Wednesday, November 30, 2005
In regards to my post last week, I didn't get a ton of questions asked so I figured I'd wait a few extra days to see if anything else trickled in. I figure it's safe by now to post my answers, I can't foresee any last minute urgent queries flooding in.
Someone named Tom asked who my favorite penciller I've worked with is, as well as my favorite book I've worked on. Pretty generic, safe comic question there. Thanks for playing, Tom.
I had a run on Superboy with Pascual Ferry that I enjoyed quite a bit, I felt our styles meshed pretty well. He's since gone on to superstardom at Marvel as I continue to toil in the trenches. But he's been my favorite so far. As far as favorite books go, I have a soft spot for Aztek: The Ultimate Man and Young Heroes in Love. I thought they were both different and interesting, although neither lived too long a life. As an aside, Dev "Dirty D" Madan, the penciller of YHIL, remains a good friend to this day. I like to think I'm Sammy to his Sinatra. Or maybe I'm Joey Bishop.
Mr. Chris Falloutboy, esq. asked a few posts ago if I listen to music while I work.
The thrilling answer is...YES! Sometimes I do, other times I listen to DVD commentaries and things like that in the background while inking. When writing, I need either silence or very soft, non distractive music because I find that writing requires more concentration than inking. The bulk of mental problem solving when inking a page occurs in the first few minutes of staring at it. The rest is just bringing those solutions to fruition without spilling the ink.
Someone else named Chris asked me if I'm really, as often stated in interviews, the best looking man in comics.
The answer is ABSO-FRICKIN-LUTELY! I look like a cross between Brad Pitt and a retarded monkey which, in comics, can take a fellow quite far. By the way, Chris...you scare me.
An aspiring artist named Sherman wanted to know how I got into comics and if he can send me some samples.
Well, Sherman...obviously being so ridiculously handsome and sleeping my way to the middle certainly helped. Aside from that, I went to the Kubert School, worked hard and sucked up to Andy Kubert. He passed my samples to Bob Harras at Marvel and the rest of my glorious career has unfolded from there. Tom Mandrake and Ken Branch also helped me quite a bit by giving me background inking work and showing me some ropes before that.
You can send me some samples if I can post my critique here. Up to you, brother.
Three people asked if I either do commissions or if I could do them a sketch and send it to them. The answer is no. I really, really, swear to God just don't have the free time although I do sketch at conventions just like everyone else. But really...go get a Jim Lee or someone cool. Don't waste your time with me.
And that's a wrap, folks. Like I said, not too many questions to answer which, in its own way, is a blessing. I don't have anything that interesting to say.
Thanks to Jesus Antonio for Sergio Toppi's name and the link he sent me. That guy is awesome!
Thanks for reading,
Monday, November 28, 2005
My friend Dev emailed this to me today. It made me laugh out loud at least fifteen times out of twenty nine so I figured it was worth sharing. Viva Chuck Norris!!
1. Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.
2. When Chuck Norris has sex with a man, it is not because he is gay, but because he has run out of women.
3. Chuck Norris once roundhouse kicked someone so hard that his foot broke the speed of light, went back in time, and killed Amelia Earhart while she was flying over the Pacific Ocean.
4. Filming on location for Walker: Texas Ranger, Chuck Norris brought a stillborn baby lamb back to life by giving it a prolonged beard rub. Shortly after the farm animal sprang back to life and a crowd had gathered, Chuck Norris roundhouse kicked the animal, breaking its neck, to remind the crew once more that Chuck giveth, and the good Chuck, he taketh away.
5. Macgyver can build an airplane out of gum and paper clips, but Chuck Norris can kill him and take it.
6. Rather than being birthed like a normal child, Chuck Norris instead decided to punch his way out of his mother's womb. Shortly thereafter he grew a beard.
7. Chuck Norris only masturbates to pictures of Chuck Norris.
8. Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.
9. Chuck Norris lost his virginity before his dad did.
10. Chuck Norris sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled martial arts ability. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Chuck roundhouse kicked the devil in the face and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn't stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. They now play poker every second Wednesday of the month.
11. Chuck Norris's girlfriend once asked him how much wood a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. He then shouted, "HOW DARE YOU RHYME IN THE PRESENCE OF CHUCK NORRIS!" and ripped out her throat. Holding his girlfriend's bloody throat in his hand he bellowed, "Don't fuck with Chuck!" Two years and five months later he realized the irony of this statement and laughed so hard that anyone within a hundred mile radius of the blast went deaf.
12. Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
13. There is no chin behind Chuck Norris' beard. There is only another fist.
14. If you ask Chuck Norris what time it is, he always says, "Two seconds till." After you ask, "Two seconds to what?" he roundhouse kicks you in the face.
15. Chuck Norris built a time machine and went back in time to stop the JFK assassination. As Oswald shot, Chuck met all three bullets with his beard, deflecting them. JFK's head exploded out of sheer amazement.
16. Chuck Norris was the fourth Wiseman. He brought baby Jesus the gift of "beard". Jesus wore it proudly to his dying day. The other Wisemen, jealous of Jesus' obvious gift favoritism, used their combined influence to have Chuck omitted from the Bible. Shortly after all three died of roundhouse kick related deaths.
17. To prove it isn't that big of a deal to beat cancer. Chuck Norris smoked 15 cartons of cigarettes a day for 2 years and aquired 7 different kinds of cancer only to rid them from his body by flexing for 30 minutes. Beat that, Lance Armstrong.
18. There are no disabled people. Only people who have met Chuck Norris.
19. Chuck Norris has recently changed his middle name to "Fucking."
20. The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.
21. Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.
22. Chuck Norris once lined up to kick the winning field goal of a high school football game. When the football went flat, he persuaded the referees to let him kick the field goal with a 3 month old child. Chuck roundhoused kicked the baby 60 yards through the uprights and then proceeded to bang every girl in the stadium.
23. When Chuck Norris sends in his taxes, he sends blank forms and includes only a picture of himself, crouched and ready to attack. Chuck Norris has not had to pay taxes ever.
24. The original theme song to the Transformers was actually "Chuck Norris--more than meets the eye, Chuck Norris--robot in disguise," and starred Chuck Norris as a Texas Ranger who defended the earth from drug-dealing Decepticons and could turn into a pick-up. This was far too much awesome for a single show, however, so it was divided.
25. Chuck Norris recently had the idea to sell his urine as a canned beverage. We know this beverage as Red Bull.
26. When Chuck Norris plays Oregon Trail his family does not die from cholera or dysentery, but rather roundhouse kicks to the face. He also requires no wagon, since he carries the oxen, axels, and buffalo meat on his back. He always makes it to Oregon before you.
27. Chuck Norris can make a woman climax by simply pointing at her and saying "booya".
28. Since 1940, the year Chuck Norris was born, roundhouse kick related deaths have increased 13,000 percent.
29. If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris you may be only seconds away from death.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
A couple of days ago, an interview that I did with Matt Brady over at Newsarama was posted. The article mainly covers the last issue of JSA that I wrote that ships in a couple of weeks. Here's a link if anyone wants to check it out...
The feedback from the article seems pretty positive. Even fellow inker/writer Jimmy Palmiotti stops in to say a nice word. If I'm lucky, I will someday be half as successful as Jimmy is. The most negative comments seem to come from Paul, who proclaims himself a porn addict, and doesn't seem to care for my inking work.
Well, Paul, if it makes you feel any better, I thought I sucked over Sadowski's pencils, too. What was I supposed to do, though? Not work? I did the best I could but I agree with you there.
Anyway, Paul...because you're a porn addict, I've posted this picture just for you. I'm pretty sure this girl is a porn star, I found her picture on Howard Stern's website. Anyway, if she's not, she probably could be. Think of it as my own small way of apologizing for dampening your JSA fix for the last four years.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
In the middle of another hectic week, juggling the inking chores on two books a month for the next six months, as well as needing to put the finishing touches on the proposal for a Batman project that I'm trying to get off the ground with friend and fellow JSA artist, Don Kramer. I also stayed up way too late last night finishing up an interview for Newsarama.com that will run by the end of the week.
So I'm tired and busy although I'm looking forward to relaxing with family on Thanksgiving.
In lieu of not having much time to post this week, I thought I'd open it up and answer some questions. Anyone have anything they're curious about concerning the comics biz? Want to know who dies in Infinite Crisis? Want to discuss favorite books or writers or artists? Feel free to email me any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave them below in the comments section. I'll do my best to answer this weekend.
My question is: Does anyone know the artist for the piece I've posted with this entry? I believe he's Italian, although I could be wrong. I'd like to find more of his work though so somebody help me out.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a big fan of Mixed Martial Arts competition, specifically the Pride Fighting Championships in Japan. Here in America, we have the Ultimate Fighting Championship leading the way. While my love for Pride runs deep, I'm also a fan of the UFC, which is presenting a new card tomorrow. There are three fights I find intriguing on the card so I thought I'd pick my winners.
Matt Hughes (pictured) is the greatest champion in the history of the UFC. He's also my favorite American fighter. He doesn't get the press that guys like Randy Couture or Chuck Liddell receive but neither one has been as dominant a champion as Hughes. Tomorrow night, he's fighting a guy named Joe "Diesel" Riggs, who likes his nickname so much he had it tattood in giant letters on his stomach.
The most interesting thing about Riggs is that he used to fight at 300 lbs and he's now fighting Hughes at 170. He's a legitimately tough kid but I don't think it's his time to shine yet. Hughes has lost before and he'll lose again but I don't think it's time to put money down against him. I think this one ends by TKO in the second round and Matt's hand is raised in victory.
The second fight worth talking about on this card is Rich Franklin versus Nate Quarry. I had never heard of Quarry before the Ultimate Fighter TV show and I've only seen him fight a couple of times. He's got heavy hands and likes to use them. I guess he's a good ground fighter, too...but I've never seen him grapple so I can't really say.
In the end, I don't think it really matters. Rich Franklin is a great fighter in his prime, he's the 185 lb champion and I predict he'll end the night with his belt still strapped around his waist. I'm going to pick him by KO in the third round.
Finally, probably the most intriguing fight to me personally on this card is Sean Sherk versus Georges St. Pierre. This one is a pick 'em. Really, either guy could take it. They're both top, top guys in the world and they're fighting to establish who the number one contender to Matt Hughes will be.
I'm a fan of both guys. St. Pierre is dynamic, fast, explosive, and well rounded. Sherk is strong, methodical, and forces his will on the other fighter until he wears them down and out.
I guess in my heart, I want to see Sherk win this one. He's been out of the game for a while and I'm rooting for him to come back and reestablish himself at the top of his weight division. As much as I like Georges (and I won't be disappointed if he wins, either), Sherk is in a strange sort of underdog position here; not because there's doubt that he could win the fight, he more than has the skill to get the job done. I guess it's because he's been more or less blackballed for a couple of years. I'm sure it's been a frustrating time for him and I'm hoping to see him make the most of this new opportunity and really shake up the weight division.
So I'm picking Sherk by decision after three hard rounds.
There are a few more undercard fights, including Jeremy Horn versus Trevor Prangley, that look good. Honestly, a lot of the UFC's cards fail to live up to the hype. So I've got my fingers crossed that these three fights deliver. If they do, it'll be a fine night of martial arts action.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
The road to building a writing career in the comics field is often bumpy and littered with pitches that, for whatever reason, failed to earn that elusive and almighty green light from the powers that be.
Case in point, the below pitch that I presented to DC last year featuring the corniest, hokiest supervillains of all time, The Royal Flush Gang. Initially inspired by HBO's Sopranos, the idea then mutated in its own direction.
I pitched this to Stephen Wacker, who liked it and passed it up the chain of command to Dan Didio, who in turn killed it because basically, it was a comic series featuring the corniest, hokiest supervillains of all time. That and the fact that my name in comics isn't big enough to guarantee anyone would buy it, although I'm working hard on that second part. And I gotta tell you, those are two valid reasons.
Recently, I gave this to a friend as a model for how to structure a proposal he was writing. After reading it, he commented that he recently saw the Royal Flush Gang on the Justice League cartoon, treated in a very similar fashion to what I've written here. It wouldn't surprise me, nor would it be the first time that ideas I've pitched have popped up elsewhere. It happens way more often than people might think.
So without further adieu, here's the pitch. If you think it sucks, let me hear it.
THE ROYAL FLUSH GANG:
A six-issue series by
It’s all a matter of perspective.
A six-issue series by
It’s all a matter of perspective.
From the outside looking in, the Royal Flush Gang is a quaint, silver age gimmick. A team of five bad guys dressed up as an Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten—the hand that makes up a royal flush in poker, robbing banks while flying around on giant playing cards and getting their asses kicked by the Justice League of America.
From the inside out, looked at with a more modern spin, it’s a whole different story. The Royal Flush Gang isn’t just a group of lame super villains: It’s a family tradition that spans multiple generations.
In the Royal Flush Gang, younger family members earn their stripes and move up the ladder, taking on the personas of retiring members (for example, Jack becomes the new King or Ten becomes the new Queen, etc.), or forcibly ‘retiring’ members in order to take up their personas.
In other words, The Royal Flush Gang is a family of super-villain Mafioso. Put even more simply, it’s ‘The Soprano’s’ dressed up as playing cards.
It’s Old School versus New School, Silver Age versus Modern Age, father versus son, with the future of not only the Royal Flush Gang, but also of the entire family on the line.
Even during the best of times, it’s not easy being King. Providing leadership to a family of criminals is a hard, thankless job that requires unflinching strength of will, eyes in the back of the head, and a flack jacket to deflect the constant backstabbing.
For the Royal Flush Gang, the best of times was a long time ago. After making a splashy, debut years ago, the team has slowly hit the skids, their various schemes (mostly related to accumulating wealth) consistently foiled by the Justice League, to the point where the group has become almost a punch line in the super villain world.
So The King has taken the Royal Flush Gang to ground, forcing the group to lay low while he begins to think broader, to plan their future on a larger scale. It’s become obvious from repeated failure that there’s no long-term benefit to playing the super villain game. It’s time for the family business to evolve or die.
For the next generation of the family, neither option is especially appealing.
Lead by the King’s son, the children of the original Royal Flush Gang decide it’s time to reshuffle the deck and start playing the game by their own rules. This should be their time in the sun, not a time to hide in the shadows. To that end, without the original King’s blessing, they splinter off and form their own faction: A newer, edgier Royal Flush Gang consisting of:
ACE OF BLADES: An unstable, fifteen-year old serial killer with a knife for every occasion and a hair trigger temper to match.
KING OF PAIN: The son of the original King and leader of the New Royal Flush Gang. Ambitious, intelligent, and ruthless, his apple may not have fallen far from the tree but, nonetheless, has most likely outgrown it.
DRAG QUEEN: The most reluctant member of the gang, Drag Queen is actually King of Pain’s brother, recently released from prison and forced by the new King into the humiliating role of Queen for reasons of his own.
SUICIDE JACK: Impossibly deadly, he’s the coolest hit man in the world; the kind of guy who would have fit in perfectly with Sinatra and the Rat pack, although he has no idea who they were.
TEN: Literally, a ten. The most beautiful girl you’ve ever seen, she’s everything a man could want. Unbeknownst to anyone, she’s also the brain behind the King Of Pain, a powerful telepath secretly pulling his strings.
More ruthless and deadly (and successful) than their predecessors ever were, the new Royal Flush Gang begins to attract the acclaim of the criminal underworld—as well as the attention of the superhero community. By doing so, they carelessly jeopardize the delicate schemes of the original King who, in three clever moves, is poised to wipe out all competition and transform the alien city of Haven into the new gambling capitol of the world; all controlled by the King and his family.
With the King’s master plan threatened, the original Royal Flush Gang is forced out of the shadows, determined not only to stop their own children, but also itching to show this cocky new generation how the super villain game is supposed to be played.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Not a lot of time for blogging over the past week, things have been pretty hectic.
This is a picture of the artwork-producing section of my office. It's pretty stripped down and basic, no bells and whistles to speak of. I've gone to great pains over the years to simplify everything down to a bare bones approach: A drawing table, a lamp or two, cabinet to store artwork, a little tray to hold my pens and brushes and ink, and a file cabinet for various other things (it's mostly filled with DVD's). The whole mess is guarded by Dragun, my trusty Shogun Warrior which I got for Xmas when I was six years old. I think I've had him longer than anything else I've owned.
My drawing table is covered with hastily-scrawled phone numbers, most of which are anonymous. I usually forget which number belongs to who after a while or the ones that have names attached get smudged out.
A larger area of my office has been carved out as a writing station, which is generally better put together than my drawing area but still could hardly be called pretentious. I have a couple of pages of original art ( John Buscema and Steve Rude) on my wall, along with a couple of swords, a framed letter from Mark Gruenwald, and a JSA poster I produced a few years ago. Throw in a TV, radio, DVD player, bookshelf and Futon and that's my office in a nutshell.
It would be pretty easy to throw together something more extravagant, maybe one of those cool hydraulic drawing tables and a fancy flat file, a nice leather sofa or whatever but...really, why? My office is simple because it doesn't need to be anything more. The work would look the same regardless of how plush the chair I sit in is.
There's just more important things in life to worry about.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
When I made my comics writing debut last year with an issue of Legion, one fan was nice enough to create and send to me (care of DC Comics) an original art card, a reinterpretation of a classic Gil Kane cover, that tied in to the story I had written. He included some kind words on the inside about the issue. It was a nice piece of fan mail and I kept it. I have it on a shelf in my office to this day.
The other day, one of my editors at DC forwarded me some more fan mail, this time relating to a story point in JSA #79. I'm withholding the name of author but I was so blown away by this letter, I wanted to share it. Here it is, with my comments following...
"Dear the good creators of Dr. Fate at DC Comics,
For over 20 years now, I have been hypnotized by the magic and greatness of Dr. Fate. Ever since the day Dr. Fate had his debut in More FunComics and the Justice Society, it was clear to me that there would be no other superhero that would be as great as him. From Kent Nelson toHector Hall, I read every comic ever made concerning Dr. Fate.
I even have a vivid memory of the day I had gone to Universal Studiosfor the first time at the age of 12. After seeing numerous t-shirts onsale with the more popular superheroes a la Superman and Batman, I had searched recklessly for a Dr. Fate shirt. Sadly, none could be found and the remainder of my summer vacation had been miserable.
Yesterday, my son, Guy, turned 10. As a present, I passed down a collection of all my More Fun Comics, a collection of Dr. Fate miniseries and Justice Society #79. I had been as excited as he was until Isaw the picture...
At first, I had believed that it had been a simple printing error but after I had contacted several members of my Dr. Fate fan club, I had soon discovered that this particular picture had been no accident.
It was indeed Dr. Fate without a visible body.
I was not able to react to this picture. Tears had formed in my eyes but were unable to drop at this monstrosity. Images of my life zoomed pass me as I sadly remembered the glory of Dr. Fate and his illustrious blue body. At an immeasurable amount of disgust, I ripped apart JusticeSociety #79, and my childhood and heart along with it.
You editors at DC Comics do not have the ability to imagine the amount of havoc this one comic has caused me. Not only have you spit on the spirit of Nabu but you have also raped my heart. I believe I have no choice but to no longer purchase any DC Comics until this catastrophe upon Dr. Fate is erased. I beg of you to reconsider the transaction that has just occured. Not only for Dr. Fate and the Justice Society, but also for the sake of mankind."
It was signed, "With Disgust..." followed by the author's name.
So...I honestly don't know if that letter was written as a goof or meant in a serious way. I hope it's a joke but with comics, you just never really know for sure.
I would like to say that in the chance that the author reads this, please contact me. You can leave me a message right here on this blog and I'll get in touch with you privately. I seriously would like to make you a Doctor Fate T-shirt because whether you're joking or your heart is really broken...you deserve it either way.
(above artwork by Alex Ross.)
(please do not reproduce, in whole or in part, any of the above letter without the permission of myself or the author.)
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
To complete my trifecta of comic-related posts, I thought I'd announce my next official assignment. I don't know if it has been made public yet and I'm also not sure if anyone really cares but I'll be taking over the inking chores on FIRESTORM for DC.
I've done some random fill in work on the book over the past few months, a few pages here and there and a couple of covers to help keep things on track deadline wise. I was really surprised at how good Jamal Igle's pencils are. Before working over him, I was aware of his name but didn't really know his work. But I gotta say, he's REALLY good and I'm looking forward to digging in and seeing how our styles will blend.
The best part of being an inker is working with different artists. It's a process of adaptation and growth, kind of molding the way I like to do things to fit the way the penciller wants things to look. It usually takes me 3 or 4 issues to really start to get in the groove over a new artist and those first few months can be scary as Hell. And at that point, things will either have clicked and the team will be producing beautiful comic art or a pink slip will most likely be soon to arrive.
So here's hoping I don't get pink slipped.