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Six by 6 | Six great superhero comics by unlikely cartoonists

The Death Ray

Apart from all the “new 52″ brouhaha, one of the more interesting and talked about bits of online  was Michael Fiffe’s essay on the delineations between mainstream (i.e. superhero) comics and the alt/indie comics scene. Spinning off of his essay, I thought it would be fun to list my own favorite super-styled tales by folks who usually don’t do that type of material, some of which Fiffe talked about in his essay.

Note: For the purposes of this article I’m deliberately avoiding any of the officially sanctioned productions from the Big Two, namely Strange Tales and Bizarro Comics, just to make it a wee bit harder.

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More comic book beer!

Monsters by Mat Brinkman & Alchemic Ale

Monsters by Mat Brinkman & Alchemic Ale

Now this is a trend I can get behind! Alchemic Ale, the makers of Ron Regé Jr.’s pioneering minicomic/beer hybrid Yeast Hoist #15, have returned to the underground-comics well, this time with a bottle full of Mat Brinkman. The Fort Thunder alumnus and Regé’s fellow Highwater Books veteran has graced a 750mL bottle of Bokrijks Belgian Ale from Belgium’s Brouwerij Sterkens with a drawing entitled “Monsters,” from his current gallery show at NYC’s The Hole.

Here’s a guide to where the beer can be bought. Chug-a-lug, artcomix fans!

(via Ron Regé Jr.)

Kurt Busiek, artcomix aficionado

from Seth's pencils for the Coober Skeber 2 cover

from Seth's pencils for the Coober Skeber 2 cover

The other day we linked you to the saga of Coober Skeber 2, the Marvel-spoofing, copyright-defying anthology put together by influential alternative comics publisher Tom Devlin and a small galaxy of future alternative-comics stars in the late 1990s. Well, now it’s time for genuine superhero-comics superstar Kurt Busiek to weigh in on the book. On his blog, the Buse shares his memories of getting a copy at Comic-Con International in 1997 and digging it so much he helped get one participant hired by Marvel:

I liked the Hulk story so much that when I got home, I photocopied the story and faxed it to Tom Brevoort at Marvel (this was in those halcyon days before scanners were common), and urged him to get someone to buy it from Kochalka and have it colored and run it as a backup somewhere. It was too cool not to show to Hulk fans everywhere.

Tom wasn’t editing Hulk at the time, but he took over the book a little later, and eventually did try to buy the story. Kochalka wanted to re-do it, so Tom hired him to re-do the story, in color, and it ran in Hulk 2001, that year’s Annual.

Click the link to read the whole story — and to get a look at the full pencils for Seth’s cover, which Busiek bought. This makes me wonder: Does Astro City have a hipster enclave full of superheroes that look like Fort Thunder drawings?

‘You got superheroes in my altcomix!’ ‘You got altcomix in my superheroes!’

Coober Skeber 2 cover by Seth

Coober Skeber 2 cover by Seth

Before Strange Tales, before Bizarro, before those pages in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up that Craig Thompson drew, before the past decade’s worth of alternative comics artists taking a crack at the spandex set, there was Coober Skeber 2. Published by Tom Devlin, who would go on to launch the hugely influential (if never quite financially successful) Highwater Books imprint, this anthology’s so-called “Marvel Benefit Issue” contained a galaxy of altcomix stars both famous (that’s a Seth cover above) and obscure taking on the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe.

The book hit an unsuspecting Comic-Con International in 1997, as the ailing comics giant was cape-deep in bankruptcy. And though the “benefit” angle was dubious, since the book was handed out for free, the impact on readers who’d never seen the likes of future underground legends like Mat Brinkman or Ron Regé Jr. before, let alone working with characters like Spider-Man, was substantial.

The good folks at Comics Comics have posted the story behind the book. Here’s a snippet:

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