Oct 24 2014

Gotham

The show has a good start taking us back to year zero; however, there is no excitement or build up to the death of Batman’s–or rather the future Batman’s–parents and for a frightened little boy who just lost his parents, his eyes are completely dry. And can we get something to indicate that he will be the world’s greatest detective or, as DC puts it, the world’s smartest man? As an aside, when Selena Kyle steals a full carton of milk and then opens it, it needs to be filled with milk and not just have some remnants at the bottom. Also, don’t do stupid things with cameras and think it’s cool, instead focus on making the scenery work: everything is clean-dirty in that there is old paint and graffiti but no actual trash around. Want a fun drinking game? Drink every time someone says detective Gordon’s name or mentions how he’s like a boy scout. Still, for my complaints the idea of having the background of the world of the Batman sans Batman is a great one despite some problems of knowing who is not going to die, a stupid drill sergeant version of Alfred the butler, and having Detective Gordon (is the rich fiancee needed?) destroy any hope of closure for a little boy for no reason, etc.

 

Oct 23 2014

Life Sucks – Jessica Abel

Life sucks and so does this comic. I’m extremely disappointed in this as both Abel and publisher, First Second, usually are associated with good work. How did this idea come about?: “If only there was a comic with wimpy vegetarian vampires like Twilight, the minimum wage action of Clerks, and the whinny boy wants girl who is dating a real loser like every 80s movie ever.” The story is about Dave who is a vampire forced to work in his master’s convenience store, who is totally in love with Rosa, who dates good looking nothings. Other than the vampire angle there is nothing new or interesting here. Why does Dave so love Rosa? Could it be for the same superficial reasons she’s guilty of: going for looks? The only parts that could have depth due to conflicts (mainly at the end) are glossed over at best. I much rather read about the repercussions of the actions taken than more of the same boring dialogue of teenagers saying nothing. 

Oct 22 2014

At The Mountains of Madness – adapted and illustrated by I. N. J. Culbard

Cej got me this colorful and nicely done comic version of H. P. Lovecraft’s novella about an Arctic expedition that comes across the remains of an ancient race and some terrible truths. I was excited about this comic as Mountains is a deep and thrilling tale (if you can recognize that it is the first of it’s kind and that many horror stories are based on it); however, I must say that it lacks when compared to the original as there are so many details that are lost in this version. Still, the large colorful pictures are quite enjoyable and it is a noble attempt. 

Oct 21 2014

Zombies Calling – Faith Erin Hicks

This short graphic novel is packed with potential. Joss is stressing over exams and student loans to the point driving her roommates, the sex obsessed Robyn and goth Sonnet, insane, until a zombie attack changes her focus. Clever in a meta discussion of “the Rules” to surviving a zombie apocalypse a la the movies, this humorous comic could have been fleshed out to be a meaty treat (sorry I had to write that). Sadly, we are given just enough character information to make them start to seem interesting before it is torn away–like so much flesh from bone. I’ve complained about Hicks’ art always making everyone gorgeous, and yes I complain about that in movies/TV too. I really don’t see why Hicks doesn’t revisit this, double the length, and cash in on the movie rights that are sure to come. 

Oct 21 2014

“Interstitial” is a Fancy Word

Three new interstitial pages. Each of these is a “bookend” for one of the scenes in Calimbo.

This footprint follows the scene with C at the construction yard—where he stepped in some wet cement. Footprints are critical to the case and they are a recurring theme in The Case of Amontillado.

The bust of Athena follows the scene with C in M’s office. The bust is in the background, but her gaze of justice cannot be denied.

The bucket follows another confrontation scene, where C lets M know that he (M) left evidence behind, specifically the bucket…and maybe other items.

One other quality of these pages is that each of the items points to the left — the sinister side — like the left-handedness of M. Once C “wins”, the images will point right. It’s a subliminal thing—I don’t expect readers to pick up on it on a conscious level; but putting in these touches is what keeps the work interesting to me.

Oct 20 2014

Studio Time 10-19-14

Worked on several interstitial pages for Calimbo. Here’s the progression from sketches to full inks.

Oct 20 2014

Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens

This is a collection of one big story and several mini ones about the vampire: Marceline, her band, the Princess of the Candy kingdom: Bubblegum, and their adventures in the land of Ooo. I really enjoy the TV show and am impressed with how much depth of backstory they put into a seemingly innocent kids’ show, and my favorite character is the color eating, hard rocking, vampire queen Marceline. Naturally, I got a kick out of this sweet and funny, and often delightfully drawn, comic about Marceline’s insecurity as she goes on tour. 

Oct 19 2014

Cthulhu

“Welcome home to the end of the world.” When I first heard of this film being made I was, naturally for me, very excited, but then I heard nothing good about it and wrote it off. Still, I did look forward to seeing what was done and so when I finally got around to it…. Well, the trouble with the movie about a professor that returns to his home town to attend his mother’s funeral only to discover terrible secrets involving ancient cults, murders, and the end of the world (all good things, right? movie-wise that is) is that the story itself is lost. Slow paced and VERY artsy, this film wants to appeal to the fans of Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu,” artsy fartsy film buffs, homosexual themed relationship watchers, small town mystery lovers, and Tori Spelling groupies; unfortunately there are not enough of any of those elements to hold the movie together and keep it going. I appreciate the effort. 

Oct 18 2014

Frankenstein’s Army

Granted, this movie is pretty horrible. A group of Soviet soldiers press into eastern Germany and find monstrosities of men and machines brought to life due to the legacy of Dr. Victor von (hey, it doesn’t count as a spoiler if it’s in the title!). The film is, well, filmed, in that it presents itself as the footage that the Soviets took during the event, and gives the impression of a first person shooter video game (as do the creatures involved), which I’m pretty positive was the point, either being based on one or wanting to be turned into one–I couldn’t be bothered to check. Speaking of the creatures, there were absolutely ridiculous: I get having a person’s hands replaced with hammers, but a head replaced with a plane engine?! Seriously, I could go on about how lame this film was, and yet I found it really appealing. There is just something very interesting about the idea and documentary style that I have to give props to. I guess what I’m saying is that for a movie that was bad, it actually had a good spark and a lot of potential.

Oct 17 2014

Wolverine: Sabretooth Reborn – Jeph Loeb

An extended action scene of the good-guy killer mutant, Wolverine, for the purpose of getting Sabretooth back into the Marvel universe (see title) and having someone named Romulus, who I didn’t know but seems to be another Wolverine/Sabretooth, do some stuff. Not worth it. 

Oct 16 2014

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward – adapted and illustrated by I. N. J. Culbard

Cej got me another Culbard adaption of a Lovecraft novella. This was one of the first Lovecraft stories I ever read and, while not particularly famous, is, in my view, one of the purest of his tales. It deals with a man attempting to unravel what has happened to his friend that has made him act so strange, and, in turn, tells that person’s story about what happened. The layers of the mystery and supernatural horror is so well done and shows his care in writing. All this is why I was wary when approaching this comic. Happily, this graphic work really captures the mysterious elements and the sad truths that unravel throughout the story. Dark colors and focus on individuals makes the tale vivid. A great comic and a strong introduction to the world of Lovecraft.

Oct 15 2014

War Brothers: The Graphic Novel – Sharon E. McKay & Daniel Lafrance

Adapted from the novel about a group of kids that get captured and forced to join the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)–you know, the rebel group in central Africa that kidnaps and tortures children, forces them to rape, murder, maim, and pillage under the guise of a christian liberation movement, that Rush Limbaugh supports. It is certainly powerful stuff and apparently based on solid research, and yet I felt that with such incredible material, the novel (i.e., the fiction) part seemed both unnecessary and (for all its horror) sanitized (in that there is rarely screams of pain, no rape, little mutilation, etc.). Good introduction to the topic and the idea of healing after undergoing the horrible. 

Oct 14 2014

Wolverine: Goes to Hell – Jason Aaron

Oh, good, Wolverine the former murder and current superhero is in hell paying for his crimes (and for no reason Puck from Alpha Flight is there). Lots of slashing takes place and the only good things is that the rarely used Son of Satan superhero is in this comic (but TWO Ghost Riders?! Come on.). Stuff happens but who cares? To make this even worse there is a summary of the “history” of Wolverine in the back of this trade and this 11 page illustrated nonsense is there to remind us of what a piece of garbage the Wolverine story has become. It’s just embarrassing. I think I’ve given Aaron’s Wolverine runs more than enough of a chance, there just isn’t anything there for me. 

Oct 13 2014

Wolverine: Back in Japan – Jason Aaron

A very silly comic wherein the indestructible killing machine and superhero goes to Japan to fight numerous former and new foes and build up a body count in a very Garth Ennis unappealing way. Do you think you could have had one artist finish a single issue? 

Oct 13 2014

Street Confrontation

I thought I would get this page done more quickly since I walked into the studio having everything figured out. But it turns out that it still takes me a long time. You can see how the image changed a bit from concept to completion, particularly in panel 2, where I realized that a more dramatic turn by M was better.

Original mock-up:

This page is the beginning page of a 3rd confrontation between C and M. Longtime fans will no doubt recall the other “confrontation scenes”:

The first:

and the second:

In each scene (and maybe this in only in my own head), C is getting a bit closer (he is getting larger in panel 1) to catching M (he starts as silhouette, and later we are right up on him). (The 4th confrontation scene will have C very large).

In addition, panel 3 focuses on M’s feet, which are important to C’s case against him. And C’s dialogue “I’m so glad I caught you!” has a double meaning.

Oct 13 2014

Scenes from New York Comic Con

This past week was a four day event known as New York Comic Con. I had only been there once before on a one-day professional pass (that’s right I’m a professional!) that I got through work. I decided to give in to a large experience and got a four day pass even if in the end I was only able to go to three days, skipping Saturday in fear of the even more massive, massive crowds. Comic Con is a fascinating event; a convention center filled with blocks of comics and toy dealerships as well as what’s known as artist alley, which is more dedicated to independent comics and artist promoting their wares. This includes various steam punk, fantasy, and bondage outfits, weapons, sculptures, and toys. There is, of course, many problems with this event. The convention center is far too crowded making me feel bad for small children and handicapped people of which there seems to be an awful lot of, well, more than, say, at any sport or Rock concert event I’ve seen. So much of what is there is somewhat useless as New York City is filled with comic shops and toy stores. If there were bargains if I could understand, but some of the pricing borders on scams. The best thing for comic con is artist alley as there you can find actually unique items. The problem is that the same artists want to sell their material and sometimes they can be rather pushy. 

I did get some great stuff, unfortunately, at the same time, some not so great stuff. Bill Plympton’s handler made a big deal out how fast he did a sketch of me; well guess what, I rather have something good for my money than the shit he drew! FU Bill, try to treat a fan/paying customer with respect. And there are plenty of great and friendly artists who will do just that: CW, Jason Thomas, Jason Deeble, Ivan O’Neill, Fat Artist (not sure if that is his legal name), and Selina Briggs to name a few. Some of the artists want a crazy amount of money for their unknown work whether comics or art, and I can’t understand how they pull that off, but if you will do a sketch for me cheaply, or better yet for free, I will buy some of your work as well (although most people probably don’t do this, even if they should). This, naturally, lead me to getting into trouble such as when I got a sketch for a dollar and the artist kept giving me free stuff which I gladly took until the final item, which, after I express interest in, he wanted $20 for. It was hard to say that I was interested in stuff for free but that the crappy exploitative poster of a fake-porn comic was not worth paying for. This brings me to some observations.

It is also really cool to see so many people dressed as comic book characters. Despite what I might have thought, there is apparently no limit to how many Deadpool characters people will dress as or the degree of pseudo-porn you can have and pretend it is a comic. What makes this last part worse is the amount of young women that eagerly jump in on this. It seems that if you want to promote your work, just have a mostly naked chick with huge tits hawking your wares. The normally shy nerd will come out of his shell for these events and the one time feminists will see their sisters as empowering and try to act the same. I’m not sure if this last part is some ego stroking need for some women as there are many that probably wouldn’t get looked at twice in public but put their 300lbs in a sailor moon costume with their DDs and they are the bell at the ball. (Note: If you feel that you don’t match the standard of beauty, dress as a female superhero and finds some comic fans.) Yet at the same time there are incredibly attractive women going around in string but little else that couldn’t possible need the attention fix. The only thing I have to say to them is: “Where the hell are you when it comes to my life?! I’ve never met the model who is both a nerd and attracted to them!” Props to the women dressed as an original Star Trek doctor as you are very attractive but didn’t wear anything that crossed the line. 

Anyway, while I knew “Welcome to Nightvale” podcast was popular, I had no idea that it would have blocks long lines for meeting cast members—btw I just ordered merchandise to support you when I could have got it cheaper without waiting or paying for shipping. Speaking of lines, what is the interest in that? I just don’t want to wait two hours to meet Lucy Lawless for five seconds or spend $20 to shake hands with an 1980s wrestler or Mike Teevee (seriously, have you done anything else, child star?). 

As a means of socializing NYCC is a contradiction. On the one hand I ran into a few people that I have not seen in as many as five years (I’m glad they recognized me, because maybe I was passing by all sorts of people I once knew as I seem to be face blind). Since this is a group of “my people,” so to speak, you would think it would be easy to chat it up and make friends. Additionally, call a person by the name of the costume they are wearing and they are very excited to let you take of picture of/with them (this is where the creepy guys get to put their arms around the half naked with boob popping outfitted barely legal girls (here’s some math for you: increased breast size + lower clothing size = more popular (but I guess you can say that about anything in life)). Yet, on the other hand, I find NYCC to be rather isolating. The most fun I had was when I met up with Donette and wandered with her. It is something about having someone to immediately share the experience with that truly make the event, and yet to find a group of people that want to do this with me is ridiculously hard for some reason despite the hundred thousand people plus that attended and my own circle of seemingly comic loving friends.

Still, for whatever the problems, NYCC is a fascinating event and worth experiencing. Rather than continue to bore you with observations I’ll let you see some of the creative and fun things you can see (I’m especially big on the little kids in costumes although I wonder how much of it is their parents forcing them to dress as the character verse because the kid’s a fan). These two that you might not recognize are Pippi Longstocking and Kiki (as in Kiki’s Delivery Service) which you should learn about (and, appearently, I like tales of girls with _i_i as their names).

Oct 12 2014

Studio time 10-12-14

Oct 12 2014

Wolverine (omnibus vol 1) – Jason Aaron

Continuing with my all things Wolverine/Aaron spree, I read this over 600 page collection of Aaron’s work on the mutant superhero former homicidal maniac with the metal claws. I was disappointed. Hundreds of pages of stories and for the majority of it is it just Wolverine getting into fights with someone (usually a villain). You would think with all this time Aaron could have spent some time on character development or a few cool plots, but no. There is a noted exception when Aaron introduces a cliche storyline of madman running the insane asylum, and a silly idea of brains being used to power machines, but I have to say that he continued with the development of the idea and made it grow into a larger story line that actually has some curve balls and even attempted (although it seems to have been aborted) the development of a secondary character that (could have) directly effected the grow of Wolverine. Still, I don’t think I’ll read the second massive tome. 

Oct 11 2014

Wolverine: Logan – Brian K. Vaughan

This comic about an episode in the earlier days of the killer mutant, Wolverine, is good if you don’t read it. You see, it take place at the end of WWII in Japan where he is a POW and his quest to find peace in a world at war. Reading it quickly, it seems rather bittersweet, but if you actually think about what is occurring in the comic you start to do things like question “How can X not survive Y but survive Y times a billion? Is this dream magical or simple a dream? How could a relationship based on nothing work forever? What is Vaughan trying to say about his character(s)? etc.” I’m vague here to limit spoilers, but this is one of those comics that is created and gotten away with due to star power. So read it, but don’t think about it or you’ll ruin it like I did. 

Oct 10 2014

Little Scrowlie (vol 1-3): The Call of Cuthbert, Dawn of the Living Fashion Victims, Apocalypse Scrowl – Jennifer Feinberg & Todd Meister

How do I explain this bizarly drawn, weirdly lettered, comic parody of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos wherein a couple of cats, a goth chick, a pseudo wizard, a ghost, a collection of strangeness, and a fashion icon square off to stop/unleash a tentacled horror? Oh, wait, I guess that’s how. I really liked it and would like to see more of this type of craziness.

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