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April, 2012 Monthly archive

Oh my, is it time for our favorite local convention again??

Why yes! Yes, it is!

Stumptown is here and it’s time to have fun in Portland, currently blessed w/it’s unofficial status as a “Top Two” comics town (what the other city might be I will let the scholars debate).

If you’re not here or on your way already,  you can still make it. Should be a fun time.

I mean, LOOK AT THIS:

I started making a map with all our friends and their locations and blah blah blah, but man I had to stop or else the map would have looked like this:

Anyhow, yeah here’s the deal:

PRESS GANG, including STUDY GROUP, FAMILY STYLE, and FLOATING WORLD COMICS is #occupying a grip of booth space over in the 200 block, 207-209.

SG friends, family & contributors are all around us as well!

  • Tom Neely at a-20
  • Sparkplug Comic Books at a-19
  • Revival House at booth 211 (including homedawgs Chris Cilla, Tims Root & Goodyear, & Jason T. Miles!)
  • It Will All Hurt (and some other stuff) creator Farel Dalrymple at a-12
  • That Wuvable Oaf Ed Luce at 206
  • Pony Club Gallery, including LONE WOLF creator Jennifer Parks at 205
  • Studio J-Fish at 204
  • Max Clotfelter & Kelli Froh at a-13
  • Oh shit, Jesse Moynihan at a-9
ok I’ma stop now, the point is: lots of awesome people all on one wall, it’s going to be a fun time. And you can get either one of the Study Groups I’ll have for sale signed by a ton of people!

 

WHAT IS UP WITH PRESS GANG: 

 

STUDY GROUP: I’ll have some copies of all of our SG publications, as well as a handfull of Bodega Press books, INCLUDING both volumes of MOURNING STAR by Kazimir Strzepek, who will be in attendance!

Also at the Study Group table, Sharknife and PENG! creator Corey Lewis will be splitting time between our spot and the Oni Press booth, selling copies of his super-dope Layered Jacket Mini.

Snakebomb maestro Jackson Wyatt Hayden will also be there repping his crew and the Snakebomb anthology.

SG Magazine #1 interview subject Craig Thompson will also be signing copies of the magazine for one hour, either on Saturday or Sunday… I can’t remember. It’s the same day he’s signing at the CBLDF table. Whatever. Craig has a great, super revealing 20 page interview in the new issue and it’s basically a “how to” course of it’s own complete with TONS of previously unpublished Habibbi process art. Craig has graciously offered to sign some copies at our table and chat a bit. So, uh it’s either Saturday or Sunday from 3-4 that Craig will be hanging out.

I’m also going to see if I can talk the Magazine co-editor Milo George out of his zen monastery for one of the days, so you might see him around. If he shows up, let him know what you think of his Craig interview or the ever popular Old Comics Weds posts!

Additionally, I’ll have a bunch of prints, including these new ones:

 

FAMILY STYLE:  Francois will be there with all 3 of the recent ELF WORLD anthologies, and you probably haven’t seen the very excellent #3 yet! MOME and ELF WORLD contributor Andrice Arp will be in attendance.

FLOATING WORLD COMICS: Jason will be there with all of his awesome new books like DIY MAGIC and the brand new Benjamin Marra AMERICAN PSYCHO DRAWINGS newspaper they just collaborated on.  It’s beautiful! Ben will be in attendance and he’s also debuting his new comic LINCOLN WASHINGTON: FREE MAN, which is balls out awesome!

Jason also organized all the panels, and along with pal Ryan Alexander-Tanner’s workshop schedule, this fest has A TON of exciting things to do when you’re not shopping and yukking it up with hung-over cartoonists. Check out the full schedule here. Of potential interest is a panel on Sunday from 2-2:45 called “The New Underground” which I’m on with a bunch of awesome peoples. here’s the blurb:

Frank Santoro referred to the current independent comics scene as a dawn of a new “Golden Age”. There is a theory that if you go deep enough underground you hit the actual main stream. This generation is equally fluent in zines and Tumblr accounts; genre exploration and abstract art; printing process and independent distribution. Join panelists Chris Cilla, Max Clotfelter, Farel Dalrymple, Julia Gfrorer, Jack Hayden, Jason Miles, Jesse Moynihan, Emily Nilsson, Zack Soto, Angie Wang and Malachi Ward for a roundtable discussion on the future of underground comics.

I don’t even know what we’re going to talk about, but that’s a cool bunch of people to be lumped in with. There’s a bunch more, including a presentation by pal and MOME contributor T Edward Bak, a Skype-powered layout workshop w/Frank Santoro, and a digital inking tutorial by Ben Marra.

SO YEAH. Stumptown. If I’m wearing sunglasses inside it’s because I’m hungover.

 

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Still crushed on deadlines, but I wanted to tell the world: A lot of Jack Kirby’s Invaders covers are terrible.

I don’t know if it was always there and it just took the wrong inkers to bring it out — the two Kirby covers in this post were both inked by Joe Sinnott, which makes this even more baffling — but The King’s figures developed a certain teddy-bear proportion that gave even Hitler a cuddliness that I hope wasn’t intended.

The most extreme example of this has to be the cover of The Art of Jack Kirby, inked by Kevin Eastman:

I couldn’t find a scan of the back cover, which features the most hugable Red Skull, Dr. Doom, Darkseid and Galactus you will ever see.

[11PM Edit: By My Victuals, BETRAYED! -- Jeremy "Eagle Eyes" Pinkham just pointed out that in the above Invaders cover, "Thor looks like he's struggling with a painful bowel movement, and lo and behold between his legs we can clearly see he's literally shitting bricks."]

One of the more baffling aspects to Kirby’s post-1970 career is how often editors had his faces re-inked to make them slicker, more delicate; his Superman heads at DC redrawn mostly by Murphy Anderson, but then John Romita and/or the Marvel bullpen touch-up artists would do the same to Jack when he returned to the company a few years later. Here, in the focus of what’s an otherwise pretty straight-forward late-1969-looking Kirby/Sinnott image is a rather dainty Romita face for Captain America, a character Kirby never learned to draw correctly, and what looks more like a JRSR face for Master Man as well.

[Hello, humorless nerds who have stopped reading this to jump straight down to the comments box to chew me out about CLEARLY NOT KNOWING THAT JACK CO-CREATED CAP IN 1941 LOL.]

What’s especial odd about the above cover, considering the alterations, is the Human Torch’s face; that’s a Johnny Storm face and hair [and maybe his uniform, too; the WWII Torch had yellow cuffs], not a Jim Hammond. I really like the open-lined faces and oddly Fosteresque solutions for drawing eyes that the K/S team developed toward the end of Kirby’s Fantastic Four run; it’s nice to see that again, even though that style got the wrong Torch onto the cover.

In comparison, Gil Kane turned in some snazzy, dynamic covers:

They’re nothing to give Alex Schomburg a sleepless night, much less Paul Bacon, but this pair of Kanes are nice to look at. I always liked when his figures looked chiseled out of instead of rendered in.

By the way, the above are covers from issues I have nothing to say about, except maybe “Wow, this comic was cheap, stupid and lazy, in the bad way.”

Because I can’t post much of anything without dragging poor Frank Robbins into it, here’s a page from issue #3: I would be very surprised to learn that it wasn’t dragged out and used as a cudgel as least a few times during the last few years of shitty/inconsistent characterizations of Captain America.

Even when faced with a true, not merely existential, global threat to the freedom and safety of America, Cap won’t let a teammate even pimp-slap a Nazi officer.

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I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Frank Robbins owns [or pwns] the monkeyass of any person who has ever held a loaded #5 brush to a piece of paper and been paid for the results. That he may have done all of the art on Johnny Hazard for its entire 33-year run [aside from illness and vacations] is amazing; Peanuts is undoubtedly the greater one-man achievement in the funny papers, but Charles Schulz never had to draw hot women and B-17 bombers in perspective, now did he. When the serialized-adventure strip began to die out in the early ’70s, Robbins transitioned to adventure comic books with a spastic burlesque of the superhero body that suggested he was always more comfortable drawing a hero in a three-piece suit than in a primary-color union suit.

Initially writing/drawing Batman, the Shadow and war/ghost stories for DC — not to mention largely inking his own pencils — Robbins was a more dynamic version of the fully realized but limited-by-definition adventure-strip cartoonist whose syndication lifeline was slowly fraying and splitting while the strip’s actual continuities were still capable of throwing sparks [as compared to Capp or Caniff's published endgames, which were as vibrant and exciting as watching old men try to set fire to wet piles of last year's leaves and newspapers.] But when Robbins moved from DC mystery men to Marvel superheroes, his figure work went apeshit, with results that baffled and/or enraged at least two generations of nerds who grew up and came to value his ebullient but realist cartooniness over contemporary fan favorites like Mike Kaluta and Neal Adams.

It’s a shame that Robbins didn’t live long enough to be properly hailed by the comics press when they, um, matured; on the other hand, getting a TwoMorrows tongue bath [at best a consolation prize for those sad, milky-eyed old timers hunched over drawing commissions in artists' alley with their wife/child/grandchild/future-executor-of-their-will doing most of the talking/translating] seems like a bigger insult to a figure like Robbins than him getting no recognition at all.

As the ’70s wound down, Jack Kirby went to Ruby-Spears and worked on some of the worst cartoons of the ’80s, Steve Ditko drew Transformers/Go-Bots coloring books and Hulk Annuals. John Romita Sr. went to an office and punched the clock to do touch-up work on lesser artist’s drawings. Adams created Skate Man. Kaluta and his Studio-mates disappeared up their kitschy fine-art assholes. Frank Robbins moved to Mexico to enjoy life and paint the last 16 or so years of his life. By any sane standard of life, he wins.

“To Die in Darkness!” is credited to Roger McKenzie [scripter], Robbins, Frank Springer [inker], Bob Sharen [colorist], Denise Wohl [letterer] and Bob Hall [editor]. Stop me if you’ve heard this from me before, but this is not a very good comic book. I share it here because it’s historically interesting, the last interior comic-book art of Robbins’ career. His facility at drawing the unholy living fuck out of everything in a supercomic except what 99% of what its audience wants to see is undiminished while his superduper figures have gone back to looking just as bizarre and distorted as they were a few years earlier, when Robbins was new to Marvel and struggled to dial back what a brilliant slumming comic-strip artist would think the cretins who read this slop wanted in the drawings of their stupid heroes.

Why the regression here? This doesn’t seem like a rush job. Was Robbins fed up with penciling this crap, doing most of the narrative heavy lifting ["scripter" meaning that McKenize only wrote the dialogue, right?] but with the final product still at the mercy of the editor and whoever was picked to ink his work? Did Robbins know this was his last full job to do before his retirement? The issue is dated November 1978; Hazard ended in late 1977. What compels an artist of Robbins’ skill to essentially work two full-time jobs from roughly age 55 to 60? Was he cranking it out all that time to buy his own golden parachute from comics? What sort of relationship did did he have with Alex Toth, his aesthetic brother from another mother, who was born to be the greatest adventure-strip cartoonist ever but was born half a generation too late to realize his destiny? Robbins was born September 11, 1917; Toth on June 25, 1928; Robbins was closer in age to their ur-source Noel Sickles [January 24, 1910] than he was to Toth, yet his career suggests that he had a far easier time finding his way through this ever-modern world than the mercurial and reclusive Toth, albeit without leaving nearly as large a body of century-class work in his wake. Was Robbins merely a “draw to live” artisan with superior skills? His near-absolute disappearance from comics post-1978 suggests that he saw it as a job, and his painting being his art. Would Robbins have been like John Stanley, who died around the same time as Robbins did — a rather bitter man, disinterested in attending comicons where people will ask him to talk at length about some two-week job he did his best on at the time but couldn’t recall much about decades later? No, it would have been better to have interviewed Robbins than not.

I really like that Frank Robbins’ last page as a supercomics freelancer shows a drinkin’-mad Daredevil about to pick a fight with Hercules … the god … after having broken into Avengers Mansion and somehow kicking both Captain America and the Beast’s asses, because he’s mad at the Black Widow and it’s his series so he wins. Two Gene Colan fill-in issues later, Frank Miller joined the DD crew and I never find out how Daredevil Vs. Hercules fight turned out, and that’s OK with me.

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