Saturday, April 16, 2011

Same Story, Different Cover: We found a friend, friend, friend in Purple Phantom / He'll pop right in just when you need him most

L: Two-Gun Kid #68 (March 1964), art by Jack Kirby and George Roussos
M: Two-Gun Kid #93 (July 1970), art by John Severin
R: Two-Gun Kid #136 (April 1977), art by Gil Kane

(Click picture to Ollllllld West-size)

Hey, check it out! That cave on the cover of #68 looks like it might be the same cave where the FF track the Hulk!

(They're both drawn by Kirby a year apart, so all kidding aside, who knows?) Hmmm...this could open up a brand new feature right here at Comics Oughta Be Fun...

Different Comic, Same Locale!

L: Star Wars #43 (January 1981), art by Jack Kirby and George Roussos
M: Star Wars #56 (February 1982), art by Walt Simonson
R: Star Wars Tales #6 (December 2000), art by Kilian Plunkett and Jason Hvam

(Click picture to tibanna mine-size)

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 106

Cover of Thor v.2 #15 (September 1999), art by Lee Weeks and Klaus Janson

Friday, April 15, 2011

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 105

Panel from Thor #619 (March 2011), script by Matt Fraction, pencils and inks by Pasqual Ferry, colors by Matt Hollingsworth, letters by John Workman

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Panel from Thor: The Trial of Thor one-shot (August 2009), script by Peter Milligan, pencils and inks by Cary Nord, colors by Christina Strain, letters by Joe Caramagna

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 104

Panel from Paradise X: Ragnarok #1 (March 2003), co-plot and script by Jim Krueger, co-plot by Alex Ross pencils and inks by Tom Yeates, colors by José Villarrubia, letters by Todd Klein

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Let me ask you to your face... you think you love The Partridge Family???

Well, I'll fix that.

On my blog, whenever I scan and reprint panels from a comic book, I really try hard to not show more than a small percentage of the comic to stay inside the boundaries of fair use. So, I usually only post maybe eight, nine panels from an entire comic. Seems pretty fair, don't it? After all, I'm not a comic website whose name rhymes with Hands Bailey.
Definition: Hands Bailey, plural noun, \ˈhan(d)z-ˈbā-lē\. What you find at the end of the arms of British comedian Bill Bailey.

Trouble is, every once in a while you come across a comic book that, even if you only do reprint a handful of images, you're still reprinting, oh, eighty, ninety per cent of the book. Case in point: Charlton's The Partridge Family #15 (January 1973, scripts and art by Don Sherwood).

For those of you who only know this 70s megagroup as the former home of broadcaster, reality TV star, "professional" wrestler, and nemesis to the law Danny Bonaduce, The Partridge Family was a half-hour ABC musical sitcom about a widowed mother (Shirley Jones) raising her musical brood of five children, forcing them into servitude as a pop group at the urging of their manager, "Dave Madden as Rueben Kinkaid." So intent was she on this goal that she didn't even notice one of her children managed to escape, replacing himself with a completely different boy. Nobody ever noticed!

Also, the TV show is famous in broadcast history to be the first and only show to graphically depict the actual live birth of its star during its opening credits:

Anyway, about that comic book. Riddle me this, David Cassidy: when does reprinting a few panels of a comic constitute more than just a small amount of the book? Why, the answer is quite simple, old chum: because The Partridge Family #15 is filled to the rim with Brim HUMUNGOUS PAGE-WIDE HEAD SHOTS OF THE CAST, sometimes STARING DIRECTLY AT US AS IF THEY COULD SEE INTO OUR VERY SOULS! (shiver)

Do you dare enter with me a realm of chirpy and infectious pop songs, velour jackets and ruffled ascots, and nervous mothers driving, all accompanied by EXTREME! PARTRIDGE! CLOSE-UPS Aw, c'mon. I'll hold your hand.

Shirley Jones as Shirley Partridge!

Aw, man, it's the episode where they crossed over with 'Hee Haw!' Actually, yes, that is country music legend Lee Moore. What he's doin' in a Charlton comic book when he could have been over in Fantastic Four playing a sad blues number as Ben Grimm walks home slowly in the rain, we'll never know. Anyway...

David Cassidy as Keith Partridge!

Susan Dey as Laurie Partridge!

Danny Bonaduce as Danny Partridge!

The chilling death-stare of Brian Forster as Chris Partridge Number Two

Hey, he's got a mini-Bonaduce growin' out of his neck. You oughta have that looked at, Chris.

And Suzanne Crough as Tracy Partridge!

Tracy's the only member of the family who doesn't get a full page-wide face shot. That's because there is not enough red ink in the entire comic book industry to support printing a page-wide Tracy Partridge.

Need more? Well, here's two EXTREME CLOSE-UP panels of Chris and Danny! Funny, this seems less dynamic, and yet more terrifying, than when Jack Kirby would use the same effect.

And here's a bewitching look into the eyes of the actress who won an Oscar for her wholesome family-friendly character in Elmer Gantry!

Extra-special bonus Partridge Mom meets my mom scene!:

By now I'm betting you can't get enough of pictures of the Partridges, huh? Lucky for you there's plenty of opportunities to buy more right in the comic book! Whoda thunk it, huh? What a fortuitous coincidence!

But (I can hear you whine into your David Cassidy pillow as you writhe on your David Cassidy bedsheets), those aren't big enough! They aren't colorful enough! Well, then, Cassidinians, cast your peepers on...

Say! How did Charlton print those posters, anyway?

Oh, in full color?

Full flaming color!


And, if any girls happen to be reading the comic book, they can learn to be as popular and successful as Susan Dey!

So, in conclusion:

Anyway! Play us off, Voice of the Beehive!

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 103

Panel from Ultimate Thor #2 (January 2011), script by Jonathan Hickman, pencils by Carlos Pacheco, inks by Dexter Vines, colors by Edgar Delgado, letters by Clayton Cowles

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Guys Dressed Up In Fruit Costumes Oughta Be Fun!

"Big Fig" (Jimmy Harder) for Fig Newtons (c. 1970)

The Fruit of the Loom Guys in "Comfortably" (2010)

Charles Nelson Riley for Bic Banana Pens (1970s)

Ewan MacGregor as a tomato for FilmFour (2006)

The Fruit of the Loom Guys in "Blue" (2006)

The Snapple Fruits in "Good Fruit is Happy Fruit" (2009)

Grapes, peas, and chicken costumes dance to "The Safety Dance" in a video for Herbal Mist tea

Ewan MacGregor as a tomato gets assaulted for FilmFour (2006)

The Fruit of the Loom Guys in "Lowrider" (2009)

The Snapple Fruits in "The Pressures Facing Young Fruit Today" (2006)

Cagney (Sharon Gless) and Lacey (Tyne Daley) in pineapple and apple costumes on Cagney and Lacey

Vince Gill and The Fruit of the Loom Guys in "Daddy Was the Apple of My Eye" (2007)

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 102

Panels from Journey Into Mystery #119 (August 1965), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by Artie Simek

Monday, April 11, 2011

Beautiful: New Mutants #19

This post has lots of image jpegs that will flame your brain and send your temperature rising, so if you're reading this via your AOL '95 dial-in modem, you may wish to go and put the kettle on. Or, indeed, drive to another state and buy a kettle. One of these days I really must learn how to put the bulk of a post "behind the break."

Everybody put your hooves and paws together to welcome my all-new occasional-sometimes-once-in-a-while feature, Beautiful!

Get the heck outta here, James Blunt! Nobody invited you to this party. Sheesh.

Beautiful is actually a feature that focuses on those gorgeous and colorful ways to tell a comic book: its cover. (I think y'all know how crazy I am for comic book covers.) Each installment will spotlight an especially good-lookin' comic book cover that I think is cool, interesting, unique, unusually well-designed...or, in fact, beautiful.

These spotlights won't be authoritative art lessons or teachings on design—I wish I had more of the chops to write about comic book art that way, like Benjamin Birdie has done in his fab Storytelling Sundays series. (Click on over there and tell him to do more of those 'coz they're great!) No, this is jus' one little stuffed bull's look at a comic book cover and saying "Oh, this is niiiiiiice." In other words, supremely subjective. Or is that "objective"? I never can keep those two straight. It's like flammable and inflammable. I know both of them mean the same thing. But what word do we use for something that won't burn? Those are the kind of things that keep me awake at night. Also: packs of roving under-bed tigers.

To start the series: the cover of New Mutants #19 (September 1984) by Bill Sienkivitch. I mean Sinkeivicz. Or is that Sinkevich? Hmmm. (Googling for a while.) Oh, yeah! You know who I mean: Bill Sienkiewicz.

Bill S.'s cover for NM #19 was a quantum leap forward—not only for the series itself but for the entire mutant franchise, Chris Claremont's scripting, and an entire expressionistic art style perfectly suited for the soon-coming improved comic book paper and printing processes. In fact, I'd go so far as to say Sienkiewicz's cover and interior art is what saved New Mutants from being dropped by me. It was the first-ever X-Men spin-off series (remember those days? When the was only one X-Men book? No? Of course you don't...nobody does) and a lot was riding on it: the expansion of the X-Men into a franchise moneymaker and creative center for Marvel, a test to see if Chris Claremont could juggle two interlocking series with simultaneously occurring cause-and-effect plots, snd a chance to return to the core concept of the original X-Men: mutant students learning how to use their powers while living in a world sworn to hate and destroy them™. The original graphic novel and the beginning of the series was promising enough: a more cheerful, optimistic, playful version of the X-Men, featuring an international cast of teenagers gathered from across the galaxy around the world. I bought and read New Mutants #1 eagerly.

But as the series went on, I thought Claremont's scripts were increasingly pedestrian and overlong. The Nova Roma story lasted what, seventeen, eighteen issues? I have always held that against Magma, my least favorite New New Mutant. Dangling plotlines continued a-dangling a la Claremont per usual (why weren't Xavier and the New Mutants scouring the globe to find Karma?) Then the team fought the Evil New Mutants—the Hellions, in quite possible the worst superhero team costumes of all time. Really, Emma Frost? Pink and purple? Pink and freakin' purple?

And then...Bill Sienkiewicz.

He actually poked his big toe in the X-Mansion pool on the cover of New Mutants #17, inking June Brigham's pencils, but by the next issue he was creating the gorgeous covers for the series as well as penciling and inking the interiors. And by ish #19, that demon bear reared its spectral fur and raked its ghost claws, and nothing would ever be the same again for the NMs.

I think...and this is jus' my opinion...that Bill S.'s art took Chris C.'s themes and plots and turned New Mutants into Mr. Xavier's Wild Ride (With Kids in the Back Seat). This is the New Mutants of the Demon Bear, the rise of Magik and hallucinogenic trips to Limbo, New Economy-Sized Karma, and (especially) Warlock and his daddy Magus (I don't think any other artist has ever done justice to Sienkiewicz's Phalanx Technarcy wild designs), and (double especially) the nightmare splintered world of Xavier's autistic illegitimate son Legion, whose Christoopher "Kid" Reid coiffure more than made up for Chuck's billiard ball skull.

Just as all right-minded comics fans consider the great Thor runs to be Lee/Kirby and Walt Simonson's books, or the great X-Men runs to be Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne and Morrison/Quitely, or the great Millie the Model extended storyline written and drawn by Jack Kirby (which gave us the spectacle of Millie as Herald of Galactus and the secret that the birth of the universe was sparked by Chili Storm)...New Mutants top years are, at least for me, #18-31, and, if you're feeling benevolent, the next year or so after that during which Sienkiewicz inked the pencils of Steve Leialoha, Mary Wilshire, and Rick Leonardi. The Jackson Guice/Kyle Baker run had some promise artwise, but the merry-go-round of artists in the issues post-#50 never quite did justice to Louise Simonson's scripts once she took over the series from Claremont, thus proving you could pry a mutant character out of his hands without killing him.

I love New Mutants #19, especially for its gorgeous cover. Here's another ten Bill Sienkiewicz comic book covers I think are beautiful:

Here's another pair of my fave Sienkiewicz cover images, one of which you may never have seen. Didja know that Bill S. did two completely different painted covers for New Mutants #28? Now ya do, and you can amaze and be-baffle your pals and new aquaintances at parties with your deep and incisive Sienkiewicz schooling? You'll hardly be able to hold off the leggy supermodels! But let's let a clipping from Marvel Age #28 explain it all, a la Clarissa, for you:

(Here's the second, printed cover:)

I think alongside New Mutants and Moon Knight, my favorite Bill S. work is his Marvel Graphic Novel Daredevil: Love and War (1986), written (natch!) by Frank Miller.

Even following Miller's scripting and artistic re-invention of the Man with Only a Little Bit of Fear (And That's Really Just For Rats), Sienkiewicz's painted, expressionistic, chimerical Daredevil upped the ante higher than DD's usual rooftop stomping grounds:

Sienkiewicz creates lovely effects with swiftly blurred motion, physically-assaulting sound effects, (apt, for a blind hero) and a vertigo of caption boxes to simulate Daredevil's plummet towards the streets below:

I love this page/panel of Sienkiewicz's massive, hulking Kingpin, turned into a tiny tragic figure in Bill's art:

But $6.95 (its original price) for $6.95, the most stunning, heartbreaking, and visually haunting images in the book are this pair of pages: the deranged and yet literally romantic obsession of thug Victor for his blind kidnap victim Cheryl:

What's that? You wanna see more Bill S? How about ten more of my favorite Sienkiewicz covers? Huh? That work for you? Yes? Acceptable? Do you want me to...oh, okay.

So, there ya go. Bill Sienkiewicz: the guy who turned the New Mutants on their mutated little heads and turned the nineteenth cover of their comic into something beautiful.

There's a few more for you. Beautiful, huh? That's all I've got for tonight. You don't have to go home, but you can't sleep here.

(Thanks for all the gorgeousosity, Bill!)

First commenter who mentions the mistake in this post's URL gets a poke in the snoot.