Tuesday, November 26, 2013

R.I.P. Al Plastino

I awoke this morning to hear the sad news that legendary comic artist Al Plastino has passed away. The news was broken on Mark Evanier's blog here: http://www.newsfromme.com/2013/11/25/al-plastino-r-p/

As most know, Plastino was the artist on the first Supergirl story in Action Comics #252. I had always hoped to meet him and actually went to a couple of conventions he was scheduled to be at only to discover that he was unable to attend. He recently made the news for trying to discover why artwork of his that DC was supposed to have donated to the John F. Kennedy Museum ended up in the hands of a private collector. 

Plastino's career was prolific, spanning decades and including landmark issues like Action #252 and Adventure Comics #247, the first Legion appearance. He was best known for pitching in on Superman stories, doing a huge number of Action back-up stories while Wayne Boring or Curt Swan did the opener. But for me, he'll always be 'the first Supergirl artist'.

While Jim Mooney took over the Supergirl back-up in Action with the next issue, Plastino's work on the first issue set the table and that story set up so much of that Kara's early plots. This issue has been reprinted many times in many formats and really showcases Plastino's art.

Here is the classic image of her springing from her crashed rocket, announcing she has arrived.

 And here Superman puzzles how she can have survived Krypton and be younger than him. No wonky delayed rocket arrival in this universe. She was born and raised on Argo City.

I love that second panel with her smiling to the audience.

And then we hear Superman say she must live as an orphan to train secretly.

I love this second panel too with Kara gracefully landing after her flight.

And then this classic sequence when she flies over Midvale vowing to be a 'guardian angel', a panel which supposedly inspired Peter David to write his Earth Angel Matrix arc.

We also see the beginning of the recurring theme early on in Supergirl stories of her wondering if she would do a good job, earn Superman's respect, and become a hero. The look of subtle worry on the third panel is sublime.

I have had two lifelong comic loves in my life: Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Plastino drew the introduction for both of them! I really wanted to meet him and thank him for being such a key person in my comic joy.

Rest in peace Mr. Plastino. You were one of the giants.


elknight20 said...

Nothing to say, due to the fact that you said everything I wanted to, here, Anj.

Rest In Peace, Al Plastino.

Anonymous said...

Sad...always like the contrast Plastino depicted btween SG's modest feminine appearance and her tendency to juggle automobiles and box meteor swarms.

RIP Big Guy...

Meanwhile any GOOD Supergirl news out there, this seems to be the Season of the Locust...


Gene said...

Rest in Peace Mr. Plastino, your work made a positive impact in this world. You drew one of the best depictions of Supergirl.

Martin Gray said...

Thanks for a lovely tribute to a hugely talented man; he's one of those artists whose work simply makes me grin, it's so clean and welcoming.