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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sneak Peak: Icons Inc

For the final part of our Kirby celebration, I aim to honor the man in the way I think he would have wanted most; by creating new characters, new situations, new worlds that are relevant and compelling. 

Here is a design for the protagonist of my project with co-creator Juha Halme. Juha did the artwork, naturally, and killed it. You'll see more soon. 

Cheers, and happy Kirby day to all! 

Seven Soldiers: Agents of SHADE

Jack Kirby was all about new ideas, sometimes in the form of new spins on old characters, sometimes in the form of new characters completely. Continuing our celebration of Jack Kirby's Birthday, I thought I'd post up a fan pitch I wrote just after Final Crisis for a "Seven Soldiers" ongoing team. It's a bit stupid and a bit fun to engage in these sorts of things, so I hope you'll indulge me.

For an ongoing I felt you had to abandon the nature of Grant Morrison's reformulation of the concept of a post-modern super team - literally deconstructed, as they never meet - for something a little bit more classic. As a high concept Morrison's Seven Soldiers is, of course, brilliant and reinforces a worldview that I personally subscribe to, but in practice it severely limits the potential of character dynamics and demands increasingly outrageous plot contrivance to make it work.

That said, I wanted to keep the aesthetic, gritty and weird and full of magic, super science and wonder, not quite Vertigo but not quite superheroes, either. Straddling that line. SHADE was my personal favorite super-organization in the DCU, and was introduced in Seven Soldiers, so it seemed appropriate to use them as a corralling agency and driving force. Of course, years later Jeff Lemire used an identical mechanism and even a near-identical title for his "Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE" ongoing in a pure case of synchronicity (and, as a result, i was quite excited for that one, though he went in a direction that didn't work for me)

With the SHADE mechanism in place certain characters from the original, I thought, didn't or wouldn't fit that grouping. Klarion was an explorer, not a defender, and with what could he possibly be bribed or cajoled? He cared for nothing but himself, Teekle, and new experiences. Zatanna was firmly grounded in the superhero universe; she was just too big, and too bright, for this(hypothetical)  kind of book, which would have a kind of early-Vertigo Doom Patrol feel to it. Manhattan Guardian, like Zatanna, was too bright and vibrant and straightforward for it. Plus, I didn't see it as plausible that he would be particularly desired, nor that he'd want to leave his prestigious job - a job which had given him back his confidence - to do it. The whole point of Bulleteer was that she would NOT become a superhero (even if fate was conspiring against her there), so she was out. I wanted the team to be gender diverse, so I chose The Bride instead of Frankenstein. From there I started to pick characters I personally enjoyed, I created one, and then picked a few that were somehow related to Seven Soldiers or Grant Morrison to fill out the cast.

The pitch is heavily grounded in DC continuity at the time, as you'll see, most of which is now totally defunct. Speaking of defunct, at least two of the characters cannot be used as they were created with an eye towards creator participation (as it should be!). The pitch, then, is completely nonviable, but hopefully not without it's charm.

Enjoy it, after the cut.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: Jack Kirby!

If you're reading this blog, I shouldn't have to tell you about Jack Kirby. His impact on the medium is unparalleled and inarguable. The majority of what we're reading, and watching, today is built on the back of the ideas that sprung forth from his brow, fully formed, crackling with kirby dots and pathos. 

From the depths of his imagination he plucked gods and monsters, newsboys and patriots, flying cities and living worlds, the dispossessed and creatures who were possessed. There was no limit to the variety of characters and places he could imagine, no limit to his ability to ignite the imaginations of generations to come like some living, eternal torch. 

What is sometimes lost in the warmth and the praise is the affirmation that this brilliance spread to the execution of his writing, too. Nowhere was this more clear than in his Fourth World Saga at DC. In typical Kirby fashion, each issue was packed with content, but more than that each story was packed with meaning, with depth and nuance that was not only unheard of in its day, it remains a supreme rarity in the entire medium. With a surprisingly few exceptions, none have fulfilled the intellectual and emotional promise of Kirby's work in this moment, with deeply personal stories writ large on a backdrop bigger than a universe. 

Kirby, it's rumored, had a soft spot for 'Himon' as his favorite issue of the saga, but for me it has always been "The Pact". I see something new every time I read it; to this day, I have to sit in awe when I see what this guy with little formal education could put on the page, and in my mind. I've reproduced part of the issue below, for your perusal. 

Today is Jack Kirby's birthday. He would have been 97. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cold Truths: 6 Page Preview (LETTERED!)

Here it is, ladies and gents! I hope you enjoy it!

Pencils/inks by Ralf Singh. Letters by Micah Meyers. Words by me.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Welcome to Astro City

Astro City is, by now, well known to fans of American comics. It represents one of the longest running (albeit not continuously) creator owned comics in the industry. It has garnered accolades and awards, and is a picture of consistent quality. If we are currently in the midst of an independently published renaissance, Astro City wasn’t just at its forefront; it very seriously helped paved the way for the revolution.

Part of what makes Astro City so interesting is that, where creator owned work often seeks to set itself apart from Marvel and DC by focusing on new genres, Astro City is unrepentantly superheroic in focus. While each volume – and often each issue – tells a distinct story, the overarching series-concept is stories about the life and times of the men and women who populate “Astro City”, a mishmash of superhero genre conventions. The ethos of most independent comics work, at least in part, seems to be “Let’s not try to compete with Marvel and DC at what they do best [superhero comics]; let’s provide an alternative to it”. But Astro City doesn’t just fearlessly step into that territory, it invites comparisons, unflinchingly stares those two giants dead in the eye and dares them to blink.

And with good reason. Because Astro City is the best superhero comic currently being published. Anywhere. 

Hypothetical Hawkman: First Flight

"Thanagarians have an incredibly complex, tonally-based language, literally impossible to speak or understand by anyone other than themselves, thanks to biological adaptation that gives them highly complex vocal chords (or the thanagarian equivalent) and inner ear; they are capable of producing fully 84 sounds and pitches that no human can recreate, their hearing capable of distinguishing differences in pitch, frequency and tone that would be impossible for most races, as well as a hearing range that goes much further into the long and short wavelengths (high and low frequencies) than nearly any other intelligent species in the known universe. This gives a decisive tactical advantage in planetside battlefield communication. 

As a result, they are highly proud of their language, with a heavy emphasis on maintaining it as the primary language taught in schools and spoken in daily life, despite the spread of Intergalac Common amongst other planets and empires. Intergalac is taught, but not until Thanagarian language patterns and primacy have been set.

They are the French of the DCU space scene. Except, you know, they win some wars." 

- Excerpt from the story bible of a Never-Will-Exist Hawkman run.