Sunday, May 27, 2012

Unseen Flashback Universe Art

Recently, I was contacted by a company that wanted to use some of the art from the Flashback Universe as material for a pitch meeting for a television series. After signing the appropriate contracts, I then reviewed loads of artwork Pierre has sent me over the years and sent the company what I thought was some very nice images to use for their pitch. While doing this, I found several pages of art that readers of this blog may have never seen before, so I'm going to post them today for you all to enjoy.

First  up, this amazing battle scene with the Golden Age Flashback Universe characters (who I often refer to as the Wayback Universe) versus the U-Bolts. This image actually appeared in our zuda pitch in a smaller version, but it's easier to see the neat details Pierre put in with this version.

Next up, here is a cover of a Flashback Super Villain Two In One based on an idea from Jason Wright.

At one time Pierre and I talked about doing a Flashback Backstory for the Artifact. Here's a page Pierre created for that story.

While not a Flashback Universe creation, Mister Crimson is definitely one that I wished I had created which is why I was glad to host the web comic here. Seth Sherword and Diego Tripodi really put a lot of nice work into that web comic, and did a outstanding job hitting their weekly deadlines. However, on the occasion that they might be running a bit late, I would get other creators to step in with a piece of art. Here is one Pierre did which is a homage to the classic Dr. Fate/Hourman Showcase story.

Finally, here are two pages from our first Zuda project Kharon, Scourge of Atlantis. Looking through the file folder, I was surprised at how far we got with this project before circumstances caused forced us to stop. I could see picking this project back up again in the future.

I have quite a bit more, but I'll save it for another post someday.

Bonus: In honor of Memorial Day (which we will be observing tomorrow in the USA), enjoy this older Free Comics Monday post dedicated to the spirit of the holiday.

- Jim

Monday, May 21, 2012

Honor Brigade: Space Fight!

For whatever reason, I seem to get a lot of emails that basically run like this...

...Hello, I am going to start my own comics with a cohesive super hero universe, but it's going to be different than Marvel and DC because I'm going to put the fun back in the comics...

I'd say, for most people, that email is probably about as far as they ever get. Very few actually deliver on their promised goal. That's because putting together a comic is very, very hard. It's not only expensive, but you also have logistical issues to deal with (artists schedules, lettering, publishing, ect...)

So, when I see someone actually succeed in their goal as well as writer Tom Stillwell and artist Jethro Morales have in Honor Brigade: Space Fight #1, I am summarily impressed!

I discovered this comic while looking at comic book projects on and I was lucky enough to be able to be able to get a pdf version of the comic for the modest  donation of $5.00. This was the first time I had ever heard of The Honor Brigade, but apparently, Tom has been working with his own universe of characters for quite some time over at where he has other comics and graphic novels available for purchase.

You never know what you are going to get with self-published comics. Sometimes, it's just the 88th incarnation of Spawn or Batman with little to no innovation. I'm happy to say, that's not the case here. Honor Brigade is comic that reminds me of the best of the off brand comics I remember from the glory days of the industry. If you told me this was a lost Ultraverse or Valiant comic from their publishing heyday, I could totally believe it. In all honesty, it has the feel and pacing of the legendary Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League.

Check out this Giffenesque exchange between Toyboy and Lightning Rod (click to read at full size)

The plot is straightforward enough that if gives Stillwell the room to introduce a dizzying array of characters to the reader without getting bogged down in back story. I sense that Stillwell, like myself, understands his audience doesn't need each and every characters origin spoonfed to them in the first outing. What we want is to see the archetypes interact in a fun and engaging way, and The Honor Brigade delivers on that in spades!

In many ways, this comic reminds me of Invincible. Not in its level of violence, but in how it plays superheroes straight and never tries to parody the genre or slip into meta textural commentary. The art also has the same light touch that makes Invincible easy to read. Morales has a style that is clean and simple, yet dynamic enough to make the pages fun to look at. He also does an amazing job giving each and every character a distinct look and feel which is quite a task when you are dealing with the huge cast that Stillwell has dreamed up!

If my review still hasn't swayed you, you can always read free samples at for yourself. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

- Jim

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pierre vs The Avengers

Pierre VilleneuveEditor's Note: As promised, Pierre has found some time in his animation schedule to give us his thoughts on The Avengers. - Jim

Avengers Assemble! The classic Avengers rallying cry is missing from the movie. And the absence of these two words sum up what was missing for me in the Avengers movie. If it was a more classic take on the Avengers, I might be one of those who think this is the best movie ever made, but there is too much Ultimates in the Avengers movie for my taste.
That kept the fanboy in me in check and allowed me to see that movie without some rose colored lenses - although I did see it wearing some 3D lenses.

Don’t make that mistake! The 3D in that movies is pointless. Just as it was pointless in the Captain America and the Thor movies. Dark movies + 3D = NOT A GOOD IDEA!!! So do yourself a favor, don’t see that movie in 3D unless you really have too.

Is it a bad movie?? No. Absolutely not. Is it a great movie??? I don’t think so either. It is a good action flick with a pretty basic plot (villain wants to conquer the world, An unlikely group of Heroes get together to stop him) and some fun moments.

Let’s start with what I did not like:

Although the Ultimates elements did not come as a surprise. Previous films already had some Ultimates elements (Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Ultimate Hawkeye in Thor), so it was no surprise that this film felt more like seeing the Ultimates then the Avengers. If I was a fan of the Ultimates, I most likely would not mind it. But I am more of a classic Avengers fan. The first part of the movie feels pretty much like “The Adventure of SHIELD (guest starring the Ultimates)”.

Give me a Hawkeye wearing his trademark purple suit and some Skrulls as opposed to some Chitary, and I would have been a happy guy. That is one of the things that I love about the Avengers cartoon, although the animation is awful, Hawkeye is Hawkeye in that show.

And I did find it tedious how they had to slowly reintroduce all the characters. I thought that was the point of the previous films to introduce all the characters. But I can understand how they wanted to play it safe and introduce all the characters for those who may not have seen the previous films.

I read online how they had to cut out about 2 hours from this movie. And that does not surprise me. A lot of time I thought that the transition from one scene to the next was off somehow, . As if something was missing in between. So I can only guess that we can expect an extended version of the movie at some point.

And can someone explain to me Banner’s “secret”?? How he is always angry?? If he was always angry, wouldn’t he always be “the other guy”??
I don’t get it.

And now what did I like about that film?

The first time I saw Cap, Iron-Man and Thor together, I had goose bumps.
Loved every frame with Steve Rogers/Cap. Can’t imagine anyone else in the role now. The same with Tony Stark/Iron-Man.

Loved Loki. You could feel the venom dripping from his mouth. And when he gets people to kneel, loved it. And Thor and Bruce Banner the 3rd were pretty good too.

Other then being pretty, I did not care much about the Black Widow. Oops, this is supposed to be about the parts that I like. Sorry. ;)

The movie had some good action scenes and some fun moments with the characters. The scene when Hulk grabs Loki and goes “bang” “bang” “bang” with him was priceless.

And whenever Cap throws his shield, I really get a kick out of it. When I was playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance, I would use Cap and I loved throwing his shield around.
This movie is a must see for any Avengers/Marvel/Comic fans. And from the looks of it, Marvel will make a gazillion dollars with this movie. So it would seem that Marvel’s gamble paid off.

Now if only Warner/DC could make that darn JLA movie now. ;)

(Note: This poster comes from Daniel Morpheus. click to see full size version. )

Until next time.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Flashback Mail Bag

Today, I'm going to reach into the Flashback Mailbag and answer some readers questions:
Question 1. Are you going to make any more comics?

I hope so! As fortune would have it, Gentleman Jerry Hinds has recently had time in his busy schedule to get back to working on his Flashback Two-In-One story. Here's a finished page he sent me the other day (click to see the full size)

So, when we get all the pages completed, I'll begin the process of lettering Chris Sim's script and there will finally be another Flashback Universe comic. :)

After that, hard to say. My perspective on comics has changed a lot since I started Flashback Universe. My original goal was two fold.

One, I wanted to create the world's first comic specifically formatted for CBR/CBZ (digital) format. In that, I was successful. Many of the techniques and transitions Pierre and I pioneered with our original Flashback Comics have since shown up in other comics with Mark Waid doing the best job in pushing this envelope.

Two, I wanted to create a comic that gave readers the same rush they might experience reading their first classic Silver Age Marvel comic. I was really more interested in emmershing readers into a world populated by a myriad of colorful characters than an ongoing narrative. I never really had a long term plan for the FBU, and it shows.

With that said, I still love comics as a medium, and I'm constantly coming up with ideas and helping other people with their projects, so I don't doubt I'll soon be working on something. I just might not involve FBU characters. The one thing you can bet on is it will still retain a lot of the classic bronze age sensibilities in one form or another. ;)

Question 2: What's up with Pierre?
He's been working on a new animation project. As those things run, they tend to work at a breakneck pace which keeps up at all hours. As it is, he's doing good to answer an email here and there. He's also got a new website to help promote his animation and illustration skills which you can check out here:

Fortunately, he managed to squeeze in some time for the Avengers and has written a review which I will be posting Wednesday!

Question 3: What do you think about the current Digital Comics market?

I get the sense that sometimes people are asking this question to see if I feel vindicated that so many of my predictions have seemingly come to pass, but in all honesty, the digital market sort of depresses me.

As it stands now, Comixology, sort of have a lock on the digital market. There are a few (1?) other companies out there but the biggest contender for competition, Graphically, sort of threw in the towel a month ago. To make matters wore, as of last week, Marvel announced they were going exclusive with Comixology. And let's be honest here, with 65 million downloads, Comixology deserves their spot in the sun.

Unfortunately, if you are small independent publisher, I think you're going to find the way their app highlights comics from the Big Guys on their main screens limits your ability to sell your comic. Check out this screenshot. Did Moonstone Publishing have a new debut this week? How would you know?

That's not how I was hoping things would be. I was hoping that the digital age for comics would help level the playing field as far helping introduce readers to new and diferent comics. What it feels like now is a digital version of the Diamond Catalog.

I wanted a world where non-techie types could create a comic, upload it to some marketplace where people could discover it via their interests in similar comics (like how Amazon suggests items for you.)

Well, I guess I can hope we eventually get there. :)

Have a great day!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ten Random Thoughts About the Avengers

Thanks to the insistence of good friend Trey Causey, I braved the crowds and saw the Avengers Friday night, and I am happy to report it is well worth seeing. It was perhaps the most fun I have had at a movie since the first Iron Man. (Prior to that I might have to go back to the first Pirates of the Carribean.)

I have a lot of thoughts about the movie, so I'm going to enumerate them to try and keep myself on task.

1. Disney has got to be happy!

Disney originally bought Marvel for $4 billion dollars (a sum that sounds cheap in these days of tech companies snapping up smaller companies for patents.) Avengers looks to be on track to beat all box office records (some estimates have it possibly opening with $200 million domestically.) When you add the money Disney will get from liscensing and DVD/Blu-Ray sales, the Avengers may well help them recoup a large portion of their initial investments just by itself.

2.  Joss Whedon has got to be happy too!

If Serenity cast a pall on Joss Whedon's movie career, then the Avengers has given it new life. I've always liked Josh Whedon's dialogue style, which Scott Simmons (another friend of mine in attendance Friday night) boiled down to "...where all the characters are one and a half times cleverer than real people..." In other words, it's a style where you get the idea everyone had time to think of the best quip or retort possible before saying their next line. It's not the best reflection of real life, where time and emotions often interfere with communication skills, and because of that, some people that style of dialogue is a bit too precious or artificial. Still, considering the type of movie this was, I think it fit perfectly. Like Scott, I think Captain America got all the best lines.

3. I wonder if Mark Millar is happy?

When Mark Millar introduced his Samuel L. Jackson looking Nick Fury in the Ultimates, I was originally put off by the character. One, because I hate it when comic characters are phototraced from pictures of real people (I find it jerks you out of the medium.) Two, the change of race for the character seemed unnecessary. However, for the purposes of appealing to a larger demographics, that racial switch out really panned out for Disney didn't it? I wonder if it was a conscious move to use that version of Nick Fury on Disney's part? Updated since Trey reminded me that Nick Fury actually started showing up prior to Disney owning Marvel.

4. The smaller line up of the Avengers works better for movies doesn't it?

I've always felt that in the comics that the way the Avengers can consist of 5 (and even 4!) heroes makes it a team that has never really stacked up, powerwise, against the Justice League (unless you count the Aquaman led team back in the 80's)

However, for a movie, a smaller team really works well. If there had been another two characters to deal with, it would probably cut down a good bit on the great character moments Joss Whedon put in the script. Something for DC to consider, eh?

5. What was Loki's plan on the Helicarrier?

I had to go to the restroom, and I think I missed something. What was all that about exactly?

6. This movie may have saved the Hulk franchise.

I saw over at Bleeding Cool that Mark Ruffalo has signed a 6 picture Hulk deal with Marvel  and based on audience reaction to the Hulk scenes, it looks like the time is right to relaunch that franchise. I feel the key with the Hulk is is to remember that he is not just a raging brute, but that he can also be a bit childish at times. This gives writers innocence and indulgence aspects of the character to explore.  (Like this scene from the classic Len Wein/Herb Trimpe era)

It's not something that is played up in current Hulk comics, but I believe it is vital to fully exploiting the wish fulfillment aspect of the character. It would also be a much needed source of humor for any resulting movies.

7. Aliens are the new Ninjas

I guess it's just a by product of action movies that they have scores of creatures for the heroes to fight. Sometimes we get clever variations on the them like the Nazi zombies in SuckerPunch. Still, I do grow weary of the meaningless hordes.

8. Is this a history making/game changing movie?

In discussing the ensemble cast of this movie, I was struck by the notion that this was the first time that characters from successful movie franchises had ever been gathered together all in one movie. As I thought on it more, I realized that's not necessarily true, as back in the heyday of the Universal Monster Movies, we saw this classic picture:

Since then, there have been a few other dalliances in combining an assortment of fictional characters in a movie (Murder By Death, Aliens Vs Predators, Freddie vs Jason and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) but none of those had the combined star power this movie had. With the success the Avengers is having, will we see this formula repeated? And if so, what grouping (outside of the DC Universe) would lend itself to such an ensemble?

9. The Spider-man trailer looked better than the Batman trailer.
'Nuff said.

10. The Loki at the Opera scene!

I haven't seen a lot of people comment on this scene, but with its use of Local Music and eschewing of dialogue during this part, it felt like a tip of the hat to the classic opera scene from the Godfather 3. Tom Hiddleston stole the movie as Loki, and this moment highlighted just how well he was able to portray the character even without talking.

Anyway, if you haven't seen this movie, do yourself a favor and go!

- Jim


Related Posts with Thumbnails