Apr 28, 2011

My Top Ten Favorite Green Lanterns!

All right, so I know it looks like I have something against the Green Lanterns. First, I write the list of my favorite costumes in comics, putting Green Lantern firmly as the guy who doesn't make the cut. Then I write about my problem with mainstream comics, citing big events as the big reason. Of course, the leader in big events for the past few years has been the Green Lantern franchise. Then I actually go on one long rant about how Hal Jordan isn't as historically important as he's made out to be. And then that's followed by building up a JLA/AVENGERS dream team, where Green Lantern is once again left off the list.

So yes, I get it. It looks like I hate the Lanterns. But that's not true. I love the Green Lantern Corps. And to make up for all the times I left them off these lists, I've devoted a whole list to them.



10. Mogo


You can't have this list without Mogo!  He's a planet, who happens to have a Green Lantern ring somewhere on him. Created as a surprise twist ending by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (yes, that team) for a short story, Mogo's since taken off, and writers now love using him. None of which changes the fact that he's a living PLANET.

As a side note, Mogo's name may be based off of Ego, Marvel's living planet.

9. John Stewart


John Stewart's place on this list is tamped down by the fact that before he got famous on the Justice League cartoons, I'd read very few stories with him in it (CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS is one). But he was a great character on that show and should definitely be used more in the regular DC Comics. He's also, arguably, the most important Green Lantern, in terms of history, what with him being one of the first prominent black superheroes.

I also can't think of him now without thinking of Dwayne McDuffie, a man who should always be remembered.


8. Medphyll



Silly stuff is one of the reasons to love comics. I love silly stuff. And when you can make the silly stuff truly touching, it's more powerful.

Medphyll is a sentient plant. From a world of other sentient plants. He's run into the Swamp Thing in Alan Moore and Rick Veitch's SWAMP THING #61, because he is a plant. That story was one of the most touching stories in comics history.


He's a plant!

7. Kilowog
 

I would bet that the big poozer is on most people's lists of favorite Green Lanterns. And why not? He's big, lovable, is a handy mechanic, and is a certified badass. He's like the Thing, only cosmically powered.

6. G'Nort



Remember what I said about silliness? Well, in more than a handful of stories, G'Nort Esplanade G'neesmacher has provided us with a lot of silliness. He's a great reason to love comics. He's a dog with a power ring! He's also a former member of the Justice League Antarctica! Gotta love it.

5. Ch'p


Seriously, I shouldn't even have to explain this one. If you can't grasp the sheer awesomeness and joy that a squirrel/chipmunk hybrid in overalls and a bowtie wearing a Green Lantern ring conveys, you're in the wrong medium.

4. Rot Lop Fan


What do you do if you have to give a Green Lantern ring to someone who has no concept of light or color? Well, if you're Katma Tui, you give Rot Lop Fan the ring, then have him imagine it to be a bell suited to his favorite sound. So you get Rot Lop Fan, the F-Sharp Bell!


3. Hal Jordan


Yeah yeah, I know. Hal Jordan never really lived up to his potential, was always knocked out by bricks or something yellow, and had a personality as exciting as drying paint. But he was the Green Lantern of my youth, and it's hard to replace that.

Hal was honest, fearless, and someone that all little kids should look up to. I'm glad he's getting more developed now.

2. Kyle Rayner


Yes, Hal Jordan was the Green Lantern of my youth, but he didn't compare to Kyle Rayner, who just beats him out on pure potential. As an artist, Kyle's constructs were much more imaginative than Hal's, and Kyle was just plainly more fun to read.

1. Alan Scott


Nope, I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it, and no one is cooler. Sorry.

Alan Scott is the elder spokesman of the DC Universe. He's also one of the most respected. There's a scene in James Robinson's STARMAN where Batman is disrespecting the Golden Age legend, and Jack Knight steps up and tells Batman to back off — that he can talk to Jack however he wants, but he can't even touch what Alan has done. That seals it for me.

Wait, what? Alan's not even an official member of the Corps? Geez, even in a list devoted to the Green Lantern Corps, I find a way to screw them. Maybe I do hate them.

Apr 25, 2011

The Jim Davis You Never Knew

I was scrounging through my old books last night, and I ran across my copy of GARFIELD: BABES & BULLETS.


Now, I'm fairly certain that most of you have never seen this book, but that at least some of you have seen the TV special about it.



Essentially, it's a rainy day, and Garfield steps into his closet, puts a trenchcoat on, and goes on to pretend that he's a private eye named Sam Spayed (the pun went over my head when I read it as a kid — for you guys who don't get it, Sam Spade is an iconic detective character, most notably played by Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, and a spayed cat means the cat can't reproduce). All right, so basically, the book starts out in typical GARFIELD fashion:


And then you turn a couple of pages, and you see the "crime" that drives the story.


Now, unless he used assistants, this is all still Jim Davis. Throughout the entire book, Davis manages to blend his typical cartoony style with a novel dose of realism. Here, Sam is talking to his client, Tanya O'Tabby, whose husband, Professor O'Tabby, was in that car you see above.. (In the background: Sam's secretary, Kitty.) Davis' figures are all still his style, but then... shading? Mood-setting? What?


Not sold yet? This is a few pages later, when Sam goes to the morgue and runs into Lieutenant Washington.


Because it's Garfield, Davis can get away with screwing around with proportions, so it doesn't matter that Lieutenant Washington has cartoony proportions when every other human has regular proportions. But look at those trees, look at that railing. Davis is doing some serious mood-setting here (which is completely subverted by the narrative, but that's kind of the point).

The coroner, Burt Fleebish, is shown on the next page. All these years, and I still think it's weird to see Davis drawing like this.


Soon, Sam makes his way to the university where Professor O'Tabby worked. Jim Davis drawing in two-point perspective with a consistent light source. What a thing of beauty.


I think I've shown you enough to blow your mind (mine certainly was) at this point, but I'll give you a couple more. When Davis finally shows Professor O'Tabby's face, the realism in the figures is taken up a notch:


And when it's revealed that Professor O'Tabby's one weakness is coffee? Davis pulls off a neat trick.


Yeah, I know. Twenty years later, and it's still new to me.

Unfortunately, I don't think my copy is available anymore. I know there's an alternate version in GARFIELD: HIS 9 LIVES, where everyone is a cat and human-sized (so Garfield doesn't actually look like Garfield), and what I remember of the TV version was really just a basic black and white Garfield cartoon, with none of the Jim Davis novelties that my book has.

Still, if you can find it at a cheap price, I highly recommend it!

By the way, best line from the book?
Oh yeah, the dame. She was beautiful. Too beautiful to trust.


"Are you Spayed?" she asked.


I hate that question.

You can get Garfield Presents... Babes & Bullets here.

Apr 20, 2011

Spider-Man's Mermaid Cousin!

Here's one for you no-prize enthusiasts! Back in STRANGE TALES #97, two months before the Amazing Spider-Man debuted in AMAZING FANTASY #15, his creators, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, did a short story called "Goodbye to Linda Brown." Linda was a young woman who was adopted by a kind couple who lived near the beach. Linda is confined to a wheelchair, and at the end of the story, she leaves her adoptive family, and we see why:


That's right, folks, Linda Brown's a mermaid! What a twist! (I love those old twist endings.)

But the most interesting part of the story is Linda's aunt and uncle:


Her Aunt May and Uncle Ben!

Now obviously, obviously, these are May and Ben Parker, Spider-Man's aunt and uncle. So obviously, obviously, Peter Parker has an adoptive mermaid cousin. But some questions do arise. For example:

  • Why is Linda's last name Brown?
  • Why did Uncle Ben go from a gray-haired, mustached thin guy to a white-haired shaven fat guy?
  • If Ben and May took care of Peter for his entire life, how far back is this story?  Is Peter actually here, and we just don't see him?
  • Why are the Parkers living by the beach?
  • When will Dan Slott and Ty Templeton tell the story of Peter Parker meeting his mermaid cousin?

Have at it, folks! The more creative the answers, the better. Winner gets a cookie. Continuity nuts who can't appreciate humor and want to answer with "This isn't really Aunt May and Uncle Ben, you idiot," don't get anything.

In the meantime, this story and a lot of other Ditko goodies can be found in MARVEL VISIONARIES: STEVE DITKO!

Apr 17, 2011

Easter Eggs in Comics: Familiar Faces in THE PUNISHER MEETS ARCHIE!

Welcome to another installment of Easter Eggs in Comics! Click here for the archive!

As part of my loot in yesterday's Summer Komikon, I finally got a copy (thanks to Sandy of Comic Odyssey) of THE PUNISHER MEETS ARCHIE, which is so incredibly fun that you all need to read it. Imagine John Buscema and Stan Goldberg collaborating on the same book.



I mean, come on, that's just really fun.


So in one scene, Riverdale is having a 1950s sock hop (thereby explaining why the then-90s Archie crowd is wearing their classic 1950s outfits). In one panel, we see some familiar faces hobnobbing with each other.


This isn't even the full panel. The full panel has even more Easter Eggs. But I'm going to focus on these girls.

Millie is Millie the Model, one of Marvel's title characters in the 40s all the way to the 60s, back when they were still called Timely! Interestingly, despite starting out as a brunette, the blonde look Millie sported was popularized by none other than Dan DeCarlo, who defined the look for the Archie Universe we know today!



Katy is Katy Keene, Archie's resident model, to whom readers INDEED sent fashion suggestions every issue!

Patsy and Hedy are a couple of Marvel teenage stars from the 50s, and Hedy appeared as a sidekick to Patsy most of the time. When Patsy says "I feel like a kid again," she's right.


But what's interesting is the anachronism involved here! You see, Patsy Walker was not just a teen-comic star. In 1976, she met the Avengers and was given superpowers, being transformed into the agile Hellcat!


And the big anachronism here? Patsy Walker, at the time of the publication of PUNISHER MEETS ARCHIE, was dead!

First one to explain this adequately gets a no-prize!

Got an Easter Egg for the Cube? Email it to comicscube@gmail.com

Apr 14, 2011

A Tale of Two Comic Strips

Okay, so I go to Comics.com. In fact, I subscribe to specific comics on Comics.com. Among them, my favorite comic strip since CALVIN AND HOBBES, Stephan Pastis' PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, and my other favorite comic strip today, Brian Crane's PICKLES. I also used to subscribe to CLASSIC PEANUTS, but with recent (awesome) developments that the Peanuts Worldwide LLC (meaning Schulz's estate) has the rights now, Peanuts isn't available on the site anymore.

I also subscribe to TARZAN CLASSICS. Although it's only ever credited to Edgar Rice Burroughs, the artist on the strip since I began the subscription has been John Celardo. And he is, bar none, an excellent artist. Here are selected strips from the past week. Just check out that level of detail. Click to enlarge.






I'm not one for adventure strips — 3 or 4 panels is simply never enough space to pace them out properly. But that quality of drawing is staggering. He knows when to cartoon and when to do realistic. There's a perfect example right here of what's called the masking effect — drawing the characters you're supposed to identify with (in this case, the boy) with less detail than the surrounding elements in order to facilitate relatability. Meanwhile, you can draw the other things with as much detail as you want. CHECK. OUT. THAT. ELEPHANT.

All right, moving on about 50 or 60 years later, let's go to a strip by a woman named Donna A. Lewis, who has a recently syndicated comic called REPLY ALL. This is her "funniest" strip of the past week.


Wow. Just quite simply, plain and simply, wow. What is that?

Putting aside the writing issues — the joke isn't funny and the pacing is off — the art looks like it was done in MS Paint. It also looks like she keeps copying and pasting heads and just modifying the eyes and the mouths as she sees fit. It's ridiculous. It looks horrible.

And it just got syndicated.

In the comments section of this article on Robot 6, Lewis seems to not really care about the criticism, going so far as to cite the problems of supply and demand when it comes to her work. I don't really see how that affects anything regarding her trying to draw better, and it definitely seems to me that this comics stuff to her is more a hobby than a genuine love.

I'm not saying that you have to draw realistically like John Celardo did. So many of my favorite comics artists don't draw realistically (Marcos Martin comes to mind right away), and there are strips like xkcd that even just use stick figures. The difference is that these guys knew pacing, body language, and the other basic elements necessary in order to truly convey what they wished to convey. With comments like "Luckily, there are folks who like the strip and don’t mind looking at it – or even enjoy looking at it. Go figure," Lewis definitely seems to not care about the fact that her strip — like everyone else's — could use improvement.

It's a far cry from John Celardo's artwork, that's for sure. But that's not what saddens me. What saddens me is that this unaesthetic Paint-manufactured strip, which lacks any sort of passion or energy or true love for the medium, gets picked up. Meanwhile, there are budding talented artists out there who will never ever even submit anything to any syndicates because they love the medium so much that they continue to think their work falls short in comparison to work like Celardo's. These artists are the types who won't be happy unless their work is perfect. It's not about the money. It's about the art. It's about the passion.

And meanwhile, there's REPLY ALL, which just got syndicated, and it has none of those things.

Oh well. I'll always have TARZAN CLASSICS.

Apr 12, 2011

Making Lemonade out of Lemons — An Email Exchange with Christopher Noon of BigToyAuction.com

I got a pleasant surprise in my inbox a couple of days ago. After having to deal with a lot of this mess involving you-know-who, I got an email from Christopher Noon, he of TheBigToyAuction.com. Christopher is a professional auctioneer, and he's more than sad that this whole mess is still going on. However, he thinks—and I completely agree with him—that there is a whole lot of momentum and energy here that can be veered towards a more positive direction, namely to the Hero Initiative. As much as I'd never like to talk about the people who started this ever again (they've had their fifteen minutes of infamy, folks, and they're damaged goods forever at this point), I do think it should be channeled towards something more concrete.

Go visit TheBigToyAuction!


Being in the Philippines, I can't actually participate in his proposal, what with physics and geography making it impossible. However, I can post the email here, and I invite all of you interested to repost it and contact Christopher at thebigtoyauction(at)gmail(dot)com if you wish to participate.


Hi!
I just saw some of your recent blog postings regarding the unfortunate "Granito Incident" that is, sadly, still going on.  I had sent a message a little earlier to Ethan Van Sciver regarding this, but I thought you and a few others might be interested as well.

Despite the distasteful beginnings of this whole affair, I had a thought that a lot of good might ultimately come out of all this.  Seeing the comic book community come together so quickly in such a cohesive manner, I wonder if we could parlay this into something that would benefit the comics community even further.   I am a professionally licensed Auctioneer (PA Lic #AU005664) and would be happy to donate my services to put together a charity auction to benefit the Hero Initiative.

Rather than dwell on all of the negatives of what has occurred here, it might be a good opportunity to spotlight the type of work that the Hero Initiative does in helping the same type of artists affected by these events.    I would be glad to work with you to help put together a a Live-Auction Event where "Legit-O-Mite" artists can create authentic artwork to auction off with the proceeds going to the Hero Initiative.  There is already a lot of built in publicity to the whole situation, and I think it would be a shame to let this momentum either continue on in it’s current path or fizzle out completely.  Instead, I think it would be a great opportunity for comics professionals to stand up for something positive and pro-active rather than the negative reaction that began all of this. 

There is a lot of potential to do something good here.  After all, if we can "get comics' loudest leftwing hippiefreak AND loudest rightwing Nazi to join forces," as a particular comic site puts it, there’s no reason we couldn't get a lot of people behind this to raise some money for some of the very same artists exploited by this whole affair in the first place.

I've contacted a few others involved, and I’ll see if I can get hold of Mr. Waid and the folks over at Hero Initiative as well, but I also wanted to let you know as you seemed pretty vocal about this.  If you would be interested, please let me know and I will be glad to discuss it further with you.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Christopher Noon
thebigtoyauction(at)gmail(dot)com
http://www.thebigtoyauction.com

Apr 9, 2011

It Came From Comics: Yellow Journalism

Welcome to the first installment of It Came From Comics, a new series of indefinite length exploring everyday terms that were popularized by comics. Click here for the archive!

Today's term is Yellow Journalism!

Yellow journalism is a term used to describe the type of journalism that presents no well-researched facts, and would rather rely on sensationalism and scandalous headlines and photographs in order to attract readers. Although you may think that most legitimate newspapers these days can be accused of such, it's not that bad: major characteristics of the yellow press include flat-out lies, false interviews, and misleading headlines. (Okay, fine, I guess most legitimate newspapers today can be accused of it.)

But where does the term come from? Would you believe that it came from comics?

That's right. In fact, it came from arguably comics' first ongoing character, R.F. Outcault's THE YELLOW KID!

From Wikipedia. Hully gee!

The Yellow Kid was the lead character of HOGAN'S ALLEY, single-panel cartoons published in New York World, which was owned by Joseph Pulitzer (yes, THAT Pulitzer). HOGAN'S ALLEY took some kids from the wrong side of the tracks and had them enacting some drama as a sort of commentary on the news. For example, here's one about copyright (the humor, obviously, is dated):

Also from the land of Wiki.

And here's one about an impending war at the time.

From Art Spiegelman's IN THE SHADOW OF NO TOWERS

The Yellow Kid was the lead character of these strips (I guess they can't even really be called comics, since they're all single panels), and instead of showing his dialogue as a caption on the bottom, Outcault had a nice device, in lieu of the then-rare word balloon, for the Kid to articulate his thoughts and ideas. He would have the kid speak via his shirt, in a dialect that was meant to evoke the children he himself was representing. Here's one of the Kid with a phonograph.

From here.

(As a side note, the Yellow Kid's shirt is also the inspiration for Rorschach's mask in WATCHMEN.)

Now, Outcault was then hired over to William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal American, where he took the Yellow Kid with him, but Pulitzer still owned the copyright to HOGAN'S ALLEY, so both newspapers ran cartoons with the Yellow Kid. And both newspapers then fell into the trap of fabricating news, falsifying interviews, and sensationalizing headlines in order to turn a profit. Both of these publications featured the Yellow Kid, so this practice was then known as "yellow kid journalism" and their papers were called "yellow kid papers," which were then shortened to "yellow journalism" and "yellow papers"!

So the next time you hear of someone winning the Pulitzer Prize, remember what the guy whom the prize is named after did. Remember the Yellow Kid.


Apr 7, 2011

Shameless. Just Shameless. (An Email from Rob Granito's Offices - Updated)

I woke up today to an email from "Alison G," representing Rob Granito. These people know no shame. Who pays for an interview? Why should I believe anything Granito says at this point? How worthless is his word, and why should I pay 150 dollars for it?

Well, folks, here you go. Straight up from the "offices" of the Charlie Sheen Peewee Herman (in terms of being a comedic figure, I'm definitely not saying that Peewee stole like this) of comics, Rob Granito.

I only put up this picture so anyone reposting this on Facebook won't be posting my face.

Dear Comics News, Blogs, and Journalists:

March 2011 was a month that the comics industry, and comics fandom, was not expecting! A month where suddenly comics websites became 'TMZ-like', and scandal and tabloid excitement erupted. This was due to the controversial Rob Granito.


We ask you to consider looking past personal feelings and judgement to consider the following:

-A Facebook Group about Robert Granito had over  3,000 members in less than a week

-Websites such as comicsalliance, Wired, and many others made Rob Granito a major headline

-An entire convention panel is due to Rob Granito, called 'How Should An Artist React To Being Granito'd'?

So, regardless of personal judgement you must admit that Rob Granito creates controversy- and controversy attracts attention. Rob Granito gets attention. Rob Granito gets people talking.

The Blog owner at All Things Geeky even explained how he had thousands of visitors to his site when he had never experienced that before. Rob Granito has gotten more attention and caused more talking amongst his detractors and his fans than any other comics professional!

Now is YOUR chance to take advantage of this red-hot story. As Charlie Sheen has proven in the mainstream media, controversy sells. It has been proven, and suggested by the convention fans blog that Rob Granito is the Charlie Sheen of Comics. And just like Charlie Sheen caused MAJOR headlines with his controversial 20/20 interview, now YOU can get Rob Granito to sit for an interview for your site or blog!

Rob Granito will live up to his image as the bad boy of comics, who admits he has made some mistakes (but who hasn't?) but also points out that comics fandom at large does not know the WHOLE story. Find out how Rob Granito began as an artist. Discover what his experience was with the legendary Dave Stevens. Find out what REALLY went down with Mark Waid. Learn how Rob feels about the comics professionals who have derided his name in the past few weeks like Ty Templeton Jamar Igle, Al Rio, and more!

We assure you Rob Granito will live up to his interview commitments. We guarantee candid, explanatory revelations. Rob Granito proved he shook up the world in March 2011! Now watch him light up the Spring comics schedule. "I will keep going to conventions", he says. Also, why did BleedingCool decide to break the Rob Granito story out of nowhere? Why was it pursued with such a fever? "There is more there that you dont know about", says Rob.

ALL WEBSITES:  the following is a list of Rob' interview fees

-e-mail interview (20 questions ONLY)   $150.00   PayPal
-30 minute phone interview   $200.00  PayPal
-1 Hour Phone or Skype interview   $250.00 PayPal


Thank you for your time. We look forward to working with you.
Alison c/o
Robert Granito Art Services


UPDATED

I responded to Alison with the following:
Rob Granito is not the Charlie Sheen of comics. Rob Granito is the laughingstock of comics. Rob Granito is Peewee Herman.

I admire you sticking up for your husband, but to even try to scam people into paying you for an interview (do you think Alan Moore charges for interviews?) is just as shameless and as unethical as everything he's done.

Please never bother me again, Mrs. Granito.

Her response?

Mr. Tano
I am not Rob Granito's wife. I am a manager/press agent. He will be the hottest newsheadline in comics! Please take advantage of this amazing offer.
Ali

To which I said:
You people have no shame. At all.

And she said:

How is it different from the Charlie Sheen situation.. he did bad stuff and people still rush to his interviews.
Please don't do another newsstory or headline about Rob Granito on your website then without consulting us.

Of course, I wasn't planning to, until she emailed me and made a big fool of both of themselves. But instead of saying that, I just said:
WHOOPS. Too late.


Furthermore,  I heartily apologize to everyone, including Peewee Herman, for comparing Rob Granito to Peewee Herman. I just meant that Granito is a laughingstock, and I just saw WrestleMania a few days ago, and Peewee Herman was there, obviously to be laughed at. Rob Granito is not Peewee Herman. Feel free to laugh at him, however, all you wish.

UPDATED!

Just got another email from Ali. Check it out!
If you continue with slander and defecations of character, we will pursue this. We thought you were fair and unbiased Duy but you are quickly showing you just wanted to jump on the bandwagon because it is the "hip" thing to do. Well I will give you a scoop. Not only is it impossible to ban Rob Granito as a vendor at future conventions, but he is already working on a one-man show for the New York Comic Con this October where he makes amends and apologizes for his mistakes while giving the audience more details into the whole story and sheds new light on what REALLY happened. I am just terribly sorry you couldn't have been a part of this with an exclusive Rob Granito interview for your little site. Good Day.
I didn't bother replying to this, but... defecations? WHA?  
It seems obvious to me that anyone who REALLY wants to clear his name would just come out and clear it right away. But no. They're not like that.

(I also just want to add - I never claimed to be unbiased. This is an opinion blog, not a news source.)

Apr 5, 2011

Ranking the 10 DCU LEGACIES "Snapshots"

Just about a year ago, DC Comics launched DC UNIVERSE LEGACIES, a ten-issue maxiseries written by Len Wein and drawn by a variety of artists, meant, ostensibly, to catalog DC's "now-in-use" narrative history. It didn't really work out that way, mainly because DC's history is such that no one will ever be able to make complete sense out of it, and I think they acknowledged that in the story.

DC UNIVERSE LEGACIES #5 and 6. Art by George Perez.
Thanks to Supergirl Comic Box Commentary.

The real reason to buy the comic, though, was the art, because with the exception of the final issue, Len Wein wrote scripts for the most apt and appropriate artists to draw that particular era of DC's history. We're talking Andy and Joe Kubert for the Golden Age in issue 1, evoking Joe's own particular style from when he drew in the 1940s; Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (who else?) for the Silver Age; George Perez to illustrate (what else?) the CRISIS; and so on.

And then there were the "Snapshots," short 8- or 9-page backups at the end of each issue, written by Len Wein and drawn by a different artist each time, showcasing the more obscure or less used characters in DC's massive catalog, and me being who I am, I jumped at this. I love shorter stories, and one of the reasons I'm sick of big events is the lack of shorter stories we now get.

So what I'm going to do here is I'm going to rank, in order, the DCU LEGACIES Snapshots, from my least favorite to my favorite. Enjoy!

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