The Daily Comic Book Coffee, number 16: Power Man and Iron Fist #63

The Daily Comic Book Coffee, number 16: Today is the birthday of artist Kerry Gammill, who was born on April 26, 1954. I am showcasing two pages Gammill penciled from his well-regarded run on Power Man and Iron Fist for Marvel Comics in the early 1980, where he was paired with writer Jo Duffy.

The first page is from Power Man and Iron Fist #63, cover-dated June 1980. Gammill is inked here by Ricardo Villamonte. Gammill and Villamonte made a great art team, and did an excellent job rendering Duffy’s stories. Here we see Luke Cage, woken up by renovations at the Gem Theater, a second-run movie house in pre-gentrification Times Square, gratefully accepting a cup of coffee from the Gem’s manager, film student D.W. Griffith.

The second page is from Power Man and Iron Fist #71, cover-dated July 1981. The inking credits for this issue are “D.Hands” which is short for Diverse Hands. Presumably this issue fell victim to the Dreaded Deadline Doom, and several different people inked it. The Grand Comics Database credits Vince Colletta for several pages, including this one. It certainly looks like his work. Following a disastrous date with Harmony Young, a brooding Luke Cage finds himself having an early morning cup of joe at Eddy’s, “an all-night diner, where the service is poor and the coffee more bitter than his own angry thoughts.” A scowling Cage considers his coffee and thinks “Man, no one should have to pay for anything this bad.” Reminds me of all the times I got coffee at some local bodega where the pot must have been sitting on the burner for at least a couple of hours.

Gammill does excellent work on both these pages. He effectively renders Cage going through very mundane tasks: drinking coffee, shaving, getting dressed, paying a bill. Gammill’s layouts, as well as the body language he gives to Cage, provide valuable elements of characterization that work effectively in conjunction with Duffy’s script.

Seeing these two pages side-by-side is an excellent illustration of the important role the inker plays in the look of the finished artwork. Villamonte gives Gammill’s pencils a rich, illustrative look that is very different from what Colletta’s feathery ink-line brings to it.

I was too young to read these issues when they first came out. I sort of regret that, because it must have been a real pleasure to get these comic books in real time, and each month read the latest adventure of Luke Cage, Danny Rand Misty Knight & Colleen Wing, which Duffy, Gammill, Villamonte and friends chronicled with a wonderful mixture of action and humor. Having said that, I do appreciate that I’ve been able to pick up some of these as back issues, and that most of the run has been collected into trade paperbacks.

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