[moore] Discover Alan Moore’s Surprising First Published Superman Stories … A look at some long-forgotten UK published stories from Alan Moore. ‘That second Superheroes Annual in 1983…There was a two-page text piece by Alan Moore, with illustrations by the brilliant Bryan Talbot. The story was titled “Protected Species,” and it was about an alien who traveled the universe collected endangered species from lost planets that he would then bring to his bosses who would keep the survivors on a sort of zoo…’
[comics] Neil Gaiman on the Secret History of ‘The Sandman,’ from Giant Mechanical Spiders to the Joker … Long interview with Gaiman on The Sandman comics, TV series, Alan Moore, his history with DC Comics and much more. ‘I love that the House of Secrets and the House of Mystery are on screen. I love that Asim Chaudhry and Sanjeev Bhaskar are respectively Abel and Cain. I love the fact we’ve got Goldie and Gregory the Gargoyle. I look at Gregory and I’m just sad that [artist] Bernie Wrightson is no longer with us, because I wish he’d lived to see Gregory the Gargoyle flying around on the screen, this thing that he made. I love all that. I think that’s so much fun. And I love the fact that if you want to do weird deep dives into DC chronology, you have Lyta Hall, who in some versions of DC Comics existence — not really the one that we were in even by the time we got to the comic — but there is a level in which she’s Wonder Woman’s daughter. And perhaps she is, we’ll never know.’
[comics] Interview: Joe Colquhoun … Charlie’s War artist Joe Colquhoun interviewed in 1982 by Lew Stringer. ‘I found Roy [of the Rovers] a bit of a boring subject, not being a great fan of football, and after four or five years of drawing those bloody hairy-arsed footballers tearing around morning, noon and night, it got me down a lot.’
[comics] The definitive guide to the many editions of Sandman … Useful reading order to Sandman along with a guide to the many different editions of the series. ‘The cheapest way to read is at your nearest library. For those willing to splash, there are many different editions to collect the series; Single Issues, TPB, Deluxe, Omnibus, and Absolutes. For non-comic readers, it is recommended that you decide on a format/edition and stick with it to avoid confusion as different editions cover varying amounts of content per volume.’
[comics] The 100 Most Influential Pages in Comic Book History … A wide ranging look at 100 pages that changed comics. ‘Hawkeye No. 11 (2013): The highlight of the run came in Hawkeye No. 11, an issue told through the eyes of Lucky, a dog that Hawkeye adopted in the first issue of the series. Lucky (or Pizza Dog, as he thinks of himself, due to his taste for pizza) sees the world through a series of nonverbal signifiers (the book’s letterer, Chris Eliopoulos is credited as “production” for the issue, as he delivers a lot more than just lettering in the issue). It’s Chris Ware–esque diagram artwork, but with a great deal more heart behind the experiences of Lucky. This was one of the most acclaimed single issues of the past decade, winning an Eisner Award for Best Single Issue.’
[comics] John Wagner and Alan Grant Interviewed in 1988 … I was very saddened to hear of Alan Grant’s passing last week – below is a funny story from him in the linked interview. ‘A freight company hired me to find out where a million and a quarter pounds missing from the books had gone, and I’d not got the slightest idea where it had gone and didn’t even know where to start looking. So I compromised by burning the books. By the time I’d finished they’d no idea what they had or what they didn’t have. The funniest thing about it was that when I eventually told them I couldn’t take it any more and I was leaving to go back to Scotland immediately because my granny had died or something, they said “That’s a great shame. You were doing so well we were going to give you our Heathrow account. There’s 5,000,000 pounds missing there.” And I was travelling home from Tilbury at night ripping up the books and throwing them out of the train window. IPC did eventually take me on for a partwork called “Birds of the World,” and I was there until it closed down after six months.’
[akira] A Collection of Every Akira Video Game Ever Made … ‘Akira was one of my favorite films as a teen and I remember hearing rumors of a video game version, but I could never find it. Eventually, I just filed it away as a myth, like the supposed Akira live action film adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Not only are these games real though, you can even be able to play them thanks to ROM archivists…’
[comics] Ed Brubaker on the Reckless series, L.A. 1980s pulp fiction … ‘With a slew of Eisner Awards to his name and a reputation as one of the industry’s most popular storytellers, Brubaker set out to do something new not by choice but out of necessity. Comics are created on a tight schedule. When the pandemic hit, not only did comic book shops around the country shut down — so did the printers and distributors. It was a bleak time for the business. “Everybody in comics panicked,” Brubaker said. “How are we going to be able to keep making comics? Are all the stores going to go out of business?”’
[moore] Alan Moore On ‘From Hell’ – Interviewed In 2002 … Future biographers of Moore, please take note of this quote: ‘I do get some funny phone calls. Nicolas Cage phoned me up a few times because he likes my stuff. He seems nice enough, but he phoned me once to ask for advice on his love life. It must be a lonely existence being a film star…’
[comics] Garth Ennis and Kevin O’Neill on Reviving the Infamous Kids Rule OK! for Battle Action Special … Wonderful interview, with lots of British 70s comics history from O’Neill. ‘I was often asked to change little small things in my artwork for ludicrous reasons later on. But the fallout from Action, which the Garth story is built around, was massive at the time because you cannot underestimate the power of the tabloid newspapers when they turned on comics. I believe Action was torn up on a BBC show called Nationwide with Frank Bough, who was disgraced years later for various misdemeanors, but he tore up a copy of Action on-screen as worthless trash. That was the atmosphere. I don’t think 2000 AD could have been canceled before it was launched because too much time and money had been spent developing it, but by God, it probably came close. And nobody knew what was happening.’
[art] My brother the superhero: how the death of comic book legend Steve Dillon inspired a creative awakening … A powerful piece on how Glyn Dillon reacted to the death of his brother Steve. ‘Steve’s death changed his younger brother’s life in all sorts of ways. When it happened, Glyn was working at Pinewood Studios as a costume designer on the latest Star Wars movie. It was work he loved but it also involved long, stressful hours and it had been nagging away at him that what he really wanted to do with his life, ever since he was a teenager, was paint. This family tragedy gave him the push to pursue his dreams. “At first I thought about doing a comic [about Steve’s death], but the feelings felt too big for that medium,” he says. “I needed to do something different, more physical, standing up, climbing a ladder.”’
[comics] Arena: The Comic Strip Hero… … A look back in 1981 at the success of Superman with interviews from the creators Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster and other comics artists such as Will Eisner and Art Spiegelman.
[comics] We Apologize For Publishing Darkseid’s Anti-Life Equation … All is one in Darkseid! ‘Naturally, the staff and ownership of Hard Drive don’t encourage anyone to die for Darkseid; we encourage conversation. As the current and eternal ruler of the dread planet-fortress Apokalips, Darkseid is a public figure of note. While we pointedly disagree with cosmic genocide, we considered his perspective on the fabrege egg we call life newsworthy. Now it’s clear that no conversation can take place after cutting out your own tongue. We’ve removed Darkseid’s editorial, at great human cost. Our Opinion editor caught a glimpse of the equation as he deleted the page, snuffing the flame of his mortal soul and replacing it with loyalty to Darkseid.’
[comics] Incredible photos of S.F.’s legendary first comic book store have surfaced — 50 years after we lost them … ‘The photos show a tiny store where every square inch from floor to the high ceiling is covered with comic book racks and comics displayed in plastic wrap. Arlington stands like a bird on a perch, looking over his customers on the low rung of one of several ladders. A mix of sullen-looking men and wide-eyed children browse horror comics, Tales of the Green Beret and some of the earliest Marvel X-Men issues.’
[comics] Creating the Judge Dredd by Brian Bolland Apex Edition: A How-to Guide for the Rash and Enthusiastic … David Roach on the difficult search for Brian Bolland’s 2000AD work for an artist’s edition book. ‘At first the page count was uncertain, as we weren’t sure how many pages it would be possible to find, but ideally it was going to be 96, rising to 144 or higher if possible, though at times that felt like a far-off dream. But what that meant was that we were aiming to include as much as 1/3 of his entire British output, which was quite a sobering thought. One complication in tracking down Brian’s pages was the haphazard way in which these early pages were disseminated among collectors. IPC, 2000 AD’s first publisher, had a blanket policy of not returning artwork, something which only changed in the ‘80s in the face of mounting pressure from its artists. In the intervening years, however, numerous pages were stolen from offices and storage warehouses, often turning up for sale in London comic shops, much to the artist’s frustration. As 2000 AD’s most popular artist, Brian’s art was particularly prized and most persistently stolen, and, to this day, certain strips, including his first Judge Death serial, have never surfaced again.’
[comics] Zorro in Arkham: Reflecting on a Legendary Batman Saga With Writer Grant Morrison, Part 1 … ‘Dan asked me to write Batman…. He likely saw more potential in Damian than I did, and he was right. I’d figured out that Batman as a concept was impervious to pretty much any assault. Camp Batman worked, serious Batman worked, Lego Batman worked. Dad Batman? That would work too. There had been a few ‘son of’ stories over the decades, some written by Alfred the butler as literary amuse bouches, imaginary tales of the next generation. I had the title Batman & Son in my head, like a family business, like Steptoe & Son or, for US readers, Sanford & Son. I gambled that having a deadly aristocratic ninja brat for a kid would only make Batman cooler and add some extra complexity to his mythos…’
[comics] The Lawsuit that Reshaped Sonic the Hedgehog Comics … I’ve always known that Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog comics were long-running and complex, but I’ve never heard about the legal case that led to a complete reset of the series. ‘Things started looking grim in late 2012, when Archie suddenly fired its entire legal team. The company had been unable to produce Penders’ work-for-hire contract, which would have given control of his creations to Sega. Penders claimed the contract had never existed. A heavily circulated Tumblr post outlining the case (which has been corroborated as a reliable source by Penders) explains that while Archie did provide a photocopy of a contract allegedly signed by Penders in 1996, Penders claimed that the document was a forgery. That it was neither an original copy nor a contract from the beginning of the writer’s tenure at Archie meant that its validity was questionable. Making things worse, Archie couldn’t produce an original copy of any previous contributor’s contract, meaning that any writer or artist who had worked on the Archie Sonic line could potentially follow in Penders’s footsteps and reclaim their work.’
You can try to glean life lessons from Stan’s arc, but I feel like they’re all relatively obvious: thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet, and so on. The harder thing to process is the twofold ambiguity of his life.
There’s the factual ambiguity of who created the Marvel pantheon, which is a dilemma that will probably never be resolved. And then there’s the moral ambiguity of asking whether he was a “good” man or not, which is a similarly unanswerable question, albeit for different reasons. The human mind wants to reject ambiguity; we want to say some things are incontrovertible facts and that the people we like or hate are objectively good or bad. But the reality of existence is uncertainty: constant, chaotic, and infuriating. You can either lie to yourself for certainty—and, to be sure, we all have to do that for certain aspects of life—or you can be honest and confront the answerlessness of the world.
[comics] “We Get To Do Whatever We Want!”: An Interview with Sean Phillips … Covering Phillips long career. On Vertigo Comics: ‘Looking back I can see Vertigo was something special and changed comics for the better, but I couldn’t see that at the time. When I’m drawing a comic I’m focused on one panel at a time and it’s difficult to see the bigger picture.’
[comics] ‘I read all 27,000 Marvel comics and had a great time. Here’s what I learnt’ … Douglas Wolk’s tour guide to Marvel Comics. ‘The reading stage went on for longer than I thought it would. It turns out my brain can only handle so much gaudily coloured, hyper-violent soap opera in a single day. The high point may have been wrestling with the thoughtful, exquisitely drawn, yet problematic 1974-1983 title Master of Kung Fu, which introduced the character of Shang-Chi, who recently made it to the big screen. A taut, introspective espionage thriller whose antagonist is Fu Manchu, the series became, over time, both more impressive and – for its racist portrayals – more wince-inducing.’
[comics] Blocky Mania: The Perfection of Artist Mick McMahon … A nice overview and gallery of the art of Mick McMahon. ‘Few other artists have illustrated Judge Dredd, Tank Girl, Batman (in issues of the fondly-remembered Legends of the Dark Knight anthology series; McMahon has said that he drew it for the money, and he thinks it shows in the finished pages), and Sonic the Hedgehog, but McMahon’s run on the latter character is as important for a generation of readers as his Dredd was for their parents. He also got into design work for video games and toys, and started introducing digital tools into his process. McMahon never stopped moving forward, no matter what.’
[comics] Neil Gaiman on Desert Island Discs … On Books: ‘My dad, always my dad… would literally pat me down because I had been known to hide books under my jumper and he would lock them in the car. And it never really worked, because wherever we were, I could normally find something to read. It just wouldn’t have been what I wanted to read, but suddenly… I’d be off in the corner reading The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten or something, because it was the book that I found.’
[comics] Like Colonel Sanders: The Stan Lee Era … A deep dive into the life of Stan Lee via two recent biographies. ‘Lee’s final years were a strange mixture of global fame and outlandish hustling. He enjoyed filming his Hitchcock-like cameos for the MCU movies, but got only token fees for them and avoided sitting through the premieres: ‘Stan hated superhero films,’ his business manager told Riesman. A parade of unreliable associates – including a memorabilia mogul who claimed to be Michael Jackson’s best friend – tried to persuade him they’d found a way to turn his celebrity into cash.’
[comics] Jack Kirby Runs Into the MCU Buzzsaw … A look at how the The Marvel Cinematic Universe (and it’s fans) deals with the Eternals and it’s creator Jack Kirby. ‘There’s something deeply depressing about the whole spectacle that has nothing to do with art. Jack Kirby spent his life fighting corporate behemoths and championing the rights of creators, as individuals, a war he didn’t win until after his death. But time and again, the fans have made it abundantly clear they care more about corporations than creators.’
[comics] A rare interview with Robert Crumb on America, PC culture and Trump … ‘It was Aline who hung, at the entrance to their home, a Donald Trump voodoo doll, complete with pins. “She’s really obsessed with Trump,” he says. “I’m no friend of Trump. I think he’s a bad man, but he’s a symptom of things that have been happening in the States for decades, it’s the decline of the Roman Empire. She suggested we make a comic about Trump together. I said, Okay, I can get into that, and then I spent an entire day just drawing Trump’s hair. I studied his hair with a magnifying glass. When you see a man with hair like that, alarms should go off.”’
[comics] Why Bruce Wayne Should Never Give Any Money To Charity … ‘Amongst Batman’s wider enemies are therapists, teachers, postal workers, and ventriloquists. If you support the arts: you’re probably funding an origin story. If you support public services: origin story. There’s no industry which won’t pivot into a villain production line. One time a policeman got shot and was reborn as an immortal Avenging Wrath of the Murdered Dead. Every single person in Gotham City is one bad day away from turning into a criminal, and Bruce Wayne’s best bet is to hoard all his money and make sure that nobody else gets their hands on it.’
[comics] “Are You Glad You Did It?”: An Interview with Douglas Wolk …An interview with Douglas Wolk on his quest to read every Marvel comic and the book he wrote about it. ‘There were also a few unexpected “wow” moments. [J.M.] DeMatteis and Liam Sharp did a Man-Thing series in 1998 that’s never been reprinted and it’s freaking gorgeous. How did I not know about this? And honestly, going back and reading Master of Kung Fu. There were a few weekends I spent reading that series and thinking, “This is so gooood. This is so problematic. This is so good.”’
[comics] Ditko Con 2021 … The Comics Journal visits a fan convention celebrating Steve Ditko. ‘Javier Hernandez recommended everyone read Ditko’s later works and also ran into memorable fans at his table, including a couple from the local Rusyn Byzantine Catholic group. He reported that they felt Steve Ditko likely based his illustrated Spider-Man and Doctor Strange hands after one of the Saints in the Byzantine Catholic religion. After some research, it became apparent to me that the paintings of St. Nicholas’ right hand follow this same very distinct pattern.’
[comics] 2000 AD Covers Uncovered – A legend returns: it’s Mick McMahon on Prog 2250 … Some comics process – how Mick McMahon creates a Judge Dredd cover for 2000AD. ‘The brief is Dredd in action, so pretty open-ended. My first move is to draw some Dredds and hope that one of them feels ‘right’. As I sketch on these first sheets I gradually start leaning towards the idea of a big Dredd filling the cover with a white background.’
[moore] How Alan Moore ripped James Bond to shreds … A deep dive into Alan Moore’s loathing for James Bond. ‘I admire how completely Moore vivisects the iconography of 007. The Craig films tend to get discussed as darker or more humane variations on the James Bond theme, but he’s still a guy who saves the world, leaving a trail of weird foreigners and attractive corpses behind him. I’ve noticed a general growing tendency in film criticism to give every reboot several benefits of doubt, with a baked-in assumption that any three-decade-later legacy sequel or recast reboot is obviously expressing something thoughtful about a franchise’s troubled legacy. With Jimmy, Moore seems to say: Cut the crap. This stuff is rotten, and making it look young and cool again won’t make it any less rotten.’
MOORE: Swamp Thing is probably more of a template for the Vertigo books than Watchmen was, but with Swamp Thing, you’ve got all these stories which are really horrible, really grim and really depressing… but then you’ll have these little stories like the Swamp Sex Issue, a love poem more or less.
ROSS: Yeah, some of them were quite light.
MOORE: In a way it’s crueler, if you give people a love poem they’ll numb out and switch off… it keeps the horror fresh if you…
ROSS: …give a little taste of sorbet in between the death and desolation.
[comics] Comics Laureate Recommended Reading List … Great list of recommended comics from Stephen L. Holland. ‘To reach new people accessibility is all, so this isn’t a guide to the cleverest comics ever created (although they are all exceptionally clever); it’s a selection of the very finest and most beguiling which have proved to be perfect introductions to those curious about comics during my 25+ years as curator of Page 45, so often kick-starting a lifetime’s newfound adoration and exploration of our beloved medium.’
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[moore] The Craft: An Interview with Alan Moore by Daniel Whiston … Long interview on writing, comics, magic and much more from 2008. ‘There does come this point when characters start talking to you. They’ll start telling you what they want to do, you’ll know what they would say and what they wouldn’t say. I mean when I started writing Watchmen , I’d got no idea that Rorschach was gonna be dead by the end of it, it was just by about issue three I started to know the character and I thought: “he’s got a death wish”… he’s so self-destructive, he’s clearly… he wants out. There’s no way that he’s gonna live through this, he wouldn’t be able to live with any sort of moral compromises, so he’ll have to die. But it was the character himself who told me that, after two or three issues. I’d got no idea when I started it.’
[clowes] Ghost World at 20: ‘In an era of teen comedies and American Pie, this was an antidote’ … Looking back at Terry Zwigoff’s movie of the comic. ‘Those contrasting viewpoints underline Ghost World’s complexity; everyone takes something different from it. For Douglas, it is principally about nonconformity. “In the end, even Seymour conforms,” she says. “When Enid goes in and he’s wearing the blue jeans that his new girlfriend purchased for him, it is this abandoning of everything they’ve made fun of.” Others see it as a film about boredom, or about being unwilling or unable to grow up, while some respond to the characters’ nostalgia for a time they haven’t lived through. Zwigoff had intended partly to critique consumerism: “I wanted to set the story against a background of the sweeping, bland, contrived monoculture of which mindless consumerism is, of course, a part.”’
[comics] Ed Brubaker has “mixed feelings” about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier … ‘For the most part all Steve Epting and I have gotten for creating the Winter Soldier and his storyline is a “thanks” here or there, and over the years that’s become harder and harder to live with. I’ve even seen higher-ups on the publishing side try to take credit for my work a few times, which was pretty galling…’
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