Saturday, June 15, 2013

Bible Stories, 2000

(Continued from 1999)

The story of "Moses" continues.  This marked the 8th time the BOYS' LIFE series would cover this material.

An new era begins for BIBLE STORIES.  After 20-1/2 straight years of the feature being illustrated by Frank Bolle, a new artist took over, who brought with him the most DRASTICALLY-different look yet.

Unlike every previous illustrator on the series, Don Punchatz was mostly known for fantasy paintings.  While I was unfamiliar with his name, it turns out I had seen at least 2 examples of his work.  He did a poster for a reissue of the 1st STAR WARS movie-- the one that looked like a "007" poster.  He also did the poster for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.  Also, he was the designer of the wildly-successful computer video game, "DOOM".  (Even I've played that game, thanks to my late best friend Jim having a copy on his computer back in the 90's.)

I gotta be honest... I'm NOT thrilled with Punchatz' episodes here.  While I don't think a fully-painted look would have been a bad thing, the trend in modern comics of what Dick Ayers once called "OVERDONE COLOR", which has a tendency to SMOTHER the linework, increasingly rubs me the wrong way.  It's invaded most of the other series in BOYS' LIFE, notably the BANK STREET CLASSICS, where it's often difficult to even recognize the work of the artist under all the dark, oppressive computer coloring.  But in this case, there's also the fact that I just find Punchatz' drawing to be DULL and STATIC.

Thanks to the lack of credits in most episode over the years, I'm not sure exactly how many different artists worked on it.  But I do know that, my gut reaction here is, Punchatz is currently my LEAST-favorite of ALL of them.  BL had recently featured art by Ernie Colon, Dan Spiegle and Mike Vosburg, all on the CLASSICS series.  Any one of them would have been a better choice, I feel.

On top of that, there's the lettering.  It was bad enough when, for 1999, they sweitched to a hard, harsh, sans-serif font totally at odds with the material.  For 2000, they switched again, doing everything with a heavy, FAT black serif style that, frankly, is difficult to read unless I zoom in real close.  This doesn't even get into throwing black text on top of often-DARK color in the background.  This is just BAD design!  Considering how much attention I've paid to text design over the years, it really annoys me no end to see work THIS bad being done (and paid for).

However, for whatever reason, it seems Punchatz was unable to maintain a monthly schedule-- and on a feature that consisted of a mere HALF-page per month.  There was no BIBLE STORIES for February, April, June, August, or October 2000, nor for January or March 2001.  For each of those months, BL revived the "Religious Emblems" series, not seen since BIBLE STORIES went on hiatus for a year-and-a-half back in 1973-74.

As it happens, Punchatz only managed to do 9 installments before he was not only replaced, but the entire series went thru another MAJOR change. As a result of this, I'm including his last 2 episodes on this page, even though they appeared in early 2001.  This way, I not only get to collect his ENTIRE run on a single blog page, but it allows me to neatly finish out the story of "Joshua" while I'm at it.

The trend of REUSED text and NEW art continues. At the bottom of the page, I'm posting links so you can compare versions.

Story by (??)  /  Art by DON PUNCHATZ
BOYS' LIFE  /  January 2000
BOYS' LIFE  /  March 2000
BOYS' LIFE  /  May 2000
BOYS' LIFE  /  July 2000
BOYS' LIFE  /  September 2000
BOYS' LIFE  /  November 2000
BOYS' LIFE  /  December 2000
BOYS' LIFE  /  February 2001
BOYS' LIFE  /  April 2001
(Continued in 2001)

Compare versions:  If you click "Open Link In New Window" for each set, you can flip between them.

October 1979  vs.  January 1990  vs.  January 2000
November 1979  vs.  February 1990  vs.  March 2000
December 1979  vs.  March 1990  vs.  May 2000
January 1980  vs.  April 1990  vs.  July 2000
February 1980  vs.  May 1990  vs.  September  2000
March 1980  vs.  June 1990  vs.  November 2000
April 1980  vs.  July 1990  vs.  December 2000
May 1980  vs.  August 1990  vs.  February 2001
June 1980  vs.  September 1990  vs.  April 2001

Copyright (C) BOY'S LIFE Magazine
Restorations by Henry Kujawa

Read the Don Punchatz page at Wikipedia 
Read the Don Punchatz article at The Maine Illustrators' Collective Blog

STAR WARS  (reissue poster)
DOOM  (video game)

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