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…
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.
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.)
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… 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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
In the first part of the 2012 Glass Eye Awards, I offered up picks for the best limited series and new ongoing titles of the past year. I meant to get to the next items on my best-of list right away, but I guess I dragged my feet. A couple of prominent comics-news sites have linked to that opening salvo of praise, though, so I figured I’d better get my butt in gear and get writing some more about the year that was.
This time, I delve into my thoughts of the top established ongoing series and graphic novels of 2012, but again, readers should bear in mind these are my picks based on what I read (and recall), determined by personal taste, access, free time and affordability.
With 2013 upon us, it’s time here at Eye on Comics to observe our (mostly) annual tradition of spotlighting the high points of the past year. Perhaps the most exciting one came when my wife and I found and closed the deal on our first house. We can’t wait to move in and… Oh, the Glass Eye Awards are about picking the best comics of 2012 and the creators who stood out from the crowd with their stellar efforts in the medium. Right, got it.
Before I delve into my selections for the best work and artists of the year, I would urge readers to seek out as many best-of lists as they can on other websites as well. No one list is going to be definitive or even comprehensive. My comments about the Glass Eyes are merely made up of my best recollections of the comics I read in the past year, and there’s no way for anyone to read everything new in the medium. My comics reading in 2012 (as in the years before) would only have scratched the surface. With that in mind, let’s celebrate comics…
Super-hero comics artist Aaron Lopresti made an interesting and disconcerting discovery late last month when browsing through listings on eBay. He happened upon an online auction for a piece of original comic art he’d crafted — the cover for New X-Men #19 (2005), featuring the characters Magik and Hellion. The seller described the piece as being pencilled and inked by Lopresti and as being “published original art on 11×17 comic art board.”
Eye on Comics hit the road Sunday and headed to the capital of the neighboring province for the debut of a new comics festival. Held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Dartmouth Comic Arts Festival — or DCAF for short — was the brainchild of comics retailer and 2012 Eisner Awards judge Calum Johnston.
“The opportunity was there,” Johnston said at the free show Sunday, noting his store, Strange Adventures, didn’t have any significant events in August. “We always wanted to put on something like this.”