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.