Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Iron Man Movie

At first when I heard they were doing an Iron Man movie I wasn't all that excited. But the more I've seen of the movie the more excited I'm getting. There's even supposed to be a cross over between this movie and the Hulk movie coming out too. Paving the way for the Avengers movie that they want to make.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger Dead

Heath Ledger, 28 years old, was found dead in his apartment by his housekeeper. Already the internet is full of what the reason for his death was, but at the moment it's too early to tell. I have read that it was pneumonia. I think we should all sit back and just wait till we hear the official reason. His family and friends are going through enough without having to hear all the causes of his death. Regardless of the outcome, this is tragic. Heath was a talented young actor and a father and son and husband, who will be missed.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Fan of Steve Gerber

The previous post mentions how much a fan I am of Howard the Duck. Well, I should expand that to tell you that I am a fan of the creator and writer of that comic book Steve Gerber. When Mr. Gerber was writing comics for Marvel in the 70's I was a big fan of his work. His Defenders for me is still one of the best superhero team book ever. The man did not write normal superhero comic books. And that was the joy of it.

Unfortunately Mr. Gerber is not well. He needs a lung transplant and at the moment is in the hospital. You can read more about it from the source himself over at his blog. He had went home from the hospital only to be rushed back this weekend after having trouble breathing and even standing up.

From the sound of things he is having very serious troubles and I can only wish him the best.

Rember to Buy

The Howard the Duck Omnibus is coming. Scheduled for March this huge book is 800 pages collecting all of Steve Gerber's comic book work on the duck. It will include stories from Adventures Into Fear #19, Man-Thing #1, Giant-Size Man-Thing #4-5, Howard the Duck #1-33, Marvel Treasury Edition #12, and Marvel Team-Up #96.

This is definitely one of those expensive hardbacks that I will have to put away some money for. Howard the Duck was what I consider one of the high points in comic books. I loved this book. I have the black and white Essential, but will have to shell out for this book. The only thing that could make this book better would have been to collect the comic strip work that Gerber did on the Duck too.

But I'm happy with this.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Immortal Iron Fist

For most fans X-Men was the best work of the Claremont/Byrne team. To me it will always be their work on Iron Fist. They created a believable and likable character in those early Iron Fist comics. Up to that time the Iron Fist comic had been handed to a score of different writers, each not really sure how to deal with a comic that was just added to the line due to the popularity of kung-fu. Iron Fist's character reflected that. When Claremont and Byrne took over the book they injected a new sense of life into the character. Danny became a person and not just the face beneath the mask. The supporting cast came to life. Misty and Danny's romance became a central point of the book. A back story was created. The reader just knew there was a lot of history coming up in the comic.

And than the comic was merged with Luke Cage's Hero For Hire comic and not long after that the two creators departed the series. After that the series had its ups and downs, but for my money never equaling those first dozen or so issues.

Now Marvel has brought Iron Fist back to life. The creators of the new series are Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja. Brubaker writes one of my favorite comics at the moment, Daredevil, so I had high hopes for this series. I was somewhat afraid what would be tried also, for me the memory of the old series still held a very special place in my heart and it's when fans feel like this about a series that they become overly protective and wary of any different take on what they feel is "their" character." I have to admit I was feeling a little like that.

But happily I can report the new team has updated Danny Rand and Iron Fist and created a great new comic. They've made the Iron Fist a legacy comic. Evidently this is a character like Green Lantern where their power is handed down from person to person, keeping the hero alive if not the person himself. This actually fits in with the original series, as the Iron Fist was always said to exist before Danny Rand became the hero. Here they take the concept and flesh it out. I was a little apprehensive when I first read about this, afraid we'd see some really crazy Iron Fists throughout the years. But their versions of Iron Fists throughout the year fit into the time they lived.

What they've did is help make a history for Iron Fist. They've created a great character in the Iron Fist previous to Danny Rand. There is a lot of back story in Orson Randall and I'd like to see more of him and his history of the Iron Fist.

Still none of this would matter if they screwed up Danny Rand. And they didn't. Danny is one of those characters that is still somewhat naive in the scope of life. He's not as bad as he first was, but there is still a nice naviety about Danny Rand. He's not the jokester of the Spiderman comics, but he still can deliver a one liner when things seem dark and gritty. We see the friendship between Danny and Luke Cage, which was the best part of combining the two comics years ago. The contrast to their two personalitites and background made for a fascinating friendship.

As for the art side of things, Aja brings a grace and beauty to the character. When we see Iron Fist leaping acoss a building and jumping from a group of Hydra assassains there is a grace to the character that we've never seen before. I'm still not sure if I'm sold completely on the costume changes, I liked the old cut away shirt style, but it's close enough to the original that I don't hate it. It's just different and I'm not completely adjusted to it yet.

I missed these issues when they original came out and just now picked up the trade. I don't buy the trades for a lot of comics, but Iron Fist will be one I continue to. This is one to add to the collection.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book

Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book
by Jordan Raphael and Tom Spurgeon

I'm part of the generation that grew up with Stan Lee. The first Marvel comic book I remember reading was Daredevil #48. It wasn't written by Stan but at that time all the Marvel comics were written in his style. Even if he wasn't writing them, you could feel his presence in every word. At that time finding back issues was fairly easy and inexpensive so once I started collecting comics I started going backwards as well as forward. Before long I was immersed in Stan Lee's writing.

I have to admit that Stan is one of the people that helped influence me more than most. His writing may be overblown and more than a little grandiose but at its heart there laid a truth about right and wrong, about how you should live your life. Then comic book heroes were true heroes, ready to lay down their life for others, not willing to bend the rules to help themselves. I grew up believing that "with great power comes great responsibility."

Today it's easy to criticize Stan. I believed that the Bullpen was a great group of artists working with Stan that loved everything about their job. Today we know the truth was a little different. Stan was as much a showman as a creator. During some tough times we would have liked to see Stan take to heart the philosophy of his creations and do the right thing.

During the Jack Kirby art situation Stan has claimed there was nothing he could do to get Jack's art back from Marvel. This was probably true, by that point he was little more than a figurehead at the company, but the right thing to do still would have been to stand up for Jack. Add his voice to the others that were calling for Marvel to give Jack his artwork back. Even if he couldn't do anything let everyone know he saw the wrong and wanted to right it. That's what Captain America would have done. And perhaps it's naive to believe in right and wrong according to a fictional character like Captain America, but that's how I grew up.

The voices of Stan's creations were always a part of my inner voices helping to guide me in right and wrong. They were added to others that helped guide and shape my life, but they were always there.

So all this is a preamble to the fact that I come to a book about Stan Lee with just little invested. As I mentioned above, today it's easy to lay the entire failure of the comic book market at the feet of Stan Lee. For some he's been demoted to no more than basically a secretary to Jack Kirby and Steve Dikto, just adding what they wanted in the word balloons.

The real truth of who created what and how much of each creation was due to who may never be known. Too many of the people at the point of creation are no longer here or no longer talking. All we can know for certain is that none of the Marvel characters were created alone and without help.

This book presents the most even handed portrait of Stan Lee that I have seen in a long while. The writers don't try to cover up Stan's mistakes, but they don't throw Stan on the garbage pile and ignore his contributions to the comic industry either. It presents a fascinating look into the creation of American comic books and their history alongside the history of Stan Lee who happened to be there alongside a lot of this history and helping to create some of it.

The history of the comic book intrigues me and I want to see more books like this. In the last few years we've been lucky to have a few more written, but we need to see more while some of the creators of the comic book are still alive. I'm eagerly awaiting Mark (who seems to know everyone in the comic book industry and a lot of the history) Evanier's book on Jack Kirby. I'd love to see more books about the history of the comic book medium.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Buffy #10

Season Eight of the Buffy comic book series has made it to issue ten so far and I have to say that the quality of the book has been maintained throughout the run. Of course there's only been two writers on the series up to this point, Joss Whedon and Brian K. Vaughn; and with those two writing it the quality should be expected to be pretty high.
Putting the eighth season in a comic book has opened the series up to possibilities that Joss would have not had the budget for if the show had still be on television. I don't think we would have seen a giant Dawn, Willow flying through the air and some of the demons that the scoobies have faced. While I was worried at the start that this ablility not to limit the special effects would over whelm the storyline they have kept it in check.

The characters sound like the characters from the show. Of course with Joss writing them they should, but Brian pulls off this task also. His Faith arc was, perhaps, my favorite one so far. If I have any quibble with the book it's that I feel like Buffy has been getting the short end of it. I know she was in the first arc, and the present issue, but it seems she's there to make the required Buffy smart remarks and fight the Big Bad. We really haven't seen any issues yet that get inside her head or advance her character. She seems to be a supporting player in her own book.

That said I'll counter my own arguement. In the current issue we do get some characterization of the Buffster and Willow and a speed bump in their relationship. Still even with this it felt like Buffy was not the main focus of the story. I guess what I'm saying is that I'd like to see an issue that had Buffy in a quieter mode, able to expand a little more on her character and not just the one liners and the slaying.

Still like I said, this is a minor quibble, I do see Buffy moving forward, perhaps just not as fast as I'd like, and the other characters have been great. Just like watching the tv show, sometimes you have to wait till the season is farther along to discover what the true meaning of things are and I think we'll discover more as Season eight progresses.

All told Buffy has become one of my favorite comics and is the first read for the week when I get my comics.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Writing Contest

From Newsrama back in December:



Most contests in the comic book business are geared toward artists. Shadowline is bucking the tide and creating a contest geared toward writers!

According to Shadowline editor, Kristen Simon, “I’d been hoping to see a super-hero book with a strong female lead to act as a counter-point to our popular Bomb Queen series, but none were forthcoming. So I decided to come up with a contest to create a super-heroine for the 21st Century.”

The character will be 100% creator-owned as all Image and Shadowline books are (Trademark and copyright to be shared by writer and artist). The winning entry will be featured in their own self-titled three issue mini-series to be drawn by fan-favorite artist, Franchesco! (She-Dragon, Green Lantern Corps Quarterly) and back-end profits will be split between the creators.

Contest regulations are listed below. Neither Image nor Shadowline can or will be responsible for synchronicity (similar ideas appearing at the same time).

No feedback will be provided on submissions, just a confirmation of receipt.

Contest will be divided into three parts as outlined below, deviation will result in immediate disqualification:

Round One:
Contestants e-mail a BRIEF one paragraph story synopsis by January 31, 2008 to: Stories/concept must be original with original characters. No pre-existing characters may be used unless owned by contestant.

Round Two:
Ten semi-finalists will be chosen from all entries received by the above date and notified by e-mail. They will then be required to turn in 5 (five) fully scripted pages by February 29, 2008.

Round Three:
The five finalists will be announced and their synopses published on March 10. Readers will be encouraged to vote on their favorite.* (Writers are strongly advised to direct traffic to the contest via message boards, myspace, etc…every vote counts!) Polls will close on April 4, 2008.

The winner will be announced April 28 with initial concept art/character design by Franchesco. First issue will be solicited with a cover date of November, 2008.

Phil Zimelman

I forgot to mention someone in the last post that contributed a lot to the look of Diebold. All the covers to the comic were colored by Phil Zimelman, who was a colorist working for Marvel and DC at the time. He did a great job on the covers. Phil did a lot of work with Mike Zeck on his Punisher covers for Marvel at the time. I'm not sure what Phil is up to today, I haven't talked to him in years. Does anyone know if he's still working in comics today?


Diebold #1 was published in 1994. It was written by me with artwork by Brian Clifton (who did the picture in the logo for this blog.) The front cover was by Sam Kieth and the back cover was by Mike Zeck. On the second printing (yes, we did a second printing of the comic) we flipped the covers and Mike's cover became the front one and Sam went to the back. We self published the comic under the name Silent Partners. We did two issues of the comic and than kind of imploded. We received some good reviews and had decent sales for a black and white comic book at the end of the boom. I'll talk more about this comic in other posts. We financed the comic in a fairly unusual way. More in other posts.

What It Is

So why another blog? That's a good question, both in general and personal. It's not like there's not enough blogs out there right now. Blogging has become the national past time. And every comic book fan that has access to a computer has a blog to explain why comics suck nowdays. And I am already writing two blogs, so do I really need to add another one. Well I guess you can figure out that my answer was yes since you're reading this now. On my personal blog altjiranga mitjinaI would write about comic books now and than, but I stayed away from getting too in depth about comics since most of the people reading that blog aren't that familar with the particulars of the medium. My other blog Voices to hearis about musical artists that are a step away from the mainstream so I'm not going to be talking too much about comics there.

And I've been wanting to do more writing about comics. I've been a fan of comic books since I could read. I've written a few comics in my day. I want to write a few more. So I decided that a new blog is the way to go. I'm not sure how often I'll be posting here, sometimes daily, others times I might go a week or more. I'm going to post when I have something I want to talk about.

I'll tell you what this site is not going to be about. I don't want this site to become one filled with negative reviews and comments, about how stupid a creator is because of what he did in the newest issue. I'm not saying that I won't talk about what I think is wrong, but hopefully I can do it without insulting the creators. No one sets out to write or draw a bad comic book. What I think is terrible someone else may think is the best comic book ever created.

I'd like to talk about my efforts to break back into the writing side of things again. And talk about some of my past efforts and show some of that work. Pretty much anything to do with comics is open to my writing on this site.

I'd like to hear what others think about what I write so please leave comments.