The BIG news in comics this week (at least for me) is the return of THE FUTURIANS to comics. For most fans that isn’t going to mean much. But, to me it is HUGE. You see, the FUTURIANS, created by one of my top 5 favorite artists (depending on the day, he tops John Byrne in my book), Dave Cockrum. Dave’s the guy who helped introduce the X-men – he created Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Phoenix; redesigned Ms Marvel; and was responsible for some of the most iconic comic covers in the 70s and 80s. You may not know him, but you should.
The FUTURIANS was was on the first graphic novels produced by Marvel back in the 80s – and an amazing piece of work. It featured some cool characters and a really nifty story concept. The concept was so nifty that 10 or so years later Jim Lee ‘borrowed’ a ton of it for his WildCATS comic from Image. The book was beautiful and I was always disappointed more wasn’t done with the concept…sure, there was a follow-up three issue miniseries in the late 80s/early 90s from a small press publisher, Lodestone, and a TPB compilation after that…but not much else. The series died and vanished – kept alive in the hearts of fans like myself. Heck, I even attempted to get rights to do a new version in the early 2000s.
Needless to say, I’m absolutely thrilled to see the characters coming back – especially done under the auspices of my buddy, Rob Liefeld. You see, Rob is almost as big a fan of comics as I am (we’ll argue over that point later!), and loved Cockrum’s work as much as I do. I really don’t think there could be a better shepherd for the work than him. Plus, his promo image is pretty as hell – check it out!
Even now, 30+ years after the original graphic novel came out, those designs hold up. The book has the potential to be fantastic and I can’t wait.
I’m going to emd with a personal Dave Cockrum story – one I’ve told a few times, and one that showcases why I loved Dave Cockrum the guy as much as Dave Cockrum the artist. I met Dave at one of the very first comic conventions I ever attended. It was in the early 80s. I was about 9, already a monster comic book fan (with maybe 10,000 comics in my collection at the time – it’s grown substantially since), and already a dyed-in-the-wool Dave Cockrum fan. You seen, I’d started reading comics in the late 70s and Dave’s work was one of the main faces of Marvel Comics. He had helped to launch the all-new, all-different X-men in the early 70s, done countless covers for the company, and designed some of the best costumes of all time. My agenda at the show was to meet my hero and to enter my work into a comic art contest they were holding (judged by Dave and Don Perlin).
At Dave’s table I got a few comics signed and asked if I could buy a sketch from him (I’d saved for a couple of months to get one). He smiled and said to come back after the art contest, that he’d do one for me then. Once the contest was over (I won! The prizes were a copy of Giant-Sized X-men #1 (worth about $40 at the time) and an original Defenders page by Perlin), my dad took me back to Dave’s table to find him packing up to leave. He wasn’t doing sketches.
Needless to say I was devastated. Totally destroyed…give me a little slack here, I was 9. Dad, seeing how disappointed I was, went back in to the show to try to talk to Dave. 10 minutes later, he walked out carrying an amazing sketch of Storm from the X-men, telling me that the artist had forgotten to give it to me. I was on cloud nine. The piece was amazing (I still have it!).
Cut to years later, when my dad hears me telling someone the story of my artist-hero, Dave Cockrum. He chuckled and says that he lied to me: Dave didn’t really do the sketch for me. It turns out Dave had to leave the convention early because he got word his father had passed away and was rushing to the airport to get back to his family. When my dad approached him, the man went out of his way to give away a piece of art he had been selling (for free) just to make a kid feel better.
He was just an amazing guy – and I have NEVER heard a single bad Dave Cockrum story in my life. He was kind, caring, and one of the most talented artists to ever put pen to paper.
-Mat Nastos, Super Genius