Indie Cover Spotlight: Dragonforce #1

This week I’m revisiting one of the better known indie publishers from the 80s, Canadian based Aircel.


Dragonforce (1988) grew out of an earlier series called Dragonring, which I’ll feature here sometime soon. Like most of Aircel’s books, it was heavily influenced by Hong Kong action movies, mashed up with other genres, in this case superheroes and sci-fi. As you might have noticed by the art, this book featured some of the early work of one Dale Keown, who went on to fame as a Hulk artist, followed by his own series Pitt, and then….well, he disappeared for the most part from the comics biz. He does pop up here and there these days with an occasional variant cover for some Marvel or DC books, though.

Aaron Lopresti cover process

For you process fas, here are a couple of links to artist Aaron Lopresti’s blog, where he shows the process behind a few of his covers.

Green Arrow #15 – What I find interesting about this one is that personally, I think the “B” concept out of the four roughs is much more bold and features a more striking perspective, but hey, i’m not the editor.


Justice League International #2 – So if you were the editor, which rough would you have picked?


Indie Cover Spotlight: Elf Warrior #4

And here’s a final look at the fantasy series, with another cover by Peter Hsu:


This one features some characters from Hsu’s other comic, the “adults only” series Quadrant (I’ll feature that series sometime in the near future. Suffice it to say, Young Dara was disappointed to find out all the fuss was for nothing when it came to teh sex in that comic).

Not even digital comics are safe…

…from the abuses born out of print comics. Case in point: Archaia Publishing (which I should point out is a critically acclaimed, high end publishers of quality graphic novels) is launching a re-imagining of manga pioneer Shotaro Ishinomori’s Cyborg 009 in graphic novel form. They are also teaming up with the leading digital comics platform/distributor Comixology to offer the digital version of the book, and here’s where things get ugly:

It also includes what Archaia’s EIC Stephen Christy tells us is the “First Ever Truly Digital Variant Cover”

Did you catch that? Variant covers, the bane of comics, which helped usher in the 90s demise of the business, and are currently rearing their ugly head at all the print publishers once more, are coming to digital comics.


Marjane Satrapi gallery show

If you happen to live in Paris, then you should definitely check out Iranian-born cartoonist Marjane Satrapi’s first solo art exhibit at Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont.


Satrapi is of course well known for her autobiographical graphic novel Persepolis, which she also co-directed the Oscar-nominated animated film of. These days, she’s spending more of her time working on books and movies, but she started wanting to be a painter before falling into cartooning.

Indie Cover Spotlight: Elf Warrior #1

Going back to one of my favorite defunct indie publishers, Adventure Publications, I’ll be featuring covers from the short lived fantasy series, Elf Warrior, all this week.


This black and white comic featured airbrushed artwork by Canadian artist Peter Hsu, and was published in 1987. Despite the title, Hsu apparently disliked elves, as he gleefully explained in ads for the book that he planned to kill, maim, and slaughter as many elves as possible within the pages of the series. Aside from that rather questionable approach, the book itself was your typical fantasy comic. Oh, with lots of nearly-naked women thrown in for good measure.

Electronic contact lenses, Terminator style

So a few years ago, I wrote a comic book based on the popular Terminator movies. One Iranian playing with a work of science fiction, if you will.

But here’s another Iranian tangentially related to Terminator, this time working in the field of actual science: Professor Babak Parviz of the University of Washington has developed a proof-of-concept contact lens that displays visual feedback right in front of the wearer’s eye.


For a brief overview of his work, check out this short article on PopSci. But if you’d like to get a lot more in-depth and technical, read this rather lengthy article written by Mr. Parviz himself, over at the IEEE Spectrum website.

In the Terminator movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character sees the world with data superimposed on his visual field—virtual captions that enhance the cyborg’s scan of a scene. In stories by the science fiction author Vernor Vinge, characters rely on electronic contact lenses, rather than smartphones or brain implants, for seamless access to information that appears right before their eyes.

These visions (if I may) might seem far-fetched, but a contact lens with simple built-in electronics is already within reach; in fact, my students and I are already producing such devices in small numbers in my laboratory at the University of Washington, in Seattle.

I love how the best and brightest scientists and engineers all seem to be inspired by works of science fiction.

Sandy Plunkett show at the Kennedy Museum of Art

Veteran comic book artist and Ohio native Sandy Plunkett is having 50 pieces of his illustration work featured in an exhibition titled Fantastic! The Comic Art of Sandy Plunkett, on display at the Kennedy Museum of Art in Athens, Ohio. The show runs from January 25 through June 2.


There will be a Guest Curator Walk & Talk on Friday, Jan. 25 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. , followed by a free reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

By the time I was getting into Marvel Comics, I think Plunkett was mostly on his way out, but I do remember a few striking covers he did (I want to say for Solo Avengers, and maybe Marvel Comics Presents? Not sure). I always thought he had a very classic drafstman style, rich and textured. I also remember some great pinups, from Marvel Fanfare, which I believe this piece is from:


Actually, I found the Solo Avengers cover I remembered:


And here’s a cool poster he did for the Nelsonville Music Festival, which we’ll be attending again (headlined by Wilco this year):


I’m planning on catching the show at some point.

Indie Cover Spotlight: Border Worlds #6

Border Worlds was a mature readers science fiction series by Don Simpson, published in 1987 by Kitchen Sink Press:


I like simple cover designs like this one, as they tend to stand out quite well amongst all the other flashy, multi-color covers on the shelves. The light blue color for the masthead is also a nice touch, as it makes it pop out.