Robot 6

Five-star shelves from 4-Star Studios

For ROBOT 6′s fourth-anniversary celebration, I wanted to find some special Shelf Porn, and luckily I remembered that Tim Seeley of Hack/Slash, Revival and ExSanguine (among others) fame had mentioned he might be willing to share some with us a few months ago (around the time I interviewed him for our Robot Roulette feature). So I dropped a note to Tim, who grabbed his camera and started snapping pictures at the studio he shares with several other comic creators. So big thanks to Tim and the rest of the folks at 4-Star Studios!

If you have some shelves of comics, action figures or other related collectibles you’d like to show off, send me a write-up and some jpgs at jkparkin@yahoo.com.

And now here’s Tim:

As a lifelong comic book reader and toy collector, I’ve been an avid reader of Shelf Porn. It’s true, I do love Porn in most of its forms, but I have a special love for seeing other people’s obsession with comic book related ephemera. So, when John Parkin asked me to give you all a tour of 4-Star Studios, I threw aside an unfinished Revival script and started taking pics!

Welcome to 4-Star Studios in Chicago, home to comic book artists Mike Norton (Revival, Battle Pug), Chris Burnham (Batman Incorporated), Jenny Frison (Angel, Revival), me (Tim Seeley); writer Josh Emmons (ExSanguine), and designer/artist/cartoonist, Sean Dove. We started the studio in 2010, as a place to all work together, and it quickly filled up with all the stuff our S.O.s wouldn’t allow us to put up in our apartments.

Here’s Mike making magic and scowls amidst his lurking DCU animated figures, and a copy of the first comic he ever got, signed by John Romita Sr. And there’s Josh Emmons wring something. Either code for a new app, or a story about vampires. Or preparing to play Halo. You never know with Josh.

Now, obviously, the key to great comic book studio is some well-rounded members. And, as you can see from these book shelves, we have read most every damn thing. When we moved from our last studio space, all of our trades and books got mixed up together, so we’re pretty much stuck together unless someone can take a few days to reorganize these puppies. Of note on the shelves: Mike Norton’s 20th Century Boys, Sean Dove’s collection of old MAD Magazine digests, my pile of Jack Kirby Omnibuses (Holy Moon Boy, I love the hell out of Devil Dinosaur.) You’ll also see a framed poster for Avenging Disco Godfather, the movie that made a man out of Mike. The toys and statues decorating those shelves are mostly mine … of note, Battle Brawlers, a long-forgotten pair of figures who punch each others’ heads off. I love them very much.

Since we’ve all been working in comics for while, we’ve managed to acquire our fair share of original art, which we proudly display. Norton owns some pretty cool stuff: A Stuart Immonen Ultimate Spider-Man page, a page of Green Arrow featuring his pencils and Bill Sienkiewicz inks, a pin-up of his character The Answer by Tom Fowler and a page of Ambush Bug by Keith Giffen. And, there’s one of my most prized possessions: Sleepwalker meets my character Lovebunny, by the great Brett Blevins.

Above the TV, we have Mike’s framed poster of Barry Bostwick’s excellent sci-fi, gay G.I.Joe opus, Megaforce, from which the studio took its motto: DEEDS NOT WORDS. To the right of that, my first con banner: Hack/Slash from the Devil’s Due days!

Near the futon, we have Skeletor, basically being a whiny jerk, in cardboard-cutout form, and guarding our shelf of vehicles! Sean is the proud owner of all those Star Wars ships, while I’ve spent many a morning at flea markets digging up those Masters of the Universe vehicles. Josh keeps his RoboTech guys there, too, in case he needs to transform a dude into a motorcycle or however that works.

On the other side of the pile of vehicles is Jenny Frison’s work station. Lucky Jenny. The only girl in a studio full of balls. Yes, that is a cutout of Imperious Leader from the original Battlestar Galactica. My brother Steve, Jenny’s boyfriend, made that. It’s weird.

These glass cases contain a bunch of our toys and statues. Sean has a pretty great collection of Pogo figurines. Two of my favorite Marvel characters, Tigra and Hellcat, sit next to two of Mike’s, Wonder Man and Luke Cage. There’s also our combined DC action figure collections, some select bobbleheads, and some of those cool lead mini-figs from Britain. Hey, we may mostly do indie comics, but we like us some superheroes, too.

Aaaaand we come to my ginormous ’80s Masters of the Universe-related knockoffs collections. Yeah. I know. Most of this stuff I actually got as gifts, or had from childhood, but it’s about as complete as can be. Of note: Carded Warlord and Hercules figures from Remco, the entire series of Sectaurs, some Powerlords, a custom Strongarm figures from the Filmation cartoon, and a Three Floyds tin sign, hanging out with Battle Cat and Panthor.

There’s my desk, leaden with toys and statues as it is. I usually load my desk up with my favorite characters at any given time. In this case we have Zatanna, a 3.75″ Darkhawk, a Mac Witchblade, and a T-Ray figure from Tigersharks amongst other fun stuff (like Cassie & Vlad customs from a fella named SAM_HAIN!) You buy Revival, I turn around and blow that money on a Paul Pope Playboy vinyl figure.

And, since it’s that time of year, there’s our little Christmas tree, decorated with everyone’s nerd ornaments. From all of us at 4-Star Studios, we’d like to thank you for a great year. Now, time to make room for more trades, art and action figures!

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Comments

11 Comments

Awesome.

Nice. I always imagined the original Marvel Bullpen as looking something like this.

And the Pogo figures are awesome. Sean has excellent taste in comic strip collectibles.

That is just obscenely awesome. Love the He-Man figures.

Oh boy, seeing those old HeMan vehicles brings back memories.

+1 for the Bret Blevins art. Loved that man’s New Mutants’ work back in the day. Bret Blevins, the OG Skottie Young.

There’s some real gold on those shelves. That Sectaurs toy takes me back.

@John: You can find a bunch of photos of the Marvel Bullpen on the net, from nearly all of their decades. Sadly, not as you envisioned. Sorry. Marvel’s got nothing on 4-Star, at least not way back when. It looked more like many of the other art studios at the time, and even many now. Lots of stuff tacked on the walls. Lots of desks & drafting tables. Very light on the Willy Wonka.

Great piece. Always wondered the studio looked like after hearing you guys talk about it every week on CrankCast. The Megaforce poster is pretty hilarious too, remember bugging the crap out of my grandparents that I wanted to see that when I was a kid. Great folks that they were they actually sat through it for me.

That is a fantastic studio. Well done on your collection. I’m salivating with envy at some of that stuff.

New Mutants #68, pencils, inks and cover art by Bret Blevins, was the issue that got me hooked on comics.

Is that Burnham’s desk with the crock pot next to it?

“Now, obviously, the key to great comic book studio is some well-rounded members”

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