Thursday, June 30, 2005

New Sacco interview 

Found this over at Mother Jones. Portland's own Joe Sacco talks about comics, journalism, and comics journalism.

Reviewing me, convening locally 

Here are links to reviews of some recent works of mine. (Attention studio-mates: Sorry for making this so Lieber-centric. If you've got stuff you want me to link, send it.)

Gotham Central #32 shipped in June. It's a terrific one-shot story about a couple of corrupt Gotham cops. Greg Rucka wrote it, and I did the pencils and inks on the interior. It's been pretty well reviewed: Fanboy Planet | Comixtreme | Savage Critic | Comics Nexus | Four Color Rebellion | Silver Bullet | Johnny Bacardi | Lost Pages/Found Pages | | Hero Realm | Fourth Rail |Legions of Gotham

My favorite of the reviews is this one, mostly for the way the credits are listed.

Then there's the long-awaited Four Letter Worlds anthology. 16 stories of Love, Hate, Fear and Fate, by top talents: Scott Morse, Chynna Clugston-Major, Joe Casey, Jay Faerber, J. Torres, Antony Johnston, Robert Kirkman, Jamie S. Rich, Amber Benson, Mark Ricketts, Matt Fraction, B. Clay Moore, Eric Stephenson, Phil Hester, Kieron Dwyer, Andi Watson, Mike Huddleston, Mike Norton, Steve Rolston, Mike Hawthorne, Steven Griffin, Matt Roberts, R. John Bernales, and Jamie McKelvie. Jeff Parker's in there, too, so this post isn't entirely self-serving. Good stuff all throughout. And the critics say: Ninth Art | Obsessesed with comics | Sequential Tart-1 | Tegan | Gotham Lounge | Fourth Rail | icomics | Gutterninja | Movie Poop Shoot | Sequential Tart-2

And speaking of long awaited, just in time for summer comes the Negative Burn Winter Special. It's a comics anthology put together by Joe Pruett. My contribtion is the art on an autobiographical story written by Kurt Busiek. Other contributors include Evan Dorkin, Eric Larsen, Vince Locke, B. Clay Moore, Brian Bolland and Fabian Nicieza. Reviews: icomics | Fourth Rail | Movie Poop Shoot | Pipeline

It looks like programming for the 2005 Stumptown Comix Fest is coming together. From the site:

"Here's a brief recap of the festivities planned: We'll have a video presentation by illustrator, animator, and children's book author Michel Gagné; an "Homage to Wild Man Fischer" presented by JR WIlliams and Dennis Eichhorn; a Q&A Session with "Same Difference" author Derek Kirk Kim; a panel discussion on censorship hosted by Shannon Wheeler; a screening of Hazen Jette's student film about comics in Portland followed by a Q&A session with Jette; and we'll wrap the day up with the return of the Comic Art Battle, presented by Portland expatriate Ezra Claytan Daniels! And there's even more great stuff to announce later, as details become available."

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

He's right. 

Over at Fanboy Rampage, they're snarking on something John Byrne wrote:
"I need lots of reference, to orient myself in the changed reality of the current Superman... I can't switch on my default Jimmy Olsen, for instance, because Jimmy doesn't look the way he used to. Nor does Lois. Nor does Perry. This is very much a part of what makes it feel like doing a whole new and different character... I am a great believer in keeping characters 'on model'. I really, really, really do not approve of this 'personal interpretation' crap. Superman should look like Superman. Batman should look like Batman. The impression, no matter how many artists are involved, should always be that each and every one of them/us is looking at the same model."

Whatever you might think of the guy's work, he's absolutely correct on this point.

When you're working with a group of characters like the Superman cast, it's a really good idea, whatever your style, to try to "reverse engineer" the designs of the other people working on the characters to figure out what they'd really look like. Then you apply your own stylizations.

If you're telling stories in a shared universe, the goal, in theory at least, is to create a reasonably unified collective work. This is particularly true when you're working on stories that carry directly from one title to another. A story told by that many hands is already fractured. Why make things worse by ignoring the work of the other illustrators on the character?

I should note that I don't think stories should be told that way. I'm a strong believer in keeping the look of a story consistent from the beginning to the end. Switching artists from one chapter to another is, I think, as disruptive as switching actors in the middle of a play.

EDIT: The discussion continued in the comments thread, where someone asked this:
"So what about the differences between the Neal Adams thin Batman and the Large Batman of Frank Miller?...Do those apply?"

Good question. If Neal is drawing part of a many-hands story that Frank is also working on, yeah, I think they should try to make the characters consistent.

In a self-contained work, individuality is to be encouraged. But if the story is continued between titles, and no one is on the same page with respect to character design, the resulting work just isn't going to come together very well, even if the individual chapters have some nifty stuff.

You could (and some do) make the argument that the collected work is going to be fucked no matter what, so everyone should just concentrate on making their own segment as impressive as possible. I don't have an argument against this, except that it would make more sense for someone who feels that way to be doing his or her own self-contained project instead of working at cross-purposes with a group of other storytellers.

In other news, Will Pfeiffer, Pete Woods' collaborator on Catwoman, was interviewed recently over at Comicon.

Here's a look back at Karl Kesel and Rob Liefeld's Hawk and Dove miniseries.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

TABU by Fletcher Hanks. 

The writing's like Bob Burden writing Tarzan for radio, and the art is equally surreal. There's an old piece of advice where pencilers are told to make the page work like a silent film. Fletcher seems to have taken it literally and stuck with the limited camera placements and stage-audience distance from the action that characterized some of the earliest silents.

Read TABU here.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Jim Ottaviani visits Mercury 

We were lucky enough to have Jim Ottaviani of G.T. Labs as a guest in the studio last week. Here's Jim showing off some of Mark Schultz's illustrations from a book he's got coming out soon: the never-before published autobiography of legendary dinosaur artist Charles R. Knight. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy and the book is a lively, fun read. And Schultz's illustrations are, of course, just mind-blowingly good. For you technique-geeks, he's working in a wash-and-pencil manner like that of of F.R. Gruger.

(It's surprisingly hard to find any of Gruger's wash drawings online, but the guy was, by any reckonning, an a-number-one badass of American illustration.) I'll see if I can find something for another post.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Artist Alley Tips, pt. 90 

I started to post some tips to David Lewis in the comments, and then realized I could squeeze a post out of it. It's also really to me and the other Mercury astronauts, because we need to remember all this as the summer convention season revs up.

First, you ain't smelt Nothing unless you attended the old NY conventions at the Javits Center! Some particularly ripe fans who exuded Campbell's soup as my pal Chris would say.Okay, I admit that wasn't helpful.

My suggestions: suffer no fools. If you get some sweats-wearing shmoe who's just using you for a sounding board, tell him to beat it, post-haste. These creatures will drive away the nice folks in droves. You'll be doing the normals a favor.

Have a give-away thingy or quick sketch for every kid you see. This helps build a civil atmosphere. Really it's always good to have a free item like posters or bookmarks for the Giant Bag crowd who come just to get freebies. It sends them on their way fast without you having to waste anymore of your voice.

Oddly, I've had the big mainstream/little indy show nuisances switch on me, I guess to keep me on my toes. There was this one guy at SPX and another little show who kept bringing me sketchbooks asking me to draw superheroes in them. Then when I'd make a modest suggestion that he try my self-published gn, he'd answer "whoa-ho, wish I had the money, gotta watch the wallet here, etc." After I spent real time on his damn book, too! God help me when he finds out I'm writing a Fantastic Four book. And then I've been at big, intercom-crazy, wrestling-match-featuring Wizard shows where people sought me out for the independent work I've done, and come back even after missing me at the table (I go walkies a lot).

I've always liked that Wondercon forms ask if there's anyone you DON'T want to sit next to. They all should do that. Because I remember those guys with the bullhorns and boomboxes, and work to get far from them.

I'll try to think of more. Lieber didn't mention it, but he's big on carrying hand sanitizer to shows, that's a good one.

--posted by PARKER--

Monday, June 13, 2005

The latest. 

A David Lewis is venting a bit about conventions. I've done a few conventions in my time, so I can certainly sympathize, but it's an indisputable truth that the more someone needs to read a rant like this, the less likely he is to recognize himself in your depictions.

You can go ahead and let off some steam, but be aware that all you are going to do is
A: get a few nods from people who already agree with you, and
B: irritate some inoffensive fat people who might have bought your work.

Ranting doesn't work. What does? The most (read that as "the only") successful strategy I've found is just carving out your own sane space at a show. If you've got a table, do everything you can make the two feet in front of it a place where the people that you want to meet feel good about spending their time. You'll soon find that you get plenty of attention from those people and a lot less from the ones you want to avoid.

Jeff Parker once said that everyone gets the fans they deserve. If you find this notion disturbing rather than comforting, I don't know what to tell you.

I enjoyed this two-part interview with Joe Kubert: part 1
part 2

A freind of the studio pointed us to these sketches by Pete and Rebbecca Woods.

And the indispensable Tom Spurgeon has interviewed the irreplaceable Jim Ottaviani over at Comics Reporter.

Matthew Clark's recent gallery exhibit set a record for the gallery for the size of the crowds and the number of works sold. It also got some amusing ink at Willamette Week.

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