This year I had my first comic convention experience where I didn’t get in early to be the first in line to commission sketches from some of the great artists attending the show. That was Planet Comicon, and it was simply because I was helping set up booths, working my way through four cosplay outfits, meeting celebrities, spending hours in costume with attendees in photo ops, catching up with old friends, helping artist friends sell art, manning a booth… keeping busy and having a great time doing it.
So I missed out on my regular art fix.
So I decided to fill the void by picking up some original cover art from one of my favorite artists in the business right now. That’s Mike Mayhew, who created some great covers for the Bionic Man series last year, and is currently wrapping up one of the best Star Wars works ever produced, The Star Wars, where he served as artist interpreting George Lucas’s original vision of Star Wars before it became Star Wars.
It’s a strange coincidence that 50 years after the death of President John F. Kennedy a controversy has surfaced involving a Superman comic book, President Kennedy, and original comic book art. The controversy involves the original artist, Heritage Auctions, and an agreement made just after Kennedy’s death.
Heritage Auctions had initially planned to auction 10 pages of original artwork from Superman Issue #170 today in conjunction with the anniversary of the President’s assassination (along with several Dave Gibbons original cover art pages for Watchmen). The auction house agreed to pull the lot in light of a lawsuit brought by 91-year-old artist Al Plastino, who claims that the original art was to be gifted to Boston’s Kennedy Library by DC Comics decades ago.
The Superman comic book, which featured the story “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy” has its own interesting history. Plastino was working on the Kennedy story art the day Kennedy died, and the project was halted until DC Comics got permission to issue the story to honor President Kennedy, authorized by President Lyndon Johnson himself. The story involves Kennedy enlisting Superman in his initiative to get America’s youth physically fit. It includes a full-page drawing of Superman waving to an image of Kennedy above the U.S. Capitol–the art that was to be sold at auction today. The story was finally published in July 1964 with a note on its last page announcing the original art would be donated to the JFK Memorial Library at Harvard University.
Following on the heels of the successful Dark Horse Comics series Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 and 9 and IDW Publishing’s The X-Files Season 10, this week Dynamite Comics announced Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man will be continued where the TV series left off with The Six Million Dollar Man Season 6.
Unlike the current successful monthly series Bionic Man and Bionic Woman, which updated the original TV series for the 21st century, The Six Million Dollar Man Season 6 will make an effort to look back to elements, styles, designs and even sounds that made the original series popular in the 1970s. Expect familiar special effects, slow motion movements, and kung-fu gripping action.
Our Firefly readers should like this news from Dark Horse Comics. It’s not the much-desired return of Mal & Co. to the screen, but it’s still what we need, as Christopher Walken would say, “more Firefly.” Dark Horse announced on its blog late today that something is in the works for Serenity comics. The publisher mentioned no specifics, but offered the following tease:
Joss Whedon’s beloved Firefly series and Serenity film’s lifespan may have been short-lived, but managed to produce one of the most dedicated fanbases in the history of modern science fiction. Dark Horse is proud to be able to keep Mal and his crew flying with new comics and products. Look for the hashtag #WheresSerenity over the next few months on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages for exclusive news on the future of the franchise at Dark Horse!
Dark Horse also released the above four-part animation showing the steps in creating a comic book page featuring the Firefly class ship Serenity. It looks great!
If you’ve any doubt which is more popular and influential–Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, or Alan Moore’s Watchmen–a coming original comic art auction may end the discussion once and for all. Heritage Auctions is auctioning the cover to The Dark Knight Returns Issue #2, with pencils and inks by Frank Miller. Only slightly less iconic than the stunning cover to Issue #1, the cover to Issue #2 took the world by storm, showing the classic superhero like he had never been seen before, not as heroic and stoic, but as grim and mean.
Back in February 2013 Heritage began to auction off the 1986 original art to all but one of twelve covers to Watchmen by Dave Gibbons. The cover to Issue #1 fetched $155,350, Issue #2 sold for $38,837.50 and Issue #3 sold for $22,705.00. Heritage’s magazine said the other covers will be sold in a coming auction. However, in May 2011 an interior splash page of The Dark Knight Returns–Issue #3, page 10–also from 1986, sold for a whopping $448,125, as we reported here at borg.com. That said, that page (shown below) was simply stunning. Personally, this reader would rather have the interior page on the office wall than the Issue #2 cover, but cover art is cover art and interior art is interior art–covers sell for big bucks compared to interior pages. And the cover to Issue #2 is arguably the defining image of the new grim Batman of the 1980s that survives to this day in the dozen+ monthly comic book titles and Christopher Nolan’s grim movie trilogy.
Issue 3, Page 10 original Frank Miller/Klaus Janson splash page art that sold for almost a half-million dollars at auction in May 2011.
This year I continued my Comicon season by commissioning sketches from comic book artists of my favorite characters, Green Arrow and Black Canary. I always like to let the artists do whatever vision they have with the duo and am always blown away by the results and at this year’s Planet Comicon it was no different. It’s even better when you watch artists take on characters for the first time.
At Planet Comicon weekend itself, I met Greg Smallwood, who I found at Artists Alley with the forthcoming Dream Thief co-creator Jai Nitz. Greg sketched this great piece for me, and I’d LOVE to see a series with this classic look.
Black Canary never before looked more like she was going to take everyone out of commission with that sonic scream!
I also asked my friend Damont Jordan to give me his take on Green Arrow and Black Canary and gave him a few weeks after the Con to take his time with it. Somewhere we started chatting up adding extra characters and I threw out the idea of something like “oh yeah, why not include Super Grover, too.” And BAM! Check this out:
By C.J. Bunce
Sometimes you want to just sit down and view a single TV episode where you walk away at the end of the hour having been energized with a complete end to end story. I remember countless episodes of the X-Files with the monster of the week and these stand out to me from the episodes that followed the long-term plot of Fox Mulder’s lost sister or uncovering the mysterious smoking man’s real story. I have the same thoughts about standalone issues of comic books. Most series today have multi-issue story arcs and they are usually relevant and continue the intrinsic and historic serialized nature of monthly comic series dating back to the origin of comic books. But when I was a little kid I’d flip through the short supply of comics at my local Kwik Shop and sometimes you’d be lucky and get an issue with a single beginning to end story and sometimes you’d start reading and have no idea what is going on. I still get excited about a book when I get a great end-to-end story. Detective Comics #19–the 900th issue of Detective Comics is one of those reads.
When the old DC Universe ended in August 2011, Detective Comics was at issue #881. Detective Comics was set to become the second DC Comics series to reach Issue #900 after Action Comics. Then the New 52 renumbered everything. No matter. DC Comics knows when it has something to celebrate, so to mark the occasion it is publishing a good ol’ 80-page giant issue. As part of its across-the-line gatefold cover series, it cleverly manages to include the number 900 as part of its cover, as well as integrate the number into its storyline in a meaningful way.
Heritage Auctions publishes a print version of a collectibles magazine called Heritage Magazine for The Intelligent Collector. Each issue presents several collectors and their different collecting interests, including interviews with celebrity collectors like Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Whoopi Goldberg. Issues also highlight key items sold in past and future Heritage Auctions. One issue previewed a superb collection of John Wayne memorabilia sold off by his estate. The photo quality is beautiful and it’s a fun magazine to read, especially about areas of collecting that you’re not necessarily interested in. It’s a bit like watching Antiques Roadshow on Public Television. Subscriptions are $21 for 3 issues and the magazine is published three times per year.
This month’s print edition features a pull-out poster of Dave Gibbons’ original comic art cover pages for the original Watchmen series and a who’s who of the best comic book creators of all time.
First appearing in DC Comics in 1983, the character of Katana, formerly a member of Batman’s Outsiders, was rejuvenated as a member of the Birds of Prey in the New 52 last year, replacing Barbara Gordon/Batgirl as the third team member. If you haven’t seen her before, what you need to know is that Katana’s real name is Tatsu and she has been busy seeking vengeance against the Yakuza for killing her husband. With her trusty Soultaker sword by her side she’s a force to be reckoned with, and she will be featured as a newer breed of superhero in the new Justice League of America beginning next week with Justice League of America Issue #1 (not to be confused with the Justice League series). But if you want to get an early look at Katana, you can pick up Issue #1 today of her own new monthly series. We at borg.com previewed Issue #1 this week and think this series will be an interesting and unique addition to the New 52 line-up.
Written by Ann Nocenti with art by Alex Sanchez, the story is packed with the spirit of ancient Eastern influences, swordplay and mysticism. Nocenti counts herself a fan of Akira Kurasawa and Katana’s story will be familiar to fans of his films. Artist Alex Sanchez has created a modern yet ancient-inspired fictional setting in his Japantown, part of San Francisco. DC Comics has shared with borg.com some original art pages from Katana, Issue #1 reprinted here.
Review by C.J. Bunce
Today DC Comics switches gears with its New 52 Green Arrow title, with writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino re-starting the series in a new storyline called “The Kill Machine.” Lemire is best known for taking the obscure DC Comics character Animal Man and turning his story into one of DC Comics’ best reviewed series. Italian artist Andrea Sorrentino is best known for his haunting run on the New 52’s I, Vampire, and his great covers for a short X-Files comic book series, with a style he seems to be carrying forward in Green Arrow Issue #17, released at comic stores everywhere today.
With Issue #17 Lemire seems to be taking some tips from the Berlanti/ Guggenheim/ Kreisberg playbook. Their highly successful Arrow TV series on the CW Network follows Oliver Queen as he deals with the events he faced on the mysterious island where his yacht Queen’s Gambit marooned him, and where he honed his physical skill as archer and fell into his current psychological state. The TV Oliver Queen is echoed in Lemire’s lead character although differences show through–Lemire’s Oliver seems a bit younger and impulsive whereas the TV Oliver relies on his charisma and is more measured in his actions. But you can’t say more about that by way of comparisons with only one issue to go on. Fans of the Arrow TV series should keep an eye out for a familiar villain element in this first issue.
An example of some of the excellent past cover art of Italian artist Andrea Sorrentino.
“The Kill Machine” finds Oliver responding to the loss of Queen Industries by the trustee managing the company since his father’s death–his father’s best friend. Lemire is overtly giving his Oliver a clean slate, destroying the world Oliver knows and removing any relationships that might reveal Oliver as anything but a lone wolf. In this way it will be interesting to see how much of Mike Grell’s original stories of the urban archer shine through. Grell’s Oliver, through dozens of issues of amazing stories beginning in the late 1980s, was the last time the character was completely redefined. Can Lemire reinvigorate Green Arrow and still keep true to the character’s long history? He has developed several issues beginning with Issue #17 so we will learn the answer as we keep up each month with the series this year.