Wednesday, May 28, 2008

On Vacation: The Inkwell is Capped Til 14 June 2008

Off for a vacation, so I'll be taking the sketch book off to London and Paris and seeing what comes of all the travel.

I'll be back with news from travels, including some comics from the UK and other art news! see ya soon.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and the Spider-Man Originals Redux

Having read both the comments on my original post, along with the others were listed below heidi macdonald's link to my post, i stand convinced that Stan would not have been to donor of the amazing Fantasy #15 artwork. Having unfairly implicated him, I publicly retract some of my original comments/accusations.

This leads me to something that I've thought about posting for a long time, but simply haven't made the time to do: talk about the infamous warehouse that Marvel stored their artwork in. Its more than urban myth, but some of the story is worth bringing out. Watch for the fallout on this one.

And, for the record, just like with the Lee/Ditko piece, i'd rather get something wrong but get the discussion going so that the truth can either come out (or at least dispel rumors) along the way.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and the Spider-Man Originals

I am sure that most of us had the chance to see this little tidbit of information from the Library of Congree blog:
“Spider-senses” all around the Library were set tingling when we learned that the Library had just acquired 24 pages of original 1962 drawings from “Amazing Fantasy #15,” which marked the first time the world’s most famous web-slinger, Spider-Man, would appear in print anywhere. The Spider-Man origin story in “Amazing Fantasy” was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko; the pages are Ditko originals, complete with pencil erasures and white-out opaquing fluid.
and this bit on the actual donation and number of pages:

In a deed of superheroic proportions, an anonymous donor has given the Library of Congress the original artwork by Steve Ditko for Marvel Comics' "Amazing Fantasy #15" -- the comic book that introduced Spider-Man in August 1962.

This unique set of drawings for 24 pages features the story of the origin of Spider-Man along with three other short stories -- also written by Stan Lee and drawn by Steve Ditko -- for the same issue: "The Bell-Ringer," "Man in the Mummy Case" and "There Are Martians Among Us."

While I'm missing the attribution, it has been said that the donor asked Steve Ditko's blessing before making the donation, so the question is, who is the donor? Or should we say, who isn't the donor? And I certainly, with no other information other than real, true fanboy supposition, have to say: is there anyone in the world other than Stan Lee that could be the donor?

Lets use a little logic here. Artwork from that era is rare, and having an entire story together speaks volumes over who might have had their hands on the originals. Fantastic Four pages from a similar time frame have hardly shown up even after Jack's death, and when they do, they are split up and scattered across the world.

Who do we know that was around the office back then? Stan, Jack, Steve Ditko, Flo Steinberg in the office, Sol Brodsky in production, letterers like Artie Simek who would have worked in the bullpen. From the interviews, its hard to see Martin Goodman or any of the other Goodman family like his son Chip being there to get their hands on it. Most of these folks are dead, so we have to cross them off the list.

Who would have the motive to donate artwork like that, artwork that is worth a huge amount, potentially millions of dollars? We would have to posit that it was someone who was financially well off, someone who didn't need the money. In all that we know, Stan is well set up in a way that Jack and Steve never were and never would be. He was the company man for years and years, and has his name on all these properties, and I doubt that that has come cheap in his contracts. Plus, we know that he had a contract to get a piece of the films. Yes, the films.

What would be the motive about the donation? What would Stan have to gain by this? In his case, reputation. While Jack and Steve were marginalized over the years by Stan the Man while Stan was still at the helm, even ceremonially, of Marvel, time has done some interesting things to this particular legacy. Jack Kirby has literally been taken from obscurity at the end of his career and HERBIE the robot to being revered as a pop culture icon by multiple books and magazines. Stan, essentially, has been marginalized by those who have taken up Jack's torch and been carrying it since his debacle with the Marvel artwork return. Spider-Man is the one main bit of the Marvel pantheon that isn't Stan and Jack. Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Silver Surfer and all the rest - we could see them as proof of Jack's creative legacy.

Don't talk to me about Doctor Strange. This is Spider-Man. And this is Stan and Steve. This is Stan confirming his legacy outside of Jack Kirby. And with the Library of Congress donation there is both a certain level of legitimacy and immorality granted.

There really isn't any one else that could have had the chance to get their hands on the complete book. So why doesn't Stan come forward and simply admit that he wanted to donate the original issue for national posterity? Perhaps for the same reason that he wouldn't want to admit that he has some of the other artwork from the beginnings of the Marvel universe. When the pencillers and inkers signed the backs of their checks, they forfeited their rights to the work. But I doubt that Stan ever had to sign such a check. How much of a legal grey area is that artwork in? How much claim to that artwork could the former and current corporate owners have?

Until I hear differently, or other information comes to light, I'll be happy to assume that Stan is the one that made the donation. And while I'm not really sure that it changes my idea about him or his legacy, all I can say is this: as an artist, and a comic book fan, I've very glad that the artwork still exists and in good form. While I doubt that I'll ever get the chance to see it personally, I love knowing that those pages are out there, or at least in there.

Edit 5/21/08: If you direct linked here, then click here for the follow up post.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New Artwork: Golden and Yoakum at Super Con

The final scan of the Michael Golden piece before taking the thing to Super Con today in San Jose. Convention season is clearly rolling along through most of the country, and I'm looking forward to getting a chance to check out the new small press and indy stuff as well as meeting a few old friends down at the convention.

Michael's piece is amazing, with some awesome half tones that needed delicate treatment to make the art work. Come on down to Super Con and see the original!

Edit: the winning bidder was Blue Moon Comics in Novato CA. Go on by and tell Sam and Kyle that you want to see the Golden piece. Its up in the shop!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Artwork: Wonder Woman by Hughes & Yoakum

The finished piece for the Super Con auction of the Adam Hughes Wonder Woman. Enjoy!

I have no idea how many different versions of the artwork are out there, but this is easily the closest that I'll ever get to a Hughes original (I don't even have a con sketch from him in my art collection), so I wanted to make it good.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Art In Process: Michael Golden

Stopped myself the other night to take a break and threw the Golden piece on the scanner so that you can see the piece in process. you can tell the stuff that I went straight to (tenatacles!) and the stuff the I'm waiting on until my hand is really warmed up and ready for delicate work (the face).

Remember, Super Con is right around the corner!

Tentacles baby!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Coming Art: Michael Golden at Super Con

Have not a clue what this Michael Golden piece was originally done for, nor do I really care.

What I'm completely psyched about is the opportunity to put brush to paper to ink the thing. The scan at left is a detail from the photocopy of the original pencils. i've darkened it a bit in photoshop to make sure that it shows up well. The original, inks and all, will be up for auction at Super Con in San Jose. Get off your butt and go there. I mean, really, Golden, Frank Cho, Adam Hughes... how many more stars do you need?

Michael Golden may, for some, be a contentious figure. He is, however, a superb artist and was, at least to me, a star from day one at DC with his Man-Bat and Demon in the Batman Family books. They were raw, true, but they were bursting with originality and power and a great eye. Over time, he has developed other unique looks, and remains one of the true originals that we've seen over the last 30 years in superheroes. Bid well, bid often.

And for once, I agree with Todd McFarlane: Avengers Annual #10 is one of the crowning achievements in superhero comics books. Its just that good.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

In Review Of: Local #11 by Wood and Kelly

With the penultimate issue of Local, Kelly and Wood have given us yet another interesting slice of Megan's life, this time one in which I'm sure many other reviewer will point out that she appears to almost be an ancillory character in, when in reality she is there from the cover.

Megan for all her travels, her of the small rucksack and the desire to bolt at a monents notice, has been always had things with her, psychic and physical baggage, that she has lugged around from city to city, place to place. The girl least likely to be tied down by posessions is, in fact, defined by stuff. The postcards from her brother, the polaroids from the guy in issue #2. More than that, we're with her, and we have defined Megan by her loot as well, so we feel some of her pain at having her life pinned like a dead butterfly up on a gallery wall. Very few of us would like to have that happen to us. Its an act of violation.

And yet, as the finale shows us, its also an act of freeing her from her past. Much like spring cleaning with a disinterested 3rd party who can really be brutal, Megan has chunks of her past taken away... and its liberating in its own way. Kelly's art if quite good; he's grown tremendously as a storyteller from the first issues, and in subtle ways. Wood's story and dialog is on, and conveys quite a bit without overplaying his hand in any one scene.

Local has been a really nice read, and I'm quite happy to pick this up in the trade so that I can have it on the bookshelf. I liked this series enough to violate my "pamplet" policy, which says something. I have no doubt that it will read even better as a trade actually. The chapters will flow together and there will, no doubt, be better continuity that in the irregularly spaced floppies. If you've not been buying this, then wait and pick up the trade. Its worth the money.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Coming Art: Adam Hughes at Super Con

A small sample of the Adam Hughes piece that many of us will be inking for the charity Art Auction at Super Con. I know that there are a few pieces floating around on the ComicArtFans site, but I wanted to post one here for everyone to check out. i'll post the finished inks now that I've got a new scanner that can do this large work!

The problem here is always the same with a penciller that gives you this much information: you can only mess it up if you're not paying attention. Adam has basically given you much of the line weight and detail, now you just have to pick and choose what to put in and leave out. Very different from the Michael Golden piece.

Which we'll see tomorrow.