Friday, July 31, 2009

S is for Spider-man

I’m pretty sure that I’ve read more comic books starring Spider-man than all other comic books combined. As a kid I remember buying Spider-man comics with my brothers at the local 7-11, checking out Spider-man books at the library and reading Spider-man comics on the floor of our living room with my friends. I’d have to say he’s the comic book character I’m the fondest of. The last time I drew him was when I was about nine years old, though, so please don’t judge the above drawing too harshly...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

R is for Roachmill

I have a small confession to make on this one… as much as I like today's character, he wasn’t my first choice for « R ». I actually wanted to use Rorschach from The Watchmen, but I thought that would be kind of redundant, seeing as how Alan Moore patterned him after the Question, the previous post. So… on to Roachmill !

The deadly, four-armed mercenary exterminator Roachmill, created by Rich Hedden and Tom McWeeney, has got to be one of the most off-the-wall, original comic book characters to ever see print. Irreverent, cartoony, yet also kind of spooky and dark at the same time, the world of Roachmill was a strange mix of Blade Runner and Looney Tunes, with some Road Warrior thrown in for good measure. It was one of my favorite black and white comics, with energetic, exaggerated art by the talented  Tom McWeeney, who used Zip-A-Tone and solid blacks better than just about any cartoonist out there. I miss that book.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Q is for The Question

In 1967 Steve Ditko created the character of Vic Sage, the strange, faceless crime-fighter known as The Question, for Charlton Comics. That version of the character I unfortunately never knew, but DC’s "updated" version, written by Dennis O’Neill and drawn by Denys Cowan in the late 1980’s, was pretty cool. The end of that first issue was remarkable in that the Question got the crap kicked out of him, was shot in the back of the head and left to rot in the harbor by criminals who had gotten the best of him. Bet you’d never see that happen to Batman. Well, the Question got better, but from what I hear, they killed him off again a few years ago—at least, the Vic Sage version of the character. Here’s hoping they bring him back soon…

Thursday, July 23, 2009

P is for Puma

Not much to say this time, besides that I’m a fan of The Puma, one of the coolest bad guys in Spider-Man’s rogues’ gallery (he was an American Indian were-puma hitman). I never followed the character much after his first few appearances in Amazing Spider-Man, and from what I hear Marvel has changed him quite a bit, but those early issues were a lot of fun.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

O is for Octopus

Today’s character is the Octopus, one of the most brilliant creations of the late, great Will Eisner. The Octopus, elusive criminal mastermind, first appeared in the pages of the Spirit comics, and quickly became one of the hero’s most deadly enemies.

One of the things I liked the most about the character was that the reader never saw his face. Only recognizable when wearing his trademark gloves, the Octopus could have been virtually anybody. I always kind of wondered what he looked like.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that the answer to my question was "just like Samuel L. Jackson." Didn’t see that one coming…

Sunday, July 19, 2009

N is for Nightcrawler

The first time I ever saw the X-Men was on a Slurpee cup at the local 7-11 when I was about five years old. Like just about every kid who ever opened a comic book, I went through my X-Men fanboy period, where I’d buy Uncanny X-Men every month, as well as every X-Men-related crossover that Marvel saw fit to print. But unlike most kids, I was never much of a Wolverine fan. Nightcrawler was the character I liked the most, and those two issues* where he and the other X-Men go down into the New York sewers to save Angel from the Morlocks rank up there with my favorite X-Men stories ever.

*issues #169 and 170, just in case you were wondering...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

M is for Mister X

I think I mentioned this on my old WordPress blog, but The Return of Mister X, drawn by Jaime Hernandez and written by Dean Motter, was one the comics that had the biggest influence on me back when I seriously started thinking about drawing comic books. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore’s The Watchmen were great, but didn’t have the same effect on me as the adventures of Radiant City’s insomniac anti-hero did. Plus, it’s been called to my attention that Mister X and I look alike. I guess I know who I’m going to dress up as this year for Halloween.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

L is for Liz Sherman

Here is Liz Sherman, yet another great character from Mike Mignola’s B.P.R.D. comic book series. To tell you the truth, the book is just full of them… Ben Daimyo, Johann Krauss, Kate Corrigan… oh, yeah, and that Hellboy guy ;)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

K is for Kevin Matchstick

Here’s a sketch of Kevin Matchstick, the hero from Mage, Matt Wagner’s semi-autobiographical fantasy/superhero comic book. Wish I could have included some of the excellent supporting cast (Mirth, Sean Knight and Edsel) in the picture, but that would have been cheating. (One character or team per letter, that’s the rule)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

J is for Jason Blood

Created by Jack Kirby in 1972 in the pages of The Demon, Jason Blood was the reluctant alter ego of the demon Etrigan. Those first Kirby issues and the ones written & drawn by Matt Wagner back in the 1980’s are great, and seeing Jason Blood/Etrigan in the Batman cartoon a few years ago was a lot of fun, too.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I is for Iron Fist

Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker and David Aja, the writers and artist of Immortal Iron Fist, did a fantastic job on modernizing the character, as well as giving him a badly-needed makeover. Iron Fist, arguably the toughest martial artist in the Marvel Comics universe, now has a practical (and cool) costume that no longer provokes uncomfortable, embarrassed laughter from his enemies. Now, instead of having to say "aw, come on guys, quit laughing at my slippers!" all the time, he can get back to punching them out, which was what he was meant to do since the day he put on his mask.

Friday, July 3, 2009

H is for Human Target

I first discovered the adventures of Christopher Chance, master of disguise and professional assassin decoy, in the pages of Peter Milligan and Javier Pulido’s Human Target trade paperbacks, The Final Cut and Strike Zones. Peter Milligan crafts an excellent story, with complex, believable characters, and Javier Pulido is one of my favorite artists working in comics today. I was disappointed when the series was cancelled a few years ago, but those Human Target stories are still some of my favorite comics ever.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

G is for Grendel

There aren’t enough words in the dictionary to describe how much Matt Wagner’s comics—and in particular, his Grendel stories—mean to me. They have had a huge influence on my own work and the way I write and draw comics. I was about 16 when I stumbled across a copy of his Grendel: Devil By The Deed graphic novel at my local comic shop in Tucson, Arizona, and I was immediately hooked. At the time my interest for comics had begun to wane, and I was looking for something different… something that didn’t involve people in capes knocking over a bunch of buildings while fighting other people in capes. Grendel, the story of the cunning assassin Hunter Rose and his vicious werewolf nemesis Argent the Wolf, instantly, single-handedly rekindled my interest in comics.
Rose, the protagonist (and villain) of the story, is a popular high society novelist by day and ruthless leader of the New York underworld by night. Feared by police and criminals alike, the black-clothed assassin Grendel pits his incomparable intellect and unique trademark weapon, a double-bladed spear he refers to as his forks, against the raging claws of the ageless, cursed wolf-man Argent.
After I finished reading that first Grendel story, I had to have more… I even managed to get my hands on the first three black and white issues of Grendel, as well as the character's first appearance in Comico Primer. I also discovered Matt's work on Mage, The Demon, Batman and Sandman Mystery Theatre. But that's a story for another time... Stay tuned!