Superman pencil pin-up by Curt Swan from 1991.
My bio: I am Dale Lazarov, writer/editor of chic hardcovers of gay comics filth. I have a theory that everyone I collaborate with has a little Curt Swan in them...
At some further length: These are comics pages by Curt Swan that show why he's my favorite comic book artist. Swan’s homoerotics (for me, at least) are tied into how he’s able to represent or allude to both distinctive and relatable emotional states, vulnerability and power, often simultaneously, in facial expression, body language, framing/mise-en-scene and choice of moment. And this goes deeply into the core of how and why STICKY, MANLY, NIGHTLIFE, FANCY, etc, work so well for me and for readers as gay romantic porn comics. Rather than keeping my Curt Swan page samples, close readings of his narrative technique and gay-gazing of his handsome, bulgy dudes between me and my collaborators and comixfriends, I've decided to share my scholarship of and love for Curt Swan with the internets.
Contact e-mail: dalelazarov-at-gmail.com (replace the "-at-" with a @)
Curt Swan draws a boat-to-boat fight six-person gun-and-fist-fight!
From Gangbusters 17.
Curt Swan draws Lois Lane, radioactive nurse!
In the late 60s, Curt Swan was assigned thicker, inkier inkers that, unfortunately, lost some of the detailing that fine-line or feathery inkers would capture, although this page seems to be not too overwhelmed by this style of inking. This page from Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane 98 was inked by George Roussos, better known as George Bell and one of Jack Kirby’s inkers at Marvel.
Curt Swan draws Lois and Clark on a dating game show!
Love the body language and facial expressions on Lois, Clark and Supey here.
Curt Swan draws Batgirl using her athleticism and brains to rescue a weakened, drowning Supergirl!
It’s the little details that make this page lovely: the hypnotized superheroes in the deep background of panel 1, the architectural rendering of this Washington, DC bridge, the limo’s realistic representation, Batgirl’s reflection on the hubcap, Batgirl’s fantastic anatomy, Supergirl’s hair…
From Superman Family 171.
Curt Swan draws Superboy’s love for volunteer work in this PSA.
This is one of my smoking-gun images for my theory that DC started to knock off Marvel by the mid-60s. This is clearly influenced by the cover of Peter Parker dumping his Spider-Man outfit in a trash can. The layout looks like Carmine Infantino: stylized city-scapes were his thing and the skyscraper-morphing-into-a-disapproving-Superman visual idea is something I can imagine Infantino would come up with.
Little-known fact: Curt Swan quit comics to work in advertising but returned to comics because comics paid better at the time.
Curt Swan draws Darkseid supervising Validus’ attack on the Legion of Super-Heroes!
Original uncolored cover art from Tales of the Legion of Superheroes Annual #5 inked by Al Vey.
Curt Swan draws a thug escaping from the long arm of the law!
Panel 1 and 2: Apparently, one of Swan’s specialties during his crime and horror comics period in the early 1950s was drawing dynamic subway stations. The background of panel 2 is so stylized it’s almost cubist in its anxious dynamism.
Panel 3: Once the thug’s made it to the train, the station is far less stylized to imply a sense of safety.
Panel 4 and 5: Funny how the backgrounds become sedate if not outright impersonal when they characters are in a police station. Love the cheerfulness of the detective who has figured out how to trap the criminal.
Panel 6: This hideout scene’s rendered at an extreme perspective from the floor of the room to mirror the anxiety of the first two panels. The flying pennies and cards help sell the dimensions of the space. The thugs don’t look so chipper…
From Gang Busters 10.
More early Curt Swan from when he was a bit of a Simon/Kirby clone! Still, the layout is totally Curt Swan. From Gang Busters 7, inks by Steve Brodie.
Check out that amazing prison riot panel on the top of the page!
Inanimate things want to kill you in this page by Curt Swan!
Panel 1 — The angle and perspective from which this is drawn implies the vertigo the protagonist is feeling.
Panel 2 — An intense close-up of a terrified man that comes off as realistic rather than exaggerated or camp. Love the cloudy inset panel of his wife as she chokes on gas.
Panel 3 — Now THAT’s how you draw a man running in a suit. Her body language implies that she is not alarmed by him because, as her word balloon states, she thinks he is silly.
Panel 4 — NOW she’s alarmed at the same time that she’s puzzled. Swan was so good at expressions that imply two feelings at the same time. Also, look at the way in which he’s holding her arms; they imply care rather than manhandling.
Panel 5 — EXPLODY! Check out all the details of the meal she was preparing! The only thing I can’t identify is what’s in the pot left of center of the panel under the BOOM sound effect.
Panel 6 — Now she is frightened as indicated by her hand and her facial expression. Also, check out how lovingly he holds her hand. The layout of the kitchen is so evocative of a kitchen of this period.
Panel 7 — NOW he is both frightened AND mad because he is foreseeing a sinister, oversized, anthropomorphically monstruous car running them over. Wouldn’t YOU be mad, eventually, if you kept getting visions of certain death in the future while trying to relax with your wife on a night out?
From House of Mystery 13.
Curt Swan draws romantic noir horror in “I Fell In Love With A Witch”!
Panel 1 — Look at the creepy scratchy shadows on the wall behind the kissing protagonists. That shadow sets up how the dude notices the woman he loves, whom he suspects is a witch, has…
Panel 2 — …mandrake roots on a table display. This, in the male protagonist’s estimate, is a sign that she is a witch. Notice how the witch is genuinely surprised he has pulled away from the clinch. We do not see him clearly because the text already sells his discomfort.
Panel 3 — Swan withholds the witch’s expression so we do not know how she feels about the situation.
Panel 4 — What a GREAT noirish panel. The city looks cramped and dark and overwhelming because of the inky blackness of the shapes, the extreme foreshortening and the protagonist’s size relative to the urban clutter.
Panel 5 —WOW. You can tell this is a subway station, with multiple figures making their way in and out of the entryway, even as Swan embeds fluid, ghost-like images that float around the protagonist and enclose him visually at the same time.
Panel 6 — This is a rare instance of Curt Swan using expressionistic lines to underline the mental state of the the dude and visually represent the sound and pain he is experiencing.
Panel 7 — Another rare instance of Swan using expressionistic elements to underline the spookiness of the moment. Her face is beautiful and ambivalent; is she frightened or concentrating in order to overtake the dude’s will to not love her?
From House of Mystery 1.