Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Planet Comics #2 is now on Kickstarter!


Last year, the first issue of Planet Comics met its goal on Kickstarter, and last month, I was able to print the issue and start sending it out. Here it is! It exists!

I've decided to press my luck and make a second issue, and now the campaign for this book is on Kickstarter! This one runs until the last week of March. Let's take a look at what we'll find for the second issue of the new Planet Comics!

Like the first issue, issue #2 comes with two cover, a regular cover by Adrián "Bago" Gonzalez...

...and a Kickstarter exclusive by Andrés Muños Setz! This one is a companion piece to the exclusive first issue cover by Matthew Dow Smith.

The Bulwark returns for a second chapter as the lead story of this issue.

Andrea Schiavone once again provides the art for this story! I'm excited to have a story that continues from one issue to the next! Most of my stories have been single-issue tales so far, so it's nice to write one that stretches out over a few issues.

I'm really excited to have the opportunity to publish an original Grumble story from Rafer Roberts and Mike Norton. Grumble just ended its run with Eric Powell's Albatross Funny Books and to have it continue here is a big deal.

Jeff McComsey's "The Old Man and The Sea of Love" continues in this issue as well!

Another new feature in this issue is "Badges O'Keefe, Canine Time Thief" with Dani Grew and your friend (and mine) Larry Franks! I love working with Dani on pretty much anything (Larry is okay), so I'm really excited about this story. There's also a reward where you can have your dog drawn into the book!


There are a bunch of rewards this time around, from other comics to shirts and pins to social media profile art.

I launched the project two days ago, and we're currently a little over 50% toward the goal. This gives me hope! If we reach the goal, I'll have stretch goals that I'll announce soon, but will most importantly include more content for the book.

I hope you can check out, support and/or share this project and help me make another issue of Planet Comics! Here's the link! Look at it! LOOK AT IT!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The "Inspiration4" Super Bowl commercial is just a Fantastic Four teaser trailer, right?

I watched a little bit of the Super Bowl last night - the Steelers didn't win it, so who cares - and I caught one of the many weird commercials during the game, this one for "Inspiration4", promoting an all-civilian space flight for four individuals.

The actual commercial is fairly simple: there are plenty of dramatic pans around a futuristic-looking spacesuit, a reflection of the planet Earth seen in the helmet, and a backdrop of a moody rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." But the circumstances surrounding the opportunity - four civilians, an experimental spacecraft, the number 4 in a circular logo - draws some obvious comparisons to...oh, what is that book called?

Oh, right. THAT ONE.

Space flights aren't for just anyone. They're for a brilliant scientist - his best friend - the woman he loves - and her fiery-tempered kid brother!

This HAS to be a promotion for the 2022-scheduled Fantastic Four movie, right? I know what everyone says - that it's a SpaceX flight and one seat is going to be raffled off to someone who donates to St. Jude's charity, but how could this be ANYTHING other than either a movie teaser or an opportunity to become a real-life FF by exposing yourself to seemingly deadly amounts of cosmic radiation? What about the SHIELDING, Reed?!

I guess we'll see how this Willy Wonka-style contest plays out. But a word of warning to whomever actually gets to travel in this spacecraft:

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Marvel Two-in-One 19 color guide, plus some cartoon artwork!

It's been a while since I picked up a new color guide, and this one is pretty special - here's a page of color work from 1976's Marvel Two-in-One #19

Color guides are photocopies of line work that a colorist would use to quickly decide on how the final product would look. These are very much production pieces and were used as a consultation piece for the printed page.

Marvel Two-in-One #19 was the title's attempt at a scary Halloween-type story, with the Thing traveling to a spooky hotel and running into a few things-that-go-bump-in-the-night. It also has this incredible Jack Kirby cover!

This is one of the middle pages in the issue, and Ben's cigar plays almost as big a role as he does as he attempts to check in.

Colors for this issue were from Petra Goldberg, over Sal Buscema pencils and Don Heck inks.

Lots of great Thing shots on this page. He's in every panel!

The story itself is a bit predictable - the main villain actually dies at the end of the story - but I've always liked Tigra because my first introduction to the Fantastic Four were issues where she and Thundra were hanging around the team for a bit. This is the first issue of Two-in-One I ever read, too, so it's a real treat to get a color guide from this very issue.

I also got some new FF animation artwork!

These new pieces all come from the 2006 Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes cartoon. Someone listed a bunch at once on eBay and I managed to grab a handful.

For whatever reason, Sue and Doom seem to be the toughest team members to get when it comes to animation art, and it worked out that way this time, too. I got some featuring Ben, Reed and Johnny. I hate how Johnny's hair is drawn in this show, though it looks okay in this one.

There's Reed, doing what he does...which is stretching.

Yep, still...uh...still stretching.

Okay, that's it!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

My Disenchantment pitch comic - "Baby Trail Fairy Tale" with Dani Grew

Following up on the previous Disenchantment post, I thought I'd offer up a look at a pitch comic that artist Dani Grew and I made for Comic-Con 2019. My intention was to use this as a pitch to Bongo Comics, which published Simpsons Comics, Futurama Comics, and was overseen (in a broad sense) by Matt Groening.

I knew some folks with the company and I felt pretty good about the quality of the story, but when I got to Comic-Con and made my way to the Bongo booth, I found out that the company in the process of closing up shop, at least for the time being. The lack of a Disenchantment comic is a big oversight in the licensed comic game, and I have to believe that several companies would leap to publish it if it were available. Maybe it'll happen one day!

This comic takes place during the first season, of course, but I think that I got the characters' voices right despite only having a few episodes to work from. I hope you enjoy this Disenchantment comic!

Executive producer Josh Weinstein posted this on Twitter a few days ago. The bottle of mermaid mead was apparently given to some of the folks who worked on the show. Maybe one will (quietly?) show up on eBay one day!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

My Disenchantment fan kit for season three

We're all watching the newest season of Disenchantment on Netflix, right? I love this series and I think that the newly-released season three is really compelling, funny and exciting. For all of the obvious reasons, this show feels like an extension of Futurama, which is one of my all-time favorite programs.

For reasons unknown to me, a marketing company contacted me a few weeks back about sending me a press kit-like "watch party" box in anticipation of the new season. I, of course, hastily accepted, and just a few days ago, a package arrived with a box of Disenchantment-branded items. I thought I'd show them off, with many thanks to ChizComm Media and the folks at the show!

Any collector knows that the box is a big part of any presentation. This one was simple but I really love the logo sticker on the lid. This is why I will be keeping the box forever.

The stuff inside the box was also pretty exciting. Here's how it looked, packed with black and gold confetti.

First up! Here's a fleece throw featuring the demon Luci.

Next, here's a Funko Pop! figure of King Zøg, voiced by John DiMaggio, Futurama's Bender. Zøg goes through some really harrowing stuff this season, and DiMaggio does an absolutely incredible job with his voice, as he wrings every last drop of emotion from this character. He's also the voice of the talking horse!

Next up is a Luci plush figure. These were on sale at Comic-Con in 2019, and it's the only Disenchantment merchandise I didn't buy at the time. Since then, they've jumped quite a bit in value and have been hard to find in general, so getting one here, for free, was a huge treat. 

Next is also an item I saw - and bought - at Comic-Con 2019. It's the Disenchantment "Untold Tales" book. This oversized book is part comic, part activity magazine, and was the last thing put together by the old Bongo Comics team before they unfortunately shut down the imprint. Now I've got a second copy! I'll give it to one of my nephews when they're a little older.

Also in the box was a Disenchantment 2021 calendar!

Lastly, there's a cup - and this might be the only item that isn't available elsewhere. But look! There's something inside the cup:

It's a bag of carmel corn, with a Disenchantment sticker on the front. I'm kind of grateful that there was a small tear in the bag, because it means that I'll have to actually eat it, rather than agonizing about whether I should try and save a bag of popcorn for the rest of my life. I, uh, will keep the bag, but at least one decision was taken out of my hands.

I also...made a video of me taking these things out of the box, and I put it on Twitter! You can watch it here, if you'd like, I guess:
I'm not entirely sure why the folks at the show decided to send me this box, but I'm extremely grateful for it. I would no doubt be watching this show in any case, but I guess it gets me to try and spread the word a little more than I otherwise would have. If you're not watching this show - and especially if you like Futurama - then you absolutely need to! Check it out on Netflix!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Is this the worst piece of Thing merchandise ever created?

Let me preface this post by saying that any Thing merchandise is good Thing merchandise, because, after all, it is the Thing that is being...merchandised. Let me also say that I have a number of truly horrible Thing bootleg action figures, many from our neighbors in Mexico, that I love unreservedly.

But there's one piece of officially licensed Fantastic Four merchandise that I've long held to be the worst, most horrendous of all, and this year for Christmas, my friend (and yours) Larry got it for me. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the Fantastic Four Thing lamp:

Now, with one look at this almost obscene item, you might be questioning whether this is actually an officially licensed product, rather than an Etsy project gone terribly wrong. I'm here to tell you that no, this travesty has the official Marvel stamp on it. It is real and it is terrible.

This product came about, as many Fantastic Four items do, in 2005, the year of the first Fox-produced FF movie. The movie itself was okay at best, and that describes many of the scores of products that came out in conjunction.

I've seen this lamp referred to as a "popcorn" lamp because of the plastic bead material that comprises the head sculpt. The head itself is quite pliable and rubbery.

Here's another closer shot with more detail. It reminds me a little bit of the bead art you could make yourself with the unbelievably dangerous use of a clothes iron. Do they still sell those?

In this shot, you can also see the cheap, lifeless stickers used for Mr. Grimm's eyes and mouth. At least they got his blue eyes right, but sheesh, those are both really bad.

The darker brown highlights seem almost haphazard in their placement, although they did manage to highlight the brows, an important component to the Thing.

I mentioned that this product is a decorative lamp that is balanced on a wire stand. It's been over 15 years since it came out - does it still work?

Yes! Somehow, this makes it look even worse.

It's hard to believe that this item got the thumbs up from Marvel on its way down the production line. Even though I'm spending this post discussing how truly awful this item is, I want to thank Larry for getting it for me. I remember seeing it in stores in 2005 and deciding, "well, I guess I don't have to get everything Thing-related that comes out," but I've honestly thought about it ever since and have wondered if I made a mistake by not buying this monstrosity. Now I don't have to wonder if I missed out.

There's one more of these lamps up for sale on eBay right now, and I took some screenshots so we could look at the packaging, which manages to make it look even more terrifying:

It looks like a head in a jar, complete with a pained expression and a wide-eyed stare.

In this shot, you can see the official sticker on the side, complete with imagery from the Ultimate Fantastic Four series.

There were other Marvel lamps in this line, all of which were also bad, but none as bad as the Thing. Here's the Spider-Man lamp: it's still terrible, but the shape of Spidey's head makes it at least a little bit more palatable.

Not to be outdone, Larry got me several other terrible Thing items. These are all products I've been following on eBay for probably at least ten years, but could never bring myself to buy because of their obvious lack of quality. This one is a golf club cover. Has anyone...ever used this?

This small plush toy really caught me off guard, because I've seen - and hated seeing - it on eBay for years and years. It used to be listed with the phrase "Thing bust," one of the phrases I'd use when searching for Thing statues. This is clearly not a statue, though I suppose "bust" does technically apply. Still, I absolutely hated seeing it come up in search results. It almost seemed like it was taunting me from the screen. Well, it appears that I truly am cursed, because now it lives in my house and has infiltrated my collection quite expertly. If I had to guess, this might be a toy you would have found in a claw machine game.

When you've got a big collection of anything, sometimes you've got to scrape the bottom of the barrel to get an item that you didn't previously have. I think it's safe to say that at the very bottom, you'll find the Thing lamp.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Ultimate Fantastic Four original art by Tyler Kirkham

The Ultimate Fantastic Four series was fairly unremarkable during its 60-issue run, failing to distinguish itself in any real way from the "proper" Marvel Universe version of the FF. Showing up on the publishing schedule years after other Ultimate line of books made their impact, the series is probably best remembered for introducing the Marvel Zombies concept in issue 21.

After the series had ended and most of the Ultimate books were coming to a close, the Ultimate FF characters, in a string of miniseries, started to deviate a bit more from their regular universe counterparts: Reed for some reason became a villain, "The Maker"; the Thing shed his rocky exterior to become a purple energy being (though they soon gave him back his classic look); Sue and Ben got engaged.

In all, the Ultimate Fantastic Four weren't very memorable as characters or as a series, but still, 60 issues is a pretty good run for a title, and it stands as the third-longest running FF series after the core title and Marvel Two-in-One. The title had a very brief relaunch as "Ultimate FF" a few years later, but that series was cancelled after only six issues.

I recently came across a page of original art from the first series, and I managed to get it for a pretty good price. Here it is, with art by Tyler Kirkham:

This particular page comes from issue 54 of the series, part of the "Salem's Seven" storyline that ran for four issues. Kirkham was the series artist for 10 issues, from #50 until the series was cancelled with issue 60 (skipping #56, which was pencilled by Eric Basaldua).

Top Cow, an imprint of Image, provided the art for these final issues, with Kirkham's pencilled art skipping the inking stage and going straight to colors. Kirkham's pencils are very tight, I suppose, but the art always came off feeling a bit unfinished to me.

So why did I grab this page? The answer is simple, as it has a rather nice, prominent shot of the Thing:

Kirkham really drew the Thing with a tiny head, without any noticeable joints, and here he's almost as wide as he is tall, but I love stocky Thing in his weird jumpsuit carrying a prop that is apparently from the 2001: A Space Odyssey movie.

Set 'er down anywhere, Thing.

Also in this issue, they literally devote several panels to showing Ultimate Johnny Storm trying to boil an egg. It's true! He's got fire powers, if the previous 50 years hadn't driven that idea home.

This page comes signed by penciller Tyler Kirkham at the very bottom.

And here's a shot of the very top of the page, in which we can see the title and artist, but not the issue number.

This is the first page of original art from the Ultimate Fantastic Four title I own, and I'm glad to have it, even if it is from a rather forgettable series.