Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Profile Antics: Sergio Cariello & Chuck Dixon and "Akota: Wargod of the Lost"

The Catacombs is pleased to present the final part of a dual interview with artist Sergio Cariello (pictured; right) and writer Chuck Dixon. Today we will discuss the second of two exciting new projects these seasoned pros are hoping to place with a publisher; “Akota: Wargod of the Lost”.

Q) Sergio, you’ve been both a student and an instructor at the Kubert School. Whose work do you look to for inspiration or which classic artists influenced your own work?

Cariello: The list can be long: Jesus Blasco, Alex Raymond, Alex Kotsky, John M. Burns, Milton Caniff, Uderzo, Jack Kirby, John and Sal Buscema, All Cap, Frank Frazetta, Gray Morrow, Dan and Sy Barry, Mort Drucker, Jim Aparo, John Romita Sr, Gil Kane, Hal Foster, Joe Kubert, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, and many more.

Q) Chuck Dixon says that you are an “upbeat” and “eager” guy who is willing to draw anything, and that trait is too rare these days? So, what motivates you as an artist?

Cariello: I get motivated by the story first. Then I imagine how a movie of that story should be done. I get excited, as I read it, by similar themes and characters and scenes I've seen before in movie of other art form that resembles what I've just read and my brain starts working and getting creative on how I want to portray/draw the comic. I try to gather enough reference. Either a book or/ Internet and even toys and miniature replicas or the real elements to help me do a good job on it.

Q) Give me some insight into your relationship with Chuck Dixon?

Cariello: Chuck is like an older brother to me. We enjoy talking about everything and going to conventions together. We can talk for hours. We have a lot in common. I learned a lot from him in this business and other matters. He's very smart and knowledgeable. As strong willed and self-confident as he is, he’s also fun and a gentleman. Always kind and courteous. Very pleasant to be around .I feel safe when I'm with him.

Q) Now, “Akota: Wargod of the Lost” looks like it could have been informed by something like the old Gold Key series, Turok Son of Stone. Is that a valid comparison?

Dixon: Akota is the story of the first peoples to cross the land bridge from Asia to North America. These are the people who would populate the continent as Native Americans. The growing cold of the second Ice Age forces mass migrations and genocidal tribal warfare among the people of Central Asia. Akota leads his tribe on a trek across the globe to new lands with strange animals and new challenges. It’s a kind of Neolithic Lord of the Rings, very violent barbaric action in a real historical setting that’s hardly touched on.

Q) On the sample pages that Sergio has drawn, there is a creature called an "entelodont". Is that an actual historical beast or only something made up?

Dixon: We made nothing up. Early man (as recently as ten thousand years ago) co-existed with wildlife that we can barely imagine. The entire Eco-scape was vastly different then and man was NOT at the top of the food chain. We’re working to present a world alien to anyone living today that was very real for mankind not that long ago.

Q) Tell me a little bit about how you see stuff like “Akota” and why a non-superhero book seems to be such a tough sell?

Cariello: I don't know why something I like doesn’t sell, but no one knows until one tries. Many books that sell - I wouldn't buy, so that's the way it is. Some like yellow, others like red. Italians love westerns. Brazilians and French love humor. Americans love super-heroes.

Q) Both of these “possible” series appeal to me far more than the latest spin-off, mega-crossover event, and each is reminiscent of types of comic books that typically don’t get served anymore, but that used to be well-represented on the stands. What is the difficulty of interesting potential publishers in fronting these kinds of non-superhero books today?

Dixon: Yeah. It would be easier to sell a mini-series about a superhero daycare center (anyone want to lay odds that’ll be in the next Diamond Previews?) than something different. But I’m not interested in chasing down the spiraling rat hole that is the crowded super folks market.

Q) If something that you’ve created doesn’t find an available outlet; do you set it aside for a rainy day, work to “hone” it until it becomes more palatable to the market or just toss it into the circular file?

Dixon: Never throw anything away! I get asked by agents all the time if I have anything that’s not optioned. Today, you can get someone from outside the comics market to fund the production of a comic with an eye toward TV and movies. So, you never know what might have legs.

Q) How and when to you produce your writing? Do you observe a standard workday model or simply write when the mood strikes you?

Dixon: I “write” all the time. No matter where I am. But actual time at the keyboard is less than an eight hour day. To me, it’s pages not hours. Seven to eight pages is a good day and I do that no matter how long (or short) it takes. Five pages if it’s Simpson's.

Q) Sergio, what fact about you would surprise people the most?

Cariello: I might enjoy fun and be perceived as a total easy going guy ... but I am deeper than I appear and have very strong convictions by which I live. At the same token, when you think you've figured me out I might just prove you wrong.

I thank each of you for stopping by the Catacombs and wish you the very best. Hopefully we will see “Geneva of the Jungle” and “Akota: Wargod of the Lost” in the comic shops to read and enjoy someday. Take care!

Monday, June 28, 2010

At the Movies: The A-Team

I was never a fan of the original 1983-1986 television series, The A-Team, about a group of ex-Army Special Forces who work as soldiers of fortune while on the run from the military after being branded as war criminals for a "crime they didn't commit". That NBC series starring George Peppard, Dirk Benedict, Dwight Schultz and Mr. T, was a bit too cartoonish for my tastes.

I did however feel that it was exactly the type of old show that could make a terrific theatrical film. With an update setting it within the real world context of the Iraq War, The A-Team is back and now I am a fan.

Col. John "Hannibal" Smith (Liam Neeson), Lt. Templeton "Faceman" Peck (Bradley Cooper), Capt. H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock (Sharlto Copley) and Cpl. Bosco B.A. Baracus (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson) are a highly-regarded, elite combat unit stationed in Iraq. After being set up as fall-guys in an elaborate internecine theft, the guys are busted in rank and sent to separate military prisons. Of course, Hannibal is always three steps ahead of his enemies and plans the ultimate escape and revenge scheme. Meanwhile DCIS agent Charissa Sosa (Jessica Biel; yummy) intends to recover the missing items that the team is believed to have taken and see them all returned to prison.

I am aware that the film has received a mixed response from critics. But I don’t understand that at all. The A-Team is a topnotch revival of this concept, with a terrific cast (wonderful chemistry between the four team members) and all the slam-bang special effects of any other summer blockbuster.

Ignore the bluster and go see this one in the theaters. I highly recommend it!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

1980's Flashback: Alien Worlds

Alien Worlds was a bi-monthly science-fiction anthology series originally published by Pacific Comics between December 1982 and April 1984 (eight issues; which included an offshoot Three-Dimensional Alien Worlds special released in July 1984). Eclipse Comics & Blackthorne Publishing later continued the title for a total of fourteen issues through 1985.

The title was edited by Bruce Jones and April Campbell. Nearly all of the stories in Alien Worlds were written by Jones, with only a few exceptions. Jones had developed a talent for writing short genre tales with a twist ending, during his years with Warren Publishing on titles such as Creepy and Eerie. He was also influenced by horror and sci-fi movies of the 1950s, but Jones added copious amounts of graphic violence, sexuality and female nudity into the mix; several issues sported a “Recommended For Mature Readers” warning on the cover. However, for the most part Alien Worlds avoided the more intensely gruesome subject matter of Jones' other Pacific comic, Twisted Tales, which was published at the same time.

John Bolton, Dave Stevens, Frank Brunner, Joe Chiodo, Al Williamson, Richard Corben, Roy Krenkel, Val Mayerik, and Rand Holmes all contributed work on the series.

Trivia: April Campbell was the model for Pacific Comics character, Somerset Holmes.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Profile Antics: Chuck Dixon & Sergio Cariello and "Geneva of the Jungle"

Today the Catacombs is pleased to present the first part of a dual interview with writer Chuck Dixon (pictured; left) and artist Sergio Cariello. We are going to discuss two projects that these fine and talented gentlemen are currently shopping around to publishers.

Chuck Dixon broke into comics in the mid-1980’s, writing Evangline for Comico before moving on to Marvel Comics where he scripted titles such as The Savage Sword of Conan, Alien Legion and Marc Spector: Moon Knight. It was while Dixon was working on the monthly The Punisher War Journal, that he caught the attention of DC Comics editor Denny O'Neil, who asked him to produce a Robin mini-series. That project proved so successful that Chuck became DC's most prolific Batman-writer during the 1990s, posting long runs on Detective Comics, Robin, Nightwing and Batgirl, as well as creating Birds of Prey.

In 1992, Sergio Cariello worked on his first comic book, "Dagon, the Worlds of HP Lovecraft," while still attending the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. During his second year at the school, he was hired as a letterer for Marvel Comics and he subsequently received pencilling assignments on Daredevil and Marvel Comics Presents: Spellbound. When Pat Garrahay moved to DC, he offered Cariello pencilling duties on Deathstroke. At DC Sergio also worked on Guy Gardner, Steel, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash,Young Heroes in Love, Blue Beetle, Batman and Azrael, among others. When work slowed down, he began teaching at the Kubert School and taught several courses over seven years. Currently, Cariello is pencilling and inking The Lone Ranger for Dynamite Entertainment.


Q) Chuck, since the mid-1980’s you’ve worked for a wide variety of publishers including DC, Dark Horse, Crossgen, Eclipse, Marvel, Moonstone and Wildstorm. Which of these companies’s was the most comfortable “fit” for you personally as a writer?

Dixon: I find that the individual editors are more relevant to me than the companies themselves. It used to be that the editor had a fiefdom and a core collection of talent he relied on. I was the go-to guy for a lot of editors. Archie Goodwin, Denny O’Neil, Scott Peterson, Jordan Gorfinkel, Don Daley and others. A creator’s career rises and falls with the amount of faith his editor has in him. For all practical purposes I was “over” at Marvel and DC as soon as my editors either resigned or were fired. I think the editorial feudal system is still in place at Marvel. At DC it’s been replaced with micro-management from the top down.

Q) You’ve produced long runs on various Batman series over the years, but since I’m curious about two of your behind-the-scenes “works in progress” that pair you up with artist Sergio Cariello, tell me when the two of you first crossed paths?

Dixon: I ran into Sergio years ago at a San Diego con. He was a Kubert School graduate and knew my buddy Graham Nolan. Sergio and I like the same kinds of comics and it’s impossible not to like Sergio. There’s not a more upbeat, eager guy in comics. And he makes me laugh even when he doesn’t mean to. Especially when he doesn’t mean to.

Q) Sergio, where do you think you are at in terms of your current comics career and what are your future goals in the industry?

Cariello: Where exactly I am in my career I don't know, but I'm thankful to have been in it for so long, having the chance to draw so many different genres and so many characters. I am still drawing comics now and making a living with it and I enjoy doing it. I hope the Good Lord will keep me healthy, creative and able to keep at it for as long as live.

Q) What kind of art tools do you use to produce your work?

Cariello: 2B Pencil, sable brush, pen nibs, black India ink, 2 ply Bristol board and Photoshop.

Q) Okay, Geneva of the Jungle looks like it could be a really fun book to read. Based on the sample pages that Sergio has produced, “Geneva” appears to blend pulp-oriented adventure with classic jungle girl elements. Is that accurate?

Dixon: It doesn’t move far from the jungle adventure sub-genre of comics. But Geneva is more capable and cynical than Sheena or Jann or Lorna or that bunch. She’s not a man-hater but she’s not about to let a guy tell her what to do or trust in his judgment to save the day. She’s also less grave and more of a smartass than your typical mistress of the wild. Above all, she’s a survivor.The story is of the “lost valley” variety with all the attendant primordial dangers. But there’s much more to it than that as the mystery unfolds. We also have a raft of bad guys from the scheming intellectual to the thuggish brute. And, of course, all the dangers and rising threats that the Amazonian jungle can produce.

Q) Sergio, give me your version of what “Geneva of the Jungle” is all about?

Cariello: I did not get too far into it to have a complete profile of the character but she seems like a female Indiana Jones to me.Very smart and sure of herself, pretty but unafraid and determined to achieve her goals .

Q) Is “Geneva” intended as an ongoing title, a mini-series or a one-shot? What’s the current likelihood that we might see this book make it into the shops?

Dixon: We need a publisher. Selling a creator-owned deal is harder in this market than it was a few years ago. But there’s also more ways to get this kind of thing financed. We’re looking into all of that. Of course, if there’s any Dixon and Cariello fans who are recent lottery winners reading this [hint] … and I see it as a series of mini-series.

Q) Sergio was both a student and an instructor at the Kubert School, and he definitely brings that sensibility to his work. What about his “art-style” resonates with you?

Dixon: That he’s willing to draw anything. That’s a taller order than it would seem to be. There’s fewer and fewer artists around who are willing, or capable, of drawing convincing animals or natural background. Being a devotee of Joe [Kubert], Sergio’s work is organic and raw. He can tackle the big scale, grandiose stuff which makes him perfect for this kind of story.

Q) Sergio, do you have a personal favorite among these two projects (Geneva of the Jungle & Akota: Wargod of the Lost) that you and Chuck are currently collaborating on?

Cariello: Both are favorites to me but if had to choose one...probably Akota. Animals, Indians and nature in general are fun to draw.

Q) You've worked on The Lone Ranger, Deathstroke & Crossgen stuff like (Sojourn, Scion, Lady Death, The Path & Crux), but did you like those properties or were they just jobs?

Cariello: Loved doing them all!! Some of them were more fun than others but each gave me pleasure to draw. Certainly none of them were just jobs.

(Part II of this interview, covering Akota: Wargod of the Lost, will be posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2010). Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Gal" Friday! Lucy Pinder

In the summer of 2003, Lucy Pinder was spotted by a freelance photographer while sunbathing on Bournemouth beach (Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town in the county of Dorset, England). As a result of the photographs taken that day, she signed a professional modelling contract with the Daily Star.

Although Lucy initially shied away from exposing her upper torso during what was fast becoming an active modeling career, she eventually relented and the rest is history (you'll have to seek those incredible photos out on the world-wide web; well-worth the effort too). Lucy is one of my very favorite British pin-up queens. In the interests of complete disclosure, I must admit that I wouldn't trust myself around anyone involved with her. Think foul play!

[Now let me set aside the empty six pack and tamp out the doobie. Let's just pretend it's a few hours later and I've gotten better control of myself. Yeah! That's more like it.]

Admittedly Lucy Pinder was featured in the Catacombs at some point in the past, but it's my party and I'll cry if I want to. Sigh, I just love British pin-up "gals".

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Things to Come!

I've got four interviews waiting in the queue or rather, I am waiting on four interviews to post here in the Catacombs. I have an upcoming dual interview of writer Chuck Dixon and artist Sergio Cariello, that touches on a pair of exciting projects these fine creators are currently shopping around - hoping to be published. Chuck Dixon's portion of that posting is already in my hot little hands, and I'm hoping that Sergio will forward his half in the next few days. Um, pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top.

Francesco Francavilla has also agreed to a crossover interview, but he just got hit with some new work that may delay that one - at least for a short while. In the meantime, check out his "Pulp Sunday" blog over in my links section.

Now, if only Joe Jusko would "finally" uncork his interview and send it on over. Joe is a busy guy. BUSY!! Still, he promised that he would get it to me when I spoke to him at the Heroes Convention earlier in the month. PS: I've only been waiting on that one since last year.

And you guys think that I sit on my dead arse deep in the Catacombs twiddling my thumbs. Not really! For today, console yourselves with this awesome new commission piece by the great John Byrne. The lucky owner requested Batman versus some of Spidey's most fearsome foes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rulah Jungle Goddess in "The Cat Killers!" (Fox;1948)

Rulah Jungle Goddess returns to the Catacombs today in a fun eight-page story from All-Top Comics #12 (July 1948); originally published by Fox Feature Syndicate, Inc. The Grand Comics Database discounts both Jack Kamen and Matt Baker as illustrator on "The Cat Killers!"; but the artwork is still pretty neat. The cover is included, because it's just getting to be a habit, so sue me!

The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: the copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Battle of the Cons!!

A single lousy business week separates two terrific conventions at the tail-end of the summer of 2010! The Baltimore Comic Convention falls on the weekend of August 28-29, 2010 and then Dragoncon (in Atlanta, GA) hits on the following weekend, September 3-6, 2010. Mind you, each show has its own unique charms, but Baltimore is more of a pure comics show and Dragoncon is a media smorgasbord of actors, authors, comics pros and nearly naked female cos-players (I just had to throw that in there). You can see my dilemma?

Here are the scheduled guest for Baltimore: Mike and Laura Allred, Sergio Aragones, Ivan Brandon, Tom Brevoort, Jim Calafiore, Eric Canete, Bernard Chang, Howard Chaykin, Sean Chen, Cliff Chiang, Frank Cho, Mike Choi, Steve Conley, Amanda Conner, Shane Davis, Dan DiDio, Al Feldstein, Francesco Francavilla, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Ron Garney, Sterling Gates, Bryan J.L. Glass, Michael Golden, Cully Hamner, Dean Haspiel, Jonathan Hickman, Greg Horn, Adam Hughes, Jamal Igle, Georges Jeanty, Van Jensen, Geoff Johns, J.G. Jones, Denis Kitchen, Barry Kitson, Rich Koslowski, Michael Lark, Greg LaRocque, Erik Larsen, Steve Lieber, Luna Brothers, David Mack, Laura Martin, Ron Marz, Todd McFarlane, Mark McKenna, Mike McKone, Bob McLeod, Terry Moore, Mark Morales, Chris Moreno, Sean Murphy, Steve Niles, Phil Noto, Ryan Ottley, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jeff Parker, Lauren Perry, David Petersen, Brandon Peterson, Chris Pitzer, Paul Pope, Eric Powell, Jack Purcell, Mike Raicht, Tom Raney, Chris Roberson, James Robinson, Budd Root, Don Rosa, Craig Rousseau, Stephane Roux, Jim Rugg, Tim Sale, Stuart Sayger, Bob Schreck, Louise and Walter Simonson, Jim Shooter, Allison Sohn, Andy Smith, John K. Snyder III, Jim Starlin, Brian Stelfreeze, Paul D. Storrie, Karl Story, Billy Tan, Ben Templesmith, Mark Texeira, Herb Trimpe, Timothy Truman, Billy Tucci, Dexter Vines, Neil Vokes, Doug Wagner, Matt Wagner, Mark Waid, Marv Wolfman, John Workman, Bernie Wrightson, Kelly Yates, and Chrissie Zullo!

And .....

Here are the scheduled guests for Dragoncon: Doktor A, Neal Adams, Glenn Barr, Dan Brereton, Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Peter David, Huck Gee, Donato Giancola, Kelley Jones, Stan Lee, Joseph Michael Linsner, Todd Lockwood, Travis Louie, Don Maitz, Mike McKone, Mike Mignola, Kathie Olivas, Jimmy Palmiotti, George Perez, Brandt Peters, John Picacio, Tim Sale, Shag, Greg Simkins, Vincent Villafranca; plus celebrated sci-fi/fantasy/horror actors such as Sean Astin, Rene Auberjonois, Morena Baccarin, Robert Beltran, Avery Brooks, LeVar Burton, Jason Carter, Erica Cerra, Claudia Christian, Bill Daily, John de Lancie, Lexa Doig, Barbara Eden, Gigi Edgley, Michelle Forbes, Jonathan Frakes, Joel Gretsch, Larry Hagman, Linda Hamilton, Danielle Harris, Virginia Hey, Marta Kristen, Sean Maher, James Marsters, Paul McGillion, Robert Duncan McNeill, Jason Momoa, Edward James Olmos, Ray Park, Adrian Pasdar, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Elisabeth Rohm, Saul Rubinek, Michael Shanks, Rekha Sharma, Armin Shimerman, Marc Singer, Marina Sirtis, Shawnee Smith, Kevin Sorbo, Brent Spiner, Jewel Staite, Sam Trammell, Laura Vandervoort and Garrett Wang; plus noted genre authors such as Kevin J. Anderson, Jim Butcher, A.C. Crispin, Bill Fawcett, Christopher Golden, Laurell K. Hamilton, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Rosemary Laurey, Todd McCaffrey, Rebecca Moesta, Jody Lynn Nye, Mike Resnick, John D. Ringo, Brandon Winn Sanderson, Susan Sizemore, Michael Stackpole, S.M. Stirling, Janny Wurts, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Timothy Zahn.

Attempting to take in both shows will require me to split my budget between the two (unlikely, barring an intervening Powerball win) or throw support towards a single one of these great weekends. Any suggestions?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

In Memorium: Rik Levins

Richard "Rik" Levins passed away June 12, 2010 at the age of fifty-nine from cancer. Levins was best known for his solid work as an artist on Captain America, where he worked with writer Mark Gruenwald for over three years (1991-1994) and The Avengers (for Marvel). Other titles that he contributed to included Americomics and Femforce (for AC Comics), XO Manowar, H.A.R.D. Corps and Solar: Man of the Atom (all for Valiant), among others.

The Catacombs expresses its sincerest condolences to his family, friends and fans. Rest in Peace!

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Gal" Friday! Vera Farmiga

This weeks "Gal" Friday selection changed - twice - sometimes that just happens, when I follow my muse. I won't say which ladies got "bumped". I'll just wait and feature them some other time. For now, let's appreciate a photo (above; top) that really just takes your breath away.

Vera Farmiga is best known for her roles in the films Running Scared, The Departed, Orphan and Up in the Air. She was nominated for Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA and Academy Awards for her luscious turn opposite George Clooney in, Up in the Air.

Farmiga is the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants and she gets the nod here today thanks to her genre role on the 1997 television series, Roar, alongside the late Heath Ledger. "Roar" chronicled the extraordinary life of Conor (Ledger), a reluctant 20-year-old orphaned prince who was forced to rise above tragedy and lead his people to freedom. Conor led a band of ragtag allies that included Caitlin (Farmiga; see photo above left), a beautiful former slave. Their primary struggle was against Longinus, a supernatural creature whose true essence was that of a 400-year-old Roman centurion ready to do the bidding of the evil Queen Diana, an emissary of the Romans.

That simple, sexy black & white photo up top certainly makes me want to "roar".

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jann of the Jungle in "With Fang and Talons" (Marvel;1973)

The last bronze age Jann of the Jungle reprint from Jungle Action #4 (Apr. 1973) was called "With Fang and Talons". Written by Don Rico and appropriately drawn by Jay Scott Pike, this adventure was originally presented in Jann of the Jungle #9 (Jan. 1956) by Marvel/Atlas Comics.

Thank you for following along with Jann, and rest assured that she will be back again someday. Hopefully you will also see her "Jungle Action" peers, Lorna & Tharn pop into the Catacombs at some point. This issues incredible Gil Kane cover is included as a bonus, and if you've got the money, it is currently for sale on eBay at a very reasonable price. I was considering purchasing this cover, but I just negotiated a sweetheart deal on some high end bronze age gems that was just too good to pass on (Giant-Size X-Men #1 and X-Men #94-101)

The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: the copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Parts Unknown and Beyond!

Al Williamson's recent passing got me to thinking about how fortunate I've been as a life-long comic book fan. It never ceases to amaze me how many industry professionals and veterans I've met during my life, literally hundreds of talented people, and all without having to go very far afield to see and meet them.

You see, I've been attending comic book conventions, both big and small, since I was in high school (back in the late 1970's). Although the larger conventions, with suitably greater guest options, etc., are hard to beat; sometimes the smaller venue weekend shows truly rise to the occasion.

In 1990, Parts Unknown: The Comic Book Store (located in Greensboro, NC), held a pretty awesome two day event on Saturday Oct. 13 & Sunday Oct. 14. The mini-con was hosted at their original location at the old Cotton Mill Square in Greensboro (the store has since moved to another location).

That weekend has always been one of my favorite comic book memories. So, what made that little show so special? Just take a look at the guest list: Will Eisner, Dave Stevens, Al Williamson, Mark Nelson, Joe Orlando, Mark Schultz, Angelo Torres, Murphy Anderson, Archie Goodwin, Bo & Scott Hampton, Richard Case and Marie Severin. Um, yeah - "Wow"!

To put this in a better perspective, the late Dave Stevens had to take a break from the shooting set of the feature film version of his creator-owned independent comic, "The Rocketeer", in order to attend. I'm glad that he did too, since that was the only time that I ever had a chance to see Mr. Stevens in person. As you can see, Parts Unknown had also pulled together an impressive list of former EC Comics veterans, including Williamson, Orlando, Torres and Severin. Each of them had gone on to enjoy long careers elsewhere, but it was a no-brainer to have them all together again. Of course, the late Will Eisner was the creator of the timeless detective, The Spirit, and he was also recognized as one of the masters of the comic art form, and Murphy Anderson was one of the artistic rocks that DC Comics built its entire Silver Age universe around.

I lived in Charlotte, NC at the time and had vastly underestimated the drive time to get to the show - on the last day of that event. With barely three hours to spare, I managed to drag my wife and two very small children along on a terribly overcast day to make that con, but I've gotta tell you, walking into the cavernous upstairs hall where the event was held was actually fairly magical. I'm pretty sure that my jaw was hanging open as I walked in. Being such a "Johnny-Come-Lately" also had some unexpected and unique perks. I actually didn't have to wait in a single long line to see any of the guests and I enjoyed quite a bit of conversation time with each of them.

The program book (pictured, above left) became one of my favorite mementos, having autographs from most of the guests and even small sketches by Severin, Nelson, Goodwin and Stevens himself. I had Dave draw "Unk", the little sidekick to Aurora, a sci-fi gal from the old Pacific Comic, Alien Worlds. It saddens me to report that my own copy went missing in storage a few years ago and is now one for the ages, but a treasured memory nonetheless.

For the most part, I've happily been a loyalist to Shelton Drum's "Heroes Aren't Hard To Find" stores and his annual Heroes Convention. Shelton started introducing me to comic book folks like Bill Sienkiewicz, Mike Baron, Sam Grainger and fantasy painter Clyde Caldwell, while I was still a slightly snot-nosed (not really, but you know what I mean) nerd, with his first small mini-cons at Eastland Mall in Charlotte. So with this years Heroes Convention only slightly faded after a couple of weeks - bear with me while I tip my hat his way also.

Thanks to John Hitchcock of Parts Unknown, Shelton Drum and the staff of Heroes and the unknown (to me) organizers of Dragoncon in Atlanta for bringing the entire comic book and genre industries co close to home. It means a lot!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jann of the Jungle in "Rampage" (Marvel;1973)

We continue the bronze age reprints from Jungle Action #3 today, which was published in February 1973 by Marvel Comics. This adventure starring Jann of the Jungle was originally presented in Jungle Tales #1 September 1954, back when "Marvel" was still called Atlas Comics.

"Rampage" was once again written by Don Rico, but the art on this fine tale was provided by Art Petty, and the spiffy cover for Jungle Action #3 is beautifully drawn by the very much alive & well Jim Starlin (who I just had the great pleasure of meeting at the recent Heroes Convention in Charlotte, NC); however I must also mention that this cover illustration features inks by Frank Giacoia. The final "Jann of the Jungle" story from the Jungle Action series will be posted on Thursday of this week.

The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: the copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


Monday, June 14, 2010

In Memorium: Al Williamson

Legendary EC Comics artist Al Williamson, whose work in the 1950s, on titles such as Weird Science and Weird Fantasy, helped make that company so special, passed away on Sunday at the age of 79.

Williamson also produced classic work for Warren Magazines on Creepy and Eerie, in the 1960's & 1970's and he gained additional recognition for his syndicated newspaper strip, "Secret Agent X-9". In the 1980's he became well-known for his work adapting the popular Star Wars films for comic books and newspaper strips. From the mid-1980s to 2003, he was primarily active as an inker, mainly on Marvel Comics titles starring Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Spider-Girl.

Williamson was a major stylistic influence on many artists, and encouraged others, helping such creators as Bernie Wrightson and Mike Kaluta break into the business. I am very glad that I had a chance to meet him in 1990 in Greensboro, North Carolina. He was a class act!

The Catacombs extends it's heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and fans.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Change Ahead ....

I should have mentioned this before this late in the day, but I'm experimenting with a new look for the Catacombs beginning (cough!) this morning. Let me know what you guys think (and thanks to those who already have).

I'm also in the latter part of a 100 degree day down South, and really haven't stopped sweating since this morning.


Jann of the Jungle in "The Day of Jungle Wrath" (Marvel;1972)

Jungle Action #2 was published in December 1972 by Marvel Comics. The title is best known for hosting the long-running Black Panther lead feature, but the first several issues featured reprints of some of Marvels jungle characters from their old Atlas Comics period of the 1950's: Lorna the Jungle Queen, Tharn (aka "Lo-zar"), and Jann of the Jungle.

"The Day of Jungle Wrath" was originally presented in Jann of the Jungle #14 (Dec. 1956), with a script written by Don Rico and art by Jay Scott Pike. The cover for Jungle Action #2 is beautifully drawn by the late Gil Kane (which is included as your weekend bonus). The remaining two Jann of the Jungle stories from the Bronze Age Jungle Action series will be posted on Tuesday and Thursday this week.

The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: the copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


Friday, June 11, 2010

"Gal" Friday(s)!!! The Corr Sisters

This weeks post about the upcoming "Three" storyline in Fantastic Four planted a seed that came to fruition today, when I started playing some tunes by The Corrs.

Comprised of the four Corr siblings Andrea (lead vocals, tin whistle); Sharon (violin, vocals); Caroline (drums, piano, bodhrán, vocals); and Jim (guitar, piano, vocals), the Celtic folk-rock band from Dundalk, Ireland released some fun, upbeat and successful tunes between 1990 and 2006. They rose to international prominence with their performance at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia and then climbed the charts with numerous singles and five studio albums.

With respect to big brother Jim, the Corr sisters (Andrea, Sharon & Caroline) are the fabulous triple selections for today's "Gal" Friday feature. Not only are these girls super-talented, sexy and just all-around worthy of respect (the group is known for their many philanthropic activities), but how can you go wrong with "three sisters" in the same family, that are all just so damn ultra-sexy?

In the top photo (left-to-right): Andrea, Caroline and Sharon. In 2006, The band went on hiatus as the siblings took a break to raise families. Andrea, and recently Sharon, continue to pursue solo careers, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all four will reunite someday to create some new music together.

Jann of the Jungle in "Double Danger" (Marvel;1972)

Jungle Action #1 was published in October 1972 by Marvel Comics. The first few issues featured reprints of some of the jungle characters from their old Atlas Comics period (the 1950's). Alongside Lorna the Jungle Girl and Tharn (aka "Lo-zar"), there was this early adventure starring Jann of the Jungle, which was originally presented in Jann of the Jungle #14 (Dec. 1956).

The script was written by Don Rico and the art is by Jay Scott Pike. The cover for Jungle Action #1 is drawn by the late, great Marvel Comics master John Buscema (so I've just gotta include that). In fact, I'm gonna run all four Jann of the Jungle stories from the Jungle action series over the next few days in homage to one of my favorite periods in comics history - the Bronze Age.

The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: the copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.