Friday, March 28, 2008

Hunter



There wasn’t a whole lot in the way of entertainment for kids where I grew up. My family lived on a 12-acre wooded lot at the top of a steep hill at the end of a mile-long dirt road. There wasn’t really anybody my age on the road that wasn’t a delinquent or a bully so I didn’t really have anyone to play with. I remember I had one friend named Mitch and we’d spend long summer days riding our bikes up and down the road but his family moved away fairly quickly. This was back in the days before cable TV, home video and the XBox. So unless I wanted to ride by myself or draw or explore the woods, I was out of luck. Except for one thing. Dad had an immense collection of comics and magazines of all kinds. He kept them stored in paper shopping sacks (I have a post planned for that) from the move from Germany and eventually they made their way into our hot little hands. It was like living in a comic shop. Imagine waking up one day in a house filled with thousands of comics you’d never read before. We were in heaven.

Dad had a little bit of everything. DC, Harvey, Marvel, Gold Key, Charlton. My tastes were simple. Harvey Comics, Spidey Super Stories, Marvel Team-Up, the old Marvel westerns and monster books. Mike was older and had more mature tastes. He liked the cosmic or fantasy or horror stuff. Some of his favorites books were the issues of Warren’s EERIE Magazine featuring the character Hunter.



Hunter was a half-human, half-demon hybrid that had dedicated his life to destroying the demons populating his post-apocalyptic homeland. The character's real name was Demian Hunter. Get it? Demon Hunter? The stories were written by Richard Margopoulous and drawn by Paul Neary. For years I wondered if he was the same Paul Neary inking Captain America and, later, The Ultimates for Marvel. According to his Wikipedia entry, he is. Though Neary's know primarily as an inker, he did full chores on the Hunter series. Obviously inspired by the Filipino and Spanish artists working on Warren's books, his artwork was delicate and intricate featuring lots of fine lines and zip-a-tone. It was a little exotic for my young palette but Mike took to it right away. He even created a character called Eliminator-1 based on Hunter's look and the name of another Warren character, a robot called Exterminator-1.

Later on, when I was older and looking for something different to read, I remembered Hunter and started reading all the Warren magazines. They were just wonderful. Especially the Hunter stuff. Recently, Mike's longtime friend Paul Rogers was in Richmond for a con. He happens to own Dominion Comics, the best comic shop in Lynchburg. We met for dinner and he told me Dad had brought in all his old Warren books and gave them to him. I was a little surprised. Dad's been slowly unloading all his old comics on me over the last few years. Mostly stuff Mike and I read to tatters and that I really don't have room for. Mom and Dad have been preparing for their own demise for 20 years and I used to tease them about it. I don't anymore. Anyway, of all the stuff I was getting, what I really wanted was the EERIE and CREEPY stuff. When Paul told me Dad had given it to him I made a face before I could stop myself. Paul noticed and asked what was up. I explained the story about Hunter and he offered to give them to me. I felt greedy but I really loved those books. He assured me he'd take care of it. Within two weeks, Paul had graciously sent me all the Hunter issues (at great expense, I might add) and I've been like a kid in a candy store ever since. So, thank you, Paul. You made my year. I'll make it up to you.

Re-reading the books inspired the drawing up above. I lurk at the John Byrne Forum quite a bit and one of Byrne's phrases that has stuck with me is when he says something "fell out of my pencil." I didn't really understand what he meant by that until now. Though I did lay it out first with blue pencil before tightening it up with graphite, I didn't really think much about it before I drew it. And I did it pretty quickly for me. I'm probably happier with this than I am with any drawing I've posted yet. Well, except maybe for the Herbert the Pervert drawing. I hope you like it too and I hope you'll "hunt" up the issues of EERIE featuring this guy. I think you'll dig 'em. If you can't find them, though, I hear Dark Horse is planning some reprints of the Warren stuff. I can't wait!

17 comments:

Jadielady said...

Paul really is an awesome guy, and Brian too. I consider myself very lucky to have a shop like Dominion in our town. *makes mental note to get boyfriend to take me over there again soon*
Methinks someone's box is probably overflowing.

Heywood Jablomie said...

Nice job Matt! I like this a lot. I don't know the original work, but now you've piqued my interest and I'll track it down. Sounds like some great stuff, and Paul Neary is one hell of an artist too! Thanks for the heads up!

craig rousseau said...

never got into the warren stuff either...

but HOT DOG, that is one nice drawing! love everything about it (the fluidity of the pose, that hand wrapped around the rock edge, the composition, the textures... you name it ).

great job, brother!

PJ said...

The Hunter series was perhaps one of my favorites growing up.

There was a lot to be said for Eerie and Creepy in those days because aside from what the two main companies were putting out there was very little alternative.

If you are a fan of Hunter, you should really try to scare up copies containing The Exterminator. Later on there would be a crossover with Hunter Two and the Exterminator robot.

Again, the Exterminator stories had Paul Neary art. Neary’s work had a big impact on me back then - I really loved it (still do) and although he is known as an inker today I can’t help but wonder how cool it would be to see him revisit some of these old characters.

The funny thing about it though is that Neary never even knew the kind of impression he was making on the American market - it was pretty much just a job to him at the time.

Another thing you might want to check out is Twomorrow’s Warren Companion. It really gives a terrific overview of the material Warren put out back in the day.

You also might want to see if you can any issues of Eerie with Hard John Apple or Schreck in them - really some great stuff!

emilio said...

Hey Matt-

That really is an awesome piece of work.

I am not too familiar with the Eerie mags. I've seen them, but because I wasn't into monsters back then, never thought to look inside. Now I'll definitely look them up.

Looking forward to the Dark Horse reprints as well.

Hey PJ - Them's some cool facts to follow-up this post. I'll be checkin out your blog soon.

Matt- keep up the good work. In case I forgot to mention, "That piece rocks!"

jmralls2001 said...

Eerie looks cool. I've been wanting to read more of the EC comics because they inspired the Creepshow movies.

Warren said...

I used to read all those Warren books when I was a kid. I'd get these looks from the lady who ran the Gastonia newstand when I'd lay a Vampirella on the counter...

Great art, dude! The pose is so dramatic! Thanks for sharing. :)

PJ said...

Anyone who hasn’t taken a gander at the Warren pubs Creepy, Eerie or Vampirella is really missing out.

At the time of publication, aside from underground comics there was a dearth of material that was published outside of the auspices of the comics code. Warren actually wound up being the place where fans could see some of their favorite creators stretch their wings (so to speak) and work on more mature content.

Eerie in particular had some of Richard Corben’s earliest color work (if I’m not mistaken) and all of this was happening well before the advent of the computer when doing the kind of color Corben was doing in comics was a painstaking process.

Neary I believe made comments about his work for Warren in the Modern Masters volume highlighting Alan Davis.

PJ said...

Oh yeah, lest I forget - Warren was one of the places I went up and showed my portfolio to the editors at the ripe old age of fifteen. Something I bought up last year at the New York Comicon when I ran into the very person I showed my work to, Louise Simonson (then Louise Jones). :)

renecarol said...

oh wow. Matt. that is one awesome sketch. love the when I was a kid stories - you tell them about as good as Mike.

Warren said...

Yeah, pj, down here in my (at least back then) sleepy southern town, I had no idea what comic fandom or underground comics were. I had never seen a fanzine, though I did see the same names keep popping up in the letters columns of the comics I read, so I figured out there was some sort of community. I figured it was something you Yankees did.

Anyway, the tone of the stories in the Warren magazines was very different from anything from Marvel or DC. Sometimes there was nudity. Often there was gore. Always it was fun to read.

Names I remember from the Warren books that later appeared in Marvel and/or DC: Archie Goodwin, Alex Nino, Bruce Jones, Bill Graham, Tom Sutton. And those are just the ones I remember.

A name that I never saw in a mainstream superhero comic was Esteban Moroto. His work was gorgeous. I think he did some stuff for Marvel's b&w line of the 70's, but I haven't seen anything by him in ages. At any rate, he was my fave of the Warren artists.

Leaf said...

I don't think I need to tell you that that's one phenom drawing, Mafus.

Rich Faber said...

Matt,

I love this piece! REALLY strong looking drawing!

To Warren: Esteban Maroto did the adaptation to Bram Stoker's Dracula. I'm pretty sure it was from Topps Comics, and it might have had Mignola covers. I could be wrong about that though. I recall it being sometime in the early '90s... which of course classifies it as "ages ago," but there you are.

Best,
Rich

Brian said...

Man, that brings back memories. I really enjoyed the Hunter stories and, in fact, still have my copy of Eerie No. 69, though, truth be told, I'm pretty sure that it's really my brother's since he was the one who introduced me to the joys of Eerie, Creepy and Vampirella.

Great job on the sketch Matt, you really captured the guy and brought back some good memories.

todd said...

matt!

wow! i'm not gonna go on about how happier you seem to be with stuff that "just falls outta your pencil". this is just awesome! really great pose, solid in every way! i love it!

my creepy and eerie collection was spotty--marvels and dc's always took priority back then and i rarely had much money left over for those glorious black and white books! i inherited a bunch for a friend's older brother--lotsa great warren books from the early 70's--creepy, ererie, the spirit, and a couple vampirella (i think he kept mosta them...! : ) always dug the hunter stuff, but was also a big fan of the rook, another great character that saw repeat appearances!

great story, matt--really brought me back! and makes me wanna hunt down alla those great issues on ebay!
thanks!

Tim Perkins said...

Hi Matt,

Yeah I loved the Warren stuff.

They were very hard to get hold of here in the UK, back when I was a kid, so most of the issues I have bought in more recent years.

I have the Paul Neary issues you cite. I always loved the fact you got to see the black and white work of guys like Berni Wrightson, Alex Nino, Esteban Maroto, Ruy Nebres, Alfredo Alcala, Gene Colan, the EC guys, and lots of others truly wonderful stuff.

Your pencils on this latest drawing are FANTASTIC! I love the pose and the fluidity you have given it. I love smooth, slick artwork and this has it all.

In your last post you mentioned strange coincidences and your brother Mike's work...

I feel that love lives on.

Best Wishes,
Tim...
;))

djwak59 said...

Nice job.

I was a big fan of both HUNTER, and the HUNTER II series back in the day.
Someone also mentioned the SCHRECK series, which was also cool, and the EXTERMINATOR robots.
Both of these characters also had guest starring roles in both of the HUNTER stories.
I always was a super hero fan, and I don't even remember HOW I found a copy of Eerie magazine and the HUNTER storylines, but I'm sure glad I did. I still take out my HUNTER collection and read it from time to time.
It sure would be great if someone decided to make a HUNTER movie.
Hey, it could happen !