Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Up From the Catacombs: Beer and Tavern Monthly

Another oddity from the archive box: Beer and Tavern Monthly (does anyone know if Beer and Tavern Monthly is still around?) had me do a number of covers for them back in the 1990's. My favorite of them all is this one.

King Kong, astride the Empire State Building, surrounded by flying beer bottles.

Art Director asking for a low budget remake of King Kong: $100.

Art Director asking for flying beer bottles like "windows toasters from the screen saver" from one of my favorite breweries: Priceless.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Unseen Art: J.G Jones and Yoakum Wildcats

Was digging through the files for something and ran across the "what the heck do I do with these" section that I keep. Plenty of oddities that I've built up here, but a few little gems as well.

Thought that some people might like to see this one, part of a three page WildCATS piece that JG Jones and I did back in the mid-90's. Jones' pencils, my inks and tones. This was the third page, and the only one that I didn't finish as you can see.

Kinda fun. Shows that before he became a big star, JG was already a huge talent. It just took years and years of work for people to catch on so that he could become an overnight success. Funny how that works isn't it?

Also funny to see the twin towers as the focal point on this page. Never thought that those two buildings that I didn't really like would be a such a generational touchpoint, because they always will be for this ex-New Yorker.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

This is Just Wrong: The Return of Captain Marvel

Perhaps I can paraphrase our friends over at live journal:

Fuck you Marvel.

There, is that succinct enough? This image comes from a pulled preview that was saved and put up on Live Journal and Photobucket. This is the image that completes the evisceration of the Marvel Universe that began with Civil War screwing up the Fantastic Four.

Not just bringing back Mar-Vell, no, since Thanos has long since been resurrected I suppose that we should have expected this, but the manner of which its being done, the position that Mar-Vell supposedly now holds, which is commendant of the Negative Zone prison, is so, so, SO COMPLETELY not the man that he is that I cannot even think about it straight. It warps my head around like trying to figure out the beginning of an Escher drawing.

There is nothing here that makes any sense. I could be thinking Clone maybe, but I doubt that that will be the case. The most meaningful death in the Marvel Universe (since they long since messed up Jean's sacrifice in X-men #137) has been hedged around: Mar-Vell appearing as an apparition in Silver Surfer years ago, the alternate earth version from Earth X, his "son" Genis, and others that I've not followed completely, but the actual man himself has been left alone.

Tellingly it was a paucity of imagination that led to the death of Mar-Vell. After a fairly interesting run by Doug Moench and Pat Broderick in his own book, Mar-Vell his cancellation and character oblivion. Marvel honchos from that era, perhaps Shooter, (I don't know as I never asked) went to Starlin and said, "We don't know what to do with him." Jim apparently said, "Well, let me kill him." and there you go.

Mar-Vell, the way that Starlin, Englehart, and Moench wrote him, was one of the noblest characters in comics, the universal protector, someone who had made bad decisions in the past but lived with his regrets of being a soldier for the Kree and did the best that he could. His best was very, very good. Defeating Thanos, the Destroyer, standing up to Issac the mad computer and the Watcher, battling Megaton the Nuclear Man (heh heh), he was a hero in the classic Joesph Campbell mold: one that had come by his nobility the honest way: through real trial and error.

That Mar-Vell would never have been involved with the Pro-Registration forces in the Marvel Universe, much less get himself sucked in the Negative Zone ever, ever, EVER again. If you know anything at all about the character, the last place that he would be would be in the Negative Zone.

Perhaps it should be an even bigger deal that the Fantastic Four, lets say this again, THE FANTASTIC FOUR, the moral and physical cornerstone of the Marvel Universe, has been ripped apart with such incorrect characterization of Sue, Reed, and Ben that we shouldn't be shocked by anything anymore, but, yes, I am.

I am shocked.

This. Just. Sucks.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Storytelling Decisions: The moment or the moment before

Away from the scanner, so I'm not going to pepper this with any images, but the verbal will have to suffice.

So there are more than a few thoughts on the art of storytelling that I have as I work my way through the story of Pistoleras. And I recall an article by Jim Steranko many years ago, accompanied his pre-production painting from Raiders, where he made a point that while other artists preferred the moment of the balloon exploding, he prefered the moment just before the balloon exploded, the pregnant pause.

I've thought a lot about this over the years, and nowhere is it more interesting that trying to decide how to use a panel that shows a passage of time, perhaps during a conversation. I think that usually we see a panel isolate a moment in time, where Peter Parker expresses an opinion to Mary Jane, but there are other examples where, in a two shot, the Ben Grimm will ask Reed Richards not to do something, and Reed Richards will press the button opening the negative zone anyway. Fairly straight forward, but the image will be of Reed pressing the button. So we, as a reader, are asked to ignore the right side of the panel with Reed pressing the button and we need to read left to right and only pay attention to Ben gesticulating in the right side of the panel. Kirby was the master of making sure that we could read across properly to "get" the pacing of the story. Eisner was great about that as well, obviously.

So how much do you compress the story, and how much do you expand?. Bendis is considered the king of decompression in these modern times, a storytelling method that I tend to find almost a "tick" and stylistic choice, and one that I enjoy in Powers tremendously. The compression inherent in, say, the early Justice Leagues by Sekowsky and Fox, is so tight, that it almost offends my modern sensibilities. Hey, the original Starro attack on the JLA would at least have been worth two issues of the Avengers as layed out by Kirby and drawn by Heck.

I enjoy the decompression of the Manga that I get in Genshiken (my favorite manga of all time), but it would be foreign to me in, say, Spider Man or Fantastic Four. Pistoleras is as much a story of place to me as much as it is the story of the four girls and feminine empowerment. I want people to feel the heat of the desert of Mexico, and the crash of waves. I want them to get as much as they can in black and white and grey.

There are as many approaches to this as there are stories. Given a little more time and my scanner, I'll post some different examples. Any thoughts?