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Al Plastino’s Superman artwork on display at Kennedy library

plastino-supermans missionAl Plastino’s original artwork for the 1964 story “Superman’s Mission For President Kennedy” is at last on display at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, where the late artist thought it had been for the past five decades.

“We are just thrilled that these came home to where they belong,” his daughter MaryAnn Plastino Charles, who traveled from Alabama to Boston to see the art, told The Associated Press. “This has been a long time coming. My father thought for so many years that it was here.”

A prolific Golden Age artist who passed away Nov. 25 at age 91, Plastino was surprised to discover at New York Comic Con a month earlier that the pages hadn’t been given five decades earlier to the library, as he’d been led to believe, but were instead set to be sold at auction by a private owner on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Plastino spent the last weeks of his life campaigning for the return of the artwork, leading Heritage Auctions to put the sale on hold until questions about ownership could be resolved; in December, DC Comics purchased the art for donation to the library.

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Comics A.M. | Author, ‘Vermillion’ writer Lucius Shepard dies

Lucius Shepard

Lucius Shepard

Passings | Award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Lucius Shepard, whose work included Life During Wartime and The Jaguar Hunter, passed away March 18. He was 66. Shepard ventured into comics writing on a few occasions, with the series Vermillion, part of DC Comics’ short-lived Helix imprint, and with contributions to Vertigo anthologies Gangland and Flinch. [Tor.com, BoingBoing]

Creators | American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque talks about the upcoming “Second Cycle” of the Vertigo series, which returns after a hiatus of more than a year. [Hero Complex]

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Grumpy Old Fan | ‘People’ get ready for DC in June

"Dad, can we get this now?"

“Dad, can we get this now? … How about now?”

Aw yeah! In my household, the best news from DC’s June solicitations is the six-issue Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse miniseries. I showed the cover to my 5-year-old and she was crestfallen to learn it didn’t come out for another three months. At least she can fill the time reading the other paperbacks (and Superman Family Adventures) and watching Frozen on an endless loop.

I may also have to get the Li’l Gotham figures, although at $13 a pop they are pretty pricey. Perhaps just Batman and Robin.

Oh, there’s more? What could it be …?

LET’S GO PLACES

The solicitation for Futures End #6 — advertising Ray Palmer, Frankenstein and Amethyst’s trip into the Phantom Zone — makes me irrationally optimistic about the series generally. I think the New 52 needs this series (or something like it) to present a coherent shared universe, because for the past two and a half years it’s been a clash of disparate styles and an array of changes without much to pull it all together. If Futures End can manage a good-sized, eclectic cast, and convince readers they’re all able to function in the same basic environment, that’ll go a long way towards giving the superhero books common ground.

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Superman takes us on a soaring GoPro journey in terrific fan film

corridor-superman

If as a kid you ever dreamed of viewing the world from Superman’s perspective, you finally have your chance: The good folks at Corridor Digital have created a video in which the Man of Steel finds a GoPro and straps it to his head, recording the journey as he returns the camera to its owner.

It’s a fun piece that not only provides a nice tour over, and through, Southern California, but shows off the talent of Corridor Digital, which has produced some other YouTube videos you may have seen. There’s also a lengthy look behind the scenes at the making of “Superman With a GoPro.” Watch them both below.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Checking up on Earth-August

Now I want to see the New 52 Congorilla

Now I want to see the New 52 Congorilla

Although the five-years-later setup of Futures End won’t be here until May, it got me thinking about a not-so-new New 52. The current comics take place some five years after Superman and company debuted — plus, apparently, a year for the face-free Joker to recuperate — so if you add five more years, it’s like double the amount of history! Well, double the amount of history that “matters,” I guess.

As I have been pretty critical of the present timeline, I’ll be curious to see how Futures End treats those additional five years. I suspect that, for the most part, they’ll be five years of “filler,” in the sense that mostly bad, Futures End-specific things happened during that time to bring DC-Earth to whatever sorry state we see in FE #1. I’ve heard that when all the New 52 books jump ahead five years (in September, naturally), they’ll reflect where their creative teams would like to take the characters in five years — but those will only be single issues, as opposed to the year-long weekly installments of Futures End. Besides, my bitter, resentful impulses remind me that it might well have been simpler just to start off with a 10-year timeline that would only have tweaked the old pre-relaunch status quo, not thrown out huge chunks of it.

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Sean Murphy cover takes us back to ‘Reign of the Supermen’

sean-murphy-reign-cropped

I had taken a break from comics during the whole “Death of Superman”/”Reign of the Supermen” era, yet I’m a little excited by this mysterious cover unveiled today by Sean Murphy (The Wake, Punk Rock Jesus). Even those readers who weren’t around for the early-’90s storyline will undoubtedly recognize the Man of Steel/John Henry Irons/Steel, the Man of Tomorrow/Cyborg Superman, the Last Son of Krypton/Eradicator and the Metropolis Kid/Superboy, who arrived in Metropolis claiming to be Superman.

Murphy says he doesn’t know what the cover is for, but it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s part of DC Comics’ “Superman: Doomed” crossover, depicting the first major conflict in the New 52 between the Man of Steel and Doomsday, who was responsible for “The Death of Superman” 22 years ago.

Update: As a helpful commenter below points out, PreviewsWorld states Murphy’s cover is the 75th anniversary variant for Superman Unchained #6, due out on March 19.

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Steve Rude reveals ‘Adventures of Superman’ cover, backstory

rude-adventures1 Steve Rude has debuted the painted cover for his upcoming collaboration with Jerry Ordway on DC Comics’ digital-first Adventures of Superman — a 10-page story featuring none other than OMAC.

In his fan newsletter, the veteran article explained that his editor offered him several scripts, “but it wasn’t until we settled on something specifically catered to ‘The Dude Mentality’ — with characters most memorable to the 60′s and 70′s –  that things finally clicked. And what would fit the Dude mentality? How ’bout OMAC? Of the One Man Army Corps? As created by the great Jack Kirby back in ’75?”

But how did Rude connect with Ordway, well known for his runs as both an artist and a writer on DC’s The Adventures of Superman print series?

“Jerry submitted his script and we all loved it,” Rude said of his DC Digital First debut. “And after a hour or two of of finely tuned script discussion over the phone one afternoon, he and I were able to up the dramatics even further on the cool-meter.”

As for that cover: “Finally, I should mention that though DC’s budget didn’t permit the rates normally required by the Dude to paint this issues cover – I painted it anyway. Such sacrifices does one make in the name of proper presentation.”

Ordway and Rude’s Adventures of Superman story, “Seeds of Destruction,” is scheduled to premiere April 14 at DC Digital First.

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Early Superman cover art sells for $286,800

action comics15-cover artThe earliest original Superman cover art known to exist sold at auction over the weekend for $286,800, exceeding early estimates.

Fred Guardineer’s cover for Action Comics #15 (dated August 1939), on the fifth cover appearance of the Man of Steel, depicts the superhero aiding a distressed U.S. submarine on the ocean floor. It was purchased by Richard Evans of Bedrock City Comic Company in Houston.

“Guardineer’s cover is the earliest Superman cover art in existence, and an absolute treasure of comics history,” Ed Jaster, senior vice president of Heritage Auctions, said in a statement. “A price like this shows just how much collectors covet a rarity like this.”

A prolific Golden Age writer and artist, Guardineer created Zatara, whose first appearance in Action Comics #1 was overshadowed by the debut of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman.

The Feb. 20-22 auction in New York City featured more than 1,200 lots, including the second part of the Don and Maggie Thompson collection. Highlights included: a near-mint copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, which sold for $191,200; Jack Kirby and Frank Giacola’s original cover art for Tales of Suspense #84, which fetched$167,300; and R. Crumb’s original art for the three-page story “Ducks Yas Yas” from Zap Comix #0, which went for $101,575.

Comics-inspired typographic prints might look good on your wall

poster-flash

Comics fans searching for a visually bold yet affordable way to liven up a room may find something that suits their tastes, and their budgets, from GeekMyWall, which offers a line of striking typographic posters inspired by comics characters.

Harley Quinn, Batman, Green Lantern, Rorschach, V — they’re all represented in prints beginning at 11 inches by 17 inches or $25. Each figure is created from character-appropriate quotes. For instance, Wonder Woman is, “Of all people, you know who I am … …who the world needs me to be. I’m Wonder Woman.” And The Flash: “‘I’m getting lectured on child safety from a man who’s gone through four Robins?”

They’re also available as T-shirts. And if the comic characters aren’t for you, there are plenty of television- and movie-themed options.

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Quote of the Day | Clancy Brown on comic adaptations

cowboys and aliensCowboys & Aliens was a completely manufactured myth of a comic book. They went in and sold the idea of Cowboys & Aliens based on a one-sheet of what they thought the cover of a comic book might be, then sold it as a movie, then created as a comic book. They backed in to the comic book part of it. The book itself isn’t actually very good. It’s worse than the movie.

I did another one like that — Hellbenders was an idea that J.T. Petty had, and he wrote it as a script. One of the producers got the idea to pitch it around as a comic book. As soon as something is a graphic novel or a comic book or has another life in a another medium, people sit up and take notice and are more willing to write the check.

I don’t know why that is — well, I think it’s obvious why that is: Because the traditional properties like Superman and Batman and the Marvel characters — Spider-Man and so on — they’re all money machines. So, people are trying to create that. [...] Everything is being optioned now to be turned into franchises because of the success of Walking Dead and a few that have made the transition. Mostly, people walk into a room and pitch a movie — and the first question if they don’t say it in the original pitch is, ‘Is this a graphic novel or comic?’ and of course you say, ‘Yes’.”

– actor Clancy Brown, who has a good deal of experience with comic-book adaptations, discussing Cowboys & Aliens Hollywood’s continued attraction to comics

A baby’s adorable reaction to ‘Man of Steel’

man-of-steel-flightZack Snyder’s Man of Steel was easily one of the most divisive films of 2013. Some loved it, some hated it — but either way, there were few that didn’t have a strong opinion about it. The film has since had its home video release, and one father took it upon himself to find out what his 16-month old son thought of the movie by filming his reaction to the scene were Superman finally takes flight and uploading it to YouTube.

The child’s reaction is, of course, completely adorable.

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Best of 7 | The best in comics from the last seven days

bestof7-feb9

Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about, as it says above, “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out. Looks like I’m flying solo this week, so without further ado, let’s get to it …

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Grumpy Old Fan | This looks like a job for…

All-New Superman Now!

All-New Superman Now!

Putting Geoff Johns (writer), John Romita Jr. (penciller), and Klaus Janson (inker) on Superman sends a strong message to the cape-comics marketplace. At its core, that message seems to be “we’re not fooling around with the Man of Steel.”

Whether clad in T-shirt or Kryptonian armor, Superman has been the face of the New 52, in good ways and bad, since the 2011 relaunch. A Johns-written, Jim Lee-drawn Superman was part of the first New 52 comic published, namely the first issue of Justice League. Therefore, it’s eminently appropriate for one of DC’s highest-profile writers to take on its flagship character in his eponymous series. Likewise, art by longtime Marvel stalwart JRJr and veteran inker Janson is also appropriate to Superman’s central position in DC’s superhero line.

However, Johns also comes to Superman with a certain set of expectations, starting with his anticipated tenure. Writer/artist George Pérez and finisher Jésus Merino kicked off the current series, but they didn’t stay long; and for several months Superman struggled to find a consistent creative team. Incumbent writer Scott Lobdell came aboard with issue #13 and is scheduled to stay at least through April’s issue #30. That’s a year and a half, give or take a Villains Month, and it’s allowed Lobdell to leave his mark on Superman’s adventures. Moreover, Lobdell arrived about two-thirds of the way through Grant Morrison’s run as Action Comics writer, so for about a year, Lobdell has at least offered some consistency while Action tried to lock in a creative team. Johns has just come off two years writing Aquaman — not to mention multi-year runs on Green Lantern, Action, Flash, JSA, and Teen Titans — so it’s not unreasonable to think he’s got at least a couple of years’ worth of Superman in him.

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Comics A.M. | Al Plastino’s Superman art arrives at JFK library

Superman's Mission for President Kennedy

Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy

Comics | Once the paperwork is complete, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library will officially own the original artwork for the 1964 DC Comics story “Superman’s Mission For President Kennedy,” fulfilling one of artist Al Plastino’s final wishes. Plastino, who passed away Nov. 25 at age 91, was surprised to discover at New York Comic Con a month earlier that the pages hadn’t been donated to the library five decades earlier, as he’d been led to believe, but were instead set to be sold at auction on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. The auction was put on hold until questions of ownership could be resolved, and Plastino spent the final weeks of his life campaigning for the return of the artwork, even petitioning a judge to force the auction house to reveal the name of the seller. DC Entertainment intervened in December to acquire the pages and give them to the library. “We are thrilled to receive this historic artwork and look forward to sharing it with the public when the legal transfer is completed,” library director Tom Putnam said in a statement. [Newsday]

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Shuster estate’s case may be over, but Superman fight continues

Superman Unchained #1

Superman Unchained #1

Although an appeals court seems to have brought to an end the Joe Shuster estate’s bid to reclaim the artist’s stake in Superman, The Hollywood Reporter reminds us that the fight by Jerry Siegel’s heirs is far from over.

According to the website, attorney Marc Toberoff — he represents both families — is scheduled to file a brief next month on a pending appeal of a March 2013 ruling that affirmed the writer’s family relinquished any claims to the Man of Steel by accepting a 2001 offer from DC Comics that permits the publisher to retain all rights to Superman (as well as Superboy and The Spectre) in exchange for $3 million in cash and contingent compensation worth tens of millions.

Toberoff maintains the Siegels never accepted the DC offer (the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found otherwise), but even if there was a contract, then the publisher failed to perform. That explains the addition last year of the line “By Special Arrangement with the Jerry Siegel Family” to the credits of any DC title featuring Superman, a stipulation of the 2001 agreement.

However, Wright noted that breach-of-contract claims are a matter for state court, and don’t affect the enforceability of the 2001 agreement. So, a separate lawsuit remains an option for the Siegels, even if — or perhaps when — they exhaust their copyright case.

As The Hollywood Reporter points out, while the Siegel heirs still face “incredibly long odds,” their fight isn’t over yet.


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