Category Archives: Features

The Thin Bluelines

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.

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

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.

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Letter Bugs – Anderson Laments the End of Marvel

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.

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Artful Dodges

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.

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Digital Discounts

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.

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2012 Glass Eye Awards – Best Writer & Artist

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.


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2012 Glass Eye Awards – Best Cover Artist & Colorist

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).

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2012 Glass Eye Awards – Best Series & Graphic Novel

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.

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2012 Glass Eye Awards – Best Limited & New Series

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…

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The Con of the Art

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.”

There was just one problem. Lopresti knew the seller didn’t have the piece in question because he still had it.

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A Cup of DCAF

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.”

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Comic Artist Admits to Child-Porn Charge

Two years to the day after child pornography was found on a thumb drive linked to him, Josue Rivera, 39, better known as artist Justiniano to comics readers, has admitted to the crime.

Rivera was arrested in May 2011 and charged with illegal possession of child pornography in the second degree after an investigation by the police department in Bridgeport, Connecticut, that began July 16, 2010. The pending case detail listing on the State of Connecticut’s judicial branch website indicates Rivera has pleaded guilty to the charge after original pleaded not guilty. His sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 5, according to the website.

The charge arose after images depicting child pornography were discovered on a thumb drive that had been provided to the staff of a funeral home that was handling Rivera’s father’s funeral arrangements.

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Comic Artist’s Motion to Suppress Denied in Child-Porn Case

Josue Rivera, 40, better known to the comics industry and readers as the artist Justiniano, has failed in his effort to have evidence in the child-pornography prosecution against him tossed out.

The Connecticut resident was arrested May 10, 2011, and charged with illegal possession of child pornography in the second degree. The charge arose as a result of a discovery on a thumb drive the artist allegedly provided to the staff of a funeral home that was handling his father’s funeral arrangements.

A search of court documents revealed Rivera’s defence filed a motion with a court to suppress the thumb drive evidence, arguing it was obtained by police by way of an illegal, warrantless search. Hearings on the motion were held Feb. 23 and March 8, and Superior Court of Connecticut Judge Robert Devlin denied the motion in a decision issued March 19. Devlin’s written decision sets out the facts of the case, revealing how the images of child pornography were discovered.

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Eye on the Eisners: Flashbacks

The 2012 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are set to be presented in about a month and a half. Earlier this month, I posted a review of one of the nominated works, having just picked it up a short while before. Of course, I’ve written about a lot of comics released in 2011, and I figured this would be a good time to reproduce some relevant comments and link back to the original reviews of what would turn out to be Eisner-nominated work.

This is but a small sample of some strong work that was done in the field in 2011, and all of the nominated works and creators are worth checking out.

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Holy Moley!

DC Comics and Geoff Johns have been criticized recently after it began to spread the word about plans for its Shazam! property in its New 52 lineup. A backup feature (penned by Johns and illustrated by Gary Frank) introducing the new take on the World’s Mightiest Mortal is set to begin in Justice League later this month. The backup will be titled “The Curse of Shazam!” and as Johns has revealed in interviews, he and DC are renaming the super-hero character. Instead of Captain Marvel, the hero will be called Shazam. Johns argued many people outside of the niche market of super-hero comics know DC’s Captain Marvel by his magic word anyway. It can be presumed DC isn’t comfortable with “Marvel” being in the name of one of its iconic heroes anyway. Purists will no doubt be disappointed, but I see the logic behind the decision (even if I think Johns is selling readers short).

Fans of the character also expressed their trepidation when DC released a preview of the new Shazam (seen at right). Now sporting a hood, the teaser image would seem to make it clear this is a darker, more intense take on the Big Red Cheese (who will no doubt no longer be referred to as such in the New 52 — if “Captain Marvel” throws people off, the cheesy slur hurled by his enemies must be perceived as befuddling as well). Of course, it’s been known for some time Frank would be the handling the art chores for this reinterpretation and revival. Given his involvement, it was a safe bet we’d be looking at a grittier Shazam.

Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve encountered a Darker Mightiest Mortal.

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