In the late 1960s there was a bit of a counter culture revolution going on in the world, and part of that revolution was in the art world. You had artists like Andy Warhol and the like, creating pieces such as the famous Campbell’s Soup painting, or the stylized Marilyn Monroe portraits. But there was another artist in comic books who was taking the pop art of Andy Warhol’s style and merging it with the surrealism and Dada-esque style that Dali and Hoch had created earlier, and merged that with a comic book that was truly like nothing else in it’s time. The artist was Jim Steranko, and the comic book was Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. A feature title spun off of one of the two co-starring tales in Strange Tales which itself was a modern (for the times) take on Marvel’s own popular Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos WWII title. The art in this series was truly phenomenal. I’ve only had the privilege of reading a few of the early issues on it, on Marvel’s Marvel Unlimited App, but the art stuck with me so much that as I began to study 20th Century Culture in one of my college classes this semester, and we talked about the surrealists and Dada, I could see the reflections in Steranko’s work so much that I just had to write about it tonight and share some of that with you.
Here you can clearly see the Salvador Dali influence on this cover for Nick Fury #7. Just a brilliant piece of art that could be featured in a museum or on the comic book rack.
Here’s two contrasting pieces, one some Steranko Fury art, and the other, a collage by Dada artist Hannah Hoch, entitled Cut With A Kitchen Knife. You can clearly see some of the influence artists had on Steranko’s work, he’s truly one of those one of a kind artists in the medium of comic books, it’s not a style you see often or at all since Steranko’s time. Phenomenal stuff, as both a comic book fan, and as a human who appreciates good art.