Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Comic Book Industry death spiral

found this nice article about the reasons the comic book industry is in decline..though to me its simple, once you lose the young reader your done…and who can afford to spend the kind of money these books cost now

Price and hassle? You used to be able to get comics for one or two bucks, even less, and they were at grocery stores and things.

Now they're at bookstores and specialty stores and _expensive_. Meaning you can pay five bucks and up for a _single_ normal-sized 17 page comic. So people wait for the trades. We didn't _have to_ have a Free Comic Day back when there were full quarter bins and lots of independent publishers. Edit: Then again we didn't have bookstores _closing_ and going out of business left, right and center either.

Too much shock and awe? It used to be, at least with Marvel Comics, that the things were about _good artwork_ and relatable characters. But with the past ten years of event after event after event....a lot of the characters people grew up with are just killed or discarded. Not to mention, the artwork has suffered a LOT over the years, and I blame the Wizard Promo (tm) for this as much as anything.

Everybody draws the over-rendered splash page now. Or they draw and paint these "perfect" shots that are near-photorealistic....and posed and stiff as a board. Or they go too far the other way and do things _sketchy_ or in too much of a manga-wannabe style. This ends up producing some _odd_ results when your penciller goes one way (like oh, Humberto Ramos on his X-Men runs) and the inkers and colorists are in "splash-page" mode, painting a manga image like they're Alex Ross.

So basically, nerd-rage aside, people are tired. Tired of the grind of events that never end, and tired of paying through the nose when the comics don't have narratives or art styles they _Like_.

Imagine that, not paying $5-6 U.S. for a single comic book that irritates you. Will wonders never cease?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Howard Chaykin

I always loved his work ever since he did the original star was adaption, he had a very pretty defined style, especially faces, no one could draw a slutty broad like Howard Chaykin, though most of his men tended to look alike.
  I think every artist has a specialty and a drawback , some can't draw hands others have trouble with hair, i think Chaykin was especially good at drawing eyes

Howard Chaykin's Midnight Men

one of the things about collecting so many comics from so many year,and collecting them by art, is you get something happen like this….i find this comic from 1993, part of Marvels Epic line, Howard Chaykins Midnight Men, I read issue 1 then i'm stuck. Did i collect the whole series, don't know…so i have no idea what happens next.
   The story is fairly simple, a sharp jewel theif, with a heart of Gold, somehow gets involved with a scumbag who likes to beat up his girlfriend and has no problem killing people..the jewel robbery goes awry when a super hero similar to Batman crashes the scene….as it turn out its not the guy but the guy the guy trained to take his place…the DarkAngel is killed trying to save our hero…and the original DarkAngel decides to train our man, having seen something in him that he likes.
   I guess i can figure out what happens next, we have our villain, our Hero, the old hero who trains the new, all we need is the love interest and something for all them to fight for.
  Knowing Chaykin our hero will prevail in the end, though things will probably get messy…though i would love tp know what really happens

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Spiderman gets bitch slapped

Not for nothing but DR Octopus beats the hell out of spiderman in issue 3

a bunch of mean bastards

one thing about the villains in the marvel universe they were mean rotten bastards, has the phrase          " insolent dolt " ever been used so much, I don't know who was meaner: Dr Doom or Dr Octopus, i would say it was a tie, but they both had similar dialogue


In Amazing Spiderman  # 3 Dr Octopus is introduced in a superbly written  story. Doc Ock is everything Peter Parker is not, an Arrogant bastard who just wants to screw with the world. What makes this story so interesting is that Spiderman is soundly defeated by Doc Ock and faces a moment of doubt in his career but a talk about heroism from the Human Torch Johny Storm gives him the inspiration to take on Doc Ock one more time, which is the point about being a hero, not failing but never giving up

learning on the job

sideman learns how to use his powers in issue 2

with great powers…..

come great responsibilities . the greatest quote  in the history of comics

uncle Ben

all power corrupts and all that…. and new found power sure was making a mess of Peter Parker turning him into a jerk…then fate steps in

Along came a spider

now that you see what made the Fantastic Four so interesting , now lets take a look at Spiderman to see How the stan Lee / steve Ditko brought Peter Parker into our lives, and made us care

Fantastic Four # 4 one of my favorite comics

Lee and Kirby began to hit their stride with this issue, which marks the re-emergence of the Sub Mariner, Namor awakens a gigantic creature to destroy New York City, Ben Grimm show just how courageous he is, by going on a virtual suicide mission to save the city

the amazing Fantasti-car

it kind of was fantasi,,,,the way it could separate in mid-air like that…shit almost 50 years later and no one has come up with anything like it…we need a real life reed richards in the worst way

how a comic book saved the Earth

clever Reed….clever, clever Reed

watch out Sue

If Robin was the boy hostage in Batman, Sue was always in need of saving for the first 6 years of the comic

the first of the bad guys

the villains at marvels had back stories and origins as compelling as the hero's

first of many Gizmos and dohickeys

the first of the thousand of scientific Gizmos that Jack Kirby would draw up for Marvel comics

what are they pin-ups

Stan Lee added a sense of humor along with science fiction and romance to his stories

the world meets the fantastic four

Fantastic Four # 1

wish i had this comic….i could retire

comic book characters and the movies

comic books are like movies, except you read with your eyes while your mind puts together the movie in your mind. The very idea of a super hero movie had been kicked along for a while before it ever happened. It was the technology that needed to improve, but still it was along time coming.
   The first one that really hit its mark was Superman with Christopher Reeves, it was very well done, a little dorky and Jokey but still a serious effort, though the Lex Luthor character as compared to the villains in the Dark knight series come off as silly, Superman 2 was also excellent and in fact may have been better then its antecedent, but superman 3 was a dud.
  Timothy Burtons Batman was also excellent but once again the villain come off as second rate, Jack Nichlson Joker is silly, as though that is what is expected of Villians in comic book movies, and lets not even talk about Danny Devito as the Penguin in Batman 2 or Michelle Pfiefer as Catwomen.
   Batman 3 was so bad it threatened to destroy the whole idea of movies based on comic book heroes, and then things changed.
 For some reason Marvel was having problems getting its characters on the big screen, all kinds of law suits, people screwing around while their was real money to be made on screen and dvd etc. Finally they got a movie to screen, the terrible beyond belief Fantastic Four. Some how they found the nerve to make another one, i guessed they learned from their mistake, and this time they got it all right, they found the perfect cast, perfect director and the X-men was awesome.
   They followed this with a great Spiderman 2 years later and we were off and running. X-men 2 and Spiderman 2 made a fortune and people  were looking to make more superhero movies, and we got a reboot of Batman. But THIS batman was different then the last version, this movie was deadly serious, and the villains were worth advesaries, Then Iron Man and then the incredible game changer of all game changers: The Dark Knight. This movie just wasn't successful…it became the highest grossing movie of all time, a literal cultural phenomena.
   Over this past summer both the Avengers and Dark Knight rises ruled the box office and sold lots of popcorn for the owners of movie theaters
  what has been shown is this, if the studies are going to be serious and put the money with great special effects, great directors and serious actors, not too mention compelling stories, they can make a fortune, on these characters who have literally been entertaining people for years before they were ever near a movie screen, because the characters are great and compelling, with excellent villains and characters.
   Its just like the comic books, the x-men comic was ready to be canceled because the people writing tim and drawing them didn't have that spark that people recognize immediately and thats what you must  have. Daredevil is a great character but that movie was a bust, in the hands of the right man, it could be just as great as the Dark knight.
   I don't know if the Fantastic Four can ever be a good movie, the powers of the heroes are too tough to duplicate on screen, i mean Reed Richards stretching ability looks almost silly on screen, and the Thing is so hard to duplicate, and sues power is invisibility for goodness sake, how can you even show it, its a shame, when it comes to characters The Fantastic Four has it all, the perfect Villian The Darth Vader like Doctor Doom, allies The Silver Surfer, and its a great bunch of characters, Reed is as Brave as Bruce Wayne and when it comes to intelligence he's Tony Stark times three, Sue is beautiful and Reed has a Rival in the Namor the Submariner for her affections, The Ben Grimm character is a tragic character, a handsome man turned into a walking freak show but with the strength to go toe to toe with the hulk and a hero through and through, and Johny i guess he's the Justine Beiber of the group and that will bring in the young girls.
   Its the idea of rebooting The Batman character and then building a trilogy around that vision that was the real game changer, now if you make a bad version of let say Daredevil just reboot it with a different director and star.

how much is the character Batman worth

Talk about intellectual property. When Bob Kane and Bill Fingers created Batman in may 1939 could they ever imagine a day when that character would be worth a Billion dollars

 when you think about it a character like Batman may be worth a Billion dollars if not more. Thanks to their popularity in movies. But this movies would have been nothing but Junk without the Batman character first created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, made more popular by a TV show in the 1960s, then redefined by artists like Neal Adams and Marshall Rogers and a writer like Dennis O'neil and then probably the biggest of all interpretations in Frank Millers Dark Knight which created a personal dialogue that made the character darker and almost bit unhinged, followed by many great stories and creators, But it is the great character itself, The Billionaire made Orphan on one horrible night, his mother and father dead, the pearl Necklace, and then his menagerie of adversaries..most important of all…his arch nemeses The Joker.
   It has become a privilege to write or draw Batman, and anybody who does it knows they are tinkering with history
  Comic characters and movies were always a perfect fit, we were just all waiting for the technology to meet up with the vision.
  and of course the right men with vision, who could turn the whole thing into art

X-men 137

Take a look at this 2 page spread that basically starts issue 137, How the characters are displayed, how it was all thought out, The beautiful form of storm front and center, Collosus holding Jean,the background, all the characters presented, Space and the stars in the background…this is what you call getting your moneys worth, and its only page 1.
   This is what Mcfarlane and the rest who ran to form Image just couldn't understand, you can not re-create the background history of beloved characters, by creating some johny come lately heroes in spandex, while characters like Peter Parker and Wolverine are heroes we love, we have invested ourselves in them .
  The fate of Jean Grey means a little more then the Fate of Spawn. 

a brief history of time

i guess 1975 is really the beginning of the modern era. Stan Lee , well he changed it all, bringing us all these screwed up introspective heroes. He began in the early 1960s, the next Paradigm shift was Neal Adams, and a new wave of incredible illustrators, Adams, Steranko, Bernie Wrightson , they advanced the medium, and overnight comics were more grown up with a deeper realism.
   They held court through the late 1960s and into the early 1970s, then something happened and comics hit a pot hole, Lee was gone, and the great Artists who had breathed life into the industry had taken off to go it on their own. Which was a bust for them..and us. but the same thing would happen all over when a great and talented group would desert Marvel for Image in the mid 1990s, so history repeats itself i guess.
   George Perez and Marshall Rogers lept things a live, till the next big thing happened, and it would happen in the least expected place. The X-men was as close to cancellation as comic could come, the misfit mutants had hit a rut…but help was on the way and that help would transform Marvel comics. Chris Claremont teamed up with John Byrne on the uncanny x-men.
  I guess i collect comics more for the art first and the writing second. It makes sense as comics are a visual feast. And a collector can tell right off the back if the people writing and drawing a comic are into or if they are just in it for a pay check.
  Its all about the Process.  John Byrne on uncanny X-men is a man just bursting with creativity, and giving all in he has, John Byrne on Fantastic Four is a man collecting a paycheck.
  Byrne and Claremont were like the Lennon and Mccarthy of comics, and absolutely perfect team, who created magic. their run on X-men thrilled me, and i anticipated every next issue as though awaiting a gift.
  It all culminated with x-men 137: the fate of the Jean Grey and her Pheonix persona. great art and great  writing. Jean Grey gives her life for her friends. and amazingly enough just 4 issues later they would top themselves with days of future past.
  then they broke up, but Claremont kept the x-men going with a string of talented artists, but to me it was not the same.
  Things began to look bleak again the along came Frank Miller, and his re-imagining of BATMAN, and the Dark knight ..Brne went to reboot The Fantastic Four..but once again Comics hit a creative void.
   and then something amazing happened…somewhere about 1990 a new wave of artist appeared almost out of the blue, Jim Lee, Todd Mcfarlane and many others, Mcfarlane made his mark on Spiderman, while Lee joined with Claremont to make the X-men just as big as it had ever been, and besides these great young guns, Miller was still around ad others made it a new golden age, and then along came independent comics and comics like Preacher, the comic book shops were buzzing again, it was like a new golden age…..and then Alex Ross threw it all over the top with Marvels….and then Kingdom Come for DC…..but then…
   It all came apart…all these young artists…well they took off to ply their trade for Image comics laboring over characters no one cared about, while back at Marvel and DC things went Haywire. Gimmicks, reboots and nonsense , every comic was made to feel like a collectors item..with special covers, the death of major characters etc…after awhile i loss interest.
   And now we are here

10 best comics of all time

before we get to the nitty gritty lets first answer this question. If the house was on fire which 10 comics would you grab on the way out.

top best reads
Fantastic Four 51  a great story about a lonely outcast, who finds away to change places with the thing, ( not even going to try to explain the science involved)he becomes the Thing, while Ben Grim reverts to his original form. But the villain becomes the hero when he gives up his life to save Reeds life.
Marvels 2-4  simply the best ever, you go along nearly 22 years into collecting comics, you grow up collecting and then something amazing comes along. Alex Ross came like a bolt out of the blue, the best artist in the history of comics….hands down
X-men 141… another bolt out of the blue, Chris Claremont was the great writer who proved that great writing could still be found in comics, and John Byrne was the artist, and they resurrected the comic business …thats all…and this book was thier last great gift to the fans.
the Dark knight returns by Frank Miller.  Changed the comic book industry , thats how powerful this comic was. Just amazing. What Nolan did to the movies with his 3 batman movies, Mller did to comics with his 4 books. all 4 books are amazing , but i will get to them in more depth in the future. The question is …..did he change comics for the better…because comics moved to the dark side
Preacher, for a long time this nutty comic series by the warped mind of Garth Ennis was my favorite, and if i had to pick one issue or Arc of issues it was " all in the family "and man what a fucked up family, from Grand Ma on down …sheesh. Just great writing.
  there are so many great comics..but these are my fireman specials. what would be the 10 you would grab


i don't know if 1975 was a good year for comics or not but thats when i started collecting them, i had read them before that, but this is win i started collecting them, keeping whatever i bought and preserving them as neatly as i could.
  Probably one of the best days in my life happened somewhere around 1978, my dad brought home a sack of comics, don't even remember where he got them, but it was a bunch of old Fantastic Fours, i think issues 32-64, some of the best comics ever done,and sue valuable ones, after that i was a serious collector. Especially Fantastic Four.My friend Willie also began collecting at about this time, we were both about 13 years old. He started collecting Spiderman, his earliest was spiderman 12, so it was a really good collection.
  As it turned out a comic book store started in our neighborhood at this time, and we spent a lot of time there, though the place was really a front for the mob.
  Now i have thousands of comics, and really don't know what to do with them, if anybody wants to buy my collection let me know, its everything between 1975 and 2000.Though i really don't want to sell it, but yo never know.
  Anyway i will use his blog to talk about it and anything else going on in comics these days.