X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims' "X-Men '92"
Retailing | The manager of Dragon’s Lair Comics & Games in Omaha, Nebraska, estimates 50 to 60 percent of their inventory was ruined by smoke and water after a fire broke out Sunday in the building that’s housed the store’s main location since 1976. Employees have been sorting through tens of thousands of comics to determine what can be salvaged while directing customers to the Dragon’s Lair store in the city’s Millard neighborhood. The hope is to use a store room next to the damaged building to begin offering limited services to customers — pull lists and special orders — as the retailer plans for what comes next. “We have every intention of reopening, here or elsewhere,” manager Craig Patterson said. “More than likely it will be elsewhere. And hopefully bigger and better than before.” [World-Herald]
We’ve featured street art by the collective EndoftheLine before (this post from July 2012 included murals in the styles of French maestros Moebius and McBess), but it’s recently posted images of some impressive new projects, again making it abundantly clear how much the group is influenced by comics.
Last week EndoftheLine unveiled a piece in London’s Hoxton district celebrating 30 years of 2000AD‘s “Slaine” with this spot-on tribute to the work of Simon Bisley, painted by founder Jim Vision.
I love the word “gestation.” All those different hard and soft sounds to roll around your mouth; affricates, fricatives, sibilants, glottal stops, all there in one meaning-pregnant (in all senses) word. There’s a standard table of units critics use for the gestation period of a work of art. Did it take as long to complete as the average Scott Walker LP? Or, for something a little bit longer, it’s a James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake.
This movie took two years to complete, which is quite a modest timescale by my increasingly geological sense of chronology, although it’s just a record of one man completing one painting. That said, that one man is Simon Bisley, and that one painting is a mural-sized image of The Joker, so the resultant combination is indeed worthy of epic status (the running time for the movie stretches to about 10 minutes short of two hours, with the action alternating between real-time and time-lapse sequences).
Whether due to use-it-or-lose-it legal concerns about trademarks, or simply to remind everyone of exactly what it owns, DC Comics has come up with a variety of ways to recycle old titles, ranging from the 1997 Tangent event to the anthologies Mystery in Space and Ghosts to the short-lived National Comics revival.
This week the company brought back Young Romance, the title of the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby-created comic that was published from 1947 to 1975, as a Valentine’s Day special featuring a half-dozen stories of romance in the New 52 DC Universe.
An interesting mix of creators are involved, an interesting enough mix to merit a look at what they might do with some of these characters and couples in eight pages. So join me for mini-reviews of every story in Young Romance: The New 52 Valentine’s Day Special.
“I don’t know if it’d be the same thing. I mean, of course I would do it, but I don’t know if it’d be the same thing. It’d feel strange, indeed, doing Constantine in that world. It’d feel surreal. All the guts would have to come out of him. It’d be amusing to see him wind up with all these superheroes while he’s all gnarly and scarred and carrying around a bottle of whiskey. If he was darker and practicing magic on his own, that could work, but a cleaned-up version wouldn’t work. He’s not Doctor Strange, is he? He has to be the mysterious Englishmen on the corner by himself, having a drink muttering to himself. A guy who has to sober up and get his shit together. A misfit among misfits. I’m very interested to see how they portray him, very interested.”
– longtime Hellblazer cover artist Simon Bisley, when asked by Comic Book Resources whether he’d consider working on the new DC Universe series Constantine
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week we’re joined by music video director and comic book writer Alex de Campi, whose works include Smoke, Kat & Mouse, Valentine and the in-production Ashes.
To see at Alex and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
As our Caleb has already pointed out, Legendary’s Tower Chronicles: GeistHawk is a comic that’s a lot better than the warning signs may have previously indicated. One of its real treats is seeing the mature style Simon Bisley has been developing for a few years (since The Dead: Kingdom Of Flies for UK indie Berserker, really) getting a decent-lengthed showcase. Anyone with lingering misconceptions of Bisley’s work being the mutant offspring of Frank Frazetta and Bill Sienkiewicz is in for a surprise. It’s still unmistakeably Bisley, but the finished art will be just as likely to remind you of Kevin O’Neill or Enki Bilal. Dedicated fansite The Art Of Simon Bisley has a gallery of over 20 pages of pencils from the project, alongside two publicity images/splashes that are both more appealing than Jim Lee’s very generic-looking final cover.
Legendary Comics, the relatively new publishing arm of film production company Legendary Pictures, had about as audacious a debut as was possible last fall, with its first offering being Frank Miller’s too-controversial-for-DC Batman vs. Al Qaeda comic Holy Terror, the Legendary version scrubbed of DC trademarks just enough that it could be published without risk of a lawsuit.
The company’s latest offering isn’t quite as controversial … nor is it quite as noteworthy. It is, however, the comics project one might expect from film production company: a sort of focus group-testing, balloon-floating introduction to a character and concept that could potentially be adapted into a major motion picture, something I can’t imagine anyone seriously considered doing with Miller’s beautifully told, politically wacky comic about an off-brand Batman and Catwoman fighting terrorists.
If the very thought of a comic book series as film R&D turns you off (believe me, I understand!), then it’s worth noting that this latest project is edited, like Holy Terror was, by Bob Schreck and created by as solid, experienced and talented a creative team as a comics fan could ask for. It’s written by Matt Wagner (yes, Grendel, Mage and Sandman Mystery Theatre‘s Matt Wagner) and penciled by Simon Bisley (the painter whose interior work you’ve seen in Slaine and Batman/Judge Dredd), here being inked and colored by Rodney Ramos and Ryan Brown.
Still not sold on The Tower Chronicles: GeistHawk Volume 1 …? Look, I don’t blame you.
Dredd 3D launches in UK cinemas this weekend, to almost universally positive reviews in British mainstream media outlets. Even the lowest scoring review I could find fails to say anything truly negative to say about the film. The press ads feature glowing quotes from non-genre sources as the canny marketing campaign works to court a populist audience, building upon the approving word-of-mouth from the geek world which has been building steadily since SDCC. The UK’s top-selling daily, The Sun, today led its weekly movie review spread with one of the most favorable reviews yet, in a source which often primes the average British consumer on how it’ll spend its entertainment budget over the weekend. The Sun may often be derided by its critics, but the power it wields should not be under-estimated. Its approval alone may go a long way to ensuring that Dredd is a hit at British cinemas.
Simon Bisley’s return to 2000AD after 22 years absence comes in the form of the cover to the upcoming Prog 1800. It’s already dividing opinion. I’ve never blamed Bisley for the worst excesses of his copyists, and this image has its high points — the Judge Death and Mean Machine figures, drawn in Bisley’s mature style, are particularly good — but it is hard to see past the great big unnecessary arse in the middle of this composition (via Comics Alliance).
Much more below, including the Beatles, Shaky Kane, Brendan McCarthy, Jamie Hewlett and Duncan Fegredo.
Plenty of comic art blogs getting interesting updates recently. The Art of Simon Bisley fansite has a gallery of covers and concept work from Lost Angeles, recently announced by IDW Publishing as migrating there from Heavy Metal. This series will feature Kevin Eastman’s long-overdue return to drawing longform comics.
• Eric Canete has been posting loads of recently commissioned sketches on his blog since Friday, and a lot of them have been a tad NSFW, so let’s insert a break here.
Steve Cook, U.K comics designer/colorist/renaissance man, has a new iteration of his “Secret Origins” photo exhibition running at the Renoir Cinema. from July 20 to Aug. 17. You can see some more examples of the work below, and many more on his website.
The exhibition is craftily timed to coincide with the release of some movie about Batman, apparently. I remember seeing Bisley in his pomp at UKCAC 1988, when he looked just like the above image — biker boots, leather trousers, leather jacket. He looked pretty much exactly like Joe Pineapples of the ABC Warriors, the strip he’d just recently made his reputation on.
Creators’ rights | Gerry Giovinco points out that the mega-studio that is Walt Disney got its start because Walt signed a bad contract and lost the rights to his creation Oswald the Rabbit. Giovinco calls on Disney, as the parent company of Marvel, to acknowledge and perhaps actually compensate the creators of the products it is marketing: “I can’t believe that a company as wealthy Disney cannot find a way to see the value of the good will that would be generated by establishing some sort of compensation or, at the very least, acknowledgement to the efforts put forth by these creators.” [CO2 Comics Blog]
Digital comics | John Rogers discusses working with Mark Waid on his Thrillbent digital comics initiative. “There are people who are selling enough books to make a living on Amazon, whom you’ve never heard of. Because Amazon made digital delivery cheap and easy. That is what you must do with comics. It’s not hard. The music business already solved this problem. Amazon already solved this problem. It’s not like we’re trying to build a rocketship to the moon out of cardboard boxes. Webcomics guys — and this is kind of the great heresy — solved this problem like ten years ago, using digital distribution then doing print collections and also doing advertising and stuff.” [ComicBook.com]
Publishers, creators, retailers and fans rolled into Chicago this weekend for the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, or C2E2. While the convention officially kicked off Friday, the announcements started rolling out Thursday during the Diamond Retailer Summit. After going through Kiel Phegley’s lengthy report on CBR, I’ve pulled out a few tidbits that publishers shared with attending retailers:
• Dynamite Entertainment shared that the first issue of Garth Ennis and Aaron Campbell’s The Shadow, which comes out next week, will likely go to second print. Following their Vampirella and Pantha projects, they also plan to roll out more of the former Harris Publications characters they now own, and they said they plan to work again with Kevin Smith in the future, who they’ve worked with on Bionic Man and Green Hornet.
• Dark Horse Comics announced two Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff miniseries; one featuring Spike and one featuring Willow (Editor Scott Allie spoke more about them with CBR). In addition, legendary artist Russ Heath will draw some pages in an upcoming issue of Buffy. Dark Horse will launch a new Dragon Age series in August, following the online miniseries that’s been running on Dark Horse Digital. They also confirmed that Becky Cloonan will return to Conan after James Harren’s three issues, and they announced Ex Sanguine, a five-issue miniseries by Tim Seeley and Josh Emmons. Finally, The Goon will go monthly with issue #40.
Felipe Smith is unique in the manga world: He is an American manga artist working — and being published — in Japan. His three-volume series Peepo Choo was serialized in Kodansha’s Morning Two magazine and then was licensed by Vertical for English-language release. Smith was born in Akron, Ohio, raised in Argentina, attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and was living in Los Angeles when he drew his first graphic novel MBQ for Tokyopop, so he is truly a man of the world. He is between projects at the moment, but he implied that he has several pitches with different editors, and I’m quite sure we have not heard the last of him.
Smith was one of the invited guests at MangaNEXT, where I interviewed him in company with another journalist, although “interview” is an overstatement — it was more like taking dictation, with the occasional question thrown in as a prompt. So I’ll dispense with the questions, which were little more than starting points, and just let Felipe do the talking.