Friday, May 30, 2008

Paper Comics DeathWatch: Computex!

Before I get to what is Computex and why it spells DOOM! for the paper comic industry, I want to start this column with an apology. From time to time, I pick on Apple fans a little, and you really don't deserve it. Apple makes a great computer, OS, mp3 player, and a lot of my bad experiences with Apples come from the pre OSX days.

On the flipside, I'm not the only one who has noticed a slightly annoying *fervor* among some Apple users... The Digital Home 17: Analyzing the Apple Fanboy

Anyway, like I said, Apple makes some great gadgets, and more and more, it looks like Apple is actually going to come up with the killer UMPC device:

From MacRumors... It looks like the long-rumored Mac Tablet will finally be arriving later this year.

And while I don't know if this is going the be the bombshell at the WWDC conference or will be showing up later this year, it will definitely impact not only how you read comics, but most likely everything else on the planet.

PCDW points: 50,000

But I like how comics feels!

One of the things paper comic lovers say all the time is how they could never embrace digital comics because of their love the tactile sensation of paper comics (which is sort of like saying you could not listen to mp3s because you love the smell of plastic LPs) - well, a few days ago, Gates and Ballmer demoed/previewed a ton of slick multitouch features in Windows 7 this week (the next version of the Microsoft OS - think Vista done right)

Multitouch is the ability to *touch* your computer screen with your fingers and manipulate items on the screen. The features demoed in Windows 7 will be a nice bridge for those tactile sensation lovers, as they will be able to *turn* the pages of their comics just like they do today.

PCDW points: 20,000

If this be Computex!

From Wikipedia...

COMPUTEX Taipei, or Taipei International Information Technology Show is a computer expo held annually at the Taipei World Trade Center in Taipei, Taiwan.

Because of the large number of companies involved in the production of computer hardware in Taiwan, COMPUTEX has become a favorite location for observers hoping to get a preview of new hardware and trends in that field.

This year it will be held June 3 - 7, 2008.

Why am I mentioning this on PCDW? Well this year, thanks to the runaway success of the Asus eee pc there is the expectation that a lot of vendors are going to premiere new Ultra Low Price PCs (also called Subnotes) at Computex.

The one I'm *really* excited about?

Asus is expected to announce Multitouch spinoff of the EEE line.

Multitouch + Ultra Low Price = bye bye paper everything.

PCDW points (for the impending subnote boom): 10,000

PCDW points (for an Asus multitouch unit): 100,000

- Jim

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pierre Speaks: Let there be DRAGONS

I have been many things in my lifetime... a hockey player... a soldier... heck even Superman. ;)

One of the coolest thing I have been though is.......

...a Dragon.

I can say that I have been a gamer most of my life. First with those fighting fantasy novels where you had various options at the end of each paragraph making YOU decide what would happen as you read the book. You also needed some dice (although some books had alternatives to dice) to decide on the outcome of certain encounters in the book.

Then I went to play D&D (Dungeon & Dragons). Although I tried many different RPG (Role-Playing Games) like Vampire; the Masquerade, Champions, Chtullu and various others that I fail to mention. D&D was always the one I prefered to play... that is... until I discovered LRPGs (Live Role-Playing Games).

Then my friend Bert and I spent 2 years putting together what we would need for our own LRPG which lasted about 5 years. Ahhhh..... the memories.

On top of putting together the various rules for such a game to work, we also had to make a truckload of foam weapons, and we had to make over 120 costumes for the players, and costumes for the various NPCs (Non Player Characters) and monsters needed for the game.

But in order to do that.... we had to learn to use a sewing machine.

That is the advantage of being "self-taught"... you can pretty much learn anything by yourself if you need to. ;)

In addition to making scores of costumes and weapons, we built various structures where the players would sleep, and other structures for the game itself like our tower of sorcery, our temple, our thieve's guild, our dragon cave.... and our HQ for our various NPCs and monsters.

Ahhhh the foolishness of youth.

If we can say one thing about us at the time.... it's that we were wayyyyy too ambitious for our own good. Doing all that work was.... well just that... a lot of work.

In our plans we also wanted to build a second tower of sorcery, another temple, and our most ambitious structure of all... a labirynth (that is what happens when you read the Death Gate cycle series and try to turn it into reality ;) ).

We pretty much learned how to organise such event as a LRPG through trial and errors. Although we made more then our share of errors, we also did some good stuff that, as far as I know, no one was able to match to this day.

So maybe we were too hard on ourselves. I guess at the time we were so focused on what we had not been able to do, that we lost sight of all that we had accomplished.

In retrospect... with what we have learned from our mistakes, and what we have learned since... we probably could make an even more awesome LRPG then ever before...

... but I much prefer to take that time and make some awesome Flashback Universe comics instead. ;)

Going back to playing D&D after our LRPG days was... not easy. It took some getting used to.

But then D&D was pretty much replaced by Magic; the Gathering. Way too much time was spent playing Magic and putting together various decks.

But then Magic was in turn replaced by CRPGs (Computer Role-Playing Games). Espescially Baldur's Gate (BG) 1 & 2, and Icewind Dale (IWD) 1 and 2. I spent more time then any sane man ever should playing and replaying those games over and over again. Although that is pretty much what made me learn how to use a computer.

Sadly, that pretty much was the end of my gaming days. Later games like Neverwinter Nights (NWN), Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO), and even Magic; the Gathering Online (MtGO) failed to keep me gaming. :(

Maybe I just did not try the right game to keep on gaming??

Maybe I should try City of Heroes?? ;)

- Pierre

Monday, May 26, 2008

Free Comics Monday: Memorial Day

In honor of Memorial Day, I'm presenting to great old military comics.

[ WarBirds 03 ]

[ The Rangers ]


Friday, May 23, 2008

Paper Comic DeathWatch: BryantMan?

Todays intro graphic and first entry into the PCDW both come from Sean Kleefeld.

Is BryantMan a Harbinger of Doom?

Sean remarks on how a seemingly innocent use of a superhero in a marketing campaign could point to trouble down the line for paper comics...

Sean says...

So does anyone NEED to look towards comic books for inspiration for movie and TV ideas any more? Not really. How many people who saw and enjoyed The Incredibles ever read a comic? How about Sky High? My Super Ex-Girlfriend? Zoom: Academy for Superheroes? It'd certainly be cheaper if the movie studio didn't have to option the rights to use somebody else's character, certainly. But when that gets down to TV (Who Wants To Be A Superhero, Heroes) and now basic commercials and marketing (Bryantman), where does that leave the comic book industry?


This isn't the first time someone has pointed this out - Sean refers to the Incredibles, and the success of that movie DID get a lot of people talking in that direction when it first came out.

Zoom: Academy for Superheroes - not so much. daughter Haigen liked it though, which says something I suppose.

We have this notion that because we have grown up with Superman and Batman all our lives that they will always be with us - but there are some characters (Doc Savage, Sherlock Holmes, Prince Valiant) that seem to be totally forgotten by Hollywood now.

An Aside: I really think that the only way you could make a Sherlock Holmes movie now is to make him a serial killer - which is of course is what Hannibal Lecter is, isn't it?

Will there come a day when Superman, by virtue of just being around forever, is deemed too *old* by Hollywood to try and push out to the masses? (I'd argue that the first weekend grosses of Superman Returns may have already proven this to Hollywood.)

It's easy to point to Iron Man now and go - "Hey, comics are gonna be okay because Hollywood wants to make movies out of them!" - but I really think it's more credit to how Marvel handled the Iron Man movie than anything else.

I don't know - maybe instead of pouring a ton of money into a Justice League movie - DC should make a High Moon movie instead? Which concept has more wide ranging appeal?

Anyway, more to Sean's point - let's see what happens with Will Smith's Hancock movie.

PCDW points: 1000

One Laptop Per A Child Version 2

This last week has been a big one in the Ultra Mobile PC world for two reasons. One, which I discussed last week is the Too Good To Die Rumor that Steve Jobs is going to announce an iTablet at WWDC next month.

The other reason is a next version of the One Laptop Per a Child laptop (OLPC) was shown - and it looks sweet!

This really sounds like the eBook of the future...and that's because it's meant to be...

Nicholas Negroponte the founder of the OLPC initiative said this about the XO-2

...the new system has two touch-sensitive displays. As you can see from the video and the pictures, the XO-2 will be much smaller than the original machine (half the size, according to the press release) and will have a foldable e-book form factor. “The next generation laptop should be a book,”

You can read more and see a video about the OLPC X0 2 here

The kicker? These things are set to be priced at $100 a pop!

On the flipside - they aren't scheduled to be available until 2010.

Just enough time for you to unload your entire collection of paper comics on eBay

I might add. :D

Thanks to David for the link!

PCDW points: 100,000

That's all for this week - I'm off to Rock Hill to visit my folks.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pierre says: I'm not 65 years old..... yet. ;)

What do I mean by that?

When I talk about comics and mention some of my favorite characters as a kid, I will mention the Flash or Daredevil. Nothing strange about that so far.... right?

But when I mention the DD comics I was reading as a kid, unlike many others my age, I don't mention the Miller DD. I talk about the AWESOME DD comics drawn by some guy named Wallace Wood.

Then by John Romita SR,

and later by Gene Colan.

And it gets even worse when I mention the Flash and talk about some great Flash comics drawn by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson. When I mention how I loved reading the "Flash of 2 worlds" story as a kid, usually people ask me "How old are you?" because they wonder how I could have read those stories as a kid... although it is made even worse since people usually think that I am younger then I really am... Might be because of my baby face. ;)

As a kid, I was reading french translation of american comics... which was mostly Marvel comics at the time, but some DC comics like Flash made it in french in Quebec.

And the summer of 1979, we got 2 "NEW" comic series.... the Flash and Daredevil.

Ahhhhhh.... the memories.

Also thanks to that, I was first introduced to Green Lantern as being Alan Scott. I like Kyle, and I became a fan of Hal thanks to New Frontier, of Jon in JLU, and of Guy in JLI/GL;Recharge, but to me the "REAL" GL is Alan. ;)

I loved the Flash comic back then. And little did I know that it was originally published more then 20 years before. It would also have some Kid Flash back-up features which were from more recent stories at the time.

And for some reasons the stories were not published in the same order they were originally printed in the US. So sometimes we would get a Flash story with Kid Flash wearing his first costume (which was the same as Flash), and then a back-up tale of Kid Flash when he was older with his "yellow" costume.

A few years later I would scream "SACRILEGE!!!" when Barry Allen would die in "Crisis on Infinite Earths". Although who knows.... we might see him again someday. ;)

And while many were reading a version of DD by Miller where he was in love with some "assassin" named Elektra, I was discovering DD drawn by Wood and was introduced to the Matt/Karen/Foggy love triangle. Years later when I would finally read the Miller DD with Elektra.... I would be scratching my head wondering... "Elektra Nachios?? Really??". Even today I am still wondering what some saw in this Elektra.

But what can I say.... how can I understand what these "young kids" see in her....

I am old. ;)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Free Comics Monday: The Ray & Uncle Sam

Today, I present two issues from Quality Comics for download.

From Wikipedia...

Quality Comics was started by Everett M. "Busy" Arnold, a printer who saw the rapidly rising popularity of the comic book medium in the late 1930s. He entered the field by buying out the existing series Feature Funnies from Eastern Color Press. Initially buying features from Eisner & Iger, a prominent "packager" that produced comics on demand for publishers entering the new medium, Quality introduced such superheroes as Plastic Man and Kid Eternity, and other such characters as the aviator hero Blackhawk. Quality also published comic-book reprints of Will Eisner's "The Spirit", the seven-page lead feature in a weekly 16-page, tabloid-sized, newsprint comic book, known colloquially as "The Spirit Section", distributed through Sunday newspapers.

[ National Comics 06 ]

[ Smash Comics 17]


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pierre Speaks: Imitating Art

Last time, I mentioned how by being influenced as an artist by Sal Buscema, I was more influenced by Kirby then I even realised.

What did I really mean by that??

As a kid, my artwork was a lot influenced by Sal Buscema. Even when I was reproducing a character by someone else, I would give him various elements very SalBuscemaesque (ex; I would draw a Mike Zeck Punisher, but I would give him a face drawn in the style of Sal).

If you had asked me at the time, I would have told you that Kirby's work was a liitle too weird sometimes or too cartoony (yes... I know... that is pure blasphemy ;) ... but it would only be years later that I would truly appreciate how great Kirby's work is and how much Sal was influenced by it)

side by side comparison

But little did I realised at the time that a lot of Sal's work was inspired/derived from Kirby himself.

side by side comparison

It might explain why Ron Frenz was able to imitate Sal Buscema, then switch to Kirby.... which he was already doing indirectly by imitating Sal... then to go back to imitating Sal.

And since Kirby influenced pretty much everyone at one time or another, whenever someone says that he was inspired by Sal or John Buscema, John Byrne, George Perez, Walter Simonson, and countless others.... what they are also saying is that they were indirectly influenced by Kirby whether they know it or not.

side by side comparison

And after working for years in animation on countless series (okay.... I could count them.... but you know what I mean ;) ), I learned too look at the style of an artist and try to see where that artist is coming from. For example... I can see how John Byrne's work is a strange mix of Kirby, Neal Adams.... and something else that I can't quite put my finger on it... I suspect that it is something that has to do with the fact that he was originally from England... but I can't prove it.... yet. ;) But I would not be surprised if years from now, I would get my hand on a british comic and scream EUREKA!!! That I would eventually find the missing piece to the John Byrne puzzle.... or something like that. ;) One fun part is that it is a never ending quest.

side by side comparison

What use does this have??

Well in animation, you have to be able to imitate the style of whatever project that you are working on. And the key to doing that is being able to understand where that style is coming from.

So if someone asks you to work a series that looks like Justice League Unlimited, understanding what styles influenced JLU (Kirby, Mignola, Akira, etc) is a big help. I don't know how many times on such a series did I save myself from a jam by drawing a Kirby character/hand/expression, then tweaking it to fit the style of the series I was working on.

But if I had not been able to understand the style and where it took it's inspiration, it would have been much more difficult.

sal channels kirby

So for all of you aspiring artists out there, if you want to imitate a style, don't just copy the style you want to imitate. Understand what style (heck study and copy that style as well) inspired the style you want to imitate, and it will help you in reaching your goal.

Hope this will help some of you. ;)

Until next time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Paper Comic DeathWatch: iTablet in June?

I've got a LOT of stuff to cover today, none the least is the intriguing rumor floating around the net today that Steve Job's is going to announce an iTable at the Apple World Wide Developer Conference June 9th.

Coupled with the recent job posting for multi-touch developers, it really seems that Apple is gearing up for something big in the portable computer world.

Many bloggers had suggested that Apple was going to unveil a 3G iPhone at WWDC, but that announcement has already been made...

Here's what MacRumors says...

Reportedly, Apple would instead announce a brand new portable device at WWDC. No other details of what this device might be, but there have been rumors that Apple was developing a mini-tablet multitouch device for launch in 2008. This PDA-like device would reportedly have a higher screen resolution (720x480)and be about 1.5x the size of the existing iPhone.
Whether this is true or not is hard to say, but the fact that so many people in the MacRumors forums are looking forward to an iTable should say something to somebody...

For those of you who can't wait until Apple announces their iTable, check out the Axiotron Modbook. Pretty cool, but it's about $2000. Not quite an impulse item is it?

PCDW Points: 5,000

While Rome Burns...

You've got to give ol' Dan Didio some credit. There he is with DC sort of getting its ass kicked by Marvel sales-wise right now, and when confronted with the question of possibly offering DC comics for download, he has no problem dismissing this avenue of revenue.

From the ECCC: DC NATION thread on Newsarama

Then the subject of downloadable comics came up to which Didio replied that, comics being a collectible commodity, digital downloads were not seen as that important right now. However, he did say the DC was staying aware of that area so that should the demand shift they would be ready.
There you go folks - DC is rolling in so much dough right now, that they have no impetus to try an open up another distribution channel for their properties.

internet, sminternet!

I sure hope someone at Time Warner sees that. I suspect their heads will explode.

And yet, there is something slightly self serving about Dan's statement - see, DC is a publishing company. If someone at Time Warner were to get the idea to copy the Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, I sincerely doubt they would use inhouse DC people because that's just not the Time Warner way. They like to *buy* outside solutions. Like AOL. Like Zuda. So, it's really in DC's best interest to downplay this whole downloadable comics thing.

Maybe now would be a good time for Serj at Zcult to ask DC if they can start posting DC torrents again...

btw - this little item is actually my first NEGATIVE Paper Comic DeathWatch point item.

PCDW Points: -10,000

But Manga will Save Paper Comics!

I got an email one time from a reader who said I was probably right about American Comics, but Manga would save American paper comics (which makes as much sense as Playboy saving Tijuana Bibles, but let's move on)

Well, according to this item from Heidi MacDonald's the Beat, Manga may not be the great white hope we thought it would be...

Manga sales decline in Japan

The Business Takeaway for us lovers of non-paper products is this part of the post...

Aside: for the record, I think manga sales in Japan will continue to drop by ~5% a year until digital distribution becomes more than just a novelty, and is instead firmly established as the ‘third format’ — which will happen in Japan where the weekly/monthly ‘phone books’ are already largely considered to be disposable/recyclable media (and where everyone has a super-awesome cell phone that not only displays manga but also, in a pinch, can open an exploding Gate and be thrown at invading aliens) but not in the States where the nearest equivalent to the throw-away manga magazines are instead polybagged (don’t forget a cardboard backer) and sold at significant mark-up on e-bay — these are two completely different business models, folks, so unfortunately, no digital superheroes for you
PCDW Point: 1000

Meanwhile in America..Comics Cost To Damn Much!

So declares the ever eloquent Tom Spurgeon in his post: A Thought Or Two On The Notion Of Comic Books Costing Too Darn Much

For the most part, it's a lot of what you've probably thought yourself, but didn't want to say outloud - if comic stories are now told in 6 issue arcs, and I'm only getting 4 a week instead of 6 because of gas prices or something, then my chances of getting all the various parts that make up a complete story (Beginning, Middle, End) are now reduced. Thus, each week, I'm left sort of wanting more from my comics. Not a good thing.

The most interesting part for me is Tom's statement that...

And I don't think it's as easy as the on-line comic replacing the serial comic as the entry point; that's a seismic shift in culture and in the nature of the reading experience for me to believe it does exactly the same thing. In fact, I would argue that as a group the current on-line comics models come closer to encouraging a medium more like comic books in the 1940s than comics in the 1960s or 1980s.
I asked Tom for a clarfication on this point as to whether he meant web comics or digital comics and this is what he said...

Both. What I basically mean is that they reinforce a kind of mainstream commercialism both overt and subconscious more than they foster personal expression over commercial concerns, which I'd need to defend in an entire
Not sure I entirely agree with that statement.

I look forward to his defense essay. :)

PCDW Points: 5,000

btw - I came in late on the Didio newsarama thread, and I really wish I had gotten there sooner. So, if you see a thread on a message board that you think might interest me, feel free to email me.

- Have a great day!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Free Comics Monday: America's Best Comics

Today, I present more two more issues of America's Best Comics which include adventures of The Black Terror, Fighting Yank, Captain Future and Pyroman.

[ Americas Best Comics 22 ]

[ Americas Best Comics 23]

- Enjoy!

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Evolution of the Paladin

The Paladin started out as a VERY different looking character and sort of evolved into two other characters. And let me say once again, that Pierre is just an amazing trooper when it comes to revising his character sketches.

I would also like to say that not all of our characters go through such rigorous reworkings. However, when one does get reimagined like this, it is interesting to see the process.

This was Pierre's first version of the character back when he was called Major Victory.

We decided to hide his face a little more and use a Cross motif on his shield and emblem. This set him apart from other Captain America clones.

Somewhere, we started experimenting with making him more Techno.

We added a translucent shield.

At this point I really thought we were drifting away from the core of the original character, but I really liked Pierre's designs, so we kept pursuing it.

We brought his face back into the design in an attempt to soften the techno look.

I think we sort of went back to the drawing board and just made him look more like a traditional paladin, and it really felt right for the character.

This is what we finally settled on.

Quite a big difference, aye?

However, we salvaged a lot of the preliminary work by using some of the ideas for Cyclotron

Finally, a while back Pierre and I were discussing Rom, Spaceknight, I decided that Cyclotron would look better with a white armor instead of gray.

So, for the first time ever, here is the new Cyclotron. :)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Pierre presents A Tribute to Sal Buscema

Hi guys,
I had a tough time deciding on what to write for this second blog post of mine.

Not for lack of subjects or ideas.... quite the opposite. What do I start with? Out of the thousands... no the hundred of thousands of things that I could discuss?? ;)

Last time I mentioned how, like many other aspiring artists, I was learning to draw by reprodrucing the work of some of my favorite artists.
So lets start with that. But which artist?? I am always torn when the time comes to chose one over the other.

Who do I start with?? Byrne?? Perez?? Kirby??

But then I realised that I had no choice. I had to start with the one that probably influenced me the most.... I HAD to start with...

As a kid, although he probably has worked on pretty much every series ever published by Marvel at the time. Sal was the ultimate Captain America artist. Not that Byrne and Rubenstein, and later Zeck and Beatty did not do an awesome job drawing Cap, but as a kid Sal was the guy who was drawing the best version of Cap at the time.

Although, when I was buying Captain America comics, it was later in Sal's carreer when he was inked by Don Perlin, boy that was good comics. But I was able to get my hands on some back issues with his earlier work on Cap. Those were awesome as well.
Sal was also the ultimate Hulk artist when first inked by Joe Staton, then by Ernie Chan. Not that Keown and Farmer did not do an awesome job on the series later, but to me, Sal's Hulk was the ultimate version of the character.

But the best time must have been when he inked himself.
His rendition of Captain Marvel was great...
...the U-Foes looked fantastic...

...heck even Woodgod looked pretty good when drawn by Sal. ;)

Also Sal did an awesome job on the Avengers aroud the time of the Celestial Madonna story inked by Joe Staton I think.

All those left a strong impression on me as a kid, and were a huge influence not only on teaching me to draw, teaching me storytelling, but even much later as I started working professionally on various projects.
I would say that Sal's work really left it's mark on me, that he is my biggest influence.

And much... much... much later, I was able to enjoy his work on Rom, the Spacenight. Why much later?? Well as a kid, I was reading french translations of Marvel comics. And sadly Rom was not translated in Quebec.
I first saw an issue of Rom ( I later learned that it was issue 7, my favorite in the series) as part of some anthology from France that I bought in some sort of garage sale. I was able to track down a handfull of back issues, but it was only over 20 years later that I would be able to read the entire series featuring the greatest of all Spaceknights.

Boy... that was GREAT comics.The early issues when Sal inked himself have to be my favorite.

And the best part was that I was finally able to read the final chapter (at least it was when the comic saw print) in the saga of Nova the human rocket. Being a huge Nova fan, that was a special treat.

Strangely, when you talk about Sal to various other fans, you often feel like to many, Sal is just the lesser of the Buscema brothers for some reason. Might be why John gets his own page in "The great comic book artists" by Ron Goulart, but there is no mention of his brother Sal.

To me, I have always preferred Sal.... not that John's work was not awesome, but Sal's work was more graphic/stylised, and I loved how Sal would stylise the human figure or his rendering. Only years later would I realise how much of Sal's style (or John for that matter) would come from Kirby.

Wether it was because he loved Kirby's work and was trying to emulate Kirby, or because that was the policy at Marvel at the time to have their artists draw like Kirby, I have no idea. But I sure loved the result. It also made me realise how much more influenced by Kirby (or a truckload of other artists) I was then I even realised. But that will be the subject of another blog.
Until next time. ;)


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