Welcome to the weblog of the writers and artists of Ferret Press (a publisher of fine comix) and PANEL (a Columbus, Ohio comic creators collaborative.) Here you will find our musings on comics, art, the creative process, politics, the web, and life.
"The University of Northampton is pleased to announce the first international academic conference dedicated to appraising the work of perhaps the most influential figure to emerge from the comics medium, Northampton’s own Alan Moore."
Go book your flight now.
(Thanks to my brother for the heads up on this one.)
Zahra's Paradise is a webcomic by two Iranians, dealing with the aftermath of the protests and turmoil following last summer's disputed elections. Out of concern for the safety of their families, they are publishing it under the pseudonyms Amir and Khalil.
The webcomic is being serialized on the First Second website. It will eventually be published as a graphic novel by the same publisher. The really cool thing is that it's beinf simultaneously released in 8 different languages: English, Farsi, Arabic, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and Korean (with new languages being added as volunteers step up to help spread the word).
Canada's Globe and Mail has a great article about the comic, and insight from its creators:
"Set at the height of last year’s bloody “Green revolution,” Zahra’s Paradise tells the story of a young Tehrani blogger and his mother (also named Zahra), who are searching for his vanished brother, Mehdi. The story is drawn in spare, flowing lines, stepping readers through a bleak vision of Tehran after the protests, emptied of life and littered with the wounded."
In eight years we all get those cool rocket backpacks.
Peter David's blog has been running his old "But I Digress..." columns. The latest one, first published in 1992, has him taking obvious shots at the Comics Code. My favorite paragraph:
"What purpose does it serve? None that I can see. Keeping things suitable for younger readers? It’s hard to believe that, if the CCA vanished tomorrow, the floodgates of profanity, gore and sexuality would open in the average issue of New Warriors or Superman. I tend to think that publishers are very much aware of what their audience wants and expects from specific titles, and no one is going to go berserk if newfound freedom were bestowed."
Ha ha. Boy, glad that never happened.
(No, I don't favor censorship. Good judgement and restraint would sometimes be nice, though.)
Not that he should be beaten with a crowbar or anything ...
I picked up some 1980s Batman comics the other day, and I'm starting to see why audiences never warmed to Jason Todd. That kid was annoying.
Also, if you're explaining the seating situation in the Batmobile, you're losing.
These images come from Batman 397, July 1986, by Doug Moench and Tom Mandrake. This issue also told us how one of Two-Face's goons actually had a pretty easy time developing leet hacker skills in a mere fortnight:
Busting heads and busting Gotham's Twin Towers bank database -- no wonder Two-Face hired that guy. That's duality.
"...because, the writers say, they have run out of time."
"They have no intention of discussing the show after the finale airs on May 23..."
Wait, wait, wait. I actually have read a handful of the seven hundred billion articles that have been written wbout the show "Lost" and I distinctly remember things like (and I'm paraphrasing here, but the details are the same) "the show was always designed to have a finite run with a distinct beginning, middle and end" and "we know all the details and have had the whole thing basically planned out since the beginning." So how does that jibe with "Holy crap we're running out of time and won't be able to really conclude more than a few important storylines?" Seriously, at this moment, I actually do have a little sympathy for all of you "Lost" fans who have devoted so much time, effort, and support for one of your favorite shows. You really are getting screwed here.
See, all this goes along perfectly with what has been my major gripe about the show since I stopped watching it forever some time in season 2. Anyone with a brain and a decent level of creativity, and really that's an awful lot of people, could have done what Cuse and Lindelof have done. Anyone.
It's beyond easy to come up with an interesting premise. Hell, any 2 or 3 college kids sitting around an apartment drinking beer can come up with 3 or 4 great ideas for a TV show or a movie on any given Saturday night. The ideas, the questions, the unknowns, the premises...these are the EASY parts. It's how these things are developed and ultimately resolved that show true and gifted creativity. True skill as a writer or creator. And Cuse and Lindelof apparently have very little of that real creativity because they don't seem to know how to resolve much of, well, anything.
I don't think I'm smarter than you reading this, but I do think that I started feeling like the show was never really going to answer anything way back in season 2 so I stopped wasting my time. I know a lot of viewers have become very attached to the characters and their lives and backstories as well, and I understand that, but honestly there are just too many great films, novels, and other things that don't require a 6 year investment of time for a payoff. I would rather spend 2 or 3 hours with a great film that has great characters, dialogue, and a storyline than 6 years with a show that's going to eventually show me Sayid's happy reunion with someone but never let me know how anything else ever happened to him.
For you Lost fans: something that struck me while watching this week's episode: in the earlier seasons encounters with the smoke monster, it seems to me that it was colored jet black. But this season, it looks more gray. I can’t figure out if this is just an oversight in the special effects (maybe a different production company is doing the CG effects?), or if it's intentional. As in: not all bad (black), not all good (white), but somewhere in the middle.
Am I reading too much into this?
Curse this show and their nuances. Now I suspect everything is a subtle clue.
The really annoying thing about the 1970s Justice Society was how they kept trying to "push" the Star-Spangled Kid.
He's kind of a sucky character. He's impulsive, green and not tremendously competent. He's the only one who's not outwardly sexist toward Power Girl, but he seems to think that should get him through her cleavage window.
And the bragging! He's always bragging about all the things he could do with the cosmic rod that he got from Starman.
(I mentioned Wildcat's kind of a dick in this, right?)
Anyway, here's the Kid using the cosmic rod to maintain Kent Nelson's grip on life, however that would work:
In this scene, it's making a pillow. The thing is seriously depicted as more powerful and versatile than Green Lantern's power ring.
This looks like a personal problem.
I think this would wake me up, too. Where's he putting that rod?
Then this -- I don't know what to say about this. Chomp?
7 Covers: comics I was promised would be worth buckets of money
This week's covers are courtesy of PANELista Craig Bogart. Craig writes:
"Seven comics I was promised would be worth buckets of money: I'm not sure why I was surprised this past MidOhio when I saw Flash #1 and Animal Man #1 for just a buck or two apiece. Those used to be pricey issues. I came in late to the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League, so that first issue cost me about $15 when I bought it. I see it on ebay now for $2.00. Not much Marvel here, only because they had sunk so low by this point I had defected to DC."
(Have a favorite series of your own? Or an artist? Character? Submit your own set of 7 covers by sending me small files (i.e. 72 dpi for the web) to ferret at ferretpress dot com and include "7 covers" in the subject line. Also, let me know if you have a blog or website you'd like me to link to.)
Hungarians, Childhood and Steve Black: Tryin' to live the dream
This guy, Willy Pogany, is literally the first artist I ever liked. Click on all these images to make them bigger. Seriously. They look so much better that way.
I remember a set of books called something like “My Little Bookhouse.” There were 10 or 12 of them, all hardcovers, and all themed. The earliest volumes were geared toward very young readers, and contained mostly Mother Goose rhymes, Aesop’s Fables and simple folk tales. Somewhere near the double digits, there was a volume with a painting of a castle and a procession of knights on the cover, and this one was my favorite. It was full of classical myths like the story of Perseus and the journey of Odysseus, legends like the story of the Ring of the Nibelung, and all sorts of tales about King Arthur and the Knights of Camelot. I was able to read fairly well by kindergarten, but I can remember looking at the illustrations in these books even before that.
While I liked almost all of the art, the artist whose work I loved the most was Willy Pogany. All of his pieces were very simple, elegant black and white line drawings but they were just beautiful. And he got to draw almost all of the monsters, from the Medusa that Perseus beheaded...
...to the monstrous children of Loki in the Norse myths...
and that was a big deal to me. At the time, I didn’t know who he was and I forgot about him as I worked my way through junior high and high school. Some time during my undergraduate years at Bowling Green State University, while doing some work in the library for a project on children’s books, I came across a copy of the book The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles.
I paged through it, saw Pogany’s classic illustrations, and was thunderstruck with a wave of nostalgia that knocked me off my feet. It’s hard to describe that feeling really.
Willy Pogany was a Hungarian illustrator working primarily in children’s books during the first half of the 1900s. He was incredibly prolific and created some real masterpieces in his time, including fully illustrated versions of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and Richard Wagner’s Tannhauser, Parsifal and Lohengrin. He passed away in 1955 but left behind and impressive body of work that included beautiful black and white as well as full color drawings and paintings. Take a look at some of these stunningly gorgeous pieces from his illustrated versions of Wagner's operas...
I’m not sure how much of the person we become is innate in us from birth or is a product of our environment. I don’t know how different I would have been if I had seen the messy scratchy illustrations of Jules Feiffer first instead of the clean line work of Willy Pogany. All I know is that those illustrations made an indelible impression on me, one which has never really disappeared entirely. I still thrill – absolutely thrill, personally and emotionally and reflexively – to his work.
About 6 months ago, when I began working on my project to create one illustration for every page of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, fellow Panelista Steve Black sent me an email in which he basically called me out and wrote that he thought I was capable of producing much better art than I was currently making. It wasn’t a douche bag move at all; it was actually something that only a good friend could have done. Steve wasn’t overstepping any boundaries with me at all. We had a great exchange, and while I was able to share a little more about what I was trying to do with the Moby-Dick pieces, he was able to refine and strengthen his critique, and we came to a good understanding. Steve’s words have stayed with me since then.
I still dig the Moby-Dick stuff a lot, but the very nature of the project (one illustration per day, made in an hour or less, and so on, for 552 consecutive days) has a real effect on how finely polished the images will be. Those pieces are rougher, more random, more experimental, and more wide-ranging. But I keep coming back to Steve’s words, and in a weird way, to Willy Pogany.
See, Willy Pogany is the one guy who I’d kill to be able to draw like. I don’t mean I’d like to swipe him, I mean I’d do almost anything for his command of line, form, composition, and elegance. But you know, in spite of more or less imitating all sorts of other comic book artists like Kirby and Marder and sometimes even Simonson throughout my years of making art, I’ve never worked toward what I’d really like to accomplish. A lot of that has been, I’ll admit, a fear of failure. If I never try to clean things up and draw like Pogany did, I’ll never fail at it. But I know that’s really stupid and pathetic. So lately I’ve been thinking, why not? Why can’t I be that good? Or at least try to be that good? I’ll be dead eventually, and if I died tomorrow would I regret not challenging myself to make the kind of art that I love the most? Definitely, yes.
So take a look at Willy Pogany’s art, and please let me know…any advice? I know Andy told me to draw and draw and draw and draw and I believe that. Looking at what Pogany could do, I have no doubt he had piles of sketchbooks all over the place. But what else? Any advice on this kind of clean line drawing? I think it's fascinating that in so much of the early, black & white stuff I love by Pogany, there is only a single thickness of line. No heavier weights of line at all. It's all done with composition and linework. I can see echoes of it in the art of Paul Smith (especially his X-Men stuff)...
and Yves Lombard...
and even Sergio Aragones with his single pen approach.
So help me out and I’ll share the results as I work on this. Pen suggestions? Practice suggestions? How to make this work in black & white? How to make this work for comics as well as it does for static illustrations? Any feedback at all will be deeply appreciated.
Because Marvel's doing a "Deadpool variant" cover on almost all their books, for no apparent reason other than to feature Deadpool. Oh, and I guess sell a bunch of extra comics.
For what it's worth, the crasher squirrel cover is one of the few that I find to be funny, but maybe that's my geeky Internets meme appreciation side talking.
I mean, if you're going to do variant covers (which I'm no fan of), I guess it's at least cool that they're having some fun with it. But Deadpool? Really? A Rob Liefeld character is still this popular?
By the way, you can see the crasher squirrel/Deadpool on www.marvel.com if you enter this code:
Well, it looks like the free commenting service that I had been using, Haloscan, is no more. I started using them because at the time I set up this blog, Blogger itself did not offer a comments feature. But Haloscan was bought out by some pay service, and is being shut down. I can export all 8000+ comments from this blog, but there's no way to import them as of yet. Sigh.
This means I really need to get my butt in gear and do the long-in-the-wings port over to Wordpress. In the meantime, I'll try and turn on the Blogger commenting feature. Hopefully it'll work as a stop gap.
A few months ago, I raised hackles by casually dismissing the work of Roy Thomas. Turns out I was wrong about that, I was attributing to him some crappy comics by Paul Levitz and Gerry Conway.
My first exposure to the Justice Society was the early-1990s revival, where they're shown as these aging workhorses. I was a big fan of the 1999-2006 series, which depicted them as the elder statesmen of the DC Universe. So I was looking forward to reading the 1970s version, which kept the flame alive for my generation.
It's really kind of not good.
Writers Paul Levitz and Gerry Conway try to bring back that goofy Golden Age stuff, but it's pretty stale.
Then, they try to show the JSA as real people with real problems, but then they all come off as kind of unpleasant. Here's Wildcat, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder:
I knew from the 1999 series that Wildcat and Power Girl had some kind of rivalry, but in the 1970s version it's pretty explicit. Wildcat's just sexist, as are the rest of the Justice Society.
Here they are rooting for her to get her comeuppance from a group of mole men.
The Star-Spangled Kid tries to take her side, but he does it in an "I'm trying to get in your pants" kind of way. Or maybe a stalker way. Anyway, ew.
I guess I got to give them props for making Power Girl a feminist, but she's such a man-hating ball-buster that he may as well not have bothered. If your conception of feminism begins and ends with "don't call me babe," you should probably look for a new angle.
The series spends a fair amount of time trying to bring our WWII-era heroes into the present-day, and it mostly falls flat. Here's the Golden Age Green Lantern struggling with Nixon-era cynicism.
Endless angst, attempts at relevance, desperate attempts to revitalize the crappy comics from your youth ... I think the cancer that's killing comics starts right about here.
Longish interview with Paul Hornschemeier. Honestly it's a weird one. Paul appears to be walking around his townhouse. Or the guy holding the camera ambles around stalker style. Casing the joint. I tapped out after 8 minutes. He'll be coming to S.P.A.C.E. in April. Paul will, not the stalker camera guy.
Matt's 7 Covers last week reminded me of the Hawkmoon comics, and how one of the series featured painted covers by one of Young Dara's favorite cover artists of the 80s and 90s. So, this week I'm featuring 7 covers by Dave Dorman. He was a mainstay of indie publishers, especially Dark Horse, doing a ton of movie-related comic covers. His ultra-realistic paintings don't do as much for me anymore, but I still have fond memories of his work from the past. And the few times I met him at conventions, he was very personable and down to earth.
Anyway, here are 7 random covers, from a variety of different books he has worked on: