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Some Comics I read

I’m not a lists guy, especially Year End lists. I don’t see much reason to rank artistic ventures, since it’s all subjective depending on one’s tastes. However, as a columnist for Comic Book Resources, I was asked to contribute a Top 10 list to be collated with those of about 50 other people who write or edit for the site. I thought I’d present my full list here, including the comments that CBR requested for each entry.

A few things to mention. This is not a “Best of…” list, per se. This is a list of comics I read and liked. There are a lot of comics I haven’t read yet that likely would’ve landed on this list; “Southern Bastards” and “Wytches” come to mind immediately. I also didn’t include any superhero titles, because I wanted to concentrate on work that was creator-owned, or at least more personal in nature. I adore books like currents runs of “Thor,” “Daredevil,” “Batman” and “Superman” right now.

Anyway, here’s my list:

1) Ragnarok: Walter Simonson returns to Norse mythology and puts his stamp on what happens after the Twilight of the Gods. Powerful graphic storytelling in service of an inspired story, starring a Thor like you’ve never seen before. This is pure comics from a master.

2) Hellboy in Hell: Mike Mignola writing and drawing Hellboy journeying through a shadow-drenched Hell. Any questions? No? Didn’t think so.

3) Starlight: The clever love child of classic pulp and Moebius-inspired sci-fi, with insanely beautiful art by Goran Parlov. Great concept, beautiful marriage of story and art, but what I liked most about “Starlight” was its heart.

4) The Fade Out: I’m a sucker for Hollywood’s golden age, which Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips capture in all its glitz and grime. Brubaker and Phillips make magic every time they work together.

5) Nemo: The Roses of Berlin: Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” saga is back with another tale of Nemo’s daughter, this time in a German expressionist nachtmahr. This is the kind of alternate history mashup that make the original LOEG minis some of my favorite stuff ever.

6) Winter World: Pretty tough to follow in the footsteps of Dixon and Zaffino’s original, but Chuck and Butch Guice found a way to do it. Stark and beautiful. So glad this “World” has finally returned.

7) Flash Gordon: Jeff Parker’s story perfectly captured the adventure of Flash’s world, but the real star here is Doc Shaner’s lovely art. Shaner and colorist Jordie Bellaire made this one of the two or three best-looking series of the year.

8) Velvet: I spy with my little eye one of the best spy stories to ever grace comics, made all the more interesting because of its female lead. Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting are doing everything they together on did on “Captain America” … and doing it better.

9) The Shadow Hero: Another great graphic novel from Gene Luen Yang, with art by Sonny Liew, telling the story of the Green Turtle, the first Chinese-American superhero. It’s part superhero origin, part pulp homage, and part Chinese-American history lesson, and succeeds at all of those.

10) Day Men: Brian Stelfreeze drew it. That’s all you need to know.


Headed Down to Dallas Again

Before this year, I’d never visited Texas in my life except on flight layovers.Now I’m headed back there for the second time in five months. I’ll be at the Dallas Comic Con on Friday and Saturday, May 16 and 17; I will not be on the show on Sunday.

My appearance in Dallas is for the official release of 8 Percent, a comic benefiting the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. I wrote a story about my father for 8 Percent, recounting his experiences as a tail gunner in a B-24J bomber in World War 2, as well as his death from pancreatic cancer. The art is by Rick Leonardi (pencils), Andy Lanning (inks) and Ross Hughes (color).

My recent Shelf Life column at Comic Book Resources is about the story, and includes a sizable selection of the beautiful art: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=52719

I’ll be at table A220, an endcap in Artist Alley, with Vanbreed Studios. Copies of the 8 Percent issue will be on sale, including some variant cover versions. All proceeds from the sale of 8 Percent will benefit pancreatic cancer research. The original art from the book will also be auctioned online to raise funds.

Hope to see you in Dallas. I’ll have some trade paperbacks of the Shinku and Ravine collections at the show. Complete information on the Dallas Comic Con can be found here:

http://www.fanexpodallas.com/

After Dallas, the next show up for me, on May 31 and June 1, is the new Hartford Comic Con:

http://hartfordcomiccon.com/

Cheers,

Ron


Comics for Tots 2013

Once again, I’m putting together what has become known as Comics for Tots, an effort to raise funds for Toys for Toys. The idea started simply enough: I offered up autographed comics and collected editions that I’d written, and used the proceeds to purchase toys and books which were then donated to Toys for Tots. If you’re unfamiliar with Toys for Tots, it’s a national program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Foundation to get new toys into the hands of needy children for the holidays.

This will be the fourth year for Comics for Tots, and each year has brought in more donations that the last. In 2012, we were able to raise more than $2,300 to purchase toys and books, thanks in large part to generous donations from many of my friends in the comic industry, including a number of pieces of original art.

This year, I’ll be offering up signed books; some signed, original scripts; and comic script reviews from myself and Vito Delsante. There will also be original art and signed books from a lot of my very kind friends in the business, including Stjepan Sejic, Dan Jurgens, Bart Sears, Andy Smith, Darryl Banks, Cully Hamner, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Jennifer Meyer, J.M. DeMatteis, Chris Eliopoulos, Richard Clark, Paul Harding, Matthew Dow Smith, Saurav Mohapatra, Steve Niles, Scott Kolins and many others.

kyle_banks

thanos_stjepan

doompatrol_Kollins

HB_stjepan

This year, we’ll be offering the items on Ebay, to reach as wide an audience as possible, and to hopefully make the logistics a bit easier. I’ve opened a seller account in the name “ronmarzstore” on Ebay, which should lead you to all the items.

Direct link: http://www.ebay.com/sch/ronmarzstore/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_ipg=&_from=

Donations of artwork, signed books or other items can be mailed to a post office box I’ve set up. The address is:

Ron Marz
P.O. Box 144
Duanesburg, NY 12056

Thanks in advance for any contributions, as well as any donations. If anyone wishes to make a simple cash donation, the Paypal address remains the same:

kmarz@nycap.rr.com

Please be sure to mark the donation as specifically for Comics for Tots. Many thanks!

Cheers,

Ron


Joining the Edgar Rice Burroughs Family

In my most recent “Shelf Life” column at Comic Book Resources, I announced I’m writing two weekly comic strips for the Edgar Rice Burroughs website. I’ll be adapting The Mucker pulp adventure novels, with Lee Moder providing the artwork. I’ll also be writing brand new adventures of Tarzan’s son, Korak the Killer, with artwork by Bart Sears. Both strips will be colored by Neeraj Menon, who is also coloring Bart’s work on The Protectors for Athleta Comics.

Lee’s character designs for protagonist Billy Byrne, as well as some incidental characters, plus Bart’s promo piece featuring Korak, can be seen here.


I grew up having my imagination utterly inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs, so I’m thrilled to be working with some of his creations, and in some small way, repaying the debt I owe him. The full column can be read here:
http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=49146

The Edgar Rice Burroughs site currently offers eight other Sunday-style strips, most updated weekly, everything from Tarzan to Carson of Venus to Pellucidar. A monthly subscription to the entire slate of strips, including The Mucker and Korak the Killer, is a mere $2. I hope you take the plunge and delve into the fantastic worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Subscribe here:

http://www.edgarriceburroughs.com/comics/

Cheers,

Ron


Recommended Reading

Mumbai Confidential, by Saurav Mohapatra and Vivek Shinde, published by Archaia.

Yes, I wrote the foreword for the book, but I’d be recommending it even if I hadn’t. One of the things I wrote in the foreword is this:

“As a creator, you learn that the most important stories are the one only you can tell.”

I believe that wholeheartedly, and certainly Mumbai Confidential is a tale that could only be told this well by Saurav and Vivek (with additional artists providing short stories).

MC is hardboiled noir; it’s violent and sexy and profane. It’s the kind of tale Hammett or Chandler would’ve written had they been born in India within the last few decades. There’s a tragic hero, dirty cops and dirtier villains, set against the backdrop of crowded, corrupt Mumbai.

It’s been a pleasure for me to watch Saurav’s growth as a writer since first editing him at Virgin Comics. His writing in MC is confident and brutal, and in Vivek Shinde, he’s found a perfect artistic partner for this dark tale.

The thick hardcover collection sports the usual gorgeous production from Archaia, including spot varnish on the cover (you know I’m a sucker for spot varnish.)

If you like crime comics … or just plain good comics … seek out Mumbai Confidential.

Cheers,

Ron


Radu’s Coffee

Yes, that’s Radu’s Coffee Shop, from my Green Lantern run with Darryl Banks, looking very much like a real place.

The photo was snapped by my buddy (and letterer) Troy Peteri while he was visiting Six Flags Magic Mountain in California. The signs, unfortunately, are merely for atmosphere; the coffee shop is only a facade, not actually open. As you can see, there’s also a sign for Coast City around the corner, all window dressing near the Green Lantern ride. Troy reported there were also signs for Ferris Air, Big Belly Burger from the Superman titles, and Planet Krypton from Kingdom Come.

I had no idea such a thing existed before Troy sent me the photo. The signs appear to be taken directly from the original design created and drawn by Darryl and inker Terry Austin. Would be pretty cool to have one to hang in my office…

Cheers,

Ron


Comics for Tots Update

The final total for this year’s Comics for Tots was a bit more than $2,300 raised, by far a record for the drive. Thank you to everyone who donated, everyone who spread the word, and especially to my artist friends for donating sketches and even commissions to raise funds. Everyone’s generosity is truly inspiring.

We purchased and donated multiple loads of toys for the local Toys for Tots effort, everything from action figures to dolls, board games to sports equipment, books to iPods. Here’s a photo of me with the first load of toys, which were dropped off at the local elementary school for pick up by Toys for Tots personnel. Subsequent loads were dropped directly at the Toys for Tots collection point, staffed by a dedicated collection of retired Marines.

This is all possible because of you. We were able to make Christmas brighter for some children in need. Again, thank you so much.

Cheers,

Ron


Ravine First Look

The initial solicitation is out for Ravine, an original graphic novel by Stjepan Sejic and me, coming from Top Cow/Image on February 13. Newsarama had a “first look” at the project, including 44 images, which can be seen here:

http://www.newsarama.com/php/multimedia/album.php?aid=48148

Ravine is a 160-page original graphic novel, with amazing painted art by Stjepan, who has been my artistic collaborator on Witchblade, Angelus and Artifacts for Top Cow. Ravine is a passion project for Stjepan, and I think the book contains easily the best artwork of his career. Ravine is a multi-volume epic fantasy, with a large cast of characters and a lengthy storyline. We expect to be releasing at least one volume a year for the foreseeable future.

Ravine volume 1 will contain more than 120 pages of story, with a wealth of extras including maps, character bios and more, all for $14.99. Believe me, it’s epic in every sense of the word.

Now here’s the important part. Ravine is a creator-owned project for me and Stjepan. That means there is no up-front page rate; we’ve been paid nothing to produce this work. So we depend entirely upon sales to reap any kind of reward. Meaning that if you’re interested in Ravine, we need you to pre-order with your local comic shop. Tell your retailer that you want a copy, so we can boost those initial order numbers. We want to keep producing Ravine for a good, long time, but we can only do that if sales allow us to continue.

You can also check out this Ravine fan site for more art, and ongoing updates:

http://wolverinebs.wix.com/ravine

Thanks in advance for the support.

Cheers,

Ron

 

 

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Green Lantern Hardcover Auction

This year’s Comic for Tots drive as been more successful than I could have ever imagined. I am indebted to both the generosity of the people who have made donations, and especially to some of my artist friends who have contributed signatures, commissions and sketches: Stjepan Sejic, Brett Booth, Dan Jurgens, Lee Moder, Matthew Dow Smith and Richard Clark. The response has been amazing. So far, more than $1,800 has been raised and used to purchase toys and books donated to Toys for Tots.

The final “unique” item for this year will be auctioned via my Twitter feed, which is @ronmarz, on Monday, Dec. 17. My friends Jim Starlin, Joe Staton and Darryl Banks have sketched inside a “Green Lantern: Fear Itself” hardcover, which I will also sign (and personalize, if you like). Jim drew Hal Jordan, Joe drew Guy Gardner, and Darryl drew Kyle Rayner. (Click on the image for a hires version.)

Bidding with start at $200, and continue to 9 p.m. Eastern on Monday. Just tweet me your bid, and I’ll update throughout the day on my feed. Obviously, the goal is to raise as much money as possible, so I hope we can find at least one very generous Green Lantern fan. High bid at 9 p.m. Eastern wins the book (postage is included). Paypal is preferred, but other payment methods can be worked out.

All the other signed items mentioned in the previous post are still available, with the exception of the sketched/signed Shinku TPBs, and the GL #49 issues. Again, thank you all for your generosity.

Cheers,

Ron


In Stores This Week (Nov 14)

This is actually a bit a of a special week, as it sees the debut of Shinku Volume 1,collecting the first five issues of the creator-owned series by me and Lee Moder, along with our collaborators inker Matthew Waite, colorist Michael Atiyeh, letterer Troy Peteri and editor/designer Phil Smith. These guys are more than out creative team, they’re like family to me. And I’m very proud of what our family has produced.

The back cover copy describes Shinku thusly:

“The sole surviving descendant of a once-proud samurai line, Shinku wages a solo war against a powerful vampire clan that has lurked in the shadows for centuries. But can she save the life of an American scientist who holds the key to her ultimate triumph?”

Or, to put in another way: if you want vampires that sparkle, look elsewhere. It’s bloody, it’s sexy, and rated M for Mature.

In addition to the initial “Throne of Blood” story arc, Volume 1 contains almost three dozen pages of extras, including pin-ups and alternate covers, a lengthy sketchbook section by Lee Moder, and the original ashcan, which presented the first nine pages in black, white and red. You can look at a preview of the book here:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=preview&id=14217

Shinku is absolutely a labor of love. Like most creator-owned books from Image Comics, there’s no payment up front for the work. The creative team reaps profit (if there is any) after the book is on sale. So we are very much dependent upon every reader to keep the book going. Hopefully we’ll garner some new eyes with the collection, which is the evergreen product, rather than the finite shelf life of the single issues.

My latest Shinku interview with ComicBook.com is up, touching upon the collection and the recent issue #5. Read it here:

http://comicbook.com/blog/2012/11/13/ron-marz-on-the-return-of-shinku/

Shinku Volume 1 can also be ordered from Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.com/Shinku-Volume-TP-Ron-Marz/dp/1607064804/ref=cm_sw_em_r_dp_kt7Oqb1S1H94D_lm

If you’re already a Shinku reader, thank you. If you haven’t tried it yet, here’s your chance. Hope you sink your teeth into it.

Cheers,

Ron


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