by Alex Dueben
Sam Glanzman has long been an artist’s artist. Joe Kubert called Glanzman “one of the most talented men I know”. He’s long been perhaps best known for his war comics, mostly famously, the graphic novel A Sailor’s Story, and his series of short comics about life about the U.S.S. Stevens, both of which were based on true stories from Glanzman’s time in the Navy during WWII. Over his long career, Glanzman has drawn features like The Lonely War of Willie Schultz and The Iron Corporal, both written by Will Franz, and illustrated a long run on DC’s Haunted Tank. He drew a lot of fantasy series including Tarzan, Hercules, and Kona. He inked over Tim Truman on the Jonah Hex series of miniseries at Vertigo in the 1990’s.
In 2015, Dover Publications launched a graphic novel imprint spearheaded by Drew Ford. The first book was Glanzman’s A Sailor’s Story. The imprint went onto publish books that ranged from European volumes to collections of North American independent comics to early 20th Century proto-graphic novels. The Puma Blues, by Stephen Murphy and Michael Zulli, was not only collected for the first time but featured an ending created for the volume, is now up for an Eisner Award.
Ford left Dover earlier this year and is launching a new imprint, It’s Alive!, by publishing a new edition of Red Range, the 1999 graphic novel written by Joe R. Lansdale and drawn by Glanzman. The begins as a particularly brutal Western, as an African-American hero known as Red Rider, interrupts a lynching, and eventually finds himself in a much more fantastic adventure. It will be followed by Trina Robbins’ 1981 adaptation of the Sax Rohmer novel Dope, which was serialized in Eclipse Magazine.
To publish a new edition of Red Range, with an afterward by Steve Bissette, they’ve turned to Kickstarter, offering original art by Stan Sakai, Tim Truman, James O’Barr, Denys Cowan, and many others.
If you’d like to support the Kickstarter, check it out here!
In the interests of full disclosure, it should be noted that while at Dover, Ford oversaw a new edition of Secret Teachings of a Comic Book Master: The Art of Alfredo Alcala, co-written by Heidi MacDonald.
Alex Dueben: What is Red Range and why did you decide to launch the It’s Alive! Imprint using this book??
Drew Ford: Red Range is short for Red Ranger. He is better known to his enemies as The Red Mask. As for why I am launching with this book, I have worked with both Lansdale and Glanzman in the past, and I launched the first graphic novel series I built over at Dover with a Glanzman book, so it just made sense to launch again with a book by Glanzman.
Dueben: Drew, first at Dover and now as part of this new imprint, you’ve really taken an interest in bringing Glanzman’s work back into print, collecting some of his stories for the first time. You launched the Dover imprint with A Sailor’s Story. What is it about Glanzman’s work for you?
Ford: Glanzman is an artist’s artist. Look at the current field of professional comic book professionals, and you will see a huge group of writers and artists that have in one way or another have been influenced and inspired by his 70+ year career. Folks like Joe Kubert, Denny O’Neil, Stan Lee, Chris Claremont, Walt Simonson, Garth Ennis, Mark Waid, Larry Hama, Chuck Dixon, Timothy Truman, Beau Smith, Mark Wheatley, Brian Azzarello, Dave Gibbons, Kurt Busiek, Paul Levitz, Phil Hester, Stephen R. Bissette, Steve Lieber, Ivan Brandon, Rufus Dayglo, Alex de Campi and Jeff Lemire have either praised his work, claimed him as a major influence, or both. Unfortunately, that never translated into huge mainstream visibility for Glanzman, something I am hoping to help rectify by bringing his work back into print in a big way!
Dueben: There are also two other Glanzman books coming out this summer from Dover that you set up before you left the company. Could you talk a little about U.S.S. Stevens and ATTU?
Ford: The U.S.S. Stevens collection is a series of stories which began being published in 1970 by DC Comics, based on the true stories of the men Glanzman knew, while serving aboard the U.S.S. Stevens during WWII. Because they were true, they sometimes touched on serious personal and social issues, such as race and even homosexuality. You didn’t see a lot of this in 1970 in a Marvel or DC comic book. Also, since they were true stories, and the first one was published in April of 1970 (two full years before Justin Green’s pioneering work on Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary, published by Last Gasp in 1972), it was the first truly biographical work ever published in full size mainstream comics. Most people don’t know that. ATTU is important, when looking at the overall body of Glanzman’s work, because it was the first work that Glanzman ever did that would be considered fully and completely creator-owned. And, come on, it’s the story of a time-traveling warrior caveman, who encounters killers, monsters, spacemen and so much more! That’s enough reason right there to put it back in print!
Dueben: Glanzman, like many artists worked for a lot of publishers on a lot of projects. To your mind, what are the comics he drew, or wrote and drew, that still need to be collected and read?
Ford: It’s quite a list. Well, here are a few of the big ones that really need to be collected and definitely READ: Kona, Combat, Hercules, The Lonely War of Capt. Willy Schultz, and The Iron Corporal. DC did collect the Haunted Tank series in two volumes back in 2008 (over 1000 pages of Haunted Tank awesomeness, of which Glanzman illustrated a nice chunk!), but for some reason the are now out of print. It would be nice to see DC bring those back. Or, if they were open to it, allow me to publish just the Glanzman stories in a new collection.