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.
Per Jean's post, his last cover on Fables is issue 81. I tried to like Fables but could never get into the book. The covers though are a whole different matter. I'm excited that Vertigo is putting out a collection of Jean covers. He's going to be a tough act to follow. I'd be curious to see how this would affect sales on the book. I'd like to see Sam Weber take over cover duties if they haven't tapped him already. Given that the House of Secrets covers stopped after issue 5 has me thinking maybe they did. Esthetically him or Jillian Tamaki would be a great fit for the series.
James is clearing out all his illustrative duties to focus entirely on his painting. More power to him.
Bob Corby has announced the finalists for the first ever SPACE Prize (which takes the place of the Day Prize, no longer awarded since Dave Sim has gone back to work), and the first chapter of The Secret History of the Ineffables is among those named.
Everyone who exhibited at last year's SPACE convention will soon be able to head to the Back Porch Comics web site to vote among the finalists and help determine the winner (the popular vote is one part of the selection process, not the final word). Any help is appreciated! Alas, Tom and Tony are unable to vote since they contributed to the book.
I finished reading Y the Last Man and I'm disappointed. I'm not going to spoiler's it. I think last summer or fall I sat down and read the entire run straight through. Right up to book 9. It was great and I was hooked midway through book 2. The comparisons to a really good tv series were fair. It read like a tv series. It was smart and witty. The intercutting between scenes was masterful. It also began to end like a tv series. One that overstayed it's welcome. Book 6 or 7 it started to meander. By book 8 Vaughn was milking it. One could argue that it was sooner than that. I got book 10 from the library. Why? More ribbing about how the world is devoid of men? No. Curiosity I guess, from a writing standpoint. Did anyone feel like the epilogue bit was unneccessary? I sure did. The story had a nice twist, though it took way too long to get there, then he fucks it up with a half assed epilogue that takes the piss right out of it.
I'm looking for the movie adaptation to be a tighter version of this series. Much like V for Vendetta.
My DVD of the Doctor Who episode Black Orchid turned up in the mail this weekend, and upon watching it I was pleased to discover an excellent documentary about the comic strip published by Marvel Comics during the Peter Davison era of the series. Most of the feature revolves around Dave Gibbons, discussing (among other things) the problems involved with capturing the likeness of the 5th Doctor’s bland features. It also spends time with the writers and editors of the series, lamenting the day Dick Giordano crossed the ocean to steal him away from them.
It also shows a glimpse of artwork by one of Gibbons’ replacements, a guy named Steve Dillon. Highly recommended.
Independents' Day is a celebration of the unique spirit of creativity in urban Columbus. Couchfire Collective is partnering with local artists, musicians, businesses, and the City of Columbus to create an event that showcases the best of our community.
Street Market Over 100 booths line Gay Street and Pearl Alley and feature Columbus artists, organizations, and businesses
Music and Performance Two main stages and a handful of alternative venues feature Columbus' best musicians and performers
Interactive/Idea Convention The Vault hosts a creative outlet for ideas and innovation with presentations and conversations throughout the day
After Party When activity on the street winds down, the party moves into The Vault where DJs and creative collaborators continue the celebration into the wee hours.
And in other news, you can see the fruits of the 48 Hour Film Products tonight at Gateway movie theaters on campus. The 48 Hour Film project took place last weekend, and they're already showing the finished shorts.
Group A goes at 7 p.m. Group B goes at 9:30 p.m.
It's basically like 24-Hour Comic Day except 1) twice as long 2) it's film, not comics and 3) they gave all the teams some standard items to work with, so nobody could jump the gun.
A McCain campaign staffer, Michael Goldfarb, dissed Obama supporters on McCain's blog by writing: "It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman's memory of war from the comfort of mom's basement..." Here's a funny/geeky response from the boingboing comments section about the story:
"John McCain Random Encounter Table
01-10: Rush Limbaugh, fresh from the bath 11-25: Sean Hannity, fresh from Rush Limbaugh's bath 26-35: The Ghost of Richard Nixon 36-50: Iraq Veterans Against the War 51-65: Raagan Homunculi 66-75: A Dancing Ellen Generes 76-85: Jon Stewart/Bill Maher/Stephen Colbert Hydra 86-90: Zombie Abraham Lincoln 91-95: A High shelf 95-98: Fred Thompson in full battle armor 99-00: Victory in November (Fail, roll again)"
The Bigfoot corpse discover/press conference from last week? Turns out it was a(gasp!) hoax. Not only that, but the folks at Searching For Bigfoot, Inc. got scammed out of some money. Once again, the comments section at InformationWeek brings teh funny:
"The giveaway, of course, was that no trace of Jack Links Beef Jerky was found in the alleged Bigfoot's digestive tract."
Tom Cruise wants to cash in on the "superhero" movie craze, options Ed Brubaker's Sleeper series from DC/Wildstorm. 'Nuff said.
The music nerd in me disdains people who don’t think good music was made after they graduated from high school. Turning that standard to my comic reading habits, I thought I’d relent on my bitching and throw out the list of titles that are proof that I actually like some new books. I know it’s more fun to read criticism, but here goes…
Captain America: Brubaker’s espionage story is well written enough that I don’t mind Bucky Barnes being back from the dead, and it’s interesting to see the crime fighter mantle actually passed on to the kid sidekick. The art alternates between Guice and Epting, both winners in my book. Overall, the story reminds me of the Englehart/Buscema days when Steve Rogers walked out on the role of Cap and some other poor sucker tried to fill his shoes. My only quibble: the first story arc has been going on long enough. Wrap it up and move Bucky onto some other adventures before Steve Rogers is no longer dead.
Brave & Bold: I’m actually on the fence about this one. Mark Waid is as good a writer as Peter David used to be, and he does a good job with the characters that pass through these pages. Add to that a series of excellent artists-- Perez, Ordway, and I even like this Collins guy-- drawing a series of honest-to-gosh self-contained stories. The only thing this series has going against it is my total antipathy towards most of these DC characters. Green Arrow, Hawkman, Nightwing and Blue Beetle? Yawn…
Batman: Gotham After Midnight: The Kelley Jones Batman from the early nineties was a bright spot during those terrible times, and one of only a handful of incarnations in which I’ve enjoyed reading Batman. This miniseries stresses the weirdness of the villains rather than the spookiness of crazy ninja Batman. A really fun, goofy comic.
Igor: I’ve been picking up this miniseries for my kids, despite the stories about Naraghi’s abrasive personality and mistreatment of fans at conventions.
FX and Star Trek: Assignment Earth: John Byrne brand loyalty, basically. I’ve enjoyed the retro-superhero FX, even if the concept is basically Diet Green Lantern.
Doctor Who and Doctor Who Classics: Back to that intersection of Geek Street and Nerd Avenue, the comic based on my favorite SF show. The new comic series brings a writer who has worked with these characters in other media, but that unfortunately doesn’t translate to good comic writing. The artwork has been sub par and inconsistent as well; this is another monthly purchase driven by brand loyalty, but I‘m optimistic about the forthcoming Pia Guerra issues. The Dave Gibbons reprint series, however, is one that I’d recommend to anybody who might enjoy some tongue-in-cheek sci fi absurdity; looking forward to the 5th Doctor issues that should be coming up soon.
Tor: My god. I’ve never read any of the original series, so this mini was all new to me. The first three issues have blown me away; I’m delighted by the level of imagination, and impressed by Joe Kubert’s skill as a writer. There’s some beautiful prose driving this story which does what I miss most in comics-- explores strange new places and discovers weird sh*t. Do I need to mention Kubert’s art?
Secret Invasion: What the hell?!!? Yeah, really. I still have a fondness for most of Marvel’s characters, even if they’re being mangled by present-day creators. These “event” series’ like Civil War and World War Hulk let me drop in and get a dose of the characters I love without being disappointed by their ongoing titles. The minseries’ have read as accessable self-contained stories, but I pity the suckers who have this story spilling into the other titles in their weekly reading list-- not a problem for me. That said, Bendis is pushing his luck with his usual criminal amount of decompression.
Amazing Spider-Man: I am as happy with this title as I have ever been with any comic, ever. To everyone who feels that they‘ve been robbed of “their” Peter Parker by recent plot directions-- welcome to my world, suckers. Twenty years ago the luckless everyman I identified with checked out, to be replaced by some guy married to a supermodel, living in a ritzy penthouse (or moving Aunt May into Avengers mansion???), who became endlessly victimized by an absurd and relentless chain of far-reaching conspiracies (clones were just the beginning). I wouldn’t have thought they had to go so far as to eliminate Pete & MJ’s marriage entirely, but they’ve swept everything I’ve disliked about the past twenty years under the rug, brought in an interesting, all-new supporting cast (the strength of the classic issues of years past), introduced a bevy of new antagonists, and even dropped in a new mystery villain whose identity we can spend months trying to guess! With rotating creative teams cranking out three issues each month, stories are much more compressed and satisfying. I actually subscribed to this series-- the Marvel web site offers a 36-issue subscription at about $1.35 an issue. Can’t beat 1992 prices for a book this good.
The only problem I see… I’ve subscribed to one of these books and most of the others are miniseries‘. In another couple months I’ll be back to scouring the rack, trying to find enough decent titles to maintain my pull account.
The Iron Fist comic recently changed creative teams. I know it's not fair to judge the potential of the new team from just a single issue out so far, but at first glance it seems that the writing style isn't going to differ all that much from the previous team of Brubaker and Fraction. The new writer, Duane Swierczynski, comes from a crime novel background, so I think his sensibilities are close to Brubaker's.
The new artist, on the other hand...
I don't know much about Travel Foreman, other than he's got a funky name. He did some of the "flashback" scene from the earlier run on the series, but with issue #17 he takes over as the lead penciler. And the results are a bit jarring, and a bit ugly:
I know part of my problem is my own personal biases. For instance, I'm not a huge fans of panels without gutters. If you're going to do them, do them right by using a thick border to separate out your images, otherwise everything kind of runs together in a muddy mess. (I've seen both Tom and Andy do this quite well.) Then there's his odd choice on placing the emphasis on that first panel, which just features a static image of Iron Fist and Luke Cage, and devoting much less space to the dynamic action scenes in the remaining panels, even though they involve about a dozen characters. And that anatomy on Iron Fist! Jeez, his head is smaller than his neck, and I'm not sure what's happening with the musculature.
Then there's this double-page fight scene:
Again with the lack of gutters. If it wasn't for the colorist separating out the panels with different color palettes, the whole thing would look like an unreadable collage. And what the heck is going on with the bottom row? It reads from left to right, except in the middle where apparently it's a "page within a panel" with two rows, then you go back to the "parent" row and read two panels stacked vertically?!? That's just poor storytelling.
Many of the panels in the book lack backgrounds, and he uses all sorts of odd perspectives and camera angles. I don't know, I get the feeling he's an artist still trying to find his own unique voice and style, which I can understand. But it used to be that you did that sort of thing on your own creator-owned book and worked out the kinks until you were ready for the major leagues.
Oh well, here's hoping things improve on the art front for this book. It's the only Marvel series I pick up anymore, and I've been enjoying it so far.
I was excited to hear that Image is reprinting all of Ted McKeever's work beginning with Transit. Mostly because what I have of his stuff is incomplete here and there. Sad really. Here's a two part interview from Indie Spinner Rack. I believe from last year. Part two has a bitter admission about Hellboy, speaking of a previous thread on aping other artists. McKeever is to the 80's what Pope is to present day as far as esthetic influence.
Here’s what I wrote about the art of Gil Kane and Ross Andru in a recent "Way Back Machine" post:
“Both he (Kane) and Ross Andru after him did a splendid job of creating an environment these characters moved through, rather than dispensing endless pinup shots like most modern artists; as a kid I had a sense of what Spider-Man’s New York looked like, from this infamous bridge to Times Square to Rockefeller Plaza. I was a kid living in the Midwest, but New York lived and breathed for me through the pages of these books.”
Skip ahead three decades and we find a generation of artists who are rewarded for dispensing endless, meticulously detailed cheesecake pinup shots with little discipline or work ethic. I recently picked up X-Men #500 on a whim and found a few examples of some incredibly lax standards on the part of both the artist and editors and couldn’t resist sharing them here. The artist in question is Greg Land, but this sort of laziness seems pretty widespread today.
Exhibit A: The mutants are giving a tour of their new headquarters on Marin Island when Warren Worthington III brags about the wonderful view from their new home…
…and we get a big stretch of empty blue across 2/3 of the panel in question. Apparently tracking down some photo references of San Francisco Bay would have been just too much work. The script practically begs for a depiction of the view Angel is going on about, but the artist is afraid to take a swing at that fastball, apparently. There isn’t a single shot establishing the environment outside the X-Men’s brand new island HQ to be found in the entire issue.
Exhibit B: Moving on with the tour, we come across some construction going on within the headquarters:
Man, check out that hodgepodge of lines vomited onto the page that’s supposed to be “construction.” A nonsensical jumble of ninety degree angles with either 37 different perspective points-- or none at all. Someone give this guy a Byrne or Perez book to study, or even the linear perspective chapter of Buscema’s How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way. While we wait for him find his T-square, let’s gaze in wonder at the way he avoided drawing anyone’s features in this panel.
Exhibit C: As the story draws to a close…
“That’s quite a view, Warren.” AAAAAARRRRGGHH!!! Like Angel says-- for the money I paid for this book, I'd better see the friggin' view!
Pretty lazy stuff, but not the worst I’ve seen lately. A while ago I checked the New Avengers The Collective trade out from the library; it’s amazing, but having read it for free I still left feeling cheated on numerous levels. Speaking in terms of the art, the worst offender from Mike Deodato Jr. was the page below, wherein a threatening energy being is crossing Lake Erie on it’s way to Cleveland:
Hooo-boy. Seriously, I‘d be humiliated to sign my name to this. Overlooking the criminal level of decompression shown here, Deodato is told to depict a monster approaching Cleveland, so… he draws the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (apparently three stories tall, judging by the relative size of the visitors) in the middle of an empty field before a lake with no apparent boat traffic of any kind, and sticks a “Welcome to Cleveland” sign in front of it, as if it sits on the friggin’ outskirts of the city. This is Liefeld-caliber work.
Anyone know what Marvel’s page rate is for artists that churn out this kind of crap? There was a time these guys would have been laughed out of Marvel’s editorial offices, but now they are “fan-favorite hot rising superstars.” I’ll pass on X-Men #501 and just delve back into my long boxes.
With gas prices rising (and my waistline expanding), I've started biking to work a few days a week. It takes about 25 minutes, depending on how motivated I am, to get from downtown to Grandview Heights.
However, it's only a few blocks out of my way to hit Discount Paperback, that comic shop by campus. It's a pain to find parking at Discount Paperback, but you can nip in and out with a bicycle. And they sell new comics for 10 percent off.
So ... I'm saving money on gas, but spending all that money on comics.
I know, I know, you're sick and tired of my incessant self-promotion. This is the last one, I swear. Comic Book Resources talks about my IDW series...
"Set in 2017 " a year before the story of “Terminator: Salvation” " the early 2009-debuting prelude series will take the core concept of the “Terminator” films and give them a more global scope according to Naraghi. “The main focus of the book isn’t going to be John Connor. He’s going to be in it, but I wanted to show the rest of the face of the resistance " everyone else who’s either trying to survive or actively part of the resistance, and not just in North America. In all the movies, it’s all in L.A., or in the future scenes it’s just small clips. I wanted to show what’s going on around the world or in other places, so it’s going to have more of an international flavor to it.”"