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.
Interestingly, we seem to be making the list based on our "Leisure and culture" factors -- Columbus has an inordinate number of movie theaters, restaurants, libraries, bars and golf courses. We rank very low in the number of museums, however.
Average body mass index for the C.O.: 28. Average for all cities on the ranking: 27. According to Men's Health Magazine, we've dropped to 16th fattest city in the U.S. Suck on that, Detroit!
While in Baltimore I had the good fortune to visit the American Visionary Art Museum. It's a three-building complex devoted to "art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself."
It offers glimpses into a variety of unique minds. A number of the artists suffer from horrific childhoods or have some history of institutionalization. Art ranges from the fanciful to the truly frightening, and is equal parts craft and obsessive attention to detail. My favorite piece was a room decorated walls, floor and ceiling with bits of found art, including thousands of pennies stacked together to spell words like "Love" and "God."
I regret their Web site has so few pictures, and that I did not bring my camera. But if you happen to be in Charm City, be sure to check it out.
Dave Sim has announced the finalists for the 2006 Day Prize, which you can check out on the S.P.A.C.E. website. Our own Tom Williams won this award in its inaugural year back in 2002, and now he's been nominated again, along with friend-of-the-ferret Chad Lambert, for their story in the Potlatch anthology:
Potlatch #5 "Too Much Matheson" Angry Dog Press Chad Lambert-writer Tom Williams-artist 2982 Calusa Dr. Hamilton OH 45011 Possuatlarge.com $6.95
Alas, our own anthology, PANEL, which also features the work of Mr. Williams, has never made the cut in the past 4 years. However, that's not to take anything away from the books that did get the nod this year. Good luck to all, even though we're pulling for our fellow PANELista!
Well, with all the snow and ice, it's finally starting to look like winter here at Ferret Manor. But up until a few weeks ago, it was definitely Global Warming weather around here. Anyway, on a completely unrelated topic, here's a little Superman page for you kids to try your hand at today.
Check out the NYT interview with Ms. Crumb about her new book and life with Robert. Nice slideshow montage of their home & life in France. As a side note, Carol Tyler (who's pictured with Crumb in the slideshow) will be at S.P.A.C.E. this year.
Actually, this has nothing to do with comics. I saw it as part of Yahoo's "This Week in Photos" and thought I'd share. It's a very striking scene, both in terms of color and composition. Hopefully the driver was ok. From the photo caption:
"Oranges lay scattered on the asphalt after a truck turned over on a freeway in southwest China's Sichuan Province, on Monday, January 15."
Over at The Comics Reporter, you can find our frequent blog visitor and Monday Morning "Guess the Artist" participant Gary Esposito's pictures from Steve "Diamond Comic Distributor" Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
From the museum's website:
"Geppi’s Entertainment Museum is an unprecedented journey through American history with a focus on pop culture. Toys and comic characters shaped us as children through a magical blend of entertainment and education. Travel from the late 1700s to the present day as you revisit your favorite characters and celebrities including; Superman, Supergirl, Batman, Howdy Doody, Betty Boop, Little Richard, Elvis and many more as they evolved from the familiar heroes of yesterday to the pop culture icons of today!"
Sorry for the long delay, but I finally posted the pictures from last year's Ferret Press/PANEL sponsored Unmasked party on the main Ferret Press site. "The Underground" at Barley's Brewing Company Ale House No. 1 was the venue for this free pre-Mid Ohio Con party, featuring free admission, free appetizers, live music by the Poophouse Jug Band, and interstitial music by our very own DJ Andy. A great time was had by all.
So I was talking to my brother about comics, and whether he was going to be picking up any of the new titles coming out of Marvel and DC. He said he'll probably check out the new Nova series from Marvel. His quote, which pretty much sums up my feelings towards Marvel as well:
"Looks somewhat promising, but Marvel does have a way of crappifying even the coolest ideas."
from the redwood forests ... to the gulf stream waters ...
Before I left Columbus, I loaded up some Woody Guthrie on the old iPod. I snapped it on as I walked out of Washington DC's Union Station.
My plan was to cut across the Capitol grounds on my way to the Cannon House Office building, where all my representatives are housed. No dice. They've got temporary barricades around the whole area, and I had to walk all the way around.
There's something really tragic about listening to "This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land," when Congress -- the People's House -- is completely walled off.
Friend of the ferret, and Columbus journalist, J. Caleb Mozzocco dropped us a line to mention this weird bit of synchronicity: DC will soon be releasing a Captain Marvel limited series by Columbus' own Jeff Smith, and in the recently released Showcase Presents: Shazam!, the big red cheese himself visits Columbus!
Drop by Caleb's blog for a detailed review, as well as more scans.
Artist Dulce Pinzón is exhibiting a series of his photographs called The Real Story of the Superheroes. His subjects are Mexican immigrant workers in New York City, whom he dressed as superheroes. From his artist statement: "The principal objective of this series is to pay homage to these brave and determined men and women that somehow manage, without the help of any supernatural power, to withstand extreme conditions of labor in order to help their families and communities survive and prosper."
Although I doubt this will actually happen anytime soon, the producers of the show are saying that they want to negotiate with ABC executives about setting an end date for the series.
"Lost," which is shifting back an hour to 10 p.m. Eastern time, Wednesdays, on ABC's schedule, has seen a 14 percent drop in its audience this year, according to Nielsen Media Research. Producers contend the numbers are deceptive because of a comparison with the second season, when "Lost" was a cultural sensation."
A rather lopsided `06 recap over at CBR. More likely what's going on in the DM or gee, wasn't Civil War the shit? It felt very one sided which I think is unhealthy in a column of this nature. It's not a true overview but it's interesting. About as 'indie' as they get is they've invited IDW, Viper, Aspen & Komikwerks. Nobody from D&Q, Oni, Dark Horse (?), Fantagraphics, or any of the new OGN publishers like 1st Second or Pantheon. Civil War did amazingly well but I don't think it brought in any new readers . All it did was excite or annoy the base of buyers who already buy this stuff.
example: Fun Home was never mentioned despite being both a critical and financial success. Scary I guess because not many comic shops probably ordered it.
One of my favorite comics ever is returning - sort of - to print!
Hewlett & Martin's TANK GIRL assaulted my poor little mind and made me think twice about the capabilities and boundaries of comics, and just how bug-nuts one could get with them. The 1995 movie left a lot to be desired (as most un-filmable properties do), and kind of killed the "exclusiveness" to those of us who had been following Alan & Jamie's little tirade from the get-go (or as much of a get-go as we were given, in the States...). Then after a couple of less-than-inspiring miniseries at Vertigo (with neither Hewlett OR Martin, oddly), the coffin was well-nailed for our favorite kangaroo-snogging anarchist.
But Alan Martin himself is back on the horse for 2007, this time with IDW. Jamie Hewlett (half the mastermind behind the pop phenomenon GORILLAZ) is out; but in his place is another of my favorite looneys, ASHLEY WOOD. And if Jamie couldn't do it, there's no one I'd rather see on the roster than Ash.
Here's the emerging new look for Tank Girl. We were concerned that she didn't make her re-appearance in the same, tired old clothes that she bowed out in some twelve years ago. What was alternative, upsetting, anarchic, and just plain odd-ball back then has since become common place. Mainstream media smothers us daily with punky chic, and modern day babies can be seen sporting spikey hairdos and Travis Bickle T-shirts. The uniform of the cultural revolutionary has been sold to The Man. So how to rebel? How give the finger to the fashion fascists? Normal is the only way ahead. Dress like a high school teacher from the mid-eighties, or pick clothes from your boring aunty's wardrobe. The only way left to rebel is to dress like you're not rebelling. We hope to bring a whole different flavour to Tank Girl, as she borrows ideas from past cultural reference points (Fay Dunaway in Bonnie & Clyde, anyone?). Obviously she will still fart, drink too much, and shag a kangaroo.
Another one passed along for a friend ... here's one for our colleagues in Hilliard.
Packrat's 2 Year Anniversary Celebration
We are pleased to announce that on February 3, 2007 Packrat Comics will have none other than the world famous WWF Heavyweight Wrestling Champion The Iron Sheik for a special guest appearance to help us celebrate in style our 2 year anniversary. In addition we will also have an artist alley with such talented individuals as Joe Corroney, Josh Medors, Andy Bennett, Sean Forney, Stratos and many more.
****GUEST UPDATE***Just added to the guest list are the very talented Daryl Banks, JD Larabee, Seth Lyons, and M.A.D.
We will also be hosting our famous $1.00 back issue sale which means any book under $10 is only $1.00 and anything priced over is half off. We have restocked from our Midnight Madness Sale and have well over 100 long boxes that means over 50,000 comics on sale. We have also compiled over 1,500 Silver Age comics that will be available for the first time ever at this sale starting as low as $3.00*. If you have a subscription with us come in and get your early Preferred Customer Ticket for an exclusive Friday preview when you will be able to shop from 5pm - 8pm.
As many of you know when we hold a party of this magnitude we rent additional space to accommodate everyone. And of course free food and entertainment (provided by Stratos) for all will be provided.
If you are an artist/writer/comic creator and are interested in being part of this event, feel free to contact us to work out the details.
See you all February 3!
*The $1.00 per book and 50% off will not apply to these already discounted books.
Fellow Columbus writer dude and comics pro Sean McKeever has been in the comics gossip columns a lot lately. First Lying in the Gutters talked about him starting on a big-name team book (which at the time everyone assumed was New Warriors,) then this week All the Rage ran the rumor that he's jumping over to DC.
Nice year end wrap with Top Shelf over at Broken Frontier. BF talks with Staros about the past year and where they're heading in the coming year. Surrogates is a nice step in a more diverse line. They're planning a couple of more projects with writer/artist teams in the coming year or so. Brian Wood's new project may not hit shelves till possibly 2008. I love how they can put out Lost Girls and Owly in one year. A new kid friendly comic will be paired up with Owly for Free Comic Day.
For those of you in the Central Ohio area, there are two upcoming talks at The Ohio State University that you may be interested in attending:
Harvey Pekar lectures Wednesday, February 28 7:00 p.m. at the Mershon Auditorium.
Scott McCloud gives a presentation Wednesday, April 4, 4:30 p.m. at the Wexner Theater.
As far as I can tell, both are free and open to the public. I've seen both talk before and both are great in entirely different ways. McCloud delivers a high-tech, fast-paced talk on the theory of comics. Pekar provides a low-key, sometimes grumpy, but always engaging look at his life and how it intersected with comics. McCloud ends up at OSU every other year or so. I haven't seen Pekar talk since I was an undergrad at Cleveland State over a dozen years ago. Looking forward to both.
I'm passing this along for a friend ... The Bar of Modern Art will host Columbus Model Quest, a showcase of local models and fashion designers, at 11 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19. Here's some love from the press release:
The conclusion of the contest will be held on Friday, January 19th at the Bar of Modern Art (BoMA), located at 583 E. Broad St. BoMA will start this event at 11:00pm for observers to enjoy the “Fashion Catwalk Challenge”, where 1 MALE and 1 FEMALE will be chosen as winners. There will be a dynamic opening performance by Kristina Isabelle’s dance company “High-Jinks” (www.high-jinks.org). For more information about BoMA, please visit their website: www.barofmodernart.com. Everyone in attendance is invited to stay and celebrate with the winners. “We want Columbus to be known as a metropolitan city and this event is a good start!” said Michelle Washington, Creator of the event and Stylist/Wardrobe Coordinator of Style-ology LLC. “Many fashion shows in Columbus have been a one-time only event. An annual fashion event isdesperately needed in Columbus to prove that one of this kind can be strong enough to carry on each year and grow in participation from businesses and sponsors as well as Columbus’ local talent.”
Steve Black is intent on conquering the comics world one Web comic at a time. His beautiful art is the centerpiece of my new story "The Manuscript," a contemporary mystery/thriller.
The plan is for a new page to be posted every Wednesday (unlike Matt, I make no 7 am promises). You can keep up-to-date on what is happening with the story at the new Jury Rigged Comics Blog. Here's a look at the first page:
Slate.com has a piece this week on the best comix about (or inspired by) the war in Iraq. Featured series include DMZ, Pride of Baghdad and Shooting War. Pretty much the ones you'd expect, but it's nice to see them getting some love.
1. Real publishers do not use 'digital print to order' or 'print on demand' services. Those are for hobbyists and the very vain, and you owe it to yourself to have a professionally printed book if that's what you're going to do. 1a. I lied. Real publishers occasionally do use PoD services, to print "Advance Reading Copies" that they then give away for free, to the press, before the real book is printed. 1b. If you're using Lulu or whomever to print your own stuff, more power to you. Just don't build a publishing empire on it alright? It's sad and you're losing money on every book you sell, if the point is to actually sell books.
2. Sometimes, 'finding a publisher' is not as important as simply not sucking. Do you suck? You should maybe figure that out before asking someone else to invest money in your art. Here's a simple way to find out if you suck: a. Print up 10 copies of your comic story in mini-comics form. Don't go to Kinkos, they're too expensive. Go to Staples or something. b. Take 10 copies of your mini-comic to a convention. Any convention, your choice. c. If you can't sell all 10 copies of your mini-comic in a convention weekend, you suck, and should not be professionally or 'professionally' published. d. Try harder, either way.
Now blindly going to any convention with 10 copies may be bad advice. S.P.A.C.E. : yes. Chicago Con or Mid-Ohio: not so much. When the majority of fans (that go to these mainstream shows) eyes glaze over if your book doesn't have Batman on the cover-> That's a bad testing ground.
Steve Black and I have cooked up a little online comic of our own. It's called "Spaceman" and you can check out the first two pages here. I'm plotting it, Steve is taking care of breakdowns, pencils, inks, and color. He's knocking it out of the park too. Here's a sneak peek of the first page...
New pages go up every Wednesday at 7 a.m., so tune in early and tune in often.
So it's no secret around Ferret Manor that an issue of West Coast Avengers picked up off a spinner rack at a mom and pop grocery store got young Dara hooked on comic books. Yes, I wear my geek badge with pride. So armed with this knowledge, two dollars, and plenty of free time to browse the dealers booths at the recent poorly-attended Mid-Ohio-Con, fellow PANEList Craig Bogart bought me the 4-issue West Coast Avengers limited series, published back in the fall of '84.
Written by Roger Stern, and penciled by Bob Hall, the intent of the mini series (according to Stern himself) was to set up some characters, settings, and plot points that he could use in the monthly Avengers comic that he was writing at the time. However, the limited series sold so well that Marvel decided to create a monthly West Coast Avengers series, and of course, handed that over to a whole different creative team (Steve Englehart and Al Milgrom.)
But I digress. Let's examine some choice panels from the limited series. In this sequence from issue #1, Simon Williams, aka Wonder Man, has just finished filming an exploding car scene for the film he's acting as a stuntman on. Check out the short shorts on Mr. Williams, as he gets drenched by two other stuntmen:
Mmm hm. This is followed by Freddy bringing him his "shades" in this tender moment:
Then in issue #2, Simon and Freddy spend more quality time together:
"Want to go to the hardware store with me?" Nuts indeed!
But don't worry, all you red-blooded heterosexual comic book reading men, there's plenty of cheesecake for you as well, courtesy of Tigra:
Boots, leggings, orange fur, and a blatant ass shot. Meeeeeow!
Man, this series is just one giant bundle of repressed sexual energy. Where's the comics code authority when you need them?
This particular issue holds a special place in my heart, not because of a specific creative team or story arc, but because it was my first encounter with a certain class of villain to which I’m particularly attached: the evil-brain-in-a-jar. Scourge of countless B-movies, comics, and even James West, the evil-brain-in-a-jar can always be relied on for overall creepiness coupled with diabolical ranting from his position of total impotence. This comic was first-grader Craig’s initial exposure to this timeless villain, and re-reading it has awakened a fondness in my heart which has prompted me to include an evil-brain-in-a-jar in my next Ineffables story… But enough spoilers; let’s move on to the issue in question.
First, check out that Jack Kirby cover. The King doesn’t do the interiors, those are presented by Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema. When Jack returned to Marvel, he did a host of their comic covers in addition to the actual comics he was working on. His work graced the front of Avengers, FF, Invaders, Two-In-One, and who knows what else, even though he wasn’t writing or drawing the actual comics. That’s another trade paperback I’d like to see from Marvel: a collection of Kirby covers from the 1970’s taken from the books he didn’t actually work on. He did a ton of these, and I don’t think they’ve ever been collected in color in one place.
The story inside features The Thing in action during World War II alongside the lesser-known allied superheroes known as the Liberty Legion. Don’t feel smug if you can’t recall the name of this group from the obscurity in which they dwell, you probably also don’t recognize the name of longtime Columbus resident Paul Tibbits.
The issue opens with a very strange storytelling device; apparently carrying the story over from an FF annual which led into a Two-In-One annual, the opening pages feature panels which recall previous events from the plot for casual readers who might have picked up a comic on a whim, rather than obsessive completists. This “flashback” is coupled with odd editorial captions called “footnotes” in case someone might care to pick up those earlier chapters, but the summary provides enough information to make this single comic a self-contained read. To someone who reads new comics, these devices might be disorienting, but some historians will point out that you could once buy comics without being concerned about missing out on parts of “story arcs.” Weird. They let just anybody read these things back then.
Anyway, the flashback shows the Watcher bringing The Thing back to 1942 to track down some Vibranium which has fallen into Nazi hands and could tip the balance of the war. It turns out the Wakandan metal is powering a giant flying metal swastika which is tearing up the homefront. The Thing throws himself into the fray, discovering the awkward looking aerial death machine is piloted by none other than the evil-brain-in-a-jar, which calls itself Brain Drain. As The Thing rips an arm of the swastika to shreds, Brain Drain pilots it over the Atlantic to a hidden floating platform, where his evil henchmen await: Master-Man, U-Man (also known as Merrano), and Skyshark, the last of whom is apparently just a pilot with a gun, but he projects menace anyway. The Thing puts up a valiant fight, but the fight quickly turns against him because of his foes’ overwhelming numbers, along with that normal guy and his gun.
Dig that evil-brain-in-a-jar.
Fear not! The Liberty Legion jumps into the fight, having been tracking down the stolen components which went into building the giant flying swastika. A couple of them you might have actually heard of, but probably not: The Patriot! Red Raven! Miss America! The Whizzer! Blue Diamond! Jack Frost! And my favorite, because I’m now old enough to get the temporaneous (is that actually a word?) movie reference, The Thin Man!
At this point, the good guys have the bad guys outnumbered 8-3 + a regular guy with a gun, so the fight is pretty much just a formality. Here are a few panels showing Jack Frost (supplying the ice patch), Patriot, Thin Man, and Blue Diamond all ganging up on U-Man. Take note of Sal Buscema’s knack for showing villains meeting undignified ends (previously mentioned in a Desert Island Comics Spectacular Spider-Man entry) as U-Man’s teeth are shattered by the protagonists. The fishman never had a chance. For some reason, this particular image of flying teeth made an impression on young Craig.
Strangely enough, Brain Drain and Skyshark are the two bad buys who manage to escape, but The Thing still recovers the Vibranium, and after bidding a farewell to his new WWII buddies, returns to the distant future of 1976. An odd detail of the issue has The Thing referring to himself as “a vet” himself during the issue; in the early 1960’s both he and Reed Richards were said to be WWII vets, but if they still maintained that at the time this was published that would put The Thing in his 50’s, which I guess he and Reed could still be. The pair just becomes luckier and luckier old guys as time marches forward and their spouse/girlfriends still stay young and attractive. (Do they still maintain the Punisher is a Viet Nam vet? That guy would be pushing 60 by now…)
Hey everyone! I'm the current Guest Artist over on the always awesome Partyka web site. The gallery is entitled "The Eschaton According to Spudd." It contains 9 brand new never before seen drawings as well as 27 of my previous pieces, a little bit of bio, plus plugs for all my books. This is totally super cool for me and I'm giddy as a schoolgirl. So click on over to Partyka, scroll down a little bit, and you'll see the words "Guest Artist" next to one of the new drawings. Check it out and let me know what you think.