Saturday, December 08, 2007

Inside the Baxter Building

Behold -- The world-famous Baxter Building!

One of the great things about the Fantastic Four comics was all the super-nutty Kirby gizmos and gadgets.
Crazy stuff --like James Bond gear on steroids and acid!
And talk about high maintenance... the team needed enough space for a Fantasti-car, a Pogo Plane, a Fantasti-Copter, a Private Passenger ICBM, an Observatory, an entrance to the negative zone, a computer room, a chemical lab, a photo analysis lab, a projection room, a gymnasium, trophy room and living quarters (just to name a few). Naturally, a Super-team with this much baggage needed an exceptional uh... "secret" base of operations. Where better, than the middle of Manhattan Island in NYC? (...yeah --good luck with that telescope, Stretcho.) Specifically floors 30 through 35 on the top of the Baxter Building.
Within the confines of these 5 floors lay a virtual crime-fightin' and weird experimentin' complex the likes of which the world had never seen before! So large in scope, that it prompted several celebrated cutaway views of of the Building's insides --presumably to help the reader figure out exactly where all the action was taking place.

I'd thought about doing a post like this last summer... but when I picked up issue #1 of Marvel's new Mythos Fantastic Four book last week and saw that the title artist Paolo Rivera had just done an updated cutaway, I knew the time was right.

So, here --for the first time I'm aware of-- are ALL cutaways of the Baxter building to date!
...featuring insane amounts of Photoshop restoration on the old versions by yours truly so they can be blown up big and still look great. All cleaned up from my own issues of the original books they appeared in, with the original (minus the yellowing) color schemes. Enjoy!

While the F.F. had already defeated the Mole Man and the Skrulls,

it wasn't until issue #3 that we got to see some Fantasti-car (known these days more commonly as the Flyin' Bathtub) and found out the secrets of the "Fantastic Four's Skyscraper Hide-Out!" This was the first time the Baxter Building and it's contents --at least the top two floors of it were diagrammed.

It wasn't long though--just three issues in fact-- before Jack was at it again. From issue #6, here's a slightly more complete look at the top
5 floors of "the world's greatest office building".

Here's Jack's third and final take (to my knowledge) on the FF's HQ innards...
As it originally appeared in Fantastic Four Annual #3 ( this version was also printed in Black and White in the back inside cover of the 1975 over-sized Fantastic Four Treasury. I ran it too, back up a the top... And though on that printing there's a blurb with an allusion made to the then-current book's team of Len Wein and Rich Buckler doing an updated cutaway soon, I don't recall them actually getting around to it.

A decade and over a hundred issues passed before anyone would attempt a new Baxter bldg pin-up, but after the big Gonzo blowout with Dr. Doom in issue #200, Keith Pollard and Longtime-inker Joe Sinnott were ready to tackle the project. Here's their version from Fantastic Four issue 201, December 1978.

It would be 48 issues before anyone else would tackle the 5 story x-ray. Then, when John Byrne took over the book in 1981, he had Terrax destroy the the top 2 floors of the tower (and f-up the lower ones). The FF had to rebuild all 5 floors of their HQ --and once it was completed it was prime time to address the new changes. (Besides, more than anybody else outside of Stan and Jack, John got the FF and brought back a lot of what made the book fun to begin with --that is, before Shooter ruined it all with the Secret Wars books.) Here, from #249 is that cutaway.

And the latest version...Paolo Rivera's aforementioned new version. Nice to see see Paolo's rife and realistic painterly approach to the material. The rest of the book looks like this too, so if you haven't picked it up you probably oughta.


And a big tip of the hat goes out to Marvel Comics Group, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Keith Pollard, Joltin' Joe Sinnott, John Byrne and Paolo Rivera


Blogger Robert Pope said...

What I always loved most about Byrne's take was the ductwork that takes the exhaust from the Pogo Plane and shoves it into the "sub-strata" beneath the earth's crust...kinda Reed's way of saying "Eat it, Mole Man!" Great post.

10:34 AM

Blogger Matthew I. Jenkins said...

Great post. I used to love stuff like that when I was a kid. It always inspired me to draw my own secret-layer cut-aways, which I would never have the patience to do now. btw, I really liked Secret Wars. You don't think God would look like David Hasslehoff?

2:45 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

I used to love seeing these in the old Kirby FF digests! - mh

4:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Well-Organized domain of the Fantastic Four - finally, it's all becoming clear!

7:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget the listing(s) in the Marvel Universe handbooks. More technical, less fun, I suppose.

8:15 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

Just discovered your site. Great post. Brings back many memories.

And I must say that I LOVED seeing the MAD magazine cover with Frankenstein building the Alfred E. Neuman model. That was the first MAD magazine I ever had.

And the Charles Lane post. Wow, what a career. Reminds me of the fact that my parents bought a house once lived in by Burt Mustin... another prolific character actor.

But I'm rambling. I have you bookmarked and shall return.


8:56 PM

Blogger Mikey said...

Don't get me wrong, I love this shizzle - but how the FREAK would they ever get the rocket back in its silo?

12:18 PM

Blogger David Campbell said...

You have done us a great service! Huzzah!

12:19 PM

Blogger Our Man Horn said...

Fantastic Four is why I became an infographics artist. Well, not really. But those cut-aways are pretty nice. Eliot R. Brown's contributions to the Official Handbooks of the Marvel Universe had a lot of impact on my career choice, too.

10:21 AM

Blogger mykalel said...

Great stuff. One question though - why, on the most recent cutaway, do Reed & Sue have separate bedrooms? Trouble on the domestic front maybe?

(Also, where does Franklin sleep!)

4:51 PM

Blogger mavericstud9 said...

mavericstud9 Says:

March 28, 2008 at 4:28 pm
I wonder what is really there in New York ?There must several real at 42 street and madison avenue,New York,NY.Anyone know whats really there ?There must be a reason Stan Lee and Jack Kirby choose this locatiom.After all they could simply placed the Fantastic Four in the Empire State Building and make an omage to Doc Savage or put the whole at Reed Richards Rocket Research base in California .

8:34 PM

Blogger Andy said...

Sears with Captain Action and Matt. Wish i would been born a little earlier

12:07 AM


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