I’m Not Batman!”

Golden-Batman-for-Web-by-Mark-LewisI know what you’re think­ing. You’re look­ing at my draw­ing and going, “Hey! He goofed up! He col­ored that draw­ing of Bat­man yel­low!” Nope! It’s because it’s not Batman.

Some­time back, in cruis­ing around the inter­net and fol­low­ing var­i­ous links, I stum­bled across an arti­cle on a pop cul­ture site called Top­less Robot, talk­ing about a num­ber of Korean car­toon char­ac­ters who might hit the viewer with a sense of, mmm, déjà vu, shall we say. One that some­how stuck with me was the Golden Bat­man (or sim­ply the Golden Bat, as he was some­times referred to).

Dif­fer­ences between Bat­man and the Golden Bat­man don’t start and end with their cos­tumes. They gave Golden Bat­man the power of flight (which sort of makes sense for a char­ac­ter named after a crea­ture who flies), as well as super-strength (shades of the old Bat­man story “Bat­man– The Super­man of Planet X”!). And that’s not all! Golden Bat­man can fire laser beams from his fin­gers. What do you think of that, Caped Crusader?

You can actu­ally find the Golden Bat­man car­toon on YouTube in five parts, if you’re curi­ous enough to see it. Dubbed into Span­ish though, oddly enough. Seem­ingly not avail­able in Eng­lish, for some reason.

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The Captain That Split the Scene

Captain Marvel Split! by Mark LewisIt won’t come as any sur­prise to long­time vis­i­tors of my site to hear this, but most of my friends know that when you say the words “Cap­tain Mar­vel” to me, my default set­ting is to think of the orig­i­nal Faw­cett char­ac­ter. How­ever, this ain’t him!

This Cap­tain Mar­vel is an android. His comic debuted in 1966, pub­lished by M.F. Enter­prises, 13 years after Faw­cett pub­lished their last adven­ture of the orig­i­nal Cap­tain Marvel.

So what does this Cap­tain Mar­vel do? He seems to have a lot of the usual super­hero pow­ers: strength, flight, etc. But his real call­ing card is that when he says his magic word (“Split!”), he can detach parts of his body at will and have them fly around and do his bid­ding. A unique power, to be sure, but more than a lit­tle odd. To rejoin, he speaks his other magic word, “Xam!”

In look­ing for a fresh take on this Cap­tain, I thought it was such an odd­ball con­cept that it might have been better-suited to Sat­ur­day Morn­ing car­toons. So I started to re-imagine it as the kind of semi-comedic super­hero adven­ture car­toon that back then would’ve fit in well along­side Hanna-Barbera shows like Franken­stein Jr., The Impos­si­bles, or Atom Ant. Since those shows appeared as Gold Key comics, that seemed a good place for my re-imagined Cap­tain Mar­vel too.

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Now That’s Just Darling!

Darling Romance #1 ReworkedHey, every­body! It’s another comic cover recreation/reinterpretation. This time, it’s the cover of issue #1 of Archie Comics’ Dar­ling Romance. You can see the orig­i­nal cover here.

I’ve per­son­ally never been all that big a col­lec­tor of romance comics, though the best of them have had some really great artists. An inter­est­ing bit of his­tory: the guys who pio­neered the genre? None other than Joe Simon and Jack Kirby! Those who are only famil­iar with the more two-fisted, action-packed side of their work might be sur­prised to hear this, but it’s true. They launched the first romance comic, Young Romance, in 1947. And in the wake of its sales suc­cess, many other pub­lish­ers fol­lowed suit with their own romance titles.

Simon and Kirby’s work in this genre is unsur­pris­ingly ener­getic and lively. Many of the sto­ries go places one wouldn’t typ­i­cally expect a romance comic story to go. If you get the chance to see some of these sto­ries for your­self, it’s worth the time. I’m told it can be hard to track down the orig­i­nal comics, but thank­fully, there are reprints avail­able in books like Young Romance: the Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics, and it looks as though there might be other sources on the way too.

Maybe I should talk a lit­tle bit about this Dar­ling Romance cover. I know noth­ing at all about this comic, but the cover image spoke to me. I thought it would be fun to take the orig­i­nal photo cover and do a draw­ing instead, push the model’s looks even more in the direc­tion of Bet­tie Page. Also, I felt like giv­ing the whole thing a pulpier, harder-edged look. Just for fun. :)

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20 Years

Kirby WatchmenIt’s come to my atten­tion that today marks 20 years since the pass­ing of Jack Kirby. That brings a lot of things to mind.

I know where I was when I got the word. I’d started a new career, work­ing in ani­ma­tion, and was not quite into my first full year at it. I was work­ing at Graz Enter­tain­ment on X-Men, for my first boss in the busi­ness (who I also con­sider a men­tor and friend), Larry Hous­ton. In those pre-internet days, Larry was the one who first got word, and passed it to us. Obvi­ously, for those of us on the crew who knew and loved Kirby’s work, our minds and our con­ver­sa­tion were occu­pied the rest of the day.

When I got home, I had a sud­den com­pul­sion to go to the long­boxes, and pull out every comic I had that Jack Kirby had worked on. Then I sur­veyed what was left. There were a lot of big holes! I could have gone even fur­ther and pulled out all the titles that he’d had a hand in cre­at­ing, and that would’ve left an even big­ger hole. There would prob­a­bly be fewer comics in the boxes than out of them.

Jack has most def­i­nitely left his mark on comics, whether peo­ple want to see it or not. And he’s left behind a great legacy of work in all kinds of gen­res that we can still enjoy today. I can say he cer­tainly enriched my life with his work.

RIP, Mr. Kirby. Your work lives on.

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Heads Up!

Heads 1A sug­ges­tion was made to me recently that it would be good if I were to do some kind of a post here that dis­played a num­ber of dif­fer­ent styles together, all at once. So this is what I came up with: a series of head shots, of dif­fer­ent types of char­ac­ters in dif­fer­ent styles.

It’s a pretty good exer­cise for an artist, I found. It makes you stretch a lit­tle bit, and it can be fun to see what you come up with. I think I may try this again at some point. Or maybe even a vari­a­tion on the theme: one char­ac­ter, dif­fer­ent styles. There’s a whole lot you can do with this idea.

Posted in Animation, Comics, Illustration, Personal | Tagged , | 6 Comments

She’s a Wow!

Wow Comics 12 ReworkedHere’s a recreation/reinterpretation of the cover of Wow Comics #12, fea­tur­ing Mary Mar­vel. You can com­pare it with the orig­i­nal here.

Mary debuted in Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures #18, where Billy Bat­son dis­cov­ered to his sur­prise that he had a twin sis­ter, from whom he’d been sep­a­rated at birth. It turned out that the magic word that turned Billy into Cap­tain Mar­vel also worked to turn Mary Batson/Bromfield into the super­pow­ered Mary Marvel.

Mary’s “visual father” was artist Marc Swayze. I was hon­ored to be asked to do an FCA cover fea­tur­ing Mary, as a trib­ute to Marc Swayze for what would’ve been his 100th birth­day. It was posted here a while back.

Reg­u­lar vis­i­tors to this site have heard me say before that when doing these recre­ations, I like to have some kind of fresh take or approach, so that I’m not just repeat­ing exactly what was done before. So imag­ine this, if you can: some alter­nate world, where Faw­cett didn’t cease pub­lish­ing comics. Instead, they kept on pro­duc­ing new four-color adven­tures for Cap­tain Mar­vel and the Mar­vel Fam­ily. Maybe at some point in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s, Faw­cett licensed Mary to an ani­ma­tion stu­dio for a series, and Wow Comics was relaunched in sup­port. It was kind of what was play­ing in the back of my mind when I did this, at any rate.

I can almost hear the announcer’s voice: “Boys and Girls! It’s time now for the adven­tures of Mary Mar­vel! The Shazam girl!

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Four Bananas Make a Bunch

Let It SplitI’m sure most of you remem­ber the Banana Splits. They were that famous and influ­en­tial rock band that changed the face of the ‘60s with their music; songs that have stood the test of time and are still with us today. Late in the band’s career, things had begun to get hec­tic and stress­ful. The mem­bers’ lives were head­ing in dif­fer­ent direc­tions. They were grow­ing apart; no longer the same wide-eyed kids they were when they started out. But before they called it a day, they put out one final album: Let It Split.

Okay, not really. I just made up all that stuff. Knowl­edge­able vis­i­tors will real­ize that what I’ve done here is a riff off the cover of the Bea­t­les’ last album, Let It Be, only recast with the mem­bers of the Banana Splits. Going clock­wise from the upper left, you have Drooper, Flee­gle, Snorky and Bingo.

Yes, when I was a kid, I would watch The Banana Splits Adven­ture Hour. Fun times. I’ll even admit to hav­ing sent away for the Banana Splits Fan Club Kit. No Sour Grapes Bunch for me! No sir! Sing it with me now: “Tra la la, la la la la,…” :)

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Qui est Cette Fille?

BandetteI’m con­tin­u­ing with the theme from last time, talk­ing about good comics I’ve read recently. The rea­son this post’s title is in French will become clear in a bit.

This time out, it’s Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s Ban­dette. From the moment I first saw art from this comic, I knew it would be right up my alley. But it’s only recently that I was able to buy a copy. This is because up until now, Ban­dette didn’t exist in phys­i­cal form. It was part of the Mon­key­brain line of dig­i­tal comics.

Here’s where I might sound like a bit of an old fogey, but I haven’t quite been able to cross over yet to pur­chas­ing comics that exist solely in dig­i­tal form. I’m not anti-digital media by any means! I love check­ing out my favorite web comics, and I love the fact that if I devel­oped a sud­den ran­dom crav­ing to buy mari­achi music at 2 am, I could pur­chase it instantly on iTunes. But even so, I can’t quite get past feel­ing a lit­tle odd over the fact there’s noth­ing phys­i­cal to show for those pur­chases. Feels a bit like buy­ing air, even though I know it’s not the case.

Any­how, in this case, I knew that as soon as Ban­dette became avail­able in phys­i­cal form, I’d want to pick up a copy. And I was not dis­ap­pointed! Ban­dette Vol­ume One: Presto! is an absolute blast.

Her adven­tures take place in Paris (hence my post title). You might think from the visual that Ban­dette would be a super­heroine, but no! Actu­ally, she’s a thief! Albeit an incred­i­bly gifted one, (with “Presto!”, as she’d say) who occa­sion­ally comes to the aid of Police Inspec­tor Belgique.

Ban­dette is adorable, irre­press­ible, with je né sais quoi and joie de vivre (and per­haps other French phrases that go beyond the extent of my lim­ited recall of my high school and col­lege French). You can’t help but like her! Some of it is due to the writ­ing (Paul Tobin dis­plays a tal­ent for giv­ing the dia­logue a French-feeling rhythm with­out resort­ing to pho­netic accents). A lot of it also comes from Colleen Coover’s art, which imbues Ban­dette with so much life and appeal, and spontaneity.

I’d think most read­ers junior high age and up (or older read­ers who are still some­what young at heart) will love this book. My only regret is that there isn’t a Vol­ume 2 ready to read right now! I’d def­i­nitely rec­om­mend check­ing Ban­dette out, if you get the chance.

Before I close, it seems appro­pri­ate (given my tim­ing, and the topic) to wish all my site vis­i­tors a joyeux noel et bonne année!

Ban­dette is ™ and © Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover.

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Go, Molly, Go!

Molly Danger ColorIt’s occurred to me that it’s been awhile since I talked about any new comics I’ve read that I liked, and there’ve been more than a few recently. So I thought this would be a good time to do that again.

This time out, I’m going to talk about Jamal Igle’s Molly Dan­ger. Jamal is an artist and writer who has done a lot of work for DC, Mar­vel and other pub­lish­ers. Molly is the result of his decid­ing to throw his hat into the creator-owned ring. I applaud when cre­ators do this. Not only is this good for the cre­ators, but we fans and read­ers win too!

Molly Dan­ger is a ten-year-old girl, who just hap­pens to also have super-strength and invul­ner­a­bil­ity. She’s the res­i­dent super­hero of Coop­ersville, NY, pro­tect­ing res­i­dents from the men­ace of the “Super­me­chs” that crop up from time to time. Molly even has a whole sup­port team work­ing with her, called D.A.R.T. (the Dan­ger Action Response Team).

This vol­ume is the first of a pro­jected four vol­ume series. The book’s for­mat is larger than a stan­dard comic and in hard­cover, kind of like some of the Euro­pean albums I’ve seen. It’s a fun, all-ages ride that Igle has crafted here. And “craft” is the right word, as every aspect of this is lov­ingly and appeal­ingly crafted.

I get some of the same sense of fun from this that I used to get from read­ing my favorite Mar­vel or DC Comics when I was a kid. Not to imply that this book is done in some kind of “retro” style, because it’s not. Igle and his crew are using all the mod­ern tools at their dis­posal. There are ele­ments in the writ­ing that you prob­a­bly would not have seen in an old comic, but they make the char­ac­ters more relat­able to both young and older mod­ern read­ers alike. If any­thing, I’d say that what Igle’s got going here is per­haps some­thing of a sign­post for how peo­ple could approach doing mod­ern all-ages super­hero comics.

Style­wise, I’d put Jamal in the camp of the “comic book real­ists.” I sus­pect per­haps artists like Kevin Maguire might have been an influ­ence on him. But for my draw­ing here, I elected to go my own way with it. I was kind of curi­ous to see what Molly might look like with the old school color palette.

If you’re still a fan of good all-ages comics like I am, you might want to give Molly a look!

Molly Dan­ger is ™ and © Jamal Igle and Com­pany LLC.

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…Suddenly a White Rabbit…”

Marvel Team-Up #131 ReworkedYou’re see­ing a rein­ter­pre­ta­tion here of the cover to Mar­vel Team-Up #131. I must con­fess that I know absolutely noth­ing about the White Rab­bit, or how much of a con­nec­tion she has to the char­ac­ter that appeared in the Lewis Car­roll book Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land. I don’t have a clue about Frog-Man either. I’ve never read this comic.

So why did I do this cover? Sim­ple: when I saw the orig­i­nal, I thought there was some­thing fun here that could be rein­ter­preted. If you look around my site, you’ll see that I do things like this on occa­sion. I even got to do it once for the late, lamented Cov­ered Blog before they called it a day. Though they’re no longer doing cover rein­ter­pre­ta­tions there, I think the idea is still worth pur­su­ing from time to time here.

While more or less straight recre­ations can be fun too, tak­ing an orig­i­nal cover and try­ing to find a fresh angle or spin to put on it can be even more fun. In this case, I thought ren­der­ing it in a dif­fer­ent style to make the humor­ous intent of the story more obvi­ous would be a fun thing to do. And it seemed appro­pri­ate to use the Mar­vel Pop Art Pro­duc­tions cor­ner box with it.

For once, that’s pretty much all there is to say for this one!

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