Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adventures in Sound: Part 19

Panel from Phoenix: The Untold Story #1
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski

Saturday, March 27, 2010

In Memoriam: Dick Giordano, 1932-2010

Today brought the sad news that comic book artist, inker, editor and legend Dick Giordano has died at the age of 77.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Giordano was one of the godfathers of the Bronze Age style of art. His style, and later his role as mentor to an upcoming wave of artists, helped define a generation of comics. Giordano's influence was felt again when as an editor he paved the way for books including Watchmen, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and the beginning of the Vertigo imprint. Giordano's name was — and still is — perhaps one of the most recognized in the field, and it's with good reason.

On his Web site, Giordano began an introduction to himself and his work with this:

Welcome to my world ...

... a world I entered enthusiastically more years ago than I care to remember. It has served as the means to earn my keep as well as allowing me to leave the real world behind and explore the realm of my fantasies. In my world, I am always the wide-eyed child!

My world is The World of Comics.

Thank you, Mr. Giordano, for giving us all a glimpse at that realm of fantasies, and for letting us — for a while, at least — remember what it's like to be the wide-eyed child.

Memorials for Dick Giordano have been pouring in, including from:


Forces of Geek

Mark Evanier

The Beat

and one of the most comprehensive from Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter

Friday, March 26, 2010

Review: Robot 13 #3

It would be easy to dismiss Robot 13 based on its obvious influences — Mike Mignola and Hellboy, maybe a little Atomic Robo, the well-worn trope of Greek mythology intruding on the modern world — but then you'd be missing out on a fun and intriguing book with plenty of originality and its own unique charm.

Robot 13 #3 picks up with the amnesiac automaton waking up in a cabin belonging to a blind man who thinks he's saved a pilot decked out in a flight suit and helmet, a survivor of the unseen war booming in the background. What he doesn't know is that R-13 crash-landed into a mountain after fighting a phoenix, and had been fighting mythological creatures since he was pulled out of the sea in fishermen's nets earlier. And what neither one of them knows is Echidna, the Mother of All Monsters, has caught wind of the return of her ancient enemy and has restarted their ages-long fight.

And believe me, in between the intrigue and stage-setting, there is plenty of fighting. Artist Daniel Bradford uses a gorgeous-to-look-at style that recalls (heavily, at times) Mignola and B.P.R.D. artist Guy Davis to create dynamic fight scenes and strangely lush, wide-open panels that have the effect of being smaller, self-contained splash pages. Backgrounds border on abstract, detail lines are wrinkled while outlines are often pliant and loopy, colors are bold yet muted, and it somehow all works. Faces sometimes come across as cartoony and perspective isn't given as much attention as it should be here and there, but these are minor complaints in what is a solid look that is often cinematic.

The script by Thomas Hall is subtle and restrained, and he gives the characters just enough to say to keep them conversational and individual. "Voices" are never just copy-paste, and the personalities — or at least hints of personality — come through. R-13 is unfailingly polite, Echidna is insidious and quick, and every minor character has their own cadence; best of all, Hall knows when to let the action tell the story instead of filling every panel with unnecessary dialogue, which is a rare quality that shows a certain maturity as a writer.

There is some forced exposition in this third issue that drops more clues than might've been necessary, but that just might be my own high tolerance for the slow burn. Given the nature of the story, I can see where the creators — and readers — might want to get things moving in terms of story; hopefully, awkward transitions will be rare (and honestly, in three issues this is the only one that comes to mind).

At the end of the third issue — and the cap of the "Colossus" storyline — readers are still left with the question: Who is Robot 13? Is he a magical monster-fighter? A triumph of ancient science? A lost soul? A hero? Whatever the answer ends up being, it's a mystery worth unraveling — and Robot 13 is a comic you should be reading.

Robot 13 doesn't seem to have wide distribution, but can be bought directly from Blacklist Studios.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I make no apologies for loving 'Superman III'

Yeah, yeah, I know — Richard Pryor in a giant cowboy hat, weirdo computer villain at the end, fake kryptonite laced with tar ... as far as I'm concerned it's all forgiven for giving us Barfly Superman.

Besides, it also yielded such fanciful illustrations as this movie poster for the film's release in Poland.

I think posters like this — which seem to be more the norm in some European countries — are a lot more interesting than the static poses we get in the States. What do you think?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Adventures in Sound: Part 18

Panel from The Muppet Show, Vol. 1 (trade paperback)
Letterer: Deron Bennett

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Pull List (3-17-10): What I'm reading this week

The reading list is all over the place this week, ranging from superheroes to kid comics to whatever you want to call the stuff Grant Morrison does, but the title I was most curious about came as a surprise even to myself.

Green Arrow #31 is dove-tailing out of the Blackest Night saga, as well as the goings-on in his own book. To be honest, I haven't been keeping up with Green Arrow for a while, in spite of him being one of my favorite superhero characters. I tried getting back on the GA train, but was quickly derailed by the whole "Cupid" storyline and was about to give up for good when DC started promising big changes for the Emerald Archer.

Now look, I don't normally fall for the whole "this will be the year everything changes for So-and-So!" stuff you get from the promotional arms of the Big Two. Those are some flabby, sweaty arms and they like to repeat themselves every few months or so by telling readers something monumental is going to happen, something that's going to turn a character upside down ... for a few months. Maybe a year. And then it's back to the status quo and nothing really changed after all.

So I rolled my eyes when DC started crowing about a new direction for Green Arrow, complete with "secrets will be revealed!" But then Black Lantern: Green Arrow #30 written by J.T Krul was pretty good, so I was intrigued to find out he'd be the regular writer on the title (even if it was the beginning of yet another crossover mini-event — oy).

I won't be picking up the Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal part of the equation, but I'll be sticking around for The Fall of Green Arrow, mostly because Krul has done enough to lure me in with the idea of a literally out-for-blood Green Arrow who is at odds with the hero community and, most importantly, with the person he used to be. This first issue in the Rise and Fall storyline gives readers a look at an Oliver Queen on the edge, helping average citizens after Prometheus destroyed the heart of his city and killing hundreds of thousands of people, but doing it almost as an afterthought as he tracks down the villain's accomplice with every intention of killing him in cold blood.

It's an interesting premise, especially considering Green Arrow's reputation for putting a premium on fairness and social justice. That said, this issue didn't really move things along and felt more like a place-setter, re-introducing characters we already know and giving readers plenty of exposition to catch them up on what's been going on. Really, though, you can't blame Krul or the editors — this is definitely a good jumping-on point, and even if you haven't been reading Green Arrow, you'll be caught up with the basics after this issue. Hopefully the plot will move forward now that the scene has been set and all the characters are in place.

Green Arrow #31 is also a nice comic to look at, thanks to the work of artist Federico Dallocchio. Dallochio's work isn't flawless — faces sometimes look odd, and a scene will occasionally come across as static — but for the most part it's good stuff. Action scenes are subtly dynamic and facial expressions (with the exception of a slightly-off kisser here and there) are expressive.

All in all, a suddenly interesting book that has the potential to go in even more interesting directions.

Here's what else I picked up this week:

Joe the Barbarian #3

Muppet King Arthur #3

Superman 80-Page Giant #1

Uncle Scrooge #389

And what I wanted to get, but will be waiting for the trade:

American Vampire #1 (beautiful Rafael Albuquerque art)

Guardians of the Galaxy #24

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Space Marines vs Arnie's Special Ops: Who ya got?

A few weeks ago my wife and I were having a serious discussion that eventually made its way to my Facebook page, and while there were advocates on both sides of the issue I never really felt like the thing was resolved. The mission was not over.

Nothing is over!

So I put it to you, Internet pals! In the great history of alien-ass kicking soldiers, who's tougher:

the Delta Force squad of Predator,

or the Colonial Marines from Aliens

Any way you look at it, it's a tough call; as someone pointed out to me, the Predator guys not only have Arnold Schwarzenegger at his peak, they've also got the former governor of Minnesota and MF'n Apollo Creed! On the other hand, Aliens features the craziest chola I've seen since La Smurf back in '85.

Do you think one squad has got it all over the other? Let me know in the comments, and vote for your favorite (and freedom) in the handy poll over on the right while you're at it.

Fall in!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter

I don't want to get into a whole "thing" here, but let me just address the chicken-and-egg question people like to ask when it comes to Clark Kent and Superman; Clark was first.

You're own opinion might vary, of course, and that's fine. As long as you don't mind being wrong, wrong, wrong. Look, I know there are some who point out (factually, as much as you can be where a fictional character with a malleable origin is concerned) that Clark was originally Kal-El, last son of Krypton and a nigh-indestructible alien since he crash-landed on Earth as a baby. I agree.

But! This isn't information little Kal grew up with. As far as he was concerned he was Clark, a kid growing up in Kansas with Ma and Pa Kent and a growing number of freaky powers that went way beyond puberty. For as long as he could remember, he was Clark. A boy, then a man, with powers far beyond those of mortal men, sure — but still Clark.

Sure, Clark hams it up with the meek milquetoast act. He's got to if he wants to deflect any suspicion he's Superman. And c'mon, with all those "coincidences" he needs all the cover he can take. But the point is, it is an act. Not the identity of "Clark;" again, that's who he is. The bumbling, the absent-mindedness, the queasy stomach ... that's the act.

Something to remember is that Clark might come across as a marshmallow (especially depending on whoever the writer might be), but he's a highly competent S.O.B. He's a respected novelist, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and the only real competition Lois Lane has in the newsroom. And he's done all that as himself. As Clark.

His role and his responsibilities as Superman are essentially two things — his duty, and his job. It's his job in the same way a person might be a firefighter or a cop, people who put their lives on the line in the name of the greater good, simply because it's the right thing to do. Being Superman just happens to be a job he can do, and do better than anyone else. The fact that he wants to do it comes from his sense of duty ... and that's from being a farmboy who was raised with solid values, a sense of right and wrong, and an unerring dedication to truth and fairness and the idea that there is always hope. These oh-so-human values — not the flying or the heat-vision or sheer planet-moving power — these are what make Superman a hero.

And that is all Clark.

As you might have guessed, this is the first entry in what will be a regular-but-unscheduled series of scenes featuring Superman's alter-ego, Clark Kent. I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Attention Austin: Prepare to have your ass kicked

This is kind of a big deal, so listen up!

Austin Books and Comics has announced writer Mark Millar and artist John Romita Jr. will have a signing for their hardcover collection of Kick-Ass at the store from 5 to 6 p.m., Saturday, March 13th. That's a small but no doubt hard-fought-for window giving fans a chance to meet the creators of the popular, blood-soaked comic.

Kick-Ass is the eponymous title for a series about a would-be superhero in the all-too-real world. Inspiring other heroes, making enemies and being on the giving and receiving ends of brutal beat-downs is just the beginning of the story for the young crime-fighter, a story that's now a movie from Lionsgate starring Aaron Johnson and featuring Nicolas Cage and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. The movie will have its world premiere March 12th at SXSW; go see the movie and then get your book signed the next day!

Here are the details on the signing straight from Austin Books:

We're thrilled to have (Millar and Romita, Jr.) here for what will surely be a BIG weekend for Kick-Ass. To make sure as many people get to meet them as possible, we have a few rules in place for this signing.

• Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. are scheduled to be here from 5 to 6 p.m. Be sure to get here early for your best chance to get a signature!

• You're welcome to bring a camera to the event and take pictures, but we've been asked that there be no individualized photos. They slow the line down a lot, and our guests have limited time with us as it is.

• Each person in line is allowed to have one item signed. This is a promotion for the new Kick-Ass movie, so the only book being signed is the Kick-Ass hardcover. If you've already bought the hardcover FROM US and made contact with us before this notice, you may bring that in. We will have copies of the hardcover available for sale that day. If you'd rather not buy a hardcover, there will be free Kick-Ass mini-posters to be signed. No other outside material will be allowed into the store.

• There will be no holding places in line. Anyone new to the line goes to the end of it. This will be enforced!

We know this all sounds a little hardcore, but we want to make sure as many people as possible get their books signed in the limited time we have. By following these rules, you may be ensuring that you get your chance to meet them.

Disclaimer: All details are subject to change.

Austin Books is located at 5002 N. Lamar Blvd.; here's a handy map. See you there!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

And don't call me Oberhaupt!

You know how sometimes you don't realize something is missing from your life until it just suddenly falls into your lap? Well, here's the mash-up you never knew you'd been waiting for:



artwork by Guy Davis

Monday, March 8, 2010

Loading up on Staple!

Another year has come and gone, and Staple! has another great show to notch in its straining belt. I don't have any numbers, or rumors of numbers, or anything beyond my own wobbly eye to judge by, but it seemed as if there were even more people there than last year — and that was nearly a sold-out show, if I'm remembering correctly.

But that's enough sloppy speculation — how 'bout some photographic proof? Staple! featured some great guests and exhibitors, with a good mix of styles and genres. It seriously took me hours to make my way through the two halls, mostly because I lingered over something neat at nearly every table. Here's a small sampling of what — and who — I saw:

B.P.R.D. artist Guy Davis (warning: sound) is one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet, and certainly one of the nicest comic book creators I've met. Davis was doing free — FREE — sketches for folks, and was cheerful and chatty even though a line stretched away from his table and down the aisle. I wasn't going to let a chance like that go by, and Davis did a sketch (which he's working on in this picture) that is so incredibly awesome that I can't wait to show it to you .

Except I'll have to, because like a dumb-ass I forgot it at home. Ahem.

Speaking of cool guys doing awesome sketches, Keith Quinn was also generously doing free sketches and drew this picture of the indomitable Perry White for me. When I asked for a Perry, Quinn at first was a little stumped because he couldn't remember what he looked like, but then got down to business. When he was done he told me the coolest thing ever: "I was thinking, 'What does Perry White look like?' And then I thought, 'Perry White is his job — he's a loose tie and rolled-up sleeves.'" That just about made my day. Be sure to check out Quinn's all-ages webcomic, Local Heroes.

Hell, yeah! Y'know, Staple! doesn't generally get a lot of people in costume, so it was a treat when these guys walked in. How often do you get to run into Lex Luthor, the Penguin, Superman (or is that the Death of Superman-era Eradicator?) and Doctor Fate? They all looked pretty great, but my favorite had to be Lex — just look at him! He's perfect! And you can't tell from the picture, but every green part of his gun was lit up to look like a Kryptonite-charged killer. I loved it.

Luthor and the Penguin seem to be reminding the Mike Pruitt (left) and Rod Nunley of Geek Bombast about the importance of "insurance." I'm assuming they paid up, because a podcast recorded at Staple! is at their site just waiting for your tender ears.

Some other people at the sixth annual Staple! indie expo included:

Austin artist and comic book creator, Diana Sprinkle

Paul Maybury, creator of Aqua Leung, Hard Candy, and
the Maxy J. Millionaire and Party Bear webcomics

Yehudi Mercado, creator of the awesome-looking Buffalo Speedway
(a graphic novel I'll be reading tonight)

Andy Runton of Owly fame, who was also giving people
a peek at an Owly cartoon.

There were many, many more folks there, and believe me, these pictures really don't do Staple! justice — it's a show you should see for yourself!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Perry White for governor!

You may not know this if you don't live in Texas (and if the voting numbers here are anything to go by, maybe not even then), but the state recently had its primary elections for the governor's race. The winning Republican candidate was incumbent Gov. Rick Perry, and the Democratic nod went to former Houston mayor Bill White.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but some sharpie at the local TV station noticed something that went right over my head. Like, you might say, a speeding bullet.

Do you see it yet? White and Perry. Perry and White.



Holy crap!

Even more amazingly they decided to do a story about it, featuring both Dragon's Lair Comics and my own regular shop, Austin Books and Comics (where there's a party going on right now THAT I'M MISSING. See what I do for you? It's because I give and I give. I'm a giver.) They even interviewed Austin Books' own Brandon Zuern, raconteur, gadabout and the guy who introduced me to the wonder that is the film, A Boy and His Dog.

The news story is a little doofy and the definition of "slow news day," but I don't care because while it's ostensibly an election story, it's really all about Perry White. Check it out:

Honestly — and given the name for this blog, you might've guessed this by now — it's nice to see my favorite comic book newspaper editor get some much-deserved attention. And why shouldn't he? Perry White is a stalwart of the DCU, not to mention Metropolis. Tirelessly covering events in a town where it's always a good news day, often uncovering the scoops himself, and probably one of the few people to figure out Superman's secret identity (oh, c'mon, OF COURSE he knows), Perry is the consumate newsman and a bedrock of that great metropolitan newspaper known as the Daily Planet.

Yay for Perry White!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Adventures in Sound: Part 17

Panel from The Intergalactic Nemesis #1
Letterer/artist: Tim Doyle

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Staple! Bound

It's that time of year again; the weather is warming up, the sun is shining a little brighter and Staple! — one of the best indie cons in the region — is just over the horizon.

I seem to say this every time, but I have to because it's always true — Staple! gets better every single year. Now on its sixth go-round, the independent media expo will again be an event you should attend if you're anywhere near the Austin area on March 6. Heck, even if you're not you should consider attending since the line-up will include:

Guy Davis, the current artist on B.P.R.D.

Andy Runton, who cranks up the cute with Owly

Chris Schweizer, author of the Crogan's Adventure series of graphic novels, who will also be giving a talk on entertaining and educational cartooning

Jason Neulander, the Austin-based producer, director, and co-creator of The Intergalactic Nemesis, a radio drama/stage show that has since spawned a "live-action graphic novel" and, finally, a comic book.

That's only the tip of the 85-plus exhibitors iceberg, and without fail every guest, exhibitor, artist, writer and miscellaneous creator has been engaging, friendly and more than willing to spend time with fans. Staple! is always a good time, and I really think it's on the verge of going big-time — go now so you can say you knew-it-when. Besides, it's only $5 to get in — five bucks!

Also, I'll be volunteering again this year, so if you see what you suspect is a sasquatch at the ticket booth, be sure to say hello. And I wouldn't say no to a cookie.

This year I'm especially excited about the performance of the first two episodes of the live-action Intergalactic Nemesis. It's a crazy fusion of media wrapped around a scene-chewing pulp center, featuring three actors, a Foley artist and a keyboardist set against a backdrop showcasing the work of local graphic artist Tim Doyle. The story itself is a period-action-sci-fi-horor-space-opera set in 1933 following the adventures of reporter Molly Sloan and her assistant, Timmy Mendez, as they cross swords with mesmerist Mysterion the Magnificent. And an invasion of sludge-monsters from the planet Zygon. As you might guess, it's pretty fantastic.

More information about The Intergalactic Nemesis in all its forms (issue #2 of the comic is due in stores soon and will also be available at Staple!), as well as future performances can be found at the Web site.

And again, that's just part of what is planned for this year's expo, so I hope to see you there — if you're missing Staple!, you're missing out.



March 6, 2010
Monarch Event Center
Austin, Texas

Doors open at 11 a.m.
Tickets: $5