Friday, December 23, 2011

Splash Page Holiday Special! Go. Listen.

Chad Nevett and I return -- one last time (unless we decide to do it again someday) -- to the podcast that made our fame and fortune around the world.


In this special, LONG, holiday edition, we talk about our Best of 2011 lists, where the layer of escapism actually appears in our comics reading, and why this is such a banner year for Joe Casey comics.

Chad makes some kind of appeal on behalf of Jonathan Hickman's "Ultimates" comics, but while he was talking about that stuff, I was thinking about how pretty Javier Opena's work on "Uncanny X-Force" has been.

Anyway, we're glad to be back, even if it's just for this special edition, so go on over there and spend two-and-a-half hours of your life listening to two guys talk about something they love. And comics too!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Reader's Guide to the New DC Universe

I've been working on this all summer, over at, but I've neglected to mention it here on the blog. Please forgive me for the oversight.

Basically, it's my 800 words on each and every new DC title launching in September, based on the interviews and solicitations and the previous work of the creative team(s). All 52 of them. Plus an overview about the whole thing and the digital distribution angle. It's the most comprehensive look at the DC relaunch that you're likely to see, because I was crazy enough to write about all of these series with so many damned words.

I'll probably end up being right about 85% of it all, too. Enjoy!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Blackhawk at

Tor asked me to write a piece on the history of Quality and DC's "Blackhawk" series, since it is one of the lesser-known properties to join the relaunch this fall.

I mean, we all know who Blackhawk is, but the average reader might not be familiar with some of the character's greatest hits, and it's not like Absolute Blackhawk is on the reprint schedule anytime soon. Though I would buy it, of course, assuming it reprinted either (a) the swinging 60's superhero years, (b) the Evanier/Spiegle run, or (c) Chaykin's three-parter, which was THE FIRST HOWARD CHAYKIN COMIC I EVER READ AND THAT WOULD PROBABLY EXPLAIN A LOT ABOUT ME.

Anyway, my history of Blackhawk turned into a piece about Blackhawk throughout the ages and, oh yeah, Will Eisner is racist. I didn't intend to go there, but as I read the DC Archives edition of the first "Blackhawk" stories, I just couldn't give Eisner a pass. He sometimes gets a pass for Ebony White, but Ebony White PLUS Chop-Chop? A pattern of foul racism derailed my "Blackhawk" retrospective a bit.

Still, I marched on. Go READ: Such a Man is Blackhawk.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The DC Relaunch and Reasonable Readers of all Types

I wrote this week's piece for mostly because Ron Marz and a random fan were debating how much to freak out about DC's relaunch. The fan (or fans -- maybe it was more than one) seemed to think everything in the past would cease to exist, and all his DC comics would be meaningless now. Marz didn't agree. At all.

Of course, now we know that Marz is part of the DC relaunch (which I'm happy about, because he's a good guy and a hard-working writer), but I don't think that's really all that significant in the debate. What's important is...the two fundamentally different way people read comics. And that's what I wrote about.

Go, read: "What Does it Matter? Stories and Comic Book Readers" at

Saturday, June 04, 2011

BLASTOFF: I Write for Now

Hey, you know Tor Books, the imprint (now) of Macmillan, and publisher of authors such as Larry Niven, George R. R. Martin, and Robert Jordan?

I am now the weekly comics blogger for their website.

If you haven't been following the goings-on at, and I'll be honest and admit that I only started checking it out when they contacted me about working for them, then you probably don't realize that they have a Nebula award-winning original fiction component AND a vigorous blog, covering a wide variety of geek culture topics like books and movies and, yes, comic books. I didn't realize any of this until they reached out to me, but, man, it's a damn good site, and I'm not just saying that just because they wanted to hire me.

(Would I have taken the gig if it was a crappy site? Maybe, maybe not. But I sure wouldn't have bragged about how good the site was!)

So go check out, and read my first weekly post (which actually debuted a few days ago, but I'm just getting around to telling you about it): Xombi -- Monster Hunters and Mysteries.

I wrote it a week before the DC relaunch announcement, and I have no idea how "Xombi" will fare in the 52-ongoings version of the DCU, but enjoy that comic while it lasts!

And between, Comic Book Resources, and, (and this very blog you are now reading!), I will be all over the internet this summer, with or without a podcast.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

DC Speculation: The Play-at-Home Version

I've been hearing that DC will relaunch all of it's comics with new #1 issues and slightly modified (streamlined) continuity after "Flashpoint" for a few months now, and DC has confirmed the rumors today.

The day-and-date digital announcement is actually more surprising, and it's a bold move. I imagine the conference room in which that decision was made featured an oversized dry erase board with the words "day and date digital" on one side and a gigantic question mark on the other side.

At least it's SOMETHING. Though, unless the digital prices drop substantially, here's what I imagine will happen. Readers with iPads will slowly start to wean themselves off weekly comic shop visits, and then they will realize there's no real hurry to buy comics day-and-date on their mobile devices, since there's no way any of the digital content will be out of stock, so they'll wait for a sale. Then they'll lose interest. Then realize that life without comics isn't that big of a deal. Maybe they'll read Chris Ware hardcovers once a year, and that will be enough.

But until that happens, DC will kick of FIFTY TWO new monthly series in September. The "monthly" designation doesn't necessarily mean ongoing, I'll point out. I'm guessing maybe 30 firm ongoing series and 22 miniseries. 52 ongoing series would be waaay more than they have now, in the DCU. It could happen, though. We'll see.

Here are some of my gut feelings about what we might see (and even though I have some contact with some of these creators, I have not yet asked them about any of this -- it's pure guesswork on my part):
  • Scott Snyder writing two big ongoings -- probably a Superman book (to complement the supposed Morrison Superman series) and the Batman main title.
  • Jeff Lemire writing a "Smallville" series and maybe...Nightwing and the Outsiders.
  • Paul Cornell writing Flash.
  • Sterling Gates writing two ongoings. I'm thinking the Kid Flash series announced a few years back might finally show up, in a new form. Maybe he'll be on the Multi-Colored Lanterns series. Or, no. He'll write the Cyborg solo ongoing.
  • James Robinson will surely do more than just Hawkman. Don't be surprised to see him on an Atom series as well. Or, if the New Gods are in play, something from that pile of toys.
  • Judd Winick will write a Red Hood ongoing.
  • I think they must have courted Brian Azzarello for something. I wouldn't be shocked to see an Azz-written Suicide Squad comic. That would be a good fit.
  • I also expect a resurrection of some other classic titles, with new versions of the characters. Like the Secret Society of Super-Villains, perhaps, based more on the JLU interpretation. Or World's Finest, with a youngish Superman and Batman teaming up.
Overall, I'm looking forward to the relaunches. Besides the current DCU work of Morrison, Snyder, and Lemire, and an occasional Johns or Cornell book, the DC Universe is stale and uninspiring right now. I just hope the relaunched series pair some superior artists with the good writers. The thought of, say, Eddy Barrows on a Grant Morrison comic doesn't encourage enthusiasm.

Monday, May 30, 2011

BACK! And then some. Plus: Sol Star at the Movies

Okay, after my way-too-long hiatus, I'm back to begin a stint of semi-regular blogging. I don't want to promise daily posts, or even weekly posts, but you can be sure that I will keep this blog relatively up-to-date on my comings and goings, since I have a new writing gig that I'll be promoting pretty darn soon, along with whatever else keeps me busy over the summer.

(And, sadly, no, I didn't keep up with the sketching, and that's just not something I can devote myself to these days, when the paychecks are coming in for my writing, not my drawing.)

I put a little picture of John Hawkes here to remind myself that I'm only halfway through "Winter's Bone" and I really have no interest in watching the rest of it, even though everyone tells me it's a great film. Does it get better after the first hour? I mean, sure, it looks good, but it's a hell of a lot less interesting than, say, David Gordon Green's "Undertow," which is kind of a similar white trash on-the-run tragedy, and that movie didn't get anywhere near the accolades as "Winter's Bone." Maybe I'll watch the rest of it before I judge it. That would probably be smart.

And, hey, did you see that I write for now, too? I turned a Walt Simonson phone conversation into two posts and two "When Words Collide" columns, mostly because it was a pretty fascinating conversation, but also because Walt Simonson had a LOT to say. Looks like I might be doing some other things for over the summer months.

I'm sort of caught up at work too. I mean, I'll never really be caught up. But I can see over the pile of papers on my desk, now. I'm not buried like I was.

Also, it turns out that we canceled The Splash Page podcast. Well, I suppose I canceled it, by saying, "I'm done." And Chad didn't want to carry on without me, though I would listen to him and Sean Witzke talk every week if I could. But it's probably for the best that they aren't doing that, so I'll have an extra three or four hours a week to get things done.

Um, how has everyone been?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A Double Secret Hiatus

Okay, the weekly Sketchblog has been awesome, but I just haven't been able to keep up with it at all between my work, my family, and my recent stupid illness. It may also have helped if I didn't have to go outside and snowblow my driveway twice a day for the past 35 days.

So, yes, this blog is on hiatus until Spring. Until I can figure out how to make time to do more things in 24 hours.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Sketchblog Week 7: Keith Giffen

Each week, I try to carve out time to spend one hour a day sketching, building up a set of skills that should, we all hope, show improvement over a one-year period. Sometimes I'll draw by copying comic book artists, sometimes I'll draw from life, sometime I'll draw from how-to books, and other times, I'll just sketch with whatever is at hand. This is WEEK SEVEN of a 52 week experiment to see how well I can learn how to draw.

I could draw like mid-to-late 1980's Keith Giffen all day, every day. I love this stuff. This week's study comes from "Dr. Fate," a four-issue miniseries published in 1987, with art and covers by Keith Giffen.

I can't help wondering how much this comic influenced Todd McFarlane. Look at the way Giffen draws capes here. Look at the teeth in the upper left (and this miniseries is all about gods of order and chaos and lots and lots of giant teeth -- Kent Nelson even has a giant-toothed mouth in his belly for most of the story). This comic debuted during the same month as McFarlane's first issue of "Detective Comics," and about a year before Venom made his first appearance. It doesn't seem like McFarlane could have seen this comic before he started drawing Batman's cape with a zillion folds, shooting out in an expressionistic way, but the similarities are obvious. Maybe Giffen drew something else cape-heavy before this (though I can't think of what), or maybe they were inspired by Michael Golden's capes. I don't know.

What I do know is that Giffen's work in this Dr. Fate comic is some of my favorite art in any comic ever, ever, ever. It was a joy to sketch some studies of this stuff.

I had the most success once I just went straight into inks after roughing out some basic shapes. That's how I sketched the most detailed image on the top left: big, blocky shapes, then all rendering with pen and brush and sharpie. I love the look of it, and though the purpose of this year-long experiment isn't to fall in love with my own drawings but to learn and improve, I can't help but see how much the attention to detail -- and the layering of blacks and whites -- adds a sense of depth to what is an incredibly odd, almost abstract, but beautiful composition.

Yeah, man, I could wallow in this Keith Giffen glory forever. And I didn't even look at any Ambush Bug comics this week.

NEXT WEEK: I'm open to suggestions! Someone scratchy, maybe. Cowan? Sienkiewicz?