Dynamite Sketch Cover Variant: SHAFT!

This was so much fun to draw, I felt I needed to color it.

This was so much fun to draw, I felt I needed to color it.

The 1971 film “Shaft” tells the story of a private detective, John Shaft, who travels through Harlem and to the Italian mob neighborhoods in order to find the missing daughter of a mobster. With a grammy winning soundtrack album, theme music by Isaac Hayes, “Shaft” was selected in 2000 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

In short…”Shaft” is awesome.

Recently, Dynamite comics started a Shaft comic book. The sketch variant, with actual Shaft comic inside, is above. The book was solid, acknowledging the characters roots, and developing him in a way that was accessible to new readers. It’s like a Shaft prequel, and both issues thus far (there have been two) have been very enjoyable. The second, in my opinion was better executed than the first, in part because it wasn’t burdened by laying anymore groundwork. Instead, it just started moving the story along, at a solid pace and with good character development.

Shaft, created by author Ernest Tidyman, and made famous in a series of novels and multiple films, oddly has not had a comic previously. Despite the fact that the popularity of the character and genre informed a large amount of Marvel’s thought process on Luke Cage, Hero for Hire, and the environment that he navigated. It seems odd.

That car was a hassle to draw.  These are the inks.

That car was a hassle to draw. These are the inks.

In fact, I encountered the character of Luke Cage through comics BEFORE Shaft…which I saw years after having read the Heroes for Hire material. The films really brought home a whole lot of how the House of Ideas worked in the 70’s, about the post modern reworking of pop culture into new comics and characters.

Drawing this was a very positive end to what has been a very positive, quiet week. Despite an “uptick” in gang activity visible through tagging by school, my campus was quiet. Very quiet. It seemed almost a return to the way it was when I first started to draw Adequacy. A huge amount of written work got done, with few to no problems.

I kept waiting for the proverbial “other shoe” to drop.

I incorporated Misty knight because i always loved the way Byrne drew her in the 70’s and her appearance was so rooted in the 70’s aesthetic. I went with the more modern Bionic Arm, but mostly because it is obviously mechanical. In the 70’s with Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman on TV, Bionics were great. Let’s check out how cool Misty Knight is, by the standards of the time, which are still incredible:

1. Beautiful…check.
2. Bionic Arm…check.
3. Tons of karate…check.
4. Awesome hair and 70’s clothes…check.

See? The car, the pony, and the hat wearing gentleman in the background have their roots in the poster art for “Superfly,” also a genre defining film. Our hero’s outfit for 1971 is firmly grounded in the costuming choices made for Richard Roundtree as John Shaft…which in turn informed the look of Blade, Vampire Hunter. Another awesome character I encountered in comics before actually seeing the Shaft films…and then immediately, his origins were recognized.

The pencils.

The pencils.

In the comic, John Shaft is asked to throw a boxing match he is in, which he just can’t do, even though dangerous mobsters threaten him. Hi internal monologue teaches the lesson to the reader that “it’s better to stand up than to lie down for anyone.” Words to live by, Mr. John Shaft.

The comic is excellent, and I highly recommend it.


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