Friday, July 31, 2009

Retro-View: Justice Inc. #3 (1975; DC Comics)

DC Comics published a short four issue run adapting Street & Smith's classic pulp hero, the Avenger as Justice Inc., in 1975. Running bi-monthly, the series had begun with a different artist, but Jack "King" Kirby took charge with the second issue.

Issue #3's "The Monster Bug" written by Denny O'Neil and illustrated by Kirby & Mike Royer picks up a storyline from DC's companion series, The Shadow, as Richard Henry Benson and his aides tackle Colonel Sodom and his germ warfare toxin which give this issue its handy title. Also introduced with this issue is another of the Avenger's assistants from the pulp novels, chemist Fergus "Mac" MacMurdie, who loses his wife after she is exposed to the mutagenic "Monster Bug" and transformed into a mindless monster; and ultimately slain by the mobsters who are trying to shakedown Fergus in his corner pharmacy.

The Avenger offers the grieving Scotsman membership in Justice Inc. and after Benson uses his special condition [the Avenger gained the ability to "mold" his own facial skin into an approximation of another persons after the shock of losing his family to crime] to physically reshape his own features into an approximation of the Colonels next victim, they track down Sodom & company.

Battling the Colonel's goons in a high rise hotel, the Avenger surprises the mad genius when it is revealed that Fergus has helped Benson develop an antidote to the "Monster Bug". Momentarily snared by the Avengers throwing knife, Sodom inadvertently steps into a cloud of his own vile vapor and is himself transformed into a mutated beast. After the changed villain is enraptured by a nearby billboard, Sodom hurls himself at the sign, but instead plummets to his doom on the street below.

O'Neil ably scripts this tale and Kirby & Moyer are both in fine form artistically, but only a single issue remains for this all-too brief series.

"Gal" Friday! Amy Adams

Actress Amy Adams appeared in a string of small television roles after her film debut, Drop Dead Gorgeous originally introduced her to audiences. Later the independent film, Junebug widened her acclaim and ably demonstrated that she was an up-and-comer to watch.

She worked with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg's' Catch Me If You Can, and again with Hanks & Julia Roberts in Charlie Wilson's War. However it was her turn as an animated princess brought to life in 2007's Enchanted that finally helped establish her as a true star. Amy garnered even more recognition in 2008's Doubt and has appeared this year in Sunshine Cleaning, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (as aviatrix Amelia Earhart) and is currently in theaters alongside Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia.

I caught her appearance on the David Letterman show this week and was struck by how sexy and engaging she can be. Amy was wearing a red dress that showed off her outstanding legs and it really made me jealous of her fiance, in fact I wondered why the guy had waited so long to propose (they had been together over six years). Anyway, Ms. Adams is one of the better actresses of her generation and hopefully she will continue to dazzle us in great movies.

For today, the Catacombs salutes her as our latest "Gal" Friday!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Great Superhero Movie Lines: "Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?"

Ah, Jack Nicholson! You've got more Oscars than you can shake a stick at, but despite your terrific performance as the Clown Prince of Crime called The Joker in 1989's Batman (directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton as the first modern-era movie Dark Knight), however the late Heath Ledger now totally owns the role.

Still, your fine performance as the Joker did give us one of the classic superhero movie quotes (actually this was among several nice dialogue bits from this 1980's film; but why burn through all of them in one sitting).

We will definitely see another quote from this flick at some point down the road!

How NOT to do a Superhero Movie: Judge Dredd (1995)

Take a popular British comic book icon, originally introduced in 1977 (& ranked #7 by Empire magazine on their greatest comic book list), then flesh out the cast of the film with an international assortment of actors (minus any British performers, of course) and then take the most universally recognizable aspect of the character and simply dispense with it in the first few minutes of the movie, and you will come close to achieving what director Danny Cannon, screenwriters Michael De Luca, William Wisher Jr. and Steven E. de Souza did in 1995's Judge Dredd.

Starring Rocky Balboa, no, I mean John Rambo; skip that, um .... Sylvester Stallone, Judge Dredd tried to capture the essence of the cult figure and then spin in so many different directions that even the fans didn't quite know what to make of it. Comedian Rob Schneider was present to provide "comic" relief (as if this ridiculous romp wasn't already worth deriding), Max Von Sydow played Judge Fargo, Jurgen Prochnow played Chief Justice Griffin, Armand Assante played Rico (at least here was a name taken from the actual Dredd series, although I don't recall if Assante really portrayed Dredd's corrupt brother in this film) and the lovely Diane Lane as Judge Hershey (another name from the comic, and someone really sweet to drool over as this crummy movie continued).

I don't remember the film having any reference to other well-established Dredd characters like Judge Anderson or Judge Death, but then there really isn't anything worth remembering about this movie anyway .... except that Sly was a real butt-monkey for not wearing Dredd's famous helmet throughout the film. We already knew what the Italian Stallion looked like, and Dredd isn't supposed to remove the lid.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rulah Jungle Goddess (Golden Age Cover Gallery; Fox Comics)

Longtime visitors to the Catacombs already know that back during the golden age, Fox Comics published Rulah Jungle Goddess from August, 1948 to June, 1949. The comic was numbered #17 to #27; because it was formerly titled Zoot Comics and then with issue #28 it became a romance comic series under the title I Loved.

Rulah Jungle Goddess comics are in the public domain, so various publishers and creators have used them ever since. I still have a couple of Rulah stories to post, but for today, please enjoy the entire Rulah cover gallery from yesteryear.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Retro-View: Marvel Team-Up #78 (Marvel Comics)

Marvel Team-Up #78 was published by Marvel Comics (natch) in February 1979. The issue was written by Bill Kunkel, with artwork by Don Perlin & Frank Giacoia. "Claws!" immediately pits Spidey and Wonder Man against the Griffin, a supervillain who has been genetically modified by the Secret Empire to have enhanced strength, wings for flight capability, a spiked tail and leonine claws.

After the Griffin arrives at Avengers Mansion to seek revenge on the Beast, he encounters Simon "Wonder Man" Williams instead. [Spidey and the Beast had tangled with the Griffin (aka small-time punk, Johnny Horton) in a previous issue of Team-Up (#38)]. This issue takes place during the period when Wonder Man was suffering some serious self-doubts about his role as a superhero, and the Griffin pretty much gets the best of him before the webslinger arrives to lend a helping hand. However, something isn't quite right with the Griffin and he flies off in the middle of their battle. Spidey brings "Wondy" up to speed on the Griffin's origin and then heads out to find the rogue.

When Spider-Man realizes that the Griffin actually "wants" to fight the combined Avengers team in order to allow his serum to further enhance his genetically-modified powers, he intends to warn Wonder Man, but oops, the Griffin quickly returns to wipe the floor with the wall-crawler. Fortunately, Wonder Man borrows a flying sled from Tony Stark and blasts the Griffin with an energy beam. Then things take a turn for the worse when the Griffin evolves even further into a powerful bestial state as a result. Roaring in defiance as he begins to lose his grip on humanity, the Griffin lifts Wonder Man's aircraft to hurl it at the two heroes, but his powers aren't stable enough to support the vehicles weight and as the damaged craft burns, the Griffin collapses underneath it, ending their titanic battle.

Kunkel's story gets right down to brass tacks and is fairly intense from the outset, and the art team of Perlin and Giacoia provides exciting page layouts and dynamic superhero action from start to finish. The earliest issues of Marvel Team-Up may garner the lions share of attention from collectors, but these latter issues are really worth checking out and they can be gotten for very affordable prices for the patient fan who likes simple pleasures.

Yawn! Frank Cho readies another jungle girl character.

Cheesecake king and official monkey boy Frank Cho is still hard at work on his upcoming Ultimates series for Marvel Comics, but he has also just posted some sketches of a new creator owned character that he is playing around with. Apparently since it’s still in the developmental stage, Cho hasn’t really thought out the premise beyond a few dozen sketches and a few notes, nor is he of a mind to reveal this characters name.

"Uncle Frank" says that he is mulling over doing a silent book utilizing this character, visually telling the story only through her actions. Considering how minimal the words were in his Shanna the She-Devil riff over at Marvel … I'm not surprised. In fact, Mr. Cho didn't really do a Shanna mini-series at all. He liberated the name of the classic character and then spun his own version of the She-Devil, but his Shanna wasn't a jungle girl, so much as an uber-Nazi-chick-on-dinosaur island-kinda thing. Later on, Cho pulled a fast one on Marvel and basically swiped his ersatz-Shanna for Dynamite Entertainment, calling her by the original sobriquet "Jungle Girl".

Cho can easily phone this kind of stuff in any day of the week, so I don't know how hard at work he actually is on this upcoming feature, but see for yourself if yet another semi-nude, chick with a cute little dinosaur is worth wasting your time on.
[Above; top]: Marvel's Shanna (left); Dynamite's Jungle Girl (right). What's the difference?

Monday, July 27, 2009

1980's Flashback: Atari Force (2nd series)

DC Comics originally published Atari Force comics as inserts created mainly to illustrate story lines for video games being released by their subsidiary Atari Inc. The comics were packed with games such as Defender, Berzerk, Star Raiders, Phoenix, and Galaxian.

The second series was released as a regular monthly title beginning in January 1984, in standard comic-book format. This second "Atari Force", formed approximately 25 years after the first team and was led by founding team member, Martin Champion. He had become convinced that their original nemesis, the Dark Destroyer, still existed. Although Commander Champion was correct, most of the rest of humanity did not accept it, they simply humored him due to his heroic status in successfully leading the original Atari Force in finding New Earth. This second team included Christopher "Tempest" Champion, Erin "Dart" Bia O'Rourke-Singh; Hukka; Morphea, an insectoid-empath; Babe, an alien toddler of immense size and strength; and Pakrat, a humanoid rodent thief. Later additions to the team were Blackjak, Taz, a short alien warrior and Kargg, the Dark Destroyer's former chief underling.

Gerry Conway, who had written the game inserts, returned as regular series writer with José Luis García-López as pencil artist. Original series concept artist Ross Andru drew issues 4-5 and Eduardo Barreto eventually took over as penciler. Mike Baron replaced Conway as the regular writer through the final issue, #20.

Friday, July 24, 2009

"Gal" Friday! Molly Sims

Actress & model, Molly Sims co-starred in the NBC television series, Las Vegas, and she appeared in Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue from 2000-2004 & 2006. It was her recent film role as a camp cheerleading coach in Fired Up (which I've just seen on DVD) that earned her a spot as today's "Gal" Friday.

She has been featured in a few other film and TV roles, and every time that I see her again I am struck by just how pretty she is. Trust me, she has talents above simply being easy on the eyes, and she is a very sexy lady at the age of 36, but her clean cut, all-American girl looks and slim physique make her a standout for me and I often wonder why she doesn't pop up in more movies.

Oh well, Hollywood may be stupid and wasteful, but Molly is always welcome in the Catacombs.

How NOT to do a Superhero Movie: Wonder Woman (1974 Pilot)

Wonder Woman's first appearance in live-action television was a pilot film (aired one year before Lynda Carter would popularize the role in another weekly series) made in 1974 by the ABC network. Starring former tennis player, Cathy Lee Crosby, the failed pilot resembles the Wonder Woman of DC Comics "I Ching" period. This Wonder Woman did not wear the comic book costume, demonstrated no superhuman abilities and her "secret identity" of Diana Prince wasn't really all that secret. The film followed Wonder Woman, an assistant to government agent Steve Trevor (played by Kaz Garas), as she pursued a villain named Abner Smith (played by Ricardo Montalban) who had stolen a set of code books containing classified information about U.S. government field agents.

Although the 1974 Wonder Woman telefilm was a minimal ratings success, producers decided to retool the product to more closely resemble the original comic book version, resulting in Crosby being let go and allowing Lynda Carter to rise to TV fame for three seasons in her more familiar-looking version of the golden age favorite the following year.

Cathy Lee Crosby's incarnation of Wonder Woman makes a one-panel cameo appearance in the comic book Infinite Crisis #6 as part of an alternate Earth.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rayboy's Review: Wednesday Comics #3

Wednesday Comics, Thursday Review (Part 3)!

For the most part, things are rolling along nicely with DC’s Comics weekly broadsheet, experimental series and according to reports in diverse places, "Wednesday Comics" appears to be a hit (despite some mixed reviews). Of the fifteen features contained within the tabloid-sized format, Batman, Hawkman, Deadman, the Metal Men, Kamandi, Strange Adventures, the Demon/Catwoman, Superman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Sgt. Rock and Supergirl are largely top drawer entertainment by a horde of top professionals. For my money a different artist should have been chosen for the Superman strip and Batman's participation seems to be taking a backseat to the action thus far in his strip, Green Lantern & The Flash seem very suitably retro and both of these strips are very nicely done, although Sgt. Rock does little more than get smacked around for the third straight week; still these are minor quibbles. Most of the characters that editor Mark Chiarello has selected for this mini-series are well served, some like Kamandi, Strange Adventures, & Hawman really ramp up the high quality to a different level (kudos to the creators of those three strips). However, Wonder Woman & the Teen Titans aren’t really doing it for me as a reader. Wonder Woman seems to be an incoherent mess, and three weeks in, I’m still not even sure that what I am reading IS Wonder Woman. By the same token, the editorial decision to allow the color pallet to be presented somewhat muted in appearance on the Teen Titans feature has detracted from its overall effectiveness – at least for me, so both of these strips fail in my estimation.

Metamorpho is also emerging as another serious disappointment for me. Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred seemed to be a great creative pairing for this admittedly quirky DC Comics hero, and their first week tantalizingly teased the readers into thinking that this talented duo "was" on the same page as the rest of the series creative line-up, but after a nice start, somebody decided to break with the enhanced flexibility that the larger format allowed and simply hit the easy button. We've been treated to back-to-back splash pages on Metamorpho, with basically a single large panel - with subtly implied movement - substituting for actual panel-to-panel story progression. Since Gaiman is credited as the writer here, one must assume that he provided his artist with some type of script or story, although who is actually to blame for how Gaiman's story is being visually interpreted escapes me. It's not that the Metamorpho strip is being drawn poorly by Mike Allred, but my gut reaction to yet another splash page is that somebody is either being coy and just tweaking their nose at this entire project or that it's simply phoned in - so to speak. There is also another stupid in-joke-style ad running along the bottom of the Metamorpho page for the second week that has nothing to do with anything else on the page. Maybe editor Mark Chiarello is in on this conceit, and approved such a deviation, but with all of the remaining strips taking full advantage of the larger area to tell a coherent twelve week story, albeit within a single abbreviated weekly page, Metamorpho will be a major letdown if this continues on to the end.

I also have to wonder if the two-page Robot Chicken ad is going to span the entire twelve issues, or if we will be treated to anything else on this available double-spread? I would like to see something akin to an editorial column that discusses the mindset behind the project and offers fans additional insights into the genesis of Wednesday Comics.

It is also a shame that DC didn't choose to utilize a few of their all-ages properties like Scooby Doo, Looney Tunes or even Sugar & Spike, The Fox and the Crow from decades past. Angel and the Ape, anyone?

[Kamandi above by Brian Bolland & Ryan Sook is from WC #2]

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

From the Dust Bin: Tower of Shadows #1 [Rejected Cover]

Legendary artist Jim Steranko had brief, but memorable runs on several Marvel Comics features back in the late 1960's and early 1970's. titles like Tales of Suspense, Nick Fury: Agent of Shield and Captain America blossomed under his art-deco, experimental pencils. Steranko also dabbled with romance and horror stories. His "At the Stroke of Midnight", published in Tower of Shadows #1 (Sept. 1969) precipitated a breakup with Marvel. Though that story would go on to win a 1969 Alley Award, editor Stan Lee clashed with Steranko over page design, dialog, and even the story title,which had initially been "The Lurking Fear at Shadow House". According to Steranko, Lee disliked or rather didn't understand his homage to horror author H. P. Lovecraft, and Lee ultimately devised his own title for the story. After their conflict, Steranko either quit or was fired (sources disagree). Stan Lee phoned him about a month later (after the two had cooled down) and Steranko returned as a cover artist for Marvel from 1972-73 and he also created a new fan club magazine, FOOM (Friends of old Marvel), which he produced in its first year. Steranko gradually withdrew from comics between 1969 and 1974.

One additional note" Stan Lee had also rejected the original cover that Steranko had produced for the first issue. That cover is reproduced on the right side of this post!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jo-Jo Congo King vs "The Water Warriors" (Fox Comics; 1948)

It's time to return to the jungle with Jo-Jo, Congo King (Rulah Jungle Goddess will also be back in the Catacombs next week). Stan Ford really puts our jungle lord and his lovely sidekick, Tanee through their paces in this chapter, as Vikings raiders duel the Congo King for much needed food and women (ah, my favorite combo).

This story is taken from Jo-Jo Congo King #11 circa February 1948, originally published by Fox Comics.

Treachery, wild animals on a rampage, Tanee imperiled, and Jo-Jo kicking the snot out of a nasty Viking. This one's got it all!


Monday, July 20, 2009

Comic-Con International strikes in 3 Days! Catacombs Cries Foul!


I am not going - again - but hearing how large this show is, I usually placate myself by accepting that unruly mobs don't really float my boat anyway.


Hey, if any of you Catacombs regulars happens to be heading out to the "big show" AND if you can manage to pick up a spare copy of the 2009 Frank Cho/Brandon Peterson Princess of Mars print that accompanies this post, not only will I be glad to pay for the cost of it - - as a bonus - - I will throw in some cool freebies.

How about some free comics, guaranteed to include at least one 1970's issue (as a nod to the recently departed 70's Flashbacks), plus whatever else such a herculean effort may earn. This print is only being offered in a limited edition of 300, so I realize the actual odds of scoring one are probably minimal - at best.

Additionally you will receive my undying gratitude? Nah, how about a nice con sketch by a talented pro (of my choice, mind you) this is just a last minute plea after all; not an offer to lock me up in an insane asylum. If somebody takes me up on this, I will give them a choice between three art options.

Oh, well. There it is. My feeble offer for anyone that may be able to accommodate me. Either way have a great time in sunny California, and if nothing else, please squeeze some hot celebrity chick on the ass and tell them that the Catacombs says "hello".

1980's Flashback: The Thing

Twenty-six years ago, Ben Grimm (erstwhile strong man of the fabled Fantastic Four) received his own self-titled series, The Thing #1; beginning in July 1983. Initially the bashful, blue-eyed idol of millions took part in adventures that were fairly standard superhero fare set in the good old Marvel Universe, but following Benjie's participation in the first Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars series and then continuing into his own book, the Thing launched into a fun, multi-part saga called "Rocky Grimm, Space Ranger"; which ran between issues 11 and 22.

Taking place on "Battleworld", the hodge-podge planet that was created by the cosmic being known as the Beyonder; the ever-loving Thing encountered all manner of alien creatures, cuties like his lady-friend Tarianna and even established villains (including appearances by Ultron & Dr. Doom; who to a certain extent, stuck around following said Secret War).

Written by John Byrne, Mike Carlin & Bob Harras, with artwork on this specific group of issues being provided by Ron Wilson and Joe Sinnott, "Rocky Grimm" stood out as a really nice escapist series, that just tried to entertain its audience.

If you ain't got these gems, seek them out in the back issues bins!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tails: Life in Progress

I've mentioned before that one of the real joys of maintaining a blog about comics and stuff is that you get to interact with all manner of folks who share the same interests, albeit sometimes with different tastes, preferences, etc. Above and beyond the diverse comments made in response to any of my posts, I am occasionally contacted by some very creative individuals who make their living in the comics industry - or some nice people who are trying to.

Ethan Young is an NYC-based comic book artist who has been drawing since the age of three. He started his career in the comics industry as a self publisher, eventually winning a "Best Graphic Novel" prize during the 2007 Independent Publishers Book Awards for his semi-autobiographical comedy, Tails: Life in Progress. Ethan has recently relaunched his series as a webcomic. “Tails” is a slice of life strip about the misadventures of Ethan, a young, quirky Asian vegan still living at home with his parents while struggling to become a cartoonist. The series gets it’s title from the fact that he's an animal rescuer with a dozen cats

Ethan's career encompasses a wide range of projects, including: storyboards, t-shirts, video games, character designs, print ads, book covers, album covers, logos, and much more. features an updated/re-edited version of the original story, along with new stories. The site is updated every Tuesday and Thursday. The website also features new stories that continue the misadventures of Ethan.

He has a polished art-style that is very engaging; plus the humor between "Ethan", his girlfriend Sin and a horde of felines (with Shugie being the most prominent), really grabs you right at the outset and pulls you into his excellent story. Tails was a nice surprise for me and for anyone wanting to read something a bit different from most mainstream comics, that is still fun and entertaining - I highly encourage you to follow the link [above] and check it out.

You will be glad that you did!

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Gal" Friday! Scarlett Johansson

Entertainment Weekly becomes the first out of the gate news source to reveal what actress Scarlett Johansson will look like as the Black Widow in the upcoming Iron Man 2.

Here is a glimpse at an interior photo from the issue of EW of Scarlett in character as Natasha Romanova aka the Russian-born spy known as The Black Widow (and another as her normal bosomy, blond self). Yummy!

Hot and accurately based on the Marvel Comics femme fatale's actual look. Too bad they've altered Mickey Rourke's villainous mug, Whiplash, so much from his four color appearance.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rayboy's Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Boom! Studios)

There are two different comics to discuss this week in order to provide a little contrast for my ongoing rant about current publishing formats.

Boom! Studios released the first issue of their adaptation of late science fiction author Philip K. Dick’s "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" this week, in a square-bound, slick paper volume for $3.99. I know that DC & Marvel have recently jacked up prices on some of their books to the same level, but this series will adapt Dick’s story (also the basis for the Ridley Scott/Harrison Ford film, Blade Runner) over the course of twenty-four issues using the complete text of Dick’s novella, with some surprisingly nice artwork by Tony Parker.

Adding insult-to-injury, Boom Studios has issued the opening chapter of the series with four; count them, FOUR alternate covers. Now that’s just bullshit! For some strange reason this 1990’s-era multi-cover mindset just won’t go away. Dynamite and IDW also regularly practice the same sorry tactic. Boom is also trying to trick their readers into thinking that they are getting more "bang for their buck" by using a format that was popular twenty years ago. The Dark Knight Returns, History of the DC Universe and Kingdom Come were originally published in a format similar to what Boom is using for Androids, but those books had about 40+ story pages, not a mere 24 pages (plus the Warren Ellis text piece on Mr. Dick).

I don’t want to insult anybody, and to each his own, but if the fans don’t stop buying stuff like this; then the publishers will continue to suffer under the delusion that slick, glossy paper = better comics. NOT! I am glad that I didn’t buy this issue. I borrowed a friends copy to read, so it’s "one and done" for me. Except, why didn't they just call it Blade Runner?

Let a voice crying from the wilderness say, yet again, please; you stupid people, try offering a cheaper format, cheaper paper, anything to help reduce our monetary commitment during a tough economic downturn. We nerds, geeks and fans do want to read your comics, but damn. Help meet us halfway. The only other reason why any publisher would stick with the glossy, slick, artsy-fartsy format is egotism, conceit and hubris.

Oh, hell! I guess we are doomed for more of the same after all.

DC’s Wednesday Comics #2 also arrived this week, just as it will for the full twelve week run, and it won’t hurt to say all over again, that this is a beautiful project. Even at $3.99 a copy (see; I told you that a contrast was in order).

Of the fifteen features that are running in the over-sized weekly series, some are already emerging as must "see’s". Kamandi by Gibbons & Sook, hearkens back to the syndicated days of Hal Foster’s classic Prince Valiant or Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates newspaper strips. Metal Men by DiDio, Lopez & Nowlan, Sgt. Rock by Kubert & Kubert, Green Lantern by Busiek & Quinones and Hawkman by Kyle Baker are all just lovely to view and read; in fact virtually all of the features are very interesting and highly entertaining, but sadly one stands out as an obtuse mess for me, and that’s Wonder Woman by Ben Caldwell. Visually, I can’t really follow along with what’s going on in this story, so I doubt very much that I will care for it as Wednesday Comics continues, but the rest of the package more than makes up for a single "off" strip.

And hey, look - newsprint. No multiple covers, over two dozen top creators present and at least DC seems to be trying to give their readers quality, regardless of the chosen format. Now that’s a nice idea!

Give Boom a wide pass, but "Wednesday Comics" is very highly recommended!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Profile Antics: Danielle Corsetto

At last month's Heroes Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, I spent a few brief moments chatting with Danielle Corsetto, writer/artist of "Girls with Slingshots." Danielle was sitting along the back wall next to seasoned pros Stephanie Gladden & Colleen Doran, in almost a small "girls-only" section of the show.

One thing that immediately grabbed your attention was a rather large stuffed cactus perched in a chair beside her table, and I realized that she might be an interesting interview subject for the Catacombs.


Q) Tell me about "Girls with Slingshots" and why a talking cactus?

Girls With Slingshots is a weekly-daily comic about two twenty-somethings named Jamie and Hazel. Some defining terms that come to mind: booze jokes, boob jokes, relationship drama, boyfriend advice, boozin' it up, gross sex stuff, and a talking cactus.

The cactus, McPedro, has a horrible origin story! But here it is: I signed with a small company several years ago after just a few GWS strips had been released. They wanted to do plushes, but I refused to let them do plushes of the girls (because I've seen what people do to plushes). So they asked me to come up with a "cuddly new character." Snarky me, I chose a cactus. With a mustache and an Irish accent.

Q) Whose work inspired you to get into comics?

My grandpa used to read me the Sunday comics when I was a little girl, so I grew up on Beetle Bailey, Blondie, and Dennis the Menace. I was inspired to write and draw early on thanks to these old-school artists. As I grew up, I was very inspired by Jim Toomey (Sherman's Lagoon), Lincoln Peirce (Big Nate), and especially Frank Cho (Liberty Meadows). Seeing Lynn Johnston's (For Better or For Worse) name on the page always reminded me that this wasn't a boys-only club.

Q) What are your long term goals in the comic book biz?

My #1 main goal in life was always to become a full-time cartoonist. What's cool about attaining your #1 goal in life is that you get to make up entirely new #1 goals!

So my next one is writing a graphic novel. I've been working on the research and writing for the past year, and I plan to have it finished in 2012. I've also got an anthology in mind that I'd like to do. If anything I ever create becomes animated (live action or otherwise), I'll be tickled pink.

Q) What type of "tools" do you prefer to use in creating your artwork?

I do all the strips by hand. Each original is created on a sheet of smooth bristol, pre-printed with my custom non-copy blue template. I draw with a Pentel fountain pen, letter with Microns (05 for regular text, 08 for bold), and then scan it in. I add the greys with Photohop, then resize the strip, write a little HTML, and update using FireFTP.

Q) How did you happen to succeed the original creator on "The New Adventures of Batboy"?

I was doing a small convention in NYC a few years ago when this busy guy comes up and flips through a few of my sample strips.

"You do this?" he asks.
"All of it?"
"Yep, I write and draw the strip."

He hands me a card and says "We could use you." Turns out he was the editor in chief of the Weekly World News. I contacted him as soon as I got home and he said he'd like me to create a new strip for them. I was nearly done with the character designs for a Sasquatch & Alien comedy when he contacts me and says, "Peter Bagge just left Bat Boy; could you take over for him?"

So I picked up "The Adventures of Bat Boy" (and added a "New" to it, as I knew my version would be very different from Peter's). I think I was there for a year and a half, and then the rag stopped printing. It was such a great paper! RIP Weekly World News... at least you're still online.

Q) What kind of comic books do you follow regularly? Any favorite characters or titles?

I rarely follow comic books, although I'm likely to pick up any trade by Oni or Top Shelf.

A friend of mine suggested "Alias" by Bendis and Gaydos, and that book... woo. Jessica Jones is like my lead Hazel, except way more dark. I loved that book, but it's probably the only series I've ever read all the way through. I still need to catch up on "Y the Last Man."

I read a barrage of web comics every morning. PVP, Octopus Pie, and Questionable Content are probably my favorites. Jeph Jacques' characters are all brilliant, but I'm kind of in love with Eve Ning from Octopus Pie. She's so delightfully irritable.

Q) There seem to be a lot of female creators in the independent or small press arena. What makes your own work stand out in a unique way?

There aren't a lot of girls doing comedy. There's a lot of romance (although I guess I'm not excluded from that!), lots of artsy books and serious books, but I rarely see women pulling a slapstick routine in their work. I think that's just fine, but I guess it is a little unusual that I find it more natural to make jokes.

Dick and fart jokes, to boot.

Q) How do "guys" seem to react to Girls with Slingshots? Does your book have alot of crossover appeal?

My readership is pretty much 50/50. This may just be because so many more guys than girls read comics. But my "squealing fangirls" are matched 1:1 by "squealing fanboys" at comic book conventions. A lot of guys say they get all their dating advice from GWS.

FYI, I like to think that my male readers are the cream of the crop. Though I might be a bit biased. :)

Q) Whats your favorite comfort food or past-time?

Sushi. I know, that doesn't sound like a comfort food, but sushi is my favorite snack, meal, and hangover remedy.

Appropriately, walking is my favorite pastime (gotta walk off all that raw fish). I walk around my town at least once a day. I live in a college down, so while it's very small, there's always something new going on. I typically zone out while I'm walking and just observe, rarely stopping to talk to anyone. It's like being inside the camera as it pans through a setting in a movie. Or being invisible. It's refreshing.

Q) Do you have any other projects pending?

The graphic novel is about a girl who works at a hospital, so I've been volunteering at the local hospital once a week since November '08. I'm hoping to start taking submissions for the anthology next year, and I plan to do all of the artwork; a different style for each different story. Mostly to prepare myself for the graphic novel.

I really want to do a standalone GWS book, but we'll see. :)
Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions, Danielle. Anyone who is interested in seeing more "Girls with Slingshots", can follow this link and check it out!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Green Lantern has been chosen!

32 year old Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds has been cast as Hal Jordan, the silver age DC Comics version of Green Lantern. Considering that producers were also considering one fairly no-name actor, Bradley Cooper and the ridiculous pop singer, Justin Timberlake for the role - I know that I can live with this selection.

Reynolds is a likable actor who has been looking for a breakout role for some time now. Let's hope that Green Lantern will prove to be that film. Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, Casino Royale) has been tapped to direct and cameras are set to begin rolling in January 2010.

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Gal" Friday! Brooke Langton

Actress Brooke Langton has appeared on television in such series as Melrose Place, The Net (playing a role originated by Sandra Bullock in the film of the same name) on the USA Network, Friday Night Lights and Life. On the big screen she has been seen in several smaller, 'indie" films and the 2000 sports film, The Replacements opposite Keanu Reeves. This is one of my sons favorite films and I've had to sit through all or part of it, literally dozens of times.

So it's the latter film that has landed Brooke in the Catacombs as this weeks "Gal" Friday pick. She IS a very cute lady, and she's quite good as a cheerleader helping to keep up team operations during a strike of union players in The Replacements. I had mistakenly thought that she was probably a one-shot actress, since I hadn't really ever seen her again. I was pleased to discover that she has a respectable acting resume and that she hadn't fallen off the grid.

(Ian, my boy, this one's for you!)