Monday, April 28, 2014

75th anniversary of Batman

                Ahh, today is the day, the big 7-5.  If you are unsure of what I am talking about I am talking about the 75th anniversary of Batman.  It is a huge occasion in the comic book world that Batman has been around for 75 years now.  Batman was created in 1939 by artist Bob Kane and written by Bill Finger when he first showed up in Detective Comics #27.  So in following in these footsteps I would like to point out the top 3 comics that every Batman fan should read in order to honor the legacy of Mr. Kane and Mr. Finger, so enjoy and check it them out because they are some great reads. Enjoy!

                Batman: Knightfall -  In this classic story, Bane escapes from prison in order to hatch his best plan yet, cause a huge riot with the other inmates of Arkham and cause Batman to attack them all so he can break the bat.  Thus a new Batman is chosen who goes by the name of Azrael, and dispenses his own brand of justice.  It is worth a read to any Batman fan and you can see just how much of 90’s cheese and cliché it really is. 

                Batman: Hush – Another great one, also done by my favorite artist Mr. Lee.  This one has Batman fighting a brand new enemy who can take on the face of anyone he knows while he also brings back some old foes and even old friends and heroes to make Batman question who he really is.  This one even goes so far to make it my number one Batman comic and I even own it in my own collection, such an amazing ride from start to finish. 

                Batman: A Death of the Family -   This one takes place in the new 52 continuity and uses all of the bat family in order to rope the viewer in.  After a year of the Joker thought to be dead, he returns with a brand new plan to rid himself of the Batman family so it can only be him and the bat.  While trying to kill off other members of the family, Batman makes a startling realization of his own.  Such a great read that it deserves to be in every collector’s collection.

                There you have it, the top 3 batman storylines that everyone should read.  Just in time for the 75th anniversary of the Batman. Have a great night all.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Writers!

            I wanted to switch gears a little bit today because for the past week all I have done is talk about the artists of the great comic books we read and enjoy.  The thing is though, without a great writer the comic is nothing more than a fancy art book.  I want to keep this one very focused and on track so I want to talk about my top 3 writers for comic books and why you should check out at least one of their comics at some point in time.

            Brian K Vaughn – He might not have a very recognizable name but he is one of the top writing talents in the comic book world.  He wrote the very successful Y: The Last Man, Young Justice, X-Men, and is currently working on a new comic called Saga.  He has been around the comic industry ballpark and has worked for DC and Marvel before switching gears and heading over to Image where he has complete control over what he does.  His current comic out right now is more of a science fiction comic where it is Star Wars meets Game of Thrones.  Without his writing style and the moral conflicts he puts into his stories, they would be nothing more than general run of the mill genre filler.  His also wrote for the TV show Lost and is currently writing for the new show Under the Dome.

            Geoff Johns – Right now Mr. Johns is one of the biggest writers at DC comics due to his popularity on the Green Lantern run he did for a couple of years.  He has been so successful with his runs in the comic market that he was promoted to a new position created at DC comics just for him.  He is also an avid screen writer and has written episodes for the current TV show Arrow and he even wrote a few episodes for Smallville.  Right now he is currently writing a line of Superman comics after his 20 issue run of Green Lantern. 

            Todd McFarlane – He is very well known in the comic industry not only for the creation of Spawn, but his legendary run of Spiderman from the late 80’s until the very early 90s.  During his run of Spiderman, he the one credited for bringing Venom into the Marvel fray and because of his story work, he makes it so you sympathize with the villains in some small way. 

            Those are my picks for my favorite writers and why you should care or even just check out some of their work.  Tomorrow is a big day and I hope you are all prepared for it is going to be a blast. Only 75 years in the making.  Until the next time.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Alex Ross

           Ahh, I have been looking towards writing about this artist for some time now, not only because I believe he is one of the most famous of the comic industry, or because I wanted to learn to draw better like he does, but because of his ultra-realistic approach to comics and the heroes and villains he draws.  He has drawn almost every hero and villain out there and works for everyone.  He is not known to stick to own company and will draw for everyone just for the love and the craft of it.  I am going to talk about my top three favorite works by him and why you should care about them.
            Kingdom Come (1996) - During the 90’s DC comics was going through an identity crisis and they were doing everything possible to stay relevant and stay ahead of the comic industry, they killed off Superman, they broke Batman and brought a new one in, they killed the Flash and Green Lantern, they brought Superman back but made him electric based and two Supermen (red and blue).  They looked in Alex Ross and he thought of a new miniseries where he took the existing roster of the DC lineup and created his own universe where all the heroes where much older and seasoned.  Why this one worked so well was because of his art.  The ultra-realistic design showed the detail in each hero, Superman older with grey hair, Batman using an armored bat suit to keep him fighting.  It showed how much a toll fighting crime takes, and what happens when a new generation of heroes rises up and doesn’t have the same morals as the old generation.

            Captain America #600 (2009) – Alex Ross lent his art style and skills to this amazing issues of Marvel’s Captain America.  In this pivotal issues, it has been one year since the death of Steve Rogers when he was killed at the end of Marvel’s Civil War storyline.  Steve’s former partner and semi-enemy James “Bucky” Barnes aka the Winter Solider, takes over as a new Captain America.  He then starts to unravel a plot where maybe the original Captain isn’t dead.  His art helps lead this action thriller into new territory where everything isn’t as it seems and some friends are enemies and some enemies are friends. 

            JLA: Secret Origins (2002) – Another DC comic, I know what you are all thinking, “he is obsessed with DC, what do you have with Marvel?”  To answer your question, nothing!  This one takes all the classic heroes you know along with a few others and gives you all one shot stories about each characters secret origins.  Again this one is done in his art style and makes each hero look realistic and makes them look like it could be you or I.  Do yourself a favor and check this one out.

            There you have it.  Three great comics done by Alex Ross and three reasons why you should read them.  If there is anyone you would like me to talk about comment down below or email, tweet me at @BrendanB1990 or facebook me at The Gavel.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Big 4

            By now you have guessed that Jim Lee is my favorite comic book artist and that has been all I have talked about well you would be wrong.  I have tons of favorite artists and each one has brought something new to the table.  I will talk about the other four big artists that I admire and what each one brought to the table and how they helped impact the comic books we love and cherish to this day.

            Stan Lee- You can’t hear or read Stan Lee’s name without screaming “EXCELSIOR” or one of Stan Lee’s other catch phrases and being the comic book person you are, you know you go into a Marvel movie and you are expecting Mr. Lee to show up at some point in time and say something humorous or witty.  Mr. Lee is credited as creating well known favorites that we all love today such as Captain America, Iron Man, The X-Men, Spider-Man, Thor, The Avengers, and even The Fantastic Four.  Without him and his creativity, a lot of the comics we love today, that he created and he drew would be nowhere near as good or even in-depth to what we read or view now.

            Frank Miller- Mr. Miller is a little bit different because he isn’t known as the hero type creator, but more of the gritty, film noir-ish type comics that are ultra-violent and make people cringe in some aspect or avoid all together.  This man is responsible for the art and the creations of Sin City, The Spirit, 300, The Dark Knight Returns, and some unknown others.  His art style is unique in that all of his work is devoid of bright flashy colors and uses mainly black and white, or sepia tones, and only truly highlights some darker hues when the art or the story calls upon it. 

            Jack Kirby- Another huge name in the comic book industry.  Mr. Kirby is well known for his use of “Kirby dots”, which help distinguish him from other artists during the same time period.  Normally when Kirby dots where used it showed a character shooting rays from his body or was used as a cosmic force.  He is also credited for linking the majority of the DC characters into one self-contained universe so all the heroes and villains could interact and was responsible for the creation of the DC comics “New Gods”.

            Alan Moore- Mr. Moore is another brilliant outspoken author who only makes a comic book or two every decade then goes back into hiding because he does not like the state of the comic book industry right now.  He is the one responsible for the creator of The Watchmen, and was very vocal about the movie and all the new spinoff prequels that DC reintroduced into their current lineup.  His art is very bright and colorful and he does not shy away from nudity and will embrace it when the story calls for it.

            So there you have it, four more artists and creators of some of the comics you view and admire and a little bit about each one. Once again all views posted here are mine and mine alone.  A small amount of neutral bias has been given because of their art and how I use it to give myself a baseline when I draw.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Jim Lee List

                So I want to continue yesterday’s topic about Jim Lee and talk about some of the major comics his art was used in.  These comics are some of my favorite and others are ones that have a cult following.  These are in no order of favoritism and there is no bias at all towards one company or another.  They all have their own merits and that is what I am going to be talking about.  So without further ado, the list of the top 4 comics by Jim Lee.

            Batman: Hush – This one features some of the most beautiful art and some of the best writing for the Batman character while it also introduces a new villain that can match Batman’s wits while also making The Dark Knight scramble to save everyone he knows.  The art in this graphic novel is some of the best art to ever grace the comic industry.

            Justice League New 52 – This one is another strong comic that you can see runs very well on its own and that is because of the art.  While the writing is superb in this comic, it is really the art that stands out and make the biggest impact.  Mr. Lee’s style has been perfected and this is the way superheroes and villains should look and you can see he takes the time to give each person realistic emotions and does not overdo each person’s body types.

            Uncanny X-Men #248 – The very first time that Jim Lee has drawn for such a huge comic with an even bigger fan base.  Because of his work on this issue, he was given the Lead artist spot on the new re launch of X-Men in 1991 which became known as X-Men volume 2.  His art work and even some of his writing style lead this comic to being inducted in the Guinness Book of World Records for becoming the bestselling comic of all time.

            Spider-Man #10 – Some of his even earlier work, he was not credited on the front cover of this comic because marvel believed they were taking a huge risk on him and they did want to jeopardize such a huge comic.  He was a co-penclier at the time, his work has greatly improved since then and has made him a Co-Publisher of DC Comics.

            Once again, these are some of the comics that I think everyone should check out just so they can see how much his art has improved and how he is helping to shape the comic industry one pencil stroke at a time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jim Lee

            As I talked about yesterday with comic books and the people who make them important, I will continue my running expose about the industry and the wonderful care givers of the comic universe.  When you open a comic book, what is the first thing that you notice, the writing, the art, the cover, the heroes or characters themselves?  Most everyone in a unanimous response would say “The Art”. You good sir or ma’am would be correct.  Today we will talk about of my all-time favorite artists and how he is helping to shape the books we love to read and the stories they weave through their art.

            Jim Lee is one of my all-time favorite artists for a plethora of reasons, not only is he an artist, but also a writer, and he is now the Co-publisher of DC comics alongside Dan DiDio the head publisher of DC comics.  You may say to yourself “I don’t know who he is and I have never seen his work” but you might be wrong and you wouldn’t even realize it.  Jim Lee has been at his craft since 1987 when he first started work at Marvel drawing for Alpha Flight and The Punisher War Journal, but due to his popularity they gave him the main spot on the X-Men spinoff Uncanny X-Men in 1991 in which art alongside the writer became the #1 bestselling comic and earned them a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.  That alone has earned him a spot among the one of my favorites.

            In 1992 he left Marvel with a group of other artists and writers and founded Image Comics where he started work on his own comic for a number of years before selling most of property to DC comics where he then started to work and grow in the ranks.  He has written and drawn some of the best comics in the past 20 years and he is all the better for it.  His work in the comic field has earned him five awards so far and he is at no point to fall out of the lead.  He has earned a Harvey Award in 1990, and Inkpot Award in 1992, and three Wizard Fan Awards in 1996, 2002, 2003.

            He has earned a special place on my book shelf because of his art and the history of which he creates it.  He was born in South Korea and moved to the states at a young age which put him at odds with others.  I was a military brat my whole life so I moved to a new state every other year and I was the outsider.  He learned to draw and to speak through the art and for that reason he earns my #1 artist spot and I hope he continues to create and write some of the work I idolize and love.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Age of Comic Books

            Comics, we all love them and some of us have even heard of them, but when was the last time you sat down and truly thought about them and their origins.  How they came about and what was the first one.  When did you think about the writers from each comic, to the artists, even the overarching narrative they strive to tell? We all have found ourselves at one point trying to get into a comic or even just reading it without much knowledge about it. That is where I plan on taking you all, down this little rabbit hole of comics and the people behind it.

Each comic book has its own following, whether you care about the person, the story, the artist, or even the writer and company.  The special thing about them is no matter what angle you look at them, you in your own right will find something redeeming about the comic in question. . Comic books have been around since the 1930s with the introduction of Famous Funnies.

Across the board you have your all-time favorite writers for your favorite comics, whether that writer is Dan DiDio, Stan Lee, Frank Miller, Scott Snyder or even Geoff Johns.  You know at least two people on that small list right there and by the end of this week you will know every writer up there and every artist that I talk about such as Alex Ross, Jim Lee, Jack Kirby, and Bob Kane.  These group of people are responsible for making your comic great and for leading the industry in the work they do to provide you with your entertainment.

So for the next week strap yourself in and enjoy the ride as we go over some the greatest artists in their fields to the writers that make your comic enjoyable.  Different story arcs that every comic reader has to read in their life time even if you don’t care about that comic or hero.  How these small time comics gather mainstream appeal and show up on your TV or in the Cinemas.  Enjoy the ride and remember, if you have questions, email me or comment down below and ill answer anything you want.