Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Vote For Gent

The Eagle Awards are something I’ve never heard of. They’re based out of the UK and from what I hear they’re the longest running comic awards. The reason I bring this up is because I’m nominated. But not in the category I want to be in, which is “Best Web Comic”. Don’t ask how I could’ve gotten on in the list of nominees, cuz I have no idea.

Winning best letterer is like a weird popularity contest. Obviously Todd Klein and Chris Eliopoulos are the big guys that have won more of these things than they can probably count, but I think most fans vote for the letterer based on name recognition and/or a quick flip to the credits page of their favorite book…hence Comicraft winning on occasion. If they actually voted based on the craft, it would be Klein or Chris… throw John Workman and John Costanza in there too.

Check out this post about removing lettering from the list...by the moderator of the website, no less. Man, lettering is just a thankless job. It’s like being the guy who walks behind the horses during a parade and shovels up the crap…

Nevertheless head on over and vote… you can write Randall into the top of the category. (If you want to, just don’t vote for a video game comic)

Thanks, folks!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Old Is New Again But Not Really

Sometimes I feel a little sympathy for mainstream comic writers. How do you keep characters that are 50-60 years old fresh and new? It’s the toughest part of the job these days. Do you revamp like the Ultimate line or Infinite Crisis? Do you give your hero a new costume or bring someone back from the dead? Or do you reveal your hero’s secret identity for the entire world to see? All of these things could work but the real problem is that these things have all been done before!

The Ultimate line is essentially John Byrne’s Chapter One series from the 90’s. DC’s recent Infinite Crisis is a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths… their last attempt to clean up insane continuity tangles. Spider-Man’s classic costume was recently changed to some ugly Iron thing and now it’s going back to the black costume.

Spidey’s identity was also revealed, as was Daredevil’s not long ago. DD’s is now a matter of speculation again as Iron Fist posed as DD while Matt Murdock was in prison. Again, not the first time DD or Spidey used each other (or someone else) in their respective costumes to confuse anyone thought to have a clue to their identity. With all the “back-from-the-dead” going on in comics there are three that are “untouchable”; Uncle Ben, Gwen Stacy and Bucky.

But recently Bucky had made a comeback as a longhaired assassin and Gwen Stacy almost came back but instead apparently had a fling with the Green Goblin that spawned two super-powered kids. (Don’t ask.) Uncle Ben, so far, has been the only untouched dead character. But I’m betting his days are numbered.

So what do you do when everything has been done before? Why rehash something that was already done only to change it back during the next “event”? Is it sales? Is it an attempt to put your stamp on the character for the next volume of the Marvel Encyclopedia? Why aren’t there new storylines? And better yet, why aren’t there new heroes? Sure Spider-Man, Superman and Batman are going to be around forever but the fact that Wolverine is the “newest” superhero is a bit pitiful, no? Are we stuck on these characters, are we so unable to branch out or think of a story in their universe that doesn’t involve these guys? Are upcoming movies shaping characters and costumes? Comics shaped these movies but now it’s the other way around for some reason.

Maybe it’s the fan’s fault. My favorite Marvel comic is, by far, Runaways. It’s fresh, fun, action packed and full of characters that are original on their own. The book doesn’t hinge on a Spider-Man appearance or on what happens in an X-Book. It’s a unique take on the superhero genre set in a world 60 years old and crawling with thousands of preexisting characters. The thing is Runaways doesn’t sell all that well while books with the Big Characters continue to sell even if the story isn’t all that good.

I guess it’s because pulling a Spider Book off the shelves is kinda like going to your parent’s house after you’ve moved out. It’s familiar and you know your way around. If you buy a book you’re not familiar with it’s like visiting your girlfriends parents house for the first time. You can go sit on the couch and look around but it’s not home. (At least not yet.)

So what does this all mean? Damned if I know. This has turned into the “Lazy Rambling” of all “Lazy Ramblings” But really; I think that it’s time for a new hero. And a female version of Wolverine with 2 claws instead of 3 isn’t a new hero. I’m talking about a brand-new shiny hero that is completely original. One that captures the fanboy’s interest and makes them realize that you can buy a comic that doesn’t have Wolverine in it and still buy the comic with Wolverine in it.

All right, whoever stuck with that ramble deserves a No-Prize.

Stay tuned and go click on Randall at Pixelstrips… I want in on that Top Five in the worst way. I’m that vain.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Pixelstrips and Reviews

Yesterday marked Randall’s debut on Pixelstrips. Back when I was doing NYComix on there I had to upload each page individually every Wednesday. But now the uploading process has been improved allowing you to upload as many pages as you want and to assign the corresponding date in which the new page replaces the old. It’s a neat feature that takes a bit of the stress out of hitting that weekly deadline. Fortunately I’m just reposting the pages from Randall Month, so I’ve got a real nice cushion as I work on the next chapter. Although I am inserting a new page in previously published stuff, just to give it a better flow. There’s a bunch of stuff I’d love to tweak but I’m afraid that if I go down that road I might wind up redrawing panels, etc. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’m really feeling the need to finish this story. I’ve got to get it out of my system so I can move onto new things. When the time is right, I’ll go back to it… but it won’t be for a while.

I’ve got 3 pages of the next sequence penciled and it’s shaping up. The story continues to evolve and go places I didn’t expect but I’ve more comfortable with the outcome now than I was during Randall Month. When I usually work I write a full-script and then thumbnail the pages, etc. This time around I’m jotting down what happens in each sequence and thumb nailing it out that way. The dialogue is coming last. Kinda like the Stan Lee “Marvel Method” but only with one artist.

So feel free to check out the pages over at Pixelstrips… Let's see if we can't bump our pal Randall into the Top Five...

In other news I made it out to the comic shop last night and walked out with one monthly and a looooooong awaited trade paperback.

So here are some quick reviews.

All Star Superman #6 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
I can’t believe I’m still reading this book 6 issues in. I find Morrison’s writing always hooks me early on and then by the end I’ve completely lost interest as the story just turns into an esoteric train wreck. It happened with New X-Men as the end of that turned into something that to this day I still can’t even begin to figure out. I’ve read message board threads full of hardcore X-Fans who still can’t decipher what happened with that storyline years later.

Superman hasn’t done that yet and I really hope it never does. Issue 6 even had Krypto in it and I still liked it. I don’t know the back-story of what is essentially a dog-version of Superman but I always giggled at the presence of a super powered canine, but hey, it worked here. Quietly’s art is always solid and the Digital Inks and Colors by Jamie Grant are beautiful. They complement the pencils as opposed to overpowering them, like a lot of colors are doing these days. So I’m still on board with this book… let’s hope it stays that way.

Batman Year 100 by Paul Pope
I picked up the first issue of this back when it was originally released and loved it so much I decided to wait for the trade so I could get the whole story in one shebang. One thing I can’t figure out is why DC waits so long to release trades. Why not get the things out right after the monthlies wrap up and the book is still fresh on people’s minds? Waiting for months and months only allows people to forget about it and move on to something else.

Anyway Paul Pope’s art and writing is just fantastic in this book. His art particularly stands out as just flat-out gorgeous. The more I look at it the more I think that his version of Batman is my favorite and that includes Frank Miller. There’s a real neat little sketch extra in the back with Pope’s thoughts on why he designed Bats the way he did. Big clunky combat boots with laces. Sleeves that don’t quite reach his gloves and a mask that is a cross between an old-fashioned football helmet and a Mexican wresting mask. His inks are beautiful and his use of blacks while allowing a brush stroke to look like a brush stoke is a breath of fresh air in a time when light-boxed, magazine referenced and over rendered art is slowly taking over.

I can’t recommend this book enough and I can’t wait to get my hands on some more Paul Pope comics. Check out his blog for more cool stuff.

So that’s it, folks! I’m off to lettering…

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Big News and a Plug

Rocky Balboa

If you’re a regular reader of this Blog you might remember a few posts about my favorite Sylvester Stallone movies and especially the Rocky Franchise. While I loved Rocky 2-4 and like most fans, didn’t enjoy the 5th one very much at all, the original Oscar-winning Rocky flick is one of the most enjoyable and inspiring flicks ever made.

I was finally able to get out this past weekend to see the sixth and final film: Rocky Balboa. Naturally, I was a little hesitant after the debacle that was Rocky V, but after reading a few Stallone interviews as well as the subsequent reviews, I was excited to hear that this one was getting back to what made the first 2 films so great.

Rocky Balboa was old-school Rocky. Moving, funny, inspiring and just a well-written love letter to Rocky fans. If you’re one of those guys who watch the old movies every time you pass them on TV, you’ll love the references and throwbacks to old characters and settings. Stallone created one of the greatest characters in the history of film and I can’t recommend this movie enough. If you loved the original Rocky and hated every sequel, you’ll love this flick.

Go check it out!

In other news related to LazyComix I’ve got a few announcements that I think are pretty exciting.

I’m going to do my best to spread the LazyComix word this year and to do that I’m going to have to get the word out in as many different ways as possible.

First up is the aforementioned “LazyComix Conversations”.

I’ve always envisioned LazyComix.com to be a place where comic fans can come by and read not only my webcomix but also get some comix reviews, plugs and just any and all comic jazz I think fans like myself, might enjoy.

“LazyComix Conversations” is the first step in that direction. Plain and simply it’s going to be a monthly (maybe even bi-monthly) Creator Interview segment. The inaugural segment is already set-up and I couldn’t be happier with the first guest. Stay tuned, folks!

Second up is that Randall will now be published on my former online publisher, PixelStrips. The site was once a subscription pay-site but now it’s an all-free service with the #1 strip getting about 8000 hits per month. I’m really excited about it as now I’ll have Randall and NYComix rolling on 2 sites with reader potential much higher than if I only ran the comic on my site. I’m going to kick-off the Pixelstrip run with the “Randall Month” run but with an added page “Special Edition” style. After that, staring with Chapter 2, you’ll be able to catch a new page weekly or, if you’d rather wait for the strip in one complete chunk, (“waiting for the trade”) you can catch that on LazyComix.com.

So stay tuned and thanks for reading… things are about to get a li’l more interesting around here!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

LazyComix is back for '07!

LazyComix didn't actually go anywhere, but it sounded like a good title...

It sure has been a while since I’ve posted around here. I tried to throw a few things up there just so I didn’t go a month without doing anything, but it was still a pretty pathetic blogging display. So now with the holidays finally behind us we can get back to regular updates and more webcomix from yours truly.

I’m constantly trying to think of ways to get people to visit the site and this blog more often. With comix obviously more sparse, I’ve kicked around every idea from a “syndicated”-type strip to a daily sketch blog. All of these things may come to fruition in the coming year but I’ve got one idea that I think could be a blast. It’ll take some scheduling and maybe even some string pulling, but we’ll see. Stay tuned as I’m planning on getting that idea into high gear as Randall Chapter 2 approaches. I’ve got 2 pages penciled with page 3 thumb nailed and ready to roll.

So look for 2007 to be a bit more well rounded here at LazyComix… more regular updates and a “schedule” that’ll be something you can actually follow!

I often write about my trips to the local comic shop and how even after weeks of not going, I still walk about with 2-3 comics if I’m lucky. I just couldn’t be less into monthly pamphlet mainstream comics. Maybe it’s because I’m “too close” to it but I just can’t get into a single storyline. I purposely skipped out on Civil War even though I really enjoy Millar’s writing and I thought the idea was great…I just had a sinking feeling that there was no way they’d come out on time… and anyone following the series knows how that turned out.

So will I become a full-time trade paperback fan? Possibly. But as I get older, more cynical, more jaded… I realize I’m a giant comic book curmudgeon. Part of this is due to comic Message boards. Fans tend to flock together like sheep, agreeing with one another seemingly without thought or reason. Stan Lee catches crap on message boards, if he does, nobody is safe… one of my favorite fan quotes about Stan The Man was: “Honestly, what has Lee written in the past 20 years that has had any impact on contemporary comics?” That gem was followed by people agreeing with him!

Now I won’t go on about how someone can say Stan Lee hasn’t had an impact on contemporary comics. The question should be why can’t contemporary comics develop a character NOT created by Stan, but that’s a blog for another time. (Soon, actually as that’s a favorite topic of mine) What I realize is that these kinds of comments and opinions from fans unfortunately throw more fuel on my curmudgeon fire. However, one thing has happened that I didn’t expect and that I couldn’t be happier about. I’ve gone back and reread some classic comics by creators that today’s fanboy’s have turned on.

One of the big ones is one of my All-Time favorite creators: Frank Miller.

Miller’s recent All Star Batman and Robin, which followed his previous recipient of Fanboy vitriol: “Dark Knight 2”, has been crapped on relentlessly by fans. Now ASBR sure ain’t Batman: Year One, and it probably deserves some of the criticism it’s received, but what it has brought to my attention is the “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” attitude fans have. You see this all the time in sports. Guy gets a hit his first 3 times up, drives in 3, but when he pops up his 4th time at bat he gets booed. It goes with the territory, I suppose.

So after reading post-upon-post about how possibly the greatest comic book writer/artist of all-time is now “washed-up” I went back and read the Dark Knight series again. Including Dark Knight 2. (Thanks to a kick-ass Christmas gift of the Absolute Dark Knight.)

The first Dark Knight is just flat-out comic book goodness. The writing, art and Varley’s colors are amazing. It’s Batman at it’s best, bar-none. Just typing this makes me want to flip through the book.

DK2 is another beast entirely. I wasn’t too keen on it when it first came out. But after I read it again, it’s a pretty solid read. Even Varley’s colors, which are wild and out-there, are interesting and often engaging. Miller’s art was minimal and somewhat crude at points… leaving maybe too much room for Varley’s colors. Nevertheless, there are pages and panel compositions that are downright beautiful in this book which deserve another look.

So if you’re plum outta fresh comics to read, dig around for your copies of the Dark Knight books…. If you hung onto your copies of DK2 give it a read (or even a flip-through) and write back… I’d love to see if I’m not alone on my latest discovery of a good comic that was buried by fanboy loathing.

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!