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Return of the Knave
Drink It Black
Friday, 27 January 2012
Run out

For eight and a half years this blog has explored every element of the comic book and its champions. 

 As it has finally lost its pace, declaring that I've said it all, here is the final entry.

(there'll be new links to favourites on 15 June 2003)

 I want to close on a personal note, happy that I've pursued an exhaustive and authorative approach to the subject.

I would sign off with a note on my own favourites but that is complicated by the fact that I fall in line behind adulation of the usual culprits like Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore or, if you cleave to the mainstream, Grant Morrison 

My favourite penciller is Gene Colan, and that's without loving everything he does, including later Daredevil work. His early DD is what made the first impression on me as a fan and I was fortunate enough to be a fan while still an eleven year old boy. I kept all my Marvels, including the western and war comics my dad let me buy when I was younger. It was when Nana sent her customary Christmas parcel with everyone's gift inside unlabelled so you all had to work out which was yours.

That fateful year my haul included some second-hand copies of the Arms of Doctor Octopus and O Bitter Victory! and that was it for me. Spider-Man and Thor stories made a Marvelite of me. But I bought DC black-and-white reprints and so had an early apprenticeship in Batman. Along with mystery and macabre tales of notorious anonymity.

 Denny O'Neil makes a fine editor. There are many editors who are scribes themselves; often creative talents with their own healthy output. O'Neil had done years of accomplished Batman and Brave and the Bold stories (and parallel tales of note at Green Lantern/Green Arrow) before he oversaw such Bat-classics as Knightfall, which was running over the many Batbooks coming out each month. Consider the challenges, and yet  it's seamless and superb.

I don't know about the ever-expanding levels of editor that seem required of the modern comics corporation and I don't know who Axel Alonso is, but  Joe Quesada and Jim Lee are wunderkind. Their skill as pencillers would be enough to give them access to Comic Creator Olympus alone.

I was particularly enamoured of inkers at one stage and the two who had an influence on me as a fan were the Filipino artists, Rudy D Nebres and Alfredo Alcala.

 I have enthusiastically followed runs on certain books and some of the more notable and idiosyncratic moves include The Badger, a psychopath who thinks he's a superhero and has multiple personalities. I followed Norbert Sykes through his First years, and stepped back to trace his Capital origins. 
I have always loved Jonah Hex as a character and have enjoyed both the early Michael Fleischer run and current work by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti (not so keen on the ones where Hex fights demons or battles in future space)

I'm merrily working my way through the Garth Ennis canon, having started on Preacher and hanging around for the many takes on the Punisher 

There's too much to recommend, and little point in rehashing the plaudits for the kind of graphic novel that readers and fans already hold sacred. One mini-series that jumps out for me is Sebastian O, a story that presages the steampunk movement and captures the Wildean decadence of its protagonist brilliantly. I'd also suggest you check out the artwork of John Bolton, whose cover designs are the equal of your Frazettas and Corbens. 

My tastes are eclectic and I'll enjoy a rampaging Hulk as much as a cerebral Sandman.

 


Posted by berko_wills at 5:12 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 9 April 2012 7:38 PM NZT
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Friday, 14 October 2011
Convention dictates
Now Playing: Vampire Weekend
Not all fans and readers attend conventions. A fan was grizzling recently about publishers making special offers for convention-goers.

A convention can be on anything. Comicons aren’t the only source for graphic-related goodness; there’s many great geek moments to be had at sci-fi and fantasy conventions as well. And, with the popularity of comic book themed movies, film conventions can be added to that list.

Certain specific series break out into such uberpopularity stakes they can sustain their own convention. Generally it is the form that attracts the fan - if they like brightly coloured pages of drawings and text then they will be unlikely to pour all their worship into one creator or character

Fans at conventions prove over and over that superhero costumes  and cartoon depictions don’t work in real life, but its a convention of conventions to tog up.

Seeing your favourite artists at work is a buzz and being able to buy merchandise a must. There’s the panels, the signings, the photo opp

Conventions make for a great marketplace and you’ll often find those reprints or indeed originals to fill your collection, along with the usual associated merchandise like action figures, games, DVDs

Posted by berko_wills at 3:04 PM NZT
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Monday, 3 January 2011
Snaps

The reader may be concerned about the image Lady Dorma portrays, but this Golden Age character shares the same rocky path to equality and fraternity as many female characters. We can take issue with how she is drawn as much as how she is written. The one thing we would probably agree on is that photographs of comic characters usually fail to live up to the 2D version.

While blue-skinned babes may be back in vogue thanks to CGI, a whole process of interpretation is required to make the character on the page preserve their look. I think Scarlett Johansson would have made a better ORIGINAL Black Widow than the later Natasha Romanoff. Not that there will necessarily be any call for that character to be brought to life, as it were. Presumably we only want images of the creators so that we know what they look like; it's a matter of curiosity.

This interest predates the invention of the photograph, as publishers and admirers went to great lengths to contract oil painters to capture the image of a favoured author. And, of course, artists could capture their own image for posterity.

I could go through my whole life enjoying Popeye the Sailor without thinking to see what EC Segar looked like. But when I found out that a woman created Miss Fury aka Black Fury, a forerunner to Catwoman, I did want a photo. How could such a significant figure be overlooked? 


Posted by berko_wills at 7:00 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 27 March 2011 2:48 AM NZT
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Sunday, 28 November 2010
Brand
Now Playing: the Mr Whippy tune

For autograph hounds to frequent a field, there must be fame, notoriety or celebrity attached. The comic book world hasn't always had those in equal measure, but it has been affected just enough to imagine there is a register of the comparative values of autographs. 

It's hard to know whether a signature by Basil Wolverton is worth more than that of Bob Burden. They both bring a warped sensibility to their best work. There's advantage in having an autograph of a Golden Age artist for the significance and the prestige. But Rockman will never be made into a film and Plop! never could be.

 This isn't to enter into an argument as to whether we should judge the popularity - or saleability - of a comics creator by the fact that their work has been turned into a movie.

With but a youthful interest in autograph hunting, I'm not sure whether collectors would focus on the value of a comics legend's moniker or on a personal appreciation for their persona and their stories.


Posted by berko_wills at 2:09 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 28 November 2010 3:27 AM EADT
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Sunday, 19 September 2010
Thirsty Work
Now Playing: Beth Gibbons

It's clear that workshops have utility. What you get from a workshop depends both on how it is structured, and how well you and the other participants engage with the host/icon.

I based my attendance as much on how much I had followed the work of the guy presenting and didn't care if the slides only showed covers and copy I'd seen before. People came in late and had to be ushered to seats that were close, rather than in the numbers they'd been allocated and this meant that my great little view to the great man was increasingly compromised.The Opera House's policy must not extend beyond chamber orchestras.

Such is comic geek immortality that creators continue to evoke discussion long after they're gone. The value in workshops is that they examine the craft of the writers and the artists, rather than just allowing the paying workshoppers to appreciate having the one whose work they know so well, now live in front of them.

Why this should be with comics alumni moreso than the countless musicians who've graced the stage, is not certain. Perhaps it's still a relative novelty here where, in America, you could easily have an evergeen show up at your fete.

Perhaps the most vital part of the workshop is when the presenter stops presenting and throws it open to the room ('throwing it open' means getting volunteers to line up behind strategically located microphones, but you know what I mean).

A Gary Groth workshop is necessarily going to attract more intense and industry focussed questions than a Joss Whedon one, and this is more down to the size and the weight of the audience than anything.


Posted by berko_wills at 12:33 AM NZT
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Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Top up

If you were wondering why this blog has gone silent after keeping regular updates for lo these past six years it's because my next entry is an 'index' of all the comic-related entries, and that is taking a long time to do. So I'll carry on past that with new posts (even though I had planned that as my penultimate posting).

 The big news is that I am going to a comics-related event that's coming the Opera House next month, starring none other than the redoubtable Gary Groth.


Posted by berko_wills at 4:03 PM NZT
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Saturday, 26 December 2009
Overflow
Now Playing: Michael Buble

If you want more good comics blogs than you can reasonably want to spend your time reading, then it's pretty much a matter of landing on one you already know to have good coverage, and click on their Blog Roll.

Given that that's the case, I don't plan to repeat any of the "main" comic book blogs here, rather to find some other sites that post interesting and informative entries on all things graphic.

Heritage Blog the official blog of Heritage Auction Galleries in Texas. A roundabout way of introducing Bernie Wrightson but worth it in the end.

covered a blog where fan artists emulate official comic book covers. Pictured is a cover from an issue of Secret Wars II by Al Milgrom and Steve Leialoha.

Kleefeld on Comics daily thoughts and ramblings about comics and the comic book industry. A post explaining what happened to Vince Fargo, the editor who took over at Timely when Stan Lee went into the Army.

Thomas Mauer, Letterer

Possum Press colourist blog :-)

Comics Comics looks at publishing Pacific Comics

children

Star-Studded War Comics

Matching Dragoons: Jonah Hex blog western comics

funny animal

Daily Comic Book Covers section on mature comics 

The Porn Comics adult comics blog

lines and colors: a blog about drawing, painting, illustration, comics, concept art and other visual arts underground comics, S Clay Wilson

The Phantom Stranger character blog, documents appearances and so forth

Scott Saavedra's Comic Book Heaven celebrating purple prose, red-blooded heroes and yellowing newsprint!

Vintage Fanzines Now Online

Fan Fiction - Blog Toplist a blog about fanfic

Ottertorials Rejected! A long, long time ago action figures blog

 Mania: Beyond Entertainment a blog that looks at comics in other media

The Horrors Of It All a horror comics blog

io9. We come from the future science fiction comics and much more

For Those Playing Along At Home feminist 'anti-comics' blog

tokyopop Masters of Bulgarian comix (of course :-))


Posted by berko_wills at 1:41 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 13 February 2010 8:52 PM EADT
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Tuesday, 8 December 2009
My Cup Runneth Over
Now Playing: Can kickers

The blogosphere is a great place to congregate as there is a permutation for nearly every aspect of our hobby or obsession. So many weblogs are devoted to the subject of comic books that there is now a site that tells you which have the most hits.

The social networking sites only extend the mass iteration of fan enthusing and professional point scoring. Read a writer's pithy take on Twitter, watch this MySpace, come face to Facebook, be Bebo, live a Second Life. And LiveJournal is not the same as a blog, just similar.

 While there was an undoubtable thrill to be had for letter hacks to see print in their favourite comic book, how does that compare with reading a creator's blog, or exchanging ideas with of your favourite artists? Well there's no doubt that some of the old timers are laughing up their sleeves knowing that their names are enshrined in the pages of a boxed and bagged collector's item. Keeping an online journal is decidedly ephemeral, even with the Internet Wayback Machine doing its thing.


Posted by berko_wills at 10:05 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 17 December 2009 2:05 PM EADT
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Thursday, 24 September 2009
Slides Down

Only the King gets his own magazine.

A search for magazines often yields webzines, and the Web presence of a hard copy publication. 

Another point of confusion is the way that the comics that feature an artist's work are included in the search, frustrating our desire for insight into their working methodology and/or insider gossip.

Wizard tends to focus on the latest big events and the showiest aspects of the medium, while the Comics Journal is at the scholarly and interrogative end. Other trade publications are geared toward a sector of the market i.e. the Comic Book Buyer's Guide.

Amazing Heroes shared Wizard's enthusiasm for superhero hijinks and had a number of cool articles on powers and suchlike. Comics Scene was as (or more) commercial and had a wider purview into funny animal and situation comedy. 

If you're interested in the history, as well as the hot items, then it might be worth hunting down such periodicals as David Anthony Kraft's Comics Interview or any of the other print magazines that have made an impression on the enthusiast market.

The task of finding an artist in one of the specialty magazines is no easier than locating them in a book on comics. Nowadays, as comics take their part in multimedia, you can as easily find

How then would one find Steve Leialoha in a magazine on comics? This depends a great deal on your plan of attack. Given that he has done some interesting work, concentrating on the kind of publication that might have as its readership, Star*Reach fans of old or Fables fans of new.

As with books, periodicals have index and contents that allow the customer the quick flip to see whether their artist is profiled. Along with Leialoha's name (even allow for misspellings!), it is better to focus on the more idiosyncratic collaborations; not because there will be more articles on them - though there could be - but because they are more likely to yield mention of Leialoha than his work on mainstream books, where work can be eclipsed by the artist before or after, or be downplayed for the writer and editor's take on the direction the series is taking.

Depending on how 'hot' and stylised an artist's work on a series, there can be quite some interest in the art. Ideally, you get a feature that has samples of the artist's work, along with an insight into their techniques, their tribulations, the approach they took.

You can often find sales of back issues in the latest issue of a magazine, so that is helpful for tracking down features and interviews you are interested in.


Posted by berko_wills at 8:24 PM NZT
Updated: Friday, 16 October 2009 11:09 PM NZT
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Monday, 17 August 2009
House Read
Now Playing: Silent Type

Much as it may seem that way, the Web is not the be all and end all of source material. It can be wayward and quite unreliable, with old favoured links suddenly pointing nowhere; the site having moved or been removed. Look back over Drink It Black and, regrettably, some of the great hyperlinks will now take you on a wild goose chase.

If you want to know more about Bob Wiacek, you may have to go back over your collection, or pick up one of the many books devoted to all things comic book.

Books also have the advantage of not directing you to a sales pitch or an order form, when you look up a subject.

The problems and advantages are different. Where a useful link could disappear, a book can rapidly become outdated, especially when profiling a creative talent whose still working, or a character still in syndication. 

So, say you want some information on Wiacek and you don't trust the 21 thousand odd search returns on the Web to yield this quickly and accurately. You could look up 'Wiacek, Bob' in the index and/or 'Marvel inkers of the eighties' in the contents but in which book? The World Encyclopedia of Comics by Maurice Horn is a vast and authorative text but it may not go into the detail you require.

Wiacek is both penciler and inker and his work appears in a number of mainstream releases, but he doesn't have the superstar status of artists like the Romitas and the Buscemas and he's no auteur like Jim Steranko or Jim Starlin so is unlikely to have his own biography.

This is where a little knowledge helps. You could find references to his colleagues or books he has worked on, but there's no guarantee that there will be comprehensive writings on them either. Or that it will come in book form. 


Posted by berko_wills at 11:49 PM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 6 September 2009 5:04 AM NZT
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