Fri, 31 December 2010
There's a saying in music that goes like this. Sometimes a singer or band will record their very first album and it's so good, so fully formed, that it sounds like they spent their whole lives writing it.
One of our buddies, artist Leland Purvis, (Vóx, Resistance: Book One) got his hands on a copy earlier this year and said it best. "Rodd Racer is like Toby throwing down the gauntlet to other artists in this business saying show me what you can do". That's not a direct quote, but you get his point.
This gasoline-fueled tour de force is set in a fictitious past where zepplins fill the night skies and a deadly race called Thunder Alley is the city's main event. Below is Toby's own description of his noirish tale:
"He keeps his past to himself, but Rodd's always been running from something."
I became a hardcore fan of Cypress' after seeing some of his older stuff that another buddy, Rico Renzi, (The Perhapanauts, Loose Ends) had colored. I was all like, "Who's that?!"
"Have I seen his work before?"
"If you haven't, then you need to."
After that, it was Killing Girl for me, Batman/Nightwing, The Tourist and a few other goodies.
Toby doesn't do an awful lot of mainstream work. He confesses to a deep love of independent comics. And that makes sense—he likes to do his thing.
His style, while grounded in classic art influences like Alex Toth and Noel Sickles, is also shaped by other things like old b&w movies, cartoons and his own eclectic taste in music.
And just like the name of his publishing company, PUNKROCK*JAZZ, he comes off like this weird and wonderful amalgam of all that stuff.
With so many folks out there talking about doing their own projects, it's nice seeing Toby Cypress finally make Rodd Racer happen. And then some!
Thu, 18 November 2010
That's correct! On the further adventures of the SiDEBAR roundtable, we discuss the use of storytelling in comics and illustration. What is it? Who does it well? What separates strong storytelling from style, conceptual thinking or someone who's simply into render porn? These and many other questions go completely unanswered on this episode!
We also brought along a willing accomplice today to help us figure it all out—our good buddy, Braxton Harrison. Braxton is a terrific artist himself, a local guy and no stranger to the podcast community.
His name (and voice) would pop up all the time on Around Comics and he was on a show of his own for a while. It was called the League of Nobodies and it was him, our buddy Brion Salazar from Fanboy Legion, our other buddy Skottie Young, artist from The Wizard of Oz and Matt Burden, who's now co-hosting the Matinee Idles podcast.
We wanna thank Brax for rollin' up and hangin' with us. It's like a 50 minute drive from his place to mine. And thanks to you all too for listening in. We know it's not another creator intervew, but hey, we're havin' some fun.
**On this episode, we played snippets of Outkast's Da Art of Storytellin' (much love to Suzy Skrew and Sasha Thumper).
Also, there's a rather bawdy Easter egg at the end of this one that was inspired by a post I read on Girls Gone Geek. The ladies don't hold back either...
Sat, 30 October 2010
John Van Fleet is an illustrator and painter who's work I've enjoyed for many a year. He graduated from art school at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY alongside the likes of Kent Williams, George Pratt and Mark Chiarello. Adrian warmly refers to them as "that Brandywine crew." For me, they'll always be The Fab Four.
Van Fleet started out studying graphic design at Pratt, but hated it. After seeing what his buds were doing in comics, he decided to make the switch.
The stuff by him that you'll wanna check out weaves back and forth between full blown comics, masterfully illustrated comic covers and trading cards. I say look for Typhoid, Batman: The Chalice and Batman: The Ankh if you want some really fun comic stories.
As for single images, try his covers for H-E-R-O and American Century. You cannot go wrong. And all of his trading cards are super nice, too—he's done tons.
John lives outside of Chapel Hill, NC with his family and works from his home studio. We caught up with him there and found him to be affable, funny and pretty free wheelin' in our chat. He was a hoot!
In the interview, we cover his background and some hilarious stories from his days in NYC, how his approach to picture-making developed, the sometimes 'arduous' use of photo ref and freelancing after all these years.
**There's a really funny Easter egg at the very end of this episode. Check it out!
Also, the title of the interview is a reference to the H-E-R-O series Van Fleet worked on back in 2003. It was a new take on a Silver Age DC book from the '60s called Dial H for H-E-R-O.
Mon, 25 October 2010
All twenty three minutes of it! Today, it's just a short conversation covering some of the memorable moments at this year's Dragon*Con. We had a wonderful time, as always, and 2010 definitely had its highlights.
Many thanks to all the listeners who stopped by to say hello, to all the convention guests who did likewise and wished us well, to all the kind folks who jumped on the mic with us, and to the Sensei, Brian Stelfreeze, for putting it down as only he can.
Extra special thanks to John Picacio and Jim Keefe for their support and gifts.
And a hearty thank you to the guys and gals who run the Con and the Comics Track—Pat and Sherry Henry and Thom Trainor. We appreciate their generosity and look forward to next year. Bigger and deffer!
**Swain would like it known that the picture above and the last minute of this episode made the entire weekend worth it for him.
Sat, 23 October 2010
Podcast Episode 138: VAPN United - More Dragon*Con Audio featuring Artists DREW BAKER, PETE MOHRBACHER and CHANDRA FREE
It was basically a family affair. Attending Dragon*Con for the very first time were our buddies from the Visual Artist Podcast Network, Drew Baker, Pete Mohrbacher and Chandra Free. Three terrific artists from two terrific podcasts and we took the opportunity to pounce and get 'em on the mic.
Drew and Chandra are a part of a great show called Ninja Mountain Scrolls. Ninja Mountain is a collective of ninjas (working artists in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror fields) and the discussion on their shows is generally centered around the life of a freelance illustrator. They offer insights into their profession, advice on breaking in and staying in, and often derail into funny stories and down rabbit trails (glad we're not the only ones).
Pete does a super cool podcast called WiP (Work in Progress). He co-hosts it with three other folks—his wife, artist Anna Mohrbacher, artist Jeff Himmelman and Jeff's wife, Caroline Himmelman (Caroline's not an artist, but the brains behind the outfit). Their show is also sci-fi/fantasy based and offers a helpful and critical look at breaking into the world of freelance art and illustration.
Again, we're grateful to Chandra, Pete and Drew for stopping by our table. It was AWESOME to meet them all in person and we look forward to doing it again soon.
Mon, 4 October 2010
The convention audio drags on. Get it...drags on..? Sorry.
Cully Hamner is a near 20 veteran of the comic book business and has a pretty respectable resume, if you ask us. Besides some really excellent work on titles like Detective Comics, Black Lightning, Blue Beetle and The Ride, he and Warren Ellis collabed on a creator-owned mini-series back in 2003 called RED.
RED is the story of a retired black ops CIA agent named Paul Moses who becomes a target and ends up reactivating himself 'red'.
The book was a hit with fans and apparently movie studios, too. It was optioned by Summit Entertainment in '08 and is now set for release as a major motion picture on October 15th of this year.
The film adaptation of this DC/Wildstorm series stars Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Mary-Louise Parker. Cully mentioned recently on his blog that he'll be leaving the New York Comic Con one day early so he can fly out West and attend the big Hollywood premiere (I know...don't hate).
Since he's an Atlantan and a regular guest at Dragon*Con, Hamner kindly agreed to sit on a panel over the Labor Day weekend and talk about all things RED. We had the pleasure of moderating the shindig and happily bring you the audio today. Hope you enjoy.
Wed, 29 September 2010
You'll know Jim Keefe's name from his work in newspaper strips on characters like Blondie, Beetle Bailey, Hagar the Horrible and of course, Flash Gordon. He's a graduate of the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art (a Kubie!) and he himself has guest lectured at schools like MCAD and SVA.
Jim was our neighbor at Dragon*Con and was a hoot to hang out with. SUPER nice guy, too (he gave us an awesome Flash Gordon sketch—thanks, Jim).
John Picacio and SiDEBAR have been Facebook friends for a minute now, so we're pretty sure that makes us blood related (ha).
John is an award-winning illustrator who has created book covers for virtually every science fiction, fantasy and horror publisher around. He just recently finished a series of images featuring his rendition of Michael Moorcock's classic fantasy character, Elric.
His first ever hardcover artbook, Cover Story, came out in 2006 and his work has also been featured in the hallowed pages of Spectrum as well.
Picacio was set up down at the other end of the auditorium in the Art Show, but he was kind enough to come down to Artist Alley and share a few words with us. He too came bearing gifts (thanks, John).
Thu, 23 September 2010
Podcast Episode 135: Dragon*Con 2010 - Legends of the Dark Knight Panel (ft. NEAL ADAMS, PAUL DINI, TIM SALE and BRIAN STELFREEZE)
It went down Sunday afternoon, and it was just that. Legendary.
Our four panelists, Neal, Paul, Tim and Brian were all great and the attendees loved 'em. Lots of stories were told, recollections of the Caped Crusader were made and a ton of belly laughs were had by everyone.
When things jumped off, it was standing room only in 'Hanover F'. By the time it ended, there were people sitting all over the floor. It was nuts.
SiDEBAR wants to thank Dragon*Con for letting us moderate the event (especially Pat Henry and Thom Trainor). We also wanna thank all four guests who sat in on the panel. And a hearty thanks to each and every person who made it their business to come by and hang out.
You all rock!
**This episode is dedicated to the memory of Patricia Basey, mother to our good friend, Mark Stroud A.K.A. MarkCalifornia. May she sleep peacefully...
Sat, 11 September 2010
Swain here. Me and Adrian started chatting after seeing Neal Adams' Batman Odyssey #1 (he saw it, I still haven't) and the idea of free passes came up.
A free pass is when someone, doesn't matter who, gets a pass for what is basically sub par work for them, and you won't call it for what it is. Many a Neal fan were on-line doing just that when Odyssey's preview pages were posted—looking at his current work through Green Lantern/Green Arrow tinted glasses (even though it ain't 1970 anymore).
Don't get me wrong. I give out free passes from time to time myself. I think we all do on some level. But calling something crap doesn't...well...crap all over the great stuff that person did or will do, does it?
Most people who know me know I'm a big music nerd as well as an art nerd. I adore Elton John, Prince, Peter Gabriel and Stevie Wonder. One of my favorite bands to come out in the last 13 years is a Scottish band called Travis.
That said, all the stuff Elton's written for Disney has been utter wackness. Prince—I've not liked much since the symbol album. Peter Gabriel's Up CD was so God awful that I sold it two weeks later (didn't want it in my house and I adore him). Stevie's lowest had to be I Just Called to Say I Love You and Travis' 12 Memories disc gave me amnesia.
I still love them all for their past work, but give 'em a pass for the nonsense they're doing today.
Bringing it back to comics, it doesn't take any of the greatness away from Frank Miller's Dark Knight, Born Again or Batman Year One to say Dark Knight Strikes Again and The Spirit sucked. And they did.
The conversation between Dwight, Adrian and I also veered off into free passes for comics coming out late as hell, outrageous original art prices, lack of professionalism and common courtesy. We went there.
So many fans will look the other way if it's their favorite guy or gal and act like they're not being mistreated—when they really are. That's bullsh*t.
Listen in and see what you think. Our goal wasn't to dump on folks just for the sake of dumping. It was to encourage us as fans to be more honest. If it's great, hey, let's celebrate it. If it's just okay or bad...let's call it for what it is.
**If you're squeamish or easily pissed off, we must warn you—this audio is disturbing. Names have not been changed to protect the innocent (ha).
Check for the Jack Kirby birthday Easter egg at the very end. That was fun.
And Dwight would like it on the record that he dug Kneel...ummm, Neal's cover for Batman Odyssey #1.
Sun, 1 August 2010
The attempt at alliteration in the title was absolutely on purpose.
Ken Bruzenak is an awesome letterer and designer who's distinctive style not only pushed his career in comics to higher heights, but the craft of lettering as well. Guys like him, John Costanza, John Workman and Todd Klein brought lettering to the fore and really made it a part of the narrative—as it should be.
Ken got his start back in the late '70s working with Jim Steranko, eventually broke into business, and his star quickly rose from there. We consider him, as many do, to be the first superstar letterer.
His best work can undeniably be found in his collaborations with his friend, writer and artist Howard Chaykin. Over the last 25 years, they friggin' killed it on titles like American Flagg!, Time Squared, Blackhawk and The Shadow.
Beyond his pairings with Chaykin, Ken worked his own brand of voodoo on tons of other books—Azrael, Jon Sable Freelance, The Punisher, Wolverine, Batman Black & White, Body Bags...
In 1988, he was handpicked to letter and do a logo design for Michael T. Gilbert's Mr. Monster series. More recently, he was a part of the original creative team on Powers when it launched from Image back in 2000.
And yes, of course, in between all of his touchstones, are literally thousands of comic pages with his talented fingerprints on them.
In our talk with Bruzenak, we find out how it all began with Steranko, Gary Groth and Greg Theakston, what it was like being on fire during The Late '80s Boom, how lettering has changed over the years and what he still loves about comics as a medium and a profession.
**Our thanks to Ken's wife, Kristie, for her help getting us in contact with him. Much obliged.
Also, the page above was created for a comic book that Ken and Howard Chaykin worked on called Jake Noble. It was simultaneously being developed as a TV series vehicle for footballer/actor Vinnie Jones (Snatch, Gone in Sixty Seconds, X-Men 3).