“Destroyer,” drawn by Walt Simonson when he was about 20 years old.
The bottom line, the take-home lesson, the point of this post is this: You should really follow Walt Simonson on Facebook.
Simonson is a legendary comics artist and writer, most famous for his work on Thor in the 1980s. His creator-owned work The Star Slammers has been a lifelong project, and he contributed to Heavy Metal years ago — the humorous “Shakespeare for Americans” series and a graphic adaptation of the classic sci-fi film Alien. His latest project is Ragnarok, a new imagining of Thor, published by IDW.
In addition to interacting with his fans and reminiscing about the great comics personalities he has counted as friends in his life, Simonson posts a lot of images of his work, and no gallery is more interesting than the one called “old stuff.” It contains everything from childhood sketches of dinosaurs to work he produced on the brink of his Marvel/DC breakthrough. Here are just some of the dozens he’s posted; all work property Walt Simonson:
“The Destroyer,” 1966. Simonson: “This drawing was done about a year after I’d discovered Marvel Comics. I did a whole series of color drawings of characters fronting logos (those that didn’t have them I invented).”
“The Death of Thor,” c. 1966. Simonson: “The drawing is undated but since the Thor shown is clearly the Marvel Thor, I’m guessing that this was drawn not that long after I’d discovered the comic book. And that was 1965. … So apparently, my interests in things get established and then stay the same for decades!”
“Frankenstein’s Monster,” 1969. Simonson: “I went through a period where the Frankenstein monster fascinated me. I got my original likeness from the Aurora model kit although by the time this drawing was done, I had probably seen the Karloff film.”
“Odin,” 1970. Simonson: “An interior splash page from my earliest version of a Thor story, done while I was a student at RISD. … This is Odin as he steps out of the gates of Asgard to confront Surtur. I used the same layout in the actual Thor comic when I got to draw the story for real about 14 years later.”
“Star Slammers,” 1970. Simonson: “This is the first page of the first chapter of the 50 page Slammers story I did while I was at RISD in the early 70s. I wrote, penciled, lettered, and inked the story over about a 2 year period. It served as both a Junior project and Senior thesis. And it was published concurrently in chapters as a pamphlet/zine that was put on the freebies’ tables at various SF conventions back in the day.”
Drawing for (1972) WFSA calendar, 1971. Simonson: “In the very late 60s and early 70s, before I moved to NYC, I belonged to the Washington Science Fiction Association, WSFA for short. … I’m not sure exactly how science fiction-y this piece is but it’s a little techno and a little M.C. Escher who was very big at that time. So what the heck!”
“The Outsiders,” 1971. Simonson: “While I was at RISD, I met several folks here and there who shared my interest in comics. One of them, Gerry Boudreau who was at URI, collaborated with me and we did two issues of our own characters in a comic published in a small newsprint format by the URI literary magazine.”
WSFA Journal No. 76 Cover, 1971. Simonson: “Difficult to remember with certainty at this point, but I’m guessing that this drawing has a little Vaughn Bodé influence in it. I’d almost certainly seen some of Vaughn’s work by this time and thought it was great.”
“Robot Samurai,” 1972. Simonson: “A silkscreen print done during my senior year at RISD. Loved silkscreening and was actually fairly decent at it.”
“Musk’s Daughter splash page,” 1973. Simonson: “This is the splash from the 3rd and final story I drew for Gold Key’s Twilight Zone comic book. It was six pages long (prevous stories had been four each), so this was the first and only job I did for GK where I got to draw Rod Serling. … Because of the nature of the story, I put Rod in Medieval costume, complete with a heavily rendered (and consequently somewhat disguised) codpiece, sitting on a large mushroom Looking back now, I’m amazed I was allowed to put Rod in a costume at all. I don’t remember him ever not being in a suit in the show. Ah, to be young and fearless.”