Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
As difficult as it may be to believe, this tribute to Ron Lim’s cover for Silver Surfer #20 isn’t an illustration. It’s a photograph of a model wearing body paint, applied by makeup artist Cris Alex and shot using strong light to make it appear flat. It’s only upon closer inspection, when you can make out details like eyelashes, whiskers and nails that it becomes clear the Herald of Galactus is an actual person.
It’s not often that we see superheroes enjoying some quiet time and communing with nature, most likely because that would make for some incredibly boring comic books. However, the concept leads to some lovely images, as photographer and digital artist Benoit Lapray demonstrates in his series “The Quest for the Absolute.”
Dropping costumed characters into (mostly) serene settings, Lapray creating scenes of Thor strolling in a lush forest, Spider-Man resting at the side of a winding mountain road, the Silver Surfer pondering a deep valley, Wonder Woman perching in the spray of a waterfall, and more.
Check out some of the images below, and more on Lapray’s website.
Iconic comic characters mostly rely on their looks. This isn’t as shallow as it seems, as comics are inherently a visual medium. It’s why Cable’s creation tends to be attributed to Rob Liefeld rather than Louise Simonson. The best characters have timeless looks, the kind of visual appeal that will work no matter when you’re introduced to him. It’s one of the reasons Spider-Man keeps coming back to the classic red-and-blue costume; he can have a bunch of different costumes, but there’s only one real one.
Two characters who are just as iconic in appearance are Silver Surfer and Ghost Rider. Here in California, there’s barely a beach bum out on the waves that doesn’t know the shiny silver visage of the Silver Surfer. Bikers and tough guys near and far love the Ghost Rider’s signature skull. And yet, for all their visual popularity, I’d be hard pressed to find someone who knows exactly who these characters are. Norrin Radd isn’t a household name, after all. Defining Ghost Rider’s powers gets a little tricky for the average Joe once you move past “His skull is on fire.” There’s just a lot of detail missing from the public perception of who these characters are, but they still remain popular.
Trust me, we all know what it looks like when the characters don’t work, so what do what is it that’s essential for them to make it?
WARNING: We talk vaguely about the new Silver Surfer #1 and All-New Ghost Rider #1, but nothing major is spoiled. Still, grab a copy and read along!
It’s another week, which means a new batch of Marvel series launched as part of the publisher’s “All-New Marvel NOW!” initiative showed up at my local comics shop: Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore’s All-New Ghost Rider, Ales Kott and Garry Brown’s Iron Patriot, and Dan Slott and Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer.
I read two out of the three, as those were the most visually interesting, and seemed to be part of the initiative’s guiding principals: matching striking talents with lower-tier characters for idiosyncratic takes that veer away from the “typical” Marvel comic. Also, those were the two that featured characters who haven’t had a shot at their own book for a longer while. (Sorry, Iron Patriot, it’s not you, it’s me. I’m sure there are plenty of other critics willing to review you).
Conventions | Rob Salkowitz, who wrote a book about Comic-Con International, looks forward to this weekend’s sold-out Emerald City Comicon, and explains why it represents the convention of the future: “One reason ECCC is such an ideal place to talk about the future of comics is because the show itself looks like the future of comics–at least the one that I call ‘The Expanding Multiverse.’ Supportive of creators and celebrities alike, embracing the broadest conception of styles and subjects from indie work to mainstream superheroes, self-consciously diverse and inclusive in its conception of fandom, ECCC and shows like it represent a sustainable path forward for geek culture in an age of super-saturation and sensory overload.” Salkowitz will be a participant, not just a fan: He has developed a programming track on comics and digital culture that will feature a number of people (IDW’s Ted Adams, Monkeybrain’s Alison Baker) giving short presentations, similar to the format and spirit of TED Talks. [ICv2]
Animation designer Andry Rajoelina has created an uplifting, and occasionally funny, series of prints featuring the families of superheroes. That’s “family” as in Superman Family, not as in Jonathan, Martha and Clark Kent. The first set was focused on DC, but he’s now done a second group with Marvel characters.
Some of the characters, but not all, are biologically related, and that’s part of what makes the series so heart-warming. One of the nicest, most reassuring messages of the X-Men was always that people without families could form their own. (I’ve always loved the idea of the X-Men as a family much more than the idea of them as a school.) Rajoelina’s two series highlight that. They focus on adult/child relationships (the Fantastic Four leaves out Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm, for example), but Rajoelina is able to figure out a workaround for Green Lantern, even if it’s a little sad in a humorous way.
Prints of the Justice Families series can be purchased at the Geek Art Store.
Booster Gold was introduced in 1986 as a glory-seeking time traveler eager to sign endorsement deals, and in his appearance on The CW’s Smallville wore a costume emblazoned with corporate logos, similar to a NASCAR racing suit. But what if other superheroes followed in Booster’s footsteps?
In his series “Sponsored Heroes,” Roberto Vergati Santos envisions costumed heroes from comics and films if they were getting some sweet, sweet sponsorship money from the likes of Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola (although why a cosmic entity like Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds, would need corporate cash is beyond me).
Some of the results a much better than others. You can see a sampling below, or view the entire series at Behance.
Macedonian illustrator Marko Manev has designed minimalist superhero-themed posters before (check out his Watchmen and Marvel projects on Behance), but his latest series, Superhero Noir, is quite a step up from that work. These are powerful, cinematic, renditions of classic comic book heroes. No wonder these images are showing up all over the internet right now — they’re breathtakingly good, reminding you of how dramatic (or downright majestic) these characters can be when used right. No wonder that when the Bottleneck Gallery announced they were selling prints of a couple of these designs yesterday, they sold out in minutes.
I’ve loved Jonathan Edwards‘ work since he was drawing dandies in powdered wigs for Deadline. I was even known to occasionally buy the NME just for his POP! A Complete History strips. Last week he posted these images to his blog: abstracted versions of some of Kirby and Ditko’s classic character designs for Marvel superheroes. Lovely stuff, and they speak volumes to just how durable those designs are, remaining recognizable even when rendered in a minimum of lines and blocks of color.
A page of Silver Surfer original art by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott from 1966’s Fantastic Four #55 sold last week for $155,350 in an auction of vintage comics and comic art that included the very first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sketch. According to Heritage Auctions, that price for the Page 3 half-splash marks the most ever paid for a panel page of comic art.
Held in Dallas, the auction brought in a total of nearly $5.5 million, including $113,525 for a restored copy of Detective Comics #27, featuring the first appearance of Batman, $107,500 for a near-mint copy of The Amazing Spider-Man #1, and $101,575 for Detective Comics #29, the second-ever Batman cover.
Other items included a good copy of Pep Comics #22, featuring the first appearance of Archie ($35,850), and Archie Comics #2 ($31,070).
Titled “When Strikes the Silver Surfer,” Fantastic Four #55 was the fourth appearance of the Herald of Galactus. The page, which you can see in full below, was signed by Stan Lee during a 1983 convention appearance.
As a chief architect of the Marvel Universe, Stan Lee co-created everyone from the wall-crawling Spider-Man to the rampaging Hulk to the flaming Human Torch — y’know, characters grounded in science — but he admits he finds the powers of one high-flying superhero a little “frustrating”: the Man of Steel.
Explaining his approach to creating the classic Marvel superheroes, Lee told TV Kids, “Basically, if you’ve read my stories you know I’m very scientific minded. For example, I didn’t just have Spider-Man gain a spider power miraculously, I did it as scientifically as possible — he was bitten by a radioactive spider. It could have happened to anybody. When the Hulk became the Hulk, it just didn’t happen casually — there was a gamma-ray bomb that exploded. If you ask me what a gamma ray is, I would have no idea at all, but it sounds very scientific, I think. The Fantastic Four, they gained their powers from cosmic rays, of which I know as little as I do gamma rays, but they sound impressive. At that point I ran out of rays, so when I had to do the X-Men, I took the cowardly way out, I said, well they’re just born that way, that’s all. They’re mutants. That got me off the hook there.”
After referencing Lady Gaga, the legendary writer has a little fun, insisting — with tongue firmly planted in cheek, no doubt — that, unlike so many of his characters, Superman’s flying ability doesn’t make much sense.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday 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 what we call our “Splurge” item.
If I had $15, the first pick this week would be the relaunched Dark Horse Presents #1 (Dark Horse, $7.99). As a reader of the title in all its previous incarnations, I have a love for the format but also a desire to see them improve on it; editor Mike Richardson seems to have the right mix of big names and up-and-comers to make this work. Second up would be DMZ #64 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), and this issue is the final issue in the “Free States Rising” arc and the first real sit-down between Matty and Zee in ages. Third would be Rick Remender’s covert ops squad Uncanny X-Force #8 (Marvel, $3.99). At first glance I question why I like this so much, but when I think about it, it becomes easy: I enjoy Remender’s storytelling, the artists they’ve had and the fearless nature to dig up some classic concepts from early 90s X-Men comics and general Marvel U stuff.
If I found $30 in my pocket instead of $15, I’d double back and pick up a pair of Invincibles: Invincible #79 (Image, $2.99) and Invincible Iron Man #503 (Marvel, $3.99). I really enjoy what these two teams are doing: carving out long expanding story-arcs that can only happen with long-term teams like these two have been fortunate enough to have. Third would be Jason Aaron and Daniel Acuna’s Wolverine #8 (Marvel, $3.99); although Daniel Acuna is known as a more glossy artist akin to Ed McGuinness meets Alex Ross, I think he really bucks that with the story arc he’s working on here. Lastly would be Avengers #12 (Marvel, $3.99) -– it really blows my mind that Bendis and Romita can do such a throw-back classic Avengers story and still keep the high sales going. I’m not complaining -– I love these stories as much as I love Avengers comics of lore, but they never sold this well.
The third and final issue of Marvel’s Strange Tales II arrives in shops Dec. 8, and will feature stories by James Stokoe, Michael DeForge, Toby Cypress, Harvey Pekar and Ty Templeton, Nick Gurewitch with Kate Beaton, Eduardo Medeiros and Benjamin Marra, among others.
And thanks to our friends over at Marvel, we’re pleased to present two preview pages from the anthology today, featuring Stokoe’s Silver Surfer tale (who we alreayd know draws a jaw-dropping awesome Galactus), and DeForge’s Spider-Man, Jubilee and Iceman.
Check’em out after the jump.
Courtesy of BOOM! Studios, here’s the special Midtown Comics variant cover art for Stan Lee’s Soldier Zero #1, which came out this week. The cover, by Paul Rivoche, recalls an earlier Stan Lee comic:
Stand Up To Cancer, a charity that raises money for and promotes cancer research, has several auctions going right now that might be of interest to comic fans … not the least of which is the above life-size Silver Surfer statue.
“One of only 400 pieces world-wide, the statue incredibly depicts the ‘Sentinel of the Space-ways’ featuring the Silver Surfer on his legendary surfboard and striking a classic pose. The statue measures almost 8ft (7ft x 11) and weighs approximately 250 lbs. The Silver Surfer himself is in excellent condition, but minor wear appears on the surfboard and back drop,” the description reads.
In addition, they’re also auctioning off a walk-on role in the new Spider-Man film, tickets to see the Spider-Man Broadway show (and meet Bono and the Edge from U2), the chance to be immortalized in a DC comic and a visit to the set of the next Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn. That last one is up over $40,000.
The auctions end tomorrow, when a few new ones will go up … including tickets to the season premiere party of the Simpsons. You can find all the auctions here.