Nov 1, 2010

Still Only 25¢: The Incredible Hulk #197

Disclaimer: Part of an on-going series of blog posts about comic-books, the mid-70's and a wee boy named Earl. Or not really. You know my name isn't really Earl, right? - Earl

click here
I was a big fan of the cover of this particular issue of The Incredible Hulk when I was a kid, and I really didn't know exactly why at the time. I just liked it a lot. It looked different than the rest of the Hulk comic-books that I had been reading at the time. He looked darker, more savage (if you can believe that!) than he normally looked. Maybe it was because he wasn't day-glo green. Maybe it was that flat-top look he's rocking with the bangs. The mid-70's hulk generally had a wilder, shaggy-haired image. As drawn by Gil Kane or Sal Buscema or whomever was drawing him at the time. This Hulk looked more primal. More like how he originally looked when he was introduced in the 1960's. Not that I was aware of that. I was 10, people. All I knew of the '60's could have fit on the head of a pin. But I must have seen some reprints or something. Marvel in the 1970's was filled with reprints from the previous decade.

But the real reason why I liked this cover so much is the artist. Bernie Wrightson. And I happen to think that Bernie Wrightson is one of the most talented artists to ever work in the comic-book industry. Just my humble opinion. Of course, I didn't know that it was Bernie Wrightson back then. All I knew, like I said, is that I dug it. It was years later when looking through a book of Wrightson's art that I realized it was he who had drawn this particular cover.

The fact that Wrightson had done this issue is interesting for another reason entirely. One of Wrightson's most famous works from the early 1970's was over at DC in House of Secrets #92. The first appearance of Swamp Thing. He also did the covers and interiors to the first volume of Swamp Thing stand-alone comic-books that were published soon afterward. Well, the first ten issues of that set anyway. And they were all fantastic works of art.

What's interesting here is that Wrightson is drawing Marvel's version of another swamp creature, Man-Thing. Man-Thing actually pre-dates Swamp Thing by a couple of months. And Len Wein was involved in both characters, either directly (in the case of Swampy) or indirectly (in the case of Man-Thing). Wein's roommate around that time was Gerry Conway, and he was one of the original creators of Man'Thing. Wein would be directly involved in Man-Thing later on in between issues of Swamp-Thing. Weird stuff. There was talk of lawsuits over the similarities of the characters, but it was never really pursued. They probably weren't popular enough at the time to justify the legal action. I dunno.

But it is pretty cool to see Wrightson's work on Man-Thing up there. His use of muted colors, shadows and extraordinary detail was a gift to fans of the horror genre. He did a lot of work around this time with Warren Publishing who had a line of horror specific comic-books. He later began a series of collaborations with Stephen King that included Creepshow, Cycle of the Werewolf, the reprint of The Stand and some of the stuff in the Dark Tower series.

I don't exactly remember where and when it was that I first came across this issue. And, honestly, I don't remember much from the inside of the book at all.

But that cover...WOW!
Note: Remember to play the Badgerdaddy Trivia Challenge every day. Whoever knows FEAR burns at the touch of...the Man-Thingc.


sybil law said...

Well I TRIED to click it but nothing happened!
I love comic artists, in general. Dream job!

RW said...

RW at 10 years old: writes a storyline with rudimentary story board and sends it off to Marvel Comics that pitted the oddest combo of Marvel characters against one another ever... The Hulk vs. Dr. Strange.

Received hand-written note from Stan Lee thanking me for the idea but they were stocked up.

Wish I kept the card....

Verdant Earl said...

Sybil - I see that now. I wonder why that happens sometimes here. I uploaded the image myself, so it should work...frak!

RW - Wow! That is pretty cool. And, of course, a bit later on Mr. Lee teamed those two characters up (along with Namor and the Silver Surfer) as part of a new super-group called The Defenders. That would have been 1970 or so. I think you are owed some royalties, my friend.

Slyde said...

hey, i have that issue!

of course, since i have every issue of the hulk, that wouldnt be surprising, would it.

for what its worth, i never was a fan of either swamp thing or man thing. i just found them both very boring.

but i think the artwork is aces...

Verdant Earl said...

Slyde - I wasn't a fan of either (except for the artwork, natch) when I was a kid, but I became a fan of Swampy after Alan Moore sunk his gothic teeth into him in the 80's. That was great stuff!

Heff said...

Let me know when you get the old Incredible Hulk issues with the Harpie and the Bi-Beast.

Verdant Earl said...

Heff - those were issues #168-169 and probably about 6 months before I started reading The Hulk. Bi-Beast...hehe.

Heff said...

Correct. (I googled it, too )

The Bi-Beast issues were the ones I started out with.

Slyde said...

i loved the bi-beast issues.

they actually brought the bi-beast back around issue 199 or 200.

wow, all this HULK talk is getting me hard....