Category Archives: Comics that Matter

Roy Thomas and Ty Templeton? Sometimes things work out perfectly!

I’ve mentioned once or twice on this blog that my first ever comic book that I purchased with my own money was Avengers #58

Start collecting comics right here, and then get back to me.

Rascally Roy Thomas, Big John Buscema, Gorgeous George Klein…PLUS the Vision joins the Avengers, and has a good cry.   I suggest that it’s one of the best comics of the Sixties, and certainly one of the reasons I’m addicted to these funny books in general and the Vision in specific.  I had older brothers, and had read comics for a year or so previous, and even had a copy of the Avengers from just two months before, bought by my Grandmother I believe…

I still have these original copies, still in pretty good shape after all these years. Thanks Grandma.

But #58 is where I start spending my own 12 cents a month on these things, thus Roy Thomas and Ultron and these characters mean a LOT to me.

So you can imagine my unspeakable joy in being asked to collaborate with Roy Thomas on an Avengers project.  The Hero Initiative (a charity organization that helps out comic book creators in retirement and in need with medical expenses and other necessities) wanted me to ink a cover that Roy Thomas had penciled.

Fig. 1. The Rascally One himself.

You heard me right.  Roy Thomas pencils.

He edits. He writes. And now, he draws!

Mark Waid, and Jim McLauchlin, the two folks who asked me to help out, asked me to “tweak” the art so it was a little more “on model” for the characters, but I was torn…I figured anyone who might want to bid on a Roy Thomas original comic cover for charity might not want it obscured by the inker.  I sure wouldn’t.  So I tried to clean up the drawing without obliterating the one-of-a-kind Roy Thomas pencils.

Here’s what I came up with.

I added a wing to Thor's helmet, and those little round things to Iron Man's hips, but otherwise tried to keep as much to the original as I could manage...while tarting it up with shading and linework.

And I couldn’t be happier.  How often does anyone get a chance to work with one of the people who inspired them as a young child?  And with the very characters that were involved in that inspiration?  And for a good cause?  Sometimes things work out perfectly.

Go here to check out the Hero Initiative Website and their entry on this cover.

And if you’ve never heard of Roy Thomas, SHAME on you.  He’s one of the most important creators in comics, and besides being responsible for about a third of the Marvel Universe, and a small chunk of the DCU,  Roy is the reason you’ve heard of Conan, and probably the reason you’ve heard of the Golden Age of Comics.

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, you Roy Thomas Moment from Avengers #58:

ALSO:  He apparently played baseball in the Seventies…

 

Unless it's just a common sounding name...

 

Why Cartoons are the ultimate communicators

I’m fairly sure we’ve all seen the horror in Arizona played out on our TVs these last few days.  Once the facts are exhausted, the cable morons have nothing to fill time with, so they blather about blame, motivation, speculation and whatever pops into their heads.  Don’t watch it, it won’t help you understand anything.

But if you’d like to see the last 48 hours of pundit shouting explained,  check out the following-

I don’t often agree with Glenn McCoy politically, but I can’t fault a single pixel of this image.  He’s summed up hours and hours of shouting and nonsense from BOTH sides of the political spectrum, into one easily digested image, and TA-DAA, you don’t have to watch CNN and FOX anymore.  Can ANY art form do that as well as a cartoon?

Like newspaper comic strips, the political cartoon is a dying art.  Sigh…but while it’s still out there, I’m still going to treat it like an object of precious gold when it’s done right.

The image was found at gocomics.com (specifically at Glenn’s page here).

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, your Sarah Palin Comic book moment:

This is one of MANY Sarah Palin comic book covers.  This woman has more titles than Wolverine lately.

Mike Esposito and Mickey Demeo, R.I.P.

Ah, darn it, I hate this sort of news.

Mike Esposito, two of my favorite inkers of the Silver Age (and beyond), has passed away at the age of 83.   If you’ve read a comic drawn by Ross Andru (and who of my generation hasn’t?  Ross Andru drew Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, Superman, Marvel Team-Up, and a host of other books) then you’ve seen Mike Esposito’s inking, as Andru VERY RARELY drew anything without his life-long friend Mike along to do the finished art in brush and pen.  They met in high school, I believe, and were attached at the hip for decades.

Yup, Ross and Mike were responsible for the SILLIEST villain in the history of comics:  the mighty “Egg Fu”, and I couldn’t have been happier.  But it didn’t just stop there, Mike contributed his brush to the INFERIOR FIVE, the MANIAKS, and a host of other bizarre Silver Age treasures that no one read but me.  And if his astoundingly prolific DC career wasn’t enough, Esposito was also an entirely other person:  Marvel inker, MICKEY DEMEO, who inked more of Marvel’s Silver Age than you’d believe.  (Mike was worried his DC work would dry up if he was known to be working for the competition, so he used a pen name at Marvel for about a decade, working on  some of the earliest and most “key” issues of the Marvel Sixties with Buscema, Kirby, Gil Kane, etc.).

It’s almost impossible to find a major DC or Marvel series that didn’t find their way under Mike (or Mickey’s) hands at some point, and we all owe both of him a huge thank you for the pantheon of memorable characters he helped bring us.

As always, Mark Evanier has the details.

No moment of zen for this one.  I’m in no mood to be amusing.

Ty the Guy OUT!

Today, for Spirit Day

a re-posting of “The  Seven Best Gay Characters in Comics” (originally posted September 13, 2010)

Last week, the seven most MISGUIDED attempts at Gay Characters in comics.  This week:  The Seven Best Gay Characters in Comics -   Because the glass is half full, and I know how to swirl it around.

Who am I to make such a list?  What are my credentials?
I’ve read more comics than you have – (Unless you’re Mark Waid, and then I’m sorry for being presumptuous, my superior master) -  And because I have a blog and you don’t.   I found this one on the street near my friend Kevin’s house, and now it’s mine , so no one can stop me.

THE SEVEN BEST GAY CHARACTERS IN COMICS.

7) WICCAN

(BILLY KAPLAN) - (and his boyfriend Hulkling (TED ALTMAN)

Can you guess which one’s called “Hulkling” and which one’s “Wiccan”?

Wiccan is part of a Mighty Marvel Royal Family.

Kissing cousin to damn near everyone.

He is (more or less) the son of mutant Wanda Maximov (the Scarlet Witch), making him the grandson of Magneto (X-Men bad guy), nephew to Quicksilver (X-Men/Avenger asshole), twin brother of SPEED (Young Avengers teen), and step-son (?) to the Silver Age Vision, who used to be the golden age Human Torch -  also Wiccan is first cousin to Luna, daughter or Crystal, who was the ex-girlfriend of the CURRENT Human Torch, which makes Billy Kaplan part of the extended families of the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the Avengers – requiring every Marvel hero but Daredevil to let him crash on the couch for two days, unannounced.

And Wiccan’s boyfriend, Hulkling, is the son of Captain Mar-vell and a Skrull Princess named Analee.  So he’s an Avengers brat too.

Young Avengers Presents #3

It’s often said that there’s someone gay in every extended family in America (whether you know it or not) and Marvel finally acknowledged it with one of the main families of the Marvel U.

But what really lands BILLY on the list are these scenes from YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS  Issue #3…. Wiccan has spent the issue with his brother, trying to find his missing, presumed dead mom, the Scarlet Witch, and along the way, they’re told she’s not going to be found, and handed this piece of advice….

-and when he’s home later, with Hulkling, he realizes how wonderful THAT moment with his boyfriend is…

Notice, the gay boyfriend isn’t a temptation to deny, or a problem to solve, or a secret to hide from his family – the boyfriend is a magical blessing in Wiccan’s life.  There’s yer hopeful ending, right there, and it comes from someone in the family… the “Dick Cheney’s daughter” of the Marvel Universe, if I may use a metaphor bluntly and badly.

6)  BATWOMAN

-KATE KANE

Pretty. pretty…

After the first few Batwoman issues of Detective I found I liked the comic, but didn’t love the protagonist.  It was BEAUTIFULLY illustrated by J.H.Williams III, over an action -packed Greg Rucka plot about a weird Alice in Wonderland cult -all entertaining as hell — but I hadn’t had that “moment” where I was won over by Batwoman, (or Kate Kane), as a character in her own right.  There was much butt kicking and leaping, but ALL the bat-gang do that.

-
But then, we came to this scene in Detective 856, where Ms. Kane arrives at a charity function dressed in a formal tuxedo, rocking a post-goth, post-Patrick Nagel thing, and strutting like it was her palace.

Her confidence in facing down disapproving relatives and openly flirtatious police captains, won me over but good.
I love her body language, her dialog, that touch of arrogance, all while working clues to a super-crime in her head.  Dare I say it, it reminded me of Bruce Wayne – in a way that Dick Grayson, Tim Drake or Barbara Gordon never did – the way Kate just OWNED that room and the story.


So as of ‘Tec 856, Kate Kane had “it” for me.
As the next few issues followed, and we learned of Kate’s bizarre back story, her brutal family tragedy, her “honorable” discharge from the Army, and her wonderful, complex relationship with her father, this comic became the surprise hit of the year for me.  More of this, thanks!
And oh, yeah.  She’s gay.  Just part of the overall weave, my friends.

5) MARK SLACKMEYER

From Doonesbury.

Mark is one of the four founding characters of one of the five best comic strips of the 20th Century  (PogoCalvin and HobbesPeanuts and L’il Abnerare the other four) and DECADES into Mark’s story in the strip, he turns out to be gay.  It seemed a little forced when the idea first arrived, but I never should have doubted Mr. Garry Trudeau, Lord of the Doonesbury.  In fairly short order, Megaphone Mark, the ultra liberal student radical turned NPR radio host settles down with a man who is his opposite in nearly every way – a log cabin Republican, conservative money-pusher named Chase Talbot III (who is the embodiment of Mark’s much hated, ultra-conservative father) and they become a bickering married couple on the radio.  BRILLIANT comics, great satire and very real human comedy for anyone with a passing recognition of the Oedipal Complex or the tropes of 70s family sitcoms.

And yet, they’re in love.

Mark and Chase are separated now, but their time together was a high water mark in what is still the best comic strip running in  American papers.

4)  MIDNIGHTER

-(and his lovely husband, Apollo)
From the ultra right wing, ultra violent Wildstorm series, STORMWATCH, comes the most militant homosexual “super-hero” in history.
What’s not to LOVE about Midnighter?  He’s Gay Batman, for god’s sake.  PLUS he’s got a special instant super-healing power, and a murderous temper which makes him gay Wolverine-Batman.  Which is really gay Dark

Like this guy…only attracted to men, see?

Claw, and that’s the whole enchilada right there.  Gay Dark Claw. Dark Claw, only gay.  And his boyfriend is essentially gay Superman, only  named Apollo.  It makes me wish I was gay, so I could love Midnighter even more.

What started off as a Warren Ellis one-joke about a long believed super-hero subtext, became an actually interesting pair of characters over the next few years of Stormwatch, and then, AUTHORITY.   Midnighter and Apollo were a little more bloodthirsty than you expected, more fiercely loyal to each other than you expected, and more physically affectionate with each other than any other gay characters in comics were at the time, but they were written with wit and cleverness, even if the dialog tended towards sneering British ‘tude, And they were a genuine couple, in love and committed to each other, even adopting a child together.  (A reincarnation of a teammate, but let’s not go THERE).

They really do kiss a lot, these two…when they’re not slaughtering super-villains.

When MIDNIGHTER launched in his own monthly series, the first couple of story lines included one of the BEST time travel adventures ever, and some of the best done-in-one comic tales being published.
He’s Gay Dark Claw.  Does this need to be explained again?

-

3) LAWRENCE POIRIER

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE

Coming out to your family or friends was a dangerous thing to do in 1993. Lynn Johnson, creator of FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE, discovered it was a dangerous thing to do on the comics pages of your local newspaper.

When Michael Patterson’s life long friend Lawrence told Michael he was gay, Lynn Johnson received countless hate letters and death threats from around the world….just for showing the comic strip pages that a gay person simply existed.  Over one hundred newspapers in the United States dropped her very popular comic strip until the offendingly gay Lawrence was out of the spotlight … And the intolerance wasn’t just in the real world for this poor teen -  As his fictional story continued, Lawrence told his stepfather he’d met a college boy and fallen in love, and that bit of honesty got Lawrence thrown out of his house.

Now, in the middle of all that abuse and hatred, Lawrence does something remarkable:   He remains polite.  He rages very little, he tells Michael how much he appreciates his friend’s support, and quietly waits for the rest of the world to realize how badly they’re behaving towards him.  He makes this an epic story of dignity in the middle of intolerable behavior from damn near everyone else.  All from a small, slightly terrified 17 year old boy.

THAT’s a Super-hero in my book.

2)  TOLAND POLK

Stuck Rubber Baby
Toland Polk is a fictionalized character, very loosely based on the early life of writer/ artist  HOWARD CRUSE, one of comics’ more notably “out” underground cartoonists of the 70s and 80s.  The 1995 graphic novel STUCK RUBBER BABY is a dense narrative about Toland’s early adulthood, living in the American South in the 1960s, and slowly discovering that he’s slightly racist, and very gay, and that he can only learn to stop being ONE of those things.
One of the best novels I’ve ever read about growing up.  It won the Harveyand the Eisner for best Graphic Novel in 95, as well as a bunch of other best thing-on-Earth awards that year.  Stuck Rubber Baby, stands with Maus, Barefoot Gen or Contract with God, as a rare comic life story that NEVER leaves you.  By the time it’s over, Toland Polk is one of your favorite people.

-

1) ESPERANZA “HOPEY” GLASS.

LOVE AND ROCKETS.

Teen Hopey, mind you.

Ahh….Love and Rockets - the 80s comic book you could give your date, andshe would “get it”.  QUICK HISTORY LESSON: Fangirls started hanging around comic shops because of Jaime Hernandez’ “LOCAS” series in Love and Rockets, long before Sandman was a gleam in VERTIGO’s creepy eye.

Though it started as the sci-fi story of two giggling, pro-solar mechanics named Maggie and Hopey (and Maggie’s major crush, RAND RACE), the series, LOCAS, quickly became about two unemployed EX-pro-solar mechanics/ slackers who hang around the LA Hispanic 80s Punk Rock / Wrestling world, falling in and out of trouble (and love) while picking up an ASTOUNDINGLY complex and interesting supporting cast.
What holds the series together, is that EVERYBODY loves the adorable lead character, Maggie Chascarrillo –

Ray loves Maggie.  Speedy loved Maggie.  Penny loves Maggie.  Izzy loves Maggie, and the readers love Maggie, but MOST of all, HOPEY loves Maggie.

Hopey really, really loves her.  It makes Hopey’s jackboot-wearing street-cynic party-girl butch-punk lesbian heart melt every time she’s in a room with Mags, and Maggie loves Hopey right back, except Mags couldn’t give up men forever, even for Hopey….which is the basis for much of the drama in the first decade of their relationship.

We’ve all watched Hopey’s heart break a few times, and along the way, I think we all fell in love with the abrasive little bitch who couldn’t play the bass worth a damn.  She was annoyingly human, after all.

Jamie’s not mean to Hopey…she gets to kiss Mags every now and then.

The stunning artwork by author/artist  Jamie Hernandez didn’t hurt the reader’s enjoyment of the series either.

THERE WAS NO ROOM FOR MORE

I didn’t write about Anole, or Graymalkin, or any of the gay X-Men, because I confess I rarely read X-Men books (there’s simply too many), and I’m not familiar with their stories, sorry.  Krazy Kat was strongly considered, but Kat went from being male to female so regularly, that Ignatz may have been bisexual, instead of gay, without knowing it, and who needs that confusion?  There was simply no room for Bitchy Butch (Roberta Gregory’s wonderfully awful dyke character fromNaughty Bits), or Element Lad, orConstantine, or any from the legion of lesbian detectives, wonderful characters all.

-And finally…

Get yer mind out of the gutter right now, soldier!

… I never brought up Peppermint Patty and Marcie because they aren’t lesbians, all right?  Get over it people.  They both had a crush on “Chuck”, and ONLY Chuck, never each other… and you can’t tell a person’s orientation simply because of how they wear pants.  Marcie didn’t even LIKE softball.  Good GRIEF! Don’t be such a hater.

TY THE GUY OUT!

Here now, your comic book moment of zen:

Happy Birthday Joe Simon!

MARVEL COMICS first ever editor-in-chief is 97 years old today, and looking damn fine.

The man c0-created Captain America, the Sandman, Newsboy Legion and a host of other characters, and managed to do it in an era when a black soul singer could not have had an easy time of it in the New York publishing industry.

Oh wait, that might be the wrong Joe Simon.  Wait a second…

That’s better.  Joe Simon, co-creator of Captain America and a host of other titles.

He’s known primarily for his work with Jack Kirby, Timely, and DC, in the Golden Age of comics, introducing the world to the BOY’S RANCH, THE BOY COMMANDOS, FIGHTING AMERICAN, THE FLY, SANDMAN AND SANDY, and romance and horror comics in general.  Simon, along with Kirby, were the original “IMAGE” comics, as they formed their own creator-based company, called MAINLINE COMICS, in the fifties, long before disgruntled Marvel employees of the nineties were a gleam in their disgruntled parents’ eyes!

So much of this was before my time, I only know about it through reprints and history books. …HOWEVER, I am old enough to recall the Joe Simon comics of the late 60s and early 70s, and they were so F***ING WEIRD that they remain amongst my favorite comics of all time.

Who but Joe Simon would have given us BROTHER POWER:  THE GEEK?

 

No biting the heads off of chickens in here...it's actually far weirder.

 

Crazy bikers, hippies galore and midgets in turbans is the standard for this title, only two issues of which were ever published.  In the late sixties, if you wanted a writer to talk to the new generations of peace and love, turn to a man in his fifties and let ‘im loose.  This wasn’t Joe’s only foray into talking to the young…just a few years later, Joe Simon would create the BEST comic DC would ever publish about teenage politics.

 

See what happens when you let 18 year olds vote?

 

The loons in the car with Prez are his cabinet, I kid you not.  The Native American fellow was Secretary of State, and he never wore a shirt, even to peace talks with Israel.  Go daddy, go!   When I was 14, this comic spoke to me, but mostly it told me to go kill the neighbor’s dog.

 

Because money solves everything.

 

Another of the Joe Simon lunatic-masterpieces of the 70s.   It’s Richie Rich meets the Newsboy Legion, and it lasted three issues, only ONE of which was actually published.  My favorite part of this comic was the subtle racism that the white kids either inherited or earned their millions…but the black kid got his money through a glitch in the bank that accidentally credited a shoe-shine boy’s account with a million dollars, because, you know…well…he was black.

My all time favorite of the wacky 70s Joe Simon creations was his last pairing with his original partner Jack Kirby for another run at the character name “SANDMAN”.

It was a precursor to the Vertigo series.  The main character lived in the “Dream Dome” and was able to enter the dreams of living people, and fight their nightmares.  And it was drawn by Kirby and inked by WALLY WOOD!  Talk about a Dream Team!  Unfortunately for DC and the rest of us, Simon, Kirby and Wood weren’t available for an issue #2, and they handed it off to lesser teams until the book was canceled 5 issues later. (Kirby did a couple more art jobs, but without Simon and Wood…meh).

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOE SIMON!  Marvel Comics, and the industry in general, would be nothing like it is today without you.  Thanks for helping Kirby find his style, and this youthful comic fan his joy in Oddball Comics.  You continue to be the legend you are.  Many more to come.

TY THE GUY OUT!

Here now, your comic book moment of zen.

Steve Rude Needs Us!

I just read today that Steve Rude is in dire money straights, and needs some help to save his home.  Seriously.

Steve is the one on the left.

The following is re-posted from THE COMICS REPORTER, from an email Rude the Dude sent out to his subscribers last week.  I just found out, and am forwarding it to the dozens of folks who read this blog, just in case…

S.O.S. — Help Steve Rude keep his house

Hey Guys,

Sorry for the dramatic headline but it really is appropriate. Like everyone else, Steve has been effected by the economic downturn, so much so that his house will be up for auction November 15th.

Link to Steve’s Facebook blog here

In an effort to stave off the foreclosure, Steve has put up pages from The Next Nexus mini-series on eBay at really low prices. Pages from issues #1 and #2 are already up on eBay and issues #3 and #4 will up in a week or two.

Link to Steve’s eBay auctions here

Link to Steve’s store where all the issues as well as other art are shown. here

There’s a lot of pages with the main characters left as well as plenty of pages with his fantastic spaceship designs (they are so very cool.)

His commission list is temporarily closed until he whittles down his backlog a bit but will be opened back up shortly

I want YOU for the Steve Rude Rescue Army

Steve is one of those artists who keeps the rest of us honest.  We look at his work and honestly want to break our own fingers because we know we will never be in his league.

If he needs help, let’s go help.

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, your comic moment of zen:

(cartoon by Bob Gorrell)-

More Canadian Superheroes!

Okay, I’ll admit I’m a Canadian.  It’s something I was born with, I’m not bragging or anything…

And as a result of all that Canadian blood in my veins, and stuff, y’all know that I’m the writer for a new mini-series from Moonstone Books featuring Johnny Canuck and the heroes of the NORTHERN GUARD, all based on the Canadian Golden Age comic book heroes….

Ty Templeton, David Cutler, KT Smith, covers Jason Edmiston

but did y’all know that my wife, the lovely and talented KT SMITH, is the letterer  for ANOTHER Canadian superhero series, an online extravaganza called HEROES OF THE NORTH? And they JUST put up the latest issue of the online comic and the latest episode of the online live-action series.

written by Michel Brouillette & Yann Brouillette/ art by Marcus MASMan Smith/ letters by KT Smith

You heard me right, snow-heroes…HOTN has downloadable comics, live action webisodes, and more, and it’s great fun.  Click here to bathe in the rich, bacony goodness of heroism amidst the tundra fur trappers. (Click HERE to join their Facebook Fan Page)

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, your comic book moment of zen:

THE TOP SEVEN WILDSTORM COMICS

So, DC announces their imprint, WILDSTORM COMICS, is pulling up stakes and going quietly into that good night.  That’s too bad.  We’re told it’s part of a streamlining of DC’s business machine as it moves into the west coast movie industry, but it’s still a failure if the books ain’t selling enough to keep ‘em going.

“So long, Wildstorm“.  We can’t say we hardly knew ye, as you were here for quite a while, and you left an impression.  Sure, you stole every character you had, some of it bordering on criminal, but happily quite a bit of what Wildstorm did was quite good.  And since I’m in a good mood, we’ll leave the mistakes behind for today and focus on…

THE TOP SEVEN WILDSTORM COMIC BOOKS OF ALL TIME

7. WildC.A.T.S.

Trust us, this is nothing like the X-Men. For instance, the dwarf is smoking, and the guy with claw hands is taller.

This is not on the list for the characters or the premise, certainly, as that all sucked.  And it’s not for the entire run, obviously, because most of it sucked, and that’s primarily because the characters and the premise sucked.  But there were moments in that series where the craft of its creators was so high, that you had to sit back and marvel at how GOOD and fun comics could be when done right.  During the Alan Moore run (illustrated by Travis Charest, amongst others), or during the Travis Charest run, (written by Alan Moore, amongst others), WildC.A.T.S. was big and sexy and delightful and the PERFECT little pocket of escape from the world.

I'll bet these comics are pretty good. Kind of like the X-Men, only with better writing.

Okay, it WAS the X-MEN with a dwarf where the bald cripple was supposed to be, but it had NONE of that eighty-five year back-story to remember while the leaping and punching went on.   And let’s never take it away from the Jim Lee-illustrated issues – consistently the best Jim Lee ever looked. I usually like Jim Lee art, but I LOVE Jim Lee WildCATS art.

All so pretty. And that's not the Hulk back there. Or Superman in a white cape.

-

6. Danger Girl

If you’re a boy, and you like naked chicks with guns, or if you’re a girl, and you like other girls to be naked, and carry guns, than this was your comic.  To be fair, there were times that the characters would hang-glide in a bikini with guns, or sneak into a museum wearing a leather cat-suit, while carrying guns, but I think you get the idea.

I imagine you can see the appeal of this title, no?

It was the comic book version of Charlie’s Angels, only with more naked girls, and probably more guns.  J. Scott Campbell’s delightful sequel to Gen13, and more innocently fun, somehow, even with all the bums and guns.  It’s says it’s for adults, but it’s really for the trapped teenager in all of us.

5.  Midnighter

Come on, you love him too! And he's nothing like Batman.

Without question, Wildstorm’s single best character.  He’s gay Dark Claw, and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I couldn’t get enough of him.  Apparently, I’ve gotten all I’m gonna get.  He’d be on this list  just for his starring role in The Authority, but his solo series started strong, stayed strong, and even petered out strong.  I don’t want to give away the punch line to the time travel story arc that starts it, but it may be my favorite time travel comic story of the last twenty years.   Created by Warren Ellis and Brian Hitch in their stellar run on the otherwise not stellar Stormwatch, Midnighter is too good a character to lose.

4.  Ex Machina

In every way, shape and form, comics for adults, and by that I don’t mean that it was another parade of tits and swords like Danger Girl was.  Instead it was a mixture between a super-hero potboiler and a complex soap opera about municipal politics.  Something that only an adult would get, or be interested in, no matter how many jet packs or talking evil robots show up on the cover, it was just for us aging fanboys.  Indescribably odd, but entertaining as hell.
Written by Brian K. Vaughn, and drawn by the lovely Tony Harris.

3.Planetary

NOTE: Doc Savage is not on this cover. Nowhere on this cover.

The three step formula for this series was quite simple:  Every issue Warren Ellis and John Cassaday would
a)  Re-imagine a beloved old character (such as Doc Savage, Godzilla, The JLA, etc) and then…

b)   Beat them to death.

c)  Then the three weirdest “investigators” in the world would show up and do astoundingly weird things, and they would find out what happened.

That's also not Doc Savage in the logo, upper left.

Eventually it turned out, it was all part of one big weird plot featuring the “fourth man” and the “secret history” of the world, and it was all cool as hell while it was going on, especially Elijah Snow.

The series itself died and was resurrected years later, more alive than before.  And though it wasn’t his very first gig, it was the gig that gave the world a semi-regular visit with John Cassaday, for which we all owe Wildstorm a thank-you.

2. Authority

This is where All-Star Superman grew its balls. And that's not Batman, or Superman or anyone like the Justice League anywhere in this image.

An exploration of the theme of the benign, but fascist super-hero, first played with in Alan Moore’s Marvelman – I mean Miracleman – no, I mean Marvelman.  But rather than feeling like a re-hash, AUTHORITY featured such a line-up of top flight creators for so much of its run (Warren Ellis, Brian Hitch, Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Glen Fabry, Gene Ha, Mark Millar and more) that it had no choice but to be interesting.  My favorite characters were Midnighter and Apollo, but Hawksmoor, Jenny Sparks, The Doctor, maybe even Kev…all running a tight, close second…..  I understand the series started welcoming members of the WildCATS and GEN13 on board as sales lagged, but the first decade of the AUTHORITY was, as we said back then…da bomb!

1.  Astro City

That's not Superman on the sign, and he's not talking to Wonder Woman. What IS it with you people, seeing things that aren't there?

Kurt Busiek’s and Brent Anderson’s love letter to everything we live and breathe about comic book heroes.  I think this is the series that started the trend of “sampling” characters from other companies with a boldness that bordered on plagiarism.

The Thing, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, Superman...none of those characters are in this drawing, seriously. You'll never find them.

It wasn’t hard to figure out the disguises that Kurt and Brent, and cover artist Alex Ross, put on Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four, but that was entirely the point of the fun.  This was ALL one crazy What-if-Elsworlds-Imaginary story that we got to play in, and it was always, always, always a treat to visit.

ASTRO CITY started as an Image Comic, then it became part of the Homage Comics line, which was absorbed into the Wildstorm line, which is now being cancelled.  Astro City will survive this.   There will always be a place for this book with fans, no matter how many publishers it leaves in a smoking ruin.

Honorable mentions:

Sleeper: Too tied into Wildstorm Universe continuity to be truly compelling, but Ed Brubaker’s scripts and Sean Phillips’ art were too good to dismiss.  I read them in spite of myself.

Arrowsmith: World War One fought with Harry Potter magic, with doughboys riding dragons, fighting goblins, and getting covered in mud in a trench.  Like Fables with way more explosions.  By Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco.

GEN 13: The Horny X-Men.  J. Scott Campbell, Adam Hughes…all so pretty and meaningless, but fun and silly when you just want a snack.

TY THE GUY OUT!

Here now, your comic book moment of zen:

Hoverboy vs. Microwaves. Movies vs. Comics

Friday, my old nemesis, you've beaten me again.

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve had one of these Floatin’ Fighter of Crime entries.  As I may have mentioned, one of the trio of Hoverboy Museum curators (Marcus Moore) recently had his first son, Rowan, and it’s caused a bit of a slowdown at Hoverboy central.  But now that the toes and fingers have been counted (10) and life is settling back down, we should be regular like a middle-aged bran salesman again.

A few weeks ago, we were sent this ULTRA RARE Hoverboy to grade and give a value for…and considering how rare it is, we felt it’s best not to send it back through something as unreliable as the mail, so it’s staying with us for a while.

HOVERBOY #10
“Killing You Slowly- VERY SLOWLY!”
April, 1960

Monsieur Microwave was one of many 60′s characters created by Hoverboy co-creator, Charles Nutt, which expressed his irrational fear of technology and his fairly rational hatred for the French. (See also: Hoverboy #6 – “The Computerized Gaul”, and Hoverboy #11′s infamous “The Putrid Parisian’s Perverted Pig”. )

Microwave ovens were once a mysterious and misunderstood  household appliance, much like the “Slap Chop” or the “Sham Wow” is today.  According to personal correspondence from the time, Nutt was convinced that invisible microwaves would leave American appliance users impotent –-all part of a French plan to make themselves look sexier in the eyes of the world’s women.

In Monsieur Microwave’s first appearance in Hoverboy #2 (1958), restaurant Maitre D’ Jacque Penier turns evil, “…as all Frenchman eventually do…” and straps on the restaurant’s microwave to blast dozens of the clientele into pools of goo, before Hoverboy can stop him.  The character proved fairly unpopular, with letters running eleven to one against his ever appearing again, which made this follow up issue a strange gamble, alienating the audience as Nutt  did.

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And it proved disastrous for Nutt’s finances.  Not only was this the worst selling Hoverboy comic of that decade, but Nutt found himself again in court, when microwave manufacture TAPPAN STOVES sued Hoverboy for falsely representing their product. So here in HOVERBOY #10, we see the lethality of Monsieur Microwave reduced to long term effects that could not be legally disproven; such as drowsiness, hair loss, and swelling of the “man-fruit”.

An amusing co-incidence:  The artist for this run of Hoverboy, Dave Owen, was killed shortly after this issue was published.  Dave was on his way to a local hardware store to BUY a microwave oven, when he was attacked and eaten by a mountain lion.

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CONGRATULATIONS TO THE KILL SHAKESPEARE GUYS!!

A pair of young writers approached me a year or so ago, about getting a graphic novel, Kill Shakespeare, produced, in the hopes of someday turning it into a film.  I suggested that there was no guarantee of a film deal, but I thought their idea was good enough to help them find an artist, letterer, colourist, etc. for the project, and get them started.  Their enthusiasm was contagious.

Well, we’re a little over a year later, and not only did they produce a pretty good comic, but they may, in fact, be producing a film after all.    Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery (the creators) have just won the 11th annual PITCH THIS competition at the Toronto International Film Festival.  The prize is a whopping 10,000 bucks, and a chance to pitch real producers and get it made.

Go Shakespeare - Go Shakespeare -

Congratulations guys.  Your enthusiasm is as contagious today as it was last year.   Just remember me when you both have gated houses, right?  You’ll leave my name at the guard kiosk, so I can use the pool?

Read all about it here.

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, your Comic Book Moment of Zen

Alas poor comic strips, I knew them well.

I teach a class on writing and drawing comics at the TORONTO CARTOONISTS WORKSHOP, and the first class of the new semester started yesterday.  As I always do, I asked what comics the new students currently read, and what they grew up reading…to get a sense of the sort of stuff they’re looking to make.   This is the first class in which no one volunteered a comic strip as something they grew up reading.

Not Calvin and Hobbes, not Peanuts, not nothing, baby.

And last week, when I posted the Seven Best Gay Characters in Comics, it was noted that I included comic strips in that list as though that was odd.  So clearly, it is, nowadays.  I’m a relic.

It’s not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s a new thing, and so I mark it down.

Now, obviously there are still GREAT comic strips still being made.  I read Doonesbury daily, and I head over to www.gocomics.com when I need a massive comic strip/political cartoon fix, it’s one of my favorite bookmarks.

But there’s a big difference in the influence and penetration of the “newspaper comics” nowadays if you have to go FIND ‘em online, instead of just getting them delivered to your breakfast table while your parents read Sports – or finding a Sunday Comics Section on a table at a pizza place, or in any one of the thousands of places that newspaper comics used to be in the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I still prefer the internet and cures for diseases and stuff.  Future World all good, hoo baby!

But still…

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, your comic strip moment of zen.

a star is born