Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blogging about other blogs

Here's a Comics Alliance post compiling Dave Johnson's covers for Detective Comics. That run of TEC, from 2000's #742 to 2002's #768, was a pretty incredible run, all in all. It began at the conclusion of the "No Man's Land" status quo, with Greg Rucka writing, Shawn Martinborough drawing and Johnson mostly covering (John McCrea took over near the end), and came to an end as part of the "Bruce Wayne: Fugitive?" storyline and other cross-book crossovers.

I didn't like each individual story Rucka wrote during that time, but the book was awfully focused on Batman as crime fighter (one who worked closely with a particular police department), and, at the time, had adopted a two-tone coloring that was similar in effect to black and white (that is, one issue would be all black and white and blue) that gave the interiors very striking visuals to match Johnson's striking covers. It also featured back-up strips, with arts from the likes of Cliff Chiang and Steve Lieber. The whole Batman line at that time was pretty well-managed, and each book had its own distinct look, tone and focus. The above image is my favorite of Johnsons' TEC covers.

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I can think of few better reasons to get into the making of comics than the chance to maybe someday win one of these darling awards.

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Here's a post examining the success of Marvel's weird "Point One" initiative, in which certain ongoings would ship books with ".1" after the regularly scheduled issues number (for example, Captain America #615 and Captain America #615.1 might ship in the same month, and the latter was meant to be a good jumping-on point for new readers). The title—"Marvel's Point One Program Looks Like A Dud"—reveals the ultimate conclusion.

What was the problem, exactly?

In his close watch of Marvel's releases month in and month out, The Beat's Paul O'Brien has indicated that the ".1" issues didn't seem to follow much rhyme or reason in terms of when the book's shipped relative to what was going on in the titles they were trying to promote. The above linked-to Indignant Online post points out a lot of them simply weren't very good, or didn't seem to be doing what they said they'd be doing and that perhaps retailers simply didn't bite. I imagine the numbering being weird and confusing didn't help matters either. Oh well, at least Marvel has some very big, very long, very expensive commercials advertising their characters set to open in theaters across the country shortly—maybe those will help sell some comics to new readers.

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I thought this Beat post on the new Thor By Walter Simonson Omnibus as Thor movie tie-in was neat. Heidi MacDonald lays out the oft-proven truism that films (and, she says, TV shows, although I don't know how many good examples there are of those, beyond Walking Dead) only goose comics or graphic novel sales when there's a one-to-one relationship with a particular work (Watchmen, Scott Pilgrim, etc.), although if there's a strong link of some sort it can also produce a hit (She mentions the Azzarello/Bermejo Joker original graphic novel, which shared little beyond a character design with the Dark Knight movie; I'd argue a large part of its success was the huge PR effort DC put into making that book a success, including sending review copies to seemingly every media outlet that would accept one). She notes that the new Thor omnibus is doing pretty well on Amazon, despite being over 1,000 pages and costing about $125.

I'm not sure to what extent Marvel is pushing it as the inspiration for the movie, or as a tie-in to the movie (From what little I've seen of the film, I can't really even guess at what Thor comics or creators or stories its taking its plot points or inspiration from), but if Marvel were pushing a single Thor book as the one for fans of the movie to try, the omnibus sure would make sense, given how much profit must be involved with a book bearing such a price tag.

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A couple of weeks ago, I talked about superheroines in bat-costumes and the color pink, prompted by Alan Kistler's discussion of the Batwoman from the 1990s' Batman animation, and shared some sketches where I messed around with Batgirl Cassandra Cain's costume, imagining what it might look like with some pink in it. Therefore, I was particularly amused to see this Source blog feature spotlighting Art Baltazar and Franco, and that the Tiny Titans creators were putting Cassandra in an all-pink costume (well, from the neck down, anyway), as part of their pink issue. That issue of Tiny Titans came out yesterday, but I unfortunately haven't gotten my copy yet. I do so love the way Baltazar draws Cassandra-as-Batgirl though, all trying to be scary.

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I wish i didn't know anything about this: EDILW favorite Ross Campbell apparently worked on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pitch for Dark Horse, when the publisher was trying to get the license to do new turtle comics from Nickelodeon. Ross Campbell and the TMNT—two of my favorite things in the history of comics, together! You can see a ton of great artwork on Campbell's Tumbl thingee, by clicking here. In addition to sharing his sketches, Campbell offers his thoughts and insights on the characters and their various interpretations through various media. It's interesting to see his preferences (his favorite Shredder is the one with the magenta/pink outfit from the first live-action movie, his April is an amalgam of all the Aprils, but her hair is form the Mirage comics) and hear his thoughts on characters.

Of Venus, the female ninja turtle (The what now? Guess I stopped paying attention to the Turtles before she appeared?), he notes:
I always thought a female Turtle should look basically the same as the guys, she’s a reptile so she shouldn’t have breasts, especially not breasts somehow contained inside her chestplate (?!), and she shouldn’t need traditional/socially-acceptable human signifiers for female-ness, like curves, long hair, “shapely” legs, or being hotted up just because she’s female.
And on Casey Jones, he has this to say,
I don’t think I have any long-winded thoughts about him other than that he’s awesome.
Of course, Dark Horse didn't get the license; IDW did. The pressure is on now, IDW; are you guys going to be able to publish a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comic that's anywhere near as cool as a Ross Campbell Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comic would be? You better! (Although I have a feeling that's going to be pretty much impossible, unless IDW hires a creative team like, I don't know, Alan Moore and Paul Pope, or Grant Morrison and James Stokoe. Oh shit, can you imagine Bryan Lee O'Malley's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...?!) Well, maybe IDW can hire Cambell to do Turtle comics for them...?

The other too-bad thing about Dark Horse not getting the license? Their comics would have cost $2.99 or $3.50 an issue, whereas IDW's will almost certainly cost $3.99.

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Damn you, DC Comics! I had no desire—none—to purchase any of the new trades reprinting Garth Ennis and John McCrea's Hitman (one of my favorite comic book series of all time), and then you had to go and post on your Source blog that the new Ace of Killers trade paperback will include two rare pieces of artwork by McCrea.

Well, one of those pieces isn't really all that rare. It's the image that ran next to a profile of Tommy Monaghan from 1999 special DCU Heroes Secret Files and Origins, which was a Secret Files and Origins special that was a sort of grab-bag, including everyone with a book who wasn't covered in the other specials (Anarky, Martian Manhunter, Resurrection Man and Star-Spangled Kid were among the others included).

Oddly, the Source post refers to it as "from our previous WHO'S WHO series" (?), and, if you click on the image to see the text that runs alongside it—there are some quotes from McCrea where things like Tommy's real name and base of operations would have ran in the original special, it refers to the book as the DCU Heroes Secret Files, leaving off the and Origins. Huh.

The other piece is a nice-looking watercolor of Catwoman dominating Tommy, that was apparently a rejected cover. That one is new and rare, having never been published.

I'm still probably not going to invest in a trade collection of these comics I already have, but now I'm now I at least have a tiny bit of desire to do so, instead of none.

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Speaking of DC's Source blog, here's yet more evidence that editor Eddie Berganza and I apparently have completely opposing views of what constitutes good comic book art (Berganza edited Teen Titans and JLoA, both of which have featured some of the worst art imaginable during the time he ran them...in my opinion). In this post he talks up the talent of current JLoA artist Brett Booth, an artist whose style I so dislike and skill I so doubt that I dropped the book because of his presence on it.

Here's Berganza:
Ongoing JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA artist Brett Booth’s distinctive drawing style allows for some of the most exciting and eye popping work currently out there. One of my favorite things about Brett’s work is his ability to capture the subtlety of facial expressions so vividly that sometimes it’s easy to forget that you’re not looking at photos.
I don't agree with a single word of that.

Berganza also says that this cover of Booth's is "thought-provoking": "Thought-provoking"...? I don't think that word can possibly mean what Berganza thinks it means. (My only thought upon first seeing that image was, "That's supposed to be Traci 13...?" And I wasn't confused by the costume, which looks more like something Black Alice would wear, as it's the cover of a Flashpoint mini, where altered appearances are par for the course; no, I was confused because she looks just like every other female character Booth draws. That is, the person holding the earth in that image could just as easily be Donna Troy)/

But back to Berganza's post—check out the pencil image. Is that Cthulhu? Is the JLA fighting Cthulhu? (I have no idea, since I dropped the book, since I don't like Booth's art).

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Brigid Alverson, one of the six robots of Robot Six, pulled out an interesting quote from cartoonist Roger Langridge, who wrote the quickly-canceled Thor: The Mighty Avenger title for Marvel in this post. I wholeheartedly agree with Langridge's quote, which includes this:
I think it’s insane that DC have spent 70 years making Superman as big as Mickey Mouse, and branding him to be understood by parents as being pretty much as kid-friendly as Mickey Mouse, only to piss that brand away in a decade. Nothing wrong with doing mature content in comics – in fact, it should be encouraged as often as possible – but doing it with characters who are on your kids’ lunchboxes is kind of moronic. Take a lesson from Watchmen and come up with new characters for that stuff. And then go back to Superman and Batman and put the same kind of love and effort and craft and intelligence you’ve been putting into all those rape scenes and body mutilations into something kids can read, and adults can also be proud to read because of all the love and effort and craft and intelligence you’ve put into it, and make those the “real” versions.
On that first half, I guess I haven't thought much about how much work went into making Superman Superman (he's always been Superman, as long as I've been alive), or that it's possible to reverse the fruits of all that labor.

I don't think DC has completely pissed it all away, of course, as I know Superman is still on stickers and lunchboxes and tons of kid-friendly merchandise, but it is frustrating that kids can't really read a Superman comic right now (Batman is the only DCU hero with an all-ages comic of his own at the moment, although many of the big guns show up in Young Justice).

I do think R-rated superhero stories are fine as long as the heroes used are either lower-tier ones, or simply more flexible ones that can fit into those sorts of stories easily (That is, Batman, Green Arrow, The Spectre or Golden Age Sandman lend themselves to R-rated adventures better than Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Captain Marvel; same with The Punisher and Daredevil and Wolverine vs. Spider-Man, Captain America and the Fantastic Four). And they're even finer if those more adult-oriented stories weren't the default tone of the "real" heroes; you know, The Killing Joke was a prestige format one-shot, not a story arc in Batman or Detective Comics.

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Finally, here's Chris Sims on "The 7 Most Dubious Drawings of Greg Horn," a post inspired by that weird-ass Catwoman image I mentioned in my last link round-up post. Like most of Sims' writing, it's a fun, funny piece, and one in which you might learn something (For example, for some reason I never even noticed the expression on that horse's face in the background of the She-Hulk cover; now I can't stop seeing it, even when I close my eyes!)

Also, apparently the Batman in that Catwoman image is black...? Is that for real? His chin does look pretty dark, but I assumed it was just a shadow or some weird effect from having a light-source embedded in his chest. If it's a black Batman wearing the current, in-continuity Batman costume well...damn, that image just gets weirder and weirder. It's the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland of creepy superhero fetish art.

Also, I should note that I own two prints by Greg Horn, as I discussed in this 2008 post—they're both prints of the images used on covers for this series:

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Quick programming note: Due to extreme business at my day-job this weekend (I work for the Easter Bunny, drawing the eyes on Peeps along one of the conveyor belts in his factory, if you must know) EDILW will go update-less until Monday.

3 comments:

Nick Ahlhelm said...

I actually just started picking up JLA with the arc right before Booth's arrival, mostly because I really like James Robinson's writing. Booth was enough to convince me to stop buying it after just the one Starman/Congorilla special. When you can't draw anyone that isn't impossibly thin, I just ain't interested.

SallyP said...

May I just say that I agree with you completely about Brett Booth.

Not my cup of tea.

tomorrowboy 2.7 said...

I really liked that Deadline series.