A Comic With a Personal Stroke

"My Reaction to the Amazing Spiderman Trailer" from PennyDreadfulComics.com

It's a bit well... over-dramatic. Intentionally dour, but still.

I've been reading Spider-Man comics since I was in the second grade and Peter Parker is essentially my model of how to be a person. So I have no right to call Maggie Vicknair out on having a personal reaction to some media including Spider-Man in it.

That said, the discussion Josh (@IamJoshKopin) and I had in our first little video dispels all reasons for us as comic journalists/creators to get upset about a comic-book adaptation movie. Doesn't mean we won't have reactions as fans anyway.

More importantly: The style on display is smooth and professional, the black-and-white tone-effects (which I'd wager are digital but do have the quality of an old-school ink-wash) are very good and the whole thing has a depth that's quite honestly way more work than most people would determine this gag is worth. The faces in the piece are remarkable. And most panels are tremendously effective: awkward surprise and confusion/disgust fueled by nostalgia. That's a tough feeling to get across. The piece has a structure, both visually and in terms of narrative, which doubles, then builds, and crescendos all in seven panels. If the tone wasn't so subtle and the desired effect so specific, the strip would be hilarious. If the concept wasn't over-the-top and the desired effect so ironic, the strip would be emotionally affecting.

I immediately found this webcomic impressive while I also find it, as I said, over-dramatic. Doesn't tickle me.

It only takes a second to read to see for yourself. The link is at the top of the review.

Maggie's style can be seen on a more regular basis in her ongoing webcomic "Penny Dreadful" at PennyDreadfulComics.com. I have actually intended to write about her work for months, ever since I had the pleasure of meeting her about a year ago. Check out her work. Quite honestly, you should check it out solely because one of her best strengths as a comicsmith is her coloring.

~ @JonGorga

Weekly Process Roundup 8/5/11

The weekly process roundup is a collection of sketches, pencils, inks, thumbnails, everything other than finished product, really, from The Long and Shortbox of It's favorite artists, illustrators, and writers, hitting every Friday.

JEFF LEMIRE pitches the new ANIMAL MAN!
PASQUAL FERRY designs Asgardians!
FRANCIS MANAPUL falls for THE FLASH! (above)

Jacob Kurtzberg: Blown Up

"Kirby: Genesis" #0 from Dynamite Entertainment

If you were an artist and/or storyteller of any kind, how would you want to be celebrated after you were gone? Would you choose: have my scattered non-commercial / concept / unfinished art pored over and recombined into a new story I never conceived? Harsh? Yes, but the question stands. What would you want? I really don't think it's this.

As I understand it, Dynamite Entertainment (@DynamiteComics) somehow acquired the rights to produce comics with any and all of Jack Kirby's characters which are otherwise not associated or attached to any company or in use. And somebody said: 'Well then... Why not have them all fight / meet / talk like a crossover 'event'?

Considering the extremely thin and extremely various sources he has to play with, Kurt Busiek (@KurtBusiek) is doing a bang-up job of weaving a story that must intrigue any reader. The sheer number of characters being brought out of the woodwork and the curiosity about how the hell they will all fit together might be enough to make some people read the series. This issue is merely a preview, so it is meant to be a tasting but holy moley, there's a ton of characters I've never heard of who appear to have nothing to do with each other running around not talking to one another in this comic! The implication is that all these old Kirby creations are various aliens from various planets and they will be suddenly drawn to Earth where they will meet all the other kooky Kirby characters as well as a few choice humans...

The comic's BEST IDEA? Busiek's newly created main character is a man, portrayed first as a young boy, then as a college student, named Kirby. Meanwhile there is also a character named Sergeant Jake Cortez who looks just like a young Jack Kirby, cigar and all. The result is Kirby talking to Kirby which, unfortunately, sounds far cooler than it actually is.

The comic's WORST IDEA? Mixing the industry giant Alex Ross' painted art with relative newcomer Jack Herbert's pen and ink art on the same page. It's not so terribly awkward in this issue, but the last pages of issue #0 are preview material for the work to come and there? Paint right next to pen and ink. Looks like a disaster.

It's all over the place in this issue. We are introduced to the characters... and I can't tell you anything about them because there were so many of them and they were all in completely different settings. Hell, a few of them are from different genres. And, as a result, they flew past like colorful plastic horses on a theme park ride.

"Kirby Genesis" #0 is a hot mess. A very pretty-looking, carefully structured, rush of concepts and characters and images that weren't created to work together. It's good... for what it is. But that's a sentence I shouldn't have to write.

I fear that no amount of slow burn plotting, no amount of sharp characterization, no amount of tight-scripting could make this series work with the premise it has chosen. Nothing good can live down the road they are traveling down, at least in my imagination.

Mind you, Busiek is trying damn hard, and almost half-way succeeding with a book and a concept that should never work. Maybe later issues would prove me wrong, but I'm afraid that flipping through issue #1, after having read this issue, was more than enough for me.

~ @JonGorga

Quote(s) for the Week 8/2/11

Josh (@IamJoshKopin) and I attended a panel event held at the Whitney Museum here in New York City when he was in town a few weeks back. The panel itself was made up of Gary Panter, Art Spiegelman, and Chris Ware; moderated by John Carlin. The subject of discussion was, ostensibly, the art of comics.
"Where I used to strive for movement and restlessness I now attempt to sense and express the complete total calm of objects and the surrounding air."
~ Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956), comicsmith, painter, musician and caricaturist, translated & quoted in the 2oo4 textbook "Expressionism" from Taschen books

The panel event was held in conjunction with an exhibit at the Whitney Museum (@whitneymuseum) exploring the work of the man who wrote that, one of the Twentieth Century's first comics creators: Lyonel Feininger. He was both a comicsmith and a traditional painter who was intentionally brought into newspaper comics in order to bring some legitimacy to the medium. Feininger had the luxury of coming into comics from a fine art perspective as a result. So a search for stillness seems to be right in line with his other work: painting, a single image static art. In fact, there's no way to know exactly which discipline he was speaking of when he said the above quote but its implications for comics are just as interesting as its implications for painting. If not more so.

Here's why:

Eddie Campbell, the excellent comicsmith, comics publisher, and comics artist, said this in a 2oo6 interview with Tom Spurgeon of ComicsReporter.com:
"... all our theories about how comics are put together are invariably about time. The duration of a panel's action and the duration between one panel and the next. We haven't added very much to the Eisner-Steranko concept of 'sequential art.' And if the form is to say something important, rather than just involve itself in the kinetic thrill of drawn characters chasing each other, then we have to think harder."
Motion seems to be more exciting than stillness. More sexy. Things moving from point A to point B over time open the reader/viewer to be captivated and one might be tempted to think that motion was a requirement for narrative in comics, as it might be in film, but I'm not so sure anymore.

I myself once wrote on this blog that the medium of comics...
"exists frozen forever in snap shots, yet feels animated in sequence... moves without motion and speaks without sound"
but perhaps it would be best to embrace the stillness of the comics page. To "think harder" as Campbell implores and do as Feininger suggests: find "the complete total calm of objects".


Here He Comes, In A Suit Made of Swagger and Red Spandex

Once, a long time ago, people thought of Matt Murdock as a swashbuckler. Hot shot blind lawyer by day, man without fear by night, he was Errol Flynn, protecting Hell's Kitchen (and, briefly, San Francisco) from villains and criminals of all spots. And then, one day in 1979, a man named Frank Miller put his pencil to paper and drew Matt Murdock, and then, later, Miller started to write Murdock, and the character went from romantic lead to ninja, and his stories hit the grim n' gritty gutter. That's the way he's been ever since, through last year's wacky Shadowland event.

For a lot of that time, and certainly since I started reading comics, Daredevil was the best Marvel book that no one was reading; Ed Brubaker's run was a heavy crime story, with the tights almost gratuitously drenched in a noir sensibility and the long standing Daredevil-as-Job motif stretched almost to the breaking point. Andy Diggle would, after Brubaker, take the punishment too far, managing to break Matt Murdock, but his stories were pretty good and they resulted in a silly-yet-satisfying mini drawn by David Gianfelice at the beginning of the year. Now, finally, Matt Murdock is back in New York and, satisfyingly, he's put his throwing stars back on the wall and picked the foil back up. Daredevil, the man without fear, is back. And boy I hope he stays.

Mark Waid apparently pitched this reborn Matt Murdock as having been to the brink and back, and so as a man with nothing left to fear. For Waid, the character lives entirely in the moment, and, from the comic's opening pages, nothing could be clearer. Brubaker's Daredevil (and certainly not Diggle's) never would have taken pride in being able to discern a perfume from a hundred yards; he never would have cracked a joke about it, either. But there's Matt Murdock, on page two, doing just that. And that the villain in the prologue is not the Godfather whose daughter is getting married but, instead, is a goofy cape like the Spot? Mark Waid's goal is so well telegraphed, so unsubtle, that heightened senses are hardly required; for the first time in years, Matt Murdock is having fun, and his comic is all the more exciting because of it. This doesn't mean that Waid has given up on nuance, though. Even though the first scene climaxes with DD (in costume!) locking lips with a mob princess, the cavalier mask hides a deeply concerned attitude. This Murdock, though self-assured, knows he's made mistakes, and he's out to fix them, but with a sense of a humor and little bit of a smile.

It helps, of course, that the deeply cross-hatched and dark look of the last volume of the book has been replaced by the clean and clear, almost European, lines of Paolo Rivera and the flat, bright colors of Javier Rodriguez. If Marvel wanted to clarify that this was new #1 was a throwback, I'm not sure there was a better way to do it than this; Rivera's art is retro and he has a penchant for visual puns, so the form follows the function. The old Daredevil is back, but in a brand new way, and that the art is as much fun as the writing is nothing but a boon.

With intrigue, and the promise of an old school superhero clash in the next issue, I'm left only with the words of Stan Lee: 'nuff said.