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Saturday, August 27, 2011

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Joe Staton

Neal Adams

Hector Castellon

Jack Sparling

Jack Sparling

Jack Sparling

Fred Himes/Pat Boyette

Fred Himes/Pat Boyette

Fred Himes/Pat Boyette
I'm told that Colonel Steve Austin, the Bionic Man, has returned to comic books with a new series from Dynamite Comics, so I figured this was a good time to head over once again to Charlton Comics, and take a look at their color comic book version of Universal's The Six Million Dollar Man television series. They also simultaneously published a magazine-sized black & white series (as they did with Space: 1999), but this time out we're focusing solely on the color book.

Charlton Comics got spotty distribution in my area, so I'm pretty sure the only one of these issues I ever bought off the newsstand was Issue #4, which caught my eye because I also had the Six Million Dollar Man model kit of Austin wrestling with an alligator (I also had the one were he's kicking in a door with both feet - I should try and find pix of those; they were great little diorama kits!).

My pal (and collaborator) Joe Staton drew the first issue, and as he told Comic Book Artist magazine, in those days pre-Internet & home video, visual reference for licensed comics was sometimes hard to come by:

"We had moved upstate by the time I was working on Six Million Dollar Man...  back in the days when dinosaurs drew comic books, we had one TV station, didn't get the show, we didn't have any photos, so we came into town to the Ramada Inn in Kingston, got a room, because somebody told us the Ramada Inn got the station it was on. We didn't have a tripod, so we piled up some books under [my wife] Hilarie's camera in front of the TV in the hotel room, trying to shoot photos off the television! That was most of the reference I had for the book.

There was always a lot of trouble to get the reference. For
Six Million Dollar Man, we called up an Air Force airbase, the same airbase the Six Million Dollar Man crashes on in the pilot episode, and they sent me this whole official pile of photos on airbases. If I were a Russian spy... If anybody needs good photos of secret defense installations, call up and say you're doing a comic book and the Air Force is very accommodating!"


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