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Friday, May 12, 2023 

Tom Grummett was willing to draw the Death & Return of Superman if that's what it took to enter the big leagues

CTV News interviewed veteran artist Grummett at the Calgary Expo about his career, and it sounds like he was willing to do anything to achieve stardom:
Grummett figures landing Superman in the '90s was probably the first real hallmark moment.

"That was big," he said.

The first time he met the editor of the Superman line of comic books, he made his desire to draw Superman known.

Any opportunity would do.

A one-and-done yarn.

A fill-in tale.

A backup story.

"I didn't care what it was. I wanted to take a crack at drawing Superman," Grummett said.

[...] During Grummett's time in the Office of Steel, he had a part in headline-grabbing storylines including killing off the lead character, bringing back four different characters in his place (one being Grummett's previously mentioned Superboy), resurrecting the original, marrying him to his main foil, and many, many more.

Seriously, no pressure.

[...] But Grummett calls it a standout great time in a career full of 'em.

Also, a time of great growth

"I think I got better by leaps and bounds when I started working on the Superman titles," he said.

"We had four different creative teams. It wasn't a competition but it was more like, 'Well, I have to be at least as good as the rest of these guys.' So I had something to strive for, every single week.

"It made me work harder at it and get better."
If he'd worked on the story where Cat Grant's son Adam was murdered by the Toyman, one must wonder what he thought of that, as much as anything else they were doing at the time with their stable of characters, not the least being Hank Hall and Dawn Granger from Hawk & Dove, both turned into roadkill during Armageddon just prior to the whole Death & Return of Superman event. Seriously, it's regrettable the guy was so desperate to work in the majors, he'd even be willing to work on an overrated event that was little different from several others brewed by editors at the time. It decidedly speaks to a lack of moral and/or artistic judgement that's long since brought down both DC/Marvel, and even today, things haven't recovered in an era where PC's taken over. If I were in Grummett's career, I wouldn't be so desperate to get into the majors if such a downer as the 1992-93 event were all I was offered, based on where it went in the end, serving in addition as a lead-in to Emerald Twilight.

CTV also noted how approach to artwork's changed today, along with hiring practices:
A lot of comic book drawing is done digitally now, leaving no physical product behind.

Not necessarily better.

Not necessarily worse.

Just different, Grummett says.

And so much in the comic book industry is, from how you make 'em to how you get to make' em.

The way Grummett broke in? He's not even sure that would work anymore.

But he's also not sure it matters
Of course not. If you consider the dire artistic state of the industry in the mainstream for one, anybody who takes an assignment from DC/Marvel that could involve denigrating the creations clearly lacks any moral integrity.
"I'm asked, 'What advice do you have for a younger artist?' and I have not got a clue what to tell them," he said.

"Back when I broke in, there were certain pathways you could take to get there, and I don't know what those are now."

[...] "These days, with those things, young artists don't necessarily need to work for DC or Marvel to find an audience.

"They can find that audience on their own on various different platforms."
Ah, some common sense for a change. Too bad Grummett wouldn't tell whether he's reevaluated his run on Superman at the time the overrated event took place, and whether he'd erred in taking the job at all costs, even if it meant participating in something that'd degrade everything the Man of Steel is all about. Grummett is correct that new artists and writers don't need to work for the Big Two anymore, but that's based on the dismal artistic state they're now in, not because it's an honor to get a job working on such famous creations. You could surely make similar points about Spider-Man's Clone Saga, coming as it did just 2 years after the Death & Return of Superman. Why should anyone who really appreciates Spidey and Mary Jane Watson want to work on a tale that wound up misusing them, and is embarrassingly bad, based on the scene where Peter Parker assaulted Ben Reilly, and when MJ tried to stop him, he unintentionally injured her? If a minor cast member like Betty Brant wound up in such a demeaning situation, that'd be objectionable too.

And that's why it's a terrible shame Grummett didn't have the moral sense needed to judge whether it's worth becoming famous by illustrating a story that did more harm than good to Superman, saw a youngster like Adam Grant kick the bucket, and again, served as lead-in to Emerald Twilight. IMO, creators who don't resist these corporate tinkerings are only furthering the problem, and today, we've long since seen the results.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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