JASON’S PICK :: GIL KANE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ARTIST’S EDITION: IDW’s Artist Edition series has been nothing short of incredible for fans who enjoy poring over the details in the art of the comics we love. Let’s be honest; this is the closest most of us will ever come to owning original art from some classic comics. Last year’s John Romita Artist Edition was a real treat for Spider-Man fans, and I’m just as excited about this second trip to the Spidey well, this time featuring the art of Gil Kane. Artwork from some seminal issues have been reprinted in all their marked-up, pasted-up, original glory here, including the introduction of Morbius, the six-armed Spider-Man, the non-Comics Code-approved drug abuse issues, and – most importantly – the death of Gwen Stacy. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.
This series is SO GOOD you guys! Remender is doing a fantastic job of keeping the story, adventure, and character interactions fresh and fun. The artwork has been consistently gorgeous, arcs trading off from one great artist to another. Last issue focused on the kidnapping of Evan – the mutant Genesis, or “kid Apocalypse” – and I can’t wait to read #31 on Wednesday!
DOUG’S PICK :: SPONGEBOB COMICS #12: It’s not for me, though, my 7 year old, Anna asks me regularly if there is a new Spongebob Squarepants this week. When I can tell her yes and I see the way her eyes light up and the excitement in her voice rises, I know I’m raising her right and this is the pick of the week in my household. Spongebob the comic, just like SpongeBob the TV show, isn’t just for kids; I especially enjoy James Kolchaka’s contributions. It’s a whimsical read for you, and a gateway comic for kids.
BRENT’S PICK :: UNWRITTEN #40: Unwritten has been my favorite series on the racks since it debuted. Easy to pigeonhole as a “Harry Potter” spoof, this thoughtful book left that (admittedly great) jumping off point 30 issues ago. Carey and Gross are crafting a compelling and thoughtful work examining concepts of reality, fiction, history, zeitgeist, and belief. This issue concludes an arc that has seen much of the status quo change for our protagonists. Anything could happen next….!
DOUG’S PICK :: Mind MGMT #4: Mind MGMT is not your typical comic book- it’s so good even the paper stock is amazing. Shadowy groups, ambiguous allies and even a flight 815 draw many comparisons to TV’s Lost. This sci-fi mystery is moving at breakneck speed with each issue demanding multiple readings. The main story is of a writer who is investigating a flight where everyone, save one, lost their memories. Writer /artist Matt Kindt uses everything available to immerse you in the story, including the inside covers and margins which give background to the title organization.
We lost one comics’ greatest creators this past Sunday. Joe Kubert not only touched the lives of those who saw his beautiful work on books like Sgt. Rock, Tarzan and Enemy Ace but one that will continue to shape young comic artists by founding the Kubert School in 1976. RIP and thank you Mr. Kubert for all you did in your amazing time with us. We extend our condolences to his family, friends, students and countless fans.
What follows are a few remembrances of the man and his work.
I read the story when I was a child, and found it unutterably sad. The “hero” was Baron Hans Von Hammer, a World War I German fighter pilot, and I was surprised that American comics could be published about an honorable German warrior. Von Hammer was noble, troubled, and–because of his reputation as an emotionless killing machine–isolated from his fellow aviators. In the story, however, Von Hammer befriends a hapless, wounded puppy he names Schatzi, taking the dog in his plane on bombing raids as a good luck charm. At the conclusion of the story, Schatzi barks to warn Von Hammer of the imminent attack of a UK Sopwith Camel, and in the process of dodging the British plane, Von Hammer tilts his own aircraft enough to spill Schatzi out of the cockpit. The little dog falls to his death. Von Hammer channels his grief into a murderous rampage.
The story is “Luck is a Puppy Named Schatzi!” from Star Spangled War Stories #148 (December 1969-January 1970), written by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Joe Kubert. On the occasion of Kubert’s passing, I’ve re-read “Luck” and discovered, predictably, that the story has less of an impact on me now. Because Kanigher yanks at our heartstrings so ferociously, the entire tale threatens to tip into self-parody. In fact, J. Caleb Mozzocco has posted a hilarious retelling of “Luck” on his Every Day is Like Wednesday blog, here.
Despite my misgivings with Kanigher’s script, I love Kubert’s art. His cartooning brings grace and ingenuity to perfect and imperfect scripts. Consider the moment in “Luck” when Schatzi tumbles out of Von Hammer’s plane.
On the most basic level, the verticality of the panel’s shape emphasizes Schatzi’s fall, and Kubert uses line width to establish the vast distance between Von Hammer in the air and the buildings and rivers on the ground. The shapes at the top of the panel, including Von Hammer and the plane firing behind him, are rendered with spot blacks and thick brush strokes, while the checkerboards on the earth below are delineated with slight, wispy pen lines. Between high and low is Schatzi, weightier–more present–than the ground, but descending into white space, swallowed up by the rapid fall. Von Hammer’s hand desperately reaches out to Schatzi; his index finger is bending at the first joint in an attempt to hook the dog into his grasp. (Like Ditko, Kubert is a master at drawing hands that express character emotion.) Kubert transmutes Kanigher’s scene into an example of graphic virtuosity. Kubert was this good all the time.
For Schatzi’s fall and for a thousand other moments: Thank you, Joe.
If there’s a single thing about Joe Kubert’s art that will continue to persevere throughout comics history, it must be his versatility. While he’ll probably always be most regarded for his war comics like Sgt. Rock and Enemy Ace, it’s hard to deny his presence in adventure comics (like Tor and Tarzan) and super hero comics as well.
While many recognize Kubert’s role in defining the Silver Age Hawkman, it’s worth noting that Joe consistently pushed the boundaries of the medium. Though the character has never been as popular as any of aforementioned ones, Kubert’s Ragman was and still is a relevant figure in the DC Universe. Drawing from his own experiences, Joe created a character that shared many similarities with his own life and upbringing. There were elements of Jewish mysticism and mythology, but also the idea that a hero could emerge from the humblest of origins.
Joe later went on to create Yossel, showing that he was also more than capable of exploring autobiographical comics. Comics creators and fans the world over are all thinking about Joe Kubert and his family this week. Let’s all take time to celebrate the man, his versatility and the indelible legacy he has left on our industry.
Funeral information (via Kubert School)
Tuttle Funeral Home
272 Highway 10
Randolph NJ 07869
August 14th, 2012
Visitation – 10:00am to 12:00pm
Service – 12:00pm
Internment to follow at:
The Dover Mount Sinai Cemetery
237 Chrystal Street, Randolph, NJ 07869
If you prefer to donate by mail, please send your contribution to:
Multiple Myloma Research Foundation (MMRF)
383 Main Avenue 5th floor
Norwalk CT 06851
BRIDGIT’S PICK :: ATOMIC ROBO and the FLYING SHE-DEVILS #2: A few months ago, myself and seven other artist ladies were asked to draw ourselves as characters for Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener’s new Atomic Robo arc. So we did, and Scott adapted them to the style of the comic. Now there’s a slew of rag-tag ex-World War II pilots turned airship pirate doppelgangers of us all, running around in one of the best comic book series on the shelves! Atomic Robo is an entertaining mix of science, history, and shenanigans, and it’s one of the few comics that makes me literally laugh out loud. The adventures are so much fun and light- a sort of relief to read compared to the darker tone in a lot of comics these days. It’s a title I read regularly, and now with the Flying She-Devils, well… I can’t wait to see what we’re up to next!
JASON’S PICK :: BATMAN #12: Scott Snyder started writing Detective Comics when it was Dick Grayson under Batman’s cowl (which he discussed in depth at this year’s HeroesCon!), but he didn’t miss a beat with Bruce Wayne’s return and the jump to writing Batman with the launch of DC’s “New 52.” This issue wraps up Snyder’s game-changing “Court of Owls” storyline/crossover and sets the stage for the coming year of stories. With the Joker’s return in the “Death of the Family” storyline coming soon, it’ll be exciting to see what kind of hints and teases Snyder throws at us in this issue.
Cliff Chiang (CC): I’d been itching to work with Azz again ever since Doctor 13, but I had some longer projects that delayed those plans. When Azz called me about Wonder Woman, I realized it was a great opportunity to be creative and confuse people at the same time! I was in.
CC: As long as they’ll have us. We have some long term plans for the story, and I’d love to be able to see them though.
CC: We’ve got the exclusive MiniCon screenprint by me and Dustin Harbin, for a measly $10! Hopefully, I’ll get another image done for HeroesCon later this year. So much to do!
H: Whose idea was the What Not Blog?
CC: I think it was Reverend Dave Johnson’s brainchild. It’s inspiring to see such a diverse group of artists just messing around like that.
H: Where do you guys find the time to do these fully realized illustrations on top of your paying work?!
CC: It can be hard, but it is a lot of fun. I probably should do less-finished stuff and post more often, but sometimes I love an idea and wanna show some more care.
H: Finally, what are some of the comics that you’re most looking forward to seeing in 2012?
CC: Two things I’m looking forward to in 2012 are the conclusion to Loose Ends (I did not pay him to say that. -rico.) and the print version of Robbi Rodriguez’s Frankie Get Your Gun.
Thanks to Cliff for taking time to answer a few questions. You can meet him and a slew of other great artists this Sunday at the 35th Anniversary of the Charlotte MiniCon!