Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Review: Apama vol.2

I recently finished reading volume 2 of the adventures of Cleveland's greatest new hero, Apama! Apama is the comic I called "the comic I’ve been waiting for for years"  after reading the first issues in the initial collection. The adventures continue in volume 2, and just get more offbeat and quirky, while keeping the Bronze-Age feel that worked so well in the first volume.

For the life of our main character,  Ilyia Zjarsky (secretly the super-powered Apama) Volume 2 is almost too brutal! Writers Ted Sikora and Milo Miller never give Apama much of a break. Our main character is trying hard to be a hero, but he's really having trouble living out his dreams. He's unable to stop the evil Regina, for example. In fact, Ilyia seems pretty scared of her, and I think I would be too! Also, Apama can't keep his love life together, and his super-persona is becoming the least liked hero in Cuyahoga County!


I was surprised with the twists in the love life of our protagonist. I really thought his pairing with Vica was something special. Now, not only does she flee from his affections, but we find out her attraction to him may be the result of the Apama spirit, and not Ilyia's great personality.

And I can't write this without mentioning "Ten Cent Beer Night", a hilarious story based on the all-to-real disastrous promotion the Cleveland Indians once attempted. The results of which in the Apama world are even worse!!

The art by Benito Gallego is as good in vol.2 as it was in the beginning, and I found myself often staring at the pictures and forgetting to read on in the story.


Finally, I must mention the Tap Dance Killer, the greatest creation since Apama perhaps. She's a great villain who isn't really a villain, and she's funny and scary at the same time. I also read the first issue of the Tap Dance Killer spin-off comic, and she's even better as the start of her own book, as it fleshes out the character even more. Nicolaus Harrison's art isn't the same as Benito's, and I honestly like Benito a lot more. Harrison could use more organic inks, with less of a scratchy look. Storytelling is very solid, though!

Now I'll try to write a conclusion. How's this: Apama continues to surprise me, with plot choices I don't expect. an almost too real journey of our main character trying to be a hero, and super art that melds perfectly with the writing style to create something the likes of which hasn't been seen since 70s Marvel. I hope this encourages others to do great super-hero comics also!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Spider-Man and Steve Ditko

Steve Ditko, the artist who created the iconic look of Spider-Man, recently passed away. Though just about everyone has already written about Ditko's impact on comics, let me add my thoughts.

Ditko is often mention third in importance in creating Marvel Comics. That is, besides Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko was the most responsible for the look and feel of what became the Marvel Universe. I think putting him third is appropriate. Anyone who thinks it's an insult to be listed directly after Lee and Kirby is crazy. Ditko's supreme ability to write with his art, including plotting many issues of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, helped Stan Lee get the Marvel Universe off the ground. Spider-Man was the character that needed Ditko, because Ditko could make him look like a gangly teen and not an adult athlete, and Ditko's web design has stood the test of time as a great look for a costumed crime fighter.

I would not put Ditko on my list of the top 10 best artists, and I do think I like John Romita's take on Spidey better overall, but that just shows that Ditko couldn't be best at everything. But he more important and influential than many people know.

Here's my take on Spidey. I tried to give him very Ditko-like eyes, which I don't normally do.



Monday, July 23, 2018

Movie Review: Please Stand By

There are two types of people in the world" Those who think "Please Stand By' is a Star Trek movie, and those who are wrong.

Well, I've never even actually heard anyone debate Please Stand By. But I think I make my point.

I wanted to talk about this movie because I think it makes such a great Star Trek movie, and because it hits the right notes concerning the lives of people who have autism. The film tells the story of Wendy (played by Dakota Fanning), a young woman with autism who lives in a group home. She has a job and a daily routine and is totally obsessed with Star Trek. The main focus of the movie is Wendy writing a screenplay for a Star Trek contest and delivering it on time to be considered for the judging.

But first let's talk about autism. I've been teaching over 20 years now, with many students on the spectrum. Most of my years were in Special Education, so I've had more training in the area than most people. The one thing I'll say about autism is that it's hard to define the characteristics of the condition. Every individual is, well, an individual, and there is no "typical" person with autism. However the depiction of Wendy in the movie is totally all hits in my opinion. Wendy's biggest challenge is socializing, including understanding other people's feelings and interacting with them. For example, she hates making eye contact with others, doesn't show interest in other's conversations (even when she is listening) and doesn't express her opinions very politely (she says "it sucks" a lot). But despite her limitations, Wendy does have people and things she cares about, and she definitely cares about one thing in particular.


Wendy loves Star Trek. Personally, I'm not a huge Trek person, but I do have things I obsess over (Harry Potter, Greek Mythology, Ms. Marvel, and Star Wars for example.) But I do know enough Star Trek to get the references in this movie. I also know plenty of people who geek out on Star Trek as much as Wendy. (Speaking Klingon is more common than one might think!) And Wendy's obsession with Star Trek fits perfectly, especially her identifying with Mr. Spock. Spock, probably the most recognized Trek character is half-Vulcan half-Human. Vulcan's are a humanoid race known for being very logical and non-emotional. Wendy is also very logical and unemotional.

Which is why this is a great Star Trek movie, without being a Star Trek movie. I won't go into details about the plot, but the plot wasn't my motivation to write this. Just watch the movie, and tell me if you agree! Okay?

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Black Panther

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I do love the character! Especially as drawn by Kirby, but there are a few Black Panther series that are very good. Priest's series and the multi-part in Marvel Comics Presents for example. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Black Lightning-- 3 stages of drawing

Recently finishing the excellent Black Lightning mini-series got me motivated to try my hand at the character's current look. I scanned it in all 3 stages (pencil, ink, color). Tough costume, but looks cool!




Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Ms. Marvel drawing-ink and color

I noted a while back how much I enjoy reading about Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, star of Marvel Comic's The Champions as well as her own series. It inspired me to do this drawing, and I recently purchased a new set of markers, so I wanted to try some color. I have some more art I plan to post soon.



Monday, March 26, 2018

Emma Gonzalez

I don't like to get political here, after all I'm here to promote art. But I'm also a teacher (elementary art) and I am aware of difficulties facing America's youth. I am also often dismayed by adults who discount all of the young people in our country as lazy and useless. Therefore, I will now note that I am very proud of the young activists, willing to speak up and persevere despite the criticism they know is coming their way. In particular, I wish to give credit to Emma Gonzalez, who has become the face of the March for our Lives movement.

Emma, your courage leaves me astonished and proud. You didn't ask to be on center stage, but you've handled it with class and done far better things than many of us old people. I call you a hero. My hero.

Emma Gonzalez meets with Congressman Ted Deutch.png

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Justice SOCIETY of America

Someone asks, "Is your favorite Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, or John Stewart?"

"None of those." I answer.

"You like that new guy, Simon whatzit? Or that Jessica woman?"

"Not even close."

"Oh, you don't mean you like Kyle Rayner?"

"You aren't thinking. My favorite Lantern, the greatest of all Green Lanterns, is the original ring-wearing super hero himself, Alan Scott!"


You see, I have a particular affinity for the Golden-Age heroes of DC Comics past. In fact, I invariably prefer the original versions over the Silver Age reboots. Why? I think there's a grittiness in the old heroes. The Silver Age Green Lantern, Flash, and Hawkman, seem a lot more like typical generic heroes, whereas the Golden Age heroes seem more human. Less powerful and more down to Earth.

And I also love the heroes of the Golden Age that didn't get rebooted. Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite in particular have excellent powers and great costumes.

But anyway, the point of this is to praise a couple of comic series of old that featured these characters. I used to love reading the JLA/JSA Earth1/Earth2 crossovers to see these old heroes interact with the then-current DC super folk. The crossover issues were by far the best JLA stories, I think, and they showed how these characters could be used well.

In the 80's legendary comics writer Roy Thomas wrote the All-Star Squadron, an Earth-2 comic set during the 1940s. It was a great comic, and showed how you could write "modern" versions of these characters, but set in their historic framework. (This is the perfect companion to Thomas' Invaders at Marvel.) All-Star Squadron got nerfed when DC merged their worlds, but at least it led to one more great series with the Golden Age guys and gals.

In the late 1990's, DC started a Justice Society of America comic, featuring the classic characters Green Lantern, Wildcat, and the Flash, all kept in their prime via various means despite being WWII vets. Launched by writers James Robinson and David Goyer and eventually mostly written by Geoff Johns, with art by many but mostly Stephen Sadowski and Leonard Kirk, this is THE greatest JSA series I have ever read!  It's currently in reprint and I even picked up a couple trades at bargain prices recently (to fill holes in my collection). So there's no reason to not go buy at least some of this series!

Or read any of the JSA-related series. You'll find something great!



Monday, February 26, 2018

Lizard Man returns!

And I guess so does my blog, since I haven't posted anything since November!  But I have been drawing, especially getting ahead on Mutant Elf. But as for Lizard Man--I did this sketch to warm up for his appearance in this year's OH, Comics! Available at SPACE this year.



 Details:

Oh,Comics! #26 “Money”.
The annual small press anthology featuring 14 strips by Billy McKay, Brent Bowman, Matt Feazell, Jim Mackey, Troy Vevasis, Aleksandar Jovic, Steven Myers, Matt Levin, Kel Crum, Pam Bliss, Sue Olcott, John C. Bruening, J.M.Hunter, Michael A Carroll, Sami Marshall, Ray Tomczak and Bob Corby with cover by Brent Bowman.