Links, tools and gadgets

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Steve Perry, R.I.P.

Steve Bissette has confirmed that writer Steve Perry has passed away.  You can read a lot more about his life and the unfortunate circumstances of his last days in other posts from Bissette.

I wasn't reading comics for most of the time that Perry was active in the 1980s, but I did end up with a good percentage of his non-animation related comics (Thundercats and Silverhawks, for which he wrote both cartoons and comics, were after my time, and I don't ever recall watching the shows, though it seems they do have some dedicated fans).  Most recently I picked up an issue of his most significant work, TIMESPIRITS, a few years ago, mostly for the Al Williamson guest art, and liked that enough to get the rest of the series shortly after.  That series deserves a more detailed look, which I'll try to get around to when, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, co-creator Tom Yeates is able to arrange a reprint.  In the meantime, here's a good discussion of it.

Outside of TIMESPIRITS my favourite Perry story is "The Saurian Remains", drawn by Steve Bissette and published in Marvel's AMAZING HIGH ADVENTURE #4 [1986].  A fictionalized fantasy story based on the "Bone Wars" rivalry among 19th century paleontologists, it's a cleverly done tale which provides a fanciful explanation for an old scientific error while also providing the opportunity for Bissette to draw both the dinosaurs and extreme violence that he excels in.

Perry and Bissette also did the memorable stories "A Frog Is A Frog" and "The Blood Bequest" (with John Totleben) for Marvel's BIZARRE ADVENTURES black and white magazine, as well as some stories in HEAVY METAL and EPIC ILLUSTRATED that I haven't read.

With Rick Veitch, Perry did the short story "Ahhh... Christmas" for Marvel's one-shot AMAZING ADVENTURES #1 [1988]. Not your typical warm holiday story, as you might gather from the line:

And what about the elves? I've always wondered about them. An exploited minority if ever there was one. Picture these undemanding little fellows jailed year round in some Arctic factory enslaved to the eccentricities of one slightly larger than themselves...

Perry wrote several stories for the brief revival of THUNDER AGENTS published by Deluxe Comics in the mid-1980s.  In the first issue, he wrote a story drawn by Keith Giffen featuring the new female Menthor, and then he did a 2-part story featuring the robotic NoMan in #3 and #4, with artwork by Steve Ditko and Greg Theakston.  This latter story was very entertaining as a modern take on a silver age concept (including a villain with the unlikely name Cyrano de Klopps), with several inventive uses of NoMan's powers.  Definitely one of the better non-Ditko-written Ditko stories of the era.

I picked up VANGUARD ILLUSTRATED #7 [1984], one of the last comics published by early independent publisher Pacific Comics, quite a while back for the first Mr. Monster story.  The anthology leads off with an entertaining western/horror story "The Ballad of Hardcase Bradley" drawn by George Evans.  I didn't remember that it was written by Steve Perry, but I remembered the story right away when Steve Bissette mentioned the title a few days ago.

One of Perry's other major comic book works was a jungle adventure comic called SALIMBA, with art by Paul Chadwick.  I remember reading that, but can't seem to find it right now.  It was recently announced that About Comics had bought the rights to it, along with a new prose short story of the character, so it might return to print sooner or later.

Perry was helped in his last few months by the Hero Initiative. Consider a donation to them if you can.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Various upcoming comics roundup

Haven't paid too much attention to the solicitations for upcoming comics, except to note the Kirby and Ditko stuff, for the last few months.  Heard about a few things I'd missed recently, so I looked down the full lists, and here are some random things I thought were noteworthy, mostly for my own future reference.

By Al Williamson
The Al Williamson Archives grants unprecedented access to this master storyteller's unseen work. Culled from his extensive private files, each volume of this series will feature unpublished sketches, preliminary artwork and pieces the artist created for his personal enjoyment. Williamson's fondness for fantasy and SF is showcased in this first volume. It collects work created throughout his career: impeccably rendered dinosaurs, barbarians, spacemen and their craft, even a few sexy maidens. It also features a partially inked Xenozoic tale, previously unpublished newspaper strips, and unused Western comics pages from the '50s.
SC, 8x11, 64pgs, $19.95
[ISBN 1933865296, Flesk Publications,  MAY101032]

Always love seeing more Williamson, and the guys at Flesk really do a great job on production.  This is a little pricey for the page count, but definitely worth considering.

By Mark Crilley
On sale July 7
b&w, 96 pages $6.99
TPB, 5 1/4" x 7 1/2"
Brody hoped it was just a hallucination. But no, the teenaged ghostly girl who’d come face to face with him in the middle of a busy city street was all too real. And now she was back, telling him she needed his help in hunting down a dangerous killer, and that he must undergo training from the spirit of a centuries-old samurai to unlock his hidden supernatural powers. Thirteen-time Eisner nominee Mark Crilley joins Dark Horse to launch his most original and action-packed saga to date in Brody’s Ghost, the first in a six-volume limited series.
[ISBN 1595825215, Dark Horse, MAR100018]

I'm a big fan of Crilley's previous work, from AKIKO to BILLY CLIKK to MIKI FALLS, so good to see a new series from him.  The previews on Dark Horse Presents looked interesting, and the format is nice and compact and inexpensive.

By Bill Mauldin
$29.99 / HC / 288 pgs / BW
In 1945, a great tide of battered soldiers began flowing back to the United States. Though victorious, these exhausted men were nevertheless too grief-stricken over the loss of comrades, too guilt-ridden that they had survived, and too numbed by trauma to share in the country’s euphoria. Most never saw a ticker-tape parade, or stole a Times Square kiss. All they wanted was to settle back into quiet workaday lives without fear. How tragic that the forces unleashed by WWII made this simple wish impossible. Bill Mauldin brilliantly chronicles these early postwar years and tells his own story of his journey home to a wife he barely knew and a son he had only seen in pictures.
[ISBN 978160699351, Fantagraphics, MAY101017]

I really enjoyed the big 2-volume set of Mauldin's wartime strips from a few years back, so good to see a collection of the rest of the story.

By Tommy Kovac and Andy Hirsch
Frank Fizzle wishes his writer father would have just a single original idea, but instead Jasper Fizzle sees himself as the new “Royal Historian of OZ” as he insists on writing new OZ stories. When the failed writer discovers that Oz really exists, he makes an error in judgment that brands him a criminal in two worlds. Can Frank save the day and redeem the Fizzle family name, or will the drizzly ghost of the Wicked Witch of the West destroy them all?
24pgs, B&W $1.00
[Slave Labor, APR100711]

Sounds like an amusing new book, and Kovac's WONDERLAND series from a while back was entertaining, so worth a look.

The second volume of Nancy in D+Q's John Stanley Library, elegantly designed by Seth, stars the beloved Brillo-headed Nancy in her own comic book series written by the greatest children's comics writer of all time, John Stanley. Stanley, the author of Melvin Monster and Little Lulu, puts his own deft sense of humor and superior cartooning on the Ernie Bushmiller creation with spooky Oona Goosepimple, Spike, and Mr.McOnion. Nancy, along with her sidekick, Sluggo, will charm readers young and old with her hilarious, scheming hijinks.
HC, 8x11, 152pgs, FC $29.95
[ISBN 9781897299968, Drawn and Quarterly, MAR100913]

It's always good to see more of Stanley's work, though there does seem to be an overdose after so many years of nothing, it's hard to absorb it all. But that's a good problem to have.

By George Chieffet and Stephen DeStefano
$19.99 / HC / 120 pgs / PC
Elegantly drawn in a supremely confident, lively, cartoony black-and-white style that recalls Milt Gross and classic Disney animation and comics, Lucky in Love is a unique coming-of-age story that follows its lovable hero Lucky Testatuda from his rascally teen years in Hoboken, New Jersey’s Little Italy to his induction into the air force and subsequent wartime experiences. Ultimately the poignant discoveries Lucky makes on his way to adulthood bestow upon him a very different kind of heroism than that of which he had dreamed... The second and concluding volume, Lucky in Love: Lucky for Life will be released in 2013.
[ISBN 9781606993545, Fantagraphics, APR100963]

Pleasant surprise to see DeStefano back in comics with a major work. Of course most people will remember his work from the excellent 'MAZING MAN and less-excellent-but-still-entertaining HERO HOTLINE from DC, and he did some interesting stuff in the INSTANT PIANO anthology in the 1990s and a few other places.  


One of the few regular mainstream super-hero books I'm really interested in, to the point that I'm considering getting the individual issues (but probably won't), is this 10-issue history of the DC Universe by Len Wein and various artists, including Joe Kubert, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Dave Gibbons, George Perez, Jerry Ordway and various others. I'm cynical enough that I'm assuming it'll be out-of-date and contradicted by other books within weeks of the final issue, if not sooner, but I'm not invested enough in a cohesive universe to care as long as there's a good story, which hopefully this will be.  And man, is that a nice Gibbons cover.

By Dave Sim
"glamourpuss reinvents the Universe." Everyone's favourite fashionista decides a lot of things need to change while she's still young enough to enjoy them — starting with the online universe. Are you ready for FACEITBook? In the "History of Photorealism in Comics" section, a continuing examination of the relationship between Rip Kirby's Alex Raymond and Heart Of Juliet Jones' Stan Drake.
24pgs, B&W $3.00
[Aardvark-Vanaheim, MAY100717]

I haven't been following Sim's latest thing, but I kind of like the cover of this one more than previous issues, and something tickles me about the Sim of all people doing satire based on online social networks.

Who says a comic book has to be good? Not Brand Echh, from 1967-69! Behind a fabulous cover by Marie Severin, we feature a look at Marvel’s madcap parody mag, with rare art and artifacts by Ross Andru, John Buscema, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and more! Plus the conclusion of the cataclysmic George Kashdan interview.
Magazine, 84pgs, PC $7.95
[TwoMorrows, MAY101235]

I stopped getting every issue of ALTER EGO a while back, but I'm comforted to know that it still comes out like clockwork and like to check in every now and then. This seems like it might be a good issue to get.

By Jeff Smith
Collected in this new pocket edition is the hard-boiled, sci-fi tale of Jeff Smith's inter-dimensional art thief known only by the strange four letter word found spray-painted at the scene of a crime: RASL. This 6 1/2" x 9" double edition collects the first seven issues of RASL in one heart-pounding book! A compact, affordable, edition of RASL: a sci-fi/noir tale of violence and corruption where murder and passion mix with folklore and cutting-edge physics.
SC, 6.5x9, 224pgs, B&W $17.95
[Cartoon Books, MAY100912]

Well, I dropped the serialized version of RASL when I saw how good the big collections looked, but now I kind of think I might like this version even more. Maybe I should just wait for the RASL ONE VOLUME edition when the series is done... Anyway, interesting book, very different from BONE, worth checking out in any or all formats.

By Steven Brower
$39.99 / HC / 220 pgs / FC
This lush art book and critical biography compiles for the first time the best art from one of the 20th century’s most influential and overlooked comic book artists: Mort Meskin. His life and work left an indelible impression on many, including: Jack Kirby, Jerry Robinson, Alex Toth, Steve Ditko, Jim Steranko, Stan Lee and many more. Meskin’s contributions to our form reshaped how comics articulated our imaginations, specifically by his sophisticated chiaroscuro technique Meskin defined space within the panel like none who had come before. With this tome Fantagraphics is proud to set the record straight and add his name to the pantheon of comic book artists who helped create this distinctly American art form.
[ISBN 9781606993583, Fantagraphics, MAY101012]

I'm not too familiar with Meskin's art, but I do like what I've seen, and this looks like it'll be a fascinating book.

By Charles M. Schulz
Introduction by Alec Baldwin
$28.99 / HC / 344 pgs / BW
This new volume of everyone’s favorite classic comic strip establishes the last two recurring characters (Snoopy’s brother Spike and Rerun Van Pelt) and features an amazing profusion of hilariously distinctive new characters who appeared in only one or two strips total! Including: a group of diminutive baseball players, Austin, Ruby, Leland, and Milo. Their coach, good ole Charlie Brown has been found guilty by the EPA of biting the Kite-Eating tree and must go on the lam where he establishes the midget baseball team known as the “Goose Eggs.” All that and more including the usual cast of beloved characters (including the talking schoolhouse and the doghouse-jigsawing cat, who steals Linus’s blanket creating much unrest). Wait! Don’t forget the introduction by Alec Baldwin!
[ISBN 978-1606993750, Fantagraphics, MAY101018]

Spike I'm still not sold on, but I kind of like Rerun. Anyway, these are among the earliest strips I would have read in the newspaper at age 7-8, so there's that.  Intro by Alec Baldwin, though?  Seriously?  You'd think with only 25 of these there would be a lot more prominent people with more bookstore-attractive names lining up to write intros you'd get to before Alec Baldwin.  I understood the Kristin Chenoweth thing a few books back since she played cover-featured Sally Brown in a production of the stage play based on Peanuts, is there some Baldwin connection I'm missing?  He didn't play Peppermint Patty, did he?  Because if he did, I need to see a video of that...

By Stan Sakai
[Dark Horse]

Just a quick mention of USAGI, still going strong after all these years, up to #130 (around 180 with the previous volumes) and no sign of slowing down, plus more collections of the older stuff (looks like that big Fantagraphics collection of the entire first series is delayed, hopefully we'll see it soon). The Sakai abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there.

By Dave McKean
On sale Aug 25
FC, 496 pages $29.99
TPB, 8 1/2" x 10 3/16"
Dave McKean’s Cages is finally back in print!
Best known for his collaborations with Neil Gaiman, McKean defied expectations with his stunning debut as writer and artist in Cages, winner of multiple awards for Best Graphic Album.
Filled with complex characters, intriguing flights of fancy, and all the beautiful visuals you’d expect from the director of MirrorMask, Cages is McKean’s magnum opus. It chronicles the intersecting lives of a painter, a writer, and a musician living in the same apartment building, and is a profound rumination on art, God, cats, and the cages we build for ourselves.
Out of print for years, Cages is finally available in an affordable new softcover edition, remastered and newly redesigned, with a brand-new cover by McKean.
• Almost five hundred pages in an affordable softcover!
• Features painstakingly rescanned and remastered art.
[ISBN 9781595823168, Dark Horse, APR100045]

This has been on the schedule a few times, major books like this seem to take Dark Horse a few tries to actually get out. Anyway, I didn't pick up the previous hardcover editions from various publishers, but this one has a nice price and it'll be interesting to see the "remastered" art.

by James Turner
A slacker prince inherits a space empire and finds himself responsible for the lives of billions. Emperor Zoz of Io has retired, leaving his slacker son Zing in charge of the Ion Empire. After initiating sweeping social reforms to impress his friend, Moxy Comet, Zing upsets the army by cutting the military budget to pay for them. Can one slacker prince get up off his ass long enough to save the galaxy?
SC, 208pgs, B&W $14.95
[ISBN 1593621957, Slave Labor, MAY100724]

The original one-shot comic was entertaining, as was Turner's REX LIBRIS book, so hopefully it'll find some success in this new hopefully Diamond impervious format.

Fandral the Dashing, Hogun the Grim, Volstagg the Voluminous: They may not have made it into the mythology books, but they're living legends to this day – and some of their solo sagas are collected here for the first time! The Warriors Three tackle organized crime in Manhattan, then embark on an Asgardian quest that takes them deeper than ever before into peril – and into themselves! Featuring stories by Alien Legion co-creator Alan Zelenetz! Collecting MARVEL SPOTLIGHT (1971) #30 and MARVEL FANFARE (1982) #13 & #34-37.
144 PGS. $19.99
[ISBN 9780785144809, Marvel, MAR100643]

I really like the Zelenetz/Vess stuff from Marvel Fanfare, and while I've never read the 1970s issue I'm always interested in some Wein/Buscema/Sinnott. A bit of a shame that, with the book being so slim, they aren't including the RAVEN BANNER graphic novel by Zelenetz and Vess, which could really use an updated printing job, and maybe the other Thor related Vess short story with Loki, which I just found out about recently.

On sale JUNE 30 • 1 of 2 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Written by KURT BUSIEK
Cover by ALEX ROSS
At last, the full story of the Silver Agent’s fateful journey through time — including his origin, his greatest battles and his ultimate fate — can be revealed. It’s all right here in a 2-issue miniseries spanning from the late 1950s to the far future. Guest-starring a constellation of Astro City stars and introducing the Silver Centurions, this very personal story will blow readers away on a galactic scale.

On sale JULY 28 • 2 of 2 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Written by KURT BUSIEK
Cover by ALEX ROSS
The Silver Agent faces his last battle to save a world he’s already saved. A heroic life comes full circle and a heroic legacy lives on in ways no one – much less the Agent himself – could ever have expected. Say goodbye to one of Astro City’s finest and uncover more of the city’s secrets in this finale to the 2-issue event.

[DC, APR100250, MAY100243]

I've drifted away from ASTRO CITY over the years, but this is one of the stories hinted at in the earliest issues that I was most interested in, so I might pick up the individual issues, and if seems to recapture what I liked about the series early on I might catch up on some of the stuff I missed (probably not that 16-part saga that just ended, though).

story & art VARIOUS
160 pages/FC $29.99
Some of the comic book industries best and brightest use their talents to welcome the next generation of comic book readers with the kid-friendly anthology, FRACTURED FABLES! Features all-new, humorous takes on our most beloved fairy tales with stories by award-winning creators like JILL THOMPSON, BRYAN TALBOT, PETER DAVID, BEN TEMPLESMITH, TERRY MOORE, SCOTT MORSE, DOUG TENNAPEL, TED McKEEVER, BILL MORRISON, LARRY MARDER, JIM VALENTINO, PHIL HESTER, SHANNON WHEELER and many more!
[ISBN 1607062690, Image, MAY100407]

Well, obviously the presence of Larry Marder, even on non-Beanworld stuff, makes this worth a look. Bryan Talbot and some of the others are also names well worth paying attention to.

By Roger Langridge and Amy Mebberson
The Muppet Theatre has been repaired, and it's time to once again start the Muppet Show! The search for a new performer leads to an unexpected guest, prompting a family reunion that fans have been asking for, but never expected! This is the one Muppets fans have been demanding, and will be talking about for months to come! Written by the critically acclaimed Roger Langridge with art by Amy Mebberson. SOFTCOVER, 6x9, 128pgs, FC $9.99
[ISBN 9781608865871, Boom, MAY100892]

As I mentioned recently, Langridge's version of the Muppets was surprisingly effective in the first two books, and by the time this comes out I'm sure I'll be ready for more.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


As previously mentioned, I went to TCAF on Saturday at the Toronto Reference Library (a really nice place, by the way.  I used to go there all the time when I had more occasion to be downtown).  A very good show, I highly recommend heading down if you can whenever the next show is.

Met the main five guests who I wanted to see, and enjoyed taking to them all.

It was great to meet Larry Marder, some twenty years after I first discovered his work and became obsessed with the world he created.  I participated in the various convention activities he has, including exchanging a fan sketch of one of his characters for one of his, and as the official supplier of Canadian grown lima beans as raw material for the Beanworld Action Figures I was able to get a full set of them.  Some photos over here.  I also said the magic words "secret sketch" to get a secret sketch in my copy of REMEMBER HERE WHEN YOU ARE THERE, though of course i can't show you that.  It's a secret.  But trust me, worth it.  Also got a chance to see his history of the Beanworld slide show, which was entertaining and taught me a few things, mostly that I'm really anxious for his book SOMETHING MORE to come out.

Jim Ottaviani was a pleasure to spend a few minutes with.  He seemed especially tickled that I had the old first printing of his TWO-FISTED SCIENCE, with his late-1990s graphic sensibilities on display, for him to sign.  Even better, when I mentioned my favourite bit of one of his old books, and the reading it led me to, he showed me a preview of an upcoming book which greatly expands on that very topic.  I can't tell if he's actually announced it yet, but trust me, it looks good and I'll definitely mention it when it's out.

Also got to meet Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer, another pair whose work I've been reading for ages, from MILK&CHEESE to PIRATE CORPS to ACTION GIRL to SUPERMAN ADVENTURES to BIFF BAM POW and beyond).  Both were a lot of fun, as was their adorable young daughter, who gave me her business card, with some coaxing. Was able to get one of the few Dorkin books from Slave Labor I was missing, found out about a story he did that I missed and might want to find out (the return of Fight-Man in Agent-X, I'll just note here in case I forget) and it was great to look through some of the original artwork, including a new full colour in-progress Milk&Cheese piece with some topical humour.

There was quite a line-up to see Charles Vess, but it was well worth it.  He's another artist I've been a fan of for ages, since I first saw his Warriors Three work for Marvel (which is apparently being reprinted, which I didn't know).  I got my copy of the gorgeous BOOK OF BALLADS signed, and talked to him briefly about topics like why the STARDUST movie didn't really use his designs, and how inferior I thought it was because of it, and the life-size statue of his work that he's posted about on his blog.  Plus he had a few originals to look at, including some large in-progress pieces, and he's definitely one of those for whom shrinking and printing don't do justice.

And stopped by a lot of other places besides.  Got Tara Tallan's GALAXION book collecting the first part of her revised version of the story appearing on the web, which looks good.  Talked to Salgood Sam for a few minutes, I somehow forgot to bring my copy of SEA OF RED for him to sign, but he had a more recent book called THEREFORE REPENT which looks interesting and is nicely priced.  Got to talk to Roger Langridge for a few minutes to compliment him on how well he did the Muppet Show justice on the page.  Met James  Turner and found out WARLORD OF IO is coming out as a graphic novel, so there's that to look forward to.  Talked to Dan Nadel, who just came in from the incredible Jack Kirby exhibit he co-curated in Switzerland, about various old comics, from Kirby to Ditko to Boyette to Glanzman.  Lots of other stuff, too, but it all begins to blur after a while.  Definitely a fun show, a very different experience from the usual convention, which locally rarely have more than one or two artists I want to meet, and I usually just spend the day hunting for cheap back issues.  As I said, if you get a chance next time, check it out.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Heading down to TCAF

Preparing to go to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) this weekend.  Despite it, obviously, being in Toronto and me, not quite so obviously, also being in Toronto, I haven't attended the show before.  Should be interesting.  The main reason I'm going, of course, is the attendance of Larry Marder, of Beanworld fame.  He's giving a history of the Beanworld show on Saturday afternoon, so I'll definitely be there for that.

Looking down the full guest list, I don't recognize a lot of these names, but I've been kind of out of touch with new independent comics for a while now.

One name that jumps out is Charles Vess, whose work I've been reading for some twenty years or more.  Hell, my review of his BOOK OF BALLADS was the second ever post on this weblog, after a short introductory post.  I'll have to get that signed.  Maybe one of his old TALES OF ASGARD things.

And Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer both, that's pretty good.  I love all sorts of stuff they've done together and separately, MILK AND CHEESE, PIRATE CORPS, ACTION GIRL, SUPERMAN ADVENTURES.  Hm, I was thinking KID BLASTOFF would be a good thing to bring for signing, but it seems to be misfiled...

Good to see Jim Ottaviani on the guest list.  I have a bunch of his books about real-life science from GT Labs, starting with TWO-FISTED SCIENCE.  Think I might have missed a few of the more recent ones, so maybe I can catch up.

So that's a pretty good list of people to look up.  Depending on how long that takes and how long I feel like sticking around, I might also stop by and see a few of the other names I recognize who've done work I enjoyed, like Salgood Sam (SEA OF RED), Jim Rugg (STREET ANGEL), Roger Langridge (FRED THE CLOWN), James Sturm (GOLEM'S MIGHTY SWING), Paul Pope (100%) and some others, and see if I can spot anything unfamiliar which looks interesting.
Weblog by BobH [bobh1970 at gmail dot com]