Showing posts with label creators. Show all posts
Showing posts with label creators. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Happy Birthday, David Byrne

Happy Birthday to David Byrne.  Writer, musician and artist.


Today, David Byrne is 61.

Byrne is best known for his tenure with The Talking Heads, the art-punk band that was part of the late-70's, early-80's scene out of CBGB's.  He has written a few books, from The Bicycle Diaries to Strange Ritual.  His lyrics are rarely about the usual topics of newfound love, love gone wrong or partying all night.  Even in his most recent collaboration with St. Vincent, he's still singing about his relationship with television and mass media.



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ray Harryhausen Merges with the Infinite

I think I only checked out five books from the library at UT for pleasure reading while I was a student and, two of them were on Ray Harryhausen.  In college, I had dreams of becoming an animator- and then computers happened.  But until then, I really wanted to know how Harryhausen became the master he undoubtedly was when it came to creating fantastic imagery for the silver screen.

I was sad to hear of Harryhausen's passing when a tweet or two mentioned it and I saw the headline when I got back to my hotel room.


If you don't know Ray Harryhausen, he's easy enough to investigate.  He was one of the greatest FX artists in the world, spawning a world in which we eventually had movies with AT-ATs and Terminators, and his understanding of motion foretold what the CGI era would bring to the big pictures.  But he did it with tangible artistry in stop motion effects.

Harryhausen brought us Greek Titans, dinosaurs, Venusian aliens, angry skeleton armies and an endless stream of characters that mingled with live action players and fired the imagination.

I've only seen a handful of his movies (and I'm not even sure which Sinbad movies I have and haven't seen... I'd have to watch them again), but Clash of the Titans came out in 1981, and all we knew was that it was amazing.

If you've never tried to film animation by hand, it's a frame-by-frame feat of utter concentration and requires determination and love for what one is doing on a scale there whipper-snappers and their computers and whatnot from today probably get, but they do it at a monitor, not hunched over a table with lights, moving the neck of the monsters a tiny, tiny increment for every exposure - and every frame could be the last if something happens between clicks.

It's obsessive work, and craftsmanship that's fading from mainstream American film - especially as the

So long, Mr. Harryhausen.



Monday, April 8, 2013

Some artists I think handle Wonder Woman really pretty well

As a comic strip character, Wonder Woman is a tall order. Especially for the many comic artists who have, more or less, one or two styles of women they can draw, and then mix it up with clothes and color. We know what Wonder Woman might look like in our mind's eye, but, like Superman, mostly we know when its wrong.


The comics describe Wonder Woman as:
Beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, swifter than Hermes, and stronger than Hercules
How do you draw that?

If you're many artists, you chuck the icon and start drawing a swimsuit model in a "sexy" pose.

As an example, DC took some ribbing thanks to the "variant" cover for JLA #2, which featured the usually tough-looking male members of the JLA, and then a kind of youngish, kittenish version of Wonder Woman. I don't know that there was a better way to make the point that WW needs to be portrayed as a peer to her JLA colleagues and not as the resident cheesecake, but in response fans created the "what if male superheroes posed like Wonder Woman" meme.  You sort of hope DC brass hears about these things and applies changes as they go along.

I wasn't a Wonder Woman reader until way late in the game.  I was vaguely embarrassed then (and now) to pick up "sexy" covers on comics, and during the 90's, when I was curious about the character, DC was in the middle of experimenting with both good girl and bad girl art on the title.  But when Phil Jimenez came on Wonder Woman,  I couldn't help but notice the covers weren't cheesecake, the stories were different from everything else I was reading, and when I flipped through the comics, the art was absolutely stunning.  I became a fan of the character thanks to the work of Jimenez, and then had a lot of work to do catching up.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Carmine Infantino Races into The Infinite

Reports are coming out that Carmine Infantino, original artist of the Silver Age Flash comics - and so, so many other comics - has passed.



If you can, pick up the Flash Chronicles books or the Showcase Presents: The Flash collections.  It's not just the stories that are great (and they are), but it's Infantino's visualizations of Barry Allen's powers brought to life, managing the panel-by-panel aspect of comics to keep the reader on pace with Barry when necessary and coming up with other techniques - like the "many Flashes in a single panel" technique that was even spoofed in an early episode of The Big Bang Theory.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Today is Carl Barks' B-Day!


Carl Barks is largely responsible for the Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics as we know them today.  We were lucky enough to also have the amazingly talented Don Rosa pick up where Barks left off, and I am truly in awe of both their efforts.

You'll hear of Carl Barks referred to as "The Good Duck Artist" as, back in the day, all the comics put out by Disney obfuscated the names of the creators.  But fans knew there was one artist working on those comics who was particularly great as artist and storyteller.  They just didn't know the name of the man behind the pen.  Thus, he became known as "The Good Duck Artist".

Born this day in 1901, Barks created great Duck stories, and also worked on other characters, including Barney the Bear.

In recent decades, Barks' name became known and he's now a legend among comic aficionados.  We're lucky to have had Gemstone, Boom! and Fantagraphics collecting his work the past few years, in increasingly lovely volumes.

Here's a bit from "Lost in the Andes".

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Finally getting around to comics again

This is how I know the schedule for the past two months was a little wacky.

I haven't been to the gym for at least four weeks, and I was sorting my unread comics, and I have three months' worth of some titles backed up.  No working out - which is it's own funny story - and no time made for comics in the evenings.  At least not those floppies, as I have read some collections.

The nice thing is:  Looking at this pile on my coffee table, I actually want to read all of these comics.

In the past when I'd hit a point where I was too busy to read comics, it was always instructive to look at what I didn't want to read in multiple issues at a time.  That usually meant I was dropping the title.  But with the limited number of titles I'm buying as floppies these days, (a) I know I can catch up, and (b) the spark still seems to be there as I'm sorting through my comics to start cutting down the pile.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Happy Birthday to Jack "King" Kirby

Today would have been the 95th Birthday of Jack Kirby, the greatest comics creator of the 20th Century.


Kirby's family is supporting The Hero Initiative, a non-profit that helps support veteran comics creators facing tough financial times (there isn't much of a retirement or healthcare plan for freelancers).

We recommend checking out The Hero Initiative website and maybe donating a bit to the fund.  Make Jack proud.




Monday, August 20, 2012

Signal Watch Reads: The Underwater Welder

Jeff Lemire is currently doing a tremendous amount of work at DC Comics, and not just his series Sweettooth.  Prior to the New 52 he took on Superboy, and was doing a great job - certainly telling less headache-inducing stories than what we saw starting last September.

But many of us came to know him from his work on the Essex County trilogy, meditative, ethereal stories of past colliding with the present.  His latest book, The Underwater Welder feels a bit like a fourth installment in the Essex books, but in a new location (the hard cut coast of Nova Scotia), with water and diving a significant and ongoing theme rather than the wide open prairie/ near tundra of Essex County.


Jack Joseph is 33 years old and has made his living as a welder on the oil rigs that can be seen from the shore of his hometown.  His wife is very, very pregnant as he heads out for one last stretch of work before the baby is born - all in the week around Halloween, a day that resonates with Jack back through the years.

Lemire recognizes that past informs the present, and unlike the previous books in the Essex trilogy, the anxiety of the coming of fatherhood informs the future.  Despite the 224 pages of book, the comic feels much more like a particularly dense short story, in part because of Lemire's elaborate sense of pacing through visuals.  While far from an illustrative approach, Lemire's work stays on model in its' scratchy/ sketchy style, but paced brilliantly over the page count as each panel holds significance to the forward motion of the story - panels breaking up time, changing from one object to another, or otherwise manipulating the reader's point of view.

I hesitate to give up too much about the book, but it feels like Lemire is moving onward and upward with his work, instead of continuing to repeat himself - especially in the denouement of the book.  Rightly so, TV writer Damon Lindelhoff intros the book as an episode of The Twilight Zone, which featured tight vignettes that took characters through a strange or supernatural occurrence that provided some greater relevance in their life or gave the audience a moment to think a bit about what it meant for the character (I am still haunted by the idea of the man who wanted time to read, and in the wake of nuclear holocaust had all the time in the world.  Until he broke his glasses.  I probably think about that at least once a week.).

The story reads like fable or myth, and that's to its strength.

I did wonder how rushed Lemire felt to finish the book with his other assignments in queue.  The ending, while entirely satisfactory, lacked the pacing of the preceding set ups.  But perhaps I read the book too quickly.

Anyway, recommended.

And now I have to finally read The Nobody.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Joe Kubert Merges with The Infinite



Comics legend Joe Kubert has reportedly passed.

I point you to the obit run at The Onion AV club, as it's a pretty damned good summary of Kubert's bio and will hopefully explain to those of you who don't follow comics who the man was and how he stood in the pantheon of comics heroes.

Kubert was at DC Comics for most of his career, first arriving in 1943 and holding positions as a writer, editor and artist, depending on where the winds blew.  Today's fans like myself are mostly familiar with his co-creations like Sgt. Rock, or his own creation, Tor and the stunning artistry he brought to the page.  Where Kirby was volcanic energy in need of an outlet, Kubert was an illustrative master capturing the world-weary faces of Easy Company, battle-worn soldiers of Earth and beyond, but a master of perspective and detail.

...and I like his Iris West.

Friday, August 10, 2012

We read more Parker: "The Seventh" and the graphic novel of "The Score"

The Seventh

The Seventh is, probably not-coincidentally, the seventh book in the Richard Stark (pen name of Donald Westlake) series of books about Parker, the tough guy master criminal who first appeared in The Hunter.

In this volume, following a particularly well-planned and executed heist that should have landed him a nice chunk of change (something sorely needed after the disastrous conclusion of The Jugger), Parker is hiding out and playing it cool when he comes back from a quick trip out for cigarettes and beer to find the girl he's been shacking up with stone cold dead in an apartment that's still locked and shows no signs of forced entry. And, of course, not just Parker's take (his seventh) is gone, but the whole take from the heist.

Stark never explains Parker, never spends time on much other than notes about characterization, and there's never a why.  All we see is Parker on the job, and it's not some writerly oversight.  Nobody gets insight into what makes Parker tic - be it his partners, the people he goes up against, or the reader.  We know he doesn't like small talk not just because the limited omniscience narrator tells us, but because Parker tells people rattling on at him to shut up, and he seems to appreciate the slain girl not just for her bedroom acrobatics, but for her agreement that they can sit in silence for hours if they've nothing to say.  But we never see a young Parker becoming Parker (at least by this seventh book).  Heck, we never even know his first name.

This book follows what happens not when a heist goes wrong, or a run in with the Outfit, but the unexpected occurring, and throwing Parker off his game.  We always get to see little pieces of Parker, and this book gives us an opportunity to see Parker wrestling a bit with making the smart move versus doing what he wants to do from a gut level once he's been shown up.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Happy 25th Anniversary in Comics, Mr. Waid

Mark Waid has been one of my favorite creators in comics for a while now, but I was a little slow on the uptake.  I still haven't read his run on Flash excepts for partial excerpts.  I haven't picked up all of his terrific volume of work.

I was alerted by the headline at Comics Alliance that we're celebrating 25 years of Mark Waid working in comics.

Let The Signal Watch not be remiss in saluting this tremendously talented and influential voice in the comics medium.




Last summer Mr. Waid came to Austin on the dime of Austin Books and Comics to host a screening of Marvel's Captain America: The First Avenger.  He was terrifically gracious with us stuttering fanboys and the few sentences that he shared both at the movie - and the next day when he signed some of my favorite Waid-penned books - were sort of my own equivalent of meeting a rock star and it actually living up to what you'd hope.

Of late, like other terrific friendly-rock-star-story creator Chris Roberson and MonkeyBrain Comics, Waid's been exploring digital comics with his Thrillbent digital imprint and the terrific Insufferable.

But, as much as that, Waid is doing the thing the best writers seem to do as he gets older...  he just keeps getting better.  It's absolutely stunning to check out his work and see how well he handles different genres, characters, etc...  and how each resonates.

Anyway, look up Waid's work.

A few recommendations:

  • Irredeemable
  • Incorruptible
  • Insufferable
  • Potter's Field
  • Kingdom Come
  • 52
  • Superman: Birthright
  • Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty
  • Here Comes Daredevil
  • Empire
  • Fantastic Four
  • Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Enemy Ace and Why You Don't Take Your Puppy Up into the Killer Skies

I finally got a copy of Star Spangled War Stories #148.  It's a reader copy, not in terrific shape, but I can make a check mark on that particular collection.  And it's not like I don't have a copy of that story in both Showcase Presents and Archives formats.

You guys know I am firmly in corner of Von Hammer, The Enemy Ace. Yes, even as he's shooting down our friends from England and France in plane-to-plane combat, I'm still thrilling to his adventures as he takes his tri-wing Fokker up into The Killer Skies.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Book Watch: SuperGods by Grant Morrison

In some ways, I feel like I could send the dozen or so regular readers of this site a copy of SuperGods by Grant Morrison and call it a day with The Signal Watch.

The basic breakdown of the book is equal parts comic book history and Grant Morrison's personal journey and how it associated with comics, eventually becoming his career, which, he reports, is fairly lucrative.  If you read your fair share of comics history and Grant Morrison interviews (and I do), then there's not a whole lot new in the pages, but what Morrison manages to do is what he does so often in the comics he writes: takes an existing idea and takes it on a new journey with a new thesis statement.


The bits of bio about Morrison are what's been reported in comics press: working class Scottish upbringing, hippie anti-nuke parents, punk-era-living under Thatcher, bands, a really vocal attachment to his cats (man, I hear you), early comics he's still talking about, etc...  And if you've read your David Hajdu, Lee Daniels and Gerard Jones, the comics history stuff is mostly known.  However, it's interesting to hear about it through Morrison's filter, what grabbed him as a kid, what grabbed him as a young man, and as a guy at the tipping front end of Generation X (I consider myself the last, dying gasp of the X'ers before Y came along assuming the internet was a foregone conclusion), how we looks at Miller and Moore's books in relation to the industry.  And, of course, he gets to talk a bit about the guys he works with who have been making comics history for the past two decades and more.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Masks" coming from Chris Roberson and some up and comer named Alex Ross


Oh my gosh, you guys.

Coming soon from Dynamite Entertainment!

Pretty much everything I wanted DC's pulp books to be that they just totally and completely were not. If you haven't been watching Dynamite lately, you're missing out on some pretty decent stuff, by the way.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Signal Watch Reads: Edison Rex (from MonkeyBrain Comics)

The first batch of MonkeyBrain Comics is now available for about $6 for 5 comics.  I don't think I've seen that kind of value since I was in high school*, so I want to get that out of the way first and foremost.  Secondly, all of the books are worth at least checking out.  They all hit different beats and will find their specific readerships.  Of the five, three really hit a chord with me, but at that price, I'll still follow all five for a while because, seriously... a dollar.  That's gum money.

I'll probably talk about Aesop's Ark and Bandette later, but I thought that first I should cover the book by MonkeyBrain co-founder, Chris Roberson.

Roberson and artist Dennis Culver paired to bring to life Edison Rex, a sort of Silver Age Superman and Lex Luthor homage that takes a decidedly interesting turn in the first issue, setting up the nemesis of Earth's greatest hero as the protagonist of the book, but not in the way you might expect.



The book is pure gold for both Superman fans and fans of the broad concept of Silver Age superheroics, lantern jawed do-gooders and single-minded mad scientists intent on ruling the world.  It's not that other comics haven't explored some of this territory, be it Waid's Empire** or, now that I think on it, Waid's Incorruptible.  Roberson, however, takes a lighter touch, providing me with my favorite comics quote of the month:
Lord Edison!  Are you certain we should not be conquering, instead?
People, that's just good comics.

The tone is almost Atomic Robo in flavor, and that works well for me in my jaded old age of wanting to have fun reading my funny books, especially those about science villains with plans for world domination.  I've no doubt that by issue 2 or 3, the riff on Superman will be in the past and we'll be moving on to new pastures, but the twist in this makes the homage totally worth it.

The art style feels appropriate in a cartoony, animation-ready style, that totally fits modern sensibilities and is broad enough to handle what I think will be a world with giant robots, laser pistols and the occasional caped superhero.  Well done.

The comics weren't supposed to be out as early as they were released.  But released they are! I suppose with Comixology seeing MonkeyBrain Comics trending practically worldwide on Twitter, the idea of striking while the iron was hot meant that they did not want to make anybody wait any longer.  You can jump online and check out the full line at Comixology!

It's a dollar, for goodness sake.  Give it a shot.

*and given inflation, maybe not since Middle School when I could slip a copy of Batman on the conveyor belt with the family groceries and my mom didn't blink at the cover price.

**Man, now that was a hell of a comic.  Why don't I own that in trade?  That's just crazy.  A beautifully drawn, craftily written volume.

Monday, July 2, 2012

On the Announcement of MonkeyBrain Comics and the New Digital Model

You guys will have to forgive me.  My brain has been on vacation mode for several days, so while I was able to participate in the MonkeyBrain Comics kick-off press call (I KNOW.  Look at me all acting like a legitimate news source.), I was unable to muster an intelligent question during the MonkeyBrain Q&A.

The basic idea behind MonkeyBrain is as follows:

MonkeyBrain will be your middleman and promotions arm if you're a creator-owned comic that wants to start off in the digital world.  That said, this isn't for just any schmo off the street to submit their work.  MonkeyBrain is Chris Roberson and Allison Baker's effort to develop a direct-to-digital channel for creator-owned work.  It sounds like a non-exclusive, digital-print-rights contract that will enable creators to show up on Comixology on Wednesdays alongside players like DC, Marvel, IDW, and more.

You can read the press release here.

In short, it seems Team Roberson/ Baker looked at what was going on and saw a way to support independent creators by creating a channel for them to get into the same "newsstand" as the big boys.



The effort is the logical outcome of the past several years of (a) the big players not adjusting their model to take advantage of the ability for distribution of chancier works the internet truly provided (b) the infinite newsstand of the internet - but placing the comics where they'll be seen.

MonkeyBrain Comics is GO!



MONKEYBRAIN AND COMIXOLOGY ANNOUNCE EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTION AGGREEMENT FOR
MONKEYBRAIN’S NEW LINE OF INDEPENDENT CREATOR-OWNED COMICS

CELEBRATE INDEPENDENTS DAY!

New York Times Bestselling Author Chris Roberson to Head Up New Comic Book Publishing Imprint with Co-Publisher Allison Baker


July 2nd, 2012 – Portland, OR / New York, NY — New York Times bestselling comic book creator Chris Roberson is celebrating “Independents Day” a little differently than others this year as he and co-publisher Allison Baker launch MonkeyBrain Comics, with a slate of creator-owned titles from some of the top names in the field.  MonkeyBrain Comics will debut digitally first on comiXology — the revolutionary digital comics platform with over 75 million comic and graphic novel downloads to date —through a exclusive distribution agreement between the two companies.

Joining New York Times bestselling author Chris Roberson (iZombie, Memorial, Cinderella) under the Monkeybrain Comics umbrella with their own independent titles will be a who’s who line up of creators, including; Grace Allison, Nick Brokenshire, J. Bone, Chad Bowers, Wook-Jin Clark, Colleen Coover, Kevin Church, Dennis Culver, Matt Digges, Ming Doyle, Curt O. Franklin, Ken Garing, Chris Haley, David Hahn, Phil Hester, Joe Keatinge, D.J. Kirkbride, Adam Knave, Axel Medellin, Jennifer L. Meyer, Michael Montenat, Ananth Panagariya, Thomas Perkins, Adam Rosenlund, Chris Schweitzer, Brandon Seifert, Chris Sims, Matthew Dow Smith, Paul Tobin, J. Torres, Josh Williamson and Bill Willingham, among others.

More creative teams with new titles will be announced next week at Comic-Con International during the Monkeybrain Comics panel on Friday, July 13th at 7PM.

“MonkeyBrain Comics was born out of a desire to directly explore what opportunities there were in the newly expanding digital marketplace for creator owned material,” said Chris Roberson, co-publisher of Monkeybrain Comics. “We knew from the get go that we’d want to work exclusively with comiXology, who have become the undisputed leader in the digital comics field with their platforms’ unparalleled reading and shopping experience. And we’re pleased to have so many of our close creator friends along for the ride. I can’t wait to see what fans around the world think about our first batch of releases!”

“We’re excited to be the exclusive digital home of MonkeyBrain Comics,” says co-founder and CEO David Steinberger. “ComiXology’s mission is to get comics into the hands of people everywhere and we look forward to doing just that with Chris and Allison’s stellar line of creator owned comics!”

Available exclusively worldwide via comiXology’s digital platform across the iPhoneiPadAndroidKindle Fire and the Web starting July 4th, the initial Monkey Brain Launch titles are:

Aesop’s Ark by J. Torres and Jennifer L. Meyer
Amelia Cole and the Unknown World by Adam P. Knave, DJ Kirkbride and Nick Brokenshire
Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover
Edison Rex by Chris Roberson and Dennis Culver
October Girl by Matthew Dow Smith

MonkeyBrain Comics is a new comics imprint of Roberson and Baker’s long-running publishing company MonkeyBrain Books. Over the past decade, MonkeyBrain Books has published a line of prose novels by authors such as Phillip Jose Farmer, Michael Moorcock, Rudy Rucker, Paul Cornell and genre collections edited by such notables as Joe R. Lansdale, Lou Anders and others.

Launching their first titles on July 4th with the slogan “Independents Day” exclusively on the comiXology digital platform, Monkeybrain Comics are currently exploring following up their digital releases with trade paperback collections.

About Monkeybrain Books and Comics
Owned and operated by Chris Roberson and Allison Baker since 2001, Monkeybrain Books was originally founded as an independent press specializing in science fiction & fantasy and nonfiction genre studies. Print titles from Monkeybrain Books are distributed to the book trade by National Book Network, and are available from wholesalers like Diamond Comic Distributors, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram, and from finer booksellers everywhere. In 2012, Monkeybrain launched a new creator-owned digital comics line, Monkeybrain Comics, which is distributed exclusively digitally by comiXology.

About Chris Roberson and Allison Baker
New York Times bestselling writer Chris Roberson is best known for his Eisner-nominated ongoing comic book series iZombie (co-created with artist Mike Allred), his modern fantasy series Memorial (co-created with artist Rich Ellis), the Fables spinoff Cinderella mini-series, and his work onSupermanStar Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes, and Elric: The Balance Lost, all of which are available for digital download at http://cmxl.gy/CRoberson. His favorite food is meat, he’s allergic to wheat, and his favorite cocktail is a caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil.

Allison Baker has worked in feature film and political media production for over 13 years, while also managing the day-to-day operations of Chris Roberson and Monkeybrain Books. She likes the color pink, enjoys a challenge, fixing things, and is allergic to being bored.

Chris and Allison met at a Ben Folds Five show in 1997, got married in 2000, started their own business in 2001 and had a baby girl in 2004. All three currently live in Portland, Oregon with a lot of books and their two cats, Bubbles and Blue.

About comiXology
Founded in 2007 with the mission of bringing comics to people everywhere, comiXology — in just five short years — has revolutionized the comic book and graphic novel world.  From creating the industry leading platform for digital comics to tools and services for brick and mortar retailers, comiXology has lead the charge in exposing new audiences to the rich history and culture of comic books. With the development of the Comics by comiXology digital comics platform — available across  iPhoneiPadAndroidKindle Fire and the Web — comiXology provides the easiest way worldwide for people to enjoy comics at just the click of a button! Regularly ranking as the top grossing iPad app in the entire iTunes App Store, Comics by comiXology was recently selected as a preloaded app on Amazon’s Kindle Fire. Providing digital comics across multiple platforms, comiXology will not stop until everyone on the face of the earth has been turned into a comic book fan.