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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#Ireland from #Paddy to #Ennis this country has it all.


 
 
INot a whole lot of I countries in the world, and today, thanks to the folks at A to Z Challenge1, I decided to go with Ireland. Sorry, no Gaelic here today, folks. Perhaps some southern dialect. As in my use of y’all at times, but that’s about it.

atoz-map-flags-i

I could not include Ireland in this series due to one specific writer that I’ll discuss later.

Except for the Paddy Brennan images, if you click an image you will be taken either to the publishers site or the creators site or Amazon Author Page. Although I only use images found in the public domain, I will be going to the policy if linking to the people who deserve the credit and perhaps you will find something you like from some great talent.

First let’s begin a little more back in the day.

Paddy Brennan2

He was born in Ireland in 193o. When did he die? No one knows, or even if he has. He was a very private man and didn’t give interviews. He wanted to work and that was it. I can’t blame him there. MagnoComicImagine being able to create and not deal with the headaches to go with it of publicity.

His first published work was Jeff Collins-Crime Reporter for Magno Comics3 in 1946.

Marsman Comics4 came in 1948. Marsman_cover

Then his big break. In 1949 when he joined up with  D. C. Thomson & Company, Limited5 to which he may or may not owe to his sister sending in samples of his work, depending on if the legends are true. He did Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady in the Lake for People’s Journal, Sir Solomon Snoozer, and  Rusty in The Dandy6.

rusty

Jumbo1957Brennan was also the first artist to draw General Jumbo7 for The Beano8. General Jumbo originally appeared in 1953 and has periodically shown up ever since, even after the end of its series run. The book was basically about a boy who controlled a mechanized army created by a scientist. Why do I go into detail for this one? The influence of the book has been greater than one would have expected. One name in particular should be recognizable, Alan Moore9 of Watchmen  and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fame. Click for Comic Book Creators of England and Alan Moore

Now for new school but with an old idea, sort of.

Rob Curley10

A Dublin man with a busy life, Robert Curley not only is a creator but a comic book shop owner and comic book publisher with Atomic Diner11 as well. That’s a dream right there. I wanted to mention him for a number of reasons. One of course is is writing and creations such as Freakshow, The League of Volunteers12  and The Black Scorpion13, both set in 1940s WWII, as well as many others. All with different genres within comics.

Let me speak about The League of Volunteers for a moment. America has IrishLeague_of_Volunteers superheroes. They are called stereotypes, and sad ones at that. Rob Curley was tired of it all14. He draws inspiration for the characters from Irish mythology and history. Right up my alley. But why do I mention Curley? Through Atomic Diner he has brought the world great talents.

Part of the way he does this is he gives a plot for a book and hands it off to others to actually write the scripts for. When you have a growing company with success, you need all the talent you can get. Maura McHugh15, writer, and Malachy Coney16 writer and cartoonist are two such writers. Coney has worked on a book called The Darkness17 from Tow Cow/Image Comics18. McHugh works on Róisín Dubh19, another historical comic but with a twist.

How many of you reading this right now that know me can tell I would be subscribing to every book this company has right now if I could? I am truly getting my History teach and comic collector geek on.

I could stop here but I can’t. Why? Because of the next man.

Garth Ennis20

Garth Ennis is a writer from Northern Ireland who began his career in the British anthology Crisis21 by Fleetway22, which is now Egmont23. Crisis was a series that gave the UK audience more of a mature book to read with less of the need to appeal to the younger audience. This is not to ay mature as in sex, but as in intelligent and political.

Ennis wrote Troubled Souls, set in Northern Ireland, for Crisis which led to For a Few Troubles More, and True Faith. True Faith , a religious satire, was pulled from publishing but later found a home in America for Vertigo24.

Ennis’ success led to his being handed the flagship title of Judge Dredd25. Ennis then made the jump to American comics with preacherHellbazer26, the John Constantine27 book for DC Comics28. Some of you may know this character from the movie with Keanu Reeves called Constantine.

At DC Ennis’ creativity took off as he created Preacher29 and Hitman30. Then came another jump. This one to the competition, Marvel Comics31 and Punisher32. You will notice with Ennis’ title selections to work on, he isn’t much into the traditional superhero vein. He prefers the more realistic and gritty forms of characters. I can see the attraction in finding success through telling stories without gimmicks of powers. Although gimmicks of powers are great as well.


 

 This is one of those that could have gone on for much longer, not only Garth Ennis, but Ireland as well. Surprising? A little. But when you look at the literary history of this country, can we really be surprised?

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References
1
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/a-to-z-challenge-sign-uplist-2015.html

Return to Brennan
2 http://ukcomics.wikia.com/wiki/Paddy_Brennan
3 http://ukcomics.wikia.com/wiki/Magno_Comic
4 http://irishcomics.wikia.com/wiki/Marsman_Comics
5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D._C._Thomson_%26_Co.
6 http://ukcomics.wikia.com/wiki/The_Dandy
7 http://irishcomics.wikia.com/wiki/General_Jumbo
8 http://ukcomics.wikia.com/wiki/The_Beano
9 http://ukcomics.wikia.com/wiki/Alan_Moore

Return to Curley
10 http://irishcomics.wikia.com/wiki/Rob_Curley
11 http://www.atomicdiner.com/about/
12 http://irishcomics.wikia.com/wiki/The_League_of_Volunteers
13 http://irishcomics.wikia.com/wiki/The_Black_Scorpion
14 http://irishcomics.wikia.com/wiki/Just_in_time_-_a_new_breed_of_Irish_superhero
15 http://irishcomics.wikia.com/wiki/Maura_McHugh
16 http://irishcomics.wikia.com/wiki/Malachy_Coney
17 http://thedarkness.wikia.com/wiki/The_Darkness_%28Comic%29
18 http://www.topcow.com/
19 http://irishcomics.wikia.com/wiki/R%C3%B3is%C3%ADn_Dubh

Return to Ennis
20 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garth_Ennis
21 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_%28Fleetway%29
22 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleetway_Publications
23 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egmont_Group
24 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judge_Dredd
25 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertigo_%28DC_Comics%29
26 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellblazer
27 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Constantine
28 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DC_Comics
29 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preacher_%28comics%29
30 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitman_%28DC_Comics%29
31 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvel_Comics
32 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punisher

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