Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about comics and other stuff we’ve been checking out lately. Today we welcome special guest Joshua Williamson, writer of Masks and Mobsters, Captain Midnight (which has been running in Dark Horse Presents), Uncharted, Voodoo and much more.
To see what Joshua and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
In a heartfelt message, longtime writer and inker Karl Kesel thanked those who helped him to buy back part of the comics collection he sold to pay adoption and medical expenses for his infant son, saying, “there are a lot of great people out there, all willing to go above and beyond. But I never saw this one coming.”
As Comic Book Resources reported in early August, Karl and his wife Myrna adopted baby Isaac, the child of a heroin user who began life battling methadone withdrawal. Facing $67,000 in medical bills, in addition to the $25,000 for the adoption itself, and uncertain of how much would be covered by Myrna’s health insurance, Karl did about the only thing he could: He decided to sell the Silver Age Marvel collection he’d amassed over four decades.
It’s impossible not to be moved by the story of longtime comics writer and inker Karl Kesel and his wife Myrna, who less than four months ago adopted baby Isaac, the child of a heroin user who began life battling methadone withdrawal. Facing $67,000 in medical bills, in addition to the $25,000 for the adoption itself, and uncertain of how much would be covered by Myrna’s health insurance, Karl decided to sell the Silver Age Marvel collection he’d amassed over four decades.
Reading about the Kesels’ situation, a Reddit member named Razorsheldon rallied the troops to help the family while simultaneously attempting to save Karl’s comics. “Why not start a fundraising campaign to buy as many of his comics as we could so we could give them right back to him?” he wrote earlier this week. “I have no lofty expectations for this endeavor, but I thought even purchasing one comic would send the right message that there are people out there that are grateful that people like Karl and his wife Myrna exist to make this world a better place.”
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
With my first $15 I’d get the following: The Massive #1 (Dark Horse, $3.50), X-Men #30 (Marvel, $3.99), Spider-Men #1 (Marvel, $3.99), and Saucer Country #4 (Vertigo, $2.99). That leaves me roughly 50 cents out of my budget. I dunno if it was planned this way or not, but two of Brian Wood’s latest projects, The Massive and his run on the X-Men (of the un-Ultimate variety), kick off this week. We also have the debut of Spider-Men, the crossover that features Peter Parker of the 616 Marvel U meeting up with Miles Morales from the Ultimate-verse. I’ve enjoyed the Miles Morales/Ultimate Spider-Man stories this far, which is the reason I’m getting it. Finally, Saucer Country is the best of the new Vertigo titles, featuring clever writing by Paul Cornell and great art by Ryan Kelly.
Add another $15 and I’d also get Captain America #13 (Marvel, $3.99), Uncanny X-Force #26 (Marvel, $3.99), Resurrection Man #10 (DC Comics, $2.99), and Frankenstein: Agent of Shade #10 (DC Comics, $2.99). Again, with some change left over for a candy bar or whatever. I laughed out loud at the big reveal at the end of the last issue of Captain America, as we learned who the new guy was behind the Scourge mask. I assume this is a What If? comic, along the lines of “What if (name redacted for spoiler reasons) wasn’t lame?” So I have to see this through. I mentioned this weekend on What Are You Reading? that I’d downloaded a whole bunch of the current run of Uncanny X-Force for 99 cents from comiXology, and since then I’ve completely caught up on the book, so I’ll definitley be getting the current issue. Add to that one of the final times I’ll get to see Abnett and Lanning’s Resurrection Man comic (sniff … well, it was probably a longshot anyway, based on how well his last comic did) and the debut of Matt Kindt on Frankenstein, and that rounds out my week of comics.
I don’t really have anything on my splurge radar this week, so maybe I’ll just hold onto the cash and save it for next time.
With the Team Cul de Sac benefit art book set for release on June 5, Heritage has begun auctioning off original art from the project to, like the book, raise funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Like Fox, Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
Up for auction are pieces by Karl Kesel (above), Sergio Aragones, Bill Watterson, Gary Trudeau, Pat Oliphant, Evan Dorkin, Bill Amend, Roger Langridge, David Malki, Mort Walker and many more. The auctions started on Monday and will run for two weeks.
With the passage of time, pundits/critics frequently reflect upon past era creators (be it Golden, Silver or Bronze Age), quite often finding a newfound appreciation for certain folks. Sometimes I wonder why we have to wait for a creator to be no longer active in order to garner increased respect. For example, artist/inker/writer Karl Kesel is a creator, who while he has definitely received critical praise over his long career (dating back to 1984), I think his body of work warrants even more attention and praise. I was thrilled when I found out that Kesel relaunched Section Zero (his Gorilla Comics 2000 project with artist Tom Grummett that ended after three issues) as a webcomic at Mad Genius Comics. The news got even better with the revelation that Kesel and Grummett intend to develop new Section Zero content. I am a longtime fan of Kesel’s work–particularly his mid-1990s run on Daredevil #353-364 and Fantastic Four #56 (the latter of which we also discuss). My thanks to Kesel’s Periscope Studio studiomate, Jeff Parker, for putting me in contact with Kesel.
Tim O’Shea: How and when did you finally decide to resurrect Section Zero–and as a webcomic?
Karl Kesel: I’ve wanted to do a web comic for some time. The tipping point was when my wife and I decided to adopt a baby (we’re still waiting to get one!) and I knew I wanted some sort of legacy to leave my kid. I put together Mad Genius Comics, and hired the talented David Hahn to pencil a Johnny Zombie story. As that was posting, I thought: what next? I had a ton of ideas, but the one I kept coming back to was Section Zero. Tom Grummett and I had started it in 2000 through Gorilla/Image comics, and due to my getting divorced, it had been put on indefinite hold. It was Unfinished Business, and I thought the time was right to finish it.
Karl Kesel, the Eisner Award-winning inker who also has written comics like Fantastic Four and Harley Quinn, teamed up with Tom Grummett more than 10 years ago to create a six-issue miniseries called Section Zero for the short-lived Gorilla Comics imprint. Although the imprint wasn’t around long, several of the books, like Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s Empire and Todd Dezago and Mike Wieringo’s Tellos, found life after Gorilla.
Section Zero, however, wasn’t finished and hasn’t been seen since–or at least not until this week. Kesel, who has a webcomics site called Mad Genius Comics, has started posting pages from the comic. Kesel and Grummett plan to finish the story, as he details in a post on the site:
So here’s what we’re gonna do: Tom and I are working on new Section Zero material now, squeezing it in around our day jobs. At the same time we’ll be posting all the previously published storyline— starting with today’s 5-Page Prologue, followed by 3 pages every Thursday. By the time all that’s posted, we’ll have a ton of new stuff ready. If you haven’t read these comics before, this is your chance. If you’ve already read them you’ll still want to check in because A) Richard Starkings, First Tiger at Comicraft, has insanely and wonderfully insisted on “freshening” the lettering for the book, so the pages have a slightly different look to them, and B) since re-lettering was being done anyway, I’m tweaking the script here and there. The changes aren’t major, just important. For instance: the Prologue originally ended with Kyoti musing about the upcoming 2000 US Presidential election. Considering how that election played out, I really wanted to make his comment a bit more pointed. Things like that.
I read the original miniseries and I think I even have a copy of the first issue signed by Grummett; it’s been awhile, but I remember it was a fun series. So it’ll be nice to get to see the conclusion.
Colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser‘s work can be seen in any number of Marvel comics these days. In fact this week sees the release of writer David Lapham and artist David Aja’s Wolverine: Debt of Death one-shot, featuring Breitweiser as colorist (Be sure to enjoy CBR’s preview of the one-shot). Regular readers of What Are You Reading? know how much of an unabashed Jeff Parker/Gabriel Hardman’s Hulk booster that I am–and it is that series where I really started to appreciate Breitweiser as a colorist. This email interview was an effort to discuss her work mostly in general terms, so admittedly I did not discuss the Wolverine one-shot, but focus on some of her ongoing series work. My thanks to Breitweiser (who can also be found on Twitter) for taking the time for this discussion, despite her continually heavy workload. I am also deeply appreciative, that when our conversation led to her discussion of recent specific work, she was kind enough to provide examples of the pages for us to use.
Tim O’Shea: What are the biggest misconceptions in terms of the demands with your job as a colorist?
Breitweiser: Probably just in people not taking my job seriously or not viewing it as a fulfilling way to make a living. Many tend to think of what I do as “easy”. Coloring to them is just an afterthought and not seen as an essential part of the storytelling. I’m pretty sure most of my family and friends still do not understand what it is I do and how I can make a successful living at it. Professional colorists in general seem to almost always be overworked and overstressed. A lot of it has to do with us being at the end of the production line, but it also has to do with people having unrealistic expectations due to an incomprehension of the effort it takes to successfully tell a story with color.
Happy Sunday and Happy Fourth of July, as we once again delve into what the Robot 6 crew are reading this week. Joining us as our special guest this week is Jeff Lemire, creator of Sweet Tooth, The Nobody, The Essex County Trilogy and Lost Dogs, and the writer of the Atom strip in Adventure Comics and the upcoming Superboy series.
To see what Jeff and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below …
The news and announcements flowed freely on the first day of the brand new C2E2 convention, as well as at the Diamond retailer’s summit on Thursday. Here’s a quick summary, in case you missed anything …
- At the Diamond retailer’s summit, Diamond polled retailers on the possibility of moving from a Wednesday to a Tuesday ship date for comics. This would put them in line with DVDs, music and books.
- Marvel kicked off the con with a lot of announcements, not the least of which was two different Captain America mini-series. First up, Steve Rogers jumps into action in Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier, a four-issue miniseries by Ed Brubaker and artist Dale Eaglesham that kicks off in July. Eaglesham will no longer be drawing Fantastic Four as a result.
- That same month brings Captain America: Patriot, by Karl Kesel and Mitch Breitweiser. The four-issue series stars Jeff Mace, the former Patriot who took on the uniform while Rogers was frozen in a block of ice.
- Marvel also discussed the long-talked about Shadowland, a five-issue series by Andy Diggle and Billy Tan during their Mondo Marvel panel and their retailer presentation on Thursday. “You’re going to see a ton of heroes from Spider-Man and Wolverine to Luke Cage…some are fighting to keep New York safe, and some are fighting to keep it unsafe due to Daredevil’s takeover of the ninja organization The Hand,” said Editor Steve Wacker.
Remember the 1940s Captain America newspaper strip? No? That’s probably because there wasn’t one, until now. ComicsAlliance has the details on a faux long-lost Captain America comic strip that Karl Kesel will write and illustrate.
“Bringing together a blast from the past (newly discovered strips from the ’40s) and the cutting edge future (Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited) is a match made in company synergistic heaven,” said editor Bill Rosemann, who described the book as “shield-slinging star-spangled Captain America joining his loyal, wise-cracking sidekick Bucky for a daily jolt of awesome action, daring drama, femme fatales, rampaging robots and no-good Nazis!”
Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited will post a new “Captain America” strip every day for three months, for a total of 85 comics including special Sunday-sized editions.
This sounds really awesome; hopefully they’ll be collected into print soon after. Head over to ComicsAlliance to see Laura Hudson’s interview with Kesel.
Over on his blog, writer Kurt Busiek shares some artwork from a pitch that once upon a time he and Karl Kesel submitted to Marvel called Avengers H.I.T. Squad. The “Heroes in Training” team would have featured Hawkeye teaching a group of former villains to be Avengers.
For a brief time, wasn’t Rhino a good guy in the pages of Silver Sable? I wonder if Busiek and Kesel included him because of that, or if they had the idea first.