Monday, March 29, 2010

Mike Grell upon the passing of Dick Giordano



I just learned that legendary comic artist Dick Giordano died of leukemia this morning. I can't tell you saddened I am by the news and how much it meant to me to have known and worked with him. He was one of my heroes, a major influence in my career and an amazing artist whose genuine love of comics showed in every stroke of his brush. A giant among giants.

It was Dick's collaboration with Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil on the ground-breaking series GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW that made me decide to get into the comic business. When I finally met him in New York in 1973, I found him friendly, funny and always willing to take time to show a youngster a few tips. It was Dick who taught me that balloons should be treated as part of the art and that their placement is critical to the readability of the page. He never gave me the impression that I was wasting his time, while I hovered over his shoulder and asked him a million questions... not that he heard them all, anyway. His hearing was already failing, but his talent never did. The work he did in his later years, especially on MODESTY BLAISE, was nothing short of magnificent.

Although we rarely collaborated on art, I had the honor to write many GREEN ARROW stories which Dick inked over Dan Jurgens' pencils. It was Dick's support and influence that made it possible for us to push the envelope and do stories that would otherwise never have made it into print.

When I was asked to return to THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES and draw the Lightning Lad & Saturn Girl wedding sequence, I agreed on one condition - that Dick would be the inker. Dick was happy to oblige and for about ten minutes I was overjoyed. Then it hit me - my drawings were going to be inked by the best in the business. Let me tell you, I sweated bullets over every line I put down, wondering what Dick would think of it.

The truth is Dick was such a terrific artist, anything you handed him turned out looking great. His artistry showed in his ability to turn a wide variety of pencil styles into inks that were dynamic and readable back in the day when paper quality was poor and printing left a lot to be desired. He once told me he actually preferred looser pencils that allowed him more freedom of interpretation. And when he did it all - pencils AND inks - he was matchless.

When the names of the giants are written - Jack Kirby, Wally Wood, Steve Ditko and the rest of that great generation who built the comic industry - Dick Giordano's name surely belongs among them.

Mike Grell

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