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Interviews I've Conducted Retrospectives - Master Post

History of THRILLER

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.

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All About Process Art & Illustration

I’m Running My Inkpen

I was talking about comic book inkers with George O’Connor a couple of weeks ago and during our conversation, I realized that I’ve never inked anyone before. I’ve never been inked either, which is fine because I wouldn’t wish my sloppy pencil work on my worst enemy*. I’m still fascinated by the old school assembly line process, so George and I agreed to swap drawings for each to work on.

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Discussion & Analysis

Love & Rockets New Stories #3 – Best Comic Ever

LR3

Tucker Stone and I recently discussed Love & Rockets: New Stories #3 at length, especially why the Jaime Hernandez portion is not only his finest effort to date, but it sets a new standard for comics. It’s definitely a storytelling milestone, but why rant about it here when you can read it over at The Factual Opinion. It’s always a pleasure speaking to Tucker (who has been known for liking comics), so it was especially great to discuss a comic we both deemed amazing.

Fair warning: our breakdown contains spoilers, so be sure to buy, borrow, or steal a copy of L&R New Stories #3 before reading our inspired discussion.

Tucker writes for Savage Critics, his column for comiXology is This Ship Is Totally Sinking, and his videos are Advanced Common Sense. Trust me, these are all worth your time. His own site, The Factual Opinion, remains true to the name, especially the factual part.

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Discussion & Analysis Sometimes I Like Stuff

Baltimore Con: REYOBIGS Edition

MangaSpidey2

I had a last minute chance to attend the Baltimore ComicCon this past Saturday. I was happy to have been able to make it even for just a day, which turns out to be the perfect amount of time to enjoy the show (unless you’re running a booth, of course). I caught up with Joe Keatinge for a bit (Mr. Glum thanks you, Joe!), which included giving me the Hard Sell to move to Portland. The rent situation actually made me reconsider for a second. Also, I got to meet Tom Scioli of Godland & the Myth of 8-Opus fame. I saw the original pages of his web comic, American Barbarian, and they were gigantic… probably the best way to read this comic.

In between booth hopping and catching up with folks, I dug up a few comics of interest.

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Art & Illustration

EREBUS

I recently drew Erebus, the god of darkness and shadow, for George O’Connor’s Olympians Rule! blog. Olympians is a 12 book series retelling the Greek Myths as only George O’Connor could. The first 2 volumes are out now (ZEUS and ATHENA), so get ’em if you don’t already have ’em… and keep checking in on their Official Site!

Also, feel free to stalk George through his art blog. He’s always posting cool rarities, sketches, and old school comics… it’s always a treat to read.

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Art & Illustration Music Is Involved

Inkstuds Mixtape & more…

Summer’s here and for the occasion, I made a mixtape for the Inkstuds comics show. Download it now, hop on your bike, and cruise away. There are many other great mixes on the site, so there’s a lot of new music to fill your radio.

That’s not all. If you scroll up, you’ll see Brandon Graham’s amazing collection of comics he likes. It’s more than just comics he likes, it’s an impressive display of great cartooning that spans genre and generation. I can rant and comment on his selections forever, but see for yourself:

Part One and Part Two.

Thanks for having me on the show, guys!

Fiffe

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Interviews I've Conducted Music Is Involved

Gary Panter’s Chili Peppers Cover Art

Long ago, there came the day when I stopped collecting comic books and started getting into music and girls. It’s a typical story that most boys go through, but it wasn’t that clean cut for me. Comic book reading was a difficult habit to break, and I wasn’t really getting into music anyway. A few friends of mine were eager for me to join them in whatever role they were adapting for themselves: “C’mon, are you a rocker or a hip-hopper?” However, When I first heard the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Mother’s Milk” album through a friend, the decision was made for me: I just liked them and that was it. I was hooked.


[Line-up for the first album: Sherman, Martinez, Kiedis, Flea.]

I recorded my friend’s “Mother’s Milk” CD onto a tape and played it over and over, day after day. The music sounded like nothing I had ever heard before and I immediately fell in love with those weird, infectious sounds. The band members were all these crazy looking, uninhibited beams of energy and sex and fun. I was 13 and these bare chested goofballs were my idols. I never owned any music prior to that ratty cassette, but that musical discovery led to an obsession. I eventually hunted their older albums down and absorbed them the way I did my already worn out tape. I was especially drawn to the the cover art to their self titled debut which was created by Gary Panter. I hadn’t drawn a single comic book image in months, but I suddenly found myself doodling his Chili Peppers characters all over my school books.


[In its full glory, from 1984.]

Never hesitant to seek and nerd out over the details of something like this, I asked Gary to shed some light on how he ended up working on that cover. He was kind and generous enough to divulge the details of his involvement:

“Eric Greenspan, who I had met when he bought a painting of mine from a show at Steve Samiof’s (editor of SLASH) SHOFA, on Larchmont Avenue in LA, was really into reggae music and rock. He managed Steel Pulse and later Ice-T and he was always avidly looking for new stuff. He kept telling me about a new band that performed naked and were great. I had heard of them and seen Flea at the premiere of Penelope Spheeris’ Suburbia. He started working with them and finally I went with Eric to see them and they were really great. They lived in my neighborhood and I saw them around at punk shows and stuff and on the street stopping traffic by walking into it. Not a great idea unless you really don’t care. They knew my work from SLASH; I knew the art director, Henry Marquez, socially, as I was schlepping my portfolio around and meeting people, and Eric was another connection. Can’t remember if Henry was art director for both records.”

My teenage brain couldn’t even register how this cover was made, let alone thought up, and even when Gary explains it… it still can’t.

“I made it kind of like the paintings I was doing then, which was a series of thinned acrylic paintings on heavy paper that suggested bad print jobs I saw on the border of Mexico when I was a kid. And bad American print jobs, like the printing on Popcycle wrappers. I went to a rehearsal, which was terrific, and drew them and tried to figure out cartoonish versions of them that alluded to Weirdo plastic kits by Roth and Mouse which to me were powerful styles. Being the only audience for a Chili Pepper rehearsal was swell, especially because they tried stuff in rehearsal that they would never do on stage (which was true of other bands I watched and drew in rehearsal, like the Weirdos and the Screamers), like playing stuff too fast or too slow and doing inside joke chants and stuff.”


[Reunited for their 3rd release, original band line up included Hillel Slovak & Jack Irons, 1987.]

Gary also did the cover art for their third album “Uplift Mofo Party Plan” (above) which quickly became my favorite Chili Peppers album upon listening to it. The cover art (mostly covered up by a big picture of the band) is totally different from the first one yet still captures the spirit of the band. Was it mere coincidence that their sensibilities meshed so well?

“I knew them a little better then and they told me things that they wanted on the cover, which were images from songs and also the big car that they had pimped out with fake fur, toys, flashing lights, etc. They took me out to the car on the lot of the record company and I made some notes and sketches. They were a big band by then, so I asked to do a gold foil or gold ink overlay of lines, which I drew separately from the painting. Bigger bands got bigger printing budgets.”

I recently came across a photo of the original album art for “Uplift…”, a 50-inch wide psychedelic gouache drawing on paper. Apparently there was a note on the bottom of the art board: Please Return Art to Gary Panter. It was auctioned off at Christie’s (est. $10,000 – $15,000) a couple of years ago.



“Well. I don’t remember if I gave it away, sold it, or left it so long in a friends garage that she finally had a garage sale. I did not get anything from that resale. The money part of art is generally an illusion. The making of the art and the meeting of people and seeing it float around the world are the neat part.”

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been a huge institution in rock music for many years now, something far removed from their vibrantly rough identity of the 80s. I’m too emotionally invested in that material to hear them as anything but the greatest music ever; those early records still give me a thrill after all this time. I always found it funny that Gary Panter, an icon who I later discovered to be a critical figure in cartooning, was the artist who visually shaped the Chili Peppers in my mind’s eye during my no-comics-allowed days. These covers are mere pebbles in his expansive body of work, but they’ll always be prime examples of what the world first offered me outside of comics.

 

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Art & Illustration Los Press

Birthdays, Reviews, Interviews and Tears of Joy

Remember the debut issue of the new literary magazine, Cousin Corinne’s REMINDER? Yeah, well, the comic section titled “Comix Block” has been recently reviewed by Jeffrey C. Burandt for Graphic NYC. It’s a great, insightful review that while praising the works within, also questions whether the comix section should really be clumped into a “block” or not.

Plop

On a considerably different note, above is a great Alex Toth page that I’ve been looking at for years yet still haven’t come across the entire story. It’s from an issue of “PLOP”, I believe. How great would it be to have a collection of Toth stories from the 70s? He did some random and wild stuff in that era, and although it’s fun to hunt or discover back issues, longbox hopping isn’t conducive to introducing, nay, convincing readers that Toth was the best.

I recently listened to a Mark Chiarello interview over at Sidebar, and Mark recounts his relationship with Alex Toth. Thing is, Mark was trying to put together a Toth book but was always being met with resistance from DC (which led to his unfortunate but expected falling out with Toth). The overall interview is really good, but it kills me that a Toth book is an “almost-was” and not a staple in everybody’s library.

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Dear Friends

Happy Birthday, Nick Bertozzi!

NUB

My first Kamandi drawing for his greatest fan’s birthday, Nikki B a.k.a. NUB a.k.a. Nick Bertozzi (I dated it the day I drew it, a few days ago).

Kamandi is,of course, a Jack Kirby character. His comics are fun; read ’em!

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Comics I Make

TWISTED SAVAGE DRAGON FUNNIES Compendium

This “Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies” post compiles every contributor to this fine back-up feature and includes every interview, profile and bit of information that has anything to do with this project.