Friday, August 24, 2012

Sketch Charlotte's Jason Latour working on Winter Soldier

 Exciting news for Jason Latour (B.P.R.D. The Pickens County Horror) coming from FanExpo Canada via Blog@Newsarama.(Link here) Latour will be taking Ed Brubaker's place on the Winter Soldier series. The timing is good for Latour, as things begin to ramp up for the second Captain America movie which will be based on the Winter Soldier storyline from Captain America (vol 5 issues 13-21, approximately).
 Latour will take over the writing duties beginning with issue #15.
 Congratulations, Jason!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book Review: Steve Jobs/ Genius By Design_

  Campfire publishes graphic novels that are made for different and distinct lines: mythologies, original stories, classics and heroes (which I think used to be biographies). It is under the heroes label that Campfire has released their newest story, a biography on innovator Steve Jobs.
 Right from the beginning, this book was different than Campfire's usual format defined by richly colored covers, and a bright Campfire logo in the upper corner along with the classification tag for the book. This book is a shiny black on the front, with a black and white caricature of Steve Jobs and the title in the framed white space. On the back, is a pearly white gradient with a blurb about the book, and the Campfire logo normally seen on the front. My son looked at the cover and picked up on the design faster than I did. "It's an iPad!" he said. Sure enough, the single button of the iPad is on the bottom, and the top of the "screen"  has Campfire and the names of the writer, Jason Quinn, and artist, Amit Tayal. Even the corners opposite of the spine are rounded. Very clever.
 I was struck by Tayal's style for this book, which is a simple, clean style, which he says he wanted to go for in the book. But more than that, the style reminds me of the kind of doodles and sketches done by engineers and technically-oriented drafters and artists. This just added an authenticity to the story telling, especially as you read about the early days of Apple and Pixar, and the introduction of the MacIntosh computer.
 Quinn's story starts like most graphic novel biographies- "so-and-so went here. Then he met this person. They worked on this." But once the story picks up with Steve finding a passion for creating great computers for people, the story takes off. I let my son, 13, read the story also, and several times he laughed out loud, or would shout "No way! I didn't know that." When he was about done with the book he said, "I don't feel like I'm reading a biography. It feels like I'm reading about a character." That is learning through enjoyment. It's what Campfire says they strive to do, and in this case it is clearly "mission accomplished!"
Steve and Woz using the Blue Box to prank call the Vatican!
 Coming so soon after Jobs' death (Oct 5, 2011) this gives a fair and complete look at Jobs' life. From his refusal to shower, to his habit of insulting people who weren't doing things to his vision of perfection, to his early failures at being a parent, his flaws are made apparent. But his redeeming qualities also shine through- his realization of the importance of his family, his quest for truth and fulfillment, his desire to do his best work and expect the best of others. It is amazing that a person with such a zen philosophy and a desire for simplicity was also the one looking for ways to sell circuit boards, computers, software, music players and phones. He made billions, yet he never lived lavishly like many of his peers.
 Campfire's biography on Nelson Mandela was an award winning book. I don't see how Campfire does not repeat that feat with this book. It is entertaining, informative, thought-provoking and a delight to look at.
 I think Steve Jobs would approve.

 Steve Jobs/ Genius by Design by Jason Quinn and Amit Tayal is available beginning September 4. Go to for more information.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Joe Kubert, Comics Legend 1926- 2012

 Word is already spreading through the comics community that legendary artist and creator Joe Kubert has died at the age of 85. To newer comics fans, Joe is known as the father of Andy and Adam Kubert, or the name on the Kubert School. People a little older, like me, remember him for his work on characters like Sgt. Rock, Tor, Hawkman, and Tarzan- just to name a few. I could keep going, but considering Joe's career started in the 1940's and his work continued all the way up to now- well, the list would be long and impressive.
Part of what made Sgt. Rock so great was the reflection of real-life attitudes and effects of being in a war-zone.
 I won't go into reporting about his life and work. Rather, I thought it might be appropriate for me to say some things about how I looked at Joe Kubert's work, since I am a wanna-be comics creator. My favorite artist has always been Jack Kirby. His style was gears, dials, abstract blocks of shadow, stylized lines where you could recognize his handiwork immediately. It stood out. Close on that list of comics creators I most admire are Alex Toth, and Joe Kubert. Toth I loved for his ability to use black, his pacing, and his designs.
 Joe Kubert, I liked for the liveliness of his lines. He had a loose style- it looked tight, but effortless, as though he just drew it out of his head and when it got to the paper, it was right. His style was very good for war comics and fantasy comics- it added motion and grittiness tot he images. And it wasn't just the lines, but the use of shading to create suspense, or to make the readers fill in the what was in the shadows using their own imaginations. He revitalized Hawkman, and I can't quote where the interview was, but he said something to the effect that he didn't enjoy drawing superheroes except for Hawkman, because the character looked more like a fantasy figure than a typical superhero.
 Joe Kubert also shared his skills and techniques with those who wanted to follow in comics or animation. While I could never afford to even take the correspondence courses, his school's website offered up a treasure trove of samples and how-to pages for free. They may just cover some very basic things, but they are things that many creators tend to forget about or overlook. There is value in having a master show you things that are helpful and important.

Kubert showed a variety of skills that made his art timeless and classic.

The job of a comic artist is to tell the story, even without words, and Kubert was among the best.

Kubert even did toy art for GI Joe's Sgt Savage line. Savage looks a lot like another Sgt he drew, doesn't he?
 It goes without saying that Joe Kubert will be missed. Thank you for all the stories, all the art, all the instruction and all the joy.