Thursday, May 31, 2007

Judge Dredd vs Stan Lee, round 1

In August of 1986, 2000AD bestowed upon the world one of comics greatest fight scenes with issue #484. Judge Dredd vs Stan "Deathfist" Lee (some random ninja guy they came up with for the issue).

Lee opens things up with a kick to the face:

Dredd hits back with the deadly "midrift kick and mockery" combo

Keep in mind this is all happening after Dredd had taken a ninja star to the chest, and Lee had been winged by a bullet from Dredd.

Things are pretty even for a while.

Then it starts to go wrong for Mega City's finest.

I bet Batman never had days like this.

Hey, who put that brick wall there?

Ooooh, Dredd just got owned.

There's so much more to this fight, I just limited the scans to the major body shots. It is awesome, and making it even better is the normally invincible Dredd getting his ass kicked. The story closes out with him in a hospital bed, and since it's only an 8 page story, he can only grit his teeth and promise himself next time will be different. But will there be a next time?

Oh yes.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How not to treat girls, featuring Firestorm

No matter how good you think you are at hiding it, one day your girlfriend will find out your secret, whatever it is.

And she will be pissed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Art in close-up: Blue Beetle #8

Blue Beetle #8
Page 9
Breakdowns - Rob Haynes
Finishes - Casey Jones
Colours - Guy Major
Writers - Keith Giffen & John Rogers
Letters - Jared Fletcher

Quick summary: In an effort to learn more about his powers, the new Blue Beetle and his friends pay a visit to the granddaughter of Dan Garrett, the original Blue Beetle.

The full pages:

A brief one this week, since this is pretty much a splash page in form, if not function.
I love the page layout. A really clever way to give action and development to a static scene. There's a cool progression on the papers she's holding, starting off with her reading them, and ending up with them on the floor.
I love Brenda's reaction.
Also a nice touch with the panels, the top left and bottom right being out of alignment. Makes it more interesting than four even panels.

Rob Haynes isn't credited in the comic, but I bought this off Casey Jones (via eBay, $36US), and that's what he said, so I think I'll trust him ;) The actual page is quite a bit smaller than the standard comic art board, but it makes sense for the art style. Having to draw it at full size would've required too much space in the line work. Casey was selling two pages, one with Beetle in full costume, which I did bid on, but this was the page I was really after (I had to fight off one challenger for it). As always, a cheap page since there's no costumed stuff happening (but you know that by now, right?).

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Firestorm - the equal opportunity hero

It's Millennium Week 5, and Harbinger, Captain Atom, Firestorm, and Green Lantern find themselves thrust together.

It's not any normal Green Lantern though. This particular one is named Driq, and is actually an animated corpse! He used to be living, but he died (as tends to happen...). However, his power ring is not letting his soul leave his body, so he's stuck as an undead member of the Corps.

Firestorm likes him alright, though Captain Atom is a bit of a dick about it.

"He's dead!"
"So? That doesn't mean he's not a nice person!"

That's brilliant writing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How not to treat girls, featuring Firestorm

Time for some situational comparisons, demonstrated by our crash test dummie Ronnie Raymond, to save you the danger of getting hit in the head with a cusion.

Saying "I love you" is a good move.

Choosing the TV over your girl is a bad move.

If you have a habit of letting your girlfriend down, sucking up to her occassionally is a good move.

Letting her down again, just after you tried sucking up, is a bad move.

Simple enough, really.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Art in close-up: Ghost Rider 2099 #18

Welcome to another installment of 'art in close-up', where I take an original page from my collection and take a closer look at it. This week:

Ghost Rider 2099 #18

Page 2

Pencils - Ashley Wood

Inks - Jim Daly

Letters - Richard Starkings/ Comicraft

Colours - Christie Scheele/ Malibu

Writer - Len Kaminski

Quick summary: An evil robot called L-Cipher has taken over an amusement park with his minions (gotta have minions). The place is ablaze, and SHIELD has called in the Ghost Rider of the future to help out.

Kicking things off, the full page:

There's a lot of unique elements to this page, in terms of the rest of the stuff I have. First off, the art goes all the way to the edge of the original page. The bleed area (which you usually don't see printed, but is there just incase) is half an inch or so in from each page edge, the bleed area itself being half of that size deep. So, there's usually a consistent 'frame' around an original page of art. In the printed version, there's no margins on the page at all, and the original reflects this.

This was quite a big purchase for me, I had to fork out $96US for it, not including shipping. I was going to be charged $50 to get it delivered via Fedex, but screw that! Thankfully I have internet friends in America, so got it sent to one for a fraction of the cost, then they sent it to me. Much cheaper. GR2099 is a pretty obscure character, I guess what drove the price up was that it was promoted as an Ashley Wood original. He certainly did the pencils, but it's the ink work that makes this page, and the comic credits Jim Daly with that (no mention of him in the auction...). Wood's GR2099 art regularly goes for the amount I paid, whether or not they feature GR at all, so this is a case where I had to take a hit simply for the name of the artist, when I was after it primarily for Ghostie. Them's the breaks.

Panel 1:

The lettering is all pasted on. The cool stylised text up to is for L-Cipher (Lucifer, incase you didn't get it :p). The whole cyber-speak thing is dated now, but back in 1995, Len Kaminski was the man.
The vertical white dotted lines on the sillouette are actually nicks out of the paper, not white-out. I'm not a major fan of this type of art, though I do like this. Hated the way Jae Lee used to do things, and I preferred Wood's work in this time period when he was inked by Daly. I was already familiar with Daly's work, he did art for a few cards for the Rage CCG (that I'm a fanatic for), and liked his odd take on things. Still don't think this is a particularly good style for action and fighting, but it's good for setting mood.

Panel 2:

The colourist adds a nice extra dimension to this, with the light on GR's back. There's a fair bit of white-out in the flame, can't tell what it's covering. I'm guessing that's a satellite dish at the top? More of those vertical white lines that cut into the page. I wonder what was used?

Panel 3:

There is so much detail in this. More cuts on GR's body, the white marks on the SHIELD guy are white-out, as are all the larger blobs. GR's eye's were whited out heavily after the ink splashes were done. I'm guessing Daly used a brush for this, since the ink's all nicely even, no different shades, or the marks you get when blacking out large sections with a marker. Lots of really fine lines on GR's head and chest, and the SHIELD's hair. I love how the panel almost seems to fade out down the bottom. I can't decide if I like the flame more on the original (which is nicely stylised), or what the colourist did with it.

Panel 4:

Feels more like a space filler (not in a negative way) than an actual panel, but what else am I gonna call it ;) This is one of the reasons I went after this page, because I wanted to see just what the hell was going on in this bit. It's been inked fully black, and then gone over in white ink (paint? Is there such a thing as white ink?). Also a touch of white-out to make some parts heavier. Also a fair bit of work put in by Christie Scheele. The flames are a nice scene-setting touch, showing that the characters are outside a huge fire, without actually providing an establishing shot.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Great minds

Wonder Man poses a question we've all had to ask ourselves at some point.

Are you turned on by artificial men?

Well, are you?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What were they thinking?

Today I thought I'd talk about the abomination that is Swamp Thing: The Movie. This is not a review. To do a review, I'd have to watch this boring slowpaced mess of a film again. I like bad movies, but this thing is terrible. It's not far off displacing Species 3 as the worst movie ever. I own both these on dvd, which should tell you something about my dvd collection.

Anyway, Swamp Thing. About 2/3rds through the movie, we get this totally out-of-left-field scene at the bad guys mansion. Cue lounge room scene.

Lots of bad guys relaxing in the company of some sexy women. This scene is totally dreaming of being a porno in it's next life, complete with cheesy eastern snake charmer music. There's even a belly dancer in a bikini (centre screen). As soon as this shot opens, you just know that she's going to get her top off.

The camera follows her a bit (unfortunately, she really sucks at dancing), then pans back so we can focus on one of the bad guys.

With about as little warning as is possible, suddenly she's topless.

This is really quite awkward to watch. The movie up until this point has had almost zero sexual suggestion, there's not even any implied chemisty between the main characters (though we do get to see the heroine topless prior to this particular scene in a laughable 'bathing in the swamp while on the run from men with guns' interlude).

Back to that belly dancer. As I said, she had "I'm getting naked" written all over her from the start.

Hmmm, what's coming next?


"Oh you were in Swamp Thing? What did you do?"
"I played the topless belly dancer"
"Oh, neat"

With the required nudity out of the way, the scene ends and the movie carries on as it had before. I would love to read an interview with the director that explains the point of this, because I have no idea.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Day's gone by

It recently occurred to me that it's 2007 (well, I did know that already). But this is a significant year for me in a few regards. 20 years ago, as a 10 year old, I would buy my first ever music album, "Hysteria" by Def Leppard, a band I still love today. Also 20 years ago, I had my first encounter with what would become my major comics obsession - The Silver Surfer (there may be an overwhelming Firestorm theme to this blog, but the Surfer is #1 in my book).

My father used to work in radio. Every week he'd bring home the latest singles (on 7" vinyl record), for my sister, brother, and I to pour through. It was a classical music station, but they still got sent everything, so they were freely available for staff (since they'd get zero air play) and he'd grab what he could. Man, I discovered so many cool bands that way (and months before anyone else). Skid Row, Faith No More, Def Leppard, Leatherwolf, it's a big list. In 1987 though, a couple of singles caught my eye.

In 1987, guitar god Joe Satriani released his landmark album, "Surfing With The Alien". It had a cool shot of the Surfer by John Byrne.

There were 2 singles released, each with half of that cover as the picture, so you could join them up (though I can only find one of them, grrr).

I was not yet a guitar player, didn't know the Silver Surfer from a bar of soap, and had never heard of Joe Satriani, but something made me pull these singles out and keep them. I'm pretty sure I never even listened to them (it would take another 3 years before I 'discovered' Satriani). But the cool picture was enough for me.

Finally in 1990, I found my 'in' to the Silver Surfer. There was this little bookshop tucked away in a near-by city, and it had all sorts of exotic-sounding comics that I had never seen anywhere else (Booster Gold for example, who the hell was that?). There was one guy I recognised- the Surfer. Having been dying to find out more about him since my initial discovery, I bought it. It was #40.

Just looking at it, I paid $2.95 for it. Oh the days of cheap comics (if it came out today, it would be atleast $6.95). It was awesome, though I didn't particularly understand it. Eventually some of the other stores closer to me caught up with the times, and I was able to start collecting the title from #50 onwards.

Now, 20 years from first exposure, I have over 400 Silver Surfer comics and related appearances. And a bunch of Joe Satriani albums.

Monday, May 14, 2007

How not to treat girls, featuring Firestorm

When you're making out with your superhero girlfriend, one of you needs to keep an eye on where you are.

I hope Ronnie was talking to the Professor in that last panel. Calling your girlfriend a man is seldom a good move.

Neither is thinking of men while kissing your girlfriend. Got any secrets you want to share, Ronnie?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Firestorm #18 art in close-up

Time for the second edition of what I plan to be a regular (weekly) feature, where I take a closer look at one of the pages from my original art collection. This week it's:

Firestorm #18
Page 15

Pencils - Patrick Olliffe

Inks - Simon Coleby
Letters - Pat Brosseau

Colours - Paul Mounts

Writer - Stuart Moore

Quick summary: Firestorm has flown to STAR Labs. In the process of having some tests done, one of the workers turned in to an OMAC, cue chaos. Firestorm turns the nanotec into water, inadvertantly killing the host. Also, one of the workers had miniaturised his wife, "Nanette", and was communicating with her via his laptop.

Now you're caught up, let's start off with the full page.

First thing of note, unlike last week's piece, the black panel boarders were added by the colourist, not the inker. Also unlike last week, there is not a whole heap of shading added by the colourist. Really cool page layout too, allowing for input from all the main characters along the bottom. It's more striking than it would've been if it was all put in a single panel. I got this page for $9.95US, I have no idea how, I guess no Firestorm fans were watching eBay that week.

Panel 1:

The previous page had the OMAC charging Jason as he was zapped, so here is where the OMAC shell breaks down. Nice colouring job on the OMAC, though it does smother some really fine cross-hatching, particularly on the head. I like how the inker did a really heavy outline on Firestorm's boot to give it seperation.

Panel 2:

Nice to see the penciller re-drew the boot in the foreground rather than doing a paste-up or tracing. Pat Olliffe really gave things a great sense of movement. Also note the now-deceased OMAC host falls with his arms in the same position they were previous panel.

Panel 3:

Lots happening here. Note the guy with the laptop, Olliffe draws attention to him effectively, with only 4 empahsis lines above his head. Cool detail on the main subject's lab coat. Small amount of whiteout used under the vertical lines on his right shoulder. The lack of background draws in the moment nicely.

Panels 4 & 5:

Excellent facial expressions with a minimum of bother. Note the strands of hair shooting off from the goatee on the guy in panel 5, nice unneccessary detail.

Panels 6 & 7:

You can really see how much the colourist adds to make the flame hair look good. Jason's face is way too red though. Interesting to note how in places the art hints at shapes, without actually filling them out completely. Note the round lenses on the guys goggles in panel 7- we only get the top of a circle, rather than a full one you might expect.