Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pierre Speaks: What is original?? PART 2

In PART 1 of this article, I used Batman as an example.

Let us use a Flashback Universe character this time.

Let us use Saturn Knight.

I have heard many comparisons. That it was an obvious copy of Guardian/Vindicator. Space Ghost.

Even Iron-Man.

I can understand the Vindicator or Space Ghost comparison.... but Iron-Man??

I am still scratching my head about how anyone could even think that Saturn Knight looks like a copy of Iron-Man.

Essentially, Saturn Knight was our Flashback Universe version of Nova. It seems obvious to me.... but I can understand that if someone wants to call Saturn Knight a copy, and if they don't know the character Nova..... Iron-Man is a much more known character to use as a comparison.

But even then..... a copy of Iron-Man?? "Identical" was the word actually used. "Identical"?? Really???

I am stumped.

When I first read the adventures of Nova a few decades ago. Little did I know that it was meant to be Marvel's Green Lantern. I was not that familiar with Green Lantern at the time. I had seen him once or twice in the pages of the Flash. I did not know about the whole Green Lantern Corps. Or that when Nova was given his powers by a dying alien, that it was more or less the same story as the Green Lantern origin story.

But then again.... Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) was not an original character either. There was another Green Lantern before him (no not Abin Sur), Alan Scott.

I also saw Alan in the pages of the Flash at first, when Jay Garrick mentions his JSA buddies. And since I saw him before Hal Jordan... to me Alan Scott was the TRUE Green Lantern.

But even then..... Green Lantern was essentially the modern version at the time of Aladin and his magic lamp.

So to get back to the original question... "How do you qualify something as original??"

To someone who did not know of Green Lantern.... Nova seemed original. And I am sure that many when they first saw Hal Jordan had no idea that there was Alan Scott before him.

And who knows where Aladdin actually comes from ( I am sure someone knows.... but I am too lazy to look it up ;) ).

And who knows.... maybe someday.... someone will create a new version of a character he fell in love with years before called...... Saturn Knight??

We shall see.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Free Comics Monday: Unknown Worlds

Before you start downloading this weeks latest public domain comics, I'd like to bring your attention to this interesting bit of news from Newsarama concerning DC bringing back the *Archie* or MLJ Heroes...

I don't have any copies of the old MLJ comics handy (The Fly or The Shield, among others...) but I feel certain that a lot of them have fallen into Public Domain, so I'll try to round out some for next week.

If you can't wait until next week, feel free to hop on down to where you can find a huge library of Public Domain comics.

Until then, enjoy some more issues of Unknown Worlds!

NOTE about these comics. I saw this on Wikipedia:

In the 1980s or so, Roger Broughton obtained the rights to the ACG materials from Fred Iger, and started doing reprints of Herbie and other characters under his Avalon/ Sword-in-the-Stone/A+/ACG/Charlton imprint. Broughton also licensed Herbie to Dark Horse Comics for a 12-issue reprint series, but only 2 issues came out.

I know some ACG are definitely in Public Domain, but I'm not sure where the line is drawn. If Unknown Worlds is not in public domain, feel free to email me and I'll remove them from my site. - Jim

[ Unknown Worlds 31 ]

[ Unknown Worlds 32 ]

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sick Today

The entire Shelley clan is sick today, I'm afraid no new post for today. - Jim

In the meantime, check this out. From Phil Looney at Poptown...

Jim Shelley and the Beyonder - Separated At Birth

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Paper Comic DeathWatch: Motion Comics

Watchmen on iTunesSo, normally I would have another edition of Pierre Speaks today, but I'm going to break that long held tradition and present a special Emergency Edition of Paper Comic DeathWatch.

See, while the press was all focused on Batman: The Dark Knight last Friday, Time Warner/DC decided NOW was the time to strike with their most clever of all Digital Comic Solutions!

Motion Comics! as seen on newsarama...

Now, if for some reason you missed out on the all the hubbub, let me encapsulate it for you this way.

DC took the first issue of Watchman, hired voice actors, added some Flash animation, and uploaded the whole thing to iTunes.

What was the reaction from fans? Here are some sample comments:

...How about DRM-ed comics for sale? I mean, DRM-free would be better but it’s unrealistic. iComics or whatever. Some people would still steal them, just like everything else, but I’d pay bucks for a nice set of remasted early 1980s Batman. Motion comics or whatever… it sounds like you’re ruining the experience just to have a trademarkable name…

...Good gravy! What an exciting time to be a fan!

...Its an interesting concept, and I think offering books online via itunes is a step in the right direction. However, after watching the Watchmen chapter, my biggest concern is over the voice acting. I thought the acting was not very good and took away from enjoying the new format. If this is something you want to pursue, I would highly recommend hiring more accomplished voice actors to read the scripts.

...People don’t want a brand new format. People want to download their brand-new weekly comics at 99 cents a pop and be able to read them on their laptops. And when I say “download”, I mean download-to-own. Not “temporarily download in a web browser that goes away after you view it”.

My own experience was something like this:

Click to see the HorrorFirst I waited for the 287 meg file to download from Apple. 287 megs for the first installment of what is basically just a Flash animation seems extreme to me, but hey, what do I know? (btw, I think the entire cbr collection of the Watchmen series is just something over 120 megs.)

Now, I really don't know if they intend to do all of the Watchmen comics this way, but if they do, you'll end up with over 3 gigs of files on your iPod/PC for a 12 issue miniseries.

So, just in case you are hoping to get the entire Bob Haney/Jim Aparo Batman Brave and the Bold run in this format, well, you might want to buy another hard drive.

Anyway, while that's downloading, let's get back to what Paul Levitz said about how he expects traditional comic fans to react to this new *revolutionary* digital format.

...I don’t know whether our audiences will enjoy receiving these comics digitally through computers, game consoles or cell phones,...

WTF? What do you mean you don't know? No one did any freaking market research at DC or Time Warner before giving this project a greenlight? No one checked to see how previous animated Comics on the Web were received in the past?

NEW: Batman Movie Popular among downloaders!So, exactly what was the market impetus here? Did they just want something to compete with all the bandwidth that was going to be getting sucked up by people torrenting bad Batman: TDK Cams all weekend?

Or is this just some sort of placeholder until Time Warner has a better Digital strategy in place? I think we are all waiting for the day we can download Final Crisis or Metal Men legally, but at this point I wonder if Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited hasn't made DC nervous about going down that path. It's possible that they may not want to look like they are copying Marvel.

Btw, click the image to see the REAL Batman movie people are talking about. :D

So back to the Future of Comics! - I get the movie downloaded and this is what I see:

Green Apples

I don't know - maybe it's just because all I download is mp3s and DethKlok episodes, but I can't get the movie to play worth a damn.

Hey, can you believe there's NEW software available from Apple?Is my computer old? Not hardly.

Is it an Apple? No.

But, really, should that matter? I watch iTunes TV shows, so why should this be different?

And I can play DiVX, YouTube and WMV files file.

Heck I rip and burn (legal) copies of DVDs (that aren't copyright protected of course) all the time, so I'm a little surprised that the movie won't play.

So as a last ditch effort, I begin the long and laborious task of updating my iTunes software - it's been asking me to do it for the last week or so, but I keep putting it off. Somehow, I just feel software should work longer than a month before you have to freaking update it.

Anyway, I finally get the software updated, (turns out it's a known QuickTime Update issue) and after numerous restarts, I can see the movie.

This is what it finally looked like in case you're interested.

Except it had Rorshach instead of Thor.

PCDW Points: Zero.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Free Comics Monday: Exciting Comics

Today I present more tales of The Black Terror. Here's what Wikipedia says about The Black Terror:

The character first appeared in the Golden Age of Comic Books in Exciting Comics 9, published in 1941 by Nedor Comics. He was one of that publisher's most popular superhero characters, operating until at least 1949.

His secret identity was pharmacist Bob Benton who formulated a chemical he called 'formic ethers' which gave him various superpowers. He used these powers to fight crime with his sidekick Tim Roland, together known as the Terror Twins.

[ Exciting Comics 43 ]

[ Exciting Comics 44 ]


Friday, July 18, 2008

Preview: Flashback Two In One

Gentleman Jerry Hinds, artist extraordinaire, has been working on So Falls The World, a Flashback story featuring The Creature and Wild Card written by Chris "ISB" Sims.

Here is a sneak peak at some of the pages - click to enlargemotize.

Joe Staton challenges Ultrax

The Creature says hello

WildCard springs into action

WildCard missing an important date

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pierre Speaks: What is original?? PART 1

How do you qualify something as original?

Years ago, someone was complaining about how there rarely was anything original anymore.

What I usually do is ask such person "Name me something original?".

At the time, that person used the first Harry Potter movie as an example of something "new and original". That for once... "Hollywood" was making something "new" that had not been done before.

I had to point out how Harry Potter was NOT something original that "Hollywood" came up with. That it was an adaptation made from an already existing novel. And even then... watching Harry Potter, it was difficult not to think of earlier young mages going to the magic school like Sparrowhawk from Earthsea or Raistlin from Dragonlance.

But for that person... not knowing about the already existing novel (yes I am not sure how someone could NOT know about the Harry Potter novel... but it happens)... the Harry Potter movie was brand "new and original".

Is there such thing as something original??

Is originality in the eye of the beholder only??

Lets take an obvious example...


Most people will see Batman as an original character. But it is very easy to point out how the Batman was derived from other characters such as Zorro, the Phantom, the Shadow, and countless others that I fail to mention.

Sometimes when you mention such characters that "inspired" the creation of Batman... some people will mention that what makes Batman original is the addition of various elements such as the Batcave.

But once again, it is easy to point out that the Phantom also had a Skull cave. That Zorro also had a cave under his house (was it called the Zorro Cave?? ;) ). Heck Bruce Wayne having access to the Batcave using the clock in his mansion was lifted directly from Zorro.

That exercise could be done with pretty much any characters.

Superman?? A mix of Hercules, Doc Savage and Gladiator (the novel), a reverse Flash Gordon.

The Hulk?? Stan Lee has said the Hulk was pretty much Dr Jekyll and Mister Hyde made to look like the Frankenstein monster from movies from the 50s.

And these characters in turn inspired other characters that came after them.

Batman?? The Confessor. Midnighter. Moon Knight. Nighthawk.

Superman?? Mr Majestic. Sentry. Hyperion. Supreme.

Hulk?? Pitt.

In parts 2.... I will explore this question using one of our Flashback Universe character as an example.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Free Comics Monday: Biro's Daredevil

Someone asked me the other day if paper comics were free, would I still prefer digital comics? The answer is yes for many reasons, one of which is that there are a ton of awesome Golden Age comics I've discovered that probably will never be available as paper comics again.

The Charles Biro DareDevil comics are definitely a good example of this!

[ Daredevil 41 ]

[ Daredevil 42 ]


Friday, July 11, 2008

In Praise of Bootlegs

Dan Slott - he hates downloading comics!While Dan Slott and I might not see eye to eye on downloading comics, there is one thing we can agree on - bootlegs of arcane tv shows are awesome.

It's strange, but in many ways, illegal bootlegs of tv shows are every bit as, well, illegal, as say downloading this weeks DCP comics torrent, but most comics fans don't seem to be too concerned with that.

I think that because we say that because the powers that be are never going to put the Martin Caidin Cyborg movie on DVD, that I can buy a bootleg of said movie at a convention without feeling guilty.

I don't know. Driving over the speed limit is just as illegal (if not moreso) as downloading this weeks issue of Secret Invasion, but ask around at the local comic shop which is a as worse crime, and I'm betting a lot of people will say downloading comics is worse.

Yet, when was the last time someone was killed accidentally because another person downloaded a complete run of Suicide Squad?

Anyway, before this begins to sound too much like an 11th grade english essay (too late?) let's get back to topic of bootlegs.

I love 'em.

I happen to own quite a few, having been collecting and capping (video capture using my computer and a high end graphics card) them over the years. Here are a few of my favorites...

Thundar The Barbarian - I actually capped my own set of Thundarr DVD's but you can buy a set from the great guys at

Thundarr the Barbarian was a Saturday morning animated television series, created by Joe Ruby and produced by Ruby-Spears Productions. It was broadcast during the early 1980s. Action figures of the three main characters were released by Toynami in 2004.

Comic book writer-artist Jack Kirby worked on the production design for the show. While many people believe that Kirby was the primary designer of the show (mainly due to his similarly themed Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth), the main characters were in fact designed by fellow comic book writer-artist Alex Toth, who also designed the popular character Space Ghost for Saturday morning television. Toth, however, was unavailable to continue working on the show, so most of the wizards and other villains and secondary characters that appear on the show were designed by Kirby. He was brought onto the show at the recommendation of comic writer Steve Gerber and comics and animation veteran Mark Evanier, who realized that the same imagination that produced Kamandi could contribute significantly to the series. Indeed, the evil wizard Gemini, the only repeating villain on the show, resembles Darkseid, an infamous Kirby villain.

In this setting, Thundarr, a muscular warrior, and his companions Princess Ariel (who was a formidable sorceress) and the Wookiee-like Ookla the Mok travelled the world on horseback, and battled evil wizards who combined magical spells with technologies from the pre-catastrophe world. Other enemies included werewolves, a predatory, malevolent alien being, humanoid lizards, and mutants. Intelligent humanoid-animal races include the rat-like Groundlings and the cat-like Moks.

A little known Flashback Universe Fact: I once contacted the guys a Ruby Spears about making a Thundarr comic book, but apparently the rights to the character are tied up at Time Warner. I tried to contact TW, but the person I was directed to no longer works for TW. :(

Another show I have is Pirates of Dark Water, again which I capped myself, but now is readily available as a streaming movies thanks to the guys at

The Pirates of Dark Water is a fantasy animated series produced by Hanna-Barbera and Turner Entertainment in the early 1990s. The series followed a group of adventurers on a quest to collect the Thirteen Treasures of Rule, which possessed the combined power to stop an evil substance known as "Dark Water" from consuming the alien world of Mer.

The show first premiered in syndication in early 1991 as a five-part mini-series titled Dark Water. Following a number of animation tweaks and other changes by Hanna-Barbera, those episodes were rebroadcast later in 1991 as the first five episodes of the regular series. Most notably, the original mini-series featured the voice of Roddy McDowall as Niddler, whereas in the revised version, the character was voiced by Frank Welker. The first season aired on ABC, while the second season aired in first-run syndication as part of The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera.

Here's one you probably never heard of - DANGER ISLAND!

Long before the guys writing Lost were probably even born, this show was showing kids all across America as a feature on the crazy Banana Splits show.

Danger Island was a live-action adventure serial produced by Hanna-Barbera and originally broadcast in 1968 as a segment on the Banana Splits Adventure Hour. It was directed by future Superman and Goonies director Richard Donner and featured Jan-Michael Vincent as Lincoln 'Link' Simmons.

Intended as a live-action version of the animated Hanna-Barbera series Jonny Quest, Danger Island centered around the adventures of a trio of explorers in an unnamed tropical island group. Prof. Irwin Hayden, an archeologist; Lincoln "Link" Simmons, the professor's youthful assistant; and Leslie, the professor's blonde daughter, who serves as both a love interest for Link and the series' token damsel-in-distress.

This specific bootleg can be found at

A word about RetroSuperHeroes - I have bought many DVDs from them and found them to be VERY fast with their turnaround, and extremely good about replying to email questions. The quality of their DVDs are as good as you can get with bootlegs.

So, with that off my chest - what Bootlegs do you own?

- Jim

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pierre Speaks: The Bryne Decade

To me... the 80s was the decade of John Byrne.

Yes in a decade that gave us "Crisis on infinite Earths", "Dark Knight Returns" and "Watchmen", I still see the 80s as the decade where John Byrne was at the top of the pyramid??

I first saw his work in the Fantastic Four... no not when he was writting/drawing the book.... before that. When he worked on it as a penciller and was beautifully inked by Joe Sinnott. As usual, the FF at the time was consistently great. It was month after month "the worlds greatest comic magazine" thanks to Joe Sinnott keeping the book consistantly great for more then a decade no matter who the penciller was.

Then I saw his work in Captain America. Each issues inked by Joe Rubenstien was pure gold. I would have said that it was the best work of John's carrer... but came to realise that a big part of it was because of Joe's inking. The two of them together made something infinitely better then the sum of their parts.... or something like that. ;)

Then John was back on the FF as a one man orchestra doing the story and the artwork. It took me a few issues to get used to that new style (at the time.... little did I know that I had already seen John's work a couple of times). But it gave us the best FF run in recorded history... after Stan and Jack's run of course. ;)

And some of the best Dr Doom stories... "Terror in tiny town" and "This land is mine" were good on so many levels.... I can't find the words to describe it.

Although his work was awesome.... I was not to crazy at the time (and even today) of when he was using high contrast photos (AKA photostats) for his backgrounds. I can understand the reason why... but it always bothers me when he (or anyone else for that matter) does that.

We even got part of the run with Jerry Ordway inking the book. As with Joe Rubenstein, the combo Byrne/Ordway was pure magic. Their combined effort was better then anything they could do each on their own. And their version of Daredevil was like seeing Wallace Wood drawing the character once more.

Damn that was good.

Then I saw his work in the X-men.


How... How can this be???

Well..... I live on Earth 2 (or something like that ;) ). And here.... comics were sometimes published out of order. Or sometimes not at all.

For example.... We never read the Jack Kirby or the neal Adams X-Men over here. We started getting an X-Men comic the summer of 1980. It was a bi-monthly comic called "Marvel 3 in 1" starring the X-Men by Dave Cockrum, then the Defenders, and finishing with Nova.

So I first saw the Byrne X-Men around the summer/fall of 1983.

Then I saw his work in the Avengers.

Then I got to see his work in Marvel team-up.

And to end the decade with a bang..... we saw his work in "Legends", "Man of Steel", "Superman" and "Action Comics".

So you can see why I say that the 80s was to me the decade of John Byrne since I got to read pretty much most of what he had done in the 70s and the 80s as if it had all been done in the 80s.

So althougth "Crisis on infinite Earths" is a titanesque feat that no one was able to match to this date. Or that "Watchmen" or "Dark Knight" are still selling more today then most modern comics do.

The 80s to me were rich with tales by John Byrne.

"Captain America for President"

"This Land is Mine"

"The Fall of Galactus"

"The Dark Phoenix saga"

"Man of Steel"


... and countless others.

And there was also his "Hulk" run. His "Alpha Flight". His "Marvel 2 in 1" that I got in the "Project Pegasus" trade. And surely various others that I fail to mention.

John was one of the biggest influence on my work. His work was a mixture of Kirby, Neal Adams, Jim Aparo, and something else that I can't quite put my finger on.... yet.

Even now I still try to capture the magic that was in those "Captain America" pages he did with Joe Rubenstein. Or the "Legend" mini with Karl Kesel.

There was a lot of power in that pencil.

If I can just channel a fraction of that power.... I will be a happy guy. ;)

Until next time.

- Pierre


Related Posts with Thumbnails