Comic Fans Drawn To Show The Butler | News, Sports, Jobs
YOUNGSTOWN – Legendary comic book artist Jim Steranko held court on Saturday afternoon as more than 100 admirers of the 83-year-old came to marvel at the intricate styles of an artist who only worked regularly in the field of comics for only three years.
Although known as a prolific painter, photographer, and magician, the slim, curly-haired man hired people who came within blocks of the Butler Institute of American Art and those who traveled thousands of miles to see the artist and his work. .
Steranko hand-picked 65 paintings and drawings from the era of his pulp magazine, classic comic book character designs, as well as early drawings he made for his work on the Indiana Jones movies.
The show, which was originally scheduled to take place in 2020, will run until May 29.
Steranko is best known for his three-year stint at Marvel Comics. He did what many consider groundbreaking stylistic work with Nick Fury, Agents of SHIELD, Captain America, Hulk, and the X-Men comics.
Much of his work was considered realistic, yet stylistic, in his depiction of human figures. Steranko’s layouts were, at the time, very untraditional, with the fluidity of movies. He pushed the boundaries of comic book codes.
“At one point I was one of the most hated guys in comics,” Steranko said. “It was pure envy. I was a kid who came in and reached the top almost immediately.
Steranko has described himself as a person who always tells the truth.
“I am very frank” he said. “Don’t ask me unless you really want to know.”
The exhibit at the Butler is the first in an American museum to focus solely on his paintings, and the three rooms of paintings aren’t just for comic book fans.
In his mind, Steranko said that three men were at the top of the pantheon of comic artists: Jack “King” Kirby, Wally Wood and Joe Kubert.
“All three were like family to me” Steranko said. “I have known them for a large part of my life. They were a really special group of people. They were on top. They were all really, really good people.
Steranko described meeting original Superman artist Jerry Seigel in the mid-1960s while in the offices of Marvel Comics.
“I saw this guy on the other side of the office emptying the office ashtrays into the trash cans,” Steranko said. “I went up to him and said, ‘You’re Jerry Seigel.'”
He said yes.
“What are you doing?” Steranko said. “Everyone in comics — certainly everyone in Marvel — should have owed him a debt of gratitude. They owed him their career.
“It broke my heart” Steranko said. “One of the first designs I drew was Superman. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.
He noted that he testified on Seigel’s behalf when he sued DC Comics.
He described Jack Kirby and his wife as very generous people who welcomed him into their family.
“They were very loyal people, especially if they liked you,” Steranko said.
Describing his working method, Steranko said he always works from a design perspective.
“There isn’t a single line in my paintings that doesn’t have a design or a purpose behind it,” he said.
Chicago’s Courtney Redman said she traveled to Youngstown just to meet Steranko.
“What strikes me is Steranko’s use of colors and contrasts”, Redman said. “He doesn’t use a lot of gray.”
Canfield’s Alex El Hayek said he loves everything he’s seen in the museum.
Greg Bartholomew, owner of All American Cards and Comics at Warren and Boardman, said he was very impressed with the wide variety of paintings and drawings on display at the museum.
“Eight years ago he brought eight of these paintings to our comic-con,” said Bartholomew. “To see 10 times that amount is phenomenal.”