The Steranko Time Machine

I can remember the first Jim Steranko comic book that I ever read. It was Nick Fury #1. I was 9 years old. I’d been reading comics for years… Batman, Superman, Spider-Man… but Nick Fury [as written and drawn by Jim Steranko] was like a movie come to life [even though it was on the printed page].

As I become older, I always kept my eye out for comics by Steranko. They were few and far between [and sometimes only covers], but boy, were they worth it. The man is a legend despite the fact that his primary work in comics was less than ten years and consisted of approximately 30 stories.

Years later I attended my first comic book convention. My goal was to buy Steranko‘s run on Nick Fury in mint condition. Not only was I able to score the set [and at a good price], but I ended up becoming friends with the dealer, Mike Kott. I was surprised to learn that Steranko had branched out into publishing. At the same show I picked up my first issue of his publication, Mediascene [which featured an interview with Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy].

Steranko had moved away from comics, instead he spent his time concentrating on painting [he did a series of covers for The Shadow paperbacks reprints] and publishing [Mediascene which later became Prevue]. When Steranko offered some of his Shadow “pencil paintings” for sale in the early 80’s, I splurged and bought one. I was newly married, in college and the $225 bucks it cost seemed like a fortune. Steranko was nice enough to send along an autographed copy of his book Unseen Shadows.

If you’re a Steranko fan, then you know what an interesting life he’s led. In addition to being a comic book artist, a publisher, a painter, a professional magician / escape artist [in his youth he traveled with carnivals and circuses], a musician and more. If you’re just discovering Steranko, then you’re in for a treat!

Steranko is still a huge draw at conventions around the country. Last year he was a special guest at FX 2005. [In fact it was his cover for the program book that inspired this post.] I was unable to attend the FX show, but even if I had, there would have been no chance of a Steranko piece for my Stallone Gallery. Steranko doesn’t sketch at shows and seldom does commissions… and those that he does do cost thousands!

Every so often I love to pull out my Chandler graphic novel, or the three issues of Captain America that he did… but my favorite is still his run on Nick Fury. Over 35 years later, I still get the same rush as that 9 year old seeing it for the first time.