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Last Updated August 10, 2013

DC Comics

 

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

DC had recently revived the Aquaman title with issue #57 in September 1977 with David Michelinie writing and Jim Aparo handling the art. However, Aparo left the book in March of 1978 and Don took over as the regular penciler. This is around the time the Don gave up his job as a teacher to take on comics as his career. I always felt Don had the right feel for this character. For me Aquaman was only Aquaman when he was drawn by Ramona Fradon, Nick Cardy, Jim Aparo, or Don Newton. Four unique styles but they all fit the character. Aquaman #60, march 1978 was written by Michelinie, penciled by Don and inked by John Celardo. While I feel Celardo was not a great "fit" for Don's pencils and only lasted the single issue, Don saw it different and was very pleased with Celardo's inks.

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Don really enjoyed John Celardo's inks on this book. He wrote, "How about Celardo on Aquaman? Everyone here said it looked like me inking myself. Some panels sure did... Note all of page 4 and most of pages 6 and 8. It really does look like me!"

While going through this site, the above caption struck an unusual cord with Don's friend Jay Willson:

This caption really cracked me up. The "revolving door of inkers" on Don's Aquaman was due to Dan Adkin's inability to keep much of a regular schedule, but also because two books a month was simply too much for him. Dan had taken on both Aquaman and New Gods, but was unable to keep up on either. Regarding Don's comments on Celardo - John Celardo was this ancient DC artist who had returned to comics after being away from it for years. He was primarily a penciler, and I think worked with Eisner's studio at one point in time, but I may be wrong about that. Anyway, when Don first heard John Celardo was inking this issue, he was flabbergasted, and a little freaked. I had seen some solid penciling and inking from Celardo on other books, and I thought the two of them might mesh pretty well, so I told Don that I thought Celardo would do a pretty good job. When the story was published, I remember calling Don on the phone and giving him the "see, I told you so" treatment, and all he would do is say, "yeah, it's not too bad." Now, I know that I was right all along. 

May 1978, in Aquaman #61, Don got his first chance to draw Batman professionally. The story by Michelinie was a continuation from the previous issue featuring Kobra as the villain, but this issue guest-starred Batman and Green Lantern. Jay remembers that Don " was very excited about the job, and told Adkins to "make sure you get in there and get this story to ink," because he wanted it to come out well, in hopes that it would impress the DC editors of Batman enough to give him work." As it turned out, for some reason DC turned to Bob McLeod for inks on this issue, which was a surprise, as he has done the majority of his inking for Marvel at that time. The McLeod inks unfortunately are very uneven. Don would put so much into his pencils that would just get lost in the inking. Jay adds, " I liked McLeod's slick brushwork a lot, and held out great hopes for this issue, as I thought it would show off Don's pencils well. Don penciled a lot tighter than what you saw with his inking, as inking bored him and he often got a lot looser once the piece was inked. His pencils, at least at this period, were very tight and easy to ink. Everything was there already for the inker. Anyway, McLeod's stuff was not bad, but the combination of the two seemed to stiffen up Don's work a bit too much, so Don was rather nonplussed about the results." 

McLeod would stay on for one more issue, where he seemed to have a better grasp of how to handle Don's pencils, to be replaced by Dave Hunt in the September 1978 issue #63. Jay says, "I think DC thought Dave Hunt did a pretty nice job on Don, which he did on the Batman backup, but, like McLeod he also seemed a little stiff on the Aquaman work." These four issues marked the end of the book although Don would continue drawing the character in Adventure Comics. I'm not quite sure what happened here, but Don staying on the strip after its move to Adventure was a departure from original plans. Don wrote to Howard Siegel that he was going to  "do a total of 4 Aquaman issues and then Aparo is coming back, which is just as well, as he seems to be able to do it better than anybody."

aquaman60.jpg (78332 bytes) aquaman61.jpg (82608 bytes) aquaman62.jpg (85651 bytes) Dave Hunts wonderful inks A Newton Original
The detail  just seem to disappear in this splash page inked by John Celardo, but Don really liked the inks on this book. Don's first pro work on the Batman is inked by Bob McLeod. Even when upset, Don's Mera always seemed very sexy to me. Inks by McLeod. Dave Hunt did a surprisingly nice job on the final issue of Aquaman. This original art from Aquaman #63 and the Barry Keller collection, features some of Dave Hunt's nice inks.

Don completed the run of The New Gods own book in 1978, penciling issues 16-19. Issue #16 marked the first time Don was teamed with inker Joe Rubinstein who became don's favorite inker. Of Rubinstein's inks on this book Don wrote, "I thought it was great...that kid's going places!"  Jay adds that, "Don liked Joe Rubinstein's inking style because it was very similar to the Neal Adams/Dick Giordano style that many artists who worked at Continuity Associates seemed to fall into (Rubinstein was working there at the time). Don loved the fact that Dan Adkins inked his artwork so faithfully to his pencils, but what excited Don about Rubinstein was his ability to add to what was there. Don loved the edgier, slicker look that Joe added to the work, with the use of zip-a-tone shading film and Adams-like cross-hatching. I think this look was a look that Don always strived for, but was never able to match himself, which was why this job impressed him so much, and continued to be his favorite inking job throughout his career. Like all of us, Don was a Neal Adams/Dick Giordano fan, and seeing his work for an issue in that class, excited him to no end. He even kept a few of the originals from this job, which is something that I rarely saw him do." Some examples of Don's 1978 New Gods work is presented below.

New Gods 16 New Gods 16 Page 6 New Gods 16 Page 10
The New Gods #16 has Joe Rubinstein inks. This was Don's favorite inker and this issue showed why; Rubinstein's inks are very impressive. This original art from The New Gods #16 and the Barry Keller collection, features some of  Rubinstein's most impressive inks. This original art from The New Gods #16 and the Barry Keller collection, features some wonderful Rubinstein inks.
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This original art from The New Gods #17 and the Howard Siegel collection, features Kirby- inspired machinery and some wonderful Newton characters. The New Gods #17 shows Don's use of facial shadows to increase drama. Adkins provides the inks. The New Gods #19, the final issue does have some very nice work by Newton and Adkins.

Of Don's work on New Gods #17 and #19 Jay Willson recalls that, "Don used to have a running joke about certain artist's being the "master of machinery" after hearing a fan call Jack Kirby that at a convention.  After finishing the New Gods #17, John Clark, another friend of Don's, turned to Don and said, "you are now the true master of machinery," which henceforth became a running gag, usually in the derogatory sense, with Don and his work. The use of more facial shadows and the like was simply Don growing more comfortable with drawing like he thought it should look, and not so much how he thought DC wanted it. With a book like New Gods, Don was taking a chance in drawing science fiction settings with a lot of dark shadows, but the combination worked very well, surprisingly enough."

adven460.jpg (49161 bytes)When The New Gods book was cancelled, the interrupted story was completed in the pages of Adventure Comics, starting with issue #459, October 1978 and finishing up in Adventure#460 two months later. Both of these stories were inked by Augie Scotto, who is either a fake name or a rather obscure inker cause his name ain't ringing a bell with me. His inks were adequate, but not as appropriate as Adkins'. Jay adds that the "Augie Scotto job really blew Don away; he had no idea who this new inker was, and his work, upon examination of the originals when they were returned to him, was pretty amateurish.  We all speculated at the time that it was either a tryout for someone who never received inking work again (a thought that obviously did not please Don) or was someone on the production staff at DC who said they could ink the book when the story fell into deadline problems. Either way, it was pretty much a mess. DC never explained who the person was or why he was assigned the work." Hey, if anyone out there knows who Augie Scotto really was, we would love to hear it! Fortunately, this was not the only Newton art in the December 1978 issue of Adventure; Don also penciled a wonderful 13-page Aquaman story that Dan Adkins inked. Although is it hard to take you eyes off of the Newton "pecs" on the Aquaman figure to the right, look at the detail in the two Coast Guard officers as well. This is the stuff that most inkers lost when working on Don's pencils and why Dan Adkins was so damn good.

Don spent a good deal of his time at Charlton working on their horror comics, so it seems natural that he would do some work for the DC horror books as well. His first DC horror effort appeared in House of Mystery #259, August 1978 according to the Overstreet Comic Price Guide. As of yet, I have been unable to find this comic, but when I do I will cover it here. However, Jay Willson relates:

Stories like this one were assigned to Don for one reason only: to fill out the 30 pages a month of work that DC guaranteed him. DC's editors were very good about keeping him supplied with work, which is why he stayed with them for most of his career. Whenever Don was between work, and a script for his regular book was delayed for some reason, DC would send him a mystery story like this, or a backup like the Green Lantern CH'P stories. These were something Don could crank out in about 5 to 6 days, and kept the money he was receiving from DC consistent and steady. Most of these types of stories were relatively unimportant to Don, so he was not as likely to apply his best work to them, nor was he as concerned about the assigned inker..

November 1978 featured Don's debut on a character he would draw off and on for the rest of his life, in more than 60 stories in all: the Dark Knight, Batman. Batman Comics #305, November 1978 contains an 8-page Batman story, written by Bob Rozakis, penciled by Don and inked by Dave Hunt. "With This Ring, Find Me Dead!", is the first half of a two-parter and is part of the "Unsolved Cases of The Batman" series. Part of the Howard Siegel collection were photocopies of the original pencils to this strip. They were not in the best of condition, but as Don's first professional Batman strip, they are historic. As another exclusive of the Art of Don Newton, we present these pages as a rare glimpse at the penciling wizardry of Don Newton:

Wow! A gorgeous Batman figure in a cemetery, what a wonderful start! Note that Newton friends, John Clark and Jay Willson, have gravestones represented. On all of these pages you will see that an edge, usually the left has been chopped off.  Not a great scan, but still the magic is there. I love the crouching guy in panel 3, Dick Sprang inspired Batman in panel 4 and everything about panel 6!  

 

Some nice Batman figure and faces on this page. Don is really searching for his own  interpretation of the Batman on this page. I see Sprang, Aparo and Adams all on this page.    Ah, I love the bottom half of this page; a montage of Batman in disguise talking to a number of people on the street. Like I've said before, it's the supporting cast that Don brought to the Batman that made it uniquely Newton.  

 

Some more great faces and figures on this page. Don doing what he did best, normal everyday people.     Some excellent faces and figures on this page and some wonderful hands. 

 

Some more terrific faces and a bit more action on this page. Only one page left to go! Not the most exciting of final pages, but some nice story-telling by Don and couple of very nice faces.
Detective Comics 480

1978 also marked Don's debut in Detective Comics. Issue #480, December 1978 contains a 17-page Batman story, written by Denny O'Neil, penciled by Don and inked by Dave Hunt. I don't want to keep harping on inappropriate inkers, but if this site inspires you to go searching for the wonderful legacy Don left us, I want you to be prepared for what you will find. And, please, I am not saying that Dave Hunt, or any other inker I criticize on this site, is a bad inker, only an inappropriate choice for Don Newton's pencils. Dave did do a rather nice job on Aquaman a few months before, but here he over-powers Don's pencils in a lot of places. Regardless, there is still some fine art here and I find if very interesting to study the Batman cowled face in this issue, as Don works his way through how he is going to interpret the character. Anyway, although the result is less than sterling it does have its moments.

This month Don was also featured in the second part of the story from last month's Batman, Batman #306 contains another 8 pager, "The Mystery Murderer of Mrs. Batman!," also done by Rozakis, Don and Dave Hunt.

1978 marked Don's first credited artwork on the SHAZAM! book. Don finally got to fulfill his life-long desire to draw the big red cheese. His first effort was in issue #35 of SHAZAM!, which happens to be the final issue of this book. Don penciled the 17-page story, "Backward, Turn Backward, O Time in Your Flight!." It was written by E. Nelson Bridwell and inked by Kurt Schaffenberger. Don wrote Howard Siegel about this first story, "You probably already know that Schaffenberger inked my first Capt. Marvel story -- strange combination, though he's a very good inker."

Shazam #35, pages 6 Shazam #35, page 11)
What I love about this page from SHAZAM! #35 is the way Don reverted to his fandom, cross-hatched detail style, and how Schaffenberger managed to keep this aspect of Don's work, while simplifying it with his own style. Here is a look at the Marvel Family by Don and Kurt Schaffenberger. I'd have to agree with Don that he and Schaffenberger were  a "strange combination," but it did come off very effectively..

 

Kurt Schaffenberger  

Don was very excited about doing this character, not only because it was his life-long dream, but because he was given an opportunity to "redefine" the character. Don wrote:

If you like bombshells, here's one: I am going to be taking over.............Captain Marvel! More over, Jack Harris sez to draw it realistic! Finally they bring him up to date... I'm going to get rid of his "wet look" and trim him down about 10 lbs.!

I've felt for sometime, that the "funny" Captain Marvel belonged to the forties and just doesn't come off now. I trust the stories will now be in keeping with the art. So, I've "arrived"... where else can I go?

Although the book was cancelled, the SHAZAM! feature was quickly moved into World's Finest Comics and Don continue working on the strip. His first Worlds Finest issue, #253 is dated November 1978 and is also inked by Kurt Schaffenberger.

For the next year or so, Don would share the art chores on the Aquaman strip in Adventure Comics with Don Heck. Newton did the majority of the issues, which Heck pitching in on issues #462 and #463. First Paul Kupperberg then Bob Rozakis handled the writing, while Don was inked by three different inkers: Dan Adkins, Frank Chiaramonte, and Bob Smith. They all did a good job with Don's pencils and all three would ink Don's work off and on during his stint at DC.

 

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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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