The Daily Comic Book Coffee, number 23: May 3rd is artist Bill Sienkiewicz’s birthday. To celebrate the occasion, let’s take a look at two coffee-themed pages of artwork by Sienkiewicz featuring Moon Knight.
The first page is from the Moon Knight back-up story in the Hulk magazine #17, penciled by Sienkiewicz, inked by Klaus Janson, written by Doug Moench, and colored by Olyoptics, published by Marvel Comics with an October 1979 cover date. The second page is from Moon Knight #23, drawn by Sienkiewicz, written by Moench, lettered by Joe Rosen, and colored by Christie Scheele, with a September 1982 cover date.
On the first page we have Moon Knight stopping in at Gena’s Diner, the Manhattan coffee shop he frequents while sniffing out info on illegal activities in his guise of cabbie Jake Lockley. Sienkiewicz was only 21 years old when he drew this story. His work here definitely brings to mind Neal Adams, who Sienkiewicz has cited as a major influence. Even with the obvious stylistic similarities, we can see that Sienkiewicz was already starting to utilize some interesting layouts in his storytelling. Janson’s inking goes well with Sienkiewicz’s style here, giving it a grittier edge that suits Moench’s writing.
On the second page we have Moon Knight, Frenchie, Marlene and her brother Peter having fled to Maine in the dead of winter, hiding out in an isolated house in the woods Moon Knight owns in his Steven Grant persona. They are fleeing from Moon Knight’s old foe Morpheus, the so-called “Dream Demon” who has the ability to possess people in their sleep, and to create horrifying nightmares. In order to stay awake and prevent Mopheus from controlling them Moon Knight and the others are gulping down copious amounts of black coffee.
Morpheus utilizes his psychic connection to Peter to learn their location. He invades the house and seizes control of both Marlene and Peter. Moon Knight and Frenchie are unaware of any of this, as they are busy trying to rig up a generator in the basement as a defense against Morpheus. Marlene comes down to join them, ostensibly to bring them some much-needed coffee. Too late they realize that Marlene is now in Morpheus’ thrall. Eyes ablaze with madness, Marlene strikes a match and tosses it onto the generator, with explosive results.
This issue of Moon Knight was drawn by Sienkiewicz only three years after that story in the Hulk magazine and, whoa, what a difference! Sienkiewicz’s work grew by absolute leaps and bounds in that short period of time. This page is a really good illustration of how much he developed. His work has become very stylized and atmospheric. His layouts are striking, and he utilizes inking and zip-a-tone to superb effect. You can see here that Sienkiewicz has begun his evolution to the stunning abstract artwork that he would soon be creating in the mid 1980s.
Credit must also go to the coloring by Christie Scheele on this story. Her work complements Sienkiewicz’s art so very well.