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Tag Archive: original comic art


Heroes is the subject and title of a new gallery show featuring artwork of nationally-recognized artist Ande Parks.  Parks, a professional comic book inker and artist, as well as a comic book writer and novelist, created ink drawings and watercolor works for the exhibit, which showcases some of his own personal heroes, both real and imaginary.  Celebrated for three decades as an inker of superheroes for all the major comic book publishers–he was nominated for the prestigious Harvey Award for his work–Parks has established his own grand, heroic style.  An artist reception for the show is tonight at 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Lumberyard Arts Center in Baldwin City, Kansas.

Expect to see from the imaginary side works featuring Green Arrow (Parks created a groundbreaking run of the famous longbow hunter series with actor/director/writer Kevin Smith and artist Phil Hester beginning with the story Quiver), Uncle Slam (an “out-of-touch patriotic superhero” who, along with sidekick Fire Dog, were both created by Parks in the pages of Action Planet Comics), and Batgirl (Parks and Hester worked with writer Devin Grayson on bat-family tales in the Nightwing series).  Works from Parks’ real life heroes will include icons like Truman Capote (Parks wrote the graphic novel Capote in Kansas, chronicling Capote’s days in Kansas writing In Cold Blood).

We’re speculating the show may (or may not) include characters Parks is also known for, like El Diablo (Parks worked on the origin of the character in The Haunted Horseman with Hester and writer Jai Nitz), Ant-Man (Parks and Hester created a zany series featuring the irredeemable superhero a decade ago with The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman), and Kato, Lone Ranger and Zorro (Parks has written comic book series featuring all these classic characters), and maybe even J. Edgar Hoover?  (Parks wrote the historical graphic novel Union Station with artist Eduardo Barreto, featuring a massacre in Kansas City that influenced the FBI director).

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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

At first blush it’s hard to wrap your head around, after decades of seeing (and buying) variant comic book covers, learning that the first goes back only so far as 1986, with DC Comics releasing two covers for the first issue of The Man of Steel.  Variant covers–those alternate editions of a comic book where the only difference is one or more optional covers are made available for that issue, the economics behind them, and a high-quality look at many of the often rare artistic works that DC Comics has published since it created the idea, is the subject of a giant, over-sized, coffee table book coming your way this month.  DC Comics Variant Covers–The Complete Visual History offers up many full images of the artwork that became variant covers over the past 30 years, printed on the type of thick paper with vibrant ink reproductions that may prompt some to (carefully) pull out pages and frame them.  It’s like a book full of frame-worthy art prints.

Comic book and film writer Daniel Wallace has tackled the task of selecting highlights from DC Comics’ long run of variant covers–the “Complete” in the title is about the scope and range of variant projects that the publisher has taken on.  He opts to show large images, often full-sized and even double-page spreads of many pieces of cover art, instead of an edition with hundreds of thumbnails of every DC Comics variant that’s seen print.  Compiled in a single book, it will make many a variant collector shudder at the thought of just how many variants exist from all the comic book publishers.  But the images, many familiar, some rare and sought after in comic book form, and some not-so-rare, get their own showcase here, most reflecting the artwork without the title, logos, and other text and branding.  As readers will learn, variant cover collecting has become its own niche for collectors–some books have been bought and sold for thousands of dollars.  Readers will also learn the types of releases that determine rarity and why DC Comics has evolved its strategy for variant covers over time.

The best sections of DC Comics Variant Covers–The Complete Visual History spotlight the covers of Darwyn Cooke (it’s incredible to marvel at six of his images over-sized in the late artist’s bright color palette), Ant Lucia’s DC Bombshells, homage series featuring Mad Magazine, movie posters, Looney Tunes team-ups, convention and store exclusives, and many variant covers from Alex Ross, Frank Cho, and Frank Miller.  Some of the most eye-popping images reprinted include cover art for JSA Classified #1 featuring Power Girl, by Adam Hughes, Batman (Vol. 2) #51, and Superman, #33, by John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson, Wonder Woman (Vol. 5) #1 by Frank Cho, and Batman ’66 Meets Steed and Mrs. Peele #1, by Cat Staggs.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Both Neil Gaiman (Sandman) and Kevin Eastman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) tried it, but didn’t complete it in time.  Professional comic book writers and artists and especially the combination writer/artist most likely have all heard of the 24-hour comic challenge, but not everyone has given it a try.  Twenty-seven years ago comic book writer/artist Scott McCloud came up with the idea to improve his skills and speed in creating a 24-page comic book complete with story and art, which normally can take about 30 days.  The result was not so much a contest but a personal achievement challenge like running a marathon or climbing a mountain.  A new documentary titled 24 Hour Comic, directed by Milan Erceg, screened for attendees Saturday at the Marriott Grand Ballroom at San Diego Convention Center as part of San Diego Comic-Con.

Eight participants.  24 hours.  Gravitas Ventures’ 24 Hour Comic follows an event hosted at my old local comic book shop, Things from Another World, in Portland, Oregon.  24 Hour Comic is both a celebration of the Portland comic book creator scene and a close-up look at eight individuals of differing levels as they each try to meet the challenge.  Not everyone makes it to the end.  Four-time Harvey Award and Eisner Award winner Scott McCloud appears in the film, describing the origin, process, and history of the 24-hour challenge, which is hosted by comic book shops, schools, and art studios around the world, often following a designated annual 24-Hour Comic Day.  Eisner and Harvey Award winner McCloud wrote the useful guide to sequential art Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art and several other comic book art texts.  He also compiled several attempts at the 24-hour comic in his book 24 Hour Comics, where he showcases the efforts of Neil Gaiman, Steve Bissette, Alexander Grecian, and others.

The rules can be found here, and are detailed in McCloud’s book.  The biggest surprise having read about the contest and several 24-hour comics over the years was that I assumed the artists used standard comic book pages, those full-sized 11×17-inch art boards.  In the film each artist uses what appears to be paper half that size, splitting each sheet into two full pages, which would seem to take less time to fill.  Erceg introduces us to his eight subjects, each in different phases of skill, from a 13-year-old girl to a 16-time participant, a web creator, a design professional, independent creators, and an ex-creator returning to give the process another try.  The final works for those who completed the challenge?  We don’t get to read the entirety of the final books from any creator in the film, but the excerpts given are surprisingly polished. Far from the frantic scribbles you might expect from anyone missing a night’s sleep to work round the clock, the comics appear professionally done, clever, and humorous, reflecting each artist’s creativity and talent.  The film is dotted with interviews by several well-known faces, including Dark Horse Comics president Mike Richardson, Dark Horse Comics editor-in-chief Scott Allie, cartoonist Batton Lash, and graphic novelists and digital creators Arnold and Jacob Pander.

The hour-long documentary provides a fair look at a cross section of a profession where the median income for a full-time comic book artist is about $38,896, according to the film.  Although the challenge is not a competition per se, a few participants throw about some contrived and good natured trash talk to keep the film light-hearted.  One participant had some interesting insights into the comic book profession, a bit of a creators’ quagmire: “You work on a project you don’t care about, but make good money, but you work on a project you do care about, and don’t make any money on it”–something reflected in many fields, no doubt.  This is not a time-compressed look at the 24-hour period of this challenge, but provides interviews with subjects about their status at intervals throughout the day, night, and following morning.  So to fill some of the time Erceg follows two subjects on a quick trip to Stumptown Comic Con, other subjects are interviewed at local studios or homes, and another is followed on a side trip to Seattle to discuss a commission project.  The majority shared how difficult it is to succeed in the comic book industry, and one tried and left the industry after initial success because it couldn’t pay medical bills.

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fcbd-woodward-tng-mirror-2017

Space… The Final Frontier.  These are the voyages of the I.S.S. Enterprise.  Its continuing mission: to conquer strange new worlds, to enslave new life and new civilizations… to boldly go where no one has gone before.

First there was “Mirror, Mirror” in the original Star Trek.  Then there was Deep Space Nine’s “Crossover,” “Through the Looking Glass,” “Shattered Mirror,” “Resurrection,” and “The Emperor’s New Cloak.”  Then “In a Mirror, Darkly” on Enterprise.  The closest we got in Star Trek Voyager was seeing Kes’s evil side in “Warlord,” or the Voyager crew depicted as cutthroat villains in “Living Witness.”   But what about Star Trek: The Next Generation?  With all the episodes playing off of the original series, how did the writers miss an opportunity for mirror versions of Picard, Riker, Worf, Data, Crusher, Troi, LaForge, and Yar?

Dynamic writing duo Scott Tipton and David Tipton and stellar artist J.K. Woodward are making up for the gap with a new IDW Publishing series coming later this year: Star Trek: The Next Generation–Mirror Broken.  But first, everyone will be able to go to their local comic book shop this May 6 for the annual Free Comic Book Day to get their own free prequel issue for the series.  After the break below is a preview featuring fan-favorite character Lieutenant Reginald Barclay, the sometimes bumbling, sometimes awkward, sometimes outright genius Starfleet engineer from both NextGen and Star Trek Voyager.  But first, how incredible are these original painted images of the cover of the FCBD issue?  Star Trek fans already know J.K. Woodward, the multi-year borg.com “Best of the Year” artist from his past work on Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who–Assimilation², Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever, and the Star Trek 50 Years, 50 Artists art exhibition.

mirror-data-woodward    troi

According to early solicitations, the Star Trek: The Next Generation miniseries, Mirror Broken will reveal the Mirror Universe like never before:  Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the I.S.S. Stargazer will stop at nothing to get his hands on the Terran Empire’s newest starship, the Enterprise-D.

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Artifact Edition IDW Star Wars Chaykin Goodwin

Review by C.J. Bunce

IDW’s latest Artifact Edition has so much going for it it’s difficult to know where to begin.  For a lifelong fan of Marvel Comics’ original comic book adaptation of the original Star Wars as well as the continuing comic book adventures that followed, for someone whose first comic book was Star Wars Issue #8, and for someone who has discussed the series at length at multiple comic conventions with artist Howard Chaykin, the new Star Wars Artifact Edition is the next best thing to owning the original artwork.  Call it a treasure trove.

The Star Wars Artifact Edition is a deluxe, over-sized boxed hardcover that collects actual 12 inch X 17 inch original comic book artwork scanned in full color to faithfully create the feel of holding the original artwork in your hands.  This is the original Howard Chaykin pencil work inked by others that was then lettered and sent off for printing and the addition of color.  So it contains margin notes, tape residue, eraser marks, rub-on cross-hatch shading, some pencil-colored pages, and publisher identification information.  If you collect original comic book art, this will all be familiar to you and if you don’t, you’re about to enter a different world of what comic books are about.

Star Wars 5 cover art Hoberg    Michael Golden Star Wars 38

As far as content, you could hardly cherry pick a better selection of pages to represent Chaykin’s Star Wars work, which is amazing considering missing pages were likely not included because they could not be located.  Chaykin has said that he sold many of his original pages at a relatively low price in the years before auction prices skyrocketed for original comic book artwork.  So unfortunately Chaykin didn’t get to realize the full return his work would one day be valued at in the private market.  In addition to covers and pages from Issues 1-10, Issue 16 featuring borg.com Hall of Famer “The Hunter” is included, as well as the Michael Golden special Issue 38–for years considered one of the prized issues of Marvel Comics’ initial Star Wars run.

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Green Lantern 76 Adams

Every year something exciting makes its way to public auction.  Back in 2011 we discussed some great art from The Dark Knight Returns here at borg.com and again in 2013 here we discussed more cover art from The Dark Knight Returns hitting the market as well as some Dave Gibbons Watchmen cover art.  In December 2015, one of the most iconic covers of the Silver Age hit the auction block courtesy of Heritage Auctions.  That cover was Neal Adams’ original cover art to Green Lantern Issue #76 (learn more about it here), the book that launched the Bronze Age of comics in the minds of many historians, and the beginning of the “Hard-Traveling Heroes” story arc that forever re-defined Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen’s Green Arrow, and Dinah Lance’s Black Canary.

So what was the total paid, the auction hammer price including fees, for the cover art?

A whopping $442,150.  The twist on this auction is that in the 1970s, most original comic art was not returned to the artists, as has generally been done since then.  So many artists, including Neal Adams, have renounced the possession and sale of such pieces as “stolen”.  But this seller made a deal with Adams to share in the proceeds (with a cut for the charity The Hero Initiative), and so Adams agreed to endorse the sale with this comment:

“Since the proprietor of the cover has agreed to equitably share the income of the auction with me and my family I hereby validate sale and ownership of this piece and I will, in fact, supply a Certificate of Authenticity to the highest bidder of the auction, and the ownership of this cover will never be questioned by me.  This sharing of profit with the creator, of the sale of artwork produced back in those days when ownership has ever been in question, will in this case and may in all cases go far in bringing underground artwork into the light of a fair and open marketplace.”
For everyone who wasn’t that winning bidder, on shelves now at your local comic book store and via Amazon.com here is a deluxe hardcover edition of the entire Green Lantern/Green Arrow story by Dennis O’Neill and Neal Adams.  It’s a great full-color reading copy and reference.

After the cut, check out a high definition copy of the original cover art for Green Lantern Issue #76 that sold this past year.

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Dumb and Dumber car Wizard World Des Moines 2015

What makes a great Comic Con?

Wizard World Des Moines combined all the right elements this past weekend to create a new annual Midwest destination tradition.  A mix of big name celebrities, comic book creator icons, fanboys and fangirls attending in costume, a variety of vendors, gaming opportunities, current genre properties, the unexpected, taking along family and friends (and meeting new ones and catching up with old ones) and taking in some good food.  And thanks to the success of its first effort, Wizard World will be back again next year at the Iowa Events Center, May 13-15, 2016.

If you missed it, check out our coverage at borg.com yesterday here.

A comic and pop culture convention is even better when your own favorite character seems to have his own theme at the show.  Take our own favorite, Green Arrow, for instance.  This weekend you could have met the artists for the three best Green Arrow series ever produced, including artist/writer Mike Grell:

Milton Bunce Mike Grell Wizard World Des Moines 2015 Zorro

Artists Milton Bunce and Mike Grell at Wizard World Des Moines 2015 Sunday.

And as luck would have it, Mike found a lost piece of original art he brought to the show, a cover prelim/rough for a 24-year old annual issue he created:

Grell WWDM 2015 cover rough annual 4   Green_Arrow_Annual_Vol_2_4

There’s no place better to pick up original comic book art than a Comic Con, whether it’s a sketch commission or original pages that artists bring to the show to gawk at or even purchase.  (Thanks for bringing this one, Mike!).

And there’s one of the other of the three major artists known for his Green Arrow work (he’s done Batman and a ton of other characters, too), Neal Adams:

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Green Arrow close up Sook Ryan

We’ve been pretty lucky to both know and regularly cross paths with some great artists who have worked on the many years of Green Arrow stories in the DC Comics monthly series, and others who haven’t worked on the character but created original sketches for us at conventions.  From time to time we have posted original artwork of Oliver Queen and his partner Dinah Lance aka Black Canary here at borg.com.  These include works by Freddie Williams II, Mike Grell, Neal Adams, Phil Hester and Ande Parks, Howard Chaykin, Michael Golden, Mike Norton, Cliff Chiang, J.K. WoodwardJock, and Phil Noto, among others.

We don’t know Ryan Sook personally, but he is one of our favorite cover artists.  He created our favorite cover of 2012, the cover to Mystery in Space #1, shown here.  The awesome sci-fi steampunk girl on the cover just demands her own comic book series.  We ran down some of his best cover work here last summer.

When we had the chance to commission a pencil and ink piece from him for our Green Arrow and Black Canary gallery, we couldn’t pass it up.  The result is simply awesome.

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Star Wars Artists Edition cover

Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope and long before we had any guess about what might happen in the prequel trilogy, George Lucas, for good or bad, retooled all three episodes of the Star Wars trilogy into the Star Wars Special Edition theatrical release.  Between January and March 1997 the world got to “see the movies again for the first time” and was reminded where the word blockbuster actually came from.  Now Marvel Comics is following suit with its own look back to original Star Wars source material.

Marvel Comics is releasing two new versions of Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin’s original six-issue adaptation of the original Star Wars.  This is the classic adaptation that saw its first chapter, Issue #1, released before the movie hit theaters.

The first volume is being released today: Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope.  The OGN is for “oversized graphic novel” but the value in this book is the restoration, George Lucas style, of Howard Chaykin’s original artwork via a replacement of Marie Severin’s original 1970s colors with Chris Sotomayor’s update of the six-issue movie adaptation into a more modern color scheme.  Adi Granov supplies the new cover art for this edition.  Marvel said it will soon release similar editions of its adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  Check out a preview of the new look at a classic movie adaptation below.

Star Wars OGN cover

IDW Publishing and Marvel Comics announced this week a second treatment of the same Star Wars comic book adaptation.  The Star Wars Artist’s Edition will be consistent with past IDW “artist’s edition” offerings, showcasing the original comic book pencil and ink art behind the series in high quality color reprints of the original, giant-sized page format that the artists sketched the artwork.

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