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Howard Chaykin

Howard Chaykin
Chaykin at Special Edition NYC in Manhattan
Born Howard Victor Chaykin
(1950-10-07) October 7, 1950 (age 65)
Nationality Template:Comics infobox sec/creator nat
Area(s) Writer, Penciller, Inker
Notable works
Dominic Fortune
Cody Starbuck
American Flagg!
Awards Inkpot Award, 1977
Eagle Award, 2006

Howard Victor Chaykin[1] (born October 7, 1950)[2] is an American comic book writer and artist famous for his innovative storytelling and sometimes controversial material. Chaykin’s influences include the comic-book artist Gil Kane and the mid-20th century book illustrators Robert Fawcett and Al Parker.


Early life and career

Howard Chaykin was born in Newark, New Jersey, to Rosalind Pave and Norman Drucker, who soon separated.[3] Chaykin was initially raised by his grandparents in Staten Island, New York City, until his mother married Leon Chaykin in 1953 and the family moved to East Flatbush and later to 370 Saratoga Avenue, Brownsville, Brooklyn.[1] At 14,[1] Chaykin moved with his now divorced mother to the Kew Gardens section of Queens.[3] He said in 2000 he was raised on welfare after his parents separated and that his absent biological father eventually was declared dead, although Chaykin, as an adult, located him alive.[1] Chaykin's "nutty and cruel"[1] adoptive father, whom Chaykin until the 1990s believed was his natural father,[3] encouraged Chaykin's interest in drawing and bought him sketchbooks.[1] He was introduced to comics by his cousin, who gave him a refrigerator box filled with them.[4] He graduated from Jamaica High School at 16, in 1967, and in the summer of 1968 worked at Zenith Press.[3] He attended Columbia College in Chicago that fall, but left school and returned to New York the following year.[3] Chaykin said that after high school, "I hitchhiked around the country" before becoming, at 19, a "gofer" for the New York City-based comic-book artist Gil Kane,[5] whom he would name as his greatest influence.[4]

I'd heard on the grapevine that Gil's assistant had dropped dead of a heart attack at 23. I gave Gil a call, and he said, 'Yeah, I can use you.' So I went to work for him. ... He was doing [the early graphic novel] Blackmark, and I did a really bad job pasting up the dialog and putting in [Zip-a-Tone].... It was a great apprenticeship. I learned a lot from watching Gil work.[5]

In 1970, he began publishing his art in comics and science-fiction fanzines, sometimes under the pseudonym Eric Pave.[3] Leaving Kane, he began working as an assistant to comics artist Wally Wood[6] in the studio he shared with Syd Shores and Jack Abel in Valley Stream, Long Island. He worked there for a "couple of months",[5] and in 1971 published his first professional comics work, for the adult-theme Western feature Shattuck in the military newspaper the Overseas Weekly,[3] one of Wood's clients. He also "ghosted some stuff" for Gray Morrow: "I penciled a Man-Thing story he did [for Marvel Comics' Fear #10 (cover-dated Oct. 1972)], and I penciled a thing for [the magazine] National Lampoon called "Michael Rockefeller and the Jungles of New Guinea."[5][7] He then apprenticed under Neal Adams, working with the artist at Adams' home in The Bronx.[5] This led him to break in at DC Comics, one of the two largest comics companies:

Neal showed me to [editors] Murray Boltinoff and Julius Schwartz. Murray gave me a one-page filler. I also got some work from Dorothy Woolfolk, who edited the love comics. It was all just dreadful stuff, but you stumble along, and you learn. A problem for me was that by the time I became a professional, I lost any interest whatsoever in superhero comics. I'm not a horror [comics] guy, and I didn't know what the hell to do! (laughter) What I wanted to draw is guys with guns, guys with swords, and women with big tits, and that was the extent of my interest in comics at the time.[8]

The "one-page filler", titled "Strange Neighbor", was inventoried and eventually published in the Boltinoff-edited Secrets of Sinister House #17 (May 1974).[3][9] His other earliest known DC work was penciling and inking the three-page story "Not Old Enough!" in Young Romance #185 (Aug. 1972), and penciling the eight-page supernatural story "Eye of the Beholder" in Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #7 (Oct. 1972) and the one-page "Enter the Portals of Weird War" in Weird War Tales #9 (Dec. 1972).[9]


Chaykin's first major work was for DC Comics drawing the 23-page "The Price of Pain Ease" — writer Denny O'Neil's adaptation of author Fritz Leiber's characters Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser — in Sword of Sorcery #1 (March 1973).[9][10] Although the title was well received, it lasted only five issues before cancellation. Chaykin drew the character Ironwolf in the science fiction anthology title Weird Worlds[11] for DC. Moving to Marvel Comics, he began work as co-artist with Neal Adams on the first Killraven story, seen in Amazing Adventures #18 in 1973.[12]

Chaykin's cover for Star*Reach #1 (April 1974).

After this, Chaykin was given various adventure strips to draw for Marvel, including his own creation, Dominic Fortune (inspired by his Scorpion character, originally drawn for Atlas Comics), now in the pages of Marvel Preview.[13] In 1978, he wrote and drew his Cody Starbuck creation for the anthology title Star Reach, one of the first independent titles of the 1970s. These strips saw him explore more adult themes as best he could within the restrictions often imposed on him by editors and the Comics Code Authority. The same year, he produced for Schanes & Schanes a six-plate portfolio showcasing his character.

In 1976, Chaykin landed the job of drawing the Marvel Comics adaptation of the first Star Wars film, written by Roy Thomas.[9][14][15] This proved successful for Marvel, but Chaykin left after ten issues to work in more adult and experimental comics, as well the more lucrative field of paperback book covers.

In fall 1978,[16] Chaykin, Walt Simonson, Val Mayerik, and Jim Starlin formed Upstart Associates, a shared studio space on West 29th Street in New York City. The membership of the studio changed over time.[17]

Chaykin penciled DC Comics' first miniseries, The World of Krypton (July–September 1979).[18][19]

In the next few years he produced material for Heavy Metal, drew a graphic novel adaptation of Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination, and produced illustrations for works by Roger Zelazny. Chaykin collaborated on two original graphic novels — Swords of Heaven, Flowers of Hell with writer Michael Moorcock, and Empire with Samuel R. Delany — and found time to move into film design with work on the movie version of Heavy Metal.


File:American flagg2.jpg
American Flagg #2. Cover art by Chaykin.

Chaykin had a six-issue run on Marvel's Micronauts series and drew issues #13 (Jan. 1980) to #18 (June 1980).[20] He went back to Cody Starbuck with a story in Heavy Metal between May and September 1981, in the same painted art style he'd used for the Moorcock graphic novel.

In 1983, Chaykin launched American Flagg! for First Comics. With Chaykin as both writer and artist, the series was successful for First and proved highly influential, mixing all of Chaykin's previous ideas and interests — jazz, pulp adventure, science fiction and sex. Chaykin made wide use of Craftint Duoshade illustration boards, which in the period before computers, allowed him to add a shaded texture to the finished art.[21]

After the first 26 issues of American Flagg!, Chaykin started work on new projects. Chaykin’s involvement in his original run of the series was that of writer for 29 issues, interior artist for issues #1–12 and 14–26, and cover artist for issues #1–33. He returned to full art and writing duties for the American Flagg! Special one-shot in 1986. In 1989, a four-issue run was released, then the title was cancelled and relaunched as Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!. This new rendition failed to recapture the glory days of the title’s early years and only lasted 12 issues before cancellation.

The first new project was a controversial revamp of The Shadow in a four-issue miniseries for DC Comics in 1986. Rather than setting the series in its traditional 1930s milieu, Chaykin updated it to a contemporary setting and included his own style of extreme violence. In a 2012 interview, Chaykin stated "The reason I pulled him out of the period was because I thought it would be commercial suicide to do a period character at that point."[22]

The American Flagg! Special one-shot was designed to introduce Chaykin's next major work, a graphic novel series called Time². The work—combining semi-autobiographical elements with a heavy dose of jazz, film noir and a fantasy version of New York City—resulted in two graphic novels (Time²: The Epiphany (ISBN 0-915419-07-6) and Time²: The Satisfaction of Black Mariah (ISBN 0-915419-23-8)).

During a 1987 interview originally published in Amazing Heroes #132, Chaykin described plans for a third graphic novel. "It's probably going to be grossly different from the first two, because I'm taking things in another direction," Chaykin said at the time. "I want to do a story that is both very funny ... and at the same time very, very ugly. Really nasty and unpleasant. Because frankly, it's the place to do that sort of thing."[23]

Although Chaykin hoped it would be available in summer 1988, the third book was never released.

Chaykin has described Time² as the single work about which he is most proud.[4] "To tell you the truth, my first interest would be to do another Time² because that was a very personal product for me," he said in a 2008 interview. "It's a fantasia of my family's story."[24]

Before returning to American Flagg!, Chaykin revamped another DC Comics character: Blackhawk was a three-issue mini-series that gave Chaykin another chance to indulge in the 1930s milieu, proving itself another successful revamping of a defunct DC character.

When DC proposed a system of labelling comics for violent or sexual content, Chaykin (with Alan Moore and Frank Miller) boycotted DC and refused to work for the company. In Chaykin’s case, the boycott would only last until the early 1990s.

In 1988, Chaykin created perhaps his most controversial title: Black Kiss, a 12-issue series published by Vortex Comics which contained his most explicit depictions of sex and violence yet. Telling the story of sex-obsessed vampires in Hollywood, Black Kiss pushed the boundaries of what could be shown in mainstream comics. Even though Black Kiss shipped sealed in an "adults only" clear plastic bag, its content drew much criticism. This did not stop it from selling well enough for Chaykin to describe it as "probably, on a per-page basis, the most profitable book I've ever done."[25]


Chaykin returned to DC to write a three-issue prestige format mini-series called Twilight, drawn by José Luis García-López, in a style blending Chaykin's storytelling and García-López's elegant line art. This was another radical revamp of DC characters—this time, DC’s science fiction heroes from the 1950s and 1960s, such as Tommy Tomorrow and Space Cabby. He then co-created/designed Firearm for Malibu Comics in 1993. This was followed by the four-issue miniseries Power and Glory in 1994, a superhero-themed PR satire for Malibu Comics' creator-owned Bravura imprint.

In 1996, DC’s Helix imprint published Cyberella, a cyberpunk dystopia written by Chaykin and drawn by Don Cameron.

Chaykin began to drift out of comics by the mid-1990s. With the exception of several Elseworlds stories he wrote for DC Comics, including Batman: Dark Allegiances which he wrote and drew in 1996, his comic output became minimal as he became more involved in film and television work. He was executive script consultant for The Flash television series on CBS,[26] and later worked on action-adventure programs such as Viper, Earth: Final Conflict and Mutant X.

Near the end of the decade, Chaykin started to drift back into comics and co-wrote with David Tischman the three-issue mini-series Pulp Fantastic for the Vertigo imprint of DC, with art by Rick Burchett.


File:American Century no 1.jpg
Chaykin's cover for American Century #1 (May 2001).

Chaykin began co-writing American Century with David Tischmann for Vertigo.[27] This story, set in post-war America, would be a pulp-adventure strip inspired by the likes of Terry and the Pirates as well as the EC Comics war stories created by Harvey Kurtzman. That year, Chaykin became part of the creative team on Mutant X, a television series inspired by the Marvel Comics series of mutant titles.

His next work was Mighty Love, a 96-page original graphic novel published in 2004 and described as "You’ve Got Mail with super-powers".[28] This was acclaimed as a return to the type of work he did on American Flagg! and contained his first art in a title since the early 1990s.

That year, Chaykin and Tischmann revamped Challengers of the Unknown in a six-issue mini-series for DC, as well as writing a mini-series about gangster vampires called Bite Club for Vertigo.[27] The pair wrote Barnum!: In Secret Service to the USA, a graphic novel in which real-life showman P.T. Barnum comes to the aid of the U.S. government.

In 2005, Chaykin produced the six-part City of Tomorrow, a DC/Wildstorm production involving a futuristic city populated by gangster robots. Chaykin described the mini-series as "The Untouchables meets West World at Epcot."[29] That same year, he wrote the four-issue mini-series Legend updating the character Hugo Danner for Wildstorm.

He illustrated 24 College Ave., a story serialized online in 54 chapters for’s Page 2 section. columnist Jim Caple wrote the text, each episode of which was accompanied by a single-panel Chaykin drawing.[30]

Challengers of the Unknown #1 (Aug. 2004). Cover art by Chaykin.

In 2006, he began working on his first superhero title for DC Comics, pencilling Hawkgirl, with Walter Simonson writing, starting with issue #50.[31] With issue 56, he stopped drawing the series, mainly to get time to work on Marvel’s Blade with Marc Guggenheim, although he continued to draw Hawkgirl covers for a few issues.

Also in 2006, DC Comics published a two-page Black Canary origin story drawn by Chaykin for the series 52. Later that year, DC released Guy Gardner: Collateral Damage. The two-issue series, written and drawn by Chaykin, revolves around the Green Lantern Corps' role in an interstellar war.

After Blade was cancelled with issue 12, he pencilled issue 50 of Punisher, Wolverine (vol. 3) #56–61, Punisher War Journal (vol. 2) (#16–24) and an issue of Immortal Iron Fist. Chaykin illustrated the 2008 Marvel MAX comic War Is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle, scripted by Garth Ennis. He wrote Supreme Power #1–12 for Marvel. In 2009, he wrote and penciled Dominic Fortune.


In 2010 he wrote Die Hard: Year One, a comic about John McClane from the Die Hard series for Boom! Studios.[32] Marvel in June 2010 published a Rawhide Kid miniseries drawn by Chaykin and written by Ron Zimmerman.[9]

Chaykin wrote and drew the Avengers 1959 five-issue miniseries, a spinoff of a storyline introduced in The New Avengers. The first issue was released in October 2011.[33]

Chaykin helmed a reboot of the science-fiction character Buck Rogers beginning in August 2013, again in the capacity of both artist and writer.[34]

Personal life

In 1972, Chaykin married Daina Graziunas.[3] The marriage ended in 1977 and the following year he married Leslie Zahler.[35] That marriage in turn ended in 1986, and in 1989 Chaykin married Jeni Munn, a union that lasted through 1992.[36]

As of 2013, Chaykin serves on the Disbursement Committee of the comic-book industry charity The Hero Initiative.[37]


His work as an artist (interior pencil art, except where noted) includes:



Other publishers


-Ep.3: "Watching the Detectives" (co-written with John Francis Moore)

-Ep.4: "Honor Among Thieves" (plotted with Moore, teleplay by Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo)

-Ep.7:"Child's Play" (teleplay co-written with Moore, plot by Stephen Hattman and Gail Morgan Hickman)

-Ep.8: "Shroud of Death" (plotted with Moore, teleplay by Michael Reaves)

-Ep.9: "Ghost in the Machine" (co-written with Moore)

-Ep.12: "The Trickster" (co-written with Moore)

-Ep.16: "Deadly Nightshade" (co-written with Moore)

-Ep. 19: "Done with Mirrors" (co-written with Moore)

-Ep. 22. "The Trail of the Trickster" (co-written with Moore)

Season One -Ep. 1 and 2: "The Shock of the New"

-Ep.8: "In the Prescene of Mine Enemies"

-Ep.18: "Ex Marks the Spot" (co-written with Mark Amato and David Newman)

-Ep.22: "A Breed Apart"


  1. ^ a b c d e f Howard Chaykin interview (May 2000). "The Chaykin Factor: American Flagg! Creator Howard Chaykin Talks Comics". Comic Book Artist (8) (TwoMorrows Publishing). p. 62.  Reprinted in Comic Book Artist Collection, Vol. 3. TwoMorrows Publishing. 2005. p. 176. ISBN 978-1893905429. 
  2. ^ Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide. Archived from the original on October 29, 2010. Retrieved December 12, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Costello, Brannon, ed. (2011). "Chronology". Howard Chaykin: Conversations. University Press of Mississippi. p. xv. ISBN 978-1604739756. 
  4. ^ a b c Brian K. Vaughan (w), Fiona Staples (a). "The Third Degree: Howard Chaykin" Saga 6: 27 (August 2012), Image Comics
  5. ^ a b c d e Chaykin, Comic Book Artist #8, p. 63. Reprinted in Comic Book Artist Collection, Vol. 3 p. 177
  6. ^ Greenberger, Robert (2012). The Art of Howard Chaykin. Dynamite Entertainment. pp. 26–28. ISBN 978-1606901694. 
  7. ^ Fear #10 at the Grand Comics Database
  8. ^ Chaykin, Comic Book Artist #8, p. 64. Reprinted in Comic Book Artist Collection, Vol. 3 p. 178
  9. ^ a b c d e Howard Chaykin at the Grand Comics Database
  10. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Fantasy became a DC Comics reality when writer/editor Denny O'Neil and artist Howard Chaykin brought forth a new comic based on Fritz Leiber's adventurous and virtuous warriors of myth, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. 
  11. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 157 "After the debut tale by acclaimed artist Howard Chaykin and co-scripter Denny O'Neil, Ironwolf became the lead protagonist in the Weird Worlds [title]."
  12. ^ Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. Dorling Kindersley. p. 159. ISBN 978-0756641238. Roy Thomas conceived the initial idea of an alternate-future Earth sequel to H. G. Wells' classic science fiction novel The War of the Worlds...Neal Adams plotted the first story with a script by Gerry Conway and art by Adams and Howard Chaykin. 
  13. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 171: "In Marvel Preview #2, 1930s adventurer Dominic Fortune, created by Howard Chaykin, made his debut."
  14. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 180: "In July 1977, Marvel's comics adaptation of George Lucas's Star Wars movie was released, created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Howard Chaykin."
  15. ^ Edwards, Ted (1999). "Adventures in the Comics". The Unauthorized Star Wars Compendium. Little, Brown and Company. pp. 38–39. ISBN 9780316329293. 
  16. ^ Cooke, Jon B. (October 2000). "Simonson Says The Man of Two Gods Recalls His 25+ Years in Comics". Comic Book Artist (TwoMorrows Publishing) (10): 25. 
  17. ^ Nolen-Weathington, Eric (2006). Modern Masters, Volume 8: Walter Simonson. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 1-893905-64-0. Retrieved January 29, 2012. 
  18. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 181 "The worldwide success of Superman: The Movie motivated [DC] to publish more Superman-related titles. With that, editor E. Nelson Bridwell oversaw a project that evolved into comics' first official limited series – World of Krypton...Featuring out-of-this-world artwork from Howard Chaykin, [Paul] Kupperberg's three-issue limited series explored Superman's homeworld."
  19. ^ Callahan, Tim (February 2013). "World of Krypton Comics' First Miniseries". Back Issue! (TwoMorrows Publishing) (62): 59–62. 
  20. ^ Lantz, James Heath (October 2014). "Inner-Space Opera: A Look at Marvel's Micronauts Comics". Back Issue! (TwoMorrows Publishing) (76): 46. 
  21. ^ De Blieck Jr., Augie (September 3, 2004). "A Little Bit of Flagg!-Waving". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2009. 
  22. ^ Phegley, Kiel (February 20, 2012). "Howard Chaykin on the Art of "The Shadow"". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved March 7, 2012. 
  23. ^ Deppey, Dirk (March 29, 2010). "TCJ Audio Archive: Howard Chaykin". The Comics Journal (Fantagraphics Books). Archived from the original on July 24, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Interview: Howard Chaykin". Pink Raygun. March 3, 2008. Archived from the original on October 28, 2012. 
  25. ^ Phegley, Kiel (March 26, 2010). "Chaykin recalls a 'Black Kiss'". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on October 11, 2012. 
  26. ^ Gutierrez, David (March 15, 2006). "DVD Verdict interviews Howard Chaykin, writer of The Flash". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on May 26, 2012. 
  27. ^ a b Irvine, Alex (2008). "American Century". In Dougall, Alastair. The Vertigo Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley. p. 20. ISBN 0-7566-4122-5. OCLC 213309015. 
  28. ^ Schweier, Philip (September 15, 2003). "A Whole lot of Chaykin Goin' On". Comic Book Bin. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. 
  29. ^ Richards, Dave (February 9, 2005). "George Bailey's nightmare: Chaykin talks City of Tomorrow". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on March 17, 2012. 
  30. ^ "24 College Ave. chapter archive". Archived from the original on October 16, 2012. 
  31. ^ Hawkgirl at the Grand Comics Databse
  32. ^ Parkin, JK (May 28, 2008). "Die Hard comic chronicles John McClane’s first year". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on April 29, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2011. 
  33. ^ Richards, Dave (June 22, 2011). "Chaykin assembles Avengers 1959". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on June 20, 2013. Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  34. ^ "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century #1". Retrieved November 24, 2013. 
  35. ^ Brannon, page xvi
  36. ^ Brannon, page xviii
  37. ^ "Hero Initiative Board Members Disbursement Committee". The Hero Initiative. 2013. Archived from the original on June 29, 2013. 

External links


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