neil, while giving a good deal of freedom to some well established creators such as Steve Ditko and Pete Morisi. Beyond his role as editor, Giordano also contributed his artistic skills to one of the lines best (yet underappreciated) titles, Sarge Steel. During his short run, Steel transformed from a Sam Spade like private eye to a master of espionage in the vein of Nick Fury or Napoleon Solo. The name of the series was eventually changed to Secret Agent. Giordano is really in his element here, and anyone wondering just how much he added to this series should really check out the issues with Montes & Bache art for the sake of comparison. These have yet to be reprinted, but they are still quite affordable.
For more on Giordano’s time at Charlton, you cannot do better than Comic Book Artist #9. It includes a lengthy interview with Giordano, and he tells several fascinating stories about Charlton’s owner John Santangelo and his interactions with various creators, including playing ping pong with Steve Ditko. I really miss the old CBA, and this was one of its finest issues.
Dick Giordano played a pivotal role in the transformation of Batman in the early 70s. Pick up either Batman in the Seventies or The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, and you’ll see Giordano’s name in the credits on some important and terrific stories. His inks over Neal Adams’ pencils are legendary, but I’d like to take a moment to highlight his skills as a penciller and storyteller. The story There is No Hope in Crime Alley is one of my all-time favourites, and I’ll admit to shedding a tear while reading it the other night. O’Neil and Giordano teamed up to create one of the most memorable Batman stories of all-time, including a spectacular one-page origin. It is incredible to think that this single page entrenched Leslie Thomkins as a cornerstone of the Batman mythos.
I could really go on and on, but there’s really no need to say everything at once. Giordano’s legacy is one that will endure, as he touched the lives of countless creators and fans. Although I wish I could have said it to him in person, I will say it now: “Thank you, sir – for the hundreds of hours of entertainment you provided and to your dedication to world of comic books”.
For more comic book talk – stop by my blog: Seduction of the Indifferent
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