Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Yokai Joke-ai

With all I did this last weekend, I also managed to watch Takashi Miike ‘s Great Yokai War. Luckily, I’m a little familiar with Japanese monsters or I might have been a little lost. I found the traditional, mythological creatures (like the Rokurokubi, and the Kappa) a real hoot but the new techie monsters weren’t that interesting. It's a kid’s film so maybe I can’t be too hard on it. I bet I'd have a whole different view if I were about 10. The Great Yokai War never takes it's self too seriously so that's a big plus. The makeup is fantastic and the effects are wonderful as they're not all CG. If you want weird, wild monsters check it out.



Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My wrist is driving me crazy. It's the carpal Tunnel I'm afraid. I’ll have to reduce my keyboard & mouse time for a while. Rest assured because I’ll be back to post and comment soon. Thanks for stopping by!


Monday, April 28, 2008

Stumptown Comics Fest '08

The Stumptown Comics Fest has come and gone again and boy it sure did seem like it came faster this time… oh wait, it did! It’s only been seven months since the last one. I think they made the right decision in moving it to the spring though. It really seemed to click this year including the weather. The attendance was much higher and there was an additional space for even more panel discussions. The fest was finally on the cultural radar and I think it will stay that way.

One of the things that really struck me about Stumptown this time around is that the fest actually seems like a nice break for the comic creators. The relaxed atmosphere makes it like a big party at a friend’s house. I’ve been to other conventions and there’s always this tension from the creators, like it’s very stressful to be there. But Stumptown, as a creator focused venue, really allows the folks to let their hair down and just be. A lot of it has to do with the fact most of the people attending are really part of the comics world in some fashion rather than rabid fans. Also, there’s no media overload from the movie and TV guys. It’s all about the comics at the SCF. Although I did see two guys wearing costumes… but I think they realized that this was the wrong place for cosplay and Star Wars dress up. One of the down sides to the relaxed atmosphere was that many of the creators didn’t feel the need to spend a lot of time at their tables and so I was unable to get a bunch of my books autographed, but no biggie.

In this shot you can get and idea how busy it was at the show. See how the black tablecloth is pulled out on the left side there? That’s because some guy got his foot tangled up in it right before I took this picture. You can see the gal look over with surprise on her face because all her books almost got yanked off the table.

Oh and another great thing about the show was that there was a lot of women attending. There might even have been more women than men! A moment that really stood out for me occurred when I was returning to my saved seat just before Scott McCloud’s talk was about to start and I noticed a very attractive Asian gal (about 20 years old) with a copy of Scott’s Understanding Comics on her lap. I was so stunned I caught myself looking too long. That’s when I thought, “wow, I think we’ve finally kicked the whole only geeks and weirdoes read comics thing.”

Craig Thompson
The first thing I did was to attend a talk given by Craig Thompson. He kept it real informal and just answered questions rather than have any kind of directed lecture. He was all over the place. Some of the things he spoke about included:

He’s parents didn’t react very well to Blankets. Craig’s dad was angry about exposing things about the family that were private and his mother was upset that her son didn’t believe in Christianity anymore.

He had a great time in Morocco. It really influenced his next book Habibi, which he has been working on for the last few years. It’s almost finished. It explores Islamic themes and Arabic Calligraphy.

He felt very comfortable exploring Islam, as his Christian fundamentalist background was similar. He also isn’t worried about any kind of backlash from the Muslim world as he’s exploring the grey areas rather than the taboo areas. He’s more worried about sharks than terrorists.

Despite lots of offers from Hollywood and record companies for design work, Craig has shied away from this type of work despite his 2007 Grammy nomination.

In the early days, Top Shelf was a great company to have publishing his stuff but as Craig grew in popularity and Top Shelf grew in size, they both grew apart and that’s why Pantheon is publishing his next book. (I asked his about his relationship with Top Shelf).

Scott McCloud

Scott McCloud, comic’s de facto philosopher, was the next speaker up and he didn’t disappoint. Like Craig he was all over the place but he was very animated and was joyfully yelling and running around. He was joking the whole time. Some of the things he related:

He’s was amazed because he felt the long shot dream of multiple genres for every taste, mentioned in Reinventing Comics, occurred in the 2000s. He didn’t think it was really going to happen, but it did and he couldn’t be happier. Technology played a big part (the internet) and also Manga. “10 years ago you’d never have seen a teenage girl reading comics.”

He reminded the audience that Portland was special when it comes to comics and that creators, artists and fans don’t have any place more accepting of comic’s culture.

He’s obsessed with matching up Comic creators with musicians. He rattled them off so fast that I can’t remember all of them but Will Eisner is the Duke Ellington of comics, Jack Kirby is the Elvis of Comics and he resigned himself to being the Herby Hancock of comics.

Scott spoke about how the younger folks don’t see the difference between paper comics and on-line comics but some of the older creators see them as separate. He likes online comic strips but he doesn’t like on-line comics unless you can click on the virtual page itself rather than looking for some next button on the webpage. Scott feels that it takes one out of the reading experience.

He halfheartedly defended his argument from Understanding Comics that single panel cartoons like Family Circus and the Far Side weren’t comics (a question asked by the attractive Asian gal I mentioned before). I didn’t completely get his answer but basically it relates back to the term sequential art.

Mike Richardson
The final talk I attended was by Mike Richardson, Dark Horse comics founder, president… and huge F***ing giant (he’s a very tall man). Listening to Mike was great because he’s a manger type and so he had a very liner approach despite the fact that his discussion was off the cuff as well. His mother was in the audience and he acknowledged her as the origin for his love of comics as she always bought them for him. For me, one of the best things about Mike’s talk was that I asked a question and that kept him going for at least 20 minutes. It must have been the question he was looking for. Some things spoke about:

Some of Mike’s friends had an actual intervention with him to keep him from opening up his chain of comic shops because he was going to ruin his life. Similar things happened to him when he was starting Dark Horse Comics.

When he was young, he’d wait outside the 7-11 late at night until no customers were in the store to buy his comics.

He started Dark Horse Comics because of Secret Wars and Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles. His customers at his comic stores complained that they had to buy the awful SW series to make sense of Marvel’s connected continuity. The geek side of me said to myself that he was really taking about Secret Wars II as the 1st Secret Wars was mostly a stand-alone series (like it matters!). TMNT proved that his vision of providing B&W comics cheaply was possible.

His sympathies have always been with the creators. He wanted to start a company where the creators owed what they made. Besides if you make the creator happy then he’ll want to work with you again and again and you’ll both make money together. It’s good EQ to be able to see the future potential, which DC and Marvel don’t seem to have.

Dark Horse was having monetary success with it’s licensed books like Aliens and Predator but the creator owned stuff was not as successful but that changed when they got Frank Miller on board. They got Frank by giving him a sheet that broke down the profits and expenses of their comic business process. Frank was so impressed that he signed up with them the next day. The rest is history.

They had an un-official slogan that “nobody gets more than Frank” as the deal was very beneficial to both parties. When a group came to Mike and wanted even more money than Frank received, he said no. They went off and formed Image.

He always believed that there’s a comic for everybody, it is the distribution that’s a problem. That's why he loves the Internet as it’s vastly increased the type of material DH can publish. It’s also a great way to find new talent, like Nicholas Gurewitch.

Larry Marder
Here’s a shot of Larry Marder (right) sitting next to the CBLDF guy (I forgot his name gulp). I bought one of Larry’s Tales of Beanworld Books. I also asked him what it was like to work at Eclipse Comics as they were my favorite company from the 1980s. He got a little chocked up and said that it was wonderful as he was really close with both Cat Yronwode and Dean Mullaney. It was a sad time for Larry personally when Eclipse collapsed.

Craig Thompson
I stood in line for a while to get my copy of Blankets autographed by Craig Thompson. He had a request to draw a picture on a gal’s typewriter… hah! Only in Portland! If you get something signed by Craig, tell him a short interesting story. That seemed to be his price for an autograph.

Brian Churilla and Jeremy Shepherd
I hadn’t realized that Brian Churilla and Jeremy Shepherd, the creators of The Engineer, were local boys but it was a nice surprise. It told ‘em I really enjoyed the title as it had a Kirby, Guy Davis feel and that I had just picked it up on the off chance that it might be fun. They mentioned that Mike Mignola was another influence (which the heavy blacks confirm) and thanked me for supporting their comic.

Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner
Here is a couple of new guys on the comic block, Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner. They’ve got a great new title: Witch Doctor.
It’s a sick world — literally. The universe is an organism, and the creatures of myth and legend are its parasites. Earth’s antibodies — humankind — have been at war with supernature for all of history. But to fight a disease, you don’t need soldiers — you need doctors. Enter Dr. Vincent Morrow. Excommunicated from the medical community and headhunted into an exciting new career in the black arts, he’s here to diagnose earth’s dark underbelly. Morrow serves the world with both hands — one in magic, one in medicine — as earth’s protector. Earth’s WITCH DOCTOR. It’s a sick world — he’s here to treat it.

Great stuff. It’s like Dr. Strange, Tales From the Crypt, Mr. Monster, Lovecraft and Warren comics all in one. Witch Doctor is very imaginative, well written and has art that’s very reminiscent of Bernie Wrightson. I loved it. A fantastic 1st horror effort by the young writing and drawing duo!

Nicholas Gurewitch
As I stood in line to get my autographed copy of The Trail of Colonel Sweeto, a Perry Bible Fellowship collection, by Nicholas Gurewitch, I took a couple of snapshots. After the first one Nicholas said "Hey how about an action shot" so he mugged for the camera while the gal fan played along by exaggerating her body language. This Perry Bible Fellowship stuff is some of the funniest dam strips I’ve ever read. Read for yourself if you don’t believe me.

Tara McPherson
The lovely and wonderful Tara McPherson. If only I hadn’t run out of money as that book was a reasonable 20 bucks. I had her sign issue # 45 of Lucifer.

Scott Allie here. I really enjoyed his Devil’s Footprints title. I wish Dark House was producing a few more comics like his. His buddy, out of the frame, took a picture of me talking a picture of him. Heh heh,

This was just a small part of what was going on at Stumptown. A truly great experience this time around and the ’08 fest has been the best one yet. Comics are cool and booming in Portland and Stumptown is proof of that. It’s wonderful thing to see evolving right in front of my eyes and in my hometown. Incredible!


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Comics For the People

Allison Hallet wrote a great article (see here) for the Portland Mercy about how comics have changed to become accessible for all and some of the reasons why Portland is at the epicenter of comic creation.

It’s a nice primer on the morning of the Stumptown Comics Fest.

Here’s an excerpt.
There has been a distinct cultural shift in the last decade, as graphic novels have gained a wide readership, superhero comics have been mined for both academic and "literary" material (see: Douglas Wolk, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Chabon), and girls weaned on Japanese entertainments like Pokémon have gravitated en masse to manga. Put another way: Even my mom has read Persepolis. Anyone who still has hang-ups about buying comics need only set foot in the casually welcoming Cosmic Monkey Comics or North Portland's sleek Bridge City Comics to dispel all lingering stereotypes about the Comic Book Guy. So by now everyone in Portland knows that, to quote one of the most clichéd newspaper headlines ever, "comics aren't just for kids anymore." (Kapow!) You may not know, however, that local publishers Top Shelf, Oni Press, and Dark Horse have all had a hand in this shift. With April's designation as Comics Month, as Oni Publisher Joe Nozemack puts it, "Finally, the city is paying attention."

The root of Portland's comic book ascendance arguably rests with Dark Horse Comics' Mike Richardson. As Richardson himself says, "I helped bring a huge part of the comics industry here." Dark Horse is both the oldest and the largest of the three local publishers, and many folks in the industry who moved to town to work there have gone on to other projects in the area. The company, which Richardson started in 1986 with a $2,500 credit card, has grown to become the third-largest comics publisher in the United States (behind DC Comics and Marvel). From their Milwaukie headquarters, Dark Horse publishes series like Star Wars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the television show was cancelled after seven seasons; season eight is currently running in comic book form), as well as well-known titles like Frank Miller's Sin City and Mike Mignola's Hellboy. They're also the longest-running publisher of manga in the US; Richardson's early embrace of Japanese comics proved prescient, as young women have flocked to manga in droves (pounding a few more nails in the Comic Book Guy's coffin).


Friday, April 25, 2008

Stumptown Comics Fest Tomorrow!

pic from Larry Marder's blog

That's right kiddies, the two day fest is back with all kinds of guests and events.

There's so many folks I wanna meet but I guess Scott McCloud is at the top of my list.

Plus, there's a ton of panel discussions that just sound fantastic! This is the real deal people, not just some old comic book flea market.

If you're in the Portland area I would suggest you swing by and check the schedule because there's sure to be guest you wouldn't want to miss.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

My New Comics

This week’s best cover is She-Hulk #28.

Fall of Cthulhu #11, Boom Studios. ‘Narly

Shadowpact #24, DC Comics. Some extraordinary gentlemen join the fight?!

She-Hulk #28, Marvel Comics. Her “buddy” gets a shot to the head! Hey, the cover is different than that which was solicited.

Army of Darkness / Xena #2, Dynamite Entertainment. Both Autolycus and Ash… Groovy!

Northlanders #5, DC Comics/Vertigo. This keeps improving

Trade Paperbacks:
The Mammoth Book of Best Horror Comics Vol. #1, Running Press. B&W Reprinting of over 60 classics of the 1950’s that caused a furor in the US and sparked legislation to crack down on explicit horror, this volume also includes modern contributors. How Cool is that!


When the enemy gets to the cooks you know it's all over...


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Crisis On Infinite Earth Days

Earth Day 2008 has arrived. We don’t have infinite earths to use up and we don’t have infinite time to clean up our mess. Even simple changes in one's daily life can have a huge impact. The recycling motto is something we should all keep in mind: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Do your best to live in harmony with nature.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Portland Comic Book Show... April '08

Hey guys I think it’s this way!

First off let me apologize for the tardiness of this post. I was ill and I was also quite busy with the random mundanities of the past workweek. Anyhoo… I had a wonderful time at the show despite my mammoth dislike of the dungeon… er… space that the PCBS is held in. I haven’t been this excited about a comic event in a while. I think it had something to do with the fact that Tony DeZuñiga and Stan Sakai were going to be there. I don’t really go to conventions to buy comics anymore except for the occasional stumble upon. It’s the creators that I’m really interested nowadays. I was also looking forward to seeing Heidi and James Meely too. I did have a nice chat with James, but sadly Heidi didn’t happen to be around when the spouse and I strolled by the space goat table.

As you can see from the top pic, the Star War costume folks were there again and I’m sure they’ll be regulars at the comic shows from now on as they’re local yokels. It’s kinda weird for me because it’s a new thing here in Portland but the kids seem to like it and heck it’s a small convention so why not. What was interesting this time around was the fact that a female Stormtrooper made an appearance. She had… ah… um… a specially adapted breastplate so to speak. I didn’t get a picture of her as she walking in as I was leaving, maybe next year.

Kieron Dwyer

The first table I stopped by was Kiron Dwyer’s. He was a really laidback, approachable kinda guy. Part of my comic collection is stashed away at a relative’s house, so I didn’t have time to grab any back issues for him to sign, but I did have Shadowpact #20 on hand. Kiron had the original pages for Shadowpact #20 for sale. They were stunningly illustrated, but at seventy-five to hundred bucks a pop I just couldn’t afford any of them. The guy has gotta make a living, so Kiron’s prices were reasonable from a market standpoint but alas from a Swinebread budget standpoint they weren’t. One thing I realized from perusing the original art pages was that I like Kiron Dwyer’s art much better in black and white.

Ernie Chan

It was wonderful to meet Ernie Chan. He was sketching away at his art board as I approached his table, which was laid out with all kinds of glorious drawings of Conan and Red Sonja. As I was fumbling with getting my Conan trades outta of their bags, another fan walked up and just handed him an issue of Savage Sword of Conan and told him to keep it and not bother paying for it. Obviously this exchange related to a previous discussion between the two, but Ernie was pleasantly taken aback by this fan’s generosity. When it was my turn, I thanked him profusely for coming to Portland and then promptly dumped five trades on him for signatures (Chronicles of Conan 10-14). I told him how much I enjoyed his artwork and shook his hand (again) before I left, saddened that again I couldn’t afford an Ernie Chan original.

Alex Niño

Here’s Alex Niño! He’s an artist that really found his nitch in Warren’s b/w horror comics and Heavy Metal. Again, I didn’t have my whole collection on hand so I only had one thing for him to sign but it’s a doozey the 30-page Conan the Barbarian tale, "People of the Dark." This story had recently been reprinted in Savage Sword Vol #1 trade. If only there were some trades out there with his Warren work.

Tony DeZuñiga

Well, I finally got around to meeting Tony DeZuñiga and his lovely wife Tina. He was sitting there looking too cool for school even though he’s about sixty-one and he was wearing an odd fur-like vest that he somehow made look chic, kinda like Jonah Hex’s Confederate garb. He had a calm demeanor like poker player in a gin joint.

Tony was very friendly and was happy to sign my comics. I had him autograph issues 5 & 9 of the new Jonah Hex series, the Conan story “Demons of the Summit” reprinted in the Savage Sword of Conan collection Vol 1 (same one Alex Niño signed!), and the Showcase Presents Jonah Hex trade. When Tony saw the Showcase Hex he remarked that I was the only person that had brought a copy for him to sign. That struck me as a tad bit sad. I thanked him for coming to Portland and told him that I hoped he’d get a chance to try the fantastic beer here in the Rose City. Tony made me laugh when he told me he was surprised because he thought it was going to be raining. I said back that he and his fellow artists had brought along the sunshine.

He had some amazing hand drawn pieces laid out on his table. My tongue practically hung out while I flipped trough the beautiful pages in his portfolio. There was an amazing Red Sonja illustration that I wished to high heaven that I could have bought it. Oh well, maybe I can save up for a commission. It was a great experience meeting him.

Art Thibert

I eventually had a chance to get something singed by Art Thibert, as he had the biggest crowd around him all day. It was funny because some emo guy before me was bitching about the fact that the convention flyer didn’t have everything Art had done listed. Here was this dude that just had a huge stack of comics signed and then he had the nerve to complain that he didn’t get even more autographed, amazing. Anyway, Art scribbled his name across my smallish stack. I went through my standard schpeal welcoming him to Portland and asking if he had had a chance to try the beer. His buddy Rich Birdsall (on the right in the pic) piped up, “oh yeah he tried a lot of the beer last night, and he’s still feelin’ it today.” Art responded that he was having a great time in Portland and that he couldn’t believe how friendly the girls here were. He got a dreamy look on his face as he thought about his time at a nameless bar the night before. Heh heh, now there’s a story there…


Did you know there is a comic grading company here in Oregon? No? Neither did I. But apparently CGC has some strong competition by the likes of Professional Grading Experts or PGX from Eugene. I was surprised to learn that they’d been around for 5 years already. I asked Rich (the guy in the pic) to sell me on their product vs. CGC.
Rich said:
PGX is cheaper
PGX has a sturdier container
PGX has faster turn around time (around 17 days)

Something else I noticed from their website is that you don’t’ have to have membership in some collecting organization to get your comics graded either. You just send ‘em in with a check. That’s it. PGX sounds like a comic grader for the rest of us. Now I can get my comics graded and support the local economy. I never considered it before, but for some of my older books I just might do it.

Stan Sakai

Finally we get to Stan Sakai. You know what? Everybody always has these stories about what a nice guy Stan is and yes he is very nice guy, but all these stories gave me the impression that he was some sort of comic book saint that blessed the geeky fans that show up at conventions. Well, after meeting him I’m here to say that he’s just a regular guy. He’s a little quiet when approached for an autograph (or maybe that was because I got a little too personal in my enthusiasm to meet him) but get him in front of an audience and Stan is very lively. In fact, I’d say Stan Sakai is a very funny man. He was letting the zingers fly constantly during his talk and the audience was cracking up the whole time. It makes sense why he is such a good storyteller, as he has an impeccable sense of timing mixed with a sharp wit.

I had Stan sign four books Usagi Yojimbo vol. one (as it has the rabbit’s first stories), Grasscutter as it adapts Japanese mythology, Travels with Jotaro as it has some nice father son angst, and Space Usagi because it has some of my favorite Usagi art. I was simply expecting an autograph in each book but Stan went to the trouble of drawing a nice sketch in each one. Class act all the way.

Here Stan talks about the origin of the cartoonist, and the modern illustrator’s connection to renaissance artists. (See wikipedia here for more info)

Stan draws his famous rabbit Usagi Yojimbo. Stan said he just drew a rabbit with his ears in a topknot one day and the rest was history.

Murakami Gennosuke, the hard drinking Rhinoceros bounty hunter…

Inukai (Stray Dog) a ruthless bounty hunter that secretly has a soft-spot for an orphanage

The Evil Jei that keeps coming back no matter how many times he's killed.

Stan is set to do a short Samurai Hulk story in the near future and he gave us a sneak peak at what he'll look like.

I wish I had the time to write down all the the fun tidbits that Stan spoke about but his talk was a great way to cap off the day at the comic book show. My SO had a good time too as Usagi Yojimbo's grounding in Japanese myths and pop culture drew her into the whole presentation.


Friday, April 18, 2008

My New Comics

This week’s best cover is Army of Darkness #8.

The Brave and the Bold #12, DC Comics. Superman and Ultraman together again.…

Army of Darkness #8, Dynamite Entertainment. I love this title.

Cthulhu Tales #1, Boom Studios. 1st issue of the “new” regular series!

Badger Saves the World #5, IDW. Wow I don’t like the cover this time but the homage to Bruce Lee is cool.

War is Hell: the First Flight of the Phantom Eagle #2, Marvel Comics. The colorist is lost.

Iron Man: Legacy of Doom #1 Marvel Comics. Dr. Doom, Tony Stark and Camelot… what else do you want?

The Infinite Horizon #1, Image. I think this is a little late….

The Lone Ranger #11, Dynamite Entertainment. Now this is how your color somebody with a scratchy style.

Red Sonja #32, Dynamite Entertainment. (hear music) Memories…

Bat Lash #2, DC Comics. Better and sadder than I thought…

Trade Paperbacks:
Red Sonja: Travels Dynamite Entertainment. Reprints the Red Sonja one-shots

The Comic Book Holocaust Oh Man this is some nasty stuff, but its funny if you’re a long time comics reader and find south park funny.


Random Comic Panel

I feel a lot better but I haven't had time to work on my blog. I think the image above sums it up.

Thanks for all the messages of support.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Haven't Been Feeling Well

Sorry I haven't been posting or commenting. I'm under the weather right now... I'll have something on the Portland Comic Book Show soon.



Sunday, April 13, 2008

Off to The Portland Comic Show

I'm rushing to get to the comic show today. I'm a big fan of Usagi Yojimbo and his creator Stan Sakai, so it will be really exciting to me him. Plus, there's a whole bunch of other folks I'd like to talk to as well. I'll have full report later.

I would also like to apologize to my fellow bloggers out there as I just haven't been able to be as timely with responses to you comments or visit you sites as much as I would like.

Talk to you-all soon


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Vampira's Last Interview

The April issue of Rue Morgue contains the last interview ever conducted with the grand dame of horror Vampira.

Just prior to her passing earlier this year, Rue Morgue was fortunate enough to have the final conversation with Maila "Vampira" Nurmi, the world’s first horror host and glamour ghoul. Plus: Her long-time friend Dana Gould paints an intimate portrait of Nurmi from her halcyon years to her golden years, a look at the new Vampira documentary, as well as her last feature film appearance in the Ed Wood-penned I Woke Up Early the Day I Died.

It’s so sad they didn’t record any of her shows for posterity’s sake. I have a chilling feeling that I would have been a huge Vampira fanatic if her TV appearances were available nowadays. Here’s the only bit of video we have. The intro to her show.

There are lots of wonderful pictures of her so that’s something…

What I like most about Vampira, besides her overt goth sexiness (hubba hubba), is that she changed the perception of women in horror. No longer did the members of the “fairer sex” need to be the victims, but they could be the monsters as well. She paved the way for all the other scary gals that came later. If modern horror has a ghoulish godmother Vampira is it. She wasn’t a big star but she should have been.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

My New Comics

This week’s best cover is Doctor Who Classics #5.

Criminal Macabre: My Demon Baby #4, Dark Horse Comics. Finally…

The Last Defenders #2, Marvel Comics. She-Hulk and some other guys…

Dead of Night #3, Marvel Comics. It’s not Giant-Size, but it’s definitely Man-Thing.

Serenity #2, Dark Horse Comics. Inara, Inara, Inara…

The Un-Men #27, DC Comics. It's getting cancelled...

Doctor Who Classics #5, You know, I had this story from… was it the epic days?

Soleil #1, Marvel Comics. Some free comic.

New-Gen #1, Marvel Comics. Some other free comic.

Trade Paperbacks:
Captain Carrot and the Final Ark Vol. #1, DC Comics. Reprints the mini and few other Zoo crew stories.


Random Comic book Cover


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Coloring Kamandi

It was amazing how much I enjoyed Countdown Special: Kamandi, which reprints issues 1, 10, & 29 from the original Kamandi run in the 1970s. These post–apocalyptic classics were written and drawn by Jack “King” Kirby. I had never read Kamandi: That Last Boy on Earth before (although I wanted to) so it was a real treat. The premise of the story is that some undefined “Great Disaster” has remade the earth. Most Humans have devolved into animals while conversely animals (like tigers, apes and dogs) are intelligent, walk upright, and rule their own empires. The title character is the teenager Kamandi, who adventures across a shattered landscape with his mentor Dr. Canus, and the mutant Ben Boxer. It’s easy to see that Kamandi was heavily influenced by Planet of the Apes, and that it, in turn, informed both Gamma World and Thundarr (which Jack worked on BTW).

Being a post–apocalyptic enthusiast, it makes sense that I would find this enjoyable. I’m even tempted to pick up the new hardcover collections that DC is putting out, and I’ve never been tempted to do that previously. This title really works for me and I like Jack Kirby’s art and storytelling here much more so than his New Gods work. It’s nice to see DC embracing Kamandi again through republishing and by reintegrating him into new storylines. In fact, Kamandi and OMAC (his grandfather) are the only reasons that I’m even remotely interested in the Final Crisis event at all.

When I was reading my copy of Countdown Special: Kamandi, a question struck me: how would Japanese folks respond to the quintessential/classic art style of Jack Kirby? Their experience with comics and their aesthetic tastes are so different I just couldn’t imagine what they might think. Would they like his art? Would they hate it? Could they even relate to it? So I showed some pages to my SO. The exchange went something like this:

Me: “Hey, what do you think of that art in this comic?”
Her: “Hmmm… It’s very busy.”

I thought: “ah, Jack’s dynamic action is too much for her”

Me: “Yeah, this artist is known for his incredible action and powerful figure drawing.”

Her: “the Color is too much, it’s too busy. The background color changes in each panel. It’s distracting”

I thought: “Huh?”

Me: “Ah well, the artist didn’t have anything to do with the color. See, these are comics that originally came out in the ‘70s and…”

But she had lost interest in what I was talking about and went back to reading her book.

That did get me thinking. The bold use of color, which is so common in older comics, was just too visually overpowering for her. She really couldn’t focus on Jack’s art at all. I was kinda stunned but then I remembered that Japanese manga is a black and white medium. The "in-your-face" color had a strong negative impact on her. When for me, it was nearly incidental, particularly because it appeared in a reprint of Kamandi. I recognize that the colorist’s job is much more integrated into the artistic creation of comic books nowadays (computer technology has completely revolutionized the nature of color), but back when Kamandi was first published; it almost seems like an afterthought position. The intent of the coloring process in the days of yore must have been to keep the eyes interested by flashy uses of 4-color shades… whether they matched from panel to panel or not. Looking at the Kamadi pages was such a disharmonious experience for my SO; that the art style didn’t matter at all. For her, the application of color didn’t seem to be thoughtfully considered nor carefully applied. Very interesting. I easily separate Jack’s art from the hues that someone else decided upon, but my SO sees them as one thing. I often have to remind her that American comics are largely a collaborative medium. In the past, my SO has expressed that American comics are too wordy, and bogged down with unnecessary exposition that redundantly describes what’s already visually depicted, but this is the first time she has said anything about color. I guess I gotta’ show her something of Jack’s in black and white to really get her opinion on the his art style. That's sorta' weird for me...


Monday, April 7, 2008

DC Has To Stop and Marvel Should Too

DC are you listening?

Maybe I'd read Secret Invasion if it had cool sound effects like this:

Nah... it's just glitz...


What Gay Star Trek Character Are You?

What gay Star Trek character are you? (by Pogo)

You are Seven. Everything to you is new, and you are beginning to experience all aspects of the real world. Love is something that you are willing to experiment with. You may not always understand the proper way to go about things, but nevertheless, people are very attracted to you. You do best with someone who is willing to provide you with guidance. Your lover is Janeway. Chances are, you like older women and scratchy voices.
Take this quiz!

Now That's F***ing Awesome! I'm sure glad I wasn't something like Quark and Dr. Bashir...


Sunday, April 6, 2008

24-Hour Comics During Portland Comics Month

It was 24-hour comic day on Saturday. I’ve never indulged in this artistic test of endurance but I think it’s a fantastic idea. The concept is to create a complete comic book, drawn and inked, during a single 24-hour period. The excellent Cosmic Monkey Comics hosted a 24-hour comic event called the 24-Hour Drawpocalypse, so I swung by the store to check out the scene. Andy, the majority owner, was gracious enough to let me snap a few shots of the artists hard at work. I got there about 7:30 PM.They had been working since 10 AM, so the gang only had only 14 and half hours to go!

here they are drawing their stories. Nobody looked tired yet. That's Jim Valentino on the left with the star on his chest. I loved his Guardians of the Galaxy series. Maybe I'll have him sign my copy of the GOTG trade at the Stumptown Comics Fest... If I don't have to work that weekend.

One of the guys drawing away.

David Chelsea

David Chelsea's inking his work. He was using an interesting diagonally lined paper to create his comic.

I didn't ask this guy his name but I liked what I saw of his work. (following pic has a close-up)

I climbed the stairs to get this shot. I felt bad because they creaked loudly and everybody stared at me, and wondered what I was doing.

The Wacky and Wild owners of Cosmic Monkey Comics, Andy Johnson and Adam Healy.

Part of the time I was in the Cosmic Monkey, I roamed the trade paperback section, which is fantabulous by the way, when a 20 something gal asked Adam Healy who Jack Kirby was. He directed her to the Jack Kirby shelf and explained that he was called “King” because he was an innovator when comic books first stared out and that he co-created many famous characters like the Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Captain America. He handed her a copy of a Twomorrows book about Jack filled with tons of his art, and she began to leaf through it. In the picture above you can see her on the left looking through the book. I was intrigued. Why was this gal suddenly interested in Jack? I guess it makes sense that if you don’t read superhero comics you wouldn’t know who he was but what was going on? In a stealthy way, I followed her as she walked back to her friend/boyfriend (that was participating in the 24-comic event) and talked to him about Jack. I was trying to eavesdrop, to figure out her motivations, when the guy she was talking to mentioned the Mayor of Portland declared that April was Portland Comics Month. Was this true? Well sure enough when I got home and did a net search I discovered that Tom Potter did indeed make this pronouncement.
The Stumptown Comics Foundation is delighted to announce that later today, Mayor Tom Potter will declare this April Portland Comics Month. The proclamation officially recognizes both the cultural importance and creative influence of this vibrant art form on the entire city.

Portland has deep roots in the comic-book publishing world, as it is home to scores of comics industry professionals and to three of the nation's most prominent independent comics publishers (Dark Horse Comics, Oni Press, and Top Shelf Productions). Moreover, the local comics community has seen sizable growth in the past few years, further bolstering the Rose City's defining ties to the creative arts and industries.
To champion and support Portland Comics Month, the Stumptown Comics Foundation has catalogued a staggering number of comics-related events in the Portland metro area for the entire month of April.
(From here).

How amazing is that. I’ve been telling folks for years how special and unique the comic’s scene is in Portland and now through the hard work of many folks, including the Stumptown Comics Foundation, it’s official.

I never did find out why this gal became interested in Jack Kirby, maybe she’s an indie creator and she was trying to check out the origins of mainstream comics. Or perhaps she was trying to enter the world of her friend/boyfriend. I dunno… what I really wanted to know was her opinion of Jack's art. Oh well, if I hadn’t tried to listen in, I wouldn’t have learned it was Portland Comics Month.

I’m glad I popped into Cosmic Monkey Comics!