Thursday, September 15, 2011

SPACE: 1999 (1976) Original Comic Art By Joe Staton

Veteran comic book cartoonist Joe Staton was still relatively new to the field when he drew the first two issues of Charlton Comics' Space: 1999 series, but he handled the assignment marvelously. Case in point: this terrific cover painting for Issue #2, pitting an unarmed Commander John Koenig against a massive, indigo alien warrior in hand-to-hand combat. I've always really loved this cover, with its fiery, crimson sky and simple, effective composition.

The story it accompanies is pretty nifty, too. Also drawn by Staton, with a script by Nicola Cuti, its plot - which has Koenig and and the alien stranded on a planet together, beginning as enemies and finally working together - prefigures Enemy Mine (and the Barry B. Longyear story it was based on) by nearly a decade.

Joe Staton also co-created (with Cuti) the super-hero series E-Man for Charlton before moving on to DC Comics, where he drew virtually every major character in their line, including a long run on Green Lantern. As it happens, he's a friend of mine, and a valued collaborator. He's drawn several of my comic book scripts, including my crime comic/graphic novel, Femme Noir: Dark City Diaries.


  1. Um, he's not unarmed. He's got a pistol.

  2. Koenig's not "unarmed" on the cover.
    He has a stun-gun in his right hand!

  3. OOps! I misremembered - and apparently I'm blind, too!

  4. Actually, E-Man predates this by three years. I bought Staton's Space: 1999 stuff because I was already a fan of his thanks to E-Man.

  5. Boy, I was really tired when I wrote this post! I actually knew that he'd drawn E-Man first.

    Thanks for keeping me straight!

  6. Big fan of Joe Stanton's E-Man in the 70's, and I was lucky enough to read a Femme Noir story in AC's Fem Force. I stumbled on to your blog a week ago. Small world ehh?

  7. This one is one of my favorite S99 Charlton covers, too! Something about that red sky, plus the action pose of the characters, I guess. Weirdly, I always thought Koenig's sleeve being ripped was interesting, too, as usually in the TV series, no Alphan's uniform got torn. (Unlike a certain other SF TV series whose captain seemed to be getting his shirt ripped every third episode or so...)

    I guess in part it's one of my faves because it was the very first S99 comic I ever owned; as HUGE fan of that show watching it first-run in the pre-VCR days, the comic was a great way for me to experience more adventures between the weekly broadcast of the series.

    Some of the scenes in this particular issue have always stuck with me: the first page with a tiny Eagle docked to the immense alien ship, the scene of poor pilot Tom getting shot (the pose is what made that so memorable for me), Koenig discovering the crushed Eagle at the alien ship's crash site, and the 'Robinson Crusoe' style campsite Koenig made from scavanged wreckage. (A side note to Tom's death: when I was eagerly flipping through the book on my very first look-through, I hadn't bothered reading the script boxes & speech balloons, and at first glance thought I was seeing Alan Carter get killed! I actually stopped flipping through the pages & read the story just to make sure that he wasn't the victim!)

    Of course, in later re-readings, I came to appreciate the very cool story more than I had on that first reading.

    Ah, good times!


  8. The thing I remember most about Space: 1999was how every other episode had an Eagle explode.

    Obviously, they were built by the same company that designed the nuclear waste dump which started the whole thing in the first place.

    As for the illustration itself, it reminds me of Martin Landau getting punched by James Mason in North by Northwest.

  9. Seeing as all my old bloggy friends have devolved into plain ol' face-bookers, I just wanted to let you know that this site is my favorite recent find on the webs!

  10. I remember seeing Joe's work in Amazing Stories when Ted White was editor.

  11. Cool I recall buying this exact issue in a drug store or something like that. I don't think it survived my kid years though. ;) I seem to recall there was also a black and white SPACE 1999 comic magazine being released around this time.

  12. Amazingly enough, every issue of this comic (except the last one - the second season issue) had stunningly good art. If it wasn't Staton, it was John Byrne. And the stories were anywhere from good to excellent.
    I wish the old Gold Key Star Trek comics had been this good.