Dec 27, 2011

Unstable Molecules: Japanese edition!

Osamu Tezuka was the greatest comic book storyteller of all time. He's also an amazing designer. He was also endlessly creative, creating comic series after comic series. He was a master of his craft, almost without peer. But... uhhh...

Sometimes he does stuff like this...

Dec 25, 2011

The Phantom Goes To War

That "By Popular Demand" caption isn't just bull crap
like on American comics, this is the most requested
Phantom reprint of all time.
The Phantom Goes To War (also known as The Inexorables) is the sixteenth Phantom story ever published. It began on the 2nd of Febuary, 1942, only a little less than 2 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It's a somber, violent story, and a lot of it is very out of character for Lee Falk's Phantom. It's rife with racism, hatred and even the story's hero killing. Things Falk avoided all through his career, otherwise.

The story was written entirely by Falk, and drawn by Ray Moore and (after Moore enlisted) Wilson McCoy. Falk himself enlisted while still writing the story, but never missed a single deadline, despite active service.

I guess I should start by saying that this story does not feature a Phantom at the window moment! It's mostly set outdoors, in the jungle. And it's mostly about the Phantom killing Japanese people, not peering at them through windows.

Dec 21, 2011

80 Page Christmas: The Sandman.

I recently bought a horrible, horrible condition copy of Marvel Team-Up #1. This issue featured the Human Torch and Spider-Man and of course the villain was THE SANDMAN!

This issue (which was drawn by Ross Andru and written by Roy Thomas) is important because it was the first comic to show the Sandman's potential as a nice guy -- or at least not a completely evil guy. The issue is mostly a chase, with Human Torch and Spidey chasing through the city after the Sandman. But when they found him? Well, it turned out he was visiting his sickly mother for Christmas! Awww!!

Dec 18, 2011

Sal's Sunday Punch #13

Long time no see, pugilism devotees!  At long last, it's time for another Sal's Sunday Punch!  And since I'm busy reading Maximum Carnage to complete the long-awaited (long-awaited by me, and possibly my mother) third instalment of Who Watches the Nightwatch, here's a little chin-music from Spectacular Spider-Man #202, part nine (of fourteen) of that terrible, terrible crossover.  For a little context, Carnage broke out of prison and is terrorizing New York City with some c-list supervillains, and Spider-Man's teamed up with Venom and various other guys to fight him...and that's pretty much it. It's disappointing, because it features a ton of creators I normally like (J.M. DeMatteis, Mark Bagley, David Michelinie, and of course Sal), but just doesn't earn its hefty pagecount, although the Spectacular issues, by Sal and DeMatteis, come closest to being good.  But anyway, that's a topic for another day.

For a series that's 90% fight scenes, there is a disappointing paucity of Sal Buscema Punches, even though Sal drew three issues of it.  Maybe his heart wasn't quite in it - and who could blame him?

You and me both, Spidey.
(Spectacular Spider-Man #202, written by J.M. DeMatteis, art by Sal Buscema)

There won't be enough left of you to fill a pillbox hat.

So Hasbro's been putting out some nifty action figure two-packs as part of its Marvel Universe line - and in each two-pack, they include a comic reprint.  One of the latest is Quicksilver and Wonder Man, which comes with a reprint of Avengers West Coast #60, written by Roy and Dann Thomas, with art by Paul Ryan and Danny Bulanadi.  While it does feature both Pietro and Simon pretty prominently, it occurs in the middle of a story where Magneto has turned the Scarlet Witch evil, and also Immortus is doing something confusing because that is all Immortus ever does.  It's a little hard to pick up, even for a seasoned Marvel Zombie like myself - and for an extra dose of kid-unfriendliness, JFK gets shot three pages in!

But the most notable thing is that the first page features...

Dec 9, 2011

The Illustrated Comic Art Workshop Vol. 1, Part 2

Once again, we return to Frank McLaughlin and Dick Giordano's 1982 artist aide, The Illustrated Comic Art Workshop. Continuing on from our look at classic drawing equipment and how a drafting studio can be set up, this section of the book gives the reader an incredibly extensive guide to the use of perspective in art. There's information on how one can tackle depth, shadows, reflections and more!

Dec 1, 2011

How Not to Revamp a Villain: The Puppet Master.

So the Puppet Master is one of those villains. Y'know the kind, the one trick pony. Who only has one trick. When a character in the Fantastic Four suddenly starts acting out of character you can pretty much put money on the fact that it'll be the Puppet Master's doing. The only wrinkle that makes him interesting is that he's directly related to Benn Grimm's girlfriend Alicia Masters.

(Well not DIRECTLY related, since he's her step-father. But you get the point.)

So when you have a villain like this (for example The Mad Thinker, or Arcade) what do you do with them? You can only use them so many times because they get repetitive. The answer is simple -- you take the core of the character, and then you revamp it! So that's what they (that is Stan Lee and artist Bob Powell) did with the Pupper Master in Strange Tales #133.