Countessa Val causes an MCU fan reaction

Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine at left in this cover for Strange Tales 167 (published January 1968)

Yes, there be spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

A character originally created by writer-artist Jim Steranko for Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. this week appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe via the streaming series The Falcon and The Winder Soldier.

Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine, depicted as a S.H.I.E.L.D. recruit in Strange Tales No. 159 in 1967, appeared in the latest episode of the show. Except she’s now Madame Hydra, leader of the villainous organization that’s caused trouble throughout the films produced by Marvel Studios.

On the streaming series, Val (as she was often called in the comic books) is played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. For a time on Friday morning, “Madame Hydra” and “Julia Louis-Dreyfus” topics on Twitter.

The development spurred various outlets to do stories, including VANITY FAIR (“Marvel, reportedly, has even bigger ambitions for Louis-Dreyfus’s villainous figure”), NEWSWEEK, (“…fans are treated to a cameo that no one saw coming), and CBR.COM all did stories about it.

UPDATE (April 18): I asked Jim Steranko about this on Twitter. He hasn’t seen Louis-Dreyfus’s performance yet. Here’s his response.

G. Gordon Liddy dies at 90

National Lampoon parody of G. Gordon Liddy, Agent of C.R.E.E.P., as drawn by Dick Ayres

G. Gordon Liddy, one of the most colorful figures in the Watergate scandal that brought down U.S. President Richard Nixon, has died at 90, The New York Times reported.

Liddy “concocted the bungled burglary” that led to the scandal. Liddy worked for the Committee to Re-Elect the President.

Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein abbreviated that to CRP. But it was popularly abbreviated as C.R.E.E.P. The National Lampoon eventually published a comic book parody of G. Gordon Liddy, Agent of C.R.E.E.P. Artist Dick Ayres did a cover that emulated a 1968 cover of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. by Jim Steranko

An excerpt from the obit by the Times:

As a leader of a White House “plumbers” unit set up to plug information leaks, and then as a strategist for the president’s re-election campaign, Mr. Liddy helped devise plots to discredit Nixon “enemies” and to disrupt the 1972 Democratic National Convention. Most were far-fetched — bizarre kidnappings, acts of sabotage, traps using prostitutes, even an assassination — and were never carried out.

Liddy was among the many Watergate figures who did prison time. He was sentenced to six to 20 years but only served 52 months.

Liddy defied the saying that crime does not pay.

The one-time felon wrote an autobiography published in 1980. It was turned into a 1982 made-for-TV movie starring Robert Conrad as Liddy. Liddy went on to host a nationally syndicated radio talk show. Naturally, Conrad was a guest on one installment. Anyone who listened could tell Liddy loved that Conrad had played him.

Liddy also wrote spy novels along the way, such as Out of Control. And he picked up about 20 acting credits, according to his IMDB.COM ENTRY.

S.H.I.E.L.D. writer-artist compliments Craig 007 films

Jim Steranko caused a sensation in the comic book world in the 1960s as the writer and artist of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. It was Marvel’s entry in spy craze and Steranko came up with story telling techniques that seemed experimental at the time.

Nick Fury originally was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. But Steranko came in later and made the strip his own.

Steranko also was a James Bond fan. And it would seem, he still is.

In one 1960s issue (which Steranko drew but only plotted), there’s a supplier of gadgets named Boothroyd. Later, in a 1967 story (by which time he did the full scripting as well as drawing), Steranko provided the Sean Connery version of Bond a cameo. See below.

Anyway, Steranko, now 82, likes to hang out on Twitter. This Sunday night, he indicated he still likes Bond films, specifically the Daniel Craig movies. Take a look for yourself.

Happy Independence Day 2020

Jim Steranko’s cover to Strange Tales 167

Today, July 4, is Independence Day in the United States.

For this blog, there’s no better image to celebrate the holiday than this Jim Steranko cover from Strange Tales No. 167, published in January 1968. The issue was the climax to a months-long saga that Steranko wrote and drew featuring the intrepid Nick Fury and the forces of SHIELD.

For more background, CLICK HERE for a 2000 article that originally appeared on the Her Majesty’s Secret Servant website. Happy July Fourth to everyone.

Joe Sinnott, Marvel’s ace inker, dies at 93

Splash page to a 1967 Nick Fury story, drawn by Jim Steranko and inked by Joe Sinnott

Joe Sinnott, an inker who contributed to the look of Marvel titles such as the Fantastic Four, died today at 93, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Monthly comic books, because of their deadline pressures, typically had one artist draw in pencil with another going over the drawings in ink.

Sinnott drew particular praise for inking Jack Kirby’s work on the Fantastic Four in the 1960s.

Sinnott’s “smooth, stylized ink work” brought “a new sheen and consistency” to Kirby’s pencils, THR said.

The artist came aboard the FF as the title, primarily plotted by Kirby, exploded with new characters such as the Silver Surfer, Galactus, the Inhumans and the Black Panther.

Sinnott also worked with other Marvel artists, including Gene Colan, John Buscema and some issues of the Jim Steranko written and drawn run of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Sinnott retired in the early 1990s but continued to appear on the comic book show circuit and do paid commissions.

Writer and artist Walter Simonson issued a tribute to Sinnott on Twitter.

UPDATE (10:35 p.m. New York time): Jim Steranko also issued his own tribute to Joe Sinnott on Twitter.

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Happy Independence Day From The Spy Command

Jim Steranko’s cover to Strange Tales 167

Today, July 4, is Independence Day in the United States.

For this blog, there’s no better image to celebrate than this Jim Steranko cover from Strange Tales No. 167, published in January 1968. The issue was the climax to a months-long saga that Steranko wrote and drew featuring the intrepid Nick Fury and the forces of SHIELD.

For more background, CLICK HERE for a 2000 article that originally appeared on the Her Majesty’s Secret Servant website. Happy July Fourth to everyone.

Happy Independence Day 2018

The blog’s traditional July 4 greeting: The cover to Strange Tales No. 167 featuring one of Jim Steranko‘s most memorable covers during his run on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Jim Steranko’s cover for Strange Tales No. 167

Jim Steranko lets out a S.H.I.E.L.D. secret

A 1967 S.H.I.E.L.D. story that introduced agent Clay Quartermain

Jim Steranko, the writer-artist of a classic run of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D stories in the 1960s, gave away a bit of classified information Sunday night.

Steranko interacts with fans on Twitter each Sunday. This past weekend, a fan asked about the inspiration for a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Clay Quartermain.

“I modeled SHIELD’s CLAY QUARTERMAIN after BURT LANCASTER — they’re birds of a feather don’tcha think?” Steranko said on Twitter.

This caught The Spy Commander’s eye because he saw Steranko at a Detroit-area comic book convention/collectibles show in the Detroit area some years back. It almost seemed like Steranko resembled Quartermain.

Years earlier, while reading a collection of Steranko’s S.H.I.E.L.D. stories, it seemed to me that the writer-artist subtly changed Fury (making his face a bit more angular) to resemble Lancaster compared with Jack Kirby’s original version of Fury.

So, in a tweet, I asked Steranko about that. You can view his answer below.

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Happy July Fourth!

It’s Independence Day in the United States. What better way to celebrate than to again view this classic cover by Jim Steranko during his run on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Jim Steranko’s cover to Strange Tales 167

Jim Steranko: 1960s spy fan

Jim Steranko provides a Sean Connery/007 cameo in Strange Tales No. 164 (1967)

Not that it’s a terrible surprise but writer-artist Jim Steranko, who had a legendary run on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the 1960s, was a big fan of 1960s spy entertainment.

His S.H.I.E.L.D. stories included a weapons master named Boothroyd. He also had the Sean Connery version of James Bond make a one-panel cameo in Strange Tales No. 164 in 1967.

Anyway, Steranko takes questions from fans (or “henchmen”) each Sunday night on Twitter.

The Spy Commander couldn’t resist. So I asked if he had seen The Man From U.N.C.L.E. during the period.

The answer? Well, judge for yourself:

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I needed to look it up. The Hunter was a 1952 series where, according to IMDB.COM, Bart Adams used the cover of an international businessman to battle Communist spies. Barry Nelson was the first actor to play James Bond in the 1954 CBS television production of Casino Royale.