Every year I attend New York Comic Con more and more fans cosplay. It’s tough picking favorites but the ones that made me squee the most were Death from East of Westand Steven Universe and his mom as Garnet. Oh and here’s my post about my Sailor Moon (aka Sailor Goon), Space Dandy and Spike Spiegel cosplay.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Nick Dragotta
Colors: Frank Martin
Publisher: Image Comics
People of color are underrepresented and misrepresented in comics (we should all know that by now). However, there are some creators who do diversity right. (Quick shout-out to the creators of Chew, Saga and Nowhere Men, to name a few.) This issue of East of West took it a step further and not only had an issue full of black folk, but it gave them depth and realism.
East of West is a crock-pot that’s brewing an oncoming apocalypse and each issue is an ingredient. Because of this, there isn’t much progression in the story, just more world expansion and history lessons. The newest ingredient is the black Kingdom of New Orleans. This is where Jonathan Hickman does the black experience justice.
Too many black characters in comics are what I like to call “happenstance black”. Their blackness has little or nothing to do with the character’s personality. They are the token black character. Don’t get me wrong, just because a character is black doesn’t mean everything about that character should do with race and racism. But it cannot be ignored either.
The King of New Orleans mentions that the other nations call blacks “oilmen, like it was a slur”. This was a smart way to add an aspect of racial realism. Even the last name of Jonathan Freeman gives the reader more insight into this family and their core values. But these are not simply race-related plot devices just for the sake of it, they blend effortlessly with the story.
East of West shows us that it’s possible to incorporate the black experience into a comic in a genuine way… if you give a damn.
So there I was, at New York Comic Con sitting in the front row of the Grant Morrison panel waiting for it to start and buzzing with excitement, when I glance to the man to my right and saw Grant’s face on his arm! I freaked out (in a good way) and switched seats with my friend to ask him all about his amazing Grant Morrison tattoo. After we bonded over Grant for a bit he showed me even more comic book tattoos that he had. Jackpot!
Tattoo Tuesday is one of my favorite things to blog about. I love tattoos and geek things and love it even more when they combine. As I’ve said many times, Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles is what got me into reading comics. He blew my mind and changed the way I thought about a lot of things. So when I saw Shane’s tattoo, I knew Grant must have affected his life in an amazing way and wanted to hear all about it. By the way, Shane’s middle name is Bruce Wayne. Yeah, pretty awesome.
Tattoo Tuesday Featurette Interview with Shane:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m 23 years old, from Westchester, NY. I’ve been reading and collecting comics since the age of 5 (no joke I bagged and boarded my comics and organized them alphabetically at that age) I love the geek/comic culture and have always dreamed of working in the industry.
What are your tattoos of, and why did you get them?
I started getting tattooed at the age of 15, mostly traditional old school work, mainly because as far back as I could remember I’ve always seen myself with tattoos. So it’s more about evening out my outer appearance with my inner. Recently I’ve only been getting comic related tattoos and its all I really plan on getting from here on out (besides a descendants one I got last month) because it really describes who I am and what I’m about.
I’ve been tattooed by multiple artists over the years, now I strictly stick with my dudes, Vicente Guizar at House of Ink in Mt Vernon and Dan Mountain from Ink Studio also in Mt Vernob
Any plans for future tattoos?
Absolutely I’m currently working on a Batman half sleeve which I’ve been planning since as far back as I can remember. And many more to come after that.
I met you at a Grant Morrison panel and judging by your tattoo of him, he’s made a big impact in your life. Can you explain how Morrison’s work has affected your life?
I feel that Grant is the most influential and controversial writer of our time. His work really saved my life. I first started reading his work on Animal Man but discovered who he actually was when he was doing The Invisibles, then became a die hard fan around the time he started his epic run on Batman. His work has been influential to me and something I really hold dear. As a person he’s very positive and spiritual which I really admire. I believe people these days need to focus on the solution and not the problems, and to practice love in all our affairs.
Which authors and comics have been most influential in your life and why?
Besides Grant, I grew up loving Mike Allred’s Madman, Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.S and most of all Chuck Dixon, Frank Miller, Jim Starlin and all the other Batman writers of the 90s, that’s what really got me into comics and shaped my favorite character for me growing up. I really enjoy obscure characters and have a total dude crush on Namor the Submariner. Geoff Johns run on JSA to my favorite books ever. And I’ve really been enjoying EVERYTHING Scott Snyder has been doing. Aside from comics, Deepak Chopra, Kahlil Gibran, Emmet Fox, today in life I try to practice being positive and living my life in the light. Notice I said try… nobody’s perfect.
If you were on a deserted island what video game, comic/book, movie, TV show would you bring?
I don’t really play video games. But I’d go with The Avengers arcade, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Captain Ron (for comedic relief) and Batman TAS.
Where can we find you on the Internet?
On the roof with commissioner Gordon. Or on Instagram: bigblued
“Writers block is another word for video games.” – BVK
Panelists: Grant Morrison, Brian K. Vaughan, Jonathan Hickman and moderated Ron Richards
– On the topic of scripts, Brian K. Vaughan said that for him they are a love letter from him to his artist.
– A fan asked if the writers have the entire story outlined or predetermined before beginning a new series. BKV felt that writers are the pilot of an airplane, either you know what you’re doing from the beginning, or you don’t let anyone know that you have no idea what you’re talking about.
– The writers had very different styles of how they approach the art of the comic. BVK told us that Fiona Staples (artist for Saga) doesn’t like to know what’s going to happen in the series, she likes to be surprised every time she gets a new script.
– Ever wonder what happens when the art doesn’t quite match what the writer had in mind? Grant Morrison said he never asks artists to redraw anything, you work around it. His fellow panelists agreed.
Ran into BVK on the show floor and he signed my TPB of Saga. He was very nice!
– An audience member wanted to know how the writers decide on how many panels to put on each page. BVK feels that 5 panels and about 12 balloons work for him. It’s like a haiku, it feels right.
– Jonathan Hickman said that 5 panels a page also gives the artist a chance to have a stellar panel in the middle of the page.
– BVK’s writing style starts off with long drafts and then he edits and cuts and hopes the good stuff is left. After years of writing he likes to let the art do the talking when possible.
– On the subject of voice, Morrison stated that he hears the voices of the characters in his head. He knows them, he knows what they like and what they don’t like, so it’s easier to write in their voice. Vaughan stated he is the complete opposite.
– A fan asked how they deal with reader feedback and all panelists agreed that they don’t care. BVK explained further, “It’s the writer versus him or herself, I don’t care about feedback.” Morrison admitted that, “We don’t even know how to deal with feedback,” Hickman rounded out the answer, “No one hates me like me. I’m way rougher on myself than anyone else.”
– When it comes to starting and leaving an ongoing series, BVK compared it to a relationship. You love them and then you leave them and you want them to be happy, you just don’t want to see it.
– On the importance of adding autobiographical elements to their work, Morrison likes to write about situations that he’s experienced. BVK agreed that it’s the surest way to make something unique.
– When asked what they do about writer’s block, the panelists stated they don’t experience writers block. When it comes down to it, writing is supposed to be hard. If you’re feeling like you’re in a rut, you have to push through it. Vaughan said, “Writers block is another word for video games.”
This is a combination of the the Batman: Death Comes to Gotham panel and a bit of the DC New 52 panel, focusing on Batman the highly anticipated Joker story arc that affects all the Bat-family.
Scott Snyder gave the New York Comic Con audience a peak inside the twisted mind of the Joker and a glimpse into this dark arc. In short, Joker is the jester and Batman is the king. The Joker went away for a year and he’s upset with Batman because he thinks he has been weakened by his new Bat-family (Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, etc.) They have made him lazy and fat and he’s back in Gotham to make things right again.
The Joker serves Batman to make him stronger. In order to make Batman stronger, he plans to kick his ass, turn his world upside down and kill his family… but it’s all out of love. Joker believes Batman will be a better king if he survives what’s coming his way.
The point of a jester is to bring the worst news to the king and make him laugh about it. It just so happens that the Joker is not only the bearer of bad news, but also the reason for it. The villains serve Batman, not his Bat-family. The Joker wants to show Batman that the villains are the ones that truly love him. To prove this to Batman, Joker plans to kill his family.
The Joker attacks members of the Bat-family by targeting their greatest weaknesses. He’s been watching them all and he knows what they are most afraid of. He’s going to take their deepest fears and make them very real for everyone. Each attack is personalized. Despite the connected arc, each book in the Bat-family stands on its own. Both Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo warned the audience that this storyline isn’t for the faint of heart, and if you’ve read Batman issue 13, you’re already well aware of that.
Panelists: Scott Snyder (Batman), Grant Morrison (Batman, Incorporated), Kyle Higgins (Nightwing), Mike Marts (Batman Group Editor), Gregg Hurwitz (Batman: The Dark Knight), David Finch (Batman: The Dark Knight), Marcus To (Batwing), Peter Tomasi (Batman & Robin), James Tynion IV (Talon) & more
Ran into Scott Snyder on the floor. A genuinely nice guy!
As some of you may know, I have a deep love and admiration for Grant Morrison. In short, his opinions and work constantly force me to challenge the way I think and understand the world, universe and everything in between. (You can read all about why here.) Over the course of the convention, I heard at least three people say that Morrison’s work literally saved their life. That fact alone should show the impact this man leaves in people’s lives. This spotlight was predominantly fan questions and I thought it would be easier to recap the spotlight in a bulleted format.
– The moderator described Happy, Morrison’s new four issue series, as A Christmas Story on meth.
– The creepy song “ Pegasus”, by The Hollies inspired Morrison to create Happy.
– He described Happy as a buddy cop movie.
– He also announced that Rza (Wu-Tang Clan) is working on a script for one of his works and they instantly bonded over UFOs.
– He recently finished working on Aliens vs. Dinosaurs and he thinks Hollywood is getting more psychedelic and would love to have The Filth made into movie.
– On the topic of superheroes, Morrison said he identifies with superheros and believes everyone probably does in some way. They illustrate social realism. They are able to talk about real life in ways that realism cannot handle. Hence, the fantastical elements.
– Morrison believes Superman is a man for the people. He gives us what we need, when we need it. He represents the ultimate man and Morrison always thought Superman was a half Christ, half Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. figure. He also emphasized that Batman himself has become an architype.
– Superheros ask us, “I am better than you, can you live up to me?” They are noble and help elevate us out of negative cynicism. Nothing is impossible and there’s always a way.
– He believes the 5th dimension is inside our head. He told the audience to think about one universe, now think about two, now think about ten. That is an example of how our mind is infinite and holds no bounds. The imagination is the 5th dimension.
A fan asked Morrison if he thought the world would end in December and he replied, no. “The apocalypse is us projecting our morality to the world.”, he went on to explain.
– Morrison was juggling about 15 things in 2010 and was almost at the point of mental illness. But he stressed to never reject an opportunity to work.
– In regards to why Buddy Baker in his run of Animal Man was involved in animal rights, he explained that his cat died while writing it and he loves animals and wanted to give his animal friends a good story.
– He’s not a fan of “the red” concept in Animal Man because he feels it makes Buddy seem like a sub-Swamp Thing. He stressed that he is a fan of Jeff Lemire and the other ST writers, but personally doesn’t like the red in relation to Animal Man.
– Flex Mentallo was inspired by ecstasy, mushroom and rave culture.
– A fan asked what to do if you’re practicing magic and bad things happen. Morrison simply responded by saying the same way you always deal with bad things.
– In addition, if you ever conjure up a demon, he said they don’t like logic or shapes and it’s easy to talk them out of existence.
Press Release from Legendary Comics about Grant Morrison’s Annihilator to be released in 2013:
Morrison brings to the pages a thrilling story starring wild-living screenwriter Ray Spass, who has one last chance to save his career as he struggles to write a new studio tent-pole movie, Annihilator.
The film centers around the incredible adventures of Max Nomax; a sci-fi rebel anti-hero who’s condemned to a haunted prison orbiting a supermassive black hole, following an epic struggle against the all-knowing, all–powerful artificial life form VADA and his squad of deadly Annihilators. Found guilty of the Greatest Crime in History, Nomax has vowed to clear his name by discovering a Cure for Death itself and resurrecting his lost love.
But with deadlines looming and a recently-diagnosed brain tumor, Spass is running out of time and inspiration – until the real Max Nomax mysteriously appears in the world of 21stcentury Los Angeles with no memory of how he got there, only a terrifying warning of imminent destruction and a mission for Ray Spass.
Ray’s tumor is the key—it contains all the information of Nomax’s adventures, uploaded into Ray’s head before Nomax made his great escape. Now, Ray has to finish his screenplay in order to get the information out of his head and shrink the tumor. Nomax needs Ray to finish the screenplay so he can remember how to defeat VADA and ultimately save the universe from extinction – if Makro, the unstoppable rogue Annihilator, doesn’t kill get to them first, that is.
But who or what is Max Nomax really? And why is it the more we learn, the less we want to know? A heart-stopping suspense thriller. A love story. An impossible mystery. A tale of vengeance and defiance – bargains and consequences – life and death – good and evil.
Science fiction embodies different elements to different people. This panel took a look into what sci-fi means to these writers and illustrators and how they use it to shape their work in Image Comics. The panelists included Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Saga), David Hine (Storm Dogs), Joe Harris (Great Pacific), Glen Brunswick (Non-Humans) and Brian Wood and Ming Doyle (Mara).
Brian Wood said that in Mara, the sci-fi is less about the actual technology and more about how it affects the characters in his story. It’s about how we as humans realistically react to fantastical elements. They all admitted there are different types of sci-fi, which we can all attest to. There’s apocalyptic, cyberpunk, science fantasy, or how Brian K. Vaughan likes to describes Saga, fakey make-believe.
BKV said that he used to have friends who liked science fiction and those who liked fantasy, but never both. Saga is both, there’s magic and space ships. When going into depth about the reasoning behind the character design and world building, BKV wanted to use, “simple iconography for each world”. Whether it’s wings, horns or television heads, there’s no mistaking each world and its people. We instantly know what team they play for.
Fiona Staples, the artists for Saga, explained that she isn’t a fan of drawing tech, “I always put character first when I design these things”. BKV said he pretty much gives her a lot of free reign of the character design. Fun fact: Vaughan showed Staples a bong as a reference for his dragon skull space ship.
A fan asked the reasoning behind the characters non-violence stance. Vaughan joked, “I have kids now and my major question is what order to show the Star Wars movies to them.” On a more serious note, most of the panelist agreed that, as a creator you love violence, but as a human being you abhor it, so you face a creative crossroads.
BVK shared his thoughts on Saga becoming a film, “That part is cool, and I’m happy to sell out. Beyond that, I don’t really care. My idea director for ‘Saga’ is Fiona, and my ideal cast are the ones that Fiona draws. The comic is a destination; it’s not a blueprint for something else.”
There will be spoilers about the issues discussed in this post.
Issue One of Four
Author: Grant Morrison
Artist: Darick Robertson
Grant Morrison’s series The Invisibles is what got me interested in reading more comics, and because of that I’m forever grateful. I think he’s utterly brilliant and last year I had the honor of meeting him (I blogged about it). So, now that you know how much I love him, it should come to no surprise that I was elated for the release of Happy!. Especially since the art is by the Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan). This is the kind of collaboration I’ve only dreamed about.
After reading just the first page you know Morrison is back to telling his post-modern, mind-fucking stories and I couldn’t be happier. The gritty surroundings (impeccably illustrated by Robertson) and the blunt language give the comic a dark and dangerous energy. Just when you start to think that Happy! getting real hardcore, real fast, a blue pegasus-unicorn hybrid swoops into the panel disrupting everything you thought you knew about the comic. That stark contrast threw me off, despite the fact that I was expecting it to happen. But of course, that was on purpose.
Since Happy! is a four issue series, I know that each page is busting at the seems with meaning and each word holds a lot of weight. Morrison doesn’t do anything gratuitously, and I think that the cartoonish début of the horse is his way of making light of the over-saturated violence that’s common in comics. And of course, it also means something within the comic as well.
Sax is a quintessential anti-hero, and not even a charismatic one at that. His life and his happiness are in the gutter. It only takes one issue to realize that he is miserable. And as a result, his mind (may have) created a talking horse to literally save his life because he can’t do it on his own. Not only does this horse want to save him, but it also needs his help saving someone else.
The horse said that it was Hailey’s imaginary friend, so who knows, maybe somehow this is true and Sax didn’t imagine the horse on his own. Everything isn’t always by the books when it comes to Morrison, sometimes what you see is what you get. Even though what you see, to quote the first word of the series, is “unreal”. It wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve said “WTF” to myself while reading a Morrison comic. The appearance of this imaginary friend goes to show that Sax not only needs to save himself, but after all of the mindless ultra-violence in his life, he needs to save someone else and feel like his life is more than just murder and money.
Knowing how Morrison works, Happy! is more than just a story about Sax and his imaginary horse friend. After one issue, it gives us a reason to reflect on our own lives and ask ourselves, am I really happy? How low does my life have to go before I need an imaginary horse to make me happy?
I love giving away free things almost as much as I love getting them! (almost) Sue Smith is the owner of the popular accessories shop on Etsy Comic Salvage where she recycles vintage comics to create beautiful jewelry and cuff links. Thanks to the amazing and talented Sue, Girl Gone Geek is giving one lucky contestant this fantastic “WHAM!” ring hand-made by Sue from a vintage comic book.