Thursday, December 30, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
The Tanukas that is. Asaf and Tomer.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
What sort of fandom demands so much from creators without being willing to meet them halfway, or in fact, to even so much as click a link or type a URL? Whatever Colleen Doran's failings may be as an Internet entrepreneur, how much more the failings of the fans who let their own apathy and greed prevent them from supporting things they say they supposedly like?
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
So, I thought I’d riff a little bit on what I think Evan is getting at – because I definitely remember when the L ’n R Sketchbook came out and how big of a deal it was for many of us at the timeReally? Perhaps it was in your comic shop at the time. I was reading Love and Rockets from issue #5, and when the sketchbook came it, it was like, "Cool, an artbook with Jamie's work." I don't know why it would have been seen as a "minor bombshell", but clearly both Frank and Evan Dorkin saw it at the time, so it just goes to show how different the reaction was. But it makes the point that, given the scarcity of the material back in the day, that each new work that WASN'T superheroes was a revelation, something to be held up and examined by the light from all angles. There was that little out there.
It was a bitter pill to swallow when I had to “sell” Love and Rockets to a new reader when I worked at a comics shop. It is hard to remember a time when I thought Los Bros.’ star would dim in the hearts of new fans. But I would just do just my best Bill Boichel impression and would explain that it was like The Beatles, insomuch as they changed everything. “Well, I never liked The Beatles,” said the twenty-year-old college sophomore. And as a retailer or a guy working for a retailer, what am I supposed to say to that?
I feel like I meet people who are new comics readers all the time – and when I ask them what they like, they invariably say, in one form or another, “all kinds of things.” They like Sin City and they like Ghost World. They like Naruto and they like Barefoot Gen.
Monday, November 29, 2010
You may have lost business to the internet, but that's only because, as I was coming of age, there was so much more interesting content being generated for free, by folks who made it for free, on the Internet than in your paper and ink, overpriced pamphlet.as if Colleen was the one who was doleing out assignments and pricing and packaging the stuff herself over at Marvel. Perhaps that particular author should have been checking out her own work, A Distant Soil instead of assuming that the only comic out there was the latest X-Men crossover.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
First, it was difficult for me to find things that suited my tastes as I got older. They turned out to be out there, but I really had to look. Shounen and shoujo get the splash ads in the magazines, the pages at the back of other manga, the bookstore displays and the clever catchphrases….…it cannot be overemphasized how much American comics shops, who have the adult readers of Watchmen etc. and sell the indie comics meant for adults, used to hate manga. I am not joking nor overstating when I say that at the place that used to harass me, I would come in and ask for manga and be told 'We don't order that ridiculous girlie crap and your boyfriend should know better than to send you in to ask for it'.At this point my household just goes into the local comics shop, they give us their distributor catalogs, and we do all our ordering ourselves because they have no idea what we are talking about. There is no marketing force behind manga for adults. When we ask company reps at cons, they say it's because it doesn't sell, but I think there may be a bit of a catch-22 loop going there: it doesn't sell because it isn't marketed because it doesn't sell because it isn't marketed...
I don't think any young fans (or at least not the majority of them) actually go around thinking "Aah, Bleach is the shit, but when I turn 21, I am never reading manga again." They may gradually succumb to societal pressure not to do such weird stuff, but I don't think any fandom actually thinks within itself their fandom is something that must be "grown out of." There will always be some people who grow out of it naturally, and some people who go on cosplaying into their 20s and 30s, no matter how embarrassing and awkward it is for everyone else at the anime convention.
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Monday, November 01, 2010
Forget where I heard about “Street Angel”, but it was another review that was good enough that I ended up bugging my LCS Blue Moon Comics to order me a copy. What I got was a good read, but one that shows the tricky part of collecting the learning curve. Its steep and not entirely smooth and in one place it shows up, bumps and all.
The early stories are a black and white hoot, showing Rugg and Maruca running roughshod through enough comic book tropes that we instinctively know just what their stunted childhood was spent doing. The aforementioned street angel, Jesse Sanchez, is a fun character that doesn’t need to make any other sense that doing all the cool stuff that we can’t do in our world: being the world’s greatest homeless skateboarder and ninja destroyer while having a legless skateboarding buddy to boot. Its fun, totally goofy shit that looks like the old Wally Wood 1960’s Thunder Agents in places. Its also totally forgettable beyond the laughs.
But by the 4th story in the compilation, Down in the Dumpster Blues, writer Rugg is growing by leaps and bounds and a lot of the goofy ninja shit is gone, What we’re left with is some growing emotional honesty about jesse’s homelessness and lack of food and the embarrassment from a single stare for a classmate as Jesse stands in a dumpster. The interaction is both light and heavy in equal measure and crackles with low volume/high emotional resonance. Artist Rugg is also growing, relying less on solid blacks alone and pulling out the quill and brush to add a ton of texture and grey to a less black and white world.
It is my best guess that the artwork here was originally meant to be printed at regular comic size but has been reduced to digest size, which tightens up the linework, but can start to drop out smaller details as well. In this case, the scans seem solid, but there is a real lack of impact with it’s small size that I bet was in the originals. Dumpster blues would be something that I know that I would be impressed to have sitting on my drawing board at 10 x 15 size.
Hero Time, the direct follow up story continues the impressive artwork, as well as a far more cohesive story. The pacing is excellent, as are the pastiche’s of 1970’s marvel comics included in the story. Suddenly, Jesse and an older, wiser Afrodisiac are fighting an almost impossible battle, and we get a great little comic gem of a story.
Rugg's layouts and composition have improved greatly by this issue. Did i mention that learning curve earlier? Hero Time is far more mature in its storytelling and its aims, veering from the sardonic to the serious to the revelation that all the Afrodisiac's efforts to save the Earth have long since been lost by the next generation, a slightly bittersweet view of the aftermath of every other issue of the Fantastic Four or the Avengers circa 1972. Gerber as one of the few to try and address this with his classic Howard the Duck issue, "What do you do, the day after you saved the Universe?"
Of course, in the back are the covers, a great collection of Rugg doing lots of visual pastiche: Harold Grey, rob Liefeld, and Dan Clowes to name a few. And the obligatory sketchbook pages. But the meat? Its in issues #4 and #5 here. A fun read, and worth searching out or getting your local guy to order!
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Enter the Dark is a clever, scary, fun piece that delivers with a punch and a cool ending.
- All Things Horror review:
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
After delivering his keynote speech, in which he discussed the issues of copyright and ownership versus contributing to the greater culture, Mark Waid attempted to return to his seat. But he never made it. Because cartoonist Sergio Aragones confronted Waid face to face, right there during the award ceremony, to argue the point.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
As Johanna Draper Carlson points out, DC is already backing away from the original version of the OGNs, which brings us right back to a subject that i feel i've covered ad nauseaum over the last few years: the format wars.
How to present the material hat you have to a diverse clientele is a tricky one, especially since you have such different markets with Borders and Barnes and Noble in competition with the Local Comic Shop.
But how many cross over customers are there? The large bookstores that are in my area essentially eschew the weekly pamphlet format in favor of TPBs, while the LCS tends to carry a mix of both. How many people are really shopping both at this point?
DC has become, with the cancellation of essentially every experimental line that they have, from Minx to their manga line, relentlessly conservative. They have retrenched physically and mentally, deleting the new versions of their heroes in favor of the silver age versions, why should it surprise anyone that they've also deleted all the different formats that they've experimented with?
DC Comics has returned to the Silver Age. Unfortunately, their audience is living in 2010.
Doing manga? nope. Digest books? nope. Diversity in heroes? nope. Comics for girls? nope. Keeping Vertigo running? barely. Original Graphic Novels? nope. Monthly pamphlets about white males? Yup.
How's Milestone doing these days?
What's fascinating is that pretty much everyone else is able to make interesting things happen with the OGN market except a company with the greatest outreach and resources to do it. If necessity is the mother of invention, then perhaps corporate resources are the father of conservatism here.
A few more pages to go...
Friday, August 06, 2010
I'm not fast, but i think that i'm getting better.
For those in the SF Bay Area, i'm trying to get into APE in October. Haven't heard whether or not I've got the table, but I'll let you all know the minute that I know!
Thursday, August 05, 2010
But then you miss a bit of the voyage doing that. I suppose.
The Human Hourglass has been running around my head for a number of years, but i lacked a few of the pieces to pull it all together. Odd how life works, it finally came together on a plane, far from anything even resembling noir. More like small inedible dinners served on biodegradable plastic. Inspiration comes from weird places. Being a mere 5 pages from the finish is rather invigorating.
Also, the first issue of Radical Publishing's TimeBomb is out on the stands as off last week, so go take a look. I ink the first 21 pages of Paul Gulacy, and you'd have thought it was 1999 and we were working on Batman: Outlaws. Except this time with a really cool story and killer coloring. Take a look and let me know what you think. Been ten years since i've had anything out on the stands.
Monday, August 02, 2010
I'm not the average house husband, but i usually do the morning ritual, this the pretty damn true to life. Olivia cracked up when i gave the artwork back to her.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
You see, while the rest of the United States thought that this was Starblazers, some of us with the bootleg Japanese originals at hand knew that this was the series of movies with the Space Cruiser Yamato. And while the US science fiction series still struggled with little things like Twiki saving the day AND delivering the best one liners on Buck Rodgers, we were watching planets getting blown up, crew members dying, a drunk saki swilling doctor, moral dilemmas of adult complexity, and Dessler, one of science fiction's most interesting villians.
Whole civilizations dying? Pollution and ecological themes? A freakin' Wave Motion gun? Check, check and check.
Be Forever Yamato and the others were epic.
Seeing this translated into the real world makes my year.
Friday, July 23, 2010
My Wife and Sister-In-Law also have a new blog, that I've added to the blogroll on the right. Surrogate Cities is the name and while i doubt that comics will ever, ever appear in that blog, the writing is great, so go take a look.
back to work. After all, if all of the comics creators in north America are in southern California, who is creating all the stuff that we want to read?
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Let me try to explain.
There are rituals and there are rituals. Long after Iron Man #72 introduced me to the idea of attending the convention, then still located in the old San Diego Convention Center in the middle of downtown, I attended my first convention in 1988. I was an unpublished neophyte sleeping underneath my leather jacket on the floor of the Westgate Hotel thanks to the generosity of Ron Lim. I believe that i picked up the splash page to Master of Kung fu #40 that year, as well as watching the classic Gil Kane cover to Iron Man #66 get sold right before my eyes.
Did i mention that it was a heady experience? Oh, and i would have to wait a whole nother year before meeting Jack Kirby for the first time.
This set a pattern. For the next two decades plus I've journeyed each year down to SD for a variety of reasons. And I recall them all for the touch points on my life: meeting Jack for the first time in 1989, hanging with Dringenberg and buying Sandman #8 pages in '91, meeting David Lapham in '92, drinking with Wrightson, Russell and Kaluta at the Omni in '94, signing at the DC booth with my Batman book about to hit the stands two weeks after the con in '00, taking the chance of missing my wife going into labor with our second child in '03. I've been going down there longer than i've been married, had children, pretty much longer than anything.
And this is the first year that i'm not going down. And I'll miss it. But there are a ton of things that i'm not sure i'll miss. I'm going to miss all my long time contacts that i see once a year on that packed convention floor. I'm going to miss the ease with which i navigate those aisles to get where i want to go. I'm going to miss taking down a new pitch as i did with lis fies in '08 and taking meetings. I miss the smell of belonging.
but I'm not going to miss not belonging. This business is merciless, and despite inking part of Palmiotti and Gulacy's Timebomb for Radical, I'm not part of their marketing on the book. No one gives a shit that i did those pages. I got paid well for them, but, lets face it, my ego isn't getting stroked for helping to get the book out.
I want to matter more. I love this medium and as i sip some tequila and draw a bunch of new pictures on paper hoping that some will care and yet caring not because it feels so good to be drawing and having something cool appear out of nowhere on a blank sheet of paper, I miss the getting on the plane with my portfolio tomorrow morning, as i have for 23 year, and landing in the humidity of SD.
I want to contribute to the graphic novel market that i swore would come back in 1996 when i sat in the bullpen at Valiant and tried to convince everyone that the day would come. That the market would eventually accept us. I SAW this, I saw this all. And i wish that i had the time to make more pages, to convert the stories ion my head into physical books faster.
I want to matter more. And its hard not to.
So I won't be be walking aisles of SD this year, critiquing the new hardbacks, trying to figure out which party to crash, which packed san diego restrauant to slide into. Dick's Last Resort will have to do without me.
I want to matter more. And its hard not to.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Its not that I've not been reading comics, or thinking about comics, or doing some sketching on my recent trip to New York. I just haven't been motivated to talk about comics. In most any way shape or form.
I simply haven't had the energy to talk about finally getting down to reading the entire run of Planetary up to the final trade (when it comes out), or getting to read Madame Xanadu, or getting my Adam Hughes cover parade book or sitting back down to finish up the Human Hourglass pages.
Sorry. My bad. Although I'm not sure that anyone really missed me. There are just so few minutes in life and I wasn't spending any of them constructing great and funny thoughts about storytelling or artwork or anything. Perhaps if I was a faster and better typist it would be easier to get them out, but that would preclude the editing process.
I need to be a Dragon software adoptee. Seriously.
Recent trip to New York: me with an old friend from the Acclaim days to discuss what he's publishing these days. Should anything work out I'll let you all know. Took time in the Met and the MoMA to pull out my sketchbook and draw a little Modigliani and Klimt. The heat and humidity felt wonderful and having my daughters lead me through the subway passages at Union Square made me proud.
New York inspires me and makes me want to do art. There is some vitality in the people and the energy that makes me want to work. You walk around and see everyone and think that somewhere in that naked city area a million visual ideas and they're just bouncing around in your head and you need to get them out.
Stay tuned. Above sketch of my daughter playing on my wife's iPhone on the flight to NYC.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Coming up at a time when illustrators were able to be inspired by some of the classic american comic artist such as Raymond and Foster, as well as seeing Lyendecker and others create what we now know as the classic age of American illustrators, Al had a facility with a brush that was matched only by Frazetta and Wood as his contemporaries. It was technique along with the eyes to saw, really saw, the compositions and the structure necessary to make the whole piece work. There was no trick to it other than bloody hard work.
His work on EC remains my favorite, while some prefer Rip Kirby or Secret Agent Corrigan. Even his work on the Blade Runner adaption in the 1980's is stellar.
Of personal reflections, I have none. I had dinner with him in a group once or twice and I don't think that i ever got the chance to sit next him. Mores the shame. I was just happy as could be to be in the presence of such a great man. I'm sorry that there was no chance to one day wrangle the chair next to Al so that i could discuss brushes with him, or, well... just anything.
The great ones are great and we all just sit back and get mesmerized by their work. Al influenced generations of inkers and artists. As it should be. Rest in peace Al.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
We use the words like "Genius" and "Master" pretty loosely. After all, there are a number of fabulous artists around that we can get impressed by, and those words trip off the tongue pretty easily.
Very rarely should we consider someone to be utterly in a class by themselves, and with his paintings, Frank was that. Illustration magazine has been making a good case for us to fall back in love with many of the early 20th century illustrators and pulp magazine painters, yet for the most part, their work has a nostalgic appeal. It has skill, yes, but for all the George Rozen Shadow covers that i find briliant and iconic, they simply aren't a Rockwell. Or a Leyendecker.
Frazetta's approach, technique, color sense and, very importantly, composition were game changers in every sense of the word. For all those that had worked in the fantasy genre before him, we see almost no precedent to his Conan, to the sense that he brought to those paintings.
He was a true artist in that, once you saw the piece, it appeared as if he had shown you another world that should have always existed, but that you simply hadn't seen before. The best artists show us things that should have been obvious and yet, somehow, we had never seen them.
His comic work prior to that is pretty well known, although i doubt that many have poured over Johnny Comet as much as the Death Dealer. I personally enjoy, as a single piece, this Buck Rodgers cover from the 1950's, with a peer in skill, Wally Wood, inking Frank's pencils. Not only is it a gorgeous piece in terms of technique (at his peak, Wood was an astonishing technician with regards to texture and light), but the composition is magnificent.
As an artist, I can look at this piece and start to dissect it, look at how it was achieved, look at the choices that Frank and Wally made along the way. Same thing with the aforementioned Johnny Comet newspaper strip. When i get to Frank's Conan covers, I get lost. Completely and utterly lost in the colors, the textures, the circular compositions that make you want to look at everything all at the same time and don't allow you to concentrate on any one thing. They don't have to be perfect (although I defy you to have the balls to tell me ways to improve any of the Conan pieces) to mesmerize. They helped to define an era of art, of shrinking genre paperback books that we trapped in a world that was busy trying to pretend that it didn't need them. Like the Beatles or Elvis, there is pre and there is post and we are now utterly post-Frazetta.
Your younger reader who is used to seeing graphic novels and trade paperbacks in the book store will have a hard time understanding that there was a time when you would walk into the Brentano's bookstore and in the "cartoon" section would be some of the oddest books imaginable smashed up against each other. Back in the glorious days of 1978 one would find the Garfield collections next to Doonesbury collections next to Peanuts next to The Art of Frank Frazetta. Astonishingly, they wouldn't put his art book in the "art" section many times but in the "cartoon" section since, obviously, it had barbarians and other fantastical worlds, so it couldn't be ART. Therefore it was cartoon, right? I dare anyone to look into the eyes of a Frazetta female and tell me "that come hither so I can kill you" look is cartoony and should be next to Garfield.
Rest in Peace Frank.