Showing posts with label superheroes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label superheroes. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Comics and Craft Beer: A Chat with Kate Hoke of Heroic Aleworks


by Mike Rhode and Chris Ingram

Heroic Aleworks, a brewery with comic book-themed beers, opened in Woodbridge, VA this past January. We recently met Kate Hoke, co-founder and co-owner of the brewery, and interviewed her on comics, cosplay and beer making.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I wrote the first issue of our comic, which tells the Solasta origin story, and will be doing the bulk of the writing going forward.  Fortunately, we have professional artists to handle the drawing part!  For each one of the beers my husband, Tim Hoke, and I create all the characters in terms of deciding who’s a bad guy and who’s a good guy, what are their powers, where to they fit in our comic universe, their name, and basically what they look like.  Then I put together a Pinterest board for the artist to give them examples for hairstyles, armor, weapons, poses, backgrounds, etc., that get turned into the final work.  Although we have only one issue right now, each and every one of our beer characters fits into the larger universe we’re creating and will all play some role in the ongoing stories.

I also do all of the graphic design work and web design for Heroic.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

Haha.  I pay people!  But the artists we work with use a combination of traditional pen and ink, along with digital rendering.  The artists who created the characters for Sid Fist and Murdock the Merciless (Raymond Francis and Robert Spencer), for example, start with traditional pencil and paper and once the sketch is complete they do a high resolution scan and finish the piece digitally.  Our first comic was done entirely digitally.  My impression, however, is that most of our art is created through a combination of the two.

How did you find your artist's stable? Who are the people in it?

We work with artists literally from all over the world, many of whom I met through artist commission websites.  We also have a few local artists that we met at comic conventions, and I’m hoping that number will increase over time.  Here’s a breakdown of everyone so far, their website or Facebook page, and what characters they’ve done for us:

Ian Richardson (Great Britain)
o   http://pencilsandstrings.deviantart.com/
o   Solasta, Max Nix, Doctor Enigma, Mind Trappe, Death Blossom, the 63 Scottish Fold Oracle, and our logos
 


They Did This! - Illustration and Design (South Africa)
o   Primary artists are Karl Mostert and Andrew Cramer
o   https://www.facebook.com/TheyDidThisStudio/
o   Mistress of War, Master Heist, Oda the Huntress, Krystal Palast, Goldfang (coming soon), Confounded IPA (Moray Rhoda, artist)

Keith Hinman (Michigan)
o   http://kwh-illustration.deviantart.com/
o   The Dark Enemy, Baron von Blackbrane

Raymond Francis (local)
o   https://www.facebook.com/C3Comics/
o   Sid Fist

Robert Spencer (local)
o   https://www.facebook.com/C3Comics/
o   Murdock the Merciless

Zachary Davis Bradley (New Mexico)
o   http://zachdb.deviantart.com/
o   Heroic Aleworks Presents Issue #1 sequential art


Tim Hoke
When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

Tim and I were both born in the 1970s.  I was born in Philadelphia and he’s from Southern Illinois.  We met during our first year of law school in Northern Illinois and soon thereafter the army brought us to Virginia.

Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I went to law school at William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA, but came up here after graduation because this is where most of the good jobs are.  We currently live in Woodbridge, which is why we opened the brewery in Woodbridge.  But Tim & I still have to commute to our day jobs in Washington, DC at least 3 days a week.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

Zero.  I just read a lot.  When I’m reading more, I find that I have better ideas for writing the comics.

Even for the graphic and web design, I’m entirely self-taught.  Mostly a whole lot of online tutorials and YouTube videos.

Who are your influences?

One of my biggest influences is Neil Gaiman.  As we start publishing our books, you’ll see a lot of Gaiman-esque magical realms hidden within our own, but not visible or accessible to most folks.  We will also be having a whole “Old Gods” line of beers, which is obviously a Gaiman influence.  I love the way he tells stories such that the reader shifts seamlessly between fantasy and reality and is left wondering if there’s even a difference.

In terms of comic book authors, Kelly Sue DeConnick has had a huge influence on me due to her masterful handling of strong female characters that retain their humanity and even femininity.  We’ve been quite deliberate about how we conceptualize and portray our female characters, and I aspire to bring some Kelly Sue sensibility to our stories.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I often like to believe that I would have preferred to pursue a career in the arts at an early age.  But honestly I can’t say that there’s much I’d actually like to change since that would mean I wouldn’t be here doing this right now.  That said, there are probably a million small things we would have done differently in how we approached opening a brewery!  Lots and lots of lessons learned there!  The good news is that we’ll take all of that knowledge into the next phase when we’re ready to expand.


Kate Hoke at Baltimore Comic Con 2016
What work are you best-known for?

So to spin off in a completely different direction…  I’m probably best known in the local cosplay scene for my Winter Soldier costume.  I was doing it before it became super popular AND when I decided to do a female version of him, I wanted to honor the essence of character and not just slut it up like lots of ladies do with their gender bending cosplays.  I’ve been told that keeping Bucky a total badass is part of what makes it sexy, more so than when people just expose as much skin as possible with their costumes.

What work are you most proud of?

That’s a tough one, so I’ll answer it in a couple of ways.  I’m immensely proud that we actually pulled off the whole brewery in the way that we did.  In particular, I’m proud of the taproom.  I did all the painting, made the restroom doors (the Tardis door and the entrance to the Mines of Moria from Lord of the Rings, a.k.a. the Doors of Durin), did all of the decoupage work for the bar, and did all the decorating.  I even made one of the pieces of art that hangs on the wall!  Suffice it to say it was a very busy December last year!  The taproom d├ęcor sets the tone and makes our place unique among craft breweries, so it’s been a very significant accomplishment for me.



On a solely personal level, I’m quite proud of the leatherwork I did for my latest cosplay.  I’m completely self-taught and I recently created a Viking warrior version of the traditional Slave Leia costume that required intricate weaving and carving like I’ve never done before.  And not only does it look amazing, but it’s actually comfortable to wear, which definitely isn’t always the case with cosplay!  This one laid the foundation for some crazy stuff I have planned for next year for Tim & me.  Next level stuff, for sure.

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

First and foremost I’d like the brewery to be successful enough that Tim & I can quit our day jobs and run the brewery full time.  In my case, that would mean a lot more comic writing, more time for planning and promoting events, and a whole lot more time for making costumes.
 




What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

Have another glass of wine!  Just kidding.  Sort of.  More helpful, though, is switching back and forth between my various creative endeavors.  If I get stuck for words, I’ll turn to doing something visual and vice versa.  Beyond that, if I get in a slump doing graphic art on the computer, I find that making physical art, such as my leatherwork, can give me the space to recharge my brain.  Sometimes I simply talk it out with my husband and he’ll see an angle I hadn’t previously considered that gets me back on track.


What do you think will be the future of your field?

Geek culture is certainly experiencing a golden age right now with the proliferation of comic-based movies and television shows and surging popularity of comic/pop culture conventions.  Even if this moment passes, I believe good storytelling will always find an audience.  Creating a narrative and having a story behind each of our beers gives our customers a little something extra to relate to and I think that will hold true even if comics fall out of mainstream culture.

And even if the growth of craft beer levels off, the market for great beers and solid brands isn’t going anywhere.

The fact that Heroic is an intersection of the two gives us some very unique opportunities so I think we have a lot of exciting things ahead of us.

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?


We have traditionally attended Awesome Con and Baltimore Comic Con, both of which are great for cosplay and for networking, but less so for actually collecting comics these days.  We’ve noticed prices going up significantly, with vendors asking way more for books at the show than they sell for on eBay.  For serious comic collecting, I tend to prefer smaller affairs where there’s more opportunity to browse and have conversations with the vendors.  This year will be special because it’s the first time Heroic will have booths at both Awesome Con and the new NOVA CON.  We’ll still be attending Baltimore, but as civilians.  I’ve promised Tim that we’ll have at least half a day at each where I’m not in costume so we can enjoy our time together instead of getting continuously interrupted for photos.


How do I get the first issue of Heroic Aleworks Presents: Solasta? I can't see any way to buy it on your website.

We'll have them for sale at Awesome Con

What's your favorite thing about DC?

With the Kennedy Center and so many other theaters around, there’s never a lack of live entertainment options.

Least favorite?

It’s a close tie between the traffic and how politics seeps its way into everything.

What monument or museum do you like to take visitors to?

Who has time for that sort of thing?  We used to enjoy the National Zoo a lot and wish we could get there more.  I’ve also always wanted to do a tour of the Masonic Temple in Alexandria.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

Cock and Bowl in Occoquan has been a go-to of ours for a long time.  Their croque monsieur is amazing and they an extensive and interesting beer selection.  The brunch at FireFlies in Del Ray is also at the top of the list.

Do you have a website or blog?

The brewery’s website is www.heroicaleworks.com.  We’re also on Facebook (@HeroicAle) and Instagram (@HeroicAleworks).  I also have a separate Instagram page for my cosplay work @kateskostumes, which I have been shamefully neglecting as of late.


You currently have 9 or so beers on tap - which are your flagship brews and which are your seasonal brews?

Our flagship brews are the 5 we started with, the Doctor Enigma IPA, the Max Nix English Porter, the Solasta Kolsch, the Death Blossom Red Rye Ale, and the Mind Trappe Belgian Dubbel.  Together these 5 characters form our core team of heroes named “The Superhuman Syndicate.”  The rest of our beers are seasonals or special releases.

Is there any particular style of beer that you would consider to be your most outstanding?

Our Max Nix just took a gold medal at the Virginia Craft Brewer’s Guild Beer Cup, so we’re feeling kind of partial to that one right now!  But the award bears out the feedback we’ve received, not only from our customers but also from other professional brewers, regarding the quality of this beer. 


Brewmaster Leon Harris
Which of your beers are you proudest of (whether in terms of challenge to brew, originality, or some other criteria)?

Our Head Brewer, Leon Harris, is most proud of his Maibock.  This recipe was the first one of his beers to get produced commercially.  Back when he originated the recipe at Capitol City Brewing Company, the beer was named “Murdock’s Maibock.”  Murdock is Leon’s son.  So when we did the recipe at our place, we wanted to keep “Murdock,” but to put the Heroic spin on it, Leon and I worked together to create the “Murdock the Merciless” character.

Which beer is your most popular (or top seller, if that's the correct way to think of it)?

We’ve been tracking this pretty closely and all of our flagship beers sell pretty evenly across the board.  Murdock has been one of our top selling seasonal beers so far.  But nothing has rivaled the popularity of our 63 Scottish Fold Oracle Scottish Wee Heavy (a.k.a. the cat beer), which we did as a limited release beer back in March.  It’s cats in tin foil hats!  Plus it’s pretty high alcohol, which could explain some of the enthusiasm!


You have a broad range of styles that you have brewed so far, is there a style that you have not tried brewing that you would like to take on?

Leon is anxious to get into some sour beers, but also extremely nervous because there’s just so much that can go wrong – like contaminating the entire brewery with the lactobacillus bacteria!  From what I understand, there are some pretty specific procedures to follow to prevent infections, and it’s helpful to work with a fellow brewer who has a few sours under his belt to get the technique down.  Which leads into the next question…


One of the beers we tried at your DC Conspiracy event was a collaboration with Lost Rhino (Nova Confounded) - do you have plans for more collaboration brews?

We’ve been discussing a sour collaboration but haven’t been able to coordinate brew schedules yet.  I’m hesitant to go into much detail before any plans are finalized, but we’re having conversations with a few different breweries both up here in the DC region and also down in Richmond about collaborations.  Although it’s not a collaboration with another brewery, we are in the planning stages of partnering with the Museum of Science Fiction to create an exclusive beer for them like we did with Nova Con.  We’ll be doing a release party and sci fi celebration party here in August, and hope to be part of their convention, Escape Velocity, in 2018.

Any plans for future expansion of the brewery or taproom?

That’s certainly the goal!!  In the near term, we have enough space to significantly expand our brewing capacity at this location by adding equipment and staff.  It’s still a little too soon to figure out what the next move will be, but the plan is to become a regional distribution brewery. 


Do you have plans to package in cans or bottles?

We hope to start canning by the end of the summer.

Do you find that the folks who visit your brewery & taproom are mostly local (ie Woodbridge and surrounding areas) or from farther afield?

Right now we have a lot of regulars that are local, but we get a good mix of people from all over the metro DC area.

What are your most popular recurring events?

Karaoke has been extremely popular.  So much so that we’re starting to do it twice a month. And we generally fill the house every Wednesday for trivia night.  And although I they aren’t regular events in the same way as karaoke and trivia, people have responded really favorably to cosplay events.  So we try to put something on the schedule every month or so where we invite people to dress up and offer drink specials for folks in costume.  Lastly, people love steal the pint nights!  I’m working on a new design for some Game of Thrones themed glasses for a July event, and then we really, really want to do an Oktoberfest ‘Steal the Boot’ night – like with those silly boot-shaped mugs!

Finally, a more open-ended question about your origin story: how did you decide on the comic / superhero theme for your brewery and beers? 

 
We really just wanted to do something new.  We’ve seen some breweries do one-off comic book character beers, but never anything quite to the scale we’re doing it.  And given the growing competition in the craft beer scene, we wanted our brand to be something that stands out from the crowd.  Tim came up with the concept originally and, given our long-time passion for comics and sci-fi, it just seemed a natural fit.  Honestly, I think in the beginning the idea was more specifically “superhero,” but it’s evolved a lot since then.  Now I’m not super crazy about when people describe us as a “superhero” themed brewery because the comic universe we’re creating is so much broader than that.  For example, like I mentioned above, we have a lot of fantasy-based characters that would fall outside the scope of the traditional superhero sub-genre of comics.  In addition, we’re heavily influenced by, and do a lot event planning around, more general pop-culture stuff like Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, etc., which don’t involve “superheroes” at all. 

Which comes first, the beer or the name/superhero? Do you try to match the hero's characteristics to the beer?

We generally plan the brew schedule months in advance to allow time for character creation and art development.  Once we know what beers we’ll be releasing, we try to find some way to reflect the spirit of that beer in the character.  For example, the Kolsh is a very light style of beer that makes you think of summer and hot sunny days.  So for Solasta we had her powers come from a freak encounter with a solar flare, but also made her personality very “sunny” and cheerful.  One that’s less obvious, but kind of a cool connection, is our Baron von Blackbrane Schwarzbier.  Because “schwarz” is German for “black” we wanted to incorporate the idea of black some way.  A black brane is actually a series of equations that describes black holes, so Blackbrane is the character’s name and he’s a mad scientist type who uses black hole technology to build weapons.  Max Nix is similar – it’s a dark beer and Max Nix was transformed during an accident in his laboratory while studying dark matter.  His personality is also dark and brooding.  So stuff like that.  Or we use Scottish Fold cats for a Scottish Wee Heavy.  So sometimes it’s serious and science-y and sometimes it’s a bit silly.

 
But we try to avoid being too literal about it.  Like we would never name an IPA “Captain Hops” or something like that.  We also avoid using beer puns in any of the names because our goal is to make these legitimate comic book characters and not just gimmicks.

Now that our comic universe is getting more established, though, we have characters that are looking for beers.  Like we have an evil organization called the Pentaverate, but only 2 Pentaverate members so far (the Baron and Murdock).  We know who the other members are generally, so it’s about pairing them with the right beer at the right time.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Sean Hill

Nazir Studiosby Mike Rhode


Sean Hill is a local comic book artist, born and raised in DC proper, who seems poised for a breakout via his work for Zenescope. He was recently interviewed by another blog and I realized we hadn't submitted our usual questions to him.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Well some of the very first jobs I got hired for were horror based short stories, the most recent works for those are for Zenescope Entertainment's Dark Shaman mini series. It was about  long dead Native Shaman that returns from the dead to try and exact revenge/justice for the death of his tribe. Not to long afterwords I got a chance to draw Grimm Tales of Terror: The Monkeys Paw, I was really happy for that gig because it was a horror story I already knew of. I have also worked on some action/adventure for Jaycen Wise: Secret of the Rose, Route 3 for Terminus Media, and most recently issues 4 through 6 of Zenescope's E.V.I.L Heroes which was more superhero action. 
Zenescope Entertainments: Dark Shaman trade paper back

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

It's a combination of traditional and digital, I work out my thumbnails traditionally in my sketchbook. I own an 11x17 moleskine sketchbook that I draw up 2x3 inch rectangles, then I work out all my thumbs in those. After that, I open a story file in Manga Studio 5EX (a story file is a file created by the program that has as many pages as you determine you need to draw), I scan and copy/paste all my thumbnails onto the subsequent pages and work over them.



When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in Washington DC waaaayyyyy back when in 1981.

Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I grew up in the Georgia Avenue/Perworth area in DC. That area has gone through so many changes but is the nature of the city, anything can change within 15 years or so. Right now I live in Hybla Valley in Alexandria, VA.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

My grandfather, Otis Hill, used to to show me a lot of stuff when I was 6 years old, after that I was introduced to my mento Kofi Tyus, Kofi has been working as an artist in D.C. His whole life so most of my training comes from him. I also went to and arts high school, Duke Ellington School of the Arts and a short stint at Maryland college of art and design. I mostly had a lot of fine art training most of my life.

Who are your influences?

Too many to name but from a kid I was inspired by Bernie Wrightson, Jim Lee -- that kind of stuff -- also artists like Mshindo Kuumba, Ivan Reis -- the list goes on.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change? 

It's kinda funny, but whenever I get asked for advice by a artist wanting to do comics, I typically advise they first start making there own books, it's more fulfilling working on your own thing and telling your own stories. But when I was trying to break in I thought I needed to start working for a publisher, any publisher. I think if I could do it over I would take my own advice.

What work are you best-known for?

I'm not really sure, I guess it would be between Route 3 or E.V.I.L Heroes right now.



Zenescope Entertainments: Grimm tales of Terror: Monkeys Paw
What work are you most proud of?

I'm honestly really proud of my work on Route 3 and some upcoming work I did on a book called the Guilded Age (issue 3). I put a lot work in trying to make sure that story had the vibe of taking place in its own multi-layered world.

What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

I have two personal projects I would like to have done. One is Nazireth, a fantasy retelling of the Christ story, drawing from the historical social and political issues that influenced the narrative of those events. The other is Yasuke: Lineage a story of a former slave turned Samurai, based on the historical figure Yasuke whom served under Oda Nabunaga.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

I think all visual story-telling is a form of problem solving, so when I'm in a rut, I honestly look at as many artists as I can to open up my mind to the possibilities of solving a story-telling issue.

What do you think will be the future of your field?

Comics is a slow changing river: it flows, the current changes but not to dynamically. I hope the Indy Comics market will grow in the sight of the consumers. Much of the diversity that's being called for in mainstream comics is already available in Indy Comics. In Japan, Manga is marketed towards almost every youngster's walk of life, but here it's dominated by adult male audiences. I'm fine with those male audiences holding the share of consumerism they have, but if the  medium were marketed to even wider audiences, it could only grow stronger.

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

Not too many Cons. I'm typically at Awesome Con and I have attended Baltimore and New York Comic Con pretty recently. I hope to expand on that in the near future.

Terminus Media: Route 3 trade paperback

What's your favorite thing about DC?

Honestly, it's because we're so small, you could grow up here with you childhood friends and make something of yourself, without loosing contact, because we still have some of the opportunities of a metropolitan city.

Least favorite?

Sometimes DC seems like it's trying to be a mini New York, in how it advertises to business and resources outside the city, while not making as much use of its resources in the city. Not to get too political, but so much of the growth in DC for the last 20 years have been stimulated from outside the city. I sometimes think "Come on, we don't have to be New York, we're D.C. -- we got this" but I digress.

Zenescope Entertainments E.V.I.L Heroes #5

What monument or museum do you like to take visitors to?

Oh man, the National Gallery of Art, The Portrait Gallery is a definite favorite, I love the African American museum, and most definitely the American Indian Museum.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

The Good Stuff Eatery -- no question.

Do you have a website or blog?

Yup, it is www.nazirstudios.blogspot.com

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pennsylvania Turnpike superheroes?

20170312_163527

I was on the Pennsylvania Turnpike last weekend, and stopped in the (going west) rest stop outside of Breezewood. There's a nice exhibit on PA Turnpike tchockes which includes this Turnpike Man cup and inaction figure, which I believe has artwork by the late Paul Ryan, a longtime Fantastic Four and Phantom artist. Can anyone confirm that?

20170312_163703

20170312_163710

20170312_163722

Anyone want to sell me a cup? I just bought the inaction figure on ebay, where 8 of them are being sold as cake toppers.

Friday, March 03, 2017

DC papers review Logan

I saw the movie in a sneak preview last week. It's pretty darn bloody and earns its R rating. However I liked it a lot, and Dafne Keen, the actress who played the young girl, did a fantastic job. Any movie with Shane in its DNA is ok in my book.


In 'Logan,' one enemy is time [in print as Before sunset: In 'Logan,' the years take their toll]




Express March 3 2017, p. 24
https://www.washingtonpost.com/express/wp/2017/03/03/in-logan-one-enemy-is-time/


'Logan': Hugh Jackman, as the Wolverine, goes out fighting [in print as The 'X-Men' grown up, and brooding].


Washington Post March 3 2017 
, p. Weekend 27
https://www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/movies/logan-hugh-jackman-as-the-wolverine-goes-out-fighting/2017/03/02/af7a6380-fb72-11e6-9845-576c69081518_story.html

Aw, heck, here's the NYT too -

In 'Logan,' a Comic-Book Stalwart Turns Noirish Western

A version of this review appears in print on March 3, 2017, on Page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Noirish Western With Comic-Book Claws.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/movies/logan-review-hugh-jackman-wolverine-x-men.html


James Mangold Narrates a Scene From 'Logan'

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/movies/james-mangold-interview-logan.html

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Thoughts on Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle part 1

Thanks to WETA, I've gotten an advance look at the new 3-part documentary Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle directed by Michael Kantor who co-wrote it with Laurence Maslon.

Part one, Truth, Justice and The American Way covers 1938 through 1958. The film opens with comic book dealer Vincent Zurzolo locking a copy of Action Comics #1 in a vault. Action #1 famously was the first appearance of Superman, and now is generally thought to be worth millions of dollars (I believe issues tend to be traded, and not paid for in cash).

Kantor does a good job showing how Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster started a new genre and jumpstarted an industry with Superman. As with many documentaries, commentators are talking heads in studio settings, but Kantor got a great bunch of cartoonists - Joe Kubert, Jerry Robinson, Carmine Infantino, Neal Adams, former DC publisher Jeanette Kahn, Stan Lee, Joe Simon, Jim Steranko, Ramon Fradon (a rare woman in the early superhero industry, she now appears regularly at the annual Baltimore Comic-Con), Denny O'Neil and others. Poignantly, several of these have passed on within the past few years including Kubert, Robinson, Infantino and Simon. Deceased creators such as Jack Kirby and Bill Gaines are shown in film clips, although Kirby is given short shrift in this episode, presumably because he will feature so largely in the second episode on Marvel Comics.

Most of the commentary is edited down to reflect a standard history of superhero comic books, but highlights emerge such as Fradon's talking about hiding behind her drawing board as ethnic jokes flared, or when Simon talks about drawing a big explosion in a Captain America comic book just to fill up the page faster. Irwin Hasen, who began in comic books, but made it big in the strips with Dondi, says the work "... was like a shirt factory."

The film moves onto Batman, whom Jerry Robinson clearly says Bill Finger co-created with Bob Kane, lingers on Robin and the problem of sidekicks, and then moves on to the largely-forgotten Captain Marvel (aka Shazam). Grant Morrison interestingly points out Marvel's appeal as a non-realistic based character who fought dragons and tossed comets into the sun.

A brief look at merchandising, still so very central to the success of comic books, focuses on Superman's radio and tv show. Kantor then moves onto World War II, Captain America and the wild success of patriotic heroes. Wonder Woman is lumped in this group, due to her star-spangled outfit and December 1941 publication date. She's also discussed as "the superheroine American had been waiting for" which may be also be on a foundation that's a bit shaky.

The film wraps up with the post-war bust in superheroes, the emergence of crime and horror comics (and briefly-mentioned westerns and romance), and the campaign against comic books spurred by Fredric Wertham and his book The Seduction of the Innocent.

All 3-parts of the documentary air locally on WETA at 8 pm on October 15th. 


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Superhero contest answers, Escape from Planet Earth, and the Walking Dead in today's Post

Style Invitational Week 1009: What's in a name, plus the winning super- (and not-so-super-) heroes.
By Pat Myers, Washington Post February 17 2013
http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/style-invitational-week-1009-whats-in-a-name-plus-the-winning-super--and-not-so-super--heroes/2013/02/14/98cf38d0-7413-11e2-aa12-e6cf1d31106b_story.html - and don't forget that Bob Staake has done the illustrations for this contest for around a decade. The honorable mentions seem to only be in the print edition, and include my neighbor Larry Yungk's Bleeperman.

'Escape From Planet Earth' movie review
By Michael O'Sullivan, February 15 2013
http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/escape-from-planet-earth-movie-review/2013/02/15/a8079568-779c-11e2-8f84-3e4b513b1a13_story.html

and for the record:

McIntyre, Gina / Los Angeles Times.  2013.
Steven Yeun 'the heart' of 'The Walking Dead'.
Washington Post (February 17)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Exhibiting the gold in the Golden Age at the Jewish Museum of MD

101_5094 posterThis past weekend I was able to attend the members' preview for the exhibit "ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950." The exhibit has arrived at the Jewish Museum of Maryland in downtown Baltimore and it's well-worth visiting.Curated by the late Jerry Robinson, this exhibit was put together in 2004 by the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, which published a catalogue of the same name.

 Robinson had multiple careers in cartooning including writing a history of comics, being an editorial cartoonist, and starting a syndicate, but he began as a young man in comic books. As a seventeen-year old he began working on Batman as a letterer and inker in 1939. Eventually he became a penciller for the character, and as an employee of what became DC Comics, he met a lot of artists. And thankfully he saved examples of their work, at a time when that behavior wasn't very common.

101_5085 Simon and Kirby
Simon & Kirby cover to Adventure Comics #78
The exhibit is full of original golden age artwork. It contains art by Mort Meskin, Lou Fine, Robinson, Will Eisner, Marc Swayze, Simon & Kirby, Charles Biro, Fred Ray, CC Beck, Fred Ray, Will Eisner, HG Peter, Sheldon Modoff, Bob Fujitani, Lee Elias, Irwin Hasen, Arthur Peddy and Bernard Sachs, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris, Joe Kubert, Reed Crandall, Al Alvison, Carmine Infantino and Frank Frazetta. Many of these are prime pieces.

And many of the writers and artists were Jewish. As comics historian Arnold Blumberg noted in his remarks at the preview, "...it's a joy to see the exhibit come to a facility like this and to take a look at it from our unique perspective of what our culture, what our heritage, has given not just to itself, but to the world. The world owns Superman and Batman and all these characters now. Many of them may not have a clue where they came from, who were the kind of people who sat down and created them, but they are now owned by the entire world. They're heroes for everybody and they came from us."

101_5092 Siegel and Shuster autograph
Siegel & Shuster drawing dedicated to Robinson
The exhibit gives a basic history of comic books and characters and biographies of the creators, interspersed with now-priceless art and comic books. Particular attention is paid to World War II of course. Pages of an original Batman script by Bill Finger can be seen - Robinson's estate donated other examples of these to Columbia University this month. Historic highlights include Robinson's artwork for early Batman covers, his original Joker playing card sketch, and a Siegel & Shuster drawing of Superman dedicated to Robinson. A few cases examine the merchandising of Captain Marvel (aka Shazam) and Superman.

This version of the exhibit does have a tricky dichotomy to it. The uncolored, unfinished single pages of comic book artwork will appeal to a mature (elderly, if they bought the titles originally) viewer, while the idea of a superhero largely is aimed at male teens and younger children. This version of the exhibit caters to the very youngest viewers, with a set of tables, chairs and supplies for making cartoons, a replica of Superman's telephone booth with costumes set alongside it, a Batmobile kiddy ride, a newsstand with comics to read on it, and a piece of "Kryptonite"with a recording that warns one not to get to close.

101_5058 newsstand


 I was fortunate to be able to visit the exhibit with local cartoonists. Barbara Dale (of Baltimore), known for her humorous cartoons, fixated on the original Spirit page by Will Eisner and the Frank Frazetta that was next to it, and thought those two pieces made the entire exhibit worthwhile.

101_5070 Eisner
The Eisner Spirit page that impressed Barbara Dale...

101_5071 Frazetta
...and the Frazetta cover that Dale also admired.
101_5090 Lou Fine
Note Wrightson's debt to Lou Fine.
Rafer Roberts (of Fredericksburg) pointed out several things to me - Moldoff's use of gouache to give white highlights on the legs of a monster on Moon Girl #4's cover for EC Comics, Bernie Wrightson's debt to Lou Fine (look at the skeletonized figure on the Hit Comics cover, and Bob Fujitane's use of the traditional iconography of Japanese monsters.

101_5066 Bob Fujitane
Bob Fujitane uses Japanese iconography.








I had seen a previous version of this exhibit in New York at the Jewish Museum there, but it was reworked as an addition to the massive "Masters of American Comics" show. Any fan of comic book history should take the opportunity to see this version of the show at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. The catalogue can be bought in the gift shop, along with Superman toothbrushes, Batman lunchboxes and hand-painted superhero yarmelkes. The Museum has produced two curriculum guides for schools and plans lectures throughout the exhibit which runs from January 27 - August 28, 2013, and costs $8 or less. More of my pictures can be seen here.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Snyder, King and Hatke at Capicons

The bi-monthly Capicons con at Tyson's Corner saw a few new faces today. I picked up a couple of pieces of original art as a result (and blew my budget, but if you go to the show with friends, you can borrow money from them).

101_4763 JK Snyder III Shadow sketch

Baltimore County's John K Snyder III did this Shadow sketch with the money going to Hero Initiative charity. Keep an eye out on IDW's variant covers for the Shadow as John is doing one in 2013.

 101_4766 Hatke - Zita the Spacegirl original art p98

Front Royal's Ben Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl original art for page 98. Zita's aimed at kids, but I like it a lot.

 101_4767 Hatke - Zita the Spacegirl original art chapter breaks

Ben Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl original art for chapter breaks. He tossed this one in after I bought the previous.

Washington's Tom King was signing his book A Once Crowded Sky, a novel about what happens when all the superheroes vanish, but the supervillains don't. I reviewed it for the City Paper and had the strange experience of seeing my words as a pull quote on his banner.  I liked the book enough to buy another copy for a comics-collecting buddy's Christmas present. King told me that some additional comic book news from him should come out this week - remind me to follow up if I don't post something here.



Monday, November 12, 2012

Shattered Asian American Comics Anthology photos

101_4620 Shattered - Michael Kang, Jamie Noguchi, Keith Chow, Jeff Yang

Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology - A Secret Identities Book - had a booksigning at Busboys and Poets, Washington, DC, with editors Jeff Yang and Keith Chow, filmmaker Michael Kang and cartoonist Jamie Noguchi. The talk went for about an hour and a half and culminated in a 'design a supervillain' crowdsourcing event. The Stain is the audience-designed character drawn by Noguchi. The talk was enjoyable. I read a few stories in the book while waiting and enjoyed the ones by Kang and Noguchi; Bernard Chang's was disappointing because it concludes online somewhere. More pictures are online here.

101_4625 Jeff Yang, Jamie Noguchi, Keith Chow

101_4631 Jamie Noguchi, Jeff Yang

Julian Lytle who does the Ants webcomic shared my table, and multitasked by working on his strip:
101_4624 Julian Lytle

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Meet a Local Cartoonist: Michael Webster



 Michael Webster makes old-school comic books under the banner of 'New Future Comics.' While they'd be categorized as minicomics due to his distribution method, he does full-size comics and then self-distributes them to local newstands. Which is how Robert Crumb got started after all. I don't think he'd mind if I quoted from the e-mail he sent introducing himself after I bought a comic and tried to track him down - "I am the artist whose comic book, Hero Patrol,  you purchased at the One Stop News stand at 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.  You can check out more of my work at News World located on K Street by the Farragut North subway entrance.  The books you will find there are Kasper the Prince of Power, The Undercover Unit and of course Hero Patrol.  I also have two novels out, Lime Life and The Story of a Man Called Adam which are also located at News World." Webster answered my usual questions a month ago.

Mike Rhode: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Michael Webster: I basically do action comics that are based around the DC area. 

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

I do traditional pen and ink but sometimes I use the computer to tweek my work  or add color.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

Born in the 60's and I am a proud Washingtonian

Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I live in Maryland and work in the District of Columbia.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I am a self-taught artist but influenced by many of the comic book illustrators.

Who are your influences?

One of my biggest influences was John Byrne.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I would have been more aggressive and focused in pursuing my goal.

What work are you best-known for?

My artwork and my novel Lime Life.

What work are you most proud of?

All.

What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

One of my biggest dreams is to write a screenplay or see one of my comics come to life on the big screen.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

I just stop for a moment, get something to eat or exercise until an idea comes.

What do you think will be the future of your field?

It is an expanding field and will always be around.

What's your favorite thing about DC?

The opportunities you can gain as a struggling artist or writer and it's my hometown.

Least favorite?

Nothing.  There are problems everywhere.

What monument or museum do you take most out-of-town guests to?

Smithsonian.

Favorite restaurant for same?

Georgia Brown's.

Do you have a website or blog?

Not as of yet, I am working on it.  But I do have a Facebook page.