James F. Steranko (born November 5, 1938) just might be the most interesting man in the world.
Born in 1938 and still working, he is an American comic book writer, artist and historian, as well as a stage magician, fire-eater, musician, boxer, gymnast, publisher, burglar, car thief, film production illustrator and amateur escape artist. (In this last capacity he helped inspire Jack Kirby to create the New Gods hero Mister Miracle).
He started drawing as a child on the back of discarded envelopes in between working in bootleg coal mines with his father in Pennsylvania. He started his art career in advertising before entering the comics industry in 1966, where he earned his reputation working for Marvel Comics at the birth of the "Marvel Age," after walking in and assuring Flo Steinberg (Marvel's secretary) that yes, Stan Lee would definitely want to see his work. His work is remembered for infusing the medium with a large dose of hallucinatory surrealism, op art and graphic design sensibilities, creating something he dubbed "Zap Art."
What's even more remarkable is how little work his reputation rests on. His entire Marvel output includes his seminal run on Nick Fury, two issues of X-Men and three issues of Captain America, a single romance comic and a horror story, for a total of 29 issues. He also drew a bunch of covers that have been referenced so often, you'll recognize them instantly, and designed the classic X-Men logo.
Outside of his comics work, he worked as a production illustrator, and among other things, drew the original Indiana Jones Concept Art. He also designed for Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula. He wrote "The Ties That Bind", an episode of Justice League Unlimited, featuring Mister Miracle, a character Kirby based on him.
Steranko's work contains examples of:
- Cool Old Guy: Notably, he claims that he even slapped Bob Kane, right in the face, for screwing Bill Finger at a convention.