EXCL. PREVIEW: Marvel's "Darth Vader" #9 Puts the Sith Lord at a Crossroads
In these last few years, my comics spending habits have changed dramatically. I buy fewer titles from comic shops and more original art and prints directly from artists, without my annual budget changing that much. I’ll blame social media for the shift: Once upon a time, original art sales were the preserve of agencies, and you couldn’t help but wonder where your money was really going. Now savvy artists can market themselves for free using Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., and then sell their own products with minimum fuss through a number of websites, like Redbubble or Society6, or by setting up their own storefronts using BigCartel or Shopify or a similar broker.
There’s a human side to this change, too. First through blogs, and now through Twitter and Facebook, social media means you get to know artists like you couldn’t even a decade ago. Barriers are broken; they invite you into their lives, you read as they fret about the day-to-day stuff. I suppose if I followed a load of farmers on Twitter I’d probably stop eating at McDonalds, but I don’t. I follow British comic artists. Buying art from ethically sourced, free-range creators now makes more sense to me than buying factory-farmed, battery-cage comics.
I saw this crazy page from Robert Ball on his blog and had to share. Great design meets great drawing meets great gag. ROBOT 6 had the exclusive announcement of Dangeritis on New Year’s Day, and there have been regular updates at the book’s workblog ever since. The physical edition will be released soon, launching July 20 at the MCM Manchester (that’s in the United Kingdom, not New Hampshire). Ball and WJC are two of my favorite illustrators around, and Winter’s Knight and Solid State Tank Girl have both absolutely knocked my socks off this year.
I did wonder how the two artists would work together, though: They share clear influences, but then produce very different-looking styles with very different methods. The best examples from the Dangeritis blog show them managing to gel together in interesting ways, from literally splitting duties on double-page spreads …
Anticipation for the third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones continues apace among the more right-thinking sections of humanity, with less than two weeks now before its premiere. It’s a show that continues to make fans: Winter’s Knight/Dangeritis artist Robert Ball recently posted these vector portraits of some of the epic’s cast in character, and they’re great. Ball is a late convert to the show, explaining:
“I’ve been doing commissions for Wired magazine off and on, and this is the latest of those. I watched the first few episodes of Game of Thrones and found the whole thing clunky, adolescent and embarrassing. Then I got the humour and I’ve become completely obsessed with it. Can’t wait for series 3!”
Ball’s self-published Winter Knight was one of my favorite comics from last year, and had a certain superficial level of similarity with Game of Thrones anyway, being a medieval-set story with certain spooky fantasy elements creeping in at the edges.
His likenesses and expressions here are spot on: the stoicism of Arya Stark and Jon Snow, the haughtiness of the Lannisters, especially that hint of a sneer on Cersei’s lips. And if Ball’s style looks familiar to you, it’s probably because he’s the artist who came up with the much-ripped-off Fifty Baddies print.
Two gentlemen making quite a name for themselves on the U.K. small-press and indie-comics scene are Warwick Johnson Cadwell and Robert Ball. The latter’s self-published Winter’s Knight: Day One was one of my favorite comics of last year, a beautiful, lyrical piece that was equal parts Geoffrey Chaucer, John Boorman and Mike Mignola; and 2013 looks like being the year of WJC, as he works on Alan Martin’s Solid State Tank Girl, alongside the possibility of both his long-awaited Hutch Parsons and Gungle books finally appearing at Blank Slate.
The two creators are frequently to be found in each other’s company at the U.K.’s comic shows, and this friendship has resulted in Dangeritis. This is a comic, rather than a shared medical condition. In Robert’s own words:
Illustrator Christina Ung manages to fit in just about everyone on the planet going at it Gangnam Style, including The Caped Crusader. Batman is, of course, no stranger to faddish dance crazes (also by Christina – The Unreliable Superhero). More below, including work by Ron Wimberly, Ben Caldwell, Daniel Krall, Ashley Wood and many other talented human beings. Continue Reading »
Robert Ball is living the dream: by day, a Roger Sterling-style big wig in the advertising world, chain-smoking Lucky Strikes and chugging whiskey, and spending his evenings as a freelance illustrator and aspiring comic book creator. A man of distinction, who puts the appropriate research into getting the Korina neck and headstock of a vintage Flying V just right.
Over at Wired’s Underwire blog, Grant Morrison reveals that he’s putting a lot more thought into Barry Sonnenfeld’s Dinosaurs vs. Aliens than anyone really expected.