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The Lives and Time of Crusty Bunker
Written by MN   
Monday, 17 September 2007
John Mundt, Esq., Reminisces and Illuminates on one of the more Enigmatic Inkers Ever to Have Graced the Comics

John Mundt, Esq., Wisconsin based comics creator, graduate of the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, founder of The Adventures of Comics cartooning and comics lecture and workshops, and who also maintains a LiveJournal blog, The Womp, is commemorating the lives and time of Crusty Bunker with a Crusty Bunker September theme at The Womp. From his first entry, Sept 2nd:

    Basically, Mr. Bunker was an extremely prolific inker of comic books during the early 1970's. He worked for both Marvel and DC, as well as on several advertising projects. His work was always in demand, yet his name is unknown to most collectors today. In part, that is because of the third tier, lesser known comic books on which he usually worked. Mostly, though, it's because he never existed.

    "Crusty Bunker" was actually a collective pseudonym for the staff and friends of Continuity Productions, the art and design agency of Neal Adams (with Dick Giordano). Continuity would get the art, then pass it around for everyone to work on it. Someone with experience (usually Adams himself) would ink the faces and main figures, then others would ink an arm here or a building there, until the whole thing was completed. This arrangement lasted for several years, until some of The Crusty Bunkers (as these apprentice artists called themselves) were just too famous and busy to continue working in the same way.

    Yes, I said "famous." The Crusty Bunkers eventually were known as some of the most famous, influential, and important comic book artists of all time. "Like who?" you may ask. Well, let me tell you "like who" by posting a different name each night! Without further ado, then, let's start at the top with your "Crusty Bunker" of The Day - Neal Adams!

And so, from day to day, from Crusty to Bunker, The Womp brings us a September of heart-lifting reminiscences, delightful stories... and a Crusty a day, keeping the Bunker in play.

Neal Adams, Alan Weiss, Michael Wm. Kaluta, Ralph Reese, Howard Chaykin, Greg Theakston, Alan Kupperberg, Frank Brunner, Mike Nasser/Netzer, Larry Hama, Dick Giordano, Rich Buckler, Walter Simonson, Jeffrey Catherine Jones, Terry Austin and Bob Wiacek have already graced his entries, with the promise of another dozen or so to come.

Yes, I'm there amongst the list of Crusties and this was part of the family of comics creators that we were back in the 70's. The sporadic inking work we did as Crusty Bunkers is perhaps one of the more known adhesives that held the family together, though we certainly weren't in need of any essential adhesive beyond the comradery of belonging to what we believe to be the pinnacle of creative endeavors... though then, unlike today, our profession was widely held with little cultural regard. If this is an indication for an optimistic forecast for the comics on the world cultural stage, John Mundt, Esq., appears to be well aware of it and quite enthusiastic over the future of the medium he cherishes.

I left a comment for John at his journal, appreciating this commemoration. He reciprocated in yesterday's entry with some rather warm words of remembrance and support:

    Wow! I'd say that I'm speechless, but, well, we all know that's as untrue as it is inaccurate (I am, after all, typing this, not "speeching" it).

    As long-time readers of The WOMP-Blog may remember, Mr. Netzer, known as Mike Nasser back in the day, is one of my favorite artists of all time. I still see his Aquaman when I think of the character, I collected the oddball series Kobra based solely on his involvement, and his version of J'onn J'onzz inspired my decades-long fixation with drawing The Martian Manhunter. Assuming that Mr. Netzer was not being sarcastic, this is a crazy-awesome day for me...especially considering that Mr. Netzer may be the most ethereal, if not controversial, of all sixty-plus Crusty Bunkers.

    I remember well his sudden departure from the comics scene. I was just a kid, but I felt like I had lost one of my heroes...only temporarily, it now seems. In a move (and mood) that still confuses and confounds his pre-1977 acquaintances, "Mike Nasser" left behind the world of Neal Adams and New York City and comic book deadlines and Crusty Bunker (curiously, right about when Crusty "died"). Mr. Nasser went on a spiritual quest for peace that led him to the Middle East, home of his ancestors...and frontline in the conflict among three of the world's great religions. There, transformed by his experiences, "Michael Netzer" emerged from the cocoon, filled with a new sense of purpose, and a personal realization that, for him, it was all connected; comics, religion, conflict, peace.

    Yes, he eventually returned to comics (remember that cool Huntress series of the mid 1990's? That was drawn by Mr. Netzer!), but his latest calling has been to utilize the Internet to promote his vision of what comics could be. All of this may seem strange to some, confusing to others, and far from ordinary to everyone, but his message is something about which I've blogged here many times (and in energetic discussions with several O.F.O.WOMPs, especially Eric Gillitzer, many more times). On his web-site, this is how Mr. Netzer sums up his credo (presented in a form that echoes the "S" emblem on Superman's chest, I might add) -

    Within the myriad of communications systems,
    divided and scattered on the face of world cultures,
    one small beleaguered industry remains ever faithful
    to the message of goodwill, courage and hope.

    An industry and an art form that continues
    to ferment the strong and bright hope
    of the greatest creative minds
    for inspiring and for saving
    our troubled world."

    I think he's right. For whatever else Mr. Netzer has ever done or said, I hope that history will prove him right. In my own, teensy-tiny comics "career," I've tried to promote that ideal, even before I knew that anyone beyond myself felt the same way. So, now my childhood hero has returned, becoming something of an adulthood hero as well. Plus, he wrote to me! How cool is that?! Thank you, Mr. Netzer, for everything! Here's your "Crusty Bunker" of The Day - Bob Wiacek!

I am repeatedly humbled by such enthusiastic sentiment and professional regard. It is rather I, however, who should be exuding these towards John Mundt, Esq., for the illuminating goodwill he persists with in his work as a comics creator, teacher and chronicler.

If all this isn't enough, he is also the first ever to comment on the Superman Emblem shape of that quotation. It has been around for 3 long years, after all.

A few images below of John at work... and his work.

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