Tag Archives: comic book art

Astonishing Art: Pop Culture Evolutions by Jeff Victor

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

As I’ve said before, I’m not normally into cutesy stuff. But Jeff Victor’s “Evolutions” series grabbed me.

Actually, cutesy is the wrong word. Cartoony would be a more accurate description. But the first work of Victor’s I saw was his “Pop Culture Evolutions” tribute to Leonardo of the TMNT. That one definitely has a cuteness to it, right?

It’s always fun to look back at the different variations of characters. Different looks, different incarnations over time, etc. Usually the longer they’ve been around, the more interesting it is. The Ninja Turtles are a great example, obviously. But you’ve also got characters like the Joker and Wonder Woman, movie monsters like the Xenomorphs, etc. Sometimes it’s even more fun with actors, and the wide array of personalities they’ve had to inhabit during their careers. Musicians have to evolve too. Few have evolved like Michael Jackson, of course…

Either way, Victor’s art is a lot of fun. He also does a lot beyond the Pop Culture Evolutions series. I’d definitely recommend checking out his official site, as well as his Instagram and Facebook pages.

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Panels of Awesomeness: All New X-Men #1 by Stuart Immonen

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Brian Michael Bendis (Author), Stuart Immonen (Penciller), Wade von Grawbadger (Inker), Marte Gracia (Colorist), Cory Petit (Letterer)

THE SCENE: Beast cries out in agony as his body undergoes yet another physical mutation.

WHY IT’S AWESOME: Lately, in making selections for “Panels of Awesomeness,” I’ve tried to think back on specific panels, pages, and images that have stuck with me. Things that, for whatever reason, I still remember after long periods. Great art does that, after all.

All-New X-Men #1 is more than five years old. And yet, this image of Beast breaking the fourth wall and reaching out at the reader is somehow burned into my cerebral cortex. It seems like a pretty simple trick, doesn’t it?. You just draw the hand going over the panel gutter. And yet it creates the most memorable moment in the issue.

Not that I should be the one to say whether a piece of art is “simple” or not. I’ve tried my hand at sketching before. But I’ve never been good at it. God only knows what I’d turn in if tasked with something like this.

I’m actually amazed that this whole “original X-Men come to the present” thing is still going on. Beyond the first several issues of Bendis and Immonen’s original All-New X-Men series, the concept never did much for me. Especially once the younger X-Men started branching out into different books, a la Champions, Jean Grey, etc. I always wondered if they left themselves an out for this whole thing when the story started. For everybody’s sake, I hope so…

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Astonishing Art: Super Grover by Alex Ross

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Spotlighting Alex Ross for “Astonishing Art” is almost cheating. He’s one of the rare few that’s in a category all by himself. I could put virtually anything in this space. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m obsessed with his YouTube channel lately.

But this piece holds a pretty special place in my heart. The man who gave life to Marvels and Kingdom Come, paints Super Grover with as much grandeur as he would any other heroic character. Yet it somehow maintains that level of cuteness that you’d want to see from a Sesame Street character. C’mon! Look at his little feet!

Not only can I easily associate this with my childhood, but it also takes me back to my first comic book convention. It was Wizard World Chicago in the spring of 2006. Palisades Toys had come out with a highly detailed Super Grover action figure the previous fall. I hadn’t expected to see it there. But low and behold, I happened to walk right up to one. To this day, it’s one of my most prized action figures. The little guy regularly rubs shoulders with the Justice League.

Somehow, that feels right.

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Dan Schoening Easter Egg Hunt: Eddie Murphy at Ghostbusters HQ

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Eddie Murphy/Ghostbusters connection goes back a long way. The irony there is that most people have no idea there’s a connection at all.

Legend has it that while writing early treatments for Ghostbusters, Dan Aykroyd had his eye on Murphy for a co-starring role. This would have been during Murphy’s days on Saturday Night Live. But as the film evolved, and Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman, and Bill Murray became involved, the idea of Murphy playing a role fell to the wayside.

Some believe Murphy had been pegged for the Winston Zeddemore role, i.e. the everyman who gets to asks the Ghostbusters expository questions. A quote from Harold Ramis is cited in Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History, which ultimately debunks this idea…

“Everyone thought that Winston was written for Eddie Murphy, but Eddie was really only going to costar with Danny is in his original version of the story. I never spoke to Eddie about being in the film.”

Decades later, Dan Schoening would pay a subtle tribute to Murphy in Ghostbusters #2.

Alright, maybe subtle isn’t the right word.

As Ecto-1 does one of its trademark zooms out of the firehouse, it nearly clips Axel Foley, Murphy’s character in Beverly Hills Cop. Foley is conspicuous by his trademark black jacket and muscle car.

Fittingly, both Ghostbusters and Beverly Hills Cop were released in 1984. Both made big bucks, and spawned franchises. *sigh* Sure makes you miss the ’80s, doesn’t it?

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Astonishing Art: Batman ’66 by Kevin Maguire

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

If you’re a comic book fan and you don’t know the name Kevin Maguire, then shame on you. He’s one of the all-time greats, and draws some of the most expressive and flamboyant characters you’ll ever see. He’s perhaps best known for his work on the original Justice League International series, which ties in nicely with what we’re looking at today.

Maguire’s most famous work from JLI, if not his career overall, is the cover for the first issue. You’ve got all your heroes together looking out at the reader, with Guy Gardner drawing focus at the bottom center. Since the issue’s release in 1987, Maguire has done seemingly countless take-offs of this cover. If you see him at a convention, or simply Google him, you’ll see a bunch of different versions with a bunch of different characters. Not just DC characters, either. You’ll see Marvel characters, and even a print dedicated to the various incarnations of Doctor Who. It’s all amazing.

A few years ago, I had the chance to meet Mr. Maguire and purchase a print from him, which is still hanging in my office now. There were no shortage of choices. But this one caught my eye, and is the subject of today’s “Astonishing Art.”

(In the interest of full disclosure, the print I have actually has a white border with black text. But the image itself is the same.)

I picked this Batman ’66 piece not just because of my soft spot for the show, but because of how well Maguire captured the spirit of some of the characters. Look at Robin, for instance. He’s got that gloved fist tucked into his palm, as we so often saw Burt Ward do on-screen. Frank Gorshin’s Riddler looks delightfully manic as always. And then you’ve got Victor Buono’s King Tut, who’s every bit as animated here as he was on the show.

One thing I’ve always been curious about is why Egghead, the Vincent Price character, is the only character other than Batman making eye contact with the viewer. Why him?

And in the Guy Gardner spot? Who else could it be, but Batman himself? I love that pose too. Paired with Robin’s, it makes it seem like the whole group is about to break into a classic WHAP! BIFF! OOF! slugfest.

Man, I miss Adam West…

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Epic Covers: Gotham Knights by Brian Bolland

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

When you hear the name Brian Bolland, especially in the context of Batman’s world, you think of The Killing Joke. That’s understandable. Nearly 30 years later, DC still goes to great lengths to make sure none of us forget it.

But Bolland has revisited the Dark Knight at various points since, usually via cover work. Such was the case in late 1999/2000, when DC called on him to do the covers for their new Batman series, Gotham Knights. Between April of 2000 and January of 2004, almost every issue of Gotham Knights was adorned with a Brian Bolland cover. Thus, Bolland got to cover a lot of ground he likely wouldn’t have otherwise been able to. We saw him draw characters like Nightwing, Huntress, Spoiler, and even Cassandra Cain as Batgirl. While Gotham Knights was essentially a third string series, during that timeframe is boasted some of the best covers in all of comics.

While great many of them would most certainly fit into the “epic” category, I’ve picked my five favorites for this space today.

Issue #18 – Aquaman and the Giant Penny.

Brian Bolland is widely known as the man who drew Barbara Gordon getting shot and paralyzed by the Joker. So when one thinks of his art, the word “funny” doesn’t often come to mind. And yet, here we are.

Gotham Knights #18 is about Batman summoning Aquaman for help retrieving some Batcave artifacts that went underwater after the big earthquake in Cataclysm. Bolland uses this premise to to get a little cutesy with iconic Batcave set piece. Aquaman is a character that gets played for laughs a lot. But what I appreciate about this piece is that it’s not necessarily making fun of Arthur, or using the whole “he talks to fish” bit. Arthur is in on the joke. Bolland doesn’t draw him in a cartoony way, but the combination of the shrug and the expression on his face almost evokes a Looney Tunes vibe. It’s difficult not to smile when you see this thing.

Issue #25 – Batman in Handcuffs.

Most people associated those bladed gauntlets with Batman, and that iconography is what makes this image work.

Gotham Knights #25 tied in with the Bruce Wayne, Murderer? storyline going on at the time, which saw Bruce go to prison. Bolland captured the spirit of that story perfectly by placing Batman in handcuffs. And don’t discount the iconic symbolism of those either. For better or worse, handcuffs are a symbol of American justice. With this relatively tight image, Bolland tells us that Batman is now entrapped within the system he’s supposed to be serving.

Issue #32 – The Grandfather Clock

I wouldn’t call this a famous image. But it’s gotten a decent amount of additional exposure over the years. It’s easy to see why.

While issue #25 took place as the Murderer? storyline was beginning, Gotham Knights #32 was part of the wrap up. It showed us 24 hours in the life of Bruce Wayne/Batman. So it’s fitting that Bolland’s cover show is the grandfather clock, the entrance to the Batcave. The unofficial threshold between billionaire playboy and caped crusader. And you have the great juxtaposition of both identities standing back to back. An awesome cover for an awesome issue.

Issue #43 – Batgirl Debuts

Another piece that got a good amount of play after the fact. Bolland delivers an epic tip-of-the-hat to the classic Carmine Infantino cover for Detective Comics #359 from 1967, Batgirl/Barbara Gordon’s “million dollar debut!” The classic never dies, kids.

There’s a sentimental aspect to this one, of course. Bolland wasn’t very nice to Barbara Gordon in The Killing Joke. So for him to render here like this, in her crowning moment, is pretty cool. It’s almost a sense of justice for the character. Though ironically, the issue was more about Jason Todd than Barbara herself.

Issue #45 – Man-Bat’s Close Up

Oddly enough, I remember not liking this one when it came out. It’s so damn gruesome and detailed. Look at the nose. The ears. The fangs.

But of course, that’s the point, isn’t it? There aren’t a lot of epic Man-Bat covers. But this one definitely fits the bill.

This one also has a great Universal monster movie vibe to it. Between the lighting from below, the positioning of the head and neck and the wide-eyed expression, it brings to mind the promotional art for the original Wolfman or Mummy movies.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

 

Dan Schoening Easter Egg Hunt: Martin Short and…Grandma Winslow???

***Dan Schoening’s art is filled with delightful Easter Eggs and winks. Here at “Dan Schoening Easter Egg Hunt,” we shine a fresh light on things you might have missed the first time around.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This hidden gem comes to us from 2014’s Ghostbusters #14, and the wedding of Winston Zeddemore. The boys in gray are about to face the heart-wrenching wrath of Tiamat. But in the meantime, Winston has some really interesting wedding guests.

I’ve always remembered this panel because Schoening slipped in, of all people, Rosetta Lenoire. Modern audiences know her best as Grandma Winslow from Family Matters. And low and behold, there she is in her Family Matters get-up. It somehow makes sense, doesn’t it? On the show, her son was Chicago Police Officer Carl Winslow. Carl was, of course, played by Reginald VelJohnson. VelJohnson also had a small speaking role as a prison guard in Ghostbusters. If you know enough to connect the dots, that’s an epic ’80s reference.

Then it was pointed out to me that standing next to her is Frank Eggelhoffer, Martin Short’s character from Father of the Bride. Yeah, I had no idea on that one. Makes me think I need to go back and watch that movie again.

And because we needed another ’90s reference, Schoening threw Roland from Extreme Ghostbusters in as well. Happy to see the team at IDW giving that show some love. Highly underrated, in my view.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.