Saturday, September 27, 2014

COMICS STAMPEDE 8: COSEY

This one from Switzerland speaks for itself. Really nice composition by Bernard Cosendai AKA Cosey:


There is more information on the artist over at the excellent Lambiek site.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

ADAM WARLOCK SKETCH by JIM STARLIN

Here's a sketch of Adam Warlock by Jim Starlin drawn at an event I wrote about previously.

Starlin was charming and I was very pleased to get this sketch from a childhood favourite.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

MARVEL MONEY

I joined a Facebook group called "Marvel UK Comics" today. I'm already in one called "Make Mine Marvel UK". I'm not yet sure what the difference between them is, if any. They are both nostalgic for comics I grew up reading.

I recognised the banner used on the Marvel UK Comics Facebook group, as it is on a cheque I was very excited to receive back in the 80s when I had a drawing published in Transformers...

As I mentioned on the group, that Spider-Man and Hulk cheque got a funny look in the bank. It was like trying to use Monopoly money in the real world.

Friday, August 22, 2014

DUMP at BROKEN FRONTIER


Andy Oliver has written a review of my comic Dump over at Broken Frontier.

Have a read here.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

TREEHOUSE COMIC 3


I have a 4 page story called "Room Tour" in Treehouse Comic 3.

Cover by Norrie Millar.

The third issue was launched at Tin Roof art studios in Dundee yesterday. STV ran an interview with Stuart McAdam on it here.

A treehouse installation was built and looked terrific...

Treehouse entrance.
Avril Smart playing games.
Blurred Norrie Millar and Andy Herd.
 Comics were on sale:
Treehouse issues 1-3.
Andy Herd at the Treehouse solo projects table.
Jules Valera's artworks.
There was an exhibition of original art...
Jules Valera preparing.
Exhibition in full swing.
Neil Scott and David Peter Kerr man the table. Damon Herd chatting behind them.
Exhibition still in full swing.
There were artists in who came along and got set to sketching as proceedings went on...
This was the first exhibition I've been in where I was onsite. It was a new experience to have folks studying your work. What's the etiquette? Are you to introduce yourself as the artiste? I decided to leave people to it...
Viewing 'Room Tour' undisturbed.
A great night. I feel lucky to be involved in Treehouse Comics. They have a lot of talent and enthusiasm and are an inspirational bunch. 

The exhibition is on for the rest of the week, so head along to Tin Roof for a look if you can make it!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

DUMP at HIGH-LOW


Rob Clough has written a review of both issues of my comic Dump over at High-Low.

Have a read here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

COMICS UNMASKED: WORTH A LOOK


I visited the Comics Unmasked exhibition running at The British Library recently.

Please go here to The Comics Grid and see what I wrote about it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

THOSE PEOPLE ARE NOT GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY


After having given their biggest characters to Fox and Sony in order to avoid going out of business altogether, Marvel Comics made enough money from their share of the success of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Bryan Singer’s X-Men films to firstly stay alive and then later start up their own movie studio. Against the odds, they somehow had a huge mainstream hit with the character Iron Man, and struck gold with the Avengers movie. Now though, Marvel have pretty much ran out of already popular and famous characters. They are aware of this, and quite cleverly, if cynically, factored it in to the first trailer for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy...


“Who are you?” 
“Star Lord” 
“Who?”

Then a roll call of the characters as Peter Serafinowicz is told who they are.

I remember Rocket Raccoon from The Hulk’s 20th anniversary issue, so that’s 1982. He was a bit of a joke character really, with his name a play on the Beatles song. Hulk even complained about him on the cover...


A bit later, there was a lovely looking 4 issue series drawn by Mike Mignola, prior to Hellboy...


Gamora was a terrific character from Jim Starlin’s Warlock series in the mid 70s...


Groot was another one who guest starred in Hulk; in the 1976 Annual drawn by Sal Buscema, to be exact. Groot was originally drawn by Jack Kirby in the old Marvel monster comics. This story had a bunch of old weirdos reappear so the Hulk could smash them to bits one after another. Quite literally in Groot’s case…


Starlord was a good comic by Chris Claremont and John Byrne in the late 70s. Some visceral violent action, shades of Star Wars – “a sith lord” even turns up...


A bit later I bought black and white Star Lord comics aimed at a slighly older audience, with Carmine Infantino drawing a sexy lady called Caryth. Here is her emotional (and topless) death scene...


Star Lord’s costume is completely different in the trailer, I observe.
And wait, why is Star Lord in this film ? Why are any of these people in this movie?
Because I read Guardians of the Galaxy too, and none of these jokers were in there.


The Guardians of the Galaxy were first featured in Marvel Premiere 18 in 1969. I was lucky enough to pick it up in the late 80s for 10p in a second hand bookshop.

It had intriguing concepts . The characters were from different planets in the solar system and so their bodies had grown differently due to their native atmospheric conditions. As well as being a good sci-fi idea, this also gave scope for the characters being distrustful of other “races”.
Then there was poor old (very old) Vance Astro, who had set off on a thousand year space mission in hibernation to the nearest star system, only to find humanity had developed faster than light travel and arrived there hundreds of years before him. They still gave him a hero’s welcome, but he was tortured by the events. And the Badoon were scary villains (I thought the Judoon from Doctor Who owed something to them).


Beautifully drawn by Gene Colan, as you can see above.

I recall the Guardians reappearing to guest in Avengers comics with a few more characters added. 

At some point Marvel must have completely rebooted the Guardians of the Galaxy comic, ditching the original characters, and the movie is based on that.

I feel like I turned up for a Temptations concert and nobody’s left in the band.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

COURTING CONTROVERSY – COMIC CREATORS AND ONLINE ACCESSIBILITY


This is the seventh in a series of guest posts I'm running over the summer. I asked folk to write on any topic at any length - as long as it's comics related. Next up is Gary Smith...

  
I imagine that most comic fans will have an opinion about John Byrne, but the nature of this view will probably be heavily influenced by when readers were first exposed to his work. For fans who were first exposed to his work in the 1970s, he will perhaps be  best remembered as the young hot shot artist who cut his teeth on Iron Fist and helped take the X-Men to new heights of popularity. For fans who began reading in the 80s he may be forever linked with the Fantastic Four or his revamp of the Superman franchise. For fans in the 1990s it will perhaps be his run on She-Hulk or the launch of his Next Men title. Despite this huge catalogue of well received work in the comics industry, it's likely that fans introduced to John Byrne after the year 2000 will associate him less with his creative output and more with the forthright views he expresses through his website and forum, regularly giving his honest opinion on characters, creators and developments within the world of comics. From the controversy that surrounded his comments on Jessica Alba's casting as Sue Storm to the coining of the term Byrne-stealing (essentially arguing that reading a book and putting it back on the stands without purchasing it amounted to theft), in recent years there have been no shortage of newsworthy quotes arising from Byrne's use of social media.


My thoughts drifted to John Byrne after reading the recent Marvel title, All New X-Factor issue 7. In it, two characters have a discussion about whether a creator should be separated from their work, and whether it is justifiable to read a book - and therefore implicitly support - an author that may have questionable views. The character of Quicksilver is outraged that his team-mate, Danger, is reading a novel by Scott Dakei, a prominent anti mutant campaigner. Danger, for her part, argues that the content of the novel have nothing to do with this issue, and that the author's personal politics do not factor into the novel at all. This debate struck a chord with me because while John Byrne is perhaps the most prominent example, comic fans now enjoy a level of unprecedented access to creators, engaging with them in a way that would have been unthinkable even ten years ago.

1960s Marvel was built on the illusion that it was one big, happy community. Creators were given nicknames, letters pages were answered in a more informal manner; even caption boxes and editors' notes were written in a jocular style. Yet for all this informality, fans at the time were unlikely to know where the creators stood on popular issues (aside from generic representations of the national mood, such as the fear of communism). As the new wave of Marvel writers emerged in the 1970s, including Steve Gerber and Steve Englehart, it was apparent that many of them were politically to the left of their older colleagues, but unless a reader ventured into the world of the fan press it is unlikely that they would have been able to definitively pinpoint their views. 

In the modern comic community, with the majority of creators having a presence on Facebook and Twitter, as well as their own Blogs or web sites, it's relatively easy for fans to work out just where their favourite creators stand on certain issues. Countless creators are only too keen to tweet their thoughts on every conceivable subject, from the serious to the mundane. The question is whether any thoughts so expressed should have an impact on the way that their work is perceived.

In a perfect world the answer would be no. As long as the offensive opinions aren't reflected in their work then there should be no reason not to buy it, and readers should be able to enjoy the work on its own merits. In practice, though, this can sometimes be harder to do. Personally, I have been somewhat surprised by the number of people I have recently seen on Facebook vowing to remove from their friend list anyone that they know to have voted for UKIP in the recent elections. To many people, casting a vote in this way, despite being people exercising their democratic right to vote for a party of their choosing, appears to be so horrific that it outweighs every favourable quality those individuals may possess.


Alongside John Byrne, Dave Sim is another creator who became as famous for his outspoken views as he was for his creative output - perhaps even more so. His essays in each issue of Cerebus highlighted his views on a variety of subjects, with many relating to his views on woman. Courting much controversy, Cerebus, and much of Sim's work, is viewed by many as a platform for him to express his worldview. That raises an interesting point. Sim is undoubtedly a talented creator, yet many readers left Cerebus before the end of its run, growing weary of the increasingly specific direction that Sim's views were taking the title down. Let's imagine that Sim stuns the comic world by agreeing to work on a mainstream superhero - say, Green Arrow. Should it matter that he has strong opinions that may be objectionable to some? If someone admires him as a creator but despises his politics, is there any reason for them to boycott a run that is unlikely to feature as distinct an authorial voice?

There are no easy answers to this topic and I can fully understand why some readers may be so put off by a creator's behaviour that they may boycott their work, but what advantage is gained in doing so? If the creator hasn't advocated anything illegal or morally dubious, is this still enough to transform the way their work is perceived?

For me, much of it comes down to admiration. I want the creators that I admire to also be people that I can admire, ones that share my views and act in a way that I think is appropriate. Sadly, this isn't always the case, but as I grow older I'm increasingly accepting of the fact that life is made up of all sorts of people, with a huge variety of views. If a creator produces fantastic work then perhaps that is enough. If they're also what I would consider a 'decent' person, then that's even better. Or if I really want to preserve my enjoyment of my favourite creators perhaps I should refrain from social media and recapture some of that mystique that creators had to earlier generations of fans. Sometimes, it must be said, ignorance really is bliss.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

DC THOMSON'S KINGSWAY BUILDING

I visited DC Thomson's Kingsway offices today.

As the weather was beautiful and sunny again, I thought I would take some photos of the pictures of Dennis the Menace, Desperate Dan and Oor Wullie that now adorn two sides of the building. Hopefully you'll get a sense of the scale of them, and how fun they are.

Here we are approaching the building on the Mid Craigie Road (misspelt Mid Craige Road on the street sign)...


Here's Oor Wullie at the front of the building. His bucket can fly in this depiction and is smashing its way out the window...


And here's a closer photo of Dennis and Dan...




The characters are all reading the local papers put out by DC Thomson.


Mid Craigie is also where I went to primary school. The building was just across from the DC Thomson offices, but is long gone now. The school gates remain though...


To finish off, here's the street adjacent to the school gates...