Today marks the 25th anniversary of Bloodstrike #1! As I’m revving up for the June release of my mini-series, Bloodstrike: Brutalists, I wanted to celebrate my favorite undead government squad by taking a deep dive into their publishing history. Along the way, I’ll add commentary on the aspects that helped inform Brutalists and what I love about this specific Rob Liefeld-created roster. It’s a lot to cover, so let’s get into it!
I received my first comics when I was a little kid, a 5 year old transplant in Madrid, Spain. My grandma bought a handful of them for me from the newsstand. They were translated Marvel and DC comics, some were black & white, some in color. They were the size of magazines, too. Huge, colorful, sometimes many stories per issue. I was mesmerized, as even the ads for other titles seemed incredibly epic to me. Eduardo Barreto had something to do with all that.
That there is the first Superman comic I ever read. I had seen the 3 movies and had the toys, but a comic? This was it, and seeing Superman cry for help in an alleyway with stubble, of all things, was weird and interesting and compelling. The actual story was a pretty good Bates/Swan/Oksner production, but nothing beat that cover.
Even many years later, when I would first start going to comic book stores once in a while, I would always gravitate toward the Barreto covers in the back issue bins. The ones I thought looked cool were never drawn by him on the inside. Again, nothing beat those covers.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Back in Spain, I did have a comic drawn by Barreto. It wasn’t a popular icon of a comic, but I happened to own it, and it seemed complex to me. It was heavy and tragic and I felt the weight of the conflict in every panel. I had never even seen these characters before.
It was Atari Force issue thirteen.
What an odd collection of characters. They all seemed to be friends but enemeies but lovers but related but… but… I loved trying to decipher the story over and over again. Turns out that the issue at hand featured a couple of reveals. People were betrayed, identities explained, the end of the world was inevitable. I loved it. How could I not? Look at this page and its chaotic design, and yet it flows clearly, masterfully.
As for the page below, that was my favorite page out of the entire thing. A pretty simple, brutal fight. The entire issue was a great build up to this moment and this was the perfect release.
I recall thinking that the guy’s face didn’t have enough blood on it. Those faint pink spots weren’t good enough for me. I needed to see more blood, so I just added more blood with a red pen. I wish I still had those Spanish reprints, if only to see what kind of graffiti or subplots I used to scribble in any open space on the page I saw.
Eduardo Barreto passed away today. He was 57.
Our condolences go out to his family and friends.
Those Spanish reprints, I’ve only found a couple here and there. I haven’t come across the Atari Force one, but I know that those bloody pages will not need me to scribble on them when I do.
That scene, that comic, Eduardo Barreto’s work, they’re perfect the way they are.
It’s Kyle Baker’s birthday today and in true celebratory fashion, I wrote about Kyle’s comic art over at the Beat! No, seriously! I go on about digital art versus real ink and all sorts of other good stuff in honor of one of my favorite cartoonists. But over here, I’ve posted a bunch of cool odd and ends from Kyle Baker’s past.
Thriller is quite possibly one of the most underrated and forgotten gems from modern comics. It was a critical and commercial failure by the standards of the day, but it still holds up as a sharp and compelling comic book series. Robert Loren Fleming gave life to a great cast of odd and inviting characters without giving in to cliché and Trevor Von Eeden is the one who shaped the idea with a wildly imaginative vision. Perhaps what made Thriller unique is what killed it. How Thriller was ever released in the first place by DC Comics seems like a fluke, but the proof is in the short lived run: there was no comic out there like it and there never will be.
I’ve been meaning to write about one of my new favorite cartoonists, Jorge Zaffino, for a while. The Argentinian artist started working in American comics in the late 80s and throughout the mid 90s. As a kid I only saw his work in comic book ads, being that my local bodega didn’t sell Punisher graphic novels or Epic Comics. I was reminded of his work when he contributed to the excellent Batman: Black & White anthology series [#2, July ’96], and I’ve been a fan since.
About a year ago I celebrated the release of the latest Love & Rockets series, New Stories, by posting a bunch of the Bros.’ older material. Well, the second issue just came out and what can I say? It’s fantastic. I think every time one of these books hits the shelves there should be a parade or some sort of citywide festival. It’s no less than what the Bros.deserve, right? I’m only one person, though, and this Master Post is my humble contribution.
Walt Simonson has just about drawn every major character for every major publisher throughout the last thirty-odd years. Best known for his work on Thor, Starslammers, Fantastic Four, Battlestar Galactica and Orion, Simonson’s style has always been lauded as having the energy to rival Jack Kirby’s. But just as his legendary predecessor’s work was seen, all of the subtlety in Simonson’s work is often overlooked. Even in the most frantic piece, Simonson manages give it a quiet sense of characterization.
Hell, he just draws purty, OK?
Since I can easily make thirty different posts based on his covers alone, I’ve posted some of my personal favorite comics and covers by Simonson.
…was yesterday, but I made him a card anyway. He turned 81 years old.
You may recognize the name Ditko as the creator of many of your favorite comic characters such as… ah, the names escape me… Spider-something or other. Anyway, he’s a comics legend, an innovator, and he’s still making comics. I have cobbled a few of my personal favorite Ditko pieces, some not seen too often and others never to be reprinted elsewhere.
Like Ditko often suggests, there is black and then there is white and there is no in between.