Friday, June 28, 2013

Superman's 75th: Batman\Superman #1 and My (cheapskate) Xbox Avatar

I picked up Batman\Superman #1 by Greg Pak and Jae Lee (with some SUPERB colors from June Chung) this past week.

I have to confess, I read this book in little chunks at a time, so I actually got lost a bit throughout the story. It was a combination of the writing actually making you thing and fill in the blanks and the storytelling wasn't quite that solid. 

I was confused about quite a few things, like why did Batman go to Metropolis, who the guy Catwoman was terrorizing, what the crazy robots were in the said guys house, why does the bad guys' color scheme change completely on the last panel... etc. etc.

So my first read through I was a little lukewarm/ready to drop it. It wasn't until I read a websites review about it that I was able to piece together what was going on. So with a clearer head I read it a second time, but straight through. It made better sense the second time through, but there's definitely something lacking in the visual storytelling of it all. Nothing so horribly bad per se, but enough that I had to try harder on my second read.

Jae Lee just has a knack to make black silhouettes look so interesting!
Cool double page spread of our favorite heroes!

Not to say that Jae Lee's art wasn't fantastic mind you! All his panels were great. The man definitely knows how to make some interesting visuals! It's a great looking book, and Jae Lee was certainly the draw for me after his Ozymandias run. And June Chung makes his stuff simply SING.

One page pin ups and double page spreads? Yes please!

I know everybody's not a big fan of splash pages and double page spreads nowadays, but I love them, honestly. I know it's a gimmick that might not necessarily serve the story, but I love the whole spectacle of it. And when I think of Superman, I want spectacles and wows! And wow wow WOW does Jae Lee deliver the goods!

I knew it was too good to be true to have Jae Lee deliver the whole book, but Ben Oliver does a good job of covering the last seven pages of the book. And the story even makes up an excuse (story-wise) for a different artist to come in. There's some great looking pin-ups in the back, my favorite is Guillem March's version , and the black and white version of issue 2's over.

After my second read through, I definitely enjoyed and understood it better and am in for the ride. There's a good 'hook' at the end too that is an interesting plot point but hopefully will also shine more light on Supes' background (according to the new 52). Good book, good fun, looks AMAZING. I'd recommend it. And highly recommend it if you're a Jae Lee fan!

While I am going on a Superman related shopping spree this month, I still am on a budget! I spotted the Man of Steel Avatar clothes on Xbox live the other day and was planning to pick it up:

Gasp! 5 Bucks? I guess I'm not hardcore enough...
...Until I found out it would cost me five dollars! At which point, I tried it on my avatar, took a picture and cancelled the sale. I couldn't get over the price tag... That five dollars could go to five issues of Superman digital comics (which I'll cover next post!)... I may be hardcore... but I guess not that hardcore...

Okay, that's it for tonight! Up, up and away!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Superman's 75th: Man of Steel spoiler-less-ish impressions and a bunch of Superman stuff!

My Superman month-long celebration is about to wrap up but boy oh boy what a great final leg it has been!

The wife and I were able to catch a 10:15 show this past Friday night for Man of Steel at a nearby theater. We are very thankful for my sister-in-law being able to babysit for us that night. And what a night it was!

I won't spoil anything in the Man of Steel movie for anyone, but I really, really enjoyed it! Please do not let any horrible metacritic or rotten tomatoes scores dissuade you from watching this movie! Go in watch it for yourself and judge then.

I have no idea why the hate for this movie is so strong, because it was AWESOME in my opinion. I'm a DC guy so I'm pretty biased, but I enjoyed it much more than Iron Man 3 or the Avengers (yep, I said it!). I may have to rank it up there as one of my top superhero movies and it could go toe-to-toe with the Chris Reeve Supermans (gasp)! But it's a VERY different movie from that one, so the Donner movies will always be up there too!

The movie was EPIC through and through. Everything was so grand, so awesome and so SUPER! The wife enjoyed it too... having Henry Cavill  play the man of Steel certainly didn't hurt her opinion! All the supporting actors worked well, with Ma and Pa Kent being solid believable characters, Lois Lane by Amy Adams was great, and Russel Crowe as Jor-El was good too! The soundtrack was great too by the way!

This next paragraph MIGHT be a spoiler (you'd have to really do some digging to figure out what I'm saying) so skip it and come back to it after you've watched the movie! There's this 'controversy' surrounding a plot point in the movie, that seems to be a BIG reason why people poo poo on it. And apparently big time Superman fans are weighing and really hating on it. I would like to think I'm a relatively large Superman fan myself, but I didn't have an issue with it like others. For one thin, I've actually read a story that dealt with the same controversy in the comics, so I suppose I was ready to 'accept' it? But my rebuttal to the controversy is: Go watch Superman 2 with Christopher Reeve. It has the same controversy everyone is hung up on, and it's handled a whole lot more unnervingly there. That's all I'll have to say about that!

There's complaints that there's no joy or comedy in the movie... maybe not in the same vein as the Donner movies that really went for the old school comic book comedy (which is awesome), but there's humor and joy in the movie for sure. The wife and I found ourselves chuckling at certain moments of the film, but the delivery is more subtle that the Donner films. Different films, different tone.

And lastly, people actually complain that there's too much action in the movie. Too much action in a Superman movie? Didn't superman debut in a comic called ACTION comics #1?? Whatever, people. I loved the action scenes in the movie!

Okay, enough gushing about Man of Steel, let's gush about other things Superman related! I got Superman Unchained #1 by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee. The book has a 'gimmick" fold out poster page included that is actually part of the narrative. I have to say I actually kinda like the gimmick! My teenaged self would have absolutely gone gaga over it. After watching Man of Steel's epic fight scenes, for better or for gimmicky- worse, I absolutely appreciated Jim Lee trying to capture that grandness in Unchained.

My collector-nerd tendencies came out again as
I was trying to pry the glue off of this thing!

 Jim Lee's able to show just how gigantic a task Superman is doing; making the scene grander than a two page spread. And for a Superman comic? I think that's pretty appropriate. It costs you an extra dollar, but I don't think I minded, so long as it's not a regular occurance! It was a good way to start the series off with a bang. Scott Snyder's writing is great too. He gives us a solid Clark internal monologue where he's trying to describe to you what it feels like being superman but in very human terms.

Snyder has a nice 2 page epilogue with Dustin Nguyen providing the art. It's written well, that even though it's only two pages, he's able to give us nice backstory on Perry White and the current plot at the same time without it feeling bogged down.

Next up, I got my Blu-ray edition of Superman Unbound (must be some 'Un' theme going on for supes)in the mail. I enjoyed this movie even though I had some intitial hangups with it. It was nice to have a physical copy in my nerd-hands! I have my impressions of it in a previous post here.

Along with that, I also got my copy of the Jose Luis Garcia Lopez Adventures of Superman collection. I heard a complaint that it wasn't quite Garcia Lopez's best stuff, but flipping through it, there's some good art in this collection! I mean Garcia Lopez on an off day is still good looking stuff! I'm jazzed to read through this book.

There's a pretty fantastic looking Supes vs. wonder woman fight in here.

Lovely work as always from mr. Garcia Lopez.
And that's all for today! The Neverending Battle continues to celebrate Superman's birthday with copius amount of shopping! See you next post and go watch Man of Steel already!

Friday, June 21, 2013

My Comic Book: Issue 3 Page 7 Final B & W


I finished the Black and White stage of this page! It has been an absolute fight, trying to finish this. So many things have been going on lately in my life, it's been such a hard push. My last entry for a progress update of this page was on February! It's been 4 months! Yikes...

I've finally finished you!!!
Hopefully I can keep this momentum going again.

As I was lettering this page, I decided to switch one of the word balloon into a thought bubble (the 4th panel). While working on these books, I've realized I want to incorporate some of the old techniques that comics nowadays generally don't use that much (ie. thought bubble or broken lines around a word bubble for whispering).

But my first two issues don't use this device, so I wasn't sure when would be a good time in the series to do it... and that when is now! I've been a big fan of comics' cool little visual "tricks" especially when it comes to visually depicting sound. But I think I've been so entrenched in modern comic book storytelling so much, I forget to add it to my work.

I've noticed I've also taken to writing this book like how companies tend to 'write for the trade' nowadays as well. And... I'm not sure I like that to be honest. So after this 'arc', I'm hoping to do some self contained stories in the future.

And that's it for today. Tomorrow, the wife and I get a date night to watch Man of Steel! I'm so excited! Up, up and away!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Superman's 75th: Cartoon Art Museum Exhibit part 2

Happy Father's Day! Let's continue checking out the Superman Exhibit at the San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum!

Also I apologize in advance if some of my pictures are too blurry! My daughter was very excited to see the giant Superman mural she would keep bouncing up and down in her baby bjorn when I was there! That and museum lights and reflection off the glass... yada yada yada... Anyway...

I got to see some more Curt Swan Superman art in the exhibit:

Action Comics cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson
 Apparently, the owner of this next piece, David Mendel wrote the 'Bizarro Jerry' episode on Sienfeld as well. That Bizaaro pose always struct me as so odd, but I think that's the whole point!

Superman Cover by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano.

Action Comics cover by Neal Adams. I like seeing the pasted up original.
This next one is such a great illustration of the Clark-into-Superman Sequence. I never knew about Cardy until maybe 8 years ago, but I've become a huge fan of his art ever since. His Aquaman stuff was actually what caught my eye first, but I was glad to have been able to see his Superman work.

A Nick Cardy Action Comics cover.
Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson on an Advernture Comics' cover.
I think I am in the minority of missing word balloons on comic book covers. They just seem like a lot of fun. I'll have to make a note of that and try to work it into my future comic book covers.

Neal Adams depicting the battle for the championship of the Universe!

Gil Kane cover for Superman #386.
 SIDEBAR: (This following cover is NOT at the gallery!) I am actually not a Gil Kane fan (gasp!) but I really do respect his work. However, one of my earliest Superman stories was actually drawn by him. It was in Action comics 554 with a story by Marv Wolfman that was a tribute to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Not at the museum, but this issue was one of my first few
Superman comics when I was a kid. This was my first exposure to Gil Kane.
I have absolutely no idea where this issue is now. 
I saw this next cover at the museum, but for some odd reason, I must've forgotten to take a picture of it! Anyhow, I pulled this from the museum's site, and is probably a much better image that what I would've taken anyway!

Great looking Neal Adams cover. Waitaminit! That background is a picture!
Adams actually cut the silhouette out of the cover 's background
then placed his drawing behind the picture. It was neat to see the little
'tricks' artists would do for the art.

A great cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson for part two
of Alan Moore's "Whatever happenned to the man of tomorrow".
That cover above is for the second part of what could be one of the best Superman Stories written (and of course it's from Alan Moore!). Better in my book than All-Star Superman. Yup, that's right Grant Morrison lovers! I just said that!

This next set of art is what really sucked me into the world of Superman. While I've read and already enjoyed Superman prior to his reboot after Crisis at the hands of John Byrne, it's this run that I truly started getting into consistently collecting Superman in a regular fashion. And this time-period (and especially after Byrne) is still one of my favorite Superman runs.

It was probably a mix of me having better access to Superman books in a regular sequential order. See in the Philippines imported comic books that just came out were expensive and sold in specialty shops. But in magazine racks at the local bookstores they were cheaper. But they were usually much older titles and in no particular order. After the Man of Steel launched, shortly after my family moved to Hong Kong and the convenience stores there had a regular monthly supply of Superman and Batman comics (and some marvel books too). So by then I was able to follow the long sweeping story arcs.

Anyhow, let's look at more art!

Man of Steel #1

Man of Steel #2
Man of Steel #2 cover detail. I always
loved the spotted black inkwork under the car.

Man of Steel # 3 (sorry it's blurry!)

Man of Steel #3 detail
I always loved that John Byrne made the world's finest team uneasy of each other but still worked as a team. He really freshened up their dynamic doing this. They're 'best friends' again nowadays, but I think I don't mind whichever case; gotta keep mixing it up so it doesn't get stale right?

Man of Steel #4
John Byrne totally remixes Luthor as a big shot corporate
raider. I thought that was pretty awesome. The real shocker
about the cover? He's got hair! (gasp!)

Bizaaro is re-introduced in Man of Steel #5

Man of Steel #6

Clark's awesome tweed jacket always wowed the detail-oriented
impressionable youngster I was back then. I still like it!

Detail of the pin-up above.

Supes getting smacked out of a bank by Metallo in Superman #1
 John Byrne was a big influence on me then. I was never really into Marvel books so I had no idea of the good work he was doing there before (his fantastic four and Alpha Flight runs, anyone?), so he totally blew my mind when I was reading Superman. I was so googly-eyed over his art that I almost didn't take notice of the other artist that was drawing the other superman book. Almost!

Jerry Odway pin up.

I remember seeing this cover and I didn't have reference to the
crazy Silver age Jimmy Olsen stories at the time. So in my head I was thinking,
'this is going to be dumb'. But I found it a lot of fun to read! I may have to try
to find a copy of the collected editions of this run in the 90's...
detail from the cover above.

Jerry Ordway was handling the art over at the other Superman book and maybe not immediately, but as I kept seeing his work back then, I grew to love it. As I age, as my tastes change, I find I'm not as gigantic a John Byrne fan like before. However! I become more and more of a Jerry Ordway fan as time goes by! I remember absolutely falling in love with his Cat Grant drawings when I was a teenager (she's not real, dude!) and was always impressed by his draftsmanship and just how real his people were. And of course I was blown away like everyone was with his comic book adaptation of the Tim Burton Batman movie!

Swoon! I think this may have been the exact panel that I got a
teenaged crush on Jerry Ordway's Catherine Grant!

This is the page where that panel up top
came from. It was a story about the four armed terror.
It's REALLY blurry, but I just added it as context.
Some more Jon Bogdanove artwork was there too.

Jon Bogdanove does some amazing swipes from  a lot of
Superman artists through the years.

Detail from the Bogdanove piece.

Another close up of the piece. Great stuff!

He did another piece but this time with Batman artists.
Sadly this photo is really blurry! Sorry!
An Alex Ross piece from the Doomsday and Beyond novel.

Detail from Alex Ross' Gouache piece.

Jackson Guice cover for Action Comics. I liked his stuff then,
and he's still really kicking butt with his work currently.
His Winter Soldier stuff  looks fantastic!
 I saw this Kevin Nowlan inked piece in the show, and I was a total nerd about it and kept taking pictures and looking at it. Mr. Nowlan's work never ceases to amaze me!

Kevin Nowlan inks over Dan Jurgens

The brushwork he used to depict lighting looked great.

The Nowlan hatchwork is always awesome to see.

Jon Bogdanove art again for DC's retroactive series.

Another Bogdanove Retroactive piece.

Alan Davis and Mark farmer art for Superboy's Legion #2.
I am always a fan of their work, but I don't think I ever read this issue.

A blurry J.H. Williams III and Mick Gray piece
from the Son of Superman Graphic novel. I think I read this awhile
back but I can't remember the story very well.

Kurt Schaffenberger and Bob Smith cover for Super Friends # 44.
That's a crazy fight going on right there!

Mike Sekowsky and Jack Abel interiors for Adventure comics # 404.

Yay! A Kieth Giffen sighting! The only Giffen drawn Superman story
I had was "Caitiff the last Vampire" in Action Comics. Anybody rememebr that??

Sorry some of this blurry. I liked Chris Batista's work when I saw it in Steel.
Creepy Composite Superman!
 The next pieces' title cards said they didn't know who the artist was for them, however it's been speculated that it was done by Dick Giordano. We didn't have Wonder Bread in the PHilippines or Hong Kong, so yeah, I definitely never saw these!

Wonder Bread Trading Card art.

Wonder Bread Trading Card art.

Changing while talking to Morgan Edge by Curt Swan and Dave Hunt.
Morgan Edge: "Kent? Why did your voice just drop an octave??"

Ed Hannigan and Klaus Janson cover for World's Finest.
The enemies were called Null and Void! I couldn't pass up taking
a picture of that!

a blurry double page spread form Joe Stanton and Ian Gibson form Millenium # 8.
I didn't really enjoy that mini series too much, but I remember liking this double page spread.
And last but certainly not the least, a sketch from Joe Shuster! Thank you very much to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for creating a great hero that I still get to enjoy even 75 years after they created him. Here's to the creators of the first and the best superhero of them all!

Superman Sketch by Joe Shuster.
Now go to the Cartoon Art Museum and see these pieces for yourself!
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