Saturday, August 31, 2013

Spotlight: Gene Day's Black Zeppelin, Part One

Gene Day was one of those rare creative minds where if you missed him. Getting his start in Canadian fanzines and Skywald magazines such as Psycho and Nightmare, Day eventually moved into his dream job -- working for Marvel primarily as an inker for Master of Kung Fu, Star Wars and many more.

In 1978, before Day got busy with Marvel, he had dreams of publishing his own comic magazine. Inspired by the success of Cerebus created by his good friend Dave Sim, Day wanted to put out an anthology series of work by several artists. He called it Black Zeppelin.

But before the idea could be realized, Day got caught up in the Marvel deadline schedule, and Black Zeppelin kept getting postponed up until the moment Gene died suddenly in 1982. A few years later, with the help of Day's wife Gale and brothers Dan and David, Renegade Press released five issues of Black Zeppelin featuring a showcase of artwork by Gene, his brothers, and several other artists.

The first story is titled, "The Strip", with story and art by Gene, and is a very candid look at his life as a comic book artist. Rarely as comic book readers do we realize just what these artists have to go through to produce the quality of work we all get to enjoy, and Gene gives us a good glimpse of his life behind the drawing table. Check it out:

Next up is this short (but sweet) gem by Charles Vess, called "Priest":

Gene also enjoyed writing as well, and wrote a short story called "Winged Jupiter" which his brother Dan found and drew up some artwork for. Dan went on to work on  the Swamp Thing and Batman and the Outsiders for DC, as well as several others, including The Champion.

There is also a Dave Sim horror story in this one called, "Adriene All Alone", which was inspired by Alice Cooper's album "Welcome To My Nightmare". It has a really trippy 80's horror vibe going for it.

There is a great article on Gene Day's life and career in comics over at 20th Century Danny Boy, make sure to check it out. Four more issues of Black Zeppelin were released between 1985-1986, and I'll be posting more from them in Part 2 of this spotlight.


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