Sunday, July 5, 2015

Original Art from Startling Stories: The Thing!


I got a new page of artwork in the mail recently, and wanted to show it off.  This page features, of course, The Thing, with line art by Don Kramer and Scott Hanna.


There's a lot to like about this page, and one of the big things that drew me to it was the fact that the Thing isn't punching stuff or having a building dropped on his head or anything like that.  Don't get me wrong, I love seeing the Thing punch stuff, but it's nice to see something different every now and then, right?  This is what I like to think that the Thing does when he's not out on some adventure.  He's riding in a car or looking for his keys or something, just like you or me.


(Sure, the last panel has his getting ready to square off against the Wrecker, but you'll have that.)


This particular story was written by Ron Zimmerman, who had a run on a few Marvel titles about ten years back and is supposedly friends with EIC Joe Quesada.  Rumor has it that he took comic book criticisms too personally and backed out from many of his writing duties.  He also has ties to Howard Stern and his show, and we can see on this page that the program gets a mention in the background.


The book that this page comes from is a "Startling Stories" one shot, at least unofficially subtitled "Last Line of Defense".  Back in the earlier part of the century, Marvel gave the Thing a number of miniseries that eventually led to his brief second ongoing series in 2006.  This issue was part of the Startling Stories line, which featured stories that weren't necessarily in continuity (and were at least solicited as being for a more mature audience).  There's nothing about this issue that should keep it from being a part of the Thing's history, though, and honestly, it comes off as kind of an average Thing story, but I enjoyed it if nothing else than for the Thing/Hulk standoff that ended the oversized issue.


Pencilled lightly at the top of the page is "Startling Stories".


On the back, we find inker Scott Hanna's autograph.  This is actually the second page I own with Scott's original inks, the other being a page where he inks over the blue line printout of another artist's pencils. This page contains Kramer's original pencils as well.



I'm happy to add this to the collection!  I found a few other pages from this issue online as well.  Who knows, maybe one day I'll add one or two more.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sites you should be viewing: "Hey Oscar Wilde! It's Clobberin' Time!!!"


How this slipped from my attention for so long will forever remain a mystery - a website that combines some of my favorite literary authors and creations, comic book artists, and the Thing belongs on everyone's website viewing list from now until the end of time.  It's "Hey Oscar Wilde, It's Clobberin' Time!", and it's better than you could imagine.  For instance, the above and two below pictures are just a few of the rotating frontispiece images, each featuring Oscar Wilde and the ever lovin', blue-eyed Thing.  Why the author of this site chose these two figures, I'll never know.



Interestingly enough, the Thing doesn't appear in the body of the site, which collects images from artists (mostly comic book artists) of their favorite author or literary character.  It's easy to lose time searching the extremely impressive sketchbook-like catalogue that's on display here.  If you've got a favorite classical (and in some cases, modern) work of literature, chances are it's represented in some way on this site.  For instance we have a nice representation of some of my favorites, including...



...Sherlock Holmes...



...Ernest Hemingway...


...and Don Quixote!

What a collection.  Unfortunately, it seems to me that the site hasn't been updated since 2010.  Still, there are hundreds of images to search through, and I have to hope that more will arrive at some point.  For now, though, head over to http://heyoscarwilde.com and look through all the site has to offer!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Comic-Con exclusive Tick! IDW signing! Happenings!

So guess what I've spent the last month doing?  Trying to prepare for the San Diego Comic-Con that's coming up in just over a week.  How am I doing?  Okay, I guess...but boy, I've got lots more to catch up on.  We'll see how it goes.  In the meantime, let me announce two very cool items of news!


ITEM 1: There'll be a brand new issue of The Tick out at Comic-Con from Duane Redhead and me.  This issue is exclusive to Comic-Con and features two covers and a pinup section with art by Gabe Crate, Kerri Parker, Bob Polio and (get this) Ben Edlund!  I'm really looking forward to seeing this issue in print.  It'll be available at the New England Comics booth.


I'm also suuuuuper excited that this issue will come with the first ever Tick blank sketch cover!  This is what it'll look like.  The Comic-Con logo on these images has "2014" stamped on it, but that's just a placeholder - the actual books will have the correct date on 'em.


ITEM 2: I managed to talk my way into a signing for Imaginary Drugs at the IDW booth on Sunday from 3:00-4:00!  This is a big deal as IDW has one of the most prominent booths at the show.  Joining me at the signing will be Eric Esquivel, Ally Cat and Alexis Ziritt!

As always, if you are going to the show, stop by and say hello!  If not, rest assured that I will post an overabundance of pictures after everything is said and done.

Back to work for me.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

FUBAR press release: FUBAR Press becomes an official imprint of Alterna Comics

Some exciting FUBAR news came down the pipe recently.  Below, in its entirety, is the official press release from Alterna Comics:


FUBAR PRESS now an official imprint of ALTERNA

We are excited to announce the Jeff McComsey's "FUBAR PRESS" has joined forces with Alterna Comics as an official imprint.  FUBAR PRESS will follow in the creator-owned mentality that Alterna is known for an will be headed by President and Publisher Jeff McComsey, Art Director Steve Becker, and Story Editor Jeff McClelland. The imprint will operate under the Alterna Comics banner as it always has but will have their own submissions, story ideas, and creative teams centering around a mash-up of historical-horror fiction.


Branching out with the MOTHER RUSSIA mini-series by Jeff McComsey (debuting issue #1 in stores today), the brand is set to build on the unique story-telling and phenomenal artwork that readers have been enjoying since 2010.  McComsey speaks about his experience with Alterna and the future of FUBAR, "I've worked with Alterna Comics on just about everything I have published since I started making comics in 2007.  From my first series, AMERICAN TERROR to when Steve Becker and I published volume one of FUBAR five years ago, Peter Simeti has been a publisher I can count on.  I'm very proud to finally make FUBAR PRESS an official imprint of Alterna.  While we'll continue to publish FUBAR PRESS books on all platforms available, we will be focusing a large portion of our time and resources on engaging retailers and showing them why we deserve a spot on the shelf in 2015."

For more information on ALTERNA and FUBAR PRESS titles, please visit http://www.alternacomics.com


That's all pretty great!  I'm happy to be involved with the project and I hope it continues for years to come.  I'm currently working on a few upcoming projects, such as a backup story for Mother Russia #3 with Jeff McComsey and Christine Larsen.  I'm reading Don Quixote, the classic novel by Miguel de Cervantes for the first time, so the time seemed right (400 years later) for a FUBAR Quixote story.  Christine really did a fantastic job with it, as we should all be used to by now.


I also just finished lettering a full-length FUBAR tale featuring these two figures pictured above.  This comes out in the music issue, on shelves pretty soon!  Lots of great things going to press in 2015.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Unboxing the Marvel Collector Corps Avengers blind box! Plus a quick Avengers: Age of Ultron review!


A few months ago, Marvel announced that they'd be launching a new "blind box" subscription service.  These have become fairly popular over the last year (maybe the most well known is Lootcrate) as collectors and fans apparently like to have random things shipped to them several times a year.  I can relate to this; getting a package in the mail is always exciting and is one of the factors that defines my eBay obsession.  Having Marvel jump on this bandwagon is no surprise as its existing fanbase seems the perfect type of consumer to sign up.


Marvel calls the subscription service the "Marvel Collector Corps", which almost certainly tries to evoke memories of the Merry Marvel Marching Society of years past.  Each kit costs $25 plus about eight dollars in shipping.  Marvel claims that every box is packed with items that would retail for at least $50, and they ship six times a year.  I decided to give it a try, thinking that I could keep what I wanted and sell the rest.  The gamble here is that if I only wanted one or two things from a box, I could conceivably make most if not all of my money back by piecing out the rest; the danger is that I will want to keep everything in every box and lose money and space every other month.


The theme for the first month was the Avengers, which of course made sense because of the Age of Ultron movie that came out at about the same time.  My box came in the mail at the end of April, and it was really a sight to behold, with Captain America's head on the top and "Avengers" printed in bold letters on the side.  The packaging design was a nice bonus on top of the items inside.  Whoever at Marvel and Funko (Marvel's partner in the service) put the box together did a good jab at making even the packaging a collectable item.  The inside of the top lid had comic book panels from various books (featuring Avengers members) printed on it.

The first surprise upon opening the box, and something else that harkened back to the MMMS, was a patch and pin welcoming you to the Collector Corps.  These two items just oozed nostalgia, and they're the little things that collectors will probably be searching for in years to come.


The second lid folded back and revealed the main compartment with four different items.  It was an impressive sight.


The biggest and probably the most desirable item was probably the Hulkbuster Iron Man Funko Pop figure.  This (and each item) was an exclusive to the service and it was without a doubt the centerpiece.  It's a hefty piece, bigger than the average Funko figures from the same line.  It's an impressive figure.

Marvel also launched its "Dorbz" line with this kit.  It's funny that included in this blind box is another blind box, but I guess that's a successful marketing ploy at the moment.  Inside the box is a vinyl figure featuring yet another Age of Ultron character.


Next up was an Avengers shirt.  Apparently every box will include a shirt, and at least this time around, there were a total of four Avengers shirts, randomly inserted, each featuring a different avenger taking on Ultron on what looks like a boxing match promotional poster.  I got Thor.


Lastly was a variant to the first issue of the new Guardians Team-Up series, of course featuring the Avengers.  I'm glad that Marvel didn't forget to include actual comics in this subscription service.

All in all, I thought that the first box was a triumph for the company.  It included so many cool items - presented in a fun, collectible way - that it was hard not to get excited about it.  These boxes are big - bigger than shoe boxes by half, I'd say - and they'll start taking up a lot of room in people's garages before too long.  I signed up for an entire year of the boxes, so I'll be interested to see what June brings and what theme Marvel decides on.

Of course, my big hope is that one day soon there'll be a Fantastic Four-themed box.  Marvel is downplaying the team right now as it tries to reacquire the movie rights, so I don't expect it to happen soon, but eventually...I have to believe that there'll be some FF items arriving at my mailbox.  Now that is a box I'll keep in its entirety.  I might buy two.


Free Comic Book Day and all of the things surrounding that weekend kept me from seeing the Age of Ultron movie when it came out, but I finally got a chance to see it a few days ago.  It was a solid movie worthy of the franchise that has such lofty expectations placed on it.  It wasn't a perfect movie, and I don't think it was as good as the first one - it seemed uneven in places, and I think there was an over-reliance on really long action scenes as opposed to the quieter character moments that made the first movie so wonderful - but it's worth going to see.  It definitely tries to set up the movies that will come after, and seeing how this sequel is bringing in an ungodly amount of money, it's hard to envision a summer without a Marvel tentpole film for many years to come.  Here's hoping the quality remains high and the movies remain enjoyable.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Free Comic Book Day 2015 Tick! Plus signings at New England Comics!

Free Comic Book Day is once again upon us, and just as in 2013 and '14, there's a new issue of The Tick to be had!  It looks kind of like this:

 
Be sure to head out to your favorite comic shop this Saturday and pick up a copy for free!  And there are probably some other free books being released at that time.  I guess.

Also as in years past, I will be in Boston this weekend signing copies of the book at a few different New England Comics locations!  Here's the schedule for Saturday:


So it looks like I'll be at NEC Norwood from 11:00-2:00, and NEC Harvard Square (my favorite location) from 4:00-7:00!

I will most likely have a signing on Sunday late morning/early afternoon at one of the other stores, though I'm not sure about those details just yet.  Keep checking www.newenglandcomics.com for more details.

Happy Free Comic Book Day!  Go get some comics!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Thing sketchbook, part 17

So many great Thing sketches in this round of the Thing sketchbook show...thing.  This might be the best grouping of five consecutive sketches yet...though I suppose I've said that before.  There are some great ones, though, to be sure.  Check 'em out!


Zander Cannon - Comic-Con International 2014

After pulling in a half dozen sketches at Comic-Con in both 2012 and '13, for some reason I returned from San Diego in 2014 having added only one Thing sketch to the book.  But what a sketch it is!  This beauty, done entirely in colored pencils, is by Zander Cannon, perhaps best known for his work on the graphic novel Heck! and his work on the America's Best Comics line with Alan Moore.  I know him best, though, for his short lived Chainsaw Vigilante series, a spinoff of the Tick line.  The rounded figure and the stubby arms and legs really make this piece for me - along with, of course, the beautiful bright orange and blue.


Dani Grew - Toonseum 2014

I worked with Dani Grew during my time volunteering at the Toonseum in Pittsburgh.  Dani is an artist in residence at the museum, and she does a lot of work in coordinating the various exhibits as well.  I was hesitant to ask her to draw something in the sketchbook as I wasn't sure if she's want to do it or not...but as always, my desire for Thing sketches overrides any semblance of manners or couth.  And this time, my lack of social grace paid off in the form of this great sketch.  I love the subway figures to each side and how expressive everyone is.


Katie Cook - Pittsburgh Comicon 2014

One of my big regrets of going to Detroit's Motor City Con was forgetting to take the sketchbook with me.  I partially made up for it by buying a blank cover and having Katie Cook draw on it, but it's just not the same as getting something in the ol' sketchbook.  When I saw that Cook was coming to the Pittsburgh Comicon in 2014, almost four years after the Detroit show, I knew that I had to add a sketch and I was lucky enough to grab this great, tiny watercolor before I ran out of pages.

Let's check out that sketch cover!


Okay, obviously the scrapbook joke is a theme of Cook's, but I'll go with it.  Now that I think about it, I have a few of these blank covers with sketches on them.  Maybe one day the world will be ready for a sketch cover post.  Who can say?


Christopher Peterson - New York Comic Con 2014

I made it back to the New York Comic Con in 2014 and was able to spend one day at the show.  NYCC is always packed to the gills with people and it's hard to see everything in one day, so I try to make a point to add one sketch into the book when I go there - there's usually not time to get more than that unless that's what I want to do all day.  Anyway, this year I was able to get a sketch from Christopher Peterson, a fellow FUBAR alum who has gone on to work on some fairly high profile books.  Here we see another appearance of the Thing with a trench coat, which I am always grateful for.  This is a very moody piece!  I think Christopher was happy with it and I certainly am as well.


Don Simpson - Pittsburgh Indy Comix Expo 2015

It's pretty difficult not to just stare at this piece when I look through the book.  It's a full-figure drawing, it's in wonderfully rendered color, it's by Megaton Man creator Don Simpson...and it's the Thing!  It's hard to find fault in any of those reasons.  It's difficult to rank the drawings in the book, but if I absolutely had to, this would certainly occupy one of the top spaces.  Not only did I get to strike up a conversation with Don, but I at least hold out a little bit of hope that one day we may work together on something fun.  For certain, he drew one of the signature pieces for the book, and I couldn't be happier with it.  It's, in a word, incredible.

It'll be hard to top these five as a group.  We'll see what I can do with the next batch, some of which have yet to be drawn!