Michael Kaluta

Michael William Kaluta, sometimes credited as Mike Kaluta or Michael Wm. Kaluta (born August 25, 1947),[1] is an American comics artist and writer best known for his acclaimed 1970s adaptation of the pulp magazine hero, The Shadow with writer Dennis O'Neil.

Michael Kaluta
Born (1947-08-25) August 25, 1947
Area(s)Penciller, Inker
Pseudonym(s)Mike Kaluta
Notable works
The Shadow
AwardsShazam Award for Outstanding New Talent 1971
Inkpot Award 1977
Spectrum Award for Grand Master 2003

Early life

Born in Guatemala to U.S. citizens, Kaluta studied at the Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University).


Kaluta's early work included a three-page adventure story, "The Battle of Shiraz", in Charlton Comics Flash Gordon #18 (Jan. 1970) and an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Venus novels for DC Comics.[2] Kaluta's influences and style are drawn from pulp illustrations of the 1930s and the turn of the century poster work of Alphonse Mucha – his signature motif is elaborate decorative panel designs – rather than the comic books of the Silver Age. Kaluta has worked rarely with the superhero genre although one of his early contributions for DC was a "World of Krypton" backup story in Superman #240 (July 1971).[3] His first cover for a comic book was House of Mystery #200 (March 1972).[4] Associated during the 1970s with Bernie Wrightson and Jeffrey Jones, he contributed illustrations to Ted White's Fantastic and Amazing. Kaluta co-created Eve in Secrets of Sinister House #6 (Aug.Sept. 1972), a horror comics "host" character later turned into a supporting character in The Sandman. He and writer Dennis O'Neil produced a comics adaptation of The Shadow for DC in 1973–1974.[5] Comics historian Les Daniels noted that "Kaluta's style [on The Shadow] is an homage to Graves Gladney, master of the pulp magazine covers of the 1930s."[6] Kaluta left the series after drawing five of the first six issues.[7]

Kaluta was one of the four comic book artists/fine illustrator/painters (the others being Jeffrey Jones, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Bernie Wrightson) who formed the artists' commune The Studio in a loft in Manhattan's Chelsea district from 1975 to 1979. In addition to many comic book stories and covers, Kaluta has done a wide variety of book illustrations.

Kaluta drew the cover for the Madame Xanadu one-shot in 1981 which was DC's second direct sales only comic.[8][9][10] He and writer Elaine Lee crafted Marvel Graphic Novel #13 "Starstruck: The Luckless, the Abandoned and Forsaked" which led to an ongoing series which ran for six issues.[2] Kaluta and O'Neil reunited on The Shadow: 1941 – Hitler's Astrologer graphic novel published in 1988.[11] In 2006, Kaluta was one of the artists on the 1001 Nights of Snowfall graphic novel written by Bill Willingham.[12]

In 1984 he drew the illustrations for and directed the music video of "Don't Answer Me" by The Alan Parsons Project, which became one of the most requested videos of the year on the cable video channel MTV.

Among music fans, Kaluta is known as the cover artist of Glenn Danzig's instrumental album Black Aria and for the interior illustration of Danzig's fourth album, the latter of which appeared in 1994 and 1995 as a pendant sold at Danzig concerts, and on Danzig T-shirts and sweaters produced in the same period. Kaluta created the CD covers and interior booklet illustrations for Nativity in Black I and II, tribute albums to the music of Black Sabbath. Kaluta drew the cover art for the Bobby Pickett album The Original Monster Mash when it was reissued in 1973.[13]

Kaluta has worked for role-playing game companies such as White Wolf Publishing. He has done artwork for collectible card games companies, including a comic book for Wizards of the Coast's Magic: The Gathering and illustrating cards on Last Unicorn Games' Heresy: Kingdom Come.[14]

In the early 1990s, he was active in Compuserve's Macintosh Gaming Forum, in the flight simulator enthusiast group which called itself VFA-13 Shadow Riders. He contributed a number of designs for airplane nose art and flight suit unit patches.


Kaluta's work has won him a good deal of recognition, including the Shazam Award for Outstanding New Talent in 1971,[15] the Inkpot Award in 1977,[16] and the 2003 Spectrum Award for Grand Master.[17]


Dark Horse Comics

DC Comics

America's Best Comics


Marvel Comics

  • Chaos War: Chaos King (2010)
  • Conan the Barbarian (cover) #167 (1985)
  • Conan the King, then King Conan (covers) #20–27, 31 (1984–85)
  • Fearsome Four, miniseries, #1 (among other artists) (2011)
  • Epic Illustrated #17, 21, 24, 25–26, 28 (1983–85)
  • The Shadow 1941: Hitler's Astrologer, graphic novel (1988)
  • Thor vol. 2 #57 (two pages only, among other artists) (2003)

Other publishers

  • Memorial #1–6 (covers) (2011–12) (IDW Publishing)
  • Rocketeer Adventure Magazine #1–2 (1988) (Comico)

Books and compilations

  • Michael Wm. Kaluta Sketchbook 180 pages, Kitchen Sink Press, May 1998, ISBN 978-0878161157
  • Echoes Drawing of Michael Wm Kaluta 112 pages, Vanguard Productions, March 2007, ISBN 978-1887591133
  • Wings of Twilight: The Art of Michael Kaluta 80 pages, NBM Publishing, March 2001, ISBN 978-1561632763
  • The Michael Kaluta Treasury Glimmer Graphics, December 1988, ISBN 978-0962142109
  • Michael Wm. Kaluta: Sketchbook Series
    • Volume 1 48 pages, IDW Publishing, April 2012, ISBN 978-1613771365
    • Volume 2 48 pages, IDW Publishing, August 2012, ISBN 978-1613773550
    • Volume 3 48 pages, IDW Publishing, December 2012, ISBN 978-1613775363
    • Volume 4 48 pages, IDW Publishing, May 2013, ISBN 978-1613776384
  • Michael Wm. Kaluta: The Big Book 304 pages, IDW Publishing, January 2014, ISBN 978-1613776827


  1. Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide. Iola, Wisconsin. Archived from the original on February 18, 2011.
  2. Michael Kaluta at the Grand Comics Database
  3. Schweier, Philip (February 2013). "Superman Calls For Backup!". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (62): 39.
  4. Kingman, Jim (December 2013). "The Anniversary Issue". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (69): 15. 'I remember the job,' chimes in Kaluta 'The only memorable point for me: it was my first-ever comic book cover!'
  5. McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 157. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Writer Denny O'Neil and artist Mike Kaluta presented their atmospheric interpretation of writer Walter B. Gibson's pulp-fiction mystery man of the 1930sCS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  6. Daniels, Les (1995). DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes. New York City: Bulfinch Press. p. 167. ISBN 0821220764.
  7. Schweier, Philip (July 2016). "Shedding Light on The Shadow". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (89): 12–13.
  8. Madame Xanadu at the Grand Comics Database
  9. Manning, Matthew K. "1980s" in Dolan, p. 194: "Not content to simply feature a wrap-around cover by artist Michael William Kaluta, the issue also gave readers a pull-out poster by that same artist."
  10. Catron, Michael (June 1981). "DC Taps Fan Market for Madame Xanadu". Amazing Heroes (1): 25. Madame Xanadu, a 32-page/$1.00 comic that marks DC's first attempt at marketing comics specifically to fans and collectors, went on sale in early April...The tale was originally commissioned for Doorway to Nightmare but was put into DC's inventory when that title was cancelled.
  11. O'Neil, Dennis; Kaluta, Michael (1988). The Shadow: 1941 – Hitler's Astrologer. New York City: Marvel Comics. p. 72. ISBN 978-0871353412.
  12. Cowsill, Alan "2000s" in Dolan, p. 327: "Written by Bill Willingham, the framing sequence was illustrated by Charles Vess and Michael William Kaluta."
  13. Catalog of Copyright Entries. Third Series: 1973: July–December, Book 1973. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. page 3237. Archived at Google Books. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  14. "Heresy Cards by Artist". The Sendai Bubble. Archived from the original on December 10, 2003. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  15. "1971 Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards". Comic Book Awards Almanac. n.d. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
  16. "Inkpot Award Winners". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012.
  17. Dueben, Alex (April 26, 2011). "Kaluta Remains Starstruck". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on November 24, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2013. He's an award-winning painter and illustrator who has contributed to role playing games, illustrated Danzig album covers and in 2003 was named a Spectrum Grand Master in recognition of his vast and influential body of work.
Preceded by
The Shadow artist
Succeeded by
Frank Robbins
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