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Showing posts from April, 2016

A to Z Challenge - K is for...

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...Kirby!



Jack "King" Kirby is one of the single most important people in comic book history. Unfortunately, many people still haven't heard of him. I hope to rectify that here.

Marvel Masterminds

What do The Fantastic Four, Uncanny X-Men, Hulk, Thor and Iron Man have in common?

You are correct if you said they are all Marvel comics. If you said they were all created by Stan Lee, you're only half right.

The legend goes...

Stan Lee would come up with ideas, basic outlines and tell them to Jack Kirby. Kirby would then go away and draw a comic book based on that idea. Once he was finished, he'd give the comic back to Lee who'd fill in the dialogue and speech as he saw fit. Often Lee would have no idea what he'd get back from Kirby and has been quoted as saying it was like doing a crossword puzzle, trying to figure out what story the pictures were telling him.

Later, the idea of credit became the subject of bad blood between Kirby and Marvel and, after his death, hi…

A to Z Challenge - J is for...

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...James Jean!



James Jean is a fine artist who is known in the comic book world for his cover art on the DC series Fables.

Fables



Fables is a series about characters from fairytales and folk lore who are chased from their homeland and settle in a secret community in New York. The "Fables" who can't blend in with humans live in upstate New York at "The Farm."


TV Trivia: The Fables concept might sound familiar to fans of Grimm and Once Upon a Time, two television shows currently showing on NBC and ABC respectively. Both networks had Fables in development at one stage or another in the mid to late 2000s, and both chose to go a different way.




Fables was launched in 2002, under the Vertigo imprint, with James Jean doing cover art. Jean did every cover, except issue #11, until 2009 (issue #81) when he retired from illustration to concentrate on painting.




Fairytales and folklore was a perfect match for Jean's artwork. His dreamy and colorful style were a wonderful addit…

A to Z Challenge - I is for...

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...Iceman!

The Fab Five

Robert "Bobby" Drake was created in 1963 and is one of the founding five members of the X-Men. He has appeared regularly over the last fifty years in multiple incarnations of the X-Men comic books and in other teams like X-Factor, The Defenders, and The Champions. The character has also made appearances in cartoons and movie adaptations.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby initially created Iceman using the Human Torch as the template, except giving him the "opposite" power. In the early books, Iceman had the appearance of a snowman in boots, and only later changed into the more crystal clear version more commonly known today. He also underwent a "secondary mutation" that for a time had him stuck in his ice form.



Cold hearted?

Bobby is an honest, forthright and sometimes cocky character, his status as the youngest of the original X-Men giving him certain allowances for his brash behavior, although he remained that way as he got older.






Throughout his…

A to Z Challenge - H is for...

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...Hughes!



AH!

Adam Hughes is an American comic book artist, primarily known for his pin-up style art and his extensive work as a cover artist on a large number of comic books. Including long runs on Wonder Woman and Catwoman.





Cover Artist

Hughes has no formal art training. He learned his trade alongside other artists as he picked up work, first with independent publishers and then DC comics.

His intricate style didn't lend itself well to the quick turnaround required for monthly comic books, so Hughes concentrated more on cover work and in the late '90s began a four year run doing cover art on Wonder Woman for DC, while also doing covers on Tomb Raider for TopCow, establishing himself as a much sought after cover artist.



Sexy or Sexist?

On top of his cover work, Hughes started designing statuettes for Sideshow collectibles, the first of which - Mary Jane Watson (Spider-man's girlfriend/wife) - caused a huge stir because many thought it was a sexist representation of a prominent …

A to Z Challenge - G is for...

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...Groot!


Cashing in
In 1996, barely twenty years ago, Marvel was in big financial trouble. In an attempt to cash in on their large inventory of characters, they made several licensing deals with different movie studios. Universal snatched up the Hulk, Fox grabbed the X-Men and Fantastic Four, and Sony bid highest for the Spider-man rights.

Several lackluster movies were made over the next few years and many of the rights reverted back to Marvel. Hulk, Punisher, Daredevil and Blade foremost amongst the returning heroes.


Marvel comes back to life

By 2008, Marvel were on a stronger footing and ready to attempt a launch of their own movie studio. Since the licensing of Marvel's big guns (Spider-man and the X-Men) was still owned by other companies, Marvel decided to use Iron Man to launch the studio.

Not only was Iron Man a huge success, but Marvel enjoyed a long string of successes after it, including a little known property set in space called Guardians of the Galaxy.
The magic in Marvel…

A to Z Challenge - F is for...

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...Fredric Wertham!



From the mid-50s until the early 2000s, almost every comic book carried the Comics Code Authority logo on its cover. The CCA was formed in 1954 as an alternative to government oversight in the comic book industry after a U.S. Congressional Inquiry into the comic book industry. The formation of the CCA began fifty years of censorship in comic books and it was due, in no small part, to one man: Fredric Wertham.


Seduction of the Innocent



Wertham was a psychiatrist and author and in the early 1950s he turned his attention on what he saw as the detrimental effects of comic books. In those days, crime and horror books were prevalent in the industry, alongside the super-hero comics that are more recognizable today.

Wertham's book "Seduction of the Innocent" described images of violence, overt and covert sexuality, crime, and drug use, that he claimed encouraged children to emulate. While horror and crime comics did have their fair share of gruesome imagery, a lo…

A to Z Challenge - E is for...

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...Elseworlds!




DC comics, blessed with three of the most iconic super-heroes in the history of the medium - The "Trinity" of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman - created an imprint in the late 80s that would feature "imaginary" stories set in alternate timelines or realities. These stories would be released under the imprint of Elseworlds.


Gotham by Gaslight



In 1989, the first of the Elseworlds story, Gotham by Gaslight, was released. Featuring Batman, but set in Victorian times, the caped crusader has to hunt down Jack the Ripper who has come to Gotham to continue his murder spree.

Although not officially branded with the Elseworlds logo, Gotham by Gaslight is considered the first of the Elseworlds books.


Superman: Red Son



One of the most lauded and critically acclaimed Elseworlds story was Superman: Red Son, which wonders what would've happened if the baby Kryptonian had crash landed in a farm collective in the Soviet Union instead of Kansas.

The three part story wa…

A to Z Challenge - D is for...

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...Daredevil!



Created back in 1964 by Stan Lee and Bill Everett, Daredevil has been a staple of Marvel comics line-up almost constantly since then. Although for a time in the early 1980s it almost went the way of the dodo...




Miller

Faced with declining sales during the 70s, DD was on the verge of being canceled when Frank Miller joined the team as artist. Shortly after being handed the writer job too, Miller embarked on turning the "sightless swashbuckler" into a dark anti-hero.

Roger McKenzie was the first writer to bring the dark tone to Daredevil, but Miller intended to push the character further than many were comfortable with. Original fans were disappointed in the new direction, but new fans came in droves.


Miller's reinvention of Matt Murdock included many new elements: Stick (blind mentor), The Hand (ninjas), Kingpin becoming Daredevil's main nemesis, and introducing the iconic character of Elektra. Many of the themes and characters introduced by Miller have been …