Ghostopolis – Suspended Animation Review

Ghostopolis

Ghostopolis
Published by Graphix,
a division of Scholastic Inc.
266 pages, $12.99
Review by Mark Allen

It is difficult today to find comics works dealing with the darker side of the supernatural which do not employ a fair-to-massive amount of gore, or a fascination with the occult.  This could be due to the fact that comics have become much too focused on adults (and that the creators assume adult readers WANT such material).  Or, it may just be that most creators are not as talented as Doug TenNapel.

TenNapel’s graphic novel Ghostopolis puts the creator’s immense talent on display, presenting fortunate readers with an engaging story containing a dark, ominous tone, moments of cut-able eeriness as well as laugh-out-loud humor, frightening villains, and heroic protagonists who maintain their realistic feet of clay.  All of this is wrapped up in the big bow that is TenNapel’s wholly distinctive art style; you’ve probably never seen monsters and machines like these.
Furthermore, those who are familiar with TenNapel’s work may find the form itself to be his brand of inimitable material.  While the story is clearly reminiscent of the Ghost Buster movies, the presentation, the “twist” if you will, is truly unique.  TenNaple has given the fictional world of “ghost catching” a whole new dimension.  And it’s a fun place to hang out!

Perhaps best of all, by the end of Ghostopolis, characters are rounded out by the experience: fears are overcome, potentialities are realized, and each of their “worlds” are better for what they have endured.  TenNaple gives readers a sense of closure and contentment, both as individuals enjoying a great yarn, as well as taggers-along, living vicariously through his charming characters.

Contentment may escape the reader in one sense, however; after reading Ghostopolis, you may have a gnawing desire for more TenNapel work.  Well, it’s out there.  And it’s recommended for all but the youngest readers.

Find it at your local comics shop, comics conventions, or online retailers and auctions. But, try your local comics shop first.

Suspended Animation Review – The Outlaw Prince

The Outlaw Prince, published by Dark Horse Comics, 80 pages, $12.99.

            As in all media, there are works in comics which seem to elevate the potential of the form.  These are the stories that you read and then think, “Why can’t MORE comicbooks be like this?”  Here’s another occasion to ask yourself that question: a four-color tale called The Outlaw Prince.

            The first of a set of four volumes planned, Prince begins a retelling of The Outlaw of Torn, a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  If you have never read the novel, however, this graphic “cousin” will seem quite fresh to you, and that much more entertaining.

            As one who never read the source material, I cannot comment on the loyalty of writer Rob Hughes’ adaption.  However, I can say that the work does not “feel” like an abridged version, but rather boasts a sense of completeness, and a well-paced course of events.  It reads nothing like an adaption, and enjoys a feeling of originality.  That, along with engaging characters, possessing believable motivations, are all credit to Mr. Hughes’ talent as a writer.

            The visuals are provided by two men whose talents are known in and beyond the world of sequential art, and for good reason.  Michael Kaluta provides layouts, over which Thomas Yeates lavishes gorgeous pencil completions and ink work, turning out a product not unlike those considered the cream of the adventure strip era.  These facts alone would convince me that this is one of the best graphic works produced in 2011.  The colors provided by Yeates, Lori Almeida, Steve Oliff, and Gloria Vasquez make that opinion a conviction. 

            No work produced in the last year is more complimentary to the art form.  Find it at your local comics shop, online retailers or auctions, or the next convention you attend.  But, try your local comics shop, first.

            The Outlaw Prince is highly recommended for fans of the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard, enthusiasts of stories from the Middle Ages, or readers who just like a rip-roarin’ good yarn!

Review by Mark AllenThe Outlaw Prince

 

Justice League of America – Suspended Animation Review

Essential Fantastic Four Volume 5Justice League of America
Suspended Animation Review by
Mark Allen

In 1997, DC Comics’ Justice League of America rose to a status the property had not seen for several years, in a comics series entitled JLA.  The closest one could come to describing said status in one word might be “epic”.

Writer Grant Morrison and artist Howard Porter quickly became a fan-favorite combination, as they hit the ground running with a tale of alien super beings coming to earth to make it a utopia.  As they go about solving the world’s problems, their popularity with the masses increases, as the JLA begin to fade in the eyes of the public. Of course, as one would expect, this group of benevolent do-gooders is not all it’s cracked up to be. Things get larger-than-life from there.

The ambition of Morrison and Porter was evident from the beginning. They were not satisfied with just creating huge scenarios for the characters to be involved in, thus rising to the occasion.  Instead, they seemed to be tailoring the plots TO these heroes, who they already considered to be operating on a grand scale.  A great example of that would be an addition to the team roster early in the creators’ run: the angel Zauriel.  When the winged denizen of Heaven comes to earth, he’s pursued by an unfriendly angelic host.  Suffice it to say, the JLA does not shrink from the challenge. Like I said, “epic”.

Morrison’s plots were engaging from beginning to end, and his handling of the characters somehow managed to make them seem fresh, despite their long histories.  Combined with Porter’s realism-based artwork, the drama and scale of which have not been topped since, it produced reading and viewing material that is a must for any fan of superhero tales.
Issues 1 though 41 of JLA are recommended for teen and adult readers.  Several issues in that run were fill-ins, but also of high-quality. Find them at your local comics shop, and online retailers and auctions.  But, try your comics shop first.

Brian Kane’s Hal Foster

I was in my late twenties before I took a good look at Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant, despite being a fan of comic books and strips since childhood.  Maybe it came with the passage of time, and further education in the art form of comics, but a deep appreciation for his work eventually materialized.  And then solidified.  Then, marked me for life.  That’s why I’m so thankful for Brian M. Kane, and his book Hal Foster: Prince of Illustrators, Father of the Adventure Strip.

A carefully assembled examination of the professional and personal aspects of Foster’s life, Kane’s work doesn’t simply present historical facts pertaining to the business end of Prince Valiant.  It also gives a tender look into the creator’s role as husband, father, and friend, and shares a bit about how who Foster was affected the work he did.

Besides giving visual detail as to how the artist changed the adventure strip landscape when he took over the Tarzan strip, the book contains plenty of Hal Foster’s work related to Prince Valiant, including promotional and personal illustrations, as well as some of the best examples from his work as a commercial illustrator.  Kane does a wonderful job of letting the quality of Foster’s work vouch for the superiority of his skill.

Additionally, readers are treated to many photographs from throughout Foster’s life, including those relating to family, friends, work, and leisure.

One of the facets of this book I found most interesting was the collection of testimonials of professionals from the world of comic strips and comic books, pertaining to what Foster’s work meant to them.  There is always something inspirational and even touching about hearing some of the best in the field reminisce about one of the “greats” of the same profession.  The respect, admiration and wonder expressed by peers can help fans understand exactly what kind of talent they are privy to.  This fan is grateful.

Brian Kane’s Hal Foster is recommended to anyone who appreciates great comics art, or simply great art.  It’s also recommended to everyone else, so they can LEARN to appreciate it.

Mark Allen

Brian Kane’s Hal Foster

Todd McFarlane virtual Signing at Comicfest

Come celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the founding of Image Comics at Comicfest at a special virtual signing with Todd McFarlane 3pm on Sunday at Comicfest.  Todd will discuss the Image founding, the first 20 years, and what’s next for this revolutionary Independent publisher.  Todd will also be fielding questions from the audience throughout the live video feed

 Also don’t miss out on the chance to get Todd McFarlane signed merchandise.   Several Comic vendors  (Time Warp, I Want More Comics, and Craig Duster) in our dealer’s room will have Todd McFarlane signed comics available exclusively for the signing. 

 Join one of the most renowned artists of the last 25 years live via video feed Sunday at 3pm at Comicfest.

Todd McFarlane (born March 16, 1961) is a Canadian cartoonist, writer, toy designer and entrepreneur, best known for his work in comic books, such as the fantasy series Spawn.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, McFarlane became a comic book superstar due to his work on Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man franchise. In 1992, he helped form Image Comics, pulling the occult anti-hero character Spawn from his high school portfolio and updating him for the 1990s. Spawn was a popular hero in the 1990s and encouraged a trend in creator-owned comic book properties.

Since leaving inking duties on Spawn with issue #70 (February 1998), McFarlane has illustrated comic books less often, focusing on entrepreneurial efforts, such as McFarlane Toys and Todd McFarlane Entertainment, a film  and animation studio. In September, 2006, it was announced that McFarlane will be the Art Director of the newly formed 38 Studios, formerly Green Monster Games, founded by major league baseball pitcher Curt Schilling. He is also a high-profile collector of history-making baseballs.

Mister Tim Performing at ComicFest Friday night

Mister Tim

Mister Tim
Voice Artist, Songwriter, Composer, and Actor

Mister Tim is very excited to perform his geek-centric music for the 2012 Comicfest audience. In addition to being the driving force behind comedy a cappella quartet moosebutter, whose “Star Wars (John Williams is the Man)” shot to viral internet fame in 2008, Mister Tim performs with more than a dozen award-winning vocal groups, including his own solo vocal live-looping show.To get a taste of what he does, take a look at his one-man demonstration video. Mister Tim is taking beat boxing and a cappella performance to the next technological level. It’s just amazing what he can do in a live performance!

Mister Tim’s 2012 Comicfest performance will include several brand-new Sci-Fi/Fantasy songs, available on CD at the show and on his web site after the show and on Saturday at his table at Comicfest. Everything you hear in his performance and in his recordings is Mister Tim: every sound, instrument, note and word comes from his voice.

For more details, visit mistertimdotcom.com.

Comicfest is pleased to Announce writer JT Krul’s return to Comicfest!

 

JT Krul
Writer

After breaking into the MARVEL COMICS in the pages of X-MEN UNLIMITED and SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED, J.T. KRULjoined with MICHAEL TURNER and ASPEN STUDIOS to write for their flagship properties, FATHOM and SOULFIRE.  He also created the hit comic MINDFIELD with ASPEN in 2010.  In recent years, J.T. has been a mainstay at DC COMICS, writing several titles including GREEN ARROW, BATMAN: JOKER’S ASYLUM, JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE RISE AND FALL, TEEN TITANS, and the New York Times Best Seller BLACKEST NIGHT: TITANS.  He is currently writing CAPTAIN ATOM as part of DC’s New 52.  This summer will see the release of SUPERMAN BEYOND and THE WAR THAT TIME FORGOT in the pages of G.I. COMBAT, as well as the SOULFIRE: SEARCH FOR THE LIGHT event that will lead into the 4th volume of that acclaimed series.  JT will be appearing courtesy of the good folks of I  Want More Comics.

 

 

 

Essential Fantastic Four Volume 5

Essential Fantastic Four Volume 5Essential Fantastic Four Volume 5
Suspended Animation Review by
Mark Allen
Published by Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc.
568 pages, $16.99

The last four installments of Suspended Animation have dealt heavily with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s breathtaking 1960s run on Marvel’s Fantastic Four.  And, while the remarkable quality of the legendary duo’s work was monumentally maintained in the fifth volume, a subject which cannot escape inspection is the passing of the artistic baton, first to stand-in artist John Romita, then to the second ongoing penciler in the book’s history, the renowned John Buscema.

Romita had the unenviable task of picking up where Kirby’s celebrated work ended.  Yet, it seems he made small effort to ape Kirby’s style.  To my mind, that’s a positive thing.  While many diehard Kirby fans, both then and now, might bemoan Romita making the characters his own during his four-issue stint, his work possessed an exclusive elegance, and he had long since proved his aptitude for high-voltage superhero action as the regular artist on The Amazing Spider-Man.

Many fans of great comics may have been perfectly satisfied with Romita at the artistic helm, but Marvel settled on John Buscema to carry the company’s First Family through the next few years.  Buscema’s style, though perhaps not as graceful as Romita’s, had a more rugged appeal.  An artist who it could be said produced some of the greatest action scenes in the industry, Buscema’s depiction of the conflict and combat that played such an enormous role in the series marked him as one of the few logical successors to Jack Kirby.  Additionally, the sense of realism found in his work seemed to mark the Fantastic Four’s graduation into a new era when compared with Kirby’s more distorted, though no less action-ready, style.

Besides offering the work of three of the best artists comics has ever seen, readers will also find the entertaining return of Dr. Doom, the Moleman, the Skrulls, the Frightful Four, and the Submariner, and even a guest appearance by Richard Nixon!

Essential Fantastic Four Volume 5 is recommended for all readers.  It can be obtained from online retailers and auctions, but try your local comics shop first, if you have one.

The Moon Man

The Moon Man

The Moon Man
Pulp Anthology from
Airship 27 Productions

Detective Sgt. Stephen Thatcher is the son of Police Chief Peter Thatcher. Sickened by the effects of the Great Depression on Great City, the young lawman cannot reconcile the rich society elite living the good life while across town the poor of Great City go hungry.  Unable to correct this injustice through the system he represents, Thatcher assumes the role of the vigilante thief the Moon Man by disguising himself behind a one-way Argus glass globe.  In this get up he then proceed to rob the rich and give to the needy via his loyal aide, former boxer Ned “Angel” Dargan.  He is also aided by the lovely Sue McEwen, the daughter of the man sworn to capture him, his own boss, Lt. Detective Gil McEwen.

Created by pulp legend Frederick C. Davis, the Moon Man’s exploits appeared in the pages of “Ten Detective Aces” and were all reader favorites.  “It really is amazing how many old pulp fans still recall this character with so much fondness,” commented Airship 27 Managing Editor, Ron Fortier. “He was so unique and outlandish, fighting villains and avoiding the police all the while wearing that fish bowl on his head.”

Now he returns to the streets of Great City in five new thrilling adventures written by writers Ken Janssens, Gary Lovisi, Erwin K.Roberts and Andrew Salmon.  Pulpdom’s most bizarre hero is back on the case with a cover by Rob Davis & Rich Woodall and twelve interior illustrations by Ralph Van Der Hoeven.

“This is just kind of book we started Airship 27 Productions for,” added Fortier. “To shine a spotlight on these classic pulp heroes and showcase them to a new audience. For many, this will be their first introduction to the Moon Man. Hopefully while enjoying these new tales, they will be intrigued enough to go find reprints of the originals.”

Airship 27 publishes anthologies and novels in the pulp magazine tradition. In the past, Airship 27 has released “Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective”, the “Weird Horror Tales” trilogy of horror novels by Michael Vance, and “Deathwalker”. For more information on Airship 27, go to www.airship27.com.

Comicfest is pleased to announce Tony Bedard as a guest!

 

Tony Bedard
Writer

Creator of the all-new GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS and BLUE BEETLE series for DC Comics, Tony Bedard has been a nonstop font of creativity for close to 20 years.  In all that time, scientists have been unable to explain his seemingly ageless looks, manly vitality and minty-fresh breath.  Known for top-tier superhero comics like GREEN LANTERN CORPS and EXILES, Tony also wrote critical darlings like GREAT TEN, KISS KISS BANG BANG, and the animated feature, TUROK SON OF STONE. Conspiracy theorists point to his science-fiction epics NEGATION and R.E.B.E.L.S. as evidence that he is actually an alien.  Others point to his vibrant heroines in ROUTE 666, ROGUE and BIRDS OF PREY as evidence that he is actually a teenaged girl.  Tony encourages you to find out for yourself at ComicFest 2012.  Tony will be appearing courtesy of the good folks at I Want More Comics.