Let me start by saying this – Tom Grummett is one of the most underappreciated comic book artists of the modern era. He was never a superstar like the guys at Image, but he put out great comic art month after month that I was a huge fan of.
Although he has also worked for Marvel, I associate him with DC specifically, Superman, Superboy, Robin, and the Titans.
I first became familiar with Grummett in 1989 with New Titans #58, which happened to be his first work at the company. At the time Perez was doing layouts and Grummett was finishing the pencils. Perez soon transitioned off the book but Grummett remained and so did I. The art was great and the stories, like “A Lonely Place of Dying”, which introduced Tim Drake (Robin III), and “Titans Hunt”, which revamped the team, really held my interest and sparked my imagination. “Titans Hunt” especially with its CRAZY cliffhanger endings in every issue (Deathstroke murdering his possessed son Jericho being the biggest one).
“George [Perez] had come back to the book for issue #50. This was a big deal. Work progressed for a few months that way until George got into a car accident. What with recovery and pain medication and who knows what (I don’t even know), he felt that he was unable to continue on the book – but he would do layouts. So, the job was offered to me: working from George’s layouts I would pencil the book. I worked that way through the Lonely Place of Dying story arc — where Tim Drake became Robin — so there was a cross-over with the Batman books at that point. I would get the layouts from George and the scripts from Marv, I would work away on these things. And then finally George decided to just leave the book entirely — hopefully because he felt it was in good hands. So he left ME behind with Marv. I’m a NEW guy and suddenly I’m working with Marv Wolfman and it’s ALL me.” – Tom Grummett
The new characters he designed were Pantha, Phantasm, and Baby Wildebeest.
When Grummett left officially with issue #100, so did I. This was a transitional issue where part of it was penciled by the new guy Bill Jaaska. I didn’t care for his artwork at all so I dropped the book.
Right around this time (1993) the “Reign of the Superman” storyline started going through the 4 Superman monthly titles. This was during the period where Superman was dead and 4 replacement “Supermen” showed up. My favorite was Adventures of Superman, which was penciled by Tom and chronicled the clone that would be called Superboy once the real Superman returned.
“It was four people claiming to be Superman. It was like Elvis sightings. That’s the way we looked at it. None of these guys were actually going to be [Superman], because they couldn’t be. They couldn’t be Superman because none of them WERE Superman. They had mysterious connections TO [Superman], but none of them were going to be able to take over his spot. At least that was our theory.” – Tom Grummett
I loved this character and Tom’s art had a lot to do with it, but Karl Kesel’s writing was great too. Superboy was a fun character. He was a teenage kid with superpowers that acted the way a teenage character with superpowers probably would – he used them to pick up chicks at the beach. He fought supervillains too, but he was just a guy that wanted to party and get laid. He was awesome.
Superboy looked great and Tom designed him with a Gen X flair.
“I actually drew the original sketch of Superboy, fully-formed — the way he looked in the comic book…As soon as I got off and back to my studio and was settled in again, I re-drew it with the jacket, without the jacket, front and back, faxed it in to Carlin and said “this is what I think he looks like”. Tom Grummett
Writer Karl Kesel and Grummett created the perfect villain for Superboy in the form of Knockout, a Female Fury from the planet Apokolips, who worked as a stripper. Naturally, Superboy wanted to sleep with her.
In addition to “Reign of the Supermen” Tom’s Superboy appeared in several of my favorite DC Comics of the 1990s, including my absolute favorite. Superboy #21 featured the first meeting of the new Superboy and the rebooted Legion of Super-Heroes. This was a big deal because the Clark Kent Superboy was the inspiration for the original Legion and both that version of Superboy and of the Legion were retconned to oblivion. The coolest thing about it this issue was the fact that most of it was written in Interlac, the language of the 30th Century, where the Legion is based.
I also really loved the 2 part World’s Finest 3 mini-series, which featured the first meeting of Robin III and Superboy. The pair takes on Poison Ivy and Metallo. These were just fun super-hero comics that felt really fresh at the time. Grummett worked on the Robin solo series leading up to this 1996 series.
“I believe I took on the Robin book because the Tom Lyle mini-series’ were all done and they decided to launch an ongoing. I think the thinking out there was that I was the ‘teen’ artist, because I’d done ‘Teen’ Titans and Superboy.” Tom Grummett
In the early 2000s, Grummett co-created the Power Company, which starred in the short-lived series of the same name. The team were a group of heroes for hire led by a metahuman lawyer named Josiah Power. The team was structured like a law firm where there were Partners like Witchfire and Manhunter and Associates such as Firestorm. It ran for 18 issues.
Grummett did a large amount of work for Marvel around this time with sporadic work for DC once in a while. His most recent work for DC was the Legion of Super Heroes/Bugs Bunny Special in 2017, one of the one-shot specials in the strange DC Meets Looney Tunes crossover event.