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

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Happy Birthday, David Byrne



I very much remember the first time I heard or saw Talking Heads - because the two happened at the same time.  I would assume it was sometime in 1983 that the video dropped for Burning Down the House on MTV.  This would have made me about 9 years old, and it didn't take much to sell me on a video or song, but the band appearing in white tuxedos in what looked like a ballroom in a shoebox, and absolutely kicking ass - while also being replaced in some shots by folks who were *not them* in white tuxedos, did not need any literal translation.  It just made sense.

At the front of the band was a wild eyed man who looked like no other front-man in rock and roll.  He was thin, almost gaunt, with slicked dark hair and committed to the bit.  And in a landscape of Europop, American rock like Journey and Springsteen, and even the hints of punk that made its way to MTV, it was like seeing your awkward high school chemistry teacher strap on a guitar.

Radio play and MTV were enough for me.  I was into them, but I was also a kid happy with whatever form I was getting music.   I was aware from 4th grade that Talking Heads were not in step with the pop music scene, were not fitting neatly into any categories, but did their own thing.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Trina Robbins Merges With The Infinite



Cartoonist, comics-maker, artist, historian and beloved comics icon Trina Robbins has passed.

I became aware of Robbins around 2003 or so during the comics blogging boom, and learned of her work in Wonder Woman and underground comix at about the same time.  I have to assume it was a CBR or Newsarama interview tied to her Go Girl! comic I was picking up.

She became a figure within modern comics culture as someone who carved her own path, wasn't afraid to speak her mind and was deeply knowledgeable about the history comics, especially about women creators.

The last Robbins thing I picked up was a reprint of her (and Tanith Lee's) Silver Metal Lover adaptation that went into reprint via Kickstarter.

I recommend taking a look at her Wikipedia page as well as any tributes you see.  I'm not going to do her life and career justice here, but we want to mark the passing of one of the greats.



Saturday, February 24, 2024

Ramona Fradon Merges With The Infinite



Literally just yesterday I pre-ordered three comics as they had covers by Ramona Fradon.  Today I have learned Fradon has passed.

Fradon had just retired this January at the age of 97 - and I assumed those covers were her last for DC.  That's a career, friends.  So, clearly, she was well and working right up til recent days.  Thanks to some good people on the internet, she'd been recognized for her role as a woman in comics during the Silver and Bronze Age - in a vastly male-dominated industry.  She was the right artist for many-a-project, and I'm glad she had a sort of late-career renaissance when folks recognized her.  And, frankly, her art was still great right up til January.




If you're unfamiliar with Fradon's style, she's credited with the original design for Metamorpho, a DC hero, and I tend to think of her work as tilting more towards cartoony than illustrative, with an excellent use of line to suggest character.  She's probably almost as famous for her work on Aquaman as Metamorpho, 

In addition to work across genres at DC, she also worked on Brenda Starr, Reporter, a newspaper strip.  

I'm sorry she has passed, but glad she had such a long life bringing so much great art to the world, and really enjoy a new generation of fans the last decade or so.


Sunday, January 21, 2024

"Glory Boat" Splash Page Goes Up For Auction


A while back, Stuart asked me what original comics art I would like to own.  And the answer to that includes complex math in my head, but for simplicity's sake, I'd cut to the chase and say - probably the Glory Boat splash page from New Gods #6.  See above.

seen here in full color


Starting around 1971, The Fourth World Saga was Jack Kirby's original epic/ opus when he returned to DC from starting Marvel, the work spanning four titles:  New Gods, Forever People, Mister Miracle and Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen.  Unthinkable in the last thirty years, Jack Kirby, then 54 years old, pulled this off by drawing, plotting and writing 4 titles per month, in the process creating a universe on top of the DC continuity that had started, sort of, around 1938, give or take.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Keith Giffen Merges With the Infinite



Comics legend Keith Giffen has passed.  

I can't begin to quantify how much an impact Giffen had on the industry and on me as a reader.

I knew Giffen first as one of the talents on the famed mid-80's Justice League America and I am the guy who still thinks we all dropped the ball not making The Heckler a top seller.  

He's responsible for so, so many characters and stories that make up the DCU, with amazing runs on Legion of Super-Heroes and innumerable other titles.  If Giffen's name was on it, it was worth checking out.  Just last week I was pricing a collection of his Doom Patrol on eBay. 

I'll just drop this wikipedia link here, because it's just way too much for me to repeat here.  The man was a giant, and responsible for countless ideas, many of which are the best at multiple comics publishers.  He gave us worlds upon worlds.  

I'm finding myself surprisingly shaken by Giffen's passing. He was one of the pros I always wanted to meet, and he was just in Austin, but I didn't make it to the Con.  I am sure the industry is going to be in deep mourning this week as folks say goodbye to their friend and inspiration.

Y'all take a minute to remember Mr. Giffen and all he brought to these worlds and this medium we love.



 

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

John Romita, Sr. Merges With the Infinite




Much as Carl Barks was "the Good Duck Artist" to a generation or three, Romita was, to me, THE Spider-Man artist.  Sure, he did plenty else, but his work on Spider-Man was so foundational to the character, his design and humanity brought to each panel, a key player in re-figuring the style at Marvel, and therefore the style of modern comics.  



The world of Spider-Man was surely full of colorful characters, but they weren't defined by their powers, they had unique personalities and character, and Romita brought it right to the surface.  

He was also the artist who brought classic moments we're still dealing with in comics.

Like, the intro of Mary Jane Watson.



and, of course, everything with the Stacy's.

And that's how everything ended up with Gwen and Captain Stacy.  Everyone cool and living happily ever after.

I love this era of Spidey.  It's the height of personal and super-hero drama, and has Spidey working in a milieu I think he operates in best.  And when I think of this era, sure I think the title is well written, but it's also the Marvel Method, which means Stan worked out a storyline with the artist and cut them loose, to come back and fill in dialog later.  So it's artistic storytelling, refusing to rely on text or words.

We'll miss knowing Romita Sr. was out there.  We lost a giant this week.


Monday, April 10, 2023

The Great Al Jaffee Merges With the Infinite






If you don't think you know Al Jaffee, you do.  He was one of the staples of Mad Magazine for decades and decades.  He's the reason you were always trying to properly fold the back of your Mad into thirds.  

Jaffee was 102, which means he saw almost *everything* comics had to throw at the world.  He would have been about 17 when Superman arrived, fer chrissake.  His first work was published in 1942, and he joined Mad in 1955.  He delivered art to Mad until the end of 2019.  Mind-bending.  

As a cartoonist, Jaffee didn't just do fold-ins.  He also delivered classic Mad bits with a pitch and tone that informed the comedic sensibilities of the many generations who read his work.  I, myself, always appreciated the Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions, which it probably took me decades to deprogram myself from emulating.



That longevity and variety of offerings means Jaffee brought laughs to folks for 80 years.  I mean, I've lost a lot of time putting this post together just because I've been reading Jaffee's work.  It holds up like crazy!

We'll miss Jaffee, but, man, what a career. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Angelo Badalamenti Merges With the Infinite




Composer and the gentleman who scored my middle high school years, Angelo Badalamenti, has passed.  

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Charles Schulz at 100




Today marks the 100th birthday of cartoonist Charles Schulz, creator of pop culture force, comic strip and animation favorite Peanuts.  

The Peanuts characters are embedded into American and Western culture in ways that will mean they last for a few more generations at minimum - becoming indelibly associated with holidays thanks to cartoons playing each year for the past nearly 60 years.  These days, the cartoons live on over on Apple+, but there's also plenty of decoration and ornamentation that includes the staple characters, and who doesn't know the beats and moments of the specials, even if just by osmosis?

When Apollo 10 was mounting up, NASA asked to use Snoopy as their safety mascot.  Since, they've adopted Snoopy as a mascot for safety writ large and just kind of in general.  Even as we cross this 100th birthday, there's a Snoopy doll floating around inside Artemis as it circles the moon.  That's pretty amazing.  

Of course it all started with a comic strip, and Schulz drew almost 18,000 installments over 50 years.  He created household names, concepts (Lucy pulling the football away, kite-eating trees), brought diversity to the comics page and delivered a lot of joy into people's lives.  In an era of splintered interests, it's hard to understand how something like a daily comic strip could cross generational, geographic and sociological divides as a surprisingly smart reflection of the world.  

Schulz himself went by "Sparky", a name picked up from a comic strip, Barney Google (Spark Plug was the name of a horse in the strip).  He had comics in his blood and managed to keep his strip on track, and the translations of his characters to other media remarkably consistent.  It's hard to imagine fifty years of work, but he did it.  And the strips still run in papers across the country.

Schulz passed on February 12, 2000, but here we are, with Snoopy circling the moon.  Let's hope there's a Snoopy snack bar when folks are living up there.






Thursday, June 16, 2022

Tim Sale Merges With The Infinite




Comics artist and illustrator Tim Sale has passed.  




Sale's work was singular, unmistakable, and reminded an industry what could be done with a certain minimalism if you knew how to capture the essence of character in gesture, expression and motion in a line.  He volleyed between Marvel and DC for a good bit, but I believe I remember learning of his work through Haunted Knight and then the superlative Long Halloween.  

His work at Marvel provided a depth to characters with whom we're all familiar on multiple series, such as Daredevil: Yellow and Spider-Man: Blue.  

As a Superman reader, it's hard not to point to the defining work of A Superman For All Seasons, a new chapter to the life of a young Man of Steel finding his place in the world.  It's a beautiful comic with a deeply sympathetic take on Superman that you simply wanted to comfort as he sought his place in the world.











Saturday, May 7, 2022

Comic Artist George Pérez Merges With The Infinite



One of the first comics I read that turned me into a comics fan was in a DC Blue Ribbon Digest (1984), a reprinting of Tales of the Teen Titians #50, one of several landmark issues of the famous run by George Pérez and Marv Wolfman.  Even in that reduced size, I was blown away by the art - in detail, character design, and ability to convey and carry emotion.  And Tales of the Teen Titans was always full of emotion.  

a page from Tales of the Teen Titans 50



Hence, the name George Pérez was one I always took seriously and who made me realize the contribution of the artist in a comic book - both in partnering with the writers, but also how good work absolutely elevated everything in a comic.  

I was a boy when Wonder Woman was rebooted post-Crisis, and boys did not read Wonder Woman (this is the dumbest thing, but it was true).  So it's to my eternal regret that I missed the initial run of George Pérez's solo work on the title, which, if you've never seen it, is achingly gorgeous and simultaneously spawned a generation of artists trying to be Pérez. In the meantime, I've collected every issue and likely have most of it in 2-3 versions of collections.  I may love Kirby and his dynamic flow and over-the-top energy, but Pérez's vision of Themyscira, Olympus, of a professor's home - and his shockingly grounded writing of the series filled with Greek Gods and supernatural terrors also gave way to the emotions of tween girls, middle-aged military brass, and the brave face of a fish-out-of-water Princess making her way through modern-day Boston.  It's so good.

Pérez's Wonder Woman



With his work we don't talk about issues or runs, we talk about "eras".  That's the impact.  

Whether it was Avengers, the phenomenal work of JLA/Avengers or even his indie work - his look and his eye changed everything.

In recent years, it was known his eyesight wasn't great and his health was not good.  And in recent months he announced he was terminal, and would pass.  Unlike so many deaths, which happen as a surprise to the public, Perez's announcement allowed the fans to celebrate him and let him know the impact he'd made on them.  

There is no picture of modern comics I can muster that doesn't include Pérez.  He picked up the torch and the challenge Neal Adams put before everyone to push their work as hard as they could.  And it's unbelievable we'd lose two such giants within days of each other.  

But I am glad the industry and fans got to let him know what he meant.  Godspeed.



Friday, April 29, 2022

Comics Great Neal Adams Merges With The Infinite

Meeting Adams in November, 2013 



I am shocked and saddened to hear that Neal Adams passed on Thursday.


Adams' work looms large for all comics fans, and for us Superman and Batman fans, it's seminal work.  Of course he's covered all sorts of other things.  Jamie has an Adams' Wonder Woman print on her office wall.  But to me he's the guy who brought Muhammad Ali to the DCU and advocated for Siegel and Shuster to be recognized financially and as creators when Superman: The Movie was in production.  



He brought an illustrative realism and humanity to his characters that pushed all of comics to a new level when he arrived, and he never quit pushing boundaries as an active creator right up to his passing.  

Do yourself a favor and look for some Neal Adams comics.  






Saturday, October 3, 2020

Noir Watch: They Won't Believe Me (1947)



Watched:  10/02/2020
Format:  TCM Noir Alley
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Irving Pichel

An interesting noir with a series of curious twists and a solid cast.  Presented on TCM's Noir Alley, host Eddie Muller brought in author Christina Lane who recently released a book on the film's producer Joan Harrison, Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock (which would make a welcome Christmas gift for us at Signal Watch HQ).  Harrison is worth discussing for her path into the film business, sensibility she brought to Hitchcock's story-telling, and... frankly, some of the other movies she's produced - including Phantom Lady* and Ride the Pink Horse - are fantastic and owe a lot of their story strength and sensibility to Harrison.

They Won't Believe Me (1947) is framed with a murder trial. Young is the defendant, and he's telling his tale/ spilling his guts from the witness stand, trying to explain what really happened, and which looks, honestly, really, really bad for him.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

PODCAST: "The Straight Story" (1999) - featuring an interview with screenwriter John Roach! Disney History w/ NathanC and Ryan!


Watched:  08/08/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1990's
Director:  David Lynch

For more ways to listen


NathanC returns for more Disney History - and this time he brings an interview with screenwriter John Roach! We're discussing the only G-Rated entry in the filmography of David Lynch, bringing his brilliance to a completely different kind of story. And - we have an interview with one of the key storytellers! Get some insight into this remarkable film courtesy a screenwriter who was there from start to finish! It's a very different (and special!) episode of The Signal Watch.





Music:  
Laurens Walking - Angelo Badalamenti, The Straight Story OST
Country Theme - Angelo Badalamenti, The Straight Story OST


Playlist - Disney History w/ NathanC:



Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Doc Watch: Howard (2018)



Watched:  08/10/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Don Hahn

Let me start by saying: in a lot of ways Disney+ is much better than I ever expected.  I've enjoyed the Disney "from the vaults" content, catching new material, behind the scenes at parks, movies, etc... with One Day at Disney and two series - one on the making of The Mandalorian and an exceptional doc series on the making of Frozen 2

And, of course, then the release of Hamilton.  I haven't watched Black is King yet, but that's a pretty big line in the sand for the Disney brand to put out on their flagship, no-doubt-this-is-Disney streaming service when Disney has usually just avoided anything that invites cultural critique.*

But Disney+ putting a doc about Howard Ashman, a gay man who died of complications from AIDs at the height of the epidemic, and being honest and open about his sexuality and struggle with the disease, is... kind of mind-blowing.  There's something about the platform of their own streaming service and that you've already paid your money to have it that seems to have freed up the Disney Corp to tell some stories well worth telling I don't know we'd see if they didn't have this avenue.

The doc, itself, is the life story of Howard Ashman who - paired with Alan Menken - wrote the musical numbers for Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.  He also wrote and originally produced Little Shop of Horrors - which was his big breakout hit off-Broadway. 

It's really a pretty great story, well told, and has the heart-breaking knowledge of what happened to Ashman in the back of your head.  And, sadly, the fact he was the musical partner of Menken and that he died of AIDS was all I'd known about him until watching the doc. 

I don't want to get into details too much, but as loving as it is, it isn't shy about who Howard Ashman was and doesn't make him into a saint - while illustrating pretty clearly what sort of mind he had that helped push the Disney cartoon back into prestige territory (and why Disney was flailing at the time he showed up).

For fans of animation, musical theater, or Disney-history - well worth the viewing. 




*Disney tends to get lambasted no matter what they do, and I've stood there and listened to lines of people parrot back the criticisms of Aladdin, Lion King and Little Mermaid during 3 summers at The Disney Store.  I would invariably listen and then say "well, I make $4.50 an hour working here and while I'll tell my manager...  really, your best bet is writing the studio in California."



Monday, July 6, 2020

Ennio Morricone Merges With The Infinite



Ennio Morricone, famed composer of film scores, has passed at the age of 91.

It's hard to measure the impact of Morricone's work.  He scored hundreds of films, shows and other works with a seeming endless variety to his work.  For American ears, he broke onto the American film scene as he shattered our expectations of what a Western might sound like and created an entirely new aural concept to match Leone's vision of the world of gun slingers and pioneers.

To this day, I'm uncertain what instruments were deployed for some of his most famous music, but he wasn't yoked to a symphony - though he was quick to employ one, and a chorus, or - maybe most famously - a solo singer.  While listeners may often pause while watching a film and guess rightly "is this Morricone?", the diversity of approaches from The Thing to Once Upon a Time in America to Days of Heaven can defy categorization.  From electronic instrumentation to oboes to you-name-it, he found the sound of the soul of a film, and made them sing.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Denny O'Neil Merges with The Infinite



I am terribly, terribly sorry to report that Dennis "Denny" O'Neil has passed.  I am often genuinely saddened when I see someone has gone on to their reward, but sometimes it hits harder.

It is difficult to measure the impact O'Neil had on comics, popular culture and culture writ-large.  And I doubt many people outside us comics nerds (and possibly only comics nerds of a certain age) know his name.  O'Neil was one of the giants, someone I "liked" as a kid when I'd read his stuff, but as an adult and went back through the history of DC and saw all he'd accomplished?

O'Neil is one of the creators largely responsible for the version of Batman you know and love.  He revitalized and solidified Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) and Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), making them relevant as sounding boards for the issues of the day.  He updated Superman and took on the challenge of turning Wonder Woman into a secret agent (with mixed results).  You may know the long runs on Batman that wound up informing Batman: The Animated Series, or the famous "Hard Travelling Heroes" period of Green Lantern/ Green Arrow.  His run on Superman is actually pretty well written, if unsustainable.  The run on Wonder Woman is flat out wild and strange, and - issues though it may have - it's a fascinating attempt to try to update (and maybe a good cautionary tale for every time the internet tells DC to update Wonder Woman).

I first learned his name, I believe, on the cover of The Question (along with Denys Cowan), and soon I looked for his name in association with a certain level of storytelling I thought surpassed most of what was on the rack.

O'Neil didn't just tell stories that took DC heroes on new journeys and challenged them in new ways, he invented a large number of characters for DC and more.   Those characters were a huge part of comics of my youth from O'Neil and others, and wound up in cartoons, movies and more.  Scroll down this page to see a list of his contributions.

It's odd to see the passing of someone who was part of the second generation to enter comics, the folks who were handing off the torch as I was showing up as a reader.  But O'Neil in particular is going to be missed.  But us comics folk aren't the type to forget a person's contribution or what they did to advance the narratives that inspire and entertain us.  And inspired others to create more on the foundations they built.

We'll miss you, Denny.



Monday, May 11, 2020

Comics Rec: Snow, Glass, Apples (Gaiman/ Doran)


Every once in a while you read a comic that you know is just going to stick with you for a long, long time.

Novelist Neil Gaiman of course broke into the public consciousness through Sandman, the perennially popular comic series that, frankly, got me back into comics when I'd wandered off to spend my money elsewhere.  What we don't talk about nearly enough is that, in addition to Gaiman's scripts and plots, he was paired with some of the finest artists to grace the business (you can thank editor Karen Berger), among them Colleen Doran.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Doc Watch: Never Surrender - A Galaxy Quest Documentary (2019)



Watched:  04/07/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Jack Bennett

I forgot to write this up a month ago when I watched it.  A really fun doc on a great movie, and with terrific participation from darn near everyone who was in it or worked on it.  And, as always, Sigourney Weaver is the coolest.


Thursday, February 27, 2020

Dan Didio Exits DC



Friday afternoon, I saw news that Dan Didio, former writer, promoted to Executive Editor, then promoted to Publisher at DC Comics, was no longer with the company.  No circumstances regarding his departure have been reported from DC or Didio, so at this time, it's safe to say Didio's exit was possibly due to a difference of direction from WB and/ or the head of Warner Bros. Global Brands and Experiences - Pam Lifford, who took over DC leadership when Diane Nelson resigned and the structure of DC Entertainment was folded back into WB.  There are also rumors about the perceived impact of the coming "5G" event and reshaping of DC Continuity, which, frankly... sounded exhausting as a reader.  Other possibilities included workplace issues and the good old fashioned lay-off as ATT goes about restructuring WB.

A lot of artists and writers took to twitter to talk about how Didio had done good by them, with a few popping off here and there.  Honestly, some of what I saw about how Didio is a great guy just sounded like basic human decency or Management 101, which really makes me wonder what the heck it's like actually working in comics when "he said he'd take responsibility for the thing he is responsible for" is the bar for a great humanitarian in comics.  But, still, the expressions seemed sincere, and while I'm aware there's a tendency in creative fields to not burn bridges and overly laud anyone exiting, I'll take these creators at their word.

Longtime readers will know - I am not a fan of Dan Didio.