Friday, May 31, 2013

Allow Me to Introduce... John Stangeland

The email arrived last night like a ninja slicing through the brush: Atlas Comics will be closing at the end of June after serving Norridge, Illinois in suburban Chicago since 1988. The note from owner John Stangeland explained that, though the shop was profitable and healthy, his landlord was making untenable demands in the new lease.

An irony to me was that when I made my weekly comic stop yesterday I was telling John how he was now an "elder statesman" among Chicago comic shop owners!

John is a fine gentleman whose appreciation of Jack Kirby is second only to my own (or is mine second to his, hmmmm). He worked as an inker back in the early 90s for Chicago-based Now Comics on The Green Hornet and other titles, and he has written a book about actor William Warren; here is an interview with John that focuses on his book. Atlas Comics populated the coveted back-cover berth of the 2012 C2E2 Hayfamzone Ashcan when John stepped up to the plate after I invited him to be the one and only advertiser for that historic booklet, as shown below.

The man says that he will be amping up his presence on ebay over here, and of course all of us in the hayfamzone wish John Stangeland well with all of his future endeavors!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wave Hello, Hobbes!

Calvin and Hobbes is my favorite newspaper comic strip of all time so I can never resist sharing anything I come across relating to those excellent characters. This photo of Hobbes was posted by letterer Nate Piekos and maybe the doll was knit by him or by Mrs. Piekos. I like it.

UPDATE! Mr. Piekos notifies me that the Hobbes was knit by a friend of his.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Uncle Scrooge and the Economics Lesson

Back in the 1970s and 1980s I would always keep hearing what an excellent writer and artist Carl Barks was but I had never read a single one of his stories. It's certainly not that I had no interest in funny animal comics since by that time I was already a longtime fan of The Fox and the Crow. It's just that I hadn't crossed paths with any of Mr. Barks' works.

When the publication of The Carl Barks Library was announced I decided, sight unseen, to take the plunge. I pre-ordered that hardbound and oversized 30-book collection reprinting every one of Mr. Barks' Disney stories so I could see if everyone was correct about how good the work was. Yes, I found out, they were. I enjoyed the books immensely as I read the massive volumes but it's been decades now since I even looked at them.

I got a reminder about the genius of Carl Barks last week at my afternoon school. Mr. Clough, the economics teacher, told me how he was using an Uncle Scrooge story to introduce the concept of supply and demand. Mr. Clough lent me his copy of the comic book so I could read it. It's Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #363 from 1970, and the Grand Comics Database informs me that the story was originally published in 1951's WDC&S #126. (In addition, GCD tells me that this exact story was also reprinted in Comix: A History of Comics Books in America by Les Daniels, so I guess that I first read the duck tale way back when I was a kid but forgot about it!)

In the untitled story, all of Uncle Scrooge's money blows away and right into the beaks of every other duck on earth. Unbowed, Scrooge tells his nephews that he will be earning it all back. He continued tilling his garden religiously while all the nouveau riche fowl got lazy and stopped working at their jobs. Uncle Scrooge was the only one anybody could buy a head of cabbage from  so he charged a million dollars per head and refilled his money bin. In just ten pages Carl Barks told a story more cohesive and entertaining than many comics writers today can wedge into one of their  six-issue 'arcs.' Bravo.

And although it's definitely a bird of a different feather, the time that I spoke for a duck is an excellent little slice of life that many people told me they enjoyed reading and I recommend it to you.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Jack Kirby, Rousing Kickstarter Success

There will be a new book about Jack Kirby featuring previously unseen artwork and family photographs. Oh, and one other thing: the complete manuscript to a play written by Mr. Kirby! Who knew?

This book is being funded on Kickstarter by grandson Jeremy Kirby (and please remember that I told you about one of Jeremy's earlier Jack Kirby projects over here). The funding goal of $7500 has been blown out of the water! As I type this is Day 5 of the Kickstarter campaign, already over $20,000 has been pledged!

Certain pledge levels come with the privilege of having your name printed in the book thanking you for being a sponsor. That sounds great to me! Details on how you can be part of history are right over here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Original Artwork on Chris Roberson's Wall

Chris Roberson is a great comic book writer and he also has great taste in original comic book artwork! Take a look at the above six-second video and you'll see what I mean (and you can get an unobscured view of the slideshow over here). The pace moves along pretty quickly but artists represented in there include Alex Ross and J.H. Williams and Matt Wagner and Chris Sprouse and Michael Allred and Michael Lark. Very nice!

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Batmobile on Pawn Stars

A couple of months ago I told you about a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #1 finding its way into the shop on Pawn Stars. Well this weekend I saw an episode where the guys went to look over a Batmobile that was for sale.

This particular vehicle never appeared in any film but instead was lovingly and painstakingly fabricated by a fan of the 1989 Tim Burton Batman movie. It looked like the real McCoy to me and it even ran perfectly, but the Pawn Stars did not make the purchase.

You can view the footage yourself over here; the Batmobile segment begins shortly after the two-minute mark on the clip.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My Jack Kirby Artwork in Omnibus 2 (Part 1)

My copy of The Jack Kirby Omnibus Volume 2 arrived in the mail the other day but I didn't rush to crack the plastic seal and page through the book. The subtitling of the edition suggested that only Super Powers stories were included and that was not my favorite period of Jack Kirby artwork. But, contrary to that subtitle, there is so much more to this book than just the Super Powers series:

Black Magic, Sandman, Kobra, Atlas, Dingbats, Manhunter

Before I knew it I was realizing that I own the original artwork to some of the pages reprinted in this book. One such, shown above and below, is from Sandman #6 and is drawn by Mr. Kirby and the great Wally Wood. (Prior to purchasing the above page I already owned a Noman page by Gil Kane and Wood and a Justice Society page by Keith Giffen and Wood, but to acquire a page by Kirby and Wood was a dream come true!) And the lettering is by Ben Oda.

I was all set to tell you that the artwork was redrawn (or, as they say, "touched up") for this reprint edition as has been the case with some stories reprinted in the DC Archives editions but no, this page was not redrawn. The reproduction is a little muddy and some of the Wood finery is obscured but that might have something to do with the fact that the artwork was shrunken a little bit more to fit on this book's pages than it would have been to fit on a comic book page.

On another day I'll show you one more page in The Jack Kirby Omnibus Volume 2 that I am proud to own the original of.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Arrow Friends

Arrow on the CW network has now completed its first season, quite successfully in terms of ratings. Though not entirely perfect as a superhero television series, nonetheless it is the current network show that I most look forward to each week.

Now wouldn't it be fun if the credits for the show were redone in the same style as the credits for Friends and with the same bouncy Rembrandts theme song? Just click above and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bill Gates and Graphic Novels

Bill Gates maintains a blog entitled The Gates Notes. One corner of the website is reserved for Mr. Gates to share his thoughts on books after he finishes reading them. I was curious whether any graphic novels appeared on that list, so I moseyed on over to take a look-see.

The answer is no. In the list of one hundred or so books there are (sniff) zero graphic novels. Most of the titles listed are non-fiction, but Catcher in the Rye and The Hunger Games are on there.

No button on the website allows one to suggest reading material to Mr. Gates, but I gave some thought to what graphic novel I might recommend to the gentleman if there were. Of course you and I appreciate a Jack Kirby Omnibus and a Watchmen Absolute Edition, but I would not refer a comics novice to books such as those.

Instead I would recommend Daytripper by Gabriel Moon and Fabio Ba, which I told you back here was my favorite comic book of 2010; I consider that story a superb introduction to the wonder of our artform. Since I am unable to send my recommendation to Mr. Gates on his website, he will have to wait for the information until he gets around to reading this blog post.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Thumbs Up for Defendor

This weekend I watched the 2009 movie named Defendor. I bet you never heard of it. I hadn't either until recently and I saw that Netflix had it on DVD so I took a chance. I'm glad I did.

Woody Harrelson plays a great lead role as a costumed do-gooder with slight mental deficiencies. This is not a perfect film but it has a great deal more heart than quite a few big-budget blockbuster superhero outings I've endured.

I add this to the plus column of my list of movie recommendations which so far has included Captain Flash and The Man Who Laughs.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Return of Mr. X

When Mister X debuted in 1984 by the Hernandez Brothers, I was all over it. Others have drawn the series in its many incarnations over the years, and now the first installment of a three-parter by creator Dean Motter has been published by Dark Horse. Of course you know that the architecture in Radiant City drives everyone insane. Honestly, I think I would buy a comic with the above cover even if all the interior pages were blank!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Son of Lichtenstein

The Trickster, shown above, was painted by Mel Ramos in 1962. It is being auctioned off next week and is expected to fetch between $500,000 and $700,000.

The cover to The Flash #113, shown below and featuring the first appearance of the Trickster, was drawn by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella in 1960 and the amount paid to them for it probably totaled under $100.

Remember back here when I reported that Roy Lichtenstein is the most hated artist ever? Well, maybe Mel Ramos is the second-most hated artist ever. Or should be.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Zachi Made a Comic Book

Nice Bruce Timm cover up above, right? Yes, except for the fact that it's not really drawn by Bruce Timm. Please keep reading and all will be revealed.

This week I saw an article about a twelve-year-old boy named Zachi Telesha who received a cancer diagnosis at age 8 and worked his way through the ordeal by publishing a comic book. Zachi created a team of superheroes and received help publishing their story. Here is a YouTube video in which Zachi himself explains how the whole project came together.

Glen Mullaly is the artist of Hero Up! and he has been quoted as saying that he "had a lot of fun channeling (okay - ripping off) Jack Kirby and Bruce Timm for it." You can investigate Mr. Mulally's website over here.

Feel free to purchase your own copy of Hero Up! over on this website. I'm going to order one myself and then I'm sure I'll have more to say about Zachi's comic book.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Steve Garcia's DC Comics Silhouettes

I like this Kid Flash design by Steve Garcia very much. You can see more of his Teen Titans silhouettes right over here.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Mysterious Unboxing in the Hayfamzone

Whoa! It must be seven feet tall!

Interesting use of styrofoam...

He's out of the box, now what?

He's cracking out of his cocoon!

That is one proud pony.

He asks when he will see a hayfamzonder so
I tell him to  look in the mirror.

No, our new pet zebra is not a cartoon character. But we will read comic books to him and introduce him to the eternal genius of Jack Kirby. Welcome to the hayfamzone!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Costumes at C2E2 2013

I'm always glad when Jeanette brings her camera.

Here is a slideshow of some of the best costumes we saw at last week's C2E2 convention.

And please don't forget about this great shot of The Flash running so fast you think you see three of him!

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Jeff Lemire Interviewed Twice

Today's Chicago Tribune features an interview with writer/artist Jeff Lemire. You can read it over here, but I can't tell you why the online version is dated a month ago.

I like Mr. Lemire's work. I enjoyed some of the interesting twists in his Frankenstein, Agent of Shade series, like having a character named Father Time portayed as an eight year old girl. I also appreciate his drawing style, as seen above (and here is an interview with the gentleman conducted by Damon Lindelof upon the publication of the final issue of Sweet Tooth).

I hadn't heard of The Underwater Welder before reading Christopher Borelli's Tribune interview and I am sufficiently intrigued that I have placed an order for that graphic novel.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Hello to Action Cat and Adventure Bug

At C2E2 I picked up the first two issues of Aw Yeah Comics. Action Cat and Adventure Bug are the main two of many characters featured in the stories. The comics are bright and colorful and a whole lot of fun; anybody who liked Art Baltazar and Franco's Tiny Titans will be very pleased with this series. (One story is even written by Brad Meltzer and his son Theo! No word yet on which issue the story by Orson Scott Card will be appearing in.) Don't fall behind because Aw Yeah Comics will be released monthly beginning in June.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Jack Kirby, The Comic Book

I walk around the dealers room at a comic convention looking for things that are new and different and unexpected. I got a real treat at C2E2 last weekend when I spotted a comic book entitled Jack Kirby in the Artists Alley. The gentleman behind the table was Sean McArdle who happened to be the letterer of the comic (and we had a little chat about comics lettering). I snapped up my copy of Jack Kirby and continued my way around the convention floor.

I like this comic. I very much like the circular way the story is structured; writer John Judy tells the life story of Jack Kirby the way he wants to for the first half, then he starts over chronologically and tells anecdotes from Mr. Kirby's early years that hadn't yet been mentioned in the story. One of artist Paul Cox's drawings shows The King chomping on his cigar (but I was surprised to see Mr. K smoking a pipe in another drawing because I believe I have never seen a photo of such a scenario).

Jack Kirby was published by Bluewater Comics in 2012 and let's check over on ebay to see if we can find you a copy.