Welcome back for another round of Robot Roulette, our new interview feature where creators spin the virtual roulette wheel to find out what questions they’ll answer. We’ve got 36 possible questions, and each week I will select at random which of those questions our guest gets to tackle.
This week we welcome Jeff Parker to the roulette wheel. Jeff is the writer of Red She-Hulk, Dark Avengers, a recent Legends of the Dark Knight digital tale and the webcomic Bucko. You might also know him from Underground, Interman or Agents of Atlas. Parker is in Ireland right now for the Dublin International Comics Expo, so if you are lucky enough to be in Dublin go tell him hi.
My thanks to Jeff for agreeing to be one of our early participants. Now let’s see what questions Lady Luck threw at him …
As our Caleb has already pointed out, Legendary’s Tower Chronicles: GeistHawk is a comic that’s a lot better than the warning signs may have previously indicated. One of its real treats is seeing the mature style Simon Bisley has been developing for a few years (since The Dead: Kingdom Of Flies for UK indie Berserker, really) getting a decent-lengthed showcase. Anyone with lingering misconceptions of Bisley’s work being the mutant offspring of Frank Frazetta and Bill Sienkiewicz is in for a surprise. It’s still unmistakeably Bisley, but the finished art will be just as likely to remind you of Kevin O’Neill or Enki Bilal. Dedicated fansite The Art Of Simon Bisley has a gallery of over 20 pages of pencils from the project, alongside two publicity images/splashes that are both more appealing than Jim Lee’s very generic-looking final cover.
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Last month we looked at the career of Marjane Satrapi. This month we’ll examine the career of one of her largest (or at least more apparent) influences, Pierre-Francois Beauchard, better known by his pen name, David B.
A Punisher team-up still seems like a really bad idea. No matter who’s book he guest stars in, the Punisher is just not the guy you want to stand next to for any real length of time. Not only is he a loner by nature, but your average superhero is immediately at odds with something as simple and dangerous as a man with a gun. His motivations just don’t jibe with the code one has to follow to be a hero, let alone a sane human being. To paraphrase Ray Stevenson, who played Frank Castle in Punisher: War Zone, no one should want to be the Punisher, but everyone should be glad he’s out there.
That movie title is catchy because it’s very apropos; Frank Castle truly is a one-man war zone. Please note the one-man part. In recent years, there has been some absolutely brilliant comics work showing you just how strange and solitary the Punisher is. Greg Rucka has brought us the pure poetry of life at Punisher’s right hand. Jason Aaron on PunisherMAX drove us right on through how cruel a world can get to create the Punisher. And, of course, Garth Ennis showed us Frank Castle as a force of nature, something that happened to the worst of the criminal element. Not a bogeyman or a fable but cold, dark fact.
So I can’t say the idea of the Punisher as we’ve come to know and love him in recent years would be signing up for a matching uniform to run around with Ross’ Thunderbolts. He’s not a team player. He certainly doesn’t seem like a man who could even tolerate Deadpool for more than it would take to put air in his lungs. How could a one-man war zone work well with others? Well, let me take a moment of your time, Dear Reader, to theorize with you. I think there’s enough duty and dignity to Frank Castle to will allow him to co-exist with comrades-in-arms.
WARNING: One of my examples comes from the absolutely gorgeous Punisher #16 that was released this week, so grab your copy and read along!
Following the sudden cancellation of two appearances this week in Ohio and talk of “a very serious circumstance,” many fans began to express concern about the health of legendary creator Stan Lee. But this afternoon the 89-year-old writer released a statement to announce he’s recuperating after having a pacemaker implanted.
“Attention, Troops! This is a dispatch sent from your beloved Generalissimo, directly from the center of Hollywood’s combat zone!” Lee wrote on the POW! Entertainment website. “Now hear this! Your leader hath not deserted thee! In an effort to be more like my fellow Avenger, Tony Stark, I have had an electronic pace-maker placed near my heart to insure that I’ll be able to lead thee for another 90 years. But fear thee not, my valiant warriors. I am in constant touch with our commanders in the field and victory shall soon be ours. Now I must end this dispatch and join my troops, for an army without a leader is like a day without a cameo!”
Lee, who turns 90 in December, of course ended the statement with “Excelsior!”
Living legend Bruce Timm quietly joined Twitter back in July, but only in the last couple of weeks has his activity there started to speed up. Never an ardent self-publicist, once upon a time, you had to wait for his art dealer to post his newest sketches and commissions, or else trawl Google Images. Now there’s a direct source, and it’s flowing quickly. Plenty more examples below.
UPDATE: Apparently this Twitter account isn’t actually Timm’s. Still, the art is nice.
MICE, the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, is like a mini-MoCCA for the Boston area. Sponsored by the Boston Comics Roundtable and the Art Institute of Boston, MICE is in its third year, and last year’s show was such a hit that tables for this year sold out within three hours. The headline guest is R. Sikoryak, and the roster includes Box Brown, Ming Doyle, Cathy Leamy, Kevin Church, Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue (who will be debuting their latest Pet Shop Private Eye book at the show), Adventure Time team Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline, and many more too numerous to mention (more than 150 in all). Besides Venable and Yue’s book, there are several other debuts at the show, including the Boston Comics Roundtable’s Hellbound III, Cathy Leamy’s Diabetes Is After Your Dick and Mike Lynch’s Don’t Let the Zombie Drive the Bus.
As much as I love the big shows, and I’ll move heaven and earth to get to New York Comic Con every year, I really enjoy smaller shows like this. Boston has a lot of native and nearby comics talent, and while the room does get crowded at times, it’s still more laid back than a big con. You get to see talent at all stages of its development and interact with creators while they are still making their comics by hand. Plus it’s in a great location, easy to get to and with a ton of good restaurants nearb y— no shriveled-up turkey sandwiches for $9 a pop or fake coffee in a Styrofoam cup. Admission is free, too. So if you’re in the area, hop on the T and check it out.
Vertigo has debuted a first look at “Ghost For Hire,” the short story created by Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire for the Halloween anthology Ghosts. It marks Johns’ Vertigo debut.
A revival of the publisher’s 1970s horror series of the same name, the 80-page one-shot boasts also includes stories by the likes of Gilbert Hernandez, Paul Pope, Phil Jimenez, David Lapham Amy Reeder, Mark Buckingham, John McCrea, Rufus Dayglo, Toby Litt and the late Joe Kubert, with covers by Dave Johnson and Brendan McCarthy.
As the title hints, the story by Johns and Lemire centers on a ghost-for-hire haunting agency. “It was a real thrill for me to work with Geoff,” Lemire told the Vertigo blog. “I’ve written with him before, but to get to draw for him was really special. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what kind of ghost story Geoff would deliver and I was pleasantly surprised with ‘Ghost For Hire.’ It’s whimsical and fun and it has heart. When Geoff said he wanted to do a story like all the old Abbot and Costello movies he watched as a kid it really clicked for me!”
Vertigo this week has also offered other Ghosts sneak peeks from Litt, Buckingham and Victor Santos, Lapham and Pope, Hernandez, and Al Ewing and Dayglo. Check out the full image from “Ghost For Hire” below. Ghosts arrives Oct. 31.
As I said a while back, comics seems to be having an increasing influence on fine art and illustration. One aspect of this is fine art fetishizing the iconography of comics. You may already have seen the work of the photorealist Glennray Tutor, and his still lifes of toys and fireworks often positioned around comic art, like the above shot of some marbles illuminating a romance comic. Tutor is using comic art as a signifier of pure Americana, as American as the vinyl Donald Ducks or bottles of hot sauce he also takes as subject matter.
It’s hard not to see his influence upon the painter Matthew Bone. Bone isn’t a photorealist, and he utilizes the artifacts of nerd culture in a similar way to a very different end. His work literally fetishizes comics and toys: a semi-nude woman writhing on a bed of old Marvel comics; a pair of erotically charged models salivating over a Gundam toy; a nude in a Darth Vader helmet clutching handfuls of Storm Trooper action figures to her breasts; another mock-fellating a Gamorean guard toy. The bio on his website claims “by utilizing the conventions of pop culture, and it’s willingness to embrace the artifice as the sincere, Matthew is able to create a re-envisioned modern mythology.” That’s quite a claim for what a less sympathetic critic might just call an inappropriate fixation upon the pop cultural iconography of his youth mixing with a retrogressive view of female sexuality — NSFW examples below. Also below: Michael Latimer, the street art
swiper Lichtenstein, and Sam Spratt.
They’re not exactly rival events, as the former is a fairly exclusive affair catering to 1,000 or fewer devotees of Grant Morrison who are willing to pony up $699 to $1,099 (including hotel) to rub elbows with the writer and a handful of other creators. The latter, meanwhile, appeals to a broader cross-section of mainstream comics fans (plus tickets are just $25 a day).
Clearly, it’s a good weekend to be a comics fan with some extra cash in Las Vegas. Keep your eyes on Comic Book Resources Saturday and Sunday for coverage of both events.
Think of the shelves of your local comics store as a crowded room where everybody is shouting for your attention. It’s difficult to rise above that din, and that’s why being unique — in tone and in presentation — makes you stand out quickly in the market. Writer Sam Humphries got his start in comics in summer 2010 with shorts for anthologies like CBGB: The Comic Book, and then self-published his first book Our Love Is Real the following year. Fast forward 14 months, and he’s writing two of Marvel’s top titles in Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates and Uncanny X-Force. How does that happen?
As I learned in my interview with Humphries, a lot of it has to do with his background but also his drive and know-how to tell stories. Humphries initially crossed paths with the industry when he oversaw marketing for MySpace’s comic book portal, which lasted for several years. From that, he began participating in the comics community on podcasts and through contributions to anthologies. After being turned down by more than a dozen publishers, Humphries decided to self-publish Our Love Is Real with artist Steve Sanders and found a way to cut through the noise to become a prominent new voice in comics. He followed that with the first issue of Sacrifice, and then was quickly pulled into other publishers like Marvel and BOOM! Studios to tell stories on a larger platform.
The newly announced writer of Uncanny X-Force, Humphries is also at the center of the buzz surrounding the development in Ultimate Comics: The Ultimate‘s making Captain America president of the United States (Comic Book Resources has a preview of Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates #17). CBR spoke with him in-depth about those issues, allowing us to talk about Humphries’ career and his whirlwind of success.
You’d probably already heard that Robert Goodin’s excellent and influential blog Covered was in the business of winding down, but the final curtain has now come down. Since announcing on Sept. 16 that he was intending to end the blog, Goodin has run four entries by Steve Rude, and a couple by Art Adams. Now that’s how to go out in style.
It’s been more than a year since Bryan Talbot announced a third volume in his anthropomorphic-steampunk series Grandville, and he’s close enough to the end to release a trailer. The video features Talbot himself as well as a number of his characters and the art looks pretty smooth. The book is due out in December from Dark Horse in the United States and Jonathan Cape in the United Kingdom.
Conventions | MorrisonCon and the Las Vegas Comic Expo aren’t the only comic conventions this weekend (more on them shortly): There’s also Wizard World Ohio Comic Con in Columbus, and Asbury Park Comic Con in New Jersey. Last year, Wizard took over Mid-Ohio Con and turned it into Wizard World Ohio Comic Con, and on the eve of this year’s event, the local alternative weekly looks at how the event has changed and what to expect. Meanwhile, Saturday’s Asbury Park Comic Con gets back to basics: “The problem that I have with the big comic conventions is that they’ve turned into pop culture conventions and it’s anything goes —anything from video games to wrestlers and bands, stuff that has nothing or very little to do with comics. What we want to do is bring it back to what brought us all together — our passion for comics,” says co-founder Cliff Galbraith. The event, which is being held in a rock club/bowling alley, features such comics guests as Larry Hama, Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Dean Haspiel, Seth Kushner and Reilly Brown. [The Other Paper, Asbury Park Press]
Image Comics has announced a Chris Giarrusso variant cover for October’s Chew #29, by John Layman and Rob Guillory. For every 10 copies of the issue retailers order, one of those will feature a Giarrusso variant.
Best known for G-Man, Giarrusso previously created Image 20th-anniversary variants for Youngblood, Spawn, The Savage Dragon, The Walking Dead, ShadowHawk and Morning Glories.
Check out Giarrusso’s variant and Guillory’s regular cover below. Chew #29, which originally was scheduled for September release, goes on sale Oct. 17.