X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims' "X-Men '92"
The Black Beetle artist Francesco Francavilla has a blog where he shares all sorts of cool pulp-inspired artwork each Sunday, and yesterday he happened to chose to pulp-ify a certain super-team that’s been making headlines all weekend. He’s got three pieces up featuring Hulk the Druid, Captain Amerigo, Thor and Iron Man — two that he did and one by artist Steve Gordon. Go check’em out.
The pulp character has known what evil lurks in the hearts of men since the 1930s, with his adventures being chronicled over the years in radio dramas, pulp magazines, television, movies and comic books. Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and even Archie Comics, among others, have published comics starring the character, with Dynamite being the latest. So what did folks think about this latest rendition of the character? Here’s a sampling of reviews from around the ‘net:
Alex C. Lupp, The Comic Age: “Ennis and Campbell get the flavor just right, and that’s a big reason why I enjoyed this comic-book. It’s perfect to get lost in that noir image of the late 1930s. The issue starts with an overview of the atrocities committed by Japan in China during the 1930s and 40s. This is all narrated by the Shadow, and is our introduction to the character. In a few short pages the action switches to New York, and we get to see him in action as he masterfully takes down some thugs.”
Auburn Slavec, Giant Killer Squid: “Am I surprised at the amount of blood? I shouldn’t be, right? It is Garth Ennis. He’s not known for tip-toeing around death, violence and destruction. Tonally, the book just feels so much like the radio program, the adult themes throw me off. Now, art-wise, I think they nailed it. I really, really like Carlos Lopez’s colors; especially during the sequences with The Shadow. Aaron Campbell’s art, specifically his inks, are terrific. The amount of detail he is able to convey through shadows is impressive-particularly in the backgrounds. And I like his Margo. I look forward to reading more Margo.”
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly column where we successfully answer the question in the title. Our special guest this week is Janice Headley, events coordinator, publicist and “ambassador of awesome” for Fantagraphics.
To see what Janice and the Robot 6 crew have been reading this week, click the link below.
With the announcement this week that Dynamite Entertainment has acquired the rights to do comic books starring the Shadow, the New Jersey comics company has become the home for a majority of pulp heroes in comics. Although an argument could have been made that DC Comics held that title when it was publishing its now-canceled “First Wave” line, with this latest announcement the Shadow joins other proto-comic heroes like Zorro, the Phantom, Dracula, the Lone Ranger, Sherlock Holmes, Buck Rogers, the Green Hornet and others in Dynamite’s line.
While this isn’t the first time that multiple pulp icons have been under one comic publisher’s roof, it’s by far the most concentrated in some time. Although most weren’t created in comics, pulp characters have a long history bouncing around from numerous publishers over the years. The Shadow, for instance has been published by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Archie and even a newspaper strip that’s run off and on through the years — and his pulp brethren can claim similar paths over time.
The notable absences to Dynamite’s de facto pulp line are tied up — or have been until recently — by other publishers. DC’s rights to Doc Savage, the Avenger and Rima The Jungle Girl are currently unknown, while Tarzan resides at Dark Horse, and Moonstone, another pulp-inspired comics publisher, publishes stories about the Spider and the Domino Lady.
But with the potency of Dynamite’s line-up so far, it casts a potentially long shadow (no pun intended) on the comics industry and what’s possible. Imagine a pulp line firing on all cylinders, perhaps even a crossover at some point or even a Justice Society-style team-up.
Update: And today Dynamite announced they’ll be making comics starring another pulp hero, The Spider.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes, and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
The Grave Doug Freshley – A lot of publishers are doing Weird Western comics lately and that’s just fine with me.
Spera, Volume 1 – I like the sound of this fairy tale in which a couple of princesses combine efforts to save their kingdoms. It’s not that I’m anti-prince, but that’s a cool, new way to do that story.
Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island – Warren Ellis doing Steampunk sounds thrilling, but really all they had to say was “pirates.” I bet this is still really good though, even if you’re pickier than I am.
Roger Langridge’s Snarked #1 – After a well-loved zero-issue, Langridge’s version of Wonderland gets its real, official start.
When you learn how much research and realize how interested that artist Patrick Zircher is in the 1920s/1930s era of the Mystery Men, I expect you might be equally intrigued to learn more about this five-issue David Liss-written Marvel miniseries. The first issue, which was previewed by CBR late last week and goes on sale June 8, introduces readers to the first champions of the Marvel universe. As detailed in the preview: “Before Captain America, before The Twelve, there was The Aviatrix, The Operative, Achilles, The Revenant and The Surgeon! What drives these five heroes to pull on masks and take to the rooftops of Manhattan? What dark conspiracy not only brings them together, but threatens to tear the America apart?” In this email interview with Zircher, we discuss his affinity for designing a comic and characters much in the same vein as “Indiana Jones, the Rocketeer, and the Spirit”, as well as why the word “zeppelin” is cooler than “blimp” plus many other fun details. My thanks to Zircher for his time and to editor Bill Rosemann for giving Robot 6 readers a look at pages from issue 2. Once you’ve read the interview, be sure to comment on which Marvel heroes and villains (circa 1930s) you would love to see in Mystery Men.
Tim O’Shea: In terms of designing characters, how enjoyable/empowering is it to venture into relatively unexplored territory (of the 1920s and 1930s) in terms of the Marvel universe with this Mystery Men project?
Patrick Zircher: It’s been a gas. Though we approached Mystery Men as belonging to the Marvel Universe, as part of the big, big story– working in an earlier era allows for a lot of freedom. At the same time, all the possibilities for cool ties to the Marvel Universe this series opens has the comic fan in me pretty excited.
There’s something very attractive about the classic pulp heroes. As cool as superpowers can be, there’s a reason that Batman’s the most popular superhero on the planet and a huge part of that is that he’s a (relatively) normal guy. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.
What I find interesting is this entire pulp heritage that he’s heir to. We don’t have time to dig into why Batman’s more popular than Doc Savage, the Shadow, and the Spider, but it would be fascinating to pull that apart and look at it sometime. For now, let’s concentrate on the similarities. There’s this huge catalog of characters that share some extremely close similarities with the Dark Knight (many of whom predate him in creation) and yet we don’t hear much about them anymore.
Moonstone’s trying to change that with their Return of the Originals event and that makes me happy. I’m also happy about DC’s whole First Wave thing (or was until that previous post) that I’m finally going to get to read when the first collection comes out in a couple of months, but Moonstone’s effort is even wider spread. They’re reintroducing a ton of characters to comics that I’ve heard about most of my life, but until now have never read a single adventure of. One of the most intriguing is The Spider.
Exclamation point very much merited, if you ask me. That’s Tank Girl and Gorillaz co-mastermind Jamie Hewlett illustrating arguably the greatest song of the 1990s, “Common People” by Pulp — a masterpiece of withering English class-warfare derision and seamy sexuality. (Check out the awesome video if you haven’t heard/seen it.) According to PulpWiki, the comic was available only in the French single for the song and an Australian box set. What better way to celebrate the welcome news that Pulp will be reuniting for a tour in 2011 than by dipping into the glory of ages past?
Seriously, folks, a de facto Jamie Hewlett/Jarvis Cocker collabo? I can think of several entire comics over the past few years that the existence of this strip renders totally redundant.
(via Alexis Ong)
In my debut CTN column, I raved about Justice Inc., a two-part prestige format series DC put out in the late 1980s, written by Andrew Helfer and drawn by Kyle Baker. The book starred a long-forgotten pulp hero known as the Avenger. That comic was actually a spin-off of another comic Helfer and Baker were doing at the time, which was also based off of a pulp hero, although in his case he was far from forgotten. I’m talking, of course, about The Shadow.
Since it’s exactly what we talk about here at Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs (now back on Wednesdays), I figured it would be appropriate to hold off talking about C2E2’s Pulp Fiction panel until now. I thought I’d also be able to squeeze Moonstone’s panel into this post as well, but that would make it way too long, so I’ll save it for next week. The Pulp panel was moderated by Ed Catto, Licensing Agent for Captain Action Enterprises. The members of the panel were Jim Beard (Marvel.com), BC Bell (Dan Fowler: G-Man), illustrator Tom Gianni, Joe Gentile (Moonstone Books), Mike Bullock (The Phantom), and Wayne Reinagel (Pulp Heroes), with Brian Azzarello (DC’s First Wave) joining later.
Catto opened the discussion by asking why Pulp is still popular and – more specifically – why it’s currently making a strong comeback. Gianni’s response was simply that Pulp stories are fun, but Bullock added that many readers today are yearning for a simpler time when problems were more easily solved. That’s a fascinating response to me as someone who believes that healthy fantasies can be a strong deterrent to inappropriate behavior, rather than provoking it. I love the implication in Bullock’s answer that society – while working hard at becoming more peaceful – still fantasizes about solving problems with violence, possibly as a way of channeling aggression into appropriate outlets. That makes a lot of sense to me.
Catto next asked about genres, particularly which the panelists thought were the truest embodiment of Pulp. Bell noted that Gangster stories were the biggest in Pulp’s heyday, with Westerns also being very popular. Gentile offered Heroic fiction as the definitive Pulp genre and Beard added that – Doc Savage notwithstanding – street level Pulp is best. The conversation then turned to personal favorites with Air and Jungle Pulp getting mentions.
Old vs New, creating Modern Pulp, and the endurance of the genre after the break.
As expected, I didn’t spend a lot of time in the Exhibit Hall today. I decided to skip one extra-long panel in the morning rather than give up the entire day and I’m glad I did if only for the opportunity to visit with Jeremy Bastian, pick up the third issue of Cursed Pirate Girl, and meet characters from the book — including CPG herself.
Does your love of trash put Oscar the Grouch to shame? Then feast your eyes, glut your soul on the (extravagantly NSFW) Flickr account of Curt Purcell, the blogger behind equally unworksafe horror-blogosphere cornerstone The Groovy Age of Horror. Curt’s been sharing his extensive collection of pulp paperbacks and X-rated Italian horror comics for years now, and he’s recently scanned in hundreds of their covers, helpfully divided into Fumetti, Horror Paperbacks, and the aptly named Sleaze Paperbacks for your browsing pleasure. For fans of the seedy side of Eurocomics or the lurid illustration styles of yesteryear, it’s tough to top.
Also worth checking out: Curt’s series of posts on Blackest Night (with an extensive detour into the classic Levitz/Giffen Legion storyline The Great Darkness Saga). A lapsed comics reader, Curt has been drawn back in by this year’s big DC event’s horror overtones, and his outsider/insider perspective regarding the evolution of “event comics” is quite fresh and eye-opening.