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Last Updated July 2. 2013

DC Comics

 

To see a larger version of any artwork on these pages, click on the picture

bigd.jpg (1379 bytes)on did begin his career at DC with DC Special #28, July 1977. The theme of the book that issue was "Earth Shattering Disasters" and featured three stories, a Batman, an Aquaman, and a Legion of Super-Heroes story. Don's contribution was the pencils on the 12-page Aquaman strip (the one he got from Joe Orlando), "A Creature of Death and Darkness!" written by Gerry Conway and inked by Dan Adkins. The panel and sequence shown below give you a good idea of Don's style as he began his career with DC. Adkins' inks are very nice on this first DC story of Don's.

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An example of Don's first work at DC on the Aquaman story in DC Special #28, dated July 1977. As with all art on this site, click on a piece to see a larger version.

Later that same month saw the release of Don's first series book at DC, The New Gods #12. The covers identify the books as Return of the New Gods, but we know better. Like his first Aquaman story, his work on the New Gods was written by Gerry Conway and inked by Dan Adkins. I know Don liked to do science fiction and the New Gods certainly had a lot of SF leanings, but I was never very happy with Don's work here. Rather than being free to do Don Newton science fiction, Don was forced to regurgitate the standard Jack Kirby people, places, and things that Kirby had created years earlier. Anyway, considering that Don is still working as a junior high school Art teacher and is doing the book in his "spare time," it's not too bad. The series does have its moments where Don's talent overcomes the limitations working in Kirby's world placed on him. Don did 4 issues of the New Gods in 1977, issues 12-15.

New Gods 13 New Gods 14
The New Gods #13 with inks by Dan Adkins is, I think, the best of the lot. Overall the art seems to have more depth this issue. Splash page to The New Gods #14 is some very fine Newton/ Adkins work.

dcss16.jpgIn the middle of Don's run on The New Gods, he did the designs and first two appearances of a new DC strip, The Star Hunters. They premiered in DC Super-Stars #16, October 1977 in a 34-page origin written by Dave Michelinie and inked by Bob Layton. According to the text page inside, Don did all of the character and hardware designs for the series. Don also did the cover for this book, which was a rarity for Don at DC. Star Hunters #1 followed the next month with a 17-page story by Dave, Don, and Bob Layton. This was Don's last work on the Start Hunters. Don wrote Howard Siegel that he had "asked to be taken off of Star Hunters, feeling Dave, Joe and I were just not of one mind on the book."

It appears however that Don had another reason for leaving his first "creation" at DC. Jay Willson writes that "Don liked David Michelinie's writing a lot, and requested to work with him some more. As I remember it, Don suggested that Michelinie write Batman with Don drawing it, but Julius Schwartz had other plans at that time. The Star Hunters strip was created by Michelinie, with Don doing all of the visuals, and I think Michelinie was the person who recommended Don for the work, although I don't know if that was ever expressed to him in that fashion. It was Don's idea to make Donovan Flynt look like Errol Flynn, with Michelinie following that idea by naming him in similar fashion. Don was really excited about this book, but was incredibly disappointed once he saw the inks. It is important to remember that at this time, Don was learning to see his work interpreted by others in the inking stage, as he had done all of his own inking previous to this (other than some Adkins inks which were very faithful), for the most part. Because of this, he was often very critical in his feelings about inkers, and it grew to almost obsessive levels. In later years, this frustration would not have driven him off of a book, but at this time, after investing so much in the book and being so anxious for it to turn out well, he disliked the final look a lot, and all passion for the book left him. He was very disappointed with Bob Layton's inks, and expressed this to DC, asking them to take Layton off of the series. I think DC felt that they should let Layton "warm up" on Don's work first and see if he might work out better after a few issues, but Don was not willing to wait for that to happen, and asked to be removed. This was a tough time for Bob Layton, who would later go on to great glory, as Joe Staton was supposedly also disappointed with Layton's inks on his Justice Society issues."

Batman Family #13Don's only other DC work this year was on the Batman Family, #13, September 1977 and this was the result of persistent requests to work on Batman. This is the closest that DC could come to fulfilling those requests. Robin, Batgirl and Man-Bat together for the first time in a story, "The Man Who Melted Manhattan!" written by Bob Rozakis, penciled by Don and Marshall Rogers, and inked by Bob Wiacek. This is a 30-page story, broken up into four chapters. Except for the eight pages of Chapter 2, Don penciled the entire thing. There is some great early Newton art here, including a very sexy rendition of Batgirl, but it sometimes gets lost in the  Wiacek inks, which were very heavy. However, Don liked parts of it, especially Wiacek's ability to handle the inking on Batgirl's hair. Don thought Wiacek did a great job on the Batgirl figures. This was probably the first example of an inker adding his own "signature" to Don's art, that didn't send Don into frustration. Jay remembers that "Don was also very pleased to draw Man-Bat, a character who he thought was a pretty cool character, but didn't like the script from Rozakis much, as it was pretty light-weight. Don had established Michelinie as his hallmark, and some of the up and coming writers at DC fell pretty short of that mark." Although Don drew almost all of the Batman family in this story, he did not draw Batman, unless you count the picture of Batman on the wall on page 17 (Superman is there too!)

Don drew eight stories for DC in 1977 and his work only began showing up in July. But, this was a year of important firsts for Don Newton. He was finally working where he wanted to work and he appeared to have excised the ghost of Charlton. Don also created his first series in 1977 (only to walk away from it), and he worked on Aquaman, a character he would draw off and on for the next couple of years. Finally, Don got his first taste of the Batman family and Batman would become a big part of Don's career at DC. This was the year Don made it in the mainstream of comics.

DC Comics 1978


Aquaman, Batman, Captain Marvel, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkman, The New Gods, Robin, The Star Hunters and all associated characters are copyright 1998-2013 by DC Comics.

Copyright 1998-2015 The Art of Don Newton
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