Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen #1 went on sale in June 1986, nearly 23 years ago. It’s forgotten by a lot of recent converts, but back then there were no internets to get the word out or issue spoilers or post and host endless debates. Solicitation copy wasn’t quite the artform it is today, and the Watchmen issues came out every month (more or less) – you couldn’t just order the whole thing off Amazon like you can today. There was also no “wait-for-the-trade” guarantee back then. You had to wait for each new issue to tease its way into the marketplace. If you missed an issue, you had to scramble. Moore and Gibbons had to create a compelling-enough story to hold the audience every 30 days over a 1-year period. Over at Mike’s Amazing World of DC Comics, you can see what other comics DC released around the same time. Many of them proved to be not quite as compelling.
We all have memories of where we were when great events took place. You might remember your first computer, your first iPod, your first car, the first time you spoke to a woman dressed as Silk Spectre or a man dressed as Nite Owl. Comic book industry types of the Watchmen/Dark Knight era certainly remember where they were when Watchmen #1 debuted. I asked them to share…
The weekend is upon us again and the internets have delivered a bounty of excellent reading. From Peter Parker’s love life to Cyanide And Happiness. Check ‘em out.
BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS: Paul Morton over at Bookslut has a great interview with Brian. Mostly it’s about his work on Ultimate Spider-Man but there are a couple of detours, including Alias and Jessica’s relationship with Luke Cage. Here’s a nice Bendis quote about Peter Parker’s love life: “Doing my initial Spider-Man research, in going back and reading everything, [I found] for a sad sack this guy was getting laid left and right. This guy had more girlfriends than I ever had in high school. Betty Brant was hitting on him. MJ, Gwen. There were girls everywhere. There is an element of Peter that sees himself a certain way. But the reality is that he’s doing much better than he thinks.”
CYANIDE AND HAPPINESS: As hard as it might be to believe, The New Yorker has a touch of the hip in them. They sent one of their staffers to the recent New York Comic Con and scored an oh-so-brief interview with the guys from Cyanide and Happiness. You won’t learn much, but it’s good for a couple of laughs. After you read the interview, be sure to click on over to the Explosm website for greater goodness.
STARLOG: The old fan favorite is still being published (though it’s $7.99 a copy on the newsstand – if you can still find a copy and a newsstand). Better still, they’re finally back up on the internets. It’s a subset of the Fangoria website, but they’re just getting started and they have a nice Comics Scene section that looks like it’ll expand over time. Starlog has an impressive backlog of material – great articles, profiles, interviews and more, and it would be great to see some of that fun stuff online.
MARVEL COMICS: I would totally buy a Marvel comic that looked like this.
BATMAN: This guy loves him. (Warning: this is graphics heavy so if you’re backwards enough to still have dial-up, ye have been warned)
That’s all for now, have a great weekend and don’t forget to say thanks to the internets whenever you see them.
What if horror master H. P Lovecraft’s infamous stories were actually based on fact? Animator and artist Larry Latham has the answer to that question and he’s explaining it all in Lovecraft Is Missing, his spooky 6-issue comic book-in-progress that’s currently online for free-reading. A new page is up every Wednesday and Friday. You can start reading the first issue here.
Latham confesses that Lovecraft Is Missing “is kinda-sorta my first comic book.” He’s quick to qualify that because back in the mid-1970s, “I wrote and drew one issue of a Betty Boop underground comic, and in the early ‘80s I drew two stories (one of Hong Kong Phooey; one of Squiddly-Diddly) for Mark Evanier, who was packaging a Hanna-Barbera line for European distribution.”
His lack of comic book output in the years since is our loss, but Larry’s quickly making up for any lost time. Lovecraft Is Missing had its origins as a CD-Rom game, almost became an animated project, was pitched to DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint and is now seeing glorious life as a webcomic. Lovecraft Is Missing is a tour-de-force display of graphic storytelling – a tremendously spooky and entertaining mix of horror story, excellent graphics and unbelievable coloring.
The complete first issue is up online and the second is in progress. Larry posts pages every week so you can read it as he finishes, or you can read big chunks of it at one time. I do both, because I’m just a little OCD. Let’s see what Larry has to say about himself…
TOM MASON: Where did your interest in H. P. Lovecraft come from?
LARRY LATHAM: When I was in junior high, I was one of the founding members of the Oklahoma Alliance of Fandom, or O.A.F. You may laugh, but we just had our 40th anniversary convention in 2007. Of course, at that age, I was into Marvel Comics, but most of the members were older, with more refined tastes. The first Arkham House book I ever bought was Carnacki The Ghost-Finder, for $3.00, as it was still in print. About that same time, fandom was beginning to blossom all over the country, and though they were hard to find (there were no sf/fantasy/horror sections at the bookstores), the Lovecraft and (Robert E.) Howard Conan stories started coming out in paperback.
Who is telling the truth? Who is right? Who do you trust? Is it Benjamin Linus or is it Charles Widmore? That’s that question I came away with from this week’s episode. Both men have an obsession with the island and both believe that what they are doing is what’s right.
This week’s episode is entitled “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” and focuses on Mr. Jeremy Bentham aka John Locke. We know that Locke has left the island in order to bring Jack and the remaining Oceanic survivors back to the island. We also know at some point when John is off the island, he dies. This episode shows from beginning to end his trip and how he ended up dead.
With New York Comic Con having just passed earlier this month, I’ve decided to bring to you this gem from last year’s convention. Here is an interview I conducted with the legendary, Neal Adams. Unfortunately, I was not able to publish this interview until now. (I’m sorry, Neal) But, Neal is so interesting that an interview from last year is too good to let sit idle. So, without further ado, Neal Adams.
I don’t believe it but Marvel.com confirmed, Spider-Man’s Broadway release date will be Thursday, February 18, 2010 at Broadway’s Hilton Theatre, with previews starting in January. The play’s title is “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark” with music by Bono and the Edge and Julie Taymor directing.
The story will be “teenager Peter Parker, whose unremarkable life is turned upside-down—literally—when he’s bitten by a genetically altered spider and wakes up the next morning clinging to his bedroom ceiling. This bullied science-geek—suddenly endowed with astonishing powers—soon learns, however, that with great power comes great responsibility as villains test not only his physical strength but also his strength of character. Spider-Man’s battles will hurtle the audience through an origin story both recognizable and unexpected—yielding new characters as well as familiar faces—until a final surprising confrontation casts a startling new light on this hero’s journey.”
Evan Rachel Wood will portray Mary Jane Watson but no other cast members have been announced. Go to Marvel.com and SpidermanOnBroadway.com for more information and ticket sales.
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JOE CASEY. JOE KELLY. DUNCAN ROULEAU. STEVEN T. SEAGLE. The men from Man of Action take on the actions of monkeys in Animal Planet’s new series, Dark Days In Monkey City (every Tuesday at 10pm starting February 24). The series will be using graphic novel-style animation production elements “to accentuate the dramatic and violent reality of the story,” according to the nicely-worded press release. That story is a real-life war between two monkey tribes in Polonnaruwa, aka Monkey City. Monkey War – this is why we have TiVo!
According to the Animal Planet website, in the first episode “The Temple Troop has dominated Monkey City for years, but times are changing. Internal friction and power plays for the throne have weakened them. And aging King Lear must fend off potential rebellion for his crown.” To add to the high drama of the show, many of the characters have Shakespearean names.
Those graphic novel elements were provided courtesy of Man of Action, the creative development company formed by Casey (Codeflesh and The Death Defying Devil), Kelly (Bad Dog), Rouleau (The Great Unknown), and Seagle (American Virgin, Soul Kiss). They are also the creators of Cartoon Network’s smash hit Ben 10. You can find out more about Man of Action’s other projects by visiting their own website.
There’s a group interview with the collective Man of Action over at the Animal Planet website. It delves into their work on Dark Days in Monkey City, comics graphic novels, and so much more. Here’s a sampling: “Comic books are a medium, nothing more nothing less. However certain subject matter is rarely tested inside the graphic novel. Dark Days in Monkey City takes the notion that these natural behaviors and occurrences are also great stories. The graphic novel just simply puts a dramatic framework over that conceit.”
Dark Days in Monkey City debuts February 24 at 10pm, but this first episode is repeated February 25 (1:00 am and 5am), March 1 (10pm) and March 2 (1am and 5am).
As part of its Presidents’ Day Celebration, Marvel Comics has produced a 6-page digital comic - Gettysburg Distress - starring America’s 16th President, Spider-Man and Captain America. That’s right, Abe Lincoln is a part of the Marvel Comics Universe, just like the Skrulls, Nick Fury, Iron Man and Irving Forbush. Here are Honest Abe’s thoughts on today’s comics and the current marketplace.
TOM: Mr. Lincoln, why did you choose to appear in a Marvel Comics project?
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”
TOM: Did you use an agent to negotiate your appearance?
MR. LINCOLN: “My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”
TOM: Did you know that by appearing in a Marvel comic, they now hold the copyright to your likeness on those pages?
MR. LINCOLN: “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.”
TOM: Did you have any input in picking your creative team or the direction of the story?
MR. LINCOLN: “I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.”
TOM: Do you foresee yourself at some point really rolling up your sleeves and duking it out with a few Marvel villains?
Well, I was a nit nervous that there might be a surprise and that Heath Ledger wouldn’t get the Oscar, but he did.
Congratulations to Heath Ledger. Your performance was truly remarkable and it will be remembered in the comic book world for many years to come. Thank you so much and may you Rest in Peace.
The antique business was the second-hand smoke of my childhood. Most of my family continues to be involved in it. I have relatives who can look at a chair and tell you what kind of wood it’s made from and approximately when it was made and its brand name. They can also sniff out ceramics made in Occupied Japan and spot a first edition book from 20 yard sales away. I’m not of the antiques persuasion, but I’ve absorbed a lot of it over the years.
Now my friend J.C. Vaughn (McCandless & Company, Zombie Proof, 24) has created a graphic novel adventure set in the antique world: a behind-the-scenes mystery at the world’s largest collectibles auction. Antiques: The Comic Strip collects the weekly strip he wrote for a newspaper called Antique Trader, and that was illustrated by Brendon and Brian Fraim. Antiques is an idea that J.C. had “rolling around in my head for more years than I care to remember.” His career as Executive Editor at Gemstone Publishing gave him “access to many key players in the vintage pop culture collectibles market.” Through his work with Steve Geppi and John Snyder, “I learned a tremendous amount about different niches.”
As luck would have it, his story fell into place late one night at the office and “I got on the phone and called Catherine Saunders-Watson, who was the editor at Antique Trader.” Fortunately for him, she had just come on board and was looking to turn around the publication. J.C. pitched her the idea of doing a regular comic strip with all sorts of real people and tidbits accompanied by real-sounding people set in the world of auctions. Going once, going twice…Sold! “Without anything on paper she took the idea and we were off and running,” J.C. says. He found the Fraims two days later at the Pittsburgh Comic-Con. “I had met Brendon and Brian a few years earlier through a mutual friend, John Petty, and they had done a fantastic cover for me for Overstreet’s Comic Price Review.” After J.C.’s pitch, within an hour “I had a concept sketch of the main characters. I didn’t even want to give it back to them to allow them to ink it.”
Antiques: The Comic Strip tells the story of two cousins, one British and one American, who compete over the attentions of a sexy security expert at the largest pop culture auction the world has ever seen. According to J.C., “there are all sorts of mysteries surrounding the items in the auction, the auction itself, and the cousins.” Noted Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee even makes an appearance.
Antiques: The Comic Strip is a classy 80-page hardcover with dustjacket collecting the entire first story. It’s a two-time Harvey Award nominee (once as a strip and once as a collection). J.C. and pals have packed the book with plenty of extras including the non-continuity Christmas and New Year’s strips, a character key and index, a step-by-step guide to the one character who keeps appearing in disguise throughout the story, and even one strip that has never previously appeared. And you don’t have to bid for this Antiques – copies are available right now. If you’d like an expert peek into the world of collectibles, mixed with a dash of mystery and deceit, great art by the Fraims and real-life cameos, this is the book for you.
Antiques even has its own MySpace page, so you can check out the first five strips. J.C., Brendon and Brian are also working on something else together, a nifty horror project, but I’m sworn to secrecy.
[In the interest of full disclosure, be aware that J.C. named a character in the strip after little ol’ me.]
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