Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thanks to Dark Horse, Western rides again!

Jim Shooter is bringing them back, Gold Key lives! Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom, the new series from Dark Horse comics is in stores as you read this. Magnus, Robot Fighter, new series is scheduled to begin on August 4. Other Western/Gold Key characters also scheduled to get another run from Dark Horse are Turok, Son of Stone, and the least well known of the lot: Mighty Samson. For a preview before you buy of Doctor Solar go here. Doctor Solar is written by Shooter of course, and drawn by Dennis Calero. Magnus is -of course- written by Shooter and drawn by Bill Reinhold. The blurbs on the Dark Horse led me to believe Turok, Son of Stone will also be coming out this year. One of the coolest features, that pays a appropriate amount of respect to history, is the reprinting of the original first issues of the title in each of the latest series. If you haven't checked out any of the Dark Horse archive editions for these Gold Key/Western characters it's a nice preview of what you've been missing. 48 pages for the new Solar#1, 56 for Magnus, at $3.50 for each title. I went through a flood (really it was some 'Noah get the ark out one one more time' kind of mayhem) to get my free comic book day Doctor Solar/Magnus preview issue. Of course I enjoyed both of Shooter's stories, but the art for Doctor Solar from Dennis Calero was too generic super-hero-ie for me. Calero having X-Men: Noir on your resume isn't much of a credit with me. Calero's Solar has too much of what I would call the Jim Lee/David Finch style fluid super-hero art. Solar shouldn't like the type of hero who would get into a fist fight with the villain. The old Gold Key Solar and some of the Valiant run, had what I would call -stiff super-hero art- which is charming to me and suited the character. If Calero was more of a throwback to the original issues  in his style I would have enjoyed it more. I know taste in art is idiosyncratically subjective, but I appreciate frozen moments in time that don't show every character  to have the poise of a Kung-Fu master. That should be saved for the straight up ass kickers like Magnus. Context matters, Magnus needs to look like he could jump off the page and punch you, or use his martial arts to scrap rogue robots.  Russ Manning's excellent art work for Magnus was the most action filled/fluid super-hero Gold Key ever got, and Reinhold's rendering hearkens back to that perfectly. Shooter is a amazing writer, if it was up to me he would be running Marvel again, so you know I'm a fan happy to read his work again. Magnus was awesome on both fronts, and maybe Dennis Calero's style will grow on me...

Turok, Son of Stone, the next book to be brought back by Dark Horse, is another character that was brought back before at Valiant comics. Turok's comic book run before the upcoming Dark Horse series was cut short (along with so many others) by the abyss of Acclaim's bankruptcy. Turok the video game franchise has continued on, and given him more mainstream exposure than any other Gold Key/Western hero. Jim Shooter's view of the new Dark Horse Turok series:
Turok, Son of Stone tells the story of two Pre-Columbian Native Americans swept away by a force beyond comprehension to a Timeless Land.

Turok is Algonquin, born in what is now Quebec.

In his time, no native of North or Central America has a metal weapon except him—a seax, or Viking long knife, made of Damascus steel, given to Turok by a Norse trader whom he befriended during his sojourn to Newfoundland, where Vikings came to trade and forage, and where Viking settlements once stood.  The seax is an heirloom, handed down through generations to the trader from an ancestor who, as a mercenary for the Byzantine Empire journeyed as far as Baghdad.  Another gift from the Norse: while in their company, Turok learned the art of making composite bows with bow staves reinforced with sinew and bone or horn that can propel an arrow nearly half a mile, like the legendary bows of the Turks.  At closer range, they have devastating power, unrivaled by any wooden stave bow.  There is not the like of Turok’s bow in the Americas.

He has traveled far.  Along his path, Turok learned much from the shamans he encountered: first, the secret language they share, but more importantly, that most of what they do is trickery and illusion—though some things he has seen he cannot fathom—and most importantly never to fear the unknown or unfamiliar.  To do so is to give power to the tricksters or more power to what is real but strange.

To banish fear is to be formidable, almost unconquerable.  Now, if he can just keep the young, headstrong Chiricahua Andar out of trouble….

Turok is strong, capable and skilled.  Just a man, but what a man.  Best of all, he’s smart.

There is a new force in the Timeless Land.  A fearless man who will find a way

[From Jim Shooter interview on ifanboy]

The least known of the new series is Mighty Samson. Mighty Samson had a original 32 issue run between 1964 and 1982, the Dark Horse series is the first time since that the character has been brought back. Mighty Samson Archives from Dark is set to be published October of this year.
Shooter's view of the new Mighty Samson series:
500 years after the end of the world….

Amid the ruins of a once-great city, scourged by mutated monsters, marauders and savage, sub-human predators, the primitive N’yark Tribe, ekes out a meager, fragile existence.  But from among them arises a champion, gifted with prodigious strength—a warrior who can strike dead the most fearsome beast and stand one alone against a thousand foes.  Named by the Speakers of Ancient Lore, he is called the Mighty Samson—the last great hope of human kind.

Thermonuclear destruction nearly ended life on Earth.  No one knows how or why it happened—the answers are lost in antiquity.

At first, the few survivors tried to preserve the shattered remnants of civilization, but soon the struggle to merely maintain existence exist overwhelmed loftier goals.  A new Dark Age descended upon the world.

Small bands of survivors gathered.  Some united into tribes.  One such tribe, called the N’yark, occupied the Island of Broken Towers.

The N’yark Tribe suffered hideously for many generations, preyed upon by monstrosities against which they had no defense, hunted by semi-human carnivores and forced to pay tribute to powerful, marauding tribes from the north and west.

Twenty years ago, Alma, wife of Tranquility, bore a child, an exceptionally large and robust baby boy, who soon began showing signs of unnatural, inhuman strength.

As his mother wished, Samson becomes the champion and defender of his people.  He means to help them survive, thrive and lay the foundations of a New World, safe from the horrors of nature perverted, and the brutality of the wicked.

“Upon the Earth walks he who slays behemoths with his fist.  Stone and iron yield before the strength of his sinews.  A thousand warriors cannot stand against his strength.  It is given unto him to deliver his people from the beneath the yoke of their oppressors, and no force under Heaven can stay him from his destiny.  He is called the Mighty Samson.” – From the recitations of the Lore-Speakers in the first year of the Age to Come, at the dawn of the Fourth Millennium.

[Jim Shooter ifanboy interview]

My first exposure to most of these Western/Gold Key heroes was the old Whitman comics 3-in-1 bag reprint editions of Turok, Solar, and Mighty Samson. I was lucky enough to come across a old Gold Key Magnus in a pawn shop having a 'going out of business sale' of all things. As long as Shooter was at Valiant it was a pleasure to read Magnus, Solar, and Turok's new adventures, but the quality suffered after his departure. Creators like: Otto Binder, Frank Throne, Jack Sparling, Russ Manning, Robert Shaefer, Eric Friewald, Paul S. Newman, Bob Fujitani, Matt Murphy, and Alberto Giolitti all set a high standard Jim Shooter has already proven he live's up to. If you want to talk about being 'in good hands' the Gold Key/Western characters are in good hands again. I look forward to reading these new titles, and hope plenty of other readers will as well. 

[With a thanks to Jim Shelley for giving me the idea to write this]


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dave Sim talks about Mr A, Mr. C- and hey I got a mention!

On the latest Cerebus TV Dave Sim talks about the history of Steve Ditko's Mr. A. He goes from Mr A's first appearance in witzend to the Mr A #1 being back in print ordering information here. Dave Sim mentions I put in a request for a Cerebus as Mr. A sketch which he called "doing Joseph Stalin as Winston Churchill".  Sim currently has up a fantastic piece he did of Mr C- up for sale, depending on the response he may do more. I really enjoy Cerebus, Mr. A, and I love the parody. It's more than just topical in today's times. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!/ Do you still make it onto a fatwa hit list if you traced it?

Today's the day, if you haven't heard about it, I don't know where you've been. I'm working on a 6 page comic strip about it, with no artistic ability whatsoever. I can't even trace well truth be told, so you can imagine how the drawing is going... It's not going to be done today for a few reasons:

1. I'm slow, damn slow, plus no drawing abilty.

2. Every time I thought I had a final script, some other damn radical homicidal maniac related event would happen, and I'd have to ask myself: in, or out?

3. I wanted to do a mini-pictorial history of radical Islam out to kill/intimidate the people who say and do things they don't like. Instead of just a long running post like I've done before.

4. I wanted to make sure I said what I wanted to say, the way I wanted to say it. No panel by panel DVD style commentaries breakdown on what I was trying to say with this/that image.

5. Why limit yourself to one day out of the year?

No panel by panel breakdown, but I did want to get in on this day with a little preview of what is forth coming. Various images that all come together like a plan from the A-Team (in my mind at least) to get my point across.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dave Sim Cerebus Ball Point Head Sketch's On Sale On E-Bay/ Check out my Cerebus as Mr.A sketch!

Dave Sim is again selling Cerebus head sketches (ball point pen on Aardvark-Vanaheim stationary) on E-Bay. The sketches can be just of Cerebus, or have him decked out as the character of your choice. The price is $25.00 U.S. and it's the second time these types of sketches have gone on sale. I found out about the offer from watching Cerebus TV -new episodes come on Friday's at 9:00 central time.  The current episode is a memoriam to the late, great, Dick Giordano, and Dave Sim talking about his Ditkomania cover (also on sale) featuring Steve Ditko's Miss Eerie. I enjoy the Cerebus TV episodes a lot, plenty of interesting comics history gets covered, and you should really check it out. The first Cerebus head sketch I got is:

 The above (forgive my poor scanning) is Dave Sim drawing Cerebus as Steve Ditko's Mr. A, which becomes Mr. C-! I'm a big fan of Mr. A and Steve Ditko's most recent work so no surprise that was my request. I'm thrilled with my sketch, really enjoyed the funny spin on Mr. A, and wanted the chance to get a few more. No way do I have the cash to fight it out in a art auction, so this is the next best thing. Lucky for me, by popular demand, the sketch offer was brought back I already put in my new order for Cerebus drawn as Judge Dredd, and Cerebus drawn as the Green Hornet. Eclipso (the 60s' version or the one from his own series), or Nukla were the other options I considered.  

If your a fan of Dave Sim's work you still have about a day to purchase a sketch. If you do, you won't be disappointed.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Zuda Review The Adventures of Doc & Shok/ If the synopsis doesn't fit...

The Adventures of Doc & Shok is another March Zuda comic done by Dustin Evans. Here is the synopsis: Doc is an intelligent minded scientist on a quest. He seeks an answer to his family history that has led to his destiny as a paranormal creature of the night. He keeps his secret locked away and dares not to reveal it to a soul. Shok is a simple minded and lazy fellow, who just happened to answer a help wanted ad in the paper to help fund his addiction to quality ale and jump start his own brewery. Little did he know, he would find himself faced with a true Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for a boss. Shok's daytime job, working for Doc, eventually forges an unlikely friendship between the two. He is faced with quite a dilemma, once he realizes his friend and employer is a creature of the night. The two mismatched pair quest together to find an answer to Doc's dark history in a medieval world filled with modern technologies, danger and horror. Sharika, a haunting and alluring woman claiming to have psychic powers, appears in the village of Tarbon. Her brother was last seen in the village and has since gone missing. She is immediately branded an outcast and finds solace in the company of Doc & Shok. Doc feels drawn to Sharika, but Shok believes there is more to her beauty and charm than she claims. While Doc frantically searches for an answer and cure to his condition, the town's villagers grow increasingly more suspicious of him and his two companions.

I know it's easier to change the synopsis than the story. I also know most people could care less about the synopsis. I do care, so here we go:

 There are a lot of directions you can go in with the synopsis, mostly back story, re-cap the events in the comic, mostly a preview of the future. The best which gives you a little back story, tells readers what's going on now, and gives a hint to the future of the story -which matches up well with the comic. In the 8 screens of the comic some of the most interesting parts of the synopsis (and story going forward), don't even make the slightest appearance. Doc, Shok, and the readers meet a monstrous, murderous family  that never gets a mention in the synopsis. It probably ties together with Shok finding out Doc is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type, and the start of his quest into his 'dark history'. The comic ends on a 'danger-hook'  with the characters and readers about to see more of momma monster than just a tentacle. I guess in the course of escaping/fighting the monster family the Doc would change and the rest of the story would take off following the synopsis lead.  Reading that synopsis readers are going to want to see the Jekyll and Hyde transformation, and it would have made for a more impressive ending than the 'danger-hook'. The Sharika character takes up a large portion of the synopsis (and it seems future story) it would have been great to have at least some cut scenes or a one panel cameo. It's only 8 screens a big part of the draw is going to be the Mr. Hyde transformation and seeing that aspect of the character, it would have been even better if it could have showed up without being spelled out so plain in the synopsis. I know creators in past have been able to edit out too many spoilers in the synopsis, I don't know if this is just at the editors invitation, or creators can put in a request. In any case that's too much type in the synopsis not to lead to premature dramatic ejaculation.With 8 screens and the possibility of no more than that if you don't win, end on the best possible dramatic hook with the Jekyll/Hyde transformation in progress. I know 'adventures' is in the title but it's too much Holmes and Dr. Watson-esque without that other good Victorian style twist. You have scary art, a bound to be impressive scene of the Doc's transformation, only 8 screens to grab readers, so why not use it?

What the secret tunnels exploration in the screens did do was allow for some nice dark and moody art, with great use of lighting in the colors. I enjoyed the various lighting effects even as I wondered when Sharika was going to show up. The monster daughter revel was well done, as was the 'there's something behind me isn't there' gag. I enjoyed the art, but it's the coloring done on the comic throughout that made it so impressive. There was some nicely written banter between the two principles, but a little too much of it without the beginning of a Hyde reveal. The letters were all completely readable.  Well lit, good dialogue, but it ended on a humor line instead of the start of the Hyde reveal. A victim of screen 9 syndrome, when the story looks to really pick up in the screen you don't see unless the comics wins, or continues on somewhere else.  If the interest in the comic does result in getting a first issue published it should do very well in another longer format. Had it been Doc & Shok the first 8 pages of a 22 page comic it would have been great story structure, but it's Zuda and some of the potentially best parts of the tale got left in the synopsis.