Welcome to the weblog of the writers and artists of Ferret Press (a publisher of fine comix) and PANEL (a Columbus, Ohio comic creators collaborative.) Here you will find our musings on comics, art, the creative process, politics, the web, and life.
The 14th volume of our praised small press anthology will debut at Mid-Ohio-Con this weekend. Check the blog every day for a sneak peek at the stories contained within the ghastly pages of PANEL of Horror.
One of the best of the new breed of "good girl" artists, Dave Stevens is best known for his creation The Rocketeer, which Disney made into a movie back in 1991. His fascination with Bettie Page was evident in the design of the character Jenny Blake, as well as the many Page-related comics he did.
Sadly, Dave passed away in 2008 at the age of 52, from complications related to his leukemia. Here are 7 of his comic book covers that a variety of different projects.
How about a 2-fer this weekend? In the grand tradition of crossovers and superhero slugfests, it doesn't get much bigger than the entire intellectual properties of one corporation duking it out with the entire catalog of licensable products of another. I'm talking about Marvel vs. DC...and DC vs. Marvel.
You thought the nipple Batman costume was bad. Check out that. Shiny.
No, Nick is going to hit the club at the Axis. This is Cage in a test shot for the Tim Burton Superman movie that never was. I don't know what could be worse: this or the dead-beat dad from Superman Returns.
So, speaking of goth kids and Segways (in the comments section of this recent post), looks like Honda is experimenting with a "Segway-style unicycle" called the U3-X. You know, because the Segway has too many wheels!Check it out.
Honda President Takanobu Ito. From L to R: "Of course it's comfortable, why do you ask?" "Raise the roof" "Why yes, my slacks do drape quite well across my crotch. Thanks for noticing."
From a pure techie/geeky point of view, it's an awesome invention. Straight out of manga and anime future tech designs. But I'm not quite sold on the need for them. And if they're planning on marketing them here in America, they'd better redesign those things with a more powerful engine, heavy-duty shocks, and a mega-size XXL seat. I think you know what I'm saying.
KA: And, it’s left a legacy where it seems like almost all heroes follow the model you created with Marvelman and Watchmen. Instead of a “straight ahead” approach to heroism like you’d find in the Silver Age, all the heroes are psychologically damaged. They all have drinking problems and sexual dysfunctions and broken marriages. And, it’s almost become a new status quo in and of itself.
AM: "Yes, it has. And, can I just say I’m sorry? That was never my intention for every book to be like that. The reason I wanted to do them like that was because nothing else was like that... "
"...I think, ultimately, that approach that I brought in—taking previously existing characters and reinterpreting them—has probably led to very grim and very un-enjoyable comic books. I didn’t want everyone else to copy what we were doing. And especially, if they were going to, I’d have preferred it if they’d copied the freshness and originality of the ideas—and, if they had managed to express a bit of the joy that we expressed, even in Watchmen, in Marvelman, and Swamp Thing. Yes, there were some very grim passages in all those books, but there were also passages of great joy. And, it seemed to me that people basically took from it what they were able to take from it—mostly a slightly depressing atmosphere and the idea that everybody had to be a grim, ruthless psychopath..."
"...That completely robbed comics of a lot of the charm that, for me at least, they once had. Again, it was never intended as a blanket approach for all comic books. It was just an experiment that I was trying, and it worked better in some cases than it did in others."
Well, it's been a while since we first talked about Covered, the blog where any artist can submit their cover version of a published comic book...er, cover. They've built up quite a nice little collection. Worth a click and a perusal. Nexus #13 original cover by Steve Rude, covered by Paco Afromonkey:
Birdland #1 original cover by Gilbert Hernandez, covered by Anthony Vukojevich:
Written by Jim Owsley (way before he changed his name to Christopher Priest), with pencils by Mark "Doc" Bright and inks by Al Williamson. Young Dara has fond memories of this book, as it featured a good cold war espionage story, and a no holds barred fight between the two protagonists. If my memory serves me right, this was also a controversial little story, as it features Spider-man inadvertently killing someone. The only disappointing part of this one-shot was that the story, while mostly self-contained, did lead in to Amazing Spider-man #289, a title which I did not follow. Oh well, still a nice little story from Owsley/Priest.
For today's post, let's dip back to a simpler time and pick up a comic geared just for children that won't challenge our preconceptions; something shallow, purely juvenile, that doesn't make any attempt to provoke thought. We'll return to the simpler days of 1971, where we find...
Oh. That can't be right. This is a pre-Vertigo, code approved superhero book published when I was 1 year old. I thought Alan Moore or Frank Miller invented this grim-n-gritty real world deconstruction stuff.
Or we could simply call this exhibit #379 in my case against any knuckleheads that think the soft porn being published today is more "mature" or "sophisticated" than what was being far more widely read decades ago. Gaudy costumes and Marvel-style cornball dialogue aside, put it in it's proper context: Martin Luther King was assassinated less than three years previously, and All In The Family was barely a blip on the cultural radar when Gary Friedrich and John Romita played up the tension between blue-eyed Cap and his Harlem based, dating-a-militant crime fighting partner The Falcon. The subject matter aims pretty high, and any suburban mom who bought this for their kid probably didn't anticipate the discussion they were about to foster.
A masked figure is preaching a message of violence to a group of militant activists, and social worker Sam (Falcon) Wilson is dragged to one of their meetings by his girlfriend where he learns of their intent to burn down a Boys' Club whose organizer they have labelled an Uncle Tom as the first salvo in a race war. Wilson's attempt to preach moderation doesn't go over well, and he is later found bruised and battered by police officer (really) Steve Rogers.
So it is that Cap and the Falcon end up standing between an army of rioting youths and a very nervous police department (it's surely a coincidence this was published soon after the Kent State massacre, as well). Bartering for time with the leaders of the two factions, the pair take the fight to the masked man that started it, discovering that he's got his own history of race warfare behind him.
One death trap and secret escape route later, Cap and the Falcon return and defuse the situation, though both sides make it clear they are not going away. Along the way, Cap unintentionally makes a thoughtless remark that creates some tension with his partner, underscoring the troubled macrocosm they inhabit. The partnership of this spandex-clad Tibbs and Gillespie is an uneasy one.
Check out this genre-related useless trivia I ran across while perusing on Lance Henriksen's Wikipedia entry:
"[Lance] Henriksen and Bill Paxton are the only actors to appear in the Alien, Predator and Terminator series. While Paxton was killed by all three title creatures in his appearances, Henriksen was killed by the Terminator and a Predator (in AvP), and would have had the distinction of also being killed by an Alien after his character in Aliens was torn in half by the Queen. However, the android was not killed, and after making an appearance in the third Alien movie, asks Ellen Ripley to deactivate him."
Sort of... Info and such for the 2010 show are up now over at Back Porch. I've been working with Bob (the organizer) on the overhaul of the site. Most of the main pages have been redone. The rest we're still working out. Any suggestions, tweaks, dropped links let me know. Some of the subpages are still sporting the old layout(s) from last year.
edit: I forgot, as a part of the overhaul, I had Bob reestablish a new blog with access to more than one person. You can check out the blog here. So far it's Bob, Max and I adding content. Max just added news about the John Porcellino signing in Oct. (Wholly Craft). The posts will dump onto the front page.
(we need this mercy bump after Tom's previous post)
So we saw Ponyo last night. With a G rating, it's definitely very kid-friendly, but that also means the plot and thematic elements aren't nearly as complex and Miyazaki's other more recent movies, like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. Nevertheless, we all enjoyed it, from 10 year old Hanna to er, 30-something Wendy and yours truly.
Ponyo is a rather odd goldfish who befriends a five-year-old human boy, Sōsuke, and despite her human father's objections, wants to become a human girl. The movie is full of charm and humor, with fantastically realized child characters.
However, the true strength of the movie is in the lush animation, full of vibrant colors and magical seascapes. As I watched some of the beautiful underwater scenes filled with a myriad of sea creatures, I kept thinking "if they ever make an Aquaman animated movie, they should hire these animators." At nearly 2 hours running time, this movie may be a bit much for really young viewers, especially since it doesn't take the ADD approach to filmmaking that American movies do. But there's plenty of visual eye candy to keep most kids engaged during the slower character moments.
The American voice casting is quite good, with Frankie Jonas and Tina Fey doing a nice job of voicing the lead characters Sōsuke and Lisa. Other immediately recognizable voices include Liam Neeson as Ponyo's father, and Betty White as a senior center resident.
Another surprise during a family road trip, this time to Cleveland's excellent Museum of Natural History:
Another in the Graphic Library series of educational comic books, this time featuring super-scientist Max Axiom (smarter than Reed Richards? Maybe. Smarter than Mason? Well, probably not...). And, once again, co-illustrated by Al Milgrom. This guy is everywhere...
Before we go any further, you have to know this about me: I got into comics in 1983. By 1984, I had discovered comic book stores, and with that came the realization that there were literally dozens and dozens of independent publishers putting out strange, amazing, bizarre, an innovative comics that were a far cry from the Marvels and DCs I'd been used to. Sure, this was the "black & white glut" of the 80s, where every fly-by-night publisher was trying to cash in on the popularity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But there were some really good comics being published as well. Edgy, non-derivative stuff. And I fell in love with a ton of them.
Roachmill is one of my all-time favorites from that era. Written and drawn by Rich Hedden and Tom McWeeney, the book had one foot in Looney Toons and the other in Raymond Chandler. It was black comedy, satire, social commentary, and a relentless noir thriller all rolled into one. Here's the Wikipedia summary of the book's high concept:
"The comic is set in 30th century New York where an influx of aliens to Earth has caused social problems. In response, the Extermination Act is enacted, a law that allows anyone who carries a gun to use lethal force in "alien-related" situation. Eventually, the law is extended to allow the killings of humans as well, allowing for the creation of licensed Exterminators. Roachmill – a tall Dirty Harry-era Clint Eastwood look-a-like with two extra cockroach arms extending from his abdomen – is one such Exterminator, willing – for a price – to kill anyone or anything."
Anyway, here are 7 covers from Roachmill, which was initially published by Blackthorne Publishing in 1986 before moving to Dark Horse Comics 6 issues later.
One day soon, I promise to do a big post on this fine comic book series.
(Have a favorite series of your own? Or an artist? Character? Submit your own set of 7 covers by sending me small files (i.e. 72 dpi for the web) to ferret at ferretpress dot com and include "7 covers" in the subject line. Also, let me know if you have a blog or website you'd like me to link to.)
So I was perusing the local Craigslist automobile ads, looking for an El Camino (don't ask) when I came across this gem. In case the ad is gone by now, let me just excerpt my favorite part:
"the car dose need a new egniotion but it starts with a skrew driver and it dose need a new gas tank but the one it has now sits in the bed it works but its probily not to safe"
Yeah, it "dose" make sense that having your gas tank sitting in the bed of your truck is "probily" not safe, seeing as how a spark from the "skrew" driver "egniotion" could cause an explosion! Think about it, folks: you're sharing the roads with this guy!
On the other end of the spectrum, there's this sweet Pimp My Ride wannabe.
"6 flat screen t.v.s. Touch screen stereo system. 24' Lexani rims w/ new tires. Lamborghini doors.. Over $25,000.00 worth of work in this one of a kind car. Asking $13,500.00 OBO"
First of all, where the hell do you fit 6 flat screen TVs in an El Camino? Is the truck bed lined with them? And boy, the $25K worth of mods selling for only $13K sure sounds like a wise investment.
Here's the latest entry in the Art for All series, sharing various one-off sketches and commissions I've done recently. This time - Neil Gaiman's DELIRIUM.
It's no secret that I'm crazy about Neil Gaiman's SANDMAN series from DC (and later, Vertigo). In fact, I get more requests for commissions of those characters than pretty much anything else. It gets hard to come up with new takes on the same seven characters, so I turned this one on its head - literally.
Delirium, youngest of The Endless, is one of the more colorful family members. She is scatterbrained and easily distracted; she often forgets the thread of her conversations, and comes out with offbeat and seemingly inconsequential observations. She's most famous for her role in the "Brief Lives" storyline that appeared in the pre-Vertigo Sandman #41-49, featuring art by the divine Jill Thompson.
This piece, unlike most others, was drawn in a sketchbook. It is 11 x 14", and drawn with a ballpoint pen and a brush pen, with a bit of white-out here and there for effect.
I saw this on boingboing and had to share it on the blog: the blog ephemera assemblyman has pulled together a collection of fantastically kitchy hand painted signs used to promote "mobile cinema" movie shows in Ghana in the 80s. (A word of warning: most are quite graphic.)
The wonderful thing about them is that while some try to emulate the "official" movie posters, the majority just go off on some bizarre tangent, following the artist's whims, or just lack of skill.
I love how Ash on the Evil Dead poster looks like Sylvester Stallone, instead of Bruce Campbell.
At last year's MidOhio Con, I was prepared to sucker punch any sweaty Ledger-clown that crossed my path, figuring the show would be overrun by people knocking together amateur costumes based on that year's big hit movie. This year, I've nominated this guy as the one(s?) who will be punished for showing-- or not showing-- their face at the convention and irritating me.
As I did last year in order to alleviate my dread of seeing bad costumes on parade for two solid days, I henceforth will announce the 2009 Mystery City/MOC costume promotion (not affiliated with MOC itself, natch). Instead of dragging out the usual dreary old Batman costumes, I encourage any prospective attendees to break out their sewing kits to craft any of the following outfits and alleviate my ennui. Your reward, similar to last year, will be free copies of Mystery City Comics' newest books: The Ineffables: Order of Succession and Allied Powers #2. What better motivator is there?
This one could be even easier than it looks, as "urban Ka-Zar" enjoyed roaming the streets of New York wearing nothing but a pair of dockers. I'll be looking for that luxurious blonde mane, though.
H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot!
(She seems a natural. That's a maladjusted comic fan's dream date.)
As for my thoughts on the whole deal, here's the one quote that says it all, from Robert Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company:
"We believe that adding Marvel to Disney's unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation."
Do any of these terms relate remotely to art, writing, the creative process, or 4-color entertainment?
In other words, I doubt anything at Marvel will change. They've just been a "brand" and licensing factory for a while now (like DC), with the comics publishing serving as cheap R&D and marketing. The Disney deal just means their "market reach" will be further.
My latest book: Absurd Adventures of Archibald Aardvark
This week sees the release of the TPB collection of The Absurd Adventures of Archibald Aardvark: Bullets, Booze, and Beelzebub. It collects the 4 issues of Grant Bond's surrealist/noir tale of murder and secrets...starring a talking aardvark. I wrote the 3rd issue, plus the 4th issue that only appears as part of this collection (and wraps up the murder mystery).
Plus, I wrote several 1-page gags, two of which feature the art of fellow PANEListas Tom Williams and Brent Bowman. So do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. It's bizarre, funny, weird, and most probably unlike any other comics liable to be on the shelves this week.