Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Goodbye, Examiner.

The time has come for me to admit once again that a little side project of mine has to go. Since January, I have been writing about comics in Charlotte for examiner.com. It was fun, and I got to be useful to several great artists, but not as useful as I would have liked.

There was about a month where my first examiner article was in limbo and getting someone to approve it was impossible. When Google news stopped considering examiner.com articles news, my hits dropped off by 50-75%, which meant getting paid at all would be hard to do. Payment depended upon hits to my articles, and quite frankly, not enough people were visiting to make up for the time it took to write articles, much less code them for links. I had some damn fine articles, too, which essentially went unread. Even when examiner highlighted my articles, the traffic increase was negligible, which really made me question examiner's value.

Add to that the restrictions put upon me by examiner. Articles could not be too long, articles needed to have local interest, I could not write in the first person. When the review team ruled that an article on HeroesCon wasn't local and my category editor wouldn't get back to me despite me contacting him directly, the writing was on the wall for me. This seems very familiar to me that I really want to do comics, but I need to have that time and with this distraction, I can't get it done. I'm also just not enjoying it anymore. It's become a chore, and to have made the equivalent of  $1.00 and hour to do this, it's just not fun enough for a hobby anymore. I've been enjoying blogging about the DC Relaunch, and I look forward to uploading a new Jet-Pack Jenny comic soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

First Thoughts on the DC Relaunch: Part Four

Okay, this is gonna be the last one of these, just because I need to back to drawing Jet-Pack Jenny

Catwoman #1 - Hey remember those Catwoman comics that were delightfully dark capturing the character's nocturnal nature and how well she blended in with the night skyline? Yeah, I hated that, too... (smell the sarcasm there?)  The solicitation looks to keep the general sense of the character, but I would expect nothing less of Judd Winick except to not go anywhere different or challenging with the character, and what I loved about the last Catwoman series, besides the Adam Hughes covers, was that the character was put into situations that challenged her and helped to evolve her character. I've not seen Judd Winick do that for any character since Kyle Rayner, and even then, the challenges were trite, and in the infamous "girlfriend in the refrigerator" scene, downright offensive. Seriously, if there's anything by Judd Winick that's genuinely good and original, please let me know, I'd love to have my opinion of him change. This series doesn't look to be it though.

Justice League Dark #1 - Shade the Changing Man, Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Zatanna and John Constantine versus the Enchantress. It's written by Peter Milligan, but what's the reason all these characters, with only one of them ever associated with the Justice League , are calling themselves the Justice League? Zatanna's iconic look is the victim of DC's "women must wear pants unless they're jailbait because pedophiles still buy comics" editorial policy? Every time Zatanna's costume has been changed in the past 20 years, it's always come back to the tuxedo and fishnets. DC keeps dragging characters like John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Shade the Changing Man, and Madame Xanadu back into the arena where they have to interact with super-heroes. It makes me think that the new corporate policy is that Mature readers titles and creator-owned titles just don't make enough money, especially when it comes to making films and merchandising.

Stormwatch#1 - This book along with Grifter #1 and Voodoo #1 have me curious as to the role of the former Wildstorm characters and the entire alternate Earth they were given just a few years ago. The solicitation for Stormwatch ties that series into events occurring in Superman #1. My instinct tells me that those events either merge the two Earths or transport a bunch of the Wildstorm characters to the DC Earth. Ultimately, do I care? No. The redsigns of Midnighter and Apollo, take their iconic nature from them, make them look like disposable new characters that will be forgotten in ten years except for footnotes on Wikipedia. Voodoo and Grifter could be good if the creative teams could have the courage to divorce them from the rest of the DC Universe long enough to stand on their own. There's the challenge these characters have always had though, is that they are constantly stuck with writers that have to remind readers that they exist in a world of super-heroes, and in doing so, lessen their importance to their own stories. With Stormwatch, its importance was that they (and their counterpart, the Authority) dealt with problems too big for anyone else to deal with. Now they exist in a world where Superman, and Justice League exist, not to mention all those Green Lanterns, including three somehow stationed on Earth.

Hawk & Dove #1 - Seriously? Does Rob Liefeld have pictures of Bob Harras in congress with farm animals? Seriously, that's the only reason I can come up with for him still getting work, despite not improving a single bit over twenty years. I think this title is the problematic one of Bob Harras taking DC in this new direction. The tastes and tones in these new solicitations is firmly rooted in the 1990s, and Harras is just coming across as one of those guys that can't get over how big comic books were back then, and think that it was because the comics were so great back then. Well, they weren't. There were good books then but most of them were crap. It's just like that now, and it has always been like that. There are creators in this relaunch that really want to make good comics, but there's some there that just don't want to lose their jobs, and some like Rob Liefeld that while they want to make good comics, just don't know how.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

First Thoughts on the DC Relaunch: Part Two

Previously, I talked about the three most likely titles for me to pick up out of the DC relaunch. Let's keep going and get into more of a rant here. For those of you that like seeing me get frustrated at terrible comics, get some popcorn and enjoy the ride.

Batgirl #1- Well Barbara Gordon is finally gonna be Batgirl again. Somehow she's gonna walk again and be jumping off of rooftops. In a world where Bruce Wayne was folded in half and got to walk again, it always seemed funny that Barbara Gordon's one shot to the spine kept her in a wheelchair. Gail Simone is writing, so it should be well-written, and it's always refreshing to see a female character written by a talented female writer. I don't care for the artist.  It looks like Adam Hughes will be doing the covers, but with Adam Hughes on the outside, I don't feel good about the inside matching in aesthetic sensibility. That just pisses me off a little bit.  It's books like this one is shaping up to be that I'm glad most shops let you flip through a book before buying it.

Justice League #1 - Geoff Johns and Jim Lee and this is the book that is setting the stage for the entire relaunch. There's not a lot to determine quality based on the solicitation. However, we do get to see a first look at the costumes where everybody gets collars, even Wonder Woman, whose costume doesn't have shoulders, gets a choker that looks like it'll injure her throat if she looks down.  Green Lantern gets no redesign except for his collar, Flash gets some Lightning bolt elements. Superman's shield gets a major redesign, he gets a high collar, and the red trunks are gone. My opinion is that Superman doesn't look like Superman anymore but some guy that's pretending to be Superman. The biggest offense to me is Cyborg who looks like he was thrown in there to have a black guy on the team. I stand by my whitewashing comments and really think we'll see him thrown into the background. The Justice League doesn't need a scientist, they have Barry Allen. Gadgetry? You have Bruce Wayne. Technology? Superman has an entire Fortress filled with alien stuff from all over. Please excuse the rhetoric, but Cyborg is a super-token.

Suicide Squad #1 - A fellow member of Sketch Charlotte remarked about this cover on Facebook and my first thoughts were that someone saw all the cosplay girls dressing up as the Arkham Asylum version of Harley Quinn and wanted to see how far they would go. Harley's costume is entirely impractical but I'll agree that it needed reworking as when rendered in a naturalistic style, the original Bruce Timm costume doesn't translate well. When the Arkham version was sitting around and getting good fan response, why redesign it? The team consists of King Shark, an old Superboy villain from Hawaii, now apparently a hammerhead and Suicide Squad regular Deadshot, also redesigned, and you have a reprise of the team of villains that the government sends in because who cares if criminals die, and after all, why do we need to even worry about their civil rights? Seriously, the concept behind this title is one I stopped caring about somewhere around fifteen years ago, but that pretty much sums up my relationship with most superhero books.

To be continued….

Saturday, June 11, 2011

First Thoughts on the DC Relaunch: Part One

Please keep in mind that any facts that I relate are not researched and may be completely wrong.

This September, DC Comics will relaunch all of its comics. Everything is cancelled including some comics that were really finding their legs, and some are relaunched with new number one issues as part of a 52 issue "relaunch," which includes new costumes for many DC Heroes, including Superman, designed by Jim Lee.

The concept of restarting all DC titles with new number one issues first was proposed following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and has since been mentioned almost as a joke as sales figures reveal that number one issues sell better.  The only DC monthlies that I have been reading have been Legion of Super-Heroes, Adventure Comics and Zatanna. I'm disappointed that Zatanna is leaving, and that the legacy of Adventure Comics is gone. The Legion will have two titles, including one that strands some of them in the 20th century, because we haven't seen that before. Now just explain why a team that has history at its fingertips and regularly travels through time can't just go back and get them as they regularly did for two of its members in the past.

My first thoughts on the costume redesigns are comprehensively, why redesign? When this is part of a massive PR event, the impact of the redesigning of Superman's costume is lessened. The other iconic redesigns are minimal and serve only to say that everyone was redesigned so Superman is no big deal. You'll see them in the covers I post here, and I apologize for any broken images or links, since there is no way I'm hosting copies of these images on my web site. I'm going to start with the stuff I'm actually looking forward to and then skip around, depending on the order I come across the cover images.

 Batwoman #1 - Well, It's about damn time. This title is almost a year past its original solicitation and surprisingly, I still care. I was a fan of Greg Rucka's stories in Detective Comics last year and I may very well end up regularly buying this series regularly. Rucka really reformed the characters reason for existing beyond simply to have a lesbian super-hero and transformed her into a fleshed out character whose sexual orientation has little to nothing to do with what she does or why she does it.  My hope is that it's kept only loosely tied into the other Batman family books and given a chance to rise or fall on its own merits. J.H. Williams is a great artist and the fact that he's getting assistance on the writing gives me hope. As far as relaunch news goes, I'm actually pleased by this possibility

Legion Lost #1 - Yeah, I'll buy this. I'm a sucker where the Legion is concerned. Seven Legionnaires are stranded in the 20th century. For the record, this has been done before, back in the 90s when DC did the Final Night crossover, which was very well done in my opinion. My feeling is that they'll use this to fill the space-faring hole left by the cancellation of R.E.B.E.L.S., and not keep them all on Earth, especially considering that these are, with the exception of Timber Wolf and Tyroc, the most alien-looking members of the Legion.  For those of you not familiar with the members in the cover image, Clockwise from the top are Wildfire, Dawnstar, Timber Wolf, Gates, Tyroc, Chameleon Girl, and Tellus. Wildfire is an interesting choice, since part of his shtick is that he's an energy being that must have his containment suit to be able to function as a super-hero. He's constantly, getting it blown apart. In the 30th century, the Legion just runs him a new one, in the 20th century? Sorry, Wildfire, you're just gonna have to tag along and watch from the sidelines if you get your suit blown apart. Chameleon Girl is interesting too, as she's a reluctant super-hero, primarily a shape-shifting actress with little combat experience who is separated from her husband in this series. I like this idea, but the execution may leave it lacking for me as much of the past year of  the Legion has been doing.

Legion of Super-Heroes #1- I'll buy this for certain, again, I'm a sucker for the Legion, and this promises to be a straight continuation of the currently running series. From the cover and the solicitation from DC, several of the Legion Academy students are admitted to the Legion to make up for the loss of the seven members lost in the 20th century. Dragonwing is shown on the cover, and her powers are flashy enough to be interesting. What other students make the cut remains to be seen. What's sad in the broad context is that this will be the seventh series titled Legion of Super-Heroes, and the sixth first issue for this title, and fourof those six first issues are in the past 20 years. The artist for this series is slated to be Francis Portela, whose fill-in work has out-shown regular artist Yindray Cinar in my opinion. Portela doesn't skimp on backgrounds and has a great sense of anatomy and composition. His personal style is very fluid and organic with just enough cartoonish elements without being a caricature. I look forward to this one actually. That's more than can be said for some of the new series.

To be continued....

Monday, June 6, 2011


Okay, so Thursday night before HeroesCon and I’m just having trouble drawing anything right, so I flip through my sketchbook and see a drawing of Nightcrawler I’d done at Bridgit’s suggestion a few weeks ago. I really didn’t feel satisfied with it. I remembered back to a sketch I’d done for a three-year old boy of Spider-Man where he was hanging upside down. It was kinda inspired by the cover of Sensational She-Hulk #3 where John Byrne had Spidey guest star and on the cover had him hanging upside down. My sketch went pretty well, using the technique of drawing the character right side up and turning it over for any finishing elements. The smoke is a huge problem, as I really prefer the look given to it in the films, but I think it’s just a little too wispy. However, when it’s drawn in the comics, it overpowers the panels at times.

So there we have a Nightcrawler that I can live with. Now, because Bridgit likes Nightcrawler so much, and I drew this on a sheet of letter-size Bristol, I’m giving the original art to her. I’ve got a hi-res scan that I’m gonna use to color it. I do that from time to time, giving drawings to friends.

Examiner coverage

For three days in a row, my coverage of HeroesCon 2011 has made not just the front page of examiner.com's Charlotte site, but the first tab. This has given me a lot of page views which I hope translate into some people coming back to check me out.

All is not rosy there, though. My first article, posted on Saturday, was deemed by examiner.com's review team to not be of local interest, despite me referencing a local news anchor in it, as well as the owner of a Charlotte comics store that I've written a lot about. Now, there's an appeals process that I'm in the middle of, and everything should work out, but all the same, it cheesed me off mighty big.