Mar 28, 2012

Reclaiming History: EC Comics and the New Trend


Welcome to a new installment of Reclaiming History, an ongoing series where the Comics Cube! tries to balance out what the history books say and what actually happened! Click here for the archive!

This installment may be unusual in the sense that I'm not actually "reclaiming" history. I found this paper I wrote in university about EC Comics, and I wanted to share it with you. It's slightly revised, because, well, I write better now. But the content is pretty much the same. So without further ado...

If there was no point to being offensive (as with a high number of comedians who frequent the average working men's club), then the perpetrator will either be squeezed out of business or be relegated to working in bottom-of-the-heap sleaze pits where nothing more than vulgarity is demanded. Alternately, if there was some integrity behind all the outrage, the perpetrators become persecuted legends with a fanatical cult following and generally exercise tremendous influence upon the artists that come after them. In comedy, Lenny Bruce is an example. In music, perhaps the Sex Pistols. In comic books, EC would fit the bill.

-Alan Moore, WRITING FOR COMICS

The year 1946 saw the founding of Educational Comics, a small company publishing exactly what they claimed to be, giving life to Bible stories and patriotic American history in the medium of comics.



When William Gaines inherited the company from his prematurely deceased father, Max, he realized that these were not the type of material that flew off the stands and therefore did more work to emphasize their crime, western, and science fiction comics. With freelance artist Al Feldstein, he restructured EC Comics, renamed it Entertaining Comics, and used the medium to express their mutual love for the radio thrillers of the time. This would inspire what became known as the "New Trend" in comics, as pioneered by EC. Gone were the educational books. The science fiction books were made to be darker, with titles such as WEIRD FANTASY and WEIRD SCIENCE. The pre–New Trend crime books were disposed of to make room for darker, grittier interpretations of the genre. And, most importantly of all, horror, which was the backbone of EC, became legendary, and is even known in the comics industry as a martyr of the public crusade against the penny dreadful in 1954–55.



However, EC was hardly the only publisher of these genres, nor were they even the first. Horror, crime, and suspense stories were spanning the whole industry. Even Timely Comics, which would later become the juggernaut that is Marvel Comics, was guilty. Why was EC Comics the lynchpin of the Senate's argument that comics were bad for children? Why do the more experienced comics readers, and, more importantly, the writers and artists working in the industry look upon EC with fondness? How is this imprint still so influential, so widely imitated by the creators after all these years? How did EC Comics, with such a small line of titles, a limited number of stock characters, artists who produced such a miniscule amount of work, and a run that only lasted half a decade, make such a big impact which influences and inspires many artists working in the field today?

Mar 25, 2012

REPORT: Supercrooks #1 and Green Arrow #7 signing by Danry Ocampo


So Comic Odyssey had that Supercrooks #1 and Green Arrow #7 signing with Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Harvey Tolibao this past Saturday, and I wasn't able to make it. So the number 1 local komiks fan, Danry Ocampo, made it over there and sent me the following report and pictures. Enjoy!


SUPERCROOKS #1 and GREEN ARROW #7 signing
with Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Harvey Tolibao
by Danry Ocampo

I woke up very early to go to the signing because I was very excited. I'm absolutely a fan of both Leinil and Gerry, but this is probably the first time that I saw them and didn't bring a book from my collection by them. I recently went to the SUPERIOR HC launch, so all my comics they worked on that I own have been signed. I was also excited to see Harvey Tolibao, the GREEN ARROW penciller. I took a cab and was at the store at 10am.


The day started with me trying not to get lost. The new shop is located in the basement area almost directly below McDonald's. The store was so refreshing to see: newly painted walls, a sound system, and so many comics. I was greeted by Sandy and Rowena Sansolis, owners of Comic Odyssey and probably one of the nicest couples I've ever met. On the counter lay every single book that Leinil, Gerry, and Harvey had worked on, including those awesome sketchbooks.



Part of my mission for the day was to take pictures of the INDIE SHELF. Before, it was just two rows of shelves, and now it's six rows allotted for the exposure and sale of komiks! This just shows that not only are komiks alive and kicking but that there is a store that markets it. This eye-level marketing makes everyday Komikon at Comic Odyssey. I'm just so happy about this. Duy and I will always support local komiks because it is as important as enjoying foreign comics.


Hey, look! TRESE: LAST SEEN AFTER MIDNIGHT is
now available at Comic Odyssey!




I bought copies of SUPERCROOKS #1 and GREEN ARROW #7 to be signed as well as some back issues. We had to wait until 1pm for the signing to start and the raffle started at 4pm. The raffle prizes were a Batman #619 Heroes Variant signed by Jim Lee, CGC Graded 9.8 from Jun Pamintuan (CGC Legendary Collector), a personalized sketch from Leinil Yu, and a Francis Magalona shirt that Leinil designed.
Signing started at 1:30 pm. The line was long and the aircon was failing, but a lot of people in the store were buying, signing, sketching, and taking pictures, and some kids where filming interviews too.

Left to right: Harvey Tolibao, Leinil Francis Yu, and Gerry Alanguilan


The Flipgeeks crew was also in attendance. Budjette Tan of TRESE arrived to support the event and gave me copies of ALAMAT comics. Very grateful that I had to take a picture with him with my most composed face.

Budj giving Danry presents


4pm came. Raffle draw time.

CGC Winner: Adrian Mundin


Sketch by Leinil Yu: Allen Geneta



T-shirt winner: ME!


We went home after Edrick and I picked up my copy of SUPERCROOKS from National, so I can meet Mark Millar in May. Another Supercrooks event. See you again there Leinil and Gerry!

Highlight of my day: a picture with KOMIKERO!


And I'm in a BIDJO! WOW!



Danry Ocampo is an occasional contributor to The Comics Cube. He specializes in local komiks from the Philippines as well as events that feature local creators.

Mar 22, 2012

REPORT: An Interview with David Finch, Part 2: the Batman edition

After the roundtable interview we conducted with David Finch at Fully Booked, I had the opportunity to speak to him individually. Afterward, I went to his talk, where he drew Batman and Catwoman in front of an audience of over 100 people. The following is a consolidation of the questions I asked in both settings (individually and in front of the audience). I'm doing this partly for convenience and partly so I can pepper you with pictures of how his drawing progressed. It's actually amazing how much form it took the moment he started rendering.

David Finch and me


I've already asked you most of the questions I was going to ask about the industry and about the creative process. So I'll ask, why Batman?

Batman is such a great visual character. I love the shadows and I love the city. It's such a dark city and I can be really creative with it. Because it's not a real existing city, I can draw buildings in any kind of configuration I want and it still works. The villains are the most fun to draw in this entire business. Everybody loves the Joker, the Penguin, and even the Riddler is fun! They're all fun.

Something I've always wondered... does DC have a scale model of Gotham City that you guys have to follow, or do you just make it up as you go along?

It's very much made up as we go along. I think there are certain landmarks that we try to bear in mind, and lately there's been more of an effort to make things a little more cohesive. So as people are creating and drawing different landmarks and different things in the city, and also the political figures, we're putting that in a list or database for everybody to refer to to make things a little more cohesive, because it is pretty easy for things to start falling apart.

Stage 1: Placing the characters

Yeah, things like how far Wayne Manor is from the police station.

Right, yeah.

Is there someone keeping a record of that?

There really isn't. I think there's a reason. Mike Marts is a great editor, and he's really good at spotting things that are obviously going to clash with establishing the reality, but I'm not personally aware of an exact distance between anything. Because comics is a still-frame medium, there's really never even an instance — even if this were a movie, you would never actually see Batman get in the car and see the entire drive real-time anyway. So if I were to draw Batman coming out of the cave, I would draw a shot of him coming out of the cave, a shot of him driving to the city, and a drive of him at his location. That's the structure of how it would be done. That leaves it open to interpretation, but it also means that it never gets fully established.


Fully Booked gave us a challenge basically to talk about Batman. And they had a list of questions related to Batman, so I'm just going to ask you those questions. Who's your favorite Batman villain?

The Joker.

Visually speaking or generally?

Both. Visually speaking, I think he's great. But just in general, he's crazy, which makes him so difficult to write, but when he's well-written, he's so interesting because the things he does are so off-the-wall and unpredictable that it keeps it really interesting, but he always has a point. No matter how twisted it is, it's never completely random, which I think is really interesting about the character.

What's your favorite Batman story?

I think BATMAN: YEAR ONE, by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. It's just such a beautifully structured story. I think it's such a crime that that comic in that format wasn't used for the movie. I can't argue with Christopher Nolan, because those movies are great, but if it would have been me, I think I would have just done that. That would have been by Batman movie, YEAR ONE.

You would take YEAR ONE over DARK KNIGHT RETURNS?

Oh yeah. I love DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, but I think YEAR ONE is the apex of Batman.


So Mazzucchelli over Miller?

In terms of art, that's a tough question. Dave Mazzucchelli has so much going on and I love it. He's a great visual storyteller and great at arranging panels that I think is just incredible. But Frank Miller has a vicious power with his characters sometimes that I really love. I think the thing I like about art is that I don't really have to choose. I can like them all, which is really nice.


Step 2: Let's start shading

How important to you is a dynamic layout over a clear one? Let's say you have three panels and one of them is coming right out at you, would you rather make it as clear as possible or as in-your-face as possible?

To be totally honest with you, it really depends on the situation. There are times when the impact of that big panel is important enough that I feel like it's worth getting that in there, and I would make the other panels smaller, which would sacrifice some storytelling. And there are times that's a conscious decision. I know it's a bigger panel over more procedural storytelling. I'm willing to make that sacrifice, because I know if I were picking up a Batman comic, I'm going to flip through it and see that big picture of Batman looking pissed off and crazy, and that's what gets me excited. So I feel that to not have that there, I can't have that. At least to some degree, I'm willing to bend the rules to make that happen. But at the same time, I always try to be aware of the story. The story's really number one. It's rare that I'm in the position where I'm making that decision. There are times when I make the decisions that really affect the storytelling. That's really not intentional. Maybe I know I want to get a panel, I know I want to get something across in there, and I just don't give much thought to figuring out how to get the storytelling to work  too. It's really not a conscious decision to sacrifice the storytelling, ideally.

Gregg Hurwitz. The way he writes, how tight is it? Do you have to follow it or do you lay it out on your own?

Well, I lay it out on my own but he writes a full-panel structured story that's pretty clear. And we also talk before I start drawing the issue, we talk through every page panel by panel. So we know what both of us are thinking. We make sure we're on the same page, so there are no real surprises. And that makes things a little stronger, because there are times — and it's happened with issue 1, there are a couple of places where what he described is really clear, but what I was thinking about doing was completely opposite from what he actually had in mind. Just a miscommunication. And me describing what I was thinking, we have a chance to say "Oh no, no." It really helps. With Gregg Hurwitz, he really has full control over the story, so my input really comes down to framing the shots and making things as dramatic as I can make them. Gregg is very good at establishing the beats in the storytelling, so I absolutely don't alter his structure.

I need to know, since the Joker's your favorite villain. What's your favorite Joker story?

KILLING JOKE. Of course.

I solicited questions from my readers, and they already asked a lot. More than one person asked this, so I'm just gonna ask you since we have the time anyway. Do you like bacon?

(At this point, everyone around us laughs, and David gets this suspicious look on his face, as if he's waiting for a punchline. Then he answers slowly.) Yeeeeeesssss. Yes, I like bacon. I heard a comedian say that bacon even sounds like people cheering when it's cooking.

One of the other questions that Fully Booked asked us is what kind of cake would you bake for Batman?

What kind of cake would I bake for Batman?


I know, I didn't answer that one either.

I'm not much of a cake-baker. I think it would be awkward to present Batman with a cake.


I wrote down, "Batman would not eat cake." Anyway, since you've taken on Batman at this stage, where he's not as dark as he used to be, but he's really serious, what do you think of things like the Adam West show or Brave and the Bold, you know, the lighter takes on Batman?

I think there's a place for it, and there's a place for it right now. DC is still doing the younger audience comics. I think Batman is a strong enough character that he can survive the darkest, most cynical, and vicious takes, and he can withstand the lightest and goofiest take out there in the same month. He kinda embodies both of those things really, really well. And you know, I love the old cartoon.

Step 3: Almost done

What do you think it is about Batman that gives him that kind of range? Other icons, like Superman or Spider-Man, they don't really have it. You can't really make them too dark—

Spider-Man is a very optimistic character. He's a character that has a lot of self-doubt, but he likes to joke and cover his own insecurity with joking, so it's difficult to make a character like that too dark. I think with Spider-Man, if you want to make him dark, the best way to do that is to put him in a dark spot with villains, because his villains can be really really dark.


Like KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT.

Yeah, he can be a counterpoint to that, so you can have a dark story with Spider-Man, but Batman is a much more serious dark character. I think so much so that you can actually spoof that a little bit and that's when you get to something a little more campy, and it still works. Now, a character like Superman, he's all good, so much so that — Superman's an icon, obviously, but I don't think he has the same dimensions Batman has. He doesn't have the same internal conflict. That's the stuff that really makes Batman.


Final product. The cylinders are there to
illustrate how he shades.




Any interest in doing the lighter Batman stuff? You have a really dark style. Any interest in doing the exact opposite?

No, not really. When I first decided I wanted to get into comics, it was Marc Silvestri, Jim Lee, Jae Lee, Simon Bisley... that's the stuff I really gravitated to. We were just talking about James Jean today, and I'm a huge fan of James Jean and a huge fan of a lot of the much more cartoony artists — Humberto Ramos I love — but whenever I think about the kind of work that grabs me the most, the kind of work I want to do is always something darker, so that's probably where I'm going to stay. I always want to grow and not just do the same things, but at the same time, I have to stay true to who I am.


Is there an animated series from your childhood that you may have an affinity for, maybe something you'd like to do in the comics?

I guess the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That would be fun.

Yeah, and they're darker in the comics, so it would fit your style.

Yeah. You know, now you have me seriously thinking about it.


Who's your favorite Turtle?

They all look the same.

What do you think of the Philippines?

I think it's been great so far. We went out for lunch today, after that interview earlier. It was great, we had all Filipino dishes.

(to Jaime Daez, the owner of Fully Booked) Where'd you take him?

Abe.

It was great. We had pigskin.

Chicharon.

Oh, how'd that taste?

It was great. It was really good!

Oh, right, you like bacon!

(laughter) It's a huge, huge city. This is my first time in the Philippines, and it's my first time in Asia, so it's really been kind of a thrill.

Here's the drawing he did the second day.
Admittedly, he hates drawing feet.



REPORT: An Interview with David Finch, Part 1

So David Finch showed up at Fully Booked yesterday, and I sat down with him for not one, but two interviews. I know, it's funny, but pretty cool. He was an unbelievably nice guy, almost too self-conscious, and I had a great time covering the event as Fully Booked's staff is always so accommodating and friendly. Sandy Sansolis of Comic Odyssey was there selling some single issues, and he'll be there for the second day of the event as well.

The first interview I did, I conducted alongside Tony Tuason of Flipgeeks and Bim Barbieto of Geekout. I conducted the second interview on my own.

All righty, without further ado, here we go.

The best part of this picture? Christopher Nolan's Bat-Mite.


Me: The first question that I have is — and I guess you don't have to answer this if it's too controversial — but what are the differences working at these different companies you've worked for, like Top Cow or Marvel or DC? What are the transitions you have to make as an artist and as a businessman or an employee?

Finch: You know, it's really not very controversial just because the whole industry is dominated by comic book fans and we all kind of come from the same place. I think there's so much, probably, that we have in common, that whenever I go into a different company — which hasn't that much — but whenever I've done it, it hasn't really been that much of a culture shock. Top Cow was kind of like a fraternity; we all kind of came up together. We were just about the same age — Joe Benitez, Mike Turner, and all the guys — they're all still the guys I'm close to in the business because we spent so much time together, but it was a little less structured. Deadlines weren't really as . . . you know, I know from a publishing standpoint that deadlines are very important, but that wasn't really our priority, and I think that really showed by the end of what I was doing when I was there. Things weren't really coming out the way they should. I definitely work better under a very structured environment.

But Top Cow is a very artist-oriented company; I would imagine they're of the philosophy that it's more important for the artist to finish the project himself rather than to have it come out on schedule, but with different artists.

Top Cow is Marc Silvestri, and not only is he a phenomenal artist, he's also a great teacher. And he's very supportive. He's had a lot of artists that are very influenced by him, but he's also had a lot of artists who work in a lot of different styles, and I think he's done a great job helping them develop their particular styles. It was a great place to work, and I'm sure it still is. When I went to Marvel, I actually started working with full scripts. It was very new to me, because I was used to working with a loose plot. All of a sudden, everything was broken down by panel, all the dialogue was already in there. There was a lot less wiggle room. I was used to just saying, "You know, I think I'm just gonna draw a big figure here."

So let me get this straight. When you went to Marvel, you stopped working Marvel method? (Note: The Marvel Method of writing comics, as explained in HOW TO DRAW COMICS THE MARVEL WAY by Stan Lee and John Buscema, uses loose plots and leaves a lot of the storytelling up to the artists)

That's right, because Marvel had actually stopped working Marvel style. It was before my time, but Marvel had just started working full-script style, which I guess was more associated with DC. When I came into Marvel, the Internet was really much stronger. And definitely, the Internet fans favor the writers because they're really focused on the story and the chronology. That was a really tough transition for me because I was really more used to the people revering the art, and now I didn't have that much control. So I kind of just stuck it out and thought that I wasn't really in charge anymore and that my job was to take a script and do the best thing that I can with it and being as true to the writing as I can. I think I've kind of improved on that over the years. There are times when I've had conflicts about it that way, and I think I've come full circle on it now. I have (writer) Gregg Hurwitz on Batman, and he's a phenomenal writer. He's a novelist and a media producer, and he's just a great guy. His scripts are so good. I kind of feel like it's always been my book for the last year or so, but now I feel it's Gregg's book right now and my job is just to make the story as good as I can. I don't think it's possible to make a quality comic just to showcase the art. I really feel like I'm at that level now.

Tony: So when you first got your job at Marvel, what project did you get?



I was actually very well-known at Marvel for being very unreliable. But I knew David Bogart and he gave me an X-MEN UNLIMITED story, and they needed six pages a week. I didn't want to lose this job, but I never really worked that way. I was used to being lazy, so I just sat down and got it done and did the best work I could do. It was actually a really tough transition, because it was really pushing me out of my comfort zone because I had to stay true to the script. Before that, if I didn't like something that the script asked me to do, I hate to admit it, but I would just draw something else. But at Marvel, that wasn't possible.

A heavier editorial hand?

Not so much an editorial hand. It was all for me. I knew what they wanted from me, and they really were very supportive. I think to succeed in this business, you really have to read the writing on the wall and understand what's expected of you. So it was very different in terms of conditions in that sense, but I got it done when it needed, and then I got my next big project, which was THE CALL OF DUTY, which I don't think anyone remembers.



It was a difficult project for me to do, just from a creative standpoint because it was all real-world people. I've always been known for doing the same face on everybody, which I won't deny for a second, and here I had to do a story where no one was in costume and I had to make everyone as distinctive as possible. It took me so far out of my element of drawing guys with wings and claws. But it was really the ideal project for me coming into Marvel, because then I worked with Mark Millar on three issues of ULTIMATE X-MEN, and then Bendis, who I think is phenomenal. And I don't think I would have been able to hold my own with Bendis without it. I didn't know this at the time, but I was actually auditioning for the job, and they told me that Bendis really liked what I did. It worked out great. I mean, I look at it, and it gets a little undetailed here and there. I actually lost a lot of confidence artistically—

Really?

Yeah. I was at Top Cow doing all kinds of detail and everyone was telling me how good I was at what I was doing, and then I went to a place where I really wasn't "the man" and there were so many artists doing a wide variety of styles and I didn't really know where I fit, and it affected me a lot. And I wasn't really happy with the inking I was getting at the time, like a lot of detail and background that I did was just not on the page. They just weren't in the comics at all.

Who was your inker at the time?

It was Art Thibert.

And you were used to people like Batt.

Yeah, more with Batt. And then I actually managed to get Danny Miki, who was my inker for a long long time, and he was just great. I've got Rich Friend right now, and I have no complaints; I love Rich. But I really loved working with Danny at Marvel. Danny's just natural because he was more comfortable with the story. I did AVENGERS: DISASSEMBLED, then NEW AVENGERS, and that kind of rolled into MOON KNIGHT. And then I get married and my schedule was just (David makes a spiralling downard gesture).

So you did a lot of covers back then.

Actually, not so much then. After MOON KNIGHT, I did some HULK covers and then some X-MEN covers. I went through a phase where I really was just doing covers.

It seems to me that you can just make a living out of doing covers now.

Yeah, I guess I can.

Yeah, you did all those covers to ACTION.



I'm doing the JLI covers now, and I just did a cover for DIAL H, which is a remake of the old DIAL H FOR H.E.R.O. book, and it's going to be a fun book. And I just did a cover for HELLBLAZER.

You were there at DC when Paul Levitz stepped down and Dan Didio and Jim Lee took over, and that's led to things like DCnU and BEFORE WATCHMEN. Has the work environment changed at all? Maybe more pressure, less pressure...

You know, the work environment has changed just in the last year or so. I think DC just looked at where sales were going, and things weren't good last year, especially at the beginning of last year. They looked at what was working and what wasn't working, and I think the main thing that wasn't working is just that books were coming out at an unreliable schedule. With digital comics becoming more and more important, in order for that to work — I don't really know all the intricacies, but I do know that they have to come out exactly on time for that to work. They told me early on that these books absolutely have to come out when they have to come out. I didn't really take it seriously because that's what they always say, but then I realized they were serious. If the books didn't come out exactly when they said it would come out, I was gonna have a fill-in artist. They actually already lined up a fill-in artist for (BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT), because understandably they didn't trust me to do it on my own. And I just didn't want to go down that way. I wanted that book to be my book, and for that to happen, I had to have it come out on time. And it's a good thing, because this is really the first time I've been on a proper schedule for six years. I just feel better when I'm in a zone. Everything is better when I work.

Last September, the new 52 came out, right? Is there more creative control for the artists and creators compared to, say, two years ago?

You know, I really can't say because I've only been at DC now for a pretty short time. I guess I can speak for my own book and say that I have quite a bit of control over my own book. I've given up that control now with Gregg Hurwitz. We're taking a good beating, I think, online with reviews. I read a lot of reviews and I can't say I disagree sometimes. I do feel our sales are strong, but I want it to be a quality product all the way around. I want it to be a book that somebody can pick up and read and step back and just take in the art.

I'm sure that all my readers want me to ask you this question, and they'll probably kill me if I don't. Were you approached for BEFORE WATCHMEN?

(excitedly) I'm doing a cover! Can I say that? Am I allowed to release that information? You know, I'll just come out and say it. I'm doing a cover. I can't say what it is, but I'm doing a cover.

Is it the pirate one?

I can't say.

Come on.

Actually, maybe I can say, but I'm gonna stop there.

You can't tease me this way!

(General laughter from everyone)

But you know, I'm following all that stuff a lot, and I think it's gonna be pretty cool. Pretty big. I'm a huge WATCHMEN fan.

I think as a huge WATCHMEN fan, you can really only go one of two ways. You either read it or you don't, you know?

Yeah, I can understand someone being a really big WATCHMEN fan and saying "I've got the WATCHMEN I know and love, and I'm just gonna leave it at that." But I also understand somebody saying, "Here it is, and I'm gonna read it and it's gonna add to it." WATCHMEN came out years ago, and nothing could ever take away from what that comic has done for the business. I think this can only add to it.

Yeah, I'm a big believer in personal continuity, so if you don't like something, you can just ignore it.

I'm that way with the Alien movies.

Going into the creative process, who would you say are your biggest influences?

My biggest influence will always be Marc Silvestri. He's the artist I looked at the most before I got in, and he's the one who taught me when I started.

I can see that. Actually, all you Top Cow alumni—

Yeah, there's definitely a continuity. That's a great artist.

Would you say he was the best artist of the Image bunch?

Oh yeah. That's such a tough question for me to answer, though, because Jim Lee's on that list, you know? I'm a huge Jim Lee fan. And Dale Keown — he wasn't one of the founders, but I'm a big Dale Keown fan. He's such a big influence on me. I don't even know if it shows that much anymore, but there's a period of my art where you can open up a book and just say I took that from Dale, or that from Dale, or that. So yeah, and my tastes changed over the years, and there's so much to appreciate.

Your line and your rendering does remind me of Dale's.

Yeah, he was a big influence. Actually, another big influence, not just for me but a big influence for me but for a lot of artists working nowadays, is Travis Charest. All my hair is really taken from Travis. I like to render, kind of like Travis. The way I break up the texture of a wall — so many things are taken from Travis.

I feel like Travis is an artist's artist.

He was. I talk to some people about it and they don't really understand. I don't understand it, because his work is beautiful. There are artists that I love because they do certain things that I can just get something from, but Travis for me is just moving. I think Travis is the best artist ever to work in this business. I have my favorites. Simon Bisley is a huge influence for me. As a matter of fact, actually, when I got to Top Cow, I was really struggling artistically. Everyone at Image at the time, we were all doing a really long horizontal render of things. Whilce Portacio was actually known for doing that style. I think it was actually his influence on Jim Lee that caused Jim Lee to work that way, and I just could not do it. And you know, that's how it goes, but for whatever reason, I just couldn't get my head around working that way. I was really really struggling, and I felt I just needed something different, because I felt I was going to wash out. I needed to pick up something that maybe could push me in a different direction, and I just kept gravitating to Simon Bisley, who I love. I was so afraid of going in that direction because it was so different from what we were doing. I was so afraid of washing out as it was and the last thing I wanted to do was make a choice that would kinda hasten my exit, so I finally decided it wasn't working for me and I just needed to follow my gut and go for it. I think that's still the backbone of my style. It's very dark. All my figures are drawn based on shadow shapes. As a matter of fact, I have a very difficult time drawing figures without shadow, because I'm so used to defining my forms with shadows. And it all comes from Simon Bisley. I've painted, lately, as best as I could. And that's all, again, I wish I could paint like Simon Bisley. I wish I could be Simon Bisley.

When it comes to collaborators, who is your favorite when it comes to process or creation?

My favorite writer that I've worked with in the past is absolutely Bendis. He's phenomenally successful for a reason. I worked with Chuck Austen, who I really enjoyed working with. I thought he was great; we had a great collaboration. I think some of the stories came away from him at the end a little bit, but he was really good. Jeph Loeb is a lot of fun. Just a lot of bombastic things. I love Jeph Loeb because he has so much range. He can do a really heartfelt quiet story, and he can do big action. He just makes it a lot of fun. He makes it really unpredictable.

He gets a lot of flak for doing the bombastic stuff, and I don't really get it.

You know what? I think this industry could do with more fearless people like Jeph Loeb. Because he's willing to put that work out there, and sometimes the book that's gonna make people really upset is the book that's gonna tear things down and build things back up. And we need that sometimes. He's got a lot of balls, and I really respect that.

Gregg Hurwitz who I'm working with right now is incredible. And I think I would put him right at the top of that list, but right now I've only so far done 10 pages, so I feel like I'm just coming into it with Gregg. But at this point, it's so good so far. I just read an issue from him that — you know, whatever I say is gonna sound like hype, but it's actually got no superheroes or anything like that for a whole issue. It's amazing.

Who's your favorite character to draw?

My favorite character to draw really is Batman. I've always wanted to draw Batman. I've got Batman mugs that I drink coffee from at home. I'm a huge fan of Moon Knight. Moon Knight is a guy I'd love the chance to get to do again. I love Spider-Man. I love the characters that have the best villains. Obviously, Batman has great villains, but so does Spider-Man.

The Flash.

The Flash has great villains. I love drawing the Flash. Actually, I have the Flash here in DARK KNIGHT because I just always wanted to draw the Flash, and I thought, you know what? It's my own book; I'm just gonna throw him in there. See, this is why I need a good writer.

Would you say Batman is your dream project then?

As far as character goes, Batman is my dream project. But I'm getting a little older, so right now I think my dream project is just a project with a writer that can do something memorable. I feel like I have a style that's in your face and really energetic. Fans seem to like it, which I really appreciate. But I think what's really a struggle for me is to do something that's writer-centric. I'm really trying to balance that right now, to do something like David Mazzucchelli. He's incredible. And I think now and for the rest of my career, I would like forever to be working on a project that I believe in because of the writer, first and foremost.

Are you planning on getting out of Marvel and DC to do more creator-owned stuff?

Yeah, I actually do have plans. It's been such a long time since I did it. When I did creator-owned books in the past, I just thought it would go on forever. So I didn't really value it very much, and now that I'm doing monthly superhero comics for Marvel and DC, that window's kinda gone. So what I'm really trying to do right now is say "Okay, it takes me three weeks to do an issue, X amount of days to do covers, and then in that remaining time, I want to devote to getting it off the ground. It is a priority for me.

(At this point, a bunch of cosplayers walked in and greeted David. Bim for Geekout.ph then joined us. We resume this interview from that point.)

What was your reaction when you learned that you were going to come here?

Yeah, what did you think of when you heard "Philippines"?

Well, I was very excited. This is my first time anywhere in Asia. But you know, artists I've worked in the past have been Filipino. I've never been here, obviously, so I didn't know what to expect. I think the biggest surprise for me is that all the signs were in English. I wouldn't have expected that. But not only that, I've been watching TV now, and it's "I can't understand, I can't understand, I can't understand," and all of a sudden there's a block of English.

Yeah, that's kind of how we talk.

It's a really beautiful city. It's huge. You say the population is 25 million, and that's similar to LA. And I'm from Canada, and we're just over 30 million. We're an entire country, and it's similar.

Well, the entire middle part of your country is uninhabitable.

The entire upper part. It gets kinda chilly, so everyone lives on the border.

As a Canadian, how did it feel to win the Shuster Award?

(chuckles) I thought it was great. It was an honor. It's a Canadian award for Canadians. I was actually at a book signing when they presented it, so I was taken by surprise. It was great. And I've been nominated for a few awards. I've been nominated for the Wizard Award a few times, the Harvey Award once, which was a surprise to say the least. So when I actually won that one, I was pretty thrilled.

Bim: The only question I have for you is, how does it feel to be awesome?

(General laughter) Maybe in 10 years, I can work my way up there.  You know what I'll say is, I love being an artist. I love being able to draw superheroes that I've loved since I was a little kid. I love that I can go somewhere — you know, this is, I think, just about halfway around the world for me, and people know who I am, you know? It's incredible. Like this. I have no right to come over here and have anybody know me at all. So I feel very very lucky.

Has anyone asked him who his favorite writer to work with is?

Yeah, Bendis. I'm actually working with Gregg Hurwitz now. We just started, and so far he's been phenomenal. But looking back at all the work I've done, if somebody asked me "What do you do?", I would give him something written by Bendis, absolutely.

Which one? DISASSEMBLED?

You know, I think I might go with the NEW AVENGERS — actually, I think I might go with the X-MEN, because I really like the writing he did in that, but I like the art I did more in NEW AVENGERS, maybe, so it's always a tough choice.

Actually, I wanted to say that as the biggest Electro fan ever, thanks for making Electro badass.

You know what, I remember Bendis saying, "Do you want to draw him with the costume on or not?" and I said definitely costume, and he kind of wrote it into the script that way.



And actually, Spider-Woman. This is a small claim to fame for me that I would like to stake my claim on, but I fought for Spider-Woman to be in costume. I really wanted her to be in costume. We kind of hemmed and hawed about whether or not that would happen, but Bendis is a great collaborator. And then she turned out to be a Skrull! (laughter)

How much of your input gets into the actual storyline? 

It really depends on the project. I've had projects before where I get the script and I just draw straight from the script. I've worked with Craig Kyle and Chris Yost on an X-Men story, which was just one issue, and there were times when I would just... I actually didn't talk to them at all, because it was just a single issue so... And there are times where I'll say "Okay, okay this is not quite working, that's not quite working," and from a storyteller's perspective, I just can't draw it properly sometimes.But it was a great script. It was perfect. I didn't have to change anything. I did my best to draw it and the book came out well; I was very happy with it. I had no influence on the script at all there, which I'm okay with. When a writer really knows what they're doing, I'd rather just step back. With Batman, I've had a little more influence, and now I'm stepping back from that a lot, because Gregg Hurwitz, it's really his book. I'm doing the best I can to bring it across easily. I think the best product comes about when you work with a great writer and you shut your mouth. I'm not a writer. I have aspirations, and I'm gonna write again — I've written Batman stuff, and some stuff in the past. I think Gregg Hurwitz is great, and I don't really want to look at the script and think "Okay, what can I change here?" I really feel that when you have something that powerful, for me to want to change something would just be me trying to exert some kind of influence, which I don't.

Were you offered a writing job during the new 52 relaunch?

Yeah. You know, not only was writing a very difficult job; it was also incredibly time-consuming for me. I'm such an inefficient writer, and it was really messing up my schedule. In order to make the new 52 work and make the book come out on a monthly schedule, I really had no choice but to back out of the writing.

How privy were you to the business decisions? It seems odd to me that they would release DARK KNIGHT and then three months later, we're back to a new number 1. Or with BATMAN INC., which was so heavily promoted, and it was gone just to make way for the new 52.

The new 52 was a linewide event that Geoff Johns and Dan Didio and Jim Lee — they looked at the numbers and looked at where the business was and where the audience was and decided to make a bold move, quickly and decisively. And whenever you make a linewide decision like that, I think there's always going to be something like DARK KNIGHT that had just come out, because it just happened to be that way. For my part, I certainly didn't mind another issue 1; I'm always for a little more promotion in there. I think they worked very very hard to work with the creators they had to because creators would be halfway through a story arc and there were a lot changes and a lot of rebooting from the ground up, and they really wanted to respect the creators they had. I don't know how they pulled it off as well as they did, but they did a great job of creating something new and creating the feeling of something very new and still not crushing the work of a lot of people they really valued.

If you could pick any one writer, living or dead, who would you work with?

And on what book?

And who would your inker be?

My inker would be Rich Friend. I've worked with amazing inkers like Batt and Danny Miki, and Rich, we really get along. We're close; I talk to him all the phone all the time. I feel like we're really connecting on every issue and getting a little more cohesive, and I'm gonna tell you right now, I'll pick Gregg Hurwitz too. So here I am picking the people I'm currently working with, but the fact is, I've put a lot of time and effort into making bad decisions sometimes. I've also put a lot of time and effort into trying to make good decisions too, in terms of the direction of the book. Gregg is somebody where I love the writing that he's done. He's already finished the first story arc. I know it's a great ending, and it was a great beginning, and Gregg has some things readers can really latch onto at the end. And also, you know, he's a great guy to talk to on the phone, and that's a big part of it. I could pick Edgar Allan Poe, but I've never spoken to Edgar Allan Poe. (At this point, we were informed time was up.) Oh, I'd also like to thank Jaime (Daez, owner of Fully Booked) and Fully Booked. I'm very excited to be here.

David Finch with Jaime Daez, showcasing the art contest winners.


Isn't this a great name for a bookstore? Fully Booked?

Yeah, I think I'm gonna be broke by the end of the weekend.



Click here for part 2, now with more Batman!





Mar 21, 2012

Comic Odyssey Supercrooks Promo, plus Win a Chance to Meet Mark Millar

Manila people purchasing the first issue of SUPERCROOKS by Mark Millar, Leinil Yu, and Gerry Alanguilan will have their choice of promos of which to avail this weekend (heck, you can go to both). I won't be there, as I have something more important to attend to (The Resident Kid is graduating and going to high school in June! AAHHHH!!!), but isn't it nice to know you guys have your options?

Comic Odyssey is having a signing featuring the artists, Leinil and Gerry, as well as GREEN ARROW artist Harvey Tolibao, from 1–4 pm. They'll be signing copies of SUPERCROOKS #1 and GREEN ARROW #7. To add to that, Comic Odyssey will have a one-day sale! Everything will be up to 50% off and all back issues will be 50 pesos!


But wait... there's more! CGC representative Jun Pamintuan will be there, raffling off a CGC 9.8 grade copy of BATMAN #619, the final issue of the "Hush" storyline.


Here's what Jun has to say:

I'm giving this away on Saturday, March 24 in Comic Odyssey Galleria.
For every purchase of Leinil and Gerry's Supercrooks 1 book, you get a raffle ticket.
For every purchase of Green Arrow 7 by Harvey Tolibao, you get a raffle ticket.
I understand that stocks might not be enough for everyone so to give chance to other people..for every P500 purchase on that day (not counting a Supercrooks book), you also get a raffle ticket. Drawing will be held on the same day. I'm giving this away for free. The book is yours if you get drawn in the raffle, no strings attached.

And for those of you curious about CGC, Jun has prepared this FAQ:

Professional comic book grading eliminates concerns about grade misrepresentations by providing a professional assessment of condition and quality. Every comic book certified by CGC is graded by the hobby’s most experienced and trusted team, according to well-established grading standards. Furthermore, every CGC-certified comic book undergoes a thorough restoration check by leading professionals during the certification process. When restoration is detected, it is fully noted on the certification label.

Once certified by CGC, a comic book is encapsulated in a state-of-the art, tamper-evident holder, providing superior protection and stability for long-term preservation.

CGC was the first impartial, third-party certification service.

Over one hundred thousand comic books are submitted to CGC each year. Books are carefully handled and tracked through the grading process, and always fully insured while on our premises.

Why have different colors for the labels?
There is an easy-to-understand label placed on the interior of the holder on certified comic books. The label displays the title, issue #, publisher and grade of a comic book. It can also display the importance (for Key Issues) or the artist (if by an important artist). There are five different colored labels that represent:

Universal (Blue)
This label is applied to comic books that are simply the grade as marked, with no qualifiers or special considerations

Signature Series (Yellow)
This label is applied to comic books that have been signed by someone of significance to the comic, under the direct observation of a CGC representative, and are thus certified as an authentic signature by CGC.

Qualified (Green)
A Qualified label is used by CGC for certified books that have a significant defect that needs specific description, or to note an unauthenticated signature (one which was not witnessed by CGC). For example, it would be a disservice to the seller and buyer to call a VF/NM book with a 4-inch back cover tear a VG, so CGC will give this book a Qualified grade of "VF/NM 9.0, back cover 4-inch tear." Or, if the book is signed on the cover it may be noted as "Name Written on Cover."

Restored (Purple)
This label is applied to any comic book that has evidence of repair so that it will appear as it did when it was in its original condition. Restoration can come in a variety of degrees, from slight professional restoration (SP) to extensive amateur restoration (EA).

Signature Series Restored (Yellow/Purple)
Applied to a restored comic book that has been signed by someone of significance to the comic, under the direct observation of a CGC representative, and are certified as an authentic signature by CGC. Degree of restoration is also noted on the label.

So how can I get my comics graded from here?
Sir Sandy of Comic Odyssey has agreed to promote the service in his shop. The first time a CGC service will be offered here in the country. The only place where you can get your books graded from here. It is your duty to prep and protect your comics for shipping, not the shop, not me.

Can I get a yellow label from here in the Philippines?
Yes, I am a CGC representative for the country. The one and only in the country. There are actually only 2 CGC reps outside of the US, one is in UK, and the other one is me. You need me present during a signing or sketching if you want your comic book graded and qualified for the prestigious yellow label. Note that it is not my job to convince the artist to get you a signature or sketch for the yellow label, that's your job, my only job is to witness the signing or sketching.

Why should I get my book graded?
Preservation, protection, grading, authenticity. CGC is the leading 3rd party comic grading and signature/sketch authentication company. With CGC, you'd know what your buying is real.

How much to get a book done and how long do I wait for it to come back?
$75, that includes grading/shipping from here to CGC and back/duties and taxes/handling,etc. That's for any modern book (1980-up). The turnaround time is 3 months. Yes it's 3 months. I can make it quicker but that would make the costs much unreasonably higher. CGC grades over one hundred thousand books each year, pls. learn to wait in line.

How to prepare your books for submissions for the prestigious Signature Series at a show

We have prepared a list of steps you can take in advance of a signing event if you plan to drop books off for Signature Series submission. Books that are prepared in advance make it out for signings faster than those that are dropped off in regular bags and boards that need to then be prepped as follows:

Step 1: Take a mylar or a polybag (make sure you have a backing board inside so you don't cut all the way thru the bag or mylar) with a backing board inside. VERY IMPORTANT (and kind of obvious): DO NOT PUT YOUR COMIC IN THE SLEEVE UNTIL AFTER STEP 5!!!!

Step 2:
Decide what part of the cover you want the book signed on. Take a sharpie marker and draw a box on the bag or mylar OR take masking tape and carefully make a box on the cover using the masking tape.

Step 3: Take a box cutter, X-acto knife or utility blade and carefully cut the inner part of the square you made with the sharpie marker or with the masking tape.Note: if using tape, please make sure that there is no sticky residue on the edges of the tape after you have cut out the signing area box.

Step 4: On the reverse side of the backing board please write the following:1. Your name.2. Your book title and issue number3. The name of the creator you would like to sign the book – if more than one please write in ORDER OF PREFERENCE/PRIORITY – most desired #1

Step 5: Place the comic into the bag or mylar with the signing area cut out.

Step 6:
Place the comic in the bag/mylar with the signing area cut out into a slightly larger bag or sleeve for safety during transport. If you so desire, place a second backing board in front of the comic, between the comic and the mylar/polybag with the hole cut out.

Comic Odyssey is located at the basement-1 level of Robinsons Galleria, under the food court, at the corner of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue.

Plus I may be too late for this as I'd believe it'd fill up fast, but National Book Store has the following promo:

First 150 to reserve a copy of Mark Millar's Supercrooks #1 in any National Book Store branch starting Wednesday, March 21, will get a Priority Signing Pass upon purchase which allows you to be the first in line to have your Supercrooks #1 signed by Mark Millar during his Manila signing. 
Supercrooks #1 will be available for P150. We will email you when your copy is ready for pick up. Reserve your copies now because quantities are limited!

Have fun, Millar fans.

Mar 15, 2012

PREVIEW: David Hontiveros' URIEL: HEKHALOT and AGYU: SURFACING

And now, a word from David Hontiveros...

Greetings, Earthling.

If you’re a regular to the Cube, you may recall an Artist Search that was hosted here late last year.

Now, the comic book results of that Search will soon be upon us.

I’ve never really promised anything unless I was 100% reasonably sure about it, so, in keeping with that, allow me to say that we are targeting the Summer Komikon on May 26 as a possible launch date for some of the new titles.

Take note, this is an announcement, not of the actual launch, but of the possible one.

If we do manage to make that date, and you do get to see some of the new comic titles at the Alamat table then, they may include these…

As a preview of things to come, here are the inner front title pages of URIEL: HEKHALOT and AGYU: SURFACING.

AGYU: SURFACING
Art by Vinnie Pacleb

URIEL: HEKHALOT
Art by Bong Dacanay


The blank spaces above the chapter titles and credits are where the comic’s masthead should be...

If these whet your appetite for more, keep an eye on the Cube for further previews and announcements.

And send some good karma out into the world to help us get their first installments all done and ready by May.


you can’t drink just six,



Dave

HeARTworks: Help the Victims of the Vis-Min Tragedies by Purchasing Some Artwork

Check out the NBS HeARTworks online auction, folks. It's for a good cause. Here's the press release.

The NBS HeARTworks online auction is up! Bid on any of the 26 artworks donated by top comic book artists like the original cover page of Uncanny X-Force #22 by Leinil Yu; Nandito Lang Ako & Kalawakan by Manix Abrera; original pages from Battle of the Planets by Wilson Tortosa and Spiderman by Heubert Khan Michael.

All proceeds from the sales will go to the National Book Store Foundation for the benefit of the victims of the recent Vis-Min tragedies. Just go to ebay.ph and search for member name: nbsheartworks2012 to view all the artworks for auction or go to any of the links below. For other inquiries, you may e-mail heartworks.nbs@gmail.com.

PREVIEW: Action Lab's DOUBLE JUMPERS

DOUBLE JUMPERS, by Dave Dwonch and Bill Blankenship, is about a group of game programmers who experience a terrible gaming accident and find their minds swapped with the characters from their new dungeon crawler! It's a four-issue miniseries that starts in May 2012 and is from Action Lab Comics. Enjoy the preview!








Mar 14, 2012

David Finch at Fully Booked this Weekend

Looks like you guys here in Manila have your choice of comics events to go to this weekend, because David Finch has been confirmed as pushing through this Saturday and Sunday at Fully Booked High Street! The talk and signing is scheduled to start at 3PM, and you'll have to register here if you want to ensure you have a seat.


I'll be there. And I'll see you there!

Mar 13, 2012

RIP Don Markstein

Tom Spurgeon just reported that Don Markstein, webmaster of Toonopedia, has passed away.

As I've said before, Toonopedia is one of my favorite websites — and has been, since I first discovered the Internet.



I can only hope that I can bring to the comics Internet world half the passion that Don did.

In the meantime, you can keep Don's site and memory alive by contributing to Toonopedia.

She Is Screaming in the Shower: Reviews: Archeologists of Shadows

She Is Screaming in the Shower is a column written by Robert Leichsenring for The Comics Cube! Click here for the archives!

Archeologists of Shadow: A Review
by Robert Leichsenring

Welcome, true believers. It's time for another round with me. And I'm happy to say that I can bring you something different for today, with regards from our Master, The Tano!!

Today we have a review of a book from Septagon Studios called ARCHEOLOGISTS OF SHADOWS: THE RESISTANCE.

First things first: yes, it's written "archeologists" (as opposed to the correct spelling of archaeologists), I have no idea why, but it seems to be on purpose. We'll just let this one slip through, shall we?

So where do we start?


Mar 12, 2012

Jughead Jones and Betty Cooper: How Did We Get Here?

So, I ran across this cover to ARCHIE'S PAL JUGHEAD #3.



It's an interesting cover because it would never be done today, and it wouldn't have been done for at least the last two decades. I guess at this point they were still establishing Jughead as a woman-hater, but his character as well as his relationship with Betty have evolved to the point where this joke no longer applies.

  • Jughead has had many instances in which he clearly likes girls; he's just not a horndog about it.
  • Jughead would not be depicted as even getting into a situation such as this.
  • Betty would not in any way be attracted to Jughead.
  • And most importantly, Jughead would actually have no trouble putting his arm over Betty these days. The two have a platonic friendship and are probably closer than any two platonic people in Riverdale who aren't Archie and Jughead.
In fact, Jughead is the biggest (and the only openly overt) supporter of Betty in the Betty-Archie-Veronica love triangle.



So I'm gonna ask you Archie historians, how did this happen? When did this evolution take place? Jughead and Betty were the only two members of the Riverdale Gang to debut with Archie in PEP COMICS #1, and they didn't say a word to each other. How did we get here? How did they go from Betty Cooper, Archie-chaser, and Jughead Jones, woman-hater, to Betty and Jughead, best intergender friends without actually any romantic tension?

I await your responses. Meanwhile, enjoy this depiction of Jughead and Betty by Jill Thompson!



Mar 11, 2012

RIP Jean "Moebius" Giraud

Jean "Moebius" Giraud died yesterday. He was a giant in the field and one of those artists I always said I'd take the time to read the works of, and never really got around to it. To this day, the only Moebius stuff I've read is SILVER SURFER: PARABLE (which was great). But I've heard/learned about him for decades at this point.


I regret that it sometimes takes a death like this for me to learn about these legends. Rest in peace, Jean Giraud. I wish to thank you for the contributions you made to this medium I love, and I'll be trying to get more of your stuff in the future.

Learn more about Jean Giraud/Moebius here.

Heartworks: Leinil Yu and Gerry Alanguilan SUPERIOR Signing

A bunch of friends and I went to Powerbooks today for the book launch of SUPERIOR, with a signing session by the book's artists, Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Jason Paz.



Heartworks is a charity event in which the proceeds are to go to the victims of the recent Visayas/Mindanao tragedies, and as such a bunch of artists turned up to provide sketches and auction off sketches and some original art. In other words, it was a good cause.

That's the legendary Danny Acuna, boys.
In other news, my photography skills suck.



The launch went off without a hitch, and we were treated to entertaining back-and-forth bickering between Gerry and Leinil.



Among other things they mentioned were the following:
  • Gerry admitted to inking pages out of order, depending on the order in which Leinil finishes them and sends them to him. This unfortunately makes it so that Gerry only has a basic understanding of the story until he actually reads the final product.
  • Leinil said Mark Millar is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, and has absolutely no ego. He treats his co-creators really really well.
  • Leinil will not be at Kapow this year, but when Mark Millar comes here in May for SUPERCROOKS, the entire team will be doing a signing.
  • I asked them if they ever fight, considering how long they've been working together, and they said that they did at first regarding the creative process, but now they don't, but they tend to argue about philosophical differences. The exchange was funny. You had to be there.
  • Someone asked if Millar's work could be considered parodies, and Leinil said they're more homages because parodies are supposed to be funny. I think "satire" would be more apt.
  • Someone else asked if Leinil and Gerry would support BEFORE WATCHMEN, to which Gerry said no, out of respect for the fact that Alan Moore doesn't want it to happen. Leinil said he hadn't really thought about it. (Incidentally, Leinil was introduced to WATCHMEN by Gerry — he read his copy.)
  • The belt that SUPERIOR has is specifically influenced by wrestling/boxing championship belts, as indicated by Millar himself. Mark is very thorough with character designs.
  • Leinil said that he still has a hard time drawing women, but he does feel he's been improving.

    The event ended with the reminder that Marvel's talent scout, CB Cebulski, will be here on Saturday at Bestsellers in Robinsons Galleria, as well as announcing that Mark Millar will be here at some point in May.

    Mar 10, 2012

    NEWSFLASH: David Finch Events Postponed

    In the "I really should get a mobile phone with Internet" department, I was at Wee Nam Kee Serendra when a Fully Booked representative from across the street informed me that David Finch is not coming tomorrow. And then I had to wait two hours to get here to break the news. So to sum up, someone give me a phone with Internet for occasions like this.



    Here's Fully Booked's official statement:

    Dear Customers and David Finch Fans,

    Thank you all for your enthusiasm and support for David Finch's visit!

    We regret to inform you that due to unforeseen circumstances, his visit to Manila this March 11-13 will no longer push through.

    We share your disappointment at this turn of events. Likewise, David is also regretful as he is very much excited to meet his fans here.

    David Finch will definitely still come to Manila, but at a later date. Please stay tuned for details.

    Mar 8, 2012

    Top 5 Most Disappointing Moments in Alan Moore Stories

    So I think it's pretty obvious that if I have a favorite writer, it's Alan Moore. I greatly enjoy his stories and I think that part of what makes him the greatest writer of all time is his ability to bring out the absolute best in his artists. With very few exceptions (namely Gene Ha, J.H. Williams III, and Bill Sienkewicz), I can safely say that when Moore has worked with someone, that artist has never looked better.

    And of course there's all the accomplishments. He won nine of the first eighteen Eisner Awards for Best Writer. He popularized the use of literary techniques such as irony, symbolism, and whatnot in mainstream comics. He's written at least three game-changing books.

    But the man is not infallible. In fact, I think sometimes, something gets lost in his mass of literary talent. Something primal. Something visceral.

    But it's best if I use visual aids, so here I am presenting you with the Top 5 Most Disappointing Moments in Alan Moore Stories!

    Honorable Mention: The Joker and Batman share a laugh 
    When It Happens: THE KILLING JOKE
    What's the Deal? The entire story of THE KILLING JOKE hinges upon the idea that Batman and the Joker are polar opposites of each other, and that they'll end up killing each other if they don't find a way to make peace with each other. Aside from it not being the most innovative premise for a story, when Batman gets to the Joker at the end, the Clown Prince of Crime tells him a joke that perfectly summarizes their relationship. And the thing is, Batman laughs with him.

    Looking at it another way, I suppose Batman
    may be holding him for the cops.

    This moment isn't really "disappointing" — it fits the (admittedly weak) theme of the story. But it is dumbfounding when you take context into account. The Joker had just shot Barbara Gordon and tortured Jim Gordon, and Batman's here, laughing at his joke. It gets even more dumbfounding when you think of future Batman/Joker stories — how can they possibly be taken seriously given this turn of events?

    That Brian Bolland art is gorgeous, though.


    5. Supreme wins... by accident
    When It Happens: SUPREME: THE STORY OF THE YEAR
    What's the Deal?  Alan Moore, with artists Joe Bennett, Rick Veitch, and Chris Sprouse, have, at this point, spent 11 issues filling in Supreme's past and present, making him a true analogue to the Silver Age Superman. By the 12th issue, his Citadel Supreme (Fortress of Solitude) is brought under attack by Darius Dax (Lex Luthor), and he has to call on his friends Suprema (Supergirl) and The Allies (The Justice League) to help him out. Things take a turn for the worse when Dax acquires the body of Magno (Amazo).


    So you basically think at this point that we're going to see how awesome Supreme is, right? Not really. Supreme basically chases him around and undoes whatever damage he does, but it's too late. Dax has gotten to the Supremium sample (Kryptonite, kinda) in the Citadel, and plans to merge with it, causing a big chain reaction that has him falling through time and becoming an inanimate piece of Supremium.



    Trust me when I say that it makes sense when you read the whole thing.  Again, it's appropriate to the themes and items established throughout the story. But damned if it's not missing that visceral feeling of awesomeness we'd have gotten if Supreme just punched Dax on the jaw.

    4. The Martians lose to a virus 
    When It Happens: LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN vol. 2
    What's the Deal: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has to deal with a bunch of Martians. One of them, the Invisible Man, has already betrayed them. To act swiftly, their superiors send Mina Murray and Alan Quatermain to see Dr. Moreau (from The Island of...) and pick up one of his hybrids, which is supposedly their secret weapon against the Martians. Before they can release it, Edward Hyde goes nuts on the Martians and destroys some of them. And then he dies. And then the hybrid is released. What is it?



    That's right. It's a virus. It leads to Nemo quitting (after doing practically nothing for the whole volume) and Murray taking a sabbatical. I'm sure Moore was making a point about biological warfare, but at this point in the story, something was calling for the Martian fleet to be socked in the metaphorical jaw.


    3. Miracleman loses
    When It Happens: MIRACLEMAN #2 and #15
    What's the Deal? This is kind of a cheat because it happens twice, but in the first story arc of Miracleman, the protagonist finds out that his old sidekick, Kid Miracleman (who uses the word "Miracleman" to change between superpowered and non-superpowered forms), has turned evil. So they fight, and Kid Miracleman wins, only to be brought down by accidentally saying the magic word.



    That's all well and good — Miracleman had just returned, after all — but 13 issues later, Kid Miracleman razes London and Miracleman has to stop him. He brings in some friends, such as Miraclewoman and a Warpsmith. The fight is long, violent, and awesome. But in the end, again, it's not Miracleman who stops him, kind of diluting the visceral part of the experience.


    The thing is, it wouldn't have changed the story that much if he'd delivered the final sock to the jaw.


    2. Swamp Thing talks down the ultimate evil 
    When It Happens: SWAMP THING: A MURDER OF CROWS
    What's the Deal? In the epic story that both crosses over with CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and introduces John Constantine, the Hellblazer, Swamp Thing has to go to hell to confront the primordial darkness, the thing that existed before God created light. It's one hell of a set-up, involving demons, angels, the Phantom Stranger, and the Spectre in the supernatural realms, and characters like Baron Winter, Sargon the Sorcerer, and Zatanna in the earthly realm. So basically, how does it end?




    Well, Swamp Thing talks to it. That's it, really. The ultimate darkness talks to Etrigan the Demon, Dr. Fate, and the Spectre, trying to comprehend what evil is, and finally Swamp Thing gives it an acceptable answer, which is completely telegraphed and foreshadowed by the (excellent) "Parliament of Trees" story just a few issues before.

    Moore was making a metaphysical point about the repetition of the good-versus-evil theme, and he made it well. But again, it lacks the visceral awesomeness of a sock to the jaw.


    1. Robin saves the day
    When It Happens: SUPERMAN: FOR THE MAN WHO HAS EVERYTHING
    What's the Deal? This is the big one for me. It's Superman's birthday, and Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman go visit him at the Fortress of Solitude only to find a plant called a Black Mercy attached to his chest. The Black Mercy places its victim in a dreamlike state in which his heart's desire is realized, so Superman is in a state in which Krypton never exploded. (But as a result, Jor-El went crazy and Kal never met Lois, so I'm not sure how this was his heart's desire to begin with.) The Warworld tyrant Mongul introduces himself as the man responsible for Superman's current situation, and Wonder Woman instantly takes to fighting him while Batman tries to get the Black Mercy off of Superman. And when he finally does, it's awesome.


    Superman goes to fight Mongul, leading to perhaps the most badass Superman moment ever. Mongul says, "Happy birthday, Kryptonian. I give you oblivion." And Superman replies, "Burn."


    And then they make it to the Krypton room, and Superman gets distracted and....


    HE LOSES! And then Jason Todd saves him. JASON TODD.



    Oh, sure, I get that he missed Krypton and that he got distracted and it was an emotional goodbye and everything, but seriously. JASON TODD. The lameness cannot be justified. At least when they adapted it for Justice League Unlimited almost twenty years later, they wisely had Wonder Woman recovering and doing the save. Also, that was a Justice League show, not a Superman show where you may expect, I dunno, Superman to land the final sock in the jaw.

    In other words, Cubers, deep themes, nuance, irony, symbolism, metaphors, wordplay, and all that stuff is all fun and everything, but sometimes, just sometimes, there isn't a substitute for a good old-fashioned sock in the jaw.

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