Archive for January, 2006

FEMALE LEAD

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There’s no agenda or reason for the SUPERGIRL sketch today. I just drew whatever came to mind… and Kara flying with Krypto by her side is what popped into my head. I’ve long wanted to work on a book that had a female protagonist as its lead character. Other than the ROGUE miniseries I drew many years back, practically every title I’ve ever worked on has been with a male lead. Sure, Sue Richards counts as one quarter of the FANTASTIC FOUR… but by being that 1/4 of the team, it’s not really the same thing. There are so many great female characters out there… SUPERGIRL, MARY MARVEL, SPIDER-WOMAN, MS. MARVEL (or WARBIRD… I don’t know what her name is right at the moment), WONDER WOMAN, BLACK CAT… the list goes on. It would be a nice change of pace from drawing the muscle-boys all the time to work on a book starring a female lead.

OK…. that’s all today.

This is Entry 191.

Mike

SPIDER-BOY and the AMALGAM UNIVERSE

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It’s hard to believe, but 2006 (April, to be exact) marks the 10-year anniversary of the creation of the AMALGAM UNIVERSE. AMALGAM was, to me, a very exciting event. Some people absolutely loved it, others outright hated it… but it didn’t seem like anyone was indifferent to it. It was an honor for me at that time to be asked to get involved in this project on the ground floor (so to speak). And unless I’m mistaken, It was the first time I’d ever had any contact with editor Tom Brevoort, who called me to offer me the penciling job for the SPIDER-BOY book that was a part of the crossover. This was a true inter-company crossover between Marvel and DC comics where characters from each company would be mixed/blended (AMALGAMated) using elements from each to form a brand new character. SPIDER-BOY, for instance, was the amalgam of SUPERBOY and SPIDER-MAN. There were many other fun characters like DARKCLAW (BATMAN and WOLVERINE) DR. STRANGEFATE (DR. STRANGE and DR. FATE), JLX (JUSTICE LEAGUE and THE X-MEN)… and on and on. The event got huge press and for a while, it was the biggest thing to happen to comics in some time after several dark years of the market decline that began around 1993 or so.

As I said, Tom Brevoort was the editor, I was the penciler, and Karl Kesel was the writer and inker (with assists on inks from Gary Martin). It’s funny that years later, we were reunited (with Mark Waid) on FANTASTIC FOUR–there were elements of the FF mythos weaved into the SPIDER-BOY book as well. I remember reading an article that Tom wrote on SILVERBULLETCOMICS.COM quite a few years later in which he cited SPIDER-BOY as one of his favorite comics to have worked on in his career. It wasn’t too long after that he was calling me about FF. And I’ve worked with Tom as my editor longer than any other editor in my career. The same goes for working with Karl– he’s inked me longer and on more pages than any other inker I’ve ever been associated with. It’s been an honor working with both of them. And SPIDER-BOY was just my first taste of that fun.

Now a decade past. Wow.

Have a great weekend.

This is Entry 190.

Mike

THE REPLACEMENT GOD

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Back in the mid/late 90′s, Zander Cannon debuted a comic book called THE REPLACEMENT GOD. Many of you may know Cannon’s work with Alan Moore and Gene Ha (he did layouts for Ha) on TOP TEN or perhaps his solo work with Moore on the SMAX miniseries that was just collected into trade format not too long ago. But well before either of those acclaimed works, he published TRG through SLAVE LABOR GRAPHICS (under their AMAZE INK imprint). From the moment I saw the first issue on the rack and opened the cover, I was hooked. It was Cannon’s art that initially grabbed me. His work is hard to describe… it’s beautifully rich use of black, fluid line work (which only got more so when he transitioned from using pen to brush) and his quirky and unique storytelling was a visual feast. And his story about a young slave named KNUTE who escapes his dungeon prison and goes on a journey of self-discovery and destiny fulfillment was a joy to read. Cannon’s writing had extraordinary depth… his characters seemed real and he layered subtext and nuance into his story. THE REPLACEMENT GOD was suffused with dark humor mixed with danger and tragedy. And it was intelligent. VERY intelligent. It was a joy to read something that seemed obviously so well thought out and well planned. It was fantasy in a medieval setting — but not the fantasy of.. say, TELLOS (which is near and dear to my heart, of course…!). It was a fantasy more of the quest– and not so much of encounters with dragons, wizards, changelings and the like (although there were some fairies). It was….. special.

The majority of the issues from his short-lived series were collected into a trade in 1997– and I have a copy of that, thankfully. Unfortunately (for me, at least), there was a sort of one-shot special/finale that Cannon produced that I never got my hands on. I remember coming in to the studio one morning to find my buddy Richard Case, having just returned from a trip up north to visit family. He was gleefully thumbing through this book… and I was immediately envious (OK, outright JEALOUS). I’ve had an eye out for it ever since, but I’ve never run across a copy. I’m sure eventually I will… but until that happens, I’m on my own quest to obtain that elusive gem.

I miss THE REPLACEMENT GOD. It was one of those books I waited for with great anticipation.

This is Entry 189.

Mike

GO BUY THE PERHAPANAUTS…!

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The over-arching theme of the recommendations I’ve been making lately is that of fun, quirky adventure. There’s something unusual and odd and altogether charming about these books. And Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau’s THE PERHAPANAUTS published by DARK HORSE COMICS fits that bill exactly. The comic is about a team of monster hunters who work for a secret shadow organization called BEDLAM… and the fun thing about this team is that they themselves are monsters– or at the least oddities. The team is made up of a woman with psychic powers, a young girl who’s a ghost, a big guy known only as ‘MG’ who’s really a mystery at this point, a super-intelligent sasquatch– and rounded out by a little Chupacabra nicknamed (naturally) CHOOPIE. I mean, c’mon– that group ALONE is worth the price of admission! But the real highlight of this book is the creative team. I’ve worked with Todd for years on both SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN and our co-owned TELLOS book… and Todd has always been overflowing with great ideas. I’ve always enjoyed our creative brainstorming back-and-forths. And Todd’s writing and dialogue has always had a wonderful feel that is uniquely his own (and if you’ve ever met Todd, you’ll know what I mean). Todd’s writing always has the feeling of a sense of underlying innocence and enthusiastic optimism to it. There’s a feeling of wonder and discovery to his stories… but they’re also tinged with an undercurrent of danger and dark foreboding. You never know what’s around the next corner. It’s this ability to keep the reader off balance, entertained and surprised that I admire so much. And Craig Rousseau is an insanely talented artist….! He’s one of the most versatile artists I know… he can do it all. He can fill his work with light-hearted fun… or he can draw the most heavy drama-filled moments. Over the years I’ve known him, he’s pared his work down to only the most essential linework…. and this gives his work a singular look that is full of confidence and authority. And his sense of design is just amazing. And the colors on THE PERHAPANAUTS by Rico Renzi are wonderfully crafted in their simplicity and choice of hue– much like the work of Matt Hollingsworth, Bill Crabtree and Lee Loughridge. It’s really my favorite style of coloring these days.. and Rico is tops at it.

These guys really love these characters. I don’t know any other creators who work mostly in the mainstream who have taken the initiative to self-publish and self-distribute their own book in recent times like these two guys have. They published a ‘prologue’ version of the book printed on newsprint that was just a thrill to behold. Todd and Craig are both big fans of the old newsprint comics and wanted to do their own version for nostalgia’s sake. It was a wonderful package. And they sold them directly to fans and comic shops, which I thought was a brave and brilliant touch. Head on over to PERHAPANAUTS.COM to find out a lot more about the book, the creators as well as how you can order all the books online. And you can find more of Craig’s amazing art by going here. As for Todd… well, Todd needs to get his own web site going.

These guys aren’t just immensely talented creators– they’re also two of my very best friends. Their book deserves your attention– because frankly, we need more of the kinds of stories they craft.

This is Entry 188.

Mike

SUPERBOY meme…?

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Is it possible that a SUPERBOY meme could be starting just like the recent BATGIRL drawing wave we saw hit the web recently…? I don’t know– but Dean Trippe posted a great reinterpretation of SUPERBOY over on the DRAWINGBOARD.ORG forums. And if you scroll to the bottom of page two, Dean links to several other folks who have gotten in on the action. Doing new variations and interpretations of classic characters is a lot of fun.

I thought I’d join in and come up with a design for SUPERBOY myself. In the end, I’m not too happy with the costume…. but I do like the poses.

It’s been a fun week here… it’s been great to see everyone commenting on the previous two posts. Because of the BATGIRL wave and the ‘Save SPIDER-GIRL ‘post that got noticed by– I suppose– some SPIDER-GIRL fans who normally don’t frequent this blog, the individual visits have really increased this week. I hope those of you who are new to my little corner of the web will continue to check it out as often as possible..! Also– for anyone intersted in forums– the link to my forum hosted over on COMIC BOOK RESOURCES is working again… so head on over if you’re so inclined. I”ve been getting a bit more active over there. Everyone have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week!

This is entry 187.

Mike