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.
Having finally made the leap to the 1990’s and started downloading the majority of my music, I’m also going through my CD collection and ripping all those old discs in preparation for the day I have all my music on something the size of a cigarette lighter while six boxes of CD’s languish in the basement. Along the way, I have to decide what to do with a few treasures that I don’t want to simply file away in the darkness, never to see again. I’m considering buying frames for a few of these mementos from the days when I was single and could hang out in the alley behind the Palace Theatre with a sharpie after a show…
Robert Cray is the guy I met behind the Palace. The guy towered over me-- I think he’s about seven and a half feet tall. Buddy Guy I’ve met several times; anyone dropping by his music club during the Chicago Blues Festival stands a good chance of finding him sitting by the entrance signing autographs.
The late Johnny Copeland I met in what passed for a dressing room at Stache’s. This may have been one of the first signatures I scored. Keb’ Mo’ played at a club in the brewery district whose name I can’t recall. This first album from him is scintillating; regrettably, everything he’s done since has been pretty tepid.
More from the Blues Festival: a couple Chicago locals whose live shows are religious experiences. Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials (scan wouldn't upload for some reason) actually tour pretty widely; go see them if you can. Ed does not tower over anyone-- he’s about four-foot-nothing. Anyone sitting int the front row of a Big Time Sarah show runs the risk of having their face smashed into her breasts. You've been warned.
I discovered Duke Robillard when I was in high school and he was playing with a band called the Pleasure Kings. He’s the living reincarnation of T-Bone Walker.
This one isn’t an autograph, but pretty cool nonetheless. Given to me by The Man himself.
No, Tom, you can’t have this one. The Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart.
Bobby Keys has played sax for the Rolling Stones for going on four decades now. When not touring with them, he used to play with a band called The Warsaw Falcons. I saw them at Stache’s playing for a crowd of about twenty people. God, I miss Stache’s.
As previously proclaimed, the mightiest band in all of the cosmos: The Fleshtones.
Only one thing’s missing… My Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen disc I had signed a while back. Didn’t I loan that to Tony? Nice try, Goins…
Optical Sloth recently got around to adding a review of the third issue of The Ineffables, which was published somewhere around six years ago. The delay was worth the wait, giving me the best quote I will ever get:
"This is one of those series that should eventually be taught in schools, as it shows that learning (and conceptual thought) can indeed be fun, while still managing to throw a few fight scenes in. "
Wendy and I both had a booth at the inaugural Independents' Day festival this past Saturday (as did PANELista Tom Williams). I had a pretty good day, but I think Tom's poor location (in Pearl Alley) contributed to a slow show for him.
The Good: gorgeous day, some good music on the Gay St. stage (Stretch Lefty and The Rosehips were my favs), and hanging out next to Wendy all day!
The Bad: all the hipster kids in their ironic scarves and day-glo sneakers and messenger bags...enough is enough
The highlight of the day: when Wendy ran over a print of this comic strip (that I wrote) to Columbus mayor Michael Coleman. I don't think he quite got the joke, but he did ask me to sign it for him:
Every now and then, our esteemed colleague Dara uses this Ferret Press blog as a platform for some very astute, very passionate, very profanity laced political observations. Now it's my turn to yell and swear and what I hope is an equally astute yet passionate manner about why I think I can no longer have anything to do with this world of "comics" and "graphic novels."
Via The Beat (original can be read here), Variety magazine announces that Timur Bekmambetov, the director of hallowed and time-honored cinema classics Day Watch, Night Watch and this summer's bestest movie of all time ever Wanted will be directing a new film version of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick.
But see, the thing is, Melville had it all wrong. Fucking hack that he was. No, Bekmambetov is gonna do the whole world a favor and make this dried up piece of literary shit something everyone can love. How, you ask? By giving it that good ol' "graphic novel treatment." Because, you know, nowadays, nothing could be worth anything unless it was somehow in some way connected to a graphic novel.
And what might this "graphic novel treatment" entail, you ask? Besides the obvious dumbing down, muscling up, and injecting lots of good old manly action? Well, according to Bekmambetov himself, HIS version of Moby-Dick, the "graphic novel sensibility" version, will remove Ishmael's first person narrative style and depict Captain Ahab as a charismatic leader rather than a brooding obsessive madman. Never mind the fact that Ahab as a brooding obsessive madman is CENTRAL TO THE ENTIRE FUCKING NOVEL AND CRUCIAL TO ITS DEEPER UNDERLYING THEMES.
But why should that matter when you can show a huge CGI whale smashing shit up and then a big muscly crusty old salt of a sea captain with a heart of gold standing heroically at the prow exhorting his crew to great acts of courage and heroism? Just like in a comic book!
Look, I understand that changes absolutely have to be made when transforming a narrative from one medium, such as print, into another, such as film. I have no problem with that. But when these changes start altering or obliterating the central thematic elements of the original work, it's no longer even an adaptation, it's a butchery. And it's a fucking insult to the original creator. Maybe that's okay when the original creator is just some schmuck with a comic book eager to get a paycheck and a Hollywood credit under his or her belt, but I don't think it's okay when the work in question is a pillar of the Western Canon of Literature. Go ahead, call me a snob and a pretentious asshole prick on a high horse all you want, because I'm sure someone reading this thinks that of me, but I'm not budging. This is fucking bullshit and I'm tired of the "graphic novel treatment" being given to everything under the sun constantly under the banner of "We're actually improving it!"
Farther down in the article, they state that "This is an opportunity to take a timeless classic and capitalize on the advances in visual effects to tell what at its core is an action-adventure revenge story." Only no. I'm sorry. Not really. Moby-Dick is not, at its core, an action-adventure revenge story. Certainly, those are elements, yes. But it is so much more than that. Have these morons even read the fucking book?
God damn. I used to really truly fucking love comics and graphic novels. But I didn't need them to occupy every single fucking corner of my life. I didn't need my movies to be graphic novels, my TV shows to be graphic novels, my music to be comic book based, my toys and interior decoration to be graphic novel themed, all my t-shirts to be from graphic novels, my job to be in graphic novels, my hobbies to be completely graphic novel-oriented and on and on. I'm fed up. It's just reached toxic fucking levels with me. I can't take it anymore. There's more to the world than "graphic novel sensibilities," the culture of fandom, and Hollywood properties suitable for merchandising across a wide variety of revenue generating media platforms.
Bekmambetov and anyone associated with this movie can suck a bag of dicks. I'm through.
Just made it to the printer for debut at MidOhio Con in two short weeks:
Allied Powers chapter one preview edition: the online comic will be rearing it’s head by the time the convention rolls around, but those who can’t wait to read the first chapter in all it’s glory will be able to enjoy the B & W version in print. Written by yours truly and illustrated by the indomitable Brent Bowman. Chapter one introduces most of our cast; future chapters will be set against the backdrop of some cool but lesser-known historical figures and events. All this, and FIST THUMPING ACTION!
The Enigma Foundation Grande Premiere Issue: also planned for online publication, but printed for your consumption anyway. I thought I’d take a break from The Ineffables to do… a book almost exactly like The Ineffables, actually. Doing a series of Character Wednesdays and working on projects with Brent and Steve gave me the urge to do something more “straight faced”. If The Ineffables is the Adam West Batman, consider this an old Jim Aparo issue. Same basic premise, different execution. Hope someone out there enjoys it (but rest assured, the Ineffables will be back in time for SPACE).
Those that crave more Ineffables will find a short story in the latest edition of Oh, Comics! from Bob Corby's Back Porch Comics.
Just hit the shelves this past week: a collection of excellent Gene Colan stories published by Marvel in conjunction with the Hero Initiative; net proceeds from sales go directly to Gene himself, who has been struggling with some health issues recently. Guaranteed to be the best friggin’ book on the shelves of the store in a long, long time. You’re willing to pay $3-4 for a lousy decompressed 1/6 of a story of whatever your new series of choice is, you can drop ten bucks on this and get five complete stories that blow those others away, including the best damn Doctor Doom story ever (penned by Gerry Conway); after reading that, consider Iron Man, Doc Strange, Daredevil and Dracula all to be bonus material.
Three covers to choose from; I went with the homage to Iron Man #1, though the Man-Thing/Ghost Rider/monsters one was tempting. Help Gene out, and treat yourself to some classic material.
AEP restored power to Ferret Central around 6:30 tonight. It then promptly went out as a transformer blew. But it was back on an hour later. Our 5 days without power have come to a close. I have to say, in some ways, it was a fun little adventure. And in other ways, it sucked. Kinda' like life.
A while back Tony blogged about Independent's Day happening this weekend. Well, Dara and I each got booths at the fest. In hindsight, I wish I would have phrased my blurb a bit better. Didn't think they were going to run it verbatum. Heh, heh yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaah. I perused the schedule and it looks to be a lot like a Craftin' Outlaws meets Comfest. Local vendors, crafters, artists, people with a plan, bands, dj's, vegan bakeries.
Kish I swear it's as clear as day Saturday. No hipster rainout and the fratboys will be at the game.
It's also my f'ing birthday. If you have power and or an internet connection, come on down.
You know, I usually don't care to repeat the latest asinine thing John Byrne spews out, but this one...jeez, judge for yourself:
"Ever since I started writing for a living, I have found myself viewing libraries somewhat differently than once I did. I think we are all in agreement that libraries are A Good Thing -- but are they A Good Thing right across the board? When we have niche products like comics, is it really a good idea for them to be available in libraries?...How much more negative impact comes from those trades being available in libraries? Not only are they reliably on the shelf from month to month in a library, they are free!"
Gasp! You mean I can pick up a comic book TPB for free at the library? Instead of buying a copy? Oh my god! Libraries are killing comics!!! It's OK for that shit to happen with regular books, but god, not comics!
I didn't bother to follow the discussion, but feel free to do so here.
The guy deserves his industry legend status, and has an amazing body of work, but damn! Sometimes I wonder if he just says stupid-ass stuff on purpose, just to keep his name in the press.
Sorry about the lack of updates. Most of us PANEListas are currently without electricity in our fair city of Columbus, Ohio. The remnants of hurricane Ike whipped through town last weekend with 80 mph winds and knocked out power to just about everyone in the city. By now some folks have had their power restored, but the power company's best guesstimate for getting Ferret Manor back up on the grid is this Sunday! So until then, yours truly will be writing his comic book scripts the old fashioned way: pen and paper by candlelight.
While I’m looking forward to MidOhio Con as always, I started contemplating today how quickly I’ll get tired of seeing people dressed as the Heath Ledger version of the Joker. I expect it will only take about an hour for me to start sucker punching some sweaty clowns.
To help preserve my sanity, I’m announcing the first annual Mystery City MOC costume promotion. Anyone attending the show who comes to our table dressed as one of the following characters will get a free copy of Allied Powers and The Enigma Foundation (both highly collectible first issues!). Everybody start sewing!
Namor! (I'm looking at you, Matt.)
Not Luke Cage-- Power Man!
And finally-- Stilt Man! (what the hell...?)
C'mon, folks, let's bring some variety to MOC this year and not just sport fashions from the latest movie. I have to look at you people for two days, after all. I'd do it myself, but if I got out my Namor costume, Tony would spend all weekend trying to feel my muscles.
Barley's Brewing Company. 8pm till midnight. Friday Oct. 3rd.
If you're going to be in town for the Mid Ohio Con (or just in town), Panel is throwing another pre-show party before the Mid Ohio Con. We're having it at Barley's again, which is across the street from the convention center. (I'd recommend checking out the new google 'street view' for a brief visual) It's hard to tell since I'm getting mixed reports on who's going or not. Even if you're not and don't have anything to do that Friday night come on by. There's no cover and you can always bounce to one of the Park Street clubs after.
We try to go light on politics on this blog, but on this 7th anniversary of 9/11, I feel I need to once again point out what a shame it is that this motherf***er...
...is still on the loose, while this motherf***er...
...has had 7 years to find him, but instead has only managed to s*** all over our economy and civil rights while wasting $10 BILLION a month and thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives over a personal vendetta in a country with no original ties to the people responsible for the worst act of terrorism on US soil.
And the way the polls are going for the next election, I'm not too optimistic that things will change for the better...
It’s been a while since I’ve been up on my soapbox regarding comics that were once all-ages accessible being turned into material strictly for adults, especially with characters that are still plastered on the sides of kids’ lunch boxes. As long as the publishers are solely targeting the same aging and ever-dwindling core market the situation isn’t going to change.
Frequently the discussion seemed to revolve around the mistaken impression that all-ages comics equaled kids’ comics. Miller’s original Daredevil run and the Claremont/Byrne X-Men were all-ages books; and I hope “Dirty Cop” made it clear that I don’t object to adult material in and of itself.
Now I’ve learned from the internets that DC Comics is instructing that copies of All Star Batman and Robin #10 be destroyed by any retailers who may have received them because an over-the-top string of profanity was improperly censored (er… why was it written at all, if black bars were being pasted over it?). I’m sure the brouhaha isn’t news to anyone reading this blog.
Opinions of Miller’s work on this title notwithstanding (I’ve only read the first issue, which was enough to drive me away), my first impression was: For this error to slip past a gazillion editorial eyes and drum up a ton of publicity for DC and shine a spotlight on this crappy comic, as well as drop an eBay gold mine into the hands of all the retailers who got copies… why, that’s just a happy accident for all concerned!
Like that ironic last caption on page 1 says: “and another stretch of my town goes rancid.” Resolved as of today: I am never buying a f*cking DC Comic again.
(Yeah, I know, they just lost maybe two sales a month. Best I could do.)
"The first new Beanworld story in print in over a decade, the Beanworld Holiday Special is the perfect introduction to Larry Marder's inimitable creation!"
"As enjoyable for children as it is enlightening for adults, Beanworld is a grand adventure that explores social dynamics, culture creation, and ecological networks--all in great fun! Take a tour of this magical world, from Proffy's Fix-It Shop to a Fabulous Look-See Show, in this issue that introduces toys to the baby Cuties and plunges readers into one of the most original and brilliant comic-book universes ever created!
"Larry Marder's Beanworld is a vegetarian update on Krazy Kat with a world and lingo unto itself." --Smithsonian Studies of American Art
"One doesn't read Beanworld at all, one lives it. Beanworld draws you into its world and plays out in your mind. This is a rare feat in any medium, and a treasure in comics." --Feature Magazine
Also available in December from Dark Horse, a 272 page hardcover collection of the first 9 issues of the original Beanworld series for $20.
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed beanworld when I first discovered it, halfway through it's original run. I'd never experienced a comic book quite like it; it was just pure joy. For you Beanworld fans out there, check out Larry Marder's blog.
Scientists recently published photos of Sagittarius-A, the supermassive black hole that occupies the center of our Milky Way galaxy. It had been long theorized to exist, but they recently focused a number of radio telescopes to resolve its event horizon.
Sagittarius-A is often known as the "A Star." There's no word if, now that it's known to be a black hole, it will be referred to as the "A Hole." But really, how could it not be?
I wasn’t going to go back to the well of my Claremont/Byrne books this soon after the X-Men post but Dara had to go and bring up Iron Fist, so here we are… When this particular creative team became my favorite back in 1979, there was an added bonus: they had material waiting for me all over the place, not just in back issues of the X-Men series. Either these two gentlemen had a really good working relationship at the time, or some editor knew he had lightning in a bottle if he just gave these guys enough time to grow together. Kerry Gammil’s Power Man and Iron Fist led me to discover the Claremont/Byrne team on the original Iron Fist series; they had a long run on Marvel Team-Up, turned up on Star Lord (Marvel Preview?), and even did some issues of Power Man. There was all kinds of great stuff from these guys waiting for me once I stumbled upon them.
Iron Fist is the series where you can see Byrne develop as an artist. His first work for Marvel on the later Iron Fist issues of Marvel Premiere and the earliest issues of the character’s own title look surprisingly crude compared to the artist most were familiar with from the X-Men and Fantastic Four; by the end of Iron Fist’s 15-issue run and through the Marvel Team-Up issues which resolve the series’ dangling plot threads a reader can follow his progression to the artist that was taking over the mutant book.
Iron Fist’s origin shows what would happen if Bruce Wayne had gone off to be trained by Zen masters; his revenge-driven quest to become a deadly fighting machine turned him into a well-adjusted kid who ultimately found peace with himself. His seclusion in learning his skills bred a certain naiveté; a favorite scene from the final issue of the series shows him mystified by a bowl of potato salad. He wonders what the delightful dish is before the entire X-Men team bursts in and he has to kick Wolverine’s ass.
This particular issue is the conclusion of Danny Rand’s first regular superhero adventure after two quest story arcs that wound their way through the previous issues of this series and Marvel Premiere. This three-parter shows Iron Fist framed for murder by a tiger-masked kung fu gangster called Chaka; the concluding chapter opens with Danny on the run form the police before managing to convince his private eye friends Colleen Wing and Misty Knight that he has been set up. He takes the battle to Chaka’s own organization, causing enough damage to draw the crime lord out for the climactic battle.
The fight scenes in Iron Fist were beautifully done. To create the sense of choreographed movement implied by a karate-based character, Byrne would frequently do multiple-figure panels to show the character’s motion across the page. Like a Family Circus cartoon showing Billy beating the spit out of P.J., we can follow the characters over the splash page as they beat the stuffing out of each other. (I was brutally disappointed by the only issue of the new Iron Fist series I bought that showed the action as a series of static shots that didn’t convey any sense of grace or motion.)
Besides the character’s personality and the cool superhero concept, Iron Fist also boasted the best supporting cast this side of Spider-Man. Two lady private eyes, a reformed Irish terrorist, a helpful police detective and the wary daughter of his parents’ killer add a boatload of personality to compliment the kung fu excellence. This is still one of my favorite series to this day.
Drawing is fun. People who hope to become professional illustrators study special techniques and in due course get better at drawing. However, often as they make progress with their technique they lose their spirits which is the most important thing in illustrating. This is no good. Drawing technically well alone means nothing. Unfortunately, spirits cannot be taught. That is the problem.
Obviously, professionals need to draw well or they'll be laughingstocks. In that respect, amateurs can be more easygoing because they don't need to concern themselves with technique. They can simply enjoy drawing for themselves what they see and feel without worrying about the opinion of others. For professionals this is not the case. They have to show off their skill to the world, which keeps them from seeming relaxed. In point of fact, an old man who hasn't drawn since childhood may draw a primitive illustration that moves him deeply. Heta-uma (Bad-nice) illustrations fascinate me because of this kind of inversion of value.
You should believe that your talent as an unskillful illustrator is equal to another's skillful talent. I hope this book will be a bible for such readers. Please enjoy this book as you draw with your family and friends.
Love, peace, happiness...
Terry Johnson" [a.k.a. King Terry, a.k.a. My Hero]
Wow what a surreal day in Jumbo. I think this new haul was worth the *mild razzing I got over my support for Obama. I'll be happy when we're finally done going through the old house. It's starting to get annoying because I guess I've completely blocked out parts of my childhood. I went through even more crap up in my old room. The old house is beginning to wreak from the mold taking over. Worthless baseball cards littered both mine and my brother's former bedrooms. Tattered faded posters plastered all over the walls. My brother went through his modest comics collection. He gave me his complete one year run of Simonson's Thor, a random copy of New Mutants and a pristine copy of Super Powers #6. Let's look shall we...
I scanned up a couple of my favorite pages. Kirby really seemed enamored with circular panels in this one. I kept staring at this one because it looks like I just bought it the day before. Shame this is later Kirby. Great find.
I'm totally making a nice blow up of this page for the studio. Warlock was by far the coolest looking character to come out of the eightie's. Anyone want to guess who the inker is on this issue? The Juice is loose.
*Apparently this is a huge shift as for generations, Williams' have been Republicans. Ever since I came out as a democrat to my parents, you would think I told them I was gay. Geesh. My great grandmother seriously 'took a picture of JFK to the outhouse for toilet paper'. WTF?! Was that supposed to 'win' me over. Cripes.
I have only a passing acquaintance with Erik Larsen. I did kind of enjoy his columns over on Comic Book Resources ... the guy rambles, but he often has good things to say. He related quote that is one of my personal mottos: "Your artistic style is all the things you do wrong. (I think he attributed it to Wally Wood)" He (as head of Image) is bringing American Flagg to tpb, which earns him a lot of goodwill in my book. And he's stuck with Savage Dragon through 137 issues -- can't argue with that.
The only other issue of Savage Dragon I own is No. 17, the crossover with WildCATS, from way back in 1994. Pulling it from my files, I see it was written by WildCATS creator Brandon Choi, as part of their X-Image event.
Let me flip through my files ... Oh, Larsen did WildCATS No. 14, also as part of Image X. I just re-read it ... took me all of five minutes, but it was a breezy read. Did a good job of introducing all the characters, and told a cohesive done-in-one. Easily better than Choi's visit to the Dragon.
Anyway, back to Dragon 137. Let's see what Dragon's been up to for the last 14 years? Oh, my. WTF?
The story starts out with Dragon and his stepdaughter, who is getting kicked out of school, and then switches to Dimension X, where the daughter used to be and maybe still is. Dragon has to track down the Empyrean Domination Caduceus, with a little help from Mike Allred's Madman, and he runs into the Amazing Joy Buzzards. A Superman simulacrum is flying around "frying everyone with his heat vision," which gives us the moral conflict for the story. And they fight Hitler's brain in the body of a robot ape. Then he endorses a presidential candidate.
That's enough compression to choke Craig Bogart.
That's a lot of info to get across, and the transitions aren't always smooth, but the velocity is charming. I may have to check this out in the future.
BusinessWeek.com has used used the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) to rank the 10 most affordable major cities in live in, based on incomes and home prices. Of the top 10 spots, Ohio takes 4 with Youngstown, Toledo, Dayton, and Akron.
Columbus would have made the list too, if it wasn't for those high paying OSU Buckeye football player salaries skewing the numbers.
Cleaning house today: a whole bunch of topics I’ve been meaning to get around to, condensed into an Omni-Post.
1) First, gaze into the steely eyes of Sheriff Larry D. Travis of Pike County as the groove strikes fear in your soul. The amateur quality and outright goofiness scream “parody”, but he’s deadly serious. Don’t make him load that bullet he carries into his gun. The Eagle... the flag... the music... great fun.
2) My dad had a triple bypass a few weeks ago. He spent three days at a hospital in Dublin before being taken to Grant for another couple days before the actual operation. (He’s actually recovered very well, all things considered; for a guy in his 70’s he’s in really good shape.) I visited him at home a few days ago where he showed me the bill for $95,000.00 he received from the Dublin hospital-- where they didn’t do anything but feed him nitroglycerin pills and fluff his pillows before sending him to Grant.
Our conversation turned to my stepmother’s grandson, who the family is concerned about because he has a medical condition and has moved to South Korea to pursue a job. She said she was worried because once he runs out of his medications, he won’t be able to get any more because all they have over there is socialized medicine… I asked why he wouldn’t be able to get his meds if they have socialized medicine-- she explained that socialized medicine means that you’re only allowed to be treated with herbs and berries.
I swear to god this is true. When President Obama’s health care plan is attacked by a series of commercials that show another couple sitting around the kitchen table talking about health care, it will show my dad and step mom talking about witch doctors and Indian shaman.
I tried explaining that socialized medicine means he gets proper care but they don’t send him a bill for $95,000.00, but they wouldn’t budge. It didn’t take long to give up trying to have the conversation.
3) Something that would have made the Fantastic Four movies watchable: getting the guy who played the Human Torch in the ill-fated early 1970’s radio serial to reprise the role. Ladies and gentleman, Bill Murray as Johnny Storm! That's not Ricardo Montalban as Namor... It just sounds like him.
Okay, even that couldn’t make the movies watchable. I just found out about this, though… Stan even narrates.
4) And now, because I haven’t mentioned Doctor Who enough recently: something I’m considering for Halloween:
5) And lastly, we return yet again to the intersection of Geek Street and Nerd Avenue: the comic based on a favorite SF television series. Why the hell wasn’t I told Jack Kirby started to adapt The Prisoner in comics form-- and why was it never published?!!?