Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Belated Sketch Post

Turns out, it's been a while since I posted any sketches online. I haven't posted any of the sketches I got from STAPLE! '08 or anything but Katy's sketches from San Diego '08, and it's time for sketches from STAPLE! '09. So, without further ado, the additions to my sketchbook, my theme sketchbook (Pirates, Monkeys, Ninjas and/or Robots) and Katy's sketchbook from the last year and a half.

San Diego '08



Thursday, March 26, 2009

Goodreads Review: Starman Omnibus Vol 2

The Starman Omnibus Vol. 2 The Starman Omnibus Vol. 2 by James Robinson

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
After re-reading this recently, I think that this book, only about twenty issues into the series' run, might represent the pinnacle of Starman. Which is not to say that the rest of the run is bad (although I am in the camp that views Tony Harris as the definitive Starman artist, even if he wasn't the artist for the majority of the series' run), but just that I don't know if it ever got as good as the stories in this issue.

The "Sand and Stars" arc which showed us the modern day Wesley Dodds and Dian Belmont from Sandman Mystery Theatre was a terrific conclusion, of sorts, to the romance and adventure that those two shared throughout the Wagner/Seagle series. Robinson tended to be a little too in love with the Golden Age characters in some ways, with a need to "real them up" (witness the unfortunate decision to add an extramarital affair for Ted Knight and Black Canary), but with Wes and Dian, that whole vibe really works, given that Seagle and Wagner had given them much the same treatment. "Sand and Stars" feels like a good homage to the pulp adventures of Sandman Mystery Theatre, and in many ways, Starman was the descendant of that book... hip enough to attract the more indie-minded, but knowledgeable about the superhero continuity it was working with and with an appreciation for that as well.

One of my all-time favorite stories, the Christmas story, is also in this one. It's always brought a tear to my eye, and re-reading it for the fifth or sixth time here had the same effect.

Even the Shade stories, which tended to be a little self-indulgent as they went on, were pretty good here. Shade turning down Neron's offer was a nice little snap at DC's editorial dictates and one of DC's most underwhelming crossovers (and crossover villains). Shade teaming up with Dr. Fate was a lot of fun. And Shade being the one left to tell children tales of the dead earth was a great tie-in to another mostly terrible editorial remit, the "Tales of the Dead Earth" annuals. Robinson is one of those writers who generally took an editorial idea that mostly weakened other books, acting as a straightjacket, and used it as a springboard, a writing challenge, to create something different, in line with the theme, but perfectly in line with the book.

There's also another terrific "Talking With David" issue, the "Times Past" with Mikaal in the '70s, the three-part tale of Shade, the O'Dares and Jack Knight taking on Merritt, the immortal with a demon poster... it really is like a "best of" for the series, when everyone started to hit their stride.

Though they aren't the only artists represented here, Harris and Von Grawbadger do the bulk of the art, and their work here is phenomenal.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Weekly Comics - March 25, 2009

Caped #1 (I have to admit, another deconstructionist/humorous take on superheroes didn't really sound like my thing, but this story of the executive assistants to superheroes is kind of fun)

Captain America #48 (A relatively optimistic finale to the most recent three-parter)

GI Joe Origins #2 (Y'know, I'm as big a GI Joe fan as you'll find, but I'm having real trouble following the story here. I can't quite sort out what's supposed to be going on, and I'm only about half-certain who most of the characters are at any given time)

Guardians of the Galaxy #12 (Much stronger than the previous issue, although there's a lot of hand-waving and power shifting and such, it's a pretty satisfying resolution that ties into Nova)

Incredible Hercules #127 (Great stuff, as always... I know it's not coming, but I keep hoping for some swanky omnibus of all the Pak/Van Lente Hercules stuff)

The Incredibles Family Matters #1 (Mark Waid nails it. I loved the Incredibles movie, and Waid does a terrific follow-up that is perfect all-ages superheroes, with spectacular artwork from Marcio Takara. Boom! takes a great license and turns out a great book, which is sure to be one of my favorites for the year)

The Muppet Show #1 (Roger Langridge on The Muppet Show, which is by turns weird, funny and sweet, capturing the vibe of the show with a fresh spin for its new medium... all the praise is well-deserved.)

Nova #23 (Richard Rider on Earth turns out to be pretty interesting, and I liked the reveals on Dr. Necker and the twists that lead to the cover image)

Star Wars Legacy #34 (After the diversion on Mon Calamari, it's back to the main story, which reminds me why I like the book so much. It's a bit melodramatic, but Duursema's art is terrific, and Ostrander is telling a pretty sweeping story that keeps with the Star Wars feel nicely)

Superman #686 (Y'know, I'm re-reading Starman in omnibus form right now, and Superman just doesn't compare. We spent an entire issue setting up Mon-El's secret identity? Really?)

Thunderbolts #130 (T-Bolts has a streak of dark humor, but Deadpool's wacky shtick is kind of a weird fit for the book, and Bong Dazo's artwork, while good, is more inline with the McGuinness school of art that defined Deadpool than the Deodato-style that has defined T-Bolts. In other words, an OK issue, but one of the weaker ones)

Umbrella Academy #5 (Vampires and giant mummies in Vietnam, a plot to time travel and make sure Kennedy's assassination goes as planned, some of the weirdest superpowers ever... this book is trippy, beautiful and fantastic)

Usagi Yojimbo #119 (Usagi and his allies vs. a demon sorcerer and zombie samurai. Awesome.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Just A Thought...

I'd been watching the steadily declining sales of Green Arrow/Black Canary, and reading something about Hawkman, along with the general discussion I've had with various folks at the store about how "resting" a character for a while can result in big sales (witness JMS's Thor, Kevin Smith's Green Arrow, etc.) and I came up with this:

Cancel the currently underperforming Brave and the Bold series, relaunch it as a new number one:

Brave and the Bold starring Green Arrow and Hawkman.

You could do the liberal/conservative road trip thing ala Green Arrow/Green Lantern with a character whose politics more easily fit into the conservative mold than Green Lantern, who always felt forced into the "establishment stiff" role in some way. You'd get two really popular characters who always seem to struggle on their own, but together, might be a pretty good pairing in terms of fanbase. Put 'em on a tour of the DC Universe, ala the Brubaker/Stewart Catwoman story. Have them re-join the Justice League when sales start fading to give it a boost. Bring in Black Canary, the Atom, Green Lantern and all their friends for one-off stories.

Ideal writer for this would be John Rogers, but he's busy with Leverage. Then there's Geoff Johns, but he's busy with writing everything else in the DC Universe. Definitely keep Winick and Willingham way the hell off of it, when they mix politics and the DCU you get the dull, plodding, borderline nonsensical "DC Decisions."

Anyway, just a thought. Not that I expect this to happen or anything, but just thought it would be kind of interesting.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Weekly Comics - March 18, 2009

GI Joe Cobra #1 (Wow, that was a really cool, different take on G.I. Joe, focusing on an undercover agent infiltrating Cobra. Probably the best IDW Joe book so far)

Groom Lake #1 (Wacky, strange, beautiful art, pretty much what you'd expect from Ryall and Templesmith)

Punisher #3 (I hate what's been done to The Hood, and this issue is at least half about the Hood, which makes it my least favorite of the series thus far. On the other hand, the art's still great, and I love the hacker-Punisher teamwork)

Uncanny X-Men #507 (As a retailer, I have to ask... why the hell did every X-Book, including *both* main X-Men books, come out today instead of spreading them out? As a fan, I have to ask? A "Warren" suit? Really? And Dr. Nemesis continues to need a good crotch-punching. But... this is still pretty fun stuff, and akin to the Morrison X-Men, a different flavor for the team while still feeling like X-Men)

X-Men Legacy #220 (This really reminds me of the late '80s/early '90s X-Men that I enjoyed, and I'm even liking the use of Whedon's lame "Danger" villain)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Added to Blogroll: Runners

I've done reviews in the past of Sean Wang's excellent sci-fi adventure comic Runners, and I was super-excited when it was announced as coming out, in full color, from Archaia.

Bad news? That didn't work out. Good news? It's because Wang is running the whole series, from the beginning, as a webcomic. Get onboard and check this out, it's fantastic stuff that more people should definitely read. And if you've already read Runners, Wang is doing commentary on the pages as he goes, so there's still new stuff.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Added to Blogroll: Artists!

A frequently-updated sketchblog from a variety of talented creators, including Cameron Stewart, Andy Belanger, J. Bone, Karl Kerschl and host Ramon Perez featuring sketches of girls. Sexy girls, regular girls, all kinds of girls, all done by great artists.

Also added, from STAPLE!

Evan Bryce, artist on President Awesome, who runs his own frequently-updated art blog that is full of great images. Bryce has a cool style that reminds me a little bit of what I love about Kristian Donaldson's work.

Monica Gallagher, artist of Gods and Undergrads and Bonnie N. Collide, Nine to Five, a terrific artist who I met at this year's STAPLE!

Kennon James, another artist I met this year at STAPLE!, whose "C is for Carnage" print and Funky Fish Book were some of the things I picked up.

And I would have added Nick Derington, but he hasn't updated since December... go look at his Flickr collection, though... the dude is a badass artist, on top of being a really nice guy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Weekly Comics for March 11, 2009

Action Comics #815 (Better than expected, in large part due to Eddy Barrows' excellent art, but I still don't particularly care about these characters, and I feel like I missed a lot of backstory that might have helped... am I supposed to recognize Nightwing and/or Flamebird's true identities? Or are they just random Kryptonians?)

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1 (I have to admit, I'm impressed. Daniel does some nice work with Robin, Nightwing, even bratty Damian, and sells a near-apocalyptic Gotham that is like a cross between No Man's Land and Knightfall. That means there's bad to go along with the good, and it's not new territory, but it's interesting enough)

BPRD The Black Goddess #3 (How does this series keep getting better? It should be impossible, but the big old army vs. frog creature war, interspersed with more origin material for the bad guy, is beautifully drawn and fascinating to read)

Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns (Finally got around to reading this, and it's a good opener. Love the Sinestro/Hal dynamic, like the sinister scarred Guardian, like the oh-so-metal Red Lanterns... still find Cowgirl immeasurably boring as a supporting character, even if only on a page or two)

GI Joe #3 (The two-issue slow build gives way to an action-packed third issue, which is my favorite of the new series thus far)

Green Lantern Corps #34 (Jumped in after reading Green Lantern and while I don't recognize all the characters (boy could this book use a headshot roster ala the Legion), there's some pretty interesting stuff going on here, nice side-plot to the Red Lantern story)

Guardians of the Galaxy #11 (I love the cosmic action, but I can't stand the Starlin-esque cosmic mumbo-jumbo, and this issue is mostly about that. Drax's brand of snark, and the level of craft Abnett & Lanning have, keep it from sinking, but this is the first off issue of the book for me)

The Walking Dead #59 (Goddamn, but this is a dark book! Still fascinating reading, though, and a terrific action sequence this issue)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Obama's Weekly Address

Gotta admit, we're more than a month in, and I still love that Obama is our President.

STAPLE! 2009

I dropped off Twitter for a day because I have an iPod Touch, not an iPhone, so I couldn't Twitter the show. It was a great one, though. Rambling post ahead.

We co-sponsored with Austin Books to bring in Jeffrey Brown and Stan Sakai, and I helped run Stan's table most of the day. We did a brisk business... Stan sold out of almost everything he brought, I sold out of about 80% of the Usagi graphic novels I bought. Including a pretty sizable number of volume ones and a way too small number of Art of Usagi. Two shows in, I'm still learning how to order for STAPLE!

Oh, and the food, by Mike Barnes, was awesome. I had a chicken and sausage gumbo for lunch, a cuban sandwich for, uh, let's call it lunch part two and another cuban sandwich for, uh, we'll call that "pre-dinner." Seriously awesome food.

Pre-party at Austin Books was fun as usual. Every time I go there (which is generally once a year for the STAPLE! party) it looks all the more impressive. The new glass doors are particularly swanky, but I'm always just floored by the deep stock that Brad's got at that shop. I'm proud of Rogues Gallery, but Austin Books always does make me feel a little bit tiny by comparison.

What I love about the pre-party, and STAPLE! in general, is that I get to feel like I have this huge group of friends. I know a ton of people in this community, both local and not, and although I never see them more than once a year, that once a year is always a blast.

Post-pre-party (labored time description, I know), a bunch of us wound up at T&S Seafood, which I didn't know stayed open until 1 AM. Nick Derington's wife Tonya stunned us all by ordering for the table, and getting a great selection of traditional favorites along with Peking Duck, Salt and Pepper Shrimp (with shell on, and now that I've had that I'll never eat it the other way again) and a bunch of other stuff. For $20 each, we all got stuffed.

Dean Trippe stayed with me for his first STAPLE!, and he seemed to have a great time. I got to spend a fair amount of time at the Live Art show hanging out with Kristian Donaldson and Jason Murphy, two friends I've had for a while, plus a lot of time chatting with Kristin Hogan, who is just super-cool and fun. I also met a bunch of new people and discovered a bunch of new artists. I really dug hanging out with and getting art from Evan Bryce and Monica Gallagher, and I loved the stuff I picked up from Kennon James. And she's a longtime friend who I never get to see enough at these things, but I loved hanging out a little with Danielle Corsetto, and got to pick up the second book of Girls With Slingshots.

Oh, btw, I did podcast interviews for STAPLE! that are up on the STAPLE! site, and guested on the League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen (or LEOG) podcast over at Spill in advance of the show... anyone who dug the Comic Pants podcast should listen to the crazed rambling of the LEOG show, which in this case was focused on Daredevil and STAPLE! If you liked the Comic Pants podcast, you'll like the LEOG 'cast. I may be guesting on a few more down the road, if I can find the time and the LEOG guys don't wise up and rescind the invitation.

I bought two pieces of live art (one from Stan, one from Monica) and a few prints, and those will all go up around the store in the next week or two, as I get time to frame them. It was a great show, and I'm sad that it's over for another year, but glad I don't have to do anything more in regards to planning or making sure things are done on my end for another year either. :)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Weekly Comics - March 4, 2009

Agents of Atlas #2 (Honestly, the Dark Reign setup is feeling a bit weird for this book, and the flashback/modern-day inter-mixed structure is weirding me out a bit too. I still really like it, but I don't love it the way I did the miniseries)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #23 (I loathe the character of Andrew. And I don't honestly know who the rogue slayer was supposed to be. So I found this to be a weaker issue of the series. Still better than the nonsensical future-speak of Whedon's last arc, though)

Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #1 (Read this one on a recommendation from D3, and kind of liked it. On one hand, I'm tired of writers having to justify Reed's out-of-character Civil War/Illuminati behavior, but on the other, it's nice to see him being the humanitarian thinker, and I do love super-confident Sue Storm and big 'ol super-science stuff)

Hellboy The Wild Hunt #4 (A phenomenally good issue, with beautiful art by Fegredo and a great Baba Yaga backup with art by Guy Davis... but a months-long (at least three?) break halfway through the miniseries? What the hell, Dark Horse?)

Hulk #10 (Read this on a recommendation from Dan Grendell, and he's right... it's fun. Silly, a little stupid, but with great art by McGuinness and a cool, pop superhero comics premise)

Hulk: Broken Worlds #1 (Not really enough space for any of the stories to shine, and there are some clunky moments, especially in Peter David's story, an abrupt ending, notably in Van Lente's story and some weird, hard-to-follow art from Diego LaTorre. Passable, but sorta forgettable)

Killer of Demons #1 (Chris Sims is right. This book is a hell of a lot of fun.)

New Avengers: Reunion #1 (This was... not bad. But I have a huge fondness for Hawkeye and Mockingbird, and I'm not wild about these new, more paranoid versions of them. Interesting art from David Lopez, but the inks and colors make it look a lot different from his Fallen Angel or Catwoman work, more like the Luna Brothers, and honestly? I prefer the other stuff)

Punisher #2 (Wow, I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a Punisher book this much. Remender does a great job of making him the Punisher, recognizable as the driven, dangerous guy from the Ennis books, but very definitely in the Marvel Universe. Opena's art is stunning. And I love the new "Microchip" character. One of my favorite reads of the week, even though I'm almost a month late in getting to it)

Secret Warriors #2 (Not really digging the whole "Hydra secretly runs SHIELD" thing, or uber-evil-for-evil's sake Von Strucker, but... Nick Fury as pissed-off ex-spy on a tear is interesting, and Caselli's art is really nice)

Spider-Man & Human Torch: Bahia De Los Muertos! (Fun, inventive, beautifully illustrated, these Beland/Doe one-shots are a treat, and I hope we'll get more of them in the future)

Superman: World of New Krypton #1 (I think the whole "Superman not in the Superman books" is a horrendous idea, and Robinson's been off his game for a while now, but... this is an OK first issue. Gives Superman a new playground without downplaying that he's still a superhero, even surrounded by others with his powers. I'm not sure I'm interested in twelve issues of this, and I'm certain it's not my ideal Superman story, but I'm interested in at least one more)

War of Kings #1 (Great opener. I'm not a huge fan of the Inhumans or the Shi'ar, but Abnett & Lanning serve up another action-packed opener to a big cosmic miniseries, and this feels as promising as Annihilation Conquest did)

X-Men First Class Finals #2 (Pretty neat transition miniseries, as Parker bids farewell to his take on the X-kids, and inserts a little story around things like Scarlet Witch joining the Avengers, Beast going to work for Brand, etc.)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Goodreads Review: Atomic Robo Vol 2

Atomic Robo TPB Volume 2: Atomic Robo & the Dogs of War (Atomic Robo) Atomic Robo TPB Volume 2: Atomic Robo & the Dogs of War by Brian Clevinger

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
A lot of fun, just like the first one, but the World War II setting, combined with the heartfelt thanks to WWII vet grandfathers by the creative team, gives this one a bit of a bounce over the last one. It's still got plenty of the wacky, from the over-the-top Scottish accent of the character based on Clevinger's grandfather to much of Robo's dialogue, and there's a lot of action and fun, but... there's also some poignant moments.

The post-war finale with Robo's nemesis is nice, quiet, effective little tale about the ultimate reward of evil. There's an underlying respect and appreciation for the troops who fought in World War II, without getting all "the younger generation sucks by comparison" like Tom Brokaw.

And the art is terrific, and Matt Fraction is right in his prediction of great fame for colorist Ronda Pattison.

View all my reviews.