Monday, December 17, 2012

Pulp Expressionism

DRAW! #24 from TwoMorrow Publishing, has an online PDF preview worth checking out! One of the best "How To"magazines on comics and cartooning, DRAW! #24  gets a little PULP NOIR this issue with an up-close and in the studio feature with illustrator Glen Orbik, as he demos how he creates his fully painted noir paperback and comic covers for Marvel, DC Comics and others! Several pages of step by step techniques, paintings and reference photos. I just reserved my copy!

Other features include a jump from comics to animation in an interview with Robert Valley, pioneer of the cutting-edge psychedelic animation for “The Beatles: Rock Band" music video, and character designer on Tron: Uprising and Motor City. Plus there's the latest installment of regular features like Comic Art Bootcamp (this time on "Dramatic Lighting") with editor Mike Manley and Bret Blevins, and reviews of new art supplies by Crusty Critic Jamar Nicholas, and a Rough Critique of a newcomer's work by Bob McLeod!

Click here and check out the free PDF preview.

Click here and visit TwoMorrows online to order your copy, or ask your local comic shop to order a copy for you!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Man of Steel, feet of clay

When I was a kid there was a big fuss over Superman The Movie.

We were going to believe a man could fly.

Superman was a big deal to me, at the time. I used to draw him all the time. Dreamt about drawing comics when I grew up. But I was getting old enough to be aware of the bigger picture, and start asking questions. I was devastated when read about George Reeves death. The conspiracy theories, involving his married mob girlfriend. The concept of suicide was new to me too. There have been several books, including Hollywood Kryptonite. And one great movie, Hollywoodland. Starring Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, and Bob Hoskins. Diane Lane is amazing but what surprised me was Affleck. His surprisingly subtle and honest portrayal of Reeves, the actor typecast as a popular and iconic character. Affleck disproves his own critics, with a rich portrayal of the frustration, rage, and longing for respect that comes with being an appealing, handsome actor not generally regarded for having much range.

Before the release of the Christopher Reeve Superman film, amongst all the hype, I remember hearing about how Warner Brothers was going to pay a small stipend to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. I remember hearing the hobby shop guy say something about how they were shamed into it by the greedy bastards. But I was old enough to think this through. You can't shame anyone, let alone a company, unless it actually acted shamefully in the first place.

I loved the movie.

And eventually I found more information about Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. I read anything I could find, including The Steranko History of Comics. I eventually found out about Neal Adams heroic efforts regarding creator's rights and about other artists and writers who had been treated poorly.
I never drew Superman again for a long time. I lost interest in ever wanting to work for DC comics at all.

Here we are, 35 years later. A new epic Superman movie is gearing up for a huge Summer release, and earlier this week we got erroneous news across the net that the Siegel family lost another suit against DC. This week's court decision was only a procedural ruling enabling Toberoff to appeal. He requested it. The fuss and bother about DC winning again is really only a misunderstanding on behalf of a bunch of overzealous but well meaning bloggers.

35 years later and DC comics hasn't learned the ironic shame of continuing to exploit the work of artists and writers, who dreamt of heroes who fight a "never-ending" battle for truth, justice and heroic ideals.

I'll probably go see the new Superman movie. Maybe not the first weekend.

Join the discussion, and click here to go to the League discussion boards...


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Old man and the C word

The Los Angeles Times is reporting the sixty-five year old Arnold Schwarzenegger, will reprise his role in a Conan the Barbarian sequel.

Several of Robert E Howard's original Conan Stories were written after an older Conan had become King of Aquilonia. The very first Conan Story ever written was rewritten from an unpublished Kull story, "By This Axe I Rule!" and set just after the middle-aged Conan became king. Howard didn't write his Conan stories in any chronological order, so the oldest he wrote Conan wasn't his last Conan story. Conan was in his mid-forties in The Hour of the Dragon, also known as Conan the Conqueror, was his fifteenth Conan story out of twenty or more, and was one of the last Conan stories published before Howard's suicide, but not the last to be written and one of only a few novel length Conan stories written by Howard.

But many stories were written about an aging Conan. None by Howard. He has a son Prince Conn. There was a fun Marvel comic series titled, King Conan. And even in the last Conan novel chronologically Conan is in his mid-sixties, Arnold's current age. And given the relative health and lifespan's of people living now, I suppose it isn't such a stretch to see Arnold play a prehistoric guy close to his own age, especially by Hollywood standards. Depending on how old he endsup in the script. Could it be another Expendables maybe, a fun self-indulgent poke, not taking itself too seriously, at the expense of a beloved literary character? Or could this be Arnold's Unforgiven? One thing is for certain, if the Jason Momoa 'Conan the Barbarian' hadn't failed we wouldn't be here. So thank Crom for the success of the new Star Trek revamp or we might have seen Shatner and crew in a new scooter filled Enterprise. 

Join the discussion, and click here to go to the League discussion boards...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Space exploration

I like books that feature photographs of artist's studios. So I was really excited to order Studio Space published by Image, this past August. It's subtitle reads, "the world's greatest comic illustrators at work," and sold me with the one line. I was a little disappointed. The artist interviews read like an email survey, but there are some interesting answers here and there, and it's not a bad read, just not great.

But the real disappointment is in the artist portraits.

Each section starts out with a blank white empty full page on the left hand side, and the right hand page starts out with a small portrait. ONE SMALL PORTRAIT EACH! Some of the artist portraits include some of the artist's studio, some are tighter close ups, barely showing any workspace at all. But each only has the one photo.

For a book whose title is "studio space" and whose cover shows two great color studio photos, I was a little disappointed to find there was one black and white photo per artist and very few photos ACTUALLY showing a decent look at the studio. I would have liked to at the very least, seen one shot of each artists work space. Maybe that blank white page to the left could have been a full shot of the work space in addition to the portrait on the right hand page?

If you are looking for books that show a little more photos of artists studio spaces try, an older book, Dream Makers by Chris Evans, which features decent interviews along with one or more nice color shots of six artists, not all from comics some are illustrators and fantasy artists, (Artists included; Michael Kaluta, Berni Wrightson, Charles Vess, Melvyn Grant, Julek Heller & Chris Moore). Or for a book which features a more serious focus on photographs of artists studios, there is a newer book, The Artist Within by Greg Preston which features hundreds of artists, and lots of great photos shot exclusively for the book, but unfortunately much less text, and is not as satisfying to read, but it is so full of rich photography, if you are fascinated by artist's workspaces as I am you'll find this book a much more rich and satisfying book than Studio Space. (The Artist Within, includes artists like Frank Miller, Al Hirschfeld, Joe Barbera, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Moebius, Walter and Louise Simonson and lots more).

Start a discussion about your favorite books about comic artists on the League's message boards!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The ex-porn queen in the Princess Leia cosplay contest at the Olive Gardens of Mars!

Before Disney's ill-fated John Carter, there was Princess of Mars(2009), a very low budget direct-to-DVD film made by The Asylum, and is not authorized by the Burroughs estate. They could do this because the novel itself is now in public domain. The Martian ruins were obviously an old western set, the Martian landscape was a hours drive outside of Los Angeles, and the Martians themselves were a poor combination of rubber masks and some old costumes left over from some old gladiator film. No more than six or so martians were seen in any one shot, close up, so they must have had only six decent rubber masks. The rest must have been much cheaper and were only shot from a distance.

Let me be clear I love their films. They are horrible, but fun. And free on SyFy Saturday nights.

Some favorites just off the top of my head...

Aztek Rex
Mega Piranha
Mega Python vs. Gatoroid
Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus
Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus

And my personal favorite, 2010: Moby Dick. Former Xena sidekick, Renée O'Connor stars and utters that iconic first line, "Call me Michelle."

Well nearly the iconic line.

Many Asylum films, are designed to be very sinilar in content to a big budget counterpart, Snakes on a Train, Almighty Thor, AVH: Alien vs. Hunter, The Da Vinci Treasure, The Day the Earth Stopped, Paranormal Entity, Transmorphers, Pirates of Treasure Island the list goes on forever. They often take advantage of public domain,  Journey to the Center of the Earth, War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave, Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls and of course Princess of Mars.

Last summer as Disney released their John Carter on DVD, Asylum  RE-RELEASED their version of Princess of Mars(2009). Obviously hoping to take advantage of the big-budget version's coat tails with their low budget mess, they even retitled it "JOHN CARTER OF MARS." I laughed out loud when I first saw the dvd at my local Target, "Apparently hoping to take advantage of all the financial success" And of course they were, the situation made humorous only because of the outrageously unfair criticism the film received. Listen we can argue all day whether or not it was a good film or not, whether it was a good adaptation or not. But many critics called it the worst fill they had ever seen, and said many people walked out. I've seen worse films. I saw worse films that were in the theater at the same time as JC. I'm not saying Ghost Rider 2 was the worst film ever made, but it certainly wasn't any better than John Carter, and it certainly wasn't the worst film ever made either. Battleship, Green Lantern, Cowboys & Aliens, Conan, Tron? No Oscar winners either but arguably no better than John Carter, at least in the same ballpark.

When a critic says a film is walk-out-of-the-theater-bad. I don't expect to see people walk out AT THE END OF THE MOVIE, muttering, "...that was kinda fun, what was so bad about that?"

Many fans, and online peer review sites have liked it very much, many enjoyed the film, despite flaws, and no one I know who has seen it, says it was the worst film they have ever seen. Most liked it.

So this brings me to my point.

I was at Target again last week and I saw the Asylum John Carter DVD marked $5, next to other crap, and even big budget theatrical movies marked down to $5, $7 even $9.99. No copies of Disney's John Carter to be seen. And it occurred to me, that this might actually be the first time, Asylum's product will pass for the mainstream counterpart because of all the unprecedented criticism. People sitting around watching it, thinking, "Wow, this really was as crappy as the critics said it was."  As they look at the Olive Garden sets, used gladiator costumes and six rubber masks, they will never get the deeper meaning. There is a deeper joke in there somewhere, that not many will ever know. Asylum finally made a film that will be able to pass as it's Hollywood counterpart, even if only for the critics perception of that Hollywood version movie and not the movie itself.

Who has time to explain it to them anyway, when there are dozens of Asylum movies to stream on Netflix!

Please feel free to join the discussion at the League discussion boards...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cowboys & idioms

Horror in the West, is a fun little anthology I picked up at the local comic shop a couple of weeks ago. Eleven stories of cowboys and aliens, zombies, ghosts, werewolves and demons and other monsters. Fun scary stories of an alien cattle-drive for human flesh, a man who cannot be killed by the hangman's noose,  and demon-slaying bounty hunters, and much more. And a particularly haunting story by Ben Truman, Kurt Belcher and Henrik Horvath called "The Devil's Promanade." Edited by Phil McClorey a comic writer from Toronto, Canada. His previous works include a contribution to New York Times Best Selling Graphic Book FUBAR Vol.2 Empire of the Rising Dead.

Published by Alternacomics. This is a really well laid-out book, with lots of great art and fun stories, all for nine bucks. I enjoyed this cover to cover, can't wait for number two.

Here read more about it and sample some pages at the publisher's website.

Start a discussion about your favorite Western Horror comics on the League's message boards!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cereal adventures

Lou Scheimer: Creating The Filmation Generation

I've always been a huge fan of Filmation animation. Not always the best animation, but always the best cartoons! From Tarzan and Flash Gordon series to Star Trek, and Blackstar as you might be able to tell from the near perfect condition Warlock action figure above. Filmation wasn't always known for the best animation, often reusing poses and scenes so much you couldn't count on one hand the number of times you'd see the same shot of Tarzan swing by in one episode, but they more than made up for it with the most dramatic poses and compositions, bold, heroic voices and fast-paced, exciting music, as far as I'm concerned they made for some of the most fun cartoons ever. They made Aquaman exciting and fun! Something Hanna-Barbera were unable to do years later in 9 whole seasons of the Superfriends. It used to drive me crazy as a kid watching the Superfriends dorky versions of the JLA after discovering the Filmation versions of DC superheroes, along with the King of the Seven Seas there was Superman, Batman, The Atom, Green Lantern and Hawkman, in simple fast paced adventures filled your head with heroic voice characterization and awesome music, the best were the all too few JLA team-ups and the mis-colored Kid Flash in the Teen Titans cartoons.

I'm really looking forward to reading this new book from TwoMorrows publishing, on sale Wednesday, November 7.

From the publisher, "Lou Scheimer was the co-founder of Filmation Studios, which for over 25 years provided animated excitement for TV and film. Always at the forefront, Scheimer’s company created the first DC cartoons with Superman, Batman, and Aquaman, ruled the song charts with The Archies, kept Trekkie hope alive with the Emmy-winning Star Trek: The Animated Series, taught morals with Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, and swung into high adventure with Tarzan, The Lone Ranger, and Zorro.  Forays into live-action included Shazam! and The Secrets of Isis, plus ground-breaking special effects work on Jason of Star Command and others. And in the 1980s, Filmation single-handedly caused the syndication explosion with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and its successors. Now, with best-selling co-author Andy Mangels, Lou Scheimer tells the entire story, including how his father decked Adolf Hitler, memories of the comic books of the Golden Age, schooling with Andy Warhol, and what it meant to lead the last all-American animation company through nearly thirty years of innovation and fun! Profusely illustrated with photos, model sheets, storyboards, presentation art, looks at rare and unproduced series, and more — plus hundreds of tales about Filmation’s past, and rare Filmation-related art by Bruce Timm, Adam Hughes, Alex Ross, Phil Jimenez, Frank Cho, Gene Ha, and Mike McKone — this book shows the Filmation Generation the story behind the stories!" 

Order at your local comic book shop, or click here to get it directly from TwoMorrows at 15% off and get the free Digital Edition. 

Click here to download a FREE PDF PREVIEW 

And start a discussion about your favorite Filmation cartoons on the League's message boards!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Marcus Swayze

Legendary Golden Age comic book artist Marcus Swayze died Sunday. He was 99.

Marc Swayze produced the very first character sketches of Mary Marvel. He is primarily known for drawing Captain Marvel stories and covers for Whiz Comics and Captain Marvel Adventures. He also wrote and drew The Phantom Eagle in Wow Comics. And Fawcett's romance comics after Captain Marvel comics ceased publishing. Later Fawcett sold some of it's books to Charlton, and Swayze worked there for a short time until he retired.

I was more familiar with Marc from his great "We Didn't Know It Was the Golden Age!" column that appeared in Alter Ego magazine., (one of the many fine publications from TwoMorrows publishing). In the column, Marc would discuss everything from the Golden age of comics to the relationship between fine and commercial artists. In addition to reminiscences, sometimes they would reprint older material. In the Alter Ego issue #110, they reprinted the first Phantom Eagle story by Marc, and in Issue 104 they reprinted an interview with Marc primarily about Phantom Eagle, (complete with character concept sketches) conducted by John Pierce from 1993, Marc also a talented musician, mentions that while in the US Army during WWII, he had been chosen to accompany Bing Crosby.

Please join in the discussion, right here on the League Message Boards...

(The above art and characters are copyright their respective copyright holders, unless I'm mistaken, the column logo and Captain Marvel art is copyright Marc Swayze, the characters Captain Marvel, Shazam and Mary Marvel are Copyright DC Comics? Don't go by me if you need confirmation find additional sources).

Monday, October 15, 2012

Perchance to Dream

Google frequently uses unique and fun logos to commemorate special events. Today's Google logo is the wonderfully imaginative, animated logo titled "Little Nemo in Google-Land," a wonderful tribute to Winsor McCay, on what would have been his 107th birthday. It's really well done. I've watched it more times than I can count already.

McCay's "Little Nemo in Slumberland," was quite possibly the most innovative comic strip ever published, and is simply stunning. Beyond anything being done today. The strip was originally published around 1905 to 1914, but Winsor McCay's work has inspired artists and animators for generations. Google's tribute today is a wonderful and fun, interactive reminder, go play!

Join in the discussion! Right here on the League Message Boards...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Channeling history

Alex Ness in my words, is one of the greatest poets of our time. Words he would surely bristle at.

Alex Ness in his own words,  "I am a poet.  I know that to some people that is a pretentious title but I've written poetry since my earliest of memories.   I've spent a life filling my mind with ideas about the world, about life, understanding what has gone on in the past and what beckons for the future."

How long have you been a poet?

"Poetry has spoken to me my entire life and I am very happy to write it, wherever I am, whatever inspires it.  I've lived mostly in the state of Minnesota, with stops in Wisconsin, North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas, and Arizona.   I love comics, cats, books, art, music, and my family, of course.   I spend most of my life in front of a computer keyboard writing on the many websites I write for and upon. "

Do you have any formal training? Did you go to poet school?

"I have degrees from two universities in history and with areas of political science, but my education was never about doing something to get a job, it made me who I am. As a writer of many things, but mostly poetry, my work doesn't get a lot of sales. Whether it is good or not, you can feel free to decide but it is an endeavor I am pursuing."

Your newest book, Autumn Painted Red, an artistic examination of Jack The Ripper. This is a darker work for you. Beyond the darkness of the book's subject, do you have a personal connection to autumn yourself?

"My favorite month is October, not because it is my birthday month but because in Minnesota there is no finer month.   While cool outside, it is not cold, and the trees, sunsets and air are fabulous. " 

Much of your work deals with ancient myth and legends.
Do you consider yourself a teacher of history in some ways?

"In this modern world, who has time to remember mythic and ancient memories?  I believe that human existence is neither endless nor is modernity the higher form of human existence, so remembering the past connects us to our origins and our history, while the mythic content of our memories lingers on in today's stories and ideas. 

Myth changes, it does not die. Modernity seems to offer freedom from others, at its heart.  Everything that technology and modern society offer are less and less human interactive. Just push a button. 

The ancients lived where nothing more than words, metal implements and ideas were in plentiful supply, along with stories, about blood, swords and shields, and stories of love, courage, anger, betrayal and hope. My work is meant to honor that antiquity, and to embrace that which is eternal in us all." 

Finish this sentence, "I'm a poet AND..."

"I am a poet with a wife and son, who misses his Russian Blue cat Mischa, and I look forward to writing more poetry. Life is good." 

Alex Ness is a poet with nearly a dozen books published to date. You can sample his poetry at his blog  ALEX NESS POETRY

You can purchase his newest book, Autumn Painted Red, directly from CREATESPACE

Or you can help support Alex and his work buy buying books directly from the author, he has some of his out-of-print books for sale as well as other books of interest...


Friday, October 5, 2012

Martian exposure

A quick follow up to our review of A Princess of Mars: A Graphic Novel, the beautifully crafted adaptation of Edgar Rice Burrough's novel, by Ian Edginton and illustrated by INJ Culbard. 

Ian Culbard responded on twitter, "Thank you for the kind words - glad you enjoyed it."

He went on to mention the comments regarding his treatment of nudity in the adaptation, "Also, glad you observed the attention to nudity in the book. I pitched it to the publisher as national geographic rather than playboy."

(Join our discussion on the League boards).


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Life on Mars

I'm a huge Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, so despite the fact  I hadn't heard of this new adaptation of A Princess of Mars, until I ran across it in my local comic shop, I was very excited to read it. And I wasn't disappointed.  Adapted by Ian Edginton and illustrated by INJ Culbard, and is a pretty straight forward, loyal adaptation, done with deceptive care.

Ian Culbard is the artist on The New Deadwardians, for Vertigo. Imagine vampires and zombies on Downton Abbey. I'm already looking forward to the trade collection coming out soon.

I picked it up in the store because I'm a sucker for anything ERB, to be sure but the art was gorgeous, it had a sort of Mike Allred quality, simple, clean lines, beautifully crafted. The art itself pulls off another neat trick as well. Nudity is a big part of the original novels, and most comic adaptations as well as the recent film adaptation, choose to ignore this, if only to avoid controversy. Especially for an action adventure story meant for young adults. But this adaptation stays very true to the novels including the nudity in the elegant simplicity of the art, not conveniently cropped, no, it's just simply not the slightest bit gratuitous. And the character designs, specifically the green Martians, despite the simplicity of the art, hide a complexity and sophistication that becomes more obvious on reading. The Martian characters are each unique and distinct while still maintaining a consistent racial, and physical make-up. In fact all the creatures of Barsoom are some of the more interestingly designed versions than in any comic adaptation before. Most of which have been reprinted very recently.

A Princess of Mars: A Graphic Novel, Adapted by Ian Edginton and illustrated by INJ Culbard.  A great, thoughtful adaptation, of an often imitated classic, and a fun read for any genre fans but a must have for any Burrough's fan.

(Join our discussion on the League boards).

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Boy Wonder rises?

As a follow-up to our review of the book, Bill Finger, The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, we wanted to share some of the feedback we got from the author Marc Tyler Nobleman.

mtnobleman: Thanks for covering my book. I appreciate your input. We all know you can't judge a book by its cover. I often say you can't judge it by its thickness, either.

The book is the result of five years of research and contains significant info that has never before been published elsewhere, starting with a fact in the very first sentence. The exhaustive six-page author's note also contains considerable new details, including the biggest bombshell of the book. A month before the book's release, I blogged a list specifying the discoveries I made: Also, for many readers, the entire story is new.

Yes, this is a picture book, but for older readers, and it's the first book in ANY format on Bill Finger. The reason I wrote it for a wider audience is so kids would growing up knowing that "Batman created by Bob Kane" is not the truth rather than learning it as adults (if ever).

I agree that Finger deserves a longer treatment as well, but I am happy to report that many have responded with heartfelt and enthusiastic endorsement for my approach, including Batman film producer Michael Uslan, NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, FORBES, MTV, the WASHINGTON POST, and many fans who attended my two Bill Finger talks at Comic-Con.

LXNG: Thanks for your response, I greatly respect and appreciate it as well as the book itself. And for you to take the time to register as a member here to post a response to a review that was largely positive, on a site with only ten members, is even more greatly appreciated. I hope you continue to contribute to our site, that would be amazing!

As I said above my only real criticism was the format and maybe the substance. I think the book may have benefited from a little more context. But I'm a little unclear about your some things. You say, "Yes, this is a picture book, but for older readers," and then go on to say you wrote it so, "kids would growing up knowing that "Batman created by Bob Kane" is not the truth rather than learning it as adults (if ever)."

That seems a bit contradictory to me.

If the format was chosen specifically for kids then I might understand, but doing, "a picture book, but for older readers," would seem to be appropriate to me anyway, only if the subject himself was involved in "picture books." Since it was comic books, why not layout the story like a comic? Or even better like a Dick Sprang Batman comic? Maybe that's just me, obviously NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, FORBES, MTV, and the WASHINGTON POST, disagree. My brain works in weird ways. Either way, I very much enjoyed the book and hope it continues to do well!

And everybody check out Marc's blog, (now in) the "League Approved" Blog List!!!

mtnobleman: Thanks Joe! Every reader counts.

To the general public, the perception of the term "picture book" is often that the format is aimed primarily at kids who can't read yet (so typically ages 5 or 6 and younger). But within the publishing industry, that's not the reality. Some authors, including me, stretch the boundaries of the format (to nod to the Plastic Man book you mention). We believe that it's not the length but rather the content and prose. Sometimes a picture book is the FIRST type of book to address a topic, as with my Finger book. There are actually middle and even high schools that use picture books in the classroom. There are also, of course, a wealth of picture books about equally sophisticated topics from Anne Frank to Martin Luther King. I sometimes blog about picture books for older readers:

You can join in the discussion too! Right here on the League Message Boards

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Waiting for Kane

Fans of Robert E. Howard's other heroes can finally see something besides Conan the Barbarian. 2009's Solomon Kane is apparently actually getting a theatrical release in the United States, this month. After years of decent reviews from both European critics and fans, and years of rumors of a stateside opening Howard's Puritan Swashbuckler has finally found a US distributor. And should be in theaters, according to my Fandango App, on the 28th, but not to any theaters near me yet, it's only a limited release, only to major cities, so I'm going to keep my eyes open or  just settle for Netflix!


"Bill, the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman"

by Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ty Templeton

I ordered this book a while back, to at the very least, support the book. It's an important story, for comic book fans, and the book is worth reading. And it's a quick read too. But it's format falls short on giving the subject matter the appropriate dignity. Don't misunderstand me, I liked the book, the story itself is of great interest to me, but it's design undermines it's credibility. It's the size, thickness and feel of a children's book. Hardcover too. It's not comic book size, it's pages aren't designed to look like a classic Batman comic. The pages and book are indistinguishable from a children's book.

I don't mind the idea of telling the story through illustrations, but maybe in a format and style that would be more appropriate, like a comic book, drawn in a style similar to Dick Sprang's iconic artwork which graced The Batman comics, at the same time as Bill Finger's writing. It may have been more appropriate than the children's book style page layouts. And maybe the illustrated story didn't need to be the sole content. I would have loved to see this designed with more substance, more variety to the image usage, and some of the actual source materials included. Used alongside the comic strip story telling elements, it might have been a more engaging, and more mature looking work, more like Art Spiegelman's and Chip Kidd's Jack Cole biography, (Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms stretched to their limits).

This is not a children's book story, it is a the story of a creative man and how his greatest achievement is credited to another man, a more ambitious man who was able to manipulate circumstances to his favor. It's a story of one man cheating another and of one man unable to do anything but let him get away with it. A story we can all relate to on some level. But harder to relate to in such a format. I liked it, and I suspect other old timey Golden-age comics fans will like this book, but I suspect some might find the format a little off-putting.
Join the discussion on the League Message Boards

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

King auteur

In the current issue of The Jack Kirby Collector there is the usual assortment of Kirby greatness but also an interesting article by Arlen Schumer, examining "The Auteur Theory of Comics." (The Jack Kirby Collector #59 from Twomorrows publishing).

The article examines the misconceptions of the artist in the role of creator in comics as it has been recently applied in many court cases. The idea being that comics are just as collaborative a medium as film, and in fact like film, the Director(artist) plays a much larger role in the creation of the piece than the writer.

The article cites the recent court case where the Kirby estate over copyright ownership of the Marvel characters. In which Stan Lee's testimony became one of the deciding factors, which amounted to the misconception the he, NOT Kirby was the true author of the Marvel Universe, by the simple fact that he was the "author." A premise that is central to the documentary "With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story."

I highly recommend this issue, for this article alone which makes the case for the artist, in cases like Kirby as the auteur. (Join our discussion on the League boards).

Click here to download a PDF preview from the publisher!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Old school

Fresh from the newstand, one of my favorite magazines, doing what is obviously one of my favorite themes. I just picked up the most recent issue of ImagineFX magazine (Issue no. 86 September 2012), even though according to their website it's two months ago. This issue is their tribute to "The Golden Age of Pulp Art." 

There are all the usual great features, and free disc full of awesome photoshop tools, but all with a pulp retro twist. Lots and lots of cool video demos and extras, free textures and photoshop brushes all with that tattered, aged, cover, or antiqued look. I've only just begun to play with them, but I love 'em already.

Plus there's a nice interview with one of my favorite illustrators, Mark Schultz, the creator of Xenozoic Tales. And a history of pulp magazine cover art. And much more pulp art goodies. Plus, a four star review of John Carter on DVD! I knew it didn't suck. (Join our discussion on the League boards).

Check out their website, ImagineFX magazine (Issue no. 86 September 2012)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Join the League!

Welcome to the League of Nostalgic Gentlemen's completely superfluous (and as of now, completely empty), companion news blog to the official League of Extremely Nostalgic Gentlemen message boards.

Please, join us at the brand new, troll free, official League of Extremely Nostalgic Gentlemen message boards.

Speak "geek" and enter...