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Tag Archive: Bill Sienkiewicz


Review by C.J. Bunce

“The waters speak the truth, that they do.  Only now have you lived long enough to know the child that you shall always remain.  That which dwells in the heart can never be lost to the spirit.”

Some artists’ works are so brilliant, so evocative, so memorable, and so successful, that whenever they draw, sketch, or paint, it turns heads.  One of those artists is Bill Sienkiewicz.  His 1980s comic book artwork changed the way comic books are approached by artists and readers, forever.  His trademark abstract works and his recurring sketches of people making the news are regular features that can make you happy to open your social media application for the day.  Put Sienkiewicz together with a Santa Claus story?  It’s as good as it sounds, and it arrives in stores beginning this week.

We’ve seen some incredible work on Christmas stories in the comic book medium before.  Take for example the modern Batman opus, 2011’s Batman: Noel by Lee Bermejo (we reviewed it here).  Now this year we have Santa: My Life and Times, An Autobiography, a lavish, updated edition to a 1998 project.  It features a holiday story written by Jared Green (and Santa, of course), with vibrant and festive watercolor art, cover to cover, by Sienkiewicz.  As are all good storybooks, this is a shiny, over-sized hardcover.  You will get lost in the details of every page of art.  Marvel at all the wintry critters.  Peek inside windows.  The beauty of nature’s magic is everywhere.  By my count there are not only more than 100 illustrations by Sienkiewicz in this book, there are 100 poster-worthy illustrations.

The storytelling is very Victorian and grand, neither modern nor silly.  This is the same voice found in the classic 1823 Clement Clarke Moore holiday staple,  A Visit from St. Nicholas (aka ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas).  Green’s voice of Santa is like a conversation in a good Dickens hero’s friendly voice.  Think Bob Cratchit.  This is a deep, rich, well-thought out fantasy.  The story spreads pure goodness and joy, the kind you’ll want to read to little kids (or adults, or cats), complete with Dr. Seussian sound effects peppered about.  No doubt this is the same Santa that influenced the likes of Mr. Rogers, Bob Ross, Steve Irwin, and Jim Henson.  The look and feel matches the spirit of the Rankin/Bass Christmas classics perfectly.

Here are some pages of the interior art and story from Santa: My Life and Times: An Autobiography, courtesy of Titan Comics:

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Initially used as a way to get people to sign up for his email distribution list over the Fourth of July weekend, David Lapham, the Eisner Award-winning writer of the comic book series Stray Bullets, has released the complete artwork for a heretofore mythical, unpublished comic book.  The artwork was created by none other than legendary artist Bill Sienkiewicz, and it was created for Detective Comics’ Issue #801, to be published in December 2004.  According to Lapham, it’s the “first issue of what was supposed to be our collaboration of an arc of stories titled City of Crime.  The art for the first issue was completed but never published.  We came across a set of low-res photocopies of the pages while going through some boxes.”

Sienkiewicz started the run, completing the first issue, but was unable to continue due to other commitments or a similar reason, and DC Comics continued instead with other artists, Ramón F. Bachs (Batman: The 12-Cent Adventure) and Nathan Massengill (Detective Comics), who drew the entire 12-issue run of Lapham’s story.  The reason we haven’t seen a published version in the intervening years?  Lapham answered on Twitter, “The originals were sold and all digital copies are gone.”  Lapham said the images he posted, all that is left unless someone shows up with the originals (believed to have been sold off years ago), have too low of a resolution for printing.

Other comic book creators voiced their kudos for Sienkiewicz’s artwork via twitter.  Phil Hester added his title for the issue: Batman: Heartbreaker.  Mike Oeming added his, “holy wow!”  And Alex Segura said, “oh man this is beautiful… Now I’m just dreaming of what the entire run would’ve looked like!”

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The first season of FX’s fringe superhero series Legion was an unexpected hit, but the sophomore season didn’t quite have the same mix of edgy, weird, and dark humor.  The series, based on the comic book by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz, returns a little more than a week away for its third and final season, and FX has revealed the first look at what lies ahead.  FX has also released a summary to catch up anyone who missed last season:

Legion follows lead character David Haller (Dan Stevens), a man who believed himself to be schizophrenic, only to discover that he is the most powerful mutant the world has ever seen.  From childhood, David shuffled from one psychiatric institution to the next until, in his early 30s, he met and fell in love with a beautiful and troubled fellow patient named Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller).  After Syd and David shared a startling encounter, he was forced to confront the shocking reality that the voices he hears and the visions he sees are actually real. 

With the help of Syd and a team of specialists who also possess unique and extraordinary gifts – Ptonomy Wallace (Jeremie Harris), Kerry Loudermilk (Amber Midthunder) and Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin) – David unlocked a deeply suppressed truth: he had been haunted his entire life by a malicious parasite of unimaginable power.  Known as The Shadow King, this malevolent creature appeared in the form of David’s friend Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza), but was actually an ancient being named Amahl Farouk (Navid Negahban).  During an epic showdown, David managed to push Farouk out of his body and gain control of his mind.  With Farouk on the loose, the team formed an unlikely alliance with their former enemy, Clark DeBussy (Hamish Linklater), and his well-funded government organization, Division 3.  Unfortunately, the hunt for Farouk reawakened the dark voices in David’s head, and with them, a lust for power.  At odds with everyone he once considered a friend, David enlists the help of a young mutant named Switch (Lauren Tsai) whose secret ability is key to his plans to repair the damage he caused.

That’s the story so far.

We were supposed to see even more X-Men this year.  Fox’s last hoorah, The New Mutants movie based on Chris Claremont’s comic book series was slated for release in theaters later this year, but it’s been pushed again, this time to April 3, 2020.  Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg is a producer on this series.

Take a look at this preview for Season 3–the final season–of Legion:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Let’s take a trip back 33 years ago to a galaxy not all that far away.  It was my very first issue of the only comic book I ever subscribed to.  It was the end of the school year in 1986 and at last I took the plunge to send in a check to start getting a comic in the mail.  My first issue?  Star Wars #107, which contained a note from Marvel Comics stating that this was to be the final issue and I was going to be sent something instead going forward from a new universe of comics Marvel was starting called… New Universe.  In the days before the Internet or anyone to call to say “what?” I was then sent eleven monthly issues of Star Brand.  Not quite Star Wars, each issue reminded me of what I was not getting.  I was a fan of the Star Wars comic book (issued as Star Wars Weekly in the UK) since receiving my first ever comic as a giveaway when my mom took me to my local library’s Star Wars Day right before Christmas 1977.  The series would introduce me to a roster of creators (many I’d later meet in person) including Roy Thomas, Howard Chaykin, Steve Leialoha, Rick Hoberg, Archie Goodwin, Donald F. Glut, Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, John Byrne, Michael Golden, Chris Claremont, Herb Trimpe, Al Williamson, Tom Palmer, David Michelinie, Klaus Janson, Ann Nocenti, Jan Duursema, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Walt Simonson.  I read every issue up to Issue #107.

The big surprise?  That original Star Wars series became everyone’s first encounter with the word BORG.  It’s probably the first ever use of those four letters to describe a cybernetic organism, and it was spoken by none other than Luke Skywalker in reference to Valance, The Hunter way back in 1978.  We would learn Valance was a borg who killed borgs, and he became an inaugural inductee here at borg in our borg Hall of Fame, and part of my opening dialogue with borg readers eight years ago here.  This year, through the miracle of an idea worthy of a light bulb floating over your head, Marvel Comics introduced for its ongoing 80th anniversary celebration something I’ve never seen done before: a single, new, numbered issue continuing a series canceled as far back as 33 years ago.  The issue is Star Wars, Issue #108–it’s fantastic and available at local comic shops everywhere now.

 

Providing a chapter by chapter sequel not to Issue #107 of the vintage series, but to the Issue #50 story “Crimson Forever,” Matthew Rosenberg is the writer on the new Issue #108 titled “Forever Crimson,” and along with Valance we again meet some of our favorite characters of the entire Star Wars universe who we haven’t seen in decades:  the villainous Domina Tagge (remember Baron Tagge?), the stylin’ Amaiza Foxtrain, the memorable telepathic hoojib and the red Zeltrons, and best of all, Jaxxon the bounty hunter rabbit, who we last saw on a special variant edition copy of Marvel’s reboot Star Wars, Issue #1.  Plus all the stars of the series we all know and love.  As for the artists, Jan Duursema returns to the series for this one-shot issue, along with Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, Andrea Broccardo, Kerry Gammill, Ze Carlos, Stefano Landini, Luke Ross, and Leonard Kirk, with colors by Chris Sotomayor, and lettering by Clayton Cowles.  The result is everything you could want in a Star Wars comic.  It’s the kind of purely fun story that would make a great monthly even today.  If only they continued this story in an ongoing series!

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Detective Comics, the title DC Comics took its name from, first hit the shelves of newsstands just before March 1937, 26 months before Batman would first appear in the famous Issue #27 in May 1939.  This Wednesday the monthly comic book’s landmark Issue #1000 is arriving, and it’s going to be packed with content from several writers and artists.  It’s 96 pages in all, including the first appearance outside video games of Arkham Knight.  And as you’d expect, DC Comics is releasing the issue with several covers (our count below is a whopping 84 or about a cover for each year Detective Comics has been in print!), including a standard cover, a set of decade-inspired covers, both a blank sketch cover and new black edition, retailer incentives featuring logos or no logos, and several limited, exclusive shop, convention, and creator store variants.  More than a few are simply stunning, and this is the rare mass cover event where the final regular cover set (10) includes several works as interesting or better than the exclusives (the Frank Miller with the classic title art really takes us back to the 1980s).  Check them all out below–all 100 images including art without logos–with links to where to buy them (exclusives that haven’t sold out in pre-sales).

Writers for stories in Detective Comics Issue #1000 include Brian Michael Bendis, Paul Dini, Warren Ellis, Geoff Johns, Tom King, Christopher Priest, Dennis O’Neil, Kevin Smith, Scott Snyder, Peter J. Tomasi, and James T Tynion IV.  Interior artists include Neal Adams, Greg Capullo, Tony S. Daniel, Steve Epting, Joëlle Jones, Kelley Jones, Jim Lee, Doug Mahnke, Alex Maleev, Alvaro Martinez, and Dustin Nguyen.

DC Comics did a nice job of pulling out creators defining each decade, with Steve Rude (1930s), Bruce Timm (1940s Detective Comics #69 homage), Michael Cho (1950s), Jim Steranko (1960s), Bernie Wrightson (1970s), Frank Miller (1980s), Tim Sale (1990s), Jock (2000s), and Greg Capullo (2010s)–all appear to only be available with the trade “Detective Comics” logo (but we’ve included images of the original art below).  DC Comics publisher Jim Lee is back again with the standard cover, a wraparound design.  The rest reflect a crazy big stack of variants by everyone and anyone, most available with the Detective Comics logo (with “trade” logo) or without logo (“virgin”), some in black and white, some with sketch art, some with foil cardstock.  The following are all the non-standard variant artists and where to get them (we heard an Andy Kubert cover may be out there, but could not confirm this): Neal Adams (three designs, NealAdams.com), Jay Anacleto (trade, virgin, and B&W) (Unknown Comic Books), Kaare Andrews (trade only, no virgin-only edition confirmed) (Third Eye), Artgerm (trade, virgin, retro) (Forbidden Planet), Lee Bermejo (virgin, trade) (Midtown), Brian Bolland (trade, virgin, B&W) (Forbidden Planet), Greg Capullo (gold foil version of his 2010s cover) (WonderCon variant), Clayton Crain (virgin, trade) (Scorpion Comics), Tony S. Daniel (trade, no virgin-only) (artist website, Comic Stop), Gabriele Dell’Otto (trade, silver virgin, and gold convention) (Bulletproof), Jason Fabok (trade, virgin, B&W) (Yesteryear Comics), Riccardo Federici (trade, virgin) (ComicXposure), Pat Gleason & Alejandro Sanchez (trade, virgin, B&W) (Newbury Comics), Adam Hughes (trade, virgin) (Frankie’s Comics), Jee-Hyung Lee (trade, virgin, B&W) (Frankie’s Comics), Dan Jurgens & Kevin Nowlan (sketch, line art, and color versions) (Dynamic Forces), Mike Lilly (trade-only, no virgin cover) (Comics Vault), Warren Louw (virgin, trade) (KRS Comics), and Doug Mahnke (trade, virgin) (Planet Comicon).

Plus there’s Francesco Mattina (trade, virgin) (Midtown), Mike Mayhew (trade, virgin) (The Comic Mint), Stewart McKenny (trade, we couldn’t locate anyone selling the virgin cover) (Comics Etc.), Dawn McTeigue (virgin, trade) (Comics Elite), Rodolfo Migliari (trade, retro trade, virgin) (BuyMeToys.com), Lucio Parrillo (trade, virgin) (Scorpion Comics), Alex Ross (two covers) (via his website), Natali Sanders (virgin, trade) (KRS Comics), Nicola Scott costume match design to her Superman image for Action Comics #1000 (trade, virgin) (Kings Comics), Bill Sienkiewicz (two designs, signed or not, one in trade, one virgin, via his website), Mico Suayan (trade, virgin) (Unknown Comic Books), Jim Lee & Scott Williams (midnight release vertical and convention silver foil, B&W, and four villain designs) (Torpedo Comics, Bedrock City Comics, Graham Crackers).

Want to see them all?  Here goes:

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Dynamite is releasing a new Western series based on a classic Native American fictional hero.  Originally starring in Dell Four Color Comics and Gold Key classics from the 1950s, Turok is back.  Turok is the dinosaur hunter known to more recent generations via periodic visits in the pages of comics and in video games.  Since 2013 three series have featured the character, including comics by Greg Pak, Phil Hester, and Chuck Wendig.

The latest Turok story finds him trying to save his brother from the U.S. Cavalry in a frontier story sporting the John Ford landscape of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Fort Apache, and Rio Grande.  That’s thanks to artist Roberto Castro.  His action sequences are a mix of Jock and Bill Sienkiewicz, but the grand vistas are all Monument Valley and Illustrated Classics.  Ron Marz‘s story has the gritty feel of Jimmy Palmiotti’s New 52 run on Jonah Hex–the story has plenty of potential coming out of its first issue.

  

Look for four covers for this release, by Castro and Salvatore Aiala, Bart Sears, Butch Guice and Dan Brown, and Jeffrey Veregge.

Here is a preview of Turok, Issue #1, courtesy of Dynamite:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

As we wait for December’s release of the prequel Transformers story Bumblebee coming to life in theaters, the largest and most comprehensive reference guide to the classic toys, comic strips, and comic books of the Transformers franchise is on its way.  Transform and Roll Out: The Unofficial and Unauthorized Guide to the Transformers Franchise (1984-1992) takes the deepest dive yet offered into the early days of the favorite toys and comics of a generation.  Meticulously compiled by Ryan Frost, the book will take you back like never before as he dissects each story with summaries and cross-references.  The result is a massive 820-page historical document that Transformers fans will return to again and again.

Divided into large sections on the toys, the comics, and the cartoon series, the book breaks down the toys by their release and characters, and the comics chronologically based on release.  The greatest effort is in the third section, where the author provides production information and describes plot points of the animated series, identifying characters, creators, writers, and voice actors, and he even pulls key quotes from the episodes.  Did you know the popular tie-in novelist and comic book writer Donald F. Glut wrote for the animated series?  The original actor for Emperor Palpatine in The Empire Strikes BackClive Revill–provided voices on the series.  Frost even attempts to locate the early story’s likely location for Mount St. Hillary, Oregon.

Frost recounts how Hasbro tapped then-Marvel Comics staff editor Denny O’Neil to be the next Larry Hama–the renowned writer he took the G.I. Joe toy line from toy to comic book form.  Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter didn’t like O’Neil’s story treatment so staff writer Bud Budiansky stepped in, ultimately naming most of the characters and assigning them their memorable personalities, powers, and abilities.  Budiansky would edit the series, with well-known writers taking on the stories, including Ben Mentlo, Ralph Macchio, and Jim Salicrup.  Other creators would add to the series, including Bill Sienkiewicz, Michael Golden, Herb Trimpe, Mark Texeira, Charles Vess, Alan Kupperberg, Tom Morgan, and Mike Zeck.

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Today writer Dan Slott and artist Sara Pichelli are bringing back the title Fantastic Four to Marvel Comics with a re-launch beginning with part one of a new Issue #1 story, “Fourever,” arriving at comic book stores today.  Marvel Comics sidelined the team of Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Ben Grimm, and Johnny Storm since the end of its Secret Wars series.  Now fans of the team and “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” will find out what they’ve been doing since then.  We’ve gathered the dozens of cover options available for this issue, shown below.

As Marvel states in its marketing materials for the new series:

A void no other team can fill.  And it’s time for the world to move on.  But can it?  A life-changing decision by the Thing!  A momentous declaration by the Human Torch!  A clarion call-to-arms that summons Doctor Doom!  And a signal in the sky that heralds the return of hope to the Marvel Universe!  All this, and Alicia Masters adopts kittens!  So cute!  Plus, the Impossible Man!

Marvel has amped up its cover artists yet again for the variant covers for this latest of several recent renumberings of main titles.   So you’ll find covers from Alex Ross, Artgerm, Art Adams, Adam Hughes, Steve Epting, Sara Pichelli, Esad Ribic, George Perez, Mark Brooks, Skottie Young, Simone Bianchi, Joe Quesada, Eric Powell, Humberto Ramos, Nick Bradshaw, Mike Wieringo, Jack Kirby, John Cassaday, Emanuela Lupacchino, Walt Simonson, Rob Liefeld, Jen Bartel, Will Sliney, Mike Mayhew, Bill Sienkiewicz, and many more–more than 55 including virgin art and blank covers, most new, some pulled from archives of artists of the past, plus some homages to comic book covers from the past.

  

Bonus stories will be included in the issue by Simone Bianchi and Skottie Young.  New Fantastic Four pins and backerboards will also available at some comic book stores today.

Take a look at all these covers we spotted:

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One hundred comic book artists have come together over the past year to create the next great joint art project, this time featuring the fan favorite characters of the Adventure Time animated and comic book series.  Last year Wonder Woman was featured for her 75th anniversary.  This year a new group of some of the best-known names in the world of comics volunteered an original work of art featuring Adventure Time, penciled, inked, painted, or otherwise colored on a BOOM! Studios Kaboom imprint Adventure Time blank comic book cover.  It’s all for a good cause that gives back to, and in effect pays forward comic book creators that came before them.

It’s called the The Adventure Time Get-a-Sketch 100 Project.  All proceeds of the auction of the original artwork will go to the Hero Initiative, an organization that helps out the comic book industry by contributing funds to individuals and their families in the event of medical and financial crises.  Most of the comic creators the fund helps were piecemeal workers in their careers over the past decades or those without any kind of retirement program.

And for those who can’t afford the original artwork, the Hero Initiative is creating a hardcover and softcover edition compiling all the covers that will be for sale beginning May 30, 2018, with proceeds of those books also going to the Hero Initiative.

You’ll find some of the very best Adventure Time-inspired sketch images you’ve ever seen in this group.  Many are from well-known artists, but some of the finest works are showcased by more recent artists entering the industry.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The most rewarding and epic read of all the new Black Panther movie tie-ins is Marvel’s Black Panther: The Illustrated History of a King–The Complete Comics Chronology from Insight Editions, an enormous over-sized look at the history of the superhero in Marvel Comics.  Author Dennis Culver recounts the character from its origin up to the new film, including descriptions of the superhero’s classic story arcs, with full-sized reproductions of cover art, full-page copies of key pages, and even some larger-than-life panels and splash page art.

Culver’s history of the character doesn’t miss a beat or classic creator reference.  Created by Stan Lee himself as the first black superhero, drawn by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott and first appearing in the pages of Fantastic Four.  He became an adversary of the team and would return facing off against Captain America in Tales of Suspense and then the Captain America monthly.  What may surprise those only familiar with the film is that with only some minor tweaks to the character, the origin story is as reflected in the new film:  T’Challa is king of Wakanda, who must face an arch-enemy named Klaw who has stolen some of the rare substance called vibranium.  Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Vince Colletta would take over creative duties as Black Panther joined the pages of The Avengers, with other creators working on the books including Herb Trimpe, Frank Giacoia, Bob Brown, and Ron Wilson.  Don McGregor would write Black Panther into the pages of Jungle Action with a huge roster of artists including Rich Buckler, Gil Kane, Billy Graham, Klaus Janson, P. Craig Russell, and Bob McLeod.  This would also be the introduction of the villain Erik Killmonger in the lauded “Panther’s Rage” story arc.  The movie got this right as well, with Killmonger taking over and throwing Black Panther to his near-death over Warrior Falls.  Some call this story arc the first of the mature, graphic novel stories that would later usher in books like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns.

Jack Kirby would write and illustrate Black Panther in his own solo title finally in January 1977.  A decade later Ed Hannigan would bring back the hero (after Kirby’s title wound down) in the pages of The Defenders, with Black Panther facing Namor the Sub-Mariner (who would clash with each other  over the next two decades).  T’Challa had appearances in Marvel Team-Up, two limited series, and Marvel Comics Presents–including a run with Gene Colan and Denys Cowan art–in the 1980s and early 1990s.  As the millenium closed, Christopher Priest would write a new update to the character, inserting more humor into the stories, followed by stories from creator Reginald Hudlin and art by John Romita, Jr.–with a return of Klaus Janson, all under the Marvel Knights banner.  This series would bring in characters Everett Ross and T’Challa’s sister Shuri, who would appear in the film, and love interest Storm from the X-Men.  From there the character was subsumed into myriad Marvel crossovers with the rest of the publisher’s pantheon of heroes, including Civil War, Secret Invasion, and more recent series.

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