Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
“Over the years, when he heard somebody liked other artists more than his work, he was really non-competitive. The thing, though, that I think a lot of people never got about Jack was that Jack wasn’t really competitive with most other comic book artists, because in his mind, they had a different job description. When John Buscema sat down to draw an issue of Fantastic Four — and, actually, nothing I’m about to say is knocking John Buscema in any way, or any of the artists I’m going to mention here — his goal was to do an issue of the Fantastic Four. When Jack sat down to do an issue of Fantastic Four, in his mind his job description was to create a new universe, three spinoffs and take comics to another level.”
Note: The original version of this post misattributed the comment. It’s been edited to correct that, and to provide a fuller quote.
Manga | Dark Horse has announced the September release of Astro Boy Omnibus Volume 1, an oversized collection featuring nearly 700 pages of Osamu Tezuka’s most popular creation, billed as the first in a series. The news follows the recent announcement of the publisher’s oversized editions of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. [Dark Horse]
Publishing | David Carter takes a hard look at Vertigo as part of his analysis of DC Comics’ December sales. He notes that most of the series are selling poorly (under — often well under — 15,000 copies) and speculates that the reason may be that creators, even those who do work for DC, are taking their creator-owned books to Image Comics. He also thinks Vertigo’s trade policy isn’t working, as releasing the trades early and pricing the first one low encourages readers to skip the monthly comics — but then there’s a high probability they will forget about a new series altogether. [The Beat]
The comics medium allows for diverse interpretations of characters, both narratively and visually. Artist Jaakko Seppälä has taken 10 of the most iconic comic characters — from Asterix to Batman to Lucy van Pelt — drawn in the style of 10 famous artists (including their respective creators or most popular illustrators).
Passings | Customers and family mourn the passing of Steve Koch, longtime owner of Comic Headquarters in St. Louis, who died Aug. 31 of a suspected heart attack. He was 55. “He knew the true value of a comic book was in the story and the art, not as it being a collectible,” said his wife Carla, whom he introduced to comics with a copy of X-Men #1. Koch’s customers praised him for running a store that was welcoming to everyone, no matter what their tastes; some have been shopping there since they were children. [Riverfront Times]
Crime | Police in Lexington, Kentucky, believe the man who robbed a local comics and hobby shop D20 Hobbies late last month is also behind three other robberies. In all cases, the robber wore a clown mask and indicated he had a weapon but didn’t show one. D20 owner James Risner was puzzled at first as to why anyone would rob a comic shop, but he speculates the thief didn’t realize his business had taken over from the previous tenant of the site, a Quick Cash store. “I guess he figured we had a lot of money,” Risner said. “Thankfully we didn’t have that much.” [Lex18.com]
“It was like trying to stop a force of nature. He was a sponge. The last time he came, he’d gotten a six-page assignment, and I went over what he’d done wrong, how he could make it better. He said, ‘You’re saying I have to draw it over again.’ I said, ‘Well, yeah.’ He said, ‘OK, but the problem is, I turned it in, and they accepted it.’ I said, ‘In that case, don’t draw it over again; I think you just started your career.’”
— Neal Adams, discussing a young Frank Miller, who repeatedly stopped by his New York City studio for critiques. It’s from Sean Howe’s Wired profile of Miller, probably the best of a handful published ahead of the premiere of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
It’s certainly the most unflinching, touching upon the effect of 9/11 on the artist and his work — “I think many people didn’t get over it, that it will continue to affect their lives forever,” Lynn Varley, his longtime colorist and former wife, says. “And I think Frank is one of those people.” — the failure of The Spirit, the response to Holy Terror, the disappearance of All Star Batman & Robin, his tirade against the Occupy movement, and speculation about his health.
With the 25th anniversary of 1989’s Batman, there’s been a resurgence of interest in the Tim Burton movie. As part of that, James at 1989Batman.com has pulled together some excellent threads examining DC Comics’ 1990 redesign of Robin, a project undertaken at the behest of filmmakers.
Out went the elfish garb of the original as DC searched for something more modern — befitting the time, and also primed to be translated into a future Batman film. To accomplish that task, DC turned to several of its top artists at the time, including Neal Adams, Norm Breyfogle, Stephen De Stefano, George Perez and Jim Aparo. DC didn’t tell the artists what it was for; simply, they were asked to redesign the Boy Wonder.
DC Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ year-long celebration of Batman’s 75th anniversary will continue in a big way later this month at Comic-Con International in San Diego, with several of the creators most associated with the character set to appear on the “Batman 75: Legends of the Dark Knight” panel on Thursday, July 24.
Notably, The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One‘s Frank Miller — in a relatively rare appearance at a comics-centric panel — will join fellow Bat-luminaries Grant Morrison, Jim Lee, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, current Batman team Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, and DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns.
On Saturday, DC will commemorate the Caped Crusader’s storied history in other media, with Batman: The Animated Series vet Paul Dini, longtime Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy, Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet co-writer Ralph Garman and more.
The two panels are something of a bisected version of the treatment DC gave Superman last summer, with a Superman 75th Anniversary panel including folks from both the worlds of comics (Morrison, Dan Jurgen) and movies/television (Henry Cavill, Tim Daly).
In 1991 Steven Spielberg directed a sequel of sorts to Peter Pan and Wendy called Hook, starring Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts. Don’t be upset if you haven’t seen it; it wasn’t that great. But a recent discovery has uncovered a hidden comics connection that makes the film a little more interesting.
Thanks to Billy Ingram, we can now see two paintings Neal Adams created for Hook that were shelved and then thrown away by the production company that commissioned them. Ingram, who worked for the company, saved the two 11-inch by 17-inch paintings in 1989 but forgot about them until earlier this year.
Retailing | Shares of Barnes & Noble rose 5.5 percent Wednesday, to $21.69, following the announcement that the bookseller plans to split into two companies, one for its retail stores and the other for Nook Media. Barron’s suggests those plans could buoy stock prices for a while, as long as the company doesn’t change its mind (again) about the split. The magazine also notes the possibility that an outsider buyer could make a bid for the retail stores before the split takes place, leaving Barnes & Noble with the Nook, which will be combined with the company’s successful college-bookstore operations. [Barron’s]
Manga | Inspired by a line of T-shirts featuring the work of the manga artist Jiraiya, Guy Trebay talks to Anne Ishii and Chip Kidd about the popularity of hard-core gay manga, such as the work of Gengoroh Tagame, in the United States. [The New York Times]
Neal Adams will appear Saturday at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles for not only a signing but also for a sneak peek at the upcoming Blood motion comic, animated by Continuity Studios (the plan is for the story, originally serialized in Dark Horse Presents, to be eventually be developed as an animated feature).
However, it doesn’t stop there: Adams also will present a discussion about the Silver Age, followed by a Q&A.
And for fans with a sweet tooth, Sweet! Hollywood will use the event to introduce its set of signature candy bars with packaging featuring Adams characters like Bucky O’Hare, Crazyman and Armor, as well as “Neal’s best illustrated paintings” (they’re $8.99 each). Sweet! Hollywood previously teamed with Meltdown for the special Hellboy chocolates, released to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1.
The lecture is scheduled for Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (the $5 tickets can be purchased here), followed by the signing.
Passings | Tom Medley, creator of the comic Stroker McGurk, which ran in Hot Rod magazine for many years, died on March 2 at the age of 93. Medley was a hot-rodder himself, which is how he got his big break: He used to post his cartoons at a local hot-rod builder, and the publisher of Hot Rod, which was just getting off the ground at the time, spotted them and hired Medley as his comics and humor editor. Medley’s son Gary said his father’s humor sometimes foreshadowed reality: “Stroker’s — or Medley’s — inspired genius came up with a host of crazy ideas that appeared impractical at first, but were later adopted by everyday car builders and racers. Multi-engine dragsters, wheelie bars, and drag chutes all sprung from Stroker’s fertile mind before they were embraced in the real world.” [AutoWeek]
Australian fashion company Black Milk Clothing has debuted a Batman collection, featuring comics-inspired apparel ranging from dresses to leggings to swimsuits. While the flashiest piece may be the Batman Cape Suit, with detachable cape, the standout items are probably those that incorporate actual comic-book art by the likes of Neal Adams, Brian Bolland, Terry Dodson and Jock.
You can check out some of the pieces below, along with a video, which gets annoying fairly quickly.
While DC Comics sacrificed some bragging rights in 2011 when it rebooted its superhero line, even the never-before-renumbered Action Comics and Detective Comics, one consequence of relaunching TEC was that it was only a matter of time — 26 months, to be exact — before the company got around to publishing a new Detective Comics #27. And that the second Detective Comics #27 would see release during the 75th year of Batman’s career, well, all the better.
The first Detective Comics #27, published in 1939, was, of course, the first appearance of Batman. The anthology’s cover was surrendered to an arresting image of a spooky man in tights, wearing a bat-mask and sporting huge bat-like wings, scooping up a gangster in a headlock while swinging in front of the yellow field above a city skyline. “Starting this issue,” the cover trumpted, “The Amazing and Unique Adventures of The Batman.” Inside, Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s pulp- and film-inspired detective hero cracked the “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” and the amazing and unique adventures begun therein have yet to cease.
DC has honored that milestone in various ways over the years, with notable celebrations including Michael Uslan and Peter Snejbjerg’s 2003 Elseworlds one-shot Batman: Detective No. 27, and 1991’s Detective Comics #627, in which the Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle and Marv Wolfman/Jim Aparo creative teams did their own takes on “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” and both the original story and a 30th-anniversary version by Mike Friedrich and Bob Brown were reprinted.
This week brings Detective Comics (Vol. 2) #27, and another opportunity to celebrate that original issue, and Batman’s 75th anniversary, which DC does in a 90-page, prestige-format special issue — essentially a trade paperback with some ads in it — featuring contributions from the writers of all four of the main Batman books of the moment and about as strong a list of contributing artists as a reader could hope for.
Following the announcement last month of their variant program, Marvel and Wizard World have unveiled Neal Adams’ cover for Miracleman #2, to be given to VIP attendees of the Feb. 7-9 Wizard World New Orleans.
As part of the arrangement, a limited-edition cover will be available at each of the 16 Wizard World Comic Con events scheduled this year, beginning Jan. 24 with Miracleman #1 at Wizard World Portland in Portland, Oregon.
Limited to 3,000 copies, the color version of Adams’ Miracleman #2 will be provided free at registration to all VIP attendees at Wizard World Comic Con; the black-and-white sketch version, limited to just 2,500, will be available for purchase at the Wizard World Store on the exhibition floor. Adams will be on hand to sign the books.
Other guests at Wizard World New Orleans include Doctor Who star Matt Smith, Stan Lee, Mike Mignola, Jim Cheung, Eric Powell, Chris Claremont, Marv Wolfman and J.G. Jones.
Marvel, whose relationship with Wizard Entertainment soured in the waning years of the magazine, has teamed with Wizard World for a series of convention-exclusive covers.
They debut next month with Neal Adams’ color and black-and-white sketch variants for Miracleman #1, available next month at Portland Comic Con, and Miracleman #2, available in February at New Orleans Comic Con. More exclusive variants will follow at each of Wizard World’s 14 other conventions across the country.