Category: Comics

Bernie Wrightson - A Look Back

Bernie Wrightson, One of my Favourite Artists, has died

Bernie Wrightson passed away on Saturday night after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 68 years old.

He was best known as a comics illustrator who was instrumental in the horror comics of the 60’s and 70’s, and as the co-creator of the Swamp Thing for DC Comics. His most well known illustrations are for his renditions of Frankenstein’s Monster for Marvel Comics’ 1983 adaptation of the novel. Wrightson’s illustrations were based on the descriptions in the novel itself.

I knew of Bernie Wrightson as a child. I remember seeing a copy of Swamp Thing #7 at a flea market when I was seven or eight. I bought that comic and poured over it for days, as I did with every comic book I bought back then.

I didn’t know WHO Bernie Wrightson was, or what he contributed to comics and illustration until I was 19. I bought a few comics off my friend Anthony. One of them was a printing of the Bernie Wrightson Frankenstein adaption. Shortly after that I found a copy of the amazing retrospective book “A Look Back” (I own #28 of 700 numbered copies). That book introduced me to his contemporaries like William Stout, Jeff Jones, Michael Kaluta, and Barry Windsor-Smith.

I gained an appreciation of the Warren magazines like Creepy and Eerie. I learned what made an image horrific, and I studied my copy of Frankenstein like it was an ancient religious text.

I learned about figure, form, and the importance of intricate backgrounds. It took Wrightson seven years to illustrate the 50 pen-and-ink illustrations that accompanied Mary Shelly’s novel Frankenstein. It was the first time I had read the book in its entirety – even though in high school I was an avowed horror fan, reading everything from Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft to Clive Barker and Stephen King.

Bernie Wrightson was as big of an influence in my own artistic style as Marshall Rogers, Jim Aparo, Matt Wagner and George Perez were. Although I have simplified my style over the years where it’s closer to cartooning than illustration, I’m still able to break out the pen and ink when I want to and I can go into detailed, intricate detail.

  • Our Fan Expo Canada Stan Lee Experience
  • The All New Comics Booth
  • Cosplayers in front of the booth
  • OH NO! It's ASH!
  • Someone doesn't understand
  • Wait, it's Ash?
  • Umm, will the real Ash please stand up?
  • Don't tell her there's something over her shoulder!
  • Attack!!!
  • Carl, leave my backpack alone!
  • HEADSHOT!
  • HEADSHOT! AGAIN!
  • The force is strong in this one!
  • Captain Phasma had an awesome voice changer.
  • Kaylin was a character from Don't Hug Me I'm Scared...she was not alone.
  • RAPHAEL!!!
  • My true grail object.
  • STAN LEE!!!
  • Our Loot

Fan Expo Canada 2016

I’ve been going to Fan Expo Canada with Kaylin and Maks for the last three years. They’ve both reached the age where we can manage to do the entire show floor with a minimal amount of whining, and it’s fun.

I decided about five years ago that I was done with Fan Expo, it’s huge, it’s crowded, and I always feel exhausted at the end of a day there.  Against my better judgement I took them the first time and they absolutely loved it, seeing the show through their eyes made me love it too.

This year I have been to more comic conventions than any other year. I’m going out and marketing Manage Comics, so I am meeting retailers, and talking to people.  I’ve been to the April Toronto Comicon (which happened to fall on a PD day, so the kids came), the May Niagara Falls Comicon (which I flew solo), and I’ll be attending at least two more shows this year, so I had floated the idea that we skip Fan Expo past them. Continue Reading

Batman v Superman – Spoiler Free Review

I went and saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice last night, before the movie Zack Snyder came on the screen to tell us that we were seeing the movie before anyone else, and to make sure we don’t spoil any of the secrets to others.

This review will be as spoiler free as possible, if you have seen any of the trailers for Batman v Superman, then you will not be surprised by anything I say here (although I am going to go a little more in-depth to the comic book meaning behind some things).

You can read the entire review over on ComixAsylum – Batman v S.

Batman v Superman is the movie that is supposed to kick off Warner Brother’s connected DC Universe series of movies. Suicide Squad which features a cadre of villians taking on missions that the government wants to be able to disavow is up next August 23, 2016 (directed by the very capable David Ayer), followed by the Wonder Woman film (directed by Patty Jenkins) June 23 2017. Continue Reading

Rob Charpentier 1960-2014

Robert Charpentier (1960-2014)

Rob passed away a year ago this past Saturday.

He was my comics guy for the better part of a decade. He was the reason I travelled an hour in to his store every week for a year. It’s because of him that I became a comics guy. In a lot of ways, the guy who called himself “The Man Who Did Nothing” changed my life.

For comics fans, there are few relationships more intimate than your comics guy. As a former comics guy myself, you learn a lot about a person by what they read. You learn to anticipate what they will buy, and you find commonalities to talk about. Continue Reading

My Favourite Comics of 2014

My Favourite Comics of 2014

I like putting together a few year in review lists that remind me what I enjoyed in a year.  Comics are a big passion of mine, big enough that I take the kids to two or three conventions every year, and always make plans to go to one of the bigger ones (like C2E2, WizardWorld Chicago, or the big daddy of them all, San Diego Comicon).

I sat down this year to put together a little list of my favourite comics of 2014. This is by no means a comprehensive list, there was plenty of one-off stuff that I enjoyed through the year, but this is the stuff that stood out to me month-in and month-out. Continue Reading

Multiversity

Multiversity Makes Me Happy

This is my first new comic book review since August 31, 2011 when I reviewed Justice League #1, the first comic of the “New 52”.  This one shouldn’t come as a surprise though, as Grant Morrison owned a full 10% of my “50 Greatest Comic Runs“.

Grant Morrison and Ivan Reis bring us the first iinstalment in the culmination of Morrison’s involvement in the mainstream DC Universe with The Multiversity.  Morrison is bringing all of his chickens home to roost with this one, and with this issue he deftly ties in threads from his runs on JLA, Final Crisis and Action Comics among others.

Morrison is a massive DC Comics fanboy, he’s been a fan his entire life, and loves to pay homage to tradition, while taking things in entirely new and unique directions.  One of my favourite Morrison concepts, the “Super Young Team”, a Japanese super hero group, was his take on Jack Kirby’s “Forever People”, which is amazing because the two couldn’t be more different.

His run on Batman is among my very favourites, and he wrote what I consider the definitive “Dick Grayson as Batman” story in Batman and Robin. Continue Reading

Fan Expo Canada 2014

Fan Expo, Kaylin and MaksI wasn’t even planning on going to Fan Expo this year.  I’ve been pretty much every year for the last eight years, and this year I thought I’d skip it.

Then some stuff happened, and I realized I’d like to see my friends, some of whom I only get to see once a year.  So I contacted Peter, and asked him if he had space at the All New Comics booth.  He did, so it was settled.

Then I mentioned to my kids that I was going to the convention on Friday, and I got a chorus of “awww’s”, and I thought…why not take them?  It meant paying $35 for a ticket, and waiting in line ups…but what the heck?

No sooner had I suggested it, than they had figured out their cosplay (Finn and Fiona from Adventure Time), and promised that they would be up bright and early.

Continue Reading

Why I Love Drawing Bears

Socially Awkward BearA few people have asked me why I have been drawing bears so much in the last two years, it all started out innocently enough. I drew a not-very-good picture of a doofy looking teddy-bear creature on a post-it-note, and put the caption “Socially Awkward Bear” on it. Continue Reading

Comics that Scared Me – Swamp Thing #25

Swamp Thing #25I can’t tell you much about what my life was like as a 12 year old.  I have snippets of things from back then, a fun vacation to Niagara Falls, some trips to Ipperwash and Grand Bend, some great birthdays, lots of terrific times at my grandparents farm…but I can vividly tell you exactly what I did and what I had for lunch the second Saturday in May, 1984.

It was a beautiful warm day, super sunny, with just a hint of spring chill still in the air.  I rode my bike to Les’ Variety in Old Wortley Villiage.  The comics were at the back of the store on a low shelf.  Les had a ton of comics, probably consistently the biggest haul of anyone around, and his was the shop I would go to when I was looking for something in particular.

I picked up three comics that day.  Batman Special #1, featuring a new character called “The Wraith” who was basically the bad guy version of Batman (his parents were killed in front of him as a child by police officers in a very Bonnie and Clyde reminiscent scene).  Blue Beetle #1, featuring a brand new super-hero who was really a stuntman who gets trapped inside of his special effects costume.

The third comic was Saga of the Swamp Thing #25.  I bought it because the cover was striking, it had an image of the swamp monster crawling out of the muck and grabbing a white haired girl by the leg.  The title was formed out of the negative space in the vegetation, and the design of everything really appealed to me.  Of course 12 year old me just thought it looked cool.  The interior art was really creepy and awesome too.

I didn’t know it at the time, but 12 year old me was about to be introduced to both Alan Moore and John Totleben.  Names that years later would mean a lot more to me as I got to learn more about the British invasion of comics, and Miracleman in particular.

I went a couple of doors down to the Wortley Road Diner and ordered a plate of french fries with gravy and a Coke.  I sat down and started reading Swamp Thing #25.  Here’s the brief description from ComicVine.

Paul’s parents, Chris and Jenny have accidentally released the Monkey King using a ouija board, they both get killed by him and his son is taken to Elysium Lawns, a center for autistic children, the Monkey King has adopted Paul as his master and is using him and the rest of the kids in the center to feed.

Jason Blood, The Demon, gets to Baton Rouge, where he has tracked the demon, to haunt and destroy him; he and The Swamp Thing have felt trouble ahead. Meanwhile, Abby has gotten a new job at Elysium Lawns, as she is shown the place she knows Paul, who seems to be very disturbed by the thing that has happened to him and his family. The Monkey King is ready to attack again and he’s getting stronger.

I had read some Demon stuff from Jack Kirby.  The character was kind of goofy, with primary reds and yellows, and a cute little rhyming gimmick.  I had seen some Swamp Thing stuff before by Bernie Wrightson.  What I had never experienced before though was Alan Moore’s storytelling.

It starts with Jason Blood telling a travelling salesman that at 5:32pm the salesman would be impaled by a swordfish, and ends with that story coming true.

The final scene is of the Monkey King cuddling up to the little boy in the story, its muzzle wet and warm with blood.

I was both terrified…and hooked.  I really enjoyed comics before then, but that day, with a fresh out of the fryer plate of brown gravy topped fries and a Coca Cola, I fell in love with the medium of comics.

For some reason, the Monkey King reminded me of a Work Sock Monkey, and from that day on I was terrified of them.