May, 2012 Monthly archive

It’s nothing special, but I like this short story from the El Mago creative team — it’s very much a Buscema-era Conan kind of thing, all the way down to the repeated moments where our hero is surprised by something that flips his shit.

Any time you see “¿Quien[es]?” or “¡Pero!” in these pages, just think “Wha?!?” or “CROM!”

I also like the almost Severin-ish look he gets in some of the facial rendering in the above pages, although the effect makes those panels seem like they’re from a different story. Maybe a little Tim Truman in there too?


Anyway, the most interesting thing about this work is Alcatena’s interest in rendering depth and space in his panels, something that doesn’t always play a part in his work.


[BTW, Tumblr is not complete until it has a blog devoted to the hundreds, possibly thousands of totally sweet panels Big John Buscema drew of a surprised Conan; if you dug up and ran electric current through what's left of his drawing arm today, the first thing muscle memory would make it doodle would be a scowling Conan pivoting to face whatever just startled him. Just parking this thought here because I have nothing to add between these deep-setting panels, and to give this piece a fighting chance of being about this work and not about what a flippant asshole I am.]


I should probably mention the story — dude riding in a dinosaur across a desert loses his ride to a huge, Dune-ish sand monster. He takes refuge in an empty city, gets surprised by a cool-looking corpse and then a still-alive dude [CROM!] and they check out the dark city together. Other dude picks up an egg, which has an Alien monsterbaby in it that smashes into his skull and takes control of his body.

Dudes fight, we dance with the one what brung us and our hero kills the dude with iron …

and kills babymonster with fire. Then he escapes into the breaking dawn by piloting a cool Gilliamesque balloonship — which we we have gotten a much better look at in the typical fantasy comic, but then we wouldn’t see something as graceful [and ballsy, from a graphic-storytelling standpoint] as this final panel:

Actually, considering that big block of text that gets the hero from the babymonster BBQ to the airship, it’s quite possible that they would have staged a more conventional ending but ran out of room. Still a cool panel.

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Hey friends, I just wanted to point out that Frank Santoro’s next Comics Correspondence Course is about to kick off. Frank is of course a talented cartoonist in his own right but he’s also someone who thinks and talks about comics more/better than most people I know, a “true head” as we say.  He was in town for a few days this winter and not only was it a joy to riff on stuff we both love, surrounded by piles of old comics, but I felt like I actually learned stuff from him in looking at my own art and talking about it with him, not to mention at his workshop at Floating World. I have a couple friends who have taken the course and they can’t say enough good things about it. Anyhow, highest recommendation, and like he says he’ll work out payment plans and around your schedules:



SUMMER 2012 – Deadline for applications is May 30th

Application guidelines:

The new course begins June 4th. You can start late if need be. The course is a walk through my process of how to make a 16 page signature. Lots of fast drawing and composition. Lots of simple sequencing. We focus on timing. And color. And working in layers like a printmaker. If you are interested – please send me some work – small jpegs of things you have done. And tell me about yourself a little bit. There are ten spots open right now. I also need to see 3 figure drawings and 3 landscapes – all done on blank 3 x 5 inch index cards in direct pen – no pencil underdrawing. You should be able to do these 6 drawings in less than one hour. Draw fast and loose.

The course is 500 for eight weeks. I ask for a good faith payment once you start – half if possible. If not talk to me and we can work something out.

Basically it can be done on your own time – it is intense for the first four weeks and then you are more on your own. The idea is to use me during those eight weeks as an editor. After the eight weeks I will be less available – so if you don’t finish – that is okay – you can finish on your own time. It has worked well so far as a projected deadline. And if you blow it, so what? You do it when you can. But since so much of comics is about getting it done – I try and get you to work in a system that can get it done.

Check out a comic done for the course by one of my students here.

Email me – capneasyATgmailDOTcom

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In the comics-publishing frenzy to package and reprint anything thick enough to support a spine and an ISBN, the largest untapped vein of great comics at this point has to be Dennis The Menace comic books.

As brilliant at drafting and staging as he was, Hank Ketcham never quite developed the same mastery of sequential art; his solo Dennis Sunday strips and rare comic-book work is OK, but nothing like what his assistants/employees later produced; Dennis‘ “Stan & Jack” uberteam being Fred Toole [who also wrote for the Sunday strips] and the obscenely underrated cartoonist Al Wiseman, who drew roughly the first 15 years of the comic-book series.

It’s something of a mystery, why Wiseman’s work never developed anywhere near the fandom that his spinner-rack contemporaries like Carl Barks, Stanley & Tripp, Kurtzman & Elder or even Beck & Binder have enjoyed. Aside from regular praise and credit as a major influence from Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, Toole & Wiseman’s work seems to have never made it into the collective hands of both the underground and the alternative generations of cartoonists.

So, in the true spirit of comics activism — a blatantly futile, possibly self-serving gesture that’s undeniably feelgood — I have decided to regularly post my favorite panels from Dennis stories until this grave injustice is finally rightened. Enjoy, and then write to your favorite publisher and demand that they hire me to package at least some of this work for print immediately. If successful, I promise to keep my byline off the book jacket spine. Or just enjoy the pictures, see if I care.

I guess one could make the argument that this work suffers from Dennis being such a one-note/annoying character. To that argument I say: Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Yes yes, Barks and his precious ducks — OK, the boys are trapped in a blazing inferno and you can only save one of them; to do that, you merely have to write down his name and unique personality traits in a sentence within, say, 30 seconds.

[I can't believe you let Donald's nephews die.]

Anyway, the other problem with the Dennis-is-annoying argument against these comics is that he’s rarely their protagonist; for the bulk of Wiseman’s run, Henry Mitchell is often the hero or at least the most sympathetic/audience-identifiable character; if he appears in a story, he’s usually struggling to deal with the chaos his child has wrought.


(These panels are from “Ghost Town,” as published by Hallden in Dennis The Menace #37 [August 1959] and later reprinted in Dennis the Menace Giant #13 and Dennis the Menace Pocket Full of Fun #31. Yes, I’m aware that I posted almost nothing but single panels while talking about how great Wiseman was at drawing comics. Come back next time and I’ll show you some damn pages.)

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Whew! It’s been a busy couple of months here at SG HQ. Stumptown was a blast, Milo and I are working on SG Mag #2, and Larry Reid of the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery asked me to curate a SG themed art show! crazy.

I asked a handful of SG artists from both the website and the magazine to send in art for the show – in the end the show consisted of myself, Aidan Koch, Jennifer Parks, Farel Dalrymple, Kazimir Strzepek, Levon Jihanian, David King, Malachi Ward, Ian MacEwan, François Vigneault, and T Edward Bak. The space was limited or I would have shoved even more homies in there.

So it was one beautiful Friday afternoon before the show that Ian, my wife Krista and I headed up there to peep the show and see some friends. I managed to take a couple photos here and there, and stole a couple from pal Max Clotfelter’s facebook account.

Here’s Ian and Kaz getting sleepy Friday night at the Redwoods bar. They were playing TCM (instead of a sports channel or Seinfeld) on a big screen and Ian and I were overly impressed by that. Not a bad place to pass the time, plus some good people watching. Krista and I talked about how nice it was to be in a bar and not recognize a SINGLE PERSON (Portland, for all its charms, is a relatively small/big town).  Tom Van Deusen and Dalton James Rose came and met us for a drink, but before long it was time for some Tacos Gringos and deep deep sleep on Kaz’s couch. I wish I’d thought to take some pics at Kaz’s place, as he has a CRAZY amount of awesome old toys and pages of Mourning Star to ogle. I somehow never realized Kaz works at print size?!??! the pages are TINY. Kaz, if you don’t watch out you’re gonna get hand cramps!


Anyhow, the next morning Kaz and his lady Jesica joined us for brunch before Krista and I went down to the waterfront for some olde-fashioned tourista action. We made a beeline for Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe, as Krista has a squished penny collection that needed adding to, but we also met some new friends there, like Sylvester:

And here I am shoving Krista into a wall of disgusting bubblegum. This alleyway was COVERED in chewed up gum, it was sort of like being in a HR Geiger bioform tunnel.

After a couple hours of sun-worship, we met up with Ian and Dalton at Half-Priced Books, which we joked is one of our favorite comic book stores. Seriously, I always find some crazy out of print gems, and the .25 cent comic selection is awash with lots of great back issues. This time I picked up a cheap reader copy of Jeff Rovin’s Encyclopedia of Super Villains, mainly because I have such fond memories of poring over the Encyclopedia of Super Heroes as a kid. I doubt it’ll have as much of an impact on 36 year old Zack as 16 year old Zack, but that’s a nice Ernie Colon cover!


From there, we decided to bop down to the Fanta Bookstore, check out the show, and grab some grub. Larry was busily cutting up labels for the art and waiting on his “signage guy”, and pointed us towards Smarty Pants, a sweet sandwich shop around the corner. We were all starving and in need of a beer, so Ian, Dalton, Krista & I headed over and enjoyed some refreshments before the show:

and by the time we got back, it was all set up!

Please excuse the cropping of the edges of the show, and the general low-res nature of the images. I posted these photos to Instagram and my phone decided to delete the originals so these are the only evidence of the show that I have. Larry did a great job framing and hanging the show!

And look at that signage! Worth waiting for, very Pro! That’s a blown up version of Eleanor Davis’ logo from SG Mag #1, btw.

It wasn’t too long before people started to show up, and I became more focused on socializing than taking pics. Here we have Kaz, Max Clotfelter, Marc J Palm and myself all comparing our “Kuatos”. Hey, we’re cartoonists who drink beer!  Cut us some slack.

Scott Faulkner checking out the show. Kaz & Ian debate pen nibs or something. More of that/different angle:

Aaron Mew! I love that guy! He’s a funny boy. Pals from the local comics scene that showed up that I managed to not get photos of include Kelly Froh, Tom Van Deusen,  Jacq Cohen, Lillian Beatty, Dalton Webb, Tony Ong, Eroyn Franklin, Matt Southworth and probably more. A great time was had by all.

Before too long, though, we had to pack up and head home. What a great trip. I’d like to send a super special big shout out to Larry Reid for both the invite to do the show and the excellent hospitality we received in Seattle. The whole thing was just so damn nice and refreshing. And hey, if you’re in Seattle in the next few weeks, the show will be up until June 6th!



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