Currently reading my way through this lovely book. All That Jazz presents three long interviews with Jazzy John Romita, two conducted by Jim Amash, one by Roy Thomas, that cover Ring-a-Ding’s long career in comics. Most depth is given, naturally enough, to the great man’s 30-year tenure at Marvel, but there is at least some mention of his time drawing romance comics at DC in the late-50s, and his first big break drawing the ‘Commie-basher’ version of Captain America in 1954.

Following Jack Kirby’s departure from Marvel in 1970, Romita worked hard to ensure his art style — along with that of John Buscema — became the de facto house style at the company. Under his pencil Spider-Man became a huge hit, rising to become Marvel’s top-selling title. Perhaps even more amazingly — and no one was more shocked that Romita himself — sales on Fantastic Four went up when he replaced Kirby. A testament to Romita’s rock solid storytelling abilities.

Romita’s work is not flashy, and he’s hardly an innovator, but he can draw like no one’s business. Never a line out of place, his figures are full of life an movement, so much so that Stan Lee would sometimes complain that the background figures weren’t dull enough; they were taking the eye of the reader away from the main subject! His Spider-Man is, of course, definitive, and it wouldn’t be hard to make the same claim for his Captain America. Romita’s own favourite was Daredevil, a character he only drew briefly upon arriving at Marvel in 1965.

All That Jazz is an excellent read. There’s a certain amount of duplication across the three interviews, but that’s not too off-putting. Romita comes across as an engaging and knowledgeable fellow, and his stories of working with a huge variety of professionals — some long gone — are to be treasured.