Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Archive for the 'Features' Category

Artful Obsessions: Chang of Pace

Posted by Don MacPherson on 28th February 2016

I’ve been a fan of the artwork of Bernard Chang since I first saw it on Valiant’s original The Second Life of Dr. Mirage, and he’s only improved over the years. I think his strongest effort was on DC Universe Presents, a short-lived title with DC’s New 52 that featured different characters and creative teams with each story arc (Chang illustrated the Deadman and Vandal Savage arcs).

In recent years, he’s proven himself to be a reliable resource for DC Comics, illustrating such other titles as Batman Beyond, Wonder Woman, Demon Knights, Superman and Green Lantern Corps. Still, seeing his name and work on a comic title always takes me back to Dr. Mirage and even TV adaptation Sliders: Ultimatum (I think I was one of three people who liked that show). That his early efforts on relatively obscure 1990s titles has stuck with me over the course of two decades is a testament to his craft and skill as a storyteller.

In the past few months, I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up a couple of pages of Chang’s original comic art — not from Mirage, Sliders or DC Universe Presents, but solid examples of his style, featuring some familiar super-hero characters. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features, Original Comic Art | 2 Comments »

Nonsense on the Dollar

Posted by Don MacPherson on 31st January 2016

Eye on Comics took a look at the effect of currency exchange rates between the United States and Canada on comics retail a few years ago, when the two countries’ dollars were essentially at par. But now, the Canadian dollar (often referred to as the loonie, so named for the image of a loon on the dollar coin) has weakened significant in a rather short period of time. As of this writing, the loonie is worth 72 cents US, or conversely, the U.S. greenback is worth $1.40 Cdn. That means the average $3.99 US comic book costs a Canadian reader $5.58 out of pocket, before taxes or any sort of discounts are factored in.

Given the shift in the currencies in 2016, Eye on Comics opted to revisit the issue and it’s affecting the Canadian comics retail sector. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features | 4 Comments »

Artful Obsession: An Infinite Passion

Posted by Don MacPherson on 19th December 2015

While I’m always on the lookout for a fun, interesting and attractive piece of original comic art (at a price that fits with my limited budget), there are certain categories in which I have a specific interest. Pages that feature journalism in some way, super-hero team-up pieces, Amalgam boards and others really grab my attention. Another category I’m keen on is DC’s Golden Age/Earth-2 characters. I’ve been fascinated by them since I first got into comics as a kid, so any chance to reconnect with them or new ones building on the same legacies is something I eagerly welcome.

As such, I was a huge fan of the original Infinity Inc. series by Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway. There was no specialty comic-book store where I lived in the 1980s, so I’d have to wait for trips with my dad to a neighbouring province to get those early issues. My first trip to a comic shop was in 1985 (the year of Crisis on Infinite Earths) when I was in junior high. My father actually dropped me off, telling the store owner before I left, “Yeah, he’s gonna be a while.” I spent three hours in the shop, carefully selecting which comics to buy, focusing on those only available in direct-market stores. A whole lot of the comics in my selected stack were issues of Infinity Inc.

So when DC announced Ordway would be revisiting these 1980s characters as the writer of a two-part Convergence spinoff earlier this year, it was one of the few titles in the event’s lineup that really caught my interest. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features, Original Comic Art | 2 Comments »

Avengers Assem… Wait, Is That Superman?!?

Posted by Don MacPherson on 3rd December 2015


Do you dare enter… the Avenger Zone?! It’s a safe bet you wouldn’t be welcome if you’re a lawyer specializing in copyright matters. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features | 1 Comment »

Turn the Page, If You Dare…

Posted by Don MacPherson on 28th March 2015

Grant Morrison’s various Multiversity comics for DC for the past few months have had at their foundation a key concept: nostalgia. This week’s The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1 — a pivotal chapter in this unconventional event series — adopts that approach as well, and the previously established characters that turn up here are among the most obscure of all of the historical DC properties with which Morrison has played. But the nostalgia factor that struck me the most was likely an unintentional one, arising not from DC’s long publishing history, but rather from the Children’s Television Workshop… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features | Comments Off

Artful Obsession: A Weakness for Weekly

Posted by Don MacPherson on 7th March 2015

When I started collecting original comic art on a more active basis a few years ago, there were a number of “categories” I was keen to include in my collection: team-up title art, Amalgam comics and journalism-related subject matter, among others. I’ve also always wanted to acquire pages from Action Comics Weekly. Don’t ask me why; I just have an affection for that limited run of the title from the 1980s as a serial anthology. I recently found just such a page on eBay and struck a deal with the seller — for what turned out unexpectedly to be a lot of two consecutive pages from the same issue of Action Weekly. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features, Original Comic Art | Comments Off

Comic Book Wisdom: Belief Systems

Posted by Don MacPherson on 7th February 2015

It’s been that kind of week at work, so when I read the following in my stack of comics this week, it sang to me…


(From East of West #17, written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta.)

Follow Eye on Comics on Twitter.

Posted in Features | Comments Off

I Think I Know Why They Called Them ‘Losers’…

Posted by Don MacPherson on 21st September 2014

… Rampant sexism with a dash of racism will do it every time.


(From Our Fighting Forces #166, featuring the Losers, from 1976. Story by Bob Kanigher, art by George Evans.)

To be fair, Gunner, Sarge, Johnny Cloud and Capt. Storm come around about their French female mission leader (who goes into battle in a skirt and fishnets) by the end of the story. Though Johnny never apologizes for the “squaw” comment.

Follow Eye on Comics on Twitter.

Posted in Features | 2 Comments »

The Thin Bluelines

Posted by Don MacPherson on 14th September 2014

The world of collecting original comic art is experiencing a boom in recent years, but there’s more going on than increases in interest and prices. The very nature of original art available out there is changing as well, and a lot of it stems from digital advances in the creation of comics. Finding a page of original comic art with lettering right on the board becomes increasing hard when one turns one’s attention to pages created in the past 20 years, given the rise of digital lettering in the mid 1990s. Today, digital lettering is the industry standard and likely won’t be found other than on some pages that are written, illustrated and lettering by a single creator.

But pages of original comic art without lettering are hardly a new development. However, boards featuring only pencil art or only ink art are becoming more and more common, and while a lack of lettering didn’t impact value in any real perceptible way, separate pencils and inks are definitely changing the market. More and more often, thanks to advances in digital scanning, pencillers will send scans of their pencilled boards, and inkers end up working on what’s usually termed as “blueline scans.” In many cases, that creates two boards that go into producing one page of original art. One could argue one of the reasons original comic art is seen as being so collectible and rare is because each piece is (or at least was) one of a kind. But when it comes to blueline scans, are there now two one-of-a-kind pieces of art? Which of the two boards are the original — the pencils, or the inked blueline scan that was actually used in the production of the comic?

Walden Wong, an inker whose work has appeared in innumerable DC and Marvel titles in the past couple of decades, said inking blueline scans of pencils has its advantages, not only for the publishers but the artists as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features, Original Comic Art | 2 Comments »

Admit It, You’ve Always Wanted to Get Into My Pants…

Posted by Don MacPherson on 18th July 2014

Just about everyone I know is well aware of what a huge comic-book enthusiast I am. My friends, my colleagues at work, strangers on the Internet — my comic-geek cred is apparent for all to see. As a kid, it was something I often kept to myself, but the 21st century has brought about an acceptance of geek culture, as non-comics readers have shown interest ranging from mild curiosity to hearty embracing of the medium for which I have such a passion. Those closest to me accept and acknowledge my interest, and in recent years, I’ve almost always received a few comics-related Christmas gifts — from my wife, my parents, even my mother-in-law. It’s genuinely touching.

But over the holidays in 2013, my now-four-year-old gave me what may be my favorite comics-connected present ever: Superman underpants. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features | 3 Comments »

Letter Bugs – Anderson Laments the End of Marvel

Posted by Don MacPherson on 13th July 2014

The world of comic books is made up of two separate but equally important groups: the people who work in comics and the fans who read them. Sometimes, members of the latter group cross over and end up working in the industry. And occasionally, in the letter columns of back issues, one can find fan letters written by these readers-turned-pros. These are their stories. (Apologies to Law & Order.)

It’s been almost four years (!) since I last explored this feature, but some time spent sifting through a box of assorted back issue picked up at a flea market brought me back to a bunch of letter pages, and to a couple of pre-pro fan letters. The last time I wrote about these little lettercol treasures, we visited with Astro City writer Kurt Busiek long before he broke into the comics industry. This time, his Astro City artistic collaborator steps into the “Letter Bugs” spotlight. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features | Comments Off

Artful Dodges

Posted by Don MacPherson on 12th July 2014

I’ve grown more and more interested in collecting original comic art over the past couple of years, and I’m slowly gathering a collection of original pages. My budget is limited, so I’m always on the lookout for bargains. I’ve managed to land some great deals by keeping a close eye on eBay listings, and I’ve managed to pick up quite a few pages for less than $100 apiece on the auction site. In my quest for those bargains (and as part of my general interest in the hobby and market), I think I’ve managed to develop a general sense of appropriate ranges of values for many kinds of pages by various artists. So when I happened upon a listing for a Captain America page from 1992, pencilled by the late Rik Levins, I was taken aback. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features, Original Comic Art | 1 Comment »

Digital Discounts

Posted by Don MacPherson on 30th March 2013

The era of the $3.99 standard-sized comic book is upon us, and there’s no sign of it going anywhere. In some cases, it’s an understandable development. When smaller publishers — such as Oni Press or IDW Publishing — ask a higher price for its wares, I can see why it’s needed. They don’t post the numbers larger publishers such as DC and Marvel do, and to ensure the viability of a project and remuneration for the creative talent, it’s easy to get behind such a scenario.

But when it’s Marvel and DC, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. Actually, sometimes, it can feel more like a suppository than a pill. However, when it comes to Marvel’s more expensive, 20-page titles, there’s a way to eliminate the discomfort and even bring your out-of-pocket expense down below the typical $2.99 price many comics customers would prefer. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features | 6 Comments »

2012 Glass Eye Awards – Best Writer & Artist

Posted by Don MacPherson on 31st January 2013

When one writes these best-of lists early in the following year, it’s interesting how one starts spotting potential “candidates” for the next list of the top comics and creators. There have been a couple of comics released in January that already have me excited for what the year ahead has in store. Of course, I need to focus my attention right to past comics, not what lies ahead. This is the fourth and final entry in my picks for the best of comics and creators in 2012, specifically dwelling on the best writers and artists of the year.

This installment of the 2012 Glass Eye Awards is brought to you by snot. Snot — it fills your head (and the heads of those you love) and makes the most basic thought process seem like a Herculean task, bringing about delays in just about every aspect of your life.

Ahem… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features | Comments Off

2012 Glass Eye Awards – Best Cover Artist & Colorist

Posted by Don MacPherson on 15th January 2013

Man, you think the Oscars show tends to drag on? The Glass Eye Awards got underway more than a week ago, and here we are, still picking away to my selections for the best from the world of comics in 2012. In this installment, I turn my attention toward the men and women responsible for the strongest storytelling of the year. Again, my picks are limited by what I found the time to read, and there’s no way for anyone to cover all the industry has to offer (or even a majority).

Winners of the Glass Eye Awards can expect rare certificates of achievement in the mail, including a cash prize (both of which are invisible and intangible). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features | 2 Comments »