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The Juggernaut Plus Prop Challenge

October 17th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Last year, I went to NY Comic Con, stared Artist Alley in the eye and laid down the gauntlet for the Venom Plus Prop Challenge. The bounty was wonderful. Naturally, I’d have to think of a new subject for my sketchbook during this year’s Comic Con trip. Venom is out and Juggernaut is in.

The theme is simple: Juggernaut and another object. Any object. It’s not for me to suggest what it is, but for the artist to come up with the idea. Luckily, nobody gave him a hammer because look where that put him. Depowered and off Marvel’s best book. And nobody drew Colossus in a Juggernaut helmet because that’s lame and smelly. You know it’s true.

Let’s see what we got.

Juggernaut with Umbrella
by Chris Giarusso

Juggernaut with Cell Phone
by Jacob Chabot

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The Venom Plus Prop Challenge

October 12th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

As I talked about in my article about NYCC ’10, I decided to make use of Artist Alley after three years of passing it by. The question was, what did I want out of it? Asking for a sketch of just a comic character wasn’t enticing enough for me. I needed something just a little extra.

Therefore, I came up with the Venom Plus Prop Challenge, based on fulfilling my own typecast. Each artist would be tasked with drawing Venom along with another object. Any object. What will the prop be? That’s up to the artist his/herself. I had a lot of fun with this and got a good pile of sketches out of it.

Let the showcase begin.

Venom with Lobster Bib
by Todd Nauck

Venom with Handlebar Mustache
by Jacob Chabot

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Down with the king.

April 23rd, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Julian Lytle’s Ants has a special guest star this week. You should click through and check it out. Open this youtube video and have it playing in the background while you read. Props to Julian.

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Station Identification

March 1st, 2010 Posted by david brothers

I’m taking a couple days break now that BHM is over, so it’ll be a few days before I get back to calling DC stupid and Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass racist. In light of that fact, now’s as good a time as any to remind you who we are and what we do!

4l! turns five years old this month. The anniversary is later in the month, and hopefully we’ll have some cool business going on. Five years, though, dang. If you have anniversary stuff you want us to do, drop a comment down below.

4thletter! is
Gavin: Funny stuff and wrestling
Esther: Batman and Batman
David: Black people and exasperation

RSS feed for posts
RSS feed for comments
Livejournal syndication
Facebook page
iTunes page for the Fourcast!
RSS feed for the Fourcast!

The Family
Blog@Newsarama: Psyche.
Cheryl Lynn: Cheryl likes to send me links that are to either funny animated gifs or are meant to get me writin’ mad. She’s also the maintainer of The Ormes Society.
The Factual Opinion: TFO is the home of Tucker and Nina Stone. Nina’s just looking for somecomic to love while Tucker’s handing out two-fisted reviews. Both are worth reading.
Funnybook Babylon: Chris, Pedro, Joe, Jamaal, and David U bring some tough talk for funnybooks.
Julian Lytle: Creator of Ants and dope artist. Check out his reviews and miscellany on Ignorant Bliss.
Ron Wimberly: Dope artist, creator of Gratuitous Ninja, jet-setting dude who does a whole lot.
Sean Witzke: Sean is the kind of guy who brings up something you’ve seen a million times and completely dismantles it, forcing you to look at it in a new light. You don’t get it, boy. Supervillain isn’t his blog. It’s an operating table. And he’s the surgeon.

If I forgot you… I forgot you. Peace!

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Black Future Month ’10: Julian Lytle

February 18th, 2010 Posted by david brothers


I’ve known Julian for a few years now, and he’s even contributed to a couple of posts I’ve done here. We came up around a lot of the same stuff, though several states and a couple years apart, and his perspective is always something interesting and engaging. I’m pretty sure I spent most of one New York Comic-con chilling at or around his table while he was hustling to get some commissions done and chatting about ’90s rap, superheroes, and where comics need to go. Pay attention.

His style is something like modern pop–something you could describe as “ripped from the headlines” if it wasn’t just slightly ahead of the curve. Bright colors, bold design, and slick composition make up his Guns’n’Honey series, while his figure work is part-manga/anime, part-superheroic style, and part-something else. We’ll call it Future Pop. Right now, you can check his website or his webcomic Ants. Click any of the images in this piece to be taken to his Flickr account. If you see him at a con, hit him up and get on his list for art. You won’t regret it.


We’re around the same age, though I think you’re a little older than I am. What’s your genesis? How’d you get into comics and what made you pursue in art? Basically, who is Julian Lytle, and how did he come to be? 

Yeah, man, I’m getting old. It’s all mental though. When I was little, I wanted to be an “everything scientist.” I can’t tell you what that is, but then I saw the original weeklong Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. That got me hyped. I started drawing really back then. I could draw a perfect copy of the cartoon-style Turtles. I also used to watch this show called Secret City on PBS. It was like a personal art class everyday. I used to tape it. I loved to watch Bob Ross, all the landscapes and happy trees.

I didn’t fall in love with comics or anything until X-Men #1, which I think is one of the best superhero comics ever made. Jim Lee was gully on that book. The opening with the training to this day looks beyond what I can do to me. I was hooked on X-Men from that day. I had all the trading cards. My first comics were DC though. But, comic books wasn’t my thing until 12. Before that, the comic strips were my thing.

Another thing that got me into art was popularity to a degree. I wasn’t an athlete or the smartest or the best looking, but I could draw the best. And as a kid, being the guy that could draw a Ninja Turtle was some juice. Even girls liked them. The schools always pushed me, like them kids who could play basketball and stuff. I never felt like the ostracized fanboy, I guess ’cause I liked video games and sports. I think that helped my art, I try to stay with what’s current, what’s poppin’. 

Your style is pretty distinct. If I had to describe it in terms of genre, it’s like “retro future pop.” Your style brings throwback designs, trends, and styles into the future, updating them for the modern day and adding a splash of bright color into the mix. I’m thinking specifically of the Jubilee picture you did a few years back and your Guns’n’Honey series. They aren’t in a typical pinup style, but still manage to work extremely well. How’d you develop this style? 

Well, my mom died in the summer of 2006 and I didn’t draw for a couple of months. I was watching some videos on TV and it got me thinking. My friend gave me the line “guns and honey” and I started drawing a cute woman from a picture and she had a gun. I changed some stuff that I didn’t like. I did another one and another.

Those are the first Guns N’ Honey. Kind of just experiments and getting my feet wet again. Then I started thinking about what I was seeing in rap videos. The things you see the most are women, usually objectified. They also, most of the time, talk about violent acts. Rap also has a need to boast about things, particularly fashion–Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, all of that. So I mixed all that up, but instead of men with guns, like others have done before, I used women. But I wanted it to look like a fashion spread you’d see in Vogue or V.

I used design elements and typography to set apart my pieces from the most. I want to use bigger, coloured, zip-a-tone style shading. I started taking lyrics from songs I listened to. I got “Talk to the Cannon” from Weezy on that Dedication 2 mixtape. The piece made itself. I found the reference on my computer that I knew would work, changed some things, had my colourway set, and laid out the type and bam, it was done.

Over time I started trying to make them look like old genre movie poster or pulp novels. Robert McGinnis is a big influence, but so is Hype Williams. I’ve also always wanted to get into fashion illustration since I was really young. So, this is, in a way, me just doing stuff on my own for myself.

I’ve been told I draw the type of girl I want. I don’t know about that, but I do try to draw women that look strong and dangerous, but not all naked for any old reason. Not every woman has huge breasts, and, you know, a woman with a B-cup and a t-shirt on looks good too. I also like taking poses of men and flipping them with women, like Malcolm X’s window picture and James Bond’s Quantum of Solace newspaper ad.

So, you could say that my style is from consumption and regurgitation. It is pop culture because that is where it comes from. What’s funny is that I couldn’t draw a female without copying from a comic book until I was like a senior in high school. I sucked at drawing women until college. Now, that is all I draw.  
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Black Future Month ’10: Paris/Tokyo

February 6th, 2010 Posted by david brothers


The easiest thing to point to when someone says “What’s cultural appropriation?” (in the unlikely event that somebody actually wants to know the answer to that question) is the theft of rock and roll. ego trip’s Big Book of Racism!, in addition to being an incredible read, has a great series of lists about rock and roll and race. Long story short, of course, cultural appropriation is the act of taking something that “belongs” to one culture–be it music, arts, literature, drama, whatever–and taking it for your own.

It isn’t a focused movement, exactly. There are no malicious men sitting around a table, plotting on how they can steal bachata and make it there own. It tends to be a byproduct of what happens when racism and institutional racism work hand in hand. Taking rock and roll for an (extremely simplified) example– white America in the mid-1900s had no interest in letting black America onto their jukeboxes and into their clubs. However, white musicians performing what was often the exact same music was met with, if not acceptance, something more positive than racially-motivated revulsion. Over time, rock and roll became a “white” genre, something associated with your average run of the mill white people rather than blacks.

Blackface is another example of cultural appropriation, though much more actively racist and malicious. White actors portrayed black characters for the entertainment and edification of a white audience, donning burnt cork and shoe polish and emulating (or just making up) the ways that black people acted.

A more recent example of cultural appropriation are the dozens of kung fu movies starring white guys. Once Hong Kong action cinema proved to be popular in the ’70s, one way of making it even more popular for American audiences was to toss a white guy into the main role. A good example of this is Danny Rand, from Marvel’s Iron Fist. Danny is a rich white guy who ended up in a thinly obfuscated Shangri-La and ended up becoming its greatest warrior, even triumphing over the natives of the city.

In the fall of ’08, I took a work trip to Tokyo, Japan. I didn’t get as much time to dig in and explore as I wanted, but I did end up spending a lot of time in Shibuya and Harajuku. I saw a lot of people dressed like I dressed, or like people dressed back home. I spent some time in a streetwear shop where the two clerks didn’t know much English beyond “Biggie” and “Nas,” but they knew rap lyrics and fashion.
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Three Webcomics You Should Be Reading

January 7th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-I usually say “I don’t really read autobio comics,” but that’s pretty much a lie, I’ve realized. Erika Moen’s DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary is fascinating to me. She ended it yesterweek, and I’ve had it open in a tab ever since, hopping around from strip to strip. It’s really strong and very entertaining. It’s also a little baffling to me, as well. Moen is able to share things on a level I’m completely incapable of duplicating. It’s not that I’m emotionally cold (hey lay-deez, how YOU dooooooin’), it’s just that she’s open in a way that’s both foreign and appealing. It’s good reading, and her farewell strip is a beast. Plus, the series of strips about the guy who pooped on her bathroom floor was funny.

-Emi Lenox’s Emitown is also must-reading, for both similar and different reasons. What I like is that it’s almost like a highlight reel, or skimming someone’s diary. You never know if you’re gonna get a post about one subject or six. It’s a fifty-fifty draw- you’re getting either a single round or buckshot. The only surety is that you’re gonna get shot. Pardon the tortured gun metaphor, what I’m really trying to say is that the strip is entertaining and her art is great. Great emotional work and it never feels cluttered. Look at the faces in this one. I particularly like the bit where the cat laughs at her. Dope sense of humor at work there. She updates throughout the week.

-Julian Lytle’s Ants is more of a sitcom than a serial gag comedy strip. You dip in and out of watching these guys interact with (or talk about) current events, video games, music, whatever whatever. The slanguage is on point, and each strip is just a glimpse into the life of these guys. The latest is part of a series where the ants are riding on Asgard because they’re out of Eggos. Lemme tell you this: I can relate, because if EL Fudges end up shorted? I’m going out masked up, eyebrows down, and a whole bunch of guns on the backseat of the car. Julian updates on Thursdays.

-D-pi‘s Gratuitous Ninja has a few episodes out right now, and it’s shaping up to be pretty cool. It’s fresh, working in that same kind of cultural fusion lane as Jet Set Radio Future (sorry kids, I copped that on Xbox and missed it on Dreamcast) ran in. There’s a strong influence from video games, music, Japanese culture, and something I can’t quite put my finger on. I think Ron and I grew up on a lot of the same things, and it’s dope to see that on the page. Check it out on Wednesdays.

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Julian Lytle x Wale x Gucci Mane

October 8th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Julian’s a buddy, and imagine my surprise when he sent this over.

wale_pretty_girls_final

That’s the cover art for Wale‘s new single Pretty Girls, featuring art by Julian. Wale’s a dope dude, and his Mixtape About Nothing was easily worthy of five mics.

Anyway, support Julian. He’s a good dude. Read Ants, and cop Wale’s Pretty Girls for 99 pennies.

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Six Months of Ants!

October 1st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

2009-09-24-Poor-Some-Drank-Out

Julian Lytle’s Ants has been going on for six months as of today. Click the picture above to read that strip, go to his site and read the latest strip, and subscribe. He’s a good dude with a good strip.

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Ants on Swine Flu

June 1st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Click through, this is basically the best swine flu joke out there.

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