Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tomb of Dracula page by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer

I bought this page today.

I think that statement needs to stand alone but I will say it again. I bought this page, page 22 of Tomb of Dracula issue 44 published by Marvel Comics in 1976, today. I traveled 90 minutes each way to get it. I think the blog content here at FEDRES420 makes it clear that comic art and illustration is a pretty big source of fun and time in my life. Well, this page is part of a story that is directly responsible for me being involved in this hobby. If I had to pinpoint specific points in my comic and comic art involvement, the first might be finding a funny animal comic in the street in about 1970 about a block and a half from my house. I picked it up and was amazed it was complete. I brought it home and consumed it. Funny animals, no reading required. Next was the sudden arrival at my house a year or so later of a giant box of comics, gladly inherited by my older brother and I from our friends around the corner. Why they did not want them was beyond me but we took them hungrily. There were a few hundred comics in there, all with no covers. I now know what the deal was there, but back then I was horrified and thankful all at the same time. There were war comics and superhero comics and a little of everything else under the sun. I devoured them all. I remember ignoring the war comics at first for the superheroes but eventually reading and enjoying them all. Then come the comics in the newsstand at Clancy's, followed by a job in high school at 7-11. In my memories I paid sometimes at least. And then a card convention at the Toms River Elks Club. I could get some Nolan Ryan and Astros cards and hey, look at that, they have comics too. I was driving by that time so it must have been 1983 or 1984 and I got a ton of issues of Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts for 25 cents each. When I read them and issue 14 crossed over with Tomb of Dracula I was frantic in my search for those issues of ToD.

That Elks club purchase, one title almost complete at once - even 169, and then the search for missing issues to complete the story may have been the real start of my comics collection/hobby/obsession. Yes, I still have those comics in a box not 15 feet from where I sit and type these words. And now I have a page of original art from those issues in my hands as well. The story of my comic art obsession is the story of a (some would say) mature individual. My collection is generally focused on modern art, created after 1990 by and large and does not generally include stuff I read growing up but more stuff I read in college and as an adult or by artists I became fond of as an adult. Even the older pieces are typically things I admire now, not things I admired as a child or young man. But the Elks Club comics are part of the story of a child, and this page alone in all the pages and pieces in my collection brings me back to a time in my life when I read comics and the experience enveloped me entirely. They were musty and somewhat smelly and HOLY SMOKES Dracula drained Wong's blood. Wong is dead. Doc will save him, no sweat right? Wait, Doc says he can't save him, only destroy him and prevent him from becoming a vampire? Okay, Doc CAN avenge Wong then. Oh no, Dracula's sucking on Doc now? What are they doing? I have all these comics here and Dr. Strange is dead? WHAT ARE THEY DOING?


Monday, March 5, 2012

Katie Cook - Starman Family Portrait

A little before Christmas Katie Cook opened her commission list for the first time in a long time. Really, she did. Really. She did. Go check, it is still open. But lucky me, I had previously discussed a commission with Katie of Starman and Nash and both of their fathers in a sort of perverted family portrait.
Left to right: David (deceased); Ted; Jack; Nash, with baby Kyle Theo; The Mist; Kyle (deceased)

So when her commission list opened up I made sure I was on it (I was) and we went with the 2 Starman / 2 Mist idea, baby included as well of course. Shortly thereafter I asked her to include the dead brothers and she graciously added them for no extra moolah. Watta gal. So as you can see above, The Starman family Portrait came out really well. As Katie told me when I last ehassled her about finishing it up, "the dead brothers sparkle", and they do. It is a nice touch, even if the scan fails to pick up the glitter in the paint.

So thank you Katie Cook! See you this summer! (Molly is dying to get Ron and Hagrid added to her Harry Potter piece!)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

CBR 4 review: BORN STANDING UP by Steve Martin


BORN STANDING UP, A Comic's Life by Steve Martin is a thoroughly engaging read, but what else would you expect from Steve Martin? What you also expect is material presented thoughtfully and carefully, and BORN STANDING UP certainly does this, in a matter-of-fact but entertaining way. Martin traces the development and evolution of his comedy mindset from its' birth performing magic to his eventual manic and thoughtfully random comedy stand up routine.

Although relatively equal attention is given to both personal and professional matters, and occasionally individuals from one sphere enter the other, Martin's real focus and the joy of the book is his when he relates his interest in, and approach to, performing. Martin's early mastery of even the simplest magic tricks accompanied a desire to perform, and soon enough he was performing in group and solo shows at Knott's Berry Farm. As he describes selling cheap gags in the Knott's Berry Farm store and learning the classic tricks of the magical trade you can tell even now how much Martin enjoyed, and enjoys, the art of performing magic. But the increasing cost of the big tricks came with an understanding that he didn't need the tricks, or even magic itself, to hold the audience's attention.When he eventually took bigger and bigger stages as a stand-up comedian he engaged the audience like few comics before him, and BORN STANDING UP does a wonderful job of exploring how exactly he ended up approaching his performances from his specific viewpoint, a viewpoint that would result in the most successful stand up comedy career seen to that time, and possibly still so to this day. We go from Knott's Berry Farm to Disneyland through college and into the world of television writing as Martin explains how they all shaped and formed the approach and development of material that vaulted him to heights and revenue he never dreamed of. And then how it quickly became routine and boring, when it became too much and too big to matter. Along the way Martin realizes how far he has come, and gone, from his roots and eventually desires to reconnect with those roots. He recounts all this wonderfully and without arrogance at what he once was, the biggest thing in comedy history, and without pathos at what he came to be before making clear and definite changes to his lifestyle and approach to familial relationships. And it was a real treat reading along as Martin recounts these things, and you even get the origins of "Oh PLEEEEEAASE!" and Happy Feet. ;-)

Overall, BORN STANDING UP is an engaging read. Superficial on the personal details and intimate with the professional ones, Steve Martin does a fine job of presenting a very specific and precise history of this part of his life. Perhaps the best recommendation I can give is that I would certainly be interested in a much larger volume by Mr. Martin applying the same thorough approach found in BORN STANDING UP, exploring the many other facets of his life applied from this perspective. 3/5 stars ***