Miscellaneous Monday: Feb. 9, 2009

OMG! IT IS THE 45th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST AIRING OF THE SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH

This three-part Disney’s Wonderful World of Color “mini-series” changed my life. Not only because of it features probably the first historically fictional character to right wrongs in a mask and alter ego, but because I can still sing the theme song 45 years later. Check out the post HERE and HERE for more details.

Cover art by Rick Leonardi

Cover art by Rick Leonardi

THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF NEW FANATIC HEADERS

I’ve asked several times for fans of this fanatic website to submit new headers to replace the pictures of Clint “Hawkeye” Barton that graced the top of this page yesterday. Well, take a look at this first effort. I think it is terrific. The anonymous fan that submitted it wanted me to know that the particular comics that are featured all had special meaning to him.

These were titles that fired his imagination and drove him not just to read more about these particular characters, but to plunk down more and more money for other comic books as well. I think we all have titles like that. Someday I’ll blog about mine (some more), but for today, I’m just going to bask in the glow of this new Fanatic header and encourage others to send me their fanatic headers for use here (exactly 770 X 200 pixels).

Cover art by George Freeman

Cover art by George Freeman

Cover art by Mike Mignola

Cover art by Mike Mignola

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FANATIC QUIZ QUESTION OF THE WEEK

What do these three comic titles have in common: Jack of Hearts #1, Rocket Raccoon #1, Cloak and Dagger #1? I’d like to give a tip of my hat to old friend Steven Grant, but this particular Fanatic “what is the connection” isn’t nearly as hard as the powerful brain-teasers that he provides on his regular posts called Permanent Damage over at Comic Book Resources. I don’t read Steven’s column there as regularly as I should, but I almost always enjoy them. Grant’s one of the most interesting guys in comics, IMHO.

All three are Marvel Comics, all three are first issues in a mini-series, neither of those facts are the answer I’m looking for. What else do they have in common? Yes, they are all printed in color … try harder than that.

 

Nothing cooler than a Colan Daredevil cover

Nothing cooler than a Colan Daredevil cover

FANATIC QUIZ QUESTION ANSWER FROM LAST WEEK

Last week, I asked about creators that used pseudonyms on their work. Here are the list of creator real names and the pseudonyms that they occasionally used. To see the original question, click HERE.

(1) Jack Abel is also (f) Gary Michaels

(2) Gene Colan is also (a) Adam Austin

(3) Steve Englehart is also (e) John Harkness

(4) Mike Esposito is also (d) Joe Guadioso

(5) Frank Giaoia is also (g) Frank Ray

(6) Gil Kane is also (c) Scott Edwards

(7) Jerry Siegel is also (b) Joe Carter

 

FANATIC BLOG OF THE WEEK

The Kid’s Comic Book Reviews

Okay, I understand that comic book review sites and blog are valuable to a lot of people. Valuable to the writer who wants the world to think his/her opinions are important and feels the need to tell the world about it. Valuable to the reader who doesn’t want to plunk down his/her valuable three dollars (or more) on a comic that you can find out on the internet how crappy it is. Valuable to creators and publishers who use the review process to introduce curious readers to good comics they might not have discovered on their own. 

Your 7-year-old blog reviewer

Liam, your 7-year-old blog reviewer

Despite these wonderful uses, I’m not really attracted to comic book review sites or review blogs, but here is the major exception to the rule. There is something primal that happens when the child within you has been satisfied by an entertainment experience. It is one of the reasons that most of us continue to read comics. Well, this blog goes right to the source. 

In this blog, you get to see comics through the eyes of a child or in the words taken directly from the blog’s sidebar, “The ‘Kid”s secret identity is Liam, my son. He really wanted to do this. My involvement is limited. He talks and I write. Liam picks the books he wants to read from the store each week and we read the books together, discuss them afterwards and then he does his reviews. The choice of what books to review will be his, not mine.

I’m letting a 7 year old boy go loose in the comic store every week in the hopes he/we can provide readers with a different perspective on some of today’s comic books. Maybe you don’t have kids but think it’s interesting to find out what a grade-schooler thinks about them? Maybe you do have kids and this column can provide you with some insight on what to seek out on your next trip to the comic shop?”

Check it out … and tell Liam you were sent by the Funny Book Fanatic.

 

TRAILER FOR TORCHWOOD FOUND ON THE INTERNET

Torchwood: Children of Earth Official Trailer

I love me some TORCHWOOD, that quirky little science-fiction, action-adventure, cop, alien, Dr. Who spinoff television series that I watch whenever it airs on BBC America. If you read and like modern comics (okay, maybe just the color ones), then I think you’re going to like Torchwood. I loved it from the minute I first saw it. It looked great, even though sometimes the special effects didn’t quite make American TV-feature film levels. It features a fabulous looking leading man, playing a character that is extremely strong, but also aggressively bi-sexual. 

The best thing about Torchwood for me is that the drama is all anchored in the characters, less so with the plot. My early favorite episode (which was quickly replaced as I got deeper into the series) featured an ending I’d never seen in heroic fiction. The hero and his team were faced with a seemingly invincible foe bent on kidnapping a small child. The team’s science, weaponry and occult experts were working furiously to solve the problem. Meanwhile the leader is convinced that their enemy will wreak havoc on the whole planet until the child has been taken. So, to save the planet, our intrepid hero gave the child to the villains and saved the planet. Gotta admit, you don’t see that very often.

If you like great TV, I order you in the most FANATICAL way possible to find past episodes on DVD and get caught up quickly before the third season starts to air.

 

PHOTOSHOP, COMICS, MALIBU AND STUFF

Give Your Photos a Retro Comic Book Effect

originalphoto

Original image by Rubén Colorado

This is a terrific description of how to take a perfectly good photo and through the use of Photoshop, make that photograph look (sorta) like a comic book page from before the days of Photoshop. I suppose this has some nostalgic uses, but comics really haven’t looked like this for a very long time now. I wonder if someday in the far flung future, this won’t be referred to as a “comic book” look anymore. 

There was a time when Malibu Comics (where I was publisher) was at the forefront of using Adobe Photoshop for the coloring of comic books. Malibu wasn’t the only people doing it, but we certainly were near the front of the “movement.” Plenty of others were using a wide variety of other programs. Steve Oliff was the best of these, creating incredible effects through the use of color filled polygons of various sizes and shapes.

phototofunnybook

Once the partners at Malibu had decided to jump into the deep end of the Photoshop-coloring-comics pool, we soon realized it was going to take a long time and extensive training to get the editors and other staff familiar with the software. If we were going to use the software, talk to people using the software and be able to reasonably understand what the software could and could NOT do, we were going to need some help.

So we found a local company that was giving lessons in “How to use Photoshop.” Every editor, assistant editor, production person plus partners Tom Mason, Chris Ulm and myself were enrolled in the class. We took off a full day of work one Friday and all went together to learn how to use Photoshop. In those days, Malibu couldn’t afford to have its entire creative staff take a day off. We were releasing about 30 books per month back then, just to keep the lights and the bills paid. But we made the commitment. 

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We had high expectations for this class. Learning complicated software from an expert was sure to be a good learning experience for all of us. Well, it turned out to be a lot LESS than we expected. The woman who taught the class was nice, but the entire curriculum was designed around how to take the picture of a daisy and alter its appearance using Photoshop. Only about 25 percent of the class information applied to how we were planning to use Photoshop, but it was a start.

And that 25 percent put the entire staff of Malibu Comics ahead of 95 percent of everyone else in the comic industry. Everyone else caught up pretty fast, because you can’t keep a genie like that in the bottle very long.

From 10 of us sitting in a room with an instructor, a bunch of computers, an overhead projector and a photo-file of a daisy, Malibu eventually had a battery of computer work-stations and colorists working three shifts (just like factory work) to produce all the Ultraverse, Bravura, Star Trek and other comics that came from through the Malibu Coloring Department. Eventually each eight hour shift even had its own codename that was used in the credits of the comics and contributed to positive team building … until 1995 happened and the Marvel caved in the roof on the whole operation.

That’s my version of the story.

          – Dave Olbrich (DWO) Mon. Feb. 9, 2009

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5 Comments

Filed under Fanatical History, Miscellaneous Monday, Point-of-view

5 responses to “Miscellaneous Monday: Feb. 9, 2009

  1. Thelonious_Nick

    I think having Liam review comics is a great idea. What I wouldn’t have done to have that deal when I was 7 years old! Anyway, I have a nearly 4-year old now who loves Uncle Scrooge and Spider-Man (and has taken a strange interest in comics I have with the Man-Thing on the cover). It might be useful to see the comics every week reviewed from a child’s-eye view.

  2. Wow. Thanks for the great mention on your blog. It’s quite the honor to be recognized for being the blog of the week and Liam was very excited to hear about the news. What a great way to start the week!

    He and his brother have always been fans of ‘geek’ culture and their love of comics has grown to include a love of reading and writing in general, which is the most beneficial aspect of it all, in my opinion.

    After almost 8 months of doing these, Liam doesn’t seem to show any signs of losing interest. In fact, this weekend he got to attend the NY Comic Con as a ‘Professional’ and has some great experiences which will be written about shortly.

    Thanks for the support and the kind words about the blog. It’s very much appreciated.

  3. Tom Mason

    “…until 1995 happened and then Marvel caved in the roof on the whole operation.”

    Although there’s a strong reality-based case to be made that Marvel had already staked Malibu to a couple of strong re-launch attempts – supported by lower cover prices, advertising programs, access to Marvel characters and creators, catalog placement and stuff like that – that Malibu orchestrated. Fans and retailers responded with results that spoke very clearly, plus the direct market was in freefall during that time. Marvel, which had its own financial problems at the time, simply stopped putting money into a division that wasn’t succeeding and showed no signs of a needed short-term turnaround. Had DC’s bid to buy Malibu been successful, the Ultraverse might still be limping along and you’d see Prime or Hardcase relaunched every 9 months or so instead of Stormwatch.

    Now, when will the Disney Channel put on The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh again so you, me and Guzzo can totally geek out?

  4. MAN! When was the last time you saw a cover as cool as that Colan Daredevil? I remember buying that of the newsstand (yeah, I’m old). There was, and will never be anything better than a 1960’s-early 70’s Marvel comic. Those are the books that formed my desire to do this for a living.

  5. Hmmmm, Covers in common. Each has a character “shooting” something. Lot of Magenta color in the background on all covers. Or maybe all but Cloak have the “leg spread” action move going on. ?

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