Archive for June, 2007

FRIDAY BY THE SEA

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I have to say I’m very surprised at how widely my thoughts on Bart Allen’s death were carried/linked around the web this past Wednesday. I suppose the event in FLASH #13 had a greater impact than I assumed, since it became such a big topic of discussion the past couple of days. I also posted Wednesday’s sketch on my DeviantArt gallery and made a comment about Bart’s passing, and the sketch got more comments in just two days than any other sketch/comment I’ve posted there since I joined DA. I didn’t know that little Bart made such an impact on folks. Or maybe it’s that death of any kind– fictional or otherwise– stirs up peoples’ emotions. Anyway– I’d like to also say that I don’t think that the entire industry is going down into the morass of death and darkness. There are still tons of wonderful books being created by tons of talented folks. If it were otherwise, I wouldn’t still be spending some 50 bucks or so each week on the things. I don’t want to make this site into a den of negativity. So… just take whatever I say about such things as death and destruction in comics with a grain of salt.

OK.. that’s it for another week. Today’s sketch really has no connection to anything… it’s just something I decided to play with … and it came out OK, I think.

Have a great weekend, folks.

This is Entry 394.

Mike

AND NOW THE DEATH OF BART ALLEN

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A couple of weeks back, I wrote a post about the upcoming ‘Dark Cheerleader Mary Marvel’ that was coming in the DCU. Several people took me to task for singling out DC and not writing about how many of the same dark, cynical and death-filled story lines were/are happening in the Marvel Universe as well. These folks are right, of course. It’s happening at both companies. I suppose the difference for me is that– my own personal point of view– the contrast between Marvel and DC has been for years that Marvel’s books were always darker in tone– more supposedly based in the ‘real world’… and that DC’s offerings were brighter… more colorful and came from more of a place of hope and light. The heroes of the DCU stood for optimism and the promise of a brighter future in the face of forces that would bring darkness and destruction to the world. In essence– the DCU was, to me, the place for a more stark contrast between the forces of light/good and the forces of darkness/evil. Perhaps that’s a naive and myopic viewpoint (and also maybe entirely off the mark… but it’s my perception nonetheless)– but DC comics were always more colorful and fun for me.

Now Bart Allen joins the ever growing list of characters who are dying in the DCU.

This one hits a bit closer to home since I was in on his very beginnings, having been asked to design his IMPULSE persona when Mark Waid created the character in FLASH (which granted me the title of ‘co-creator’… but make no mistake, this was all Mark’s baby. I was happy to accept the royalties and residuals that came from that status, but I didn’t have any illusions). Let me be clear– I haven’t read FLASH #13. I don’t really read that many superhero books anymore because the dark and depressing nature they’ve adopted just doesn’t interest me. I got my fill of that in the mid 80′s with DARK KNIGHT and WATCHMEN. I’ve read many reviews of the ‘event’, though… and I think the reaction overall has been that the story was 1) very badly done… and 2) in the end, a real yawner and not something that’s had the ‘stunning event impact’ that DC was hoping for. I think this is symptomatic of the idea that fans are simply getting a bit weary of all this kind of thing. I think that the event-comic-that-heralds-the-death-of-lots-of-characters has become the new gold-foil/Lenticular/Acetate/holographic cover of the 2000′s. They’re stunts… gimmicks meant to sell comics. The writing seems to have taken a back seat to earth-shattering events that are having less and less impact as they are overdone.

I’ve had many conversations with creator friends of mine about the pendulum swing that happened in the wake of the IMAGE explosion back in the early 1990′s. The sort of ‘we don’t need no stinking writers’ attitude of the IMAGE founders resulted in what were nicely drawn comics with little story, for the most part. They became commodities and not comic books with good stories to go with the flashy drawings. The other major companies, in response, tried to emulate the initial massive success IMAGE had by doing similar types of books with crazy cover gimmicks thrown in for good measure… and the quality of the entire industry, for the most part, suffered. It drove many long-time fans away. In the aftermath of that sales bloodbath, the creative pendulum swung in the writers direction and away from the emphasis only on artwork as the selling point. It’s been that way for some 15 years or so now…. and I think that pendulum swing may have reached its apex. My feeling is that in recent years, the quality of writing in comics has diminished. Maybe it’s not the writers’ fault… maybe it’s editorial edict that has replaced good story, plot and character development with the stunt… the event… to sell comics. Maybe I’m just a middle-aged fuddy-duddy who has lost touch with what makes for interesting comics.

I hope the latter is true, for the industry’s sake. I’d hate to think of another big downturn in sales due to a drop in quality. That wouldn’t help anyone– especially those of us who make our livings in this business. What do the rest of you think? Am I that far off base….? Anyone read FLASH #13…? Did you find it to be a good story? Feel free to leave your thoughts on any of this.

OK… that’s it for today. Back to work for me.

This is Entry 393.

Mike

QUICKIE

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I don’t have a lot of time today… so I’m just going to leave you with a quick post. I went to visit my parents this past weekend– and my brother and sister-in-law were there as well. They were there for a ‘mini-reunion’ of some of Matt’s classmates who didn’t make it to his recent 20th reunion… and they met on Saturday night at a restaurant in Lynchburg (which is the largest town/city near where my folks live). Usually I only get to see Matt and Suzanne twice a year– once at HEROES CON and once at Thanksgiving…. so this has been a lucky year for me getting to see them more than the norm. It was also special because yesterday was my 44th birthday– and it was wonderful to be with all my immediate family for that day.

It was a really wonderful weekend. Too bad it was so short and had to end.

OK… work beckons. Have a great day, all.

This is Entry 392.

Mike

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HEAD SHOTS

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Today’s post includes a head sketch that I did when someone bought a couple of 2007 sketchbooks on the first day of HEROES CON– and never picked the sketches up. My ‘program’ of offering a free head sketch when someone purchases a sketchbook has turned out to work pretty well. There’s one little hitch that made things a bit difficult this past show, though. There were several guys who came by and picked up between 2 and 6 sketchbooks and wanted sketches done for ALL of them– one sketch per book purchased. Now, on the face of it, this sounds just fine… but there were people beginning to line up immediately on the first day to get stuff signed and to buy sketchbooks… so I didn’t want them to have to wait while I did up to 6 head sketches at once for someone who bought that many books. So I put those aside to do in the room the next morning– which caused me to miss half the day of the show on Saturday (actually, drawing the WONDER WOMAN piece on the poster board for the annual art auction had something to do with that as well). So I think I might need to tweak the ‘policy’ for the head-sketch-per-sketchbook thing and maybe limit it to two sketches per customer no matter how many book purchased. I guess this will be an ongoing process to get it worked out smoothly.

The reason I’m posting this head sketch today is that one of the guys who bought a couple of sketchbooks and left his sketch requests with the intent of returning the next day to pick them up never came back. So if you ever check out this site, fella– send me an email telling me your name and the subject matter of the second sketch you asked for, and I’ll be happy to mail them to you. So… let me know if you’re able. You can find my email address in the PERSONAL section in the column to the far right.

OK… have a great weekend, everyone.

This is Entry 391.

Mike