Batman to Deadpool to Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Romanian Connection

Today’s walk into Graphic Literature will be a simple one. A retrospective about one man and it will be short. We’re headed to Romania. No fluff, let’s get to it.

Sandu galbarFlorea (1946-).1 His career goes back to 1968 with a children’s magazine Luminiţa and a series, Păcală.

Perhaps what is truly his moment in Romanian comics’ history comes in 1973 with Galbar. This is thought to be the first science fiction comic book in Romania. Considering all the art I’ve seen while researching for this article that’s saying a lot.

He wasn’t simply a science fiction guy. Part of his large catalog in Romania is the retelling of Romanian history through Graphic Literature, winning a Eurocon, science fiction convention, award in 1980.

Problems began for him in communist Romania when in around 1984 he requested to leave for the United States where his two brothers were living. His right to publish was revoked and he had to use pen names to work. After the 1989 revolution, he returned under his own name.

Not long after we find him in New York. And soon after he was inking comics for Marvel Comics such as Conan, Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, and many others.  What’s an inker? You have an artist/drawer/penciler who draws the books, then the inker goes over those lines to make them look finished and polished and so the printing can actually pick up the images. He even did work at DC on the characters Superman and Batman. Some might be surprised to hear he also worked on two books for Dark Horse Comics called Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.

When asked what has been his favorite title or character to work on Florea did not hesitate to say Batman, having worked on Batman R.I.P. and other stories. This according to an interview at the 2011 New York City Comic Con.2

And he’s still going strong today.

conan
He gave samples for Conan to Marvel because he thought it was the best suited for him. No super powers. Sword wielding and battles. He had done that sort of thing before.
batman
Notice without the proper inking over the lines and given the right shading, you would not even see much to this scene. It has been noted an inker can make or break a comic.
super-wonder
I’ve spoken of this scene previously. And I had no idea Florea inked it.
deathstroke
Serious DC Comics fans should be geeking now. Deathstroke. He’s been around a long time and is one of my favorite DC characters, depending on which version DC lets him be this year.
deadpool
Yep, giving you some Marvel loving with Florea’s inking on Deadpool. With the upcoming movie, I couldn’t resist.
buffy6
Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Do I have this issue? Probably. I think I have them all. Don’t ask. I have no idea why.
buffy-spike
I had to give some Buffy and Spike fans a little taste. I couldn’t share the other two I found. I think this one should explain the others.

That’s it for today. Hope you enjoyed.

 

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References
1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandu_Florea
2 http://reviewfix.com/2011/10/review-fix-2011-new-york-city-comic-con-coverage-interview-with-batman-inker-sandu-florea/

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The Saint to the Honeymooners to Northguard. Quebec gives birth to creators.

Qatar is not the place to really go looking from Graphic Literature in the vein in which I am interested in at this time. I therefore headed to Quebec. I thought about provinces in China, but I thought a little closer to home would be easier. Have I ever told you how foolish my ideas can be?

Did I tell you I tried creators from Queens, New York? Not so easy either.

Canada went through some interesting things during WWII much like other parts of the world. Oddly US books were banned from being imported for economic reasons, but could be reprinted. This allowed for a  Golden Age of comic books in Canada. Canada also went through the 1950s censorship issues much as the rest of the various Western Hemisphere.

Golden Roy

I want to start today with a man named Joseph Michel Roy (1921-1996), better known as Mike Roy or Michael Roy. Researching about artists born in Quebec had been tough until the wee hours and I found this man. And did I find a creator or what?

Born in Quebec he headed south where he ended up in New York at the School of Industrial Art, also known as the High School of Art and Design. For those outside of the United States, think ages 14 or 15 up to around 18. The school produced several comic artists from this time period. During Roy’s particular time he was the first to get the break.1

In 1940, while still in school, Roy writes, pencils (draws), and inks the short story Tigerman2 in the comic book Daring Mystery Comics3.  Daring Mystery Comics was produced by Timely Comics, the predecessor to Marvel Comics.4

tigerman
The only image of Tigerman I could find. May or may not be Mike Roy’s.
daring6
Daring Mystery Comics #6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to a high school friend of Roy’s, another Timely Comics artist Allen Bellman, he recalls Roy working on a Sub Mariner comic will still in high school, although it is not mentioned in a list of his works. The incident sticks in Bellman’s mind because Roy was then a big shot and hero because he had actually done what they all wanted to do.5 One thing to keep in mind is, Roy went to work for Bill Everett as his assistant and that may be why we don’t see Roy’s name on work for that particular issue. Or it could be that issue has slipped through the cracks.6

cap60

Roy did a lot of Timely books, Captain America #60 being of course being of interest to me where he had the lead story. But there were later books I found insanely amazing to find he worked on. Jackie Gleason and the Honeymooners from the 1950s. The Twilight Zone from the 1960s.  Buck Rogers and the 25th Century in 1980.

gleasonAll of these are interesting and great but then we have a few things where Roy stands out.

Mike Roy’s Comic Strips

Roy has a tie to one of the most famous detectives in literary fiction, Mike Hammer. No, you won’t see Roy given credit for Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, but you will find his name with the comic Mike Danger in 1947, the first go round of Mike Hammer. It failed and Spillane, in three weeks, turned out I, the Jury.7

mikedanger
Crime Busters story.

 

We then find Roy on The Saint comic strip which began it’s run on Septemeber 27, 1948, written by Leslie Charteris. Yes, The Saint as in Simon Templar with George Sanders in the old movies and Roger Moore in the TV series.8

Saint Comic-Strip 1948[6]

Then we see him once again, in the detective genre with the Nero Wolfe comic strip from 1956 to 1958.9

Nero Wolfe 19570415-17

Mike Roy’s Native American Interests


Mike Roy was very interested in Native American culture. His strip Akwas from the 1960s showed this. It was set historically pre Columbus. He attempted to keep the strip in print by giving her super powers toward the end but it didn’t save it.10

akwas

Screaming Eagle, a graphic novel was Roy’s final work, published in 1998 after his passing.

“SCREAMING EAGLE tells a mythical version of Native history—from the early pioneering days to the end of the Indian wars. Not coincidentally, that period coincides with the life of the story’s fictional hero.

At the onset, white trappers shoot a bald eagle, then the boy Screaming Eagle. The eagle’s and boy’s spirits merge and Screaming Eagle comes back to life. He now has the power to turn into his namesake guardian spirit.

Screaming Eagle becomes the focal point for this simplified version of events. He’s there to counsel people in war and peace. He’s the embodiment of all the great Indian leaders, from Tecumseh to Geronimo.”~Robert Schmidt.11

screamingeagle

Mike Roy also co-founded a museum of Native American and Eskimo art.

Today

To end I will mention a creative duo specifically for Canadian Graphic Literature. writer Mark Shainblum and artist Gabriel Morrissette.  They are at least close to today but their work on specifically and obviously Canadian superheros is why I want to mention them.

The two created Northguard, an almost accidental hero in the fact he was really just doing his job and ended up being a costumed hero. The book was a serious effort during the 1980s to have home grown superhero comics with heroes having Canadian identity throughout, not just in name only. He also had a partner called Fleur de Lys from the emblem on the Quebec flag. The two appeared on Canadian postage stamps.12

ng1fleur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are successful Canadian comics but rare. With the amount of American comics and with a population that cannot support so many comics it’s difficult to create and maintain a publishing system. There are efforts and I may talk about them another time. But that’ all for today.
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Click the link below to learn about comics in the Philippines. Did WWII help or hinder their comic book culture? How about the rule of Marcos?

Can a part of Filipino culture come back to life?

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References

Return to Golden Roy
1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Roy_%28comics%29
2 http://comicbookdb.com/issue.php?ID=106465
3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daring_Mystery_Comics
4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timely_Comics

Return to Timely Comics
5 http://www.comicartville.com/bellmanpg2.htm
6 http://beachbumcomics.blogspot.com/2014/07/comic-strip-artist-mike-roy-mark-on.html

Return to Comic Strips
7 http://cgcforum.gpanalysis.com/cgcforum_thread.asp?pagenumber=55&ThreadID=690754&threadName=A+Month+in+the+Life+of+the+Comics
8 The Roger Moore Handbook-Everything you need to know about Roger Moore. By Emily Smith Page 418. Tebbo Publishing Feb. 28th 2013
9 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nero_Wolfe

Return to Roy’s Native American Interest
10 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akwas
11 http://www.bluecorncomics.com/scrmeagl.htm

Return to Today
12 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northguard

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Can a part of Filipino culture come back to life?


Our trip today into Graphic Literature takes us to Komiks. We could venture back to days when pictures and words were put together and people now call them cartoons or comics or as I prefer, Graphic Literature, however I want to jump ahead maybe 30 or so years. My goal today is to see if we can go from the past to the present and connect the artists and writers along the way.

You may have heard of the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon or Six Degrees of Separation. The goal is to connect Kevin Bacon to any other actor in six steps or less. Let’s see what we can do with the creators today.

After the Spanish

It’s after the Spanish-American War and there is some American influences filtering in.1 On January 11, 1929, Liwayway2 magazine published a character named Francisco Harabas, better known as Kenkoy3. Created by writer Romulado Ramos and the man who would become known as the father of Filipino Komiks, Tony Velasquez (Oct. 29, 1910-1997)4.

Kenkoykenkoy-and-familykenkoy-family

 

 

 

 

 

A little about Kenkoy. For one thing, the character is such a part of the culture the word kenkoy is actually an official part of the Filipino language now  meaning joker or jester. That should tell you something of the character himself. However, his life as a bachelor did not last forever, he eventually marries Rosing, a very classy and classic woman of the Philippines. The two remind me of Dagwood and Blondie in their differences of appearances and overall demeanor, created in 1930.5 With seven biological children and one adopted mute, but wily child later they were a happy, if not crowded, family.

Kenkoy is said to be the originator of Taglish6, which is English and Tagalog7 mixed as a language, you may notice it on social media if you know anyone from the Philippines.

A sad note  about Kenkoy. During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in WWII, Velasquez was forced to use Kenkoy as a propaganda tool. He refused but was convinced by the then Philippine President to use it for the promotion of his health program instead of war propaganda. I suppose it served the same purpose.8

Velasquez was the mentor to someone I found very interesting. As I have of others in the southern hemisphere on the other side of the earth.

Let’s go to Mars.

Mars Ravelo (Oct. 9, 1916-Sept. 12, 1988), was an illustrator and creator of great note.9 Ravelo wore many hats through his Komix career and became known as the “Father of Filipino Komix Superheroes”. I guess you can see why I am interested.

I want to mention two characters. One with a bit of conflict about her history. Darna, originally named Varga.10,

“You know I thought of creating Varga as a counterpart of Superman. Male on the part of the Americans, female on our part. Isn’t that okay?”~Mars Ravelo11

Varga  was created just before WWII broke out, around 1939.12  Some say Darna is a rip off of Wonder Woman who first appeared December, 194113 in DC Comics14. Darna’s alter ego is the mortal Narda. For one to become the other they must shout the name of the one they are not. The power to do so in the original origin came when a white stone crashing to earth from the planet Marte was swallowed by Narda to keep it hidden from her friends. With the change between characters being by the shouting of a name, inspired by Captain Marvel (1939), Revelo’s claim would seem to hold up.

darna-change

Then we have Captain Barbell, May 23, 1963. I have to say this one has an interesting origin. Revelo’s openly spoofed Komik of Captain Marvel, who is now known as Shazam, due to legal issues.15 With powers given to a mortal through a golden barbell while shouting the words Captain Barbell.  I know it sounds a little cheesy but the powers are given to various people over the years and is quite interesting. Revelo had not intended for the character to be quite as heroic as it turned out to be, but the popularity forced his hand. And it took me about as long coming to this point of writing this part to get the rhyme of Captain Marvel and Captain Barbell. Don’t hate me because I am slow, hate me because I am beautiful. Okay, so I have a sense of humor.

cbCaptain_Barbell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mars Revelo was a writer, editor and more, but he needed someone to be his artist.

Darna Comes Alive

Enter Nestor Redondo (May 4, 1928-Sept. 30, 1995). Oddly, or funnily, Redondo studied architecture when he was young.16 Why odd or funny? I’ve found this to be true with many Graphic Literature artists before. Many writers and editors have said it seems to be a plus in their backgrounds and detail work. But that’s perhaps for another article.

Why the love of a career in Komiks, with possibly check to prayer to check life ahead? Blame his father who would would bring him American comics. An addiction began for titles such as Flash Gordon and Captain America as well as Buck Rogers and Superman. Little did that boy or his father know what was in the future.17

Then it happened. Mars Revelo came calling and Redondo drew the first issue of Darna. You’ve seen his work above on Darna. Now here are some other pieces. Notice the work commissioned for the promotional comic version of the MGM movie Quo Vadis. The movie studio wanted Revelo to come to the US to work for them after seeing his talent, but he didn’t think he was ready.

redondo8quovadis9

 

 

 

 

 

But the Philippines could not hang on to Nestor for much longer.

The Filipino Invasion

Through the talent and popularity of fellow Filipino artist Tony DeZuniga, Nestor Redondo and several of his friends came to the notice of DC and Marvel.18 You can call this the Filipino Invasion.

Redondo worked on books for DC such as Phantom Stranger and Swamp Thing. As well as Red Sonja and Savage Sword of Conan for Marvel Comics.19

swampthing19p13conan

 

 

 

 

 

 

What he was most proud of or perhaps most passionate about was his work distributed by Open Doors20, a Netherlands-based organization. Being very religious he worked on beautifully illustrate stories of the Bible to be distributed to countries and areas where the Bible was restricted.

MarxLeninMaoChrist

 

The Exodus

After the mass exodus of so many Filipino creators it’s difficult to make the connections from Filipino to Filipino as I have wanted to. In part this is because so many left in 1972. Why did so many leave at that time? September 21, 1972, Ferdinand Marcos, nearing the end of his term as president, declared martial law.  Things got bad.

“From what I remember, the local komiks companies set up their own Comics Code (but they were a self-governing body), just so that the government won’t get involved and censor all their works. But just like the Comics Code, they did restrict stories that showed too much horror, sex, and violence. Which, could be, partly the reason why our horror komiks artists looked for greener pastures and found it in the US market.”~Budjette Tan of Trese

Much like other countries where the government takes a strangle hold on any type of media that may influence the population, the comic book industry suffers greatly. If that hold lasts for a long time, decades even, a generation of culture does not inherit a long standing tradition. That’s what happened in the Philippines. Then Komiks became mostly photocopied and stapled together by the creators themselves and sold by the creators as well, many depended on the various conventions that are held each year.21

But now the industry requires greater quality to gain an audience. They all expect Marvel and DC quality.22

Resurrection?

Now there is an effort to revitalize and bring the industry back home. In every aspect of visual entertainment you will find Filipinos, Pinoys. That’s paraphrasing Whilce Portacio. If you are a comic book fan anywhere in the world you very likely know this man’s name.

wp-bishop
Whilce Portacio and Bishop, the X-Man he helped create.

Born in the Philippines, but with a Navy dad he bounced or bobbed around until finally settling down at the age of about two and growing up in San Diego, CA. That’s where at the age of ten, his neighbor’s wife made it possible for Whilce to come into possession of her husband’s comic book collection and Whilce became a student of Jack Kirby and Neal Adams through books he never would have had otherwise.23

How did he make it to the big time? Through the help of another? No. He attended his first San Diego comic book convention, showed his samples to Marvel Comics editor Carl Potts24 and he was next inking Alien Legion25. The best I can tell, the original series.

Then came inking Longshot. Then Punisher. In an video interview Whilce talks about how he got his shot to become a penciller, the guy who does the drawing the inker inks over. He said he would ink the Punisher then flip the sheet over. You have to understand the sheets are huge for working on and then shrunk down for printing. He would then draw his on pencil work on the back. While the editor of Punisher would be holding up the page to check out the inking, the assistant editor would see the pencils and say, “Hey, look at this.”

X-Men, Iron Man, and others. you name it he did it. Then he was one of the magnificent seven that started Image Comics and worked on books like Spawn. Not big enough, how about Batman? Oh, and if you don’t know who Image Comics is, think where  The Walking Dead began.

That’s all great and good but the main reason I mention him today is his efforts to bring pride back to the art form in the Philippines. To do that he has partners who will be helping to back a studio system in the Philippines with Portacio acting as art director.26

I can imagine who the backers are. His thoughts are the Philippines could be the next Japan for many aspects of the industry from comics to animation. One advantage is the Filipinos already speak English and tell stories in English.27

Why no art by Whilce Portacio? That’s not the reason I mentioned him, although listening to him he is the man to learn from. I would love to be a student of his. But the reason I mention him here?

He’s bringing a culture back home.

One thing Whilce said way back when in an a show hosted by Stan Lee when asked about when he knew he wanted be an artist he said the first grade. And here is the best part of why. The teacher had given the class paper and crayons. As she went around the room she told each student something like that’s nice, and then would ask what are you drawing? When she got to Whilce, she said, “Oh, did you see the Saturn V rocket launch yesterday?” It clicked. She knew what he had drawn. Yes, a teacher gave him confidence with just a few words.

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References

Return To Tony Velasquez
1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_comics
2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liwayway
3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenkoy
4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Velasquez

Return To Kenkoy
5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blondie_%28comic_strip%29
6 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taglish
7 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tagalog_language
8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Velasquez#During_World_War_II

Return To Mars Ravelo
9 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Ravelo
10 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darna
11 http://erneelawagan.blogspot.com/2012/02/lost-works-of-mars-ravelo.html
12 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varga_%28comics%29
13 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonder_Woman
14 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DC_Comics

Return To Captain Barbell
15 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Barbell

Return To Nestor Redondo
16 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestor_Redondo
17 http://www.alanguilan.com/museum/redondo.html

Return To The Filipino Invasion
18 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_DeZuniga
19 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestor_Redondo#American_work
20 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Doors

Return To The Exodus
21 http://www.comicscube.com/2011/08/filipino-komiks-and-history.html
22 http://www.goethe.de/ins/id/lp/prj/mic/cph/enindex.htm

Return To Whilce Portacio
23 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whilce_Portacio
24 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Potts
25 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_Legion

Return To Penciling and the Future
26 http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2014/03/whilce-portacio-launches-talent-search-for-new-manila-studio/
27 http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/342688/scitech/geeksandgaming/world-famous-pinoy-comic-book-artist-comes-home-to-inspire-new-wave-of-talent

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It’s a super day on Ronovan Writes. Go Ontario!

Oman may have some creators but I didn’t find any in my basic search. I do a decent search for a time then I move on. That being said, do you know how many countries start with the letter O? You got it, one. I decided to go with a province. Yes, I thought about searching in other languages to see if a different spelling came up for a country, but this is a fun project for me, and I do enough translating as it is.

Normally when doing a history I go in chronological order. I thought I would change it up a bit today. We’re going with two creators only. We’re going back in time. From end to the beginning. We’re going north. We’re going maple leaf country.

That’s right.

We’re going Canada.

To be precise—we’re going Ontario.

A lot of times when you start with the newest you end up talking the least about something in history. That has been especially true for Graphic Literature.

Today if you think that, you are wrong. Wrong in a big way. So wrong that wrong is not even enough of a word to say how wrong you and I are.

The Midas Touch

At the age of 39 Jeff Lemire is likely to tell you to be included with our later creator in an article would have been an impossibility. But maybe the reason he is, is because no one ever asked him that if it was possible.1After all, there are a lot of accomplishments out there that when asked of the people that did them, they say, no one ever told me I couldn’t.

I don’t know if Midas Touch applies here but when you start your career self-publishing your first comic, win an award, then go immediately into a company where Alan Moore, legend, is putting out a volume of his The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and when an award with a series with that company, I think Midas Touch fits.2

“I like to tell stories that make people feel something. It takes too long to make comics to just do frivolous or throwaway work. I’m trying to create real emotion on the page.”~Jeff Lemire3

Reading more and more about Lemire you discover one thing about him, creating comics is the important part of his profession. Even with the recent blow up of his world with Sony optioning a comic project from Image Comics, Descender, he hadn’t even put out the first issue of yet, he made sure during the negotiations his role, his time, and his freedom was in creating the book he wanted. He got that deal.4That’s power. That’s talent.

descender
Descender by Jeff Lemire, art by Dustin Nguyen.

Lemire is not your typical superhero storyteller. In truth that’s not his go-to element. Can he do it? He’s written, Batman, the Justice League, and Superboy. Yes, he can do it, but he’s likely to take them out of that super environment.

His early work, such as the Eisner and Harvey Award nominated Essex County Trilogy5 and even the graphic novel, Underwater Welder6 set characters in Canadian settings away from urban areas and mega-powered heroes.

essex
I like the art work here from Essex County Trilogy with what looks like a spoof of the Punisher from Marvel Comics. Brilliantly done.
uw1
Notice the sharp, crisp lines from the above water scenes in Underwater Welder. The main character looking at his pregnant wife.
uw2
Here we see an underwater scene with the looser lines and you have images of the above world showing you the contrast.

 

 

 

 

With Underwater Welder he did some interesting work with the art. Yes, he likes to do all of the work on a book if time permits. Above water he has sharp, distinct lines, while below he has the looser imagery. And there is a purpose.

But I am here to see where he goes for the hero stuff. Call me selfish, I’ve learned about what he does, listened to a number of interviews, one of them above, to see consistency of his character over the years and of his devotion to the story and not to the sells or the fame. Now I want to talk about bookes he has worked on that I can geek out about. And seeing as today is the one year anniversary of this site, I’m going to enjoy and share what I like.

The big moment.

The graphic novel The Nobody in 2009 brings Lemire to DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. A retelling of the Invisible Man by H.G. Wells. Lemire does all the work on the book except for the lettering.7

nobodyhex

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 
Now onto something more mainstream as far as what an average comic fan might now, Jonah Hex.8 I know, you are wondering who he is. Think of the Josh Brolin movie that came out. Lamire did the art on the Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti scripted book.9  The huge part here is the Jimmy Palmiotti part, former partner of Joe Quesada who became the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics for over a decade and eventually promoted to Chief Creative Officer.10 In other words he, Lemire had a cool moment there.

His first big accomplishment, I think, can be seen as a very long run on Animal Man from Sept. 2011-Mar. 2014.11 Why do I say this? He took a character that had apparently no real direction for over two decades since it’s revival creator, Scottish born writer Grant Morrison12, left and turned it into not only a relevant to this day and age, but so much so Animal Man became part of Justice League United.

But the one piece of work at DC that I believe shows the companies biggest vote of confidence in Lemire is when they picked him to step in when Ann Nocenti<13 left Green Arrow14.

I’ve skipped a lot of material but I want to leave off with this one. Lemire is now writing probably my second favorite comic book character of all time, Hawkeye. Although I will give him credit for being given a big gig on a Marvel Comics book, I have to say I don’t much like the ideas he has for it.15 Sometimes a fan boy wants his favorite characters to at least remain the star of the book. But that’s the fan boy in me. Old school collector guy.

Rant of the Blog Birthday Boy.

But the ideas of Marvel these days doesn’t hold anything sacred. It’s my blog birthday so I’m speaking my piece here. By Marvel killing the CaptAmerica-100-lgsteverogerssam_wilson_captain_america.jpgsacred cows so to speak, they are doing more harm than good. I see a lot of what they are doing as more knee jerk reactions to placate to hopefully making sales and get publicity over maintaining long time fans, readers. It’s going to bomb at some point. There has always been something comforting in being able to pick up an issue of Spider-Man and have some idea of who the character is. They killed Steve Rogers, Captain America, brought him back, then aged him, forcing him out of the Cap roll. He’s still in the game as a commander of sorts and picked his longtime partner the Falcon as the new Captain America. I’m okay with that last part. It makes sense. But Steve Rogers not being Captain America doesn’t. Quesada has some problems with his thinking. He thinks the costume is the character. He thinks Thor is the hammer, so anyone picking it up is Thor. Marvel is awesome, but sometimes it’s just screwed up.

One of Lemire’s first DC writing jobs was to write Superboy, but not a young Clark Kent. Long story there, convoluted and a pain in the butt to work out. It seems DC Comics can’t decide what version of it’s universe it wants to keep. Every few years or maybe a decade or so they decide it’s time to destroy everything fans knew and start over. Yeah, Superman and Wonder Woman are making out now. Lois Lane?

s-ww

Moving On

Whose our other Ontario comic book artist? Who did work on Superboy? Who did draw Superboy?

How about the man who created him and Superman?

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a legend.

Joe Shuster

A legend? Yes. A happy ending? Wait and see.

Drawing on paper bags and the back of rolls of discarded wallpaper, Joe Shuster did what it took to break into the world of comics. Canadian? Yes. But it wasn’t until his parents moved to Cleveland, Ohio that IT happened.16 The meeting. The chemistry explosion. He met Jerry Siegel.17 You can’t say one name without the other.

If you are not a comic book person, Siegel and Shuster might not spark something in your brain cavity. If you are then you instantly think of the Big S.

Superman.

orig-scov
Joe Shuster and Original Sketch of Superman Cover.

These two young men created what is considered the first superhero of sorts. Two young Jewish boys doing what geeky comic book wannabe professionals wanted to do.

The boys did something they would regret. They sold the rights to the character when they began to work for the future DC comics. At the end of their contract with DC, Shuster did a little more in comics, then disappeared from the business disgruntled with what should have been a beautiful career.

He ended up as a delivery man living with his mother. Although it is believed he did continue drawing comics under other names at times during the 1950s in less than respectable genres. But it was a buck, a living.

For the man who created not only the Superman characters we know, but also detective Slam Bradley, and Doctor Occult, it is a sad ending. An ending that found him blind an in a home when he passed away.

slamoccult-vampire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Apparently Siegel and Shuster were the first to have a vampire in a comic book.18 A lot of firsts for a duo that was messed over for so many decades.

I knew of the legal battles between Siegel and Shuster versus DC Comics over Superman, which gave them their byline back and a yearly pension and healthcare in the 1970s, but I didn’t know about Shuster’s leaving the business.

Will Lemire, with better relations and with creator rights more firmly in place end up doing more work in comics than Shuster? Yes. Will he create Superman? No. But I don’t think anyone ever goes out with the idea of creating the next Superman. Thinking about it, why don’t they?

 
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References
Return to Lemire and the Midas Touch.
1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Lemire
2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Shelf_Productions
3 http://titanbooks.com/blog/interview-jeff-lemire/
4 http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2015/03/05/jeff-lemire-amid-hollywoods-call-new-descender-comic-book-is-his-big-picture/

Return to Lemire and Early DC/Vertigo Work.
5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essex_County_Trilogy
6 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Underwater_Welder

Return to Lemire and the Big Moment.
7 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nobody
8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonah_Hex
9 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Palmiotti
10 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Quesada

Return to Lemire and the First Big Accomplishment.
11 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Man
12 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grant_Morrison
13 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Nocenti
14 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Arrow
15 http://marvel.com/news/comics/24053/take_aim_with_a_first_look_inside_all-new_hawkeye_1

Return to Joe Shuster.
16 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Shuster
17 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Siegel

Return to Slam Bradley and Dr. Occult.
18 http://nothingbutcomics.net/2014/08/08/friday-flash-fact-the-first-vampire-in-comics/

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First Sci-Fi to First NZ in USA to Today.

Sometimes it surprises me where Graphic Literature is found. I mean, it shouldn’t but I can be in how creators that have worked here in the United States as well as other large markets might come from the end of the earth.

We’re headed to that End of the Earth now.

New Zealand.

Space Case.

I had to do a little digging for this bit of information. You’ll see why in a moment. I headed to the Library of Congress. Okay, so it was their website. According to the information they’ve pulled in, a comic strip called Mr. Skygack, From Mars by Fred Schaefer and A.D. Condo for the Chicago Day Book appeared in October of 1907, a humorous strip about an alien who comes to learn about humans.1 The LoC source comes from Chronicling America. If you visit the reference below you can see the paper it appears in and zoom in. Actually a very interesting visit.2 There are those who consider this the first science fiction comic strip, humorous as it may be, simply on the basis of an alien being present, the first alien present in a comic strip3. Buck Rogers, appears as of 1/7/1929, although the character had appeared in August of 1928 in Armageddon 2419.4 According to Ron Goulart of The Encyclopedia of American Comics from 1897 to the Present (1990), Buck Rogers is considered the first serious science fiction strip.5

You’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with New Zealand. I argue that Mr. Skygack, From Mars is absurdly considered science fiction simply based on the presence of an alien in it. And then even if one does give it credit, Buck Rogers is not the first serious and true science fiction strip. That is like saying a Gone with the Wind is a Civil Rights movie because there are African Americans in it.


Really and Truly Spaced Out.

In 1924 in the Australian Sunday Times a comic strip appears. It is about a young boy named Peter, who travels through space and visits other planets like Jupiter in the strip Peter and all the roving folk.

firstscifiThe creator is Noel Cook who is Foxton, New Zealand born.6Legend goes he turns down an offer to write the series for a company in New York. Five years later and Buck Rogers gets all the fame.

Although Cook created other science fiction books I found some of his humorous strips worth sharing.

gotcha
WIFE (to husband): You like that hat and I like this one, so I had better take both just to please you.

flourSentimental Constable: And what is your favorite flower, Mary?
Mary: Self-raising for scones, and plain for pastry.

After retirement Cook went on to become a successful painter with many shows in London, one being opened by the Queen Mother. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any of those images, but this image of a pulp magazine piece of his shows how talented he was in that medium. Imagine when he painted without a script or an audience to please.

pulpAfter researching Noel Cook, and basically becoming a huge fan, I almost don’t have the energy to move to the next person, or look for the next, but I must. Let’s see where Noel leads me.

Girl Power.

I wanted to jump ahead a bit, and in a way I am, with Ted Brodie-Mack (1897-?). Although born a year later than Noel Cook (1896-1981), Brodie-Mack brought a different character in 1944, Kazanda the Wild Girl and the Forbidden Kingdom.7

kazandarangers-1rangers-2

 

 

 

 

 

Brodie-Mack drew the character while Archie E. Martin, who went by the name of Peter Amos, was the writer. What makes Kazanda stand out is that for one, she’s a woman, a jungle queen of the Lost Continent. She had powers such as telepathy. There are conflicting opinions about other powers, so I’ll stop with telepathy and typical jungle queen kick butt type stuff. The second thing that makes this comic so interesting, it’s the first New Zealand created comic to be published in the United States, reprinted in Ranger Comics in 1945.8

The 1950s Freak Out.

As happened in the United States and other countries, the End of the Earth decided comics were bad for kids and society and began to ban books. It makes you wonder what literary and creative genius was lost during this time of youth being denied a visual medium to excite their minds.

New Zealand Strips for All.

In 1977 a formally trained artist working as an illustrator started a fanzine called Strips. Colin Wilson intended for Strips to show his work, but what it did in reality was begin to showcase work from all across New Zealand. The comics life of the country was reborn.9

But for Wilson, New Zealand didn’t last much longer. The talented artist, apparently extrememly talented, found his way to the UK and on the flagship UK comic book Judge Dredd10 in 2000 AD11 as well as Rouge Trooper12.

dreddrogue-trooperrogue

 

 

 

 

 

But the UK was not the stopping place for Wilson. France and the legendary book Blueberry13 was in his future. For those who read the France part of this series you will recall Blueberry and its importance in French comics.

blueberrypointblank

 

 

 

 

 

Do you think he stopped there? No. American comic fans might recognize the next work of his, a series called Point Blank14, from Wildstorm15 comics, the studio of Jim Lee16. The series was written by a comic great Ed Brubaker17.

wilson

I like the above art Wilson did for an expose of his work in which he includes many of the characters he had worked with through the years. As of the last information I have Wilson is still working for 2000AD.

The New Talent.

As in the rest of the world, the government became a little more sane, as most governments do when the people basically tell them to stuff it.

There isn’t a  lot of information out there right now about some of the talent coming out of New Zealand, especially about the women. But I want to mention them the women along with the sites you can visit.. Indira Neville18, Sarah Laing19 (awards winning author and teacher), Robyn E. Kenealy20, Li Chen21, and Rae Fenton22.

The researchers brain is toast right now. This was an entertaining adventure for me and a great learning experience. I encourage you to click the Reference #21 just above this paragraph to go to the link for a nice interview with three of the women from New Zealand that have begun an effort to put women in the public eye in a male centric opinion of that public. Good points are made I agree with wholly, and some opinions I disagree with, but a very good interview.

See you next time.
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References
Return to Space Case.
1 http://www.loc.gov/rr/news/topics/skygack.html
2 http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87093407/1907-10-12/ed-1/seq-4/#date1=1836&sort=date&date2=1922&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&index=0&words=Earth+SKYGACK&proxdistance=5&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=&phrasetext=&andtext=skygack+earth&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1
3 http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/comics
4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buck_Rogers
5 https://books.google.com/books?id=c91Vrl20Y4sC&pg=PA284&lpg=PA284&dq=buck+rogers+the+first+serious+science+fiction+strip&source=bl&ots=LVtk3e-T21&sig=_KEeBuYGZlll4HPU-0as1MXZwbk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xu0tVZSMMZLIsQSJsoHABg&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=buck%20rogers%20the%20first%20serious%20science%20fiction%20strip&f=false

 
Return to Really and Truly Spaced Out. Noel Cook.
6 http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/zoomify/41816/noel-cooks-peter-1925

Return to Girl Power and Ted Brodie-Mack
7 http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/comics-and-graphic-novels/page-1
8 http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/cartoon/41818/kazanda-1945

Return to New Zealand Strips for All. Colin Wilson.
9 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Wilson_%28comics%29
10 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judge_Dredd
11 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000_AD_%28comics%29
12 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogue_Trooper
13 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blueberry_%28comics%29
14 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Blank_%28comics%29
15 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WildStorm
16 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Lee
17 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Brubaker
18 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indira_Neville

Return to The New Talent
19 https://sarahelaing.wordpress.com/about/
20 http://www.pikitiapress.com/blog/2014/10/3/three-words-interview-rae-fenton-sarah-laing-indira-neville
21 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robyn_E._Kenealy
22 http://www.designassembly.org.nz/articles/5-minutes-with-li-chen
23 https://www.blogger.com/profile/10046917627054462214
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