Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy Birthday Stan Lee!

Happy 85th Birthday today to “The Man” himself… Stan Lee! What is there to say about Stan that hasn’t already been said? He’s the architect of the Marvel Universe. Sure he had some help along the way from legends like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, but at the end of the day it was Stan’s enthusiasm that hooked people on Marvel Comics.

As a reader, he made you feel as if you were part of a secret Marvel club. From the nicknames in the credits (Jack “King” Kirby, “Jazzy” John Romita, “Happy” Herb Trimpe) to the amazing “Bullpen Bulletins”, reading a Marvel Comic in those days was a blast. I’d often flip to the Bulletins and Letter’s pages before I’d read the actual comic.

So go on out and read a good ol’ Stan Lee comic. Hell, Stevie Wonder could throw a cat in a comic shop and hit a dozen books that either written by Stan or created by Stan.

Thanks, Stan… here’s to 85 more.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Goings On

Boy, life sure gets in the way of this little mindless comic blog. In the past few weeks, on top of moving I switched jobs and starting freelance lettering again. So while things got crazy for a bit they’re settling in again.

As you can tell by the previous post I’m letting for DC Comics and I’m loving it. The change of characters and just general atmosphere really reinvigorated lettering for me. As I said earlier, I didn’t expect to get all jazzed about working on Batman but it was really one of the coolest gigs I’ve ever had. Since then I’ve worked on Detective Comics and Gotham Underground as well. This weekend I lettered Booster Gold. A book I know nothing about but it just the act of working on something new makes a huge difference.

In other news I picked up Ultimates Volume 3 #1 last week. New Joe Mad art. Can’t lose, right? Wrong. Mad is better than ever but the coloring just ruined the book for me. It was so bad I was startled by it’s awfulness. So bad I couldn’t believe they let the book go to the printer looking like a dark, muddy and completely overpowering mess. As a letterer you accept taking a backseat to the rest of the team. People don’t buy books for lettering and they don’t buy books for coloring either. People are buying that book for Joe Mad… not for the coloring. I’m hoping they’ll release a penciled version of the book, but we’ll see. Maybe next issue will be toned down a bit.

If you haven’t read all of Randall Issue One, you can read it in it entirety here… go check it out if you missed it over at Pixelstrips.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned… more NYComix are in the works as well as new Randall.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm Batman.

For 7 years I lettered primarily Marvel comics and about a year ago I left Virtual Calligraphy to pursue other things and to see if I could make it “on my own.”

This past week I started doing some freelance work with DC Comics and I’ve already got a few books from their Cartoon Network line under my belt. But tonight I started work on my first Big Book.


For the first time in years I feel like a giddy fanboy.

Check out my first Solo Lettering work in Batman #672
Written by Grant Morrison; Art by Tony Daniel and Jonathan Glapion
On Sale December 26, 2007


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Marvel's Online Back Issues

So Marvel announced their new online comic service today. 1000’s of back issues online for 10 bucks a month or a yearly fee of 60 bucks. It’s getting tons of press, Howard Stern mentioned it this morning and I’m sure the Marvel folks are beaming with joy at the reception their latest online business venture is getting.

What do I think about it? It’s a nice try. Looking back, I wasn’t crazy about DC’s Zuda announcement, but at least you’re getting quality original content by top quality creators for free. Marvel is offering Amazing Fantasy 15 for 10 bucks.

I just can’t figure out what these big companies are thinking. How long can they sidestep the question of bringing in new young readers? Just because it’s online doesn’t make it appealing to kids. The Internet is like television for kids today, there’s cool stuff online and there’s Honestly do they think they’re going to get kids to stop playing Halo 3 by offering them the first 60 issues of Fantastic Four? Hell, I love Stan and Jack as much as the next geek but is your average 13 year old is going to read that stuff? They can watch or play the video game version of Spider-Man 3 or they can read the issue where Spidey defeated the Sandman with an industrial vacuum.

I’m on the extreme side of the online comics debate. I think they can put the latest issue of Amazing Spider-Man online the say day it hits stands and sales won’t see a massive shift in numbers. The average reader is going to treat these online books like previews or a movie trailer. If they dig the book, they’ll buy it next month at their shop. I can’t remember ever hearing someone say they’d rather read a book online than physically hold it in their hands.

Maybe putting the entire issue online won’t ever happen but how about putting the first 7 to 11 pages online the day it hits stands? Maybe you’d try that book you’re on the fence about. This could even blow up that whole “writing for the trade” thing, as well. No more slow pacing fellas… hook your reader in 11 pages if you want to see a bump in sales.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day I have to remember that online comics are in their infancy and corporate comics don’t have the know-how or balls to take a risk with this stuff. It’ll take someone else to take a risk and get rewarded for it before the Big 2 hop on the bandwagon.

In the meantime, good luck getting a 12-year-old to read an issue of Uncanny X-Men from the Nixon Administration.


Monday, November 12, 2007


So yeah, I haven’t posted in ages. But I have an excuse this time! I just moved. From my cramped one bedroom apartment in Bay Ridge to a palatial 3-Bedroom in Bensonhurst. It’s been quite an adjustment so far. Bay Ridge is a really nice neighborhood with amazing restaurants and bars while Bensonhurst is a more “neighborhood” Brooklyn place. It’s still a safe place and all that but just a li’l more rough around the edges. But in the throws of New York City Apartment Living it’s every man for himself. When a bigger place opens up you have to jump on it. The day we officially took the apartment we were walking out when a car pulled up and asked if the apartment was available. It’s cutthroat, man.

Anyway, I can’t believe I’m actually living in Bensonhurst. I’m a huge Mafia buff, having read dozens of books on Italian Organized Crime and everyone mentioned Bensonhurst. It’s basically Ground Zero for the Brooklyn syndicates. I’m not as sure about what is going on today, from everything I’ve read it seems the Mafia has been really broken up. That’s not to say it’s gone by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just not what you see in the movies.

Bensonhurst has spawned some of the biggest mobsters of all-time. Sammy “The Bull” Gravano was born and raised in Bensonhurst before he became the most famous turncoat since Joe Valachi in 1961.

“Don Vito” Genovese operated in Bensonhurst. Genovese came up the ranks under the famed mobster “Lucky” Luciano. Genovese aided Luciano’s rise to power, which resulted in the creation of the “Commission”, which established the hierarchy of the mob and the “5 Families” that you see and hear about in films such as the Godfather.

Many of the guys who reached fame via Scorsese’s classic “Goodfellas” film were either born in Bensonhurst or in the case of Paul Vario, operated from Bensonhurst. Paul Sorvino played Paul in Goodfellas.

Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta was born in Bensonhurst.

Tommy “Two Gun” DeSimone, played by Joe Pesci, was every bit as crazy as the film portrayed him. DeSimone, was eventually killed by, according to Henry Hill, John Gotti himself. If you remember the great “Go get your shine box” scene, Billy Bats was a made man in the Gambino Family and Bats wasn’t DeSimone’s only run in with the Gambino family. While it is known that the Gambinos did kill DeSimone, Hill’s assertion that Gotti was the triggerman, is not. That does make a hell of a story, though.

James Burke “Jimmy the Gent” was played by Robert DiNiro in Goodfellas. Called Jimmy Conway in the film, (Conway was his mother’s maiden name) Burke was in foster homes most of his childhood. Incredibly, one of his foster fathers died in a car crash as he was turned around beating Burke in the back seat. His foster mother then blamed him for that, in turn beating him for years after. Reading about Burke is amazing stuff. He was basically a serial killer. He killed dozens of people and almost killed the famous New York City journalist Jimmy Breslin, chocking the writer to near death in public. Years later Breslin would receive letters from the Son of Sam. Talk about a couple of interesting on-the-job hazards.

Well, that’s enough of this little Mafia Lesson for today. Thought I’d give you an update on where the hell I’ve been.

Stay tuned for comics!


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dead Means Dead

The death of Captain America is a subject I’ve been thinking about recently. While the death of Cap garnered national attention the aftermath has been “when is he coming back? That got me thinking. What makes a well-done death?

It’s really a topic I can ramble on about for ages and I just might so read on at your own peril.

So what are the best Marvel deaths? I think it’s obviously the deaths that have lasted.

All two of them.

1. Gwen Stacy
Gwen’s death was one that stuck with me as a geeky fanboy who couldn’t believe Peter’s hot blonde bombshell girlfriend could possibly be thrown off a bridge by Spidey’s Arch-Villain the Green Goblin. The death was so impactful in so many ways. It actually made a bad guy seem like he wasn’t just a bumbling, ranting fool who’ll always screw up and be stopped by the hero before things get too bad. The Goblin actually threw a woman off a bridge. He didn’t threaten Spidey with it and give him time to rescue her, just chucked her off like a sack o’ stones. And if that wasn’t bad enough Spidey did manage to shoot some webbing onto her before she hit the water. But instead of her bouncing back into his loving arms. It snapped her neck. I mean that’s classic Spidey. He tries to save her and accidentally snaps her neck in the process. Meanwhile the Goblin watches and cackles like a guy in a green goblin suit who just threw a girl off a bridge. While writers have dipped their ugly disgusting toes into the death of Gwen Stacy story none have had the balls to outright bring her back. If they did… Ya know what? I’m not even getting into it.

2. Uncle Ben
This is the death of all deaths. Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man and the event that shaped Spider-Man. We all know how Uncle Ben went down and how it resulted in “with great power comes great responsibility.” Like the Wayne’s death created Batman, Ben’s death created Spider-Man as we know him today.

Getting back to the Death of Captain America. What makes Cap’s death different from the 2 mainstays?

Cap is coming back. It’s not even a debate. It’s only a matter of when and how.

There’s no debate when it comes to Gwen and Uncle Ben. Bringing them back would only set up their eventual deaths. Again.

It would only result in “shock” and gaggles of pissed off fanboys. Their deaths are integral to the mythology of Spider-Man. They’re keystones in the book. They really can’t be changed. (Well, they could but it would suck.)

So my question is what purpose did the death of Captain America serve? Sure it was well done but at the end of the day is killing a character worth it if the only reaction is one of “when’s he coming back”? Shouldn’t a death really be death?

It should shake a reader to his core. It should be so good that you can’t even think of a way to bring him back without dramatic repercussions. It should be so good that even new writers wouldn’t have the balls to bring him back. Writers would line up to bring Cap back. Someone might line up to bring Uncle Ben back but they’d be scared as hell about it. JMS dabbled in the Gwen Stacy story and that resulted in one of the crappiest Spider-Man stories of all-time. Ugh.

Dead means dead. There’s nothing truer in comics if the story is done perfectly. If not done perfectly… then its costume redesign time.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Brooklyn Lights

Oh, that always fun limbo between projects. With Randall done it’s time to move onto newer stuff. I’ve got a bunch of NYComix to get cracking on plus my first graphic novel. Which I’m planning on releasing in some new interesting way via the intraweb. Panel a day? Page a day? Who knows? I’ve got a few ideas but nothing solid yet.

So in the meantime here it is… Brooklyn Lights. A lil’ script snippet and one of my quickly mounting preliminary sketches.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Happy Birthday Joe Sinnott!

Joe Sinnott was born in my hometown of Saugerties, NY 81 years ago today. Mr. Sinnott was a childhood idol of mine as the guy who actually “made it” in comics. He did countless appearances around town, illustrations for the local newspaper and visits to art classes. Every time I was lucky enough to meet him he always offered a kind and encouraging word.

What I didn’t realize back then was that Joe is one of the greatest inkers of all-time. The guy inked Jack Kirby better than anyone. His ink lines are so smooth its criminal… maybe someday my line will look half as good.

Joe in 2007

Joe with Jack Kirby in 1972

Joe's inks over Kirby on the cover of the classic FF 48

Thanks Joe & Happy Birthday.

Everyone go and read some classic Lee, Kirby, Sinnott Fantastic Four!


Friday, October 12, 2007

VideoBlogs & Great Marvel Comic Covers

LazyConversations… I’ve been talking about it for what seems like forever and I’m sure 99% of the folks nice enough to read this blog forgot about it when I mentioned it some months ago. Anyway it’s so on track that I’m about ready to release the first episode. Episode? Yup, they’re live action. VideoBlogs you might say. They’ll be posted on and/or YouTube. I haven’t gotten that far yet as editing these puppies are way more work than I imagined. Nevertheless it’s a blast for an amateur filmmaker wannabe like myself.

The first few LazyVideoBlogs is going to feature a bunch of folks from the amazing web comic collective: Ac-ti-Vate. Go over there and check it out… great web comics pushing the medium of the web forward instead of jokes about video games.

I noticed the covers Joe Quesada is doing on his and J. Michael Strazynski’s Spider-Man: One More Day and while it’s cool to see them trying to bring back the old wonderfully designed covers of the Silver and Bronze age, they’re not quite there.

Great covers are a long lost art in today’s comic medium. Never Judge a Book By Its Cover but in the case of early comics it was the covers that sold the books. The covers told a story, they shocked you and made you want to pick up the book. Today it’s just a barrage of pin-ups and posters.

I did a quick Google search for “Great Marvel Comic Covers” and found this awesome site packed full of great examples of what covers once were. I was happy to see my all-time favorite issue; Amazing Spider-Man #26 was among the 4 Color Wonders by the likes of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko & John Romita Sr.

Amazing 26 is that book I always look to as the perfect example of comic storytelling. The “Man in the Crime Master’s Mask” storyline Lee and Ditko packed tons of action, Peter Parker problems including everything from a missing costume, Betty Brant & other assorted gal problems, Flash Thompson being a jerk, Aunt May pampering, J.J. Jameson flip-outs, Green Goblin suspense, underworld crime power shifting, Spidey getting his ass kicked twice and a potential secret identity crisis… all packed into 22 pages of classic Steve Ditko goodness.

Getting back to the cover here’s exactly what I’m talking about. Who the hell is the crime master and how is he able to beat Spider-Man? And what the hell does the Goblin have to do with it? That alone would make any red blooded comic kid tug his mother’s shirtsleeve begging her to pick up the book for him.

Meanwhile check out this site full of Ultimate Spider-Man covers like this one.

Huh. Assorted Spidey sticking to various New York City Landmarks. Riveting. Too bad they tell you nothing about the really great Brian Michael Bendis storylines inside.

I don’t know why this shift has taken place. I’d imagine that cover art is now basically stockpiling art to be used on any future issue they want.

So hey, stay tuned for the first LazyComixVideoBlog and enjoy those old covers… I defy you not to turn one into your desktop wallpaper! I did… good ol’ Jack Kirby on Captain America #106.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Movin' On To New Projects!

So Randall is done. Well, not done in a finite way but it’s done enough for me to leave the story alone for a while as it goes through weekly updates over at Pixestrips again. Thank god for the Comic Geek Speak Episode 300 show for giving me a hard solid deadline. Otherwise I’d still be sitting on the darn thing.

Oh, and if anyone from the show is stopping by the ol’ LazyBlog be sure to drop me a line. The show itself was fantastic. A nice small show but with a very diverse group of artists… artists of webcomics, minicomics, animators, writers, inkers, colorists you name it, independent guys and mainstream guys. I sold a bunch of comics and did some sketching as well. I think it’s safe to say a great time was had by all.

Anyway so now I’m in that weird place where I wonder what I’m going to do next. There’s that graphic novel that has been written and rewritten over and over again for over a year now. It’s something I really want to get started on but it’s such a daunting task. As it stands it like a 70-plus page story written in screenplay format so I have no idea how the page and panel breakdown will work. I’d love to do it as a 96 pager, that way I can break it down to three 32-page chunks. Then I kinda fool myself into thinking it’s not one 96-page behemoth. Nevertheless there’s a ton of reference I still need to do before I seriously get started but it’s gone from a project in the back of my mind to one that I’m just about ready to tackle.

One thing I am going to start right away is some new NYComix. It’s been so long since I’ve done them and the feedback at CGS 300 as well as follow-up emails after the show from folks asking to see more makes me realize that I need to get new stuff out there. I’ve wanted to take NYComix a bit further than what they are now, more complex longer stories that combine the things I’ve learned from the earlier strips. And I’m working a new angle in them that I’m really excited about.

Again, getting back to how a deadline really makes me get things done I applied for a table at the 2008 New York City Comic Con… so if I get a table I’ll have another deadline in April to work towards. I have no clue if I’ll get a table but we’ll see. I dunno if they’re reviewing my work before they grant me a table or what. With my luck I won’t get a table and I’ll walk by an empty table where Rob Liefeld was supposed to be sitting. But I digress…

So in the meantime hit up Pixelstrips every Wednesday for new Randall pages. It’ll take ya right to the end of the first issue.

Oh, and watch out for the long ago announced LazyComix Conversations… I swear, it’s coming. Only in live action video! All YouTube style like the kids do.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Randall Cover

I'm in the midst of putting this one together for this weekends Comic Geek Speak Episode 300 Gala. Only 25 copies so be there or you'll be forced to wait until I do another batch for a later Convention.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Comic Geek Speak Interview!

Check out my interview at Comic Geek Speak... we talk all kinds of geeky goodness.

Thanks to the CGS crew for the spot.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Reviews & News!

Coming off the excitement of The New Comic Experiment I picked up 3 new comics last week, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. Which ones, you ask?

The Last Fantastic Four Story
by Stan Lee with Art by John Romita Jr.

Stan Lee and John Romita Jr.? You can’t go wrong! Well, unless you’re a disgruntled fanboy. Being probably too involved with comic book message boards, I’m always fascinated with the things people say. Be it a recent thread about great Science Fiction movies where it was stated that Stanley Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Oddesy and Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner and Alien are “vastly overrated” while Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Serenity are new genre classics.

But, I digress.

Getting back to Stan Lee, who instead of being thought of as the reason Marvel Comics exists today, is thought of as a washed up hack who doesn’t “get it”. Strangely this goes back to the Decompression Argument. If you don’t write like Bendis or Ellis you suck. But, I digress…again.

The Last Fantastic Four story wasn’t the greatest FF story ever told, but it was an extremely fun ride that I enjoyed the hell out of. Give Stan’s story outline to one of today’s writers and you’ve got a 12-issue storyline that I would’ve dropped 1 and maybe 2 issues in. Lee gets to the point. Introduce the threat, action and resolution. That’s what I want out of a mainstream book about a bunch of guys jumping around in tights. Simplistic, yes… but not every story arc needs to be the “event that changes the character forever”. As usual, JRJR’s art was fantastic. I don’t recall ever seeing his version of the Silver Surfer and that coupled with Stan’s dialogue on one of his favorite creations was great to see.

One major downfall of this book was the cover price. $4.99! 5 bucks for a comic book? Seriously? All right, there were extra pages…32 maybe? I didn’t count, but at some point these prices have to stop. 5 bucks is way too much. And hold the cardstock cover. Who cares? Anyhow, pick this one up if you can or if you don’t want to drop the Lincoln, pick it up in a dollar bin. Well worth it.

written by Geoff Johns & Richard Donner with Art by Eric Powell

Anyone semi-regular on this blog knows that I’m a whore for Eric Powell’s The Goon. The book is one of my favorite comic books of all-time and Powell is one of the best artists in the biz. So getting Powell to draw an arc of Superman featuring Bizzarro is a no-brainer.

As you might imagine, Powell draws a perfect Bizzarro and his Superman has a very nice classic feel to it. The book got right down to business and with plenty of story AND action. Johns and Donner also mixed a really nice 2-page flashback about Supes younger days that was pretty touching.

After I finished this one I realized that I’m now reading 2 Superman books simultaneously. I’ve always been a Marvel Zombie, but there’s something about a good Superman book that brings out the fanboy in me. I haven’t gotten that feeling from a Marvel book in a while and it’s a shame.

Mice Templar #1
Story by Bryan J.L. Glass & Michael Avon Oeming
written by Bryan J.L. Glass with art by Michael Avon Oeming

I’m a huge fan of Oeming’s art and he surely didn’t disappoint here. The work is detailed and filling every single panel. You can tell he really feels strongly about the book just by the amount of work he’s putting into it. So that alone makes this one worth checking out. The story, on the other hand, was tougher for me to get into. It’s well thought out and you can tell there’ll be much more added as Glass & Oeming move along, but for some reason it felt rushed to me. Maybe there were too many characters introduced all at once or maybe I wasn’t sure which mouse was who, but I found myself getting a bit lost now and then. Nothing that would make me drop the book, but I’m hoping it’ll be made clearer later on in the story. Nevertheless, I’ll pick up issue 2. If you’re looking for something new to try, Mice Templar might be it.

So there ya go. Three reviews of new comic books…that’s a rarity around here. I’ve been busy reviewing old stuff so much lately I forgot they actually release new ones.

In LazyComix news I recently recorded an interview with the guys over at Comic Geek Speak along with Pixelstrips head honcho Kevil Volo. Check it out next week. I believe it will be released on Monday. I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Books I Lettered But Didn’t Read Until Now #3

Wolverine: Origins, Vol. 2: Savior

In this latest installment I review another book I lettered but didn’t read until now… “Wolverine Origins, Vol 2 Savior” by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon.

The basic premise behind the Origins series is that Wolverine can now remember all of his past and has to deal with all that comes with those memories.

Before I get into the review, let’s recap the “Origins” of Wolverine.

Going back a few years, during the Bill Jemas “era” Marvel decided to reveal Wolverine’s once shrouded in mystery origin. “Let us do it before Hollywood does” was a smart and commendable move on Marvel’s part. However, the resulting Wolverine: Origin book wasn’t exactly Batman: Year One. I’m trying to think back on it but I really can’t remember a damn thing about it. Which is a shame considering that we’re talking about the “origin” of one of the most popular characters of all-time, Marvel just can’t seem to get a storyline that has to do with Wolverine’s early years right, it’s almost as if they’re trying too hard. Wolverine’s Origin should be an epic show-stopping-page-turner but instead I can’t seem to remember a single page.

When the Wolverine Origins assignment was handed to me I was pretty excited about the book. You’ve got decades upon decades of Wolverine stories to tell and basically no continuity to tangle you along the way. Want to tell a Wolverine during World War I story? Sure! Wolverine in Vietnam? Fine! Wolverine running moonshine with Al Capone? Why not! The possibilities are endless.

Nevertheless I found the Savior storyline very lackluster. Like a lot of mediocre X-Books it’s convoluted and confusing. Where are we? Why are we here? Why does Wolvie give a crap about this cardamantium synthesizer that winds up being a fake or maybe it was real… I was thoroughly confused. Similar to the Punisher we have a running Dirty Harry-esque narrative that is guaranteed to give you at least one “I’m the best there is at what I do” per issue. Ol’ Wolvie will even explain the plot to you along the way in case you’re lost. Which you probably will be even with his long-winded exposition and by the time Wolverine’s son turns up you’ll be ready to either re-read the thing or give up. (Yeah, I said it, Wolverine’s son). Can anyone recall a good story about a major character’s offspring? I can’t and this one ain’t breaking that trend.

On the plus side you’ve got some real nice Steve Dillon art here. I got into his work on the original Marvel Knights Punisher run and his work here is a good as ever.

I hate to say it about a book I was a part of, but skip this one if you can. If someone gives you a free copy or you find it cheap, go for it. Maybe you’ll get more out of it than I did.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The New Comics Experiment: RESULT SHOW!

BPRD Killing Ground #1 by Mignola, Arcudi & Davis 15 votes at 20.83%

Bad Planet #1
by Jane, Niles & LaRosa 3 votes at 4.17%

Powers #25
by Bendis and Oeming 26 votes at 36.11%

Fables #64
by Willingham & Alexovich 17 votes at 23.61%

None of 'em!
11 votes at 15.28%

So I’m like 2 weeks late but here we go… the results of the first “New Comic Experiment”. You can see the results above. I should’ve figured that a Bendis book would clean house on the Bendis Board, but I’m glad I picked that book up…more on that later.

Coming in second was Fables #64. But here’s the kicker. At the time I left for the comic shop, BPRD was winning by one vote. So I never read Fables. Although many comments from the thread suggested I not pick up that issue because I would be lost in the middle of story.

An interesting development as that is a big problem with mainstream comics right now and part of the reason I tried this experiment.

There are so many 6 and even 12 issue storylines that it has to be putting a dent in sales. I just won’t pick up a book if the cover says its part 3 of a 6-part story. So by the time that storyline wraps up I’ve likely forgotten about the book or the creative team that piqued my interest are now off the book. There seems to be a lack of jumping on points for new readers. Especially with DC, as books like 52 and Countdown impact their entire line. There’s just no way I’m touching a new DC book. I’ve heard lifelong DC fans say they can’t keep up with it all, how would a casual DC reader like myself ever jump into that universe?

Marvel is slightly better, but again a lot of 6 to 12 issue storylines with no jumping on points. Not to mention we’re fresh of the Civil War crossover. And in the middle of World War Hulk, which isn’t a massive crossover, but a crossover nonetheless.

Well, before I start going further into a fanboy rant, let’s move onto a couple of really fun comics. Powers #25 and BPRD Killing Ground #1.

I’ve been an on and off reader of Powers since it’s Image days. I love Mike Oeming’s art, however the thing that has made me drop the book a few times has been the storyline. At its core Powers is a grim and gritty street level crime book with superheroes mixed in… a great combo. When the book debuted at Image with the “Who Killed Retro Girl” storyline, it was one of those books I couldn’t get enough of. As with any long running book it has had it’s peaks and valleys. It went through a few strange cosmic storylines that I just didn’t get into at all but the recent issue #25 has gotten back down into the streets. There’s still a little bit of cosmic alien stuff going on, but as long as the story doesn’t completely shift to “outer space”, I’ll keep picking this book up. This book needs to stay street level; it’s where Bendis and Oeming are at their best.

Another fun part of Powers is the back of the book. There are a few interviews, a lengthy letter’s page, a “No Life” section with DVD, book and CD plugs and reviews. Good stuff. I’ll be picking up issue 26 next month.

The second book I picked up was BPRD Killing Ground #1. Like Powers I picked up this book a while back but dropped it for some reason or another. Guy Davis is just a kick-ass and massively underrated artist. His work is like no one else’s in the business. I almost wish this book was black and white, although the colors by Dave Stewart by no means detract from Davis’s art. It’s just so refreshing to see an artist who isn’t afraid of letting a brush stroke look like a brush stroke that I think it could stand alone and hopefully inspire up and coming artists to stay away from this recent wave of photorealistic art.

So I’ll be picking up both of these books next time around. It’s safe to say the New Comic Experiment was a success. As I look at this week’s shipping list there isn’t anything grabbing my attention. We’ll see what looks good on the shelves tomorrow.

So hey, thanks for reading and if you voted over at the Bendis Board, thanks for your input.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

New Randall Artist

I’ve always had this little pipe-dream that LazyComix will become a collective of artists all working together to make comics just for the love of it… a cool site to visit full of different web comics as well as a Blog full of reviews, rants, interviews, etc. I’m trying to do that, albeit at a snails pace, but the wheels are in motion.

A while back I announced that I’d be doing “LazyComix Conversations”, a series of interviews with comic creators. That is getting very close now and I think the first interview is really going to kick-ass. I’ve been throwing reviews up here at a good pace and I’m thinking of taking that a big further as well.

Another thing that has to happen to make this one-man operation a collective is to get some other people working here. So here’s how it’s going down. I’m wrapping up the first chapter of Randall right now. It’ll be available first as a mini comic at Comic Geek Speak’s Episode 300 celebration, after that it’ll hit,, etc. At the same time I’m going to get some new NYComix going and it’s impossible for me to write and draw Randall and NYComix at the same time. Not to mention finding the time to start other projects that are gnawing away at me.

So I’m looking for an artist to draw Randall. The great thing about releasing Randall through Pixelstrips (besides the fact that it’s a great web comic site) is that it’s a weekly comic so you don’t have to completely bust your butt to get pages done. Just getting 4 pages done ahead of time gets you a month of lead-time for any real life stuff that can and will get in the way.

So if you’re an artist willing and able to draw a weekly strip shoot me an email with either jPegs of your work or better yet, a link to your work. There have to be sequentials included, though. No pin-ups unless they’re accompanied by some ol’ fashion panel-to-panel sequential action.

I’ve got no specific kind of artist in mind and I’ll take a look at any style. You don’t have to color your work, if you can, that’s cool too but it’s not required. I’ll be writing and lettering the thing, so no need to worry about words.

Check out this link to see what I’ve already done with Randall.

So I hope to hear from you folk’s… thanks for any and all interest and I look forward to seeing your work.

If you’re not an artist or not interested in drawing my li’l funnybook… then I guess you just read this for nothin’!


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mike Wieringo

Some really sad news in the comic world today. Mike Wieringo long-time fan favorite artist of just about every major character you can think of passed away Sunday morning. Here’s the news from Newsarama.

The comics industry lost a luminary this weekend – Mike Wieringo passed away Sunday of a sudden heart attack. Details are still sketchy as of this time, but according to close sources, the acclaimed artist had chest pains at some point during the day and called 911, but the responders did not make it in time.

Wieringo was 44 years old. He was a vegetarian, and “one of the healthiest ones of us in the bunch,” as his longtime friend and collaborator Todd Dezago described him.

Wieringo worked every day, updating his blog and website with a constant stream of sketches at His last sketch was posted on Friday.

I had the pleasure of lettering his work on Fantastic Four and most recently on Spider-Ham. One of the best artists in recent history as well as a really nice guy.

Go pick up a book by Mike Wieringo.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The New Comics Experiment

So I’m down to 2 ongoing comics that I buy “monthly” without fail. All Star Superman and The Goon. I say “Monthly” in parenthesis because I think they’re both considered bi-monthly. But even that varies from issue to issue.

I go to the comic shop every Wednesday. Being that I work right next to one I’m usually in there more than once a week just to kill some time on my lunch break. What I realized is that I gravitate to the usual suspects. Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, Batman… but none of these books really interest me right now.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to cherry pick 4 titles from this Wednesday’s shipment. One Marvel, one DC, one Image and one Dark Horse. 4 books I haven’t read at all, or in ages. I’m going to enlist the help of the Bendis Board and create a poll that the biggest and smartest fanboys around will vote on. If you’re not a member of the Bendis Board just state your pick in the “comments” section here at the LazyBlog and I’ll add it to the tally. The 2 that receive the most votes I’ll buy this Wednesday and read. This Friday I’ll let ya’ll know what I thought and if I’m adding them to All Star Superman and The Goon. If I’m not down with either one, I’ll give it another shot next week.

So without further delay… here are my 4 choices and my best explanation as to why I picked these books.

From DC:
Fables #64 by Willingham & Alexovich
I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about this book and I never knew where to start. The solicitation for this issue says it’s a stand-alone story, so maybe this is where I start?

From Dark Horse
BPRD Killing Ground #1 by Mignola, Arcudi & Davis
I read some BPRD’s back in the day and I really love Guy Davis’ work. I got bored with the story and dropped it, but here’s a nice new issue #1. I’m willing to give it a shot if not just for the sweet Guy Davis art.

From Image
Bad Planet #1 by Jane, Niles & LaRosa
This is a reprinting of the first issue and issue 2 will already be on the stands this Wednesday. For some reason this book always looked interesting to me… maybe it’s the Horror Movie look/feel of the book.

From Marvel
Powers #25 by Bendis and Oeming
Another book I used to read regularly but dropped about 16 or so issues into the Marvel run. I’m a fan of both creators and the letters pages are always a blast. Solits say it’s the “perfect jumping on point”.

So there they are, folks… what 2 comics should I read? Feel free to tell me why or why not and of course, thanks for participating.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Amazing Spider-Man

Amazing Spider-Man was my Go-To book for many years but that stopped a few arcs into the Straczynski run. I’m not into his work at all and I’ve been looking forward to his departure so I could give it another shot. However, with that finally happening, Marvel throws a curve ball.

Amazing Spider-Man will soon be the only ongoing 616 Spider-Man. It’s also now shipping 3 times per month. (616 is GeekSpeak for the original Marvel Universe not the Ultimate Universe) During ComicCon Marvel announced the creative teams, one of which is top notch while the other three just make me scratch my head.

Dan Slott, Steve McNiven, Dexter Vines and Morry Hollowell
This is basically the Civil War art team with Dan Slott writing. Slott is a big-fan of Bronze-Age Marvel. He writes old school, fun storylines and I’d love to see his take on Amazing. Civil War, no matter what you thought of it, had some gorgeous art. That’s the kind of creative team that should be on a Flagship title like Amazing Spider-Man.

The rest of the creative teams rounds out like this…

Marc Guggenheim, Salvador Larrocca and Jason Keith
Guggenheim did a pretty lackluster run on a Wolverine book. So lackluster that I’m not sure if it was Wolverine or Wolverine Origins. I even lettered the books and I can’t recall. Larrocca did some nice art on X-Men back few years ago but his art has morphed into a Greg Land-esque photo-referenced light box look that really bums me out. I don’t know if he thinks this is a direction he should take his work with the current shift towards more “realistic” art, but nothing makes me drop a book quicker than photo-referenced art.

Bob Gale, Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning and Jeromy Cox
Bob Gale co-wrote Back to the Future, Jimenez is a solid penciler but still, I don’t know how one can get excited about a Spider-Man book written by the guy who co-wrote Back to the Future. Maybe it’s just me. I don’t know if Gale has written anything else for Marvel but I’ve honestly never heard of the guy and I’m follow comics and creators pretty closely.

Zeb Wells, Chris Bachalo, Tim Townshend and Antonio Fabela
The final team is Marvel’s resident cartoony team. (Except when they substitute Scottie Young for Bachalo) I’ve never read a Zeb Wells book I’ve liked. There’s usually a humor angle to his work, but it’s seldom funny. Bachalo does some fun-stuff, but a team like this on Amazing Spider-Man just doesn’t fit.

As I mentioned earlier this is their flagship book. Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, John Romita Sr. and Jr., Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen. These are big time names on a big time book. I hate to knock this admirable endeavor Marvel is undertaking, but I take my geekdom seriously… Amazing should have Hall of Fame creators on it. Amazing Spidey is the Yankees. Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle should be wearing that uniform… instead we’ve got the Kansas City Royals wearing the pinstripes.

Stay tuned tomorrow for The New Comic Experiment.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Reviews, Plugs and Mini-Mini-comics

Been a while since my last post but I have been working on stuff to get up here on the ol’ LazyBlog. I’ve been on a real kick of reading old stuff that I lettered and attempted to get through a few trades. One I almost finished and the other I just wound up flipping through after reading like 10 pages or so. The first was Peter David and Lee Weeks’ Incredible Hulk “Tempest Fugit”. The story was fun when Hulk was smashing, but meh when he was plain’ ol’ Bruce. The art by Lee Weeks was just amazing though, man that guy is good. I don’t believe he’s on a regular monthly book right now and I have no idea why. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the ugly green type lettering in the Hulk-in- Bruce’s-mind sequences were not my doing. They were done by production at the request of the editor. If the need for a special balloon was wanted I’d surely have done one a bit more exciting than making the type process green. But why ask the letterer do that when you’ve got a production office full of disgruntled underpaid workers to do it instead?

The book I couldn’t get through was a Black Panther trade by Christopher Priest. The wise cracks by an annoying sidekick through the first issue of the trade were just awful jokes shoehorned in strange places that just took your right out of the story. It also jumped around like crazy through a number of flashbacks and other story threads all of which bored the hell out of me. I’d tell you what volume it was but I don’t care and you shouldn’t either. Ugh.

A co-worker of mine found a couple of tiny Marvel comics somewhere around the office and gave them to me. I’d never seen anything like them and they sure are neat. A tiny bit bigger than a business card but with nice glossy cardstock covers and full-color interiors. As you can see I got a copy of Ultimate Spider-Man #1 and The Incredible Hulk #34 which kicked off Bruce Jones’ famously boring 47 issue run. I remember getting issues of that run in my comp bundles back when I worked in the bullpen and I’d quickly flip through to see if he’d really gone another issue without the Hulk showing up. It was quite an amazing feat, really. I actually reread issue 34 and was reminded how good an issue it was. Amazing art by John Romita Jr. (no surprise there) and a nice throwback to the Hulk TV show with Bruce on the run from whatever havoc his green alter ego left in its wake. But boy did that storyline just run out of steam quicker than Posh Spice in a pie-eating contest. What a shame.

I borrowed the first 2 issues of World War Hulk from a friend and I’m happy to see that Pack is really “Packing” (bad pun) tons of action into the story. Again with top notch penciling by Romita Jr., who is bar-none the best superhero comic artist in the biz, the story just flies by with Hulk smashing every single hero he can get his green mitts on. I’m waiting for Betty to show up at the end to calm the Big Guy down but that answer seems almost too obvious. It’ll be fun to see how it all comes together.

Oh, and Erik Powell finally finished his yearlong hiatus on The Goon. Issue 19 just hit shelves this week, so go pick it up. I’m been pimping that book like crazy since I started this blog.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned, Randall is almost ready to come back.

Lunchtime Sketchbook 2

After I drew this I realized it was a lot like an R. Crumb sketch I saw somewhere...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

DC Announces Web Comic Division

So one of the Big 2 have finally decided to dip their toes into web comic waters with This was announced on July 9th through the New York Times and DC President Paul Levitz. I knew eventually one of the Big 2 were going to test this out, I just didn’t know how they were going to go about it. Like anything new from the major comic publishers it has it’s pros and cons. So let me break down how I feel about it.


1. A major company is looking beyond print comics in order to adapt the medium to fit the way people are now getting their entertainment. All comics will have to be in the 4:3 aspect ratio, which basically means a rectangle that fits on a computer screen so the reader doesn’t have to scroll to read it. This is something that I’ve went back and forth on since I started making web comics. In the end I settled for the traditional comic page size since I’m going to turn these into mini comics anyway. What DC can do with Zuda comics is make them downloadable to an iPod or iPhone, with the 4:3 ratio they’ll scale down nicely.

2. The comics aren’t going to be your traditional DC Universe. The submissions can be anything from superhero to auto-bio, color or black and white.

3. You’ll get paid for producing your web comic. ‘Nuff said.


1. They’re turning it into American Idol. 10 finalists will be chosen and then voted on by the fans. Why? I dunno. Maybe more traffic to the site as a way to find out how many people are interested in Zuda? I don’t know why this doesn’t sit well with me but the line will have editors who evaluate talent on a daily basis. Pick your 10 strips and after they run for a while see what strips are getting the most hits. Readjust the line from there. People doing these web comics will have poured their heart and souls into these strips (at this point for no money) and then they’ll have to run around to message boards pandering for votes. Not to mention the folks who have to sit and watch as their comic loses and their once high hopes dashed. Having an editor turn you down is one thing, having a gaggle of fanboys turn you down NCAA bracket style is another.

2. They mentioned that the line is a way to expand their intellectual property catalog. Comics turning into movies and TV are so common now that it’s mentioned right from the get-go. The comic isn’t the end result anymore, it’s the first step. I don’t know how the contract is going to work but I’m willing to bet the giant corporation is going to win out in the end.

3. You’re fighting for the right to have your comic published online when anyone with a pen and paper and a computer can already do it for free. That’s the beauty of a web comic. Instant publication on your terms.

So you can see I’m mixed on the whole Zuda thing. It’s great to see DC being forward thinking but there are still things that need to be ironed out. I guess this is to be expected as this is the first time a big comic company has done this. I’m hopeful and excited but my inherited lack of trust and/or faith in mainstream comics makes me wonder how this ship will sail. We’ll see.

And the funny thing is. Even though I already publish my work online and through Pixelstrips, being published through Zuda seems rather enticing. Even with the worries I spoke of above.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, July 02, 2007

Decompression... what does it mean?

Decompression. It’s one of those new terms that strikes up a conversation with comic book fans that’ll likely result in a rather heated debate.

First off what the hell does it mean? Wikipedia defines it as this: “Decompression is a stylistic choice in comic book storytelling, characterized by a strong emphasis on visuals or character interaction and usually resulting in slow-moving plots.” It even gives a page as an example, this one being from an issue of Astonishing X-Men #14 by Joss Whedon and John Cassiday. The Wiki entry goes on to mention that it originated in Japanese Manga and recently became popular in the mid to late 90’s through writers like Brian Michael Bendis and Warren Ellis.

I’ve read quite a few articles on the subject and it’s a topic that you can rarely find a straight answer. You often hear that it means stretching out the plot. But how and why is the writer stretching out the plot? Isn’t stretching out the plot really the same as “padding the story”?

I’ve been on message boards discussing the topic where Big Name creators have joined the conversation and said that a page long fight sequence is padding the story. That really struck me as surprising. Check out the aforementioned X-Men page. Can using 5 panels to show Wolverine say “Good morning” to his fellow X-Men not be padding while at the same time a 5-panel fight sequence is padding?

I just don’t get it. This is where I get hung up. And when I try to boil down why I disagree with this it comes back to what I want out of a comic book. A mixture of action and story.

Sure decompression is a stylistic choice, but it’s a choice that I wish wasn’t as popular as it’s become. At times a decompressed story can be a fun read but when it’s not working, decompression is just flat-out unreadable. So much so that it makes me feel like I just wasted my money.

Going back to where decompression started there is something that basically goes hand in hand with it. Widescreen panels. The cinematic approach to comic book storytelling. Our handy X-Men page above shows this technique as clear as day. A handful of other artists who are going this route are Bryan Hitch (Ultimates, The Authority) and Alex Maleev (Daredevil). Both of which are partners of Warren Ellis and Brian Bendis. Taking this cinematic approach obviously makes the artist and writer think in terms of cinema. 24 frames per second. The “time between the notes on a piece of music” is how an uber-popular writer explained decompression to me. An interesting concept but is this why people buy comics? For the time between the notes? Don’t people want the crescendo and not the silence between?

Hulk smashing a car on top of Ben Grimm’s head is a big note I don’t want to miss. I’m not really interested in the notes between the cars smashing into Grimm’s rocky dome.

Once again, if we use that X-Men page as an example you’ve got 2 silent panels capturing those “moments between the notes”. All right, sure. But are people really interested in an entire page of Wolverine sitting in a breakfast nook? There must be as Astonishing X-Men is one of the most popular books on the stands, but that isn’t for me.
Now all that smashing and action isn’t always great for story development but there is room for both. It’s the juggling of those 2 essential elements that make me love comics. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko packed Spider-Man’s origin into a space smaller than today’s standard comic book format of 22 pages. I believe it’s something like 15 pages? (if anyone out there has that info handy, let me know). Take today’s retelling of Spidey’s origin in Ultimate Spider-Man (by Bendis) and we got that story spread out through 5 issues. I enjoyed the story, but I do remember thinking that I can’t believe they stretched this out to 5 issues. And that was way before I’d heard of decompressed storytelling.

What will this latest storytelling trend lead to in the future? Is decompressed storytelling to today’s comic culture what the dark, gritty realism of Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns was to the 1980’s comic culture? We got some real crappy comics out of that movement but we also got some great one’s like “Kraven’s Last Hunt” by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck. The problem is, can we really compare today’s comics like Ultimate Spider-Man and The Authority to Watchmen and Dark Knight?

Hmm. I don’t think so.

But we can sit back and watch the ride. Or seek out some comics with Batman knocking some thugs teeth out. Or go with the Fantastic Four eating dinner at a diner for 16 pages. The choice is yours. The shelves are full of comics these days.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Books I Lettered But Didn’t Read Until Now #2

Even though my choice for the first installment of this Lazy Feature didn’t exactly set my Geek World on fire, I decided to pull another random trade off my shelf. This time around I decided shifting gears from a Garth Ennis book might be a good idea so I went with a good ol’ wholesome Captain America book. What I didn’t know is how wholesome this book turned out to be. And that’s not a bad thing.

Captain America Volume 4: “Captain America Lives Again” Collecting issues 17-20 and a Lee/Kirby Classic: Tales of Suspense # 66. Written by Dave Gibbons with art by Lee Weeks.

I have a lot of Captain America trades on the shelf and at first I was going to grab on of the Ed Brubaker ones (I think I have the first volume) but for some reason I just couldn’t do it. Maybe it’s because Cap “died” or maybe it was because I wasn’t in the mood for it’s “serious” tone. Maybe it’s because after all the media hype of Cap’s death, after all the new readers it brought into comic shops, Marvel decided to capitalize on that tidal wave of excitement by releasing the next issue a few months late. Way to keep ‘em coming back for more, guys.

But whatever, let’s get on with a Captain America book that I friggin’ LOVED!

Reading this trade reminded me why I continue to read Marvel stuff even when 99% of it makes me want the time I spent reading it back. But this trade made me feel like I was reading some old school Marvel.

The story is basically a “What If”. Starting off with Cap floating through the ocean in a block of ice but instead of getting picked up by the Avengers, he’s picked up by Nazis. Cap wakes up in a world where the Nazis won the war and the Red Skull is the big cheese. However, there’s an underground movement of freedom fighters led by your who’s-who of Marvel Superheroes. All out of costume but you don’t miss their fancy duds a bit. I’d go more into it, but I’d hate to spoil some of the neat reveals and surprises.

The story moves along at a great pace with tons of action and enough character interaction to make you wonder who’s up to what and why. There is even a time machine that is usually the down point of any story (the last time machine story I read involved Iron Man riding a horse in his armor complete with joust, Ugh) but Gibbons turned it into an integral part of the story without getting caught in the usual traps the time machine device can fall into. The time machine even tied the whole thing up in a nice bow.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the art of Lee Weeks. I’ve lettered a good amount of his work over the years and always enjoyed it but I never realized how good the guy is until I read this story. He’s one of the most underrated artists in the biz. I don’t know what he’s working on now but I want to go out and find more of his work. Actually, I have the trade of the recent Peter David run on “Hulk” that Weeks penciled. I’ll have to make the next book I pull of the shelf.

As a little bonus Marvel threw in Tales of Suspense #66, the origin of the Red Skull by Lee & Kirby. It’s classic, campy Stan Lee but still fun to read. A nice li’l addition to this really fun trade. If you get a chance to pick this one up, go for it. I think you’ll enjoy some good old-fashioned Captain America. I mean, he’s dead now…… right?

Thanks for reading, Folks!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Books I Lettered But Didn’t Read Until Now Reviews #1

Looking for some new comics to read I realized that I have shelves full of trades and I’ve read very few of them. One of the “perks” of being a letterer is the comps that show up at your door every few weeks. I haven’t been lettering full-time for months and books are still showing up. Last week FedEx left me with a few trades one being Wolverine Origin and the other was The Punisher. As I flipped through them I was surprised to realize that I didn’t remember either one at all. So over the past few subway commutes to work I decided to read one of ‘em.

So here’s the First in a series…

“Books I Lettered But Didn’t Read Until Now Reviews”
The Punisher Max Volume 7 “Man of Stone” by Garth Ennis & Leandro Fernandez

First of all as a letterer, this book was in the top 2 as far as the most well prepared scripts in which to letter from. This book was a breeze to letter for 40 plus issues and if the rest of my lettering work went as well as The Punisher did I might still be lettering. But that’s another story.

I was a huge fan of the Ennis/Dillon Punisher stuff back in the day and after reading the “Man of Stone” storyline I was reminded about what I don’t like about the Punisher Max incarnation. This really goes deeper than just the Punisher Max run but the entire Max line as a whole. But more on that later.

While Ennis is usually good for an entertaining read this story was as pedestrian as a Steven Segal movie. Here’s the ingredients. Take your loner (Punisher) and pit him against incredible odds as he faces a rogue Russian General on foreign soil. Throw in the Punisher’s tough-as-nails-and-hard-to-get Love Interest whose out for justice on her abusive husband. The abusive husband is your basic scumbag American Traitor who happens to be using the Russian General as a way to get the Punisher out of hiding. Segal--I mean--the Punisher sports some major machismo as he teams up with the Love Interest amidst a frenzy of sexual tension. He takes out the Russian with just his wits and a Houdiniesque escape that’ll make you wonder what the show McGuyver would’ve been like if it were an R Rated Movie. Oh, and don’t forget the General’s right hand man who has a major attitude problem but “surprisingly” gets his in the end.

Outside of the formulaic storyline Ennis’s writing was just peppered with curse words that are really the only reason I can see keeping this book in the Max line. Now I’m no alter boy, I’ve been known to curse like a longshoreman, but the use of these words just seem so out of place. It’s like a bad Howard Stern rip-off radio show getting a day of FCC Free radio. They seem to be used purely for shock value… although they’re not shocking to anyone over the age of 8.

When Marvel first announced it’s “Adult” line of comics it was thought that it could be the answer to DC’s very successful Vertigo line. Vertigo is almost an entirely stand-alone line similar to a creator-owned line or “independent” line of comics. Vertigo doesn’t hinge on Superman and Batman but rather books like “Fables”. Now I’ll admit that Vertigo has had much more time to iron out any problems while the Max line is still relatively new, but one would think that with a model such as Vertigo that Marvel could’ve learned from their cross-town rivals. Instead the Max line seems like its in limbo. Looking from the outside it seems as if the line could fade away and nothing would be missed. Just move the Punisher back into the regular Marvel Universe. Or turn Punisher War Journal into regular ol’ Punisher and viola!

While Vertigo seems to be a place where their creators can take independent ideas free of DC Universe tangles, Marvel has taken that possibility away from the Max line with the Icon Line, which is a series of books created to give big-name creators a place to show-off their non-Marvel universe creations.

What will Max Line’s fate be? Your guess is as good as mine. Right now it doesn’t look good unless somebody comes along with a clear vision as to what the line means to Marvel. Because it has to be more than a Punisher book fulla cuss words.

So that’s my first rather scathing review of books I lettered but didn’t read. Boy, looking back what’s more scathing than Segal movie comparison? Eeek.

I’ll pull something else off the shelf tonight…hopefully I’ll enjoy it!

Stay tuned folks and thanks for reading.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Back with some cool news!

So I can’t lie, I’ve been back from my Honeymoon for 2 weeks and it’s basically taken this long to come down from the amazing time Ereisa and I had. There’ll be some choice pictures at some time, so stay tuned.

Now it’s time to get back into the swing of things, which is one of the hardest things to do when you’re doing your own webcomic. There’s nobody to kick you in the pants when you’re late. One way I’ve found that is a great way to combat this is establishing a deadline. Sure, you can just arbitrarily pick a random deadline and that often works for me. “Randall Month” was one of those self-imposed deadlines that worked well for me. But this latest deadline is one that I’m really beginning to feel the pressure of but at the same time, I’m super excited about it.

If you’re a fan of comic book Podcasts like I am you’ve probably heard of Comic Geek Speak. They’re a long running show and are one of the best shows you’ll find online. Coming up in September they’ll be celebrating their 300th Episode with what is essentially turning into a CGS Convention. It started back on Episode 100 and it grew quite considerably with Episode 200 but 300 has all the makings of an all-out comic geek fest of epic proportions and I’m lucky enough to be a part of the festivities as a guest. Along with Mike Norton (DC’s The All-New Atom), Steve Bryant (Athena Voltaire), Morry Hollowell (Civil War) and others I’ll be there pimping NYComix and Randall. So if you’re in the Reading, PA area on September 21-23th stop on by. Tickets are available now through CGS so check it out. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the previous celebrations so expect nothing different for 300.

Sure this all sounds like a ton of fun but the reality of the whole thing is that I really need to get my ass in gear and finish the first Randall storyline. I’ve ironed out the last details of the storyline and have laid down the beginnings of the dialogue but what that really does for me is give me an idea of how many pages this bad boy will end up being. I think there are 15 pages on Pixelstrips now and it’ll be around another 15 or so to finish before September.

On top of all this I realize that I need to get people to come over and check out my comics so a little self-promotion needs to be done as well. One way I’m going to do this is a free sketch “promotion” I’m doing over at the CGS forums. So far I’m up to 14 sketches that I’m going to do now that will be picked up at 300.

Yeah, it’s a lot of work but it’s something that I’m really looking forward to. So if you’re a fan of CGS and can make it out to the show, let them know and then let me know you’re going to be there. It should be a lot of fun.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading,

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Friday, May 04, 2007

Comic Book Message Boards

I spend more time on comic book message boards than I do actually reading new comics. I get just about all my news via “Spoilers” and from the sound of most spoilers I’m glad I find out that way than if I dropped 3 bucks to find out Gwen Stacy had a fling with the Green Goblin before she died. (And that said fling resulted in a pair of super powered kids bent on killing Spider-Man.)

Message boards are an interesting look into the world of fans and I’m always fascinated by what I read. Is it simply a fraction of fans or does that fraction represent the larger sum? Does “WebShooters2’s” opinion really show what the fans think or does the secrecy provide the necessary cover that lets folks say things just to get a reaction out of people? Nevertheless, message boards are always a riveting insight into the world of comic book fandom.

Here are Top Five surefire ways to start a fanboy message board riot.

1. Go on any creator’s message board and say something bad about his/her work.

Now this doesn’t only go for extreme things like “So-And-So sucks donkey balls”. I’m mean, anything at all. Go on the Bendis board and mention that the latest arc of New Avengers could have been 6 issues instead of 12 and sit back and watch the fireworks.

2. Mention John Byrne in any context.

This cat is the lighter fluid in the Fanboy Weber Grill. Most stems from his very odd online presence in which he’s established himself as a curmudgeon yelling at the kids to get off his lawn, but John Byrne circa 2007 has almost erased the memory of the ground breaking work he did on X-Men and Fantastic Four. Again, I’m not saying that work is completely forgotten, but his grouchy routine certainly contributes to the “What have you done for me lately” attitude of some fans.

3. Mention Frank Miller in any context.
Similar to Byrne but without the curmudgeon aspect. Most of this comes from his latest All Star Batman and Robin run that comes out about as often as Haley’s Comet. Sprinkle a little Dark Knight 2 into a conversation and watch sparks fly.

4. Late Books
Late book discussions really bring up some interesting conversations. On the whole, they’re obviously bad things but on occasion, people just don’t to care. Like for some fans, The Ultimates by Millar and Hitch can be as late as it takes Hitch to find Samuel L. Jackson reference while for others 5 months between issues is completely unacceptable. Books written by “Hollywood” writers are interesting subjects as well. Last I heard Allan Heinberg is basically going on a year to write and issue of Wonder Woman…. The same colossal delays go on in his Marvel book Young Avengers. But I seldom read anything bad about a guy who is apparently so busy writing “The O.C.” that he can’t squeeze in a few hours to bang out a 22 page comic script. Late books are always a fun message board read not to be missed.

5. Photo-Realistic Comics.
This is one that is also split. How so, I dunno. I lettered one of the biggest culprits of this on Ultimate Fantastic Four, namely Greg Land. Now I know there’s no concrete evidence that this guy is light boxing Jessica Alba for Sue Storm panels but a few interesting pieces of evidence have raised some eyebrows in recent years. Like this one and this one. Again, in the world of comic book message boards this obviously shady practice is given a pass by some in the name of “great art”. With “great art” being more in the eye of the beholder than ever.

Alright that’s all for now. Go over to the Bendis board and mention how there are too many balloons in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 19, 2007



I went out last night and finally checked out this flick and goddam is this a great flick! First of all it’s 2 movies in one by 2 of my favorite directors. Second it’s a throwback to old exploitation/B-Movies/Horror movies. Third it’s a couple of guys making flicks they want to make, the latter being something that has become increasingly more important to me as of late.

Being that I’m a little late to the boat (along with everyone else who is going to see “Wild Hogs” instead of this movie) I’m sure you know the deal. Robert Rodriguez kicks off the show with “Planet Terror” a Gore-Fest of great Zombie movie proportions. Full of everything you’d expect from a movie starring a Go-Go Dancer with a machine gun leg Rodriguez has brought his filmmaking to a place where he can virtually put anything he can imagine on screen and he has a hand in every aspect of his work. He writes, directs, edits, does the sound track, acts as visual effects supervisor and director of photography. He’s working fully digital all from his own friggin’ house. He’s one of the few modern day filmmakers who are harkening back to the days of the 1970’s Film Brats. Back when guys like Francis Coppola were starting independent studios like American Zoetrope. Zoetrope never came fully into fruition thanks to some impatient studio heads, but the genesis of the studio spawned into George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch and others. Rodriguez’s own studio “Troublemaker Studios” is even farther from the vile clutches of Hollywood, residing in Austin, Texas. “Planet Terror” pulls no punches and is a wild ride complete with Rodriguez’s trademark fast action and super quick cuts. Along with some fancy “Missing Reel” editing, “Planet Terror” alone was worth the admission price.

In between features you have a handful of hilarious “trailers” by Rob Zombie and Eli Roth’s hilariously disturbing “Thanksgiving” trailer. All of this and we haven’t even gotten to Quinten Tarantino’s “Death Proof”.

Now pretty much everyone I’ve talked to or read about who’ve seen Grindhouse prefer QT’s flick to Rodriguez’s. But the best part of this is that both movies are completely independent of one another and are just different interpretations on a theme, the theme obviously being Grindhouse movies. Death Proof stars Kurt Russell in one of his best roles ever as Stuntman Mike. You know what. I’m not even about to spoil the wild ride Tarantino takes you on through this movie. It’s honestly one of the best times I’ve even had in a theater. Amazing dialogue with one of the best car chases since “The French Connection”. QT is flat out one of the greatest filmmakers ever. To ignore anything that this guys puts on film is waste of every movie lover’s time.

In true “Lazy Rambling” tradition I should go into a long diatribe about how the American Film going audience is a giant gaggle of blubbering idiots who should all have their theater going rights revoked for the remainder of their lives…. But I won’t.

Go see the movie…

Friday, April 13, 2007

All Star Superman

When All Star Superman came out, I had my doubts. Morrison is one of those writers that is just hit or miss with me. He starts off strong and just fades away before the finish line. So going into All Star there was some trepidation mixed with hope. Hope that there would be a Superman comic that I would actually love to read. With the release of the 7 issue I’m forced to gush over this book. Maybe it’s because my beloved “The Goon” (Eric Powell) is on a hiatus but I actually read All Star 2 times in a row in one sitting. Issue 7 is a 2-Part Bizzarro storyline with an amazing cliffhanger backing up a fun, action packed storyline that made me laugh-out-loud and just enjoy a good old-fashioned superhero story starring the original superhero. It’s worth mentioning that this 2-part storyline is as long a “storyline” as you’ll find in this series. If memory serves me right, this is the first multiple part storyline of the book. Check out Morrison’s 1 page, 4-panel, 8-word retelling of Supes origin. There’s no “Decompressed” storytelling going on here.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Even if you’re one of those readers who isn’t a huge fan of Grant Morrison the incredible art by Frank Quitely is worth the cover price. (The colors by Jamie Grant are amazing by the way.) The hardcover of the first 6 issues just came out so you can grab the whole run in one trip to the shop.

So I hope you enjoyed my gushing.

Gent signing off.


p.s. Go read Randall over at Pixelstrips.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I Remember when Comics used to be 2 Dollars!

How much more expensive can comics get? $2.99 was always my cut-off for a 22-page comic. Sure 3 bucks isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things, but there are so many comics available why stick around for long on something for that price? A 6-issue storyline is going to run you around 20 bucks. You might as well wait for the trade at that price. At least you won’t have to flip through a ton of ads and wait god knows how long for the book to actually come out. Plus by the time the storyline ends there’ll be plenty of reviews to look at before you really decide if you want to buy the thing. And if you really want to save some money, order your trades online at a place like InStockTrades and pick it up for like 10 bucks.

Now I’m more likely to drop 3 bucks for an independent comic than I am for a comic from the Big 2. In my opinion the Indie guy earned the extra buck while the Big 2, with more hype, more ads and shoddy scheduling have to prove themselves a bit more to me. Sure the Indie book might wind-up sucking just as much as the Spider-book but I just feel a little better about giving my hard earned money to an indie book than a corporate comic. My li’l way of stickin’ it to da man, you might say. (The Man stuck it to me for 7 years so what the hell.)

This topic makes me think about the future of digital comics as well. While I really believe that web comics like those on Ac-Ti-Vate are providing the model for self-publishing online, the future of mainstream comics online is still a murky one. Recently Top Cow announced that they would be providing digital downloads of their books through the website IGN. For a Buck you can download a PDF iTunes style but the catch is… all downloads will be at least one-year behind their new releases. Now while I know this basically the first time a “mainstream” company is doing this, I have to say they’ve screwed this up in a major way. I understand that they’re protecting the retail comic shops by keeping the books a year behind, but who the hell is going to download a year old Top Cow book for a dollar? First off, reading a standard comic book as a PDF file is a major pain in the ass. Second, printing 22 pages of a full-color comic is a giant waste of ink and with the price of your standard ink-jet printer toner, forget it. Third, this is Top Cow. I defy you to not find a Top Cow book in any 50-cent bin and I’m not talking about a Top Cow book from last year (which will surely be in there) I’m talking about last month’s Witchblade. Which apparently they’re still publishing and Michael Turner isn’t penciling. This isn’t going to work and nobody is going to care.

Mainstream books have to take their web comics to the next level. Offering old books or chunks of current books isn’t making a big impact.

How can they make their web comics significant? Offer something online that readers can’t get anywhere else. A daily strip that is New. Tell something that happened between the pages of the current issue of Amazing Spider-Man. It can’t hurt to try. Pay a creative to create a webcomic. You won’t have to pay for printing costs so what the hell?

Comics are going to need to change soon if they’re going to survive in their current stapled form. More needs to be offered if they’re going to gain new readers and keep them. Not to mention if they’re going to get old readers like myself.

Thanks for reading, folks and feel free to add your thoughts… this is a topic that spurs my inner geek.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Randall Reminder

We're weekly again! The adventures continue every Wednesday at Pixelstrips.

If you want to brush up on what has already went down here.

Thanks for looking and feel free to write me at

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Wanna Letter Comic Books, Kid?

Every now and then you see someone talking about lettering online. I came across and interesting conversation between a few big name writers and Richard Starkings (of Comicraft fame).

If there’s any doubt as to why I couldn’t keep lettering on a daily basis anymore, this might give you an idea.

From what I can see, this all started due to a post by Greg Rucka on his live journal page about going over the lettering he got back from a issue of “52”.

Want to know a lost art?

Just spent an hour and a half going over the lettered copy of Week #48 of 52. The issue is of particular importance to me for obvious reasons if you've seen the cover. If you haven't, you'll know it when you read it.

An hour and a half compiling detailed notes and making extensive corrections to 18 out of 20 pages. Nearly 50 separate mistakes, from missing punctuation to mixing up captions with spoken lines, right down to giving the lines to the wrong characters.

A fucking hour and a half.

I miss Todd Klein.

Instead of artists like him, we get [Comicraft] instead.

This prompted a thread over at another "Big Name" writer’s message board, Warren Ellis.

That was one of the biggest wrenches when I started working for America. "Where are your placements?" "Why aren't you numbering your copy fields?" The number of times I had to explain that lettering know how to both place and count...

Now, I’m not a huge fan of Comicraft but I’ll sure as hell stick up for them before I do a writer who makes more money on one page than then a bullpen letter makes on a book.

Why do these guys need placements? Because there’s a million different characters not named Spider-Man and Batman, that’s why. Talking heads of detectives in suits who look the friggin’ same… or my personal favorite from my time lettering: A scene in the United Nations… full shot of the entire room full of dozens of men in suits… no placements and I’m supposed to know who Joe Schmo is. And if you point to the wrong character (because how the hell would you know where the balloon is going) you get snide comments and cries of you being lazy from an Editor or a writer. Not to mention that placements speed up the lettering of a book that is likely late due to the artist and/or writer.

Does Rucka think this letter wanted to mess the book up? Did the letterer get placements to make sure it went more smoothly? Or was Rucka too busy? If he was, then maybe he ask himself if sitting down with a sharpie and doing the placements would take him an hour and a half. What script did the letterer get? I know from experience that you’re more likely to get struck by lightening while hitting the lottery than you are to get a script that was proofed by the editor. Hell, many times an editor gave me the wrong draft of a script. Imagine lettering the first draft of a script only to find out there have been 3 drafts after that one that you just spent 5 hours lettering. And guess how much the letterer gets paid for re-lettering that book? ZERO. Or how about the writer who won’t do his final draft until the letterer finishes the book with a script that he and everyone involved knows is going to change dramatically later on? And how much extra cash does the letterer get for lettering entire pages that will be completely scrapped and replaced with new dialogue? ZERO.

So the next time you’re a Big Name Writer. Making really good money to do a job you’re privileged to do… a job that is likely your dream job… a job that pays royalties for years to come. Remember that the letter is a guy who makes a flat rate that is a fraction of what you make. And remember that the letter is busting his ass to get that book out on time because nobody gives a shit how much time the letterer has to finish the book. Remember that the letterer probably finished that book overnight only to wake up a few hours later to reletter it. And remember that the letter takes a ton of pride in how his work looks on the page.

Reading that stuff gave me the old lettering feeling again. One of frustration and aggravation.