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.
Next Saturday, May 9, is the Ohioana Book Festival. Dozens of Ohio authors will be in attendance and Jeff Smith (Bone), RL Stine (Goosebumps), and John Scalzi (Last Colony) are among the featured authors.
It’s time (past time) for the Bankies – the 2009 SPACE edition!
I personally had a pretty darn good show. I sold more than I have in the past, even to some folks I didn’t know personally.
I stole this and put it on my wall Award: (Or here's a free postcard. thanks for stopping by.) Don't know what to say about this but there were numerous broke art school kids running around the show. Nothing more frustrating than going to a convention with no cash... and being vocal about it. One of them did have a sweet sketchbook she was showing around. I'm wondering now if they wandered in or paid to get in.
Hidden Hayseed Award. To Tom Williams for confessing this his middle name is Ray and that he was once called Tommy Ray Williams.
Delicious food at low low prices award: Wal Mart, for having a McDonalds inside their store-- much to Dara's chagrin.
Clean Up on Aisle Five Award: goes to the Left Handed Sophie posse for their table display that probably pushed the boundaries out into the aisle. Xeroxed and hand colored art was physically tapped to the floor clear across the aisle.
Stay Classy Cosmo Award: people really took a note from Matt Feasell this year and started dressing up. The suit jacket/fedora to indie rock stache quotient was neck and neck. You won't find folks dressed as a dumpy Superman at S.P.A.C.E.
This … is … Sparta! Award: You will find people dressed in ancient costume, though.
Zapper award: goes to Serena who brought a stun gun to the show. I heard a crackle-pop and turned around. Matt and Serena were playing with a stun gun. WTF?
We've got it covered Award: goes to the sheer amount of web media at the show. Indie Spinner Rack, Comic Related and UVN: Behind the Counter were all out in force covering the show.
Flava Flav Award for Best Hype Man: Mike Watson of Hotshot, who grabbed the mic for some vigilante marketing. It was a little rough on those of us sitting near the microphone, but you gotta respect the enterprise.
Stand By Your Man award: Brent Bowman's wife, who could wait until Brent got back from the show on Sunday before she went to the Urgent Care.
Socialist Army award: Craig and Dara, who both showed up wearing their Obama shirts Sunday morning.
Other … Pocket …. Award: Tony Goins, for waiting 10 days to get the danged Bankies up.
Hot damn, here's another new favorite thanks to an impulse buy at Gem City a couple weeks ago:
Strange Tales #169 (Brother Voodoo)
Let's ponder the cover for a little while before moving to the interior pages. That's obviously a John Romita drawing, yet done in a strange Kirbyesque fashion. Could this have been derived from an unused Kirby layout? Was Marvel trying to "Kirby up" the look of some of their covers since the King had defected to DC? Was Jazzy Johnny just feeling frisky that day? I have no idea. This just struck me as a strange piece coming from Romita.
Another detail to ponder: Strange Tales #168 was published five years prior to this issue, just before that anthology series' features graduated to their own titles (Doctor Strange, Nick Fury). When fishing for a new title to showcase new characters in, Roy Thomas reached back to revive that title with issue #169. Imagine that kind of thinking today-- not only a series devoted to generating new concepts, in a market that hasn't seen a lasting new ongoing character since John Constantine stepped off the Gordon Sumner back in my high school days, but also that the issue number was completely an afterthought.
Brother Voodoo is the Haitian Doctor Strange, a witch doctor superhero whose loosely defined and mysterious powers are apparently the result of Thomas and writer Len Wein having just seen Live and Let Die in the theatre earlier that year. Most of the Marvel "Phase 2" characters seem to have been created by committee, the result of Thomas sitting down with a writer over lunch to discuss the "kind of character" he had in mind before the writer fleshed out the concept. As with Wolverine and the Punisher, John Romita probably designed the look of the character before passing it on to the series' artist, Gene Colan.
Now on to our story! A doctor from the U.N. is waylaid by thugs as he arrives in Haiti, only to be rescued by the spooky protagonist. The scene demonstrates the character's premise as he dispatches the terrified criminals; he walks through fire, and summons the spirit of his dead twin brother to possess one of his enemies. After this introduction, we're taken by flashback to witness the character's origin...
...as big city physician Jericho Drumm returns to his homeland of Haiti after two decades away to rush to his brother's deathbed. Daniel Drumm was the first Houngan known as Brother Voodoo, until a hex laid on him by an enemy put him at death's door. The man of science is skeptical at first, until the villain-- a mystic called Damballah-- shows up to finish the job and Drumm witnesses the magic firsthand.
Tasked by his brother's dying words to search for a voodoo Yoda called Papa Jambo, Jericho carries his twin's body with him into the jungle. After nearly dying on the journey, he awakes in Papa Jambo's hut where he is told he will be trained as the next Brother Voodoo.
This comic truly rocks.
One last note: remember my point a while ago about the loss of captions and expository text, along with the trend toward "naturalistic" dialogue, dumbing down the vocabulary of new comics? Chew on the panel below which leaped out at me as I read the book and consider how you think the reading level of most material on the stands today would compare.
Within this lengthy article, writer Tucker Stone takes on the daunting (and one may ask puzzling) task of reviewing every non-100 Bullets comic that Brian Azzarello has ever written. We're talking everything from his unknown Comico work to his short stories in Vertigo anthologies Gangland and Strange Adventures, to everything else (Cage, Banner, Loveless, Batman, Superman, etc.)
"In the late 70's, when something like Cage is exactly what Marvel should have been publishing, Corben and Azzarello would have been praised as visionaries for something like this. But when it hit a school that believed that anything that wasn't a safe pussy who said "Sweet Christmas" in Siegfried and Roy's cast-offs was somehow dishonoring made-up legacies, it got shuffled off and dismissed."
As if this massive undertaking wasn't enough, Stone even spices things further by providing interesting Azzarello quotes at the beginning of each review, such as this rather smart-assish one:
"Well, I think that most people out there I have these fond memories of [Deathblow] in my youth. You know, crawling up in the blankets as a child and reading the latest Deathblow book. --Brian Azzarello"
Bonus for Craig: Stone also reviews a bunch of DC/Humanoids graphic novels, including Olumpus, by Geoff Johns and your fav artist Jackson Guice. It's a pretty brutal review, but does feature some nice snippets of Guice artwork.
Tara McPherson's tweaked her site with a new blog. She's created her own market where she can easily have a gallery show as well as a gig painting covers for Vertigo. I think that's what I admire most about her work. The whole crossover appeal. She's not a slave to one particular market. Best post so far is her documenting what it takes to create one of her art prints. Numerous layers including the everpresent phantom layer, that scares the other screens. I lost count but the piece contains 18 layers (screens).
* No RSS but I'm curious as to how her designer masked the images. Can't link to them or save them which is great. It's something I'd like to know to add to my site. Somewhat protects your images and bandwidth but nothing defeats the screen cap.
Amazon Sales Rank is a feature that shows how items in their catalog are selling. The lower the number, the higher the sales for that particular item. It's updated hourly.
At one point a few days ago, my Terminator Salvation movie prequel TPB was ranked #10,828. Not enough to get it into the top 100 graphic novels, but in the slightly more niche category of "Graphic Novels, Science Fiction" it made it to #26. Which means it was outselling these books:
Frank Miller's Ronin Brian Wood's DMZ vol 1 Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan vol 1 Grant Morrison's Invisibles vol 1 Jeff Smith's RASL vol. 1
I'm bigger that Miller and Morrison, baby.*
*Dara Naraghi realizes he is not, indeed, "bigger" than Miller and Morrison. His book is selling well due to the strength of the Terminator franchise, in anticipation of the new movie release, while the specific books he singled out have been perennial best-sellers. This is all just a twisting of the statistics for the purposes of entertainment, as well as boosting his ego. But don't let that stop you from buying a copy.
Sorry folks, with all the last minute stuff we were trying to finish up before S.P.A.C.E., we had a couple of by weeks. So here are the entries from the last couple of Character Wednesdays. Hopefully we'll be back on track next week.
Great demos by Rick Berry I happened to come by while browsing the Tor site. This is one of three that he did at Comicon last year. Makes me want to try out some oil bars. Last time I painted with oils, using a rag left some interesting blends.
The gallery is worth checking out too. Stuff up by Brom, Eric Fortune, Jon Foster, and Farel Darymple,.
Back in 2003, the PANEL group was set up at a local comic book convention. Back in those days, the artists used to start a jam piece, with each contributing a panel to the page. In this particular case, Steve Black kicked off the page by drawing a likeness of me, and all the other artists followed suit. Believe me, this was an unsolicited commission.
Alas, the page went unfinished, with 3 empty panels left at the bottom. Even more unfortunate, the page was lost under the many piles of paperwork, posters, artwork, and assorted other junk in my messy, messy computer room.
Well, this past weekend, while digging for something to take to S.P.A.C.E., I unearthed that fabled jam piece. Naturally I took it to the show, and my fellow PANEListas were kind enough to lend their talents to finish the page. Here is the finished piece, 6 years in the making:
From the bottom of my heart, my thanks go to the past and present members of PANEL for this amazingly cool, ego-inflating, funky piece of artwork. I'm going to frame this page and display it proudly above my computer desk.
Columbus Underground just posted a mini-feature on collectives in the C-Bus, and PANEL gets a mention.
"PANEL is a writers and artists collective that started in 2002. Member Dara Naraghi tells us a bit about their purpose: “Our goal was to get like-minded comic book creators together as a sort of writers/artists group, offering support, critiques, and motivation to each other."
This is as good a time as any to travel down memory lane to 6 years ago, when we started this blog, and the very first entry posted by the inimitable Tony Goins, wherein he codified the PANELfesto:
"What is Panel?
Panel is about realizing it doesn't matter if you have a fully realized universe all plotted out in your head. Nothing matters until you put ink to paper.
Panel rolls into the show 12 deep, knocks over other creators' tables, and lights its cigar off old copies of Youngblood #0 it picked up in the 10-cent bin.
Panel is a self-governing collective of aspiring comix creators in Central Ohio. Panel has no bylaws and no dues. It meets every second Tuesday.
Panel is about sucking it up when your fellow members say your shiny new script reads like the lost episode of the A-Team. Panel knows pain makes you better.
Panel began as a flier at the Laughing Ogre comic shop, and now has about a dozen members. Some members are professional creators, some aren't. That's OK.
Panel loves you and wants what's best for you. Join Panel."
This digital camera business rules. Uploaded my pics to my flickr account last night. It's like you were at S.P.A.C.E.... sort of. I don't want to give the impression that the show was a complete ghost town. The pics were shot during downtime at the table.
I didn't buy much, except a mini from Nate Powell, a gorgeous 2 color/silkscreen book from Paping and Pat Lewis' The Claws Come Out.
Well, the details are out about DC's cool new weekly limited series, Wednesday Comics:
WEDNESDAY COMICS is unique in modern comics history: Reinventing the classic weekly newspaper comics section, it is a 16-page weekly that unfolds to a sprawling 28” x 20” tabloid-sized reading experience bursting with mind-blowing color, action and excitement, with each feature on its own 14” x 20” page.
Spearheaded by DCU Editorial Art Director Mark Chiarello, whose past editing credits include BATMAN BLACK & WHITE, DC: THE NEW FRONTIER and SOLO, each page of WEDNESDAY COMICS spotlights the continuing adventures of DC heroes, including:
• BATMAN, WEDNESDAY COMICS’ weekly cover feature, by the Eisner Award-winning 100 BULLETS team of writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso • ADAM STRANGE, by writer/artist Paul Pope (BATMAN: YEAR 100) • METAMORPHO, written by New York Times best-selling writer Neil Gaiman with art by Eisner Award-winner Michael Allred (Madman) • THE DEMON AND CATWOMAN, written by Walter Simonson (Thor, MANHUNTER) with art by famed DC cover artist Brian Stelfreeze • DEADMAN, written by Dave Bullock and Vinton Heuck, art by Dave Bullock • KAMANDI, written by Dave Gibbons (WATCHMEN, GREEN LANTERN CORPS) with art by Ryan Sook (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, ARKHAM ASYLUM: LIVING HELL) • SUPERMAN, written by John Arcudi (The Mask) with art by Lee Bermejo (JOKER) • WONDER WOMAN, written and illustrated by Ben Caldwell (Dare Detectives) • GREEN LANTERN, written by Kurt Busiek (TRINITY, ASTRO CITY) with art by Joe Quiñones (TEEN TITANS GO!) • TEEN TITANS, written by Eddie Berganza with art by Sean Galloway • SUPERGIRL, written by Jimmy Palmiotti (JONAH HEX) with art by Amanda Conner (POWER GIRL) • HAWKMAN, written and illustrated by Kyle Baker (PLASTIC MAN, Special Forces) • SGT. ROCK, written by Adam Kubert (SUPERMAN: LAST SON), ilustrated by legendary comics artist Joe Kubert • THE FLASH, written by Karl Kerschl (TEEN TITANS YEAR ONE, THE FLASH: THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE) and Brenden Fletcher, illustrated by Karl Kerschl • METAL MEN, written by Dan DiDio with art by Ian Churchill (SUPERGIRL)
It all sounds awesome, except for the price: $4 a pop. Still, that's quite a lineup, and a funky format. I'll definitely be picking it up.
PS. I have to mention the big WTF moment, though: Neil Gaiman on Metamorpho? I'd love to hear the story of why he chose that character...
Caught this off the CU site, Melissa Vogley Wood does a blog called Studio Snapshot. Where she snaps pics and spotlights different creative types around town, friends and what not. Sometimes it's good to embrace the local scene. You could spend forever profiling output from CCAD, OSU and the music scene.
Here's the first (?) webisode from the Gem City show. Maybe there's another one?? I don't know. I had to dig for it on their website. Mercifully they haven't gotten around to showing my interview which was... ummmm brief. I think I was waking up by then. In this clip they talk to Dara and Craig.
They'll be tabling at S.P.A.C.E. this year. It suddenly clicked that they were from my hometown of Kenton, Ohio. I'll quiz them if they've ever been to Jumbo.
I've been meaning to post this gem from the Village Voice blog: creepy-ass audio clips of Bill O'Reilly's 2001 thriller audio-book, Those Who Trespass, read by O'Reilly himself! We're talking sweet lines like these:
"Cunnilingus involves the lips and tongue."
"Cup your hands under your breasts and hold them for ten seconds."
...and many more. Give it a listen, but not if you've just had a full meal.
Oh, by the way: the protagonist of Mr. O'Reilly's book? Tommy O'Malley.
Marvel's doing it again, having just started a fan poll to determine the 70 best covers from their 70-year history. I'll refrain from griping over the weeks to come about the range of pin-up shots from the last five years which are selected as fan favorites, but I have to mention: I tried to submit my own five picks for contenders, drawn from Marvel's own database of cover artwork. The very first one I tried to select-- Steranko's Nick Fury #1-- wasn't listed as an option.
Shipping this week: the final issue of my official Terminator Salvation movie prequel comic book.
Also available for pre-order via you local comic book store, the collected edition of Archibald Aardvark:
THE ABSURD ADVENTURES OF ARCHIBALD AARDVARK, VOL. 1 TPB story GRANT BOND, DWIGHT MacPHERSON and DARA NARAGHI art & cover GRANT BOND
JUNE 10 112 PAGES / 2C $14.99
“BULLETS, BOOZE AND BEELZEBUB” Once the toast of Tinsel Town, faded movie star Archibald Aardvark has been slowly going insane trying to solve the brutal murder of his brother. But despite the hard drinking, womanizing and hallucinations, he’s managed to follow the trail from the dangerous streets of Little China, all the way to the boardroom of Neptune Studios…and finally reveal the TRUE identity of the killer!
FEATURING A BRAND NEW 22-PAGE STORY COMPLETING THE ARCHIBALD SAGA! NOT FOR KIDS!!
The Archibald trade will feature one-page backup stories by our very own Tom Williams and Brent Bowman!
I know it's short notice, but if you'd like to order this book through your local comic book store, you need to let them know by this Saturday, April 11. The Diamond order code is APR09 0352.
Paul Pope talks about Paul over at Seth Kushner's blog. I keep waiting for this coffee table book to come out that Seth seems to be building of New York based cartoonists/creators. Really nice pics with a subtle palette. Every comics scene should have a blog like that. Maybe this could be a new thread on the Panel blog. GraphicCO: Columbus based cartoonists shot in the urban landscape with a nice write-up/ interview.
It's funny but I've noticed that Paul, like Dean Haspiel, seems to wear the same outfit in public or when photographed. Maybe it's a Brooklyn thing.
Several of your favorite PANEListas will be attending the Gem City Comic Convention tomorrow, April 5. It's is a nice little convention on the Wright State University campus in Dayton, Ohio. In attendance from PANEL:
Today's ridiculous comic book crossover: Superman and Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves:
I love Tom Mandrake's moody, dark, evocative artwork. And I recognize the writer, Kevin van Hook, as one of the mainstays of Valiant comics back in the 90s. But I have no idea who hatched this idea, or why it's even necessary.
I am, however, looking forward to the sequel: Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman and Flash and Green Lantern vs. Vampires and Werewolves and Zombies and Monsters and Republicans.
Last week, while you guys were shopping at your Ogres or Pack Rats or Comic Towns or what have you, I was browsing back issues on the banks of the Seine.
These stands are literally bolted onto the big stone wall on the side of the Seine, on the opposite side of the river from Notre Dame cathedral. According to Rick Steve, these "bouquinistas" have been there since the 1500s (Read more). They are required to carry three boxes of books for every box of souvenirs. but the rent is ridiculously cheap, but there's an 8-year wait to get a slot.
Books were pretty much the extent of my souvenirs this trip. I also ducked into a used book store and bought a French language version of Chester Himes' "If Troubles Was Money." Chester Himes was an African-American crime writer who emigrated to Paris, and I should have read up more on him before I left.
The bookseller apologized for only having second-hand books, but I told her I prefer them. I flipped through the book, inhaling the old-book smell, to illustrate the point. I think she picked up what I was putting down.
But enough about chapter books; we're here for comics. Most of what I saw was slim hardbound versions of Euro-comics. There were your standard Tintins and Asterixes, and a few I recognized from Heavy Metal. I found one book, Raptors, that I have in an English translation. I did not ask about pull service.
As far as American stuff, I saw a Shadow tpb that I have in English, but most of what I saw was reprints of old Marvels and Images. For some reason, CrossGen seemed to be better represented than DC.
What I actually bought was "Super Black," but Super Black deserves his own entry.
...is probably not going to happen this week. Too much going on gearing up for S.P.A.C.E in less than three weeks. In the meantime here's a couple of fun links with Paul Hornschemier and Farel Darymple. The *Dynamic too-indie-for-Shellac Duo™.
Paul has a two-part interview at Guttersnipe. Part One... Part Two. He talks about the road, his girlfriend, the band, etc. Fantagraphics is reprinting Mother Come Home in a nice hardcover edition. Of everything Paul's done so far this is my favorite work of his.
Love these guys. *sorry, I'm a little fried this week. Check back in a couple weeks for 'wacky' Tom.
I saw the original 1951 The Day the Earth Stood Still a few weeks ago, while home with the flu. It was instantly one of my favorite flicks. You give old movies more leeway for corniness than you do new ones, but it still holds up well.
I wasn't planning to see the new one, but it was feature No. 3 on my recent flight, and it filled the space between the Mid-Atlantic and home well enough. It's got its moments, especially in the last half, but I gotta say I prefer the original.
1. The new one is 12 minutes longer, but feels longer than that. The new one spends more time fleshing out the characters, but somehow they don't seem to give Klaatu any more reason to try to save the Earth. The character development does not make for a better movie.
2. Keanu Reeves. In the original, Michael Rennie's Klaatu can threaten immense violence, but he carries with it a general warmth. He really seems like a more evolved individual. Keanu Reeves plays him emotionless, and comes off like an alien bureaucrat. It could be a valid reading, but in my opinion it doesn't work. Here's a quick comparison:
That's kind of a problem. In the original, Klaatu and Gort play a kind of good cop/bad cop. The new one is all bad cop.
3. The military is a little more trigger-happy in the new one. In the original, their moves seem a little more understandable.
4. Both films benefit from a feeling of the weird, although the new one gets more of it. Through superior special effects, the new one can hint at technology that's truly alien.
5. The new one gets more of a feeling of menace. Both films are about the end of the world, but the new one really makes you feel it.
6. Gort is a lot more menacing in the new one. That's a good thing.
7. Both versions are extremely earnest. That's also a good thing. The older I get, the less time I have for irony.
8. In the new one, Klaatu never says "Klaatu Barada Nikto." I didn't mind that. The movie's too earnest to withstand too much winking at the audience.
9. Here's what I'm talking about: In the original, Gort is the robot's name. In the new one, GORT is an acronym applied by the military. Lame.
10. Keanu-Klaatu has superpowers. It's not bad once or twice, and it'd be hard to get out of a secure government facility without them, but the filmmakers go to that well too often.
11. Both versions rely on the idea that Klaatu goes long periods with no way to contact Gort. That's problematic in the new version, when even the puny humans have cell phones.
12. The new one amps up the action, but to a lesser extent than it could. Most science fiction movies are just action movies in space, and I respect the new version for resisting that.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (both versions) fall into a category I've been giving a lot of thought to: B-movies played completely straight. I think most superhero comics fall into this category -- or at least the best ones do.