Top 5 Best Comics of September 2010

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I read 28 comics in September, and these were the best.

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Everyone Likes Sketches

You may have liked my recent Comic Con 2009 post. Well, I recently had to upload some more sketches for reasons that may or may not involve money. So, I thought, since I went through the trouble of uploading them, I may as well post them here. So, enjoy!

Charlie Adlard’s Rick Grimes!

Darick Robertson’s Annie! NSFW

David Mack’s Echo!

Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon!

Ethan Van Sciver’s Barry Allen!

Ethan Van Sciver’s Hal Jordan! Word balloon provided by Geoff Johns!

Joe Linsner’s Dark Ivory!

Philip Tan’s Dr. Light!

Ryan Ottley’s Atom Eve!

Todd Nauck’s Emma Frost!

My Comic Con 2009!!!

Wow! It’s already come and gone. I thought I’d just give my report on my experience. But don’t expect to see any pictures of fat, sweaty guys, dressed in 300 “costumes.” No, my Comic Con involved laughter, love, and chatting with the talent.

Sketch-A-Palooza!

Aaron Lopresti’s Wonder Woman!

Alvin Lee’s Sagat!

Amanda Conner’s Power Girl!

Cliff Chiang’s Black Canary!

Cliff Rathburn’s Reaper!

Dean Yeagle’s Mandy!

Dustin Nguyen’s Batman!

Francis Manupal’s Cassie Sandsmark!

Jamal Igle’s Silver Banshee!

Jamal Igle’s Supergirl!

Joe Linsner’s Batman!

Jonboy’s Meyers’ Wonder Woman!

Micah Gunnell’s Wolverine!

Nicola Scott’s Scandal Savage! Hey, it’s signed by Gail Simone too!

Patrick Gleason’s Arisia!

Patrick Gleason’s Soranik Natu!

Philip Tan’s Red Hood!

Sanford Greene’s Supergirl!

Terry Dodson’s Emma Frost!

19 sketches in two days, for a total of 80 dollars. Not too bad, right? I think I did good.

And you have to get stuff signed!

Now, the only signature I need on my Sinestro Corps War hardcovers is Ivan Reis.

I’m gunnin’ for ya, Reis!

Green Lantern symbols provided by Geoff Johns.

Aww, Gail Simone loves me!

And she put a Wonder Woman star over her “i”. How precious! Terry Dodson and Bernard Chang have pretty signatures too.

Terry Dodson calls Frank Cho a perv!

The war is on. Which artist will win?

Greg Rucka gave me a free copy of Detective Comics #854!

So, I was standing in line for Jamal Igle at the DC Booth, when Greg Rucka shows up next to me! We talked. I said I was sad since I didn’t have anything for him to sign. He went into his magic bag and pulled that out. Sweet, huh?

So, there you have it, friends. I had a hell of a time, and you got to see my reward for fighting through the unkempt masses. Thanks for reading!

For more comic goodness, go here.

Top Ten Best Comic Artists

Why this list? I don’t know; I like lists! This is something I’ve thought about for awhile, but I’ve never had the organization skills to execute this idea. Well, I stopped bothering with some things (Sure, the west half of my house is on fire, but who cares?!?) so I could finally create the awesome list you’re about to experience.

Just to be clear, these are my top ten working artists. All ten of them produced interior work on at least one comic last year. Enjoy!

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10. Ed McGuinness

McGuinness is the Wolverine of comic artists. He’s the best there is at what he does. And what he does is draw big muscular cartoony fun! Hulk is the PERFECT book for him. The man was born to draw it. Throw in an extensive Superman (And later Batman) run and you’ve got plenty of pretty beefy heroes to look at. Did I mention that his art is a fantastic model for toys as well? Check it out! Sure, he doesn’t have much range and he’s a bit lazy, but if I ever need anyone to find a vein on my arm, I’ll go to him!

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9. Frank Cho

After criticizing EM’s range, I put Frank Cho? Am I crazy? Maybe, but Cho does actually have some range. Go check out his Spider-Man issues with Mark Millar. Sure MJ had big boobs, but his Venom was badass. He also renders some fantastic animals. Who draws Dinosaurs and monkeys better than Frank Cho? And yes, he draws some bodacious babes, but is that really such a bad thing? Yes they’re a bit crude, but it works with an American audience. We’re a bit too uptight when it comes to the female form. Cho just puts it out there. Too preachy? I like big boobs. Better? The fact is his women are tough, sexy, and usually pretty muscular. They can kick the shit out of the men. That’s a kind of female power, right?

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8. Steve McNiven

Good, we’re away from the cartoons. Steve McNiven is pretty new to the art scene. Ok, he’s been in the biz for about eight years, but I can count his projects with my fingers. I’ve always considered myself a fan of the man’s work, but his most recent project, Old Man Logan, is what got him on the list. Have you seen that stuff? It’s fucking epic! He’s created an entire future Marvel Universe, aged character designs, and zany stuff like a Venom T-Rex. He’s nailed them all. There’s no doubt in my mind that in ten years when fans discuss the best Wolverine artists, McNiven will be mentioned in the same sentence as Frank Miller and Barry Windsor-Smith. As if that weren’t enough, he also did a stellar job on Civil War, and whether you enjoyed that event or not, at least you were treated to some gorgeous images.

7. Tim Sale

Say what you want about Jeph Loeb, but when he and Sale get together, you get magic. I just picked up that new Daredevil Yellow hardcover a few weeks ago and Sale’s art was absolutely mystifying. His Daredevil is poetic. Sale captured the fallen hero, Battlin’ Jack Murdock, perfectly. Don’t even get me started on his Karen Page. Lois Lane, Mary Jane, Gwen Stacy, Selina Kyle, Tim Sale has rendered some of the most iconic women in comics and yet he always brings something new to the table. Sale is an expert at taking old characters, blowing off the dust, and making them look all shiny and new again.

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6. JH Williams III

Whoa! JH Williams III is number six? How the hell did that happen? Because Williams is awesome, that’s why. He’s an artistic chameleon. If you read his three-issue arc in Batman recently, you’ll know that every member of the Club of Heroes had a different art style. El Gaucho is Howard Chaykin, The Knight and the Squire are Ed McGuinness, and so on. On top of that, Williams has some of the most interesting layouts in comic history. If you want to see some expert graphic design, Williams is your man. How he presents his art is almost as intriguing as the art itself. Heck, the only reason why Williams isn’t higher on the list is his lack of content (Or perhaps my lack of reading his content), but with an absolute Promethea volume and his long-awaited Batwoman run coming up, Williams is sure to make my top five soon.

5. John Romita Jr.

And speaking of Williams’ lack of content, here’s a man who has too much content. Romita has been in the biz for nearly three decades. That’s awesome, but what usually happens to artists over time is that their style gets boring. Not so with Romita, his style has evolved. Going from the traditional look of his Iron Man days, to the Kirby/Miller amalgam, Romita has proved that he’s still one of the best. Want proof? While some of the artists on this list (Even those ahead of him, sadly) produce only a few issues a year, Romita is the opposite. In just two years, he worked on a Neil Gaiman project for seven issues, a mega Marvel event for five, a six-issue return to Spider-Man, and an entirely new property with Mark Millar. Throw in directing part of a movie (An illustrated Kick-Ass segment) and you have one fabulous work ethic!

4. Joseph Michael Linsner

This is where you can stop calling my list predictable. What can I say? I feel a deep connection with Linsner’s work. There are times when I think he’s my favorite artist. His style is Cartoony yet realistic. Linsner’s women are cheesecake, yet independent and strong.  The man’s work is truly transcendent. I can just stare at for days and days. The Hulk is probably a poor example (Though funny), but please go check out his work. If you feel half the connection with it that I do, it’ll be a wondrous experience.

3. Alex Ross

What’s a “best comic artists” list without Alex Ross? Actually, when I was compiling this list, his name slipped my mind. Terry Dodson was on for quite a while, but eventually (Sorry Terry), an image of Kingdom Come Superman blazed across my mind. How is it, that a character that said so little and was part of so few stories can be as incredibly inspirational as Kingdom Come Superman? I blame Alex Ross. He brings such power and solitude to the grey-haired Man of Steel. It was hammered home this year; KC Superman is the symbol for the man who has unimaginable power, and yet he can’t save the ones he loves. A much bleaker ending than the one Jeph Loeb gave him in Absolute Power, but it’s still undeniably moving. Though Ross spends a little too much time rendering covers and writing nostalgic tales for my taste, Justice, Marvels and Kingdom Come are so well-crafted that he easily earns a spot on the list.

2. Frank Quitely

Remember what I said about Sale and Loeb being magic? Well, that goes triple for Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. See that picture above? Why did I choose that instead of something like New X-Men and All Star Superman? Because you already know those are great, but you may have never heard of We3. You should definitely read it because it’s fantastic, and that’s what every project is that Quitely works on. His art is truly unique and I mean that in the best possible way. Quitely handles everything, action, facial expressions, and emotion, all of it, like the master he is. The only reason Quitely isn’t number one is because his art has greatly evolved into marvelous beauty within the last five years. My number one, however, has always been at the top of his game.

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1. Jim Lee

I never thought Jim Lee would be my number one. It makes sense; Batman is my favorite hero, so it’s only natural that the quintessential Batman artist is my favorite. Lee has always demonstrated greatness. Whether your first experience was X-Men, WildC.A.T.s, Batman, or even way back to Punisher War Journal, you were probably impressed. He’s worked on a few bad projects, sure. That won’t stop you from gazing at his beautiful interiors though. Why do you think All Star Batman and Robin is a best-seller? Its gloriously groundbreaking dialogue? I think not. Whether the words accompanying his art were good or not, I’ve always enjoyed Lee’s renderings immensely.

So there’s the list. I doubt you’ll agree completely. “Good art” is purely opinionated. I only wish that if you haven’t heard of one of these talented men (Why isn’t Amanda Conner on the list?), you’ll go check them out. Hopefully, you’re in for a treat.

-Bruce Castle

Review: Dark Ivory #4

Dark Ivory #4 (of 4)

(****)

Let’s see, this mini is four issues long and the first one came out about a year ago. Oh and this isn’t an ending, it’s a beginning. That’s a window into the life of a Linsner fan. The man likes to take his time even when he has a cowriter and cocolorist. Having said all that, does the art look great? Absofuckinlutely! This series looks gorgeous! It’s what keeps me coming back of course. Although after these delays I may have to wait for the trade next time…maybe.

How was the writing? Good, but not great. This final issue was filled with exposition. That’s not a good sign. However, among the few writing missteps lie surprisingly relatable and lovable protagonists. I’m far from a teenage goth girl, but I’m still very fond of Ivory. I’m also absolutely thrilled with the way her relationship with Samson ended up. It’s a bit sappy, but I’m always a sucker for realistic romance. When you’re constantly bombarded by superficial dribble from movies, television or even other comics, these kinds of connections are always refreshing.

So if you’re a Linsner fan, I’m sure you’ll be pleased. If you’re looking for an unconventional coming of age story with vampires and sublime art, you should give this a try.

Bruce Castle Presents: Censorship Sucks!

All Star Batman And Robin The Boy Wonder #10 (Variant Cover Edition)

All Star Batman and Robin #10 (**1/2)

I have a lot to say about this, but I’ll try to keep it brief. Remember when I talked about the altered cover in my Action Comics #869 review? Probably the reason for the change was because it came out in the same week as this fiasco. This is a Batman comic that contains numerous F bombs and C words. Here are some of the actual words and enjoy this original page as well. Did I mention that these words and actions come from a 15 year old girl? Miley Cyrus eat your heart out! I think this is more proof that Frank Miller is not writing a Batman comic. This should be an Avatar book. I think people would accept it more. I feel bad for Jim Lee. He has to draw kids groping testicles now?  Jim Lee should be on a different Batman book and Frank Miller should write some indie books. Despite all of this nonsense, I’ve actually enjoyed most of this series. The stories are absurdly fun and Lee’s art looks gorgeous! Speaking of pretty art, isn’t that Frank Quietly cover cool? This issue still looks marvelous, but I can’t say I enjoyed Miller’s writing. This is packed with horrible noir monologues. Analogies, similes, and metaphors used to sound hardcore. Ugh! This issue took so long to read and yet the plot barely moved forward. Lee produces pure beauty and Miller’s writing isn’t completely horrible, but this was disappointing and some shame should go to DC for the editorial misstep as well.

War Heroes #2, Tommy Lee Edwards Variant

War Heroes #2 (***1/2)

How many of you were pissed when you heard that a Kick-Ass movie will be released only a few months after the comic series ends? Well, Mark “Sellout” Millar does it again! It seems War Heroes will be a movie too. At least they waited until issue #2 came out right? Ok, let’s talk about this issue. What does this have to do with censorship? It contains full-frontal male nudity of course. I know Mark Millar likes to shock people, but this is too much. I remember reading that Millar was going to put anal sex and cumshots in Wanted, but J.G. Jones talked him out of it. I guess Tony Harris couldn’t do the same. A friend of mine who has a nine year old daughter flipped out when he saw this issue on the shelves for kids to see. I’ve also heard on the “Internets” about some trouble that shop owners are having. Do comic distributors deserve blame? I don’t think so, but that’s me. Anyway, Tony Harris is the star of this series. I think Millar knows that too. This is your basic boot camp issue only with superpowers. Instead of putting weapons together they construct planes, instead of lifting weights they lift tanks and so on. This issue is fun and there are some shocks, like the aforementioned penis, but the story isn’t anything spectacular yet. If you’re a fan of Millar’s writing and especially if you like Harris’ art, you should give this book a try.

This inspired my title. Isn’t it awesome? Joe Linsner rocks!