Friday, February 27, 2009

Bronze Age Spotlight: Deathlok

Deathlok The DemolisherDeathlok the Demolisher - Of the many wonderful characters created during the Bronze Age, I'd have to say my favorite is Deathlok. (I know - this may come as a shock to those of you familiar with my devotion to Woodgod.) I think the reason is because Deathlok, more than any other character, is a mixture of the various elements that typify the Bronze Age.

In 1974 Artist Rich Buckler, who had worked at both DC and Marvel quite a bit and was ready to create his own character. His choice was a Colonel Luther Manning a soldier who dies in a war in 1983 only to wake up in the terrifying future of 1990 to discover he has been turned into Deathlok, a cyborg assassin by the evil Harlan Ryker as part of conspiratorial project called Alpha Mech.

While his face is decayed and disfigured (from years of being dead no doubt) his arms and legs have been replaced with cybernetics, making him the Army’s first bionic soldier. He has also been gifted with an almost omniscient AI in his head which he commonly refers to as 'Puter. Deathlok was originally going to be called Dedlock until five minutes before Rich’s pitch meeting with Roy Thomas, Doug Monech convinced Rich to use Death instead of Ded because he (rightly) thought it sounded better.

In the first issue, Deathlok frees himself from the Army’s control and to fight Ryker. For 12 issues of Astonishing Tales Deathlok fights against Ryker’s army and other futuristic foes until issue 36 where Manning's mind is restored into a clone of his original body and the cyborg body of Deathlok is sent spiraling into a Time Portal by a foe called Godwulf.

CyborgA note here - I used the term cyborg to explain his appearance, and I think this makes good place to examine the popularization of the term. In 1972, Martin Caiden wrote a novel called Cyborg. In 1973 Cyborg had been adapted into a top-rated TV movie. In 1974 Universal studios licensed Caiden’s novel to create the 6 Million Dollar Man as a regular series on ABC. At this point, Cyborgs were all the rage, so it should be no surprise that someone would eventually base a comic character on the idea.

Interestingly enough, the 6 MDM almost killed Deathlok as a concept at Marvel. At the same time that Buckler was developing Deathlok, Marvel was thinking about licensing the 6 MDM for a comic book. This license would eventually go to Charlton. When this happened, Roy Thomas gave Buckler 12 issues of Astonishing Tales to use as a vehicle to introduce Deathlok to the world.

Outside of his 12 issue run in Astonishing Tales, Deathlok made a few random appearances in other Marvel series (Marvel Two In One, Marvel Team-Up) His last appearance in this incarnation was Captain America 286-288 in an J.M DeMatteis penned arc called Deathlok Lives.

As a concept, Deathlok was reintroduced in the 90's under the skillful guidance of Dwayne McDuffie. This version of the character was visually similar to the Bronze Age version, but what had been removed was the dystopian mise en scene. And while this version ran in his own comic for longer than his bronze age counterpart, I don't know that he was more well liked by the fans. This was an era when Darkhawk ran for 50 issues, remember? ;)

I think the main problem with revamping Deathlok in the 90's is that so much of his intrinsic appeal lies in those characteristics and themes which dominated the 70's bronze age. When transplanted into the 90's much of the zeitgeist that gave birth to the character was largely gone.
For instance, during the Bronze Age, we saw Monsters become lead characters with such titles as Dracula, Werewolf by Night, Man-Thing, The Beast etc. Because they looked so different from the usual lantern jawed superheroes, monsters as heroes definitely had a much greater *cool* factor about them, and Deathlok's horrifying appearance definitely put in him in this same category. This was an artistic decision made by Buckler who said he did this on purpose. In TwoMorrow’s BackIssue 25, Buckler explains it like this…

…I deal in reconciling opposites – So while the 6 Million Dollar Man was a good looking guy, I took that all away from Deathlok. I made him a monster, and instead of being friends with technology, he was enemies with it…

I think Buckler succeeded in this goal by contrasting Deathlok's grotesque features with his sleek and shiny legs and arms and utilitarian costume/uniform. While the colorful costumes of Nova or Iron Fist looked like they could come off the rack at the Marvel Mall, Deathlok's costume had a lean design that was practically Soviet Issue. A very important artistic purpose was served with his costume as without leggings or sleeves, his uniform helped draw attention to his metallic limbs.

Deathlok Tears Off Flag A small, but important detail of Deathlok's appearance that also has ties to the 70's counter culture is the American flag that graces his costume. Prior to this, American flags or stars and stripes on a costume had been an easy way to indentify a character as a patriot and champion of the American ideal. On Deathlok, the flag imagery takes on an ironic, cynical tone - THIS is what has become of the American dream - assembly line monsters with laser guns. What's interesting is that even when it's used in this manner, the flag is still a sacred symbol to many people. Thus, it's probably no surprise that when Deathlok tears off the flag and stomps on it in Astonishing Tales 28 that Marvel was flooded with letters from upset readers.

Deathlok's apocalyptic world with its bleak portrayal of the future and distrust of all things corporate is another feature that directly links the series to the Bronze Age. Physically, the setting may draw from the ruined wasted earths of Omega Man, Soyent Green and Planet of the Apes, but I think its spirit is firmly tied to the disillusionment of the 70's counter culture generation. Buckler says he drew inspiration for this dark future from the climate of cynicism and distrust that had started with Vietnam and culminated in Watergate. He wasn't the only writer working these themes, as Marvel villains of this era became less Stilt-Man and more Corporate lackeys of Roxxon. However, while Spider-Man or Man-Thing might only find themselves at odds with The Man once and a while, Deathlok's entire world was one in which The Man had run amok.

Bucky with GunSomewhat at odds with the title's socio-political themes was the character's use of a gun. During the Golden Age, comic characters using guns was widely accepted with everyone from the Bucky to Batman driving dirty. However in the Silver Age, as the villains were no longer soulless soldiers of Axis, guns disappeared in comics. (This was also most likely a result of the sanitizing of comics that came with the introduction of the comic’s code.)

It wasn't until such movies like Dirty Harry and Death Wish started popularizing the concept of vigilante justice that you began to see the return of non-western gun hawks in the Marvel universe. Still, the idea of Spider-man picking up a gun and shooting Electro most likely would not have gone down very well, so stabbing and shooting ones foes was pretty much reserved to anti-heroes (The Punisher) and heroes removed from our time (Skull The Slayer, Deathlok, Killraven). Even in the 80's the only heroes to use guns were The Paladin and Rom. However, by the time the gun happy 90's rolled around, guns were as much of part of characters outfit as shoulder pads and leather jackets.

I think it starts to become easy to see how the 90's Deathlok might not have been able to compete against the Deathlok of the 70's in the hearts and minds of readers. Much of the character's world, which was integral to the concept, had been dropped. And the few aspects they kept (cybernetics, guns, monstrous appearance) were now so commonplace in comics that poor cutting edge Deathlok was lost amongst a sea of Cable/Punisher rip-offs. (Hey, who remembers Gunfire?)

CableAnd speaking of Cable, I've heard people say he was inspired by Deathlok, but I think that's just another case of common influences. (Like how the Heap inspired both Man-Thing and Swamp Thing) To me, Cable is Deathlok if you strip away those elements that made Deathlok human. And this is where the McDuffie version of Deathlok was successful over all the Cable Clones, in that McDuffie never forgot the human element of Luther Manning. However, I don't think that was enough to make the character work in the 90's. He was reintroduced in name only during Marvel's weird little M-Tech line of comics in 1998. And a few other versions have been talked about at Marvel since then, but outside of an appearance in the Beyond! mini-series, Deathlok hasn't really been seen since.

Still in this era of Corporate Bank instigated economic upheaval, Guantanamo Bay, and revolutionary genetic advancements, I could see someone working with many of the same themes Buckler did and create a new Deathlok. And as long as they remembered to make the character a result of his dark future and not just a part of it, they would most likely succeed.

Have a great weekend!

- Jim

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pierre Speaks: Working on Arthur

ArthurI left Marsupilami to go work on the Arthur Christmas Special.

The Saturday before I started working on Arthur.... there was a HUGE scandal that hit the animation industry called the "CINAR Scandal". I will get back to the scandal in a later Blog.

So on Monday morning when I started working on Arthur.... the atmosphere in the studio was not a happy one.

Many were worried for their job and their future. It was the beginning of some dark times for animation.

Since I had worked on "The Busy World of Richard Scary", there were some changes made in the studio. Once a week all the designers would meet with the director to discuss the show they were working on.... in this case the Arthur Christmas Special.

Ironically enough.... it seems that it is something that was started by the "Big Shot" who took over Marsupilami.

Strangely enough...... we had no such meeting with "MR Big Shot" on Marsupilami.

Ultimately those meetings became a thing of the past since it would be too time consuming. It would mean half a day wasted on such meeting for everyone.

It used to be that only the supervisors would meet with the director.... so everyone else would still be working while th meeting was held....but now with everyone on the team attending the meeting.... that would mean more questions.... and too often more useless questions that made the meeting go on forever and ever. So it would end up too time consuming and would not really help in the end.

So after some time.... it went back to only the supervisors having meetings with the director.

At the time.... little would I know that Arthur would end up being the series I would have worked the most on.

I worked on the Christmas Special as a character designer.

Then I worked on the series as a character designer. then once the design was finished.... I worked on layout & posing for the rest of that season. Arthur won 2 Emmy Awards for that season.

Then I worked on some licensing for Arthur.

Then I worked on a new season as a layout & posing artist.

And finally last summer, I worked on storyboard corrections on Arthur.

Although I much preferred to work on a series like Bob Morane.... I must admit that I had some fun working on Arthur. I did not expect too.... but I had some fun with some of the people I was working with.... and heck I even had fun drawing the little guy.

But while I was working on the storyboard corrections..... some days I would end up drawing Arthurs ears a thousand times or something like that. On some boards sometimes you would have to redo lets say Arthur's ears, or some other detail throughout the whole board.

So at the end of the day after drawing Arthur's ears a thousand times.... you get a little sick of drawing them ears.

Sadly as the years went by, they would hire less and less people to do the same amount of work with less and less time.

For example they would hire half the amount of people, give them half the time they used to give them, but expect them to do the same amount of work with the same quality as before.

That is something that happens not only in animation but in all TV productions in general.

They try to cut down their cost as much as they can to maximize their profits until the quality becomes so crappy that people stop watching the show, and ultimately the show gets cancelled.

But so far.... the quality on Arthur has been good enough that they kept on producing more shows..... at least so far.

I don't know if they will make more Arthur episodes.... but we can expect that if they do make more episodes.... the people working on the show will probably have less people, less time and less budget to do the same amount of work... if not more.

Sadly that is how it works wayyyy too often.

Also as time went by... part of the production like layout & posing was no longer done here.

Although that is not just on Arthur... that is something that happened pretty much in every studios in Montreal.

AFAIK.... there no longer is any layout & posing done here in Montreal. :(

Which is sad.... I loved working as a layout & posing artist.

Why is layout & posing no longer done here???

About 10 years ago.... a layout & posing scene paid around $65 or $70 per scene. Depending on the project or the studio. But at the same time, it would cost about $3 to have the same scene done in China. And $3 that was the price paid to the studio in China. The Chinese studio would then turn around and give only a part of that to the artist actually doing the work. I wish I could say that they were giving $1 to the artist.... but it probably was much less then that.

Already, pretty much all the animation done in Canada was actually done in China. But more and more.... so was the layout & posing.

And it got even worse when India got into the game. At some point, many animation studios in China closed their doors since even they with their extremely low wages could not compete with what the studios in India were charging.

How do you compete with people offering such extremely low prices??? Sadly I don't have the answer to that one.

I don't know about you, but here in Canada.... NO ONE can survive by earning $1 a day. NO ONE.


As I said I have no idea wether there will be more new Arthur TV episodes.

For about 5 years now whenever there is a new season of Arthur being produced, we expect it to be the last season of Arthur.... and so far there has always been a new season after that.

So who knows.... maybe there will be some new Arthur episodes produced at some point.

We will have to wait and see. ;)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mister Crimson Episode 27

Mister Crimson Episode 27
Wherein our hero explains his predicament...

Read it here .:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Free Comics Monday: The Shield

Here is another Bob Morane rendition of a classic Golden Age Character by Pierre Villeneuve - MLJ/Archie Comics The Shield.

The Shield

Some of you may remember that JM Straczynski is supposed to be using some of the MLJ characters in his upcoming Brave & The Bold run. From Newsarama...

Using the book as his platform, Straczynski will be taking on and introducing the group of heroes commonly known as the “Archie heroes”, that is, the super-hero characters that were generated by Archie Comics beginning in the ‘40s (and who have had various incarnations in the decades since). Among the more famous of the characters are The Shield, The Web, The Comet, The Fly, The Jaguar, and The Black Hood.

Having recently read the first volume of The Twelve, I'm not sure what to think of that. On one hand, It will be nice to see new renditions of these characters. On the flipside, I hope JMS doesn't follow the same path he has trod in such comics as The Twelve or Squadron Supreme. While there are some interesting things in both comics, the grim and gritty portions are getting a little stale.

Anyway, enough soapboxing - here are two awesome Golden Age comics featuring The Shield

Pep 10

Have a great day!

- Jim

Friday, February 20, 2009

PCDW: 10,000 People Get Hexed!

HexedSo we've mentioned iVerse Media before here on PCDW - they are the company who are doing such a great job currently putting comics on the iPhone. Well recently, they branched out onto the Google Android platform with fantastice success!

from the iVerse Media Website

LOS ANGELES- February 17th, 2009 - The Digital Age of comics has begun on Google’s revolutionary Android Mobile Operating System, and BOOM! Studios and iVerse Media are proud to announce that “HEXED #1” is the FIRST Digital Comic to be released for the platform.

On Friday, February 6th, 2009 “HEXED #1” premiered in Google’s “Android Marketplace” and in less than 48 hours the free comic had been downloaded more than 10,000 times, and received a stellar 4.72 out of 5 rating from over 600 user reviews. “HEXED #1” will also be available on the the iPhone App Store this week.

“This is another great first for BOOM! Studios and there is no better comic to do this with than HEXED,” said Marketing and Sales Director Chip Mosher. “Praised by all quarters, HEXED is the type of book that will bring new readers to comics and BOOM! will always be the most aggressive company around in doing whatever it takes to get more people reading more comics.”

Hex on Android

“The ‘HEXED #1’ release on Android has gone above and beyond our wildest expectations. ” said iVerse Media founder Michael Murphey. “In less than 24 hours we received 100s of emails from Google Android users not only praising the software, but — more importantly — raving about the quality of the story and art… and it just keeps coming. The book has been reviewed over 900 times now, and people not only love it… they want more.”

~ iVerse

PCDW Points: 10,000 x 900 (and counting...)

How Old is a Comic Book?

I'm not talking about the cover date, or if its "Golden", "Silver", or "Bronze" [Jim's favorite] age. I mean to you the comic book fan/reader/consumer? When does a comic book become old to you?

Do you have to read it before its old, or can it get old sitting on the shelf in its alphabetical position at the comic book shop without you ever having stepped foot inside to make a purchase?

1 day? Because at one day you may hear about it online in a blog review or on twitter? 7 days? 14 days? By then you've been paid again and can afford to go to the comic book shop. 30 days? A new issue will be out soon, so the previous one [the one I've been writing about here] HAS to be old now doesn't it?

Maybe you don't buy from a comic book shop. Maybe you wait for trades, or Graphic Novels. If so, I've got good news for you:

"However, the news for graphic novels and comics sales remained good in 2008, with gains in total sales and a jaw-dropping 134% increase in the number of comics for children and tweens. "Graphic novels are continuing to grow, albeit not as fast as they were before.

Overall, [there was] about 5% growth in the comics and graphic novel medium. I think one of the questions for 2009 will be whether there will be an economic impact on format choice for people buying comics. I've been in this business for over 30 years, and in that time there's been a very reliable, counter-cyclical relationship between economic conditions and sales of periodical comics. It's very cheap entertainment and something that is a good entertainment alternative.

This is kind of uncharted territory because graphic novels are a much greater percentage of the business than they've ever been in the past when the economy has been bad. Also,
comic cover prices have gone up faster than inflation, and the continuity of comics is probably different than it has been, [because] the very tightly woven continuity between comic titles makes comic periodicals a much bigger investment than when you're buying one-off


I've also got bad news for you:

"Much has already been made of the increase in single issue prices at Marvel, with many of the most popular titles going from $2.99 to $3.99. Those of us who have tried to save money in this tumultuous economic time by predominantly limiting comics to trade purchases will not be unaffected either. For example, compare the following prices...

> RECENT PAST: Avengers the Initiative Vol. 1 TPB ( six issues, $15 )
> NEAR FUTURE: Avengers the Initiative Vol. 3 TPB ( six issues, $17)

> RECENT PAST: The Incredible Hercules Against the World TPB ( six issues, $15 )
> NEAR FUTURE: The Incredible Hercules Love and War TPB ( five issues, $15 )

> RECENT PAST: Essential X-Men Vol. 8 TPB ( 21-some black-and-white reprints, $17 )
> NEAR FUTURE: Essential X-Men Vol. 9 TPB ( 21-some black-and-white reprints, $20 )

> RECENT PAST: X-Force Angels and Demons HC ( 6 issues, $20 )
> NEAR FUTURE: X-Force Old Ghosts HC ( 4 issues, $20

Average TPB prices seem to have gone up significantly; inevitable, but still frustrating. Especially for not only comic fans who wait-on-trades for most of their stuff, but non-comic fans who have one more reason not to show interest :(


How old is news to you?

Again, I'm not talking about cover dates on magazines or the news paper that slaps your front step every morning [What? My wife still reads it.]

How old is information that you're interested in? Do you have to know it exists before you can determine that? I'm not sure. All who read this blog probably know that the New York Comic Con happened a short while ago. Do they know what went on there? If they don't, is the news old? Well, here is some Marvel Digital Comics news from NYCC regardless:

Marvel Comics DCUMARVEL Digital Comics

Spider-Woman gets the digital motion comic treatment, written by Brian Michael Bendis and art by Alex Maleev

Depending on who you ask, the motion comics will precede the print comic’s release. This is kind of cool as it does two things for Marvel; it’s a tease for viewers to go and buy the comic, and Marvel gets
people to purchase the same issue twice.

Print retailers will be involved in some way. Those plans are being kept secret for now, which means wait until the retailer convention in Boston for more information. How about this Marvel, print a code in the comic to download the motion comic for free?

Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men will also get the motion comic treatment. Don’t think this will change Cory’s attitude about the series though.

There will be four 16-page War of Kings online comics.

Dark Reign: Made Men only on Marvel’s DCU (that’s Digital Comics Unlimited, for those that don’t get Marvel’s “joke”).

There are more than 5,500 comics on the Marvel DCU site. Does anyone have a subscription to this service? Just wondering.

If you do want to subscribe, use the code SPIDEY46 in the discount code window to save 10 percent off your purchase. If you are looking for discounts at, you can use the codes Roundup1, Roundup2, or Roundup3 for additional discounts. Just passing along saving to readers everywhere. Perhaps it will prompt others to start up their own website where they can lavish praise on those less deserving… or trash this site, it’s your choice.

Expect all these motion comics to get a DVD release down the road. Reading between the lines it means Marvel gets you to buy the same content THREE times.


"Marvel Entertainment - home to characters like Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, and the Hulk - has announced plans to release a series of "motion comics" via iTunes. Introduced at New York Comic Con,

the new format would have the iPod- and iPhone-bound digital books taking on characteristics of both print and animation with audio and motion enhancing the typical panel-based format of print.

Hasn't animation of comic books been done? This isn't traditional animation. The Motion Comic format would feature traditional panel-based structures that are set in motion. Instead of thought bubbles and dialog boxes, the dialog would be spoken. Best of all? The original artist's drawings would be used to compose the digital books, as opposed to facsimile drawn by an animator."


NOTE: I have to say the embedded flash motion comic looks REALLY GREAT. Not jerky or amateurish at all.

There is "new" gadget news here as well.

Like the Kindle 2 Wireless Reading Device:

Kindle 2

"The new Kindle 2 wireless reading device from Amazon has been redesigned. It’s now “just over 1/3 of an inch, as thin as most magazines; 3G wireless lets you download books right from your Kindle in less than 60 seconds, anytime, anywhere; no monthly fees, service
plans, or hunting for Wi- Fi hotspots
; longer battery life and over 230,000 books.


The iPhone Becomes a Web Server

When those Apple advertisements tout "there's an app for just about anything," they aren't kidding. The latest example? A new iPhone application which just debuted in Japan's App Store transforms the handheld into a full-blown web server. Called "ServersMan@iPhone", the application allows your iPhone to appear just like any other web server on the Internet.


Gutted Eee PC ditches the keyboard, turns into an awesome touchscreen handheld

eee Tablet

Netbooks are going to be hot this year, with both Dell and Sony
— among others — trying to get in on the Asus Eee PC and its success
as a cheap, functional laptop for light computer use. So how about a net-tablet? That's basically what this modded Eee PC is, worked over by a Japanese modder who ditched the keyboard and turned the Eee into a handheld ultraportable tablet computer.

The end result is a fully-functioning UMPC that's only 1.68 pounds, with buttons on the face of it for simple navigation, and a stylus to interact with the touchscreen. It'd be interesting if the Eee PC's voice commands made it in, too.

There's talk about this being something of a prototype for an actual product. We hope so — we'd love to try it out. Check out the gallery below for more.


Have a great weekend,

- Caine

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pierre Speaks: Similar Designs..... or Too Many Twins??

Timber WolfAs I was working on the designs for an upcoming project ( Trial of the Red Death ).... I could not help but wonder how some design elements have been reused through out the years, and how certain elements have become part of the visual language of comics.

Some of those design elements often get associated to specific character, and when another character has the same elements.... it is often seen as a copy.

For example..... Marvel's Wolverine (and DC's Timber Wolf) both have haircuts which have been used throughout the years as a visual tool to establish that a character is a feral/wolflike character.

Although people don't seem to realise that Wolverine was NOT the first character with that haircut. Too many times have I seen people complain that Marvel's blue furred Beast is a lesser copy of Wolverine because he has the same haircut as Wolverine.

Sadly too many people fail to realise that Beast, but in this case more specifically the blue furred version of the character pre-dates Wolverine. That it is in reality Wolverine that has the same haircut as Beast.

Although to be fair.... the haircuit most likely comes from the wolfman from the 50s movies. Which might come from an earlier character that I fail to recall.

But since Wolverine became so popular.... and also most people are often not aware of what existed before their time, it is automatically assumed that a character with the wolfman's haircut is a copy of Wolverine. Now that haircut is so associated to Wolverine that it is dificult to use it on a character and not have the character being called an obvious copy of Wolverine.

The same with any characters with a skull on his chest. The skull has been symbolising death for a long time, but now it pretty much became associated with the Punisher even if for decades.... heck centuries before the Punisher even ever existed, that symbol was already used for example by pirates.

But now... making a character with a skull on his chest means that at least some people.... if not many... will keep on comparing it with the Punisher..... even if the character is not even remotely like the Punisher....... or does not even look like the Punisher excepted for the skull symbol on the chest.

It happens.

But as I was thinking about various design elements and how certain characters seems to have a familiar look..... I could not help but think of a design that I kept on seeing through the years.

The design of the original Daredevil.

original Daredevil

When I was reading the adventures of Marvel's DD masterfully drawn by the great Wallace Wood..... little did I know how there was a DD character that was pre-dating Marvel's version.

But even more.... as the years went by.... I kept on seeing design elements of the originals DD look on various characters.

click to supersize

I learned of the original DD when I read "The Great Comic Book Artists" by Ron Goulart. The section about Jack Cole shows a page of the original DD comic as an example of his work.

Then in retrospect.... I realised that I had already seen a similar design before.

First in the Avengers with the Zodiac members called Gemini, a good one..... and an EVIL one. ;).


Essentially the same design without the color red, and a slightly different belt.

And also in the pages of Marvel Premiere and the Incredible Hulk with the character called 3D-Man.


Loved that character. Sadly I only saw him once or twice after that. The last time was in Avengers Forever by Busiek and Pacheco. Loved that mini-series.

Although in the late 90s early 2000, Busiek and Perez came up with Triathlon.


That character was somehow linked with 3D-Man.... but Perez managed to design it so that it would be visually different from 3D-Man. You can tell with the color palette used and some elements that this character has something to do with 3D-Man.... but in a subtle enough way that I am sure that many never realised it until it was mentioned later in the Avengers series.

With Gemini and 3D-Man, it seemed to be used as a way to visually establish the duality of a character.

Then I saw the pattern once more with Peter Cannon's Thunderbolt.


When I saw this character in his own comic, I could not help but notice the similarities with the original DD's costume. Although I only got the first issue. So I have no idea if there is some sort of duality with the character as with the previous two.

After a while.... I realised that I had already seen the character in Crisis of Infinte Earths. The bare legs does modify the costumes pattern somewhat.

Although with the hundreds of characters in that series... I only realised it later as I was re-reading CoIE.

Then not too long ago as I read Image's Gemini comic..... I saw a pretty cool variation of that look.

Image Gemini

It still seems to suggest the duality of the character.

I probably should have included Marvel's In-Betweener...... but I forgot to included it.

And I am sure that there are others that I failed to include as well.

Will that look still be used in years to come??

Will it officially be seen as the visual device that symbolises a character's dual nature??

Or will it just be seen as a copy of the Golden Age Daredevil??

We will have to wait and see.

Heck I would not be surprised if someone said after seeing Dynamite's "Death Defying Devil" that he is just a cheap copy of 3D-Man. ;)

Until next time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mister Crimson Episode 26

Mister Crimson Episode 26
In which our hero explains the Mayor's ploy...
Read it here .:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Free Comics Monday: Ibis The Invincible

Here is another Bob Morane rendition of a classic Golden Age Character by Pierre Villeneuve - Fawcett's Ibis The Invincible.

Ibis The Invincible

From Wikipedia:

Ibis began his life as Amentep, a prince of ancient Egypt who was in love with the beautiful Princess Taia of Thebes. As a young man, Amentep had been given the Ibis-stick, a talisman of incredible power, by the Egyptian god Thoth, who empowers the talisman. Amentep's throne was eventually usurped by a cruel magician known as the Black Pharaoh, who shot Taia with a poisoned arrow. Using his Ibis-stick, Amentep placed his beloved in suspended animation to allow her to heal. He soon cast a similar spell upon himself, hoping to be present when Taia revived.

Centuries later, the mummy of Amentep returned to life in an American museum in 1940 (this was later revealed to be the work of the wizard Shazam). Now called "Ibis," Amentep set out in search of his beloved, eventually finding her at another museum. Seeking to adjust to this new world, Ibis used his vast powers to become a crimefighter, operating primarily in Fawcett City. ~wikipedia

Here are two comics featuring Ibis:

Ibis issue 2

[ Download Ibis the Invincible 2 ]

[ Download Ibis the Invincible 3 ]

- Enjoy!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bronze Age Spotlight: Moon Knight

Werewolf by Night 32Today, the FBU is proud to present another Bronze Age Spotlight article from Trey Causey. ~ Jim


He’s often derided as a Batman rip-off. Jim Kreuger points out he’s another Jew schlepping for an Egyptian, pre-Exodus-style. People can’t even see to agree on what color his costume is (google it, if you don’t believe me).

Still, there’s something appealing about him. He’s had three on-going series, and three limited series—not bad for a guy who began as a bit player in werewolf comic. He’s even been an Avenger, if only on the west coast. His profile in the Marvel Universe waxes and wanes, but he always rises again.

So let’s trace his path, catalog his phases, and illuminate what lies on the dark side of the Moon Knight.

“Can even a werewolf battle a man clad in solid silver—and survive?!”

This was the question posed to prospective purchasers by the cover of Werewolf by Night #32, Moon Knight’s first appearance. It was presumably somewhat rhetorical since it didn’t share the cover with the legend “LAST ISSUE.” The cover date was August, 1975—which also saw the first appearance of the new X-Men in their regular title.

Moon Knight is presented as a tough-talking (in that unique mid-seventies Marvel, comics code-approved way) mercenary hired by the Committee to bring in a real-live werewolf. He succeeds, but eventually develops an acute case of conscience and helps the werewolf escape. It was not the most auspicious of beginnings, and Marc Spector seems to know it, as he tells Jack Russell:

They told me to announce myself as the Moon Knight. Pretty stupid name—but it’ll do as far as your concerned—

This self-deprecating line was penned by Moon Knight’s creator, Doug Moench. He went on to write most of his appearances throughout the Bronze Age, and eventually his first on-going series. Moon Knight next shows up in Marvel Spotlight, then in various team-up books before a series of back-ups oddly placed in Hulk! magazine. By this point, the character as we know him today to be was beginning to emerge.

Villains, it turns out, really like to watch slide presentations about Moon Knight (it happens in two different issues in his first handful of appearances!), so the basic facts are well-rehearsed: Marc Spector was a former heavy weight boxer, Marine, CIA agent, mercenary, and finally vigilante. His strength varies with the phase of the moon due to his exposure to “werewolf saliva.” This bit was dropped later on—possibly because it had the virtue of being somewhat illogical and more than a little unhygienic. Lunar-aspected strength will resurface again (sans werewolf bodily fluids) when Moon Knight becomes “The Fist of Khonshu” in the eighties.

Moon Knight comes sporting not one but three alternate identities: his real one, Marc Spector, his millionaire persona, Steven Grant, and cabbie Jack Lockley. He also has two companions that aid him in his adventures, his girlfriend, Marlene Alraune, and his chauffeur and pilot, Frenchie Duchamp.

Much is made of Moon Knight’s visual resemblance to Batman, but the details of his character seem to harken back to the pulp inspirations for Batman. Moon Knight, in a sense, feels like a “back to the basics” take on the Batman/Daredevil archetype. Perhaps the resemblance is greatest to the grandfather of nocturnal avengers, the Shadow.

The Shadow is a former soldier himself (an aviator) named Kent Allard. Like Moon Knight, the Shadow employs various alternate identities in his crime-fighting—a businessman, a police station janitor, and most famously “wealthy young man about town,” Lamont Cranston. Cranston was a real person, but let Allard use his identity when he was out of town. The radio series dropped this angle and just made Cranston the Shadow’s alter ego, which is what most people remember.

The Shadow and Moon Knight both like to get by with a little help from their friends. This is seems to be a common trait of pulp vigilantes, as it’s also shared by the Spider. The Shadow has a large group of associates, all “specialists” in some way, while the Spider and Moon Knight roll with a more close-knit crew. Both of them let their ladies get take part in the heroics, as well.

All of this was apparent before Moon Knight’s real origin got revealed in the first issue of his own series. This story would give him something his pulp ancestors, and his spiritual elder brother, Batman lack: a mythological connection.

“Gorgo, Mormo, thousand-faced moon, look favorably upon our sacrifices!”

- ancient Greek hymn to Hecate

KhonshuDying in an ancient Egyptian ruin, mercenary Marc Spector is miraculously revived. He attributes this to the presence of a statue of Khonshu, the god of the moon. Initially this is ambiguous, but later stories reveal that the god Khonshu had indeed saved Marc Spector to be his servant.

Khonshu (Khonsu, Khons) means “The Wanderer”—a reference to the moon’s movements across the sky. He is the son of the sun god Amun, and Mut (“mother”) the sky goddess. Khonshu is also called “the Defender” and protects both travelers and the pharaoh. Eventually, Khonshu is associated with fertility and child-birth in both humans and animals. The oldest strata of texts depict him in a much more bloodthirsty fashion—there’s the so-called “cannibal hymn” asking Khonshu to aid the king in devouring the energies of his foes. In that era he was referred to as “Khonsu who lives on hearts.”

But let’s think about Khonshu’s purview over birth—or rebirth. Mercenary Marc Spector (ghost, spirit?) is “reborn” as a hero, and Khonshu presides over this. Interestingly, Spector’s future girlfriend, Marlene Alraune, sits vigil as this occurs. “Alraune” is the German word for mandrake and the name of the titular character in a 1911 German novel (a femme fatale birthed from the semen of a hanged man), but an “alraun” is a fetish or talisman carved from ash or mandrake root. One of the uses of an alraun: to assist in child-birth.


Khonshu works in mysterious ways.

But it gets better. “Alraun,” I’m told, can also refer to a witch. Witches tend to have a lot of association with the moon—and this goes quite a ways back. The ancient Greeks had a goddess who favored witches, and was also associated with the moon. Her name was Hecate. More about her, anon.

“The lunatic is in my head…”

  1. “Brain Damage,” Dark Side of the Moon,

Pink Floyd

One need look no further than the etymology of the word “lunatic” to know the moon has a long association with madness. Moon Knight is a little--heh--“looney” too, apparently. The most recent series suggests he has dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality disorder to you laymen), which doesn’t seem to fit, but we’re talking about the Marvel Universe, wherein anybody with the title “doctor” seems to be an expert in multiple arenas of scientific study, so rigorous diagnosis is the least of our “suspension of disbelief” challenges.

SibylSure, the Shadow had several recurrent disguises, but he never worried about his sanity, which Moon Knight often does. Moench explains this in an essay in Moon Knight #15 by positing that he created the character “too soon after reading Flora Schreiber’s Sibyl.” The original Sibyl is from Greek myth like the aforementioned Hecate. Like Schreiber’s Sibyl, Hecate had multiple personalities, or aspects. Three in fact, like Gaiman’s (and Shakespeare’s) three witches. Or Moon Knight.

Of course, the moon itself has its different faces, or phases.

It seems that Moon Knight is exactly what his name suggests—luna’s chosen champion. He takes on her changing personality. At times his strength varies with changes in her regard (the lunar counterpart to the Arthurian solar knight, Sir Gawain, who’s strongest at noon). When marked with her sign, he returns to life--much like the golem from Jewish folklore who was brought to life by the inscription of one of the names of God. In the eighties, he’s marked with the ankh, the literal sign of life. He goes forth, her shining knight, to fight villains who seem to pervert the moon’s rightful associations—Morpheus, who sends malign dreams, Hatchet-Man (Randall Spector), who makes improper sacrifices in the darkness; and Zohar (“brightness”), who misuses Qabbalistic knowledge (Yesod, sphere of the moon in Qabbalah, connects man to God).

There’s a lot hiding in those shadows, to be sure. In groping for a unique character, Moench seems to have reached back to comic’s pulp antecedents, and branded him with one of the most powerful symbols in human culture. Call him “c-list” or worse, but Moon Knight casts a long shadow across the Marvel Universe.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

PCDW - ComiXology interview with David Steinberger

comiXology on iTunesFrom talking to several people who went to New York Comic Con last weekend, one of the most talked about companies at the con was comiXology, who demoed an iPhone comic book application that sounds amazing.

Upon hearing about this new application, I thought it sounded like a great Paper Comic DeathWatch topic, so I contacted David Steinberger of comiXology, and asked him if he would like to talk about about their new application. Here's what he said.

Jim: Who or what is Comixology?

David: comiXology is the website for comic book fans. We track all shipping comics and let you make your wish list (or in comic book lingo, Pull List). Then, we track all the changes in ship dates, etc. and send you a note on Wednesday morning telling you what's arriving. And with our iPhone application, you can take the shipping lists, covers, previews and your pull list with you on your iPhone or iPod Touch! And our many comic book previews (about 60 a week) are available online and in the app.

It Came Out On WednesdayWe also connect directly with comic book retailers so you can pull your comics online or on the iPhone app and pick it up at your store. Interested retailers should check out comiXology's comic book retailer services here.

But that's not all! It's all wrapped in a social network, so you can become friends with other comic book fans, create discussion groups to talk about the subjects you like and connect with aspiring artists and writers.

Finally, we have original content: a weekly comic book podcast, called It Came Out on Wednesday, that features short interviews with leading creators, and several amazing columnists.

I should mention that one of our official Advisors is Jenette Kahn, of DC Comics fame, so we have some solid industry support.

What do you call your comic reader application? How can people find it?

Our current software is called comiXology. They can download their comics previews on their iPhone or iPod Touch via that app. We're working on our comic book reader application, where people can buy from a store and read on their device. And it's not going to just be iPhone. We're working on Android and Blackberry applications, too.

comiXologyWill you have original or public domain content. (Where do you plan to get your content?)

We're working to make deals with existing publishers to put back issues online while sharing revenue with our brick-and-mortar retailer partners. We think it's important to get the retailers involved and profiting from the digital revolution.

That said, we'll likely create ways to download public domain content and make deals with free, web-based creators to make sure their work is available through the store as well.

Will you be open to creators submitting their comics for distribution on this new application?

Of course -- sort of like the iTunes model, where as long as you're making quality work, we'll work with you to get your content online with us. But we like the idea of professional level work, so we won't be accepting just anything.

Have you guys worked out some sort of payment system for creators?

We've given this a lot of thought, and of course the creators or publishers that represent the work being sold on the shop will get a good deal.

Do you worry about Paper Comic retailer backlash against Digital Comics?

No, I don't worry about it. That doesn't mean there won't be backlash. There most certainly will. But looking at digital as the ultimate evil is short-sighted. It's already been proven with books like Shooting Wars and Achewood that you can successfully launch a digital comic book that is then profitable in print. But retailers can benefit from the digital revolution by working with comiXology. That's why we share revenue from digital sales with our retailer partners. It keeps the retail shop community intact. If a comiXology user is connected to a retailer through our site, and buys a digital comic book, the retailer makes money.

What type of comics are you going to be publishing?

Any and all -- it's a store, so, if all goes well, you will be able to browse by publisher, creator, genre, whatever!

How will you guys measure success?

We measure our success first by making a product we're proud of and want to use ourselves. This is the real world, though, so being able to make enough revenue to continue doing it is the final measure. I'm confident that won't be an issue.

Is this your company's first foray into iTunes development, or do you have other applications you have made?

No, we have two applications in the store right now: comiXology, our premiere $3.99 app, and comiXology LITE, a free application. comiXology LITE doesn't let you pull comics and only has one week of data. comiXology, the $3.99 app, keeps three weeks worth of shipping comics and merchandise, plus your pull list and lets you Pull on the fly.

Do you have a website where people can go for more information?

You bet! Our comic book website is Our iPhone comic book app is available on the iTunes store in LITE and Premium versions.

We also have a facebook page and send out regular updates via twitter.

Thank you David for the great interview!

- Jim

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Animation - Marsupilami

I explained before how I chose to work on Marsupilami as a character designer.

In retrospect.... it probably was a mistake.


Well there are probably some reasons that I will forget to mention, but for starter...... the very first second that I started working on the show...... I was already 2 weeks late.

That is something that happens wayyyy too often in animation.

They get you started on a project that is already late..... and it is expected that you will work nights and week-ends to deliver the show on time. To get the project back on schedule.

And even when you do so..... gratitude is NOT something you should expect in return.

Heck I mentioned before how the people that almost lost the Papyrus contract were the ones chosen to work on Pirate, the next project after Papyrus. That was a great example that you should not expect any gratitude from a studio.

Most studios do not remember that thanks to you... the show was delivered on time, or that they did not lose a contract thanks to you.

But they sure as hell remember when you came to work 5 minutes late or something like that though.

But that is to be expected.... it usually is how it works.

Do whatever it takes to get the show on time... and don't expect anything in return.... other then your paycheck that is. ;)

In the case of Marsupilami.... to make matters even worse..... I had never worked/drawn in such a style.

So not only did I have to put the show back on track.... but I had to learn to draw like the artist that created Marsupilami.

It was not easy.

And to make matters even worse..... one of the designers was under the illusion that he was the art director of the show or something and kept on insisting for revisions/changes to be made.

And to make matter even more worse.... yes it is always possible to be worse.... the director left the project and was replaced by some "Big Shot" who would keep on bragging that "he would turn this crappy show into a great one".... or something like that. So once again... the "Big Shot" would also ask for a truckload of revisions to "improve" the quality of the show.

But despite all the bragging in the world..... what he ended up doing was as "crappy" as what was done before he was there..... heck maybe even more crappy for various reasons.

It happens.

There often are some big egos who think they can do a better job then everyone else.

And when it turns out that what they did is no better then what was done before, then they come up with a laundry list of excuses as to why it is not their fault.

And to make things again once more even worse.... yes again it can always get worse.... working on design pay by the week. So working on Marsupilami paid something like $900 per week... no matter if I was working 40 hours or 90 hours per week..... it still was $900.

Which is fine since it is how it usually works..... but when I was offered the job.... no one told me that I would be 2 weeks behind schedule right from the start.

Already for someone like me.... being paid per week at the time usually meant taking a pay cut. And it is even worse if I have to work 90 hours per week instead of 40 hours per week to catch up with the crazy deadline.

I was offered to work on layout and posing on various other projects which paid for each scene that you make.... on any of those.... I would have made about $1200 per week for about 40 hours of work. Heck if I had worked nights and week-ends like I did the first month or two on Marsupilami I could have made $2000 per week or more.

So at the time, for me, I was making more money when I was paid per scene as opposed to when I was paid per week??


Was I such a fast artist??

Not really.

But I had developed some working habits that allowed me to be as effective as I can be.

The first time I was being paid per scene.... it was when I was working on Bob Morane. I tried to work during the day the same as when I was part of the design team.

Not a good idea.

During the day in the studio.... you often get interrupted. For example there are always people who are eager to chat.

So if you take an hour to chat with a buddy..... then you end up having to work one more hour at night since you were not paid for the hour you were talking.

So it quickly was obvious that if I wanted to get my work done... I had to take certain steps to maximise my production.

So what I did is that when working on layout & posing, I started working at the studio from 8PM to around 6AM or 8 AM.

Just doing that allowed me to greatly increase my productivity. So I was able to make a lot of scenes per week.... and heck I often was able to make my workload in 3 and a half or 4 days. So I would end up with a longer week-end..... or I could do some extra work for a bigger paycheck.

Sure it was a little drastic, but it was the best way to avoid any distractions and be 1000% (not a typo... I really mean 1000%) focused on my work.

It allowed me to not only do a lot of work.... but some damn good work as well.... if I can say so myself. ;)

Heck at some point I started working during the week-end instead and would take my week-end off during the week.

On a great week.... I would come to work on Friday around 8PM, and I would stay at the studio and work until the following Monday morning (I would get some sleep and eat when I would need to) around 6AM or 8AM.

And often my work would be done and I would be off until the following Friday.

Ahhhh....... how I miss those days.

Although that is something that you can do when you have no obligations. I can't imagine someone with 3 kids working with that kind of schedule.

But sadly when you work on design that is not an option. Even if you work at night or during the week-end, you HAVE to be at the studio from 9AM to 5PM.


There are always people who will need you around to answer whatever questions they might have concerning the designs.

Heck there are times when all you do is answer poeple's questions from 10AM to 4:30PM. So sometimes the only time you can actually do your work is before 10AM and after 4:30PM.

So while I was on Marsupilami..... I had many reasons not to be very happy to be working on that project. And I am sure that I forgot to mention another reason or two.

At some point, the contract of the other character designer on Marsupilami was almost finished. So I was expected to finish the production being the only character designer.

It was not going to happen.

I called in a meeting and asked that they keep the other guy and that they let me go instead.

I had been offered to go work on the Arthur Christmas Special and had decided to accept that offer.

Despite being up-front with the studio and leaving them in the good hands of the other designer who was drawing in the Marsupilami style much better then I did, and although the studio said that everything was fine, it was the last time I worked for them. I got the impression that they really weren't happy that I did not stay on Marsupilami until the end.

But I may be mistaken.

So at long last.... working on Marsupilami was behind me.

And that was good.

Until next time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mister Crimson Episode 25

Mister Crimson Episode 25
In which a new player joins the cast...
Read it here .:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Free Comics Monday: Alias The Spider

There were many archer characters during the Golden Age, but one of the more interesting was Quality's Alias the Spider. Below is Pierre's version of the character.

Black Condor by Pierre

From Wikipedia:

The Spider
was, in reality, playboy Tom Hallaway. Hallaway had tired of seeing criminals have their own way harassing and murdering honest citizens, so he adopted the guise of The Spider to settle the score. The Spider fought crime in a yellow shirt and blue shorts. He was armed with a fairly ordinary bow and arrows, a special car known as The Black Widow, and the assistance of his valet Chuck (who helped out Hallaway in both of his identities without anyone making any sort of connection). He also had a special arrow he called the "Spider's Seal", which had a flat disc on the end he shot at thugs' hands to disarm them.

[ Crack Comics 6 ]

Only one adventure of the Spider has ever been reprinted by DC Comics (which acquired the Quality Comics stable of characters when the company went out of business in 1956), the story from Crack Comics #25, which saw print in Detective Comics #441.

The Spider later showed up a few times in the pages of All-Star Squadron and The Young All-Stars, though only in a cameo role. As a Quality Comics character, he was one of the heroes who went with Uncle Sam to protect Earth-X during World War II, becoming part of the Freedom Fighters. This was the fulfillment of a storyline that began in Justice League of America #107 - 108, which introduced most of the Quality Comics' characters to the DC Universe (previously only Plastic Man and Blackhawk had been used). - wikipeida

[ Crack Comics 11 ]



Related Posts with Thumbnails