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In their song Running with Giants, Trevor McNevan and the boys of TFK sang “I am not alone here, I’m not on my own here”. It’s true in life, it’s true in Rock music, and it’s true in the comics industry. That sentiment is epitomized in Don Newton… an artist inspired by others who in turn inspired his fellow creators and a plethora of fans.

Don Newton Early Days at Charlton

Like many industry stalwarts, Don Newton began at Charlton. Celebrated artists like Dick Giordano and Jim Aparo preceded Newton at Charlton. He illustrated “The Empty Room” featuring Mr. Bones in Ghost Manor 18 as his first work. Nothing embarrassing about that considering the legendary Steve Ditko illustrated a Mr. Bones story for the same issue!  Clearly, Don Newton was running with giants, and in their footsteps as well.

Like Aparo before him, Newton excelled illustrating the Phantom for Charlton. His cover art on issue 74 is powerful and one of his best. Like many, Newton’s professional beginnings were humble, but they built the foundation for work he would later do on some of comics’ most iconic characters. Of course, let’s not despise the Phantom–he has the distinction of being perhaps the first costumed comic book character. And doesn’t that fit well with the theme of running with giants, as no doubt the Phantom inspired comic creators for decades!

Captain Marvel and Batman

Though Newton contributed at Marvel in his early days, I appreciate the work he did for DC. Captain Marvel inspired Newton from his youth, and he illustrated that special character in many World’s Finest tales. He had a personal bond and professional connection to the character. Newton worked with CC Beck, original illustrator of the character now known as Shazam. No doubt that amazing opportunity shaped Newton. One artist who worked with Newton described the man as “someone who kept him sane”.

I especially appreciate the work of Newton when he was the main Batman artist in both Detective Comics and the self-titled series. While maintaining his own distinctive style, Newton built on the works of icons like Neal Adams, Irv Novick, Jim Aparo, and Marshall Rogers. It’s been decades since those guys regularly contributed to Batman. Yet, their influence is still seen in today’s artists.

Running with Giants – A Marathon

So, you may wonder what my point is here. Many people admire Don Newton for his humble approach. He epitomized someone who understood that he stood on the shoulders of the giants that came before, but never forgot to lift up those who came after him.

The Grand Comic Database identifies Will Eisner and Alex Raymond as his personal influences. Every comic professional and fan has their own inspirations. I was inspired by Robert Overstreet when I created my Comic Art Trends Price Guide. As a ten-year old in 1974, I was fascinated by the 1974 Comic Book Price Guide, which first featured cover art illustrated by none other than Don Newton. Interestingly, Newton’s art from the 1983 Overstreet Guide is coming to auction this week at Heritage Auctions.

Art like this has special significance not only because of Don Newton, but also because Overstreet’s guide has been so significant to the success of the industry. Unlike modern guides, back in 1983, there was only one cover.

Getting Personal

The shoulders we stand on–the giants we run with–are not simply comic book creators OR CHARACTERS. Most of us were blessed to have fathers and mothers as the first giants we looked up to. Sure, being 3 feet tall makes it hard NOT to look up to the adults in our lives. We thank them for what they have done for us, how they paved the path we run on. We grow into the types of men and women that WANT to take care of these giants in our lives as they age and are no longer able to run as they once did. Often, we are called to make personal sacrifices to care for the giants in our lives. In that way, we also create a path for those who come behind–a better path where self-interests are subjugated to caring for others; especially those giants that we still look up to even when they are a shadow of their former selves.

“I am not alone here, I’m not on my own (cause I am), running with giants”

I commend a man willing to part with personal treasures in the interest of others.