Pipeline

Tue, September 22nd, 2009 at 2:28pm PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

SHORT THOUGHTS

  • Todd McFarlane published an odd little book last week, "Spawn: Book of the Dead," detailing the history of Spawn, complete with Ashley Wood art. The four paragraph biography of McFarlane in the back of the book doesn't mention his comic book work until the second paragraph. He is, first and foremost, an "Artist/producer/director," a "multi-faceted businessman," and possessed of "a broad range of experience in entertainment, sports and publishing."

    Remember when he drew cool stuff?

  • Thumbing through a box of old comics magazines, I chanced across a "Hero Illustrated" cover story about "Pitt," complete with an interview with Dale Keown. Sadly, there's no big revelations in there. Yes, he realized the book was running late and that he didn't do as great a job in the first couple of issues in telling the story as he should have, but he's dedicated to the book, etc. etc.

    Also, he wanted to stress that Pitt was a superhero, and that's why the second issue opened with Pitt breaking up a bank robbery. Is it just me, or was that a very bad idea? Pitt works best as an alien landed on earth, not quite understanding everything, occasionally getting caught in odd situations, and thrashing other alien monsters across as much landscape as possible.

  • I've fallen out of the "Previews" habit in the last year, sadly. I miss the excitement of opening that catalog and perusing all the craziness that the publishers are bringing us month in and month out. But that's also the reason I missed the "Spider-Man: Sinister Six" premiere edition hardcover release. It's right up my alley, collecting the original six parter by David Michelinie and Erik Larsen from "Amazing Spider-Man" #334-339. I remember tracking down issues from this run at the Waldenbooks in the mall, and at the newsstand my local stationery store had. (Both stores are no longer around.) I can remember redrawing panels from the issues at a time when I was young and foolish enough to think I'd grow up to be an artist of some sort.

    That's why it stopped me dead in my tracks to see the book on the shelves at a local Borders. In a weird sort of way, that's where I'd be meant to find that book.

    I wonder if Larsen's follow-up from adjectiveless "Spider-Man" might someday get the same treatment.

    Ah, good times. . .

  • When was it, exactly, that comics art turned from a game of admiring the hot chick drawings to admiring the pictures that the hot chick drawings were traced off of? I almost pity today's teenage male comic readers. They have it too easy with the internet.

  • I was stuck for a subject for this week's Pipeline.  Over the weekend, I nearly posted to a random social network that I was really hoping for another Marvel/Disney, DC/Warner Bros. level event to happen in the world of comics to give me something to write about. 

    Thanks, Estate of Jack Kirby, for the help!

    I don't have all that much to say, really, as we don't know a whole lot.  This is basically the Marvel version of the legal wranglings DC has been dealing with for the last few years, right down to the same exact lawyers. In other words, the Marvel Zombies are about to be posting all the same stuff across the internet that the DC Faithful have been posting for the past couple of years. 

    I love a good free-for-all.  It produces much fodder for many cannons.  So light 'em up, people! 

    I have only this to say:  Jack Kirby got a royal screw job from Marvel in his years on this earth, and any benefit that comes to his estate now is almost too little, too late.  It's also likely targeting all the wrong people.  But this is our legal system, and we deal with it the best we can.  You know what?  Good for The Kirby Estate.  Let them get a little windfall. For everything Kirby did, they deserve it. 

    The story of art returns, alone, is enough to justify The Kirby Estate going after Disney/Marvel.  I hope that, while they're at it, they might strike a similar win for the Disney artists who, officially, aren't allowed to sell their original art.  That's not what this lawsuit is about, I know, but I'm a comics fan.  I'm allowed to stretch things out significantly.

    I'm also pragmatic. Nothing that Marvel does now can undo what the company did in earlier times to its creators. And, as is the case with Superman and DC, the comic publisher has been a good caretaker of the character, and the family of the creator can't really complain that there's 100% name recognition and multimedia dollars out the whazoo based on their predecessor's creation. So let's hope The Kirby Estate wins something out of this, that they get along with Marvel at the end, and that some compromise deal is worked out where everyone is happy, including the fans. I'm not nearly vindictive enough to wish death to Marvel or anything crazy like that.

  • Should we take bets on what the next big event in the industry will be? I'm betting on LucasFilm buying Dark Horse. Or maybe 20th Century Fox. That brings us into October, when Top Cow will sell itself to Universal. Then Disney scoops up Cinebook on the same day that Paramount buys Boom!

    While I'm joking about most of that previous paragraph, none of it would surprise me.

  • On the other hand, hearing that DC plans on updating "Superman/Batman" by tying it into crossover events of yesteryear like "Joker's Last Laugh" and "Emperor Joker" makes me think it's time to burn the whole system to the ground, empty out The Big Two, and start over from scratch.

  • Am just about finished with the TwoMorrow's "Modern Masters: Chris Sprouse" volume that was a Top Ten selection in the Pipeline Podcast of July 15th. I'm thrilled to report back that it's as good a book as I had hoped.

    The final cover art for the book has a much different coloring job that works better for Sprouse's style of art. No Photoshop clouds!

    Sprouse is not a guy whose name you necessarily see in the headlines every week, and he's not the kind to be giving a dozen interviews a month to the various comic websites. So he's always been a bit of an enigma to me. I know his art is nice to look at, and that it doesn't seem to come out all that often. In this book, Sprouse explains himself in a way that will seem familiar to those of us who've read enough interviews with comic artists over the years. Those frustrations and disappointments all get repeated here, as a perfectionist artist finds himself so often trapped in something ultimately of his own making.

    But it's not all doom and gloom. Sprouse is a geek who likes to draw and who likes to design. He admits his faults, but then turns out the kind of art that makes you forget the trouble he had getting there. I didn't remember the release schedule for "Tom Strong" being that painfully delayed, but it was. That's just further proof that years from now, it'll be the collections that people remember, and not the original issues.

    I was surprised in reading the book at the percentage of Sprouse's work that I've collected over the years. I own most of it already. He hasn't done all that much, honestly, and the recent WildStorm three-parter was a complete unknown to me. Past that, the rest is all here, from "Hammer Locke" to "Legionnaires" to "Ocean" and "Tom Strong." His cup of coffee with "New Men" even gets a namecheck.

    The book is profusely illustrated with lots of material that you can't find elsewhere. All of those sketchbook scribbles, design concepts, college art pages, and original pencil pages are fun to look at, both as an art appreciator and as a process junkie.

    If you're a fan of Sprouse's work, I think there's a lot of behind-the-scene stories worth reading here.

  • Last week's Pipeline Podcast (9:36, 6.6 MB) had a theme of "Craziest Titles of the Week." Check this lot out:

    • 10. "Will Eisner's The Spirit The New Adventures Archives" HC Vol 1

    • 9. "Beasts Of Burden"#1 (of 4)

    • 8. "Batman Cacophony" HC

    • 7. "Tom Strong" Deluxe Edition HC Book 1

    • 6. "Athena" #1"

    • 5. "Mr Stuffins" TP

    • 4. "Marvel Zombies Return" #3 (was 'Marvel Zombies Return Wolverine')

    • 3. "MODOK Reign Delay" (One Shot)

    • 2. "Tiffanys Epiphany" HC

    • 1. "John Stanley Library Nancy" HC Vol 1

    Some of these are only crazy if you listen to the podcast to put them in proper context, but they are all a little nuts. For example: "Athena" has the world's most gratuitous Obama cameo in the history of comics. And if you've read any comics this year, you know that I'm saying a lot here.

  • Whew, glad I never sent any of my comics to the binding folks, as they've sold the company and aren't going to be doing comics anymore. I feel bad for those who were working on converting their entire collection. That stinks. That's the problem with good deals -- they're either too good to be true, or too good to last long.

    On the bright side, though, there's a post later in that linked thread that indicates the show might go on. Keep your fingers crossed. I think it's a great idea, and a lot of people swear by it. Maybe someday, so will I. If I could just find room around here for a bookcase or five. . .

SHORT THOUGHTS

  • Todd McFarlane published an odd little book last week, "Spawn: Book of the Dead," detailing the history of Spawn, complete with Ashley Wood art. The four paragraph biography of McFarlane in the back of the book doesn't mention his comic book work until the second paragraph. He is, first and foremost, an "Artist/producer/director," a "multi-faceted businessman," and possessed of "a broad range of experience in entertainment, sports and publishing."

    Remember when he drew cool stuff?

  • Thumbing through a box of old comics magazines, I chanced across a "Hero Illustrated" cover story about "Pitt," complete with an interview with Dale Keown. Sadly, there's no big revelations in there. Yes, he realized the book was running late and that he didn't do as great a job in the first couple of issues in telling the story as he should have, but he's dedicated to the book, etc. etc.

    Also, he wanted to stress that Pitt was a superhero, and that's why the second issue opened with Pitt breaking up a bank robbery. Is it just me, or was that a very bad idea? Pitt works best as an alien landed on earth, not quite understanding everything, occasionally getting caught in odd situations, and thrashing other alien monsters across as much landscape as possible.

  • I've fallen out of the "Previews" habit in the last year, sadly. I miss the excitement of opening that catalog and perusing all the craziness that the publishers are bringing us month in and month out. But that's also the reason I missed the "Spider-Man: Sinister Six" premiere edition hardcover release. It's right up my alley, collecting the original six parter by David Michelinie and Erik Larsen from "Amazing Spider-Man" #334-339. I remember tracking down issues from this run at the Waldenbooks in the mall, and at the newsstand my local stationery store had. (Both stores are no longer around.) I can remember redrawing panels from the issues at a time when I was young and foolish enough to think I'd grow up to be an artist of some sort.

    That's why it stopped me dead in my tracks to see the book on the shelves at a local Borders. In a weird sort of way, that's where I'd be meant to find that book.

    I wonder if Larsen's follow-up from adjectiveless "Spider-Man" might someday get the same treatment.

    Ah, good times. . .

  • When was it, exactly, that comics art turned from a game of admiring the hot chick drawings to admiring the pictures that the hot chick drawings were traced off of? I almost pity today's teenage male comic readers. They have it too easy with the internet.

  • I was stuck for a subject for this week's Pipeline.  Over the weekend, I nearly posted to a random social network that I was really hoping for another Marvel/Disney, DC/Warner Bros. level event to happen in the world of comics to give me something to write about. 

    Thanks, Estate of Jack Kirby, for the help!

    I don't have all that much to say, really, as we don't know a whole lot.  This is basically the Marvel version of the legal wranglings DC has been dealing with for the last few years, right down to the same exact lawyers. In other words, the Marvel Zombies are about to be posting all the same stuff across the internet that the DC Faithful have been posting for the past couple of years. 

    I love a good free-for-all.  It produces much fodder for many cannons.  So light 'em up, people! 

    I have only this to say:  Jack Kirby got a royal screw job from Marvel in his years on this earth, and any benefit that comes to his estate now is almost too little, too late.  It's also likely targeting all the wrong people.  But this is our legal system, and we deal with it the best we can.  You know what?  Good for The Kirby Estate.  Let them get a little windfall. For everything Kirby did, they deserve it. 

    The story of art returns, alone, is enough to justify The Kirby Estate going after Disney/Marvel.  I hope that, while they're at it, they might strike a similar win for the Disney artists who, officially, aren't allowed to sell their original art.  That's not what this lawsuit is about, I know, but I'm a comics fan.  I'm allowed to stretch things out significantly.

    I'm also pragmatic. Nothing that Marvel does now can undo what the company did in earlier times to its creators. And, as is the case with Superman and DC, the comic publisher has been a good caretaker of the character, and the family of the creator can't really complain that there's 100% name recognition and multimedia dollars out the whazoo based on their predecessor's creation. So let's hope The Kirby Estate wins something out of this, that they get along with Marvel at the end, and that some compromise deal is worked out where everyone is happy, including the fans. I'm not nearly vindictive enough to wish death to Marvel or anything crazy like that.

  • Should we take bets on what the next big event in the industry will be? I'm betting on LucasFilm buying Dark Horse. Or maybe 20th Century Fox. That brings us into October, when Top Cow will sell itself to Universal. Then Disney scoops up Cinebook on the same day that Paramount buys Boom!

    While I'm joking about most of that previous paragraph, none of it would surprise me.

  • On the other hand, hearing that DC plans on updating "Superman/Batman" by tying it into crossover events of yesteryear like "Joker's Last Laugh" and "Emperor Joker" makes me think it's time to burn the whole system to the ground, empty out The Big Two, and start over from scratch.

  • Am just about finished with the TwoMorrow's "Modern Masters: Chris Sprouse" volume that was a Top Ten selection in the Pipeline Podcast of July 15th. I'm thrilled to report back that it's as good a book as I had hoped.

    The final cover art for the book has a much different coloring job that works better for Sprouse's style of art. No Photoshop clouds!

    Sprouse is not a guy whose name you necessarily see in the headlines every week, and he's not the kind to be giving a dozen interviews a month to the various comic websites. So he's always been a bit of an enigma to me. I know his art is nice to look at, and that it doesn't seem to come out all that often. In this book, Sprouse explains himself in a way that will seem familiar to those of us who've read enough interviews with comic artists over the years. Those frustrations and disappointments all get repeated here, as a perfectionist artist finds himself so often trapped in something ultimately of his own making.

    But it's not all doom and gloom. Sprouse is a geek who likes to draw and who likes to design. He admits his faults, but then turns out the kind of art that makes you forget the trouble he had getting there. I didn't remember the release schedule for "Tom Strong" being that painfully delayed, but it was. That's just further proof that years from now, it'll be the collections that people remember, and not the original issues.

    I was surprised in reading the book at the percentage of Sprouse's work that I've collected over the years. I own most of it already. He hasn't done all that much, honestly, and the recent WildStorm three-parter was a complete unknown to me. Past that, the rest is all here, from "Hammer Locke" to "Legionnaires" to "Ocean" and "Tom Strong." His cup of coffee with "New Men" even gets a namecheck.

    The book is profusely illustrated with lots of material that you can't find elsewhere. All of those sketchbook scribbles, design concepts, college art pages, and original pencil pages are fun to look at, both as an art appreciator and as a process junkie.

    If you're a fan of Sprouse's work, I think there's a lot of behind-the-scene stories worth reading here.

  • Last week's Pipeline Podcast (9:36, 6.6 MB) had a theme of "Craziest Titles of the Week." Check this lot out:

    • 10. "Will Eisner's The Spirit The New Adventures Archives" HC Vol 1

    • 9. "Beasts Of Burden"#1 (of 4)

    • 8. "Batman Cacophony" HC

    • 7. "Tom Strong" Deluxe Edition HC Book 1

    • 6. "Athena" #1"

    • 5. "Mr Stuffins" TP

    • 4. "Marvel Zombies Return" #3 (was 'Marvel Zombies Return Wolverine')

    • 3. "MODOK Reign Delay" (One Shot)

    • 2. "Tiffanys Epiphany" HC

    • 1. "John Stanley Library Nancy" HC Vol 1

    Some of these are only crazy if you listen to the podcast to put them in proper context, but they are all a little nuts. For example: "Athena" has the world's most gratuitous Obama cameo in the history of comics. And if you've read any comics this year, you know that I'm saying a lot here.

  • Whew, glad I never sent any of my comics to the binding folks, as they've sold the company and aren't going to be doing comics anymore. I feel bad for those who were working on converting their entire collection. That stinks. That's the problem with good deals -- they're either too good to be true, or too good to last long.

    On the bright side, though, there's a post later in that linked thread that indicates the show might go on. Keep your fingers crossed. I think it's a great idea, and a lot of people swear by it. Maybe someday, so will I. If I could just find room around here for a bookcase or five. . .

That's it for this week, but there's always next week coming up. I'll be back to talk more comics then. Stay tuned. . .

My photoblog, AugieShoots.com is filled with various pictures that don't really have a theme. It's an oddball assortment of cool pics. The deer from last week even return to form.

The Various and Sundry blog has had some music updates in the last week, as well as some points of general interest. Check it out.

Don't forget to check out my Google Reader Shared Items. 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.

That's it for this week, but there's always next week coming up. I'll be back to talk more comics then. Stay tuned. . .

My photoblog, AugieShoots.com is filled with various pictures that don't really have a theme. It's an oddball assortment of cool pics. The deer from last week even return to form.

The Various and Sundry blog has had some music updates in the last week, as well as some points of general interest. Check it out.

Don't forget to check out my Google Reader Shared Items. 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, chris sprouse, jack kirby

Pipeline Home | Pipeline Archives

Pipeline

Send This Article to a Friend

Separate multiple email address with commas.

You must state your name.

You must enter your email address.