Tuesday, 29 June 2010


Just finished reading The Art of Jaime Hernandez, which features tons of lovely artwork: even when drawing ugly people, Jaime's graceful line work somehow still imbues them with beauty. The heroine on the left was done pre-Love and Rockets and is beautifully drawn but nery naturalistic: the legs are shapely but not overlong, the unitard bites into the buttocks rather than looking airbrushed on and the breasts are not drawn as oversized bowling balls. With Maggie in her nightie, his uncluttered line makes for an attractive image despite the lack of overactive sexuality. His work inspired me to want to return to drawing again but I'm still at the point where concentrating too much makes me feel ill at the thought of it.

However, I'm off this week and have a few jobs to do for various folks: I roughed out a drawing of a building for a booklet cover today after completing the five logo designs above. Over the next few days, I hope to clear the few other art jobs and finally get around to responding to a few letters, before starting to read the new fourth collection of Jaime's Love and Rockets strips...

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Drawing Blanks

Ahh, I'm still at the point where I can't draw a comparison, a blank, the curtains or even a cheque, which is a bit of a shame...there's a logo competition locally that I have a few ideas for but I can't gather the concentration to focus on drawing the designs up. Even worse, something popped into my head the other day and I have a whole new idea for a comic series called The Numbers, spandex-free superpowered shenanigans that I'll probably never get around to doing.

Anyway, above is the only thing I've worked on recently, another poster for the local council (there's a version with text too) . I didn't actually draw this, it was drawn by a friend in another section: I just tidied up the border and coloured it in...

Monday, 14 June 2010

Marvel Pooniverse

Despite these shaky economic times and competition from other media, it's a great time to be into comics. A wide varirty of new material is being published, the best older comics and comic strips are being republished alongside collections of the most current fare and the mainstream are finally taking (still slightly condescending) notice of the medium. So why is the US powerhouse Marvel currently so crap?

Seriously, I was brought up with Marvel comics but I can't remember the last Marvel issue bought, much less collected. The characters I grew up with have been so mishandled that I can't identify with them anymore and there have been no successful major characters since the 1970s (actually, that's not quite true: last month there were SEVEN Deadpol titles solicited--who the hell likes Deadpool THAT much?!), so the former House of Ideas are constantly dipping into the same dwindling reserve of characters for inspiration. How many times has Moon Knight been launched and failed? A cool looking visual design does not get away from the fact that he's apretty dull character but a handful of creators seem to love him and want to give him a shot before inevitably failing to find an audience (DC's New Gods suffer a similar process).

Marvel now seem to launch titles and then unceremoniously drop titles from the solicitations with no Final Issue note: are Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy, Runaways and Spider-woman still going, for instance? Who cares what the hell happens in X-Men anymore? Numerous failed and short-lived relaunches have knocke dthe life out of the former best-selling franchise and you know they're scraping the bottom of the barrell when they make vampires a major threat (PLEASE tell me this isn't a ploy to feed off of Twilight's popularity!)

Seriously, take a look through Marvel Previews and it's an absolute mess, a rotating parade of random creators handling numerous interchangeable versions of the same thing. What makes The Ultimates different to The Ultimate Avengers? Which series is the main home of the Hulk? What the hell is Franken-Castle all about? When Quesada came onboard, it was a breathe of fresh air as he took the reins, pulled tight and started squeezing out interesting comics by allowing good creators the freedom to tackle neglected and higher profile characters alike.

The lack of continuity was at first liberating: free from tying every loose end up with events happening elsewhere, creators were able to tell their own stories. That freedom has now led to a mass of inconsistency (I don't care how Wolverine can appear in 12 titles a month as long as he's not palling around with a character he killed in another title six issues ago) and committee-led crossover events that may sell but hurt the creative integrity of te comics.

I think it's time for a new editor in chief or at least a plan to tighten up the sprawling mess that is the current Marvel line and return it to something resembling coherence (seriously, look at Marvel's solicitations against DC's and see how chaotic Marvel's seem, while DC's franchises interconnect far more successfully).

So how do you redeem Marvel? Like this:

1. Place more trust in the skills of the creative team. Know why Archie Goodwin was comics' most popular editor? Because he beleieved if you've hired a professional, they should be left alone to create. Outside of a few notable exceptions (Millar/Hitch, Bendis/Bagley's Ultimate Spidey, Whedon/Cassady's X-Men, BKV's Runaways,etc), when was the last time there was a classic run by creators on a Marvel comic? Which brings me to:

2. Hire decent creators and lock them into contracts for a certain amount of issues in a certain amount of time. These don't have to be exclusive deals, just that artist A should produce 6 issues across 6 months, for instance. Alot of Marvel's current art is pretty hideous, overly cartoony and distorted: a return to decent storytelling and artwork is needed, married to stories with vision that have something to say about the characters.

3. It may be idealistic, but chop back some of the franchise titles and allow room for other characters and concepts to appear. Get top creators on a new Marvel Premiere title that introduces fresh ideas to see what finds a readership.

4. The franchise titles need to be extensively overhauled. The constantly flailing X-titles need to be completely cancelled, mutants reintroduced on a limited scale as in the 60s and the characters slowly coming together to launch the new titles, each with a distinct purpose, cast and tone. Spidey is less desperate than the X-line but could do with longer runs by creative teams with less fascination with the next big threat and more time on Spidey himself.

5. Clarify all the variations of the characters by establishing which titles belong to which timeline, then brand them accordingly. You could have Marvel Universe, Ultimate Universe, Max, All Ages, Young Readers and licensed lines all distinctly labelled with no detriment to the contents or artistic freedom.

6. Please God, stop with the Liefeld variant "incentive" covers....

Al Williamson RIP

Went online to see that legendary artist Al Williamson has died age 79, shortly after the passing of his old friend Frazetta.

Goddamit, I'm gutted...

Sunday, 13 June 2010


It's been a while since I posted but I (mostly) have an excuse in that my PC picked up a bug that took a number of weeks to install. During that time, Lost ended and the show already feels like a distant memory. So, how did it conclude?

Emotionally, I thought it ended really well. A few surprises in with some anticipated moments but ultimately, the climactic cutting between the flash-sideways church, Jack watching the plane fly overhead and his closing eye ending the series worked really well. The last minute arrival of Vincent to keep Jack company at the end was also another touch that helped lift the ending up from being too depressing.

However, while I liked the way that they managed to keep the island mysterious even to the end, they should have answered more questions for their loyal audience. Remembering all the details from Lost is a nightmare, but I still wonder about:

1. Walt: what was all that stuff about his powers in the first season? As Michael's spirit cannot leave the island, I assume Walt found happiness when he returned home so didn't need the other survivors to move on as he had more important experiences/people in his life later on...

2. Aaron: early on, wasn't it suggested that Aaron what destroy the world or something?

3. What was the island then? It had weird electro magnetic pockets, the ability to resurrect the dead, trap the spirits of the dead and a suggestion of intelligence. While we didn't need to see the full origin of the island, finding out it's nature would have been nice...

4. Was the Man In Black/Smokemonster/HemLocke really Jacob's brother? CJ told them not to go into the illuminated cave or they would suffer something worse than death, though Jack and Desmond seemed unaffected. As Jacob's brother was already dead when he floated into the cave, was he transformed into the monster or did he merely release it?

5. They still never explained the Anubis temple: people had been going to the island for ages so was this just to suggest that these visits had been happening since as far back as the ancient Egyptians?

6. How did the Dharama initiative come about?

7. How did Jacob use the numbers and magic lighthouse thingy to select and manipulate candidates into boarding the same Oceanic flight?

I'm sure there are other questions but while these niggle, overall the bittersweet finale to Lost was a rewarding conclusion to a gripping series: though the plotlines' weak or absent resolutions were probably not worth the 6-year wait...