Archive for May, 2010

A Jones for Indiana




I love Indiana Jones. Probably even more than Star Wars. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is my favorite movie, ever. To this day, I remember the day that “Raiders” was released in theaters – June 12, 1981. It was the same day that the original “Clash of the Titans” was released. My friends and I wanted to see both, and there was great debate over which to see on opening night. The decision, ultimately, was “Clash” because we figured Ray Harryhausen monsters were a pretty safe bet, but this “Raiders” movie was an unknown, except for starring Han Solo.

(A brief aside: Harrison Ford has a home in the same town in which I live. He’s not seen here very often, but he’s been known to fly into the local airstrip, get a cup of coffee at the diner across the street, and then head for his place. So … pretty cool.)

Anyway, on Friday night, at the Mayfair Twin theater in Kingston, NY, we went to see “Clash” and enjoyed it well enough for a movie with Harry Hamlin in a skirt. Saturday night we lined up for the early show of “Raiders” … and I was transfixed. It was all familiar, but I had never seen anything like it. It was fantastic, with a dose of the supernatural, but it was all believable because the main character – Indy – bled and sweated and strove and even failed. The pace was so break-neck that I would’ve sworn the whole thing went by in mere minutes. It was as much of a transformative experience for me as seeing the original “Star Wars” four years before. The film ended, with the Ark essentially lost again in a vast warehouse, and my friends and I left the theater. We got right back in line, and saw it again immediately.

I really didn’t pay a lot of attention to the Indiana Jones comics Marvel published. I wasn’t paying attention to comics in general at the time. A few movies later, the license passed to Dark Horse, by which time I was reading comics again. Eventually I was writing them, including some “Star Wars” comics, which led me to inquire about tackling some Indiana Jones stories. Still hasn’t happened, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

I bugged Dave Land, my editor at Dark Horse, on a regular basis about doing an Indiana Jones series, mini-series or even a one-shot. But with Indy seemingly in retirement, there was no traction to get something going, the theory being that if there wasn’t a movie to boost interest, there wouldn’t be enough of an audience for a comic to make financial sense.

Then the rumors of a fourth Indy film started to sound more real. So my Samurai: Heaven and Earth compatriot Luke Ross – also a big Indy fan – and I put together the pages you see here. I wrote this three-page sequence, and as you can plainly see, Luke did a truly amazing job on the art. The pages feature Indy in the Himalayas, relieving Nazis of a Tibetan treasure, with an Asian femme fatale as his sidekick. And, since the setting was Tibet, we simply had to include a yeti.

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 3 (With snow fx)

The nugget of the story was inspired by something I’d seen on the National Geographic channel, detailing German expeditions into Tibet in 1938-1939, led by an SS officer and zoologist named Ernst Shafer. There’s some evidence that Shafer’s purpose, or at least one of them, was a search for the purported roots of the Aryan race. You can read more about the historical expedition here .

The sample pages were successful in that they landed Luke the gig of drawing the adaptation of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” There was an additional mini, “Indiana Jones and the Tomb of the Gods,” after the adaptation (my buddy Bart Sears ended up filling in on some of the art), as well as a few animated-style “Adventures” editions. But that’s been about it in terms of new Indy material. If nothing else, we got Omnibus editions reprinting the previous Dark Horse and Marvel comics.

I hope these pages aren’t the total of my dalliance with Indiana Jones in comics. But even if they are, I’m pretty pleased with them.

Cheers,

Ron


I’m a pod person

I’ve done a handful of podcasts recently, talking about Magdalena, Witchblade, Artifacts, Green Lantern and whatever else came up in conversation. The first two podcasts have been posted, with more to come in the run-up to Artifacts.

First up, John Mayo and Bob Bretall interviewing me for the Comic Book Page Podcast here:

Next, the regular “Funnybooks with Aron and Paulie” feature at Ideology of Madness here.

Ideology of Madness is also doing a series of weekly articles, posted every Wednesday, exploring the 13 Artifacts of the Top Cow Universe. Obviously this is a lead-in to the July debut of Artifacts #1. You can check out the articles here.

Newsarama and CBR are also doing weekly articles leading up to Artifacts #1. CBR’s Josh Wigler interviews me and Top Cow publisher Filip Sablik every Wednesday for commentary on a specific Artifact and bearer. Meanwhile, Newsarama is posting in-character commentary about the respective Artifacts each Wednesday. So now you know how to occupy your time before your trip to the comic shop every Wednesday, right?

Cheers,

Ron


The Lunch Bunch

Thursday I was able to attend a lunch that gathered a lot of the comic pros who live within an hour’s drive or so. Doing the job we do, most of spend a lot of hours at home, without the kind of social interaction that most people with, uh, real jobs take for granted. So the chance to get together and swap stories is a welcome one.

I was the relative young punk at the table, with only two decades in comics under my belt. Clockwise from bottom left in the photo: cartoonist Fred Hembeck; Fred’s wife Lynn Moss; inker Bob Wiacek; legendary Kirby/FF inker Joe Sinnott; inker Terry Austin; me; inker Dan Green (in cowboy hat and shades); that’s writer-artist Jim Starlin’s bald head peeking out; Mark Sinnott (Joe’s son); writer-artist Walter Simonson; Silver Age artist Ramona Fradon; penciler Joe Staton; and writer Todd Dezago.

I’m fortunate enough to be able to call these people friends, and especially fortunate to be able to get together with them. We don’t do it often enough. I gave Walter a copy of Magdalena #1, the Ryan Sook cover of which was inspired by Walter’s iconic Thor #337 cover. Joe Sinnott shared some (literal) war stories. Starlin and I discussed the intro I’m going to write for his art book, which will be released by Desperado later this year. Fred revealed he’s going to be throwing out the first pitch at a Class A minor-league ballgame in July, and Fred, Mark and I commiserated about the Mets (as usual).

Walter related some stories of teaching at the School of Visual Arts, and also told a tale of Jim Shooter having John Romita, Sr. redraw a Thor head on one of Walter’s covers, because Shooter deemed the original Thor head not handsome enough. Mark Gruenwald, the editor on Thor, waited until Shooter was out of the office, got Tom DeFalco to okay Walter’s original cover, and sent the book off to press. Grueny was a clever fellow.

After a few hours, the gathering split up and everybody went their separate ways, most headed to their home studios to get back to work. But the afternoon was yet another reminder of how fortunate I am to be working in this business.

Cheers,

Ron


Signing at Book Expo America on Wednesday, 26th May

So remember when I said I was done with appearances for a little while? Yeah, not so much.

I’ll be appearing this Wednesday, May 26 at Book Expo America, held at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. I’ll be signing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Image Comics booth, #4567, and giving away copies of Artifacts #0.

BEA is presented by Reed Exhibitions, the same folks who put on the New York Comic Con and the recent C2E2 show in Chicago. The catch is, BEA is not open to the public. It’s for booksellers, publishers, librarians, teachers and frankly anybody else who manages to get registered. If you’re planning to be there, please come by the Image booth and say hi. Todd McFarlane (you’ve heard of him, right?) is scheduled to sign from 2 to 4 p.m., so I’m kind of the warm-up act.

This is my second year in a row at BEA, and it’s a comfy change of pace from a comic con. Comic shows have their own charm, of course, but BEA has a more civilized air, and it’s certainly a lot quieter. Nobody dressed up like Klingons or Sailor Moon, either. Last year while I was signing, my wife got to wander the floor and got to see Julie Andrews giving an interview from a close vantage. One of my wife’s favorite movies is “The Sound of Music,” so this was a pretty big deal for her. Further proof that marrying a writer has its advantages.

The BEA website: http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/

Cheers,

Ron


Georges Jeanty – In Living Color

[George Jeanty’s pencils]


(Pencils: Georges Jeanty / Colors: Neeraj Menon)

[click the image for a hi-res version]

One more look at Georges Jeanty’s figure shots, this time in color, courtesy of a talented young Indian artist named Neeraj N. Menon. You can check out Neeraj’s Deviant Art portfolio here.

When I did some editorial work for Virgin Comics (now reborn as Liquid Comics) a few years ago, I was exposed to a wealth of creative talent based in India, especially art talent. You’ve already seen Saumin Patel’s color on the Albany Comic Con exclusive cover, and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be seeing another project with Saumin’s pencils and inks later this year. I’ve also got an all-ages book with the terrific Jeevan Kang that should be released by summer’s end via Liquid Comics, through its publishing partnership with Dynamite Entertainment. And hopefully the collected edition of my adaptation of Deepak Chopra’s Beyond, with artist Edison George, will be appearing soon.

Liquid and Dynamite will also team to publish Grant Morrison’s 18 Days, based on “The Mahabharata,” which is illustrated by the insanely talented Mukesh Singh. I fully expect it to be the most spectacular-looking book I’ll see this year. There’s a preview of the art here.

Mukesh’s work on Devi, Game Keeper and the Devi-Witchblade crossover was spectacular (and worthy of the Russ Manning nomination he received), but his work on 18 Days seems like another leap forward. Simply breathtaking.

Art talent from Brazil, Spain and Italy, among other locales, is making a real mark on the U.S. comic market. A number of Indian artists are going to make themselves known in a big way. Soon.

Cheers,

Ron

THE J-FILES are a series of images created by Georges Jeanty (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER/DarkHorse) for my first pass at having a website.


Doctor Strangefate by Georges Jeanty

<<< Parallax


(DOCTOR STRANGEFATE by Georges Jeanty)

As I wrote in an earlier post, the Marvel vs. DC project was fun. But the real treat, to my mind anyway, was the Amalgam line of books, which combined various Marvel and DC characters and concepts. All the basic concepts, like Dark Claw (Batman and Wolverine) and Super-Soldier (Superman and Captain America), were already in place from our first meeting. I got my pick of the litter, which for me was obvious: Doctor Strangefate, a mash-up of two of my favorite characters, Doctors Strange and Fate (with Charles Xavier under the mask).

The issue is still one of my favorite projects ever, for the subject matter and especially for the brilliant art team of Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (pencils), Kevin Nowlan (inks) and Matt Hollingsworth (color). I recently came across some copies of Garcia-Lopez’s initial design work for the series, which I’ll post with future blog pieces.

Cheers,
Ron

THE J-FILES are a series of images created by Georges Jeanty (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER/DarkHorse) for my first pass at having a website.


Parallax by Georges Jeanty


PARALLAX by Georges Jeanty

I never thought of Hal Jordan’s post-Emerald Twilight persona as a villain in the strict sense of the term. To my mind, he was an adversary or an anti-hero. The best “villains” always believe themselves to be the heroes of their own stories. Hal was convinced of the righteousness of his cause, which I thought made the Parallax persona a pretty complex, interesting character. The most obvious parallel was for him was Magneto. His goals might have brought him into conflict with his heroic counterparts, but there was a certain nobility to his cause.

There’s an adage that Marvel villains want to conquer the world, DC villains rob banks. Kyle Rayner was very much a “Marvel-style” hero in terms of the Everyman archetype. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Parallax was a “Marvel-style” villain. The notion was to add a cosmic-level antagonist the DC’s pantheon, somebody other than Darkseid. Special thanks to my GL artist Darryl Banks for coming up with the Parallax name.

Cheers,

Ron

THE J-FILES are a series of images created by Georges Jeanty (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER/DarkHorse) for my first pass at having a website.


Silver Surfer by Georges Jeanty

<<< Kyle Rayner


( SILVER SURFER by Georges Jeanty )

Writing Silver Surfer was my first regular gig in comics, my first monthly assignment, all courtesy of Jim Starlin, who ushered me into Marvel and handed me the reins of the book. As my first regular gig, it was definitely on-the-job training. I haven’t looked at any of those issues in quite a while, but I suspect the writing is a mix of enthusiasm and crude technique.

Whenever I do a signing, I still see a fair amount of Surfer issues, especially the ones with Ron Lim. As much as Kyle is associated with me, Surfer is easily in the number two slot. I think I’ve written more Surfer stories than anyone, including Stan Lee, which kind of blows my mind.

Cheers,

Ron

THE J-FILES are a series of images created by Georges Jeanty (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER/DarkHorse) for my first pass at having a website.


Kyle Rayner by Georges Jeanty

For the next few days, some things from the art archives.

Prior to moving to Florida for CrossGen, I was started gathering the pieces to put together a website. That website never happened. Once I was on staff for CrossGen, I didn’t have the time, or maybe even the need, for a personal website. But in digging through my art drawer recently, I found the four pieces I intended to use on the site’s home page. All four pieces are by Georges Jeanty, best known now as the awesome artist for Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic.

Georges penciled and inked all four pieces as a favor to me, and I’m still appreciative. This, obviously, is the Green Lantern nearest and dearest to my heart, Kyle Rayner, in his original costume. As far as I know, this is the first time this piece has ever been seen (that goes for the rest of the pieces too). I’ll show off the remaining pieces over the next few days.


( KYLE RAYNER by Georges Jeanty )

I first saw Georges’ work when he was sharing studio space in Georgia with Dave Johnson, another buddy. Dave sent me some of the work Georges was doing on a few indy titles, I was impressed, and passed along his stuff to my editor at DC, urging him to try out Georges on a gig. That led to us doing some Green Lantern work together, followed by a few Superboy issues. Actually, my favorite issues of the year-long run I did on Superboy.

Now that I think about it, that’s the last time Georges and I worked together. I’d really like to remedy that in the future.

Georges Jeanty’s website

Cheers,
Ron

THE J-FILES are a series of images created by Georges Jeanty (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER/DarkHorse) for my first pass at having a website.


May the Force be with … me

As I mentioned in the Albany Con post-mortem, I was made an Honorary Member of the 501st Legion, when members of the local Garrison Excelsior presented me with a plaque and badge, to go along with the patch the gave me last time. The plaque reads, in part: “…in appreciation of your contributions to the Star Wars legacy.”

Now, to be honest, I’m not much for awards and all that. But I’m very happy about by this one, because of the place that Star Wars holds in my childhood, and how much of an influence it had on me. I do what I do now, to a fair extent, because of the impression Star Wars made on me in the summer of 1977. The movie fired my imagination like nothing else. I still vividly remember sitting in the theater, my jaw hitting the floor when the Star Destroyer rumbled overhead and just kept going, and going, and going. I’d never seen anything like it.

I bought the trading cards and the books and the toys and the glasses at Burger King. And I bought the comics from Marvel that continued the story. I was transfixed by the comics, even that guy who was a giant green bunny. I kept up with those original Star Wars comics for a few years, even when my interest in other comics waned. So getting the chance to contribute to that mythology years later was a huge treat. I’m not prone to phrases like “a dream come true,” but it was pretty damn close.

I’ve written more issues of things like Witchblade, Green Lantern and Silver Surfer than I have Star Wars issues. But I don’t think I’ve ever had a signing that didn’t include some Star Wars books. I tended to want to write the established characters. That made it more of a chore to fit my stories into the established continuity, since the adventures of Luke and Han and Leia had been mined so thoroughly in previous comics and novels. It’s a lot easier to tell tales about the “third Stormtrooper from the left” rather than the icon characters. But, for me at least, not quite as much fun.

I was especially drawn to the villains, Vader and Maul in particular. My favorite jobs were the Darth Maul mini with Jan Duursema, the Darth Vader story with Claudio Castellini from Star Wars Tales, and the Vader vs. Maul slugfest with Rick Leonardi and Terry Austin from Star Wars Tales. Those last two are “non-canon” stories by virtue of appearing in Star Wars Tales, but I wrote them so they could easily fit into the existing continuity. Ironically, probably one of the few times in my career that I’ve been overly concerned with continuity.

I’m asked fairly often when/if I’ll be doing more Star Wars comics. And the answer is … I don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t mind visiting that universe again. But my schedule is pretty packed for the foreseeable future, and any extra time I can squeeze out is apt to be applied to creator-owned work. But never say never.

The recognition by the 501st is very flattering, and I’m truly thankful. But I got far more out of Star Wars than I ever contributed to it. I just hope the stories I wrote provide some inspiration for someone else, and we keep paying it forward.

May the Force be With You,

Ron


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