Sunday, September 16, 2018

Fantastic Four Unlimited original artwork by Herb Trimpe

I managed to find some original art from the 1990s quarterly series "Fantastic Four Unlimited" recently. Let's take a look!

Fantastic Four Unlimited was part of a line of oversized quarterly books that Marvel published in the mid '90s. Each issue was 64-pages long and cost $3.95 (quaint!). There was a whole line of these titles...Spider-Man Unlimited, X-Men Unlimited, and even weird titles you might not expect like Star Trek Unlimited and 2099 Unlimited. I suspect that they shipped during months that had five Wednesdays, but I'm not sure. Spider-Man and X-Men long outlasted the rest of the titles (X-Men Unlimited ran for 50 issues!), but for a while, we were all treated to bizarre, mostly self-contained, long-format stories that sometimes even had an effect on main titles.

Fantastic Four Unlimited #3 took the FF back to the Negative Zone. For a place that encompasses an entire negatively-charged universe, Annihilus and Blastaar (the Living Bomb-Bust) sure do show up with some regularity. This issue was no different, but it also featured another of my favorite rarely-used villain.

Herb Trimpe ("Trimpe" was autocorrected as "Trump" when I first typed it, so thanks for that, Internets) provided most of the art throughout the series, including this issue. Trimpe is best known for his work on the "Incredible Hulk" title, as well as being the co-creator of Wolverine, but growing up, I knew him for this book.

Trimpe's style on this book is a bit of a departure from his earlier work. A few years ago, I heard that Trimpe wanted to update his art style to something a little more relevant to the hyper-cool 1990s, so he tried his best Liefeld impression for this title. I think it shows, especially in the characters' faces. I probably would have preferred he use his classic style, but I don't blame him for changing it up as this was, of course, 1993/94.

I really enjoy this page for a number of reasons. First, it includes the entire team, even if we only see Sue Storm in a rather awkward pose from behind (in which it looks like her hair might be on fire). Annihilus (what a fantastic comic book name!) and Blastaar (not my favorite comic book name!) are also in on the action!

Second, it includes all of the original word balloons and sound effects, inked directly on the page, something that's probably lost forever to the digital age.

And lastly, the Reed Richards you see in the first two panels of the page is actually...not Reed Richards! Instead, it's the alternate universe Reed imposter, The Brute! I always thought that the Brute had a really cool design (in his purple bad guy form). I don't know if the character has been used more than once or twice since this issue was published about 25 years ago.

This new page goes well with this other item I recently came across - a retailer preview of FF Unlimited's first issue!

Retailer previews today usually consist of a PDF attached to an email (or a link to the same), but back in the '90s, an intern (probably) would spend time and effort photocopying and stapling artwork to mail out to shops across the country.

The paper here is actually magazine sized, for whatever reason, printed on both the front and back of most pages. This preview reproduces the first 34 story pages and then just...ends, as the FF travel to Wakanda to visit the Black Panther and take on, of course, Klaw.

'90s comics could be pretty wild. Look how edgy this one managed to be! Be sure to count every one of Klaw's teeth.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Pictures from the 2018 Comic-Con International, part 1 (Tuesday, 7/16)

Well, well. It's that time again, isn't it? That time, somewhere between one and seven months after Comic-Con, where I take some time to show off some of the many pictures taken at the year's premier comic convention? I suppose it is. Let's see what 2018 had to offer.

This year, I flew into Los Angeles on the Monday before the show began. I had just finished reading "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand, about the life and trials of Louie Zamperini. The book is an absolute masterpiece, and since I was going to be pretty close to Zamperini's hometown of Torrance, I thought I'd make a few stops to see some of the local memorials for the WWII hero. There was a small display at Zamperini Field, which is...right next to a Jaguar dealership, I guess.

Zamperini was an Olympian who ran in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, where he stole a Nazi flag (and was almost killed for it). It, and other incredible pieces of memorabilia, were on display in a small case at the airfield.

Here's a comic portraying the time that he was lost at sea.

I made a few other stops, including at his old high school, which also, uh, doubles as "Sunnydale High" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

After the sightseeing was through, I made my way south to San Diego, where Comic-Con seemed in full swing, even though it didn't start for another day. This guy had better check his trunk.

I walked to the convention center to pick up my badge for the week, and as I passed the Hall H tents, I saw...this group of people waiting in line to get into the convention hall. This was on Tuesday, more than 24 hours before the convention would open. People were already in line. Outrageous.

As always, Tuesday is the day when workers are frantically trying to finish the big show displays. Here's a "Fear the Walking Dead" vehicle, part of a larger display.

I love the way this place looks.

The Marvel cinematic universe once again had sole sponsorship of the lamppost banners across town.

I didn't get any tickets for the Conan O'Brien shows this year (that's okay). They did have a store in the Gaslamp District, but I'm not sure if it was open to anyone. Lots of Funko Pops behind this garage door.

People are always very excited to get here.

Jack Ryan replaced The Tick as Amazon's big interactive display this year. They brought a helicopter in, which I guess is kind of on the extreme side. This multiple-story zone was packed for the entire event.

Do you think they get a new banner every year? Or just roll it up and use it until it falls apart?

I'm always fascinated to see everything come together. The small press area looks pretty bare on Tuesday.

Every other area is filled with crates and forklifts. Here's what would become the DC booth.

Hello, Hasbro.

I was excited to see the Disenchantment booth this year. Netflix doesn't advertise very often, but I guess they figured they should in 2018, as Simpsons and Futurama fans were probably expecting too see something for the new series.

C'mon, Mega Bloks. That's the whole POINT of your toys.

I got to hang up my banner! And take a picture in front of it!

I was able to set up the whole booth on Tuesday, which was a first for me. Then it was time to get ready for Wednesday.

Obligatory photo.

This is a shot of the Interactive Zone, next to Petco Park. There was a lot more happening here than in previous years, but it didn't open until Thursday, so they were a bit more behind on this than other areas. Perhaps I'll take more pictures of this as it grows. But perhaps not! Check back to find out! Please.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Thing sketch cards, part 7

Why hello, everyone. It's post-Comic-Con 2018, and I owe you all, if nothing else, some great Comic-Con pictures. Those are just around the corner (promise). For now, let's continue our occasional series of Thing sketch cards from my collection! This one has a bunch. Let's take a look!

William Allan Reyes - Here's an official sketch card from the 2011 Marvel Universe trading card series. For good measure, the Human Torch shows up in the background as well!

The back of the card features an image by Scott Kolins originally used for a Marvel Team-Up cover.

Lee Sargent - Lee Sargent draws the Star Trek 365 series of illustrations, one of my favorite things on the internet(s) currently. Before that massive undertaking, Lee drew a number of Marvel characters on sketch cards, and I managed to grab a set of Fantastic Four characters before someone else did. That means that I have not only the Thing to show off this time, but also everyone else!

Mr. Fantastic!

The Invisible Woman!

The Human Torch!

(this one came with an additional sketch on the back)

And even the Silver Surfer! The cards, even though they have similar backgrounds, don't match up like a puzzle, just FYI. But they're obviously similar thematically and I'm happy to have gotten them all at the same time.

The Silver Surfer card also had a preliminary sketch on the back.

Tom Hodges - I've now got a few Thing cards from this 2006 "The Complete Avengers" series. Even though he's known for his time with the FF, the Thing has also been an Avenger from time to time. Is he the greatest Avenger? Yes.

Here's the back of the card, with the bleed-though image.

Brian DeGuire - It's the Thing! It's a sketch card! It's a landscape profile! I like it.

Glad he signed it.

Nick Hernandez - Lastly (for now), we've got this color piece from Nick Hernandez on his own personal card.

I'll be back with more later. Goodbye.

Monday, July 16, 2018

See you at Comic-Con!

Comic-Con 2018 is upon us, and once again I'll be making the trip to San Diego for the annual pop culture extravaganza. Will I take pictures? Yes, yes I will, and I'll slowly share them with you for what will seem like an eternity.

If you're coming to the show, you can find me at two locations throughout the week. I'll be in the small press section, booth M-06, sharing a booth once again with the wonderful Jennie Wood. We'll have new copies of Flutter, vol. 3 for sale! I'll also have the brand new All-Star FUBAR, Honcho, The Tick, and some pins as well. I'll also be spending some time with Ian Nichols at the New England Comics booth, #1807, on Thursday through Sunday. Check out all of the Tick exclusives on sale, including a brand new comic, made just for the show (they put my name right under Edlund's, everyone).

You'll also find me running around like a maniac, trying to do everything possible, buying more than I should, and eating at the Taco Truck. The Taco Truck! I can't wait to get a burrito from there.

Have a good show, everyone!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

I have a new convention banner!

I wanted to title this post "Look at banner, Michael!", but I guess I used that to show off my last convention banner, which I years ago. Sheesh. Anyhow, here's my new convention banner:

The art comes from the very wonderful Emma Glaze. I thought it would be kind of funny to see me sitting at a convention, staring off into space, while in front of a banner with the same image on it. I took a few pictures behind a folding table in, well, in the basement:

I hadn't used my last banner, adorned with Teddy and the Yeti images, in a few years. This is because I am lazy, but also because that particular banner started to get a little moldy. I'm surprised something like that could even get moldy, but apparently it is possible.

A lot of my comic friends (most of whom are much more successful than I) have banners with very simple imagery, and I wanted to do something kind of similar, and something that had my name in big text on top. I have no idea if anyone will see it and say "hey, I've read things by this guy and I don't hate them", but I'll give it a try. And look, my name is on this thing TWICE! That's got to attract attention.

I asked Emma to send me a blank version of the image as well, in case I wanted to go with a different font for the text at top. I ultimately went with what she suggested, but now I have a blank version on which I (and, now, everyone else) can write nonsensical things. Let's look at a few!

"The Old Standard"

"The Cry for Help"

"The Abyss Stares Back"


I'll hang this beauty up for the first time at Comic-Con in San Diego later this week. See you there!