Jim Steranko (Author and Illustrator)
Marvel Comics (Publisher)
> Review by Jack Dumpert
Jim Steranko, superstar guest at the 2015 Buffalo Comicon, told the story of being offered a job by four different comic book companies in a single day. He took Marvel’s offer when Stan Lee gave him his choice of any Marvel character. “I told him I’ll take the guy with the eye patch,” he said. That guy was Nick Fury, one of the most intriguing characters in the Marvel Universe. Fury appeared first in Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos, a World War II combat series that debuted in 1963. A couple of years later, at the height of spy fiction’s popularity, Strange Tales #151 brought the character back, now as a colonel and director of S.H.I.E.L.D., the acronymically named super-secret espionage agency. Steranko started slowly initially, inking over Jack “King” Kirby’s pencil layouts in stories written by others. Four issues in, Steranko took over both the drawing and the writing, thus launching a revolution in comics illustration. Steranko’s newly buff Fury eschewed his previous suit and tie for a sleek battle suit. He gained a hot, sexy girlfriend. More than that, Steranko changed the look of graphic storytelling. Gone were the standard six square panels per page. Instead, Steranko splashed action across the entire page, using elements of pop and optical art. Every page became a dramatic design. All of Steranko’s ground-breaking work with Nick Fury is reproduced in S.H.I.E.L.D by Steranko: The Complete Collection. As the revolution in comics writing was still decades off, Steranko wrote in the prevalent style of overwrought captions and egregious self-conscious dialogue. But his innovative approach to drawing comics would influence a whole new generation of illustrators.