Decisions, decisions…

Diego Bernard Harley Quinn

The Batman family’s rogues gallery has always been the comic world’s best (IMHO). And though Selina Kyle will always be my favorite, the zany shrink with a kink has become my number two, and it’s whimsical art like this piece by Diego Bernard that makes her so endearing. So hard to choose: Street or costume? At least accessorizing’s always a cinch for Harley Quinn. Just carry a great big mallet.

Colton Worley

Colton Worley

Dynamite Entertainment’s reboot of The Green Hornet (see prior post) has included two volumes/storylines as well as a parallel Kato – Origins series, with various writers and artists. While not a name I’ve spotted with the current Volume Two series that features Kato’s daughter Mulan assuming The Green Hornet’s mantle, Colton Worley has delivered some gorgeous covers for prior issues and other Dynamite vintage crimefighter and contemporary character titles, including The Shadow, Miss Fury and Jennifer Blood. Background information on Worley seems sparse. I think he’s from Spokane, but don’t hold me to it. But then, bio’s aren’t important. It’s the art that counts. Above: A Noir-ish masterpiece from Kato: Origins Issue 9, and below, some stunning Worley work for Lamont Cranston, The Shadow and other Dynamite Entertainment titles.

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Frazetta’s Femmes Fatales

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Just how many late 20th century budding artists first started scribbling their own muscle bound barbarians and sword wielding valkyries after ogling Frank Frazetta’s (1928 – 2010) Conan paperback and early Warren magazine cover paintings, who’ll ever know. For many, the man’s work was the look of dark fantasy for decades. But he was more than Cimmerians and death goddesses, and had a flare for 50’s-60’s style bad girlz when given the chance. There’s not a broadsword or wizard in sight among these.

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Dakota North

By Michael Lark 3

No surprise that Marvel’s Dakota North, created by activist, essayist and writer Martha Thomases along with artist Tony Salmons, was eclipsed by Jessica Jones. Thomases’ groundbreaking much-more-than-a-detective simply appeared 15 years too early, in a marketplace that hadn’t matured enough to embrace smart, accomplished and utterly lethal female characters. Mind you, Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty already paved the way five years earlier with their memorable Ms. Tree. Today? Indie comics and the majors alike are teeming with Dakota North, Ms. Tree and Jessica Jones clones.

Dakota North - 4 Covers

Former fashion model, daughter of a CIA agent and now owner of her own private investigations firm headquartered in New York, with satellite offices in Paris, Rome and Tokyo, Dakota North only had a five issue mini series in 1986-87, then made numerous appearances in various other Marvel titles. Dakota North was slated for another series in 2006, but that never materialized.

Dakota North

Nonetheless, Thomases’ creation was an important character, and finally available in a trade pb compilation, Dakota North – Design For Dying released this time last year, which includes those first Dakota North issues plus a number of (though not all) her appearances in other titles.

Dakota North - Cover

The terrific B&W illustrations included at the top and below are by Michael Lark. And, in keeping with ‘great minds think alike’: I scheduled this post in the middle of the week of the 23rd-29th (most of my posts are pre-scheduled days ahead of appearing), and when I scrolled through posts at my blog aggregator (Bloglovin…very handy tool!) I see the venerable Not Pulp Covers at Tumblr posted a Tony Salmon Dakota North page.  Mind you, Not Pulp Covers is clearly run by a much greater mind than mine!

By Michael Lark 2By Michael Lark 1

Natasha.

Paul Gulacy - Natasha

Sure, I get it: We’re supposed to go for Marvel’s Black Widow when she’s sporting her form-fitting black catsuit. But in artist Paul Gulacy’s capable hands, I think she looks every bit as lethal in a trenchcoat. I’ve posted an example of Gulacy’s take on Natasha Romanova before (link below). He does have a way with black and white, doesn’t he?

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ArtGerm’s Villainesses

Bat And The Cat

Comics are as good a place as any to look for crime fiction’s bad girlz, DC Comics and the Girlz of Gotham City in particular. Stanley Lau (who uses the brand name Artgerm) renders some of the best versions of them. Go to his site at artgerm.com to view more of the artist’s work and collectibles, but enjoy Selina Kyle, Harleen Frances Qunizel and Pamela Lillian Isley, better known as Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy right here for a start.

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Master Stylist: Darwyn Cooke

Darwyn Cooke - 6 - Parker

No one’s passing is good news. But when beloved or talented people leave us at a young age, it’s doubly painful. We can’t help but wonder what else they’d have created if granted more time.

Darwyn Cooke - 5 - Parker

Canadian artist, illustrator and animator Darwyn Cooke was just such a case. The master stylist was born in Toronto but grew up in Nova Scotia, where he learned to draw at an early age by ‘deconstructing’ comics, attempting to replicate the style of the illustrations…and in doing so, developing his own very distinctive style. Know him for his stunning comics work on Batman, Catwoman (that’s where I first discovered his work) and Richard Stark’s Parker, or for his animation work for The New Adventures Of Batman and Batman Beyond, or know him for winning thirteen Eisner Awards. But know that, sadly, he succumbed to cancer in 2016 at age 53. But his work lives on…

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Lady Killer: Joelle Jones

Lady Killer 1

I never say this person’s the best artist, the best writer, the best actor, etc. But I’m not timid about saying who are my favorites, and the brilliant Joelle Jones is on that list. Incredibly skilled with design and composition as well as an artful stylist, Jones isn’t content being a terrific artist, but has to be an inventive and creative writer as well…the show-off. Some handiwork of her best project so far (IMHO) shown here: Lady Killer, about 1960’s suburban housewife Josie Schuller, who’s also happens to be a lethal hit woman.

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Enrique Badia Romero

Enrique Badia Romero 2Many know Italian artist Enrique Badia Romero for his sword-wielding Amazons and Red Sonja-style barbarians, Vampirella and various other alluring vampiresses, most of those rising from their coffins without their PJ’s.

Enrique Badia Romero 4

But to others, Romero is one of the main artists on the long running Modesty Blaise newspaper strips, running uncensored in Europe and in slightly less saucy versions in limited US distribution. A master draftsman and downright lethal with a brush and pen, here’s a few Romero illustrations and a daily strip to ogle.

Enrique Badia Romero 1Enrique Badia Romero 3Enrique Badia Romero 5

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