September 10, 2006
To see a larger version
of any artwork on these pages, click on the picture
on 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.
#464 (Aug. 1979) Bob Smith lays in some beautiful inks that deliver the full impact of
Don's complex shadows on the Aquaman figure.
#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.
#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.
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
|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
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.
|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
||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.
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
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
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 Warp.
Time 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.
Comics 1978 DC Comics Home DC
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.
The Art of Don Newton
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