Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Halloween Grudge Match: Tomie vs. Jenifer!

Frankenstein's Monster versus the Wolfman, Lycans versus Vampires, Billy the Kid versus Dracula, Freddie versus Jason, O'Brien versus Leno-- these are a few of the heavyweight horror match-ups we've thrilled to over the years. However, the most cataclysmic struggle for horror supremacy would have to be the war between Ito Junji's Tomie against Bruce Jones and Bernie Wrightson's Jenifer. One is an immortal beauty who drives men insane with lust and obsession.

The other also drives men to madness... but is somewhat less physically attractive.

Let's get ready to rrrrrrrrrruuuummmmmmmmmmblllllllllle!

Tale of the tape: I have no idea how to do a tale of the tape on these two fighters. Since she's an unearthly beauty, Tomie is probably taller than average, perfectly proportioned and with the ideal height-to-weight ratio for a young woman of her age. Jenifer looks kind of like an earthworm, so I'm guessing she's a bit under 5 feet. Advantage: Tomie

Tactics: Tomie definitely has the advantage of reach and mobility. Jenifer can rip grown men apart with her bare hands or eviscerate them with those nasty teeth. Both girls frequently exert some kind of mind control over men to have them do their dirty work-- but we've only seen Jenifer capable of controlling one fella at a time. Tomie can work her mojo on groups. So one-on-one, Jenifer would easily beat Tomie, I doubt it would come to that. Tomie would send scores of would-be lovers after Jenifer and overwhelm her foe. Advantage: Tomie

Enemies: Tomie has a multitude of enemies. Her lovers tend to go mad and kill her and there's the delightfully amoral Tsukiko who battles her for three installments. Jenifer just has the one dupe narrator, and he kind of sucks. Sure, we can blame Jenifer's mental hold on him for his indecisiveness but essentially, he's a weak-willed nothing who doesn't engender much sympathy-- he's certainly not as likable as Tsukiko. Advantage: Tomie

Powers: Jenifer is as strong as she is hideous. She also uses some sort of hypnotic control over her victims; apparently, this affects males exclusively-- the primary victim's wife is revolted by Jenifer and soon leaves. Tomie also possesses a similar faculty-- which seems to affect only males as well. However, Tomie can regenerate entirely from the smallest cell remnant. In fact, even her organs have acted as cancers that have metastasized until the host body is overwhelmed and transforms into a duplicate of Tomie herself, complete with Tomie's personality. While Tomie appears to avoid physical conflict, it's clear Jenifer's attacks on her would simply result in more and more Tomies until they swarm Jenifer and kill her. Advantage: Tomie

Story: Tomie's stories are cooler and there are more of them. As grotesque as they sometimes are, they lack the raw, visceral power of Bruce Jones's nasty short. "Jenifer," the story, is 10 pages of nauseating horror with a twist ending worth of Rod Serling. Ito Junji's stories tend to ramble with a lot less focus. We're also unsure of Tomie's motives-- does she want to be loved? Is she just randomly malicious? Jenifer undermines the family unit and perverts parental love in the name of self-preservation; she's a leech. Advantage: Jenifer

The clear-cut winner here is Tomie. I imagine a scenario where Jenifer has somehow manipulated some schmoe into taking her to Japan, where he-- near the point of nervous collapse or suicide-- proves no longer useful. Rescued by a handsome high school boy on a class trip, Jenifer begins to take over his life, all the while committing horrific murders in order to feed. Unfortunately, Jenifer has chosen as her prey someone who interests Tomie. Sensing her foe, Tomie begins working her wiles on several boys of her class and makes it known she wishes her rival to vanish.

The initial assault fails. Tomie discovers the mutilated corpses of her entourage. Enraged beyond reason, she confronts her crush and forces him to show her into his house. His parents have been murdered by Jenifer and their bodies remain in the living room, a sight that barely registers on the determined Tomie. Jenifer ambushes Tomie as she reaches the boy's bedroom. The fight lasts but a moment and Jenifer feeds on Tomie's entrails.

Soon after, Jenifer's hair turns lustrous and black and her teeth begin to recede. As her entrapped lover-pet watches, she begins to walk more upright and the knotty deformities that mar her body lessen. She even appears to have a beauty mark under her left eye-- which is itself no longer a moist, dark orb, but rather something... alluring.

Meanwhile, the blood splatters in the hallway have begun to grow (no matter how hard you scrub with bleach you can never get rid of all of them). They bulge and seem to quiver ominously, almost as if they're reacting to sound. The boy now hears Tomie's voice whispering to him, overpowering Jenifer's mental hold. He grows confused, ever more desperate-- just as Jenifer grows ever more human and beautiful. Tomie's personality begins to assert itself within Jenifer and she speaks with Tomie's voice. Now there are multiple Tomies living within the house and Jenifer is completely consumed. Having no more use for the poor high school boy, they discard him and walk off into the night together. The boy goes mad and a few days later, Tsukiko (now at a new school) reads about it in the paper and shudders, glad she no longer has to deal with Tomie.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Very The Walking Dead Halloween to You!

Here's an Onion A/V Club interview with director Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile, The Mist) about his upcoming TV series adaptation of Robert Kirkman's zombie apocalypse epic The Walking Dead. I'm more a fan of Kirkman's comic than I am of Darabont's films, although I have watched and enjoyed Shawshank several times (it's my oldest brother's favorite movie of all time). But it's the zombie apocalypse factor and my love for all the haggard survivors Kirkman throws at us month after month that has me anticipating the show's premiere the way those roamers outside the prison stronghold anticipated sinking their moldy teeth into human flesh.

Remember that storyline? When Rick and his group holed up in the prison (issues 13-48)? And katana-wielding Michonne showed up? And then the Governor came and things went all pear-shaped? Yeah. That was so cool.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Steve Rude's Big Barda!

I wish I could post the actual image here, but Steve Rude's latest commission is a sparkling color marker drawing of one of my favorite comic book characters-- the underrated, under-used, under-respected Big Barda! I love the look of Rude's marker works, too. Markers are fun to use-- you can lay down vibrant colors quickly, and if you're really skilled, make your drawing look almost like a watercolor.

Obviously, Rude is miles better than I am at it, so I seethe with ineffectual jealousy every time he unleashes another one of these drawings into the wild. Where they run happy and free among the tall pines and frigid glacial lakes of our last frontier.

Rude gives Barda her familiar Kirby-esque physique-- Barda, as her nickname implies, is not a petite thing. The person who commissioned this piece asked for her to wear Mr. Miracle's cape. I'm wondering if he meant something like, "Wrapped in it with bits of skin showing through while she lounges on a bearskin rug," but in Rude's rendering one can imagine Scott Free trapped and in peril once again (as far as Big Barda knows, anyway) and Barda's found his cape. Fearing the worst, she's ripping down walls in her determination to rescue her life-partner. You could write an entire narrative based around this single image, and that's just more evidence of how awesome Steve Rude's artwork is!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A New Michael Golden Interview!

It's a short one, publicizing his art show at the Mosely Gallery at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, running through December 2 this year. The questions are pretty standard stuff: How did you start drawing? What are you working on now? And advice for aspiring funny book drawrers?

It's good to read Golden is working on several projects right now. I wonder what they might be...

By Special Request of the Dude...

Here's a link to Steve Rude's Ebay auction to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. It's a snazzy Superman painting and the proceeds go to a good cause. The Rudes say this is Steve's way of giving back, especially after everyone was so generous to him recently.

The painting itself is epic. It's a powerful, somewhat Fleischer-esque Superman surrounded by flames as he wards off a meteor no doubt imperiling innocents on some inhabited planet, perhaps even our own! I love Rude's Silver/Bronze Age Marvel character work-- you don't see him take on DC's heroes all that often, but when he does it's magic.

And now it's time for a cartoon:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Ito Junji Halloween 3: Tsukiko, the Girl Who Fought Tomie!

Tsukiko is a student at Hanadagaoka High School. She looks pretty fresh-faced and innocent with her pixie cut and elfin features. But she’s something of a shark, too. She uses her access to the Photo Club’s equipment and dark room to support a racket—she takes photos of boys and sells them to lovesick girls. And it’s not so much that she profits from her friends’ unrequited love; she over-profits. As she readily admits in her narration, “My friends tell me which boys they’re into. I snap their pictures, then charge through the teeth.” She’s been known to charge up to 10,000 yen (roughly 100USD), but offers her pal Michiko a 70% discount.

Like a drug dealer stringing along her addicted customers, Tsukiko isn't shy about jacking up the price. With everything going her way, she becomes full of herself, more than a little cocky. She's an arch-capitalist, working the free market angle without competition and little fear of legal reprisal. She's also her own best customer. She’s secretly in love with the slim, good-looking Yamazaki—but not above lying to him about profiting from the photos she takes. She tells him they’re for another girl and that they’re “strictly pro bono,” then giggles to herself in her room that night that her lie was just a white one. “Gray, maybe.”

But she's setting herself up for a big fall, too. Hubris and greed tend to pay off in misery in Ito Junji's dark world.

It doesn’t take long for transfer student and Ethics Committee member Tomie to catch onto Tsukiko’s business. She confronts the burgeoning paparazzo and confiscates all the photos in the name of school spirit. Strangely, Tsukiko’s customers side with her against Tomie. They’re totally in favor of letting Tsukiko exploit their feelings. Maybe these candid photos are a bit addictive. What would we think of her if Tsukiko were selling caffeine pills or even amphetamines to fuel late-night cram sessions? After all, Japanese high school kids are constantly preparing for massive multi-subject exams in addition to their club activities and occasional part-time jobs.

Cultural aside: I knew a high school girl who was a weekend fry cook at Denny’s, despite her high school’s express rules against any kind of employment. Then again, she couldn’t have cared less about all the tests she failed—her ambition was to become a flight attendant, not get into Keio or Tokyo Universities. And she made it!

Well, the last thing you want to do whether you’re a boy or a girl is attract Tomie’s attention. Tsukiko shows another facet to her personality-- she's got quite a temper.

Tomie tricks Tsukiko into shooting her and discussing money-- Tomie is well-regarded for her beauty, Tsukiko openly suggests her portrait might fetch as much as 100,000 yen (roughly 1000USD). Just as Tomie plans, a faulty member overhears Tsukiko and the girl ends up suspended from school and grounded at home. Merely angry before, the unhappy Tsukiko vows revenge. But something strange has happened to every single photo she took. Putting on her school uniform-- most high school kids do this before setting foot on school grounds, even during vacation periods-- Tsukiko dumps dozens of prints out an upper story window.

Now Tomie is the angry one. And a story that seemed to be an almost naturalistic portrait of two girls who just don't get along turns into a suspense story worthy of Alfred Hitchcock-- Tomie's Ethics Club cronies actually pursue Tsukiko with murderous intent. It's no longer a game and Tsukiko feels the sting of betrayal from one very close to her heart.

Things get even worse when an apparently cheerful Tomie shows up at the disgraced Tsukiko's apartment bearing convenience store snacks. Tsukiko's parents are gone and the girl now has to face a Tomie in her very own bedroom, an invasion of her personal space. Tomie has already destroyed Tsukiko's academic and social life-- albeit aided by the girl's own foibles. Now she attacks where Tsukiko should feel safest. Tomie is a monster who hides in plain site, for whom an ordinary afternoon is no deterrent. She's the poisonous friend.

Despite the lightness of her tone and contrite pose, there's definitely something menacing about her visit. She won't let Tsukiko leave the apartment, she makes small talk full of veiled menace, tells fanciful lies based on things she believes Tsukiko might like to hear-- and, most disquieting of all, she's brought a couple of boys from school who seem to live now to obey her every command. It's almost like an attempt at intimidation drawn straight from a yakuza film, all smiles and politeness masking sinister intent.

Things go horribly wrong for everyone involved in a turn reminiscent of some of the more lurid and grotesque scenes in John Carpenter's 1982 remake of The Thing, or a dream sequence from a David Cronenberg film.

Most of Tomie’s enemies are one-shot rivals, but Tsukiko carries the lead role through three chapters, one of the more extended and cohesive Tomie narratives. That she’s morally compromised and something of a stinker herself makes her all the more complex and attractive as a narrator. She’s engaging and fun, obviously not above a lie here or there, capable of ripping people off, but she's also completely open and honest with both herself and the reader. This makes her sympathetic, although she might easily have been something of a villain in a more conventional manga school romance plot. Certainly she benefits from running into someone or something much worse than herself. It's not every day someone as extortionate as Tsukiko meets an immortal engine of destruction.

Despite her flaws-- or because of them-- Tsukiko seems fresher than a lot of the other characters—a collection of sexually-obsessed men and boys driven to insanity, perversion and murder, or fragile, doll-like girls haplessly destroyed or absorbed by Tomie. With her gift of self-awareness, she reminds me of one of the self-eviscerating narrators from a Daniel Clowes story-- though she thoroughly lacks their self-loathing-- and her eventual fate has the same melancholic air about it as Enid Coleslaw's in Ghost World. While some of Clowes's narrators are the unreliable sort (Random Wilder and Mr. Ames from Ice Haven spring to mind), Tsukiko strikes me as completely honest as she relates these events in confessional mode. Otherwise, the leap from school comedy-drama to horror would be too jarring. Why else would she admit to her scam in the first place and her own crush on Yamazaki?

Because we can trust her, and because she apparently trusts us, we're free to like her.

The ultra-feminine Tomie contrasts with her androgynous foe Tsukiko. Got to love Tsukiko's Willy Wonka tee.

Unlike many of the other female characters in the Tomie series, Tsukiko is an active rather than passive character, and has enough charm and depth to carry her own stories. You know, Tsukiko, the girl photographer—maybe working for a school newspaper, a kind of Japanese high school Kolchak. As far as I know, she hasn’t turned up in any of Ito Junji’s other tales, but it’d be fun to see her investigating the paranormal and squeezing her friends for a few bucks here and there to keep herself in film and lenses. She’s just that likeable. And, once again and not to spoil the ending, but it’s not as if she gets off scot-free; her lies and crimes against her friends are what get her into this huge Tomie-mess in the first place, and have lasting consequences for her.

The driving age in Japan is 18, but Tomie exists to violate laws and mores. But I guess if you had access to a Porsche 911, you might not let a little thing like not having a driver's license stop you from flaunting it. I suppose this could be after high school graduation, but Ito Junji leaves it ambiguous.

Once she’s in your life, there’s just no getting rid of Tomie.

Friday, October 15, 2010

An Ito Junji Halloween 3: More Tomie!

Here's a delightful image of Tomie, Ito Junji's dangerously beautiful and malevolent school girl. He depicts her looking winsome, but note how she's above the viewer, just out of reach. And the ominous decrepitude of the setting. Why is she barefoot here? What is that peering out from the window?

Tomie is the epitome of that ever-popular stereotype: the gorgeous girl with a heart of stone. The "mean girl." The most popular girl in school, her physical attractiveness concealing cruelty. There's often one in stories set in high school, with the TV series Freaks and Geeks being a notable exception. Well, McKinley High did have Vicki Appleby, but she was actually a pretty well-rounded character-- she even gave Bill Haverchuck his first kiss.

However, in Tomie's case, she's not a spoiled suburban princess or upper middle class schemer at some posh private school where the jaded student body play twisted sexual games with each other. She's some kind of immortal freak. She's literally a monster. And not just one monster. If you were to somehow ingest even a cell of Tomie's body, something hideous would happen.

Maybe a Tomie-tumor would grow inside you, causing intolerable pain until surgically excised. Then it would start speaking and grow into another perfect Tomie. Or if she were by chance murdered in your bedroom with her blood staining your carpet, the plastic floor liner might take on her shape and rise up to seek vengeance. If you were to come into possession of a single strand of her hair and affix it to your scalp, you'd end up with a lush jungle of silky locks-- inside your body.

Versatile and complex, Tomie can embody any number of fictional types, inhabiting them in chilling ways. The formidable romantic rival, the malignant best friend, the deadly seducer, the judgmental moralist. She also functions conceptually as the living repository of male fear of female carnality, of the persistence of overwhelming sexual desire, of simple jealousy and vanity, even the perversion of motherhood.

Tomie walks among the various characters and delights in destroying them, in drawing out their inner demons in a deliberate assault on perilously thin veneer of civility and propriety. Tomie does not destroy them so much as make it virtually impossible for them not to destroy themselves. I suppose her major attribute must be sexual, but Tomie herself remains surprisingly chaste. She's certainly aware of her power over men and women and subverts it to her own ends. I just can't remember if there's actually a moment in any of the stories where she actually engages in sexual activity. She mostly lets her enemies grow more and more depraved with their desires-- the need to possess her completely in ways they never can, or to become as impossibly beautiful as she is-- and the end result is usually a murder or a mutation.

Then, more Tomies.

My favorite Tomie story is the three-part saga of Tsukiko, Tomie's most persistent enemy. Tsukiko-- by the way, even though I lived in Japan for 6 years, the tsu sound at the beginning of a word is still my most difficult phoneme-- is a high school student and budding young photographer who misuses her skills in order to make a few yen off lovesick girls-- she photographs their crush-objects and sells them the prints for a neat profit. She readily, even cheerfully, admits to it in her narration: "I also sell dreams to the pathetic and lovesick."

She's a charmingly amoral girl with a boyish pixie cut and nursing her own case of urequited love.

Already morally compromised, she runs afoul of a Tomie who is ironically serving as head of the school's Ethics Committee. When Tsukiko takes some snaps of Tomie that reveal something unexpected and horrifying, things take a dark turn from something akin to high school romantic comedy in the first installment to a Hitchcockian suspense thriller and finally into Lovecraftian grand guignol over the next two. It's one of the more cohesive Tomie narratives, and Tsukiko makes a worthy foe and narrator.

But is she protagonist or antagonist? Even if the story is told from Tsukiko's point of view, Tomie is the main character of the meta-series. In the climax, Ito seems to explain Tomie's origins and adds a peculiar and haunting grace note that calls into question just who or what Tomie is-- victimizer or victim herself. Perhaps Ito is arguing she's both.

And that's the final intriguing thing about Tomie-- she's both victimizer and victim. She never asked to be this way; it was thrust upon her by somewhat obscure means. And we're never sure of the relationship between the Tomie in one story and the Tomie in another. Ultimately, is she really so capricious and malignant, or is she merely acting out from the trauma of whatever process and abuse made her Tomie? Do you find her a sympathetic monster?

Shh! Shh! Here she comes now...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

An Ito Junji Halloween 2: Uzumaki

Goshima Kirie is a delicate, pretty girl who lives in Kuruozo-cho with her parents and little brother. It's a typical seaside town, possibly having recently become a suburb or bedroom community of some larger metropolis like so many places along the rail lines in Japan have over the years. Kirie goes to school a couple of towns over so she's not around to see some of the strange things happening around her home neighborhood lately. Oh sure, he boyfriend Shuichi's dad is acting a little off, staring at snails and compulsively swirling his miso soup. But at least he seems happy about his new enthusiasms.

A more pressing concern is how haggard Shuichi looks, and the strange concerns he confides to Kirie one evening...

Ito Junji's Tomie is a somewhat fractured narrative, the stories only loosely connected to each other through the title character. And even she's not exactly consistent throughout. Uzumaki, on the other hand, is a tighter story made up of a series of increasingly depraved short stories. It's Ito's magnum opus and arguably the best horror comic ever created-- well, I don't argue about it. I know it's so. Even the mildest horror comics had the ability to keep me awake when I was an imaginative kid; it requires a stronger effort to disturb me these days, now that I'm a jaded old know-it-all asshole. And to date there has been one and only one.

Uzumaki cost me some sleep. And it haunted me during the day. I don't think I've ever had the experience of dreading turning a page before. If Ito had never done anything else, never created Tomie or Gyo (a big disappointment, by the way) or any of his other nasty delights, Uzumaki would be enough to cement his reputation as a horror master.

What Ito does here is make the reader complicit in the scares. It's the difference between walking along a brick wall and having someone jump out at you when you reach the end and walking along that wall thinking, "What if someone jumps out at me with a knife when I reach the end?" Have you ever had one of those friends who could draw you into a kind of magical fantasy world around twilight? Someone who starts whispering things about wookalars or serial killers hiding behind trees-- and the next thing you know, the slanting shafts of the last few minutes of sunlight, the long shadows and the chilly autumn wind become so haunted, you're absolutely convinced you're both about to be murdered?

Apparently, from anecdote's I've read, writer Charles Beaumont was one of those people. He could create a scenario out of pure imagination that would quickly bleed into the real world and draw in his friends until they were all on edge. I've had friends like that, and I've been that kind of friend. It's all in good fun, a little trip into the frame of a horror movie or the panel of a horror comic and just for a few minutes until common sense reasserts itself, you're in Ray Bradbury-land. Ito Junji is exactly like that in Uzumaki.

First he sets up a situation-- the spiral affects something negatively-- then reiterates it with a few horrific variations. And after a few stories in the first book, you're on guard for every little thing. Little vain about your curly hair? Someone's pregnant? Oh shit, I do not wanna see the results! Practical joker? Oh man, this is gonna be so bad! Slow mover? What's the spiral going to do to him? It acts like one of those "WARNING! GRAPHIC IMAGE!" warnings you run into at from time to time. You can't unsee these things. And once Ito branded my imagination with some of his ultra-grotesque imagery, I saw these things for days afterward, haunting after images flashing on and off whenever I blinked. And the anticipation, the dread was just that intense.

Eventually, the story takes a turn worthy of an H.P. Lovecraft short story, only not as clumsily written. There's a feeling of inexorability about Uzumaki once Ito establishes the pattern and begins magnifying the scale. The horrors go from personal-- spiral shapes inside the body-- to communal: a taifun approaching the city. The imagery becomes epic-- witness the structural changes within Kurozu-cho itself and the tragic results when several vessels of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force attempt a rescue.

What chance do waifish Kirei and traumatized Shuichi have against the malevolent spiral?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's Gonna Be a Very Kick-Ass Halloween!

I love Robert Kirkman's comic-- and Charlie Adlard's art-- so I'm hungering (see what I did there?) for a bite of this show.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An Ito Junji Halloween 1: Tomie

I love horror comics. I'm a tremendous fan of classic American horror books, artists and writers-- EC, Creepy, Eerie, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Jack Davis, Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta, Bernie Wrightson, Bruce Jones, Archie Goodwin, just to name a very few (because I don't feel like doing a lot of Google research this morning). Marvel's Tomb of Dracula is probably my all-time favorite series from the mainstream publishers; I can't get enough of Marv Wolfman's pulpy prose and the artwork by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer is some of the finest, most atmospheric and effective stuff in comics.

But the horror king has to be Ito Junji.

To say Japanese horror differs from the American/European tradition is to make a mild understatement, and Ito is one of its foremost practitioners. He's not the most fluid anatomist-- his figures tend to be a little stiff-- but he's got a gift for rising tension and nauseating visuals that's unsurpassed. The overweight kid turning into a snail in Uzumaki is pretty gruesome but it's not a patch on the scene from one of his short stories where a teen holds his sister down and squeezes out long snake-like curls of white sebum from his acne-ridden face onto hers. Just typing that sentence nauseated me! Yeeeeuck!

Let me take a moment to recover. Okay.

What makes his stories all the more affecting is his use of fragile, doll-like female protagonists. His early series Tomie makes great use of this dichotomy. Ito pits various pixie-haired ingenues against the most beautiful girl in the world-- who just happens to be an immortal monster with an ego to match. Tomie gets sly, sexy, cat-like eyes to match her predatory nature, but her enemies are all wide-eyed, open-faced innocence. But it's not quite that simple. Ito also makes Tomie and her adversaries complex-- Tomie is evil but not without a sympathetic, put-upon quality and one of the girls who battles her is morally compromised right from the start. The series is inconsistent and the various story threads are only loosely tied together, but it's a lot of wicked fun.

I prefer the cover to this Japanese Tomie collection to the versions published by ComicsOne, or even those of Dark Horse's Museum of Terror series. Ito's painted art is more appealing than Dark Horse's murky digital creations. The Complete Tomie has a classic pop art quality and lots of atmosphere. Her pose is quite demure, as is her smile-- but there's something sinister about her eyes. I suppose the miasma o' horror swirling around her (kind of makes me think of the air in the bathrooms at my favorite bar in Athens, Georgia, back in the day) helps a bit, too. My cover qualms aside, you really need to buy all three volumes of Museum of Terror to meet Tomie and indulge in her peculiar delights. And other nightmares.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Steve "The Dude" Rude's Mega-Auction!

I don't like to shill in this blog, but I'm doing this by special request of the Dude himself. To help save his house! Not that he specifically asked me or anything; I don't have any real personal contact with the guy-- case in point: I asked him a question about his character Jil because her ear designs interested me. She's a cat-woman from outer space and I wanted to know if she had two sets of ears, one being the feline ones on top of her head and the other a set of human-type under hear hair. No response. A little disappointment.

But hey, he's a busy artist so I can live with that. His wife has answered a few of my technical questions in the past, so I know the Rudes are good people. And maybe this one was a stumper or seemed kind of smart-ass. Well, these are the perils of Facebook contact with working professionals, right?

Anyway, the Dude runs frequent EBay auctions and the current one isn't doing so well-- zero bids-- so he asked his Facebook fans to spread the word. Which is what I'm doing right this very minute:

Next Nexus 1 - Probably one of our worst auctions in a long time. This could quite literally cost us the house if the auctions continue this way. Pages from #1 are being relisted with low fixed price and make an offer as well as being listed in the store at lower prices. Please take a second to LIKE the October Dudenews posted on Facebook and pass along information about the pages wherever possible. THANKS!

If life were fair and it always rewarded hard work, craft and dedication, Steve Rude and Mike Baron would have been the guys who got wealthy enough to throw money away on steroid-tainted baseball memorabilia doing Nexus during the 90s comic boom. It's not, and we have no illusions that it is. Instead of moping around hoping the worm will turn, the Dude's turned his focus from comic books, where apparently he's gone out of style, to fine art-- and he's doing some of the most breathtaking work of his career. So if you'd like to nab some Dude originals for yourself-- and I know you would, as I would if I had a job at the moment-- check out the auction. He's also selling oil paintings, sketchbooks, single issue comics, trade paperbacks and more. And even if you don't bid, you'll at least have the treat of checking out Steve Rude artwork in its purest form and some of the books he's worked on during his storied career.