site map

The Opus list

Opus 1-15



1 The Chimera, 1973-76, Earth Art Graphics.

A 10-plate portfolio.

Plate 1 Plate 2 Plate 3 Plate 4 Plate 5Plate 6 Plate 7 Plate 8 Plate 9 Plate 10

PCR's comments:
Originally a graphic story printed in portfolio form, The Chimera would see publication by Eclipse Comics in 1982. Conceived as a symbolist fantasy when written in 1973, the work was influenced by the Belgium-French movement of the late 19th century (Toorop, Kupka) and the music of Wagner and Bruckner.

I began this—and completed it—in Cincinnati after finishing my first year with Marvel Comics... doing such classics as Ant Man, Iron Man and Chamber of Chills. Starting in the spring, I had plotted and drawn the first 20 pages of what would later become the first Dr. Strange Annual. I had gone to the 4th of July convention in NYC and visited the Marvel offices where Roy Thomas accepted it for future, unspecified use. Back in Cinncinnati, I finished my final semester at the University (my final grade was a "D" in "Art Appreciation" but that's another story). I had recently come across a book called Dreamers of Decadence by Phillipe Jullian. It was a history of the Symbolist movement in art in the late 19th century. I had four years of art history classes under my belt, yet was completely ignorant of this movement. Symbolism as a movement had gone head-to-head with Impressionism—and as history is written by the victors—was relegated to the museum basement and hardly heard from until the psychedelic 60's. The book and its pictures was a revelation, and under its influence I began work on the Dr. Strange story and then The Chimera.

I began it in the traditional way of pencilling and inking but designed it to be finished in pencil. This meant it had to be entirely drawn in blue pencil first and then 'inked' in pencil. Standard reproduction in those days had no tolerance for pencil drawing, at least in mainstream comics, but I wasn't doing it with an eye for publication. I was doing it because it seemed to be the right way to do the story... and I wanted to see what it would look like in the softer, more evocative look of pencil. Being at the same time a practical person I thought that if someone did want to publish it, then it would have to be inked.

When I moved to NYC in 1974, Bill Dubay, editor at Warren Magazines (Creepy, Eerie) wanted to pick it up, but on seeing samples of my inks thought I would not be up to inking my own work (he was right)—and suggested Wally Wood, who was then doing some work for them. Of course I said "yes" to that, but it never happened. In retrospect, I'm glad it didn't. In 1976, a small company called Earth Art Graphics approached me to do a portfolio—which were just then becoming the rage. I sent the piece to them and until the advent of computers, laser scanning, etc. it was the best reproduction of pencil drawings I had ever seen. A few years later, Eclipse Comics reprinted it in Eclipse Magazine. They shot from the portfolio—not the originals—and the result was very bad. Really ugly. Avoid it. Finally I named this piece the forward-looking "Opus 1" because it was the first completed piece that—for better or worse—was entirely my own.

Cover by Dave Cockrum

2 Dr. Strange - Annual 1, 1973-76, Marvel Comics.

Reprinted in black and white in Essential Doctor Strange Volume 3, Marvel, 2007.

One of the first comics published by Russell's, this one has a convoluted history : Russell began working on it all by himself in 1973, before drawing what would be his opus 1.
Then, years later, it was accepted by Marvel and reworked as an annual, scripted by Marv Wolfman. And it shows : there are far too many words in there, especially in some emotionally powerful scenes which would have deserved to be silent. But that's a flaw common to a lot of mainstream comics. Anyway, Russell's art really shines here. The fantasy world on which Dr. Strange finds himself has some great architecture, and the witches are directly out of a Disney film. One can feel that this kind of story really fits Russell's sensibility.
Russell would come back to that seminal work some twenty years later with opus 43.

PCR's comments:

I'm not certain why I labeled this Opus 2. I started it before Opus 1 but didn't finish it until after completing the Killraven series (Opus 3). Guess I compromised and stuck it in the middle.

I started it in the winter/spring of 1973... and for better or worse consider it the first of my own major works. That is, the first story I began that was my own story—not a company assignment. It wasn't commissioned and I had no guarantee—or even much thought of—ever seeing it in print. I did it for my own enjoyment and for the chance to draw to my own interests. As a result, the quality of my work took a giant leap forward.

I was still going to school but had only a few easy courses. I remember working on this up until the 4th of July comics convention in NYC. I took the 20 completed penciled pages up to Marvel and showed them to then Marvel Editor-in-Chief Roy Thomas. He said almost immediately that they could use it. Leave it there and voucher for the sum of $20 a page. Great. I had no idea of the political minefield I was wandering into. Of course, the regular series had a regular writer—Steve Engelhart—and of course he had his own continuity worked out. I'm sure he wasn't happy when he was given the pages by Roy and told to do something with them. Of course he did nothing, at least for a while.

A couple years passed and the first issue of a new Doctor Strange series hit the stands—with art by Frank Brunner. I opened it and thought, "great, here's my splash page, they've decided to use my artwork." Then I noticed the credits and the rest of the pages... not mine, save for one panel further on. They weren't using my story, just sort of piecing on it. I complained to Roy who admitted that , yes, there was a striking similarity to my pages. Time passed. Then in '76, I was informed there would be a Doctor Strange Annual and they would be using the 20 pages of my projected 60 page story and Marv Wolfman and I would be reworking the story to fit the planned 35 page book. Okay. We did. I was given the (remaining) penciled pages back and added the 15 new ones.

My style had changed a lot in the last three years so it was a challenge to try to make it all work together. Luckily none of it had been inked so there was that patina to add that gave it some consistency. I was allowed to color it. I guess I had passed my coloring probationary period (see opus 3) and did it all in a week. All that remained was the cover. The one I had done in '73 was no longer viable (used on the cover of Bob Layton's fanzine with my first interview, another gruesome story). I did a new one of the Doc and 'Lectra in combat. Marv said he wanted to see Clea in the background, trapped in a mystic bubble. It didn't work for me, so I left it out. I showed the finished cover to art director John Romita who approved it and then proceeded to the San Diego con. Saw Marv there. All smiles. All's right with the world. Returned to NYC. First trip to Marvel, Duffy Vohland comes up with a big grin. "Did you see the make-ready for the Doc Strange cover?" No. He shows me. Its a Dave Cockrum redraw from my design, ugly as sin, with Clea in the background, trapped in a bubble. The trouble with working with a writer who is also your editor is that when there is a creative disagreement and you go to your editor to decide the best course... guess who wins?

The book came out in the late summer of '76, I think, and the original art was returned to the Marvel offices some time after that. Now Marvel had only been returning the original art to the artists for a few years and part of the deal was that the writers were to receive a portion of the art. They were closest to administration in the daily workings of the company so guess how that happened? Anyway, for some reason, probably due to deadlines, I had inked the work before it was lettered. The lettering was done on separate sheets and pasted down with some sort of white paint and rubber cement (back when rubber cement was rubber CEMENT) Anyway, I was told by Mary Beth (the art 'girl') to pick up my pages when they came in. I did—and then asked if she cared if I took the other pages to make copies. She said fine. I put them in my portfolio and went home. Spent three days with rubber cement solvent and a razor blade and removed 35 pages of balloons. They curled when removed. Made a foot-high stack of curled-up word balloons. I put them in a brown bag and returned to the Marvel offices. Left it on Marv's desk with a note. "Here's your share of the artwork."

It's a small art village we live in and within 15 minutes the story had reached DC comics and Neal Adams Continuity Studios. Days later, back at Marvel, Marie Severin started laughing when she saw me, and Marie knows how to laugh. She said Marv stormed in, red in the face, shaking the bag of balloons, saying "did you see this, did you see this?"

I wonder if Marv still has them?

From # 28.

3 Killraven - series (Amazing Adventures Featuring : War of the Worlds 27-37, 39), 1974-1976, Marvel Comics.From # 39.

Collected in Essential Killraven vol. 1, 2005, Marvel.

When comics still adapted books and not only films or TV series, the results were sometimes worth it. Set in H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds, this short-lived series was nonetheless a high point of the 70's Marvel. Don McGregor's stories, pitting a band of ill-assorted humans led by the volatile Killraven (a gladiator alias) against the flesh-eating Martians, were full of strangeness and anger. Russell's work on this title went from interesting to downright fascinating. He was the perfect choice to illustrate the psychological and inhuman horrors concocted by McGregor.
Both authors would reunite for a last Killraven story - see Opus 13.

PCR's comments:

Killraven/War of the Worlds was my first real collaboration with a writer. My previous Marvel projects were typical assignments with a plot synopsis and little interaction with the writer. Don McGregor was the first person that seemed to be excited to work with me, but then Don was excited about everything.

At Marvel, in those days the artists may have been somewhat fawned over but it was the writers who ran the show and in Don's case, fought the battles. He seemed to be continually under siege by editors wanting to impose their stamp on his ideas. It made for some strange compromises. On the issue 'A Death in the Family' he wanted the entire issue to be without word balloons, text and pictures only, as in Hal Foster's Prince Valiant. For some reason it was thought the Republic would fall, Marvel would capsize, and Stan would lose his hair if such a 'radical ' approach was used... so word balloons were added to pages 2 and 3. I guess so that people would know they were reading a 'real' comic book. I was generally left alone except for the covers which were subject to what was perhaps Marvel's most formulaic phase, i.e. "the hero at the mercy of the villain". Yawn.

The great advantage to working on a series like this was that it was so marginal to mainstream Marvel that, Don's battles not withstanding, they left us pretty much alone. Other artists may have been angling for more 'prestigious' assignments but I was happy right where I was. I may have been happy but that doesn't mean I was always responsible. I was constantly missing deadlines, resulting in fill-in issues, reprints, layouts for other artists to finish and the use of other inkers to give me extra time. The only thing that saved my butt was that Don was even slower, and after all, this wasn't a Marvel flagship title. It was the last time I ever had anyone else ink my pencils and it was the last time I ever missed a deadline (knock wood).

The challenge for me on this series was that I was forced to stretch and draw characters and situations I wouldn't have attempted while playing to my strengths on projects like Dr. Strange. It was a constant learning experience and the drawing style seemed to change every issue. I was going to 4 or 5 movies a week at the Bleeker Street Cinema and going back to the studio to lay out pages. It was midway through that I began using live models for some of the characters. Not having a camera yet, they were forced to hold some seriously ridiculous positions as I drew them on the comics page. It was Don who convinced me to try my hand at inking on my 2nd issue. I was convinced I couldn't ink based on my experience with my mentor, Dan Adkins. Dan used a brush, it seemed everyone did, and all my attempts had been... not good. But I had inked one 'special effect' panel and on the basis of that, Don talked me into it. I had used a pen on that panel so it seemed OK to continue with one. If it wasn't a Hunt's 108 flexible crow quill then, it very soon was. I've used it ever since.

It was desperation that got me to attempt my first coloring job on that same 2nd issue. It was going to be sent to a house hack and I knew that I couldn't be any worse. I asked Marie Severin (head colorist) if I could give it a try. Dubiously, she asked if I knew anything about coloring. I said it was all I had studied for four years in college (lies lies lies). She gave me a coloring set and some simple coding instructions and I found a desk. I started working on page one, coloring it completely before moving on to the next page. Linda Lessman was coloring across the room and I could see her glancing my way now and then. Finally she came over and in a low and very polite voice asked if I would mind if she made a suggestion. She told me to go through the entire story and color all the flesh tones at once, then go back and do all the costume colors one at a time straight through. If that sounds coldly 'assembly line' it wasn't. Given the nature of reproduction and our limited and oftimes inevitable color choices it made perfect sense. The way I was doing it, one complete panel at a time (open the bottle, paint, close the bottle, open another, paint, close,) would have taken forever. She was so sweetly apologetic about correcting this naive dolt that I've been her obedient servant ever since.

As it was, I spent about 48 hours in the Marvel offices, sleeping in the reception area, getting up when the suits would arrive in the morning. They were very relaxed about coming and going then and people would frequently be there late at night. While I was working on that coloring at about 3 in the morning Tony Isabella kept me company by verbally listing all 75 issues of Daredevil that had been printed to that point, which villain's had been featured in each of those issues and why he would or would not be using each of those villains when he assumed writing control of that series. Don't tell me I haven't paid my dues.

The 3rd issue of KR I also colored, having got a grip on the color coding system, but without all the subtleties that made it easier for the engravers to apply the colors to the printing plates. At any rate I used every color available and didn't skimp on the detailing. I was later told, in tones of horror and indignation that Marvel had been charged $100 extra by the printers. It was the only time Marvel had ever been charged extra for a coloring job. $100! Such extravagance. Who did I think I was... Erich Von Stroheim? My coloring career was temporarily shelved, but we got Petra Goldberg, later Petra Scotese, who always did a most sensitive job. Ever since, when working on inking jobs, I've always asked the editor if she's available.

If I had to pick a favorite of the series I would choose 'A Death in the Family' for its integration of art and text... for once Don and I weren't jockeying for space on the page, Petra did wonderful coloring, and I was learning how to tell a story with pictures.

4 Dance on a Razor's Edge, 1977, Eclipse.

In Night Music 2 (color), 1985, Eclipse.
Available in the collection Isolation and Illusion, 2003, Dark Horse Comics.

A meditation on Yukio Mishima's death. This Japanese writer, one of the most famous of the post-war period, wrote a large number of novels showing his views on life, love, and, well, everything else. He was also gay - and married, obsessed with Saint Sebastian, a common affliction among cultured gays of bygone times. Russell's 6-page story frames highlights of the writer's life with his ritual suicide by seppuku.

PCR's comments:

Dance on a Razor's Edge was, after Killraven and Dr. Strange, a new direction. It came about when Al Milgrom asked me to contribute to an "underground" comic he was producing that would include contributions by Wrightson, Starlin, and Simonson. At that time I had been reading everything I could find by author Yukio Mishima. Plays, novels, short stories, essays and a few biographies. He had committed ritual seppuku in 1970—after leading his private right wing army in a failed attempt to commandeer a military base in an attempt to topple the Japanese government!

I was fascinated by everything about him. I conceived the idea of staging a suicide while intercutting events from his life and from his writing. After the myriad characters and plotting of an issue of Killraven, I wanted to concentrate on a single character in one room.

It was the first time I photographed a model. I took the photos before writing the story, concentrating on getting as many possible angles as I could. The model was performing the very simple action of drawing a knife across his belly. I had in mind film director George Steven's method of shooting a scene from six angles, simultaneously, and then spending up to a year(!) editing it all together. I didn't take that long as it was only eight pages.

I finished it in '77 and then—as has happened several times in my career—waited for everyone else to come through. Didn't happen. A couple of years later Neal Adams suggested I send the story to him in New York (I was living in Wellsville, Ohio, at the time). He had a possible foreign publisher. I sent him the pages. Nothing happened. A few years later, when I was beginning the Night Music series for Eclipse Comics, I called his studio and asked for their return. Only three pages could be found—the others were "misplaced." I had overexposed photostats of the missing pages so we used those for publication... and added color to a story that was designed for black and white.

Years passed. In the spring of 2001, I received a question on this site's message board from an art collector who had recently acquired five pages of my art from a story he was unfamiliar with. Featuring a character called Kimitake. After 20 years, the pages—all intact—had bobbed to the surface. Upon hearing that the pages had no doubt been stolen from Continuity Studios, this very standup gentleman returned them to me.

Reunited at last, I hope someday to see the story published in its original black and white form. As to where the pages have been and who might have removed them from Neal's studio? I have entertained one dark but amusing theory... which I will share with you if we become friends and you pour enough beer into me.

5 Parsifal, 1976-77, Star*Reach and Eclipse.

Reprinted in Star*Reach Classics 6, 1984, Eclipse.
In Opera. Also in The P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations vol.2 (see Collections).

An adaptation of a part of Richard Wagner's last opera, this is a remaking of the story of Perceval, one of the main characters of the legends surrounding the Grail. Already in place in this early work of Russell's are the use of vegetation for the psychological settings and a female character on the wrong side of the Force, if I may use that term. Femmes fatales are aplenty in Russell's works, among others Salomé and the evil sorceress in both Dr. Strange stories. The drawings might still be sometimes awkward, and that can also be said for later works, but the storytelling, the composition of the page, and the beautiful backgrounds far outweigh that nagging weakness of Russell's first years.

PCR's comments:

The story is based on the second act of Richard Wagner's last opera, Parsifal. Art and visual direction by P. Craig Russell. Story adaptation and script by Patrick C. Mason. Lettering by Tom Orzechowski and Annette Kawecki.

Parsifal was my first collaboration with Patrick Mason and my first opera adaptation. Sometime in 1975 or '76, Patrick handed me his prose adaptation of the 2nd act of Wagner's Parsifal—suggesting I use it if I so desired. About that time Mike Friedrich was starting Star*Reach comics and asked me to contribute, so the timing was good. Its different from later opera adaptations in that it has a prose narrative that can get inside the character's heads the way pure dialogue cannot. Most of my adaptations fall into one of two camps. Narrative prose (Human Remains, Golden Apples of the Sun, Elric) in which a wealth of descriptive prose can be sifted through to amplify or explain the characters actions. The difficulty lies in what to throw overboard, especially with a writer like Ray Bradbury when every line is so lovely. The other camp is the play or libretto (Salome, The Magic Flute, The Clowns) in which the story is expressed and propelled solely through dialogue. Once I complete a project in either camp, I look forward to working again in the other.

Mike Friedrich “accuses” me of wanting to “re-do” all my early work (see op.2 and op.43) but its only 2 or 3 pieces I'd like to redraw. Parsifal is one of them. I was going through stylistic changes, thrashing about really, and I didn't know if I wanted to be Barry Smith or Bernie Krigstein. A Pre-Raphaelite or a German Expressionist. And it shows in places. It's a script that deserves better pictures. Someday.

Parsifal was begun in NYC and finished in Wellsville, Ohio in 1977.


6 The Avatar and the Chimera, 1978, Star*Reach and Eclipse.

In Imagine 2-3 (Star*Reach).
Reprinted in its entirety - with a new cover - in Star*Reach Classics 3, 1984, Eclipse.



A symbolist short story in which an animated statue by Michelangelo (the Avatar) frees an imprisoned woman (the Chimera). A model in Art Nouveau furniture and Symbolist metaphors. Even early in his career, Russell's main influences were unashamedly on display.

PCR's comments:

The Avatar and the Chimera was published in two color installments in issues #2 and #3 of Imagine. Entire work is by P. Craig Russell.

Avatar and the Chimera was done for the color sections of Star*Reach comics. Star*Reach had become for me, in the late 70's, the place to be free to try whatever struck my interest. I'll always be grateful it was there. Avatar was the second of my four wordless stories. It gave me a chance to return to the Symbolist inspired world of Dr. Strange and The Chimera, to be lost in fantasy. Bernie Krigstein was out of the door. I was also doing a lot of mainstream inking that year at Marvel and DC. I think this was the only original piece I did that year, although I may have worked on Siegfried and the Dragon also and begun work on my anatomy/life drawing sketchbooks. I remember when Star*Reach comics premiered. It was supposed to be a place where artists could present mature, intelligent work of the sort that the mainstream companies were not producing. And of course the first issue presented Stephanie Starreach, a mostly naked piece of cheesecake running around. I was among those who rolled their eyes at this embarrassment. How beneath us it all was. But then I had no trouble turning around and presenting Avatar... running around in cape, boots, and jockstrap. But it was for an artistic purrrrrrrpose. A misfire... to contrast with his later transformation from a lower to higher state of being as symbolized by the golden armor he should have been clad in animal skins. On a related note, that is exactly what happens to Siegfried when he 'weds' Brunhilde. He enters her cave in bearskin and emerges wearing her armor.

7 Siegfried and the Dragon, 1978, Marvel-Epic.

In Epic Magazine 2.
In the Marvel version, the last page is a full-page, with a bird telling Siegfried to get the Ring. But there's an alternate last page, rejected by Marvel, and published by Star*Reach in Imagine #6, 1979.

The alternate endingIn seven pages, Russell illustrates the episode of The Ring of the Nibelung in which a young Siegfried kills the dragon Fafner and, through the dragon's blood, becomes fluent in animal languages. The storytelling is very effective, but the dragon doesn't look very frightening. The overall ambiance is more one of light fantasy than of a dark journey of the soul as in Parsifal.

PCR's comments:

Art and adaptation by P. Craig Russell (from the story by Richard Wagner). Lettering by C. Russell and Mary E. Gordon.

My first attempt at cracking The Ring of the Nibelung. I thought at the time that I would be able to incorporate it into the larger piece when I got to it. Two decades later, my style was too different for that to work and besides, my original model was now as round as a washtub. For some reason, when it was published in Epic Magazine the final page (of Siegfried talking to the woodbird and entering the dragon's cave) was dropped and my original cover was substituted. I think the “open” end of the original was not considered “conclusive” enough. That final page was later printed as the back cover to Star*Reach's Imagine magazine. A side note: It was just after this that I made my first stab at laying out The Ring. I did the first half of Rhinegold in about 40 pages. In 1996, when I began work on The Ring in earnest, I took a look at them. They were totally useless. At least I hadn't been standing still for 18 years. Parts of the layouts to Siegfried and the Dragon did make it to the recent, final version.

8 La Somnanbula, 1979, Eclipse.

 In Night Music (b&w, see Collections) and Night Music 2 (color), 1985, Eclipse.
Available in the collection Isolation and Illusion, 2003, Dark Horse Comics.

9 Breakdown on the Starship Remembrance, 1979, Eclipse.

In Night Music (b&w, see Collections) and Night Music 1 (color), 1984, Eclipse.
Available in the collection Isolation and Illusion, 2003, Dark Horse Comics.

A beautiful science-fiction story of a romantic astronaut lost in the coldness of his steel-hearted colleagues, this 22-page tale gives you two endings for the price of one. Russell uses his character's childhood to pay homage to his heroes, among them Al Williamson and Wally Wood. The art is very good, alternating futuristic technology and depiction of heaven-like forests. The two endings heighten the moral dilemma which the main character, who has fled his duty and landed on a beautiful planet, faces : stay on this planet, or try to live his childhood dreams of discovering alien life, roaming the cosmos. One can note that the doctor on the starship, who wants the astronaut back, has the same name as the evil magician in Parsifal.

10 Elric - The Dreaming City, 1979-80, Marvel.

A Marvel graphic novel adapting a Michael Moorcock's book.

The story of the albino warrior who has betrayed his race. His weapon, Stormbringer, has become famous, and Dave Sim, Cerebus own demiurge, has created such a funny parody of the white-skinned wizard that one cannot look at a drawing of the sword without breaking out laughing. Anyway. Not being very interested in Fantasy, I must admit that the story, which has its moments, did not captivate me. But Russell's artwork is so enthralling that this does not matter. It is especially interesting to notice the way he uses actual faces, for some of the characters, mixing it with, for example, the gaunt visage of Elric or the evil-looking Yyrkoon, the bad guy of the book. Russell will come back to the albino and his tortured life many times. A summary version of this story can be found in Opus 22.

11 Isolation and Illusion, 1981, Marvel-Epic.

In Epic Illustrated 9.
Available in the collection Isolation and Illusion, 2003, Dark Horse Comics.

One of the most beautiful story ever drawn by Craig Russell - and I do not write that lightly - this tale is heavily influenced by Symbolism, a XIXth century aesthetic movement to which Russell has often paid his dues. In fourteen wordless pages, the reader follows a winged man looking for his lost love in a desolate city. He will meet white swans, dense thorns and high-towered castles, but what about his love ? What good beauty without the beloved, does the Dante Gabriel Rossetti epigraph wonder.
Russell often draws handsome men, but here, he draws on classical sources and achieves a Michelangelo-like beauty which one does not often see in modern art. And the art is shot directly from Russell's pencils. The result is all the more striking.

PCR's comments:
My fourth Symbolist Fantasy and the first work completed after my move to Kent, Ohio. Winter and Spring of '81 I was teaching a course in illustration at Kent State University and seemed only to have time for inking work (Marvel Fanfare #7, the Sandy Plunkett Spider-man/Dr. Strange story). But by late spring I began work on Isolation and Illusion, my first original work in almost a year (the previous Fall had been spent coloring The Dreaming City). I began it, like so many early projects, with no publisher in mind, just for the joy of doing it. I had my studio in a dark, damp basement but once I got going, looked forward to beginning every day's work. I remember working on pages in a cabin by the ocean in Ogunquit, Maine. Yes, I take my work on vacation. The genesis of the story was the thought of what might have happened to the angel character from the Dr. Strange Annual after the cataclysm that concludes that story. As such Isolation can be seen as a sort of pendant to the Dr. Strange Annual. At the same time it can also be seen as a continuation (along with Avatar and the Chimera) of the opus one Chimera. No, I'm not trying to evolve a PCR universe, its just that some stories seem to tie in with others. Marvel's Epic magazine published it shortly after I completed it and of all the pieces I've done this one seems to have inspired the most devotion. At least I hear about it from readers most often. The reproduction of the delicate pencil drawing was, considering the technology at the time, not bad. This was the last time (except for Unto This World) that I used pencil so extensively until recently in sections of The Ring of the Nibelung.

12 Elric - While the Gods Laugh, 1981, Marvel-Epic.

In Weird of the White Wolf, the second Elric paperback published by the now-defunct First Comics.

Another short story starring the albino warrior.

13 Killraven - Last Dreams broken, 1982, Marvel.

A Marvel Graphic Novel.
Collected in Essential Killraven vol. 1, 2005, Marvel.

An epilogue of sorts - there should have been other stories - to the Killraven saga (see opus 3), this bitter tale written by Don McGregor does not resolve anything, but gives new hope to the weary human warriors. Friendships and family loyalty are at the heart of this story which Russell illustrates with a lot of restraint, caring more for the humaneness of the characters than the prettiness of a perfect drawing.

PCR's comments:

Chapters 1—4 of "Last Dreams Broken" were presented together in Marvel Graphic Novel no. 7. Story and art by Don McGregor and P. Craig Russell (continued from concepts by H.G. Wells). Lettering: Tom Orzechowski. Coloring: Petra Scotse.

This second Killraven series was intended to be serialized in Epic magazine. It was not meant to be the conclusion to the series. About the time it was complete, editor-in-chief Jim Shooter had a hole in the new Graphic Novel line that needed to be filled and asked Epic editor Archie Goodwin if he had anything that could be used. There's been some confusion, because of the marketing/advertising, that this was the conclusion to the series... but that was never the intention.

Several years later we did plan on concluding the series in a 64 page, eight chapter story to be serialized in one of those monthly Marvel anthology books. Don began writing and was soon well over 100 pages with Mars nowhere in sight. I began drawing, but became concerned with the artificial structure of a cliffhanger precisely every eight pages and also that we had no guarantee the chapters would ever be collected in one book. Marvel refused to commit to such a collection and in light of that—and the ever expanding size of a project that would only be seen on cheap paper in little bite-size chunks—I dropped out. I always like to finish what I start (see Elric) but this one was not to be.

What I liked best about this project as compared to the original KR series was that I got a complete script from Don before I began drawing. That way I was able to avoid the hazards of designing a page without knowing how much or where the dialogue was going to go. I also had fun with the three photo montage pages at the end of the story. Of course, I thought those would be the easy pages, no drawing involved, pasting down some photos, how difficult could it be? Of course those pages took longer and became more compositionally involved than any of the drawn pages. When I finished the cover (not one of my better pieces) I got a call from assistant editor Jo Duffy. She said Archie had a request but was sort of embarrassed about it. Could I make Killraven's sword longer? (giggles). Sure. How long does Archie want KR's sword to be? Jo, still giggling, asks him how much longer does he want it? I can hear Archie laughing and groaning at the same time. Oh, just a little bit longer. I say, whatever Archie wants, I'll be glad to add a few inches... just for him.

One last note—when I was working on my layouts for KR I did my initial "thumbnails" on the backs of the original script pages. I had been working one night, finished, and left them in a stack on the kitchen table. As usual, I was sleeping during the day and the house was unlocked. A friend came in, lit a cigarette, and came upstairs to wake me up. We sat talking for a few minutes until I smelled something burning. I went downstairs and there on the kitchen table was a stack of burning Killraven script pages. Each page was slowly burning on the edges, then peeling back. It looked like a smoldering accordion. Obviously, SOMEBODY wasn't paying attention to where he was throwing his used matches. I poured water on it and it was mostly salvageable. I still have it. A weird sort of keepsake.

14 King of the Castle, 1982-83, National Lampoon (April to July 1983 issues (?)).

One-page funny stories in each issue of the magazine.


15 Elric - Elric of Melniboné, 1982-84, Pacific.

In Elric of Melniboné, the first Elric paperback published by First Comics.

Drawn in collaboration with Michael Gilbert, the creator of Mr. Monster and The Wraith, which makes for a strange but interesting collaboration.

Previous Next