Monday, December 30, 2013

John Bolton's Wolverine

In the early 80's the American comic industry was looking to our British brothers for new talent.
One of those brought over was John Bolton.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Have a Top Ten Christmas!

Welcome to Alan Moore's wacky world of  Top Ten where even Santa is a repeat offender for breaking and entering!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Somnopolis by Gilbert "Beto" Hernandez

When the Hernandez brothers were still young in the industry they got a gig on a new independent title called Mister X published by William Marks' Vortex Comics.
One fun thing about the Hernandez bros. work of this time is that characters from their other comics would often make appearances like the appearance of Errata Stigmata in the first panel in front of the robot.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Steve Ditko's strange world of Doctor Strange

Steve Ditko has achieved legendary status in the world of comics with his co-creation of Spider-Man with writer/editor Stan Lee but, in my opinion his greatest work was not the web slinger but rather Ditko/Lee's other less famous character Doctor Strange.
Ditko's plash page from Strange Tales #132, May 1964 conveys a striking sense of design.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lynda Barry's "Two Questions"

Lynda Barry 
“'The Two Questions' came from trying to write something good and not getting very far because I had forgotten that trying to write something good before I write anything at all is like refusing to give birth unless you know for sure it is going to be a very good baby."

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Spectre in 'the Return of Zor'

"No one knows that Jim Corrigan, hard-fisted detective, is in reality the earthbound Spectre, whose mission is to rid this world of crime!"
More Fun Comics #57, July 1940

Friday, December 6, 2013

Barry Windsor Smith's "Ka-Zar, Lord of the Jungle"

 Barry Windsor Smith is most famous for his amazing work on Conan the barbarian though fewer people know of his equally amazing work on the other barbarian, Ka-Zar Lord of the jungle!

Stunning splash page of Astonishing Tales #6, June 1971

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Kevin Nowlan's Batman vs. Man-Bat!

While Christopher Nolan was still in high school dreaming about making movies, Kevin Nowlan was busy revitalizing the Batman image and mythos. Kevin being something of a perfectionist produced stuff that looks so polished that it seems somewhat unreal. And add to this the fact that he does everything on the comic, pencils, inks, and colors, and does them better than almost anyone in the comic business. 

Pop Gun War by Farel Dalrymple

Alan Moore once likened artists to magicians that create new worlds from the aether of the space of their minds. If this is true of any artist it’s true of Farel DeShongh Dalrymple. In his work he creates fantastic new worlds that resemble the real world but seem to function on a physics all their own. You might describe his work as surrealism or magic realism as it’s grounded in realism though he takes off from it. He’s got a beautiful style of rendering which has been called “raw and delicate at the same time”.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fletcher Hanks' Stardust the Super Wizard vs. De Structo

If you've seen Fletcher Hanks' proto-psychedelic Stardust the Super Wizard I don't need to tell you how trippy he is but if you've never seen him, your in for a treat. Hanks has a way with taking the Golden Age superhero genre and capturing the essence of dreams with it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Glenn Ganges in Mind and Body" by Kevin Huizenga

Kevin Huizenga (HIGH zing gah) has made a name for himself in the world of alt comics in the last decade. His big claim to fame is his main protagonist and everyman, Glenn Ganges. Glenn is a normal guy who has little problems like everyone else. He has insomnia; He has an infestation of starlings around his house; He receives mail about missing children; He's a normal dude. Kevin Huizenga uses him to talk about issues that are on his mind or put him in stories that interest him.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bill Sienkiewicz' "Kull The Conqueror"

Bill Sienkiewicz made a name for himself in the early 80's as a very good Neal Adams imitator on Moon Knight. While there he dazzled people with his artistic chops churning out some breathtaking covers and interiors. He was so good at doing covers that after this stint he floated around a bit doing just covers of almost every other comic Marvel put out. During this time between Moon Knight and his next big gig on The New Mutants, he managed an 11 page story in 1984's Kull The Conqueror #4. This is my favorite time of Bill Sienkiewicz career. He was just flowering, creating his own unique style. You can still see some of Neal's influence in some of his faces and figures,

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Marvel Comics #1, Oct. 1939, the second most influential comic in history

Marvel Comics #1, the 70th anniversary addition reprinting the classic comic with slick new painted cover and computer colored interior.
Action Comics #1 with it’s first appearance of the hugely popular character of Superman can be considered the most significant comic ever published for having started the whole superhero fad that is still going on today and popularizing the medium of comic books as a whole.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Alan Moore's Cobweb in "Doll-O-Vision"

I feel like every other post on The Great Comic Book Heroes is on an Alan Moore comic. I don't mean to favor him, it's just that I find his work so inspiring. For example I was reminded of Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's character Cobweb the other day. She is a typical 40's style cheese cake superheroine. She doesn't have any real superpowers but what she does have is a see through costume and no undies. Perfect to make a 13 year old boy's mind go wild with lustful thoughts.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Black Panther pages by the amazing Sandy Plunkett

It was the late 80's. Moore and Miller had left mainstream comic companies behind for the brighter and freer prospects of the independent publishing movement. Long time editor-in-chief Jim Shooter was no longer spearheading Marvel comics. Todd MacFarlane was the hot new artist on the Amazing Spider-Man. And Mark Gruenwald was editing all the Avengers titles including the Might Avengers, The West Coast Avengers and even Solo Avengers, a book Hawkeye shared with other past and present Avengers alumni. A little known artist who was doing some spectacular covers for various Marvel books at the time finally got around to doing some interior art, and BOY did he pull out all of the stops. Sandy Plunkett stunned me when he wrote and drew an 11 page back up feature for Solo Avengers #19, June 1989.

In it he not only shows off his exquisite Frazetta-esque drawing ability but he also writes one mean story. He picks the Black Panther to write about, a totally cool character that was criminally under used and mostly poorly written at the time. Plunkett sets the story in the Black Panther's African back yard and even adds to the whole Black Panther mythos by giving him the role of having to dispose of the "supernatural incarnation of all that suffering manifests on this material plane". But more importantly Plunkett gives us some stunning images to soak in. I'm just in awe of his ability to create incredibly dynamic poses with stunning lighting and detail. Fortunately the hugely talented Scott Hampton was available to ink these pages as only he could with his delicately feathered lines. So go ahead and check out "The Vanities of Philip Whitehead" featuring our favorite king of Wakanda, T'Challa, the Black Panther!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Jaime Hernandez' Locas Tambien

In the 80's one of my all time favorite comics was Love and Rockets. It was produced by 2 Mexican American's brothers from Oxnard California (near LA) named Gilbert (Beto) and Jaime Hernandez (los Hernandez bros). Gilbert was great with his stories of Palomar, a small Mexican town and it's inhabitants but Jaime was my favorite. He wrote about the punk rockers that I so love and identify with. His main characters were Hopie and Maggie and, like the the bros, were both Mexican American. Of all comicdom Jaime expressed the punk rock ideal better than any other creator ever. His characters were irreverent, audacious, infuriating, oh so sweet, but above all, loads of fun. One of my favorite strips of Jaime's was a very early two pager. One incredible thing about this early strip is that not only does he establish a number of his key characters, he gets across what the "punk" life style is all about. So check out Jaime Hernandez "Locas Tambien",

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mark Beyer's "Agony" and our ecstasy!

In the 80's I grew up loving RAW Magazine and anything to do with it. One of their regular artists was Mark Beyer. He was a naive artist who took perverse pleasure in satirizing the hardships of life.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Daredevil, Rebirth of a genre! by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli

The brightly colored costume has been a trope of the super hero genre since Superman’s first appearance in 1938. In fact the long johns have defined the entire genre so much so that the publishers wouldn’t publish an issue that didn’t have them wearing the brightly colored skivvies after all, what’s a Superman comic without Superman? On the other hand, to non comic enthusiasts it’s the costumes that make superhero comics so childish and so silly.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tom Strong #9, The Perils of Dhalua, by Alan Moore and Chris Sprouse

I've been an Alan Moore fan since Swamp Thing #40, the first Moore comic I read. One thing about Moore's writing is that he seems to be able to come up with amazing concepts on a regular basis. This doesn't seem to have gotten less true as the years go by either. I was unexpectedly surprised by much of his America's Best Comics imprint as I was by his work for DC in the 80's. One good example of this is in Tom Strong #9 (Sep, 2000), The perils of Dhalua, Volcano Dreams. Tom Strong is a pretty strait forward action comic though the stories tend to be more heady than your normal comic. In The Perils of Dhalua Moore surprises us with a great twist that just stunned me the first time reading it and left a strong impression.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Swamp Thing #21 "The Anatomy Lesson", A game changer

This is my 69th post on my blog, The Great Comic book Heroes. 69 is a special number for me because it was the year I was born, 1969. It seems appropriate that I would post my all time favorite comic, The Saga of the Swamp Thing #21 on this special 69th installment of The Great Comic Book Heroes.

I don’t know if it’s possible to communicate the significance of Swamp Thing #21, "The Anatomy Lesson" adequately to someone who wasn't there. Simply speaking it was a game changer. It changed everything else that came after it. I know what a big statement this sounds like and I can appreciate that some would be incredulous and will disagree but in this post I will try to communicate the significance of it and give some reasons for this boastful statement.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Crisis on Other Earth by Perez and Englehart

Before there was Crisis on Infinite Earths
Crisis on Infinite Earths #1, April 1985
there was Crisis on Other Earth!
from Avengers #144, February 1976
This is a precious little gem I uncovered while reading through the Serpent Crown saga of Avengers #141 - #149.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chris Ware’s “Thrilling Adventure Stories”

With “Thrilling Adventure Stories” Chris Ware shows his intentions right on the title page. A heroic figure, stands boldly in his brightly colored long underwear while lightning peels out of the foreboding cloudy sky! And across this image is the bold title, “I Guess” adorned in the usual bright primary colors. It’s an image we are all very familiar with, though the title “I Guess” is a little jarring. “Isn’t that a lame title for a comic? Is that supposed to be a joke?” your mind screams at you. And Yeah, it kind of is, but it’s suppose to be because this is no ordinary super hero comic. This is a study in what makes comics work the way they do.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman and crew

Cover by John Bolton
In the late 80’s and the early 90’s there was a trend in the business to create sophisticated “adult” books. There were those in the business that wanted it to grow up fast. As a result many fully painted mini series and graphic novels produced by a group of “mature” writers like Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman and illustrated by the best artists of that time.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Afrodisiac by Jim Rugg

Like the best comic creators, Jim Rugg is an amazing blend of low brow pop culture and high brow conceptual art.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Patton by Robert Crumb

R. Crumb is famous for being a controversial, eccentric artist who likes to ride the calves of women with big butts and thighs but he is also an amazing draftsman with a beautiful sensitivity

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Jack Cole’s True Crime Comics

Mr. Monster's True Crime no. 2 (Mr. Monster's Super-Duper Special no. 4) Nov 1986
Jack Cole was a master craftsman. He was a triple threat of writer, artist, and letterer whose work was as good as any of his Golden Age contemporaries like Will Eisner and Jack Kirby. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Girl Stories By Lauren R. Weinstein

 Moving young teen stories for all ages!

I had bought Girl Stories because I saw some excerpts of it in various anthologies and really liked what I saw. Lauren R. Weinstein’s art has a wonderful naive quality that looks like a kid drew it.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Great Comic Book Heroes, Golden Age goodness! Edited by Jules Feiffer

When I was an impressionable kid, I would spend hours pouring over the books at my local library. One book in particular I would come back to again and again and again. It was The Great Comic Book Heroes edited by Jules Feiffer.

The Great Comic Book Heroes was a distillation of the dawn of the superhero comics in the early 1940’s.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Highly Contrasting artists; Steranko; Miller; Sales; Snejbjerg; Risso

My mind has the habit of putting order and classifying everything that it sees.This is true of comic artists and comic styles as well. One style I've recently been thinking about is the high contrast style.

It can be argued that Steranko started this whole style off with his later Film Noir style that he used in his book, Red Tide.
Jim Steranko from Chandler: Red Tide (1976)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Art Spiegelman's Deconstructing comics (NSFW)

I love comics that deconstruct the comics form.
The cover of the 1977 edition of Breakdowns. There are three more pages to go with this one showing the infinite combinations of this image.

For example in Art "Maus" Spiegelman's "Breakdowns" he explores what goes into making the very cover image by breaking down the printed image into it's individual parts and recombining them in a multitude of ways.The first image is the "normal" image. The next image is only the yellow and blue plates printed; then blue and red and so on until he starts to really mix things up with printing the "blue" plate yellow and black plate red. It makes for a surprisingly fascinating picture that I end up spending a lot of time just studying.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Starman vs. the Mist From Adventure Comics #67 (Oct. 1941)

I had a dream once where I was dressed up in a strange and colorful costume and flying through a cave with the help of a rod that I carried. The cave felt strangely warm as if I was in a very comforting and dark place like I was back in my mother's womb. Suddenly these giant bat-like creatures came out of a pit and started to attack me. I quickly shot a ray out of my rod to repel these hideous beasts.

I flew on further into the cave system seeing where they would take me. Then, out of nowhere, I was struck to the ground by an invisible force. I shined the light from my rod on it only to discover that it was an invisible man with only the hideous old head showing. “Who is this old man and why does he want to hurt me?” I thought. “I am your past trying to do away with you before I myself disappear forever into the abyss of time.”

It was a strange dream that left a strong impression. Then suddenly it struck me, it probably came from the comic I had read last night!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Alan Moore’s Greyshirt “How things work out”

In 1999, hot off the heals of working on Image comics like Supreme and Glory, Alan Moore started his own comics line called America’s Best Comics. It seems that Rob Liefeld was getting flaky and so Jim Lee offered Alan his own imprint. Being the slothful writer that he is he started with no less than 5 titles.
Tomorrow Stories was his anthology title which contained 4 different features. They were all fun in their own way but one stood out from the others.
from the ABC Sketchbook 2002

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dash Shaw's Doctor Strange vs. Nightmare

Strange Tales (2009) was one of the most exciting things to come out in the last decade because of all of the amazingly diverse and original alternative creators doing their versions of the standard Marvel pantheon of heroes. And of all the great work presented in this anthology Dash Shaw did one of the most exciting stories of the bunch.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Teddy Kristiansen Does Deadman!

Teddy Kristiansen is one of my all time favorite comic artists for his fresh, quirky and free style. So when I discovered that he illustrated Deadman, one of my all time favorite heroes, I was ecstatic to say the least!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Alan Moore on The Smiley face

"The smiley face is evidently the purest symbol of innocence the human race has been able to come up with thus far."
Alan Moore

Though it was the most famous, it seems that the Watchmen wasn’t the first time that Alan Moore used the smiley face motif in his comics.