November 3rd, 2011


The Sandman

I drew this a while back but never had Sarah scan it until recently. Anyway, yee-ha, it's William "Flint" Marko, aka, The Sandman.

The Sandman was one of my bestest most favorite villains from the Marvel Age of Comics, he's also my favorite character in comics to be named "The Sandman" (There are at least four of them kicking around that I'm aware of: Marvel villain, DC gas mask-wearing hero who then started wearing yellow tights and running around with a kid, DC 70's dream hero who ran around with "weirdies", DC/Vertigo goth guy...any others?).

The Sandman could turn to sand (duh) and form sand hammers and giant sand fists and stuff, a really neat-o visual and bit of business. It's interesting that he started out as a Steve Ditko-designed Spider-Man villain, and then waltzed over to the Fantastic Four book, where he was re-designed by Jack Kirby as a member of The Frightful Four. He retained the patented Ditko horizontal wiggly hair weave for men, but lost the iconic striped shirt that Marko always managed to buy and wear whenever he escaped prison. Maybe his mom bought him a lot of them and he stashed them all over New York City. Stupider things have happened in a comic book. The Kirby redesign was insane, green and black and complicated with a weird, uncomfortable looking mask and bulky collar. The Wizard, leader of the Frightful Four, created the get-up for The Sandman with belt controls that could augment his sand powers. At least they did later on, he could create oil slicks (sure, sand is oily) and flatten out very thin (?) or whirl around or..oh, I don't know. Some dumb shit. That's all Marvel Team-Up #1 stuff (where we see his mom, no, for real, the same woman who I think may have bought him a lot of shirts in the mid-1960's. Check the Marvel Universe Updates, they might have something to say about that).

For all I know, the Wizard made him wear the crazy duds because he's a total dick. The Wizard wears an idiot outfit himself, and so did fellow Frightful-Four member Paste Pot Pete -- later to be known as The Trapster, which is only a good villain name if you used to be called Paste Pot Pete. Don't get me wrong -- I'm actually one of the few people out there who actually likes the whacked-out Kirby Sandman costume. People have always seemed to hate it. Just because something's an idiot outfit doesn't mean I don't like it, I love that the Wizard wears a giant egg-shaped helmet that looks like it would break his neck. And the funny undies that go with his armor. Purple looks good on a flying a mad scientist, everyone knows that, they teach that at F.I.T. And The Trapster's silly hood and collar, lovely, really lovely. So, you see, I love that stuff, I really do. It's just crazy, that's all.

The Wizard really is a dick, though. When I wrote a Thing mini-series for Marvel some time back (art by Dean Haspiel, who originated the project) I wanted to have the Frightful Four old-timers get into an argument about the costumes, and establish that the Wizard was super-anal about how they must wear their costumes at all times when on Frightful Four business, including casual meetings. He'd get crazy if they didn't put their masks on, or left their gloves off, things like that. Whatever.

Back to the subject at hand: I can't think offhand of any other known-quantity villains that were designed by Ditko and then radically re-costumed by Kirby. It's interesting to compare the design approaches and aesthetics of the Big Two Marvel artists/creators, if I had more time, intelligence and computer savvy I'd plop some images down and ask you folks to sit tight and listen keenly. Not happening, of course. All you get is the drawing and a little blather.

Anyway, I dig the Sandman (crap, no pun intended, honest --!).