When A Signature Becomes Art

So I was doing some riffs this past week on the origins of the names for the days of the week in my ‘Sects comic strip… and I knew Thursday was going to be about Thor. Given the silly nature of my comic strip, I couldn’t help but make mention of the Marvel Comics character, which meant I was going to give a shout out to Stan Lee as creator and perhaps the most famous Thor writer/artist of all time, Walter Simonson.

Somewhere along the line, I thought it would be cool to include a version of Simonson’s famously recognizable signature somewhere. I don’t do a lot of stylized text in my comic strip, except for sound effects… but if ever there was a time to do it, this was it! So I decided that when one of the characters spoke his name, I would use a recreation of his signature in the dialog. That necessitated my finding a good reference and then recreating Walter Simonson’s signature, which of course led to this…

Simonson Dinosaur SignatureFor those who didn’t already see it this week, please take a look at Thurday’s episode of ‘Sects and you can see how this was used in context. There’s also a surreal visual gag that I hope landed as well on the page as it did in my strange brain.

Meanwhile, as I was rendering his famous brontosaurus-shaped signature I had a surreal moment of my own. As I was putting my signature on the finished artwork, I was struck by how I had just created an illustration of someone’s signature and then put my own signature on that! But if ever there was a signature that ought to be considered art in its own right, Walter Simonson’s has to be it. He famously was a fan of dinosaurs from way back, and had studied geology and paleontology in college, though I’ve seen him give credit to his mother in interviews for the idea to put a dinosaur spin on his own signature.

Mr. Simonson hooked me from the beginning with his epic run on Thor back in the 1980s. To be honest, while I’ve always liked the character, it always seemed to be missing something. Though the character was clearly inspired by Norse mythology, it never really felt like that mythology played a part in the comic until Simonson’s run. There is no doubt he injected the whole landscape of Norse mythology into Thor in a way that had never been done before, and you can clearly see Simonson’s influence on the book since his departure as they still build on even little things that he introduced back in the day.

A happy footnote here too… yesterday I was informed by one of my blog followers who knows Mr. Simonson that apparently he not only read my comic strip this Thursday, but thought it was funny. That was a cool surprise to end the week, as I had never even entertained the notion of what if he saw what I did. Hard to top someone you’ve liked and admired for a long time seeing a little thing you’ve done and giving a nod of approval!

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