Tag: the Question

Continued After the Next Page #015: On the Passing of a Giant

Continued After the Next Page #015: On the Passing of a Giant

There are a lot of amazing people that make and have made great comic books. Some of the people who made the comics of my youth are now friends, if not, at least, acquaintances. There are however some people whose names are inscribed in the mythical pantheon of comic creators. Names like Kirby, Lee, Ditko, Toth, Raymond, Wood, Eisner, Adams, Buscema. Another name that is included in that list is O’Neil.

Dennis J. “Denny” O’Neil passed away last week. A couple of years ago, I got to meet Denny at the Baltimore Comic Con and spend some time with him. I want to share what I learned from him, but first I need to explain what he meant to me.

As a young student of comics, (I mean, I wrote the first research paper in my life about the history of comics when I was in seventh grade.) I learned about O’Neil and [Neal] Adams‘ critical run on Batman and later Green Lantern & Green Arrow. There was a level of realism that they brought to comics that seemed to counteract the turn that DC made towards camp in the 1960s. That realism mirrored what Lee, Kirby, and Ditko had done at Marvel, but was also quite unique.

I don’t want to call Denny’s writing dark or gritty. I kind of have the feeling that he wouldn’t like that. His characters were flawed, like all humans, and despite great wealth or power, they had to find solutions to problems like the rest of us. His characters were nuanced and multidimensional in a way that set them apart and inspired later creators.

The first book that I remember reading new from Denny was The Question. I had read some of his Iron Man earlier, but I wasn’t as aware of creators at that point. The Question, written by Denny with art by Denys Cowan, inks by Rick Magyar, colors by Tatjana Wood, letters by Gaspar Saladino and later Willie Shubert, and shepherded by Mike Gold, lit my hair on fire. It was a story full of mystery and pain and a struggling hero just trying to do what was right. My mind was opened by the complexity and brilliance of the art and the richness of the stories. It made me understand the vast breadth of storytelling that was possible in comics and it, along with Mike Grell‘s The Longbow Hunters, was the story that pushed me intellectually as a comic reader.

I think most of us have that time where we step away from comics. Whether it is intentional or not, there is a time as we hit adulthood that we stop buying new comics and focus on other things. That happened to me during college.

By mid 1990s I was married and had a job. You know. Adult stuff. One day in late 1995, I saw a comic book on a newsstand that caught my eye. It was Nightwing Volume #1 Issue #1. It was my favorite character in his very first solo series, and that Brian Stelfreeze cover was exquisite. I had to buy it. I loved it. It was written by Denny and immediately captivated my imagination. I remembered how much I loved comics and began to slowly start collecting and reading again. Denny brought me back to my passion. Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #015: On the Passing of a Giant”

Brainiac On Banjo #088: With Respect To An Old Friend

Brainiac On Banjo #088: With Respect To An Old Friend

“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

Let me tell you, writing obits and remembrances of old and dear friends is hard work, but after a few decades it gets a great deal worse. So, please forgive me that, this time, I’m going to start out with a Fun Fact about Denny O’Neil.

He had an extra sinus. Really; we’ve got eight, but Denny had nine.

Growing up in the St. Louis / Cape Girardeau humidity, Denny had a hard time getting enough oxygen. This might very well have had an enduring impact on his heart. So the doctors (I presume) drilled him an additional sinus cavity. I don’t think they do that so much anymore, but, hey, Denny breathed like a sumbytch.

When I started at DC Comics in 1976, my office was next to Denny’s. I had been deeply impressed by his writing since Charlton Premiere #2, 1967 – “Children of Doom” showed me a completely different way of looking at allegorical science-fiction in comics. I had never heard of a comics writer named “Sergius O’Shaugnessy” but I was aware of a Norman Mailer character with the same name, in a short story published in 1959. Glomming the reference was pretty damn cool. I kept an eye out for his work, and by the time the Dennis J. O’Neil by-line popped up I was a devoted follower. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #088: With Respect To An Old Friend”

Comics Legend Dennis “Denny” O’Neil Passes at 81

Comics Legend Dennis “Denny” O’Neil Passes at 81

The comics community and the world has lost a giant. Dennis J. O’Neil, known as Denny to all, passed of natural causes on June 11, 2020 at age 81. He was a celebrated writer and editor and was beloved by so many in the comic industry.

He is known for being a trailblazer with his work on DC Comics titles in the 1970s. His revitalization of Batman with Neal Adams is considered a watershed moment in comic storytelling. The pair also worked on the socially conscious Green Lantern / Green Arrow series that brought issues such as drug abuse and its effects into the super-hero comic genre. His work on The Question with Denys Cowan is one of the greatest comic runs of the late 1980s.

O’Neil worked for Marvel, Charlton Comics, and wrote prose besides his work at DC. He was incredibly prolific and his hand can be seen in many of the characters that we know and love today. A glance at his wikipedia page will tell you all you need to know about his career.

Beyond the numbers and the titles, Denny O’Neil was wonderful human. He loved deeply and was thoughtful and considerate. He was generous, as many who know him are posting across social media today are saying. The world is a little darker without his presence.


Pop Culture Squad will have more to say to celebrate Denny’s life in the near future. Please excuse us as it is a difficult moment for all of us to process.

Everything We Read This Week – 1/15/2020

Everything We Read This Week – 1/15/2020

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week. This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

This week we read a so many great comics. There was some amazing storytelling out there this week. We encourage you to go out and find the comics you like, and remember, Read More Comics!!

We reviewed books from DC Comics, Ahoy Comics, Boom! Studios, Valiant Entertainment, Abstract Studios, and Image Comics this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics. Don’t forget we welcome comments on these and any other comics that you read. Feel free to leave a comment and get the conversation moving.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here. We didn’t have any new series come out this week on our pull list, but next week will be a different story.

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 1/15/2020”

Everything We Read This Week – 11/20/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 11/20/2019

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week. This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

This week we read a bunch of great comics. We whittled down to ten books for reviews this week. This is by no means the complete list of good comics that were produced this week. Go out and find the comics you like, and remember, Read More Comics!!

We reviewed books from DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Vault Comics, Boom! Studios, and Image Comics this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics. Don’t forget we welcome comments on these and any other comics that you read. Feel free to leave a comment and get the conversation moving.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here. You will see books that we were looking forward to with the designation Hot #1 by them. There are a few of them out this week, and they are really good.

DISCLAIMER: 

There is a 4 star rating system. It is simple and not to be taken too seriously as everyone gets their own impressions of art. These ratings are just to give our readers an idea of what we thought of the book, and they will be on the generous side normally. So don’t expect to see a lot of 1 Stars. After all, it’s not often that you have a bad book on your pull-list.

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

 

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 11/20/2019”

Spotlight Interview with Comic Artist and Colorist, Christopher Sotomayor

Spotlight Interview with Comic Artist and Colorist, Christopher Sotomayor

Art by Cowan, Sienkiewicz, and Sotomayor

Earlier this year, we were lucky enough to sit down and talk comic with comic artist and colorist Chris Sotomayor. You have been seeing his “Soto” signature on comics from many different publishers for a couple of decades now. He is a native New Yorker who has made his mark in the field that fuels his passion.

He has worked for Marvel and DC quite a bit. Most recently he was doing the colors on Batman Beyond, Supergirl, and The Wailing Blade among other things.

He is also currently doing the colors on the recently release DC Black Label mini-series The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage. It is written by Jeff Lemire with art by Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz. Issue #1 comes out today, so go get it after you read this interview.

Chris is part of the faculty of Comics Experience and teaches online courses in comic coloring, for beginners and pros.

In this interview, we talk about how he got his start, his process, and his heroes.

Pop Culture Squad: Did you always know you wanted to work in comics?

Chris Sotomayor: Oh yeah! Since I was about five years old and watching the old 1966 Batman reruns on Channel 11. I just used to watch that all the time, and I loved Robin. I thought he was badass because he was younger like me. So, I really got into it.

Since that show, I used to draw Batman, and my parents used to buy me a comic book every once in awhile. I knew I wanted to be comics, and I was hoping to draw them especially when I found out that people drew them. Then, I found out that people drew them and made a living. I was like, “Wow! That is the awesomest thing ever.” Continue reading “Spotlight Interview with Comic Artist and Colorist, Christopher Sotomayor”

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in November 2019

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in November 2019

Welcome back to New Number Ones!!

This is where we give our readers a preview of the exciting new comic book series debuting each month. We have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from PREVIEWSworld. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you some more about the new comics in question.

There is a bunch of new series of interest starting in November. There is a good mix of both existing and new characters featured in these books. Below you will find a slate of new books from a wide variety of publishers. Some of our favorite comic book talents are bringing us some of these new series.

Both Marvel and DC are significant represented here which is a change from the past few months. These are not just rebooted number ones either. We are very excited about the creativity being rewarded with new series by all comic publishers.

We hope you will take a look and think about giving these a try. We will bring you reviews of most of these debut issues as they come out, and don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know what you think of this list.

Continue reading “New Number Ones: Comics Coming in November 2019”

Brainiac On Banjo #035: Women Unite — But In Mongolia, Hold The Soda!

Brainiac On Banjo #035: Women Unite — But In Mongolia, Hold The Soda!

Avengers: Endgame passed the $2,100,000,000 mark ten days after release, so in honor of that momentous event, here is a photo of my all-time favorite superhero team-up, even though it has yet to happen on-screen.

Now that the Avengers movies have made about as much money as your average Wall Street cocaine dealer, I think we can say the “women heroes don’t sell movies” bullshit is behind us. It’s time to do the A-Force movie.

Seriously. It’s well past time, but before this weekend the banks might not have financed such a film. I think an A-Force movie will inspire more young girls than a woman president, though that is not an either/or proposition. And the prospect of women getting their boyfriends to take them to a big super-hero movie epic is the very meaning of “turnabout is fair play.” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #035: Women Unite — But In Mongolia, Hold The Soda!”

Steve Ditko: Inside His Studio Sanctum Sanctorum

I wrote my first letter to Steve Ditko in early 1973, while I was still in high school. It was the typical letter, the type a budding fan-artist back then might send to a seasoned professional comics artist — full of effusive praise, capped with a request for some secret kernel of artistic knowledge that would magically transform overnight a fan’s crude artistic efforts into professional-level artwork. Ditko did his best to answer, giving what was, in retrospect, a solid list of advice.

Two years later, I wrote Ditko again, and this time, I asked if I could stop by his studio for a visit when I was in New York City later that year. He politely declined, and I pushed that idea into the dustbin of history – not realizing that 28 years later my request would become a reality.

More than two decades passed before I wrote Ditko again in 1997. In the interim, I joined the Air Force, learned to be an aircraft avionics technician, got married, had kids, opted to be a career Airman, traveled and lived abroad for nearly a decade, earned a bachelor’s degree, retrained into public affairs during the early 1990s military drawdown, kept drawing, and kept publishing my fanzine, “Maelstrom.” In fact, my third letter to Ditko was a request for what I knew was an extreme long shot: An interview for an upcoming issue of my ‘zine. Again, he politely declined.

I wrote a few more letters during the next two years about nothing in particular – including a couple while I was stationed in the Republic of Korea in 1998. In one of them, I included some terrifically supple Korean-made brushes that were ridiculously cheap, but feathered ink like a Winsor & Newton brush costing 30 times as much.

I retired from the Air Force in 1999 and published “Maelstrom” #7, and dutifully sent Ditko a copy. Our correspondence continued off-and-on until 2002, when I started preparing a Steve Ditko article for “Maelstrom” #8 – along with a cover I drew featuring many of Ditko’s more notable characters. When the issue was published, I sent him a copy, and something about it obviously struck a chord as he sent me several letters of comment. Suddenly, the correspondence was a regular back-and-forth, and as my letters got longer, so did his. Some of Steve’s letters were 10, 12, or even 16 pages long.  Continue reading “Steve Ditko: Inside His Studio Sanctum Sanctorum”