no cape no mask

who needs a costume when you have words?

Month: February, 2013

Need To Know… 25.2.13

only what you need

only what you need

This NTK is late. It’s backdated because I’m lying to myself. Indulge me, for though the conduit be lame, the content be gnarly!

Many exciting things happened last week that had nothing to do with London Super Comic Con, Orson Scott Card controversies, auction records being broken, or any of that other shit. Forget that other shit. Check out this shit.

Shit like DC revealing the new Green Lantern creative teams. Like creator David Boswell going all Kyle Baker and putting his “Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman” comics online for whatever you want to pay. Like Thought Bubble jumping the gun on Con season with a super early announcement of a stellar line-up for this year (how are we supposed to wait until November?). Or maybe like DC announcing Jae Lee and Greg Pak on a new Batman/Superman book (nice to see the names in the right order for this volume!).

The Print vs Digital debate received my two favourite volleys to date, from The Comics Reporter’s Five for Friday and the man behind one of the world’s greatest comic shops, Challengers Comics & Conversation. And there was a twitter exchange between various creators (including Waid, Conway, and Larsen) regarding creator credits, well worth reading as food for thought as much as a dose of reality. While your thinking caps are on, just how heavy is Thor’s hammer? (warning: experts disagree!) While you’re in high gear, Warren Ellis encourages you to go boil some spacetime, and this link will direct you to the comics creation Source Wall! (please consider donating for its upkeep, being built entirely of comic book scripts, it requires considerable maintenance.)

Pierre Ferrero leads off our beauty parade this week, and wouldn’t you love to see him on Prophet? By the way, if you can’t wait (two whole days!) for Prophet #34, we gotcha. Anyone seen something this colourful and expressive in a UK broadsheet recently? Anyone seen anything like this (by Tommi Musturi) anywhere? And can someone please tell me how to get my hands on more Mike Huddleston art other than by going to France!?

You’re looking forward to Oni Press’s “Sons of the Gun” mini, right? So you don’t need Team Gun to talk you into it, then? Just asking. I’m sure you feel the same about Ba & Moon on BPRD: Vampire #1 in March, hell, you probably don’t want to read an in-depth interview and preview at all. What could Gabriel Rodriguez add to your love for Locke & Key? And it won’t save Glory, but any interview with Joe Keatinge usually provides insight and enthusiasm in equal amounts.

Your Kickstarter for the week, courtesy of Steven Sanders. Help him help you to build worlds!

A double-dose of classic Kirby, with his amazing work on the real-life Argo project, and the definitive answer to the question: “Who is Arnim Zola?”.

Fantagraphics bring you the only Harlem Shake that matters! (and a new Love And Rockets preview)

All that remains is one question: Who’s Worse? See you next week for more…

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Need To Know… 18.2.13

Monday night and BOOM!

So, who’s excited about London Super Comic-Con this week-end? Come say hi to me and the Orbital Comics gang, we’ll be there with all the goodness we can fit on two tables! (which we spent today boxing, labelling, and chin-scratching over, so please excuse the slight hysteria of the previous sentences)

There are a shit-ton of guests, but I’m guessing most people are pumped to meet Neal Adams? I’m more interested after reading that interview. Well, while you’re queuing for him to sign or sketch, maybe you could make the most of this reading list for writing comics from Denny O’Neil? Or Mark Waid’s hot tip for a comics history read? Perhaps let Amy Reeder school you on perspective in storytelling? If, instead, LSCC inspires you to check out what great comics UK-based creators are making, you might scroll through Luke Pearson’s gorgeous & unpronounceable Ahuizotl, or let Roger Langridge tell you the Charles Xavier story you always wanted to be told? I never really got the fuss about Luke Pearson from casually flipping through some pages of his, but Ahuizotl won me over.

Beyond London gatherings The Gutters has the two biggest stories covered for you. You have to wonder who will take up the mantle (ring?) of writing Green Lantern, I’m crossing my fingers for Tom Scioli to write and draw. Tom Scioli. You know, who does the best Evil Superman comic ever, and draws the first instalment of a new series over at Trip City. Speaking of evil and Superman, we mentioned that exciting new digital title DC’s launching last week, but many are up in arms about DC’s lead creative choice... While on a lighter note, Ty Templeton finds the humour in mainstream entertainment’s ham-fisted approach to diversity.

Last week brought us Mylo Xyloto, Polarity is upcoming, and Orchid just ended, but there’s one musician-created comic we’re especially pumped for, right? How are you feeling about the upcoming New 52 Constantine title? Would a preview help you decide? And with Miniature Jesus arising in April, Comics Alliance wants to get you better acquainted with Ted McKeever’s work. Let them. Even better is this paper on the Visual Linguistics of David Mazzuchelli, but as always feel free to ignore the words and just drink in his (hard to find) art! And anybody who has access to copies of his Rubber Blankets… get at me!

Subscription services are the new thing in small press comics, and I’d recommend you try this one from Box Brown’s Retrofit Comics. Or, failing that, peruse the offerings from newly launched and alternative-minded Black Mask Studios? It can be hard to choose from the wealth of small press and indy creators out there who you’re going to check out, and harder to discover whose work you really dig. In this instance, let The Comics Journal advise you, as Windowpane is a seriously rewarding read (or whatever the comic-specific verb is). Or you can just take my word for it, and bank on either Farel Dalrymple’s It Will All Hurt (he’s part of Team Prophet after all), or anything by Boulet!

That was a lot of words. Sorry about that. Here, relax your reading muscles and feast your eyes on a James Jean Retrospective (words included, but optional). Gaze adoringly at Adrian Alphona’s preparation for a return to comics (with Uncanny X-Force #3).

Ready for a big finish? Gary Groth is interviewed by Jim Rugg et al on the Tell Me Something I Didn’t Know podcast, newly relaunched. It’s a good listen. My Back Pages is a lovely piece on the comics you remember fondly, with great Dan Slott penned Daffy Duck cartoons. And finally, Kate Beaton wants to know: Are You Nasty?

See you next Monday!

Earning Stripes

obviously, this is the Stripemaster, and the £ sign indicates time invested. obviously.

obviously, this is the Stripemaster, and the £ sign indicates time invested. obviously.

In the course of preparing NTK #4 (Monday night, hold on to your parts of secure purchase!) I read this article, then this one. I also read this post on The Comics Reporter at the beginning of the night, and just realised it probably influenced me too. (I’m going to digress briefly, but I’ll explain those links if clicking through is a hassle right now)

This blog wasn’t conceived as a comics blog. It was conceived as a flinging of stuff at the Source Wall of the internet to see what resonated, what stuck, and what just dribbled slowly downward, leaving a sticky trail that over time would crust and smell, attracting flies, not many flies, just the dumb flies who couldn’t hang out at regular fly hangouts because the other flies didn’t like ’em). I have always written, and years ago conceived of writing fiction as a career/vocation/ambition/protein-shake hallucination (they happen). So this blog was meant to be story try-outs, and they’ll get in there (along with the review of Chris Wright’s “Blacklung” I keep meaning to attempt because I loved it), but spending so much time reading and looking at comics stuff (for NTK but also for my OCD), I’ve accepted that when it takes up this much brainspace its going to need a greater outlet than one weekly linkblog. I don’t know what step of Comics Lovers Anonymous’ program that is. Call it 1.

Back to the point.

The first post on Comics Reporter (the third link) is a light-hearted weekly contribution request, this week on the Print vs. Digital theme, and contains this quote:

“With The Onset Of On-Line Comics, Print Comics Are Now Obsolete In A Way They Weren’t Before, Which Gives Them A Doomed, Romantic Quality I Can’t Resist”

Notice the statement of fact. “Comics Are Now Obsolete” would be a selective quote, but faithful to the text. “A Doomed, Romantic Quality I Can’t Resist” is such a universally relatable concept, and kind of set the tone for the night.

The first link takes you to a great CBR post on 6 comics that constitute essential reading for Daredevil fans. I’ve read half the recommendations, which is better than I usually score, and though I disagree with a couple of those being included, it reminded me of how much I do not know and have not read, even about characters I like. The second link takes you to a post about a member of the previous generation of comics creators who is having money problems (tied, as they often are, to housing and health problems).

I almost don’t want to explain the feeling those three links combined gives me, maybe you feel it a little already. Every field of endeavour has a history, a rich evolutionary sequence that can never be entirely charted. Every human looks at the future and sees uncertainty (on/to crazily disparate scales and degrees). I also believe every person fears growing old on some level, and my fears of growing old are much more to do with the attendant financial insecurity than wrinkles or shrinkage.

But every now and again the mists before you, the disintegrating vastness behind you, it creates a kind of two-pronged vertigo. So much to learn from before, so much to do for tomorrow…

And ultimately all you can hope for from any of it is the love you have for that endeavour, and the joy it brings you.

So I say we just enjoy it. And don’t sweat the stripes.

Need To Know… comes to No Cape No Mask!

only what you need

only what you need

1 of my (particularly optimistic) New Year’s resolutions was to post more, specifically twice a week, and as yet that hasn’t happened. Anybody else get sucked into a vortex of plans revealed as folly and resolve revealed as aspiration? No, thought not.

Anyway, I realised every week I’m link-blogging for Orbital Comics, where I work, and it’s stuff people might appreciate on here. Plus, if  have one post that’s a kind of curated bunch of links, and another that’s me, me, me, then that gets me to two posts a week, and more importantly provides a range of stuff people might like… Which is the aim. So without further ado here is Need To Know #3, and further installments will rise ever Monday evening from here until I die, penniless and clutching a copy of Moon Knight that is far from near mint:

Week #3 of Need To Know, its not even Con season yet, and already it’s hard to draw the line between what you need to know and what you just might get a kick out of… so as always let us know @orbitalcomics, @capelessT, on Facebook, or by email at taylor@orbitalcomics.com. Now, to the linkmobile!

If you’re awaiting a shipping date for the Snyder/Lee Man of Steel comic, bemoaning the cancellation of Superman Family Adventures, and generally wondering when there’ll be a great Superman book again, the just-announced (digital) Adventures of Superman may be your saviour. And Baltazar & Franco are keeping busy with DC’s newly announced (and somewhat controversial) Occupy books, and more importantly with a Kickstarter based on their creations. They’re not the only good-looking all ages projects on there either, as Bryan Q. Miller wants to take you Earthward, and the Gumshoes 4 Hire want to solve your mysteries!

DC also announced a new writer on Suicide Squad, in another case of the Big 2 hiring indy talent. You have to wonder whether Michel Fiffe didn’t show them the way a year ago with Deathzone, and whether COPRA can be beaten as the definitive Suicide Squad book. Did we mention we’re stocking COPRA, and its flying off the shelves? And that its the only way to get it without paying international postage? Which has just gone up in price…

If you’re interested in how the pros make their inky magic, check out these essential comic book resources (Rude critiqued by Toth, Wood’s 22 Panels, and more), time-lapse video of Paolo Rivera concocting a cool cover, and Jim Zub schooling you on writing action scenes (apparently, it’s not as simple as “Biff! Bam! Pow!”). Then get practicing, and next year you may feature in a round-up of the best from Hourly Comics Day.

Is a Three Star system complex enough to rank the Marvel Heroes by importance? Stan Lee thought so, but I’m sure it warrants a spreadsheet. If you’re vaguely aware of the Marvelman character and his hotly-debated status, but curious for a fuller picture, we got you covered. And allow us to introduce Epigram Books and Sonny Liew, in a thoughtful and provocative interview. The great Eddie Campbell joins in the debate about EC Comics, arguing that while comics should be taken just as seriously as literature, there are differences to be respected, and appreciated. Its a good read, with lovely scans accompanying.

And now, free comics. Words Without Borders is well worth checking out, here’s a taster of what to expect. Thrillbent walks you through the Zombies’n Brains connection in typically funny, innovative fashion. Study Group Comics continue to shock (in a good way!). This is definitely one for lovers of space, a gorgeous silent comic based around the Voyager satellite. I’m betting you’ve never read an Uno Moralez comic before, well get your right arrow cursor key ready and broaden your mind! And its just a preview, but Monkeybrain Comics’ Phabula looks pretty, well, phabulous.

Finally, while we’re all for comics in education, its worth remembering comics aren’t always the best venue for Public Service Announcements.

See you next week for NTK #4!