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Gay League - John Calimee
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SPOTLIGHTS


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JOHN CALIMEE 


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If there's something you should know about me, it is that I love comic books. I have loved comic books from the tender age of seven when my sister bought me my first comic, a Steve Ditko/Stan Lee Marvel "Pop Art" SPIDER-MAN comic. To this very day, over thirty years later, I still hold the dream. When I close my eyes I can take myself back to the very place and time I held that comic, a grey and dreary spring afternoon on the near north side of Chicago. We stopped at a newspaper stand and from a plethora of girlie books, newspapers and brightly colored funny books, I chose the most intriguing one of all: about a troubled teenager with amazing powers, a brilliant quick wit and a fantastically engaging costume. On the CTA bus ride home, I read it with wide eyed wonder. I was hooked! I was blessed! For years to come Jack Kirby, Gene Colan, John Buscema et al would take me on the most satisfying trips into the imagination any kid could ever hope for. And as brilliant as those men were, there was always, always more. Batman, Deadman and the great beloved Neal Adams. Kubert and Enemy Ace. Steranko. Infantino. Smith. The Blue Beetle. The Watchmen. Night Force. I spent endless nights copying the brilliant action scenes of those masters onto blue lined notebook paper. My mother insisted I go to bed or at least stop for fear I would go blind. I drew on the walls of the basement, in the margins of my brother's school books, on the side of my grandmother's house. I dreamed of being a member of the bullpen. And the man who kept the dream most fertile was Jack Kirby. Jack Kirby was akin to a god. He was the greatest and the best. There will never be another like him.

In time, I got my chance to actually work for Marvel on the STRIKEFORCE MORITURI book. Not that I deserved it. I was not ready. I had not been prepared for the work of being a comics illustrator. Art schools had deteriorated into cozy islands of aesthetic mumbo jumbo. Technique and teaching were trashed in favor of aesthetic diatribes in the wake of Abstract Expressionism. My weaknesses showed glaringly in the published pages. Thankfully, Carl Potts saw something worthwhile in me to give me a chance. Unfortunately, it seemed my formative days were spent paired endlessly with a novice writer who hated writing super hero comics. It was a disaster. We brought out the worst in each other. I drifted along, thanks to the kindness of editors who still saw something in me. God knows what they saw, looking back. The good people at First Comics put me to work on titles here and there. THE BADGER Christmas story, the last issue before it's First cancellation remains the best single issue I ever worked on. Bill Rheinhold, a demi-god in his own right, made me look good and Mike Baron supplied a tongue and cheek script that was spot on. There were a few bits and pieces for Paul Kupperberg at DC. STARMAN and an unpublished run reviving SPACE RANGER. Thanks, Paul. You are a man of the old breed the likes of which the industry could use right now. No matter what, a man of integrity.

Unfortunately, as I was just getting my "chops" under my belt, sorry... I am a late bloomer , the industry imploded. A brief run of assignments for Tom Breevort was among the last things I did in the world of four color printing. A shame as there were elements evolving in my penciling that was beginning to show what Carl Potts saw in me at the start. It was a four part back up story in VENOM, starring The Jury. Crazy, flighty, talented Dan Slott wrote a delightful yarn where he got to kill off The Tarantula. He really enjoyed doing that. He had evil plans of laying a lot more of the Marvel Universe to waste as well. Although my art was evolving, the world of comics evolved far quicker. While Ron Pearlman was quietly destroying all of reality as we knew it, young turks more talented than I were generating work that had fewer ties to the sixties greats and told stories on visual terms uniquely their own. I was washed aside before I ever really got started.

My love of comics has not been diminished. I still have the passion for it. I still love the form, love the idea of making an imaginary world come to life on the stage of an eleven by seventeen piece of bristol board. I'm telling you about my work this way, because this way reads the way I see life: as a story. Not quite unending, but certainly not finished. There are surprises to come. New things to happen. Who knows where my path and the art form I love will cross. All I know is, it will forever be a part of me. And hopefully, I will be a part of it. God bless. Now let's go get involved in comics!

John Calimee



See examples of John's work in the Fan Art Galleries.


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Rating: 2 out of 5



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Spotlights Listing