I draw a picture of myself on my classroom’s chalkboard everyday. I collect those pictures as camera phone photos and post them on Sundays. See the rest here.
In the inaugural week of 2013′s Christmas Comics Cavalcade, we’ll be looking at Force Works #8, a holiday themed issue of the superhero team series published by Marvel Comics in 1994.
This book was written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, with art from Stu Johnson and Don Hudson.
It’s weird to think this in 2013 but The Avengers haven’t always been such a big deal. While the team is now the preeminent name in superhero comics and movies today, the property had major ups and downs over the years. The early to mid 1990′s were a particularly fallow period for Avengers comics creatively… which is from whence this week’s yuletide-themed comic hails.
By the mid-1980′s, The Avengers’ place as the center of the Marvel Universe had been usurped by The Uncanny X-Men and its’ various spin-offs and successors. By the early ’90′s, the various X-titles had become sales juggernauts. Force Works seems to be the Avengers’ answer to the success of X-Force. The title was meant to replace West Coast Avengers and high concept for the book was a trope that genre comic writers rake up every few years: the proactive superhero. Force Works was to be the team that stopped disasters WAY before they happened rather than waiting for the super-villain to attack. This approach is rarely successful; much of the fun of superhero comic is in the over-the-top theatrics; covert teams seeking to circumvent that process rarely generate a lot of interest from readers.
This was the 1990′s, remember – most comic readers (myself included) would buy ANY new comic series that had a number one issue… even better if it had some kind of cover enhancement. For the record, Force Works #1 had a pop-up 3-D cover that was one of the stupider of those things.
…but we’re not talking about Force Works #1… we’re talking about #8, and look at that cover! Surely everyone can anticipate what this comic’s going to be about before you even begin reading it, yes? That distinctive pointy cowl… that suggestive hand posture… even the phrasing on the book, “Guess Who’s Coming to X-Mas Dinner?” C’mon. That’s Wolverine, y’all! Wolverine was a big goddamn deal in the 1990′s and just a brief cameo from the character would shoot a book’s sales into the stratosphere.
I hit up the Half-Price Books Black Friday sale every year. My main goal is to pick up stocking stuffers for Ellen and the boys but I have to admit, I indulge pretty heavily in some buying for myself. This year, although they stuck with the standard $5 gift certificate for early bird shoppers, HPB switched things up a bit. Whereas the store normally offers a blanked percentage off your entire purchase, this year you could either get 40% off one thing… or $15 bucks off of a purchase of $50 dollars. I went with the latter sale and above are a few of my purchases.
Elektra Lives Again is an out of print hardcover; although the material has been reprinted in some Daredevil collections, it hasn’t been presented in this original, oversized edition since 1990. That was good enough for me. Although Miller’s Batman work remains some of my favorite superhero comics, I have to admit, I haven’t read much of his Daredevil run – an isolated issue here or there is about as far as I’ve gotten. I will say this: the book is absolutely GORGEOUS. This was right before Miller started working primarily in black and white over at Dark Horse and as such, the last time Lynn Varley’s coloring really did anything for me. Super glad to have this big book in my collection.
I was excited to locate a copy of Spaceballs: The Book published by Scholastic Press under their Point imprint in 1987. The book was written by “Jovial Bob Stine” who we all know from my previous Thrift Store Find post on movie storybooks, is in fact Goosebumps writer R.L. Stine. I especially wanted a copy of Spaceballs: The Book because it’s clear the people behind this effort were completely in on one of the biggest jokes of Mel Brooks’ send-up… the omnipresent marketing machine behind Star Wars. This paperback looks like it came straight from the scene on Yogurt’s planet (“Spaceballs-the T-shirt, Spaceballs-the Coloring Book, Spaceballs-the Lunch box, Spaceballs-the Breakfast Cereal, Spaceballs-the Flame Thrower”) and that’s kinda cool.
Finally, I picked up Batman: Chaos in Gotham for the GameBoy Color… although I’ll be playing it on my GBA:SP. Batman’s weathered some fairly awful games over the years but most of his carts for the GameBoy system are surprisingly solid… and Chaos in Gotham is no exception. It’s a side-scroller with puzzle elements and it’s clear the design team went the extra mile on this one. The animation of the Batman sprite is fluid and appealing. He has a variety of moves and weapons and although I haven’t played very far into the game, there’s apparently a great level variety, with driving stages added into the mix later on.
Happy Almost Thanksgiving, everyone! This week, we’re looking at Beavis & Butthead #11, published by Marvel Comics in 1994.
Cover price was $1.95, I paid a quarter. This book was published under the Marvel Humor banner, which later morphed into Marvel Absurd.
Although The Simpsons gets the lion’s share of credit for the reemergence of animation in prime time television during the 1990′s, it’s important not to underestimate the contributions of MTV during this time. MTV’s Liquid Television was a shining beacon of adult-level animated entertainment. It was also a proving ground for many future prime time animated efforts like Aeon Flux (good), The Brothers Grunt (awful), and most popularly, the dim-witted duo Beavis and Butthead. B&B were an unstoppable, omnipresent juggernaut during most of the 1990′s, with their long-running cartoon, the much-hyped big-budget movie, and the plethora of licensed materials for sale in stores.
For those who do not remember the concept, Beavis and Butthead are two incorrigible teenage idiots who are motivated by hormones, television, and food… in that order, pretty much. The animated series divided time equally between the boys’ stupid adventures and time spent killing brain cells in front of the TV watching music videos, in a wonderful “bite the hand that feeds them” stroke of comedy, on MTV itself. The Marvel Comics follows much in the same mold.
I’ve slowed up on posting chalkboard drawings lately. Man, if you think there’s some repetition in my teaching comics (“Why does he do Romeo & Juliet strips every year around January/February?” you ask yourself) you haven’t seen anything compared to a lot of my chalkboard drawings.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but this is one of those aspects of my classroom that has really suffered thanks to my extended schedule. Having said that, I just bought myself a pack of COLORED CHALK so things are going to get crazy here in the next few weeks.
Or not, who can say? I decided the chalk’s maiden voyage would be to draw the Fantastic Four. I’ve done these characters before, but never in color!
This week, we’re looking at Marvel Novel Series: Doctor Strange -Nightmare written by Robert Rotsler with a beautiful painted cover by Bob Larkin.
I paid $5 bucks for this book. I know, that’s an unusually high price for me when it comes to thrift store shopping but there’s a reason!
Marvel Comics had a much wider readership amongst college students in the 1960′s and ’70′s than other superhero comics. The company’s stable of heroes are far more down to Earth and relatable than DC Comics‘ pantheon of gods and goddesses. Marvel superheroes often dealt with real world issues like drug abuse, the war in Vietnam, and even civil rights. If I had to guess, the Marvel Novel Series was an attempt to corner that appeal in a more adult-friendly package.
Consisting of eleven paperbacks published throughout the late 1970′s, these books took the familiar Marvel Universe characters and propelled them into long format prose tales. While some of the books included adaptations of previously written comic stories, the majority were originals featuring Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America and others.
I chose to look at Nightmare for a simple reason: it’s the only book in the series that features Doctor Strange.
This week at the CCC, we’re looking at Terror Inc. #8, published by Marvel Comics in 1993.
Cover price was $1.75.
I debated long and hard as to whether I wanted to continue posting my chalkboard doodles for the upcoming school year. After three years solid of Sunday postings, I’ve done just about every character or situation I can think of. Further, I often draw the EXACT same drawings, year in and year out. It’s the nature of the job. Just as I teach Romeo & Juliet to every new group of Freshman, I’ll continue drawing myself as various superhero characters on the blackboard.
I’ve decided to keep posting these however, because… quite simply, they’re popular. I understand very little about “site views” and all that jazz, but when I do look at that widget, these are always amongst the most viewed of my posts… and that includes the comic. Over the past six months, a number of these have become popular on the website Pinterest. I know less about Pinterest than I do about site views, but if people are liking something I do well enough to share it somewhere, I should probably keep doing it.
Anyway, here’s the first drawing of the year. I decided I wanted to go big for the first week so I designed an elaborate Welcome piece for the Class of 2016 which took up the entire space of the classroom’s chalkboard.
I have to be honest- this was a larger undertaking than I anticipated! I thought I’d only need a half an hour to draw this beast, but it took double that when you figure in the sketch planning I needed to do to fit in as many characters as possible. I tried to run the gamut of cartoon characters that I found interesting and were relevant to someone who’d be in 9th grade this year. The only one I might have missed the mark on is Yakko Warner, but as established this summer, the characters are making a huge comeback, if only with my sons in our house.
Today we’re looking at Sectaurs: Warriors of Symbion #1, published by Marvel Comics in 1985.
I paid like a quarter for this comic.
Through Netflix and some of the Masters of the Universe Classics action figures, my sons have become interested in He-Man in the last few months. He-Man was a legitimate phenomenom in boys’ toys. Like any phenomenon, there were legions of imitators looking to cash in on the market Mattel had created with their toys. Some were every bit as successful; Thundercats comes to mind as a property which was probably a bit better than He-Man in concept and execution.
Others were not.
I wanted to make two awesome recommendations to those of you who read comics on your iPad or tablet devices.
Cartoonists Kevin Cannon (Far Arden) and Zander Cannon have launched Double Barrel, a digital comics initiative where the two are serializing their new comics along with a bunch of sketches and letters from readers. Double Barrel is effectively a streamlined comics magazine and it’s AWESOME.
I’ve already written here about my love of Far Arden; it was hugely popular with my students two years ago and I’ve been anxiously awaiting Kevin Cannon’s follow up, Crater XV.
For $1.99, you get 122 pages of content. This thing is gigantic and the creators are crazy talented. As much as I was looking forward to Crater XV, I think I enjoyed Zander Cannon’s oddly sentimental horror riff Heck just as much as the new adventures of Army Shanks. Download through whichever comics app you like (I prefer ComiXology, but there’s iBooks and the Top Shelf app, off the top of my head)
Also from Top Shelf, this week sees the release of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 2009 by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill.
The summation of Moore and O’Neill’s Century storyline, this book has a bunch of people up in arms over Moore’s appropriation of a certain incredibly popular boy wizard character, refashioned by the author into the Antichrist. As far as I can tell, the work Moore does is all above board and not legally compromising, but I love the tightrope he and O’Neill walk with every new installment of LoEG. I get that a lot of folks are a little tired of the “winky winky” allusions to popular media, but I’m not and 2009 is my favorite book in the series thus far.
I opted to read 2009 on my tablet for three reasons. One, like I said, I’m a sucker for this series and when Top Shelf inevitably collects the first two books in the Century series (1909, 1969) with 2009, I’m going to buy that big collection. I don’t need the individual trades and the big collection. Two, for a book like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the “on panel at a time” format most comic readers use is ideal, because Kevin O’Neill packs SO much detail and hidden jokes within his pages, it’s nice to be able to appreciate each one up close. Three… you get 84 pages of content for $4.99; the print version is $9.99.
Folks who follow my Twitter feed might already know this, but I happened on a great Half-Price Books find this past Monday.
Fifteen issues of Marvel Comics‘ ALF! I did a comic/sketchbook page about my love of ALF comics and how elusive they are to me. I’ve been looking for two years and I’ve happened on two… maybe three ALF comics in that time. To hit the motherlode like this? What a great day. I wish I was being sarcastic there.
I’m not going to go into any depth about my love of ALF today, opting instead to save those accolades for a later post… but I thought you’d want to see these comics in all their majesty.
I am seriously considering dropping $180 dollars on this.
Set for release this September, the Haunted House LEGO playset is a thing of wacky beauty. Part of the company’s Monster Fighters series, this is exactly the LEGO playset I wanted when I was a kid, but at that point the LEGO was just getting around to making castles, not elaborate Addams Family style abodes.
I can justify this purchase by saying it will become an annual Halloween decoration in our house, right?