Sunday, April 28, 2013

Defending Sue Dibny

After reading Colin Smith's analysis of the writings of Mark Millar at Sequart, I was poking around the site sampling some of the other articles and came across a piece written about a year and a half ago entitled "Defending Identity Crisis," in which author Cody Walker responds to then recent criticism of  Brad Meltzer's comics debut in an interview with Grant Morrison and a blurb on comics news site Newsarama. Despite my passionate hatred of that particular mini-series, I went ahead and clicked on the link, determined to give  Mr. Walker's views fair and open minded consideration, though I knew that nothing he could say would convince me of the merits of Identity Crisis.  What I did become convinced of was that I needed to address some of the points that Mr. Walker makes here on my own blog.  
Before proceeding any further with this post, I urge you to give Mr. Walker's piece a read
To continue, then...
Mr. Walker does not, as he quite rightly chastises the Newsarama piece for, put forth statements unsupported by any evidence.  However, the evidence he offers up is the evidence of his own experience, which, if the evidence of my own experience is to be trusted, is hardly typical.  
What Mr. Walker fails to offer evidence for is his assumption that simply because he has apparently never read an Elongated Man solo story, or Justice League Europe for that matter, and thus was unfamiliar with the very existence of Sue Dibny and had no previous emotional investment in the character prior to reading Identity Crisis, that the same somehow holds true for every reader of that mini-series.   Actually, Mr. Walker's lack of knowledge of Ralph Dibny's marriage, which to me is intrinsic to the basic concept of the character, leads me to believe that Identity Crisis was, in fact, his first exposure not only to Sue Dibny but to the Elongated Man himself.
Returning to my own experience, I had been aware of Sue ever since I first read of her and her husband's travels in the back pages of Detective Comics. In fact, I believe that my first exposure to the characters was the story in Detective #465 in which, perhaps ironically, the Elongated Man first met the Calculator, another character revamped by Meltzer in Identity Crisis, where the author turned the previously somewhat silly villain into an evil counterpart to Oracle.  
What made me truly love Sue, however, was the work of plotter Keith Giffen and his scripters, J.M. DeMatteis, William Messner-Loebs, and Gerard Jones, on JLE.  Over the course of three years on that title, Giffen and his collaborators crafted a delightful and witty portrait of an equal and loving relationship between two mature, intelligent adults.  Thus, contrary to Mr. Walker's contention, it was not the strength of Brad Meltzer's writing that made me  mourn his unneccessary sacrifice of a character of whom I was, in fact, a fan, despite Mr. Walker's assertion that such people had not existed prior to the publication of Identity Crisis.  
As to Mr. Walker's statements about the quality of Mr. Meltzer's writing, once again the only evidence he offers is that of his own perceptions.  These are his opinions and he has every right to them, despite the fact that I vehemently disagree with them.  What Mr. Walker sees as powerfully moving, I see as cheap, cynical, manipulative and exploitive.  One of the most egregious, and commonly cited in other critiques of the series, examples of Mr. Meltzer's shameless excess is that  Sue's death in itself was apparently not tragic enough, so Mr. Meltzer had to add the detail that prior to her death she was going to tell Ralph  that she was pregnant.
That, by the way, is also an example of Mr. Meltzer's cavalier disregard for what had been previously established about the characters of which he wrote.  Nowhere in any of the Dibnys' previous appearance had it ever been mentioned that the couple had any interest in having children.  It also seems to promote the rather old fashioned notion that procreation is the sole and proper purpose of marriage, but that's really a can of worms for another post, although I probably won't be the one to write it. 
What I can refute is Mr. Walker's clinging to the outdated and discredited notion that violence, cynicism and darkness are needed to make comics "adult" and "real."  In the real world, adults do certainly experience more than their share of dark times and even perhaps violence, though for most people, fortunately, such times are the exception rather than the rule.  Most of us do not allow them to define us or our world.
J. M. DeMatteis' run on Dr. Fate is, to me, the most eloquent refutation of the idea of darkness as realism that I've ever read.  While it has its share of violence and darkness like any super-hero comic, the overall tone is one of optimism and hope. Yet, I consider Dr. Fate to be one of the most "adult," by which I mean emotionally mature, comics ever published. 
Identity Crisis is no more "real" than any other super-hero comic.  After all, how "real" can a story be when among its protagonists are a guy who can run faster than light, a women who weaves magic spells by speaking backwards, and a man who uses a magic ring to create giant green boxing gloves and its villain is a guy who makes weapons out of solid light and wears a costume that includes a fin on top of his head.  Honestly, by attempting to make the heroes more "real", Identity Crisis, in many cases, ends up making them look kind of silly.  Rags Morales' realistic rendering of Ralph literally melting in his grief over his wife's death is less moving and affecting than utterly ridiculous looking.
Furthermore, I don't really see how Mr. Walker can name Grant Morrison as his "hero" and yet still hold such a view.  Most of Mr. Morrison's super-hero work has been a reaction to and refutation of the notion that darkness and violence equal "adult."  In fact, as early as Animal Man #26, the final issue of his first American comics run, Mr. Morrison, appearing in the story as himself, tells the book's title character, "We thought that by making your world more violent, we would make it more 'realistic' more 'adult.'   God help us if that's what it means.  Maybe, for once, we could try to be kind."  Since then, his work on such titles as Flex Mentallo, JLA, and All-Star Superman has been dedicated to recapturing the child like joy and sense of wonder and awe that he feels super-heroes should inspire.  Even Doom Patrol, by far Mr. Morrison's darkest super-hero work, champions the strange and wondrous over the dull mundanity and clockwork order of the "real" and "adult" world.
And now, I, heeding the words of Mr. Morrison, shall endeavor to be kind to you, my readers, and end this rant now.  Thank you for your attention up to this point and good day.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Let's See How Much I Can Write About This One Photo From SPACE

Damn.  Sarah (girlfriend of frequent Gutter Talk commenter Jonathon Riddle) was right.  I was rockin' some SPECTACULAR hair last Sunday. She'd probably hate me if I'd have told her all I did to it that morning was wash it, blow dry it and run my fingers through it a couple of times.  Or maybe not.  She doesn't seem like someone who's overly concerned with hair and make-up.  That's not to say she's unattractive, but that she strikes me as neither vain nor vapid.  
Anyway, the above photo is, as you may have surmised already, of me and Canada Keck at the Sunday Comix table at the 14th annual Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE) last weekend.  (Canada's the one wearing the dress.)  I like the way the word balloon in the Sunday Comix logo is pointing at my mouth.  I don't think that was intentional, but its a nice effect anyway.  This picture, by the way, was taken by Michael Neno, and you can see more of his photos from the show on his own blog.
To my right on the table are copies of The Sunday Comix Jam-iversary, the new collection of jam comix that we debuted at the show.  To my left are the bags of comics donated by the other exhibitors which made up the prizes in our raffle to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  Thanks to the generosity of the exhibitors and patrons at SPACE this year, Sunday Comix was able to donate over $200 to the AFSP.
I'll be back to updating this blog soon, I hope.  I haven't quite been inactive the past week, however.  We of Sunday Comix are already planning our next publication, which we hope to have ready for next year's SPACE.  This is going to be an anthology comic with proceeds also going to the AFSP.  I'll have more details as the project evolves.
Meanwhile, I did pick up some comics at the show and I'll be writing about some of those here in the future.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

UPDATE: Sunday Comix at SPACE

I'm dashing this post off before I head out to the Ramada Plaza Hotel (4900 Sinclair Road in Columbus, OH) for the second day of the fourteenth annual Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE).  I will again be mostly at the Sunday Comix table pitching the various comics for sale there, including our latest collection of jam comics, The Sunday Comix Jam-versary, celebrating the group's tenth anniversary.  When I wrote about this book a couple of days ago, I posted some preliminary cover art, but now I can show you the finished cover.  So if you're heading out to the show today, look for this cover:

Also, we of Sunday Comix are once again holding a raffle at the show with the proceeds to be donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  As the show opened yesterday, Canada Keck hit up all the exhibitors for donations to the prize pool, and came back to the table with enough booty to fill six gift bags.  Yesterday we held three drawings, raising over one hundred twenty dollars.  Today, we plan three more throughout the day.  So, if you're at the show, stop by and get a ticket or several.  We're selling them for two dollars each or a strip of 12 for ten dollars.  The money will be going to a good cause and one that is very near to the hearts of the members of Sunday Comix, you get a shot at going home with a collection of some of the best comics being done today. 
I hope to see you there.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Stories Within Stories at "World's End" (Sandman and Related Topics)

Sandman is a complex and multi-layered work, with all sorts of themes and motifs and subtexts running through it.  One of the most prominent  and most often discussed being that is a story about the power of stories; a celebration of tales and their tellers.  This theme comes to the fore most forcefully in the "World's End" story arc/collection of short stories. 
Tim Callahan, in his post on "Brief Lives" at, noted that the series, at least as collected as a series of numbered trade paperbacks, broke down into a pattern of what he dubbed "quest, aid, potpourri."  That is, there would be a story focusing on Morpheus in which he went on some sort of quest, such as his efforts to regain his symbols of office in the series' initial arc, then a story in which the Dream King was essentially a bit player in someone else's story, as in "A Game of You", then a collection of one issue shorts like Dream Country or Fables and Reflections.  In monthly form,  Neil Gaiman mixed it up a little more, with the stories that made up Fables and Reflections appearing both prior to and following "A Game of You." He goes on to note that as the series entered its second half, the pace quickened.  "Brief Lives", for example, was, according to Callahan, a combination of "quest" and "aid" stories.  Morpheus was featured prominently, but it was really Delirium's story.  Now, as I write this I have not yet read Mr. Callahan's assessment of "World's End," though by the time you read it I will have, but he may well note therein that "World's End" mashes together the "aid" and "potpourri" categories.  It is essentially a series of one issue short stories, though connected by an over arching framing narrative.  (Update: As it turns out, Callahan says nothing of the sort.)
The frame story focuses on co-workers Brant Tucker and Charlene Mooney, who are driving home late at night when they are caught in "reality storm."  Apparently, the storm has been caused by a big event of such cosmic significance that it causes ripples throughout all realms and times.  In our world in 1993, it manifests as a freak June snowstorm that, along with the appearance of a strange, otherworldly beast in the middle of the road, causes Brant to crash Charlene's car into a tree.  Seeking help for himself and his wounded companion, Brant is directed by a mysterious disembodied voice to the Inn at World's End.  The inn is people by other refugees from many worlds and eras who have also been waylaid by the storm.  The wary travelers while away the time entertaining each other by telling stories, most of which happen to feature Morpheus in a small role.
As the reality storm abates, the refugees look out the window of the inn to see the sky dominated by giant, ghostly figures marching in what appears to be a funeral procession.  Whose funeral isn't explicitly stated.  However, the mourners are members of the Endless, denizens of the Dreaming, and characters from previous stories.  So, I guess its rather obvious for whom they mourn.  This ethereal funeral foreshadows the next, and final, big story line in the series, "The Kindly Ones."
As a story in itself, "World's End" is somewhat insubstantial. It provides a bit of a respite before Gaiman begins the process of tearing down all he's built up over the course of the series in "The Kindly Ones."  As a collection of shorts, it has its hits and misses.  The weakest installment, unfortunately, is the tale of a man trapped in the dream of a ghost city that starts off the story telling session.  The highlights include a rousing tale of high adventure told by Cluracan of Faerie and a high seas adventure featuring Morpheus' immortal friend, and, as I mentioned previously, my favorite character in Sandman, Hob Gadling.  "World's End" is also the Sandman arc that included Gaiman's much talked about revival of the goofy Bronze Age character Prez. 
As I am not the most original or insightful thinker you are likely to read, I shall assume that I am not the first person to note that the structure of "World's End" resembles a set of Matryoshka, or Russian nesting, dolls.  Those are the dolls that contain a smaller doll inside, with the smaller doll itself housing a still smaller doll and so on.   "World's End" is very much like one of those dolls, with multiple layers of story.   There's the main story of travelers trapped at the inn by the reality storm.  Then there's the stories told by the refugees to amuse themselves.  Most of those stories have within them a character who stops to tell a story.   The penultimate chapter of the arc takes this to an almost ridiculous extreme.  The story told by Petrefax of the Necropolis Litharge contains several stories within it.  In one of those tales, the teller encounters Destruction, the prodigal sibling of the Endless, who, it just so happens, has his own little story to tell. 
It kind of sounds like you could get lost in all those multiple layers of story an reality. However, "World's End" is really more straightforward and much less confusing than I probably made it sound in the previous paragraph.  It is possible, of course, to get lost in lost in Sandman, but mostly in the good way of becoming so totally absorbed in the story that the real world just sort of fades away for the few minutes that you're reading it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hey, Guys! Can I Play, Too! (X-Men #117)

In the past couple of weeks, two blogs that I follow on a regular basis, Bronze Age Babies and Comics Bronze Age, have run reviews of X-Men #117, so I'd thought I'd join in the fun and take a crack at it myself. I've got two copies of this story on my bookshelves.  One is in the first volume of Essential X-Men and the other is in a pocket sized mass market paperback in the "Marvel Illustrated Books" line that reprints this issue and Giant Size X-Men #1.  For this review, I chose to read the story from the Essential volume, as that was closest to the experience of reading the original comic.
I love those old mass market paperback reprint comics, and have a small but growing collection of them.  My one regret from my excursion to Gem City Comic Con is that I had to leave a few of these that I needed for my collection lying on the dealer's table because it was late on Sunday afternoon and I only had so much money left and I wanted to pick up those Bloom County collections that  were on sale for half price at another dealer's  table.  Still, as much as I love the mass market paperback comics, they really aren't the ideal way to read a comic.  Due to the smaller page size, and to keep the panels readable, one page of a comic is spread out over two or three pages of the book.  Panels are rearranged, shrunk, sometimes cut in half, and often omitted altogether to make the story fit.  I originally read Fantastic Four #31 in this format and, until I reread in Essential Fantastic Four Volume 2, I had no idea the Avengers appeared in the story because their cameo was omitted completely.  I have seen some that just shrink the whole page down and run it otherwise unaltered, but that makes those comics much harder to  read, especially for my aging eyeballs.
So, I was meant to be talking about X-Men #117, wasn't I?
Since I had the Essential reprint, I decided to start reading with #111 in order to place #117 in context.  The story is, after all, more or less an epilogue to the series of stories that began with #111.  It begins with Hank McCoy, a.k.a. the Beast of the original X-Men, on leave from the Avengers and searching for the missing new X-Men.  He finds them working in a circus, having been hypnotized by their old foe Mesmero into forgetting who they are.  No sooner do they escape from Mesmero's influence than they are captured by none other  than Magneto who has defeated Mesmero.  Magneto holds the team prisoner in his base beneath a volcano in Antarctica.  Yes, some villains have hide outs in the Antarctic, and some have secret lairs in volcanoes, but Magneto is so bad-ass that he had both at once.
Our heroes escape from Magneto, but during the climactic battle Magneto's Antarctic volcano HQ is destroyed.  Hank and Jean Grey are separated from the rest of the team.  Hank and Jean make their way back to the Xavier  Institute, while Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus and Banshee end up in the Savage Land.  Each group assumes that the other died in the explosion of Magneto's lair.  
In the Savage Land, the X-Men battle their old foe Sauron, then team with Sauron's human self, Karl Lykos, and Ka-Zar to battle Garokk the Petrified Man and his high priestess Zaladane.  
Leaving the Savage Land by boat, the X-Men encounter a storm, and that's where "Psi War" in #117 picks up.
Believe it or not, all that took place in only six issues.  (Of course, Bob Haney could have squeezed all that into just one issue.)
As "Psi War" begins, the tempest tossed mutants are rescued by the crew of a Japanese ship.  The ship's on a secret mission, so the X-Men are forbidden from attempting to contact Professor X.  Thus, back in the states, the Professor, Jean, and the Shi'ar majestrix Lilandra still believe the team to be dead.  Jean decides to leave the school and get on her life, and Lilandra is trying to convince Charles to fly off to deep space with her.  Charles, meanwhile, is quite understandably feeling a bit melancholy as he reflects back on events in his past that eventually led him to form the X-Men.  
After getting out of the Army and being dumped by Moira MacTaggart, Charles had found himself wandering around Europe and eventually ending up in Cairo.  Its there, after having his pocket picked by the young Ororo, a.k.a. Storm, that he encounters his very first honest to goodness evil mutant. Amahl Farouk hits Xavier with a brain blast to get his attention, leading Charles to a seedy saloon where the two meet face to face.
After rejecting Farouk's offer to join him, Charles battles the evil telepath on the psychic plane.  Things look bad for Charles for awhile, but eventually he reaches a new mastery of his own psychic powers that allows him to defeat Farouk.
Back in the present, after telling his tale to Lilandra, Charles decides to take her up on her offer and accompany her back to the Shi'ar homeworld.
After the breakneck pace of the previous six issues, this flashback tale provides a bit of a breather before things get hectic again when the X-Men arrive in Japan next issue and face off against Moses Magnum.  "Psi War" is an excellent single issue tale that really marks the beginning, in a way, of Chris Claremont's decade and a half of fleshing out the characters of the X-Men and  turning them into believable, real seeming people.  One way he did that throughout his tenure on the title was, as with this issue, by fleshing their pasts.  He shows the characteristic Marvel respect for Continuity (that capital "C" was originally a typo, but I realized that its kind of appropriate for the Marvel Universe's approach to the subject) by acknowleding an earlier tale of Professor X's past from X-Men #20, Roy Thomas' first issue as writer, and building on that without in any way contradicting it.
The entire run of issues I mentioned above, from #111 onward, are the work of two creators, Claremont and penciler and co-plotter John Byrne, at the height of their talents working together to produce some of the finest comics of the Bronze Age.  Byrne had begun drawing the book with #108 and #111 was the first where he is credited as co-plotter.  However, I'm guessing he was perhaps co-plotting from the get-go, as #109 features the first appearance of Byrne created character James Hudson, called Weapon Alpha in that issue, though he would later be known as Vindicator and eventually Guardian.  Byrne certainly hit the ground running on X-Men, and the quality of the stories improves one hundred percent as soon as he's on the book.  In fact, when I pick up Essential X-Men Volume I, I usually skip right to #108, despite the fact that its the conclusion of a two-parter.  
The late Dave Cockrum gets my respect for reviving X-Men from five years of reprint limbo (despite what is generally reported, the title was never actually "cancelled",until just last year that is.  Marvel just stopped producing new material for it for half a decade yet continued to publish it  containing reprints of the older stories.)  with writers Len Wein and Claremont, and co-creating and designing the new characters introduced in Giant Size X-Men #1.  However, to be frank, I've never been a really big fan of his work.  There's nothing really wrong with it.  He's a competent and professional artist.  It's merely a matter of personal preference.  His art just doesn't appeal to me for some reason. 
Claremont, meanwhile,  spurred on to new heights by his collaboration with Byrne, really hit his stride as a writer with this story arc.  The conventional wisdom is that X-Men has never been as good as during the Claremont/Byrne era, and I tend to agree with the CW in this case.
So, now that I've done my take on X-Men #117, I'm throwing down the gauntlet to any other comics blogger who wants to take up the challenge.  Who's going to be next?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New Sunday Comix Jam Collection Debuting at SPACE

Not Quite Final Cover
This year marks ten years that Columbus cartoonist group Sunday Comix has existed, and to mark this event I baked a cake for our tenth anniversary meeting.  I also helped put together, with fellow SC member Canada Keck, who, to be honest, is doing most of the work, a new collection of the jam comics we do at our meetings.  The cake is gone now, but The Sunday Comic Jam-iversary will debut at SPACE this coming weekend. In addition to the comics, I've written a history of the group that will appear in the back of the book, accompanied by photos from our meetings. 
Also at the Sunday Comix table will be our earlier jam comics collections Sunday Gold and Blue Sunday, the more story based jam Jamtastic Foray and the fundraiser anthology for the Hero Alliance, A Bowl Full of Happiness.  In addition comics by various of our members who don't have their own tables will be on display and for sale.  Sunday Comix members  with tables of their own include Max Ink, Michael Neno, Alex Heberling and Michael Carroll and probably a few others I'm forgetting at the moment.
I'll be spending some time at the table, and I look forward to seeing some of you there.
To whet your appetite for the new collection, here's a couple of the jams that will be included:
Click to enlarge--Read and enjoy!
Click to Enlarge--Read and Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Rings of Akhaten

In this post, I'm going to stick to giving my opinions of last Saturday's episode of Doctor Who.  For a summary of the episode, click here.
Saturday before last at the blog Bronze Age Babies, authors Doug and Karen, as they occasionally do, left the days topic up to their readers.  The first commenter, who happened to be me, decided that he wanted to talk about Doctor Who, as the seventh series was resuming that evening.  One of the later commenters criticized the current incarnation of the series as being "awash in sentiment."  While I wouldn't say this applies to the first four seasons under Russell T. Davies, I would agree that for the Matt Smith era with Steven Moffat in the center seat (yes, I know--wrong SF franchise) it certainly holds true. 
Our friend at BAB seems to think that this is a universally bad thing.  For me, it depends on whether its appropriate within each individual episode.  the sentimental ending of " The Angels Take Manhattan", for instance, would have been totally fine if the rest of the episode had made on damn bit of sense.  In the case of the latest installment, "The Rings of Akhaten", on the other, the sentiment totally works. Its not overpowering or overwhelming and is totally appropriate in the context of the story.
Just now, I condemned "The Angels Take Manhattan" for not making sense, and I'll admit that the leaf of infinite possibilities device upon which the conclusion of this episode's crisis rests does not, in the real world, make much sense, either.  However, it makes sense within the context of the story and the universe of Doctor Who in a way that much of "Angels", especially the Statue of Liberty as giant Weeping Angel bit, did not.  There Steven Moffat sacrificed story sense for the sake of a cool visual.  "Rings of Akhaten" has plenty of cool visuals, especially the view of the Akhaten system and the Doctor and Clara riding a space-tobaggon to the rescue, but these effects serve to enhance the story rather than leave the viewer scratching his head trying to make sense of it all.
As I mentioned last week, I was sort of expecting this episode to be the new Neil Gaiman written story featuring the Cybermen.  According to my sources, that episode is scheduled for sometime in mid-May.  This week we were treated to the writing of a different Neil.  This is Neil Cross' first work for Doctor Who, and the first thing I've ever seen from him.  He turns out to be a fine writer in his own right.  This is, in my opinion, the best episode so far of the seventh series and probably the best Doctor Who story since Gaiman's "The Doctor's Wife" early in series six.  Apparently, Cross has another episode coming up later in the series and I look forward to seeing it.
This Saturday--Ice Warriors.  On a submarine.  A Russian Submarine.  In 1983.  Sounds like it could be cool.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Me and Irwin

As I mentioned back in my wrap-up of my weekend at Gem City Comic Con, among the many comics fans wandering the Wright State University's E.J. Nutter Center dressed in the costumes of their favorite comic book super-hero was one who had chosen to don the guise of Irwin Schwab, a.k.a. the Ambush Bug.  At my urging, Canada Keck, with whom I was manning the Sunday Comix table, retrieved her camera from her car and I fetched Mr. Schwab to our table to pose with me for the photo which appears below.
For those of you who may not be familiar with Ambush Bug, or me, for that matter, the Bug is the green one and I'm the one wearing the scarf.
Now, if I can only get a picture of me with G'Nort, I could die happy.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

2012 SPACE Prize Winners

As of today, we are six days out from the fourteenth annual Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, a.k.a.  SPACE.  For those who don't know, SPACE is annual gathering of small press and alternative comics writers, artists and publishers held every spring here in Columbus, Ohio.  This year's show will be held this coming weekend at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Conference Center located at 4900 Sinclair Road from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
One of the highlights of any SPACE show is the presentation of the SPACE Prizes. From a pool of books submitted by the exhibitors at the previous year's show, SPACE organizer Bob Corby narrows the field down to ten finalists in three categories. 
The Web-Comic category honors comics published on the web in the twelve month period preceding the show at which they are submitted for consideration.
The Mini-Comics and Short Story category covers comics up to five and a half by eight and a half inches and no more than twenty-eight pages in length, as well as short stories from anthology comics that are no more than sixteen pages long.
The General category is for full size and larger and longer comics.
The finalists are submitted to a vote by a panel of two judges in each category and the SPACE exhibitors, whose decision is counted as one vote.  Once again this year, I was one of the judges, this time in the Mini-comics/Short Story category.
The winners of the 2012 SPACE Prizes, to be presented at an awards ceremony at one o'clock Saturday afternoon are:

1st Place:
A tie between:

Kiss & Tell A Romantic Resume Ages 0 to 22

Katherine Wirick
No One is Safe

3rd Place:
Wild Child #1 Fight or Flight


1st Place:

And Then One Day #9

2nd Place:
Tony Goins and  Andy Bennett
“The Only Two” from Panel #18

3rd Place:
As Eavesdropped #3
1st Place:

Katie Valeska
2nd Place:
3rd Place:
Bianca Alu-Marr and Steve Peters

Friday, April 5, 2013

Carmine Infantino (1925-2013)

I'd been outside smoking and returned to my apartment to hear Carmine Infantino being talked about on All Things Considered.  Unfortunately, it turned out that the reason Infantino was being mentioned on the NPR news program is that he died yesterday at the age of 87.
Born in 1925, Infantino began working in the comics industry while still in high school.  His greatest impact came in the 1950s through to the 70s.  In 1956, he co-created with writer Robert Kanigher a new version of the DC's moribund super-hero The Flash.  The revamped character's debut in Showcase #4 is widely considered the event which initiated the Silver Age.  
When the Flash was given his own title soon after, Infantino continued delineating the speedster's adventures until 1967.  Late in his career, he would return to illustrate the final five years of the Flash's comic.  Overall,  between his two stints on the title, Infantino ended up drawing fully half of the character's Silver and Bronze Age adventures.
Infantino's first go-round on Flash ended when he got "kicked upstairs" in 1967,  becoming first DC's first artistic director, then editorial director and finally publisher.  He stepped down as publisher in 1976 and returned to freelancing.
It was as editorial director in 1970 that Infantino helped to bring to a close the very Silver Age he had kicked off with the first Flash story  when he lured Jack Kirby away from Marvel over to DC to create his Fourth World titles.  Many people, myself among them, consider Kirby's defection to signal the beginning of the Bronze Age.
In addition to The Flash, Infantino is best known for drawing Adam Strange and the Elongated Man, initiating the "New Look" Batman in the mid-60s, and a run on Marvel's Star Wars comic.  He also drew the very first Deadman story.
A more complete account of Infantino's career and a full list of his artistic credits can be found at the Comic Book Database.

Monday, April 1, 2013

"Panels In Pink" Comes To Wild Goose Creative in April

"Panels In Pink: A Celebration of Female Comics Creators" is a new exhibition  spotlighting the work of several female comics artists and writers, mostly from in and around the Central Ohio area.  The exhibit, produced in co-operation with Columbus cartoonists group Sunday Comix and curated by SC member Canada Keck, will be adorning the walls of local arts space Wild Goose Creative, located at 2491 Summit Street, from now until the end of the month. 
Among the creators represented are:
  • Lora Innes
  • Mari Naomi
  • Katherine Wirick
  • Suzanne Bauman
  • Bianca Alu-Marr
  • Katie Valeska
  • Alex Heberling
  • Maryanne Rose Papke
  • Molly Durst
  • Crystal Ash
  • Brandy Foster
  • Sue Olcott
  • Caitlin McGurk
  • Meg Syverud
  • Erin Ash
  • KT Swartz
  • Lis Huey
  • JL Smither
  • Kira Keck
  • Canada Keck
  • Thor Mannly III*
An artists' reception, sure to be attended by many of the talented women listed above, is scheduled for April 29 from 6 until 9 p.m.  I hope to see you there!
* I threw in that last totally made up name as a joke because today is, after all, April Fool's Day.  The rest of this post is entirely on the level.  So go see the exhibit, already.