Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Genius that is Jim Steranko

A little while back following a sort out of some boxes of old comics; I ended up spending an afternoon re-living my childhood reading classic Jim Steranko comics I uncovered carefully wrapped in Mylar Bags. Since a kid, I have loved the surreal and existential artwork of Steranko, which fitted into the late 1960’s [and early 1970’s] zeitgeist, the James Bond imagery, the off-kilter reality and the wiff of science fiction entering our reality.

Today in The Guardian, media-talking-head and comic book fan Jonathon Ross interviews Jim Steranko at the eve of Comic Con –

Jim Steranko. Many of you will not have heard his name before, a dreadful truth that troubles me every day. If he were French they'd have his statue in parks, Italian he'd be on their stamps, Japanese and he'd be doing commercials for videogames and fermented soya bean soda. But in the English-speaking world, we still woefully undervalue these master storytellers who choose panels and word balloons to work with.

To my fellow enthusiasts he is a Genius, a Wizard, a Master, a God. A one-of-a-kind, self-promoting hipster/huckster with the finest hair I've ever seen on a man of his age. He is also one of the handful of pioneers who can be said to have genuinely revolutionised the art of graphic storytelling. Glimpse his work and, before you even know exactly how he's doing it, you instinctively know it is different – better – than the norm. You'll also be hopelessly hooked. For life. Non-comic addicts might think I exaggerate – but step away from my hyperbole, and allow yourself a little time with the examples we have printed here. The work should speak for itself.

Ross’s piece and interview is most insightful, and also probes some of ‘eccentric’ tales of Steranko, such as the rumours that he doesn’t sleep –

JR: I know you are health-conscious, which comes from your work in escapology and so on. What's an average day for you now?

JS: I eat one meal a day. I believe everything you put in your body is toxic – I eat raw fruits and vegetables. A very small portion. I live on the side of a mountain and run up it with my dogs every night. I begin working after I have dinner at eight o'clock, and work till about nine in the morning. Then I turn in until about 11 o'clock.

JR: Two hours sleep? Conventional wisdom has it that you need sleep . .
JS: I am proof the body can get by on two hours' sleep.

JR: You know how mad that makes you sound?

Read More Here and Click Here for some of Steranko’s wonderful Artwork

If you’ve never read Steranko – this is a good place to start


  1. I've been struggling on 5 or 6 hours sleep a night - permanently tired and there aren't enough hours in the day. I wonder if I should try the 2 hours option... The prospect of packing an extra 4 hours into the day sounds brilliant - but I suspect I'd shut my eyes and... zzzzz...

  2. Great to see Steranko finally getting the credit that he's due. I've always been uncool enough to prefer DC to Marvel but Steranko's work and imagery has stayed with me for 40+ years. A particular favourite cover was for S.H.I.E.L.D. No. 3 ("Dark moon rise, Hell Hound kill!"), viewable at:

    It was also a great "Holmesian" ghost story with a rational explanation and set in Scotlland (albeit far removed from the reality of Glasgow). Incredibly, when I went to check on IMDB I discovered that this 1968 comic uses the same plot twist, a submarine mistaken for the Loch Ness monster, that Billy Wilder's "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes" employed 2 years later in 1970.later. I'd always assumed that the film used it first. Great work on an always enjoyable blog !

  3. Actually, that Nazi submarine under a castle gimmick came from an old John Steed/Emma Peel Avengers episode.

  4. Thanks - great seeing that Steranko followers are everywhere!

  5. Gossip Girl does manage one mean feat - it's both intrinsically bland and more terrifyingly cynical than the most heartless of Internet gossips. But I wouldn't go so far as to call that an actual accomplishment.

  6. custom Mylar bags bulk: a top-notch choice for preserving freshness and extending shelf life!