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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: comics, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 1,574
26. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Leila del Duca

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I recently discovered Leila Del Duca’s work on the excellent new comic Shutter, published by Image Comics. It’s exciting to see a young artist find the perfect project for their specific set of skills, and watch them tap into their potential month in, and month out.

Leila has been drawing comics since she earned her Bachelors degree in illustration from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Denver, CO back in 2007. She’s had a prolific career so far, drawing a number of comics including Escape From Terra, The Pantheon Project and Deadskins. She also served as Art Director for the Denver-based anthology Cellar Door in 2011.

She currently lives in Missoula, Montana, and you can follow her on her blog here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

0 Comments on Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Leila del Duca as of 7/9/2014 2:47:00 PM
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27. By Its Cover (06.25.14 – 07.02.14)

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This is me still sort of figuring out where I want to go with this column. A side effect of so much comics output being monthly serials is that I often don’t have anything new to say in terms of design if a series has locked onto a solid trade dress. Maybe this is a column that should be bi-weekly? Or maybe I should put the focus more on weekly topics.


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X-O Manowar #26 by Clayton Crain

This illustration is pretty plain and static, but that almost kind of works when most of the other covers out there are trying so hard to out-action each other. What I really want to draw your attention to is the trade dress. Placing the publisher logo and issue number in a bar at the top allows the logo to be centered while still passing the Hibbs Test. It’s an elegant solution that’s almost video game-esque. Ironically, this cover wouldn’t work well in the land of video game box art, where guy-standing covers have become an epidemic.

Personally, I hope Valiant will apply this change to all their covers.

 

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X-O Manowar #26 by Trevor Hairsine

I love the way the logo here blends into the second image at the bottom, and having the central figure overlap the logo and both images does a great job of creating a sense of depth in a dynamic way. My main problem with the image is that coloring the silhouettes orange initially causes me to read them as cut-outs. I might’ve tried to use a color that contrasts against the orange at the bottom of the top image, like a cyan, or a green to match the background toward the top of the cover (which would contrast the red).

 

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Brass Sun #2 by INJ Culbard

The trade dress still rocks just as much as last time I looked at it. I would’ve maybe gone for a lower angle in the illustration to make the scene more dramatic, but it fits the space nicely.

 

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 Dead Body Road TP by Matteo Scalera

I’m glad they went for a composition that made the logo very easy to read for the collected edition. Low angles are very dramatic, and the giant logo looks larger than life in comparison to the figures.

 

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Black Widow #8 by Phil Noto

You can almost never go wrong with a Phil Noto illustration. The only thing I’d change is that I kind of wish the invisible dividing line was over to the right a little more, making that vertical black bar only about 1/3 the width of the page, which would also give more room for the scenic backdrop on the left side. Here’s a sloppy edit to give you an idea of what I mean.

 

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All-New X-Factor #10 by Kris Anka & Jared Fletcher

I love the energy of this cover. I particularly like how the positioning Polaris’ hand blast compliments the logo. It took me a moment to to recognize the objects behind them as police cars, but I don’t have any specific suggestions on what could’ve helped.

 

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 Libretto Vol. 1: Vampirism by mention3

This is a nicely creepy image. My only complaint is the weird way his head touches the top of the frame, as if he tried to jump and knocked his head on the image boundary.

 

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Green Arrow #33 by Andrea Sorrentino

Images of people inside silhouettes of shapes has been a popular theme lately, but this one is so nicely done. The arrangement of the bullets balances well with the gun, and the image inside is very clear and readable. Unfortunately, the final cover  ended up looking like this:

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The word “Broken” sums up the last minute substitution. Was the artist asked to toss out that excellent cover and do a new one after the book was already solicited?  The final cover looks rushed and is hard to read visually. It took me a moment to find the character inside the silhouette, and the placement of the dragon’s eye looks like the character’s shoulder has caught fire. A waste of a nice illustration.


Kate Willaert is a graphic designer for Shirts.com. You can find her her art on Tumblr and her thoughts @KateWillaert. Notice any spelling errors? Leave a comment below.

7 Comments on By Its Cover (06.25.14 – 07.02.14), last added: 7/10/2014
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28. A Journey into Graphic Novels

secondsI consider myself a big nerd and comics seem to go hand in hand with the social status. I never really got into comics (or graphic novels) and when I did attempt I never knew where to start. There are millions of reboots and story arcs for the thousands of different superheroes out there but which ones are good and where do I start? It was Scott Pilgrim that started my journey into graphic novels and with Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds recent release, I thought now would be a perfect time to talk about the graphic novels I love.

As an easy way to distinguish between comics and graphic novels, I call single issues (30-40 pages) a comic and a graphic novel is the anthology that contains a full story arc (normally 4-5 single issues). What I find really interesting about a graphic novel is that it is simply a new way to tell a story. It is not always about the superhero, graphic novels can explore high concepts in a whole new way.Maus

Take the only graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize, Maus by Art Spiegelman. In this story we read about Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, it is biography of living and surviving Hitler’s Europe. The graphic novel not only addresses the holocaust and life in a war torn country it does it in a unique way. Exploring the reality and fears of surviving in a visual way, the Jews are depicted as mice and the Nazi’s hunting them as cats.

persepolisThere is also the autobiographic story of Marjane Satrapi  in Persepolis, a coming of age story of a girl living in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. The whole concept of cultural change works really well in this graphical depiction. There is even an animated adaptation which is worth checking out (even if it is exactly the same). If you prefer a more quasi-autobiographical story maybe try Ghost World by Daniel Clowes or even something by Chris Ware like Jimmy Corrigan or Building Stories.

sex criminalsFinally, if you prefer your graphic novels to be about superheros or people coming to terms with their new found powers, I have some suggestions for you as well. Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction is the first story arc in this new Hawkeye series and explores a life of a superhero outside fighting crime and saving the world. Also by Matt Fraction, with the help of Chip Zdarsky is the weird and wonderfully dirty Sex Criminals. This is a story of a woman that discovers that time freezes after an orgasm and the shenanigans she can get up to with so much quiet time. This graphic novel will not be for everyone; if you want something very different that is full of dirty visual puns then I would recommend it.

I would love to recommend more comics but some of my suggestions are not yet released as a complete story arc yet. If you are interested in more graphic novel suggests let me know in the comments below. I hope this will give you some suggestions if you have never tried a graphic novel before. I’m also happy to take more recommendations in the comments below. Happy reading.

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29. Call for Submissions: Blue Skirt Productions and Blue Skirt Press

We have three calls for submissions right now. One is for our website: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, visual art, video and audio. The second is for our Microfiction magazine. Those are ongoing at this point.

And the final one is for an anthology on the theme of the loss of a parent. Deadline for the anthology: Sep. 30, 2014

For more information, please visit our official submissions page. Thank you!

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30. Times are a changing (along with the name)…

I am there honestly, right behind the tower of mini prints.

Hiding behind the tower of mini prints.

This has been on my mind for awhile and on the long road trip I had more time to think about it. The business has grown so much in the past couple of years and the direction I want to take it has altered slightly too. The upcoming year there will be some changes, expanding products offered, a book in the works (Shawn get back to writing!), plus some creative, weird stuff from Shawn (I said get back to writing!), along with first and foremost a change in the name of the business.

There are many reasons for the name change, some minor, but  the major one has been growth. I use to share a six foot table with my friend Koko Candles and now I can barely contain everything on an eight foot table, much less a six foot table (which is why I am exploring having booths at certain cons next year). This rapid rate of growth could not have happened without someone very special in my life, Shawn. He has been supportive of me through all of this; he has given me creative ideas, does a lot of grunt work for me, and as he says his official title is, Lifter of Heavy Things. He is very much my partner in this business and I am appreciative of his contributions to the growth of it.

Shawn thinks he is in the new Mad Max movie.

Shawn thinks he is in the new Mad Max movie.

So on a long trip through the desert night of Arizona, Shawn and I started kicking around different names… some good, some hilariously bad. During the banter we had going back and forth it got me thinking; I love the darker side of things and Shawn loves horror (he always disappears from the booth during horror cons to spend money), and we always seem to be on the road lately. The name crystallized in my mind and it just seemed so appropriate. Without further ado I present the new name of the business…

Gypsy Ghouls

This will not be an immediate transition, so Diana Levin Art will still exist. I will still be creating new art and jewelry to have at the shows as these will be the cornerstone of the business as it expands.

More dark things to come...

More dark things to come…

And finally lest I forget to thank the people who also have made this growth possible, the fans of my art. Thank you so much for your support and love, I could not do it without all of you.

Keep dreaming and creating…

–Diana

The post Times are a changing (along with the name)… appeared first on Diana Levin Art.

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31. ONE AND DONE: Up, Up, and Away?

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Keeping up with comics is ridiculously expensive if you want to keep up with a number of titles that come out every month. Not everyone can do that–I definitely can’t. So welcome to One and Done, a weekly column where I go to a comics shop and try to find one good book that’s worth the exorbitant price. It’s not easy.

I really didn’t want to spend four dollars on a comic book this time. June has been an expensive month for me, and I didn’t have a lot of leeway this week. Which is a shame, because Simon Spurrier and Jeff Stokely’s Six-Gun Gorilla finally came out in trade paperback, and as someone who loved Spurrier’s work on X-Men: Legacy I would love to be reading and writing about that right now. But I could only spend four dollars at the shop, not twenty.

Instead, I bought Superman #32. I almost didn’t. Money’s tight, and I know how the vast majority of cape comics work: a dash of plot, a load of action, and a cliffhanger for dessert. Not to mention the fact that publishers are absolutely trigger happy with “events” and “crossovers,” which is pretty coercive and stupid but also has worked for literally ten straight years so of course they’re not going to stop.

Anyway, I should tell you why I bought Superman #32, instead of, say, Trees #2 (which is worth getting, Trees #1 might still be free when you read this. If it isn’t, let me know. I will tweet you a very entertaining plot summary) or Flash Gordon #3 (which I hear is Very Fun Comics). Some of you probably know why, because if you pay even the slightest attention to mainstream comics online, it’s painfully obvious why Superman #32 is A Big Deal. But bear with me for a paragraph or two while I address The Casuals.

On the Hype Scale, Superman #32 lies somewhere between “New J.K. Rowling Book (Non-Harry Potter Division)” and “Apple Releases New iPhone.” This is because Superman–despite bearing the name of and being about the oldest, most famous superhero in the whole world–has not been a very good book for about three years straight. And this week’s issue #32 marks the introduction of an Acclaimed New Creative Team, which makes it the Perfect Jumping On Point. The hope, then, is that this book will stop sucking.

But that’s a very general explanation for the hype. There’s an equally specific one, and its name is John Romita Jr.

Superman #32 is Romita’s first DC Comics work, after a legendary 30-year career of working almost exclusively for Marvel. That’s like Derek Jeter leaving the Yankees to play some games for the Red Sox, to use a sports analogy. He’s joined by writer Geoff Johns, who had an acclaimed tenure telling Superman stories in Action Comics a while back, and has spent much of the last decade remaking the DC Universe in his own image.

He’s a smaller part of the hype, but only because LOOK AT THE TALENT WE POACHED is a much better headline than GUY WHO DID GREAT STUFF HERE ONCE RETURNS TO HOPEFULLY DO GREAT STUFF AGAIN.

They’re joined by Klaus Janson, an inker who a good enough artist in his own right to get people excited about him drawing a book by himself, and Laura Martin, an award-winning colorist. So, the reasons to buy this book are stacked up right there in the credits.

So is it any good? No. Not if you paid four dollars for it.

That qualification is important, and should be adjusted based on how you feel about the reason we’re all here: John Romita Jr.’s art.

I, for one, really enjoy JRJR. He has a distinctive, blocky style that often feels refreshingly blue collar. Sure, his faces tend to all look similar and he can get really weird with anatomy–Superman’s head completely disappears in the fourth figure of that cover illustration up top–but there’s a lot to love about how he portrays things like physique. His Superman–and Clark Kent–is built like a truck, but not bulging with muscles made of marble. This Kal-El is less Greek god, more caped linebacker. It really helps to convey a sense of might, not just strength.

But man, the story on this thing. Let’s start with this. Here is the solicit (that’s comic speak for ad, I suppose) for Superman #32:

““THE MEN OF TOMORROW” chapter 1! A NEW ERA for SUPERMAN begins as Geoff Johns takes the reigns – and he’s joined by the legendary super-talent of John Romita, Jr. in his first-ever work for DC Comics as they introduce Ulysses, the Man of Tomorrow, into the Man of Steel’s life. This strange visitor shares many of Kal-El’s experiences, including having been rocketed from a world with no future. Prepare yourself for a run full of new heroes, new villains and new mysteries! Plus, Perry White offers Clark a chance to return to The Daily Planet!”

There are two plot points mentioned in that solicit. They are the only two things that happen in the book. There is nothing I could spoil for you if I wanted to. There’s some stuff in there about Clark not having much of a personal life and Jimmy Olsen not knowing what to do with his fortune, but they literally don’t go anywhere, as they’re most likely B-story stuff to check in on throughout the run whenever we need a break from Superman punching giant robot gorillas.

Oh, and Superman also punches a giant robot gorilla, but there’s no reason for it other than giving JRJR something dope to draw. That’s something I take issue with. I mean, if you’ve got it, use it, but use it in a justified way. If you want to have a giant robot gorilla fight (and there’s nothing wrong with that, those are awesome), then make it amazing, make it happen for a reason, make the script earn the art it asks for. Don’t waste an artist’s talent or a reader’s time.

One of the things I don’t really understand about how comics are critiqued and received are the standards that we hold creator-owned books like Saga or Fatale or Mind Mgmt to, and the ones that we judge mainstream superhero comics by. Cape comics get a pass on a lot of things: bad dialogue, barely any plot, and a near-sociopathic insistence on buying multiple titles to get a “full story,” as if they still cost ten cents a pop.

You’re going to read a lot of reviews saying how great Superman #32 is. A lot of those reviews will likely be written by people who also adored books like The Wicked + The Divine #1, a book absolutely full of great ideas and hidden meanings and lots of potential energy. Superman #32 has none of these things. So why would we call it good?

Superman #32 is a bad comic book. But ‘The Men of Tomorrow,’ the larger story of which Superman #32 is the first part, could be absolutely fantastic whenever it’s done. Everyone working on it is top notch.

But there are ways to make a good comic book, to tell a good serialized story twenty-two pages at a time. The stands are full of good examples, and we read them every week.

This is not one of them.

As always, support your local comic shop if you can, patronize your local library if you have one, and say hi on Twitter if you like.

 

Be back in a week.

8 Comments on ONE AND DONE: Up, Up, and Away?, last added: 6/29/2014
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32. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Tradd Moore

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Tradd Moore broke into the comics scene with the indy series The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, and it’s sequel The Legend of Luther Strode with writer Justin Jordan. His distinct, dynamic style, and liberal use of squash & stretch with his characters has quickly propelled Tradd Moore to the top of the mainstream comics world. He graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2010, and jumped right into illustrating comics after that.

Today, Tradd Moore has a bonafide hit on his hands with his work on the new, revamped Ghost Rider with writer/artist Felipe Smith for Marvel Comics. He also provides cover art for other Marvel books, like Secret Avengers, and Deadpool. When he can find the time, he continues to work on independent comics like the new Image series Zero.

You can see more artwork, and follow Tradd Moore on his blog.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

0 Comments on Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Tradd Moore as of 6/25/2014 4:31:00 PM
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33. By Its Cover (Week Of 06.18.14): Elektra Blindness

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While I try to point out aspects of good design some consider objective, art as a whole is pretty subjective. It’s unavoidable that the covers I pick each week reflect my personal tastes and biases.

Every now and then someone will point out a cover that makes me think “how did I overlook that?” For example, there were two covers last month for Elektra #2 that were both pretty good.

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The first, by Mike Del Mundo, conveys a sense of motion using streaks of blood, both elegant and violent. The other, by Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson, is wonderfully atmospheric and moody. Why did I overlook them?

I blame Elektra Blindness.

Elektra Blindness is a phenomenon where my strong disinterest in a series results in my looking right past it, possibly without realizing it. I guess you could say I’m in that camp of people who think the character should’ve remained retired, rather than wandering aimlessly as a character without a purpose (beyond renewing a trademark).

It doesn’t help that Miller’s costume design popularized the idea that the standard ninja uniform for menand women differ in that one consists of about half as much material. When I look at Elektra, all I see is Mortal Kombat‘s Kitana and Mileena (and how their costumes differ from fellow ninjas Sub-Zero and Scorpion). My first reaction to Samnee’s cover was ”those mountains are gorgeous,” immediately followed by “isn’t she FREEZING?” We might disagree on whether a one-piece with ribbons is fitting battle wear, but I think we can all agree it’s not practical winter wear.

Is there a character or series that you’ve experienced your own form of Elektra Blindness with?


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DAREDEVIL #4 by Chris Samnee & ELEKTRA #3 by Mike Del Mundo

Characters in shapes was sort of a theme this week. As much as I love Samnee’s illustration, the composition isn’t quite working for me because the two sets of eyes keep fighting for my attention. Mundo’s sai concept is something I could imagine seeing as a movie poster, though I wish the logo were just a little smaller. I don’t like how close it is to the edges.

 

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 FABLES #141 by Nimit Malavia & THOMAS ALSOP #1 by Palle Schmidt

Flippable images were also a theme this week. Points to whoever is the first to do it with a functional ambigram logo. (I actually tried to create an amigram logo when I did that JLA EARTH 2 mock-up, but couldn’t get it to read clearly enough.)

 

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 ALEX + ADA #7 by Jonathan Luna

Such a nice, clean design. I like the way her face is mostly hidden under the mask, with just enough revealed to show that she’s covering up her frown with a smile.

 

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FATALE #23 by Sean Phillips

Personal Taste Alert: If your design looks like it could work as a cover for a ’70s concept album, you get an automatic win.

 

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ROCHE LIMIT #1 by Vic Malhotra

The science-minded among you will probably cringe at my saying this, but I had to look up what Roche Limit meant. The four diagrams are a very cool looking design element, but I think they could’ve done a slightly better job of getting across what’s happening. But I love the use of white space, and the way everything is laid out.

 

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 STAR TREK: CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER #1 by Juan Ortiz

The composition in bottom half of this image is so great, it’s disappointing that the top half doesn’t fit the tone of the illustration at all. Even if the poor typeface choice was meant to go with the “old book” theme, I’ve seen plenty of paperbacks from the ’60s with better title treatments than that.

 

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 ESCAPO by Paul Pope

Personal Taste Alert: I enjoy just about any comic cover that looks like it could be an album cover, even if I prefer the ’70s concept album look to ’90s alt rock.

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 THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS #21 by Jonathan Hickman

The cover on the right is the sketch variant, though I think I prefer it to the regular cover. I just love the way the blue dog blends in with the blue ring, it feels like a more complete design. I didn’t even realize it was a sketch cover at first – I just thought it was a gutsy use of white space.

 

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 THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #1 by Jamie McKelvie

I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, so I don’t know if the lighting effects play into the story or not, but they look way cool. But instead of being two covers, I kind of wish the other cover appeared on back upside-down like a flip-book. Even better, what if the title was reversed on the back portrait to read “The Divine + The Wicked”?


Kate Willaert is a graphic designer for Shirts.com. You can find her her art on Tumblr and her thoughts @KateWillaert. Notice any spelling errors? Leave a comment below.

2 Comments on By Its Cover (Week Of 06.18.14): Elektra Blindness, last added: 6/24/2014
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34. Trick-or-Treat! Diamond Reveals Halloween ComicFest Titles!

Yes, Summer officially started last Friday.  You’re probably haven’t even done your grocery shopping for the Fourth of July cookout!  Or started packing for San Diego!

halloween comicfest 2014But for retailers and publishers, they think months in advance!  Comics shipping in October must be ordered in August.  Publishers usually try to think six months in advance!

So here are the titles for the next Halloween ComicFest, scheduled for October 25th, the Saturday before Halloween.

The big surprise?  Twelve full-size comics, and seven minis!  Last year there were eleven regular sized issues, with 11 minis.  In the first HCF, there were 4 regular-sized issues and 11 minis.

So what’s being offered?  Lots of stuff I wouldn’t give to kids…

HCF 2014 AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #1

hcf archiePublisher: ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS
(W) Roberto Aguirre Sacasa (A/CA) Francesco Francavilla
Celebrate the most frightening day of the year with the most horrifying tale Archie has ever told! “Escape From Riverdale”: This is how the end of the world begins… Harvey Award-winning writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Carrie, Archie meets Glee) and Eisner-winning artist Francesco Francavilla (Batman, Black Beetle) take Archie and the gang where they’ve never been before – to the grave and back! A horrific accident sets off a series of grim events and Sabrina the Teenage Witch must try to repair the unspeakable evil her spell has unleashed. Gasp in horror as Riverdale faces an impending zombie Arch-pocalypse in this reprint of the award-winning, sold-out first issue! But be warned, kiddies, this one’s not for the faint of heart! For TEEN readers.
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140027
hcf batmanPublisher: DC COMICS
Just in time for Halloween, fans can get this FREE excerpt from the first chapter of the critically acclaimed graphic novel, Batman: Haunted Knight, which features dark tales of horror and intrigue featuring Batman facing off against his most demented and wicked foes. Taking place on the most evil of holidays, Halloween, the Dark Knight Detective confronts his deepest fears as he tries to stop the madness and horror created by Scarecrow, the Mad Hatter, the Penguin, Poison Ivy and the Joker.
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140031
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf avatarPublisher: AVATAR PRESS INC
(W) Max Brooks (A/CA) Raulo Caceres
Best-selling author Max Brooks (The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z) takes the zombie genre to a whole new level with Extinction Parade, featuring the art of superstar Raulo Caceres (Crossed). As humans wage a losing fight against the hordes of the subdead, a frightening realization sets in with the secretive Vampire race: their “food” is dying off. This is the story of the Vampires’ decent into all-out war with the mindless hungry hordes of the zombie outbreak, with humanity caught in the middle. Extinction Parade introduces the “Vampires vs. Zombies” sub-genre with three species in mortal conflict. This is how a species dies…
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140029
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf grimmPublisher: ZENESCOPE ENTERTAINMENT INC
(W) Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco (A) Jean-Paul Deshong & Various (CA) Mike Debalfo
A special reprint of the first ever Grimm Halloween Special! A couple is granted one wish for their dreams to finally come true only to have that wish turn into a complete nightmare! Now Sela must try to stop Belinda’s act of evil before more lives are destroyed. From the original writers and creators of Grimm Fairy Tales, Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco, comes this re-telling of the classic story “The Monkey’s Paw”, retold with a terrifying Zenescope twist that readers have come to love!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140037
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf hero catsPublisher: ACTION LAB ENTERTAINMENT
(W) Kyle Puttkammer, Jeremy Whitley (A/CA) Marcus Williams
A Hero Cat’s life is exciting enough, but what happens when imaginations run wild after a scary movie marathon at the local drive-in?! Ace, Midnight, Cassie, Rocket, Rocco, and Belle will win your heart in this frightfully fun-filled tale! Plus, an exclusive preview of the highly anticipated new Princeless series!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140026
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf Marvel1Publisher: MARVEL COMICS
Action! Mystery! Adventure! Reprinting the tale that started it all and sparked 75 years of storytelling in the Mighty Marvel Manner! Celebrate Marvel’s 75th Anniversary with the very first appearance of two titanic Marvel mainstays – android hero the original Human Torch, and aquatic anti-hero Namor, the Sub-Mariner! Reprinting material from Marvel Comics #1 (1939)!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140034
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf aspenPublisher: ASPEN MLT INC
(W) Vince Hernandez (A/CA) Agnes Garbowska
A completely brand new and unexpected Fathom tale for fans of all ages! Join none other than Fathom’s Ernie the Seahorse as the playful ocean dweller finds himself wrapped up in a magical Aspen-universes-spanning adventure that will test his limits! For the first time ever, Aspen Comics’ is excited to offer fans and readers a unique comic and coloring book that includes a crafted full length story geared for children to color, plus added puzzles, mazes and other fun-filled activities for kids of all ages! It’s the perfect treat for the Halloween holiday!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140028
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf mlpPublisher: IDW PUBLISHING
(W) Jeremy Whitley (A) Tony Fleecs (CA) Amy Mebberson
The Cutie Mark Crusaders go to the one creature that might just be crazy enough to help them get their cutie marks… Discord! Is he up to the task? Find out in this madcap adventure, perfect for all ages!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140033
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf rachelPublisher: ABSTRACT STUDIOS
(W/A/CA) Terry Moore
Halloween marks the return of a modern classic, Rachel Rising #1! Rachel wakes up dead in a shallow grave and climbs out to hunt for her killer. Seeking the help of Aunt Johnny and BFF Jet, Rachel encounters a mysterious woman and the scariest little girl in comics! This special reprint is just for Halloween Comicfest 2014 and features a unique cover variation to mark the occasion!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140025
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf vizPublisher: VIZ MEDIA LLC
(W/A/CA) Naoki Serizawa
The highly virulent C-virus became a global disaster, but where did the outbreak start? In this prequel to the hit Resident Evil 6 game, the terrifying origins are revealed! At the prestigious and elite Marhawa High School in Singapore, a female student suffers a horrifying transformation. Called in to investigate, Professor Doug Wright and his nephew Ricky find themselves caught up in a deadly and growing tragedy. As things get rapidly out of hand, Chris Redfield and his team from the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance arrive on the scene, while behind it all a mysterious figure looms….
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
hcf scoobyPublisher: DC COMICS
Just in time for Halloween, fans of all ages can get this FREE special edition of the first issue of the fan-favorite, all-ages series that features teams-up with the Scooby-Doo gang and the greatest heroes of the DC Comics Universe! Rumors of a giant bat-creature bring Scooby and the gang on the run – but Batman and Robin are already on the trail of their old foe, the monstrous Man-Bat. Before long, the crooks behind a fake bat-creature will come face-to-face with the real thing… with the good guys caught in the middle!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140030
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf MSHSWPublisher: MARVEL COMICS
Experience the ground-breaking 1984 classic again – or for the very first time! Under the watchful eye of an all-powerful being, the Marvel Universe’s greatest heroes and vilest villains are transported away to a mysterious planet known only as “Battleworld.” The only way to escape? Destroy their enemies! Now, Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor, Wolverine and more must battle to the death against Ultron, Galactus, Kang, Doctor Doom and many more! Don’t miss the first issue in the genre-defining crossover that changed the Marvel Universe forever!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140035
In Shops: 10/8/2014
The mini-comics:
hcf angry birdsPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W) Nathan Crosby (A) Ivan Portier (CA) David Baldeon
When Professor Pig mistakenly electrifies all the pigs in the graveyard, he unwittingly creates Zigs… zombie pigs with only one need – Eggs! Can Red and the rest of the Angry Birds stop this ghoulish grab at their precious unborn flock? An all-new, all-ages Angry Birds Comics tale just in time for Halloween!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140046
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf b&vPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W) Dan Parent (A) Dan Parent, Rich Koslowski (CA) Jeff Schultz, Tito Pena
It’s a dark and stormy night – a fitting night for Betty and Veronica to stay inside and have a scary movie festival! But things go from “reel” to real when Archie, Jughead and Reggie try to crash the girls’ private party – and come face-to-face with an axe-wielding maniac! Is everything as it seems, or is it just a case of the boys’ imaginations running wild? Find out in “An Axe to Grind!”
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140040
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf boomPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W) Bryce Carlson & Various (A) Nichol Ashworth & Various
No tricks here, just treats as BOOM! Studios imprints KaBOOM! and Archaia offer up spooky tales from Adventure Time, Peanuts, and Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock in this mini-comic collection arriving in time for Halloween!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140042
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf lbxPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
Welcome to the world of Little Battlers eXperience! In the near future, a boy named Van Yamano owns Achilles, a miniaturized robot made of a new super-strong industrial cardboard. But Achilles is no ordinary LBX. Hidden inside him is secret data that Van must keep out of the hands of evil at all costs!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140050
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf merminPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W/A/CA) Joey Weiser
Mermin, the Mer-Man from Mer, returns! In this special Halloween-themed one-shot, Mermin and his human friends introduce Halloween customs to Mer. How will the undersea inhabitants embrace the dry land holiday? What kind of treats will they exchange in place of tricks? And, most importantly, what costumes will everyone wear?
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140048
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf pvzPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W) Paul Tobin (A/CA) Ron Chan
Crazy Dave-the babbling-yet-brilliant inventor and top-notch neighborhood defender-helps his niece, Patrice, and young adventurer Nate Timely fend off Zomboss’s latest global attack in Plants vs. Zombies: Timepocalypse! This new, standalone tale will tickle your funny bones and thrill . . . your brains! The hit video game continues its comic-book invasion!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140044
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf vampletsPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W) Gayle Middleton, Dave Dwonch (A) Amanda Coronado, Bill Blankenship (CA) Gayle Middleton, Bill Blankenship
Beware the Bitemares! Vampyres have always been obsessed with their pets, but now a new threat has arisen! Someone is releasing Bitemares all over Gloomvania, causing chaos in their wake. Who will be able to stop them, and what secret connection do they have to Cinder the Vampyre Kitten? The next chapter in the Vamplets saga starts HERE!Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140038
In Shops: 10/1/2014
My opinions:
  1. I order the mini-packs ($4.99, about the same cost for candy) and have my siblings in the midwest hand them out to trick-or-treaters.  I know some librarians who do the same in their schools.  So we have seven titles.  Nothing by DC or Marvel, so no free advertising for them.  (Really, Marvel?  You couldn’t find a Marvel Age story from those digests you sold back in the mid-Aughts and reprint that?)  (Dame goes for DC.  I see the Scooby-Doo story above, but what about a story from the Showfcase reprints?  Those reduce nicely (as seen in the Blue Ribbon digests of the 70s and 80s).  Those Showcse volumes are great for young readers!  Comics Code approved (perfect for red states!) and a 25 stories in one volume for a cheap price!)  I guess I’ll order some of the “big boy” titles from my friendly neighborhood comics shop, but not as many, given the cost.  I guess those copies are for shops, like Free Comic book Day.
  2. Were I retailer, I wouldn’t order the mature titles at all.  Why risk a parent picking up “Aferlife With Archie” and reading it to their child at bedtime?  Add in the memory of a dearly-departed family pet, and you’ve got the makings of a media witch hunt. (For those who think this far-fetched, remember this?)
  3. Marvel, is the Secret Wars collection available for reorders?  Yeah, it’s cool that you’re making it available again, especially to new readers.  (It hooked me back in ’84, so maybe that’s not such a good idea…), but if retailers can’t meet demand from customers, then why bother?  As for Marvel Comics #1…?  I thought the Human Torch was verboten.  Or are there some horror stories in the first issue?  Will this be a 68-page reprint?  (Myself, I think Amazing Fantasy #15 would be better.  Some good Lee/Ditko horror stories in that issue!)
  4. Diamond, do you have digital review copies on your Bookshelf website?  Librarians and educators (and retailers) will want to review the material before ordering copies for distribution.  Publishers, why not do this as well?  Fans will still want to pick up the free comics at stores, so this won’t hurt store marketing.

If you want to order any of these comics to hand them out on Halloween, write down the Diamond order codes (JUL140xxx) and talk to the store manager as soon as possible!

Retailers, here is an old column to re-read: Halloween and the Holidays.  Also: The Return of Halloween Comics.

0 Comments on Trick-or-Treat! Diamond Reveals Halloween ComicFest Titles! as of 6/22/2014 10:45:00 PM
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35. ONE AND DONE: Finding a Creative Team You Trust

Most of the time, trying to find a comic or two to buy in a given week is very hard. This week, it wasn’t at all. I’ve been looking forward to The Wicked + The Divine ever since it was announced. And now that it’s finally on shelves, I can tell you why.

One of the pleasures of getting into comics–and any medium, really–is identifying creators whose work most resonates with you. It’s the fun part, where you go to your library and scour its hopefully well-stocked comics section, checking everything you can out and requesting more from other branches.

You learn what you like and what you don’t. You gain an appreciation for how comics are different from any other medium. You delight in all the radically different kinds of stories that can be told by them. You remember the names of the people who told them.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find a creative team that you love, one that works together frequently and consistently tells stories that you enjoy. For me, one of those teams is that of writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie.

Gillen and McKelvie are often described–by themselves and by others–as a pair that makes comics like pop songs. Their stories, from Phonogram to Young Avengers to this weeks The Wicked + The Divine #1, are ones that are boldly, helplessly, passionately about exactly what they say they’re about. They’re stories that don’t care for subtlety as much as they do about feeling alive, if only for one dance.

They don’t give a damn about being remembered, but while they’re here, you’re not going to ignore them.

The Wicked + The Divine is both the purest form of that ethos they’ve built up over nearly a decade of collaboration, and it’s also weirdly restrained in a way that feels mature and measured. It’s a title that knows it won’t be ignored, and it’s settling in to tell an assured story in its own way.

A lot of that comes from the contributions of the rest of the creative team–the colors from Matthew Wilson are remarkable, and the work of designer Hannah Donovan has done a lot to give the whole venture a strong visual identity–the reading experience starts with the front cover and ends with the back one. It’s elegance makes most books on the stands look sloppy.

There’s been a lot of hype for this book, and all of it is deserved. If you go into a comics shop and only have cash for one book, your $3.50 will be well spent on The Wicked + The Divine.

However.

Sex Criminals #6 also came out today. Now, there’s not much I can say about Sex Criminals that hasn’t already been said (and if no one’s told you about it go buy the first trade or borrow it from a friend. It’s fantastic), but I want to take a moment to talk about why you should buy this particular book as it comes out and not wait for a trade.

It’s the letters page. The Sex Criminals letters page is one of my favorite things in comics right now, for lots of reasons. The obvious one is that it’s absolutely hilarious–mostly because it shows how truly essential Chip Zdarksy is to the book’s sense of humor–but the other is because that’s where the book walks the walk.

Sex Criminals is lauded not just for being a great story well told, but for being a thoughtful, mature, look at sex and sexuality, a safe place in an industry that is often a mess of problematic sexual politics. When it hit stands, the response was overwhelming. People wrote Fraction and Zdarsky in droves.

Readers were connecting with the story in a very real way, and wrote in to share and laugh and confirm the one great truth the story is anchored in: we’re all alone together.

Every issue of Sex Criminals comes with pages and pages of letters. They’re a joy to read, and they don’t get published in the trade paperbacks (they are included on the digital versions if you buy from Comixology, though). Sex Criminals is a comic that’s worth buying; anyone will tell you that.

But there’s this extra reason that makes making a monthly trip to the comics shop or download on Comixology worth the higher expense: it’s that wonderful reminder that there are people like you out there. People who love comics, and love seeing that they’re full of stories that are a little bit like their own.

As always, support your local comic shop if you can, patronize your local library if you have one, and say hi on Twitter if you like.

Be back in a week.

6 Comments on ONE AND DONE: Finding a Creative Team You Trust, last added: 6/23/2014
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36. Paula: Owls #1

Playing with owls and patterns...

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37. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Sean Phillips

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Sean Phillips has been working in comics for over 3 decades, creating beautifully rendered art on such titles as The Invisibles, 2000 AD, Judge Dredd, and Hellblazer. He was part of the British Invasion of Comics in the late 80′s/early 90′s along with cohorts Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan, and Neil Gaiman. His ability to create striking cover illustrations, and draw fully formed characters in a classic, cinematic style has led to a long accomplished career as an artist. He is completing his latest collaboration with “partner in crime” writer Ed Brubaker on the supernatural thriller Fatale for Image Comics. August will see the premiere of their next series together, The Fade-Out, a noir tale set in 1940′s Hollywood. This also begins a 5 year deal with Image Comics for both Sean Phillips, and Ed Brubaker to produce comics exclusively for the publisher, which is a rare occurrence in the industry. This obviously shows the extreme confidence that both creator’s work, and craftsmanship inspires to land such a contract.

Sean Phillips has contributed cover and interior art for various Criterion Collection DVDs, including On the Waterfront, and 12 Angry Men.

He’s also been nominated for 3 Eisner Awards, and has won once with Ed Brubaker for best new series Criminal.

You can keep up with all of the latest Sean Phillips news, and art on his website.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

0 Comments on Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Sean Phillips as of 6/18/2014 4:49:00 PM
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38. Brian Wood Comics Return To Print From Dark Horse

New York Fourby Brandon Schatz

Over at Publisher’s Weekly, they’ve announced that a couple of Brain Wood series will return to print from Dark Horse, as part of a focus on YA content from the company.

In November, a collection of the two New York Four/Five volumes the writer did with artist Ryan Kelly for DC’s  Minx line, an ill-fated imprint that missed its mark more than it hit. Marketed towards the YA market, many of the books attempted to tell stories involving that age group instead of aiming upwards towards the older set. Take a look at a book store, and you’ll see the kids section filled with books telling stories about kids or teens who are just a little bit older than the age being marketed towards. As always, the younger set wants to seem more grown up, and the perfect way to hit the demographic is to aim higher, and market lower.

Keeping in that vein, Dark Horse will also be bringing Demo back into print, a series Wood did with artist Becky Cloonan, first for AiT/PlanetLar, and then for Vertigo.

It’s been a big couple of weeks for Wood, along with the announcement of his involvement in Marvel’s Moon Knight title following Warren Ellis’ departure. These are the first big project announced from Wood since accusations of misogyny were levelled at him late last year, though Dark Horse hints that there is more to come from the writer in the coming months, as The Massive draws to a close, and new series begin.

As noted by my piece earlier this week, I have my own problems with Wood, though as blogger and former DC editor Valerie D’Orzaio notes, it’s important not to confuse feelings on Wood’s actions with a call to action, or a means to an end. I know I’ve enjoyed these books in particular, and would love to see them reach a wider audience.

6 Comments on Brian Wood Comics Return To Print From Dark Horse, last added: 6/14/2014
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39. ONE AND DONE: ‘She-Hulk’ #5 and the Joy of Polite Comics

she-hulk5

One of my favorite things about monthly comics is the intro page. It has taken on special significance in recent years–I’d say it’s thanks to the wild success of Hawkeye. But I can’t say that authoritatively, mostly because I’m the guy who only buys one comic per week. But it’s a good example.

Every issue of Hawkeye tells you that Clint Barton is the greatest sharpshooter alive, that he’s an Avenger, and that this book is about what he does when he isn’t an Avenger.

Then there’s a dumb joke. It’s the best part.

The practice is far from new–superhero comics have a long tradition of slapping  a boilerplate paragraph on the title page describing the hero’s whole deal in brief. But recently, with Marvel titles like Hawkeye and Moon Knight and All-New Ghost Rider, these pages have taken on a bigger role than just a reminder of who this book’s about.

They’re a mission statement. A reassurance that All You Need To Know can be summed up in a few lines above the credits. It’s very polite of them.

‘Polite’ really is the best word to describe it. See one of those intro pages in a comic book, and it’s easy to see that the book is doing you a courtesy, making a conscious effort to remain accessible and friendly to the curious (and cash-strapped). The hope is that you can jump right in and be ready to go.

With She-Hulk #5, I absolutely did.

She-Hulk’s intro page isn’t like any of the aforementioned ones. There’s little in the way of style or design to it. It’s mostly just She-Hulk, breaking the fourth wall and telling the reader everything they need to know to appreciate the story they’re about to read–The Blue File. She also says that the currently absent letters page will be back soon.

It’s not very striking at all. In fact, it feels like a throwback. But it gets the job done, and doesn’t tip it’s hand toward the biggest surprise: Ron Wimberly’s art.

Part of the fun of all this, of buying comics off the shelf one issue at a time, is the feeling of discovery you can get. Not of just worlds or stories or characters, but of all the wonderful and diverse work that all occupies the same shelf space. Until this week, I’ve never seen Wimberly’s art before. Now I wish I had.

It’s playful, vibrant, and doesn’t give a damn about what you think. Wimberly plays with perspective, making frequent use of the foreground in panels and rarely elects to settle at eye-level, instead framing his subjects from above or below. Anatomy and proportion are more suggestions than hard and fast rules, with limbs dynamically filling up space to highlight sound effects and make the action pop off the page.

And the color work from Rico Renzi is just as bold. Day-Glo pinks and purples and oranges fill the pages, adding to Wimberly’s visual dynamism. It’s all such cool stuff, and feels more akin to a punk indie comic than a mainstream title.

Charles Soule’s script isn’t as bold and ballsy as the art, unfortunately. That’s not to say it’s bad–it’s clever and funny, with only a few beats that seem to refer back to earlier events that a new reader would be in the dark about. There’s a cliffhanger, and it’s a smart and organic one that holds promise for the rest of the arc, whether it be two more issues or six.

But man, if only it had the stones the art did.

Now comes the tricky part–how do you decide if a book you picked up on a lark is one you’re going to keep picking up or just wait for other options. I’m not disappointed by She-Hulk #5 on the whole–I’m actually very satisfied (it’s also one of the few Marvel books still selling for $2.99, so maybe that helps). But the story isn’t really one I’ll be turning over in my head much–and now that I’ve seen Wimberly’s work, I’ll be inclined to seek it out more than I’ll probably want to reread this issue.

Or maybe I won’t really know for sure until #6 is on the stands and I find myself compelled to jump back in. Sometimes you don’t have an answer right away. That’s okay. I’ve got time.

As always, support your local comic shop if you can, patronize your local library if you have one, and say hi on Twitter if you like.

Be back in a week.

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40. Call for Submissions about Monsters: Story Magazine


STORY #2: THE MONSTERS ISSUE

Deadline: July 15, 2014

The new Story magazine is seeking work for our upcoming issue dedicated to monsters---in whatever form they might come: physical or psychological, imaginary or real, inherited or invented.

Story is a biannual magazine about the human need for story. We’re looking for stories in whatever shape and form they come: fiction, poetry, computer code, graphic design, lyric essay, comic strip, grocery list, memoir, conceptual art, and so on.

We're looking for work that addresses the theme (depicts monsters), deconstructs the theme (unpacks monster ideologies), or even expands upon the theme (adds to the monster canon).

A traditional short story? Certainly. A poem-comic? Yes please. A zoology report on scorpions? We'd love to check it out. An essay about your Nazi-sympathizing father? Send it. A mathematical theorem? Why not. A political treatise? You bet.

The theme is meant to be broad. Story + monster. In whatever form.

We are looking for high quality work that transports, mesmerizes, disturbs. Authors are paid for original material.

Submit via Submittable.

Or by regular mail, with an SASE or email for response to:

Story
441 Country Club Road
York, PA 17403

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41. The World Cup Reminds Me…the time I proved I had no coordination skills

The 2014 World Cup has begun!! Now here’s a fun fact, soccer was my first sport. Gosh how I loved it, I played for seven years and looked forward to every Saturday’s game (confession: the after-game snack a LOT too!) like nobody’s business. Why did I stop after seven years?? Enter exhibit A:
running sports cartoon
I sucked. Like I REALLY sucked. I can vividly remember scoring my first goal…mostly because it was my first and last. I don’t even have an excuse for one goal in seven years, like I played goalie or defense…nope, I was a forward and mid-fielder. Right where one with any iota of coordination would be set RIGHT up to score a goal.

Hey, at least I can own my suckiness. I know I can handle turning left and running in a straight line. So I stopped soccer when, totally honest here, the only team I could still make was the rec team. The qualifications for making the rec team is having your mom or dad write the $35 check to the community rec league. I was in junior high at the time, meaning my rec team would be all the 4th and 5th graders still too young for the Comp and Select teams.

That’s when my mommy-o suggested I try cross country. I thought it was a traveling team, “Cool!! I get to go touring around…I’ll bet I’ll find lots of fun new foods to try!” I though. Yea, even at that age it all comes back to foods and treats, right? I was in for a shock. No traveling done unless you run there. I got tripped pretty bad my first practice and later had to pick gravel out of scars I still have today.

i run. i'm hungry. cartoon

i run…do the math.


My first race I spent hovering over a bush for about 15 minutes certain I’d barf. I didn’t, but my dad still has a picture of me hovering over the bush. The thing is though, I kinda liked it. I sucked at anything with ‘real’ coordination skills but I kinda liked that I could grimace in pain and pass some girl up a hill. I would like to also mention I sucked at running too. That girl I passed up the hill, maybe was the only girl I passed. Like I was slow, but in my mind I didn’t fully grasp 1) how slow I was 2) how HORRENDOUS my form was!! Gosh, even my mom in later years admitted, “Yea, I’ll never forget trying not to laugh the first time your little club coach saw you run and remarked that you looked crazy.”

I owned my crazy then and I own it now though! ;) But hey, I stuck with this whole running thing. I do promise I kinda really hated it the first couple weeks, but I swear there was like this insane shift after you get past the ‘hump’ I call the hazing weeks. Basically once you become consistent enough to where your body and muscles don’t go into the shock of thinking, “Wait, she’s running…that must mean there’s a bear chasing her!!” resulting in unwalkable sorenesses the next day. Get past that and you’re golden. ;)

Look at running, turning into about my favorite thing to do. Shall we just be thankful that I actually DID have a little too much pride to out-age my rec teammates by four years? Best $35 my mommy-o didn’t have to spend. ;)
———-
My latest on RunBlogRun: Phoebe Wright Can’t Be Stopped! <--- this is actually one h*ll of an inspiring story and she's HILARIOUS!! Read the story then check her blog and twitter feed!!

Also on Want to Run in College? This is what it takes: Hakon DeVries of the University of Kentucky
———–

1) Are you a big soccer fan? Will you be unreachable and completely ignore any and all of your surroundings until the World Cup is over?

2) Were you good at other sports besides running?

3) Have you ever barfed after a race?
Hey, I hovered over that bush but nothing came up. Never have thrown up after a race or workout, that one time over the bush was the closest I’ve come.

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42. How Garfield Got His Groove Back: The ‘Garfield’ Remix Phenomenon

Poor Garfield. In his heyday, he was amongst the most beloved characters on the funny pages, his plush likenesses fastened to car windows and his sarcastic barbs adorning office walls around the globe. Then, somewhere along the line, he underwent a pop-cultural re-evaluation. Jim Davis’ strip is now something of a pariah: just look at how "The Simpsons" paired it with "Love Is" as the kind of strip that Milhouse reads. What a comedown for a character once hip enough to be quoted in “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. But yet, the orange cat has been saved from cultural oblivion by a peculiar trend: the remixed "Garfield" strip.

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43. The Hermit of Shooters Hill – An Interview with Steve Moore, Part 2

Here’s the second part of my interview with Steve Moore, with more to follow. The first part can be found here, along with some explanation of how the interview came about.

INT028

PÓM: Did you go to many SF cons?

SM: Only two or three, I think … at least, that’s all I remember! They were all in the mid-60s, and after that I started losing interest in SF in favour of comics. And by the end of the decade I’d pretty much lost interest in conventions in general.

PÓM: You were involved in the first British comics conventions as well, I believe?

SM: The first two, yes. The first one was at the Midland Hotel in Birmingham in August 1968, and the organising committee was Phil Clarke, his then girlfriend Kay Hawkins and myself. Being on the spot in Birmingham, Phil and Kay did most of the actual organising, while I helped out with publicity (mainly through Odhams’ Power Comics line) and printing with my ‘trusty’ Roneo. I’d already printed off a couple of personal sales-lists for Phil called The Comic Fan, which we then turned into two issues of The Comic Fan Special, which was our news-bulletin, and also listed comics (mainly Phil’s) that were being sold to raise money for expenses. Looking at the second issue of this, I see there was going to be a convention booklet, which I wasn’t going to be printing, but if I still have a copy of that, it must be somewhere in the loft.

I remember very little about that first convention (for many years I thought it had been in 1967!), though I recall the hotel as being big, old and gloomy. I think there may have been about 50 or 60 people there, and a few ‘non-attending’ members. There was the usual stuff: movies, panel discussions, auctions, but I only know this from looking at the bulletin, not from memory! It was all very small scale, and modelled on what we knew of SF conventions, but we had a good time and that was how it all started. I’m afraid I’m one of the guilty men …

Anyway, I obviously hadn’t had enough, as I got involved with the second one as well, at the Waverley Hotel in London, the following year. This time the committee was Frank Dobson, Derek Stokes, Alan Willis (of whom I remember nothing whatever), and myself. It was bigger, more organised … and again I remember virtually nothing about it, though this time that was mainly because I was in a blind, exhausted panic through most of the weekend, trying to make sure that everything worked. And that was enough organising for me. I went to the third in Sheffield, and I think to another one at the Waverley. And then I’d really had enough of conventions in general, and entered my ‘reclusive phase’ … which has lasted for about 40 years so far!

->PÓM: You have been a recluse, apparently, ever since then. Did you just decide it all wasn’t for you, or what happened?

SM: I’m basically a recluse as far as comic conventions and personal appearances go, that’s all. I have a number of very close friends, some going back decades, who I like to see as often as possible, and I’m certainly not agoraphobic in terms of not wanting to leave the house! But by the time we got to the comic cons I was working in the business, which made me a bit of a ‘celebrity’, and I’ve never had any interest in that. And the idea of being in a large room full of people who know me, when I don’t know them, just makes me uncomfortable. Besides, by 1972 I’d gone freelance, and I made a conscious decision to stop reading other people’s comics so I could develop my own style, so what was the point of going to a convention to discuss things I was no longer familiar with or interested in? By then I just wasn’t ‘a comic fan’ any more. So I just withdrew from that whole scene.

PÓM: Do you remember who attended those early comic cons?

SM: Well, looking at the membership list published in an issue of The Comic Fan Special, I see that a number of notable fans were due to be at the first one, like Dave McCullough, Nick Landau, Pete Phillips and Paul Neary. But if you’re asking me who I remember, apart from Phil, Kay and myself, it basically comes down to Jim Baikie, who was living not far from me in South Norwood at the time, and with whom I developed a fairly close friendship, before he moved back to the Orkneys.

1968-Convention-booklet-p4
The membership list for the first Comicon

As for the second one, like I said, it was pretty much of a blur. But among those there were Alan Moore, Steve Parkhouse, Barry Smith and Bob Rickard, the future founder of Fortean Times, none of whom I had as much time to talk to as I would have liked. I also remember shouting at a young kid called Dave Womack, who was making a rather loud nuisance of himself throughout the weekend, and being baffled by an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan called Frank Westwood, who asked me where he could find a Roman Catholic church on the Sunday morning; something which had simply never occurred to me to find out (and which, at the time, I actually thought was pretty weird; after all, when there was a comic book convention going on, why would you want to go to church?).

PÓM: What do you think drove you to want to produce all those fanzines?

SM: Essentially, it was what fans did in those days. There was no internet, no blogs, so if you wanted to do stuff about comics, you did fanzines. It was a mushroom industry in the late 60s, early 70s, especially as cheap offset printing started to come in. Everybody seemed to be doing it … some people were doing four or five at once, on different topics, and the adzines were both offering comics for sale, but advertising all the various fanzines as well. And fanzine editors would trade both copies and adverts with one another, as well as offering space for articles, etc., that you might not have wanted to do in your own fanzine. In many ways it was a bit like an early version of the internet, but done with printed paper, envelopes and postage stamps. It’s how we kept in touch.

As I’ve said, I was mainly interested in getting new material together, rather than articles, and I don’t think I wrote much about comics, preferring to contribute stuff to magazines that fringed away from comics into fantasy and underground material, like John Muir’s Crucified Toad. A strange man who, I’m told, ended up in some sort of shady business in the East, and got himself murdered for it. Or so I’m told.<-

PÓM: Wasn’t it around that time that you first started working in comics yourself?

SM: That’s right. If we backtrack to autumn 1966, I’d been stuck in the laboratory job for a year. So I decided to write letters to half a dozen comics publishers in London (yes, there were actually that many comics publishers in those days) and simply asked them if they had any jobs. I got polite replies (‘no’) from a couple of them, and one offer of an interview, from John Spencer & Co., the publishers of Badger Books, who at the time were publishing a couple of really bad black-and-white superhero books, which in the end only lasted a couple of issues each. So I made my way over to West London one evening to their tiny premises, which I think was pretty much one office and a storeroom, but it turned out they basically wanted a warehouseman, which really wasn’t what I was looking for. So I knuckled down to the flour samples and sulphuric acid fumes again.

And then six months later, out of the blue, I got a letter from a lady at Odhams Press, saying they had a vacancy for an office junior. At the time, they were publishing their ‘Power Comics’ line, which revolved round reprinting Marvel strips in black-and-white, which was right up my street. I went for an interview and was told I was a bit too old, being nearly 18, but I was enthusiastic, knowledgeable about American comics, and I could show them Ka-Pow. So they offered me the job. Everyone at Rank’s told me I was making a really bad mistake, giving up a job with ‘prospects’ to be an office boy, and for less money too … but I was off as soon as my week’s notice had run out.

I started at Odhams, in their offices at 64 Long Acre, on 1st May 1967. The date sticks in my mind because the first thing they did was send me over to Blackfriars to join the NATSOPA trade union and, of course, being Mayday, the offices were shut. Perhaps not the best of omens to start my career with …

Having arrived, I found that I was actually the junior office junior, there being another guy who’d already been there a year or two. My duties were pretty much getting post in and out of the building, running errands, and so on, but I adopted a simple strategy: when I didn’t actually have any specific tasks, I’d head for the offices of the various different comics and asked the editors if there was anything they needed me to do for them. So within three months I’d leapfrogged the other guy (who I don’t think ever did get beyond being office junior) and got myself promoted to junior sub-editor on Pow! and Fantastic. Both of these were run from the same office, under the editorship of long-time professional scriptwriter Ken Mennell who, I see from looking on the web, sadly seems to be far more honoured in France than in the land of his birth … probably as a result there being no credits for writers and artists in those days. We were a team of four: Ken, who was also contracted to write a couple of adventure scripts a week as part of his duties, a senior sub-editor called Jane, another sub-editor called Paul, and myself. And I was working in professional comics …

PÓM: What did all those sub-editors actually do, or was that just a catch-all title for anyone who worked on a given title?

SM: Well, we were producing two titles a week, Pow! and Fantastic, so everything was on a pretty tight schedule. Ken Mennell was in overall charge and made the ‘strategic’ decisions, like which strips we’d run, in collaboration with managing editor Alf Wallace. I think Jane was mainly responsible for Fantastic, which, being mostly page-for-page reprints of Marvel Comics in black-and-white, with only one original strip (‘The Missing Link’, which later evolved into ‘Johnny Future’; written by Alf Wallace and drawn by Luis Bermejo), was a relatively simple, one-person job. Paul and I worked on Pow! which was a bit more complicated, being more a of traditional British comic apart from the ‘Spider-man’ reprint, which had to be resized to fit a British page format. It was mostly one or two page humour strips, with one or two original adventure strips, so that meant a lot to keep track of. We had a large-format ‘make-up book’, with two pages per issue and a sort of grid system on them, in which we’d write the dates that scripts arrived; when they were sent to the artist; when the artwork came back; when the pages were sent to the letterer (all hand-lettering in those days; no computer setting) and when they came back; and so on. Scripts had to be read and edited before they were sent out, and when the finished, lettered pages were in they had to be proofread and sent to the art department (the ‘bodgers’) for correction. I think we all proofread the pages to make sure nothing got through that shouldn’t be there, as the letterers were known to be occasionally mischievous … particularly John Aldrich, who seemed to take every possible opportunity to letter ‘public’ as ‘pubic’, and so on, just to see what he could get through … and Ken, as editor, certainly checked all the pages after we juniors had been through them. It was also drummed into us that we should never allow the use of the word ‘flick’ or the name ‘Clint’, which, when lettered in capitals were dangerously liable to turn into something quite unsuitable for a kid’s comic. Another maxim I learned very early on was ‘all printers are bloody idiots’, which meant their instructions had to be spelled out absolutely precisely, especially when it came to things like marking up the artwork with its reproduction size. Again, all this was pre-computers, so we were sending original artwork to the printer, and all the corrections had to be done by hand, rather than on screen. Obviously we also got proofs back from the printers that had to be checked through as well. ‘Editorial’ largely consists of reading stuff over and over again.

So, all that had to be controlled, and artists and writers phoned up and chased to make sure everything was on schedule. Then there was the mail to go through (perhaps a hundred letters and postcards a week, most of which was unusable) and pick out possible items for the letters page, and we’d ask the kids who wrote in to include a coupon on which they named their three favourite strips; so these had to be added up to give us an idea what was most popular. And at the same time we were working on a new project, a much more traditional adventure comic in the Lion mould called Spitfire, which had no Marvel reprints; but that never got beyond the dummy stage, as by then the Power Comics line was starting to contract. So we had plenty to keep us occupied, though we always left the office on time; I don’t remember us ever being pressurised into actually doing any overtime.

That was also when I got my first freelance work, though it wasn’t writing. As the Spider-man material we were reprinting in black-and-white was merely the line-work for something had originally been drawn for colour, we used to give it a bit more body by applying Zipatone (an adhesive film that had to be imported from the States at the time, which was then laid on the artwork and cut to shape with a scalpel) to various parts of the pictures. I managed to persuade the art editor, John Jackson, that I could do that, and did so for a number of months. It paid a massive 5/- a page, but to put that in perspective, my weekly salary was only something like £15.

PÓM: What was the Power Comics line, which you mentioned above?

SM: Basically it was Odhams’ attempt to model itself on Marvel Comics and included a fair amount of Marvel reprint. The titles involved were Wham! and Smash! , which were already established as more traditional British comics, but then started to include one or two Marvel reprints, with the American material

resized to fit a British page; Pow! which was in the same format, but was first published at the beginning of the Power Comics line, and Fantastic and Terrific, which were in a more American format, each page reproducing a single American page, though each carried one original, British-created strip. There were letters pages, and all the comics carried a half-page news section, in imitation of Marvel’s ‘Bullpen Bulletins’, ‘From the Floor of 64’, which was named after 64 Long Acre, the office address; while instead of ‘Smilin’ Stan’ Lee, we had ‘Alf, Bart and Cos’: Alf Wallace, the managing editor, Robert Bartholomew, his No. 2 and editor of Eagle, and Albert Cosser, editor of Smash! and Terrific (who later went on to edit TV Times for several years). I’m not sure why Ken Mennell wasn’t included in that lot, but maybe they couldn’t fit him in with the ‘A, B, C’ of the other three.

As I said, the offices were at 64 Long Acre, an old newspaper building on the edge of Covent Garden. The ground floor was full of loading bays and was still in use for storing enormous rolls of newsprint, etc. We occupied the entire first floor, which was divided up into smaller offices with metal and frosted glass partition walls. The place was actually a listed building, but it stood on a very prime piece of real estate. A few months after we moved out of the building, it burned to the ground, thus allowing a large and costly redevelopment to take place. Curious, that …

PÓM: What other comics were Odhams producing at the time?

SM: Eagle and Robin, which Odhams had taken over from their original publisher, Hulton Press, in 1959. Their companion papers, Swift and Girl had already folded by then. Eventually all the Power Comics titles started to suffer from declining sales, and merged with each other until there was only Smash! left. Then in 1969 Odhams and Fleetway were merged to become IPC Magazines, and that was pretty much the end of the line. For the last few months of Odhams’ independent existence we moved from Long Acre to offices in High Holborn, and then with the merger everything was transferred to Fleetway House in Farringdon Street.

PÓM: What was the British comics industry like at the time?

SM: It was in pretty good health, which was probably about the last time you could say that. There were Odhams and Fleetway in London, and D. C. Thomson in Dundee, all with a sizeable number of titles, and a few smaller publishers. Of course, Odhams (and IPC after 1969) was the only one I had direct experience of, and that was also the first one that really had any awareness that there might actually be ‘fans’ to be catered to, rather than just kids who bought the comics off the newsstands. But all the creators were anonymous, this being long before anyone got credits, so there was far less egotism than there is in present-day comics. I tend to look back on it as ‘days of honest toil’, when you had a bunch of solid, professional writers and artists who’d turn in their material on time and take their pay-cheques without ever thinking they were doing anything particularly interesting, because they were working for children’s magazines, and that was how they made their living. I think I was pretty much the first fan to get into the business, and after that there were a few others, but in 1967 things were pretty much a closed shop, often with people introducing friends or members of their own family to the editorial staff. Ken Mennell’s son Ian ended up on editorial at IPC, while the writer Ted Cowan’s son Geoff was on the editorial staff of Eagle. At the time no one thought there was anything ‘special’ about comics, and I think a number of the editorial staff just considered it a relatively easy way to get their press cards from the National Union of Journalists, which they could then use as a stepping stone to move on to a better job as a magazine journalist.

PÓM: Did you sell any of your stories at that time?

SM: The first story I sold professionally was a three-page ‘Pow Short Story’ called ‘The House in the Haunted Swamp’, that appeared in Pow! No. 45, late in 1967. It was drawn by a Turkish artist living in this country, called Ayhan Basuglu, and taught me a swift lesson, similar to the one about all printers being idiots … which was that you had to write for artists as if they were idiots as well, especially if English wasn’t their first language. It was set in a decaying house full of barrels of paraffin, and I’d told the artist to draw a guy exploring the place with a torch in his hand … meaning, of course, an electric flashlight. Mr. Basuglu promptly drew him with flaming torch, which wasn’t quite what I’d intended with all that paraffin around, so I had to do a bit of rewriting on the dialogue. By one of those weird symmetries, the same sort of thing happened on the last comic strip I wrote as well, Hercules: The Knives of Kush. On one issue they brought in a couple of Mexican artists to fill in, as Cris Bolson was getting behind schedule. My script asked for some characters wearing skullcaps, by which I meant close-fitting felt caps covering the cranium, and they drew a bunch of guys with actual skulls on their heads. Fortunately we managed to catch that at the pencil stage, so it wasn’t a problem, but with 40 years between the two events, you understand my feeling of déjà vu …

I know I wrote another ‘Pow Short Story’ called ‘The Hunter out of Time’, which, like the first one, suffered from the usual beginner’s error of having far too many words per panel, and there may have been one or two more. Those are the only two I know I wrote, because in those early days I’d keep a scrapbook of the stories I’d done, but after I’d been freelance a few months there got to be so many of them I just gave up. When I was on editorial for Whizzer & Chips at IPC I wrote a four-episode fill-in on ‘Wonder-Car’, which I really enjoyed as it was drawn by Ron Turner, someone I’d long admired. But I didn’t really write a great deal while I was working in-house, and when I went freelance in 1972, it was pretty much a leap in the dark. I thought I could write, but I didn’t actually have any sort of track record that said I could. It was pretty much the way I blundered through my career. ‘You want a prose story written (or a novel, or a movie script, or whatever)? Oh yeah, I can do that …’ I never had any prior experience of doing them, but as it turned out, I could. Looking back, I seem to have got away with an awful lot, somehow. It’s just that I’m not sure how I did it!

PÓM: Do you remember many of the people who worked on the comics?

SM: As for the in-house staff, apart from the people I’ve already mentioned I mostly just remember first names, though the overall art editor was John Jackson, his assistant Roger Barnden. One of the senior sub-editors on Eagle was a guy called Dan Lloyd, who also happened to be the assistant editor on Flying Saucer Review, and when I was still the office boy I’d sometimes have to run UFO stuff between him and the editor, Charles Bowen, who worked at South Africa House in Trafalgar Square. At one point Dan had his new toy set up in the Eagle office, which was next door to ours … a ‘flying saucer detector’, which I think was some sort of magnetometer that FSR was promoting, so Roger Barnden used to sneak into our office and slap a powerful magnet on the metal partition wall, just to wind up Dan by setting off his detector.

As for creators, a lot of the humour strips were written by Walter Thorburn, who we’d lured away from D. C. Thomson, who were notorious for paying less than their London-based competitors. They’d also lured away Leo Baxendale, though I think he worked mainly for Wham! As for the adventure strips, I think Ken Mennell wrote mainly for Smash! … I’m fairly sure he wrote ‘Rubber Man’ ‘Bunsen’s Burner’ and ‘Cursitor Doom’ for them. Another string to his bow was coming up with plot outlines for thriller novels for the publisher W. Howard Baker, who had a stable of writers who’d then write them up. Ken would knock out the outlines in his lunch hours, at £30 a time, and I was obviously impressed by his productivity. Other adventure writers were Tom Tully and Scott Goodall, but I can’t remember which strips they were responsible for. As for humour artists, there was Mike Brown, who was very much a Leo Baxendale clone, and who I suspect may well be the artist on some material that’s been mistakenly identified as Baxendale. There was Mike Higgs, writing and drawing ‘The Cloak’, and the brilliant Ken Reid on ‘Dare-a-Day Davy’, who was actually a bit of a nightmare to work with, as he’d rewrite all the scripts he was sent, and we’d get back this lovely artwork with tiny pencilled dialogue in the balloons that was twice as long as would actually fit if lettered properly, so we had to cut it in half to make it work. There was Graham Allen and Terry Bave, who also wrote his own stuff. As for adventure artists, there were John Stokes and Eric Bradbury, though a fair number of stories were by Spanish artists, working through agencies like the Temple Art Agency.

It was while working on Pow! and Fantastic in 1967 that I first met Steve Parkhouse and Barry Smith (this was before he moved to the States and started calling himself Barry Windsor-Smith). They turned up one day as a writer-artist team, trying to sell us an SF strip as a ‘Pow Short Story’. It wasn’t accepted, but Barry ended up drawing the pin-ups of Marvel characters on the back cover of Fantastic and Terrific. I’m not exactly sure when he started, but the early pin-ups were drawn in-house by John Jackson.

PÓM: Did you end up working with any of your professional colleagues on any of your fan publications?

SM: Eventually, yes. I’d started another fanzine called Aspect, the first issue of which appeared in September 1969. It was the first comics fanzine I’d done using a Gestetner duplicator, and was run off for me by Derek Stokes, but I wasn’t at all pleased with it; in fact I was rather embarrassed at the way it came out. But by the time I got round to doing the second issue, in March 1970, I’d got in touch with the guys at Orion Press in Manchester, who were essentially fan printers, but who could do justified typesetting and litho printing, including fairly primitive overlay colour covers. Steve and Barry had been working on a large Kirby-esque epic called ‘Paradox Man’ which I was quite eager to run, but instead Barry decided to intercut pages from that with a number of apparently unrelated other pages and the whole thing ended up as a sort of 20-page montage called ‘Tales of Hyperborea’, which looked very nice, so long as you didn’t expect any sort of connected narrative. There was a prose sword-and-sorcery by Chris Lowder, who I was by now working with at IPC, and who later started calling himself Jack Adrian, with a career as a writer, anthologist and critic; that was illustrated by Steve Parkhouse. And there was an article on Frankenstein movies by Denis Gifford.

For some time, Steve and Barry had been intending to do a magazine called Orpheus, along with Bob Rickard, who they’d actually got in touch with after seeing a letter that Bob had had published in a Marvel Comic. So at that point we decided to merge and brought out the first issue of Orpheus in March 1971, nominally edited by Steve and myself, though we all had an input into the issue. By that time Steve was working at IPC with me on Whizzer and Chips and Cor!! So we roped in a few of our friends from there as well, like Chris Lowder and Robert Knight, and again we had strips by Steve and Barry. We actually managed to get a second issue together and printed by Spring 1973, which featured some very early art by Ian Gibson, but Steve and Barry then decided they weren’t satisfied with it, so it was never released, though I managed to nab one copy for my own files.

Eventually Barry moved to the States and Steve to Carlisle, and, sadly, we lost touch. But Bob’s remained one of my very dearest friends for the last 45 years and, of course, it’s because of that that I’ve had a long-running association with Fortean Times since it began in 1973.

PÓM: Were they good times or bad times at Odhams, do you think, looking back?

SM: Certainly good when I was working on Pow! Ken Mennell was a nice man, London was a hip place to work in 1967 and I was doing what I wanted to do, which was working in comics. As things started to shrink Ken left and I ended up working on Smash! , which wasn’t quite so much fun, simply because I didn’t take to Albert Cosser (who was always called ‘Cos’ rather than Albert) quite as much as I did to Ken, though we got on well enough. By 1969 the writing was on the wall, and we knew about the upcoming merger with Fleetway, and for the last few months we moved from Long Acre to offices in High Holborn. For the last month of its life I worked as extra editorial staff on Eagle, which was quite nice, as I’d grown up with the title, but it was pretty much just a case of giving me something to do. Except for a couple of people, virtually everyone at Odhams took redundancy pay, but I’d only been there a couple of years, so that wasn’t worth anything to me and, besides, I wanted to stay in comics. So I hung on and moved over to Fleetway House as part of the new IPC Magazines set-up where, at least to start with, I wasn’t anywhere near as happy.

PÓM: Why not?

SM: Well, I’d basically gone over to Fleetway House as ‘superfluous editorial staff’, and they promptly put me on Valiant, which already had a full staff so I was, basically, superfluous. And while Odhams had been quite relaxed, the whole ethos at Fleetway was much more old-fashioned, with very rigid and strait-laced working practices. The managing editor was a guy called Jack LeGrand, who looked like a rather beaten-up old newspaper hack. He was probably perfectly nice, but I seem to recall there’d be a vague tremor every time he’d walk into an office. The editor of Valiant, Sid Bicknell, was a complete martinet, and I think his chief sub-editor, who was probably only about 30, used to turn up every day in a three-piece suit and a bow-tie. So I got dumped among a staff like that with my lengthening hair and vaguely hippy notions, and we spent six months in mutual loathing.

Valiant was probably the most old-fashioned of the Fleetway boys’ adventure weeklies, and I particularly detested their lead strip, the ‘jolly’ World War II hero Captain Hurricane, which I thought was nauseatingly jingoistic and downright racist (‘Take that, you piano-toothed rice-noshing baboons!’). I seem to remember working for a couple of weeks on Tiger at the end of my stint on Valiant, but then, without asking me what I thought, they suddenly decided to move me on to War Picture Library, which, of course, I hated even more. For those who don’t remember them, these were pocket sized-comics about seven inches by five, with 56 pages plus covers, and usually two or three panels a page.

Working on War Picture Library was even more dire than Valiant. I remember early on having proofread an issue in 25 minutes, and then being told that I couldn’t have read it properly because all the other staff there took 45 minutes. So after that I had to spend 45 minutes on a book regardless of whether it needed it, and some of the stuff was reprint that had already been subbed anyway. I was bored rigid and hated the subject matter, with its constant references to ‘Huns’ and ‘Nips’, and the typical World War II story is something I’ve always refused to write. Mind you, I’ve never written sport either, but that’s mainly because of ignorance rather than any moral scruples.

PÓM: Did you end up working at IPC Magazines for long?

SM: Fortunately, after two months of misery on the War libraries, they decided to bring out a new humour weekly called Whizzer and Chips, under a relatively young editor called Bob Paynter; the idea being that Chips was somehow a ‘separate’ comic that was bound inside Whizzer. As was usually the way, they advertised the job of sub-editor in-house first, and I naturally applied for it, and got it. So that’s where I spent the next two years, until I finally left to go freelance in the summer of 1972. During that time, we also added Cor!! to our line-up, which was another humour title. Both were pretty much modelled on Buster, but perhaps with a slightly younger appeal. They were virtually all humour (a lot of which was written by Roger Cook, who’d formally written TV Comic just about single-handedly every week) with, I think, one adventure strip.

We were down on the second floor (most of the comics were on the top floor, which I can’t remember whether it was the 5th or the 6th, with the libraries on the floor below that), so we were pretty much a separate production unit, cut off from the others (which suited me). And in the time I was there, we ended up with Steve Parkhouse and Dez Skinn on editorial (I think Dez was mainly on Cor!! ), and Kevin O’Neill as art assistant. With the usual nepotistic way of taking on staff, we also had an art assistant called Tony Jacob, who was the son of a cartoonist, I think called Peter Jacob, and there was a rather cute artist/letterer called Diane Flowers, who was developing an interest in palmistry and wanted to read my palm (offhand I can’t remember what she said, just the inky palm-prints … though I think it was more about character analysis than prediction). I don’t think Chris Lowder worked with us, but I think he hung around quite a lot, mainly because of the aforesaid palmist. So we had a decent team there, and Steve Parkhouse and I became quite good friends. And I was reasonably happy for a while.

To be continued…

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44. Runner’s Strip: Running Insurance

I think I’m in love with my new penguin. First he schools us on ice cream, now he speaks to another runner’s truth.

runner penguin with toilet paper

What nugget of wisdom with Mr. Penguin be dropping on us next time?

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More running CARTOONS AND LAUGHS

Posts on GI Issues for Runners HERE and HERE
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1) What nugget of truth do you think our penguin will be quipping about next time?

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45. On The Drawing Board…Dogs, etc.!

I’m working on and finishing up a few projects, and all have a dog or dogs. Also, in different styles. Below are clips from the final or working toward final illustrations.

may-together

0 Comments on On The Drawing Board…Dogs, etc.! as of 5/30/2014 2:55:00 PM
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46. Kale Video: Like cabbage only cooler

Runners, be you vegan or not, you should get friendly with our friend, Kale. :)

This video was posted on my Instagram page, so if those 15 seconds left your eyes darting to read all the awesome Kale facts, let me run through them again for you:

* Iron
* Calcium
* Vitamin B6, A, C, and K
* Chockfull of antioxidants
* Fights inflammation

So yea, Kale really is hip. Without the skinny jeans. ;)

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More posts on NUTRITION
Post all about the importance of IRON
More foods that FIGHT INFLAMMATION
More CARTOONAGE :)
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47. By Its Cover (Week Of 5.28.14): Requests & Tangents

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[No one has guessed my challenge from the other week, so I'll hold off a few more weeks before revealing the answer.]

A few people have asked if I take requests. I think I’m up for the challenge. Let me know if there are any older covers you’d really like to see analyzed/discussed, or any recent covers you felt I overlooked.

Today’s reader request comes from Heidi MacDonald, who wanted to know what I thought of the recent JLA: Earth 2 redesign. It generated a little bit of discussion on Twitter recently when Andy Kouri tweeted about it:

Unfortunately, Twitter’s character limit doesn’t leave a lot of room for specific critique. A few people seemed unsure if Khouri was complaining about the redesigned title or the different art. After doing a little digging, I figured out that this are is from the original Hardcover release (bottom right), while the Softcover (bottom left) had new art that flipped the positions of the two sets of characters.

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I’m pretty sure Khouri was reacting to the new text design, and I agree that it has some problems. However, to be completely honest with you, I was never a big fan of the original text treatment either. The way the words just ever so slightly overlapped seemed kind of random and arbitrary to me, not to mention that it created odd tangents and almost-tangents.

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A tangent is when two elements just barely touch, like Owlman’s head and the letter “H” above. This is considered a design faux pas because of the way it creates unintended visual tension. Visual tension can also be created with almost-tangents such as when two elements are just a little too close to one another (such as Ultraman’s head in proximity to the word “Quitely,”), or when two elements don’t quite go far enough in overlapping each other (like the number “2″ and the bottom of the “r” and “h” in the original cover design).

But what stands out to me most in the new design is that strange empty space under the title. It looked to me almost like the creator’s names had been placed in there at one point, and the box wasn’t resized when the names were removed. It turns out I was half-right – the new design was originally created for the Deluxe Edition:

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The only other issue I have with the cover is a problem I also had with both of the originals: the first time I ever saw Quitely’s image (I can no longer remember which one I saw first), I didn’t immediately notice that the reflections were different. I’m just so used to reflections being background information that I didn’t bother looking closely on first scan.

You might argue that this isn’t a problem at all, that it’s one of those minor details for you to discover on closer inspection. But what if it could be used as a way to get people’s attention and create interest?

JLA-remix-3

Above I’ve mocked up an idea for how I might’ve approached the cover. The familiar heroes would be at the top of the image as the primary focus…but something’s clearly wrong. They appear to be reflections of something else, and why is there upside-down text?

JLA-remix-4

You’d flip the cover automatically, almost without thinking, and discover these warped versions of the characters. Getting you to flip the cover also ties into the theme of the story turning everything upside-down.

A missed opportunity, or am I just off my rocker? (Or both?)


 

And now last week’s covers:

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 TREES

Evil and/or death is literally lurking beneath the surface in this cover by Jason Howard. I’m not sure it could have been conveyed any more clearly than this. I also kinda like how the middle letter in the title fits nicely within that vertical bar.

 

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BRASS SUN #1

Am I the only one who gets a little bit of a Ghibli vibe from INJ Culbard’s illustration? It looks lovely. Also, notice how they’ve expertly balanced their trade dress and centered the title while still passing the Hibbs Test.

 

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THE FUSE #4

I’m a big fan of Kubrick-esque symmetrical compositions, like this cover by Justin Greenwood. The only thing that kind of bugs me is that I wish the window was centered vertically as well as horizontally. Also, it might’ve been cool if the words looked like they were being reflected in the glass rather than printed on it. But it’s cool.

 

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EVIL EMPIRE #2

I kind of wish the text in the background was slightly more readable, though the argument could be made that it’s creepier to leave it to the reader’s imagination. My favorite part of Andre De Freitas’ composition is the red dripping down from the background over the character, cutting into her. Nice for a creepy horror vibe.

 

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 THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE – SPECIAL EDITION #2

I keep trying to figure out something to say about this cover, and I just don’t know. J.H. Williams III definitely succeeded dark and dreamlike. I like the way the title on this Special Edition is just a line of text along the top, letting the image carry the cover.

 

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AMERIKA

Such a clean illustration, and an amusing concept. I just wish the rooftop wasn’t cut off. The black box is kind of awkward in that it at first looks like a dark sky behind the building, but then the left side of the roof just disappears. It would’ve been more elegant to use the edge of the rooftop to create the box to place the title in, the title floating in the sky.

 


Kate Willaert is a graphic designer for Shirts.com. You can find her her art on Tumblr and her thoughts @KateWillaert. Notice any spelling errors? Leave a comment below.

5 Comments on By Its Cover (Week Of 5.28.14): Requests & Tangents, last added: 6/4/2014
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48. Harts Pass No. 204



A couple of years ago, my now 11 year old daughter did this fine Bigfoot comic. In the tradition of Bill Keene (Family Circus) and in honor of this week's Young Writers Conference at MVES, the writing credit for this week's strip goes most assuredly to the 9 year old author of "Quiet Comics." Thanks much kiddo! And I look forward to teaching another session or two of "Making Comics" on Friday afternoon.

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49. Peacocks Stop for Runners

Because how could they NOT stop and gawk at such a well-dressed runnerchick. ;) #Ezzere Baby!

peacock runner tee movie

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This short video hit my Instagram feed first…be sure to follow me there so you’ll be the first to see when new artage and such get dropped. :)

Mosey over the BUY YOUR Ezzere Peacock Runner Tee…or any of the others. ;)
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50. One and Done: Why Moon Knight Is The Perfect Monthly Comic

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What makes a comic ‘worth it?’

In the comments to my introductory column, a lot of readers seem to gauge the value of a comic by dividing the time spent consuming by the amount of money spent. There’s nothing wrong with that formula; it’s one that I use all the time myself. Under that formula, the comic I  decided to purchase this week–Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire’s Moon Knight #4–is a terrible value proposition.

It’s also possibly the best book you could spend four dollars on.

Reading this month’s issue of Moon Knight–or really any of the current (and sadly soon-to-be-concluded) creative team’s run will not take you much time. Like a lot of books on the stands, if there’s a line for the register, you can probably read all of it before the end.

But comics aren’t just words to be read. They’re visual, and how much value we place on those visuals are where the cracks in the aforementioned formula start to show.

The subjective nature of art makes it impossible to have a definitive answer–and I have no aspirations to be definitive about anything–but is there anything all that different between an illustration hanging in a gallery that people will pay hundreds of dollars for and the art in every panel and page of a comic book? It’s a tough question, but the art team on Moon Knight is worth every penny.

Shalvey and Bellaire’s work has been a consistent delight to pour over, and they’re bolstered by Ellis’ spare scripting, which leans on the artwork to tell the story–previous issues would often barely make sense if the reader only gave the art a cursory glance. Like a song with intentionally obscured lyrics, the book’s visuals hide layers of story in its lines and colors.

It also helps that writer Warren Ellis has been using the book to show off his mastery of the short story–you’d be hard pressed to find a more satisfying collection of one-and-done stories on the stands right now. And this month’s story, a psychedelic mystery about a recurring nightmare pushing the patients of a sleep clinic to madness, is Ellis’ best yet.

Part of it has to do with the story potential opened up by the revamp–by brilliantly repositioning Marc Spektor as a literal white light in darkness, the series has opened up a story direction that is surreal and unique unto itself.

“Dreamers are people who travel at night,” says Spektor. “That is my specialist subject.”

And much like dreams, which are fleeting yet heavy with meaning, Moon Knight  shows just how much you can hide away in twenty-two brief pages.

 

Addendum: Why I Left Out Webcomics

A lot of commenters brought up something that I probably should have addressed from the start: why no webcomics?

Make no mistake, if you’re someone who just likes sequential art as a medium and aren’t attached to paper or characters, publishers, or creators that have brand recognition, webcomics are where you want to be. The amount of incredible work available for you to read for free is absolutely stunning, and if you want to find people to talk about them with, they’re usually only a scroll or click away from the strip you just read.

Don’t let money keep you from comics. The good folks at io9 compiled this list of 51 excellent webcomics worth checking out–of them, I can personally recommend Evan Dahm’s Overside stories in general and Rice Boy in particular.

 If you’re craving something more substantial, Si Spurrier, writer of the recently-concluded, extremely idiosyncratic X-Men Legacy (one of the best books Marvel put out over the last two years) has been working on Disenchanted, a weekly webcomic with a whole wiki of supplemental materials to mull over.

Also, I’ll occasionally talk about digital exclusives, as most of them run for 99 cents, a much more fair price for a serial publication. But I’ll rarely go into the same depth with a digital comic, since the agreeable price point negates the kind of approach I take for these reviews. If, for example, an issue of the absolutely excellent High Crimes isn’t friendly to new readers or doesn’t necessarily tell a complete story given its intensely serial nature, I won’t care as much. My criteria for what’s ‘worth it’ changes, and the sort of review I’d give it is the kind you could probably read anywhere else.

This column–by design–heavily prefers print comics. Print comics are a perfect storm of bad economics that most comics media doesn’t deal with. I want to wrestle with that problem here. I don’t get review copies of anything. Every comic discussed here is paid for with my own money. I’m not sure that I’ll always be happy with what I get, but making impossible choices is part of the deal. My goal isn’t just to discuss comics, but the difficulties of being a comics consumer.

So help me out: before next Wednesday, June 11th, tweet me @jmrivera02 with the most satisfying single issue purchase you made this month–and why. Tag your responses #OneAndDone, and I’ll select four winners who will receive a free digital copies of one of the four Moon Knight issues I’ve purchased so far. I’ll include your recommendations in next week’s column.

As always, support your local comic shop if you can, patronize your local library if you have one, and say hi on Twitter if you like. See you next week.

6 Comments on One and Done: Why Moon Knight Is The Perfect Monthly Comic, last added: 6/9/2014
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