Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Dude's Stolen Paintings!

Steve Rude posted a stolen painting alert on his Facebook page. One is a Harry Anderson original given to Rude by the artist's daughter and the other two are by Rude himself-- a Nexus cover and an interior page. Rude sent them to an art restorer for estimates and when he felt the quotes were too high, requested the work be returned. For whatever reason the restorer apparently kept them and may or may not still have the art in his possession. Obviously, Rude wants back what's rightfully his and-- because it's been a year since his initial complaint-- has decided to put out the word to his fans in hopes of speeding the process along.

"The case went before the [Arizona] Attorney General in August and it could be many more months before anything is done," Rude wrote.

It's not as if art theft was a rare or even new phenomenon, especially of comic book pages. Compared to fine art, comic book pages are relatively cheap but still valuable enough for key pages to go for handsome prices on the secondary market. Comic book pages also have the advantage of being numerous enough that it's difficult to keep track of ever single original floating around and to establish provenance. A page might change hands dozens of times. In this case, since two of the pieces are paintings, it's difficult to imagine what this person plans to do with them. Especially now that Steve Rude has the word out about them.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Michael Golden Receives a Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Maryland!

Would you like to learn more? Just check out Renee Witterstaetter's blog for the full story and some neat-o photos of the event. Golden's artwork is dazzling and I want to congratulate him on this well-deserved honor.

Out of curiosity, I went to Amazon.com to see if Marvel had published a second volume of their classic The 'Nam series reissue-- and yes, they have! It's kind of expensive, though, even with Amazon's usual discount. $21.59, down from a list price of $29.99? Seriously? You can get Fantagraphics's Blazing Combat volume in paperback now for $13.59! Granted, The 'Nam is 240 pages in color while Blazing Combat is 220 in black and white, but 8 bucks difference when the garish coloring in The 'Nam volume 1 is the book's weakest point? I've been consistently unimpressed with the color reproduction in Marvel's 80s-era reprints. It looked great on newsprint or whatever paper they used back in the day, but on today's fashionable glossy white stock, it's too hard-edged and over-saturated. It detracts from the linework. This is one area where I have to admit DC beats Marvel-- color reprint books. So with that in mind, I'm really not convinced by Marvel's pricing for this book especially when you can still get the hardcover version of Blazing Combat directly from Fantagraphics for $28.99.

And yet I still have the desire to look at Golden's art (and wax nostalgic with the New Mutants kids, for that matter; that's another Marvel reprint series I end up buying despite price anxiety). Hmm. The 'Nam or Blazing Combat? Whichever one you choose-- actually, I consider both indispensable to my comics library-- you still get John Severin!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Steve "The Dude" Rude's Offering Some Black Friday Specials!

If you're interested in that kind of thing. You know-- marker sketches (some in color), calendars, sketchbooks, prints and other fun items from one of the all-time comic book art greats.

Speaking of Black Friday and holiday shopping-- what are your holiday comic book-related wants? I'll share a few of mine:

1. Manga Studio EX 4 (Smith Micro Software, Inc.). Your very own digital comic book studio with every tool you could possibly need; you supply the talent. I've been messing around with version 3 for a while now and it's pretty powerful, especially its rulers function. Version 4 offers even more features. Yeah, if I got this I'd finish that graphic novel I've been working on for 10 years. And it would be awesome!

2. Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s edited by Greg Sadowski and John Benson (Fantagraphics). 320 pages of horror stories from the EC era. I've never read any of these, but I'd love to. Many of the greats are represented: Al Williamson, Jack Cole, Steve Ditko, George Evans and Wally Wood. I could care less about the story quality. I mean, I'm sure they're all pretty cool. I'm just jazzed by the prospect of such a huge slab of weird stuff from all these cats.

3. Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth by Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell (IDW Publishing). I've long bemoaned the lack of Toth-related books. Image offers the indispensable Zorro (indispensable not for its lackluster stories but because it contains the highest concentration of Toth's sequential work available anywhere), but previous retrospectives are out of print and his comic book work is spread thin throughout a pile of expensive archive books. This book and the upcoming Setting the Standard (edited by Greg Sadowski... hey, he made this list twice!) go a long way towards correcting the error. Come to think of it, as an obsessed Toth fan, obviously I need both of these new books.

4. Al Williamson's Flash Gordon: A Lifelong Vision of the Heroic by Al Williamson, edited by Mark Shultz (Flesk Publications). Williamson passed away earlier this year, a crushing loss. Williamson is another surprisingly neglected artist; there have been some nice reprint volumes available at times, but not nearly enough considering his artistic stature. I will forever consider Al Williamson the finest illustrator ever to draw a comic story. Heroic space fantasy was his meat-n-potatoes, and what could be finer than Al Williamson drawing the greatest space adventurer of them all? I also want Al Williams Archives Volume 1 (also from Flesk).

5. X-9: Secret Agent Corrigan Volume 1 by Al Williamson and Archie Goodwin (IDW Publishing). Williamson continues to get his due.

6. Indoor Voice by Jillian Tamaki (Drawn and Quarterly). I love her loose and evocative linework on the graphic novel Skim (gloriously written by her cousin Mariko, by the way), so how could I not want this as well?

7. The Art of Jaime Hernandez: The Secrets of Life and Death by Todd Hignite (Abrams ComicArts). A long overdue look at the work of one of comics' finest storytellers.

Yeah, I could easily go to 10 or 20 of these but I'm going to leave off at lucky 7. It's Thanksgiving Day!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Michael Golden on WBOC 16!

Renee Witterstaetter posted this on the Eva Ink Publishing/Eva Ink Artists Group feed on Facebook and I'm sharing it here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Onion A/V Club Interviews Charles Burns!

And I don't mean Charles Montgomery Burns. Oh lord, I can't believe I did that. Shameless dork humor, ladies and gentleman! Charles Burns has a new book out, X'ed Out. Look, I have no idea what it's about other than some guy wanders a bizarre, vaguely ominous dreamscape while looking like a vertically-scaled version of Herge's TinTin. If you've ever wanted to see a guy whose nose has rotted off eat a maggot with a human face, this is the book for you!

And me!

Oh yeah, the Onion A/V Club interview. It has a bizarre digression into how Roger McGuinn couldn't figure out George Harrison's guitar sound until he watched A Hard Day's Night (not that I'm complaining; I'm an arch-digresser and pop culture addict full of esoteric, useless trivia of a similar sort), but the interview also touches on Patti Smith and William S. Burroughs, plus it includes some shop-talk about Burns's former coloring technique (one of my graphic design professors colored his jobs the same way) and the performance anxiety of possibly ruining a finished page by dripping gouache onto it. Hell, you can read! Why am I telling you all this?

X'ed Out is going on my Christmas list, by the way. It's exactly the kind of thing I like. Getting something inappropriate makes the holiday a little surreal, which is just how I like it. Like last year when my sister-in-law gave me Dark Horse's Eerie Achives Volume 1 and my mom gave me... er... Dark Horse's Bernie Wrightson's Frankenstein (which weighs as much as one of the bodies Dr. Frankenstein experimented on, I might add) and I spent Christmas night wandering the gaily-lit, gorgeously decorated Harajuku and Shibuya wards of Tokyo, holiday music in the air and lovely young couples walking along window-shopping and basking in the glow of love. Christmas night is probably the most romantic night of the year in Japan, much more so than either Valentine's Day or White Day.

Monsters, romance and Tokyo. Definitely my most memorable Christmas. This year will be noseless maggot eaters, I guess.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Sequence of Photos Showing the Dude's Working Method!

Today on Steve Rude's Facebook page, they've posted a gallery of photos showing the Dude hard at work on his Superman painting for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). As you flip through the photos, you get to see the artist go from blank illustration board almost to completed work.

Steve Rude's ability to block in a well-proportioned, dynamic figure never ceases to amaze me. Of course, that's the result of years of professional work, but also Rude's never-ending learning phase. He's an artist I admire not only for his body of work but also for his approach to art-- you don't freeze at some point and say, "Well, I'm good enough." It seems a lot of young artists look for "style" first and once they've accomplished that-- a series of visual tricks usually copped from whatever artists were hot during their formative phase-- they stop and say, "Now I'm an artist."

And that's a shame. Perhaps in some cases, it's a profitable shame. I can think of a few really big names who got incredibly rich beyond Jack Kirby's wildest imaginings during the 90s by pushing schlock and they're still doing schlock today. But as a young artist why deny yourself the opportunity to grow? Art is a lifelong process. Rude started strong, but he's only gotten better over the years. So he doesn't own Mark McGwire's baseball, and maybe that's a deterrent to some. But I'll take the lifelong art student any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Friday, November 5, 2010

2011 Just Got Creepier... and Eerier!

According to a story in USA Today, Dark Horse's Creepy revival will switch to a bi-monthly publishing schedule next year. I don't think I can over-emphasize how wonderful this news is to horror comics fans like myself. Perhaps I should go out and commit a dozen or so ax murders or become a vampire or werewolf or some kind of soggy, shambling zombie in order to celebrate.

While I was living in Japan, I had more yen than I knew what to do with. Saving it was obviously out of the question, so instead I began spending it on various hardcover archive series. Dark Horse's Creepy and Eerie reprints top my list of favorites. The stories in the early books are kind of spotty-- overly tame and reliant on the same-old monsters and Eastern European settings that must have seemed pretty hackneyed even in the 1960s. But there's no arguing with the artwork-- Al Williamson, Alex Toth, George Evans, Steve Ditko and more, plus atmospheric covers by none other than Frank Frazetta. While I haven't bought any of the later volumes, my memory of quick peaks in the afternoon at various convenience stores around town leads me to believe the stories grew more explicit and gruesome over the years.

The quarterly Creepy comic, however, has proven pretty elusive. Somewhere around here I think I have issue 2, but I wasn't able to find any of the other issues in Japan. I don't think I've even read any online reviews. Hopefully the more frequent scheduling will translate into greater availability.

For me. Weird. When I was a kid reading comics, I never in a million years would've thought Creepy would become one of my favorite titles. And as a grown-up dork reading them in the 1990s, I never guessed both Dark Horse, Fantagraphics and Viz would end up becoming my favorite publishers.