illustration

Firsts: A post for #BlackComicsMonth

Saturday – 28 February 2015
Looking at the comics below, I realized that I had a little something that should be recognized for Black History Month:

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Those books are:

  • The first issue of Marvel’s Luke Cage: Hero for Hire;
  • the first appearance of DC Comics’ Green Lantern John Stewart; and
  • The first issue of Marvel’s Black Panther.

All of the books were found, courtesy of my local comic shop, Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection. They know me well and look out for me.

They also afforded me the opportunity to have the issue of Green Lantern signed by Neal Adams, the man who created John Stewart… who just happens to be my favorite Green Lantern. Even better, he recounted the story of how he came to create the character:

Mr. Adams looked at me and asked, “So you found something else…?” I replied that of all the Lanterns, John Stewart was my favorite. He signed it and, putting down his pen, said: “With this, you’ve earned the right to hear the story of John Stewart.” He then proceeded to tell this story:

He had gone to Julius Schwartz with the idea that Green Lantern Hal Jordan needed a backup, in case something happened to him. Schwartz told him that Jordan already had a backup: Guy Gardner.

Adams retorted with: “So, a purple alien comes to Earth, dying, and sends his ring out to find a worthy successor. It passes Batman, Superman and all of the other heroes in the DC Universe and finds… a test pilot. Now, I’m a big fan of Chuck Yeager, so I get it. But, when the time comes to find another worthy person, the ring goes out again… and passes Batman and Superman – again – and finds… a white, blonde, gym teacher. What about all the other people in the world? Is it just going to pass them by?! Twice!?”

“Gardner needs to get hit by a bus. If he just breaks his arm, he’ll be back – good as new – in a month. If he gets hit by a bus, he’ll be out of action for a while. There would have to be a new backup.”

Schwartz realized that Adams wanted to introduce a minority character as Jordan’s backup. He tried to dissuade him by saying that Hal Jordan’s mechanic was Asian. Adams said, “Yeah, and you call him ‘Pieface!’ That’s offensive.” They went back and for a bit, but Schwartz eventually relented and said “Denny (O’Neill) will write it and YOU have to draw him.”

And he did.

When the story was done, O’Neill handed it off to Adams… who didn’t get far into the story before finding another point of contention: the name – “Lincoln Washington.” He confronted O’Neill, who told him that it wasn’t his idea and that Schwartz had come up with it. Adams went to Schwartz “…and closed the door, because I knew there would be shouting.” He argued against the name, calling it not only offensive, but also noting how blacks of the day were changing their names to get away from ‘slave names.’ He also told Schwartz that he could keep the name, if he was adamant, but that e would also fill his office with letters from angry readers. Schwartz responded that he “…[knew] guys with those kinds of names,” and then asked Adams what kind of name he should give him. Adams simply replied, “A name. A real name. Just… pull out any name.” Schwartz eventually relented and told Adams to come up with a name. He picked “John Stewart.” He then laughed and asked, “How was I supposed to know that he was going to be come a comedian?”

He wrapped up his story with the following epilogues:

“This story has two endings.

Ending Two: DC wound up making a movie with Hal Jordan, Green Lantern. There were 10 million kids who were asking ‘Who’s Hal Jordan!?’ Putting Jordan in the movie, they basically went from Gil Kane straight to Geoff Johns, jumping over me and Denny O’Neill – our names weren’t even credited. And, DC lost $150 million dollars on the movie.

Ending One: When I pitched the idea of a black Green Lantern, I did it because I could draw a black person and no one else could or did. All of the artists, even the black ones, were just drawing white faces and then having them colored to be black. And they were drawing them with wavy hair. Black people don’t have wavy hair, they have kinky hair. It takes a whole lot of shit to make it wavy. And we also had to put the color notations in our artwork, so that the colorists would know how to color the characters. Black characters up to that point were all light-skinned, we used to call it ‘khaki brown.’ When I put in my color notations for John Stewart, I made him dark. Julie Schwartz and (publisher whose name I don’t recall) came to him and asked, ” Are you sure that you want him this dark?” Adams confirmed his intention. He then added, “Then they asked me something that has stuck with me until this day: ‘Aren’t black people going to be offended?” Adams laughed and said, “You can send me the first letter.”

And, with that, I can let Black History Month and #BlackComicsMonth go.

“Slingshot Across America,” an evening with Danielle Corsetto

Tuesday – 15 July 2014
Danielle Corsetto (@dcorsetto), creator of the Girls With Slingshots webcomic,  stopped in Salt Lake City last night as part of her “Slingshot Across America” tour.

Artwork © Danielle Corsetto

The event was held at the Millcreek Community Library. Ms. Corsetto did a signing – two, actually – and a Q&A panel with the audience. She addressed attendees from a bar-height chair at the front of the room. Her manner was relaxed, candid, and occasionally self-deprecating; it was easy to see that she enjoyed the interaction. The question-and-answer session was light-hearted and fun; people posed questions that ranged from:

  • What were some of her work methods?
  • How did she choose which personalities and traits to give specific characters?
  • Where were some characters who haven’t been seen in some time?
  • What was her advice on selling non-book merchandise, such as t-shirts?
  • When do you listen to – and not listen to – what your readers say?

down to:

Attendee:  How many Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters could Hazel drink?

Danielle Corsetto: Probably only about a shot of one, but she’d tell everyone that she drank many.

NOTE: Before answering the question, Ms. Corsetto had to stop and ask what a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster was. She admitted to having started reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, but stopping after the first chapter.

When the Q&A was done, Ms. Corsetto stopped to take pictures with attendees…

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…before taking a short break and setting up for the second round of book signing. I picked up a copy of the first volume of GWS comics:

As an added bonus, attendees who brought – and showed – their library cards were given a copy of the print below:

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I realized that I had left the library card at home while I was standing in line.

Of course.

I sent a hurried text message to Sara!, who replied with a picture of the card in the proverbial nick of time! As the Millcreek Library is the one we frequent most often with the girls AND as we are trying to cultivate their love of reading/being read to, it seemed fitting to have Ms. Corsetto sign it to them.

This was a delightful way to spend the evening. Should you find that the Slingshot Across America tour is heading to your town (or a nearby one), I would highly encourage you to take the time to attend.

Superhero Body Diversity: Female Artists Offer Their Take

24 August 2012
A couple of weeks ago, Comics Alliance ran an article that asked artists – all male – to compare heroes’ physiques with those of Olympic competitors.

CA has now posed the same question to a group of female artists:

Two weeks ago we ran an article on ComicsAlliance looking at body diversity and superheroes. We asked four artists to rank male and female superheroes by size and describe which athletic types they resembled. The aim was to see if an unspoken consensus exists about what superheroes should look like or if they all belonged to the same generic model.

All four of the artists we spoke to were men. If you’re looking to represent the demographic diversity of the superhero industry that’s sadly a pretty accurate sample. But it didn’t allow us to see if there was a difference in the way male and female artists perceive superhero body shapes, and we thought that was an interesting question. So we reached out to some of the best female artists working in superhero comics today to see how they ranked the heroes.

To read the new article, click here: Superhero Body Diversity: Female Artists Offer Their Take

Gail Simone, Geekery and (Power of the Force) Girls

20 August 2012
Gail Simone (Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Wonder Woman) wrote today’s strip for The Gutters. It’s funny and good (duh) and worth a minute of your time:

(click image for larger version)

And, by way of Big Shiny Robot‘s Bryan Young comes a link to the opening sequence of The Power of the Force Girls. If you like Star Wars and The Powerpuff Girls, it should put a smile on your face:

Olympians: Superhero Bodies and What Real Athletes Look Like

09 August 2012
Comics Alliance posted an article that compared the physiques of your typical superhero to those of Olympic athletes:

There are certain phrases that have a special resonance for a Marvel kid like me. “Pocket dimension.” “Lift (press).” “Marital status: unrevealed.” This is the language of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, and I used to pore over the pages of those little encyclopedias like I thought there was an exam coming. (I would have aced the Alien Races paper.) One phrase that came up a lot was “Olympic class athlete,” used to describe characters with peak human abilities. For example, Nightcrawler is an Olympic-class acrobat, even though that’s not a real thing unless you count opening ceremonies.

Thanks to the current games in London we’re all getting a refresher on what Olympic athletes actually look like – and they look like a lot of very different people. They look like wrestlers, sprinters, fencers, weightlifters, boxers, shot-putters, rowers, marathon runners, judokas, pentathletes, swimmers, beach volleyball players, cyclists and a lot more besides. In fact, they seem a lot more varied than the characters in the pages of most super-books. So are superhero comics getting it wrong?

In the article, they asked four artists to attempt to classify heroes and heroines body with respect to their closest Olympic analogues. The results were a little varied, but interesting.

To read the full article, click here: Olympians: Superhero Bodies and What Real Athletes Look Like.

The Cost of Being Iron Man

31 July 2012
MoneySupermarket.com has created an infographic of the estimated cost to be Iron Man… or, rather, to have/build a suit of Iron Man-like armor and Tony Stark’s lifestyle:

 

Superhero Motivational Posters

29 July 2012
Comics Alliance has a feature on Kerrith Johnson’s artwork which features superheroes – and a couple of villains – on motivational posters:

It’s a fun and good-looking series.  You should check them out!

Project: Rooftop – Canary on the Catwalk

DC Comics’ Black Canary gets the runway treatment in Project: Rooftop‘s most recent outing.

To see the designs that garnered “Honorable Mentions,” click here.

Project: Rooftop

“Superheroes, Redesigned”
That is how Project: Rooftop describes itself. In greater detail, it has this to say on its “About” page:

Project: Rooftop is where cartoonists and illustrators bring their costume design skills to task in tribute to the superheroes and villains we’ve grown up with. This site is intended to promote the idea of superhero costume redesigning as a skill, specific to superhero media. We also aim to foster continued interest for these amazing characters and spotlight up-and-coming creators.

For more information about the site — and to see the artwork therein — click here: Project: Rooftop.

Faber-Castell’s Creative Studio Getting Started: Complete Comic Illustration Kit

Faber-Castell, renowned for its high quality, professional art supplies, has recently announced the addition of the Complete Comic Illustration Kit to their Creative Studio product line:

Create your own comic book heroes!  This complete kit from Faber-Castell includes PITT artist pens, Art GRIP aquarelle pencils, graphite pencils, a blank comic book and more.  A fully illustrated instruction book is also included.  All components store neatly in the re-usable book style package.

The set includes:

  • PITT artist pen – Black, Superfine
  • PITT artist pen – Black, Brush
  • PITT artist pen – Black, Medium
  • 3 Art GRIP Aquarelles – Yellow #107, Red #121 & Blue #152
  • Graphite sketch pencil (HB)
  • pencil sharpener
  • eraser
  • paintbrush
  • 6 Sheets Bristol Paper
  • Blank Comic Book – 8pgs (9″ x 7″)
  • Practice Drawing Pad – 12 pgs (9″ x 7″)
  • Plastic Mannequin
  • 4″ x 8″ Plastic Stencil
  • Instruction Booklet

For more information, see the Faber-Castell site.