Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Michael Golden, and the issue is The Micronauts #7, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated July 1979. Enjoy!
As I scoured my comic shoppe’s 50¢-boxes, I found this issue of Micronauts, which is why I’m showing it instead of some other issue of Micronauts. Ya takes what ya can gets, people! It turns out this is a pretty keen issue of Micronauts, because it guest-stars Man-Thing. Yep, Bill Mantlo writes a story in which the Micronauts fight Man-Thing in the Everglades. And it’s drawn by Michael Golden. The Seventies were awesome, people.
Yesterday, we saw that Golden tended to use very round faces and small features, which made his characters look more cartoony and abstract. By mid-1979, we can see that he’s added more details to his faces and he’s streamlined them a bit, although they’re still fairly round. The eyes on the characters are bigger, too, which is a trend in Golden’s cartooning. He would never become too “realistic,” but here he’s definitely balancing the abstract and the concrete in his faces better. Obviously, his details are terrific, as are his blacks, while Josef Rubinstein’s inking is solid, as are Carl Gafford’s colors. I just wanted to show the difference in faces to start off. (Oh, and “Sepsis,” Mantlo? Really?
The Micronauts’ oddly-shaped spaceship is placed in the center of this panel, which doesn’t seem to work. Obviously, if you’re reading along, you know what it is, but it still looks like it’s part of the drawing of Commander Rann rather than superimposed over his face. It’s kind of unnecessary – we saw it in the previous panel, surrounded by those glowing dudes, and Biotron – the narrator – tells us that he plotted a course for home after this event, so we know the ship was undamaged by the event, so it tends to distract from the importance of what’s happening to Rann. But that’s the way it is, I guess. Notice, for this close-up, that Golden is quite detailed, and Rann’s eyes are closed, so they’re not wide like some others we’ll see in this post (including his parents in the panel above). We get some nice line work on his face to show the stress he’s under, and I like how his hair blends into the black background. The glowing figures are nicely done, too – Golden doesn’t use holding lines, instead creating them from closely packed horizontal lines and spot blacks, while Gafford’s yellow are suffused throughout the figures. It’s a nifty effect.
So Man-Thing shows up. That kid in the corner, Steve Coffin (really?) is bummed out because he thinks his dad’s dead, and Man-Thing responds to his grief and shows up. Man, you better not be feel anything too intensely in the Everglades, or Man-Thing will show up! (You know, now that I think of it, the only thing that would have made Wild Things better is if Man-Thing had shown up occasionally. That would have been tremendous.) Mari responds as everyone does when Man-Thing appears, but that doesn’t slow him down! Golden draws a nice Man-Thing – I imagine it’s difficult to screw up Man-Thing – as he fits well into his style, what with the large eyes and somewhat cartoonish manner. Does Man-Thing usually have such prominent fingernails? They look strange.
Golden moves us around the page well here, as the Micronauts, understandably, attack Man-Thing … which doesn’t go well. He uses a nice, loose line here, perhaps aided by Rubinstein’s inks, that makes the action flow well, and the ooziness of the swamp and Man-Thing himself is nicely shown. Panel 5 is really cool – Golden draws a good hand pushing down on Bug, and he makes the smoke rising from between Man-Thing’s fingers twisty, while Gafford’s pink coloring makes it look sickly. I miss third-person narration occasionally, because writers tended to use florid language in them more than in dialogue – I can’t imagine any comic character saying “chitinous,” but I’m fairly certain I learned the word in a comic book. These days, you don’t get pompous language as much in comics, which means you don’t learn as much cool-ass vocabulary!
Steve decides he’s not going to be afraid anymore, and Man-Thing, strangely attracted to his courage, walks into the propeller and disintegrates (he gets better). Golden again does nice work with the muck – he uses some thick black lines as the borders, but because he and Rubinstein use so much hatching, it blurs the edges, while Gafford’s greens and browns complete the look. In Panel 2, we see another transitional face – Steve’s eyes are rather big, a little bit out of proportion on his face, and his face isn’t as rounded as Golden’s faces were yesterday, but it’s still a bit wide. If you know what Golden’s art looked like on the next comic I’m going to show (it’s from 1981, and that should be all you need to know!), you might think the difference in faces between that and this is the inking, which might be true. I’ll get into that tomorrow.
Golden continued to develop, becoming more detailed but also retaining his somewhat cartoonish aspect. We’ll see that more in the coming days, as tomorrow we check out perhaps his most famous comic! Find more famous comics in the archives!
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