Friday, September 30, 2011

some random mini blogs

This blog will be just like many other blogs on this site.  Except the notes will be shorter.  Perhaps your enjoyment will be lessened...but perhaps not.

- Tomorrow's the opening day for Alex Ross's "Heroes & Villains" exhibit at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.  It should be lots of fun!  The Post-Gazette wrote a nice article about Ross and the exhibit...and it seems to imply that this will be Ross's first time in Pittsburgh.  Read it here:

- I will admit that Superman's new comic book costume irked me when I first saw it; I understand the need for change (or perceived change) from time to time, but there are some things that you just don't mess with, and the classic Superman costume is one of them.  I was further annoyed when people at DC began promoting the new look by calling the now-abandoned red trunks "diapers", as if the costume isn't the most iconic of any character's in the history of the universe.

My anger was assuaged, though, when I saw Henry Cavill's costume from the upcoming Man of Steel movie.  Just as Brandon Routh's slightly altered costume in Superman Returns led to a brief costume change in the comics, this new look will of course be reflected in DC's new lineup.  And when the movie premieres and eventually departs, the costume will change back to what we're used to.  So no worries.

- The Wagon Wheel Comic booth is a good place to grab an Orange Lantern Cookie if you're at a convention.  At previous shows, I'd advertise the cookies by writing hastily on a comic book backing board.  I decided that, as I plan on making the cookies for future shows ( THE FUTURE), I should make a more permanent sign/display.  Half an hour on Photoshop and viola!  The above sign will from now on adorn the cookie bowl at our table.  I plan on attaching a comic book backing board.

- A small donation to Hero Initiative, the comic book charity that helps out creators in need, scored me a few nice items recently, including the New Avengers 100 Project and the above exclusive hardcover edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.  They're both pretty awesome, and it's money that went to a good cause.  HI has a lot of great stuff for sale on their website and their eBay page.

- Saturday also brings us "Weird Al" Yankovic's Comedy Central special, an hour-long show featuring clips from his new Alpocalypse tour.  Debuting a few days early was his newest music video for the song "Polka Face", which is fantastic in its own right, but Al went ahead and put yetis in it for good measure:

As if there weren't enough reasons to be a fan.  The show airs at 9:00 eastern time, and an unabridged DVD/Blu-Ray version will be on sale the following Tuesday.  Hooray!

Here's the it and love it:
"Weird Al" Yankovic - Polka Face
JokesJoke of the DayFunny Jokes

Thursday, September 29, 2011

According to comics, I've wasted my life.

A few days ago I made my way through the first few issues of The Original Ghost Rider Rides Again!, which is quite a long title for a comic book.  The seven-issue series is nothing more than a reprinting of earlier stories, for what overall purpose I'm not entirely sure.  I was a little amused when I read the very first page of the second story in issue #2, which is below:

And even more so when I continued onto the second page:

The 1970s and 80s were a period of increased self-awareness for comics, when an attempt was at least made to give characters motives and reasons for their actions.  In the '60s, it was enough for the X-Men to fight the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants because, well, they had the word "Evil" in their title, of all things.  As books moved toward a modicum of complexity, though, villains were often given backstories to act as some impetus for their struggle.  Issues were still usually self-contained, though, and limited to 22 pages, so along with squeezing an overwhelming number of panels onto a page, characters good and bad usually had to settle for the simplest of reasoning to explain why they chose to do what they were doing.

Case in point: this issue's Ghost Rider villain.  He's chosen to become despondent and bitter (and thus evil...he later kills a dog just by looking at it) because...hold on to your seats...HE'S TURNING 30.  Our antagonist Adam is an English teacher who had lofty dreams of being a musician until those hopes came crashing down with the realization that his life would end as soon as 29 flew out the window:

The loathing is only exacerbated on page two, as the narrator of the book (presumably the writer) gives us a matter-of-fact life lesson:

"It happens to the best of us, 'round about our thirtieth birthdays.  We look back over our shoulders...and see our dreams running away like rain water down a gutter.  We want so much to make one last desperate grab for them -- but the chasm is too wide, the leap too far..."

Holy crap.  I...I turned 30 earlier in the year.  I've taught English.  And I...have dreams.  WHAT A FOOL I'VE BEEN!  According to this book, I should probably just go ahead and kill myself.

Seriously, it's not like this comic was made a thousand years ago, when living until age 40 meant you'd get carried to an ice floe and sent off to sea to be eaten by a polar bear as to not be a burden to the community.  Heck, even this story, first published in 1982, is only 29 years old.  Is this what people really thought about turning 30 in 1982?  I mean, I guess Elvis killed himself when he was 42 and he thought he was ancient, and that was only five years earlier, but...really?  Wow.

I guess I'd better go and buy a guitar.  And then smash it against a wall.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FUBAR: Life Preservers with Mario Wytch, Amy Corbin and Jeff McComsey

With the exception of one pesky "radio" balloon on the final page, I've just finished lettering the "Life Preservers" story for the full version of FUBAR, volume 2, and I thought I'd show a preview of it here. The full story clocks in at 11 pages in length, and one of the things I'm most happy about (though you can't tell it looking at the first two pages...) is that I don't, for once, overcrowd the pages with huge blocks of many cases, the art tells the story.  I'm really happy with how it all turned out!

Mario Wytch is responsible for the pencils and inks, with an inking assist a bit later in the story from Amy Corbin.  Jeff McComsey came in to add greyscales and round the pages out into a complete product.  This story is set to see print this December - in fact, the book will be listed in October's edition of Previews magazine, so I should be able to pass along the order code sometime within the next few weeks.  And there will be signings.  Oh yes, there will be signings.

Now I've gotta see where I put that Comicraft lettering guide.  Damn radio balloons.

Monday, September 26, 2011

finally complete: the Andromeda Jones cover

Karin Rindevall dropped this in my e-mail today - it's the final version of the Andromeda Jones cover that has been a work years in progress, and it's truly an international collaboration.  Those who've worked on it have been from North America, Asia and Europe.  Pencils for this beauty are by Chris Whetzel, inks by Alan Gallo, colors by Karin Rindevall and the background image by Jason Moser.  I think it's one of the nicest pieces of art I've ever been involved with.  The final logo for the cover is below...all in all it'll look very nice in print.

Friday, September 23, 2011

XCon World 2011

I've just made arrangements to make an appearance at the fourth installment of XCon World, a small comic convention in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Last year's show was fun and the atmosphere was if you're in the area, stop by and check it out.  There'll be a number of cool guests there like the FF's Jonathan Hickman, Space Ghost's C. Martin Croker and Hack/Slash's Tim me, with the last few con copies of FUBAR volume 2 for sale on Earth.

Plus the beach is there.  And it's still warm even though it takes place near the end of October.  Not that the beach is the only reason to go, but...the beach.  It's there.

The convention is a two-day affair, taking place on Saturday, October 22nd from 10:00-7:00 and Sunday, the 23rd from 10:00-4:00.  XCon's website with more info is here:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Alex Ross at the Warhol Museum

Looking for something fun to do in Pittsburgh?  Looking for something fun to do in Pittsburgh that's also comic book related?  Looking for something fun to do in Pittsburgh that's also comic book related and takes place starting October 1st?  BOY that's getting specific!  But in a major twist of fate, there's something happening that fits the criteria for all three of those descriptions.

I learned recently that The Andy Warhol Museum on Pittsburgh's North Shore (right next to PNC Park, home of the nose-diving Pirates!) will soon feature the exhibit "Heroes & Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross".  This exhibit runs from October 1st all the way to January 8th of next year, but those who show up on opening day can catch some additional programming.

The exhibit itself will obviously feature Ross's work as the main attraction, but it'll also showcase some of the work (comic and otherwise) that inspired Ross, including paintings by Norman Rockwell and Ross's mother, Lynette.  I'm sure that Warhol Superman painting will be there in a prominent location, too:

Tickets for this show are $15 for adults, but if you've got scads of money lying around ($250), you can be one of 30 people to take a private tour with Alex Ross himself around the museum on October 1st at 1:30.  For $35 extra, you can go to the "Unmasked" afterparty from 8:00-11:00 (the museum is apparently anticipating having people show up to this in full costume).

For exactly zero dollars (woo!), Ross is having a signing from 3:00-5:00.  This is pretty exciting, as it'll probably be the best chance I have to get an autograph from him - if you've been to a comic convention where Ross appears, lines are always egregiously long.  There's a two-item limit for this signing, which is a great thing; it's always incredibly annoying to see someone wheel up a crate of 500 comics for a creator to sign, especially when that person stands silently as the creator signs for half an hour.

Of course, when you're limited to two items, it becomes difficult to decide on what to bring - there's the seminal Marvels and Kingdom Come, the newer Project Superpowers or Kirby: Genesis, or some of Ross's art books like Mythology.

The description on the museum's website mentions an uncompleted Andy Warhol film that will be screening for the first time since 1964...Batman/Dracula.  I'm sure it'll be a nearly incomprehensible, no-budget mess, but just the idea of a Warhol Batman movie...featuring pretty interesting.

I'm planning on going but will opt for the standard $15 ticket.  And yeah, I'll probably give Alex Ross a copy of Teddy and they Yeti...just in case he looks at it and decides, "holy crap, I need to paint a cover for this series."  I guess I'll let him if he wants to.

Here are the appropriate links for the various events:

- main exhibit page:
- private tour:
- "Unmasked" afterparty:
- autograph session:
- hours and admission information:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

In honor of the new football season, an NFL Superpro review

There's nothing quite like a new NFL season, with hope for every team (except the Browns) and the promise of another Super Bowl season for the SIX! TIME! CHAMPION! Pittsburgh Steelers.  Today's drubbing was of the Seattle Seahawks, losers of Super Bowl XL.  Let's look at a picture of that, shall we?


A few weeks ago I landed a copy of NFL Superpro: Super Bowl Special (not to be confused with NFL Superpro: Preseason Genocide) and, since I apparently had nothing else to read in my entire house, I sat down with the book.  The title (and concept, I suppose) is much maligned, often cited as the worst comic book series of all time.  After reading the first issue of this book, I feel confident in saying that the designation is unwarranted, though not by all that much.  The book comes off as a pretty standard early 1990s-era worthless comic.

Perhaps the reason that this series is so poorly reviewed is because that even in the realm of comic book absurdity, NFL Superpro comes off as unnecessarily goofy and unbelievable.  For instance, Superpro fights his enemies with form tackling and signature football moves, such as the punter's kick:

For another, he talks in an endless string of football metaphors, on one page telling crooks that they "missed the first-down marker by the length of a chain", followed almost immediately by the even more forced (if that can be believed) "this little play from scrimmage didn't gain me much yardage"!  Oh boy.

The story follows Phil Grayfield, a former number one pick in the entire draft.  As the story goes, Grayfield was injured two seasons in a row before the Eagles cut him (and then he found a magic NFL suit or's not important).  The number one player in the draft!  Cut after two seasons!  Out of all the many ridiculous things to take place in this book, that is the one I balked at the most.  I mean, the Steelers kept second-round pick Limas Sweed around for four years before getting rid of him, and he showed nothing on the field, was injured often and couldn't even land as the fifth receiver in this year's camp.  My point is, if Sweed stuck around as long as he did, there is no way a team would cut the overall first pick after only two years!

If there is anything noble to taken from the production of this book, it's the blatant anti-steroid message it has (taken, of course, to its logical comic book extreme), especially at a time when steroids and other performance enhancing drugs were much more prevalent in the league.  Perhaps today it'd focus on human growth hormone or feature Peyton Manning traveling to NFL Europe to get some stem cell treatments.

In all, NFL Superpro isn't the worst book I've ever read, unfortunately.  It's patently predictable and it stretches believability to the point where most of what takes place is just stupid, even in a universe with, say, Spider-Man in it.  It's obvious that the book was meant to serve as an NFL outreach to kids and a promotion for its teams - it was weird seeing real team logos cut and pasted on to uniforms, though they stuck with NFC teams the entire issue, and that robbed me of my chance of seeing Bubby Brister or Gary Anderson in comic book form for even a panel.

There's a rumor that writer Fabian Nicieza took on the writing chores for this special and the subsequent 12-issue series in an attempt to land season tickets to his favorite NFL team.  While that's almost the definition of selling out, I admit that I probably would do the same thing.  So, you know, if you're listening, NFL...I have a great treatment for NFL Superpro: Lessons of the Lockout.  Actually I don't, but judging from the first go-round, I bet I could whip one up in ten minutes that would go over just fine.

EDIT: I just realized that I successfully predicted the Steelers' 2008 Super Bowl victory in this post.  Just because I predict a Super Bowl victory for Pittsburgh every year takes nothing away from this fact.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The slow, (relatively) steady progress of Andromeda Jones

A few weeks ago, Karin Rindevall sent me the colored version of this Andromeda Jones pinup/cover.  It's been a long time coming but it's not quite finished just yet.  Chris Whetzel pencilled this about eight years ago (eight!) and I recently sent it to Alan Gallo to ink it...I'm planning on using it as a back cover for Teddy and the Yeti #5.  I've got a background option for it - an image of deep space Jason Moser put together for me probably around the same time Whetzel's pencils were originally done, but I'm not sure how that'll come together (a blank background might work better in any case).  Hopefully it won't take eight more years for us to see further adventures of Andromeda Jones.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Accordion Propaganda

I think this 1950s-era comic speaks for itself...although I do wonder who worked on this and what they said when they were told "yeah, we want you to put a seven-page comic together that shows how cool it can be to play the accordion.  We'll call it...'Touch my Squeeze Box'...or something.  The title's not important."

We all know that "Weird Al" Yankovic grew up reading Mad Magazine as opposed to comic books (we do all know that, right?  It's common knowledge, isn't it?), but I can't help but imagine a world where a six-year-old Yankovic picks up whatever comic this appears in, flips thought the pages and says, "eh, I'll give it a try."

Here's "In Tune With Fun" in all its glory:

The high resolution archival pdf file of this story can be found in its entirety here.  I doubt that the "free lesson" coupon is still valid, though.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My wish for the 9/11 anniversary

If you haven't picked up the double set graphic novels 9/11: Artists Respond published by DC Comics with some assistance from Dark Horse Comics, you owe it to yourself to do so.  Nearly ten years after their original publication, they remain as raw and powerful as ever.  I wrote a small review of the series a little while back and you can read it here.

It's difficult to write about this particular day because it seems like the world is putting a capstone on this event - for the last ten years, America as a country has moved from collective shock to mourning to national unity that has, every day since, slipped away a little further.  It's tragic and shameful that we've gotten to this point, but what worries me even more is that it seems like once we pause today, momentarily, to note the events of September 11th, 2001, we will move on with our lives and push away the lessons to be learned and remembered one last time, and like taking a shoebox full of photographs and shoving them into the back of a closet already stuffed to the point of overflowing, we'll relegate the collective identity and the genuine compassion we showed to a time we generically remember as "the past".

It is my hope that as the memory of September 11th fades into history and a new era slowly takes over, the legacy of this horrible event, this national terror, is one that spurs us as a nation and a planet to consider others with the same basic human charity we showed without cynicism or ulterior motive in the days that followed the attacks.  I truly hope that we can think beyond ourselves and who we are and respect the needs of all around us.  I don't want our potential to be wasted.  I don't want the phrase "9/11" to be appropriated for political posturing or for financial gain.

I live in Southwestern Pennsylvania, close to Somerset Country and the infamous "Flight 93" crash.  I was in college in 2001 and can remember the day's events in vivid detail.  But I didn't know anyone, didn't lose anyone, as a result of the terror attacks that Tuesday morning.  I can't imagine how someone more directly affected must feel on this anniversary.  I only hope that we can learn from that day, that we can move forward and be more considerate, more understanding, more forgiving, more loving.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Baltimore Comic-Con swag,, eBay trials and more!

Well, it's been a while since I've posted.  I'm sure this has caused great consternation.  Or perhaps not.  Either way, here are some random notes about a few things, mostly comic related, going on right now:

- I made it back from the Baltimore Comic-Con with some cool things, and what is the Internet for if not to show it off to random people?  I managed to land a couple autographs while shirking my booth-attending responsibilities.  Above there's Chrissie Zullo's Cinderella #1, Paul Tobin's Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #41 (we had a nice conversation about why the Thing is so awesome), and Rick Leonardi's Spider-Man 2099 #1 (Peter David signed it as well, but years and years ago).  I also got (but for some reason forgot to photograph) Superman: The Man of Steel #13 signed by the lovely Louise Simonson.

This awesome Thing magnet was first spotted at the 2010 New York Comic Con, but the person displaying it said it hadn't been released yet and therefore wouldn't sell it.  Of course, the question that leads to is "why are you displaying it in the first place, then?" but those things happen.  I finally snagged it, though, and look how cool it is!  The picture doesn't do it justice.

There were some great small press comics on display at this show.  Some I picked up included Paul Allor & company's Clockwork and Rebecca Mock's Travels mini comic.  Both were well worth it.

I got another Fantastic Four Toon Tumbler as well!  It'll look great next to...all of the other FF tumblers I have.

- The FUBAR Kickstarter project is entering its final hours, and I'd venture to say that is has been an unqualified success.  The guys have met their goal and then some, and there's still time to pick up some really cool prizes.  FUBAR volume 2 has a pretty good chance of making some real waves and getting into a lot of hands, and that's really exciting for everyone involved, including me.

The Kickstarter page, closing Friday the 9th, can be found here:

And you can see me getting ready to vandalize the booth directly below.  No one will ever be the wiser...

- Those who are prone to fits of rage should probably not click on the picture below:

Wait a minute, I can be overcome by rage at times, what does that...HOLY CRAP people are selling their Dark Knight Rises shirts on eBay for 500 bucks.  What the heck.

I wrote about the haves and have nots of those who were extras for the Heinz Field DKR scenes in regards to shirts (I saw a guy with three shirts!!!) and wondered how long it'd take for them to start showing up on eBay.  It took a little bit longer than I imagined it would have (as in, longer than immediately following the shoot), but wow, I never thought someone - multiple someones, it seems - would pay half a grand for something like this.

This may mean that I am a huge jerk, but I really hope these are mass produced at some point in the near future.  THAT'LL SHOW 'EM!  Also, I can then buy one.

- In less enraging news, Blogger tells me that this blog may be popular.  That's pretty nice to hear.  And in fact, August had more page views recorded than any pervious month by a good margin.  I don't know if that makes me want to put advertisements on the site, but hey, a little validation never hurt anyone.

- Lastly, if you are a Dukes of Hazzard fan, you should really check out our friend Larry's new site,  It's just starting out but eventually it'll be the premier place for those who collect show and movie-related merchandise (Larry just got the Shrinky Dinks, woo!).  He's even got a message board!  So...go there!  And be amazed!