Archive for marvel comics

chalkboard photo post: new year, new drawings

Posted in chalkboard drawings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

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.

thrift store finds: sectaurs – warriors of symbion #1 (marvel comics)

Posted in thrift store finds with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

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.

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odds and ends: ipad comics, alf comics, lego haunted house

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

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 ComicsALF! 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?

the chromium age: guardians of the galaxy #39 (marvel comics)

Posted in the chromium age with tags , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

I started collecting comic books in the early 1990’s, a boom period for the industry. Comic companies were selling millions of comics to eager readers and were orchestrating bigger and bolder marketing resources to these sales. Multi-part crossovers between comics made massive financial demands on readers’ attentions. Superstar creators were given free reign. Perhaps most interestingly, the use of “gimmick” covers to goose comic sales became the norm.

Gimmick covers were a huge part of my initial time collecting comic books. It’s a trick the book publishing industry often employs to get casual book browsers interested in a cover. I particularly remember how every V.C. Andrews’ book seemed to have some kind of die-cut design, begging to be picked up off the shelves and investigated.

In 1992, I was eleven years old and easily impressed… but even so, my interest in these goofy variants did not last long.

I’m going to take a couple of days out of my thrift store finding to look at these gimmicks. Why were they employed? Did they have anything to do with the story? Do they stand the test of time? To be clear, I won’t be going too in-depth with the actual content of these books. By and large, I’m simply going to be judging these books by their covers. As an English teacher, I’m somewhat loathe to do that… but c’mon. These comics are BEGGING to be prejudged!

Today we’ll be looking at Guardians of the Galaxy #39, written by Michael Gallagher with art from Kevin West.

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thrift store finds: a handful of modern era comic books

Posted in thrift store finds, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

I don’t buy a lot of new comic books at thrift stores.

Please understand, “new” is a very flexible term when you’ve been reading comic books for twenty years. I define new as being anything published in the last ten years… but your mileage most certainly will vary on that definition. I don’t harbor many prejudices against the modern era of funnybooks; there have been some very awesome comics made in that time span. It’s just, as a personal preference, I don’t normally pick up stuff from that time period. They are books I had access to when first published. I passed on at the time, I don’t feel any particular need to pick them up now.

Recently, our local New2You Thrift Store received a huge collection of modern era comic books- most of ’em Marvel and DC. Somewhere mixed in between all the issues of Cable and Extreme Justice, I came across a couple of gems.

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odds and ends: lance ward, journey into mystery

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 13, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

I’ve lately been enjoying the comics of Lance Ward, and I highly recommend you check ’em out. Ward’s comics are like a stream of consciousness commentary on the awful, embarrassing, and dangerous things to happen to him in his life and they are ridiculously compelling.

One of the things I really enjoy about Ward’s work is how the sketchy, loose drawings work entirely in service to his telling his stories. The artwork accompanying these tales is seems rushed, like Ward was jotting it down as fast as possible lest he loose his nerve to get some of these awful things on the page.

At the same time, it’s clear that a lot of work went into the composition of these comics. I like the way Ward draws himself today (bald, bearded, and bespectacled) versus his younger self. It gives his pages a nice visual balance. The use of watercolor is about as subtle, but also really wonderful. Check out these two posts side by side and notice how bled-out the first one seems, where Ward is in the hospital… versus the second set, where he’s starting to come out of his stupor, and the vibrancy of the color.

At any rate… really good stuff.


At the complete opposite end of the comics spectrum, read the first seven issues of Marvel ComicsJourney Into Mystery and I’m totally hooked. Writer Kieron Gillen has (with a host of artists including Doug Braithwaite and Mitch Breitweiser) created a comic book that is cerebral and action-packed at the same time.

The book focuses on the reincarnated version of Loki, the classic Thor villain. In Journey Into Mystery, Loki has been de-aged through his resurrection and cast as something of a hero protagonist, making his way while most (quite rightly) assume he is the same thoroughly evil character. Gillen doesn’t exactly dissuade this notion, as he has Loki often behave in an arrogant and divisive way…. despite his often good intensions. Loki is often portrayed as abrasive and this creates some wonderful tension. Gillen explores both the Norse mythology and the mythos of the Marvel Universe wonderfully; this may seem high praise, but JoM reminds me quite a bit of DC ComicsSandman for its’ inspires spins on previously established comic book myths.

I realize that last sentence contains some high praise indeed… but unfortunately, Journey Into Mystery has a couple of superficial strikes against it on comic stands. For one, it’s a spin-off of a big crossover series, one that wasn’t widely loved by comic fans. The covers for the first few issues look EXACTLY like the covers for Fear Itself. I could see some readers keeping their distance because of that fact. I hope that’s not the case though, because it’s a surprisingly fun comic series.

odds and ends: asm&w and motu

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , on March 30, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

Just a quick note: I owe y’all one comic from this week (allergy attack!) but besides that one, no comics next week. I’m on spring break. I will be posting some sketchbook stuff and perhaps a run-down of a comic book show I’m attending this weekend. Besides that, my plans are pretty tenuous. Visit with my mom, perhaps sleep in a day or two. If I get those things done, Spring Break 2012 will have been a roaring success.


I recently picked up a hardcover copy of Marvel Comics’ Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine for my classroom.

I’ve been pulling back from ordering straight-up superhero collections for my classroom of late. I love ’em, the kids love ’em… but I already have quite a few. I made an exception on ASM&W for a couple of reasons, but chief among them was the books’ writer. I’ve enjoyed Jason Aaron‘s writing in the past (specifically on his Vertigo series Scalped) but many of my students went crazy over Aaron’s run on Wolverine a few years ago, when my friend Delano donated a bunch of single issues to the library. I thought it would be nice to have a hardcover collection of the writer’s, given that his work was such a hit in issues.

Aaron works with penciller Adam Kubert to bring two very disparate characters together for a time-spanning, dimension hopping adventure and the duo produce some really fun comics. Aaron comes up with some crazy ideas (Doom the Living Planet! The Phoenix Gun!) and Kubert executes them handily. It’s goofy, rollicking stuff. The problem is… the work doesn’t collect well. By that I mean… the work collected in this hardcover is CLEARLY six individual issues of a comic, with some through lines in regards to plot and character. It is not one gigantic, cohesive story really.

That’s not a slight! I like reading individual comic books, more than I enjoy reading trades. I bet ASM&W read wonderfully well in six chunks. When you bind them all together however… it seems scattershot.


I like to think I’m not one of those fathers who crams his interests down the throats of his children. So often, I see parents who INSIST their sons and daughters love the same things they love- I’m thinking specifically of those moms and dads who outfit their kids head to toe in clothes lionizing their favorite professional sports team. I worry that I’m going to be like the parent described in this hilarious news piece from The Onion.

I say that  because, emphatically, I want you to believe I did not plan on having my sons become obsessed with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

Sure, I have exposed them to the property a couple of times… but I had never gotten around to showing them the animated series, despite it being readily available for streaming on Netflix. I avoided this because, real talk, the cartoon is HORRIBLE.

Filmation, the animation studio who produced MotU, was masterful at cutting corners with the show. The same ten or twelve stiff cycles of animation are used over and over again, applied in slightly different ways. I honestly don’t mind the rotoscoping, but when the same sequence is repeated three times in a 22 minute period? Forget it. The stories are dumb and rarely make up for the limited animation, although the handful of episodes written by scribe Paul Dini prove the exception to the rule. Dini’s contributions are the least intellectually insulting and offer a fair amount of characterization.

Of course, those limitations didn’t deter me from loving the cartoon as a child and it hasn’t stopped Elliot or Henry either. On a lark, I showed them an episode and told them, “This is what Daddy used to like when he was your age.” The fervor with which they’ve taken to He-Man and company has, quite frankly, surprised me. They spend long afternoons in the backyard, swinging sticks around and yelling “By the Power of Greyskull!” They’ve been playing with my old MotU toys like crazy. They’ve started requesting He-Man stories at bedtime, including these two previous Thrift Store Finds.

It’s a little weird, seeing my kids so invested in something I loved so much back in the day… especially given the adult realization that the show is pretty shoddy. Despite that, I have to admit… there does seem to be some essential aspect to the cartoon that makes it appealing to kids, both yesterday and today.

thrift store finds: snl’s coneheads addendum

Posted in thrift store finds with tags , , , , , , on March 10, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

In last week’s TSF, I wrote about my enjoyment of a random issue of a Coneheads mini-series Marvel Comics published in the mid 1990’s. I tweeted about it to the book’s penciller, MAD Magazine‘s Tom Richmond.

Well, Mr. Richmond kept his word and posted a blog about his work on the book!

I was very interested to read about the contributions of inker Marie Severin to the overall look of the book, and Tom’s perspective on where he was as an artist during the book. It’s good reading and you should check it out.

Plus, Tom refers to me as a “cartoonist” in the post which is patently untrue, but absolutely made my Friday regardless. Thanks Tom!

thrift store finds: saturday night live’s coneheads #3

Posted in thrift store finds with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

Today we’re looking at Coneheads #3, written by Terry Collins with art from Tom Richmond and Marie Severin. Coneheads was published by Marvel Comics in 1994; original cover price was $1.75, I happily paid a quarter for this beauty.

Great Renior parody, right?

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odds and ends

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , on February 17, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

On a long car ride a few weeks ago, Ellen and I decided to listen to an audiobook reading of The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.

Given the nature of the mystery, audiobook is probably not the best way to experience The Westing Game if you’ve never read the book before. However, if you’ve never read The Westing Game before, you’re already doing yourself a great disservice and should remedy that immediately. It’s absolutely terrific and deserving of all the accolades that have been heaped upon it in the last thirty-odd years. An elaborate murder mystery where nothing is as it seems, Raskin introduces a sprawling cast of characters and services them all admirably. I suppose I was most surprised by that fact on listing to TWG with Ellen. Raskin has about 14 characters checking in and out of the story at regular intervals and it never feels she’s given any of them the short shrift.

Also: listening to The Westing Game, all the while knowing the solution to mystery, was a wonderful experience. It really gave me the chance to appreciate how elegantly Raskin lays in all the clues. I enjoy a good mystery but am mindful that many don’t play fair with readers. Crucial bits are often left out or glossed over- not so with Raskin’s prose. The clues and elements of the mystery come together so beautifully, it’s a joy to appreciate.

This time around, I found myself truly appreciating how Raskin dealt with things like racial and religious identity in the book, although she keeps these things on the back burner. I was far more affected by the elevator scene between Jake Wexler and his uppity, social-climbing wife Grace this time around. Perhaps the excitement of the main mystery purposely pushes these ideas to the background, but I liked that they were there to begin with.

After finishing the audiobook and doing some light Googling, I was shocked to find out The Westing Game was made into a movie back in 1997 under the title Get a Clue. I’m going to try and track it down, solely because I cannot fathom how this book could work as a movie. Without giving too much away for people who haven’t read it, so much of the main mystery hinges on assumed identities. it would be ridiculously easy for a viewer of a Westing Game movie to cut through the detective work to single out an actor or actress in a bad wig or mustache pretending to be another character.


From one end of the literary spectrum to the other, there hasn’t been a website/blog I’ve loved more this year than Full House Reviewed.

Although I have grown a little weary of the “everything sucks so let’s pile on it!” mentality of the internet, I do enjoy well-written snark. FHR fits the bill on that. Taking an admittedly stupid but defenseless target and pummeling it mercilessly yields hilarious results here. I love the way the author makes no bones about how he hates the show, hates the characters, and would much rather be doing a blog on Family Matters, but no one ever released every season of that show on DVD.

Although it’s not Full House related, children of the 1990’s MUST check out the guy’s expose on The Top Ten Saved by the Bell Background Characters. Making fun of SbtB is, at this point, well-trod ground but this post finds an exquisitely hilarious hook in noticing the show re-used several characters over and over again to fill the background scenes. This is something I remember noticing as a kid and just sort of deciding to suspend my disbelief.


One last thing: I’m on the record as thinking, as a comic book character, Ghost Rider is one of the sillier concepts every to gain mainstream traction. That being said, just because it’s not my cup of tea doesn’t mean that the character doesn’t have  his fans. Hell, there’s a big budget, 3D movie coming out today featuring ol’ GR!

Garry Friedrich, the creator of Ghost Rider, has been engaged in a protracted legal battle with Marvel Comics over the ownership of Ghost Rider. Last week, the ruling came down in Marvel’s favor. It’s a somewhat sticky situation, but one consequence of the ruling is Marvel demanding $17,000 dollars from Mr. Friedrich. They are also asking that he no longer say that he’s the creator of Ghost Rider. Even though… you know… he did have a firm hand in creating the character.

Writer Steve Niles has set up a PayPal account where people can donate some money to Mr. Friedrich. Again, I’m not a huge fan of the character AND this situation isn’t exactly cut and dried but… I tossed a couple of dollars the guy’s way. You may want to as well.