Do It Yourself Doodler

Want artistic inspiration or a quirky creative exercise? David Jablow’s site is a great place to begin. Using a simple template as a springboard for some wild and intricate drawings Jablow has created dozens of original sketches, and you can too. It reminds me of the classic Aussie TV show Mr. Squiggle, but it would be great to see other artists works shown, or different printable templates too.

Thanks to Abduzeedo for the heads up.

Extra Sequential Podcast Episode Twelve

As it’s Halloween this weekend (not that we even care here in Australia) we thought we’d mention our fave horror comics. Besides the below, we go through the history of Japanese and American comics (including burning comics!), I sing Cher and of course, we discuss some truly frightening things that only comics can get away with.

LISTEN TO IT BELOW, DOWNLOAD IT HERE OR ON ITUNES OR MIXCLOUD

1:40 NEWS

A new Asterix animated film in 3D

A new film on the dark manga Pluto to be made by the studio behind Despicable Me

The new Lynd Ward comics prize

Anime characters go on the European stage and sing and dance or something

Clancy Brown and Paul Giamatti set to star in a film adaptation of cult novel John Dies at the End to be helmed by the director of cult fave Bubba Ho-tep

10:40 OH, THE HORROR!

Four Colour Fear from Fantagraphics which reprints some crazy tales from the ’50s

Senate hearings, Frederic Wertham’s book Seduction of the Innocent and the link between reading violent comics and juvenile delinquency

How Frankenstein inspired Stan Lee’s creation of Hulk

The Drifting Classroom

Marvel’s black and white Tomb of Terror one-shot

The once lost Batman: Hidden Treasures from DC Comics

Swamp Thing, Hellblazer, Sandman and the birth of DC’s Vertigo imprint

Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, Eric Powell’s hilarious The Goon, Pinnochio The Vampire Slayer from Slave Labor Graphics

The creepy manga spirals of Uzumaki, the collaborative and surprising Pixu and Katsuhiro Otomo’s Domu

Strange Embrace and FVZA by David Hine

The gorgeous Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead

Justin Randall’s very moody and effective Changing Ways

1:10:18 WEBSITE OF THE WEEK

Good Show Sir – only the worst sci-fi/fantasy book covers

Term Life From Image Comics

Launching in January from Image is a new original graphic novel by writer AJ Lieberman and artist Nick Thornborrow. I interviewed Thornborrow recently in the pages of the final Extra Sequential magazine for the excellent The Anthology Project, the second volume of which is now being funded by Kickstarter. Check it out here, and the official details for Term Life below.

AJ Lieberman takes on crime noir with TERM LIFE OGN

What would you do if you had a family to care for, but everyone from the mob to dirty cops wants you dead?
Writer AJ Lieberman (COWBOY NINJA VIKING) and artist Nick Thornborrow (The Anthology Project) ask just this question of the hero of their new graphic novel TERM LIFE, coming in January 2011 from Image Comics.
“Coming off COWBOY NINJA VIKING, I wanted to write something a little less… insane,” says Lieberman. “And I wanted it to have a lot less Vikings. I’m a huge fan of crime fiction. TERM LIFE is a puzzle — a bloody, violent puzzle! Our hero is trying to do one very simple thing: stay alive for the next 21 days. But the great thing about crime fiction is that the hero rarely gets what he wants.”
“I’d say if you’re into Brubaker or Cooke or Lapham, this is right in your wheelhouse. If, on the other hand, you buy your comics for the stunning art, you’re in luck. TERM LIFE has that in spades!” Lieberman adds.
TERM LIFE: If Nick Barrow can stay alive for 21 days, he’ll die happy. Everyone Nick knows wants him dead: mob bosses, contract killers, and dirty cops. Performing the last act of a desperate man, Nick takes out a million dollar insurance policy on himself, payable to his estranged daughter. The problem? The policy doesn’t take effect for 21 days. 21 days? Nick knows he’ll be lucky to be alive for 21 hours…
TERM LIFE (NOV100427), a 144-page full-color graphic novel written by AJ Lieberman and drawn by Nick Thornborrow, will be on sale January 12, 2011, for $16.99.

Who Is Jake Ellis Launches In January

One of my fave mini-series this year has been The Light from writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Brett Weldele. Edmondson is definitely a writer on the rise, proving that his comics debut Olympus was no fluke. His next series hits shelves next year. I’m so there. Official details below.
Writer Nathan Edmondson made people afraid to look into the light with THE LIGHT, a sell-out five-issue miniseries drawn by Brett Weldele (The Surrogates). Now, he brings new life to the spy genre with WHO IS JAKE ELLIS?, an all-new series from Image Comics.
The first issue of JAKE ELLIS will be in stores in January 2011. Tonci Zonjic (POPGUN, The Immortal Iron Fist, Daredevil) joins Edmondson on the book, producing action-packed art and covers for the series.
“Tonci and I are bringing the idea of psychological thriller to a whole new arena,” says Edmondson. “One part mystery, one part friendship, one part James Bond and Jason Bourne lovechild, and one other part sci-fi spy. You’ll be asking yourself the whole ride through — just who is Jake Ellis?”
Jon Moore is the most sought after spy-for-hire in Europe’s criminal world. This is because of Jake Ellis, a man who is invisible to everyone except Moore. When a deal goes bad, the only one who can protect Moore from Europe’s most dangerous criminals is Jake Ellis. No one but Moore can see Jake Ellis. But Jake Ellis can see everything.
WHO IS JAKE ELLIS? #1 (NOV100403), a 32-page, full-color comic book from Image Comics, will be in stores January 5, 2011, for $2.99. THE LIGHT VOL. 1 TP (OCT100471), a 140-page full-color graphic novel for $16.99, will be in stores December 15, 2010.
For the latest updates, follow Nathan Edmondson on Twitter, www.twitter.com/nhedmondson, and check out the Jake Ellis website at www.whoisjakeellis.com.

Get Published With Radical

All you budding artists take note of this awesome opportunity from one of the best comics publishers around. Here’s the press release telling you all you need to know.

GET PUBLISHED WITH RADICAL

Looking to have your artwork published in a Radical comic? Well, now is your chance! Radical Publishing is pleased to announce a new contest to test your illustration skills. Simply draw your best version of the villainous Jebediah Crone, based on a scene from Radical’s newest horror miniseries, ABATTOIR. For each of the first five issues, Radical will select a winner to be featured on a per issue basis, with 5 winners in total. For a chance to be featured in Abattoir #2, upload and email a link of your Jebediah Crone artwork to promotions@radicalpublishing.com no later than November 10th, 2010. Your illustration MUST be based on a scene of Jebediah Crone as seen in the pages of ABATTOIR #1.

Winner #1 will be announced on November 17th with runner ups featured on Radical Publishing’s Facebook page. Each artist is limited to one illustration and all illustrations are judged exclusively by Radical Publishing’s Art Director, Jeremy Berger.

That’s not all. After the release of ABATTOIR #6, Radical will hold a contest for fans to pick the best entry amongst the five individual winners. The winning illustration will then be featured in the ABATTOIR trade paperback collection.

Created by director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw Franchise, Mother’s Day), written by Rob Levinand Troy Peteri and illustrated by Bing Cansino, ABATTOIR #1 goes on sale October 27th, 2010. Taking place shortly after a brutal massacre occurs in a gorgeous house, Real estate agent and family man Richard Ashwalt is assigned the impossible task of picking up the pieces and selling the property. As Richard inspects the blood-soaked grounds, a twisted old man journeys to the house with a sinister and terrifying purpose. Richard is about to be drawn into a web of shadows, murders and massacres that will shatter him to his very core!

 

Stan Lee’s Soldier Zero #1 Review

Everyone knows who Stan Lee is. Of course, most non-comics readers probably think he created Superman and draws for Marvel now or something, but his reach is deservedly wide. Since he left the writing desk long ago he’s now more known for his appearances on TV shows about “real” superheroes and cameos in Marvel films.

No-one expects Lee’s writing to be as revolutionary as the days in the early ‘60s when he gave the world Spider-Man, X-Men, etc but he has nothing to prove anymore and it’s great to see that even as he approaches his 90th birthday he’s still active. BOOM! Studios surprised everyone with their “Stan’s Back” teaser earlier in the year and now we know what it’s all about. Stan Lee’s Soldier Zero is the first cab off the rank, with two more ongoing series (November’s The Traveler and December’s Starborn) to follow, all overseen by Lee and created by others. Paul Cornell is the scribe behind Soldier Zero, with Javier Pina supplying art and Dave Johnson as the designer of the main character. That’s an impressive line-up.

Captain Stewart Trautmann meets a fellow wheelchair bound citizen Shannon in the first few pages of this tale before catching up with his brother James and letting the exposition flow freely. That includes the fact that Trautmann was wounded in the Afghanistan war and is hoping for a relationship with Lily, a woman he works with at the Astrophysics department of Caldon University.

Waiting for a meteor shower with fellow staff members, and students, Trautmann reveals to Lily how he ended up in the wheelchair in an effective flashback to his war service and the pair share in a few awkward moments.

Throughout this issue short scenes of a suited alien attempting to escape a laser firing spaceship show up and in the last third the alien’s world and Trautmann’s collide. Elements of Green Lantern and Firestorm reveal themselves in the use of a human in an intergalactic war and two beings sharing the same body, but Pina’s expressive visuals and likeable lead may just pull this one ahead of the feeling that we’ve seen all this before. So far it’s too early to tell but with the talents involved and deeper themes at work it may just be more than a simple idea given life because of the selling power of Stan Lee’s name on the cover.

Lee has made a very impressive career out of “ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances” scenarios and Soldier Zero looks set to be another one. It’s not something we haven’t seen before, with even Mark Millar’s recent Superior just beating this book to the punch, with a wheelchair bound human becoming host to a powerful being, but the dialogue hear rings true and Trautmann’s doubt about his soldier’s past, coupled with the frustrations of his limited maneuverability and how the world sees him, should make for an interesting mix now that he has a powerful alien suit giving him all sorts of freedoms, and scary powers.

There’s a 6 page preview of the November launching The Traveler, another Stan Lee series by Mark Waid and Chad Hardin. It looks to be another simple tale (bad guy from the future chases a woman while a good guy shows up to protect her) but in Waid’s hands it could be as awesome as Irredeemable.

I’m surprised all 3 of these series are ongoing, I must say. I would’ve thought a mini-series would’ve been the safer bet, but then again, BOOM! (and Stan Lee of course) have a habit of surprising readers. Soldier Zero is a great place to get in on the ground floor of a new superhero series with an accessible feel and attractive art. If you’re sick of convoluted epics and want something more streamlined yet still entertaining, this isn’t a bad place to begin.

Skullkickers #2 Review

I’ll admit, I was perhaps a tad harsh of my examination of Image’s new Skullkickers series. Last month saw the title debut from writer Jim Zubkavich and artists Chris Stevens and Edwin Huang. Even before it had premiered the net was all abuzz (well, the comic sites at least) about the impending awesomeness and popularity of the series. However apart from a cool name and a Dungeons and Dragons-like vibe, not much was known about it.

So, when I read Skullkickers #1 last month I was somewhat disappointed, but now that I’ve read the follow-up I can appreciate it for what it is. In age of similarly hyped Image series such as Chew and Morning Glories the lack of complexity and “big ideas” in Skullkickers was…unexpected and really, quite a brave move in this age of long reaching epics that require dedicated minds and wallets. To go against the grain is rather brave and honestly, Skullkickers, like all the other hyped titles before it was always going to leave some lack of satisfaction. It’s not Skullkicker’s fault though. It’s actually quite enjoyable, especially now that I’ve read the second issue and had time to let the hype die down.

The first issue was a simple story, but with enough charm and action and light, impressive visuals to make it worthy of a look. This second issue begins in the same manner, with the un-named pair of main characters (a grouchy dwarf with an axe and a hulking bald man with a pistol) battling ugly monsters. After the fight, there’s a great page in which the duo do their best to casually walk away from the fire they’ve just unwittingly caused, with an unconscious victim as a captive. The townspeople gather and watch in horror and react in different ways. This well constructed scene sums up the series rather nicely, with a deft mix of cheeky and likeable leads causing mayhem in their adventurous wake. It’s like a long lost cartoon from the wonderful ‘80s re-imagined for today’s audience.

Zubkavich has described the series in interviews as an unapologetic “beer and pizza” tale that doesn’t demand much and admittedly that didn’t jive with this fanboy’s expectations as a devoted weekly comics buyer who expects his sequential art stories to build layer upon layer until they become a maze of confusing backstories with a cast of thousands. I do enjoy films that I can switch my brain off too, so really, why should my comics be any different? Skullkickers is like that; a Steven Seagal or Jean Claude Van Damme film, but which looks like a Michael Bay production, and that’s the other charming quality about this series. It looks great. Edwin Huang and Misty Coats concoct an unusual take for fantasy comics, with a light, fun and energetic approach, but one which suits the fast moving plot. Every page is bristling with energy and filled with the warm glow of some gnarled witch’s smoking cauldron. The colourful palette aids the loose manga-like pencils superbly and makes sure that even in potentially darker moments, like an interrogation and stick-up scene, the pages are still warm and fuzzy and as likeable as our mercenary duo.

Skullkickers seems almost cut from the same cloth as Scott Pilgrim, with an appreciation of what us big kids love, with a healthy dose of wide-eyed wonder and nostalgia for pop culture tropes. With goblins (“Humans suck!”) lots of action, wise cracking tough guys and great looking pages, it’s that rare beast in comics –something that’s rather fun and funny. Comedy can be hard to pull off on the printed page, but with great pacing and expression and effective visual gags such as the just-visible top of the dwarf’s head at the bottom of a panel as he speaks,  Skullkickers is a book that we can breeze through and not take too seriously.

The second printing of #1 is now available and along with #2 it’s a good buy for a newbie. You don’t have to wait until the Trade is out, as the story is so accessible you can jump right in now.

The dialogue is modern, but not jarringly so and like the rest of the book is a great mix of elements that could easily be annoying or try-hard. Zubkavich weaves a deft balancing act though, and an entertaining one to boot. I’d still like to see something happen, rather than a series of encounters but that looks set to change next issue with the pair perhaps gaining a nasty surprise from their robbery victims.

Not more is revealed about the characters or their fantasy world (shorty and baldy seem to be nick-names, but that doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know) but as Zubkavich explains in his afterword, it’s an intentional choice and their real names will appear in a future issue.

I rarely pick up a second issue from all the new series I give the benefit of the doubt too, but Skullkickers looks set to be worthy of my dedication, despite my initial hesitation. I’m glad it proved me wrong.