Category: With Further Ado

With Further Ado #102: Interview with F.J. DeSanto about Bleed Them Dry

With Further Ado #102: Interview with F.J. DeSanto about Bleed Them Dry

Bleed Them Dry is a new comic series created by Hiroshi Koizumi, written by Eliot Rahal and illustrated by Dike Ruan, with colors and letters by Miguel Muerto and AndWorld Design, respectively . It’s published by one of those industrious “upstart” publishers, Vault Comics. This one looks like fun, and I appreciated the new twists and turns the creators brought to the party.

It turns out my old buddy F.J. DeSanto is involved with this one. Recently, as an invited guest speaker (via ZOOM) he enthralled my Ithaca College students  (and me!) with insights into his work developing comics (Vagrant Queen) and big properties (Transformers, Shazam) and bringing them to the screen. After enjoying the first issue of Bleed Them Dry, I was eager to catch-up with him and learn more about it.

Ed Catto:  How do you describe Bleed Them Dry to folks who ask, “What is this is about?”

F.J. DeSanto: I can usually hook someone with two simple words: Ninja Vampire.

EC: What makes Bleed Them Dry different from other vampire or sci-fi, or even cop stories? Continue reading “With Further Ado #102: Interview with F.J. DeSanto about Bleed Them Dry”

With Further Ado #101: Books for the Beach, Summer Reading

With Further Ado #101: Books for the Beach, Summer Reading

Although I’ve reverted back to being a “Lake Guy” rather than an “Ocean Guy”, after 25+ years sunning myself at the Jersey Shore, I still just love burying my nose in a book on the beach. What could be better?  Here’s a few of my recent favorites:

 

The Fantastic Paintings of Frazetta
By J. David Spurlock
Vanguard Press
Trade HC ISBN13: 9781934331811  $39.95 • 120 pgs
DX LE ISBN13: 9781934331828  $69.95 • 138 pgs plus slipcase

There’s something about paintings and summertime that seem to go together. Is it true that we have more time during the summer and can enjoy art more leisurely?  I always tell myself that. But then again, I always tell myself that an occasional dessert won’t ruin my diet.

Vanguard’s new Frazetta book presents his “greatest hits”, and a few rare ones, in a spectacular format.  They are big and bold, and writer J. David Spurlock provides a virtual cornucopia full of backstories and the behind-the-scenes tales.  It’s a great way for long-time fans to celebrate a favorite or for new fans to get to know a unique American artist.

Continue reading “With Further Ado #101: Books for the Beach, Summer Reading”

With Further Ado #100: 100th Smash Column

With Further Ado #100: 100th Smash Column

Do you think wedding anniversaries are big deal? Anniversaries for comics series are a big deal too!  Fans of a certain age were trained to expect a mandatory celebration when a series reached a certain numerical milestone, and usually the celebration was self-congratulatory, and promotional. And the fans would be soaked for a higher cover price too.

As a kid, I remember when my neighborhood pal George Riley proudly proclaimed he had a copy of the Batman #200 Smash Issue.  I was perplexed.  How could George, whose forte was always war comics, have this important Batman comic? And one that I didn’t have?  And just what was a Smash Issue anyways?

<Note: I still don’t know what a Smash Issue is.> Continue reading “With Further Ado #100: 100th Smash Column”

With Further Ado #99: Jetta, Jeff and the Entrepreneurial Project that Turned Into An Artists’ Party

With Further Ado #99: Jetta, Jeff and the Entrepreneurial Project that Turned Into An Artists’ Party

It’s hard to believe that in 2020, the concept of “Archie” can mean so many different things to so many different people. To me, the first image I conjure up of Archie is that classic, squeaky clean strip about teenagers.  I read about a thousand classic Archie Comics in the orthodontist’s waiting room and a big box of Archie comics way when, and then my aunt Elissa bequeathed another big box of Archie comics to me too.

But today, it’s more likely that the images of Archie and his “pals & gals” from CW’s Riverdale are what comes to mind for many younger fans. Comic readers might think of the horrific Vampironica, or the Netflix’s Sabrina, or the new Katy Keene TV version of the characters.  (I can’t believe that the obscure character, Pepper is on TV!)  These different incarnations are all legitimate and all engaging.

Kudos to folks masterminding the Archie brand – for their creativity, flexibility and vision.

But it turns out that even the “classic” version of Archie – the house style established in many ways by Dan DeCarlo – was co-opted.  Before Dan DeCarlo started his long and impressive career at Archie Comics (MLJ), he worked on a title called Jetta Raye, the delightful teenage sweetheart of the future.  And back in 1952, that meant the 21st century.

In the 50s Jetta comic series, published by Standard/Nedor/Pines, teenager Jetta Raye went (would go to? syntax for future stories is tricky)  to Neutron High School in the year 2052.  That doesn’t seem that far off now, does it? She had a boyfriend named Arky (gulp!) and stumbled into zany adventures. To a reader today, it would seem to be a delightful mash-up of the Jetson’s and classic Archie. But the incredible part is that Jetta  pre-dated both of them!

More Jetta Raye Is On The Way

The good news is that there’s new Jetta Raye on the way. I caught up with the very creative Jeff Schultz and he told me all about it. Continue reading “With Further Ado #99: Jetta, Jeff and the Entrepreneurial Project that Turned Into An Artists’ Party”

With Further Ado #98: The Comics Prisoner with David Miller

With Further Ado #98: The Comics Prisoner with David Miller

Passion is a funny thing. And being passionate about things often leads to sharing and teaching. Sometimes it forces us to become a guide, or a Sherpa, and then we can learn new things and drag other people with us along the way. That’s kind of what this column is all about, when I think of it.

David Miller is a professional with great success in several fields, including inking for comics.  He started out on things like one series in the Teen Titans family of titles at DC Comics, several books at Defiant Comics and went on from there.  But after even the briefest of conversations with Miller, it is very clear he’s a person who just loves the medium.

He’s also very thoughtful. One of the big “Ah-hah’s” that he recently had was that comics, unlike movies, can be experienced in many different ways. To experience a movie, you really must experience it one way: you sit and watch the film as the creators intended.

But comics are different. When you’re young, you might enjoy following the characters. Then you might graduate to understanding long-running and inter-connected stories. Another way to enjoy this medium is to read a comic because you enjoy one particular artist, or writer…or even an inker or a colorist.  With even more understanding, you might enjoy a comic as part of one particular time period.

That’s where Miller’s clever new YouTube show, The Comics Prisoner, comes in. The premise is simple: he’s stuck inside his favorite comics pages …but is allowed to talk about them with us!  It’s a fascinating way to experience, re-experience, ruminate or learn about comics pages. Continue reading “With Further Ado #98: The Comics Prisoner with David Miller”

With Further Ado #97: What is Graham Nolan up to?

With Further Ado #97: What is Graham Nolan up to?

Back in my college days, I dated this intoxicatingly beautiful blonde who went to school at Buffalo State College. One time, when I was visiting her, it was during a vicious snowstorm.  It was nothing new for Buffalo, but I was astounded. There was so much snow.  In fact, I still remember the local kids throwing snowballs at my bus as it rolled into town. The amazing part was that the kids were throwing down at the bus. The snow along the roads was heaped so high that it was higher than the bus!

Comics creator Graham Nolan had a similar cold-weather experience in Buffalo, but the difference is that it sparked his uber-creative mind, and he has created a new comic from his wintery experience.  The Chenoo is his newest project. The backstory is fascinating. Nolan’s approach to business is ambitious, and I’m betting comic itself will be a pretty good read too.

A Hidden Entrepreneur

One of the courses I teach at Ithaca College is called Hidden Entrepreneurs. The basic premise is that not every entrepreneur is like ‘that guy’ who shows up in front of the sharks on TV’s Shark Tank. Continue reading “With Further Ado #97: What is Graham Nolan up to?”

With Further Ado #96: Heavy Metal – Your One Way Ticket To Midnight

With Further Ado #96: Heavy Metal – Your One Way Ticket To Midnight

Way back in the 80s, when I was in college, it wasn’t really cool to read comics. Of course, I didn’t stop reading them. Occasionally, I’d lend my comics to my classmates so they could read them, but for the most parts, Marvel-type superheroes were viewed as silly or childish by many college students.

It’s funny, but I still remember having to scold Brian Winke (he lived down the hallway of dormitory) when he bent back the cover of my copy of Avengers #217.  I gave him a friendly lesson on the tragedy of spine roll and how it destroyed the condition of comic.   Clearly, comics were important to me, cool or not.

The one comic that I was never paused to read ‘in public’ was Heavy Metal. It was filled with strong art and adult themes.  Although, to be fair, “adult themes” often translated simply to excessive violence and topless robot girls.

The story I really enjoyed back then was Jim Steranko’s adaptation of Outland. That was a science fiction movie starring Sean Connery that was essentially High Noon in space.  It was serialized over a few issues, and Steranko was delivering stunning top-of-his-game pages each and every time.

But I inevitably drifted away from Heavy Metal over the years. Somehow, I’d categorize it as something adjacent to comics, but not really include it as part of my core comics purchases.

Now, in 2020, that might all change.  There’s a new sheriff in town.  Matt Medney is the new Chief Executive Officer of Heavy Metal. I caught up with him and he pulled back the curtain to share his vision and his plans for Heavy Metal. Continue reading “With Further Ado #96: Heavy Metal – Your One Way Ticket To Midnight”

With Further Ado #95: Go Big [or Go] and Stay Home

With Further Ado #95: Go Big [or Go] and Stay Home

We all know that phrase: Go Big or Go Home!  It’s a clarion call to seize the day and to live large. It’s not always the best advice, but sometimes it’s just what’s needed.  So during this crazy lockdown time, let me call your attention to a few treasures that literally decided to “go big!” while we all stay home.

 

Joker/Harley Quinn Criminal Sanity
Written by Kami Garcia
Art by Mico Suayan and Mike Mayhew
Black Label, an imprint of DC Comics

While I’m generally not a big Harley Quinn fan, I’ve been a big Mike Mayhew fan ever since his days on Topps’ Zorro and Lady Rawhide with the incomparable Don McGregor.  Mayhew has gotten even better over the years, and today he entertains readers with his off-the-charts artistic talent in the new Joker/Harley Quinn series.

This story is a multi-part series told in thirty-two page increments in DC’s oversized Black Label format. To me, it has the feel of a European comic. Much of story is told in B & W , and that makes it so very, very  evocative of an old Warren or Marvel Magazine.

The “other artist” Mico Suayan, is just fantastic. I’ve enjoyed his work on Valliant’s Bloodshot. Suayan unfurls his artistic wings with majesty and grace in this larger-than-usual formal. Continue reading “With Further Ado #95: Go Big [or Go] and Stay Home”

With Further Ado #94: Those Good Old Days… That We’re All Hating

With Further Ado #94: Those Good Old Days… That We’re All Hating

How much longer will this lockdown last?  The “snow day”-ness of it is getting old. I’m definitely ZOOMed out (even though I think these remote meetings are here to stay).  I can see the fatigue bubble up with debates about when to open up local economies for business. And I’ve also learned about the “epistemic dissidents” – those contrarians who choose to ignore established facts, and instead rely on fringe ideas and crackpot conspiracies.  If that sounds hard, it’s meant to be.  I am losing patience with these knuckleheads.

Recently, I pulled up to one local comic shop, Ithaca’s Comics For Collectors for some curbside comics.  Although the store is officially closed, I was invited in to browse a bit. I kind of felt like rock star who gets to shop privately when no one else is in the store.  Kudos to the owner who set it up so the experience was super- safe – social distancing, sanitizer, gloves and masks.  (Masks make sense for comic shops too, of course.)  I snagged the comics from my pull list, a few recent favorites, and even rescued some treasures from the bargain box.

It was a treat to get the VIP treatment from that store…but we’re all so tired of the pause. I don’t think I’ll ever fondly remember that private shopping trip.

There are other ways to support local stores. I’ve reached out to a few other retailers and purchased comics online or gift cards. I have been so impressed that in every case, these shops have sent me extra stuff with each order.  These acts of kindness, when the “other guy” is suffering, will not be soon forgotten.

Getting to Know the Publishers

During quarantine, I feel like I’m getting to know comics publishers better too. Continue reading “With Further Ado #94: Those Good Old Days… That We’re All Hating”

With Further Ado #93: Why the Industry Needs Paul Kupperberg’s How-To Book

With Further Ado #93: Why the Industry Needs Paul Kupperberg’s How-To Book

There’s this photo that’s posted on a museum website that makes the rounds on the internet from time to time. It shows a modest drafting table and a dingy chair in an unglamorous office.  It’s nothing fancy.  And at first glance, one might be inclined to think that the artist it belonged to would never create anything imaginative or enduring.  The space is so uninspiring. But it belonged to Jack Kirby. It’s almost hard to reconcile that so many brilliant ideas sprang from the imagination of one man, despite his meager studio.

But then you realize that all the fancy tools and studios don’t matter. It’s all about the personal creativity and the discipline of an individual.

That’s one of the reasons I am so enamored with this new book: Paul Kupperberg’s Illustrated Guide to Writing Comics. This one isn’t about the fancy tools needed to create. This is not a how-to about getting a fancy new software program, or even formatting scripts in one particular way. This new book gets to the heart of things and provides solid, useful guidance in memorable ways.

Paul Kupperberg is a long-time comics author, having written so many of my favorites.  I was excited to see him sharing his insights. After reading this book, I asked him about his fresh approach. Continue reading “With Further Ado #93: Why the Industry Needs Paul Kupperberg’s How-To Book”