Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Eye of the Beholder" webcomic with Ruben Cordero, page 6

Here's page six of "Eye of the Beholder", where truth begins to come to light.  The end is in sight!

Earlier I talked a little bit about some of the other entires in Strip Search, the collection for the stories featured in Dark Horse's online contest - now let's talk about the overall winner:

Stop Light by Jeff Kilpatrick

I think it's easy to see that this artwork is top-notch.  The layout of the entire story was also quite dynamic and interesting.  In addition, the winner of this contest was chosen quite democratically, so Jeff certainly won things fair and square (that's quite the cliche, isn't it?).

When I found out that "Stop Light" had won it all, though, I was surprised for a few reasons.  First of all, I was almost sure that a color strip would win over one that was black and white, regardless of the overall quality.  Secondly, while a number of other stories in the book were pretty condensed, this six-page story is one short sequence with few words to accompany the pictures.  Not to imply that more words equals a better story (there are many, many examples to the contrary), but I thought that one of the more in-depth stories would take the prize.

Please don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to disparage "Stop Light" in the least, and I'm certainly not trying to say that "Eye of the Beholder" should have won the contest.  I do like my entry, of course, but in all honesty I wouldn't call it the best in the book.  This will come as no surprise, but my choice for "best in show" would have been "The Mighty Skullboy Army" by Jacob Chabot, probably followed by the "Haunted Cipher" shorts by Eric Haven (both black and white stories, by the way).  While "Stop Light" was a solid entry and certainly deserved to be in the book, I don't know that it held my interest for long enough for me to rank it up with some of the other, more thought-provoking tales.

In any case, though, Jeff Kilpatrick won the prize and for that I salute him!  It was a year-long contest and he pulled it out.  I wonder what he bought with all that prize money?

That's it for today.  I'll post the penultimate page of "Eye of the Beholder" soon!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The haul, 2010

Merry...a couple days after Christmas!  Last year, I bragged about mentioned some of the cool comic related swag I got.  This year, I figured, what the heck.  If it's cool, I'll take a picture.  And here we are.  Check out those comics!  I finally completed the Understanding Comics set and got the complete Xenozoic Tales collection I've been waiting to have made!  The Ballad of Halo Jones was a last-minute addition - and flipping through it, it's astounding how similar Ian Gibson's art is to Duane Redhead's on Teddy and the Yeti.  No, I'm not comparing myself to Alan Moore in any fashion.

I first found out about the Venture Bros. action figures at the New York Comic Con.  I now have three of the six initial releases: the mighty Monarch and the San Diego Comic-Con exclusive Henchmen figures!

Please ignore the boxes in the background of this picture.  There's bound to be something of a mess at Christmas.  Marvel instead at the full size, authentic Steelers helmet!  Perhaps I will get it signed, or perhaps I will wear it every day and run in to people full force, oblivious to social conventions of politeness or even laws that dictate what does and does not constitute physical assault.

The item on top of the helmet box is a bit of a cop out, as I bought it for someone else instead of having it bought for me.  But I'm proud of myself with this one, so please indulge me.  My wife and I are big fans of the short-lived show Wonderfalls, and the purposely deformed wax lion replica is a promotional piece from that show.

I got other great stuff - Weird Al trading cards, the newest volume of Futurama on DVD, Sea Monkeys - Sea Monkeys!! - and, despite my materialistic showing, spent some good time with family and friends, which is more important in any case.  But man!  I got some awesome stuff.

Monday, December 27, 2010

At last! Something to do in Cleveland!

It's no secret that the cities of Pittsburgh and Cleveland have something of a rivalry going on between them.  Well, okay, perhaps that's a bit too much personification - it's the people between the cities who fuel the competition, and much of that springs from the sports rivalry between the Steelers and the Browns, which, to be honest, hasn't been much of a rivalry in recent years.  That's okay, though, because it is admittedly difficult for any team to keep up with the SIX! TIME! SUPER BOWL! CHAMPION! Steelers.

Ah hem.  Anyway, good natured barbs aside, Cleveland does have some things going for it.  Lake Erie, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the burgeoning arts scene - not to mention the fact that Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster lived there.

Matt Kuhns of the site "Modern Ideas" recently created a map celebrating that history by marking significant sites throughout Cleveland that relate to Superman and his creators - some of which are still there to visit, some of which aren't, and one that will hopefully be added in the future - a Superman museum.

It's a shame that Cleveland hasn't yet fully embraced this aspect of its history, but steps are being made to bring the significance of Superman in Cleveland to light.  I do believe that one day a Superman museum will be built.  In the mean time, this map illustrates that there are still a number of cool Man of Steel related attractions in Eastern Ohio.  This may be cause for a road trip...

Read the original post here, and download a pdf of the map here!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

"Eye of the Beholder" webcomic with Ruben Cordero, page 5

Merry Christmas, blog-o-sphere!  I hope that everyone has a wonderful day and that, though it's cliche and completely unrealistic, we can one day live in a more peaceful world.  Here's hoping.

I'm posting page five of the "Eye of the Beholder" story today for all to see.  I should have put this page up earlier, and there's really no excuse for the lag, as the story has been complete for, oh, seven years now, but them's the breaks.  I hope we all can enjoy it nonetheless.  Page five is when the crazy stuff starts to happen, like sudden visions of floating old men.  I always thought the bed was a little out-of-place in this scene, but it doesn't take anything away from the story.

As I've mentioned (over and over), this story was printed in Dark Horse's Strip Search collection.  There were 17 other stories included in the book (one split up into four parts), and as is always the case with anthology-type books, the quality was varied.  There were plenty that I thought my and Ruben's story could stand up to, just as there were some that I thought blew our particular tale out of the water.  Below are some of my favorites:

Alcoholism Spaceman by Ben Stenbeck
The title for this story is actually very literal: it features outer space, flying (floating?) sharks, and rampant alcoholism.  To be honest, this entry was a bit short on story, but WOW!  Look at that art!  It's just beautiful.  The colors nearly melt off the page.  Ben has worked on some stories at Dark Horse in recent years, and it's easy to see that he deserves it.

Mighty Skullboy Army by Jacob Chabot
I've mentioned before how much I love the Mighty Skullboy Army, which has a collection of stories out through Dark Horse.  Jacob (Jake?) does humor well - both his writing and art lend itself to it.  Strip Search was how I first became away of the Skullboy Army, and I've since become a big fan.  I can see this concept taking off and making it big one day.

Haunted Cipher by Eric Haven
Strip Search split five different editions of Haunted Cipher throughout the book, and each was a one-page delight.  Some were darker than others, but all were extremely entertaining and usually parodied a different concept - the one pictured above was an obvious sendup of something like Aesop's Fables and was funny, but the one spoofing the old Charles Atlas comic book advertisement and the "girlfriend lie detector" strip were genius.

Insomnia by Nir Paniry
This entry did the most with the least, I thought.  There's only one sentence of text throughout the entire story, but it still comes off as a touching, sweet tale of the value of companionship.  The main character, I think, looks like Art Garfunkel, which has no bearing on what I think of the story.

The Seneschal by Tom Scioli
What, you didn't think Tom Scioli only did Teddy and the Yeti covers, did you?!  Ah hem.  In any case, it's easy to see by the page above Tom's prodigious talent and uncanny Kirby style of artwork.  The Seneschal just exudes energy and creativity.

You, Robot by Nicholas G. Perks
I'm not sure what it is about this story that does it for me - I think it's the simplicity in both art and storytelling.  The artwork reminds me of Jerry Ordway's, which is to say it's got a classic feel to it.  The story has a twist that isn't necessarily unpredictable, but it's different and it deserves some credit for that alone.

Tangerine by Ron J. Wimberly
This story was another that took a minimalist approach when it came to text.  The story was again a bit simple, but it let the reader's imagination fill in most of the blanks, which is sometimes hard to do (for me, anyway).  The artwork was very fluid and seemed to combine both Western and Eastern influences.

That's it for now.  Look for page six early next week!  For real this time!  I think.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fun with Shrinky Dinks (and an all new Franks and Beans!)

I don't consider myself particularly nostalgic, but trips to Pop! Culture Connection in Greensburg, Pa do seem to have an effect on me.  Case in point - hanging on a rack I managed to find an unopened box of Marvel Super Heroes Shrinky Dinks from 1983.  The price was right so I bought the package and brought it home.

For those of you not familiar with Shrinky Dinks, it's almost useless for me to try and describe them, because they don't sound like they'd be any fun to actually make.  It's just something you have to experience.  Shrinky Dinks are still being produced today, but the 1980s were certainly the boom time for the company, and the licensed products (such as the Marvel brand) were at their height for sure.  In short, Shrinky Dinks were sheets of plastic that one would color, cut out, bake, and watch shrink to a miniature size to be placed on a little display stand.  Doesn't sound like much fun, but man...I loved 'em as a kid and I wanted to try them again.  Thanks to the vintage toy store Pop! Culture, I was able to.

One of my concerns was whether or not the Shrinky Dinks would actually still "work" after 27 years in a box (and, you know, if the plastic sheets were coated with toxic chemicals not regulated in the early '80s), but the contents of said box looked, for all intents and purposes, brand new once I got a look at them.

The eight characters chosen were fairly obvious ones, except for the hideous exclusion of the Thing.  Seriously, he could have easily replaced a C-lister like Doctor Octopus.  It's not like Marvel had to keep up with a villain quota or something.  Having, I don't know, a female character might have been nice as well, but that obviously wasn't a big concern with the people who put this package together.

Here I am with Franks and Beans cohort Larry, preparing the characters for the oven.  LOOK HOW EXCITING THIS STUFF IS!

Ready for the oven.  The set only came with four colored pencils, so a few sacrifices had to be made.  The Hulk is wearing blue pants (sacrilege, I know), and any other visible skin is pretty much a softer shade of red.  Dr. Doom's armor is "colored" in with a regular pencil.  Larry decided to go with the opposite color scheme for Doctor Octopus...maybe he's the Mirror Universe Doctor Octopus or something.

Shrinky Dinks curl up in the oven before flattening back out.  All except for Doom, because Doom curls for no man!

And here they are, out of the oven.  Cap was a casualty, but that's a risk you always take.

As you can see, the results were SPECTACULAR!  Oh, and Iron Man also doubles as a love note to Larry's girlfriend.

Shrinky Dinks turned out to be as fun as I remembered them.  As I said before, they don't sound fun at all until you actually give 'em a try for yourself.  It's too bad they aren't as available as they used to any case, I imagine that I could make these at least once every 20 years.  Maybe even more frequently!  Awesome.

And speaking of Larry (and awesome), there's a new episode of Franks and Beans out.  So you should watch it.  Everyone should.  Here it is!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Teddy vs. the Yeti by Artboy_X!

It's been a while since I've posted anything about Teddy and the Yeti.  That's not to say there's nothing to write about - in fact, there's progress being made on the next set of issues and I hope to be able to post some interior artwork for that in the next few days, which is exciting stuff.

In the meantime, your friend and mine Artboy_X, co-creator of Mr. Massive, drew this pinup on his new Genius tablet.  It's a unique interpretation of the two and I'm happy to see it!  Artboy_X recently returned from a stint in Afghanistan (glad to have you back, fella), and we've been talking about putting a few short Mr. Massive strips together for the web, tentatively titled "Mr. Massive Saves the Universe!"  We'll see where these next few weeks and months take us, but I'm excited to see where it goes.  Enjoy the pinup, all.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Eye of the Beholder" webcomic with Ruben Cordero, page 4

This story's second "act" begins with page four - we're all caught up to date and now we're working in the present.  The dog cages look more like jail cells, but hey, that's artistic license for you.

Now that I think about it, it's because of this story's publication in Strip Search that I came up with a way to sign my name on comics...that is, a different way than I sign, I don't know, a check or something like that.  The first time I saw a copy of Strip Search was at my local comic shop, Impossible Dreams Comics in Bridgeville, Pa.  The owner of the store ordered a copy for himself (probably because it's all I had talked about for a month) and asked me to sign it.  I wrote my whole 14-letter name, stopped to look at it, and said "I've gotta come up with something better".  What I came up with over the next few days is basically my initials and the date, so whether or not it's "better" is debatable, but at least I have a comic book signature to go with now.

Oh, and by the way, the best comic book signature I've ever seen has to belong to Mark Schultz (of Xenozoic Tales fame).  I'm told he worked on it for quite a while.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Eye of the Beholder" webcomic with Ruben Cordero, page 3

The moment  I found out that "Eye of the Beholder" had won Dark Horse's monthly contest and would soon be printed in its Strip Search collection, I ran to the phone and called artist Ruben Cordero on the phone at his office at work.  As soon as he picked up on the other end, I yelled "Congratulations, you magnificent bastard!", thinking he had probably been to the website and therefore had heard the good news.  Instead, he didn't even know it was me.  "I'm sorry," he replied, somewhat tersely, "who is this?" I meekly explained the situation and once we were on the same page things went more smoothly.

The prize package from Dark Horse was actually quite nice, even though we had to split it in two.  For my half of the haul, I managed to snag a number of cool things, including a copy of Comics Between the Panels, signed by co-author and Dark Horse editor-in-chief Mike Richardson, the second volume of the beautiful Xenozoic Tales collection and some "Shag Tiki" stationary by Amanda Visell.

Ruben and I also split a $150 gift certificate to the online comic shop Things from Another World, with which I bought one of my first Thing statues - a Bowen full body design that's still one of my favorites (Bowen does great work, let me tell you).

All in all, just another reason I was spoiled by this, my first comic publication.  I hope you enjoy page three - I'll post the next page on Saturday...and probably write stuff in between now and then.  So keep checking back!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why I love Marvel Adventures Super Heroes

Some time ago, I posted my lament for the abrupt loss of the Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four title, which featured character-driven stories that mixed humor, action and the kind of touching moments rarely seen in many of today's explosion-first Michael Bay-fest comics.  The entire Marvel Adventures line seemed to be in jeopardy, getting pared down to two titles, and I lost track of it for a while.

Last month, though, I picked up a copy of Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #7 because a member of the FF, the Invisible Woman, was showcased on the cover.  Before this, and because of the cover theme this book employs, I thought that each issue of this title starred a different Marvel character, where every issue was self contained to the point that one had nothing to do with what came before or after.

Once I flipped through the book, I realized that Marvel Adventures Super Heroes is indeed an ongoing book that follows a variation on the Avengers - where Sue Storm is not just a member, but a leader.  I did some research and found that this theme began in issue 17 of the first volume, continuing into the second volume once the entire line did a hard reboot.

It's refreshing to see that everything that made Marvel Adventure Fantastic Four great is still present in this new title.  The creative common denominator is Paul Tobin, of whom my respect for grows monthly.  Tobin juggles a wide cast of characters expertly and manages to follow a growing number of plot threads while still making each issue accessible.

Tobin has a knack for making the characters in the books he writes supremely human, and this book is a great example of that, especially when you consider that the title's roster is filled with mythical gods, World War II heroes, androids and people who can fly through space.

The Fantastic Four are well represented in this book, starting with Sue Storm's presence - she is every bit the strong female character that she should be in every FF title and that too many books lack, and the fact that she, along with Captain America, leads this particular group of Avengers is a strong example of that.  The budding romance hinted at between the two characters is intriguing as well.

Reed Richards also plays a significant role in this book, though his true motives are as of yet unrevealed. It's clear that he's keeping an eye on Sue for reasons we're not yet sure of; the Black Widow and the Vision are on the team at least partly as a result of his behind-the-scenes tinkering.

Not to belabor the point, but I really do recommend this book.  From in-depth characterization to big action, this title proves beyond a doubt to be a worthy successor to Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four.  Not that I would mind seeing that title revived as well.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thanks to Marvel, no one will mistakenly worship Thor

Religion in comics - superhero comics specifically - is a tricky subject.  It's hard for me to believe that a lot of "ordinary" characters in comics (assuming for a second that these people exist off the page) would follow traditional religions because of what inevitably happens in a comic book character's every day life.

Think about it - who would be satisfied with blind faith when every day you see people do impossible, miraculous feats?  When larger-than-life figures are killed but return from death ("better than ever!")?  When characters like Thor and Ares and Odin and Zeus - who would look you in the eye and say "yeah, I'm a god" - hang out with regular people to the point that you might one day have a conversation with one of them?

Of course, most companies tread lightly when it comes to this subject because they don't want to be accused of blasphemy when viewed under the lens of real-world religion.  Sure, every once in a while Superman will say to some fanatical group of followers "I...I'm not a god!  I'm just like you!", but I have to admit it would be at least somewhat interesting to read an issue of Thor where he says "you people should really start worshiping me if you want this drought to end...".

The first official trailer for the Thor movie was released a few days ago, and Marvel seems to want to quash any notion that Thor wants to emphasize the "god" part in his role as God of Thunder.  In this Yahoo! Movies article, Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige seemed pretty emphatic that Thor and the other mythological Norse gods in this movie weren't necessarily gods "in the traditional sense":
Feige says that the backstory is Thor is from a race of otherworldly beings who live in a realm called Asgard. But they are able to travel to different worlds, and they arrived on our planet in Scandinavia a thousand years ago. Feige says that since they were so superior to the humans they encountered, "the locals interpreted them as gods and started mimicking some of their clothing and some of their helmet and weapon designs." Since what appears to be mystical is actually technological, Thor's powers aren't that different from Iron Man's or Captain America's.
This all seems pretty funny to me, because it sounds as if Marvel might be expecting some actual backlash from other religious organizations (or maybe the public in general) for portraying Thor and crew as actual gods worthy of worship and homage - as if people didn't stop worshiping the Norse gods...what, a thousand years ago?  Literally?

Maybe I'm being naive here and there actually will be protests and claims of blasphemy.  But it seems that, even if the movie took the position that the title character was actually the Norse god of myth, it'd still be clear that the movie is itself a work of fiction.  Just in case, though, Marvel - you better clear the air.  Good job.

Gotta admit, though...the half second or so of the Destroyer does look pretty awesome.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Eye of the Beholder" webcomic with Ruben Cordero, page 2

Here we are with page two of the "Eye of the Beholder" story that ran in Dark Horse's Strip Search anthology.  Here we see the "demons" for the first time - angry little fellows who carry on the Hansel and Gretel metaphor by eating this poor old lady's house.  The colors really stand out on this page, I think - it's something that this piece really had going for it.  Even though this was being put together in 2003, when webcomics were much less prevalent, Ruben had a keen eye for what worked on the screen and how it was different than a printed comic book page.

I mentioned in my last entry that each submission to the Strip Search contest was voted on to see which ones would eventually get printed - that is, readers could choose which ones they liked best each month. I'm sure that nearly everyone did this, and even though it didn't matter in the end, I still have a little twinge of guilt when I think back to the dozens (and dozens) of times I voted for myself.  It went against the democratic nature of the contest, but man!  I saw this as a chance to break in to the industry and I couldn't resist temptation.  I voted for myself every day when I got up, every day before dinner, and every day before I went to bed - multiple times.

Some time after the voting was complete, main editor Adam Gallardo (who later went on to write the title 100 Girls for Arcana Studio) explained that to calculate the winners of each round, only votes from unique I.P. addresses were tallied - meaning that although I probably spent hours of my life clicking "submit" on the Dark Horse website, only one of my votes actually counted.  Part of me feels good that this story did apparently win on merit, and not just my obsession, but another part feels stupid for wasting all that time.

I'll post the next page on Tuesday or Wednesday.  In the mean time, enjoy page two!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Eye of the Beholder" webcomic with Ruben Cordero, page 1

The first comic work I ever had published came in early 2004.  I had no idea what I was doing (that's not to imply that I do now, either), but I lucked into a great situation.  Dark Horse Comics was sponsoring an online comic contest - creators would submit their stories and an editor would choose the ones he thought were the best to showcase online.  Readers would then vote for their favorite comics of the month and each month's winner would be published in a collection titled Strip Search.  The contest ran, I believe, for an entire year.

This contest absolutely spoiled me with how perfectly everything came together.  I happened to read about the contest one day at a computer in my college's computer lab, and I said to myself, "heck, I'll give it a shot."  I had written a short story for a creative writing class and decided to use that as my subject.  The story was a fairly straightforward inversion of the classic Hansel and Gretal fairy tale, where it was told from the evil stepmother's perspective and took place in modern times.  I went right to a comic book message board (Digital Webbing, I think?), posted a quick message, and met up almost immediately with the extremely talented Ruben Cordero.

And that was pretty much it.  Really.  Ruben drew and lettered the story, we submitted it to Dark Horse, the story was selected and put up for a vote during the final month that entries would be accepted.  "Eye of the Beholder" was voted in and a few months later, Strip Search was published and I had something for sale all over the world (I had someone tell me he saw a copy on sale in Japan, which continues to blow my mind).

At this point I thought publishing comics would be easy, based on the only evidence I had at my disposal.  More aptly, I think I ran into the perfect storm - Dark Horse just happened to have the perfect contest, I just happened to find the perfect artist, and things fell in to place.

I'm generally happy with the result, although hopefully my writing has gotten a little less melodramatic over time.

Dark Horse retained the publishing rights to this story for five years, which means they have since reverted back to Ruben and me.  I thought it would be fun to revisit this story over the next few weeks in the format it was originally intended to be read - as a webcomic.  I'll post the first page today and continue at least twice a week until all eight pages are posted.  Just click on the tumbnail at the top of this entry to read the first page.  I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Q&A with Hack/Slash's Tim Seeley, part 2

My interview with Hack/Slash co-creator Tim Seeley concludes today.  This time around we'll discuss his new Ant-Man & Wasp miniseries at Marvel, and ending for Hack/Slash, and yes...of course...He-Man!  Well, kind of, anyway.  Read the first half of the interview here!

JM: The first part of the Ant-Man & Wasp miniseries is currently in stores.  What do you hope to accomplish with this series?

TS: I just approached it as a chance to tell a really fun, very "Marvel" superhero  book.  Marvel characters are great because they're often flawed guys trying to do better.  They're just like the rest of us.

JM: To me, Hank Pym has always been a very unlikable character and Eric O'Grady has been misused since his own series was cancelled.  It just seems to me like no one knows to to really do with either character.  Is it really that difficult to make these two appealing?

TS: To me, Hank's lack of likability comes from the way he's been used, but there's nothing inherently bad about him.  He's a cool character...the ultimate scientist with a whole bunch of flaws and ever more colorful costumes.  I just have to focus on those aspects.  Eric is a jerk, but is likable because he's hilariously immoral.

JM: Is Hack/Slash a book you hope to see continue in an open-ended fashion, or do you have an ending in mind?

TS: I have an ending!  But I won't get to it any time soon.

JM: Lastly, name at least one things you liked about the Masters of the Universe movie.

TS: One thing?  But there's so many!  Frank Langella as Skeletor, though - that's the best part.  Even if you hate the movie, you gotta admit that he is one awesome bad guy.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A nice Teddy and the Yeti review, plus other references

I was recently made aware of this review for the first three issues of Teddy and the Yeti; John Norris at the "Comics in the Classroom" website was gracious enough to talk a little bit about the series and he had some nice things to say - and he noted the fact that the title is cool if for no other reason than the way it sounds...which, come on, is absolutely correct!  You can read the full review here.  Check it out!

Speaking of online references to Teddy and the Yeti, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention some of the other folks who are helping spread the word about the characters and the book:

- Henry at the "I Love the Yeti" blog has been a big supporter of Teddy and the Yeti, posting updates about the book and Wagon Wheel's convention appearances.  If you haven't been to the site yet, check it out, if for nothing else than the sheer volume of yeti references collected.

Teddy and the Yeti centric blogs can be found here, here, here, here, here and here!

- Xavier at the "My Paper Heroes" blog created Teddy and the Yeti paper heroes and wrote a nice article about them (and the book) here.  As I've mentioned before, this very website has had a lot of traffic flow over to here from the link Xavier has on his site, so do me a favor and reciprocate.  There are a lot of really cool paper heroes you can download and build over there, so be prepared to find a new obsession.

Click here to download Ted's paper hero!
Click here to download the Yeti's paper hero!

- Yesterday's blog about Superman ice cream (I had some immediately after writing it, by the way) reminded me of the blogs I wrote at intermittent times for the blog "The Grouchy Gastronome".  Regular columns on that site have been put on hiatus for a while (WHY?!?), but it's still worth checking out to see some angry writing about food.

If anyone would like to read what I wrote for the website, you can find my posts here, here, here, here, here, here and here!

-'m trying to shoehorn this in here, of course.  But I'm allowed to do that.  Since we're talking about other websites with references to Teddy and the Yeti, why not plug my online sketch comedy show, Franks and Beans?  Why not, indeed?!  Here's an episode with a cameo of the first issue of Teddy and the Yeti - I think I already posted the original episode, so this time I'll go with the episode commentary, which is equally as hilarious.  Well, it's funny, in any case.  Oh hell, just watch the video:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Who owns Superman ice cream?

The answer to the above question is, of course, "the people".  The people own Superman ice cream, and we shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking otherwise.  But let's consider, just for a moment, that a concept as grand as Superman could actually be owned (and trademarked and copyrighted) by a person or corporation.  Would said corporation be willing to let other companies make an ice cream based off of its intellectual property?

The answer is apparently "yes", because Superman ice cream does, in fact, exist.  It may be glorified vanilla, but it carries the name and color scheme of the DC Comics icon.  There are a number of ice cream manufacturers (can you manufacture ice cream?) with their own version of Superman ice cream, and as far as I can tell, no company has made any kind of licensing agreement with either DC or Warner Bros., its parent company.  In a world where companies hold on to their money making properties as if they were made out of...well, money, how is this possible?

If Superman ice cream were made by one single, local company, I could chalk this disparity up to the company slipping under the proverbial radar - the same could be said if "Superman" were just a flavor at an ice cream parlor.  But that's not the case.  While maybe it's not absolutely ubiquitous, it's not all that hard to find this kind of ice cream, regardless of where you live in North America (who knows if Luxembourg has it in stock).  The color scheme is red, blue and yellow, so it's not like any claim can be made that this is the Friedrich Nietzsche superman.

Don't get me wrong - I like Superman ice cream and I'm glad that I can run down to the local Kroger and pick up their "party pail" (it already feels like a party with it in my freezer!).  I just don't know how DC allows this to happen.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fubar: in stores now!

Head honcho Jeff McComsey let it be known that the much-anticipated anthology/graphic novel Fubar has arrived in stores.  I did work on two entries in this 168-page collection: the short "Yalta!" story with Leonardo Pietro and some lettering on Dominic Vivona's "Stalemate".  As far as I know, you can get copies at just about any comic shop (you may have to place an order), or you can order directly from a few comic websites - specifically here. know...order one, or twenty.  Who knows how long they'll last?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"When you've been at this for as long as I have, you stop believing in coincidence."

My buying habits on eBay tend to follow a pattern of either feast of famine.  I usually control myself fairly well (though I suppose I probably don't have enough distance to make that claim with any impartiality), but there are a few times when I just end up buying things that are weird.  Case in point, I recently bought two Fantastic Four-related role-playing game books, each about 20 years old.  The first stars the Thing, and the cover of the book has the Thing punching another Thing, so OF COURSE I had to get it.  Here's the cover:

Aside from the unfortunate scratch around the "M" in "Marvel", the book looks like it just came from the printer.  It's a good thing it looks so nice, because the inside is just a big pile of crap.  I'm not trying to dump on role-playing games or anything - I don't know enough about them to judge, I guess - but this particular game doesn't seem like anything I could ever get into.  For one thing, the book doesn't come with the necessary six-sided die (what a gyp!), which leads you on a journey in which the Thing fights the Kingpin and his goons in Thing suits.  For another, here's a sample of the text: "You turn to Kingpin and shout, 'You might be able to beat one of us - maybe - but two Things can lick anybody.'"  Wow.

The other book stars the entire Fantastic Four and is titled "Stygian Knight", which actually doesn't sound that bad, until you realize the main villain is named "Stygorr".  Oh well.  Let's see a picture of that one!

I imagine that the theme is similar to the Thing game, but this one is open to four players.  What struck me about these two different books, coming from two separate auctions, is that the cover art is by the same guy on both, and I had no idea of this before I got them in the mail.

The artist on both books is Jeff Butler, and through the magic of the Google I just found out that he has his own webpage and a rather hefty Wikipedia entry...and wouldn't you know it, some of his work is pretty good.

This is quite the coincidence, but upon further inspection, it looks like both books were published by the company TSR, so I'm assuming that 'ol Jeff was a staff artist for them for a while.  Even so, it's funny how things like this come together sometimes.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Q&A with Hack/Slash's Tim Seeley, part 1

Hack/Slash recently made a high-profile switch from Devil's Due to Image Comics, and following the just-concluded My First Monster miniseries, the action/horror book relaunches with a new #1 in the next few month.  Co-creator Tim Seeley took some time to answer some of my questions about Hack/Slash, some of his other comic work, and the Masters of the Universe, of which Seeley is a big fan.

JM: You might be best known for your creator-owned work with Hack/Slash, but you also manage to do a bit of the work-for-hire as well.  How do you compare the two?  Can they both peacefully co-exist?

TS: Because I write and draw, it's tough to get hired to do both.  So, I originally created H/S for me to write, and then I whore myself out to get art jobs for the bigger companies.  Doing both evens out to a better paycheck for me.  I live in's expensive here!

JM: You often work with other artists when creating Hack/Slash.  As an artist yourself, do you find it difficult turning over your creation to someone who might have another, different vision?  How much input do you have in the design or "look" of a book when you're not also the one drawing it?

TS: Well, because I draw, I know how much I hate some overbearing writer type crawling up my butt.  So, I pick artists whom I trust, and let 'em do their own thing.  I'm rarely disappointed, so it must be doing it right.

JM: Conversely, what are some of the challenges of drawing from someone else's script, as with a book like Exiles?

TS: In general, I find working from other writers' scripts to be totally educational.  With Exiles, I was looking at a Chris Claremont script, and obviously that's a guy with some solid credentials.  The learning makes it more fun, I think.

I'll post the second half of the interview in the next few days.  Watch for it soon!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You should not be able to order monkeys from a comic book!

...or seahorses, for that matter.  Actually, if you combine the two names, you come up with seamonkeys, and they are perhaps the only animals that are okay to order from a comic book.  But monkeys?  As in, actual monkeys like the squirrel monkey seen in this ad from the 1960s?  The one in the...adorable sweater...who is so tiny he fits in your hand...okay, it's not that I don't see the appeal, it's just...whose idea was this?

A few days ago I managed to snag a few issues of the Fantastic Four - #s 56 and 61! - from Wilmington's Fanboy Comics at a great price.  One of these issues has the ad you see above in it, which really makes me wonder what people were thinking 45 years ago.  I mean, here we are, taking great strides as a species, from the fight for racial equality to a moon landing, and someone's great idea is "hey!  Let's sell monkeys to 11-year-old kids!  We can puts ads in the back of comic books!"

At this point, someone undoubtedly said "But where will we get the monkeys?", to which the original person must have replied, "I don't know, just take them from the jungle, I guess."

I do honestly wonder how many poor squirrel monkeys were sold and then died because this ad said to feed them basically anything (they even like lollipops!), or how many monkeys just showed up dead in the mail.  It's sad to think that people were stupid enough to consider this to be even a remotely good idea - and even though we as a race do some really dumb things today (where do I even begin??), it's nice to think that you can't just order a monkey in the mail anymore.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Most Boring Card Ever Made, Jeff Laffery's art blog, Sticky Comics, and other notes of great importance

Look, here's proof that I am actually working on the main website redesign!  From this screenshot you can see just how drastic the changes will be - that's right, the menu bar will be listed VERTICALLY!  Holy crap, what unbelievable updates will I come up with next?!

In the meantime, though, here are a few websites that I've recently come upon that should hold your interest until gets back up and running (you can still read them afterwards,'s not a contest):

- I found The Baseball Card Blog while looking for the article "Oh, no! Not another boring interview with Steve Carton!" by Diane K. Shah online (a great read in its own right) - the post "The Most Boring Card Ever Made" came up, and boy, is it a doozy.

I collected baseball cards right alongside comics until about 1995, when the bottoms dropped out of both industries (and, probably not coincidentally, the Pirates were in the beginnings of their tailspin from relevance).  Getting to see these cards again in this format is both nostalgic and engaging, and the writing on this site really draws me in -  it takes a humorous look at another industry (along with comics) that probably takes itself too seriously.

If you check out one thing on the site, make sure it's the "Casey at the Bat" Poster Project, where Ernest Thayer's classic poem is recreated through the creative use of baseball cards (including Billy Ripken's infamous Fleer card). (

- Jeff Lafferty once drew Doom 2099 for Marvel, and that automatically makes him awesome.  He and I semi collaborated on a few things several years ago, but I lost track of him after a while.  I recently discovered his art blog, though, and it seems that he's back and better than ever.

You'll find lots of art on Jeff's site, mostly in the form of sketch cards, but what I find most impressive is the webcomic he's starting to put together, adapting Robert E. Howard's famous story, "Conan and the Frost Giant's Daughter", a favorite Conan tale of mine. (

- I spent the weekend of the New York Comic Con in a booth next to Christiann MacAuley, creator of the website Sicky Comics (, and since the show has ended, I've become a fan.  While much of the site is an overload of cute, there's an R-rated undercurrent that makes a lot of the jokes subversively funny.  Below is quite probably my favorite of the bunch:

- Lastly, your friend and mine, Larry, is selling some Dukes of Hazzard 1/144 scale cars on eBay.  It's the entire set of ten cars, apparently!  Help him out and place a bid so he can take the money and use it to buy more Dukes of Hazzard memorabilia.  Seriously, he's almost got it all, and he might as well get to the finish line.  And while you're at it, check out Larry and my Franks and Beans website, which is newly updated with 48 (FORTY EIGHT!) episodes and a new layout...though I still have to figure out how to get the logo back up.

- Oh, and I recently applied for a table to the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International.  The end.