Tagged: Ed Brubaker

Ed Catto: Inside the Gold Mind

I’m a sucker for crime fiction, whether it’s served up by Raymond Chandler or by Harlan Coben. As a kid, my passion for adventure stories started it all. But like a Chevy Impala on a rain-soaked highway, my interest slid all over the road. I’d devour mysteries, detective novels, pulps and crime thrillers.

In the world of comics, lately we’ve been treated to outstanding fantastic crime thrillers. Ed Brubaker leads the way, of course, with his various crime noir and spy series. Greg Rucka’s stuff is always fun and I hope Oni publishes more Stumptown soon. And other publishers, like Dynamite, IDW, and Boom! Studios have been providing strong contributions as well.

In the traditional book world, Hard Case Crime has been on the forefront of hardboiled crime fiction. Charles Ardai is the man behind it all, and he combines his love for this genre with a great eye for pulpy artwork to create some of the best crime thriller books and paperbacks out there. Some of the books are new, others are lost classics.

It’s been refreshing to enjoy favorite classic detective authors, like Brett Holiday and Mickey Spillane as Hard Case Crime re-publishes their works. Newer favorites, like Max Allan Collins and Lawrence Block are there too. I like to try new authors too. I enjoyed John Lange’s newly re-printed Zero Cool… but then I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a pseudonym for Michael Crichton.

Recently, Hard Case Crime has teamed with their distributor Titan Comics to create a line of comics. Like Hard Case paperbacks, these comics’ covers, titles, and premises all grab readers by the throat and pull ‘em in.

Fay Dalton’s stunning Normandy Gold #1 cover piqued my interest when I first saw it in Diamond Previews. It’s a hauntingly beautiful illustration evocative of every paperback and movie poster you saw in the 70s. Titan offers a number of others #1 variants by other artists, including a quiet, but menacing, portrait of the heroine by interior artist Steve Scott.

Normandy Gold is a fish-out-of-water story. A small town sheriff hunts for her sister’s killer in the big city. The big city, in this case, is Washington, DC. And it’s set in the swinging seventies.

The retro-cool seventies vibe is important to this series. I almost wish there was a suggested soundtrack. All the tropes are here: the big cars, the dorky men’s sports coats, phones with cords, bushy mustaches and women’s fashion. But they are presented with a stark authenticity and effectively immerse the reader into the story.

That’s in a big part due to series artist Steve Scott. He’s a gifted artist with a great line, top notch rendering skills, and a natural pacing. You may have seen his mainstream work, including a few Batman stories a few years ago. Here, Scott effortlessly presents all those big gas-guzzling cars, opulent office buildings and Sonny-and-Cher vintage fashions with a natural ease that keeps you in the story and keeps you hungry for more.

The other creators are a big deal too. The creative team of Megan Abbott and Alison Gaylin write the series. I’m not familiar with their work but after this, I want to read more from them.

This past week there was some outrage – Outrage!, I tell you – over the fact that the talented James Robinson, obviously a man, was taking over DC’s Wonder Woman comic series. As the Wonder Woman movie was such a hit and was driven by a female director and a female lead, some outraged fans assumed a female writer should helm the comic.

Look, we need diversity in all areas. Culturally, we’re all at a point where we all understand that everyone benefits from hearing lots of different voices. But that shouldn’t mean that only women write female characters or only Chinese-American writers write Chinese-American characters. In fact, just last night I had a passionate “front porch’ discussion with my wife and long-time comics expert John Cresco. And no, no wine or beer was involved. Maybe next time.

But it is fantastic when new venues open up to new voices. So here we have a female detective written by female writers. I tend to think, however, that Abbot and Gaylin got this writing gig because they are damn fine writers, not because of their sex. Normandy Gold #1 is crisp storytelling with just enough hints into a complicated character’s background. The reader is intrigued, but not rushed.

I hope fans concerned about finding opportunities for female writers give this series a try, and/or pick up back issues of Chelsea Cain’s recent Mockingbird.

Be warned, as, with so many hardboiled detective stories, there are a few salacious scenes. But they are important to the story and almost expected in this genre.

Normandy Gold is at least the second comic heroine with that catchy first name. In Milton Caniff’s long-running newspaper strip, Terry and the Pirates, Normandy Drake was the niece of a wealthy man who had captured the heart of one of the lead characters. I hope this Normandy likewise captures fans’ hearts.

The female detective in comics is a small subgenre. Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty’s Ms. Tree was such a treasure. Roy Thomas and Dick Giordano’s Jonni Thunder, A.K.A.Thunderbolt was also a favorite (more on her later). The torch has been passed recently to well-rounded characters like Dex Parios and Jessica Jones. Normandy’s a welcome addition to the club. I’m eager for the next issue.

Ed Catto: Fight Like a Girl

It’s a good time to fight like a girl. The new Wonder Woman movie is a big hit. Everyone from Billy Tucci to my mom seems to like it. Fox News managed to complain about the level of patriotism in the movie, but whatever; every party needs a pooper.

I thought it was great fun, and yesterday’s Biographic strip in sundry newspapers taught me something I didn’t remember. It turns out Wonder Woman’s first animated appearance was on an episode of The Brady Kids. It predated Superfriends by one year! This show was a spin-off of the Brady Bunch series. Even as a young fan, I remember watching this cartoon was pretty painful. At that time, I preferred Marcia Brady to Wonder Woman… but, hey, it’s still cool that it actually happened.

Wonder Woman is very busy in comics right now. Beyond her regular “Rebirthed” series and her DC Super Girls adventures, the Wonder Woman ’77 version of the character has been on a tear with Batman and Bionic Woman team-ups. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed the Batman ’66 crossover in particular. Jeff Parker is adding onto the TV mythology in clever and unexpected ways. Batfans shouldn’t miss these.

Beyond the Amazonian Princess, currently there’s quite a few top-notch comics where the protagonist is fighting like a girl… because she is one… including:

  • Mother Panic – This wonky DC/Young Animal series about features an unlikely, and unlikable, female protagonist. But I really enjoy it and art by Tommy Lee Edwards and Jon Paul Leon has been gorgeous and inspiring.
  • Velvet – Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s excellent 007esque series just ended, but Batwoman is a consolation as Epting has continued onto this series. His art is just superlative there too.
  • Lazarus – Greg Rucka and Michael Lark deliver a world-building drama that continues to ratchet up the tension in each issue. It’s been quite a ride and show’s no sign of stopping.
  • Invisible Republic – Produced by the super-talented, and super-likable, team of Gabriel and Corinna Bechko, this Image series is literally a world-building story. It tells the tale of Maia McBride and her involvement with and efforts on behalf of a revolutionary establishing a society. It’s great creepy fun. A mystery wrapped in an adventure wrapped in an enigma wrapped in social commentary.

While The New York Daily News carries Biographic (I really buy this paper each Sunday for the full page Prince Valiant), The New York Times offered readers a surprise this weekend too. What a treat their all-comics version of the Sunday magazine was! Hope you were able to snag a copy of that, but if not, check it out here.

Their New York Times Book Review section also reviewed The Spectacular Sisterhood Of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History by Hope Nicholson.  This looks to be a fun book by a passionate author with an impressive pedigree. Published by Quirk, this is another one of those books in the mold of Craig Yoe’s Super Weird Heroes or Jon Morris’s The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History.

In fact, if vintage super heroines are your thing, I really must be sure you are aware of Mike Madrid’s The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and The History of Comic Book Heroines, Divas, Dames & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics. He even gave the “bad guy women” their due in Vixens, Vamps & Vipers: Lost Villainesses of Golden Age Comics.

And this all leads me to another Fangirls Lead the Way Panel. I’ll be moderating this one at Syracuse’s Salt City Comic Con on the first day of the show, June 24th. This is looking to be an engaging convention with wonderful guests. I’m expecting some cool discussions and insights at this panel, mainly because this one always brings out the best in the panelists and the audience.

(Oh, and in case you’re wondering – we can’t announce any panels for San Diego Comic-Con quite yet… so stay tuned.)

My panelists in Syracuse include Sally Heaven of Fangirl Shirts. This entrepreneurial apparel company will be exhibiting on the show floor, and I’m excited to have her on the panel. Sally’s a spitfire and comes to every comic-con with passion, energy…and really cool T-shirts! Connie Gibbs, of Black Girl Nerds always has good insights to share and brings so much to the party. it will be great to see her again. And we’ve got a few surprises too.

This one will be at 2:00 in the “Hall of Justice” on the Saturday of Salt City Comic-Con. I’ll let you know how it all goes.

•     •     •     •     •

For more info on all the panels at the Syracuse show check out their schedule!

Ed Catto: Film Noir — Without the Film


Even though police procedurals are all the rage on TV right now, I’ve always preferred detective shows and Film Noir movies. This week, let’s take a walk down some mean streets as I tell you about an outstanding Film Noir thriller. You’ll have to listen closely, as there’s no film at all.

Christmas Eve of 1953, 78th St & 3rd Ave. New York, NYBroadway Is My Beat is a crime drama from the Golden Age of Radio. Originally broadcast in the late 40’s and early 50’s, this show follows the homicide caseload of Lt. Danny Clover, a cop assigned to the “Broadway Precinct” of New York City.

Each week Lt. Clover must solve a murder. And it’s all done Ellery Queen/“fair play” style, so the listener can figure out whodunit as well. These stories are pretty clever. It’s always a race for the listener to keep up with the police lieutenant and discover what really happened before it’s revealed.

The writers played fast and loose with the geographical boundaries of the precinct, so Broadway Is My Beat also becomes a travel log of a New York City that’s long gone. Any given episode might take you to Times Square’s Dance Halls, or to a seedy apartment building or to an ethnic neighborhood that simply no longer exists.

chandler_pgs_22And as an audio drama, you’ll have to use your imagination for everything. I always tend to conjure up long dark shadows for most scenes and pretend it’s filmed in black and white. Of course, if I’ve recently read an Ed Brubaker comic, I tend to imagine Sean Phillips’ art (below). But if you envision Steranko, in full Chandler-mode, you can’t go wrong either.

These adventures offer a fascinating mix of purple prose and hard-boiled dialogue. Lt. Clover typically offers over-the-top narration for the reader, often speaking directly to you’ But when the characters talk, it’s a time capsule of New York, with loads of sass and moxie.

Here’s a great example of pulpy-but-poetic opening narration. This from a 1952 episode called The Eve Hunter Murder Case, written by Morton S. Fine:

1953, New York, NYThe pallor of the long day ebbs finally from Broadway,

What had been sallow and gray is a sudden scarlet.

Where drabness was, where surfaces were drained of color,

There’s a glitter that’s now silvery – darted through with splinters of neon light.

And at this edge of twilight the shock gathers … waits for the revelers.

The sighing wind draws them into it one by one,

From the long corridors, from hall bedrooms, from the embrace of solitude.

They drift, they run, they whirl to the dancing of the wind

And shock waits..and shock comes!

The talent on this production is top notch. The best episodes of Broadway Is My Beat were directed by one of the most talented guys in the radio industry: Elliot Lewis. He was an important producer and a visionary with some of the later shows he created. He was also a very gifted comedian, appearing as guitar player Frankie Remley in the long-running Phil Harris – Alice Faye Show.

Larry Thor played the lead with an urgent, world-weary staccato for most of the show’s run. In fact, in so many episodes you can hear his impatience and frustration from constantly wading through death’s aftermath. Quite often, the police characters in the series will have to pause and apologize because they’ve just been too short or too rude to one another.

When the show hit its stride, Alexander Courage was in charge of the music. You probably remember him for his best-known work: the Star Trek Theme.

You can find episodes of Broadway Is My Beat at Radio Spirits, one of the premiere companies selling old time radio shows. You can also discover many episodes on the web, and Radio Archives has a great online collection.

We’ll end this week’s column the way Lt. Danny Clover ended each episode:

Broadway is my beat, from Times Square to Columbus Circle, the gaudiest, the most violent, the lonesomest mile in the world.  fadeout06_4

Marc Alan Fishman: Gotham Gets Better

Gotham-penguinBack in November I lamented that Gotham was a train-wreck with glimmers of hope peaking out amongst the smoldering boxcars abandoned near Arkham Asylum. Well, here we are, a large smattering of episodes later, and I’m starting to change my outlook on Fox’s proto-Batman dramedy. Hear me out, skeptics.

My turn of opinion first peeked its tepid head out into the light when I came to the realization that the show was not, nor would it ever be, Gotham Central by way of Ed Brubaker. The fact is I’ve circled my wagons around the ideology that business and the boardroom will always help dictate the creative endeavors of the Big Two™’s creations. That means that as critically acclaimed a graphic novel may be, at the end of the day all Warner Bros is going to care about is ratings and the potential syndication of Gotham. Hence, the fact that producers are making a show that by-and-large is built to appeal to the widest audience possible by way of brazen continuity-shattering canon-damning characterizations was bound to happen. Or in lesser terms, we were never ever ever going to not get interpretations of Batman’s rogue gallery. So I got over it.

And when I did, the sky opened up, and the show instantly became more entertaining to me. Jim Gordon – the John Wayne of Gotham – and his trusty drunkish sidekick Harvey Bullock are the lone moral compass amidst a sea of corruption. Hell, Bullock up until the 8th or 9th time Gordon saved his ass was as much a part of the problem as anyone. But as the show settled into itself, there was a slight shift in the dynamic duo’s camaraderie.

After sticking his neck out on the line enough times, Bullock and the police chief both turned from broken records (“You’ll never beat this city, Jim!) into begrudging do-gooders. And it did the series a hell of a favor. Instead of one man against a city, there was a subtle cracking of a window, piercing the muck and mire with rays of hope.

Hope. It’s the biggest concept the show misplaced at the onset. But over time, the cases of the week gave way to those notions that yes, in fact, some people did want to fight against the rampant corruption. And to a degree even those who existed on the other side of the law started to show depth of character. Make no bones about it: Carmine Falcone is an evil and bad man. But he bleeds the same blood as we do, and through the plot line of Fish Moody’s planted girlfriend, we saw shades of grey in what was an otherwise black and white caricature of any gangster we’ve seen a million places elsewhere. OK, and let me not give too much credit here. The shtick of an Italian-American loving his mother is not exactly original storytelling. Again, lowest-common-denominator here. Take the small victories as big ones.

Because Gotham was given more than twenty shows to produce within the first season, the writing team has been very sneaky in utilizing slow-burn storytelling in-between the predictable ratings bait. While we’ve been treated to outright terrible iterations of the Scarecrow and the maybe-Joker to-be, we’ve been privy to the ebb and flow of several well-defined debauchees.

Oswald Cobblepot immediately comes to mind. Robin Lord Taylor steals nearly every scene he’s in. While his recent pyrrhic victory over Fish has left him her club, yes, it’s at the cost of anyone believing him ever again. His playing of Maroni and Falcone has no doubt left him as a pawn to more powerful men – until he figures out yet-another way to squawk out of harm.

Outside of The Penguin, the aforementioned Fish herself has been perhaps the only other critically acclaimed person on the show. And while I had not been fond of her personally, I see the appeal. A strong female lead who plays an elegant sexy versus the traditionally slutty alternative amongst Batty’s libertine ladies does leave a better taste in the mouth. Combine this with her more recent turn as a sympathetic heel and you have the makings of another breakout star. My hope though is when she makes an eventual return to Gotham City she does so to rebuild her empire independently. Let Ozzie keep the club for now. Heck, maybe he should turn it into a casino.

And then there’s Bruce. There was no way around the awkwardness of his origins. We’d seen them done dozens of times before. The pearls. The gun shots. The scream into the night. Followed of course by stoic angst amidst solid oak furniture and priceless bric-a-brac. But once Gotham got past the traditional beats, we’ve been granted a look into Bruce Wayne’s life that otherwise has not been better captured. As Alfred would denote several times since my last writing, the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne have granted their sire an unyielding independent streak. He’s been focused (even when gallivanting as the weakest looking punk ever depicted on TV, with Selina Kyle), keen-eyed, and bright. And he’s been all of this whilst figuring how to cope with the grief. The performance has been stilted now and again, but the storytelling has been solid as a rock. This is a Bruce Wayne about to enter adolescence. And it’s slowly become an enjoyable B story against the cases of the week.

While Gotham is still significantly flawed, it has leapt forward in its ability to put a smile on my face. When the show isn’t confined to redefining known properties, there’s an original mish-moshing of noir, black comedy, and a decent (if dumb) police procedural.

Combine this with an astoundingly nice production budget, and the backing of a major network and you have a show that I once thought would be unsalvageable, and over time has become a minor fleet-of-fancy. It’s not Flash or Arrow mind you… but for the time being it doesn’t have to be. It just needs to ultimately calm down and realize its best adventures are still yet to come.


The Point Radio: Zoe Bell On Top Of A Risky Business

Even if her name isn’t familiar, her moves certainly are.  Zoe Bell has been at the top of her game as a stunt person in roles that ranged from XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS to any number of Quintin Tarantino films. Now she produces and stars in RAZE (with CONTINUUM’S Rachel Nichols). Zoe talks about the new film and a few of her favorite moments living on the edge. Plus DC loses market share (but not to Marvel) and the networks drop the axe. Did your favorite show get cancelled?

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Mindy Newell: For Kim And John, From The Heart

Newell Art 130527So Saturday, I’m sitting in the kitchen, my feet up on the table, sipping my morning tea, and flipping through the latest edition of Entertainment Weekly. It’s the one with Hugh Jackman on the cover as Wolverine, dated May 31/June 7 2013.

I’m on page 32, the “Monitor” section, and there’s nothing there really of interest for me, a headline splashing a “Bieber Backlash” – about time – and an announcement under “Splits” that Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame have broken up again – duh, I saw that one coming once the last fanfare of Breaking Dawn was done – and then I see a little inset on the bottom left that boldly reads “turn the page and open the flaps for EW’s pick of the 25 greatest superheroes ever” (with “plus the 5 worst” in a shaded grey, and a little arrow pointing to a big advertising spread for a TNT show called Hero.

Hmm. Didn’t see this listed on the “Contents” page. Must be like one of those Easter eggs that some videos have.

So nat’ch I open the flaps and there it is. Very cool, and a nice surprise.

The copy explains that when picking this list EW decided to “specify which version of the hero stands out above the rest,” so that “some icons appear here more than once.

I like that, it’s a bit different, and with 75 years of superhero history muddying the waters (Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1, June 1938) along with who-can-count-the-number-of-reboots in that time, I think it shows respect for our beloved genre.

So here’s their list, in ascending order, of the greatest superheroes of all time, with a bit of EW’s reasons why:

1. Spider-Man: Lee and Ditko, Amazing Fantasy #15, August 1962. “…reinvented the muscle-bound superhero as young, funny, geeky, flawed, and struggling. ”

2. Batman Year One: Frank Miller, Batman #404 – 407, 1987. “…has cast its dark, sinister shadow over every Batman iteration since. ”

3. Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Joss Wheedon, 1977 – 2003. “…super and human, as quick with a quip as she was with a stake…Buffy was a teen first, her secret identity her heroism. ”

4. Iron Man: Robert Downey, Jr., 2008. “…tack on the aching wisdom that Downey’s age (and eyes) – oh, and may I add here his pure, unadulterated sexiness – brings to the role and you have the fully charged heart of the Marvel movie universe. ”

5. Superman: Christopher Reeve, 1978. “…most memorable was his playful take on alter ego Clark Kent, depicting him as the meek, benign bumbler” – well, they almost got this one right. Reeve simply was Superman.

Okay, this is getting into dangerous, possible plagiarism territory here (plus it could very possible piss off editor Mike), so let me quickly go down the list without the, uh, word-for-word copying.

6. Wonder Woman: Lynda Carter, 1976 – 1979. Spin, Lynda, spin!

7. Batman: Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Trilogy, 2005 – 2012. Made everyone forget everything that came after Michael Keaton. Hey, I thought Keaton was great, so stick in it your ear! Although, imho, Pfeiffer still beats out Hathaway as Catwoman.

8. X-Men: Chris Claremont and John Byrne, 1977 – 1981. The team that got me hooked on mutants.

9. Black Panther: Don McGregor, Rich Buckler, Gil Kane, Billy Graham, Klaus Janson and Bob McLeod, “Panther’s Rage,” Jungle Action #6 – #24, September 1973 – November 1976. Marvel’s first graphic novel, even if it did appear in serialized form. Dwayne McDuffie said of it on his website: This overlooked and underrated classic is arguably the most tightly written multi-part superhero epic ever. If you can get your hands on it . . . sit down and read the whole thing. It’s damn near flawless, every issue, every scene, a functional, necessary part of the whole. Okay, now go back and read any individual issue. You’ll find seamlessly integrated words and pictures; clearly introduced characters and situations; a concise (sometimes even transparent) recap; beautifully developed character relationships; at least one cool new villain; a stunning action set piece to test our hero’s skills and resolve; and a story that is always moving forward towards a definite and satisfying conclusion…and [they] did it in only 17 pages per issue.” Okay, I’m copying again.

I’m going to tighten this up even further, because there’s a big surprise coming, and it’s something that mean a lot to me…and to someone else here at ComicMix.

10. Captain America: Ed Brubaker, 2004 – 2012.

11. Superman (Animated): Max and Dave Fleisher, 1941.

12. The Flash: Carmine Infantino, 1956 – seemingly forever

13. Phoenix: Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum, Uncanny X-Men, #101 – #108, 1976 – 1977

14. The Incredible Hulk: Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, 1977 – 1982

15. Dream: Neil Gaiman, Sandman #1 – #79, 1989 – 1996.

16. Wolverine: Hugh Jackman, 2000 – 2013

17. Swamp Thing: Alan Moore, The Saga of the Swamp Thing #21, February 1984 – Swamp Thing #64, September 1987

18. Hellboy: Mike Mignola, 1993 – onwards in comics and other media

And here is the one that made me sit up, rush to my computer and send off an e-mail to John Ostrander, my dear friend and fellow columnist here at ComicMix.

19. Oracle: John Ostrander and Kim Yale, Suicide Squad #23, 1989

In 1988, Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, was shot and paralyzed by the Joker in Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Joke as he rampaged against everyone connected to the Dark Knight. Although the graphic novel was a brilliant take on the Joker (which, imho, vastly influenced the late Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the villain) and was critically acclaimed, the controversy of the victimization of Barbara Gordon really upset the fans – particularly the women.

Including Kim Yale, John’s late wife, a wonderful writer and editor, and the best friend this writer ever had.

Well, let me have John tell it, from an interview with Vaneta Rogers on Newsarama dated September 7, 2011:

My late wife, Kimberly Yale, and I were not crazy about how Barbara was treated in The Killing Joke,” comic writer John Ostrander told Newsarama. “Since the Batman office had no further plans for her at the time, we got permission to use Barbara in Suicide Squa, [another DC title at the time]. We felt that the gunshot as seen in Killing Joke would leave her paralyzed. We felt such an act should have repercussions. So…we took some of her other talents, as with computers, and created what was essentially an Internet superhero – Oracle. “

It so perfectly made sense. Barbara had been established as a PhD. in library science, so Kim and John used that basis to make Barbara the ultimate computer hacker. As Oracle, she was the “go-to” person for any hero in the DC universe needing information; it was a natural progression for Denny O’Neil (yep, our Denny), who was the editor of Batman family editor at this time, to incorporate Oracle as the woman to whom the Dark Knight turned when he sought aid on the computer.

This is a nation that talks the talk about recognizing the value of everyone’s capabilities but rarely walks the walk. This is a country in which Senator Max Cleland, who lost both arms and a leg while serving in Vietnam, lost his seat to a man who got out of serving in Vietnam (“bad knee,” he said in one interview) by claiming Cleland did not support his country against Osama Bin Laden. This is a country in which the comic book industry is filled with muscle-bound men in spandex able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and sexualized women whose bubble boobs enable them to fly.

But this is also an industry that gave us Oracle, who was Batgirl, who was the target of madhouse clown, who was paralyzed, who forged on ahead and demanded our respect.

She got it.

Thanks to two writers named Kim Yale and John Ostrander.

*The rest of the list is: 20. Astonishing X-Men by Joss Wheedon; 21. The Incredibles, by Brad Bird; 22. The Incredible Hulk, by Lee and Kirby; 23. Spider-Man, by Sam Raimi; 24. Daredevil, by Frank Miller; and 25. Fantastic Four, by Lee and Kirby.

**The 5 Worst Superheroes are: 1. Matter-Eater Lad; 2. The Punisher; 3. Halle Berry’s Catwoman; 4. Wonder Twins; and 5. David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman.

(Mindy will be back in this space Wednesday afternoon.)




Eisner Awards 2013 Nominations Announced; “Hawkeye”, “Fatale”, “Building Stories” Lead

Comic-Con International is proud to announce the nominations for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards of 2013. The nominees, chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of judges, reflect the wide range of material being published in comics and graphic novel form today, from crime noir to autobiographical works to cartoon adventures. Three titles lead the 2013 list with 5 nominations each.

Emily S. Whitten: Making Art and Words of Wisdom

It’s Friday night and I’m standing on the crowded floor of a packed concert with friends when suddenly, it hits me: the perfect little plot point to tie together two parts of the first storyline for the new comic I’m working on. Naturally I immediately have to make some notes before I forget the idea. Five minutes later I’m back to the show, but kind of wishing I could be in two places at once so I could enjoy the rest of the show and be working on the new idea at the same time. Too bad reality doesn’t work that way.

Instead, we all have our own little difficulties and stumbling blocks to get over when it comes to creating art – like procrastination, or writer’s block, or fear of failure, or what-have-you – and I’d just been hit by one of mine, which is definitely distraction. Or, to put a more positive spin on it, the way my brain seems to like multitasking all the time. Sometimes it can be a good thing – like when I haven’t worked on a story in a bit and suddenly an idea comes to me out of nowhere. But other times, the distractions come at all the wrong times, like when I’m in the middle of working on the story and something else comes along; or when I have a great idea but no good way to preserve it or to start working on it right away. (Thank goodness for the notepad-type apps on smartphones, at least, which have helped a little with that problem!)

Creating is a funny process. Sure, there are some universal fundamentals to it, but everyone does it differently. Some writers are prolific, while others take years to write one novel. Some comics artists want a detailed script from a writer, while others like a loose framework they can play with. Some people like to get feedback as they go; but others don’t want anyone else’s eyes on their work until they think it’s perfect.

No matter how different each person’s process may be, though, everyone has to face their own hurdles as they create, because, let’s face it – it’s not easy. Sure, sometimes it may feel easy – you’re barreling through a story or a page of art and everything is flowing out like it’s never going to stop; but then it does, or you get stuck on one paragraph or frame of artwork for a ridiculous amount of time; or you look up at your clock at three in the morning and wonder if everything you just made was terrible. Or maybe none of these things happen to you; but I guarantee something in your process feels like a struggle from time to time.

At times like that, I find it helps me to be painfully aware of my shortcomings, so that I can remind myself of ways to overcome them. The reminders may be deceptively simple – e.g. don’t get distracted; that other thing will still be there when you’ve run out of words to write about this idea; you need to stop doing everything else and get back to the story – but just by owning the flaws and actively calling my brain to attention to overcome them, I have a much easier time actually doing so.

I think this same concept can be applied all the way through the process – from the very beginnings of your creation through to the part where you’re hoping to share it with the world (presumably in a profitable way). And since all of us experience the process of creation and sharing that creation in different ways, I thought it would be neat to see what some successful folks in the comics industry might offer as their best advice for successful writing or making art; giving us a window into what these creators find most important to keep in mind throughout the process (or possibly what they’ve learned by overcoming their own challenges), and providing us with some helpful thoughts, reminders, or encouragements as we work on our own art.

Thanks to the handiness of Twitter, through which I solicited advice, these contributions are all coincidentally in the form of handy, bite-sized little mantras that we can memorize, put up on a Post-it somewhere, etc. as needed to help keep us all on track as we make good art amidst the busy whirlwind of life. So without further ado, here they are!

@VictorGischler: Know yourself. Look inward and identify in which direction your enthusiasm lies. Also coffee. Lots of coffee.

@GailSimone: No one looks back and says, “I wish I’d taken fewer chances.”

@Reilly_Brown: Have a clear goal in mind from the start. “Success” is if the audience gets your point.

@MikeSHenderson: Keep challenging your weaknesses, and never stop acting like a professional.

@AletheaKontis: My Best Advice = Shut Up & Write.

@FredVanLente: There can always be one more draft. Have fun. Be a good person before a good artist.

@Janet_K_Lee: Sit your butt in the chair is #1. #2 Be fearless. Always try to learn and try something new.

@PaoloMRivera: I always tell everyone to sculpt. As for writing, just make people care. That may not be advice, but that’s the goal.

@JimMcCann: Allow yourself to fail every once in a while. Then make it better. :)

@kabalounge (Georges Jeanty): Make sure you are telling the story and not just trying to show off your artistic skills.

@MOWheatley (Mark Wheatley): Write. Draw. Do it again. Do it a lot. Keep doing it. Do it some more. Then do it again.

@brubaker (Ed Brubaker): My advice would just be keep doing it. You can’t control success.

@BenMcCool: Work hard, often & with abundant passion. Also, resist urge to drunkenly hassle editors. [ESW note: This is very wise.]

@jpalmiotti (Jimmy Palmiotti): Don’t listen to others’ BS, and stay focused.

@DennisCalero: Write and draw as much as you can and take it seriously.

@SkottieYoung: Do it a lot then do it more after that. Then, you know, keeping doing it.

@jerhaun (Jeremy Haun): Honestly @skottieyoung has it right. It’s all about being the guy that just doesn’t quit.

@GeneHa: @skottieyoung Exactly. Dave Sim said everyone has approximately 10K bad drawings in them. Keep drawing until most are outta your system. Also look for people who draw things differently than you do. Why does it still work, or even work better?

@PatrickZircher: Marry money. [ESW note: Hee!] Also, read any interview in which a mature comic pro talks about the work itself.

@JeffParker: Keep it short, be extremely clear to the extreme. Directness is harder than it looks.

@PaulTobin: Don’t stop. Choose what you love, not what you think will sell.

Also, study what you love. Understand why. Give your voice freedom.

@DavidGallaher: Always keep making stuff.

@PeterDavid_PAD: Buy my book on the subject.

@JoeKellyMOA: Do what you do every day. Intentionally do bad drafts so you get to good ones. Know when to take a nap. Go out for inspiration.

@LForLloyd (David Lloyd): There are really good books recommended by professionals here, but practice makes perfect, too… : )

@JamalIgle: Be yourself. Cliché, I know, but I’ve had more success when I listened to my gut. Your voice is precious; hone it, shape it, no one can take it away from you.

@DeanHaspiel: Live. Love. Make. Don’t hate. Be true. Show up. Commune. Commit. Deliver. Repeat.

@ColleenCoover: Read comics from before you were born. Don’t keep trying to redo stuff if it’s not perfect. Learn from mistakes and move on.

@FrankTieri: Also, get used to hearing “no” a lot. Even after you break in.

Excellent words of advice from great creators, all of whom share their work and wisdom on Twitter (so I’ve provided their usernames in case anyone is wondering where to follow them). I hope you all find them as helpful as I do!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this column, and until next time, Servo Lectio!




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Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

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Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.