Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Last month when writer Grant Morrison hyped Nameless, his newest Image Comics collaboration with artist Chris Burnham, by name-dropping concepts such as “nihilistic philosophy,” I found myself thinking “Christ on a crutch, that sounds dreadful.” Years ago I made my peace with how to appreciate Morrison. I do not dislike Morrison–I count his Animal Man and Doom Patrol runs among among my top 10 favorite comics series that I have read.
The marquee installment of The Multiversity may have been last month’s Pax Americana, but I was especially excited to see what writer Grant Morrison and artist Cameron Stewart (with colorist Nathan Fairbairn) would do with the Captain Marvel Family in this week’s Thunderworld. I was not disappointed. The Marvels have long been a sort of unicorn for DC’s superhero line, personifying both its potential and its abuse, and even its history (acquired as they were after the demise of Fawcett Comics). However, many modern takes on Cap and company often elicit negative comparisons to the character’s previous treatment. These boil down to some form of “why can’t it be like the old days?” (which, after all, is a common enough DC complaint).
I first became aware of colorist Steve Downer due to his work on MonkeyBrain Comics’ Edison Rex. But as I quickly learned, he serves as colorist on a variety of projects, as well as artist on Dracula the Unconquered. Given the variety of Downer’s projects, I thought it would be insightful to discuss his craft with him.
Tim O’Shea: How long have you been a colorist?
Steve Downer: I’ve been working full-time as a colorist since 2009, though I started coloring as a side job much earlier, in 2007, while I worked as a T-shirt graphic designer.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at all the comics and other stuff we’ve been checking out lately. Today our special guest is Chris Sims, senior writer for ComicsAlliance, blogger at Chris’s Invincible Super Blog and writer of comics like Dracula the Unconquered and Awesome Hospital.
To see what Chris and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
To think there are people in the present-day comic book industry that fail to respect colorists is hard to believe. Yet, as we noted late last month, colorist Jordie Bellaire wrote about her work being minimalized when an unnamed convention refused to name colorists as guests. The post resulted in an impromptu #ColoristAppreciationDay on Twitter as well as a larger conversation about the important value of colorists.
In the wake of that discussion, I chatted with Bellaire about the post, as well as her work as a whole. The timing turned out well, as despite her busy schedule, she was able to do an interview. It seems as if every week there’s a new comic released that features her as colorist. This week it’s Captain Marvel #10, while next it’s the debut of The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror miniseries written by Roger Langridge with Bellaire coloring artist J. Bone. Bellaire saves the best for last in our Q&A, revealing that she hopes to get back to illustrating — and that she has dabbled in writing.
Tim O’Shea: In all of the reactions from your initial Tumblr post in praise of colorists, what pleased or surprised you the most?
Jordie Bellaire: The response itself was extremely surprising! I didn’t expect anything to really come of my angry little blog post. I try to keep my “internet persona” pretty humorous and silly. I don’t really get “for realsies” worked up over anything online (unless it’s something Star Wars-related). When I posted this at 7 a.m. on hardly any sleep (I was in a tough deadline week, of course), I expected maybe three people to see it and those would have been just friends. Somehow, though, the letter spread fast. I was just thrilled. Given, keeping up with the response during the day totally killed my productivity, I was too busy watching the internet explode in the name of colorists.
This week saw the return of Batman Incorporated, a series that was cut short when DC Comics launched the New 52 initiative but was allowed to wrap up its plotlines in the Leviathan Strikes one-shot–effectively becoming our last view into the previous DC continuity. Or was it? Batman survived the rebirth of the universe fairly intact, and now with the relaunch of Batman Incorporated by Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham and Nathan Fairbairn, we get a glimpse at some of the dangling plotlines from that series–as well as some great new moments, like the introduction of Bat Cow.
How did folks feel about the relaunch? Here’s a round-up of just a few reactions from around the web:
David Pepose, Newsarama: “While Scott Snyder might bring the grit back to the Dark Knight, Grant Morrison is all about bringing back the flash. Six months after the last installment of Batman Incorporated, Morrison and artist Chris Burnham show that they’ve still got it, bringing action, mystery and suspense to this dark, pop-infused take on Gotham City.”
Bobby Shortle, Talking Comics: “I’m going to put this out on front street, Batman Incorporated #1 is a horrible ‘first issue’ of a comic book. I’m not saying it’s a bad book, because in fact it has several fantastic moments, but as an inaugural outing it does more to confuse than to welcome in new readers. Perhaps constant readers of the franchise will decry this review because they are perfectly happy to not have to sit through an expositional recount of events they have all ready consumed, but to them I say, ‘I think you are missing the point.'”
Fresh off the Emerald City Comicon floor is news that Bryan Lee O’Malley is delving back into the world of Scott Pilgrim . Oni Press will release full-color hardcover editions of the six-volume series. Speaking from the “On the Not So Late Late Show with Oni Press” panel earlier tonight, O’Malley said the coloring will be done by Nathan Fairbairn (Batman Inc., Swamp Thing) and will be published in a 6″ x 9″ “ultra swank” format.
This isn’t the first time Scott Pilgrim has appeared in color. In addition to a rare Free Comic Book Day one-shot put out years before, several pages from the final volume of the series, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, were published in color. Oni has used several colorists over the years to color O’Malley’s SP work, but the choice of Fairbairn looks to live up to the “ultra swank” promise said at the panel.
In addition to the new size and coloring, each volume will include previous unpublished bonus materials. Oni plans to release the first hardcover in August. The publisher is careful to note that the original black and white versions will remain in print as well.
Here’s several preview pages Oni has released along with the announcement: