Friday, September 29, 2006

Ultimate Iron Earl


I quite approve.

- ***


Wow. Delivers on all fronts.

A very pro-American story until you really stop to think about it. Traditionally, in super hero comics, one of the things that seperates the hero from the villain is that the villain is willing to go further to accomplish his aims. Many heroes, for instance, won't kill, even to save lives, but even villains who see themselves as noble or heroic will kill if they see it as necessary to achieving their goals.

The Ultimates win here not because they are inherently nobler or morally superior, but because they are stronger and more hardcore than the dreamy-eyed bad guys: Hulk simply tears Abomination apart, and Quicksilver basically disitegrates a Korean speedster by going faster and being tougher.

It's a great formula, and makes for a very satisfying super hero story. The self-commentary here is in how far it's allowed to go, and the fact that it is perfectly acceptable -- heroic, even -- to show a white American (Captain America) kill a Muslim (Abdul).

Ultimates is and has always been the best super hero comic published.

- ***


How come it's not funny anymore? Was that second episode just a blip, or are they rethinking the show for the second season?

I think the problem is that they deviated from the show's premise -- My Name is Earl is about Earl crossing things off his list. Every episode, he needs to cross something off. Problem, complication (complication, complication, complication...), resolution. Each episode should tell its own story, not carry over from the previous episode.

This is the first time the show has stumbled for me -- I'm sure it will recover soon.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Elf-Help 35

Up in the sky -- it's Elf-Help 35 at Stan Lee's Sunday Comics!

previous comic
first comic

Friday, September 22, 2006

Elf-Help Annual

Wow. I've been at this blogging thing almost a full year. Here's what I was thinking about a year ago.

Thinking about shaking things up as far as a second year of online presence is concerned -- stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Have a Happy Period.

Today I got my first piece of personally addressed junk mail. We get lots of junk mail every week, of course, but usually there's no name attached and, the rare time it is addressed, it's always addressed to my girlfriend.

But today, this came in the mail: porn

"Two ways to feel shower clean…" Normally, I would have absolutely no interest. But this was addressed to me, specifically. Someone, somewhere, thought that I would find this product (a cleaning product of some kind, I assumed) of interest. Plus, it had a little tab you had to pull to find out what it was, sort of like a game, so…

I pull out the insert, and it's this:

An ad for the new Always feminine hygiene product. Which they apparently think I will dig. I, Mr. Bob Richardson, of Edmonton, Alberta.

If this isn't a successful direct marketing plan, I don't know what will be. Always was really limiting itself, when you think about it, by marketing only to women.

Have a Happy Period,

Friday, September 15, 2006

Pride of Baghdad

In the spring of 2003, a pride of lions escaped from the Baghdad Zoo during an American bombing raid. Lost and confused, hungry but finally free, the four lions roamed the decimated streets of Baghdad in a desperate struggle for their lives. In documenting the plight of the lions, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD raises questions about the true meaning of liberation — can it be given, or is it earned only through self-determination and sacrifice? And in the end, is it truly better to die free than to live life in captivity?

Read this graphic novel a couple of days ago, and it's a real classic -- possibly the best original graphic novel I've ever read. Rather than go on about it, I'll point you to a couple of podcast interviews with PRIDE writer Brian K. Vaughan:

At NPR (on Pride of Baghdad); at USA Today's Pop Candy (on Y: the Last Man).

Comics Anthologies

I've always been a fan of anthologies; most of my (prose) short stories have appeared in anthologies (as opposed to magazines), and my first in-print comic story will soon be published in Dark Horrors, an anthology from Arcana Studio.

A recent article on comics anthologies in Publisher's Weekly, Comics Anthologies Return as Graphic Novels, points to one of the reasons I've tended to prefer anthologies over magazines -- anthologies are intended (in theory, at least) to stay in print; they're book shelf items with spines, and built for long term storage and display.

Anyway, anthologies seem to be on the rise again in comics, and I for one couldn't be happier.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Comic Conversations

On format:

At The Engine:

Warren Ellis:

When I devised the FELL format, I thought of it as The Dose (as long-suffering readers of Bad Signal will recall). Just a direct mainline shot of brainpower, taking longer to read and digest than the standard 32pp single for a dollar less than usual.

Now Matt's doing CASANOVA. I believe there's one more FELL-format book planned at Image Central right now.

I want more...

At Image Central:


To be honest, it is much harder to write a short story than just ramble on. But is there an audience for it? I think so. In fact, since we're talking the spandex set, I would say your main audience is exactly who is LEFT behind.... now that we've shrunk so much as a community.

Also, FELL has proven you can do-it-in-one, and Ellis is doing it with even less pages. But, the important fact is to make it your own...

On breaking in:

At Newsarama:

Rick Remender:

From today’s vantage point, my only real problem with the idea that there is such a thing as an “over-night success” is that it gives aspiring creators and their audiences a false sense of reality. I can assure you 99% of your favorite creators put in long years toiling in obscurity before you gave two shits about them. When we become aware of a creator’s work, it’s new to us and indeed it seems as if the work appeared overnight. Yet, in most cases the entertainer had undoubtedly been working seven days a week, fourteen hours a day, for years and years prior to his or her “over-night success.”

For everyone who has ever asked me how to break into comics--and what to expect--I offer this, the humble tale of my ten-year, over-night success...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bush on Extremists

In an article on Yahoo! News, Bush says:

"The war is not over — and it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious."

So there's no possibility of finding a middle ground? Isn't that a bit... extreme?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Limbering up for Old School #2

Alan has started on Old School #2. We're shooting to have #1 in stores for March, 2007. Wish us luck!

Dark Horrors: Spotlight and ToC

The Dark Horrors anthology is not only in previews right now (SEP06 3063), but it also has a spotlight. Keep an eye out for the really ugly dude below when you're in shops looking for this around Halloween.

Here is the list of story titles and writers involved:

Ronn Sutton -- Tell-Tale Heart (Adaptation)
Janet Hetherington -- Wishbone
Ron Fortier -- Fright
David Hopkins -- Siren Song option
Dwight MacPherson -- La Famiglia
Mark Poulton -- Hog Wild!
Robert Burke Richardson -- The Gargoyle
Jon Hook -- In Season Variety
Crisman Strunk -- Safe at Home
Jim Wheelock -- Drawing on the Dead
Kenneth Olson-- Remember Me
Ben Fisher -- Me and My Shadow
Jeff Loew -- I Married a Ghost Girl: A Maskers Tale
Saul Haberfield -- Believe Hollywood
Chris Lynch -- The Exchange
Gerrin Bush -- Hinnom

I've had a peek at Ron Fortier's story, "Fright," and the art is top notch. I'll be watching this space over here for info on the other artists involved.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Upcoming Comics-Related Events

From WordFest:

LET'S GET GRAPHIC -- October 12, 2006
Start: 7:00 pm End: 8:00 pm
Venue: The Banff Book & Art Den
Meet the new comics icons!
Svetlana Chmakova, Andrew Foley

PICTURE THIS -- October 14, 2006
Start: 2:00 pm End: 3:00 pm
Venue: Calgary Public Library - Memorial Park Branch
Celebrate the next generation in comics!
Chester Brown, Svetlana Chmakova, Andrew Foley


From Comic Talks at Pure Speculation (sponsored by Happy Harbor Comics):

PANEL ONE - Saturday, October 14, 11 am "Making Your Own Comics"

People who've struck out on their own to produce the tales they wanted to tell. Featuring; Edmonton's BOB PRODOR (Wine, Women & Song), Calgary's DAMIAN WILLCOX (Dorkboy), CHRIS PETERSON (Meltdown & Doll Steak) and JAMES DAVIDGE (Wandering Stars)!

PANEL TWO - Saturday, October 14, 3 pm "Inside The Industry"

Find out more about how things work in the professional comics industry by speaking with those who make four colour madness for a living. Meet; SEAN O'REILLY, Editor-In-Chief of Arcana Studios from Vancouver. CARY NORD, Dark Horse artist of Conan (more participants to be announced).

PANEL THREE - Sunday, October 15, 11 am"Comics and Life.

"Why do we love comics? Let four of Alberta's most brilliant minds discuss it with you. Meet; RICHARD HARRISON and LEE EASTON of Mount Royal College in Calgary along with ORION KIDDER and TOM WHARTON from the University of Alberta here in Edmonton.

PANEL FOUR - Sunday, October 15, 3 pm "The World of Webcomics"

I know you've got at least one webcomic bookmarked on your computer but what really goes into making these missives? Meet the makers from four webcomics featured on HH's website - MARIE-CLAIRE GOULD (Will Work For Games), RUDI GUNTHER (Deathworld), RICHARD BARKMAN and KEVIN SOLE (Twice. Thursday.) and TAROL HUNT (Goblins)!

Elf-Help 34

At komikwerks.

Colorless "naked" version for now. I think inker Carolina Cesare really shines in the two panels above: the foreground images are crisp and clear, the backgrounds sketched just enough to let your imagination fill in the details. Too often in comics (and film and prose, for that matter) the creators become lost in trying to perfectly define absolutely every detail. Storytelling is a collaborative medium, requiring the participation of both the creator(s) and the reader, and this page reminds me to always leave a little space for the reader.

Part of the reason Elf-Help 34 is still colorless may be that I'm working colorist Giuseppe Pica a little too hard. Right now he's working on Elf-Help, Old School, and a new submission package called Twilight Precinct that I've been fiddling with for the better part of a year. I need him on all of these projects, though, because when it comes to coloring comics he is, quite simply, the man. His coloring on Elf-Help 33 totally sells the idea that the elves (who are pacifists) have attacked the Amazon Kobold Marauders by firing love potions at them:

Like Carolina, Giuseppe is a storyteller who uses his skills to bring focus to what matters most. The art for Twilight Precinct is hyper-detailed, so the coloring on it needs to focus attention and clarify exactly what is going on (which is no easy task). Here is Giuseppe's solution:

He puts all the focus on the figure in the foreground, and literally defocuses the background. The effect brings a real sense of cinematic realism to the art that grounds the more stylized, OTT superhero action.

Anyway, if this post should make its way to your eyeballs, thanks Carolina and Giuseppe for turning in page after page of great work -- it's always a treat to see what you guys will come up with next. sequel

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dark Horrors

Dark Horrors, an anthology of psychological horror tales from Arcana Studio (and featuring a tale by myself and artist Shom Bhuiya) is available to order (in Previews, the big catalog that comics retailers order comics from) right now! If you think you might be interested in picking this up, use this secret code at your local comics shop:

SEP06 3063 DARK HORRORS ANTHOLOGY VOL 1 GN (MR) SRP: $9.95 (I think you only really need the SEP06 3063 part.)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Comic Conversations

The disappearance of thought balloons in comics, at the Image forums:

JimmyKitty: I love me some thought balloons - mainly because I can't stand people talking aloud- but I guess I should be used to it nowadays with all the bluetooth cell phones in people's ears.

But yes... loss of the thought balloon, I don't understand it, either. People do think. And thinking is faster than talking. It's like reading a book, you get the full dynamic of a person when you're privy to what they think, not just what they say.

It also saves panels...

Booms and Busts, at Millarworld:

Mark Millar: As I just said to someone in an email, this is an AMAZING opportunity for new creators because as the market expands (and it's grown a lot every year since 2000) and creators are split between movies and comics then SOMEONE has to fill that gap. Marvel and DC always poach from the indies so anyone looking to replace the current crop of star writers and artists as their workloads decrease a little should be getting their books out NOW.

Reconstructing Night Star parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, at EX-3's View:

Mike Exner III: The colors for Night Star have always been a bit of a challenge to nail down. When I first concieved of the character in my mind, there was a bit of a clash of styles because of the name. The "Night" in Night Star implies that NS runs around battling criminals at night, and therefore it'd be a smart idea to establish a moody, broody color scheme that accentuates that aspect. But the "Star" in Night Star implies that this character is a celebrity who craves attention, and therefore a bit of flash would probably do the color scheme good...