Tagged: Erik Larsen

Marc Alan Fishman: Bill Cosby, Subway Jared, and Arthur Suydam

Fat AlbertAre there good guys anymore? Perhaps just you, my loyal readers. This past week we’ve seen enough to be stark (no, not Tony) raving mad.

First, the Associated Press finally caught Bill Cosby with his pants down – so to speak. Any more of his bluster is now faced with the truth that under oath he admitted to having drugged women prior to engaging in sexual activities.

Speaking of sex crimes… Subway’s own Jared Fogel was detained this week under suspicion of owning child pornography. To be fair, he may yet be absolved – a former employee of his was previously caught with the same material – but the PR damage is done.

And in our little neck of the blogosphere, artist Arthur Suydam was caught pilfering adjacent tables at a recent comic-con akin perhaps to Hitler’s taking of Poland. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh? I was all soft and gooey last week. Screw it. Let’s get snarky!

The story, as Artie would have you believe, was that he arrived at the convention and was shown to his table. He set up as normal, and life was wonderful. Apparently you see, the promoters mistakenly displaced several artists in order to meet the request of Arthur taking on four tables in the Artist Alley. Now let’s be clear: no one was denied a table space. However, the promoters did have show materials (guides, programs, etc.) with those aforementioned detainees placed next to Suydam. Clearly as folks made their way around the show, trying to find those people who clearly weren’t Arthur resulted in a stalwart fans having to do a bit of unnecessary sleuthing to trip over their intended artists. Was Arthur in the wrong?

I’ve only a little doubt that he took up four tables rightfully. As I recall at several shows I’ve been at with him, he does typically squat over a larger footprint than others. This is necessary so he can display his mammoth one-note zombified prints. I’ll not deny he has artistic talent. And as a businessman, if he’s somehow able to make profit by paying for what constitutes a vendor-sized space selling his posters? Who am I to nay-say his entrepreneurial spirit!

Wait! I remember… I’m an indie creator who has to play by the rules with conventions. Conventions that likely never let individual artists usurp multiple tables within the Artist Alley. Why? Because the exhibition space is sold for those needing more than an eight-foot table to their name. And while Arthur himself may be more noteworthy due to his run as a Marvel Zombies cover artist then, say, a completely unknown artist, that shouldn’t necessarily grant him carte blanch to take a table away from someone who deserves an opportunity to be at the show too.

Now, I’m not a convention promoter, nor am I an event coordinator. But certainly if someone asked me to purchase multiple alley tables, my instinct is to immediately offer a space on the show floor proper, if real estate is so sought-after. The only time I’d be apt to let a man become his own island is if my Alley has more space than interest. At the comics convention Suydam attended, I sincerely doubt there weren’t a few people on a waiting list who would have chomped at the bit to be at the show. Instead, the comic convention world at large had an opportunity to call out Arthur on his bad practices.

It would seem, akin to the aforementioned Cosby, that Arthur Sudyam is a long-time criminal offender without an actual rapsheet. Many folks who can continue to enjoy their anonymity came forward during Tablegate (or the better coined #Sudyamized) to denote their stories of Arthur usurping space much like the shuffling zombies of his milieu. And given that Sudyam had to have his people respond to the allegations that swam across Bleeding Cool, Comic Book Resources, and Newsarama, it only makes him feel that much more guilty.

Beyond the small guys proclaiming their hatred, the well-named (and wonderful) Erik Larsen and Mark Waid stood tall to declare their spite as well, showcasing Sudyam’s posting of twitpics with obviously Photoshopped crowds to prove his, ah, drawing power.

Artie’s response: In a few words, he chalked it up to his people posting on his behalf as a representation not only of his line but the con experience in general. No harm, no foul he said. Sorry. I cry foul.

Simply put, Arthur Sudyam’s enterprise preys on show promoters, and blots out the sun of neighboring booths. While it’s not like he himself forces gawkers from lingering away from smaller tables to his mountain of material… it stands to be noted that it’s purveyors like him that make Unshaven Comics feel infinitesimal when all we have to our names is a 30” wide pop-up banner. But the mob has spoken, and Arthur Suydam’s name is unmistakably synonymous with ill-will. I’d consider that a win for the good guys.

 

Marc Alan Fishman’s Snarky Synopsis: The New 52 – Futures End #7

Marc Alan Fishman’s Snarky Synopsis: The New 52 – Futures End #7

Futures EndWritten by Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, and Keith Giffen. Art by Aaron Lopresti, Art Thibert, and Hi-Fi.

I beg you, dear reader, to not skim over the author credits in this review. Azzarello. Lemire. Jurgens. Giffen. A master of noir, the macabre, cape and cowl, and team action. I want you to let those names and their respective bibliographies soak into your brainpan.

And now, I want you to forget it. All of it. Forget amazing runs on Batman, Animal Man, Justice League, Superman, and 100 Bullets. Why? Because Futures End doesn’t read like it even strolled adjacent to the parks where any of those celebrated authors lived. Instead, we get another chapter that advances banal plots that all lead towards the next editorial status quo to deal with in the next publishing quarter (or year, or what-have-you). If you don’t care to stick around to read the maple-syrup-thick snark I’m about to lay out on this waste of thought and talent, then take these words and call it a day: Futures End is a passionless money suck, and is yet-another-symptom in the ever-ailing world of big-comic event-driven fiction.

To sum up the issue itself is to merely check off the minor plot points that continue the threads of the litany of plots. In the Phantom Zone, Agent Frankenstein fights Black Adam. He wins, but loses a limb. I guess we should care about that, but the guy is literally sewn together bits already. Losing one bit doesn’t really lend itself to intense dramatic action, does it? Elsewhere, Deathstroke and Hit Girl (or whatever her name is – which doesn’t matter because she’s clearly being presented like Hit Girl) discuss adding Grifter to their team. Grifter is told this, and basically seems fine with it. Oh the melancholy! Then there’s Firestorm, who visits a memorial celebrating the loss of life he had a hand in creating. Joy! And we cap off the book with a skirmish in the park – Terry McGinness (Batman Beyond, don’t cha know) and Mr. Terrific fight while the Key and some ne’er-do-wells discuss being bad.

Time for a bit of a digression, kiddos. You see, not that long ago, there was this weekly book called 52. It was penned by a fantastic foursome of their day. To be fair, all four men are still incredible. Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, and Greg Rucka. Each man basically took a single story set inside the ever-shifting DCU, and over the course of 52 issues laid it out in tandem with the other three.

Over the course of that year-in-comics, there were certainly issues akin to Futures End where really there was more moving of chess pieces than there was definitive action and progress. But by and large, each issue was worth the read. Each issue contributed a very dissimilar set of heroes and villains that ultimately came together to showcase the richly detailed universe that houses half of the most recognizable licensed characters in all of creation… and then placed them dutifully on the shelf, and played with the want-nots, has-beens, and forgotten ones instead. It was the best of times.

Futures End #7 is the worst of times. As I alluded to above, the book just reads as passionless plot. I take that opinion to heart, as I myself am amidst the writing process on something of similar direction. In the era of writing for the trade, the middle chapters fall prey to only existing as means to the eventual end. Because they serve so many masters, they end up feeling hollow. Things happen. Stuff moves forward. But when you cram an issue with no fewer than five plot lines, and literally nothing gets resolved, or any twists are revealed… the trade becomes an end not worth waiting for. At least, not when the scripting and pacing do not take into account that every issue could stand to be a jumping on point. FE #7 not only craps on that concept, it revels in it.

Allow me to admit it straight up: I haven’t read a single panel of any previous issue of Futures End. Outside the pithy knowledge I have that this is some kind of epic that has to do with robotic evil duplicates from an alternate timeline or dimension, and at some point Luthor will run the Justice League… I know nothing. Picking up the seventh issue is of course complete reader-suicide. I don’t know why Frankenstein is in the Phantom Zone. I don’t know why Ronnie Raymond is to blame for whatever tragedy befell his kin. I don’t have the slightest clue what Terrifitech is, or why Batman Beyond is trying to blend in as a bum (who apparently drops fifty dollar bills because… the Internet?). But I digress. Simply put: I shouldn’t have to know any of those six-issue long backstories to enjoy a good comic.

If it’s the absolute I believe in now – having been a weekly reviewer for nearly three and a half years (and a fan and reader for two decades) – it’s that Erik Larsen was right. Every comic stands to be someone’s jumping on point. And it’s issues like this one that lend me to believe why comic books continue to ebb and flow but never seem to be more than a niche medium clinging to life in between the blockbuster movie adaptations. Stories like 52 actually attempted to prove that comic books still had sway – and that Alan Moore isn’t just a crazy loon in a castle. By making a book that used the continuity and novel-length girth of plots, DC proved that a comic book need not be a cartoon or mega-plex people pleaser. Futures End instead returns to the roots (and not that Jack Kirby / Steve Ditko / Stan Lee kind) of the industry; kitchy low-brow action stories that only target those who want a punch, kick, and an occasional tit. Sorry, we’re better than this.

When the credit-roll on your book reads like a who’s-who of modern top talent.. when your art team delivers admirable visuals to the script… when you have literally an entire universe of characters – including the top-shelf ones – at your disposal… when you have the carte blanche to create with compatriots that each in their own right could handle the book by themselves, you are not allowed to phone in an issue. Hell, you’re not allowed to phone in one panel. For fuck’s sake, you’re not even allowed to trip up over a single Rao-damned word balloon.

Future’s End is indicted on all counts. This was a lazy chapter in a lazy crossover that feels more by-the-numbers than seat-of-your-pants. It aspires to do nothing other than advance plot at a snails pace – sans style, sans grace. For shame, DC. For shame Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, and Keith Giffen.

 

 

Mike Gold: Restoring Our Sense of Wonder

Savage DragonBack in the days of purple hallucinogenic duplicator fluid, Bill Schelly published a great fanzine called Sense of Wonder. In an era when there were many first-rate fanzines (Alter-Ego, Fantasy Illustrated, RBCC), Bill’s zine was the most aptly-named. That’s what comic books were all about. Playing to the sense of wonder.

Today, well, not so much. Comics offer us nitty-gritty, slow moving but quick reading stories that are meant to be collected into trade paperback form. The audience is a lot older than it was a half-century ago, and that’s okay. Times change, tastes change.

But then there’s the “baby-for-the-bath-water” argument. I think we have turned our backs on a vital portion of our potential audience. We’ve finally addressed the younger end of the audience, primarily through recent efforts from Boom!, IDW and Archie, although DC and Marvel continue to churn out needlessly lame versions of their cartoon characters. That’s their problem. Our problem is, how do you keep the readers too old for Adventure Time but too young for Hawkeye? What do we have for the “bridge” readers?

Obviously, it’s an issue of commitment from the publishers. They must invest in their own future, and sometimes they’re trying to sustain their current efforts and don’t have the cash flow or incentive to experiment. But, I think, it’s also a talent issue. It’s hard for a publisher to turn down a great concept from established talent. It happens – well, it happens a lot, but we need more.

The greatest comics creators bathed in the sense of wonder. Jack Kirby, Wally Wood, Will Eisner, Bud Sagendorf, Carl Barks, Carmine Infantino… the list is nearly endless. And many of those who grew up reading these masters bathe in similar waters: Jim Starlin, Walter Simonson, Keith Giffen, Howard Chaykin, et al. But too many comics creators who are not on Medicare are sadly less likely to be fantasists.

Today there are only a handful of such titles being produced by the larger publishers. But Erik Larsen has been doing Savage Dragon for 200 issues – if you count crossovers and mini’s, that number is probably about 300. Somebody must be buying it, and I doubt it’s just a couple people with severe myopia thinking they’re getting a lot of variant editions.

Maybe we perceive such stuff as “children’s comics” and we feel indulging in such storytelling is a step backwards. Retro. I don’t think so. The sense of wonder addresses all audiences. Just go to the movie theater during afternoon showings and count the number of old geezers wearing 3-D glasses.

We need to address the entire humanity of potential audiences. And we desperately need to hold on to our sense of wonder.

 

Review: Marc Alan Fishman’s Snarky Synopsis – Ultimate FF #2

Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov. Art by Tom Grummett, Mario Guevara, Juan Vlaskco, Scott Hanna, Mark Pennington, Jay Leisten and Rachelle Rosenberg.

Ultimate FFOnce I adopted Eric Larsen’s creed of “all issues are jumping-on issues” I’d like to say I’ve become a better comic reader because of it. Using that motto has removed the excuse “… maybe it’s better if I’d read the backstory” from my fallback position when an issue is subpar. In its place comes the knowledge that a comic can be judged devoid of context. The dialogue can be snappy without previous knowledge of what came before the page you’ve read. More to the point: jump into Silence of the Lambs 45 minutes in and it’s still a great movie. I say all of this because I need you all to understand: Ultimate FF #2 is an absolute top-to-bottom atrocity. No context needed.

Let’s start with the script / plot / words on the page. Joshua Hale Fialkov generally grasps the beats and characterizations of his Future Foundation. Beyond that grasp though, is a mishmash of simplistic and idiotic dialogue awash in a plot dug out of a half-read Dungeons and Dragons campaign, topped liberally with incoherent action sequences to pad things out. The plot as it were: Sue Storm’s FF field team investigates the disappearance of some 130 wealthy Atlanteans. They arrive, things get weird, and then there’s fighting. Tah Dah!

I understand that it’s hard to effectively move a complex plot in only 20 pages or so, but then I think of all the other amazing comic books I’ve read – one shots, parts of a whole, or otherwise – and I come to the bitter conclusion that the modern trope to write for the trade is merely an excuse. I like to equate a single issue of a comic to a single episode of a cartoon. If Ultimate FF #2 were on TV, it’d be akin to one of those 12-minute shorts they traipse out during Adult Swim. It’s short, it’s shallow, and its attempts to ride on more style than substance falls on deaf ears.

All this, and the big ending is a tongue-in-cheek nod to issue three’s impending catfight. Yawn.

While I admit that I’ve not dabbled in the Ultimate universe for years, the tenants and tent-poles that make up the characters must hold true. And Fialkov seems to want only to revel in them without any further exploration. Akin perhaps to the remake of Ocean’s Eleven remake, sans the Julia Roberts subplot. FF here is just Stalwart Sue, Angry Douche Doom, Generic Black Guy Falcon, and Rich Douche Iron Man on a tepid adventure to fight the multiverse, or the garbage therein. That caveat I can buy – it gives us a good excuse as any for this rag tag team of type A’s (minus Falcon, of course) to get into nasty spills. But unlike Matt Fraction’s whimsical Defenders or terse and tepid Others (where that tepidness was a perfect foil), this team is a collection of islands that only know the melody amongst one another. And when the first big reveal gives us Namor, we simply add another tool to the chest. Emphasis on tool.

Artistically, I’m nearly at a loss for words. If you count my accurate list above, you will see that it took seven people to put together twenty pages of loose, scrappy, crappy art. At first, I was almost won over: the delicate inking and detailed underwater environmental renderings were certainly an antithesis to today’s modern photoshoppery. But the devil is in the details, and here Tom Grummett and Mario Guevara fail to deliver on their initial pages’ promise. Figures are jerked and crammed into panels without care or cause. And the litany of inkers scrawl excessive lines throughout, causing tons of unnecessary visual confusion. From Namor’s oddly shaped five-finger forehead and Doom’s spastic cape, to Falcon’s always-hash-shaded-muscles, there’s nary a page that doesn’t contain an obvious rush or flub. And given that over half a dozen people touched this issue? I’m aghast with curiosity as to how this passed mustard with anyone calling themselves an editor. All this, and I haven’t even talked about the colorist!

Long considered the unsung hero of the medium, here Rachelle Rosenberg barely decided to show up. The book itself is a constant juxtaposition of old-school simplistic flat art, layered over generic paper texture, all adding to the facade of an older book. But these tricks belie the truth that this is an ugly ass book and the color choices do nothing to elevate that fact.

While there’s a masochistic part of me that enjoys that no added glows, knockouts, or filtering try to hide the scrawl and plunder, even the most basic color choices here – on model or not – are unflattering and unsettling. And to the person that picked a lime green logo over a purple, blue, and sky blue palate for the team? I implore you to go back to Parsons, and retake fashion design, and color theory.

Perhaps I’ve been too mean, too hard and harsh to poor Joshua Hale Fialkov and company. Or perhaps, I’m apt now to cast a pall on those waste opportunity with the biggest and arguably best comic book publisher in print today. These are revisions of classic characters, in an all but open world, ready for modern spins and serious explorations. In the wake of that opportunity sits this muddled mess of in-fighting, back-biting, and herky-jerky art. Ultimate FF #2 spends too much time trying to be witty and gritty, instead of layering nuance, complexity, and exploration that should be the foundation of the book.

Erik Larsen is right: every comic is a jumping on point… and as such, I suggest those interested in this new iteration of the Future Foundation jump elsewhere.

 

Marc Alan Fishman: Jump In, Let’s Save the World

Fishman Art 131026Erik Larsen, of Image Comics fame, said on his Facebook wall (and I’m paraphrasing and ignoring some of his sluttier words…) “Every comic is a jumping on point. Why are you so scared?”

Those words hit me like a brick house. As many of you know, I write a weekly review of a single comic book over at MichaelDavisWorld . The cool part (aside from Michael Davis calling me “his fourteenth favorite cracker just behind the Ritz”), is that with this new mantra instilled in me it was as if a veil had been pulled from before my eyes.

As many of you read last week, the era of collectability is all but dead. With that logic, combined with Larsen’s standard flapping in the wind… I decided that for the next good-long-while, I would review issues I’d never read before; ones that caught my eye for no personal reason like a love a particular character. While it’s not been a perfect plan that’s opened me up to worlds I feel like I’ve been missing all my life, it has given me plenty of new perspective. But I digress.

Larsen’s point makes sense when you apply it to other media. You see, this is how I tackled my initial fear. I didn’t start watching (and loving) The Cosby Show, Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, or even Batman: The Animated Series from their very beginnings. I’ve certainly stumbled into movies playing on cable a quarter, a third, or hell, three-fifths into their running time, and saw them to their conclusion – and later got myself caught up. My first CD was Aerosmith’s 12th studio album. Guess what? I didn’t immediately run out and purchase 1 through 11. I bought their greatest hits album. Zing!

As I noted last week, prior to the Image renaissance of the early 90s my generation didn’t have “jump on points” clearly labeled on the covers of our favorite comics. You want to like the X-Men? Good, go get Uncanny #197 and dive in. Think Superman might be your speed? Action Comics #643 is right there for the taking. Enjoy! One simply couldn’t wait for the volume to end, reboot, or reset. I’d abstained from the monthly comics throughout high school, for the very fear Erik rails against. “How could I possibly enjoy Detective Comics #546 without knowing what happened 20 issues ago?” Hence, I purchased trade paperbacks instead. It didn’t take long of course to note that they were in fact collections of pre-existing issues. Tada!

A single comic book, yes, even Watchmen #11, is small slice of entertainment. A solid fifteen minutes tops, if you’re a slow reader or Brian Michael Bendis is doing dialogue. And if a comic is written well, and drawn well, you know it regardless of subtext. Hence, if you jumped into any comic off the shelf and it was worth its salt, you could catch up and have a new series to enjoy. If the comic doesn’t work for you, then a few bucks are wasted, and you have some glossy toilet paper next time you head to White Castle.

My hunch is that the whole “death of the collectible comic” stems from this ideology of having to be there from the beginning. Hell, let’s be honest, kiddos. When a book starts to get hot it’s fast-tracked to tradesville and then your local comics shop makes it all-too-easy to get in before it’s too late. I know for a fact I would never have followed Irredeemable, Y: The Last Man, or the current Hawkeye had it not been for that fast-track-treatment.

The rush-to-trade happens, I largely assume, when the printed single issues are selling fast enough to warrant the collection. The rub here of course is that for every big publisher able to push things like that to the racks, there’s tons more being left at the station because it’s not exactly a great business move to dump a ton of trades on a store that isn’t selling out dozens of copies of The Atheist.

Much like Community is beloved by critics and a group of rabid fans but doesn’t garner the ratings like Friends, at the end of the day the argument is moot: a #1 excites the fans to buy more than #2, 3, or 237. But that’s been discussed. What Erik suggests, and I concur, is simple: Go buy that #2, 3, or 18. If the cover looked cool, buy it. When you flip through it on the rack and you chuckle a bit at the dialogue, buy it. If your friend at the gym told you he’s been on the book for months now, and says you’d love it, buy it.

You don’t know until you try. You’re smart enough to connect the dots, even when they’re scattered. Our industry doesn’t always need to slam on the reset button in order to get you back into the fracas. Take the leap. You might actually stumble across something that really puts the pep in your step.

I mean seriously… what are you… scared?

SUNDAY: John Ostrander!

MONDAY: Mindy Newell!

 

Mike Gold: Comics Creators Kick Ass

Gold Art 130821Excuse me if this week’s profundity seems a bit more extemporaneous than usual. It’s been one of those weeks, and at 3:00 yesterday morning Roscoe The Cat literally saved my life and I’m still twitching over that one.

I listen to music all the time. Literally, all the time. I have a very wide range in taste, but most of what I listen to falls under the exceptionally broad category of “kick ass rock’n’blues.” It’s a phrase I use on Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind, my weekly radio indulgence on (ahem) www.getthepointradio.com. Right now, I’m listening to Sterling Koch’s 2010 effort, Steel Guitar Blues. Kick ass music energizes me and takes the pressures of the day and it puts them over there, wherever there is. Music is my drug of choice.

A lot of my friends in the comics racket have a similar relationship to rock’n’blues – it’s crack for those of us with short attention spans. Topping that list is my Team GrimJack mate and awesomely dear friend, Timothy Truman. He’s turned me onto more great music than anybody outside of the amazing disc jockey Terri Hemmert (WXRT; they stream live and are on most of the radio apps). The difference is, it’s Terri’s job to turn us on to music. Timbo’s job is to sit at his drawing board and his computer and knock out the greatest comics the world has ever known.

The energy and the ambiance of kick ass rock’n’blues is reflected in Tim’s work – every damn panel of it. He’d probably do more comics work if he weren’t the artist for The Grateful Dead, and his work as graced the cover of many a recent GD release. He’d probably do less comics work if he had decided to make his career commitment the guitar: he’s one of the finest guitar players I have ever heard. That’s a lot to say, as I spent more than three decades in Chicago and I lived near many of their classic blues clubs. Timothy has jammed with Carlos Santana and Bill Kirchen and sundry of the Dead and a million others and, let me tell you, from the tapes I’ve heard nobody ever had to carry him.

Having worked with him on a zillion projects in the past 30 years – that’s 30 years this year – I can now reveal a secret: I stole Timbo not from TSR, where he was employed prior to Starslayer and GrimJack, but from the world of rock and blues… and for this, I feel guilty.

There are others whose work reflects the energy and spirit of the sound. Lots of so-called underground guys like George Metzger and Rand Holmes and Greg Irons. Erik Larson has more than a bit of that going for him. Howard Chaykin, but not so much rock’n’blues as Hoagy Carmichael and Billie Holiday by way of David Bowie.

Gold Art 130821-BBut no one ever captured the spirit and the energy of kick ass rock’n’blues the way Jack Kirby did. You could see the shift in his style around the time rock’n’roll hit the airwaves in the mid-50s (check out his Fighting American), and when it came time to co-create the Marvel Universe, well let me tell you, Galactus and Doctor Doom and the Silver Surfer and the negative zone and… well, you get the idea. Pure rock energy that carried over to his Fourth World stuff at DC.

Here’s the part that I find overwhelming: there is no recorded evidence that Jack Kirby was a fan of this music, or that he even liked it. He met a few rock’n’rollers; he met Frank Zappa, for crying out loud. But if this isn’t the creative coincidence of all time, then there was something in the air that only Jack Kirby and a couple thousand musicians could inhale.

It was intuitive, the way good comics should be. It was intuitive, the way good music should be.

By the way, I’m now listening to the new album by the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Made Up Mind. And yeah, Timothy Truman turned me on to them. Then, I think some rockabilly. Or maybe Bo Diddley.

(Poster artwork by Timothy Truman in promotion of a 2009 Grateful Dead tour, and the Simon and Kirby piece is from Fighting American. Both are probably copyright by somebody appropriate. Oh, yeah. All Rights Reserved. So watch yer ass.)

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: Martin Pasko

 

Mike Gold: Kill The Little Bastards

Gold Art 130612Spoiler Alert: In the current issue of Savage Dragon, writer/artist Erik Larson murdered a bunch of children. All I have to say about that is… it’s about time!

Larson’s book has been around about as long as Image Comics and presently is in its 188th issue, not counting crossovers, spin-offs and mini-series. That’s quite an accomplishment. It’s also one of the most consistently entertaining comics on the racks, and that’s even more of an accomplishment. He’s also a nice guy, but that’s only marginally important to my thoughts right now.

Back before there was Daredevil, there was Daredevil – in a sense, the world’s second homeless superhero. But instead of being homeless because his planet exploded went blooie, he was homeless because he was squeezed out of his own comic book by a group of know-it-all brats called the Little Wise Guys, a Bowery Boys-style knock-off that was introduced early on and swiftly reduced Daredevil to walk-on status in his own book. How cool were the Little Wise Guys? Well, they were named Curly, Jocko, Peewee, Scarecrow, and Meatball… and Meatball was killed off two issues later. I forget how, but I think it had something to do with marinara sauce.Gold Art 130612-2

Daredevil was one of the most visually interesting characters of the Golden Age, and that’s saying a lot. He was created by Jack Binder and immediately revised by writer/artist/editor Jack Cole shortly before Cole created Plastic Man and later enhanced by Charles Biro. I cannot fault publisher Lev Gleason for hiding the guy behind his wacky Greek chorus – we are compelled to assume they were the reason for the title’s continued success. The series lasted 134 issues, getting cancelled when the publisher went out of business. This was in 1956, the same year DC brought back and revamped The Flash. But Daredevil himself did not even appear on the cover of the last 86 issues.

Why they didn’t change the name of the book is beyond me.

Loyal comics fan that I am, I have always resented those little bastards. And, to my amazement and amusement, in the current Savage Dragon story arc Erik brought back Daredevil, his arch-villain The Claw, and the Little Wise Asses… and, rather early on in this month’s story, killed the obnoxious rugrats dead.

There’s a morality in Golden Age superhero comics, one that we’ve kind of lost over the decades. The Golden Rule of the Golden Age is “at the end, justice wins out.”

In this case, justice came from the mighty swift sword (well, computer and drawing board) of Erik Larson.

Thank you, Erik.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

 

SDCC: CBLDF’s Comic-Con Welcome Party!

Kick off Comic-Con with the greatest stars in comics to celebrate 20 Years of Image Comics and the power of free expression at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Comic-Con Welcome Party! Starting at 8:00 PM on Thursday, July 12 at the Westgate Hotel, the CBLDF Comic-Con Welcome Party is jam-packed with amazing people and cool stuff! This party is sponsored by Image Comics, TFAW.Com, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, & Threadless!


Experience Creativity with Image Comics greats including:
Ales Kot, Amanda Conner, Ben McCool, Ben Templesmith, Brandon Seifert, Charles Soule, Chris Giarrusso, Cory Walker, Dan Brereton, Darick Robertson, Deborah Vankin, Dexter Weeks, Dirk Manning, Edwin Huang,Eric Shanower, Eric Stephenson, Erik Larsen, Gerry Duggan, Glen Brunswick, Jim Mahfood, Jim McCann, Jim Valentino, Jim Zub, Jimmy Palmiotti, Joe Keatinge, John Layman, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Joshua Williamson, Kody Chamberlain, Kurtis Wiebe, Mark Poulton,Matt Hawkins, Michael Moreci, Moritat, Nate Bellegarde, Nathan Edmondson, Phil Noto, Richard Starkings, Ron Marz, S. Steven Struble, Scott Tuft, Sina Grace, Steve Seeley, and many more!

Get The Exclusive Goods: Free gift bag, featuring a CBLDF party exclusive edition of Revival #1 by Tim Seeley & Mike Norton from Image Comics, and other special thank yous from CBLDF supporters including Valiant and Threadless!

See The World Premiere of “The Day The Saucers Came:” Be the first to see the latest Comics-On Tees from Threadless featuring Neil Gaiman’s “The Day The Saucers Came,” featuring artwork by John Cassaday, Brandon Graham & Ben Templesmith at a special fashion show! Get your tees straight from the source at the party!

Smell Awesome At The Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Trading Post: BPAL will make their only Comic-Con appearance at the party, setting up a one-night only display of fragrances, including the world premiere of new fragrances based on Neil Gaiman’s Coraline!

Check Out The Amazing Items In CBLDF’s Comic-Con Auction, sponsored by TFAW.Com & Valiant Comics:
Check out all the amazing original art up for grabs at Saturday’s CBLDF Comic-Con Auction live!

Come support Free Speech and experience the best of Comic-Con at the CBLDF Comic-Con Welcome Party Thursday at the Westgate Hotel, 1055 Second Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 from 8 PM to 11 PM! This party is FREE for CBLDF Members. Non-Members, suggested $10 – $20 donation at the door, please.

ABOUT IMAGE COMICS
Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of best-selling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. Image currently has five partners: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino. It consists of five major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline, Skybound and Image Central. Image publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable. It offers science fiction, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit www.imagecomics.com.

ABOUT THREADLESS
We’re awesome people from all over the world who make mind-blowing art. Our process starts when a great idea is born in an artist’s mind. (That could be you, that could even be your grannie!) The artist submits their idea to our site, where our community of 1.5 million debates, discusses, and votes on that idea. If the idea gets a really good score, we make it into a tee, tote, hoody, or tube sock. (That last one isn’t true… yet.) Then, as long as folks keep buying that product, we keep rewarding that artist with loadsa money, prizes, and exposure. So people who buy from us support great artists and their great ideas. Neat, huh? Join us at Threadless.com. Threadless ~ Make Great Together.

ABOUT THINGS FROM ANOTHER WORLD
Founded in 1979, Things From Another World is the premier retailer of comics, toys, collectibles, and pop-culture geek goodness, both in Portland, Oregon and online at http://www.TFAW.com.

ABOUT BLACK PHOENIX ALCHEMY LAB
We specialize in formulating body and household blends with a dark, romantic Gothic tone. Our scents run the aesthetic gamut of magickal, pagan and mythological blends, Renaissance, Medieval and Victorian formulas, and horror / Gothic-themed scents. By utilizing our knowledge of homeopathy and aromatherapy, the conceptual theories of hermetic alchemy, and the aesthetic artistry of perfumery, we have mastered the art of encapsulating allegorical ideas into singular olfactory experiences. We are the first of our kind, and have over fifteen years of practical experience in the field. Our expertise shows.

We pride ourselves on the artistry of our products, and our skill in their creation. All of our products are hand-blended here in our laboratory. Integrity and dedication is vitally important to us, and we do our best to provide the best possible product and slavishly good service to all our clients.

ABOUT THE COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers. The CBLDF provides legal referrals, representation, advice, assistance, and education in furtherance of these goals.

Mike Gold: The Great Comic Book Retro-Expansion

Last week I bitched and moaned about how we’ve turned our backs on comics that can be appreciated by readers of all ages in order to follow the money that kids ain’t got and some adults might have. I also tied this into continuity impenetrable to newcomers that is spread over about a hundred dollars’ worth of monthly product. I can be snotty that way.

In just the past couple of years, we have seen something of a return to comics that can be enjoyed by readers young and old. Publishers can’t help the self-consciousness suffered by Baby Boomers and some Gen-Xers, but today’s new middle-agers were raised without much of the stigma us old folks suffered during the Wertham rage. So, I am now taking it upon myself to point out a few titles that work for a general audience that is fearless enough to read comic books on the bus, be it to work or to school.

I’ve been quite impressed with Dynamite’s Zorro Rides Again, written by Matt Wagner and drawn (now) by John K. Snyder III. That’s quite a pedigree, and their work lives up to it. You do not have to be steeped in a century of Zorrodom to understand what’s going on: it’s all about a revolutionary with a sword on a horse who fights Spanish oppression in the name of the people of California. Solid action, great storytelling, and an even greater story. You can’t go wrong here; it’s a damn fine book.

Image Comics has been running a little superhero series called Savage Dragon for almost 20 years now – the main series is up to issue 180, for crying out loud – and there’s a reason why writer/artist/creator Erik Larson’s work has endured: it deserves to. Yeah, it’s all about a big hyper-muscled green-scaled head-finned superhero; what’s it to you? It’s chock full of solid characterization and mayhem alike. I think it appeals to the same sort of 11 year old that found Marvel Comics so accessible and so exciting a couple generations ago as well as to older readers get a solid comic book experience that isn’t fraught with sturm und drang. The real old farts will be reminded why we liked comics in the first place without having to hit up 50ccs of nostalgia.

The real surprise here comes from DC Comics. While all the focus and attention has been on the New 52, a line too interconnected and too continuity convoluted to access the broader spectrum of readers, over on the West Coast their editorial operation has been publishing a nice little self-contained universe of superheroes in a continuity that had its roots in a teevee series cancelled long ago. The book is called Batman Beyond Unlimited and for those who are unfamiliar with the proto-show it’s The Old DC Universe – The Next Generation… except some members of the original generation (Bruce Wayne, Kal-El) are still around.

There’s three different series going on in this giant-sizedish monthly: Batman Beyond, Superman Beyond, and Justice League Beyond. The latter group has Superman (the original, a man out of his time), Batman (Terry McGinnis, although Bruce Wayne is still around and more cranky than ever), Warhawk – the son of Hawkgirl and John Stewart, as well as contemporary versions of Green Lantern, The Atom and others. They back-fill the origins while remaining constant with previously established continuity, but – and this is why it works – you don’t need to be Mark Waid to understand who’s who, what’s what, and how everybody got that way. Available as weekly downloads in individual series titles or in the Batman Beyond Unlimited monthly, by avoiding the grim and gritty wallowing in apocalyptic hopelessness, this is a title that can be enjoyed by all but the most anal-retentive cynic.

And when was the last time I wasn’t the most anal-retentive cynic?

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil and the Trilogy Trend

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: Mike Baron’s Bat Fan?

Ostrander Auction: a shirt with dozens of signatures

Ostrander Auction: a shirt with dozens of signatures

This just got dropped off to comix4sight‘s booth by Jon at EB30.us: the shirt they got almost everybody to sign at last year’s convention. And signatures keep getting added: here’s John Jackson Miller (the other monthly Star Wars writer) adding his name, and George Perez added Wonder Woman– this to a shirt that already had Warren Ellis, Peter David, Adi Granov, Gail Simone, Whilce Portacio, Jim Valentino, Humberto Ramos, Dan DiDio, Erik Larsen, the list goes on and on. (And yes, you’ll be getting a list along with the shirt and a certificate of authenticity.)

Small(er) picture of the shirt here:

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