I managed to complete the entire 80’s run of Action Comics and Superman. And with that comes A LOT of Curt Swan. Because if you are a Superman fan you know who he was. Even as a wee little lad, grabbing post-Byrne issues of Superman, even I knew of his existence and greatness. And after reading Superman in the 80’s you do have to understand, Curt Swan could draw anything.
I mean seriously, pre-Crisis Superman did a lot of weird and crazy stuff. He travelled to different worlds, galaxies, outerspace…played in baseball games…football games…and rode horses…also he encountered aliens of every sort and kind and visited multiple countries and underwater kingdoms of earth…other dimensions even! And don’t forget, Superman had to operate all sorts of different contraptions, whether it be in his Fortress of Solitude and that big damn oversized diary of his or Alien inventions that he picked up along the way. Superman encountered every possible scenario you could think of and then times that by at least a hundred because these writers thought of even more crazy shit for him to do. And Curt Swan had to draw it. ALL OF IT. Again, Curt Swan could draw anything.
And he was doing both books at the same time! That crazy amount of output is unheard of these days.
Were his drawings sometimes a bit stiff and his characters a bit on the same-looking side. Perhaps. But let me bring this counterpoint to the table. Curt Swan was a machine, a force of nature! And he was on Superman since the late 40’s! Besides, even if you dabbled into Superman all the way up until Crisis hit, chances are you saw his work. Also let’s not forget, Superman had to fly and he had to do it using poses. He had to make you believe that his flying was natural. And all his other abilities? The spinning, running, kicking, punching, heat vision, x-ray vision-ing…if you name it Superman probably did it. And that takes some imagination. And to do it over and over for forty years? That’s astounding!
And going back to my earlier point, even if you did grow up in the post-Byrne era, you knew who Curt Swan was. In fact I remember when that Wedding Album came out and talking about it with my friends at the time. The topic wasn’t oh great, Superman is getting married. Because none of us cared!
The topic of conversation? Curt Swan was contributing a few pages. Curt $#@%$!& Swan was coming back! And most, if not all of us, picked up that ridiculous book for that alone. We wanted our Swan back. And we got it.
There’s a biography floating around out there that I need to pick up. But whatever you do, pick up some of those old copies of 80’s Superman you probably have stashed away and admire Swan for the genius he was. And especially what he contributed to and how he defined such an iconic character.
Curt Swan was Superman.