Archive for November, 2008

Brendan McCarthy colors


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

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I found this 1989 Judge Dredd collection in the cheapie bin. It contains two perfect examples of late ’80s hand-painted color by one of the masters, Brendan McCarthy. (Okay, get over the fact that it’s a Judge Dredd comic, I’m riffing on COLOR here.) There are four stories in this one. Two colored by McCarthy: one drawn and colored by McCarthy (with help from Tony Riot) and one drawn by the team of McCarthy, Riot, and Brett Ewins. The other stories are by Brian Bolland and Ian Gibson, and are not colored by McCarthy. To me, it’s funny how Bolland’s art has aged poorly next to McCarthy. It’s like technically sound black and white artwork versus technically sound loose, color driven artwork. McCarthy looks fresh 20 years on. Bolland looks archaic, byzantine in comparison. But, that’s me.

McCarthy is a peculiar artist. He’ll razzle-dazzle with “effects” and color and get way loose, and then pull it in, tighten up, and play styles off of each other. He can get too loose for my tastes, but then he’ll reel his lines in and take it to the hoop, scoring points for “realism”. It’s a nutty combo that was “out there” for comics fans 20 years ago. Funny how this approach seems just right for today.

From the first story, Judge Dredd having a spell (drawn and colored by McCarthy):

This is from the third story and looks tighter because Brett Ewins was involved. I think they would switch off on each page, the styles range wildly. I really dug this spread, and believe it’s Ewins’s pencils and layouts with McCarthy’s colors.

And I think this is all McCarthy, maybe Ewins layouts(?):

For me, McCarthy’s color signaled a break in the ’80s towards a wider range of feeling. His colors are “realistic” and modern in a painterly sense, but compared to most comics coloring, he was seen as “radical”. He was utilizing a new process that allowed him to use any and all colors he could imagine, not being limited to the FOUR color process. This was also before Photoshop, so he was attempting to “expand” the palette like few before him. He incorporated (relatively new) DayGlo colors and found ways of getting around the limitations of the wonky FULL color process. The other two stories in the book use a similar color range, but they don’t look half as good. McCarthy brought to the table a painterliness that didn’t rely on black containment lines for everything that was being delineated. Nothing really all that new, even in comics, but McCarthy’s work didn’t look like other “painted” comics. His work was never muddy, but “light” and “open”. A fresh look compared to the Frazetta-like browns and ochres that dominates the “Studio” group of painter-slash-cartoonists like Kaluta and Jones.

Anyways, that’s all I got. Can’t sleep, but too tired to flesh this out anymore. Later.

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Charlton Comics Fanzines


Thursday, November 6, 2008

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Charlton fanzines! Man, what a guy can find here in Pittsburgh, PA.

OK, lemme see if I can trace this riff back to the source. So, I went to that small convention last weekend and was bragging to my friends about all the cool shit I cherry picked from 50-cent bins, when I mentioned that I passed up those off-sized color comics from Charlton.

My buddy Spahr was like, “Oh, yah, those were great, I love the paper they used for those things. I don’t have any of those around but I do have these, remember these Charlton fanzines?”

The most interesting one, to me, is the first one pictured below (top left). That’s Contemporary Pictorial Literature #12 from 1975 with a Paul Gulacy cover.

Check out some choice bits from the editorial by Roger Stern about the debut of Atlas Comics (at that time a new publishing effort led by former Marvel Comics owner Martin Goodman), as well as the price increases and content changes to the zine:

“Think for a moment of the really ugly things that go on in comics publishing—the deliberate rack-crowding, the unearned braggadocio, the high-handed treatment of creative personnel—and you’ll realize that Atlas has in a sense become a microcosm of the industry. We have seen a handful of shockingly beautiful books and a carload of tripe. […] It is clear that a free, creative hand can devise a damn good comic. And no better examples can be found than Larry Hama’s Wulf and Howard Chaykin’s Scorpion. […] So here we are for $.75 … four times a year … with ever-lovin’ color covers … and type so clear you can read every word. […] Old timers amongst you will notice that there is no Steve Gerber with us this issue. What with him becoming a Crazy editor, and a number of new titles starting up … well, you’ve heard of deadline doom. Dogs willing, he’ll be back with us next issue.”

It was a cool little zine (mostly put together by Bob Layton, future Iron Man artist) and also inside are spot illos and comics by future pros John Byrne (we used to say “John Brine”) and Dennis Fujitake (remember Dalgoda?), as well as “fan” drawings by established pros like Syd Shores and Herb Trimpe(!).

But the best thing in the issue has to be this line from the indicia: “Contributors! Please refrain from sending in samples unless you can put any of our regular CPL artists to shame.”

Hold on, I’ll be back, I gotta see if I can scare up any Fantastic Fanzines.

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Two Things


Thursday, November 6, 2008

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I. The great Frank Santoro talks to Tim O’Shea about Cold Heat, Olde Tyme printing, and this very blog in a new, must-read interview.

In my mind, this quote is the most obviously noteworthy:

Tim Hodler is really my ace in the hole.

II. I just read the latest issue of the ACME Novelty Library, and it’s pretty much just amazing. When we started Comics Comics, we often said that we wanted to avoid covering the obvious big names (Ware, Crumb, Clowes, etc.) too much, but after this and the other most recent volumes of Ware’s work, I’m really starting to rethink that. Ware’s just too good to ignore. (So are those other guys, really.) I think Dan might be writing about this one, so I’ll keep my thoughts brief, and just note a couple things:

1. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a comic before that featured a character that I felt such profound sympathy for at some points, and so viscerally hated at others. The range of emotional effects and subtleties of characterization that Ware is able to achieve is really astounding. I don’t care what anybody says.


2. There are zero, count them, ZERO self-deprecating jokes or comments in this book. In fact, though people still complain about them constantly, Ware has included that kind of thing in his work less and less as time has gone on. (I don’t count the sketchbooks, both because they collect older work not originally intended for publication, and because if there was ever a place for personal artistic self-assessment, you’d think it would be in low-print-run diary/sketchbooks. Anyone who buy’s an artist’s journal hoping not to hear what that artist thinks about his work is … odd, to say the least.)

I am very, very confident that those brave critics who claim to only like Ware’s early work (because he “tediously” beats himself up too much, and has a “one-note” emotional palette) will revise their future assessments in the face of the incontrovertible evidence that he doesn’t do it as much now as he did in the work they claim to like. Or they will if they ever read something he’s drawn since last century. I mean, these critics and message-board warriors hate “one-note” art, right? So I assume they hate pounding on the same piano key over and over themselves…

(Don’t even get me started on the whole he’s-always-dark-and-negative thing. That makes about as much sense as complaining that Groucho Marx never “really got serious.”)

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More 50 cent finds


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

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This is a wild one. Originally created as a syndicated strip for a European anthology, Cat Claw had this Romita/Buscema Marvel house style style. That was cool for 1981 when it first appeared. But it didn’t get collected here in the States until 1989 so it looked really weird and old school by the time I saw it. Funny how that can happen in less than a decade. The best part about picking this run of issues up was seeing how the covers for issue six and eight are nearly identical in terms of layout! “Yeah, the kids liked that one, just do it again and sex it up a little”. Who drew it all? Bane Kerac.

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50 cent bin


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

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All right. More scans of 50 cent comics from the comics show the other day. First up, a Charlton Ghost Manor with a crazy, loose Ditko story that is already, safely, in my swipe file
Next up, one of the weirdest, most obscure, resonant comics of my youth and the “black and white explosion” of ’86-’87: Stark Future, drawn by Jim Somerville. It was like a poor man’s Moebius before Moebius really hit in the States. Like, I remember seeing this comic at the beginning of high school and then it fading from memory as European comics became more available.

Stark Future was inspirational because it felt within reach, like some comic you could draw yourself in study hall. It made me want to draw, and draw something different than superheroes. Reading this comic was like watching a Ridley Scott movie. It was dumb, futuristic nonsense but it made me want to try my hand at it too. It primed me for Moebius and everything “serious” about comics. Seriously.

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Herbie #1 for one dollar


Sunday, November 2, 2008

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Ah, back in Pittsburgh, PA and the best thing about this neck of the woods are these small Sunday afternoon comics conventions. Today’s was at some hidden Holiday Inn off an exit ramp. I spent 39 dollars and came home with over 50 great comics. The find of the day being the above: Herbie #1 (!) by Ogden Whitney for a buck. (Jim Rugg passed it up!)

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