A Few Words On Bernie Wrightson

Well, very few, actually. I was initially going to say some stuff here about meeting Bernie Wrightson at a Creation Convention here in NYC back in 1981 or ’82 where during a rare quiet moment I tiptoed up to his table and mumbled out some great appreciation for his work. He responded with thanks and when he saw me clutching a portfolio, asked if I was interested in drawing comics before humbly pointing me to Graham Ingles and Franklin Booth and a few other names as illustrators to look up when I had the time. But I don’t feel much like retelling the longer version of that story just now.

The internet is chock full of his amazing work, so here’s one link of many to sink into for a spell. Funny that I just ordered a bottle of India ink and was planning to break out the brushes and dip pens to do some de-stressing over a ton of stuff. I guess I’ll have Bernie on my mind at many points, but I won’t even try to emulate his style, as his Swamp Thing and other horror imagery had me hooked in since about 1970 or ’71 and was my primary reason for wanting to draw.

Back in a bit. I was working on something else – well, a few somethings else, but once again, the wind has left the sails.

 

-GW

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Shadows On The Grave: Corben’s Still Got Those Horror Chops

shadows-on-the-grave-dhRichard Corben’s artwork has always been brilliant, freakish and frightening on a few levels, but his horror work over the last few years has been a perfect blend of caricature and crazed creativity. I rather loved Rat God, his violently hilarious and uniquely stylized love letter to Lovecraft that was one of Dark Horse Comics best mini-series of 2015. Okay, Bunn and Cook’s absolutely brilliant (and I would watch the hell out of a good TV or movie adaptation) Harrow County is flat out scarier. But Corben’s style of stylistic horror is second to none in my book.

shadows-1sotg30532Shadows On The Grave #1 is the first issue in a beautiful new miniseries comprised of short stories with Corben going all out in both black and white and grey-toned art that’s simultaneously lovely, twisted and somehow realistic through all the bigfoot layers. There’s his reliable work with the human and unhuman form that makes poring over each panel a joy (yes, even the disturbing stuff is worth a look in all its glory) and his writing is just fun and tight what with all the tonal shifting going on. The man is a master of adding humor to tense situations as his characters get put through their paces by fate and other means, but I shall wisely leave the actual reading of the book to each and every one of you interested.

Issue 1 lands at your favorite comic emporium December 14 ($3.99), Issue 2 is arriving in January, and let’s see now… #3 should be next March. Yep, get this is you’re into the Creepy stuff. You see what I did there? Did you? Yeah, go get that as well.

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READS: Star Wars Works Spectacularly As A Scrolling Infographic

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Many movie fans all know what follows this memorable opening image, but thanks to Zurich-based artist Martin Panchaud, we now have quite possibly the best illustrated retelling of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope to date. While not flawless (there are a few incorrectly translated lines), the scrolling infographic absolutely nails the storytelling beats, but from a top down perspective and using colored dots for human and alien characters. If you’re a big enough fan of the film, I’d bet you’ll be hearing that phenomenal John Williams score in your head at all the right moments. Go check it out (if this hasn’t been forwarded to your own inbox already today).

Also, someone call Guinness (no, not the ghost of Alec, silly!)- I think at 123 meters (or 403.543307 feet), it just may be the longest infographic you’ll see for a while. Anyway, go revisit a classic film from 1977 in a whole new way.

Can Dark Horse Comics See The Future? I Kind of Hope Not

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Ha and double ha, Dark Horse Comics! Getting Volume 1 of PANIC ($49.99) out in this rather panicky election year that’s giving plenty of people the heebie-jeebies for any number of reasons. Yeah, yeah – it wasn’t planned to happen this way, but it’s still funny (to me at least). I’d only seen a few very ratty issues of the mag at a comic convention way back in the 80’s, so finally getting to read through the first six issues in a sturdy hardcover tome was a great exercise.

It’s interesting to see everything intact from the nicely recolored art to the editorial pages that note the climate of the time that was VERY anti-comics at the expense of killing of companies left and right that couldn’t or wouldn’t conform to the crazies. Great satire and parody hold up to even the most pointed of criticism, so despite some very dated references, there are still plenty of laughs to be had. So, remove that stick from where it’s lodged, have a nice seat with your feet up and prepare to exercise those smile muscles that of late have probably turned into a near-permanent scowl. Oh, and one more thing: consider a good moisturizer before reading as Dark Horse is not responsible for cracked faces from perusing what’s here.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice TV Spots: Capes & Jaw-Juts on the Menu for March

And so, it begins. By the time Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters in March, I fully expect to see no fewer than 25 or so of these 30-second (or longer) TV spots that still won’t give away all of the film’s “surprises”. I’m at the stage where these comic book blockbusters don’t surprise me much if at all because both DC and Marvel traffic heavily in killing any actual suspense these films bring thanks to wanting to keep as many main and some supporting characters around as possible as a means of generating income. Alternate universe stories aside, they can’t “kill” off a *major* character anymore (without replacing him or her) because they’d be removing a slice of that easy revenue stream fans pony up on a regular basis.

That said, collateral damage seems to me more than okay in these flicks. In English: you sure can lay waste to cities great and small, killing thousands or even millions of civilians as a plot pushing element. “Dead” superheroes get to come back to life at some point, but dead normal folks stay dead long after the rubble has been cleaned up. I suppose there’s a moral here, but I’m too lazy to look for one today.

READS: More Scary As Hell Stuff From Dark Horse Comics

Harrow County Vol. 1‘Tis the season to still have some scary reads handy if one likes such stuff and thankfully, Dark Horse Comics has been delivering the goods all year long. I tend to wait until assorted trade paperbacks drop over buying single issues due to cost and space reasons, plus it ends up smarter reading stories in collected form (for me, at least).

One of the better horror comics I’ve read is Harrow County, a nice southern gothic tale from writer Cullen Bunn and artist Tyler Crook. In the first collection, Harrow County – Countless Haints ($14.99), the pair have concocted up a terrifying tale that from the very first page of the very first issue will have you hooked in and turning pages with wider eyes and a growing sense of  dread. The amazing thing is as great and chilling as the first issue is, the rest of the stories in this first volume only get better. If you’re prone to nightmares, don’t read the whole book in one shot unless you like sleeping with both eyeballs wide open looking for vengeful witches in the corners.

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Talk about killer openings, folks…

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READS: The Haunt of Fear Still Packs A Moldy Wallop

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Sometimes a good old scare is all you need and with Halloween right around the corner (with a baseball bat in claw), you can stay safely indoors and get your fright on thanks to Dark Horse Comics. They’ve been reprinting a bunch of lovely volumes of classic EC Comics and the latest, The EC Archives: The Haunt of Fear Volume 2 comes highly recommended. Coming to a comic shop near you October 28, this 216-page full color hardcover collects The Haunt of Fear #7–#12 and features art from Johnny Craig, Graham Ingels, Jack Davis, Jack Kamen, George Roussos, Ed Smalle, and Joe Orlando. I’ll tease you with a page from the very first tale in the book, a real corker called Room For One More:

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I think that rather unbalanced Rodney needs to reconsider his greed for that last space in the family mausoleum before it’s too late, right? As usual, the book compiles the issues in their entirety including all the original ads, text pieces, and letter columns. Nope, you can’t order anything from those well-aged adverts, but reading the letters should get you smiling at how some took these illustrated tales of terror to heart back in the day. Feel free to also check out previous volumes in Dark Horse’s EC Archives for even more variety in classic horror, sci-fi, crime, humor and more stories from the pre-Comics Code days.

“Forbidden” Comics Make This Humble Bundle Worth Breaking Some Rules

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Because its Banned Books Week (eek!) and you need to expand your horizons a bit more, the folks over at Humble Bundle have put together a nice selection of challenged and banned comics to purchase with the proceeds benefiting The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). It’s a great selection of digital books more that worth the minimum asking price and your money is going to a great cause.

Humble Forbidden Comics Bundle
 

While I’d prefer a ban on stupid people banning stuff they won’t even read, I guess this is the best revenge you can have on some of those know-little to nothings and their fear of the printed and drawn word. I’d suggest getting your bundle and reading as much as you can in or near a place that’s challenged or outright banned some of the titles just to see if anyone actually notices. I’d bet a dime that no one will care a whit unless they’re curious enough to ask. And even then, they just might find out that there’s nothing to run screaming from the room about at all.

In other words, wouldn’t it be cooler to live in a world where we’re NOT celebrating books being banned and instead celebrate the smartening up of those who ban stuff automatically because they’ve finally gotten those sticks out of their behinds? Yeah, I thought so.

Some Batman Day Stuff To Drive You Batty

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So, it’s Batman Day tomorrow and yes, a few (well, more than a few) sites are having some nice sales on some fun to funky items. I’ll give a shout out to a handful below:

Mezco Batman Day Sale

MezcoToyz is offering up an awesome deal of mystery randomness with its 1-day ONLY Batman themed Mystery Box. $19.39 (yes, the year Bats first appeared in comics)nets you a box that will contain assorted Batman and DC Comics related merchandise. You may get something common,but you may also snag something super-rare and guaranteed to have the Joker pop by with a can of Smilex gas while you’re sleeping. Hey, he collects toys too… at your expense, of course! This sale runs from 12:01 AM on September 26th to 12:01 AM on September 27th and yes, supplies are LIMITED. Oh, and if you’ll be in NYC for the event, make sure to visit Mezco at New York Comic Con (booth 1754).

BatmanCover LEGO Batman 3 Complete Bundle

If you prefer something a bit more interactive, Bundle Stars has you covered with two cool Bat-bundles of PC games with the Caped Crusaders and friends. Ten bucks nets you the first three Batman: Arkham games along with three huge DLC packs or Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham plus SEVEN nice DLC packs.

Meanwhile, the PlayStation Store, Sony is running a Batman Day sale on a slew of Barman titles for the PS3, PS4 and Vita. Boogie on over to that link above and let your wallet fly around the room for a minute before you wring it out until it’s all dried up and you’re buried in more than enough Bat-games to keep you occupied and out of trouble for quite some time. Or IN trouble because you’ve stopped going to work and have taken to wearing a cape, boots and utility belt you’ve designed on those trips to the bathroom. Remember to duck when you throw that homemade Batarang for the first time, as it’ll swing back and crack you upside the head before you can react.

I suppose you can do some reading as well, but I’ll let you poke around online for assorted sales. I do know DC Comics is doing something fun (as always) I haven’t read a decent Batman comic in ages, so I’m kind of need to do some poking around myself. Hmmm… it looks as if I’ll be hitting up the library here tomorrow or a nearby comic shop for a few freebies.

The Bloom Is On The “Oh’s”: Bloom County Is Back

Bloom County 2015
 

For those who missed its nine-year run back in the 80’s, Bloom County was one of the main reasons to still check out the comics section in one’s daily newspaper. Writer/artist Berkeley Breathed bought a supremely sarcastic and subversive strip to the masses with an art style slightly similar to Gary Trudeau’s Doonesbury, but with a more oddball cast. Since I don’t hang out on Hatebook, er, Facebook much these days, I missed the photo above as well as the first new strip below. Thankfully someone pointed me in the proper direction and made me do a happy dance for a hot minute or two. Good. Life just got better for millions and worse for a certain bigmouth with a wild coif who’s going to get taken down a few pegs. “THBBFT!” indeed, folks.

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Welcome back Opus and company. You’ve been sorely missed. Hopefully, you’ll stick around for a while longer than the first go-round. But we shall see what happens…