Silver Surfer

In Stores This Week

A collection containing some of my earliest work hits stores this week in the Infinity Gauntlet Aftermath TPB. In addition to a number of my early Silver Surfer issues, it also contains some Warlock and the Infinity Watch issues, and a few Doctor Strange tales.

The collection includes Silver Surfer #60-#66, and some other odds and ends that I penned, most of which are drawn by Ron Lim, the first artistic partner I ever had. It’s interesting for me to look back at this material. Yes, some of it’s pretty awkward, with all the hallmarks of a writer trying to learn his craft. But there’s also exuberance, which hopefully makes up for some of the shortcomings.

I also had two releases out last week, one a short story and the other a trade paperback collection. The short story is in Skullkickers #24 from Image Comics, a “Before Skullkickers”-themed anthology showing the series characters in earlier days. Series creator Jim Zub asked me to contribute a story starring Kusia, and I was more than happy to drag in my pal Stjepan Sejic for art duties.

Truth be told, the entire seven-page story took four days to create. One for me to write it, two for Stjepan to digitally paint it, and a few hours on day four to letter it. Yes, Stjepan drew and colored the entire story in two days. Because he’s a beast. I’m still stunned.

The other release is the Progeny trade paperback from Top Cow, collecting the recent storyline that ran through Artifacts, Witchblade and Darkness. My contribution to the collection is Artifacts #25-#26, which bookend the storyline of the Top Cow Universe’s Artifacts bearers confronting Jackie Estacado, master of the Darkness. The entire story was very much a collaborative effort, with David Hine setting the direction and Tim Seeley and I following along.


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.


Magdalena graces Albany

Had a great time at Sunday’s Albany Comic Con. Caught up with old friends, made some new friends, and signed books from Silver Surfer to Green Lantern right up to Magdalena #1. The GL-centric panel with my buddy Joe Staton was a lot of fun, as we compared notes about our respective runs, and “our” respective Green Lanterns. David Pepose of Newsarama was in attendance, so there should be a report on the panel online sometime this week. David Pepose of Newsarama, who was in attendance, has posted a report on the panel.

The end of the GL panel was interrupted by the local chapter of the 501st Legion, who strode into the room to bestow Honorary Membership upon me. More on that in a post later this week, but suffice to say I was very flattered and pleased. It’s not every day you get a laser-etched plaque handed to you by a Stormtrooper in full armor.

I also got to meet the real Kyle Rayner at the show. He’s 4 years old. His mom and dad brought him by, and I have to admit, I was pretty stunned that someone thought enough of our everyman GL to actually give their child his name (“Kyle Rayner” is his first name and middle name). How cool is that?

The other highlight of the show was a cosplayer named Jen Wicks who wore a kick-ass Magdalena outfit all day. She posed for photos, including this one with me, as well as a group shot of me, Terry Austin and Matthew Dow Smith (who of course provided the art for the con exclusive cover of Magdalena #1). Yes, I know I need a haircut.


One of the nicest things about the Albany Con is the burgeoning local and semi-local comics community that’s developing around it. I’ve known guys like Terry Austin, Matt Smith, Todd Dezago, Joe Staton, Fred Hembeck and Lee Moder (who made it to the conn all the way from Pittsburgh) for years. But it’s been great to meet or reconnect with other creators like Dave Rodriguez, Nick Tapalansky, Saurav Mohapatra, Paul Harding, Declan Shalvey and the Timony Brothers, as well as critics/journalists including CBR’s Tim Callahan and Newsarama’s David Pepose. Virtually all the guests who attend the show end up wanting to come back, so I expect many of them will return for the fall show, which is scheduled for Sunday, October 24. Hopefully the guest list will include a few surprises. As always, you can watch the Albany Con MySpace and Twitter feed for updates.

Cheers,

Ron

P.S.
Saurav Mohapatra also posted some photos he took during the conn on his blog.


What might have been

Marvel vs. DC

I don’t think I’m really telling stories out of school here, since the project was well over a decade ago. Last week I mentioned on my Twitter stream how much affection I have for the work of artist Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, one of the true masters of the medium. I also mentioned that Jose was actually offered the DC half of the art duties of Marvel vs. DC (or, depending on your point of view, DC vs. Marvel), the crossover project that I co-wrote with Peter David back in the mid-’90s. According to the account I heard, Jose turned down the project because he wasn’t terribly interested in drawing a big superhero slugfest.

Batman vs. HulkIt was a disappointment, of course, because no other artist more symbolizes DC (at least in my mind) than Jose. In addition to his long list of credits in the DC Universe, Jose has done a wealth of art that’s been used as the basis for DC merchandising, including the Superman fleece blanket in my office, and a number of statues on my shelves. Jose is the “DC guy” to a lot of people, even if they don’t realize it’s his art. As far as I know, Joe has never drawn Marvel characters beyond his Batman vs. Hulk crossover in the ’70s.

So with Jose out, the job was offered to Dan Jurgens, another artist who has a rep as a “DC guy” even though he’s done a chunk of work for Marvel as well. Dan is also one of my closer friends in comics, and serves as the commissioner of a fantasy football league I play in. Dan accepted, and we were off and running.

Punisher vs. BatmanWell, halfway, at least, since Marvel had not confirmed its own art team. The first choice for the gig was John Romita Jr., who symbolized Marvel in much the same way that Jose was emblematic of DC. And, like Jose, John Jr. had never drawn DC’s characters outside of the Punisher/Batman crossover. But John turned down the job. So too did Andy Kubert and Adam Kubert. I’m not sure who else, if anyone, was asked. But it seemed curious that Marvel’s editor on the project, Mark Gruenwald, could not get a Marvel artist to commit to what was going to be a high-profile, high-selling project. I eventually heard that other factions within Marvel editorial were not as enthused at the prospect of a DC crossover, and actively discouraged Marvel’s top-drawer art talent from participating (the idea being that it was more beneficial for Marvel to have the likes of John Jr. or Andy or Adam drawing Marvel books, not spending time on a crossover). Now, bear in mind that’s something I was told by someone involved, but not something I can confirm with any direct evidence.

The choice eventually passed to Italian artist Claudio Castellini, with whom I had worked on a Silver Surfer special titled Dangerous Artifacts, which is still one of the most gorgeous art jobs I’ve ever been associated with. A brief aside here, if you’ll indulge me: Dangerous Artifacts was originally intended to be produced as a lavish hardcover, with both black-and-white and color versions available. But that never happened, which is a story I’ll tell in a future post.

Marvel vs. DCIn any event, despite producing gorgeous work, Claudio probably wasn’t an ideal choice in terms of commercial appeal, because he wasn’t much of a known commodity. Claudio also wasn’t a speed demon, due to his meticulous style of working. But he accepted the job, and did fine work on the project. In retrospect, his Buscema-influenced style really does have a Marvel flavor.

When Marvel vs. DC began, it was secret enough that a great many people at either company didn’t even know it existed. Our initial meeting was in Mark Gruenwald’s uptown apartment, so that loose lips in the offices wouldn’t leak the project. The initial idea on the table, which I wasn’t overly enthused about, was that Peter and I would alternate writing eight-page sequences throughout the four-issue story. I felt like Peter and I are different enough writers that alternating sequences would be an exercise in pulling in different directions. But I was willing to be a good soldier and give it a try. Marvel vs. DC

I wrote the opening eight pages, Peter then wrote the next eight, I wrote the following eight, and so on, until we completed issue #1. The result was … less than ideal. To my eye, the story varied pretty wildly in tone, and it wasn’t an issue I was particularly happy with. When the script was turned in to DC’s Mike Carlin, who was supervising issue #1, the reception was less than enthusiastic as well. It was quickly decided – like, in a few hours – to scrap the script entirely, and have the writers alternate entire issues rather than sequences.

Marvel vs. DC was ultimately a great deal of fun to work on. It was a popcorn-type project, with superhero slugfests and fan-service moments. I mean, when fan votes dictate the outcomes of fights within the story, you know the job is to write a crowd-pleaser, not a work of great literature. If I have one regret, it’s that we didn’t have twice the number of pages to tell our story.

But I still wonder what it might have looked like had, say, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and John Romita Jr. signed on for the art.

Cheers,

Ron


Don’t wait, you might not get another chance

Dick GiordanoI didn’t know Dick Giordano. It’s possible I was introduced to him once, but I don’t think so. By the time I had migrated from Marvel to DC earlier in my career, Dick had already left staff. But without Dick’s contributions as an artist, editor and executive , the comic industry would not be what it is today. When Dick passed away over the weekend at age 77, this business lost one of its giants, one of its true gentlemen. That would be the case if he was judged merely on his artistic accomplishments, which are rightfully legendary. But Dick’s editorial contributions at Charlton, Continuity Associates and DC Comics are also worthy of landmark status. His stint as DC’s executive editor (1983-1993) coincided with one of the most fertile and exciting periods in the history of comics. I always think of 1986 as the year that comics grew up.

I didn’t know Dick, but I know a laundry list of people who knew him well. And not one of them ever had a disparaging word to say about Dick. He mentored a generation of inkers, including Terry Austin, Klaus Janson, Joe Rubenstein, Bob Layton and Al Milgrom. He steered DC’s ship during a decade of unprecedented creative accomplishment. And he was a hell of a nice guy.

I think comics as a whole tend to forget previous generations, both the work and the people. It brings to mind the true story of a Marvel editor, a number of years ago, who had no idea who Al Williamson was, and wanted him to send in samples of his inks. Comics should never forget guys like Dick Giordano, because comics can never have enough guys like Dick Giordano.

Dick’s passing prompted me to think about an experience I had – or didn’t have – early in my career. This was at one of the first San Diego conventions I attended, back when it was not yet the monster it is now, back when the con was still mostly about comics (if you can imagine that). I can’t remember the specific year, 1992 or 1993. I was writing Silver Surfer, the first monthly I’d been handed. I ran into my editor, Craig Anderson, in one of the aisles – yes, back then you could actually walk through the aisles at the con. He told me he’d just come from seeing Jack Kirby, who was set up at his own booth a few aisles over. Craig offered to take me over to Jack and introduce me. But I demurred, telling Craig I’d make it over that way later in the day. In truth, I was hesitant to bother the great man. I thought he’d probably had people pestering him all day, and I didn’t want to add to it just so I could tell him how his work had inspired me. I knew he’d heard it all before, tens of thousands of times. I didn’t want to impose upon Kirby, just so I could thank him for all he’d created, which was very literally allowing me to have a job at that point.

For that reason, and maybe also because I didn’t want to seem like another awkward fan in front of Jack Kirby, Jack KirbyI never made it over to his booth. It was the last chance I’d ever get to do so. Jack died in 1994. So all the things I wanted to say to him were left unsaid. That’s easily my biggest regret in two decades of writing comics.

I didn’t get a chance to say thanks to Dick Giordano either. I’d like to make sure that doesn’t happen with any of the other creators upon whose shoulders I stand. And I’d urge you to do the same. The next time you have a chance to tell someone what their work has meant to you, make sure you do it. It might be the last chance you get.

Cheers,

Ron


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