Happy Thanksgiving

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Splash Wednesday: Rick Griffin, Matt Wagner, and Phil Winslade

I love this initial page, contributed by my bud, Matt Kish. It’s by Rick Griffin.

“Richard Alden “Rick” Griffin was an American artist and one of the leading designers of psychedelic posters in the 1960s. As a contributor to the underground comix movement, his work appeared regularly in Zap Comix.”

This page is from the comic The Man from Utopia:

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Next up, a splash page from Matt Wagner, best known for his long-running indie series, Grendel. This page, however, is from The Demon, a mini-series he did for DC Comics in 1987, reviving the character created by Jack Kirby:

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And finally, in a bit of synchronicity, here’s a classic page from the old Ferret Press blog. This week, Marvel announced a new Howard the Duck series. Back in July 2010, when Craig Bogart posted the item below, it was an odd page from a Howard the Duck “mature readers” series:

As every American schoolchild knows, Howard the Duck achieved such popularity during his heyday that he drew the attention of Disney, who sued because the cigar-smoking misanthrope with the nude model girlfriend would be too easily confused with Donald Duck. The outcome: Howard had to wear pants to distinguish himself from the other fowl, who is apparently a pervert who goes pantsless in public.

When Steve Gerber returned to write Howard in a 2002 mini for Marvel’s MAX imprint, he ended the first issue on a cliffhanger by turning Howard into… a big mouse.

And now Disney owns Marvel, but many of their characters are still not required to wear pants.

Art by Phil Winslade, a more recent favorite of mine.

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Indie Cover Spotlight: The Replacement God

One of my favorite fantasy titles, from the immensely talented Zander Cannon:

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This is the cover to the trade paperback collecting the first story arc. Published by Slave labor in 1997. It follows the adventures of a slave boy named Knute, his many attempts at escape from a dungeon, and an epic story involving finding a replacement for the God of Death. The story was funny and poignant and adventurous, with expressive artwork by Cannon.

Splash Wednesday: Keith Giffen, Phil Winslade, and David Mazzucchelli

Another Wednesday, another trio of splash pages from different artists and different eras of comics. Kicking it off is a contribution by my pal Matt Kish. Here’s a page of Keith Giffen art from Amazing Adventures #38:

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Next up, a page from the way underrated Phil Winslade. This is from All-Star Western #4:

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And here’s the classic page from the old Ferret Press blog, and Craig Bogart’s no-nonsense introduction:

If I need to provide a citation for this, you need to visit a different blog.

Gimme a red!

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Indie Cover Spotlight: Castle Waiting #4

This week, I’ll be revisiting some series I’ve featured here before, starting with Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting:

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This charming series was originally self-published in 1997 by her own Olio imprint, before being picked up by Jeff Smith’s Cartoon Books in 2000. Fantagraphics also did a stint as publisher.

Review: London’s Dark

This graphic novel, originally published by Titan Books in 1989, features some of writer James Robinson’s earliest work (who went on to fame on DC’s Starman series, and some would same infamy on the more recent Justice league: Cry for Justice mini-series). The black & white art is provided by fellow Englishman Paul Johnson.

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Set in London in 1940, this World War II story is a nice mix of war, romance, and the supernatural. Jack Brookes is a patriot denied entry into the army due to a bad heart, so he does what he can on the home front as an air-raid warden, enforcing blackouts. Circumstances bring him into contact with the beautiful Sophie, a psychic/medium, and the two are soon embroiled in a murder that exposes the profitable black markets of the war-torn city.

The storytelling is tight and confident, and experiments with different narrative devices such as multiple voices, flashbacks, and prose interludes. I felt that Robinson captured the bleak uncertainty of life during wartime quite well, while writing a story that’s ultimately optimistic (no small feat).

The black & white art is equally experimental, using techniques ranging from photo collages to expressive brushwork, but is really difficult to follow in some places. For example, telling the different antagonists apart was a problem, and some panels are just so dark and cluttered that following the action is somewhat of a chore (sorry, I can’t get a good scan of the interior pages without breaking the binding on the book). Johnson’s later fully-painted color work in series such as The Books of Magic and Interface are amongst my favorites, but here I get the feeling he was still coming into his own. He does a good job with setting the right tone and mood for the story, though.

Still, a good read overall, and quite a nice little departure from most of the books out on the stands now. It’s always fun to see the early work of obviously talented creators.

(A version of this review appeared on my old Ferret Press blog, February 2011)

Bill Bryson quote

I’m currently reading “A Walk in the Woods,” Bill Bryson’s memoir of hiking the Appalachian Trail. At times funny, insightful, academic, and even frustrating, it’s been a good read so far. The quote below is one of my favorite observations made by him on the nature of change in America:

“At the time of our hike, the Appalachian Trail was 59 years old. The Oregon and Santa Fe Trails didn’t last as long. Route 66 didn’t last as long. The old coast-to-coast Lincoln Highway, a road that brought transforming wealth and life to hundreds of little towns, so important and familiar that it became known as “America’s Main Street,” didn’t last as long. Nothing in America does. If a product or enterprise doesn’t constantly reinvent itself, it is superseded, cast aside, . If a product or enterprise doesn’t constantly reinvent itself, it is superseded, cast aside, abandoned without sentiment in favor of something bigger, newer, and alas, nearly always uglier.”

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Indie Cover Spotlight: The Men in Black II #3

On Tuesday I featured the first mini-series, and today I’ll showcase the second volume:

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Cover painting by Adam Adamowicz.

MIB returned for a second 3-issue mini series in 1991, once again by creators Lowell Cunningham and Sandy Carruthers, and published by Aircel. Like almost all other indie comics of the era, this book faded into complete obscurity. Except in this case, 6 years later the mega successful movie adaptation made the concept a household name.

Splash Wednesday: Frank Robbins, Sergio Aragonés, and Tom Sutton

My friend Matt Kish provides this first page, from Adventure Into Fear #28, art by Frank Robbins:

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Next up, a typical page of insane detail, by the legendary cartoonist Sergio Aragonés, from an issue of Groo (sorry, don’t know which one)

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And, as always, here’s a classic reprint (from my old Ferret Press blog), as posted by Craig Bogart:

From Captain Marvel #15, 1969; an issue replete with splash pages (more on Mar-Vell in a WBM entry shortly), I’ve passed up psychedelic visions of galaxies being born and the devil in Hell in favor of the shot that requires a straight edge and a few perspective lines. By Tom Sutton.

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Indie Cover Spotlight: The Men in Black #1

Where does a billion dollar film franchise begin? Right here, with this obscure black-and-white indie comic:

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Created by Lowell Cunningham and Sandy Carruthers, and published by Aircel (by then an imprint of Malibu) in 1990. I’ve actually never read the comic, but I’m sure there’s not a whole lot in it that resembles the mega-successful film adaptation that made it a household name.

Cover art by Max Fellwalker.