To have wandered around the neighborhood in a Captain Marvel or Supergirl cape, looking all glinty-eyed and cool—maybe taking little, experimental leaps into the air when nobody was looking. That sort of thing. Everybody knows old Marvel would have been some fine surfer, all right, if those dumb international criminals had ever given him enough time. Certainly. Everybody knows we all would have been some fine surfers if our jobs had ever given us enough time. What with wives and kids, milk and eggs and housing—a guy can't do everything.
And there was Mel Ramos, 33 years old and already a noted artist—a 1969 painter with 1920 sensibilities, he calls himself. Whatever that is. Strongly identified with the pop art school. Exhibited in those chic galleries like David Stuart in Los Angeles and Galerie Ricke in Cologne. All that. Also with the start of a little potbelly. A success. Also too old to surf.
Well, this is Ramos on these pages, understand? Ramos the surfer. First, the boards. These are Ramos' boards. On the next pages are Ramos' wife and Ramos himself, with the glinty eyes and the muscles rippling just beneath the Coppertone skin. Ramos who was commissioned by Sports Illustrated to paint surfing, who went to Makaha, saw those big waves and walked away stunned—taking little, experimental leaps into the air when nobody was looking. Back to his studio in Oakland, there to paint the fantasy he saw. Self-portraits of Ramos. He can see himself doing all those things—with that surfy look about him. Everyone can.
Here is Ramos doing the most Marvel thing of all—lifting his lovely wife as he zooms along in a curl. What a memory! Right now Ramos is painting what he calls Cinerama pictures—paintings that go right around corners. He is tired of looking at empty corners. The pictures started out to be three-dimensional, like the movies, but he is finding wonderful new optical things happening instead. No matter. Soon as he finished the first one the gallery truck came and got it. They will be a big success. And the people who buy them, this new school, won't know who the artist really was. Lean, glinty-eyed, flat-stomached Mel Ramos, that is who. Captain Marvel would have been proud.