First look at Spitball anthology

The Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) is offering an advanced comics workshop course for a small group of talented students, and at the end of their class they will be producing a full-color comics anthology titled Spitball.


The instructors sought out professional comics writers to supply 5-page stories for the students. I was fortunate to be asked to participate in this cool new project, alongside such comics luminaries as Chris Sebela (DEAD LETTERS, ALIEN VS PREDATOR, CAPTAIN MARVEL), Kate Leth (EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and ADVENTURE TIME), Karl Bollers (WATSON AND HOLMES), Lora Innes (THE DREAMER), Matt Fraction (SEX CRIMINALS, HAWKEYE, IRON MAN, X-MEN), Jen Van Meter (HOPELESS SAVAGES, BLACK CAT), Ivan Brandon (WOLVERINE, VIKING, MEN OF WAR), and Noelle Stevenson (LUMBERJANES, THOR).

The artist illustrating my story is Lee Meyers, and you can check out her tumblr here. But I’d like to share a few pieces of her art right here:

Character designs

Character designs

Drone designs

Drone designs

Setting designs and color studies

Set designs and color studies

Thumbnails/roughs for page 1

Thumbnails/roughs for page 1

I’ll post more info on the book as the semester progresses and Lee finalizes the pages. In the meantime, you can follow Spitball on tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.

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    Indie Cover Spotlight: Hero Alliance Quarterly #2

    Today’s cover is an early one from Brian Stelfreeze:


    This issue was published in December 1991 by Innovation.

    There’s an interesting story that goes along with the cover: I always thought there was something familiar about the texture of the background, especially the “ridges” on her collar. Years after this book came out, I was at a comic con and speaking to one of the artists who had worked on the book (I can’t remember who, unfortunately) and he said that he remembered this cover because Brian drew it on the inside of a pizza box after a show, just passing the time. Apparently that was good enough for Innovation, who used it as a cover.

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      Splash Wednesday: Reis, Perez, and Paquette

      We’ll start with a relatively new page, from Aquaman #10, by Ivan Reis:


      Next, dig this double-splash page from George Perez, from 1979’s Fantastic Four Annual #14 (via Diversions of the Groovy Kind):

      Fantastic Four Annual 14-0708

      And here’s a page from December 2010 on my previous blog:

      I didn’t look far for this week’s splash page…


      This is from Batman, Inc. #2, published by DC Comics this December. Art by Yanick Paquette, inks by Michel Lacombe, and colors by Nathan Fairbairn.

      I’m not sure if I’m sold on this book quite yet (man, Morrison is really hit or miss for me) but Paquette’s art is pretty to look at.

      PS. I wasn’t sold on the book, I dropped it after the 3rd issue.

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        Splash Wednesday: Maroto, Sutton, and John Romita, Jr.

        Welcome back, splash-o-philes! Let’s get things started with a rather morbid page from one of my faves, Esteban Maroto. This is from Dracula: Vlad the Impaler #2.


        Continuing with the vampire theme, here’s Tom Sutton, from Vampire Tales #7 (Marvel Comics, August 1974


        And from December 2010 on my old blog, here’s a classic page:

        Sorry, I know it’s a day late. I didn’t have a lot of time to look for a page, so I just grabbed this one:

        I like the multiple exposures of Cyclops’ head, indicate a sense of sweeping motion in an otherwise static image. It’s one of those uniquely comic book techniques that we don’t see as often anymore, what with artists trying to imitate still from a movie and eschewing anything “comic book-y”.

        As you can see from the credits page, this is by John Romita, Jr. and Dan Green. From The Uncanny X-Men #199, published by Marvel Comics, November 1985.

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          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.

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            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.”

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