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Friday, June 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dan Jurgens -- Born on this date in 1959, Dan Jurgens created one of my favourite superhero series of the 1990s, Sensational Spider-Man.

Jurgens delivered old-style Spider-Man stories despite the fact that his lead character was Spider-Clone Ben Reilly, not the original Peter Parker. Of course, this was at the height of Marvel's clone madness, so we were told at the time that Reilly actually was the original Peter. Maybe you had to be there, but if you weren't, be grateful you missed it.

You should definitely seek out the Jurgens run on this title, though -- seven issues, including a zero issue plus #1-6. All were inked by Klaus Janson, one of the finest superhero comics inkers of all time, and he made Jurgens look great. It seemed to my eyes that Jurgens was paying homage to Ross Andru with his depiction of Spider-Man in action, and he and Janson made for a formidable artistic team comparing favourably with more widely-loved Spider-Man artists like Ditko, Kane and Romita. I'd go so far as to say Jurgens and Janson delivered a nice amalgamation of all those styles, in fact, without sacrificing their own styles.

You may have to love the series more for the art than the stories; most issues crossover with other titles in the Spider-line at that time. But the art is more than good enough for you to seek it out if you like well-drawn superhero comics.

Jurgens is often teamed with clean-line inkers who do nothing more than make his pencils ready for publication; on Sensational Spider-Man, Klaus Janson brought depth, mood and style to the art, and I'd love to see them work together again someday on a project worthy of their skills.They brought out the best in each other, and I remember these comics fondly and re-read them from time to time, amazed at how well the art holds up.

Happy birthday, Dan.



Blogger Augie said...

And a quick ditto on the birthday greetings from over here. Dan Jurgens is a great comic book director -- his look changes drastically depending on who's inking him, and he seems to be OK with that. Plus, he hits deadlines and can tell a story.

Check out his Teen Titans run with George Perez on inks for another look that works very well, though very differently.

And, let's not forget -- he was following on Sensational Spider-Man by another great run: Todd Dezago and Mike Wieringo. Those were just plain fun comics, and didn't get interrupted too much by the incessant crossovers of the day.

27 June, 2008 08:13  
Blogger Alan David Doane said...

Agreed all the way around -- Jurgens/Perez was a tasty combo, and of course Todd and Mike's Sensational was every bit as fun as Jurgens/Janson was...

27 June, 2008 08:53  
Blogger Nick said...

Some interesting inking combos with Dan I remember were with Kevin Nowlan and Bill Sienkevich but all I remember about the actual books is that weren't very interesting. I also really liked his writing on the Thor relaunch for a couple years.

27 June, 2008 14:05  
Blogger Alan David Doane said...

I forgot about his Thor! That had some great work by Tom Raney, a good fit for his style, for a change.

27 June, 2008 14:11  

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