John Severin, Eisner Hall of Fame winner and one of the last of the legendary EC artists, died Sunday in Denver, Colorado. He was 90.
Severin was among the greatest draftsmen of the EC crew. He was especially well known for his western comics and war comics, but worked across many genres, including a 45 year stint drawing for Cracked magazine, doing numerous parodies and creating the definitive version of the company mascot, janitor Sylvester P. Smythe.
In recent years he had continued to work, with his last new material coming from Dark Horse last year on Sir Edward Grey: Witchfinder.
His family has released a statement:
Internationally acclaimed illustrator-cartoonist, John Powers Severin (1921-2012), passed away Sunday, February 12, 2012 at his home in Denver, Colorado with his family by his side.
He was 90 years old.
Throughout his sixty plus year career in comic illustration and cartooning, Severin gained world-wide notoriety and is regarded by many fans, friends, historians, and colleagues as a truly distinctive and brilliant artist.
Long-time friend and former president and chairman of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee states, “He had an art style that was uniquely and distinctly his own.The minute you looked at his artwork you knew you were looking at a John Severin illustration; it could be no one else. Besides his inimitable style, there was a feeling of total authenticity to whatever he drew, whether it was a Western, a crime story, a superhero saga or a science fiction yarn. Not only was his penciling the very finest, but his inking, too, had a distinctive Severin touch that made every strip he rendered stand out like a winner”.
So, I’ve spent the last few weeks ranting and raving about DC. And face it, there’s still plenty there to mine. From their recent canning of six titles and announcing six more (none of which I think will last a year) to their recently leaked ”sticker logo”… I could have a field day continuing to bash and dash. But alas, I grow weary of being hypocritical. I bitch and moan about them a ton, yet the majority of the cash flowing out of my pocket to frivolity generally concerns a majority of DC books, and related merchandise. So, for now, I’m waving a white flag, and turning my gaze elsewhere. Somewhere dashing, daring, and dare I say… Valiant.
On May 2nd, Valiant Comics will be reborn. Their flagship title, X-O Manowar, will hit the shelves. I will admit freely to you all that I know nothing of the Valiant universe. Let’s quickly Wikipedia that, for those in a similar boat. Wow, what a story! In 1989, Jim Shooter, one of the Allman Brothers crew, and some other financiers tried to buy up Marvel. They didn’t get it. Thus Valiant was born! They got a few heavy-hitters, and released a line of books. In 1994, they got dumped by their initial investors, scooped up by then-important video game creator Acclaim, and died a slow and boring death as their continuity-heavy line became too heavy a load to bear. Legal battles and the like kept things grounded for a while, but as you’ll now note: it’s all been solved, and the line will reconvene with Free Comic Book Day 2012. And due largely to some lackluster books by DC, and Marvel’s Next-Big-Waste of Time, I’m at a loss for why I shouldn’t take this as a sign to give Valiant a shot.
A recent press release for the budding brand hyped the announcement of the creative team for X-O. Surrogates scribe Robert Venditti and Conan artist Cary Nord will unite to bring us a tale of a time-lost ancient warrior given amazing future technology and plopped on the populace in 2012. Color me intrigued. I happen to love the Surrogates original graphic novel, and sneak peaks at the pencils of Nord show me that the book will look amazing to boot.
But this leads me to the bigger question. What is Valiant’s battle plan? Will they rise up and be a contender with the Big Two? I doubt it. The marketplace is crowded as it is. Image, Dark Horse, IDW, Dynamite, Avatar, and Boom! all struggle to keep a cohesive line. Face it, each of those aforementioned second stringers all have one or two big fish, and then spread themselves thin on bargain-bin fodder from licensed properties that appeal to the niche audiences. Well… the niche of this niche, if you get my drift.
Mind you, I’m not trying to poop on the parade, I’m just wary for any “line launch” in a continually crowded comic rack. And a subsequent Google search doesn’t even have the company site at #1 in the rankings. What appears to be a company website is just a form with “Notify Me!” on it. Bad mojo my friends.
Let us consider Boom! Studios’ Stan Lee line, launched in 2010. Four books with solid concepts released very close to one another. The critics didn’t quite rave about any of them, and I rarely hear anyone discuss them at the shop when I pop in on new comic book day. Valiant certainly has picked a good time to strike, but I’m hoping it’s done more intelligently. Case in point?
Boom’s other cash cow, the Irredeemable universe. Launched as a single amazing comic, smartly spun off into a single other title that has refrained for years before crossing directly into one another. Join that to a solid base of fans consistently purchasing the book due to high standards of art teams and consistent writing… and you have something worth copying. While I myself have recently stopped my subscription to Irredeemable, I don’t knock those still following on. It’s the kind of model I hope Valiant is paying close attention to.
Ultimately, X-O Manowar‘s release got me genuinely excited for a new title to latch on to. With a strong creative team announced, and DC and Marvel knee-deep in their own crapulence, Valiant stands to gain a following again. If they stick to releasing solid books, refrain from event-driven releases, and put their books out on time… I see no reason why they won’t stick around for a long while.
Hack/Slash is coming to the silver screen, and that Conan guy is getting him there.
Director Marcus Nispel, responsible for the 2011 remake of Conan The Barbarian (you saw that one, didn’t you?) has signed on to this latest adaptation of a big-time Image Comics title initially published by Devil’s Due. He replaces Fredrik Bond, who evidently thought better of the project.
Written by Martin Schenk, Stephen Susco, Justin Marks, Benjamin Magid and Todd Lincoln (thus far), the movies is scheduled for release next year.
Conan The Barbarian returns to comics on February 8th, 2012 as he faces off against the Queen of the Black Coast at Dark Horse Comics.
In this sweeping adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s fan-favorite “Queen of the Black Coast,” Conan turns his back on the civilized world and takes to the high seas alongside the pirate queen Bêlit, setting the stage for an epic of romance, terror, and swashbuckling. This is Conan as you’ve never seen him, with the combination of one of Robert E. Howard’s greatest tales and the most dynamic creative team in comics!
Conan The Barbarian #1 is written by Brian Wood with art and cover by Becky Cloonan, and colors by Dave Stewart. Also included is a cover by Massimo Carnevale.
Conan The Barbarian #1 is 32 pages of exciting pulp adventure for $3.50.
Cover Art: Becky Cloonan
o A perfect jumping-on point for new readers! o A bold, fresh take on the Cimmerian. o “Queen of the Black Coast” is the most-requested Conan adaptation!
Produced by Buzz Feitshans and Raffaella De Laurentiis
Written by John Milius and Oliver Stone
Based on the character/stories created and written by Robert E. Howard
I knew that director John Milius and his screenplay co-writer Oliver Stone got the character of Conan five minutes into the movie.During the opening credits we see Conan’s father (William Smith) forging a mighty sword. He then takes the young Conan (Jorge Sanz) to the top of a mountain.He explains how The Riddle of Steel was stolen from Crom, the god of Cimmeria and that Conan must learn The Riddle of Steel for himself because as his dad succinctly sums up: “For no one in the world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts.But this-“ and he holds up the gleaming sword.“-this you can trust.”
It’s not long after this that Conan’s parents, along with all the other adults in his village are slaughtered by the servants of Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) a powerful sorcerer who is also the leader of a cult that worships the snake god Set.Conan, along with other children are taken as slaves and chained to The Wheel of Pain, a gigantic mill which they push night and day, through weather fair and foul.It’s torturous work but it has its benefits.The young Conan grows up into Arnold Schwarzenegger as pushing that damn thing has built up muscles of Herculean proportions.He’s bought by The Hyborian Age’s version of a fight promoter and wins fame as a gladiator.He’s freed by his master and after meeting up with the master thief and archer Subotai (Gerry Lopez) takes up a career as a thief himself.
It’s during their attempt to infiltrate The Tower of The Serpent and steal The Eye of The Serpent that Conan meets swordswoman and thief Valeria (Sandahl Bergman) who will become the great love of his life.It’s their successful and daring theft that brings them to the attention of King Osric (Max von Sydow) who hires the trio to rescue his daughter from The Cult of Set.While Valeria and Subotai see this as a chance for a really big payday, Conan has his sights on taking the head of Thulsa Doom.
Now, you can say whatever you want about CONAN THE BARBARIAN but it won’t faze me because if nothing else, John Milius and Oliver Stone respected Robert E. Howard’s enough that they obviously not only read his stories but incorporated elements of some of those stories into the movie including what is probably the most famous scene in any Conan story; his crucifixion and his killing of a vulture pecking at his flesh with nothing but his bare teeth.
This movie, along with “The Terminator” launched Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career and it’s easy to see why.Schwarzenegger at that time looked like he was designed by Frank Frazetta and he inhabits the role as well as Sean Connery did with James Bond or Michael Keaton did with Batman.For those who claim that Schwarzenegger can’t act, I point out a terrific scene where Conan, Valeria and Subotai plan their assault on Doom’s stronghold.While Bergman and Lopez have all the dialog, Schwarzenegger says far more than they do in the way he’s sharpening his sword.And even though Schwarzenegger gets a lot of mocking for his dialog and accent in this movie, I like it.I mean, the guy does sound like a barbarian from pre-history. In fact, I like it that 90% of the characters have accents in this movie as they do sound as if they come from another age rather than modern day Californians playing dress up.
The supporting cast is outstanding.James Earl Jones infuses Thulsa Doom with enormous presence and a true sense of not being entirely human.His henchmen, played by Sven-Ole Thorson and Ben Davison are suitably impressive. Bergman and Lopez back up Schwarzenegger well and create their own characters in some really wonderful intimate moments such as the one where Subotai tells the wizard Akiro (Mako) that since Conan, as a Cimmerian will not cry to show grief, Subotai must do it for him.Mako contributes comedy relief without being buffoonish or degrading his own character.But that’s to be expected because Mako is epic in everything he does.
And speaking of epic, the musical score by Basil Poledouris has become respected as one of the finest musical scores ever and rightly so.A large part of the enjoyment of watching CONAN THE BARBARIAN comes from the sheer power of the score.Poledouris also has done the scores for “Quigley Down Under” and “Lonesome Dove” that are easily as epic as the one for this movie.
So should you see CONAN THE BARBARIAN? No doubt you already have.It’s one of those movies that everybody and their mother has seen, it seems.Even chicks who normally shun this type of movie like it was the Ebola virus have seen CONAN THE BARBARIAN.It’s violent, it’s raw, it’s sexy, and it’s fun. There’s an excellent reason why CONAN THE BARBARIAN is rightly regarded as a classic.It truly is inspired by the spirit of Robert E. Howard in a way that the recent remake never even comes close to.If you’ve seen it, what the hell…watch it again.And if you haven’t, I envy you discovering it for the first time.Enjoy.
This February, writer Brian Wood and artist Becky Cloonan bring Conan The Barbarian back to comic chops as they adapt Robert E. Howard’s fan-favorite “Queen of the Black Coast.”
Conan has turned his back on the civilized world and takes to the high seas alongside the pirate queen Bêlit, setting the stage for an epic of romance, terror, and swashbuckling. This is Conan as you’ve never seen him, with the combination of one of Robert E. Howard’s greatest tales and the most dynamic creative team in comics.
Conan The Barbarian: “Queen of the Black Coast” Brian Wood (Writer)
Becky Cloonan (Art/Variant cover) Dave Stewart (Color) Massimo Carnevale (Cover) Full Color 32 pages $3.50 On sale February 8
Conan the Barbarian was such a major figure in the heyday of the pulp magazines, that he made an indelible impression on readers. When Lancer Books took over the mass market paperback publishing for the Cimmerian in the 1960s, the Frank Frazetta cover images were so powerful, you had to notice. Since then, different generations have their own impression of how Robert E. Howard’s character and world should look. After Frazetta came Barry Smith and John Buscema and after them came Arnold Schwarzenegger and then…not much. The syndicated Conan featuring Ralf Möller barely made a ripple and as the rights went from owner to owner, he faded a bit from memory. Even the wonderful Dark Horse Comics adaptations have not quite made the stir the original comics did nor have the paperback originals from Tor and others had that same spark.
As a result, there was a lot riding on Lionsgate’s revival of the character and, sad to say, they failed at their task. Conan the Barbarian, which came out in August, was poorly marketed and came up short in the writing, production design, acting and directing, resulting in a worldwide box office of anemic proportions. Now, the movie is coming out this week as a Blu-ray combo pack and we get a chance to consider what went wrong.
After a week away to recharge the batteries, the Table Talk Team returns to New Pulp with a brand new and exciting topic. And they even brought along a couple of friends. This week, Barry Reese, Bobby Nash and Mike Bullock are joined in the conversation by New Pulpers Tommy Hancock and Van Allen Plexico as the guys discuss translating pulp characters into other mediums.
At this weekend’s New York Comic Con, Dark Horse Comics announced a new Conan the Barbarian comic book series by the DEMO creative team of writer Brian Wood and artist Becky Cloonan that will be in stores beginning on February 8, 2012.
The first story arc will adapt Robert E. Howard’s “Queen of the Black Coast,” in which Conan turns his back on the civilized world and takes to the high seas alongside the pirate queen Belit.
I received my orders via email from the all powerful Hancock. He commanded me to write about this wondrous place where I found classic pulp during my vacation. A giant talking head that reminded me of a powerful wizard was just something you couldn’t ignore; besides, I love bookstores.
With this in mind, I head to City Lights, one of my all time favorite bookstores while on vacation in London Ontario. Like all real gems the entrance to this cave of wonders is located in one of the emptier parts of downtown on Richmond Street and King. Outside of LA Mood, an awesome comic shop where this writer did a book signing for his comic Veritas (which you can order at Indy Planet), all that surrounds this section of downtown are old and dusty buildings. Old pawn shops and music places and abandoned apartments line up along the side of the street. There is graffiti and a faint smell of sewage in the air. I approach the bookstore with trepidation. Would it be the same after being gone so long?
I see the familiar bars in the windows and the bargain books in the boxes decorating the entrance way. The door is old and creeky and I fumble my way inside.
I open the door and gape. Here there be books. Seas of them stare up at me on the floor. Most of them are divided by their sections and categories and are in large cardboard boxes, although a few seem to have escaped from their confines are just hanging around.
To my left is a bookshelf filled with the latest vampire and horror fiction craze. I notice the books Marked and Twilight hang side by side as two guardians of the gate. They greet you warmly with their black covers and insignias. Both series are there in abundance and it serves as a gentle reminder to the reader not to be greedy. There are wonders here yes, but at the end of the day you have to feel the wrath of Stephanie Meyer and PC Cast as you make your way to the exit.
After that cursory glance I notice some of the other books alongside the vampire army and to my amazement there are some nice books up there. Brian Lumley is hanging around with his Necroscope series. There is a touch of romance and violence with Ilona Andrews and then there are the many faces of horror behind Twilight. Truly there are good books right from the start tempting you to take them home. The wood creeks as I step inside. The building talks to me as I try not to sneak past the cashier gazing right at me. The wall of shame hangs behind him. The wall contains pictures of silly mortals who thought they’d steal a book in this place and get away with it. Each victim has their image ingrained in the background forever. I pass them and wave high to the slightly overweight man behind the counter as I cross the threshold of being an accidental tourist.
I’ve been here before. I think I know where I need to go. I proceed to walk to the back of the store. My quarry was located back there, as was the greatest temptations for a reader like myself.
City Lights has a marvelous science fiction section. It is easily a quarter of the first floor. You go past the part where the store sinks and dips and it’s on the other side. It is not only in alphabetical order but the authors themselves are categorized. You can see classic ABCs of science fiction like Asimov, Bradbury, and Clarke with pulp favorites like Burroughs, Norton, Zelazny. Series like Conan,Tarzan and Doc Savage…wait a minute, Doc Savage?!
I grab it and look and there can be no doubt: The man of bronze sits there idly. I glance inside the cover and find it’s the right price. Sold. You don’t find Doc Savage just anywhere. Satisfied with the book I continue my exploration of the section. I pass by Charles De Lint, saddened to see they don’t have any more books I don’t already have. At this point, this cave of wonders feels like a familiar haunt. I love good science fiction and pulp and City Lights has tones of books for me to read and rediscover.
Looking back at the pulp series at the very top, I find a name I am unfamiliar with. John Norman towers above the B section right beside Tarzan. The first book is called Tarnsman of Gor. I open it up and read the first page. I was sold. This looks to be a fantastic book. I can’t wait to review it.
I stop there. My treasures have been found and I proceed to the checkout. I pay for my books, say a quick goodbye to the Twilight/Necroscope Section and head out the door, saddened that the experience was over, but happy I did it in such a place.
I’ve been very fortunate to be in some very cool book places, but City Lights is one of a kind. If you ever go to London Ontario it’s worth going in and taking a look, whether you are saying hello to a familiar book or like me are always seeking new works to try.