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Do the Math: Sometimes You Get What You Ask For

January 19th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Gail Simone being back on Birds of Prey is kinda like a big deal. I’m pretty sure that Esther is still going “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” even today. She’s gotta be hypersonic by this point.

Anyway, I liked the old BoP. Those first 12-18 issues or so are some of Simone’s best work, and I didn’t even really mind Ed Benes’s art back then. But, the new announcement bugs me because of DC’s history with announcing fan-pleasing things and then doing half the job on them, at best.

-Spoiler dies in a sexualized and degraded way. Fans form Project Girl-Wonder in protest of the way her murder devalued her character. A couple years later, DC Comics brings her back, completely sidestepping the issues behind people were mad at her death. She’s just… back.

-DC makes a big deal about the return of Milestone, a well-loved company that featured a truly multi-cultural cast. Rather than bringing DC Comics up to the modern day with regards to portrayal of race, the Milestone books are effectively quarantined. They were shuffled off into a series as filler between big-name runs (Mark Waid and JMS) and their reintroduction took place in Dwayne McDuffie’s already-hamstrung run on JLA. And then, in the end, they drop every Milestone character except for Static. They wanted a new toy and jerked everyone around to get it.

-DC announces the return of fan-favorite Gail Simone’s fondly remembered Birds of Prey, with art accompanied by Ed Benes. Simone on Benes: “[H]e also does lovely, subtle acting, and tremendous facial expressions and body language. I think he brings a very fiery European influence that is a wonderful remedy to some of the tired vaguely manga and video game-esque influences we’ve seen lately.”

And, well, I realize that Simone can’t trash her artist (that would be unprofessional), but that doesn’t actually reflect reality. Benes’s men have one face, his women another, and they all have the same flat, empty expression. The body language tends to be of the “crotch or butt thrust directly at the reader” variety, and the “subtle acting” is so subtle as to be nonexistent. The “fiery European influence” would be better termed “draws kinda like Jim Lee used to, only with bigger boobs,” and the “vaguely manga and video game-esque influences” is the kind of annoying strawman people pull all the time without actually naming names. Is she talking about UDON? Humberto Ramos? Paul Pope? Joe Madureira? Ed McGuinness?

Benes is a bad artist for comics, is my point. His storytelling skills are subpar, his love for T&A gets in the way constantly, and his people all look the same. There are numerous other artists DC could have paired Simone with to make a book that would be the girl power monthly it should be- Nicola Scott, for example, or the Lopez brothers from Catwoman. They’ve proven that they can draw realistic, funny, and attractive women, and, most importantly, they have strong storytelling skills. The Lopezes in particular do great work, even with a varied cast, in a style that would fit the tone of Simone’s BoP.

But hey- Ed Benes. DC says he’s nice? I say he’s polite.

Y’all can have him, though.

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Fourcast! 29: Talking About Comics Internet

January 18th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Ooh, welcome to Name Drop City, where the comics are good and the girls are pretty!

-Noted comics critic David Uzumeri of Funky Babylon gives us an intro
-Theme music: 6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental
-What’re we talking about? Comics internet! Who we read, what we like, what we dislike, and so on.
-Twitter is David‘s favorite comics site, and at recording time, David Uzumeri‘s open letter to DC Comics was the big thing.
-Peter David and Gail Simone: sometimes they get into heated arguments with people on the internet. Here is Jim Halpert from The Office doing an impression of what Esther does when things like that happen:
Read the rest of this entry �

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Are You A Total Creep?

December 4th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Let’s talk superheroines, buddy. How do you like them? Do you like them with glassy eyes, mouth partly open, gasping for breath? A stone cold (or smoking hot, you feel me?) come hither look on a face you swear you’ve seen before? What about boobs? How do you feel about those? We’re talking pneumatic, post-porn star boobs here, straight up carnival breasts. Think Wonder Woman could do with a pair of tatas like those? Or even better– let’s say you could get a peek at Zatanna’s you-know-hair and chimichangas while she just looks at you with this super sexy expressionless face? That’d be dumb hot, right? You’d want to give her a full ten out of ten, am I right?

Let’s be real with each other here. How much would you pay to see a seventeen year old girl’s panties? Just a peek? What if she were Supergirl? I gotchu, dawg.

Luckily for us all, Ed Benes, The King of Sexy Superheroines has space on his commissions list, and he’s ready, willing, and able to break you off some of that super sexy submissive scoliosis bowlegged booty.

11″ x 17″ Pen and inks
$800 1 character, no background
$1200 1 character w/ background (cover quality)
Add $400 for second character
Add $300 each additional character

Let’s do the math: 800 bucks will get you Vixen and some boob socks, or Zatanna and some questionable penciling going on down in panty-land. And hey, even some Wonder Girl panty shot action.

For 1200, you can get Zatanna, a little bit of hair, and a background.

If you want Spider-Man and Kinky Sex Black Cat and Whip Cracking Mary Jane, you’re looking at… 1500 bones. Of course, that’s worth it, right? I mean, they’re totally going to do it. I mean, come on.

If you absolutely need poorly drawn, empty eyed, ill proportioned superheroines to get your rocks off you unbelievable creep, hit up Ed Benes’s art page.

I mean, sexy art is one thing. But have some freaking taste about it. Read something with some personality and attention to craft, not some hack who can’t even tell a proper story without putting somebody’s flat butt front and center. You’re better off buying something by Adam Hughes, Kevin Maguire, Jordi Bernet, Frank Cho, Amanda Conner, Phil Noto, or any one of several dozen genuinely talented cheesecakey artists. Shoot, buy some Penthouse Comix backissues. Those had a stellar line-up of artists.

Ed Benes: Wacker than the average.

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Okeydoke? Models, Inc. x Marvel Divas

April 11th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

modelsinc001_covMODELS, INC. #1 (of 4)
Written by PAUL TOBIN
Pencils by VIÇENC VILLAGRASSA
Cover by SCOTT CLARK
Fashion Week is always a hectic time for models, and this year is no exception. Between escaped wolves, robbery attempts, and overly friendly police officers, Mary Jane Watson, Patsy Walker, Jill Jerold, Chili Storm and Millicent (Millie the Model) Collins are testing the limits of their endurance. But when a brilliant young set designer is found murdered with three bullet holes in his back, and Millie proves to be the prime suspect, the models are forced to play detective in order to save one of their own!
32 PGS./ Rated A …$3.99

modelsinc002-cvMODELS, INC. #2 (of 4)
Written by PAUL TOBIN
Penciled by VIÇENÇ VILLAGRASSA
Cover by SCOTT CLARK
Millie Collins suspected of murder? Could it get any stranger? How about when she’s linked to a second murder by a policeman who’s intent on making a name for himself, and who has romantic intentions on Mille? It will take the investigative skills of Chili Storm and Mary Jane Watson, along with the ever-helpful Peter Parker, in order to turn up the clues to turn Millie loose!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Anybody remember Marvel’s Models, Inc.? Paul Tobin and Viçenç Villagrassa have been working on Marvel’s all-ages Adventures books. Models, Inc. was to have been a book edited by Mark Paniccia, who just this past week released the delightful debuts of the all-new Savage She-Hulk (Fred van Lente/Peter Vale) and Exiles (Jeff Parker/Salva Espin). Looking over Paniccia’s profile on Comicbookdb.com reveals him to be a pretty solid editor. He was behind Agents of Atlas, Daughters of the Dragon, the Franklin Richards books, the New Warriors, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, and (word to Gavok) Marvel’s recent trips back to the What If? well. He’s delivered on some pretty fun and engaging comics concepts, and put his faith in a lot of the non-Bendis/Brubaker/Millar guys at Marvel to great success.

The mini-series was supposed to start in February, after being solicited in November, but we’re two months past that now and Marvel’s just announced a new series, Marvel Divas.

This also seems like the perfect time to announce our Marvel Divas limited series, beginning in July, from Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Tonci Zonjic, featuring some of the Marvel Universe’s greatest female heroes in a way you haven’t seem them before. I’ll let Roberto explain:

“The idea behind the series was to have some sudsy fun and lift the curtain a bit and take a peep at some of our most fabulous super heroines. In the series, they’re an unlikely foursome of friends–Black Cat, Hell Cat, Firestar, and Photon–with TWO things in common: They’re all leading double-lives and they’re all having romantic trouble. The pitch started as “Sex and the City” in the Marvel Universe, and there’s definitely that “naughty” element to it, but I also think the series is doing to a deeper place, asking question about what it means…truly means…to be a woman in an industry dominated by testosterone and guns. (And I mean both the super hero industry and the comic book industry.) But mostly it’s just a lot of hot fun.

Robot 6 has an interesting comments thread about the series and other issues.

Here’s the cover, which interestingly enough is named “vixens001_cvr.jpg.” Was the series Marvel Vixens at first?

vixens001_cvr

In the writer’s own words, the series is “sudsy fun” and “naughty” and “hot fun.” Contrast this with Paul Tobin’s description of Models, Inc.:

The series itself is a murder mystery. The models are all staying at one of Tony Stark’s Central Park mansions because it’s Fashion Week in New York, and they have so many events to attend that they decide on a central location. Fashion Week is already buzzing because of the murder of a well known socialite and the disappearance of several important works of art by artists such as Otto Dix and Egon Schiele.

Then, when a second murder takes place, Millie Collins becomes the prime suspect, and it’s up to the models to band together to unearth the real murderer. Crime, suspense, and high fashion. Alert the paparazzi!

One has a description that’d fit with your average Skinemax movie, or Bill Jemas’s Bad Girls for Fanboys movement. The other sounds like, well, a murder mystery. Jeff Scott Campbell’s cover is, well, a J. Scott Campbell cover. Big on Comic Book Sexy, low on variety. Models, Inc.’s covers were take-offs on the stereotypical Cosmo/Vogue covers, Glamourpuss-style.

When you put them up side-by-side like this, I feel like one of these books would be interesting and fun, and the other wouldn’t. Obviously, I’m pre-judging here, but as a consumer, that’s what I’m supposed to do. Models, Inc. sounded like the kind of self-aware-but-funny comic I dig these days, and fairly non-exploitative. Marvel Divas sounds like the opposite.

I couldn’t find a statement from Marvel online about its cancellation, but the series has been wiped from Marvel’s site entirely. So, what happened to Models, Inc.?

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glamourpuss: striking a blow against misogyny!

January 28th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Dave Sim‘s fabulous, startling, and _____ glamourpuss magazine has taken a decidedly political stance in just its fifth issue! The eponymous glamourpuss has something to say and she isn’t holding back! Read on, but brace yourselves, because this is fabulously startling!

glamourpuss-issue5-01 glamourpuss-issue5-02

Oh my! Sadly, the brutality of the print industry strikes again. No, glamourpuss (the magnificent magazine) hasn’t been canceled, nor has glamourpuss (the fabulous fashionista) been removed from her lofty position. No, she’s just missing a bit of the latest development in the now-past presidential race:

Barack Obama made Hillary Clinton (wait for it) Secretary of State.

The nerve!

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Last Call for Genius

September 8th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman, and Afua Richardson created Genius.

In thanks for them making it, you should take advantage of this being the last day to vote and Vote for it in Top Cow’s Pilot Season 2008 contest.

Also, Adam Freeman wrote this.

Go, vote.

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Elect a Genius this Fall

September 3rd, 2008 Posted by david brothers

I’m not kidding, vote for Genius. Do it once a day from here on out. It’s down to the final stretch for voting, and Genius has a chance to take the top spot.

Voting for Genius means a vote for a book starring a young and intelligent black girl who is not afraid to both take no prisoners and do what has to be done because it has to be done. There are no capes, no powers, no shenanigans– just someone who has been born into a role that shows up time and time again. It’s exciting, it’s interesting, and most of all, it’s new. It isn’t Starship Troopers Meets Jaws (“we’re gonna need a bigger spaceship”) or some other dumb high concept book. It’s new and it’s a comic book.

If I absolutely have to sell it to you through a superheroic lens, consider it “What if the spirit of Oracle from DC Comics, Batman from DC Comics, Malcolm X from X-Men, and Huey P Newton from Fantastic Four had a baby and that baby grew up in South Central?”

or

“What If Hannibal (not from the A-Team) was reincarnated into the body of a young girl from LA in the modern day?” if you’re a history buff

or

“What if this was the best new comic idea in years and it didn’t get any traction because you didn’t vote for it

For serious, do you know a teen who’s curious about comics? Male, female, whatever? You can slide her this book. It’s got the right mix of “Fight the power” and “Knowledge is power” to both educate and entertain. It’s got all the fixings for a good comic and one that can pull someone in. You know how many comics I can give to my cousins? Not very many.

This is one of them. I asked for this comic over a year and a half ago and these people came through. Let’s support this book.

You can read the full issue here if you’re undecided. It’s the kind of idea that’s so awesome that everyone else is like “Ugh, I had that idea ages ago I just didn’t want to do it because it was too much awesome.”

I feel terrible that I didn’t write about it here more, because it’s exactly what I want out of comics. I got to meet the writing team at San Diego, and they were super excited about the book. I didn’t get a chance to chop it up with them, since they were signing at Larry Young’s table and I’d already spent half the con harassing Larry & co, but they’re good people. The artist is an Ormes member, and that makes her good people, too.

Go, vote.

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Killing Your Darlings: You Can’t Please Everybody

September 2nd, 2008 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

In writing, the phrase ‘killing your darlings’ refers to the painful process by which authors weed out their favorite lines, best scenes, and most precious concepts because they distract from the story. In comics fandom, I think of it as describing the way that fandom crushes its own favorite characters under the weight of their own popularity – a process I can’t help but take part in.

Oracle is one of the best characters in comics. Her role on the various teams she’s on is irreplaceable. Her history is as varied and interesting as any character’s could be. She has a defined personality but isn’t a tired, one-note character. Her strengths and weaknesses make every fight she is in even enough that the reader cannot predict the outcome. Of the hundreds of people in the DCU running around in capes and solving the problems of the world by punching people, Barbara Gordon, confined to her wheelchair while being the Lone Ranger of cyberspace stands apart as a unique character.

I, as a reader, would give all that up in a second if she could be Batgirl again. I wouldn’t do it because I lack female crime fighters to identify with. After Fempocalypse – the cancellation of Manhunter, Batgirl, and the elimination of Spoiler, Onyx, Leslie Thompkins, and Gotham Central – DC is gyning up their superhero roster again and I can find strong females without resorting to the Teeny Blue Miniskirt. (Although, to be fair, Kelley Puckett has done an excellent job on Supergirl and I’ve been reading that again, too.)

I wouldn’t even do it because the Batman: The Animated Series episodes that starred Batgirl brought joy to my pre-adolescent life, although admittedly that would be a secondary reason.

I’d regress Barbara Gordon from a team leader to a Batman knock-off with problem hair for one reason: I think it would make her happier.

Yes. You read that right. I want a fictional character to be able to take a walk in a fictional park, then maybe go out dancing with her fictional boyfriend. Just to end the day right, I want her to get her fictional feet massaged. She’s earned it, hasn’t she?

The idea of treating characters as real human beings is plainly ridiculous, but it’s also only an extension of what comics fans do all the time. When we can’t believe that these characters have a life of their own, if only for twenty-two pages, then all we’re doing is staring at ink splotches on wood pulp. And while obsessing over a pet character can be silly, I don’t want to meet the comics fan with a soul so dead that they let go of all character identification and only read comic books ‘for the story.’ However, there does need to be a story, and indulging love for a pet character most often turns that character and every story they’re in as flat as the page they’re printed on.

Striking a balance between wanting a good story and wanting to cater to a favorite character is difficult. The character that makes me topple over is Barbara Gordon, obviously, but I’m willing to bet that every comics fan has one or two characters they’d like to get hold of. Someone out there wants to cast believability to the wind and make Ted Kord and Booster Gold in charge of the Justice League, or allow Superman to rebuild Krypton, or save Bruce Wayne’s parents.

Of course, thinking about 800 issues of Batman in which Babs Gordon goes for a walk with Martha Wayne on New Krypton and talks about how smoothly things have been going since New League took over earth is enough to make me glad there are strict copyright laws.

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4ch: NYCC: The Interviews, Part 2

August 29th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

Four Color Heroines interviews noted bloggers Cheryl Lynn and Valerie D’Orazio, among others, at New York Comic-con 08. I wish that the interviews went a little more in-depth or were just longer in general, as we don’t get much more than a taste of each interviewee.

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Five Artists Who Make Me Love Comics

August 26th, 2008 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Esther is a real life friend of mine who I regularly talk comics with. I’ve been bugging her to write something for me, ’cause I think she has a great POV, and I finally have proof that peer pressure and pestering works! She sent over a list of five things she likes about comics. Read on, and hopefully she’ll be back for more.
-djdb

1. Rafael Albuquerque
The most recent example of Albuquerque’s art is in Superman/Batman #51. It’s an appropriate book for him, because Albuquerque is one of those always-underappreciated artists who can differentiate between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent without going directly for the glasses and the spit curl. Clark Kent has a sunny expression, a chin that could only work on Superman or John Travolta, and the thick neck of a guy who is always the most muscular person in the room. Bruce Wayne has a scowl that blots out daylight and permanent lines of concentration over his eyes. Albuquerque has a talent for using subtle differences in facial features and musculature to give each character a different face and a different body. Too often, in comics, the reader is unable to tell characters apart until the colorist gets to them. It’s something special to be able to make two of DC’s most similar looking heroes unique.

2. Kevin Maguire
No one can finish a book drawn by Kevin Maguire without checking the cover to find out who the artist is. No one who has read one book drawn by Kevin Maguire can fail to recognize his style if they see it again, even if it were only a doodle on a cocktail napkin. I can’t think of another artist who is that skilled and that willing to be so gloriously silly. Kevin Maguire’s characters have faces made out of putty with the kind of expressions you might see if you hit the pause button during a Jim Carrey movie or an old Warner Brothers cartoon. Take any mildly funny scene and Kevin Maguire’s art will put it over the top. What’s more, instead of limiting Maguire to comedy, this style makes tragic moments even more poignant, because character’s face twist with recognizable pain instead being stuck in a stock pose. A lot of people think Maguire’s style isn’t pretty, and often they’re right, but I’m glad there is an artist who will sacrifice prettiness in order to let the characters express as much emotion as they are supposed to feel.

3. Roger Robinson
Which isn’t to say that I can’t appreciate prettiness. Have you seen Robinson’s work in Gotham Knights? The man draws cheekbones that can cut glass. And I haven’t seen that many moodily lit abdominal muscles since the movie 300. All that, and he doesn’t sacrifice expression or context. His subjects are beautiful, but they are subjects in a story, not objects in a pin-up. That’s impressive.

4. Amanda Connor
The Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special really played to Amanda Conner’s strength, and not because of the subject matter. Playing to Amanda Conner’s strength means giving her a huge panel, the bigger the better, and filling it with people. Conner’s style is clean enough to keep the page from looking cluttered and she plans well enough to place little visual jokes that lead the reader from one part of the page to the next. Every character is looking, talking, or reacting to at least one other character. As a result, huge group scenes stop looking like a flat jumble of bodies and faces and become a number of little action panels, depending on which part of the page the reader is focusing on.

5. J.H. Williams III
A lot of artists have a style. J.H. Williams III has every style, including his own. In Batman #667-669 Williams draws a large group of characters, each of them penciled and shaded differently. And he’s not shy about throwing in pages that show a massive black fist superimposed over an exploding plane, or pages in which the panels form a huge pair of bat wings. Instead of distracting from the story, William’s art makes the arc into something both surreal and self-contained. It’s a beautiful piece of work, and something that should be shown to anyone who doesn’t consider comics ‘art.’

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