Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
This weekend I got together with a group of old friends and asked which superhero had been cast most egregiously, and which were the best embodiment of the heroes and villains depicted. The impassioned discussion went on all evening, everyone had their own nominations for the title but no one was able to agree, and so I’m opening the voting up for you. We put together our 15 top choices (in no particular order) for the best superhero casting, best super villain casting, worst superhero casting, and worst super villain casting. Please choose and rank your top three choices out of each of the four sections.
Take the quick, 4 question survey here https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XYDPPQT and please share it with your friends!
Note: The rules we came up with are as follows;
Check Comics Should Be Good in a week or two I’ll post the results.
Note: These nominations are clearly personal and you’re welcome to discuss your own thoughts in the comment section below.
With Tony Stark doing a “I AM IRON MAN” all over the place, it’s hard to remember a time when a threat to reveal a secret identity could be the entire plot of a comic book. Nowadays no one seems to want to deal with secret identities, maybe it’s too implausible (sure, because otherwise super powered heroes are everywhere, *ahem*), or unfashionable as reality shows and social networks blur the line between public and private lives. On some level there is seems to be assumption that fame is desirable for everyone, even if the cost is a person’s privacy (or in the case of a superhero; the safety of loved ones).
Whatever the reason, the secret identity aspect of superheroes just isn’t a very big deal right now, but the superhero secret identity is a powerful metaphor on many levels, and one which ought to become an important device again soon. Primarily, the secret identity is an excellent metaphor for our own dual lives on and offline. There is increasing interest in reserving our privacy as we lose more and more of it to voluntarily to social networks, to (hopefully benign) NSA information mining, and to smart phone location-sharing. Moving on from these obvious correlations between online privacy and a secret identity, it is also a potent metaphor for the way a large proportion of people deal with an “invisible” long-term disease, like mental illnesses or chronic pain management. Continue Reading »
As regular readers will know, I’ve long been a proponent of super heroic fashions. So I was excited to hear that Sina Grace was inviting guest artists Kris Anka, W. Scott Forbes, Fiona Staples, and Ming Doyle to design new costumes for the women of his comic Burn the Orphanage. I jumped on the chance to get a sneak peek at those outfits (appearing in the July 3rd issue) and thought you’d probably like a look too. But before we get to the artwork, Grace opened up about the process behind the restyling. Continue Reading »
Ever since the “new 52 thing” happened a couple of years ago I felt a bit squeezed out of reading the superhero titles which I used to enjoy. It just wasn’t a good transition for me and as things progressed I moved further and further away from DC and Marvel until the only superhero comic books I was reading were Hawkeye and Daredevil. But no matter how disenfranchised I felt, I have always been drawn to the concept of superheroes and I was still jonesing for some super powered action, so I went to the comic shop just to see what was out there about superheroes from different publishers… Continue Reading »
Recently I’ve been revisiting the surrealist comic book authors who have successfully conveyed the kind of disruption of reality which I experience in dreams. I want to pinpoint the ways in which they have been able to successfully communicate and provoke a kind of emotional dissonance with their work.
Neil Gaiman (and by extension, artist Dave McKean) immediately comes to mind, specifically on his long-running and groundbreaking series; The Sandman, but also in works like Black Orchid and The Books of Magic. In many ways this is the most linear representation of truly surreal environments that I can think of. He provides us with entire universes of insane, nonsensical, mythical imagery and logic, but he presents each story in a very direct, linear manner. His way of telling a story in this context is very much like a fairytale, with one event leading inevitably to the next, it is deceptively comfortable, almost hiding the craziness inside. When he does move the storyline towards something more evocative of chaos (i.e. towards the end of the books) he still lays all of the elements out carefully so that by the end the reader can happily piece together a logical continuity (that is to say it is logical within the context of the universe he has created). Continue Reading »
Genesis, by Nathan Edmondson, Alison Sampson, and Jason Wordie came out a few weeks ago. A rare one-shot comic book, it tells the story of a man who craves the ultimate power to create, control, and alter his reality. Upon receiving this gift he quickly begins to see that without limits, he will quickly begins to lose touch with the very substance of all life.
Lest we forget that comic books have always tended towards some socially awkward and sexually embarrassing behavior, I present the following “Bullpen Bulletin” found in the back of a 1985 issue of New Mutants (#23, which I scored at WonderCon the other week for only $1, proving that you can still buy great comic books cheap!) Anyway, we’ve come a long way since then… I’m not sure where, but we’ve come a long way to get here!
Last weekend I attended WonderCon in Anaheim and took a few photos. Nothing like previous years (regular readers know I can get a little nuts taking photos), but I wanted to take my time experiencing the convention and documenting that as simply as possible. Here are some key things which stood out for me (and as always, you can enlarge each photo by clicking on it):
Growing up I was lucky, unlike most British children I had a lot of access to a broad variety of comic books. My mum and dad (practically still kid themselves at the time) left all kinds around the house; There were the comic books specifically for me, like Dandy and The Beano (which my dad would read too), then there were American superhero comic books my parents bought because of their interest in Pop Art (which I would read too), there were Peanuts paperbacks (which my mum brought over from America and I read them insatiably), and later there were all sorts of weird, so-called “head comix” (which I wasn’t supposed to read, but I still did… Robert Crumb might draw some crazy stuff, but he draws it well). Like Obelix from the French Asterix books (which I discovered in my parents’ friends’ houses when we drove all over Europe), I fell into a proverbial cauldron as a baby and so I grew up with comic books as part of me.
Jason McNamara and Greg Hinkle have produced a strange comic book about a man on a mission. One dark night on a lost highway, a man loses everything. Decades later he finds it, and loses himself in the process.
In many ways the story and mood of The Rattler is one of a classic ’70’s horror movie feel, strongly tempered by McNamara’s characteristically bleak sense of humor. In mood I think it’s something like the movie “Cabin in the Woods”, but with more explicit sex and meaner jokes (if you can imagine such a thing).
Jason McNamara offered to answer a few impolite questions for me and so I took the opportunity to try and find out why on earth he’s doing this.
By Osamu Tezuka
Published by Vertical Inc.
In this adorably affectionate biography, Tezuka turns his talent for story telling to the tale of the Buddha. While he may not be a Buddhist, Tezuka own body of literature has proven him to be a great explorer of the interior world and an aficionado of human transformation and growth. Over the course of eight beautiful volumes, Tezuka takes us on the fantastical journey of Buddha’s life, lending it his characteristic almost Disney-esque flair, complete with enchanted animals and gorgeous scenery. Using every elegant permutation of panel layout and his mutable style, the transformative adventures of Buddha are dramatized with flair and joy. Absolutely enthralling, this has to be one of the most entertaining depictions of an enlightened being the world has ever seen. Continue Reading »
MyPullist.com is a monthly curated comic book service where people can subscribe to receive a mystery graphic novel each month. I first heard about this when one of the four founders of Pullist, developer and designer Vincent Iadevaia, contacted me to be the curator for April. So we ate lunch together and Vincent told me more about this clever new service.
Maria M. is a movie about a character as acted by her daughter Fritz, the movie is told in the form of a comic book, (and remember, in the world of these comic books Maria M is a real person). Once you’ve got your head around that, you can dive in and fall in love with Gilbert Hernandez’ wonderfully sleazy, exciting film noir about a good girl in a bad world. (And if you can’t get your head around it, it won’t matter in the least because it’s still a marvelous story, beautifully drawn and lovingly told.)
This week I have no desire (or time) to write about comic books because I’m too busy making them. If you’re a regular reader then you probably already know that I work in graphic design and a few of my clients are comic books. With some of them I’m deep in it right now; compiling the trade paperback books, researching imagery, sketching people, and all manner of other time-consuming activities (I know it sounds weird, it’ll all make sense when they come out).
This week my friend Leah asked for suggestions on how to introduce her 5 year old to Wonder Woman and so my friends and I put together this list of ways to gradually bring Wonder Woman into children’s lives.
1. Dress your baby like Wonder Woman.
It might just be a onesie, but it’s a star-spangled onesie! Okay, realistically if your child can fit in a onesie then they probably won’t remember wearing it or care what it looks like. At the very least it’ll be fun for you, and it might make for some good photos to send to the amazing tumblr, Girls Love Superheroes.
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