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Batman: The Killing Joke ad

6 Dec

by Mike Hansen

With all the recent noise about a newly discovered page from The Killing Joke that was redrawn to be less graphic (and no, in no way does this imply that the Joker is a rapist, you sick bastards: she was shot in the belly), I thought I’d post this cool ad I came across recently from 1988:

Batman: The Killing Joke ad

I dig the logo – it wasn’t used in the actual comic. I wonder who designed it.

(Count me as one of the readers who prefers the original fantastical colors to the 2008 edition’s recoloring. The original colors added another dimension to the storytelling, while to me the newer colors give the book a more flat, illustrative quality. I like them both, but I’d rather read a comic than just look at the pretty pictures.)

Upgrade or Downgrade? Black Orchid Deluxe hardcover

4 Dec

by Mike Hansen

Black Orchid Deluxe HCI hadn’t intended to do another Up-or-Down so soon, but I’ve gotten several requests for more, and since they’re easier to do as I’m organizing my comics and cleaning up my place, why not?

As I’ve mentioned, in the late 1980s-early 1990s DC Comics was on to something truly special. Few publishers at the time were turning out classic after classic (Dark Horse is the only one that comes to mind) and, though I was too young to appreciate it at the time, DC proved beyond a doubt that comics post-Watchmen/Maus/Dark Knight Returns were validated as true literature.

One of DC’s earliest projects to demonstrate this was 1988’s Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, one of their first U.S.-published comics works (along with The Sandman). A strange, short tale about unintended consequences and beauty in a violent world, Black Orchid was the first story to reveal the sophistication of Gaiman’s later self-contained works (his early Sandman stories were strange, cliffhanger- and superhero-populated affairs) and McKean’s sense of story-as-design he later applied to Arkham Asylum and Cages.

Black Orchid TPB 1st printing

The 1993 trade paperback (1st printing). Note the DC logo blotching an otherwise beautiful cover.

THE GOOD: The 2012 oversized Deluxe hardcover edition of Black Orchid is Continue reading

Cool Art: World’s Finest ad by Steve Rude & Karl Kesel

3 Dec

by Mike Hansen

Here’s a preliminary version of Steve Rude’s cover to World’s Finest (1990) #1. Unlike the final, painted version by Rude, this ad version is inked by Karl Kesel and traditionally colored.

To the best of my knowledge, this version has never been collected in any DC book: I know for sure it wasn’t in the original 3-issue miniseries or the recent Deluxe Edition hardcover (I’ve never owned the older trade-paperback collected edition, but I’d be surprised if this was in there).

Anyway, cool art, huh? This is pretty much exactly how Superman and Batman should look, especially in comics aimed at kids under 18. (Remember when superhero comics were aimed at kids?)

World's Finest ad

Upgrade or Downgrade? Animal Man Omnibus

2 Dec

by Mike Hansen

Animal Man OmnibusOkay, this is gonna be a quick one, since I’ve been away… I’ve been recovering from a rather inconvenient surgery (minor skin cancer, fortunately quite curable), so apologies for my infrequent posting over the last few months. One of the few things I’ve been able to do easily over the past several weeks has been to FINALLY organize my comics collection, so expect a lot more stuff in the near future. Onward!

The Animal Man Omnibus is 99% perfect. The story contents remain an essential touchstone for mainstream comics’ transition to more mature and deconstructionist material, and made Grant Morrison (The Invisibles, All-Star Superman, New X-Men, Doom Patrol, Batman, JLA, etc.) one of comics’ biggest names. (John Byrne did a fun, goofy take on a main character that knows it’s a fictional comic-book character in Sensational She-Hulk, which was published at about the same time as this Animal Man material – but Byrne’s mastery of old-school, 1960s/70s-inspired comics storytelling hasn’t received the same accolades as Morrison’s innovations.)

Secret Origins #39 cover

A missing Animal Man piece that’s finally been reprinted.

THE GOOD: This book features Grant Morrison’s entire run on Animal Man, including Animal Man #1-26 and a story from Secret Origins #39. Morrison took a ridiculous character (a guy in orange tights who gains the powers of animals) and built the perfect story around him, one that breaks down the entire idea of the role of superhero stories. The story is a must-read for anyone who appreciates a mature take on the frankly immature superhero concept, and has a permanent place in comics history.

Extras include all Continue reading

A Very Special Thor Poster

6 Nov

by Mike Hansen

Seen in China:

Thor The Dark World chinese poster

They look adorable together, don’t they?

Source

Quote of the Day

6 Nov

“I didn’t even know that my health insurance has a $75,000 limit. If I got my legs cut off by a train or if my wife had her head chopped off by a helicopter and needed a head transplant, we would be screwed. Those operations are expensive. So my insurance is getting canceled and we’re getting a cheaper policy with no limit. I can now be eaten by a giant army of ants and I will be covered. So there.”

- Tony Millionaire (Maakies, Sock Monkey, Billy Hazelnuts, etc.)

Upgrade or Downgrade? Hellblazer: Original Sins

19 Sep

by Mike Hansen

Hellblazer: Original Sins (1st printing)

Hellblazer: Original Sins (1st & 2nd DC Comics printing)

Occasionally, I’ll buy more than one edition of a graphic novel. Sometimes it’s by accident (which is surprisingly easy when one has thousands of books!); sometimes it’s because the newer one looks like a better version…

After a big move five months ago, I’ve finally gotten around to organizing my comics again, and I’ve discovered a LOT of duplicate material in some of my books. So as a Public Service, I thought I’d share what I know, so you can make a more informed decision on which books to buy. I’m a giver.

I’m starting with DC/Vertigo’s Hellblazer books, as I’ve managed to amass most of them over the last 21 years. It’s one of the best horror comics series of all time, so if all you care about is whether it’s good the answer is YES. Hugely imaginative, massively influential, the stories of John Constantine remain as potent today as they did when they were first published over the last 26 years. Even the character’s creator, Alan Moore, has praised the work of writers Jamie Delano and Brian Azzarello on the series, despite his general hatred of DC Comics.

the 1993 Warner Books edition

1993 Warner Books edition

(It’s a shame that DC decided to incorporate its “mature” characters back into its New 52 superhero line. If only DC knew how to properly manage its intellectual property and branding, instead of taking an “all or nothing” approach to its company-owned material, draining the life and power out of ideas that now fall far short of their potential. I’m grateful that a large enough audience exists for the “real” John Constantine so the Hellblazer stories can continue to be reprinted.)

I’ve given DC Comics a hard time a lot lately (because, let’s face it, that company has done a shit-ton of stupid things in public in the last few years – hell, in the last few weeks), but the company hasn’t survived for over 75 years by being stupid all the time. The DC of today doesn’t Continue reading

Comics Cat supports free speech

21 Aug

by Mike Hansen

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Comics Cat approves of my new CBLDF membership card. Basement Cat looks on approvingly.

Have you donated to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund lately? Support free speech and protect your fellow readers, retailers, creators, and publishers from those who think they know better than you what belongs in comics.

Words ‘n’ Pictures: signage

17 Aug

by Mike Hansen

Found on the internet a long time ago…

(I’m not sure of the sources of these; if anyone knows please share and I’ll give credit where it’s due!)

Family chart Baby Changing Station

The Beat Down! page 6

15 Aug

by Mike Hansen

Writing by me, artwork by Elvin Hernandez, lettering by Amador Cisneros!

(I should mention that these are the pages produced for our limited-edition teaser comic that we debuted at Comic-Con: although they appear to form a complete sequence, several are actually cherry-picked from the full 24-page script so Elvin could choose the best pages to show off his skills in time for the Con. There’s a LOT more that we haven’t shown you yet – but hopefully we will soon.)

Click to make bigger:

The Beat Down p6 lettered inks low-res

Here’s some more of Elvin’s character-design work:

Spots & Sister Samuretta designs 150dpi

Punchy the Party Clown REV 100dpi

Continue reading

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