|Let's just blame it all on Mort Weisinger, okay? For those of you not in the know, he was the legendary (and late) editor of the Superman family of titles during my formative years. He was also responsible for conceiving an alarmingly high percentage of the most preposterous covers in the history of comics!?! However, by the time I began churning out my "Dateline:@#!?*" strips in the late seventies, the covers found on the then current crop of super-hero comics had become solemn, serious affairs. Searching for something amusing to comment on in my weekly feature, it suddenly occurred to me: what's sillier than a Weisinger cover? The answer to that one is simple-nothing! All that'd be necessary for a laff-inducing installment would be for me to simply redraw (albeit in my own goofy style) a particularly kooky cover, leaving the layout, the situation, and most importantly, the dialog, EXACTLY as it was on the original cover! Then maybe ol' cartoon Fred comes along, makes a few wisecracks, some snide observations, gives the reader a knowing wink, and BOOM-I'm outta there! Instant comedy, folks! It's a well I went to many a time, and if you glance downwards, you'll see a small reproduction of the very first of Unca Mort's handiwork that I gleefully held up to ridicule (in a warm and loving way, of course…).|
|While my own style was still in transition when I offered up my reinterpretation of SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN #88, I assure you I did not deviate one iota from the original Curt Swan layout nor change so much as a punctuation mark of the whacked out dialog!?! THIS was what DC Comics was trying to sell us kids back in 1965-and to think, some of the bigwigs there couldn't figure out how the upstart Marvel Comics Group had overtaken them by decade's end!?!…Which gave me another idea-mocking old comics was all fine and good, but I was there to praise them, too. That led to cover redos as a means of tribute to those cartoonists that I admired (though what kind of thrill my heroes may've gotten from seeing their crowning achievements mangled into my style I'm afraid I couldn't tell you. Did I mention the strip was weekly? I had paper to feed!…).That's how it went-rude one day, reverent the next. And sometimes, both at the same time!|
|Time passed. I moved on to other projects,
and for a long time there didn't produce
any of my somewhat obsessive "Dateline:@#?!*"
pages ("…somewhat?,,,"). There
was bona fide evidence that not everybody
had forgotten my little forays into funnybook
frivolity, however. My good buddy, Rocco
Nigro, was friends with just such a specimen.
Not only was this fellow a comic book fan,
but he collected original comic art as well.
Knowing of our friendship, he asked Rocco
to inquire as to whether I'd be interested
in redrawing some specifically chosen covers
for him, and if I was agreeable, he'd pay
Okay, I'm in!!
|And that, boys and girls, is how the concept of the Commissioned Classic Cover Redo came about in the mid-nineties! Oh, like all things, it's evolved over time. Initially, I was drawing my fake-similes the same size as the published comic, but I've long since settled in to a more standard 10" by 15" size, mirroring the original drawings original dimensions (as done by the original artist originally, of course). Eventually, after a dozen or so redos, my initial patron had had his fill-hey, can you blame him? -and my budding little industry was left to rely on word of mouth. In the days when the U.S. postal service still ruled, that could only mean one thing-sloooow sales.|
|But then one day a break-a member of an Internet
based comic art collecting group and/or forum
had somehow glommed onto the fact that I
was doin' these redos, and he requested one.
Upon receipt, he apparently scanned said
illo in and showed it off to all his collecting
compatriots! Not long afterwards, I found
myself inundated with requests for art from
other fine members of this little cyber collective,
because after all, who'd wanna be the last
one on their metaphorical block to get their
hands on an original Hembeck copy?!?! That,
people, was when I found myself down on my
hands and knees, thanking the almighty Al
Gore for inventing the Internet!
And when I decided to revive my hoary old "Dateline:@#?!*" strip for Comics' Buyers Guide, THAT'S when things really got a-movin'! I was delighted to discover that photocopy technology had progressed rapidly in recent times, so much so that it was no big deal to drive down to my local Staples store and get crisp, clear copies of any of my redos, reduced to any size I wanted-and all for 7 cents a pop! Y'see, my idea was this-I'd crank out a few carefully chosen regurgitations, shrink 'em down, clip 'm out, rubber cement 'em on to larger piece of 2 ply Bristol, usher cartoon Fred in to mumble a few words, and voila! Not only did I have a strip worthy of the CBG, I now had (depending) up to a half dozen full-size carefully executed classic cover copies!! And just what did I plan to do with them? That's right, gang, I planned to sell them. And just WHERE did I plan to sell them?? All together now, everyone-EBAY!! Yes, eBay (was that Al Gore's idea, too? If it was, I'm DEFINITELY voting for him next time around, whenever that may be!?!…). That's what I did, that's what I still do, and yes, we'll be selling commissions and already completed covers here on site-go to the sales area for details…
But I hope I'm not coming off too mercenary here. It was just my intention to explain the genesis of the concept behind the classic cover redo. The truth is, I get tremendous satisfaction from revisiting these great old comics of my youth. At times I've been commissioned do replicate books from the eighties and nineties, and while I'm happy to do it-the customer IS always right, y'know-I'm happiest when left to my own devices.
Seeing an image that's been indelibly etched into my consciousness since the early sixties, whether it's a Jack Kirby Fantastic Four, a Carmine Infantino Flash, a Curt Swan Superman, or-most especially-a Steve Ditko Spider-Man, seeing it come to life in it's own strange manner on my drawing board, replete with the requisite squiggles…?!? Whoa, it's something of a surrealistic little thrill, I gotta confess! Even laboriously recreating the book's logos can be a bit of a rush, though the free hand script-styled lettering of an ADVENTURE COMICS is a sight less daunting than getting out the straight edge to carefully duplicate the inner and outer lines of the letters found on the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, I guarantee you that!!
|On the eve of this site's launch, I have reduced copies of nearly 280 classic redos carefully filed away in plastic sheets and snuggled into a rather large three ring binder. We're gonna start slowly, and I'm certain we'll never get 'em ALL online-there are a handful I'd just as soon no one ever see again, I must admit-but it's my intention to keep adding new ones on a regular basis, so keep checking back, y'hear? And thanx to the technology available, I can not only ramble on about my subject to my heart's content, I can also show you the actual piece I'm so blatantly ripping off (umm, I mean paying tribute to)!?! Again, my everlasting thanks to Mr. Gore…|
|So go ahead. Take a look around. You'll find Marvel Comics covers, DC Comics covers, and even the occasional Charlton, Tower, or EC Comics cover. You'll find a few specially commissioned covers with radically revamped elements. Then there are the switcheroos-transposing characters from, for instance, Marvel's Ant-Man and DC's Atom, making entirely new covers. Don't worry-I'll explain it more thoroughly when you get there. In the meantime, bear in mind that while several of the covers we're posting are indeed up for sale, feel free to just look and browse if you'd like. After all, the tour here at Hembeck.com comes without a cover charge!!….|
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