Archive for the ‘Comics’ Category

Happy Yuri Gargarin Day!

April 12, 2011

If you’ve been to Google.com today, you might have noticed the space-themed header. In case you’re not already aware, today marks the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gargarin of the former U.S.S.R. becoming the first human in space.

For a while when I was a kid, I loved space and almost everything about it. Like a lot of unrealistic kids, I had a phase where I wanted to be an astronaut. But Yuri fucking did it, becoming a national hero in the Soviet Union. Dude had a stamp and everything. The U.S. was less of a fan of him at the time, because the Space Race had become another way of showing our dicks were bigger than our Cold War adversary’s. But we got to the moon first, so we still kinda won. And the late Gargarin deserves a ton of respect, especially when you read about how dangerous the Soviet space program really was. That’s a link to a recent article on Cracked.com, one of the best comedy sites on the Internet, but behind the comedy is a boatload of info that shows how scary as shit it must have been for Yuri to risk his life to be such a pioneer.

So what does any of this have to do with comic books? Maybe a little more than you think. Yuri’s trip came a short six months before the release of Fantastic Four #1, a comic issue that helped revolutionize the industry. The FF’s origin, of course, features a trip to space that gives the quartet unexpected powers. Unfortunately, I can’t find specifics about just when the book started developing (not surprising, considering the legal battle about who’s idea it even was — see the Kirby lawsuit battles). But it seems probable to me that, at least among laymen if not even experts, there were still considerable questions about what kind of effects (short- and long-term) space travel would have. The FF’s origin story probably didn’t seem as ridiculous at the time, whereas today, various creative teams have tried to re-tool it slightly to make sense with what we now know about space travel; for instance, the Ultimate line changed the FF’s trip to the Negative Zone.

Furthermore, I feel like the widespread public interest in the Space Race had to have had something to do with FF becoming an unexpected hit. And the book’s success made it the cornerstone of Marvel’s early lineup of books, and encouraged Marvel to try other teams books, such as The Avengers and X-Men. But biggest of all, according to the book Comic Book Century, the comic’s success revitalized Jack Kirby’s waning creative energy and persuaded Stan Lee, who had been thinking about leaving the industry, to stay in comics. And the rest, as they say, is history.

A lot changed 50 years ago, but think about this comic book angle: If not for Yuri Gargarin, the Space Race might not have kicked to another level. If not for the Space Race interest, Fantastic Four could have been a flop. If not for FF‘s success, we might have lost Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and thus, maybe Marvel itself.

So from the kid in me who dreamed of space, and from the adult who still loves the creative escape of a good comic, Happy Yuri Gargarin Day.

And the Eisner nominations go to …

April 7, 2011

people you’ve mostly never heard of.

The 2011 Eisner Awards, which celebrate the best in comics, were released today. The winners will be announced July 22 at Comic-Con International.

A common theme of the nominees? Not much in the way of big names. If you’re looking for the works of Bendis or Johns or almost any other top creators from Marvel or DC, you won’t find them listed in the above link. Not that this is terribly uncommon for the Eisners — they’re often filled with more independents than they are best-sellers. But still, just three nominations for Marvel. DC did better with 14 total, but just five of those from DCU.

Image and IDW each got 12 noms, as IDW continues to rise in both sales and critical acclaim. Dark Horse came in not far behind with nine. So Marvel and DC might lead in sales, but a lot of companies are sharing recognition this year.

So readers, any thoughts on the nominees?

Straight Shooter

March 31, 2011

When I say, “name a Marvel editor-in-chief,” certain people may immediately come to mind. Stan Lee, no doubt. Joe Quesada. Roy Thomas.

And of course, Jim Shooter. One of the most famous and controversial editors Marvel has had. Some of the company’s most successful comic book runs occurred during his tenure, including Walt Simonson’s Thor, Claremont’s X-Men, Frank Miller’s Daredevil and John Byrne’s Fantastic Four (huh, interesting how three out of four of those guys wrote AND pencilled their own comics). He created the New Universe (still fondly remembered by many and “remixed” in Warren Ellis’ “newuniversal”) and the Epic imprint for creator-owned work. He also wrote Marvel’s most famous crossover of all, Secret Wars. And let’s not forget about his early days at DC, where he created several famous Legion of Superheroes and Superman characters… including Duo Damsel and the Parasite!

Anyway, now you can read about Jim’s career– both the good and the bad– at his blog. Did you know that an artist error made Hank Pym a wife beater? Or that Jim wrote and sold his first comic script during his summer vacation at age 13? It would explain why he based certain Legionnaires off of his classmates.

There’s all sorts of interesting facts in Jim’s posts. The best part of all, however, is that it gives us a more personal look at Jim’s life in comics, like when he first met Stan Lee. While most of Jim’s entries have been about his time at Marvel and early DC career so far, I have little doubt we’ll be hearing about Valiant Comics and his most recent Legion of Superheroes run soon. So definitely keep your eyes peeled.

Deadpool fights Fear Itself… ninja style

March 28, 2011

Wow, I can’t believed I overlooked this. So you probably know that Marvel’s upcoming “Fear Itself” story is gonna have a lot of tie-ins. One of them, unsurprisingly, is “Fear Itself: Deadpool.” You know who’s writing it?

Chris Hastings. A.k.a. the creator of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, one of the funniest ninja doctor comics around (and we all know how many of THOSE are out there). Hastings’ interview about the mini that strongly implies that the Merc With A Mouth may be one of the Worthy, a.k.a. one of the Marvel characters capable of wielding the power of one of the eight new Mjolnir-like hammers introduced in “Fear Itself.” If not, we know he’ll at least be using SOME kind of magical hammer!

Whether or not you’re interested in “Fear Itself,” I highly recommend you give “Fear Itself: Deadpool” a try. The only thing you need to fear from that comic is busting a gut from laughter. And if that happens, don’t worry, there are hospitals for that.

Also, you owe it to yourself to check out The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. It’s awesome, hilarious and FREE. Head over to the archives and start catching up. Once you’re done, head over to the home page to read the current issue. That’s web navigation made easy, kids!

Superman movie news

March 27, 2011

The LA Times is reporting today that the part of Lois Lane has been cast in the new Superman movie project … and it’s Amy Adams.

Adams becomes the fourth member of the cast, joining Henry Cavill, who dons the red and blue as Superman, and Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, the somewhat surprising choices to to play Ma and Pa Kent. Zack Snyder, of 300 and Watchmen fame, will direct, with David S. Goyer (co-writer of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and former comic book co-writer of JSA) handling the script. Christopher Nolan is a producer.

Adams has become a favorite of mine, from her delightful role in Enchanted to her grittier performances in Sunshine Cleaning and especially her Oscar-nominated role in The Fighter. She’s shown excellent range, and her beauty certainly doesn’t hurt. I love the casting choice here.

What do you think, readers?

Good books’ bad flaws

March 27, 2011

Comic book writing isn’t an exact science. You can be one of the best in the business and still suffer from annoying tendencies every now and then. Even among my favorite books, I’ve noticed some recurring weaknesses. How big of a deal those weaknesses are tend to be relative to each reader. For instance, I grew to absolutely hate Brian Michael Bendis’ writing because of his incredibly slow pacing, redundancies, simplistic characterizations, and over-reliance on certain characters and on deus ex machinas. But judging from Bendis’ enduring popularity, others view those as mere speedbumps in otherwise good storytelling. Meanwhile, Peter David’s tendency to sometimes needlessly inject sex into stories can probably disrupt his writing for some, but with the exception of his old Captain Marvel title (where the random sex really did go overboard sometimes), it hasn’t interfered with his stories for me.

So here is a look at some flaws I’ve noticed popping up. Finding a weakness in a weak book is easy, but these are all ones in titles that are nevertheless mostly enjoyable. Most of these are more on the minor side, but some threaten to become bigger and more disruptive if not reined in.

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Read Marvel Comics free online… at Starbucks

March 24, 2011

If you’ve been on the fence over joining Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited because of the yearly subscription fee ($4.99 a month nowadays), then head on over to Starbucks start April 23 to access it for free via the Starbucks Digital Network.

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2011/03/like-coffee-with-your-comics-marvel-joins-starbucks-digital-network/

Looks like I’ll be heading to Starbucks a lot more often! I kind of wonder how this’ll change the coffee shop’s culture. Probably not in any significant way, but maybe we’ll see more folks getting together and talking comics over coffee (while READING said comics online). Starbucks could become a trendy place to meet and make friends with fellow fans!

The creator of Dinosaur Comics is a wise man

February 4, 2011

Newsarama recently interviewed Ryan North, author of the hilarious Dinosaur Comics, where he had some pretty interesting things to say about  webcomics, print comics and making money off the web:

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J.G. Jones on Doc Savage, “Dust to Dust” and why he couldn’t finish “Final Crisis”

February 2, 2011

Newsarama’s posted up a cool interview with J.G. Jones, where he talks about his upcoming writing gig on Doc Savageand his affinity for the character. He also mentions he’s co-written a graphic novel, Dust to Dust, about a small town plagued by a series of murders during the Dust Bowl in the 1930s (the murderer’s actually using the Dust Bowl to cover his tracks). It’ll be published by DC and J.G. will also be drawing it, so keep your eyes out for that. As a big fan of J.G.’s art in Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia and his cover art for 52 (and yes, I do plan on buying Wanted), I’m excited to see what he comes up with.

J.G. also talks about why he couldn’t finish drawing “Final Crisis.” When he announced he wouldn’t be able to finish the art on the series, I just figured it was because penciling a massive DC Universe crossover was just a bit too much to draw in the time J.G. had to do it in. However, this recent interview from Newsarama reveals that it was actually do to health issues. J.G. was beginning to suffer from the effects of polycythemia vera, a rare blood disease in which your bone marrow creates too many platelets and red blood cells, which leads to other complications, so he had to back away from doing interiors for a while. Thankfully, he’s been getting treatment for the disease and is feeling much better. He’s even getting married soon; congrats, J.G.!

J.G.’s run on Doc Savage begins in April with issue #13. It’ll be drawn by Qing Ping Mui: here’s an example of his art. Looking forward to seeing what they come up with. Here’s to J.G.’s improving health!

Animated movie reviews

January 22, 2011

I watched a few animated comic book movies over break (Netflix instant watch, what up), and it’s time for a quick rundown of reviews. Although I might have felt there were some flaws here or there, I mostly came away impressed, particularly as three of my four reviews are from pretty recent films, and there’s certainly been a recent trend to make edgier animated comic movies. As I said when I reviewed Planet Hulk a while back, I think that trend could be a great thing for fans who want to see some of these more adult-aimed stories told, but without having punches pulled for the kiddies.

So read on as I give mini-reviews for Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Batman: Under the Red Hood, and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman.

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