This year I’ve tackled a lot of characters that have been around, but for whatever reason, I’ve never drawn them. Johnny Blaze AKA Marvel Comic’s Ghost Rider is one of those characters.
As a comic book reading kid in the late 70’s, Ghost Rider was one of those books that was “there” but I never picked it up. I always thought the look of the character was great. After all, you can’t go wrong with a flaming skull for a head. I was never into motorcycles though and that may be part of what put me off of the book. Inexplicably though, I was a regular reader of Marvel’s Team America, a toy licensed property about a team of motorcycle racers who also fought crime. I think, as with a lot of books I followed as a kid, I got in on the first issue and then felt an obligation to see the series through. That was how US-1 got me too, but that’s another post! It was in Team America that I did finally get a book with Ghost Rider in it as the motorcycle riding Spirit of Vengeance was a natural to guest star in that series. My early exposure to Ghost Rider also included back issues of Marvel’s The Champions which I collected largely because of Iceman, a personal favorite of mine… as many of my students will attest.
Ghost Rider seemed to go away in the mid 80’s. He became one of those things associated with the 70’s like CB radios and Disco. In the 90’s, however, Marvel resurrected the character where he seemed to come back with greater popularity than ever. Of course, an ultra-violent revenge-seeker with super-powered flaming chains and associations with Hell was right at home in the garish 1990’s. (I don’t care what the numbers say. The 1990’s were the WORST, most damaging period for comic books and in many ways a rot set in that the industry NEVER recovered from it… but THAT’S a whole OTHER discussion!)
Recently, my pal Steve Globiewski commissioned me to do the above piece. Ghost Rider is his favorite character. He took mercy on me and permitted me to focus on the character and not have to squeeze in the motorcycle. I threw in some extra flaming chains for that generous reprieve. Like some of the other characters that I’ve drawn for the first time this year, Ghost Rider proved more fun than I expected. The chains weren’t really a drag and I like coloring fire and skulls.
While drawing this one, I did notice something another friend would later reinforce on Facebook. Johnny Blaze and the 1970’s Black Widow seem to share the same belt!