The John Romita Sr. Day Thread 2/13

For eight years, comics legend John Romita worked at DC doing romance stories. He had previously been working with Stan Lee at Timely.  At the time, his most notable work was for a run on Captain America.  He has stated that his earliest inspirations were Jack Kirby and Milton Caniff (Terry and the Pirates), though his own line work was cleaner and less shaded.

However, times were tough in comics. Timely was downsizing, and in 1958, Romita was without a job. So he took up something that he really hated: romance comics. (He might have been able to push for work on other titles, but Romita always comes across as really shy.) He’s actually done romance comics before: in 1949 for Famous Funnies which he got paid for but was never published.

“It was a terrible period of dullness,” he related in an interview with Jim Keefe. “It really was boring, maddening after awhile. The only reason I did it was that I had to support my family. The normal romance is very bland. A few teary faces but nothing really happening.”

Surprisingly, though, Romita turned out to be pretty good at it.  As bored as he was by the work, the experience would be pretty good for him.  Because it was basically the same story over and over again, Romita would expand his talents just to make things interesting.  He began playing with effects like hair and leaves blowing through the wind, giving water more dramatic effects, and experimenting with body language.  A sly, mischievous look here.  A distraught glance there…

Fortunately, by 1965, superheroes were back in business.  Stan Lee recruited Romita for the newly christened Marvel.  He first worked on Daredevil, but would eventually create some of his most iconic work with Spider-Man.  Peter Parker, formerly a mopey teenager, was now an handsome lad that was a hit with the ladies.