Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ken Penders versus Archie Comics...

Above: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG writer and penciler, Ken Penders.

Ken Penders continues to claim ownership of stories and characters that he wrote and penciled during his time on SONIC THE HEDGEHOG. Penders states that he never signed a work-made-for-hire contact with Archie Comics.

Bleeding Cool reports that "The Ken Penders/Archie Comics Lawsuit Continues."

From Bleeding Cool:

But despite this Ken [Penders] is stating that he never signed any such contract and is asking for the original documents. He also cites Scott Shaw and Elliot Maggin as previous Archie freelancers that weren't given a contract to sign, despite multiple requests in Shaw's case.

In a declaration, Archie Comics president Mike Pellerito states that Maggin has "no relation whatsoever to ACP" despite the fact that he has credits for the company. Mike does question why Ken has only got statements from so few creators rather then the vast majority.

Well, that’s because the Archie Comics' work-made-for-hire contract that we signed (however unfortunate) states that creators can not discuss Archie Comics business outside of Archie Comics. Of course comic book creators will be hesitant to speak out against a publisher if they think that their statements might become actionable. It’s not because such creators support that particular publisher or that they feel some sort of loyalty to that particular publisher. It’s just that these creators don’t want to be sued. And comic book creators are sued more often than you think.

As Colleen Doran once stated:

I’d be even happier if Archie Comics actually did value and treasure its creators. They have one of the worst work for hire agreements I have ever seen. I refused to sign. Because I have too much respect for myself, not to mention Dan DeCarlo.

I first blogged about Ken Penders’ problems with Archie Comics with "Who owns Sonic?".

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Gene Colan: 1926-2011

Above photo: Comic book artist and former SVA teacher, Gene Colan.


I regret to tell you that Gene passed away on 6/23/2011, around 11pm. Gene had ongoing health issues with his liver, heart and cancer.

Gene Colan was once an instructor at the School of Visual Arts. Many P.I.C. members had taken Gene’s class while attending SVA.

Gene died while in hospice from complications of liver disease and a broken hip. He was 84 years old.

Please keep the Colan family in your prayers.

Above photo: Taken in a classroom at the School of Visual Arts. (Left to right) Mitch and (comic book legend and SVA instructor) Gene Colan. School year 1986-1987.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Words from Will Eisner...

Above: Comics legend and teacher, Will Eisner.

Will Eisner was always a wealth of information. Many members of P.I.C. were once students in Will’s ‘Sequential Art’ class at the School of Visual Arts.

And, years later, I continue to learn from Will Eisner. Recently, I was reading the "Cartoonists as Prisoners" editorial in Kitchen Sink’s THE SPIRIT #25 (November 1986). Here, Will stated:

You have to believe in what you’re producing. You must produce it without embarrassment, in an unabashed way. You can’t deny the emotion within you.

Most of the really successful comic book and comics writers had to be honest and believe in what they were doing in order to produce good work. The similarity between Milton Caniff and Jack Kirby is they have a basic honesty and belief in what they are doing. It shows up in their work, and it’s a reason they’re successful.

That is powerful and encouraging.

I am, also, re-re-reading Dark Horse Books’ EISNER/MILLER that was published in 2005. This book is a vast tome of wonderful knowledge from Frank Miller and Will Eisner. I found this statement from Will very interesting:

[National Periodical Publications/DC Comics’ Harry Donenfeld] told the artists, as he told me, "Look, I can replace you." As a matter of fact, the artists working in the field in the late thirties and early forties would not talk to each other about their work for fear that they might be replaced.

I don’t think that the comics industry has changed much in that regard. A colleague once told me that the publisher that we were working for at the time frowned upon its freelancers talking to one another. I’ve written about this before in "When Creators speak out...". Don’t let anyone stifle your Free Speech. Speak freely.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Walt Simonson sketch...

Above is a Beta Ray Bill sketch by the amazing Walt Simonson. I think Walter drew this back in 1999 or 2000.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"How do you come back from that?"

Above: Cover to INVINCIBLE #80.

INVINCIBLE #80 came out today. "The best super-hero comic book in the Universe" is just that. Anyway,… enough of my hype.

INVINCIBLE #80 touched upon a couple of things that have been happening in comics.

Mark Grayson picked up some books at Night Flight Comics where he then shared his thoughts about comic book series renumbering back to "#1".

I totally agree with Mark, by the way.

And,… a surprising catastrophic event occured in INVINCIBLE #80, as well.

Above: Invincible meets Gravitator in INVINCIBLE #80.

Lately, Joey B and I have had several conversations in which we discuss how comic book stories are becoming more extreme, more vulgar, and more outrageous. Daredevil becomes the leader of an evil Ninja clan. The Capital Building is blown up by a hammer-wielding gal and her nazi soldiers. Crazy Amazons attack the male population of England. Superman renounces Truth, Justice, and the American way. Crazy stuff like that.

During these conversations, Joey B would state something like: "How do you come back from that?"

And my answer is usually: "You don’t."

I don’t know why many of the large comic book publishes think they have to rely on earth-shattering events to grab a reader’s attention. But, if so, then move foreword with it. If you’re going to take a character down the road of great change (like revealing his secret identity to the world), or if you blow up a landmark, or if you’re going to kill off a character, then move forward with that. Don’t reboot or don’t retcon, just create great stories with great artwork.

Anyway, back to INVINCIBLE #80, which was quite good. I give this issue three and a half out of five NM’s:

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bunch of Archie stuff now on sale!

The (really) second story in WORLD OF ARCHIE DOUBLE DIGEST #7, "Sale Tale," is inked by myself and penciled by Fernando Ruiz.

The second story in ARCHIE & FRIENDS DOUBLE DIGEST #4, "The Dilton Doiley Story," is inked by myself and penciled by the great Fernando Ruiz. Now on sale, by the way.

Some weeks back, I received my comp copy of ARCHIE: 50 TIMES AN AMERICAN ICON (which includes my Hero Initiative ARCHIE #600 "original cover"). The book is being offered in both hardcover and softcover. You can find ordering info here at the Hero Initiative blog .

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Sequential Art: Comics Illustration @ OCCC...

Above: A panel of artwork from my flyer promoting this Fall’s Sequential Art: Comics Illustration class at Orange County Community College.

This Fall, I will, again, be teaching my my Sequential Art: Comics Illustration course at Orange County Community College (New York, not California). I was just running around campus posting flyers about the course.

The Sequential Art: Comics Illustration is described thusly:

Sequential Art offers instruction in the creation of comic books and comic strips as well as topical discussion on the operation of the comic book industry. Students learn about the pitfalls of working in comics, their rights as creators, and how to approach publishers. Course material includes the design of comic book characters, comics illustration and storytelling, self-publishing, submitting work to editors, comic book Creator’s Rights, webcomics, and strong emphasis on comic book inking. Prerequisite: ART 103 or Permission of Instructor 3 credits (2 lecture, 2 lab).

If you attend OCCC, if you live in the New York area, or, if you want to learn about drawing comics, then sign up for Sequential Art: Comics Illustration today!

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Comics buzz…

Above: Jim Lee’s pencils to the cover of JUSTICE LEAGUE #1.

Yeah, I like to draw comics, but I like to read them, too.

DC Comics is all the buzz lately. In September, DC will be relaunching their super-hero line of comics with new number one issues. Renumbering titles back to "#1" isn’t new news in comics. Marvel Comics likes to do this, as well. But, what folks are wondering is… will DC reboot the continuity of their super-hero books? Remember CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS? Does anyone really care? Is this just a bunch of hype to sell comics? What really sells comics are good stories and good artwork. Hyping a product that is nothing but hype creates jaded readers. For me, I really don’t care. I’ve given up on DC several years ago.

Above: Alan Davis' cover to AVENGERS #13.

Speaking of Marvel, I did pick up AVENGERS #13. I don’t really read much of Marvel's books now-a-days. (The Spider-Man retcon and the $3.99 cover prices were a huge factor in that decision.) Still, AVENGERS #13 was a fun comic. Alan Davis’ cover and Chris Bachalo’s excellent artwork really caught my attention. Brian Michael Bendis did a wonderful job with the characters. His Avengers remind me of the Avengers that I enjoyed as a young reader. There were no fights in AVENGERS #13. No world-saving. But, the Red Hulk did eat raw eggs.

Above: Steve Rude’s Nexus.

Steve Rude has been thinking about coming back to comics. Quote from an e-mail by The Dude:

One month ago, I began my contact with DC through an editor that I knew. Having no success, I tried a second editor. Then finally, one of the higher-up "exec" types.

So far, one editor has responded--with a polite turn down. The two others I never heard back from.

Interesting world, isn't it?

Personally, I think Mr. Rude should forget about DC Comics and bring back NEXUS!

Above: Sketch by Ryan Ottley of Invincible and two "geeks."

And there was some shocking news in INVINCIBLE #79. I don’t know how I feel about this news, though. Still, if you like reading super-hero comics, but are tired of retcons, reboots, and renumbering, then you won’t be disappointed with INVINCIBLE, "the best super-hero comic book in the universe."

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