//--> RED TIDE: Commentary - 1

Of all the creators that would prove to be inspiring to me in my early formative years, Steranko’s work was so bold, iconic, thoughtful, and powerful that it imprinted itself inescapably on my idea of the language of storytelling. Steranko made his mark with panache as a master of many different mediums and an artist who had mastered many arts: musician, magician, escape artist, painter, storyteller, historian, and he brought the depth and breadth of all of those crafts and directed it with laser like focus and precision into the grammar of his inventive storytelling.

Here was an artist as “renaissance man”, in the tradition of Leonardo Da Vinci. Steranko demonstrated himself as a student of learning, building upon the vocabulary of the greats before him, and revolutionizing it with an inventive force and power to set the tone for future generations to learn from… challenging them to build upon that new set of storytelling grammar with their own graphic storytelling inventiveness.

David Mack
Writer/Artist (Kabuki, Daredevil)

I can't actually remember when or where I bought it, but I sure as hell remember reading and rereading CHANDLER: RED TIDE that hot summer of 1976. Sure, for a kid growing up in suburban New Jersey, I was a long way from the sweaty streets of 1940's Los Angeles, but the distance melted away for me through Steranko's paper lens. Each panel relentlessly inched the story forward, like the ticking of a clock.

This is REAL film noir, this is REAL storytelling brilliance, it's not a 'pastiche' of noir, or a reworking of noir, or 'retro noir'. Like Chinatown, RED TIDE has rightfully been allowed to enter through those rarely opened gates, joining the likes of Cornell Woolrich, Raymond Chandler, and Jim Thompson, The Big Sleep, The Killing, and Out of the Past.

Mark Chiarello
Art Director
DC Comics

Jim Steranko made everything 100% cooler when he illustrated it and the RED TIDE novel is one of his finest on so many levels. For a kid buying those “silly comics” and growing out of the superhero antics of grown men beating each other, the RED TIDE novel was a breath of fresh air. It looked different, felt special and again, like so many times before with work proudly bearing the Steranko name, had changed the way I looked at things. Because of him I went out and “discovered” the Red Tide novels and then tracked down the films and so on. Honestly, to this day, Jim’s art is an inspiration to me and looking back at this book with an older and more educated brain, it still kicks major ass.

Jimmy Palmiotti

Steranko's work was incredibly inspirational in my formative years as an artist. The level of integrity and professionalism made my jaw drop as I realized his work had set a bar in comics that seemed unattainable for the rest of us. Chandler was released in 1976 - which was the year I traveled to New York and began working at Continuity Associates for Neal Adams and Dick Giordano. I truly believe that Steranko's work, along with the likes of Frazetta, Adams, Kirby, Wrightson, Jones, Smith and Kaluta provided the fuel that launched my career in art. I will be forever grateful for Steranko's artistic magic and how it mesmerized me, then and now.

Frank Cirocco
Artist/Co-Creator - ALIEN LEGION
Creative Director - SKYLAND GALLERY

Jim Steranko's style was one of my influences in the art of V For Vendetta - as has been recorded in many interviews - but the confidence he showed in his many works was an inspiration to me before that. He's a real innovator who's not afraid to step out on a precipice. A great example to
us all.

David Llyoyd

I got into Marvel comics in 1967, and quickly learned the names of my favorite artists. Jim Steranko was one of them, from his issues of X-Men to Captain America, and of course the place I saw him initially, in the S.H.I.E.L.D. portion of the split comic, Strange Tales. He was doing things then that I never saw in any comic before, such as special color effects, title lettering as a design element, and his blend of Kirby action with cinematic pacing. Later, when he began doing covers only, I bought many books I normally wouldn't have, just for those images. I followed Jim to F.O.O.M. and then to Comixscene, his tabloid magazine. I missed not seeing any comic stories, though, so when I heard about "Red Tide," I was ecstatic! I bought both the small digest sized edition , and then the deluxe larger format book, all on my kid's limited funds! The 1970's were good to fans of detective noir, and private eyes who took a beating for a crooked femme fatale. Robert Mitchum played Philip Marlowe in the terrific "Farewell, My Lovely" and again in the still decent "The Big Sleep, while Jack Nicholson starred in "Chinatown, one of my all time faves." With Steranko doing his own private eye, in "Red Tide" I was in heaven. The format, with text outside the art allowed a great blend of a traditional novel and a comic, much like Hal Foster achieved with "Prince Valiant." The artwork, with the lack of traditional comic line inking, blew my mind. I guess that was the main impetus for me to order the large format version of the book, in order to study the artwork more closely. Looking at it now, I am still impressed with the way each panel was composed, with inky shadows recreating a pulp feel. I loved how he used the rigid panel arrangement, and was still able to create a panoramic scene, as on pages 40 and 41 to illustrate the blonde Femme's apartment. As an aspiring comic artist, I learned a lot about composition from studying that book. The story itself is classic, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention how I was inspired to read both Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler after reading Steranko's story.

Jerry Ordway
Writer/Artist - SUPERMAN

I grew up reading comics in the sixties. I was really struck by Jim Steranko's work when I first saw it on Nick Fury: Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. It was like nothing else in comics! The dynamics and detail in his work were just amazing. When he drew Marvel characters like Captain America, The Hulk, or Spider-man he made them his own. Years later as an artist I learned to fully appreciate his skills from the cinematic storytelling and design to the influences in his art by American illustration to Salvador Dali. When he illustrated RED TIDE and Outland his work went to a new level that to this day
inspires me.

Bill Reinhold
Artist - Badger/Punisher

Jim Steranko's Red Tide was a dark beacon of noir in a glare of superhero sensibilities. I pored over it constantly during its initial publication and continue to refer to it today. It is simply a brilliant, irreplaceable piece of work that belongs on every true artist's bookshelf--nay up there on his drawing board within reach!

At a recent convention of my comic book peers the question was raised: "Who over the years inspired more comic artists while producing the least output of work?" Steranko tied with Dave Stevens, but Jim was the guy who sprang first to my mind. I could list the catalog of artists who's lives Steranko changed, but you all know who you are.

Thank you, Jim. With that single publication of RED TIDE, your place in graphic story history was assured.

Bruce Jones
Artist/Writer - ALIEN WORLDS

Of all the artists who ever dabbled in comic art, Jim Steranko's was the most uniquely cinematic, and the most enjoyable stylistically, which made him the perfect match for a Raymond Chandler project. Steranko's eye and ability to portray what's necessary--and only what's necessary--were equal to Red Tide's ear, his phrasing, his unmistakable hard-boiled voice. In short, both of these men could deliver that rarest of pleasures: an artistic punch in the gut.

Clifford Meth

If there is one comics work that influenced me more than any other it had to be Steranko's Chandler. Prior to it's publication by Byron Preiss I was influenced, like most aspiring creators, by the super-heroic fantasy and horror titles that were de rigueur in the day. It all changed for me when the digest-sized issue of Fiction Illustrated appeared in 1976.

It re-opened my eyes to the pulp/noir genre general ( I was a fan of the Shadow/ Doc Savage paperback reprints at the time) but more importantly, the comics possibilities of such characters.

And just as significantly, there was the high-concept design of the book itself, including the use of typeset text, and the fact the book looked so different. The high-contrast illustration, the vintage scenery and architecture. I poured over it for months.

Years later when I became the art director for Byron Preiss Visual Publications I had the pleasure to meet and work with Steranko on some covers. When I told him how much I loved the larger trade paperback edition; how much it influenced my work, especially on Mister X. He explained to me that he wasn't as enthusiastic on that version as I was. I was puzzled.

He explained that the book was never meant to be that size, it was designed to be small, printed on newsprint. Of course, it was. He went on to say that if he was going to do that book that size he would've used smaller (and therefore more) text and it would've been colored to take advantage of the higher quality printing. It was a positively McLuhan-esque revelation to me (such an edition is in the works, we are told.)

But it should've come as no surprise. Especially from an artist who was (and is still) known to be a master of the medium.

Dean Motter
graphic novel designer

RED TIDE was an epic film noir tale that established new benchmarks in graphic storytelling. It has endured and still impresses after thirty-seven years. A landmark achievement by Steranko, a master storyteller,writer and artist at the top of his game.

Paul Gulacy
Artist/Co-creator - SABRE

Steranko is clearly a master artist. His compositions and understanding of light are amazing. His ability to create a mood and emotion in black and white is a gift to all of us. His work is an inspiration and makes me want to strive for higher levels of excellence in what I do.

Greg Hildebrandt

Jim has been a long-time friend and much admired by me and my sons. Adam and Andy still talk about the 'little guy' who visited with us, and described his life as a magician, actor and cartoonist. His success and notoriety are very much deserved. He's one of a kind.

Joe Kubert

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