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Tue, August 25th, 2009 at 2:28pm PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

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RANDOM POINTS FOR DISCUSSION

  • Photoshop is a glorious thing. PhotoshopDisasters.com is a wonderful site that tracks really bad mistakes made with Photoshop, such as disappearing appendages or obvious retouches that make a subject look unreal.

    This week, I saw a comics-related image that needs to be put up on that site, stat. And it came from DC. I first spotted it on Bleeding Cool.

    I nominate it as a disaster. Can you see why?

    Check out those reflections. They're not upside down! There's no mirroring effect. There are techniques in Photoshop for creating reflections. There are automated processes for it. There are third party programs that'll do it at the touch of a button. But this pic? It's wrong.

  • You have to be a hardcore lettering nerd to appreciate it, perhaps, but the greatest lettering blog entry I've read in some time came from Todd Klein a couple of weeks ago. In it, he explains how he recreated a font from Postscript to OpenType, why he uses the new format, and how he made corrections to the font along the way.

  • My twin nieces celebrated their second birthdays with a farm-themed party over the weekend. Here's what the balloons looked like:

    Obviously, they are cow-patterned, but admit it: You were thinking it was Rorschach.

    If you threw a second birthday party for two little girls with a "Watchmen" theme, what games, coloring books, and party favors would you go with? Degree of difficulty: No references to naked blue people. Too easy, people.

    The giant squid cake is a bit weird, too.

  • Oldie, but a good one: Scott McCloud's TED talk. It's about 17 minutes and entertaining from start to finish. It was originally recorded in 2005, but not released on the web until the beginning of this year. I want to go back and reread "Understanding Comics" now.

  • I don't do politics here, but there is a comic book related question to ask as it relates to this whole health care debate going on in this country today: How would a nationalized health care system change comics?

    At first, it seems like a silly question to ask. But how many times have you heard interviews with creators who talk about how they signed an exclusive contract with either DC or Marvel because it gave them a health care plan? If that carrot is no longer available to be dangled, how does that change the nature of exclusive contracts? Does it mean more pay, to help offset the drastic tax hike that will be necessary to pay for "free" health care? Does it mean fewer exclusive contracts will be signed, as one of their biggest benefits will be stripped away? And if so, does that mean more big name creators working on creator-owned comics, planning for a longer term?

    Or would it be business as usual, with some other major point being the major reason for exclusivity? (The guaranteed work, for example.)

  • Have you ever had a bad week of comics reading? Have you had one of those weeks that you can't believe everything was really that bad? Maybe it's you. It can't be that so many comics in a row are a disappointment to you, right?

    Hopefully, that will explain why there aren't any reviews this week in Pipeline. I read several new comics and classic comics in the last week, and not much made me happy. Please forgive me for skipping over them this week. Maybe I just had a bad week. We'll try again next time.

  • I got caught up a couple of weeks ago in Marvel's numerical nuttiness. The original cover frames they did in the 80s were for their 25th anniversary, not their 50th. There's been a new date of birth discovered in the intervening years, which is how they call 2009 their 70th birthday. There's a nifty trick. (Thanks to Pipeline reader, Scott, for pointing this lunacy out!)

  • Really, there's controversy over "Batgirl" #1? Doesn't the choice of character for donning Batgirl's costume just make sense? I'm happy about it. I just read the original "Batgirl" run and wrote it up for Pipeline. With what they've done to Cassandra Cain, the current solution is about the only one that makes sense.

    Yet, there's controversy over it? I don't get it.

THE CRAZY WORLD OF 1993/1994

Joe Quesada kinda sorta banned smoking from Marvel Comics back in 2001:

So for example, if an artist wants to draw a guy on the street smoking, fine by all means. We just have a problem with Wolverine smoking. […] It's just a matter of whether we want to promote cancer or not, and quite frankly, we're done promoting it.

"Again, there are exceptions. I just went through this with somebody. Can Nick Fury smoke? Well, you know what, if Nick Fury shows up in the FANTASTIC FOUR, I'd rather not have him smoke. But if Fury's in a MAX title, which he is, sure, let him smoke away. I think our adult readers are a little more responsible and know whether they want to smoke or not."

Quesada reiterated this point last year in Cup of Joe:

Yes, I've banned smoking from Marvel Comics as a general policy. But I have allowed it from time to time. The stipulation that I place on it is very simple — I want to see that it's portrayed in a manner that doesn't glamorize it.

Amongst other things, this has led to a Facebook fan group calling for the head of Quesada, titled "Fire Joe Quesada." Isn't the internet a warm and fuzzy place?

I bring this all up now because I ran across this little article in the "Hero 1994 Yearbook:"

When a 7-year-old boy complained to the New England Journal of Medicine about the fact that the Marvel Masterpieces trading card set featured characters smoking, Marvel President Terry Stewart announced that Marvel would "omit smoking materials from all future Marvel trading cards."

See? Quesada was just expanding out on a program already begun by a predecessor. No word on whether the edict reached out to the pog world before hitting comics.

You may think I'm joking, but check out this ad from the "Hero Illustrated" edition of August 1993:

Pogs were cool. To someone. Somewhere. Maybe Hawaii?

Yes, "Spawn" was so cool that the term "pogs" wasn't cool enough. They had to be "Spogz."

Sorry for blanking out the phone numbers in the ad, but I did call one to check on it and realized that it was no longer family-friendly, if you know what I mean. . .

It was a time for superlatives, though. Also in that issue was an ad from Malibu Comics promising "the biggest crossover of the year" starting in September 1993. This major event featured three titles: "Protectors," "Dinosaurs for Hire," and "Ex-Mutants." I realize that likely half of you reading this have never heard of any of those titles. Paul Pelletier did some "Ex-Mutants" work once upon a time, though. As did Ron Lim, as I recall.

Sexual innuendo was also big in advertising, as the Marvel "Thunderstrike" ad included this copy: "He's the hammer. Someone's gonna get nailed." And for "X-Men 2099:" "Mutant is still a four letter word." Erik Larsen's "SuperPatriot" promised to "blow you away!" (That's very similar to what Eclipse's previous 1-800 number promised, actually.)

And what's with this "Union" #1 ad?

Union's rod is glowing, pointing towards his crotch, and causing quite the exuberant look on his face.

While Marvel wouldn't allow smoking on its trading cards, the ad for Frank Miller's return to "Daredevil" started with "It's Miller time!"

Also in that issue of "Hero 1994 Yearbook" is this fan art from Ryan Ottley, a full decade before "Invincible:"

Back in the day, printing fan art was a regular deal in comics magazines. Looking back on those pages today yields the occasional nugget of early comic professional goodness, much in the same way letters columns of the 60s and 70s gave us early views into the minds of future professional writers.

I'm not sure, but the letter art seen in the September 1993 issue of "Hero Illustrated" from Anthony Castrillo might be the same Castrillo who started working at Valiant the next year before moving into the X-Offices at Marvel and Jim Krueger's "Alphabet Supes" one-shot in 1999.

I'll stop now, but there's a whole column's worth of material in this magazine. It's all gold: Jim Lee did a cover for the Ultraverse's "Mantra" that appeared as a poster with this magazine. "The Maxx" was doing an audio adaptation of the first three issues that you could purchase for $9. It came on a cassette tape. I wonder if it's available somewhere on the 'net today? Scott Rosenberg was very excited about "major motion picture" version of Ultraverse comics on video! And ash-cans are collectible!

OK, stopping now. . .

"Hero 1994 Yearbook" was merely the cover copy. The indicia refers to the magazine as "Hero Special Edition 1994: The Year in Review" and "Hero Special." It also points out that "Hero Special" is a trademark of the publisher.

My photoblog, AugieShoots.com will likely have another two weeks' worth of pictures I shot while on vacation a couple weeks back. More spectacular sunrises, barbecue fires, beach shots, shells, and other random occurrences can be seen there daily.

The Various and Sundry blog starts and stops more often than a teenager behind the wheel for the very first time. You never know when it'll update, and isn't that half the thrill?

Don't forget to check out my Google Reader Shared Items this week. It's the best of my daily feed reading, sometimes with commentary!

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 800 columns -- more than twelve years' worth -- are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.

TAGS:  pipeline, spawn, dc comics, green lantern, batgirl

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