Category Archives: Features

The Not-So Secret Origin of a Cover Design

As I did some web surfing this week to look at what new releases were to lie in wait for me at the comics shop this week, I found the adjacent cover image. It’s the cover for Justice Society of America #13, illustrated by super-hero genre superstar Alex Ross, who also just happens to be the co-writer of the current story arc, “Thy Kingdom Come.” Ross has been the cover artist for this series from the start, and his further creative participation in this storyline stems from the fact that it flows from Kingdom Come, a 1996 Elseworlds limited series that explored an unfortunate vision of the future of the DC Universe.

The JSA cover immediately caught my eye, but it wasn’t due to the richly detailed and shining painting Ross provided. Nor was I stopped in my digital tracks by Ross’s shift in his approach to cover design… not really, anyway. What made my synapses start firing rapidly was the sense of nostalgia that was ignited at the same time.

While longtime DC readers might recognize the approach Ross has adopted for the cover design, newer readers and those unfamiliar with what passed for super-hero events in the early 1980s might not.

Consider this your education.

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More 2007 Glass Eye Awards – Creators

And we’re back, as the Glass Eye Awards for 2007 continue. Earlier in the week, I shared my thoughts about the best comics and graphic novels of the year, but it’s also important to remember that there are creative voices behind the genesis of those comics. In this second part of the best of 2007 feature, we honor the efforts of the people — writers and artists — who were involved in making the best examples of sequential art of the year. I must reiterate — this list should not be considered all-encompassing. There’s no way for anyone — even those whose full-time jobs revolve around comics — to read most, let alone all, the industry has to offer in the course of a year. These are just the names that came to mind when I did up my notes. Omissions are not only likely but unavoidable. Now, onto the Glass Eyes…

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The 2007 Glass Eye Awards – Comics

The floppies and the books have made their way down the red carpet and have taken their seats for the second annual Glass Eye Awards, in which Eye on Comics names the best comics and graphic novels of the year… at least, the best that I’ve read and that I can recall. I’ll be following up this first list of the best comics and graphic novels with lists of the strongest creators in the industry in 2007. But these lists are hardly exhaustive. My comments are limited by various factors, such as access to materials, memory capacity and the lack of hours in each day. These comments are my personal reflections on the comics I read in 2007; I encourage readers to respond with their own picks.

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More Dollars and Sense

With the Canadian dollar (affectionately known as the loonie north of the 49th parallel) slightly surpassing the U.S. buck in value this week, U.S. comics publishers that list separate U.S. and Canadian prices on their publications plan say they plan to address the inaccurate divide between those prices.

U.S. comics publishers such as Marvel Entertainment, DC Comics and Image Comics list different prices in U.S. and Canadian dollars on the covers of their comics, and DC and Marvel list separate U.S. and Canadian prices on their hardcover and softcover graphic novels and collected editions. The Canadian price on their products range about 12 to 25 per cent higher than the U.S. price. The Canadian dollar actually surpassed its American counterpart by a minute margin in trading Monday, and it held steady at that level Tuesday.

Eye on Comics inquired with major U.S. publishers about the discrepancy.

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Dollars and Sense

Something historic happened Thursday, something the world hasn’t seen in more than 30 years. During trading Thursday, the Canadian dollar actually achieved parity with its U.S counterpart. For a brief time, $1 Cdn was equal to $1 US. It’s bad news for Canadian exporters and businesses that count on U.S. tourist revenue, but it’s a boon for businesses that import U.S. goods and other aspects of the Canadian economy.

But there’s a specific impact on those in the publishing business and those who sell books and periodicals. Unlike most goods, books, magazines and, yes, comics have retail prices printed right on the product, often with separate prices for U.S. sellers and Canadian ones, to account for the difference in the currencies. But that difference has faded as of late.

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Flea Market Finds: X-Men #121

Last week, the leaders of the three North American nations gathered in Montebello, Quebec to negotiate, prevaricate and masticate some fine food. It wasn’t big news in the United States, judging from the 24-hour news networks, but in these parts, it was a significant event (if only for the security scandal that arose, with undercover officers acting as protesters). As luck would have it, I happened upon a comic book from the late 1970s that featured an American-Canadian summit of a different sort: an X-Men/Alpha Flight free-for-all.

It wasn’t a flea-market find, per se. My local comic shop had a big sale a few days ago, unloading all of the comics in its back-issue bins for a buck. As I usually do when I luck upon such a bargain blowout, I seek out 1970s and ’80s comics. I selected a few interesting items, such as a Marvel Two-in-One Annual, an alcoholism-era Iron Man and a Two-Face spotlight in Batman. As I got toward the end of the line of boxes, I reached the Xs. X-Men comics usually don’t hold a lot of interest for me, but I noticed there were some Chris Claremont/John Byrne issues of X-Men among the back issues.

“Cal, the high-end back issues are exempt from the sale, right?” “Anything in those boxes — one dollar.” I have so few of these classic X-Men comics in my collection; I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity. I don’t care about the resale value; I’m not looking for eBay fodder. This was just a great opportunity to absorb some of the most fondly remembered super-hero storytelling of the era.

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Flea Market Finds: Green Lantern #124

Though I wasn’t out sleuthing at all, I recently solved a mystery. While at a local flea market, I spotted a stack of old comics, super-hero and horror titles from the 1970s, and one of the comics in that stack promised to reveal a secret that touches upon the root of a big super-hero event currently unfolding in the today’s comic-book market.

In short, I know why the Sinestro Corps War is raging through current issues of Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. Though he claims a goal of bringing order to all worlds and has a longtime grudge against the Guardians of the Universe, I do not believe they are the true causes of his corruption. The reason can be summed up with a single word…

Drugs.    

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Annotations – Justice League of America #10

With this week’s release of Justice League of America #10, Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns’s JLA/JSA/Legion of Super-Heroes teamup tale comes to a close. And that means I have one last installment of my “Lightning Saga” annotations to share. The two writers, with their scripts for this event, have mined some somewhat obscure veins of continuity, and these notes should help some newer readers make sense of the story. For the previous four sets of these annotations, you can click here, here, here and here. Otherwise, let’s proceed with the final set in the series…

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Annotations – Justice Society of America #6

“The Lightning Saga,” the JLA/JSA/Legion of Super-Heroes teamup story running through Justice League of America and Justice Society of America, reaches its penultimate chapter, and so, we reach the next to last in this series of annotations. JLA writer Brad Meltzer and JSA scribe Geoff Johns clearly have a soft spot for the DC stories of the 1970s and 1980s, but some of the references from that era that they include here might elude newer comics readers. So I’ve put together this guide.

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Annotations – Justice League of America #9

And here we go with the third in a series of five sets of annotations for “The Lightning Saga,” the JLA/JSA/Legion of Super-Heroes teamup story arc currently unfolding in DC’s Justice League of America and Justice Society of America. Writers Brad Meltzer (JLA) and Geoff Johns (JSA) have crafted a tale in the tradition of the JLA/JSA annual teamups of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, but some decades-old references may escape newer readers. Hopefully, these annotations will be of assistance to new readers and forgetful longtime fans such as me.

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Annotations – Justice Society of America #5

Welcome back for the second part of my annotations of “The Lightning Saga,” the five-part storyline currently unfolding in DC’s Justice League of America and Justice Society of America titles. Writers Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns have revived the tradition of JLA/JSA teamups, once a staple of the original JLA series. That’s not all they’ve brought back either, as some semi-obscure references keep popping up in the script and plot. I broke down the first chapter from JLA #8 here, and now it’s time to turn our attention to the second episode, in JSA #5. Hopefully, this will be of assistance to newer readers, unfamiliar with the nostalgia-inducing source material.

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Annotations – Justice League of America #8

With Brad Meltzer’s relaunch of a more traditional JLA series with Justice League of America v.2, he and Justice Society of America writer Geoff Johns have brought back another 1970s/’80s tradition, and that’s the annual JLA/JSA teamup. Both writers have demonstrated that their super-hero work draws upon the continuity from that period, which coincides with their youth. As a result, a wide variety of characters, conventions and continuity points come into play in their writing, so newer readers may find some reference material handy. As such, Eye on Comics presents an annotated guide to the “The Lightning Saga.”

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More 2006 Glass Eye Awards – Creators

Welcome back to the first annual Glass Eye Awards (click here to check out Part One). Everybody who is anybody in the world of comics is… well, not here but somewhere else, probably getting soused on holiday eggnog and rum. And I think I’ll join them (hold the eggnog, please). As I pour liquor over the pain of the past 12 months, I’ll reflect back on the comics creators who stood out as the best in the industry in 2006. Bear in mind, there’s no way for one person to read all that the comic-book industry had to offer in the course of a single month, let alone a full year. This is by no means a definitive list, just my two cents’ worth. But hey, people seem to like these “Best of” lists.

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The 2006 Glass Eye Awards – Comics

It’s time to roll out the red carpet and dole out my personal “awards” for the best of the past year. Of course, the carpet in question was originally an off-white, stained red by the blood of pizza-delivery guys and endangered birds. Anyhoo, welcome to the first annual Glass Eye Awards, honoring the cream of the crop in comics, as best as we here at Eye on Comics can figure (and by “we,” I mean me). Bear in mind, there’s no way for me to have read all comics and graphic novels released in 2006, and a few choices — perhaps even obvious ones — may have been accidentally omitted, as my mind is no steel trap. In other words, don’t view this list as any kind of final word or all-encompassing, definitive list of the tops in comics.

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Be All That You Can Be… Eventually

[The scene: a nondescript storefront in Small Town Main Street America.]

Ding-a-ding

Man Off Street: Hi, I was wondering if I could use the can?

Recruitment Officer #1: Hi there! Welcome to the Civil War Recruitment Office.

Man: Um, hi. I really gotta take a whiz…

Recruitment Officer #1: I’m Happy Hogan, and this is Pepper Potts.

Recruitment Officer #2: Hi! I have freckles!

Man: Sure. They’re nice. You got a bathroom here or what?

Recruitment Officer #1: Absolutely! But first, why not fill out a form? Pepper’s got pens!

Recruitment Officer #2: I have blue ones and black ones, Happy! And I keep drugs in this one, just like the FBI guy on Prison Break!

Man: Who names people Happy and Pepper?

Recruitment Officer #2: Stan did! Are you finished with your form?

Man: What’s this for?

Recruitment Officer #1: Well, in case you haven’t read the TV or watched a newspaper, America’s at war!

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