Search This Blog

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Many Styles of Rich Buckler

Rich Buckler has been called many things, notably a swiper of other artists' work or ideas. I'd prefer to call him a talent, able to produce whatever style the job demanded or his editors asked of him. For many Bronze Age Babies, we cut our teeth on Buckler's Fantastic Four. When I came to that mag, Buckler was just coming out of his phase where he aped Jack Kirby. One could do worse. But just before Buckler left the book (turning it over to a young George Perez), his style had changed, coming into a bit more distinct look.

Of course, Buckler was virtually omnipresent on Marvel's 1970s covers, competing with Gil Kane and Kirby for ubiquity. As the 70s gave way to the 80s, Buckler landed at DC where he again turned in stellar work. While Rich Buckler will most likely never be mentioned among the masters, he must be considered one of the Bronze Age greats, for sheer output alone. And if you dig deep, you may be surprised at just how much he put his hands on - corner boxes, covers on mags you'd least expect (the All-New, All-Different X-Men, for example), and big projects like DC's Limited Collectors' Edition treasuries.

Samples of Buckler's work (below) include:

Avengers 104 (1972), inked by Joe Sinnott
Fantastic Four 150 (1974), inked by Sinnott
Saga of the Original Human Torch 2 (1990), inked by Danny Bulanadi
All-New Collectors' Edition C-58 (1978), inked by Dick Giordano
Action Comics 486 (cover)(1978), inked by Frank Giacoia
Tarzan 25 (cover)(1979), inked by Bob McLeod


  1. Yeah, Buckler was definitely one of the greats, I think. He not only developed a very strong, pleasing-to-the-eye style that perfectly suited superhero books, but also knew how to lay out stories and design pages really well - as demonstrated by his work in the initial part of the Panther's Rage storyin Jungle Action, or his Deathlok stories.

  2. I like Buckler's later work, when he'd moved away from Kirby and other early influences and developed his own style. His work on JLA after Perez left was really good ... somewhat reminiscent of Perez, but not a straight swipe. He did some cool covers too.

  3. Thanks for stopping by, guys! There are several strips on which I fondly recall Buckler's tenure, Fantastic Four being at the top of that list. Perhaps the single issue I appreciate, however, is his fill-in on Invaders #5. For my pre-adolescent mind, any respite from the art of Frank Robbins was welcome! Buckler was also near-ubiquitous on Marvel's covers in the Bronze Age, right up there volume-wise with Kirby and Kane.


  4. I mentioned this on Twitter, but Buckler would probably be better regarded if he hadn't signed up with Archie just as the Direct Market exploded in the early 1980s. He took himself off the table to have a long memorable run on something.

    I always liked his art, except for the obvious swiping at times. Spectacular Spider-Man Annual 1 was so heavily swiped from the Ditko issues that had recently been reprinted by Pocket Books at the time, that it is where it first occurred to me that swiping was a thing.

    I dearly wish he had honestly and openly addressed the swiping in interviews. Because he didn't an otherwise pretty awesome body of work gets downplayed.

    For the record, his work on Avengers 102 made me sit up and take notice of his work. In a perfect world, he would have had a multi-year run on that book.

  5. I always liked Buckler's work. Just as you said Doug, he was drawing FF when I started reading it. Hence he remains a sentimental favorite. And although he borrowed some licks from Kirby, he had some phenomenal pages that really highlighted his talent . The three part Doom/Surfer/Mephisto arc in FF 155-157 was terrific.

  6. I could talk for a week about Buckler’s Deathlok. That was ahead of its time. Dark and not much like any other Marvel work. I’d like to see him remembered for his creativity

  7. Hiya,

    I always get a little . . . tense when the phrase 'swipe' comes up during discussions about comic book artists. Comments tend to center about 'swiping' from Kirby or Ditko, but somehow avoid bringing up the names of Mort Meskin or Jerry Robinson. And, subsequently, Roy Crane or Milton Caniff.

    Styles don't spring fully formed into the world like Athena. They evolve. Check out a couple of documentaries by Waldemar Januszczak and you'll get my point.

    A smart artist knows what sells. I'm not a smart artist.

    We also tend to leave one other aspect out of the discussion. The desires of the editor. I know for a fact that Buckler was asked/instructed by Roy Thomas to suggest Kirbyesque in his work on Fantastic Four at the very least and possibly his other Marvel titles as well, the exceptions being Deathlok.

    Maybe there was some underlying cause for him picking up stakes and heading to DC.

    Sorry if I sound preachy, but this is just a really touchy subject to me.



  8. I'm still really torn about Buckler, I must admit.
    When I was a kid, I hated the way he swiped ( and to clarify, I'm not talking about drawing in another artists style, like on FF, but actually copying a figure from, say, a Buscema pose we'd seen a couple of issues before - I'm sorry, but he did do that a lot )
    Now maybe, as he said in interviews in later years, he was just paying tribute to another artist, but I know that as a kid, that blatant copying drove me insane.
    BUT Deathlok is one of the all-time great Bronze Age characters, and Rich's work on Black Panther is also great, plus he was one of the artists that, like Craig Russell, stood by Don McGregor when it seems no one in management was backing those stories, And in interviews, he always seemed like a really great guy who did a lot to help out both young artists and fans ( I mean, he did a semi-regular column on Diversions Of The Groovy Kind. He didn't have to do that )
    So, as time goes on, I have more and more respect for the guy, but there's still that little kid part of me going " Aargh stop copying Buscema panels!"
    Torn, like I say.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...