PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite Stories Drawn by KLAUS JANSON

A BIRTHDAY SALUTE: Paying tribute to the master inker’s masterful pencils…

UPDATED 1/23/24: Klaus Janson turns 72! Perfect time to re-present this piece from 2021. Dig it. — Dan

Paul Kupperberg — comics writer, novelist, historian and 13th Dimension columnist — has a spectacular new publication out: Direct Comments, collecting about two dozen never-completely-published interviews from the ’70s to the ’90s, mostly with some of DC’s greatest creators. We’re talking folks like John Byrne, Denny O’Neil, Jerry Ordway, Jim Aparo, Dick Giordano and many, many more.

You can order the $16 paperback through Amazon — and to spotlight this treasure trove of comics-history gold, we’re running a weekly series in which Paul pays tribute to his favorite works by 13 of these creators. (The series mostly runs weekends, with a few exceptions.)

Last installment it was Dick Giordano. (Click here.) This time: Klaus Janson. — Dan


“I wasn’t familiar with comic books in Germany. When I got here in 1957, I couldn’t speak the language, didn’t know how to read, and was friendless. I mean, I knew nobody. And I discovered comics in that gulf between kindergarten and first grade. I was able to learn how to read through comics. I was able to put the words together with the pictures. I was reading all the Mort Weisinger stuff. The early Lois Lanes, I remember Superman, Jimmy Olsen, Action Comics… mostly the Superman stuff. That’s basically how I learned to read, by piecing things together.”

— Klaus Janson, from Direct Comments: Comic Creators In Their Own Words

Klaus Janson (January 23, 1952) was born in Germany and came to the U.S. as a child. Beginning as assistant to artist Dick Giordano, Klaus was soon inking for Marvel Comics, where he was first teamed with penciler Frank Miller on Daredevil. Returning to DC, he inked Gene Colan on Batman in Detective Comics and on the limited series, Jemm: Son of Saturn, before being reunited with Miller on Batman: The Dark Knight Returns in 1986. The multiple Inkpot and Eisner Award-winning Janson has also taught comic art at New York’s School of Visual Arts and is the author of the DC Comics Guide to Penciling Comics (Watson-Guptill 2001) and the DC Comics Guide to Inking Comics (Watson-Guptill 2003).

Daredevil #185

When I wrote the above to serve as the introduction to the Klaus Janson interview in Direct Comments: Comic Creators In Their Own Words, I neglected to mention that not only can Klaus ink, but he’s also a talented penciller (and colorist!) in his own right. Klaus himself neglected to mention his pencils when discussing the early years of his career. “I had a little short run on Spider-Man with John Romita Jr., I did Defenders for a very long time. That was where I really cut my teeth on comics, I think, on Defenders over Sal Buscema. I’ve worked with a lot of artists. I inked Keith Giffen on Defenders for a while. Gil Kane. I’m trying to think. I guess that early period’s a little bit of a blur. I was the real fill-in inker. I was pretty fast, so if a book was late, call Klaus! I did a lot of annuals. I did Thor, Logan’s Run over George Perez. You know, just all these obscure books.”

Here then, allowing the pictures to speak for themselves, MY 13 FAVORITE STORIES DRAWN BY KLAUS JANSON, in chronological order:

Daredevil #185 (Marvel, Aug. 1982). From “Guts,” script and layouts by Frank Miller, finished art and color by Klaus, lettered by Joe Rosen.

Superman #400 (DC, Oct. 1984). From “The Living Legends of Superman: Part 7,” written by Elliott S! Maggin, inked and colored by Klaus, lettered by John Costanza.

Atari Force #14 (DC, Feb. 1985). From “A Babe in Arms,” written by Dave Manak, art and color by Klaus, lettered by Bob Lappan.

Ray Bradbury’s Frost and Fire (DC, March 1986). From the adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s “Fire and Ice.” Adaptation, art and color by Klaus, lettered by Costanza.

The Punisher #1 (Marvel, July 1987). From “Marching Powder,” written by Mike Baron, art and color by Klaus, lettered by Jim Novak.

Showcase ’93 #7 (DC, July 1993). From “Double Cross,” written by Doug Moench, art and color by Klaus, lettered by Ken Bruzenak.

What If…? #100 (Marvel, Sept. 1997). From “Paper Skin,” co-plotted and scripted by Ivan Velez Jr., co-plot and art by Klaus, color by Glynnis Wein, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos.

Legends of the DC Universe 80-Page Giant #2 (2000). From “…Carnival in Armagetto,” written by Walter Simonson, art and color by Klaus, lettered by Bill Oakley.

Transmetropolitan: Filth of the City (2001). From “Filth of the City,” written by Warren Ellis, art by Klaus, color by Nathan Eyring, lettered by Clem Robbins.

Batman: Death and the Maidens #1 (DC, Oct. 2003). From “Death and the Maidens: Chapter One,” written by Greg Rucka, art by Klaus, color by Steve Buccellato, lettered by Robbins.

Spider-Man Unlimited #15 (Marvel, July 2006). “Heroes and Villains,” script and art by Klaus, color by Steve Buccellato, lettered by David Sharpe.

Nightwing #50 (DC, Dec. 2018). From “Knight Terrors: Part One,” written by Benjamin Percy, colors by John Kalisz, lettered by Carlos M. Mangual.

Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze #1 (DC, Jan. 2020). Written by Sean Murphy, art by Klaus, color by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Andworld Design.

NEXT: The call of the Giffen… (Click here.)

“I had four companies I wanted to try; Marvel, DC, Atlas, which was still going then, and, of course, Charlton. Good old pokey Charlton. I was going to call Charlton, but I wasn’t that crazy about what they were doing at that time, so I figured, let me call Atlas. I called up Atlas, and I don’t know who the woman was on the other end of the line, but she was very enthusiastic and wonderful and, oh, come on up and show us your stuff, yes, we’re looking for people, oh yeah, we’re real big on new talent, and, oh yeah, we’re going out of business tomorrow. I’d called the day before they were closing their doors.”

— Keith Giffen


— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite DICK GIORDANO CHARLTON Covers – In Black and White. Click here.

— The Complete INDEX of DIRECT COMMENTS Features. Click here.

Direct Comments is available now at Amazon. Click here.

Paul Kupperberg has been writing comic books from Archie to Zatanna for 45 years at DC, Archie, Charlton, Marvel, Bongo and others. He is also the author of Paul Kupperberg’s Illustrated Guide to Writing Comics (Charlton Neo Press); I Never Write for the Money… But I Always Turn in the Manuscript for a Check (Comics Career); the comic book industry-based murder mystery The Same Old Story, the short-story collection In My Shorts: Hitler’s Bellhop and Other StoriesJSA: Ragnarok, and his latest, the YA fantasy/time travel adventure Emma’s Landing, all from Crazy 8 Press and all available on Amazon, or signed and personalized direct from Paul (email him at for details).

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I’ve got to get this book. I’m really enjoying the look inside the industry. Amazon, here I come….

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  2. Klaus Janson doesn’t get enough credit for his inking during the Bronze Age over at Marvel. His work over Sal’s and Keith’s pencils (and colors!) on The Defenders was absolutely beautiful and at times, breathtaking! I put him right behind Joe Sinnott as the most important inker Marvel had during that time!

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  3. You missed Star Wars Annual #3. Fantastic artwork, with a great cover!

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  4. Superman #400 was an AMAZING comic. It continues to baffle me that DC has not yet released it as a hardcover Deluxe Edition. The collection of top tier artistic talent in that issue was unprecedented. And the out of continuity, short story format of the issue (with liberal amounts of pin-up art) make it evergreen and timeless.

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  5. What If 100 was 1997 not 1987.

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