Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Today is Len Strazewski's birthday. Len, former writer of DC Comics Justice Society Of America and creator of Prime for Malibu's Ultraverse universe, is the current writer of AC Comic's Stormy Tempest character for Femforce. I first read Len's work back in 1990's Flash Special #1 where he wrote an adventure of the Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick. Little did I know that 20 years later I would count him among my best friends.

I first met Len back in 1993. I had known Mike Parobeck, who was Len's artist on DC Comics  JSA and The Fly titles. Mike had been looking at my artwork on a fairly regular basis and was about to move to Florida. He said that Len would look at my artwork and gave me his number. Here are a couple of the pages, out of about 20, that Len looked at upon our first meeting:

Did he love them? No. In fact, he tore them apart. His comments were basically "Why did you do THIS?" "Why isn't anything happening here?" "This stuff need to be more exciting" He said that the character of Chuck ( who is on the second page) looked like he was "deflated" and  talked about what Dick Giordano said about the construction of faces ( that they were made of flesh and should be drawn as if they were unmoving plastic). His biggest complaint was that nothing was happening on the pages and that people were just standing around talking.

The truth of the matter was Len was dead right. My layouts were not overly exciting. Things didn't flow as well as they should. So I fixed it. Below are the pages I drew immediately after my first meeting with him.

At this point, my work still had a very long way to go. I had done no life drawing yet, with the exception of one figure drawing class at Truman College. Still, there was a difference between what my work looked like before and after meeting Len Strazewski.

Len continued to look at my work from time to time. He was the first person to give me scripts to draw from. He was writing Prime and Prototype for Malibu and would pass stories along. It was incredibly helpful. Here are some pages I drew circa 1995-97:

By the time I started grad school at American Academy Of Art, Len had pretty much left the comic book world for greener educational pastures. He started teaching journalism at Columbia College Chicago and eventually rose to the prestigious position of acting chair of the department.

He has gone back to dabble in the comic book world from time to time. Below are a few pages I drew for an independent project that he's been pursuing:

This is for a story titled  TRUE COLORS

This for an ongoing epic called MILOS

In 2010, Len started writing the Stormy Tempest feature for AC Comics, adding depth and humanity to this little known character. I'm luck enough to be the artist drawing it.

It's interesting to think that I started out reading Len's work and ended up drawing it. As lucky as I feel for that, I feel even luckier to know this wonderful person. Happy Birthday, Len!