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Last Updated
September 10, 2006

DC Comics

 

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

Don would pencil Aquaman in four issues of Adventure Comics in 1979 (with Don Heck handling the two other issues). 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. Below are three different sequences, each inked by a different inker, highlighting the best that each gave to Don's Aquaman pencils during this early point in his career.

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From Adventure #464 (Aug. 1979) Bob Smith lays in some beautiful inks that deliver the full impact of Don's complex shadows on the Aquaman figure. From Adventure #461 (Feb. 1979) Frank Chiaramonte shows how his feathery style accents Don's use of shadow. Notice the mass of the Aquaman figure in the second panel. From Adventure #466 (Dec. 1979) we see Dan Adkins light and tight inks give us a slippery, sinewy Aquaman. Mera looks damn sexy in this strip as well.

aquaman1.jpg (32292 bytes)The next piece I have to share is not really a professional piece, as it is a convention drawing Don did for a fan. The subject matter is Aquaman however and it was done while Don was a professional working at DC. So, it just seems to me that it fits better here on this page than on the fandom page. Like many of the originals you see on this site, this piece comes to us courtesy of Don Newton fan Steve Lipsky. It gives us a hint at what Don inked by Don might have looked like on Aquaman. As much as I appreciated all of the fine inkers shown above, I would have like to see Don ink his own pencils at DC.

1979 was the year that Don began in earnest his long association with Batman, when he became the regular penciler on the Batman strip in Detective Comics. Beginning with issue #480, Don would draw 38 of the next 45 issues of Detective beginning in December 1978 and ending in May 1983. One of the pure joys of doing this Don Newton site is going back and studying the work Don did over the years. The experience is almost always a joyous one, as the art not only holds up very well, but is at times truly remarkable, particularly when Don is matched with an inker that fits his style; Dan Adkins, Bob Smith, Joe Rubinstein, and Don himself all come to mind. 

Man-Bat from Detective 481
A rare Man-Bat story by Don from Detective #481. The Dave Hunt inks are adequate, but lose much of the detail of Don's pencils. This page is from my private collection.

After the Batman story in Detective  #480 Don began 1979 with two stories in Detective #481, but neither of them are Batman stories. The first is an 11-page Robin story inked by Dan Adkins and the second is an 11-page Man-Bat story inked by Dave Hunt. This is the rare Detective issue that I do not have for some reason, so I can't comment too much on it. However, oddly enough, I do have a piece of original art from the issue from the Man-Bat story inked by Dave Hunt. Sight unseen, my guess would be that the Robin story is the nicer of the two, just because of Adkins inks. As you can see from the original here, Dave Hunt clearly simplifies Don's pencils. 

Regardless, Detective 481 is just a warm-up for Detective #483 where Don once again takes control of the Batman. 

Before I delve too deeply into Don's contribution to this issue I must say that if you don't own this book, you should. You can pick it up on most of the major auctions for somewhere around $5. It is the 40th Anniversary issue of Detective 27, the first Batman. It has 68 pages with no ads, a Garcia Lopez cover, a 16-page Don Newton/Dan Adkins Batman story, an 8-page Howard Chaykin/Dick Giordano Human Target story, a 12-page Bob Oksner/Vince Colletta Batgirl story, a 10-page Steve Ditko Demon story, a 10-page Kurt Schaffenberger/Dave Hunt Robin story, an 8-page Dick Dillin/Frank McLaughlin Batman story, and a back cover by Dick Giordano. And yeah, the Don Newton/Dan Adkins work is wonderful.

If I were to do justice to Don's terrific art in this story, I would have to show you every page of it, because there is something wonderful on each page. I don't think DC Comics would like that too much though, so I am going to have to restrain myself and pick only a few pages. I am a big fan of Don's interpretation of the Batman, the very real cloth cape, the Dick Sprang inspired face and shoulders, the massive, bursting pecs, but to be honest, there are a lot of artists out there that do a fine Batman. What I always loved about Don's work on Batman, was the cast of supporting characters that breathe the real life into the stories. I think that is why I liked Don's work on Batman and on the Phantom so much, because these two characters, more than most comic heroes, inhabit a world close to our "real" world. As you look at the artwork from this and other Newton stories, yes, be blown away by Don's heroic characters, but look at the life and energy in the supporting cast, they are what set Don Newton apart from other comic artists.

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Page 2 offers the first look at the Batman, but it is the two hoodlums and the old man who breath life into the page. A beautiful original of page 7 comes to us from Steve Lipsky. A wonderful look at Don's early Batman and his striking use of shadows. Once again, it is the supporting cast that makes this page come alive. Adkins inks captures all of Don's details. Dan did a really nice job here.

Don also did some horror work in 1979 for DC. In House of Mystery #272 we find a 5-page story, "The Sorcerer's Castle" written by Michael Uslan, penciled by Don and inked by Dan Adkins. This is a nicely-rendered little take on a well-known plot and the subject, Vikings,  is a real treat, a nice departure from the almost constant super-hero work Don was doing at DC.

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Presented here are the first three pages of "The Sorcerer's Castle," from House of Mystery #272. Don and Dan Adkins both seemed to have a ball with this Viking-themed story..

All total, Don's work appeared in seven different DC titles in 1979, in 22 separate strips. This is a fairly heavy load considering that for a period, in early 1979, Don had actually quit DC and joined Marvel as the regular artist on the Avengers. Had the arrangement with Marvel turned out satisfactorily, we would not have the majority of Don's Batman work to look back on and enjoy Of this time Don's friend Jay Willson remembers:

Marvel was also guaranteeing Don a higher page rate for his pencils, as at that time, Marvel often paid "premium" artists a higher rate to get them to work there, and considered Don in that class. When DC re-negotiated to bring him back, Levitz gave Don a page rate raise which was a little lower than Marvel, but promised Don that he would be given some comics advertising work to do as well, which paid VERY well. It was after this that Don got the job to do the little cereal box comics that were placed inside of, I believe, Post cereal boxes. These were drawn on 8 x 10" paper (which was about half the size of a normal comics page) and paid almost twice what Don was making for regular comics page work! I remember Don being very excited about this, as he received much more money, and was able to do a complete book (about 6 pages) in a day. He loved that deal quite a bit.   

Besides his Batman work in Detective, Don also did two issues of The Brave and the Bold in 1979. The first, #153, August 1979, featured a 17-page Batman and Red Tornado story, "Menace of the Murder Machines" written by Cary Burkett, penciled by Don and inked by Bob Smith. The second was three issues later, #156, November 1979 and featured a 17-page Batman and Doctor Fate story, "Corruption!" also by the team of Burkett, Newton and Bob Smith. Though interesting, these are not some of Don's better efforts and seem to lack the moodiness of his regular Batman work in Detective.

This was also the year that the infamous Vince Colletta touched Don's pencils for the first and only time. The scene of the crime was World's Finest #259, November 1979. Besides the standard 10-page Schaffenberger inked Shazam! story, Don also penciled a 19-page Green Arrow/Hawkman strip, "Stake Out Earth" written by Gerry Conway. The first half of the strip is inked by Dave Hunt while the second half is inked by Vince Colletta. Colletta's inks on the second half of this book are as bad as anything I've ever seen done to Don's pencils; a real travesty. Don must have said something to someone at DC, because this was the only time that Colletta inked Newton.

This was the same month that Don also did his first work for DC's fledgling science-fiction book Time WarpTime Warp #1 featured a 6-page science-fiction strip, "Rescue" written by Bob Rozakis, penciled by Don and inked by Dan Adkins. Don ended the year with a six-page story, "An Outbreak of Peace" in Weird War Tales #82. The story was written by George Kashdan, penciled by Don and inked by Dave Hunt.

 

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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 1998-2006  by DC Comics.

Copyright 1998-2015 The Art of Don Newton
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