Friday, June 30, 2017

Parody and Satirical Heroes

COMMENTARY
By Alex Ness
June 28, 2017 


I have heard some people say that Parody and Satire are the same, which is possible, but not always, and each are distinct.  Parody is an homage or spoof of an independent source, possibly in biting criticism or  meant in humor. Satire is a work that mocks, ridicules, or makes visible critiques of some society or individual with hyperbole.  So, parody can be satirical in its aims.  Satire might spoof, but it would have a specific goal of making a statement about a subject.  Some of the most fun comics are written with spoofs and comedy, but they become important and even more interesting when there is a layer of satire.

However, for Parody to work, it must understand and make good use of the source material.  Which means, the deeper the understanding the more rewarding the story.  The surface level only understanding results in cheap rip offs.


I am not going to describe each of the displayed works, they have qualities of their own to recommend them.  I enjoyed all of them and you should consider them if they stoke your interest.  I will say just this, the best of the bunch overall I think is Marshal Law because it is insanely fun.  The title is an obvious pun/double entendre, the character is cleaning up the world of violent heroes and villains, at the same time using even more violence.  It is perfectly over the top for anyone intelligent enough to see the themes exposed.



Thursday, June 29, 2017

THE RINGO AWARDS

The Mike Wieringo Comic Book Industry Awards is an annual celebration of the creativity, skill and fun of comics.

The awards make their debut this year as part of the fan- and pro-favorite convention, The Baltimore Comic-Con.

Unlike other professional industry awards, the Ringo Awards include fan participation in the nomination process along with an esteemed jury of comics professionals. 

More than 20 categories will be celebrated with top honors being given at an awards ceremony Saturday, September 23, 2017.
Fan and Pro Nominations

Fan and pro-jury voting are tallied independently, and the combined nomination ballot is compiled by the Ringo Awards Committee. The top two fan choices become nominees, and the jury's selections fill the remaining three slots for five total nominees per category. Ties may result in more than five nominees in a single category. Nominees will be listed on the ballot alphabetically. Nomination ballot voting will be open to the public (fans and pros) starting June 27, 2017 and will close July 18, 2017.
Final Ballot Voting

After processing by the Ringo Awards Committee and Jury, the Final Ballot will be available to pros for voting on July 26, 2017 and will be due by August 16, 2017 for final tallying. Presentation of the winners will occur at the Baltimore Comic-Con on the evening of Saturday, September 23, 2017.
Nomination Eligibility

Eligibility for creators and creative works is determined by publication in the preceding calendar year - print publication date takes precedence over electronic publication date. For electronic works, the date of publication is time-stamped with most publications and at least 3 episodes/installments of continuing works must have appeared during the eligibility period.
Fan and Pro Nomination Categories

* Best Cartoonist (Writer/Artist)
* Best Writer
* Best Artist or Penciller
* Best Inker
* Best Letterer
* Best Colorist
* Best Cover Artist
* Best Series
* Best Single Issue or Story
* Best Original Graphic Novel
* Best Anthology
* Best Humor Comic
* Best Comic Strip or Panel
* Best Webcomic
* Best Non-fiction Comic Work
* Best Presentation in Design
Jury-Only Nomination (with three bonus jurors)

* The Mike Wieringo Spirit Award
Fan-Only Favorite Categories

* Favorite Hero
* Favorite Villain
* Favorite New Series
* Favorite New Talent
Hero Initiative Award (selected by the Hero Initiative)

* The Hero Initiative Lifetime Achievement Award
* The Dick Giordano Humanitarian Award
Mike Wieringo photo
"Mike loved comics," said Todd Dezago, co-conspirator with Wieringo on their creator-owned title Tellos. "He loved the pure escapism of them. He loved the imagination that went into them and the inspiration he got out of them. He loved the talent and skill that went into them; the innate abilities of the artists and the writers as well as the learned and developed facility that came with study and experience. He loved the storytelling of comics, he appreciated when it was done well. Mike loved the diversity of comics; the incredible array of styles that ran the spectrum and gave each creation its own unique flavor. And he loved fun comics. Not that Mike didn't appreciate the grim and the gritty, the deeper, more adult, more thought-provoking comics of the day. But he was drawn more to the more light-hearted, sometimes fanciful-and we called them 'overly-coincidental'-stories that reminded you that comics were fun.
"Mike liked comics that were fun," said Matt Wieringo, artist and brother to Mike. "That's pretty subjective and covers a lot of ground, right? He liked art that was expressive. Some people think that means 'cartoony' but that's not it. For instance, he loved Juanjo Guarnido's Blacksad art, and that's hardly cartoony, but it's expressive as hell. He loved the artists that could build a believable world and could tell a compelling story in that world with characters that were gestural and fun to look at. He loved artists who made their characters act. He also loved discovering new artists that didn't draw like anyone else because he loved learning from them. He had a huge collection of European comics that he couldn't even read, but he could study the artwork. He got excited about new artists and wanted to know who their influences were and what they read and how they worked. He read a lot of indie comics to see what was going on outside the mainstream. He was on board with Hellboy and Love & Rockets and Hate before they were "cool." Mike also loved Kirby before it was considered a badge of honor to proclaim it. He loved how innovative and energetic he was and that he was this Brooklyn bruiser with the heart of a hippy poet (a close approximation of how Mike once described him to me). And it wasn't just the art. He liked reading stories by writers who could keep things moving and exciting. Nothing bored him more than page after page of talking heads with quippy dialogue. He wanted STORY. He wanted ADVENTURE. And CONSISTENT CHARACTERIZATION. He liked working with Mark Waid because he loved how Mark can always find a new way to spin a familiar story and write characters you care about, relate to, and have their own voice. He loved working with Todd because they shared similar sensibilities and Todd always finds a way to inject FUN into the story. For Mike, "fun" didn't just mean light-hearted either. He enjoyed horror and noir and crime stories as much as anyone. As a kid, he devoured Miller's Daredevil and Sin City because the stories were compelling and well told. He loved Starlin's Warlock and Captain Marvel because they were epic and groundbreaking. He loved Wrightson and Ploog and Colan because they could set a mood. Most of all, Mike thought good comics were entertaining and innovative. If you could hold his attention and delight and intrigue his artistic sensibilities at the same time, he'd shout your name from the rooftops. And, if it turned out you were a decent, nice person to boot, he'd be your friend for life."
"We really miss Mike Wieringo," said Marc Nathan, Baltimore Comic-Con promoter. "Ringo was a great friend to the show, a great artist and creator, and a great person. It has been 10 years since his passing, and we wanted to do something to honor his spirit. These awards represent the creativity and positive attitude he brought to his work, and when we started floating the idea with his family and industry friends, everyone immediately loved it as much as we did. Having had some experience running a large industry awards show in the past, we had some great insights as to what the industry (and fans!) wanted, and we're trying to give it to them. This has all come together very quickly, and we know we're going to continue to adjust and adapt as we grow, but we are absolutely thrilled to have already heard from so many fans and pros alike, in addition to his family and friends, about how excited they are. Please spread the word. Please vote. And thank you for helping us celebrate Mike's memory!"
About Mike Wieringo

Fantastic Four BCC Exclusive Cover
Michael Lance "Mike" Wieringo was known to fans and friends as "Ringo", which is how he signed his artwork. His comics artist graced the pages of DC Comics' The Flash, Adventures of Superman, Batman, and Robin, Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, Sensational Spider-Man, and Rogue, and his co-creation Tellos. He passed away on August 12, 2007 at the young age of 44 from an apparent heart attack.
About the Ringo Awards

The Mike Wieringo Comic Book Industry Awards is an annual celebration of the creativity, skill and fun of comics. The Ringo Awards recognize outstanding achievements in over 20 categories, and are the only industry awards nominated by fans and pros alike, with final voting by the comic professional community. Launched in 2017, the awards ceremony is held annually at the Baltimore Comic-Con. Further details are available at www.ringoawards.com.
About the Baltimore Comic-Con

The Baltimore Comic-Con is celebrating its 18th year of bringing the comic book industry to the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area. For more information, please visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tiny Explorers and Warriors

COMMENTARY
By Alex Ness 
June 26, 2017

While it is true that I am a fan of this franchise, I am less saying that it is a good thing, as something else, something less exciting.

I remember being too old to be interested in the Micronauts as toys when they came out.  I loved all things Japan even way way back then, so finding out that they were toys from Japan, I was interested in them, even if not as toys, from the first.  And one way I applied my interest was to buy the comic book with that amazing Michael Golden art.

I bought issues as well as a person in a small town could.  Between the drug store, IGA grocery store, and trips to my family's relatives in Mpls/St Paul, I tried to collect a number of comics.  I had the money, I just didn't have the access.  There was never a guarantee that I'd get the comics that were supposed to come out.

The original series had an energy that any other media adaptation didn't.  This was a really unusual combination, of being a toy, without my knowing any backstory and being really good.  I have longed for a tpb or 3 of the many different runs.




And IDW would be the best company to reprint them, if possible.  They do a wonderful job capturing previous works, of licensed works.  However, I don't see it being announced anytime soon. Three series happened at MARVEL, each having quality and worth collecting.  I loved the Micronaut Special Editions, they were reprints but with wrap around covers...


When I next saw them they came out from Devil's Due Pres,  but through the publishing help from IMAGE.  With this run I was very happy to read the issues, I found the art to be superb, but the series was really wanting for a single, strong, focused writer.  As such you got a little here, a little there, and the art was good.


DDP took over Micronauts as the publisher too, and attempted to reboot the series.  It was really not anything special, but for some ok art.  It didn't last, either.

And then IDW announced that they were going to play in this publishing game.  And their books are always consistent, and the first run, while good, was a drink of water, when you needed a beer.  It was good, even satisfying, but you wanted more.


So what is my big deal with writing this?   I wonder why so many of the comics on the shelf are either mainstream superheroes or media adaptations.  Intellectual properties are great, but, just as someone can make a better living working for the big 2 (Marvel/DC) or create a portfolio by working at lesser rewarding jobs, there used to be tons more to choose from.  I love the Micronauts, but they keep coming back.  I wonder what comics didn't happen when a publisher was searching for a quick dollar by publishing a well recognized media product.  I wonder this but probably know the truth, comics sell at such a rate that a publisher doesn't feel it can take a risk.  And the independent comic writers and artists don't have a shot to impress, because in order to be in print you need a background of being in print.   That is, in order to get the job you need experience, and you can't get experience unless you have had the job.

(Description from wiki: THE MICRONAUTS 

The Micronauts comic books featuring a group of characters based on the Mego Micronauts toy line. The first title was published by Marvel Comics in 1979, with both original characters and characters based on the toys. Marvel published two Micronauts series, mostly written by Bill Mantlo, until 1986, well after the toy line was cancelled in 1980. In the 2000s, Image Comics and Devil's Due Publishing each briefly published their own Micronauts series. Byron Preiss Visual Publications also published three paperback novels based on the Micronauts. In July 2015, IDW Publishing announced that they would publish a new comic book series.)




Tuesday, June 27, 2017

WORLD WITHOUT END: A review


  
WORLD WITHOUT END: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION
Written by Jamie Delano
Art by John Higgins
First publisher: DC Comics
Reprint Publisher: Dover Publication

Product supplied by one of the creative artists.


World Without End was the comic book that ripped open my mind.

When this work first came out I did enjoy a wide variety of genres, and I am not a moron.  But I went into it expecting something that I never received, and the story was so much better for the failed expectations.

Jamie Delano is, presently, a favorite writer, but at the time I was only familiar with his work upon Hellblazer.  I liked that he was so able to write the sort of horror that I found it requiring courage to continue to reading. Opening the book I immediately loved the palette used by John Higgins, but I wasn't aware of his depth at the time I began this journey.  I assure you, by the end of the journey both Delano and Higgins sealed their position in my list of must read all of their work list.

This book was amazing.  If you are the sort who wishes heroes and villains in all of your stories you might well find yourself taking sides in this, but that is a trap.  This is proof that not all problems in life have a solution.  Not always in life do you find the answers in hand to the questions asked.  This work told a linear story that works as myth, and a tale of hope for the future, and it is full of truth.

The myth is the nature of genders and orientations, and how we can become isolated from the other genders and orientations, but we really aren't in competition.  As a matter of fact, we are in need of unification, of communion, with one another.  It is especially apt in this modern day of division, that perhaps the winner take all paradigms Western society has wrapped itself in, is not the answer to the issues at hand.  A professor of mine, who was no genius, expressed that in any other era Winston Churchill might have been a tyrant or as bad as Hitler, but in the era he appeared in, he was the answer to the wanting leadership in the UK.  I don't altogether agree with that, but the idea that genders and orientations and existence is necessarily divisive is deterministic, and, we might be presented with a question, but the answer is not necessarily the easiest to find.


The writing of this book is gloriously rich. While it takes some switching in the mind to prepare the ground for impact, I was completely enamored of the story.  And then we see the art provided by John Higgins.  First off, it is amazing, alive and a perfect accompaniment to the writing.  Painted in violent hues, the action and story move with liquidity.

The physical quality of the product at hand, is very impressive.  As a fan of the series I found nothing about it that would make me unhappy.  There is a great amount of love I have for this work, and the product put forth by Dover enhanced what I already found to be superb.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Memories of Comics Late 1976 to May of 1978

Commentary
By Alex Ness
June 20, 2017

Spending the rewards for having a big newspaper route...


During 1976 I began my paper route.  I was turning 13 and ready to make money.  My often critical father said, before I became an adult that I was good at saving my money, and that was true.  When I began working as paperboy my income skyrocketed from 50 cents a week, to considerably more.  But, even though I had shitloads more money, I put it in bank, except for 2 or 3 dollars per week.

I lied to myself in thinking that I was buying Devil Dinosaur and Machine Man because they were #1 issues.  I still have my copies, and I read the living hell out of them.


I always liked Captain America.  Add Jack Kirby to that, and I am sold.


And I LOVED the X-Men.  I didn't love the newstand at the time, since I missed key issues.


And you can perceive, perhaps, my Marvel Comics were done by the guy who created Kamandi and Omac, as they can be seen above.  I was also a big fan of DC's Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes. 


From November 1976 to May of 1978 I was loaded with money on a relative scale to what I had previously had for money.  And, entering high school I placed all of my money in a bank.  And by four years later, in May of 1982, I had 80% of the money stockpile still in my account.

And by the time I entered college, I had to pay it all for school and life.  And by the end of first year in college I was ready to withdraw the last money from the account.  And I haven't been good with money ever since.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Comic Book Publishers Of the Past volume 4

COMMENTARY
By Alex Ness
June 23, 2017 

I am not as familiar with the structure and offerings of Caliber as I am with other publishers, now defunct.  But they did put out at least two comics that I very much enjoyed.  Kabuki by David Mack was luscious in beauty, if not as well written as I'd like.  The Crow was a violent revenge fantasy that I think was pretty good, for what it is.

Caliber made some later efforts, such as creating Desperado in order to publish reprints, to reboot past series, and to try to return as a publisher. 

Gary Reed was one of the guiding forces of Caliber, and his legacy is one of a creative talent who supported creative works.  His death in 2016 at 60 years of age, was a blow to the corporate comic book industry.






CHAOS Comics produced comics I tended to dislike, so I should avoid saying much in that regard.  Brian Pulido is a very nice fellow, but the comics put out by Chaos took a different tact, in that, they didn't play nice, or in general, they focused upon the evil in our world.  And reveled in it.


TOPPS Comics were actually quite good.  They had successful comics that were based upon other forms of media.

Xena, Lone Ranger and Tonto, Jurassic Park, X-Files, Bram Stoker's Dracula, various Jack Kirby characters illustrated by top talent were quite nicely put together.  They had a fair sized following, but they tapered off in the end when the investor caused Speculative boom ended.

TOPPS put out some good stuff.





Monday, June 19, 2017

Why new Doom Patrol comics don't matter.

Commentary
By Alex Ness
June 19, 2017
 
Agari あがり

This is a word that has more meaning than simply translated as Sushi bar Tea.  

When a customer is done eating at a sushi bar they will say to the server, Agari.  It is not simply, GIVE ME TEA, but, instead, I am finished eating, the meal is over, please serve me the end of the meal tea.  That is, it isn't at all what it is.  Asking for tea is different than saying Agari.  Agari means you are satisfied and are done.

The Doom Patrol was a team led by a genius in a wheelchair, and the team was composed of people whose lives were changed dramatically when they experienced terrible accidents.  This was their chance to tempt fate and deny destiny.  They were weird, and reveled in it.


I've read all of the Doom Patrol comics from the beginning to 2009.  And I have to say "Agari." AND, I should have said it when the issue #87 ended. 

I was a fool to think anything after Grant Morrison's run, or Rachel Pollack's run could ever approach what issue #19 to #87 accomplished.  This is opinion, of course, perhaps I am wrong.  Or, my taste was so satisfied that, after the end of the Doom Patrol #87 I didn't ever need more.


I am writing this because my son wants me to read his hero Gerard Way's Doom Patrol.  He says it is great.  I highly doubt it will be.  I am willing to try, however.

But I am already full.

20 years since, I am still satisfied fully.


I did love the old Doom Patrol.  They were more than a team, they seemed to be family.  And the evil doers they fought were not typical super villains.  The team of the Doom Patrol was weird, and so were their adventures, and I loved it.

The 1987 series was normal at the beginning, written by Paul Kupperberg, illustrated by Steve Lightle and Erik Larsen.  It emphasized the past, but, while good, it was not great.  And then it got better.  Starting with issue 19, Grant Morrison's first issue, the whole series took a turn, a few turns, and it was no longer a super hero comic.  It was an impossible to define the genre comic.  Among the many different things encountered, were, a street that is sentient, paintings that come to life, and fears that the Chief was not as benevolent as we once thought.  In fact, what he did was not just gather freaks of horrible accidents and unite them as a team.  He was more than a leader.  I won't reveal what he was... but it was perfect.

The events of this run were painted in such a way that they still linger in my mind.  I've spoken with numerous art teachers and professors, and in each case they said, this is a post modern work of genius.  It might not be to your taste.  It was a perfect fit for my own taste.


2001  I read the series that started with this.

I found it pretty, but horrible, boring, and unoriginal.

The stories felt like the writer and artist had no idea what made the Doom Patrol great.






2004

And then I read this horrible series that seemed to have as its goal regurgitating shit.  It was unoriginal, and a bit like a vanity project to correct errors in previous works.  But, what that author did was pretty much create a pointless work.  It was pretty, put together with care and talent.  But it was a bit like wanting to read William S. Burroughs and instead reading Mickey Spillane.  Mickey Spillane was great, but the cognitive dissonance between your stated desire and what you instead read, is massive.  I might have liked this, if I had never read any previous version of the team, but, as it is, this is a work that had precious little new, different, or worthwhile.  (And, briefly, I think that John Byrne is very talented, and has many skills from his years in the drawing and writing world.  This wasn't his best moment)



2009

And I bought a couple issues of this last series, and I could see it was about to stink.  Again, it was not an empty void, but wasn't able to capture the depths, differences, or intrigue of the early works.










Saturday, June 17, 2017

Another Gallery of a series worthy of being collected

LONE WOLF AND CUB
Art by Goseki Kojima
Written by Kazuo Koike

Artist Goseki Kojima and writer Kazuo Koike created a samurai epic, that resonated with readers.  The samurai story in Japan is one that forms the legends, the myths, and cultural memory of the Japanese.  The story of the samurai, in general, is one that belongs to the past of Japan, just like the myth and legends of the American Cowboy resonates for the American readers.

In this story of the samurai, Lone Wolf and Cub features the path of destiny that Ogami Ittō, the Shogun's executioner must walk.  His honor accused, his personal safety threatened, he is forced to leave his home and castle, and take his child, Daigorō, along with him.  His famed and feared weapon, a  dōtanuki battle sword, Ogami Ittō now follows a danger filled path, fighting ronin, ninjas, bandits and others who challenge him.