Thursday, April 26, 2007

New Buying Habits: David Lapham's Silverfish

Newsarama has an interview with David Lapham, one of my favorite creators, and a fun guy to work with, and I can't help but plug that he has a new project out, a 155 page graphic novel called Silverfish.

I knew David from the days back at Defiant Comics, and was psyched to see him move on to doing El Capitan and Stray Bullets when Defiant closed its doors. Inking Plasm #7 over his pencils was incredibly cool and I wish that I had see it get better coloring and printing than it eventually got.

Stray Bullets was a great kick in the head and deserved all the praise that it got. David and Maria got it right first time out of the door.

I've not run into David in a couple years now, but he's a great guy who deserves all the success in the world. Go pick up his book, vote with your dollars on buying the good stuff and supporting creators who deliver the goods on both story and art.
This would be a great month to not buy that Marvel or DC book that you've been buying out of habit.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

In Defense of: Tom Brevoort and Manga

i'm seeing a lot of posts around the blogoverse regarding Tom Brevoort's column/blog on Manga and, for the most part, people are really having a go at Tom for his remarks. While normally taking pot shots at Marvel is pretty easy these days, I wanted to get the context of what he's saying. Here are the quotes that seem to be getting everyone's panties in a bunch:
I see the rise and spread of manga in this country as additive to the comic book market, rather than directly competing with what we do.... What manga has done is to get a lot more people reading comics. And while they may really only like that one type of comic, at least at the moment, that does open the door to the potential that we could lure some of those readers into checking out what we're doing.
And with that, I completely agree. There is nothing factually wrong with what he's saying, but what is going unsaid is how Marvel and DC will be bending to that Manga reading crowd over the next 20-30 years. Think about the work that was being published coming out of the late 60's: you had a generation fueled by Neal Adams and Jim Steranko that sparked Paul Gulacy and Bill Sienkiewicz and a whole host of others that dominated the direction of art for the next decade.

For the kids now entranced by Manga we'll see the continuation of Manga-fied Spidey as a way to keep the character relevant. Does anyone think that anyone would have published Humberto Ramos 20 years ago? He'd have been relegated to the "never use" slush pile that every editor has sitting in a corner of their crowded office. Things clearly have changed. The kids who did Teen Titans Go! will be looking for that for the next 10 to 20 years.

So, yes Tom, they will become graphically literate and may start to check out what Marvel and DC are doing, but chances are that the "big 2" will have to adapt more than they want to admit to survive and capitalized on those kids.

I think that Tom is getting piled on because he's a Marvel Editor, and he's speaking from that viewpoint. Nothing wrong with that at all, and it should mean something that he's openly speaking about Manga at all, since Marvel and DC had been pointedly ignoring Manga (TokyoPop and the rest) for a number of years. So whatever other stuff you have against Marvel, this acknowledgement shouldn't be one of them.

Tom concludes:
So there's a definite crossover of ideas and approaches going on.
Cool. Good summation. If there is anything that I love, it's that 2007 has more good ideas and more good stuff than we saw 10 years by far. Viva La Good Ideas!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Old Iron Man vs. New Iron Man

While I would have had fun scanning the cover of Iron Man #18 (which is still one of the best Iron Man covers of all time), instead I had fun finding this image:

That's just great.

Will the real Tony Stark please show up?

Monday, April 23, 2007

In Review Of: The Mighty Avengers by Bendis & Cho

Haven't we moved beyond this?

I just read the first two pages of the new Avengers series so I'm reacting on instinct here, not on a reasoned and long thought out review of the two issue old series.

But, you're rebooting the Avengers, and you're picking and choosing which toys you want to play with like a kid drunk on children's sudafed running loose thru Toys-R-Us.

And you pick the Ultron doll.

I love Ultron, who has been a neurotic butt-kicking adamatium robot and supplied plenty of thrills, whether done by Roy Thomas and a young Barry Smith or Jim Shooter and George Perez, and I want to see him done right.

What I got, however, is an arbitrary decision to make Ultron a nude human female for the sake of cheesecake. And, in this day and age, to have to resort to the stupid little wisps of smoke over the nipples seems silly. If you want to make him a nude female, do it in a book that can have nudity, if not, then design a different female Ultron body, one with seams and lines, and keep the coloring consistent from page to page, so that you don't have to do the coy Gypsy Rose Lee cover-up.

I hope that this is going somewhere new, because we've seen Jocasta and we've done this story. And I have to say that while I dislike some of what Bendis is doing with the book, overall I enjoyed the set up of the new team, and think that putting Ares on the team is a hoot. Sentry, on the other hand, is annoying, and had better be leading to something or it will be a huge waste of time.

Can you believe it, I'm actually commenting on a mainstream Marvel book. Didn't think that that would happen.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Alex Ross: The Bulge That Ate Chicago

C'mon, do we really need to get riled up over this?

And by this I mean the argument over whether Steel has a hard on or not.

Its clear that he has something going on down there, but I've seen waaaaaay too many homophobic blogs from men who would have no problem with prepetually erect nipples on Wanda and She-Hulk and labia hugging thongs on Fairchild of Gen 13 or the current Star Sapphire cringing over the moderate bulge presented here. Brian Cronin's description of the image as "creepy" is just bizarre. Don MacPherson even goes over the top with this line: And if one looks closely, it’s not just his fists and flesh that are hard as a rock.

As for those arguing that he has an erection, I have one thing to say: If you think that that is an erect penis, I feel very sorry for your significant others. Really.

With Ross here, we live and die by the International Male Photo Reference. Personally, I'm way more jealous of his abs. You know how hard it is to get that six pack?

I'm cool with it. Why's it buggin' you so much?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Evanier's New Book: Kirby: King of Comics

Mark Evanier, who has done such a great job of actually not just keeping Jack's legacy alive, but expanding on it (a tricky task in itself) with mis-appropriating it, is finally going to release his book: Kirby: King of Comics this fall in 2007. The Amazon description is as follows:

Jack Kirby created or co-created some of comic books’ most popular characters including Captain America, The X-Men, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, The Mighty Thor, Darkseid, and The New Gods. ... Almost everything that was different about comic books began in the forties on the drawing table of Jack Kirby. This is his story by one who knew him well—the authorized celebration of the one and only “King of Comics” and his groundbreaking work.

“I don’t think it’s any accident that . . . the entire Marvel universe and the entire DC universe are all pinned or rooted on Kirby’s concepts.” —Michael Chabon

Original pull-out poster art by Alex Ross
I've linked out to the Amazon page, but if you really care, take the ISBN number to your local book shop and have them order it. Chances are that they could use each and every sale.

This is due out October 1, 2007, if they publish on time. Pity it won't be out for San Diego.

While I've never really met mark and sat down with him, I enjoy that he does as much work as he does in the comics and pop culture realm, and also appreciate that he answered my queries about the Kirby signature that was on the FF #20 page that I purchased last year. His work in the Jack Kirby Collector is always a good read if you ask me!

Lets Talk: Eisner Nominations 2007

The Eisner nominations have just been released for this year, and I wanted to dissect just a few of them, starting with an interesting list for the Hall of Fame:

Hall of Fame

Judges’ Choices: Robert Kanigher and Ogden Whitney

Voters will choose four from among:
  • Ross Andru & Mike Esposito
  • Dick Ayers
  • Bernard Baily
  • Matt Baker
  • Wayne Boring
  • Creig Flessel
  • Harold Gray
  • Irwin Hasen
  • Graham Ingels
  • Joe Orlando
  • Lily RenĂ©e (Peters) Phillips
  • Bob Powell
  • Gilbert Shelton
  • Cliff Sterrett
Now, each of the last couple years there have been a few complete no-brainers, ones the no one in their right mind with passing knowledge of comics could pass up for the Hall of Fame, but this year we've got more than a few open to interpretation and debate. Here are, for better or worse, my picks to vote for:

Cliff Sterrett - One of the true unacknowledged masters of the comic medium from the early 20th Century. Very few people seem to know about him, but the artwork on his strip Polly and Her Pals continues to delight me whenever I crack open any of my kitchen sink reprints. Not nearly as heralded as Krazy Kat or Nemo, and I agree that his work is a step below those masters, but I like it much better than many of his comtemporaries. Cliff gets my vote.

Matt Baker - Good Girl artist extraordinaire gets the next vote. The master of the Headlight Cover (Note to Heidi Meeley: We need to put up an old Matt Baker cover for your "Is it gratuitious?" feature) could really draw when he wanted to and that helps to get my vote. He had solid composition skills, even when his elements were pulchritude and created a true look, something that the better artists are able to do.

Harold Gray - All the debate over Harold's politics has washed away over time, which might allow us to take a better look at the quality of his comic strip. Since his strip was rooted in the times that it was being drawn, Little Orphan Annie had a great deal of social and political commentary, which invariably was something that predjudiced readers for or against him. (My two daughters have discovered the Annie movie musical, and I've not the heart to bring up the unlikelihood of a black female assistant marrying a rich white billionaire back in the 1930s, much less how Daddy Warbucks made his millions.) Harold was a shrewd observer of his times, and made no bones about using the strip to comment, skillfully, on what was happening around him. Annie's eyes may be vacant, but her head isn't. I vote Annie and Sandy in to the Hall of Fame. Harold was skillful enough to raise the hackles of people who disagreed with him.

Here is where it gets tough: there are any number of others who will have partisans in their corner, but it will be tricky to get a critical mass to actually vote for Ingels or Boring. I would disagree with Andru and Esposito being in the Hall of Fame for instance, or even Wayne Boring for that matter. Competence and longevity are not the things that should get you into the Hall of Fame, and that is where I place them. Gilbert Sheldon may have been unconventional, but he was a true trailblazer, and there are far more Furry Freak Bros. tattoos on stoners than their are Wayne Boring Supermen. My final vote would go to Sheldon or Joe Orlando.

Agree or disagree?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Blast from the Past: Void Indigo


Happened to run across this, a link to plot for Void Indigo #3-6, Steve Gerber's much reviled, overlooked and, now infamous, work from the early '80's. Along with Val Mayerik, Void Indigo simply was too different to succeed back then; the sex combined with too many disturbing images, too much weirdness in the story about the coming of the Dark Gods, just pretty too much everything.

Of course today it would sell buckets.

But back then it was a total of one graphic novel, god knows how long it too Val to paint the entire thing but I hope he got a good page rate, and two issues of Marvel's Epic line.

And it was an odd failure. Steve, in his post-Howard the Duck and Man-Thing days, kept branching out and trying new stuff: not all of it was successful, but I give him major points for trying back then as a fan. As a professional now I appreciate the amount of work that he was putting out. In any case, you're bound to have some successes and some failures along the way.

Comics back in 1980 were a bizarre mixed bag. You certainly had a number of creators that had grown past superhero comics, Gerber, McGregor and Starlin for instance, that were trying to say different things, deeper stories and were looking for venues to do so, but the publishers needed reliable outlets for their magazines, and there needed to be an audience to buy this stuff.
And there wasn't yet any of these things. And yet still they tried, through Marvel's epic line, through the first Graphic Novels, to bravely determine if anyone would buy stories about love and revenge and aliens and death where the good guys didn't always win, and things weren't always so clean at the end. God bless the pioneers.

So yeah, Void Indigo. I always kinda wondered what would have happened next. Now I know. god bless the internet for keeping things like this around.

First Look: the Original Iron Man


Not the fascist Tony Stark currently running (ruining) the Marvel Universe, but the real one ala Don Heck and Jack Kirby and Paul Reinman. Go kick some Mandarin butt Tony. And say "hello" to Professor Yen Sin.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

In Review of: Johnny Hart's B.C.

Someone, a long time ago, made a point of putting a time limit on the comic strip: i.e. any single strip that hit 35 years needed to be retired. Even the great Peanuts was tired at 35 years of age, and finished up its run dimming the memory of just how good it was in its decade long prime.

B.C., which obviously will end with Johnny Hart's death, will end, but it will be remembered more for the its controversy than for its earlier highlights. As a child, I read the paperback collections that were published in the 60's and 70's and didn't always get the sardonic tone that Hart had in the strip, not did I get some of his more obscure puns, but there were others that were so simple and direct that they were the equivalent of a visual knock-out punch.

What, unfortunately, will be remembered, is Hart's overt religious stance in the last 16 years of his life, and the effect that it had on his strip. The Washington Post's Obit on Hart has two paragraphs on two of the most directly offensive strips from the last 16 years of B.C.:

One Easter "B.C." strip showed a menorah's candles being extinguished as the candelabra morphs into a cross; the final frame included the words, "It is finished." To his critics, this symbolized a triumph of Christianity over Judaism, but Mr. Hart said it was meant to "pay tribute to both" religions.

Muslims were enraged by another "B.C." strip that ran during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It featured an outhouse with multiple crescents -- a symbol associated with Islam -- and showed a cave man saying from inside the makeshift bathroom, "Is it just me, or does it stink in here?"

Wow, that's really subtle. Hart also has this quote from 1999:

"I don't know if it's the liberalization of this country or whatever [that] has taken prayer out of schools and pulled the Ten Commandments off the walls of courts, and we've become a nation of heathens. The Christians are still out there, but they're hiding," he said. "They're afraid because every time somebody tries to make a move, somebody steps on them and pushes them back or locks them out. So they think that I'm a hero, and I'm not. . . . That's probably the most pathetic thing of all, that they admire me and think that I'm courageous and brave to mention God's name."
Guess what, last I heard, there was separation of church and state in this country. And, by the way, calling the rest of the country "heathens" if they don't believe what you believe is a good way to get people to hate you, even people like me, who strongly believe in the right for you to say whatever you wish with your art. Even if it gets you into trouble.

No one gets a free pass with their death, and, personally, I dislike Hart's overtly religious cartoons, no matter who they're directed at, even while I appreciate the talent in the early years. Unlike the Anti-terrorist cartoons that landed the dutch in trouble (since they were labeled as anti-muslim), his cartoon have no specific statement, other than: "My religion is better than yours." If you want to go after my work when I'm dead, don't pull your punches, 'cause my feelings won't be hurt, I promise you.


Especially using a caveman to write a poem lamenting Jesus' death. Sorry, the title of your terrible screed is "B.C." as in "Before Christ". This is the only bit of continuity cop I'll bother to play: duh, Johnny, Jesus hadn't been born yet.


I won't miss having to watch more trees destroyed for B.C. or the miserable Wizard of ID. Both strips are better off six feet under.


Edited to add this terrible news:

Daily strips already done by Hart will run through April 28, and Sundays through May 20.

In tribute to Hart, his family will select six weeks of their favorite “B.C.” strips to run daily between April 30 and June 9, and Sunday between May 27 and July 1.

After that, “B.C.” will resume its regular schedule. As previously reported, Hart’s children and grandchildren will continue the comic.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

MIA

Sorry to have been missing but real life has been calling. I'll be back soon with new reviews and comments on:

  • the seven soldiers of confusion... er... victory
  • a concentrated dose of Y: the last man
  • a new Pistoleras cover
  • more good stuff!