Category: Art

Mike Zeck’s Damned Graphic Novel

While we’re on the subject of Mike Zeck, have you seen his Damned graphic novel? No, I’m not cursing, that’s the name of it.

Written by Steven Grant and pencilled by Mike, it was originally going to be called Lawless. The hitch was that a new tv series starring Brian Bosworth [anyone remember him?] was in the works and they had dibs on the Lawless title. So Grant and Zeck decided to go with Damned.

Here’s what Mike said when asked about how it all came together. “DAMNED is probably as personal as a project can get. Grant and I got together and posed the question “What would we do if we could do just what we wanted, without any outside pressure or direction?” Damned was a result of that. We both prefer the crime genre, and without costumed characters populating it. I hand-picked Denis Rodier (inker) and Kurt Goldzung (colorist) and it became something of a labor of love for all of us.”

Damned is a great crime comic.  Give it a try and I’ll bet you agree.

The Art of Michael J. Zeck

It used to be that when an aritst had a sketchbook come out it was an event.

I can remember the excitement I felt when I received my first Art of Neal Adams or Art of John Byrne books. In those days, you had to be a really special artist to get an “Art of…” book.

These days it seems that every artist at every show has a sketchbook. Not that that’s a bad thing… but it has made it rare that the release of a sketchbook becomes an “event.”

If an artist’s sketchbook gets much notice these days, it’s because the artist:
is really THAT talented or…
2] rarely attends conventions or…
3] has never before released a sketchbook.

Guess what? Mike Zeck fits the bill. He’s just released The Art of Michael J. Zeck Volume I and it is a winner. It’s 52 pages jam-packed with art spanning Mike‘s career. It showcases a cross section of art ranging from preliminary pencils to finished inks… from never-before-seen drawings to classic re-interpretations. You can read more about it here.

My guess is that some of you will want in on this event!

Jae Lee and The Rest of the Story

Jae Lee has been under a lot of pressure lately.

Lee was the artist selected to bring to life Stephen King’s Dark Tower characters for the presentation to persuade King to create a new Dark Tower story for Marvel.

If King liked the art and agreed to write the story, Lee would be the artist for the series. If King didn’t like the art, Lee would be out of a job and Marvel might lose the story.

To make matters more intense, Lee was a huge Stephen King fan!

So there was the pressure of not only wanting to get the job, but also the added pressure of wanting to please someone whose work Lee had admired for years.

Add in to that mix the hundreds of thousands of fans around the world who would also weigh in on Lee’s interpretation and you’ve got a pretty intense situation.

So Jae Lee did what many artists would do in this situation… he froze….

Of course that’s not how the story ends… click HERE to read Newsarama‘s interview with Jae Lee and you’ll know the rest of the story!

Don’t Miss Dusty

Yesterday when I sent in my comics order, I made sure that Dusty Starr #1 was on it.

If you’ve heard of Dusty Starr, then I’m sure you ordered it too.

If you haven’t, then click HERE to get a look at the full preview art by Andrew Robinson [his art is reason enough to order the book sight unseen] or click HERE to get a look at Desperado Publishing’s Dusty Starr section.

Either way, my guess is you’ll want a copy for yourself.

Big Beatty and ZONE CITY

My buddy, John “Big” Beatty loves to bust my chops. Of course he loves to bust on everyone, so that’s nothing special.

What is special is that Big John created a strip called ZONE CITY that he uses to take shots at me. Oh, don’t worry. It’s all in good fun.

Beatty has combined my love of Frank Miller’s Sin City, my admiration of Sylvester Stallone and my commitment to my StalloneZone website to come up with an exaggerated spin on reality.

ZONE CITY is really a hoot. I hope that John does more. You can check out ZONE CITY at Big Beatty’s Blog-O-Rama. If you do, please let me know which parts you think are real and which come from Big John‘s imagination.

What About Bob?

Bob Layton did some of my favorite comics back in the day. Although best known for his work with David Michelinie on the fan favorite, Iron Man, I also really got a kick out of his Ant Man and Hercules: Prince of Power work.

Bob‘s a really nice guy [in addition to being a talented writer, penciler, inker, editor… well, you get the idea] and I was proud to get him in my Stallone Gallery.

It seems that most of Bob‘s comic work these days is creating commissions for fans. Which is great for individual fans, but too bad for fandom since Bob still has a lot to offer.

Super Service with a Free Smile!

My buddy, John’s “BigBeatty Deluxe” Tee Shirt is now available. The shirt is a hoot and everyone should order at least a dozen! [Ok, Big J, how’s that for a plug?]

Actually the shirt is really cool looking and sure to get the wearer a [FREE!] smile. Not only does the design rock, but the price is right.

Click HERE to see what the fuss is all about!

Batman and the Monster Men

While we’re on the topic of comics to watch for this November, you may want to consider Batman and the Monster Men. It’s a six issue series written, pencilled and inked by Matt Wagner.

Batman and the Monster Men takes place in Batman‘s second year. His first year was spent fighting crime… but is he prepared to face “the new menace facing Gotham: super-powered villains?”

For more info on the series, click HERE or HERE. Then be sure and let your local comic shop know that you’ll want a copy!

Going Down in November

Five years ago, a narcotics cop was sent undercover, down into the criminal structure of the city. Henever came back. He went native. Five years later, he’s running the city’s prime drugs gang.

Today, a second cop – a woman in the midst of career flameout, having shot down the entirety of the main mob’s only rival gang – is sent undercover, with orders to pull the first one out. In a bodybag if necessary. “

If this sounds like your cup of tea — bitter with no sugar — then plan on checking out Down 1 in November. It’s the first of a four issue mini-series written by Warren Ellis. The art for issue one is by Tony Harris [who provides all 4 covers]. Cully Hamner provides art for issues 2-4.

And be advised, this comic ain’t for kids.

The Steranko Time Machine

I can remember the first Jim Steranko comic book that I ever read. It was Nick Fury #1. I was 9 years old. I’d been reading comics for years… Batman, Superman, Spider-Man… but Nick Fury [as written and drawn by Jim Steranko] was like a movie come to life [even though it was on the printed page].

As I become older, I always kept my eye out for comics by Steranko. They were few and far between [and sometimes only covers], but boy, were they worth it. The man is a legend despite the fact that his primary work in comics was less than ten years and consisted of approximately 30 stories.

Years later I attended my first comic book convention. My goal was to buy Steranko‘s run on Nick Fury in mint condition. Not only was I able to score the set [and at a good price], but I ended up becoming friends with the dealer, Mike Kott. I was surprised to learn that Steranko had branched out into publishing. At the same show I picked up my first issue of his publication, Mediascene [which featured an interview with Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy].

Steranko had moved away from comics, instead he spent his time concentrating on painting [he did a series of covers for The Shadow paperbacks reprints] and publishing [Mediascene which later became Prevue]. When Steranko offered some of his Shadow “pencil paintings” for sale in the early 80’s, I splurged and bought one. I was newly married, in college and the $225 bucks it cost seemed like a fortune. Steranko was nice enough to send along an autographed copy of his book Unseen Shadows.

If you’re a Steranko fan, then you know what an interesting life he’s led. In addition to being a comic book artist, a publisher, a painter, a professional magician / escape artist [in his youth he traveled with carnivals and circuses], a musician and more. If you’re just discovering Steranko, then you’re in for a treat!

Steranko is still a huge draw at conventions around the country. Last year he was a special guest at FX 2005. [In fact it was his cover for the program book that inspired this post.] I was unable to attend the FX show, but even if I had, there would have been no chance of a Steranko piece for my Stallone Gallery. Steranko doesn’t sketch at shows and seldom does commissions… and those that he does do cost thousands!

Every so often I love to pull out my Chandler graphic novel, or the three issues of Captain America that he did… but my favorite is still his run on Nick Fury. Over 35 years later, I still get the same rush as that 9 year old seeing it for the first time.

Welcome to the Party!

Way back on November 16, 2003, I posted an item about the first issue of a comic that I’d read and fell in love with. That comic, The Walking Dead, was one of the freshest comics that I’d read in years. It instantly made my “pull list.”

A few days later, I posted that the first issue was quickly selling out along with a link to an interview with Robert Kirkman. In February of 2004, The Walking Dead was already my favorite monthly comic!

In April of 2004, I reported that Tony Moore, the regular artist on The Walking Dead had decided to leave and that Charlie Adlard would be taking over with issue 6. The quality of The Walking Dead didn’t miss a beat.

With the recent success of comic books turned into movies, Jeb Whitlock of suggests that The Walking Dead get the chance.

All I can say is, “Welcome to the party, Jeb!”

Tampa Was a Blast!

Last weekend, Big Beatty, John Higashi and I made our way to the Tampa Comic Book and Toy Show.

As many of you know, it’s my favorite little convention. But if Tim Gordon continues to put on such great shows, it won’t be little much longer. It’s held three times a year and has added the Tampa Indie Film Fest to a program which already includes celebrites signing autographs, artists sketching, a costume contest, prize drawaingsthere’s ALWAYS something going on to interest everyone.

Beatty, Higashi and I drove down the night before. It’s become a tradition that we go down a day ahead of the show, hang out with other collectors and eat dinner at a place called Sweet Tomatoes.

This time Randy Martin joined us for dinner. Afterwards we went over to his place to hang out. Randy has the coolest Edward Scissorhands art collection that you can see if you click HERE.

The next morning, Beatty, Higashi and I headed over to the show. Higashi was on a mission. His goal was to get to Ethan Van Sciver to add to a sketch that he’d started a few shows ago, and to set up a commission with Pablo Marcos. My plan was to meet Pablo Marcos and possibly get a Stallone sketch from him. Beatty was there just to stir up some fun.

Higashi started getting that predator look in his eyes and I knew that soon he would be in full con mode. The doors opened and the crowd headed in. As we were walking to the artist area, I saw Randy Martin had set up and so I stopped to chat with him. Higashi continued to make his way to Ethan’s spot center stage.

A few minutes later, I headed over to the stage area. Higashi was waiting for Ethan to arrive. I said, “Hi” to Marty Nodell and his son. I was just hanging out waiting for Big Beatty to mosey over when Cindy Morgan walked up to me and introduced herself. Cindy was a guest of the show and is best known for her role as Lacey Underall in Caddyshack. She asked if I was with the show. I told her I wasn’t. As luck would have it, Tim
[who runs the show] was passing by. He stopped and was able to answer Ms. Morgan‘s question. There was a bit of small talk and then she excused herself to set up. Tim and I spoke a bit before he went on stage to introduce the guests and welcome the crowd.

I decided to head over to the film room when suddenly Captain Battle and his Battle Team appeared.

His Battle Team was filming fan reaction as he walked through the crowd meeting and greeting young and old alike. I shook hands with the good
Captain and was awarded his first dvd movie. I’ll write more about that soon.

In the film room, Beatty and I watched a retrospective on Irwin Allen. Allen was first known for his tv shows, Lost in Space, Voyage to the
Bottom of the Sea
, The Time Tunnel, and Land of the Giants. He then went on to become the King of Disaster Movies with The Posideon Adventure, and The Towering Inferno. Higashi came in. He’d been successful in getting Ethan to add more to his Star Wars piece. The three of us watched a short film called Contact from Beyond. The people who made the film were in the audience and the crowd enjoyed the experience.

That’s the look that Wild Bill Black had on his face when he saw Beatty and I re-enter the convention hall. Bill was talking to Marty Nodell and had made the trip to Tampa just to hang with Marty for the afternoon. It’s always great to see Wild Bill, who is busier than ever with his comic and dvd businesses.

I spent some time talking with Jesse “Cadre” Hansen and Mitch “Bubba the Redneck Werewolf” Hyman. It’s always a blast speaking to these guys as they love what they’re doing and their fan base continues to grow. Beatty came over to see some new stuff that Cadre had created. When Beatty gives praise, you know it’s earned. He and Mitch talked about Beatty doing a cover for a future issue of Bubba — so that looks like it’s going to happen.

Then is was time for the costume contest. It’s surprising to me, because of the size of the show, how many really good costumers are always there. You have to admit that it adds something to a show, when you see characters walking around and they look like who they’re supposed to be. The winner was a guy dressed as The Shadow — at the last show he came as Marv. In the picture above, that’s me with The Scarecrow from Batman Begins and Kevin from Sin City.

The only thing left to do was for Higashi to set up his Star Wars commission. That’s Pablo and his lovely wife pictured above. Higashi and I were in line as Pablo sketched for fans. Higashi asked me if I was going to try for a Stallone sketch. Because of the time factor, I said that I didn’t think so. We watched as Pablo completed a beautiful Vamperella sketch… then a Zombie pencil sketch… and then a Conan. Man, each sketch was a beaut. Higashi set up his commission which
Pablo was doing as a take-home piece. I then arranged to have a Stallone sketch done and mailed with Higashi‘s. I don’t know which character Pablo is going to do… but you can be sure, it’ll be sweet.

Sadly it was time for us to get on the road. Higashi had been able to get Ethan to add to his piece and Pablo to commit to a commission. I had been able to arrange for a Pablo sketch as well. We’d been able to visit with old and new friends, see some fun films, check out some wild costumes, and just have a great day. Tim’s next show is in November. If you’re able to make it, I can promise that you’ll have a fun time. Heck, you may even get to be in a picture with Steve, Big Beatty and Wild Bill!

Tampa, Here I Come!

This weekend I’m heading down to the Tampa Comic Book and Toy Convention. Tim Gordon puts on the show and it’s ALWAYS a blast.

This time the guest list includes: Cindy “Tron” Morgan, Marty “Green Lantern” Nodell, Ethan “Green Lantern” Van Sciver, Alex “Spider-Man” Saviuk, Pablo “Conan” Marcos, and many others. The second Tampa Indie Film Fest will also run during the show.

If you’re in the area, you ought to join in on the fun!