Splash Wednesday: Zaffino, Gonzalez, and Reeder

Our first page was scanned by the reliable Mr. Matt Kish. It’s from Terror, Inc. #5, featuring the lush brushwork of Jorge Zaffino:


Next up, courtesy of Mr. Brent Bowman, who pointed me to the Internet Archive of old Vampirella magazines, here’s some great linework from Jose Gonzalez. This is from Vampirella Magazine #112 (1983):


And last but not least, from back in December 2010, here’s what I posted on my old blog where this feature got its start:

Given the dearth of female comic book artists, I thought it would be good to look at one of the few women who is doing fairly high profile work at a big publisher. So here’s a splash from Amy Reeder:


This if from Madame Xanadu #29, published this month by Vertigo (DC). Richard Friend provided the inks, and Guy Major did the colors. This splash has some nice depth to it, with items in the foreground, middle-ground, and background. I also like the detail on the hardwood floors.

Next up for Ms. Reeder is taking over as artist from J.H. Williams on the new Batwoman monthly, which he is writing.

Review: Jupiter Ascending

Napoleon Dynamite: This is pretty much the worst video ever made.
Kip: Napoleon, like anyone can even know that.

With that quote to set the tone, let me say that Jupiter Ascending is pretty much the worst movie ever made.


OK, OK, clearly it’s not the worst. There are a ton of other terrible movies out there, many way worse than this one. But here’s the thing: when you have experienced film makers with near complete creative control over the movie (The Wachowskis wrote, directed, and produced this thing), big name actors, and a massive $175 MILLION budget, I’m less forgiving when confronted with such a hot mess. It would be one thing if this was a low-budget Asylum “mockbuster,” or made by some flash-in-the-pan YouTube celebrity of the month, but come on!

But since I’m too lazy to write out a proper critique (and honestly, this movie just doesn’t rate such expenditure of energy), I’d like to present my review in the same disorganized spirit as this messy, incoherent, choppy movie.

The short version is that Jupiter Ascending falls way short of the mark at every. single. discipline. of film making: plot, script, dialogue, acting, direction, character design, special effects, makeup, pacing/editing, fight choreography, etc. ad infinitum.

Classic science fiction franchises like Star Wars, Alien, Star Trek, and yes, even the Matrix trilogy, have imbedded themselves in the fabric of popular culture for many reasons, but certainly one of the strongest factors is a clear and coherent design aesthetic to their worlds. You can look at space ship or costume or a monster and instantly place it within its respective universe. It’s what separates them from other franchises which may be entertaining and well liked, but are relegated to the “mid-list” echelon, like Stargate or the Riddick films. Even the 2013 Tom Cruise film Oblivion, financially successful, yet ultimately forgettable, displayed a very cohesive design palette in its approach to technology, architecture, and vehicles.

At least Oblivion tried.

At least Oblivion tried.

By Contrast, Jupiter Ascending’s visual look is an overblown, hodge-podge, derivative mess. Sure, the multimillion dollar budget is on full display, but with all the class of a recent lottery winner upgrading from their trailer home to the gaudiest Beverly Hills mansion imaginable. Every video game spaceship design you’ve ever seen, every generic science fiction book cover depicting a futuristic metropolis ever painted, is chopped, dissected, and pasted into this movie. The Verge puts is perfectly: “none of it may be particularly original, but it’s a wonderful screensaver of a movie.”

Similarly, the action sequences are overblown, too-long, and in perhaps the worst sin of all, are too blurry and choppy to actually see what’s happening. Remember the gorgeous slow-mo fight scenes in The Matrix? Yeah, these are the exact opposite of those. There’s a 10 minute flying chase scene between the skyscrapers of Chicago where you pretty much can’t tell what the hell is happening, other than some things are flying fast and some other things are shooting lasers. Pew. Pew.

Channing Tatum:

Channing Tatum: Space Elf Emo Goth Soldier

There’s no rhyme or reason to any of the artistic decisions made in the making of this film. The space cops have random pits of plastic-y looking “tech” literally glued to their faces. Because futuristic, I guess? It’s not enough that Channing Tatum is a bad-ass space cop, but he also has his DNA spliced with that of “something like a wolf.” Because Wolverine, I guess? It’s not enough that Channing Tatum is a bad-ass space cop with wolf DNA, but he also has a brand on his neck. Because slavery is bad, I guess? It’s not enough that Channing Tatum is a bad-ass space cop with wolf DNA and a brand, but he also used to have wings, except they they were cut off his back. Because X-Men reference, I guess?

Channing Tatum: Space Elf Emo Goth Speed Skater

Channing Tatum: Space Elf Emo Goth Back-To-The-Future Hover Speed Skater

Eddie Redmayne’s nails-on-a-chalkboard, incomprehensible gravely whisper makes Bane’s mumbling in The Dark Knight Rises sound like The King’s Speech. Sean bean has a daughter, who leaves to get supplies and coughs suspiciously, as though sick, worrying her father. What was that all about? Who knows, because we never see her again! Mila Kunis is going to sell her eggs at a fertility clinic so her cousin can use the money to…I don’t even know what, buy an XBox, I think? It’s just one of dozens of unnecessary plot threads introduced and abandoned.

For the love of all that's holy, Eddie, just speak in a normal voice.

For the love of all that’s holy, Eddie, just speak in a normal voice.

The plot is needlessly convoluted. The basic premise of humans as essentially cattle in a vast intergalactic corporations holdings is pretty solid. But then the Wachowskis go and throw a half dozen other half-baked and non-relevant ideas into the mix, which not only don’t add anything to the movie, but make it overly long. Bees were genetically bred to recognize space queens. WTF? Why? Who cares, because it’s irrelevant to the story.

There are at least 15 scenes in this movie where Mila Kunis s falling off of something. No lie.

There are at least 15 scenes in this movie where Mila Kunis s falling off of something. No lie.

The dialogue is atrocious. There’s a particularly cringe-worthy scene where Mila Kunis professes her attraction to Space Elf Emo Goth Soldier through some metaphor about her compass needle always pointing towards the wrong guy, or some such crap, along the lines of that terrible poetry you tried to write in junior high. I’m telling you, that scene will make you squirm in your seat, embarrassed for everyone involved in making it, even the innocent gaffer or key grip.

Sean Bean is an apiarist (beekeeper). His name is Stinger Apini!!!

There’s an elephant-headed alien co-pilot. His name is Nesh. (Nesh! Get it?!)

I could go on and on, but what’s the point.

Deadspin summarizes it succinctly with “It’s just a sad, lonely trip to nowhere.”

Indie Cover Spotlight: The Mark #2

Continuing a look at African American artists in the comics field, here’s an early superhero comic published by Dark Horse in 1987:


Cover art by Larry Stroman, who would go on to draw the second volume of Alien Legion (for Epic), the latest Alien Legion mini-series (for Titan), as well as his own very short-lived creator owned series Tribe.

Splash Wednesday: Kirby, Platt, Schultz, and Grell

Sorry about missing an update last week. Let’s just get right to it!

It’s no secret that frequent contributor to this feature, Matt Kish, is a Kirby fan. So once again, we start with a scan provided by Mr. Kish, this one from Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #10, by Jack Kirby, inked by Michael Thibodeaux:


Now to the opposite of Kirby in every way possible, as the infamous Splatt, AKA Stephen Platt (inked by Marlo Alquiza) draws a Rob Liefeld character. This is from Prophet #7, in which Liefeld apparently attempts an homage by naming a character after The King himself:


Ugh, sorry about that, but I couldn’t resist the Kirby connection there. Onward!

Here’s a bonus page, to wash the taste of Splatt out of your mouth. This is by the amazing Mark Schultz. I’m cheating a bit here, as this isn’t a splash page, but rather the full wrap-around cover to his Xenozoic Tales collection. But come on, can you fault me for sneaking it in?


And finally, here’s the “classic” page (Dec. 2010) from when I used to run this feature on my old Ferret Press blog:

Since I was recently scanning some Grell pages for my Warlord review, I decided to save this beauty for Splash Wednesday:


Now that’s a double-splash page. I especially like the severed hand flying off the page. Penciled and inked by Mike Grell, colored by David Curiel. From Warlord #7 (vol. 3).

Persia Blues wins 2014 SPACE prize for Best Graphic Novel


I’m thrilled to announce that Persia Blues, my graphic novel with artist Brent Bowman, has won the 2014 SPACE Prize in the graphic novel category!

As in previous years, the winners were picked by two rotating judges and the registered SPACE 2014 exhibitors themselves. I’d like to extend my congratulations to the winners in the other categories, as well as all the nominees.


This book has been a true labor of love for me, and Brent and I have poured a lot of our time and energy into its creation. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, in creating Persia Blues, I wanted to showcase a little of Iran’s rich culture, from cuisine to architecture to literature, and also give readers a sense of its thousands of years of history and tradition. But more importantly, I wanted to tell a very human story, featuring a smart, capable, complex protagonist.

We will have an art display at this year’s S.P.A.C.E., showcasing original art from the upcoming vol. 2 of the book. The show takes place in Columbus, Ohio on April 11 & 12, 2015.

Now coming up on its 16th year, S.P.A.C.E. (Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo) is the Midwest’s longest running exhibition of small press, creator owned, and art comics. It’s also Columbus’ only locally owned and operated comics show. Sponsored by Back Porch Comics.

Indie Cover Spotlight: The Dark #3

Continuing with our theme this month of showcasing African American artists, here’s some indie work from a mainstay of 80s and 90s, artist Mark Bright, aka M.D. Bright:


Published in May, 1992 by Continum Comics. “Doc” Bright is probably best known for his collaborations with Christopher Priest on Power Man and Iron Fist and Quantum and Woody, as well as runs on Green Lantern, Iron Man, and many other Marvel and DC books.

Indie Cover Spotlight: The New Justice Machine #2

Continuing our look at black artists in honor of Black History Month, I have to feature one of our hometown heroes, fellow Columbusite Darryl Banks:


You will remember him from the 90s Kyle Rayner era of Green Lantern, plus other books at DC and Marvel. But Darryl started, like most artists of the era, in the indies with works at Innovation and Millenium, amongst others. Here’s the cover he drew to The New Justice Machine #2, published in Jan, 1990 by Innovation.

Footnote: The Justice Machine #2 (not this one, but rather the earlier volume published in the mid-80s by Comico), was the first indie comic I ever bought at a comic book store.

Splash Wednesday: Aparo, Spiegle, and Ridgway

My buddy Matt Kish provided the first scan, a page from The Black Hole #2, published in 1980 by Whitman, with art by (I believe) art by Dan Spiegle:


Next up, some non-Batman Jim Aparo art, from The Phantom #31, published in 1969 by Charlton:

Phantom 31-01

(The above scan is courtesy of the awesome Diversions of the Groovy Kind blog.)

And from the Ferret Press blog (Nov 17, 2010):

This week, we’re going with a horror theme:


Creepy, eh? This is from Hellblazer #1, published in 1988 by DC, written by Jamie Delano, with fellow Brit John Ridgway on art, and colors by Lovern Kindzierski (although the scan is from the $1 reprint that DC recently reissued as part of their “What’s Next?” line)