A DESIGN CONTEXT PUBLICATION
CREATORS C O M I C S CHARACTERS BY
The comics medium is a very specialised area of the Arts, home to many rare and talented blooms and flowering imaginations and it breaks my heart to see so many of our best and brightest bowing down to the same market pressures which drive lowest-common-denominator blockbuster movies and television cop shows. Let’s see if we can call time on this trend by demanding and creating big, wild comics which stretch our imaginations. Let’s make living breathing, sprawling adventures filled with mind-blowing images of things unseen on Earth. Let’s make artefacts that are not fauxgames or movies but something other, something so rare and strange it might as well be a window into another universe because that’s what it is.
Grant Morrison (x-men, Batman) - 2004
CREATORS COMICS CHARACTERS BY
LEIGH WORTLEY With Interviews From
LEIGH GALLAGHER 2000 AD
& JAMIE SMART DANDY COMICS
CONTENTS CREATORS Leigh Gallagher
Flash Of Two Worlds
Twins // Triplets
Creators, Comic Books, Characters. Without one you cannot possibly have the other. The creators are the initial driving force behind the project. They are the ones in charge, the ones that breath life into a project and by proxy, the characters and comics themselves. The first comic book appeared in the United States in 1932, reprinting the earlier newspaper comic strips, which established many of the story-telling devices used in comics. The term “comic book” came about as the first comic books reprinted humor comic strips. Despite their name, however, comic books do not necessarily operate in humorous mode; most modern comic books tell stories in a variety of genres. There are many definitions of “comics.” Will Eisner (The Spirit) defined comics simply as “sequential art.” Another definition of comics are that they are “juxtaposed pictoral and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.” To me, they are design, they are story, they are entertainment in its purist form.
CHAPTER 1 CREATORS
LEIGH GALLAGHER Leigh Gallagher is a comic book artist who has worked on many projects for such publishers as DC COMICS and 2000AD. Leigh was also the 2008 artist for the LEGO “BIONICLE” comic and has recently completed his forth book of 2000AD’s 17th century zombie hunter, “DEFOE”, written by Pat Mills.
How do you go about designing and starting a project, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?
as I tend to do a lot of the work when I ink. It’s at this pencilling stage that I tend to make some late decisions on whether or not this camera angle works for this scene. What tends to happens with every job, is that there’s always one panel that has to be awkward, so I’m usually forced to abandon it and come back later.
Well it starts with reading the writer’s script that’s broken down into panel descriptions with dialogue included. It’s hard to describe how it happens in my head, but basically I see all the possible camera angles I could use in the scene, that could best tell the story in a clear but visually interesting way.
On to inking, I tend to ink as many of the pages as I can using a number 2 brush with black India ink. I do this for purely for self assurance as it gives the impression that I’ve accomplished more of the job, as opposed to inking one page, then moving on to the next. From there I use a variety of UNI PIN black fine liner pens, that I buy in bulk online, to finish the rest of the inking. Any mistakes are fixed with a cheap white acrylic model paint.
Any character designs are done in advance, and usually go through many, many variations, especially if you’re working closely with the writer or editor. There tends to be a lot of research needed at this stage, especially if it’s based in a certain time period. So you need to make sure that clothing is accurate, hair styles, weapons, and even buildings, furniture, cutlery...the list goes on. if it’s featured in the story, you need to make sure it’s right.
If I’m colouring the pages, I’ll use my A3 scanner to import them into my iMac’s Photoshop. From there, it’s emailed to the editor for approval, who then sends it to the letterer.
Back to the script, I’ll loosely break down the page layout on A4 paper, mostly in a manner that only I’ll be able to decipher, unless the client specifically needs to approve every stage, in which case I’ll put more work into the roughs.
How does the brief/task/project you are given influence the way you work? Is each project tailored towards your strengths?
From there I’ll take lots of photo reference of myself in a variety of embarrassing positions for every character, be it man or woman. Not to copy exactly, but mainly to get the feel of it. It’s invaluable for facial expressions and lighting.
Unless you work on a long standing series with the same writer, most jobs you’ll find are not tailor made for you. A lot of the time a writer won’t know who their artist is going to be, unless specifically requested, and even then you’ll always have to draw things that you’ve probably never drawn before. For instance, I HATE jobs that involve real life likenesses. Every time I come off a job like that, I say “Never again”, but then another one comes along that I can’t say no to. So right now, I’m working on a
The next stage is to pencil the page on A3 bristol board using a regular HB pencil with smaller details pencilled with a retractable drawing pencil, making sure to leave adequate room for the letterer to do their job. If it doesn’t need to be approved by the client, I’ll pencil it pretty loose
What is your favourite subject to draw?
side job for a museum that involves drawing a comic strip, being blown up on a massive wall, involving two teams of real life footballers. That’s twenty two likenesses....and I hate football.
I’m most known for drawing horror, which I love. I like playing with shadows, and my love for black and white horror comics goes back to the before mentioned “SCREAM” comic. I’m not into the whole torture/serial killer type of horror, I’m talking about cool monsters
What is a typical day for you? I work alone, in a studio set up in the spare room of our house. Mostly when I’m on deadlines I tend to wake up around 10.30-11am, check emails and comic news sites, and Facebook (which is basically my main contact with the outside world). I’ll start work around lunchtime until my fiance gets back around 6pm, have dinner, hang out with her for a few hours, then get back to work till around 3.30-4.30am. There’s less distractions in the middle of the night, though I’ll admit I feel I’m getting a bit old to keep up this pace.
What wisdom could you give, about being an illustrator/and comic book artist? Always be professional. Try not to say no to any jobs unless impossible to fit in. If there’s any friends you can recommend instead, they’d appreciate that. Meet your deadlines, which is no doubt going to be hard sometimes, because as a freelancer, there’s no help or sick pay when you get the Flu.
One thing I’m trying to stop is leaving the internet on throughout the day, as it’s the biggest distraction to my work. I’ll either listen to music, or comic related podcasts whilst I work. Though if I’m working late into the night I’ll usually have a favourite tv show or film in the background.
Try and have a partner in your life who will understand the crazy work hours you will no doubt keep. When you’re trying to break in, try not to be creepy, and also be willing to accept criticism. You’re never as good as what you think you are. There’s always someone better than you around the corner.
The only time I’ve ever worked with someone else was when I was starting in the business and a veteran comic artist named John Higgins befriended me. He took me under his wing, trusted me enough to look after his home and studio whilst he was abroad, and I learnt a lot of the trade there.
What are some of the things that you have worked on? Well I’m most known for my 2000AD work on a 17th century zombie hunter story called Defoe. It’s written by Pat Mills, the creator of 2000AD and last year wrapped up it’s forth book. Around 6-7 years ago I was the penciller on a ten issue series for DC/Vertigo comic called The Witching, then later went on to do some smaller jobs for their licensing depart that never saw the light of day. The last DC work I did was as the 2008 artist for the LEGO Bionicle comic. This month an 18 page adaption of HP Lovecraft’s “The shadow Over Innsmouth” appeared in Self Made Hero’s “The Lovecraft Anthology”. Outside of comics, I drew “The Rocky Horror Show” theatre poster, that this year got turned into a Royal Mail stamp. For the same design company I tend to do other smaller theatre graphic jobs once in a while. Last year, I was one of three artists working a BBC show called “I’m in a Rock’n’Roll Band” where our drawings were semi animated. I got to the draw the show’s title sequence as well. What are some of your favourite illustrations? The most recent one was only a couple of weeks ago where I had to contact the artist to congratulate him. It was an episode of the 2000AD series Shakara where the artist Henry Flint had to depict the hero, in a tiny ship on the planet’s surface, transform the entire planet into an engine powering his spacecraft! The sight of a massive planet blasting through space is what 2000AD is all about.
E.K WEAVER A graphic designer and illustrator from Austin, Texas who is currently in the middle of creating her creator owned graphic novel “The Less Than Epic Adventures Of TJ and Amal.” A story of two dudes who drive from Berkeley to Providence, take multiple detours, smoke too much weed, eat terrible Chinese food, sleep in seedy motels, get kicked out of a Goodwill, contemplate fate versus chance, piss into the sunset, start a brawl in a Waffle House, and fall in love.”
Could you talk about your process in creating your work, as well as the types of tools or media that you use?
Would you say that designing characters was just as important as the narrative of the story?
I use a combination of low-cost natural media (colored pencil, graphite pencil, typing paper, drafting pen) and digital media (WACOM tablet, Photoshop CS2). The bulk of the art is done on paper; I use Photoshop for retouching, corrections, and layout.
Not necessarily the *design* of the characters, but rendering them in a way that allows the audience to feel an emotional connection.
What part of designing/ illustrating is most fun and easy, and what is the most difficult?
What are some of your favourite designs/illustrations that you have seen? There are so many amazing artists (many my age and younger) who are continually evolving inspirations, but if we’re going with the past tense, I’d have to say Al Hirschfeld and Kyle Baker.
Most fun: initial concepts, developing a scene, writing dialogue, doing the first round of pencils. Most difficult: pushing myself to draw when tired or not feeling “connected”, letting a page go rather than tweaking it to death, technical or mechanical art like cars and buildings.
What comes first, the character design or the“style”of the project? Character building comes first for me, then the story develops alongside them. In terms of visual style, though, they’re tied so closely together that I couldn’t really say.
I’ve always admired Hirschfeld’s knack for distilling a person’s likeness down to its essential forms – not just facial resemblance but style of motion and posture as well. He depicts someone’s essence clearly even while rendering it in impossible ways – placing the eyes below the mouth, say, or drawing tight spirals for eyes. Not only that, but watching the documentary The Line King and seeing how instead of just flinging out these effortless curves and perfectly placed lines (as I’d previously thought), that he took each drawing through a painstaking sketching and refining process… it was like a beam of light out of the blue. I saw that pouring effort and time into artwork showed dedication, not inability to “get it right the first time”. That artists aren’t gods but people who work really damn hard.
As for Kyle Baker: His comics showed me the importance of acting. Characters don’t just move through a scene, they live it – they act it. Just read the first 10 or 15 pages of I Die At Midnight and you’ll see what I mean. His work is incredibly cinematic. Also, Baker’s books Why I Hate Saturn and Undercover Genie – and more recently, How to Draw Stupid – have been huge inspirations. There’s a LOT of Saturn influence in TJ and Amal – building characters through conversation and facial expression, setting the story in its place and period rather than trying to make it ‘timeless’, telling the story in ordered vignettes rather than one continuous arc.
What inspired you to become a comic book artist? I’ve always liked drawing quick sequentials, but never really identified as a Comic Book Artist – partly because it’s not how I make a living; partly because I’m still a very green amateur. Honestly, what got me started working on a comic book was realizing the story I had in mind was best told in that medium. That’s it. I’ve come to love it, though – the craft of comics, I mean. Scripting, pacing, timing, layout. It still blows me away that when you make a comic, you manipulate time with art. How cool is that?
SKOTTIE YOUNG Skottie Young is an American comic book artist and illustrator from Chicago, Illinois. who works exclusively for Marvel Comics. He has been a professional for over 10 years and is best known for his OZ novels and comic book covers.
So how did working on ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ come about?
wonder if this is the right direction you should be going. Luckily, they kept on calling and basically told me that they wanted me to do whatever I wanted with it.
It’s quite funny how it came about actually. Tom Askins (Round Comics) and I brought up The Wizard of Oz one night and that led Tom to go and find all of the novels at a used bookstore. Which of course led me to go and buy and read all of them. Then one night Tom came over to my house and we had a Oz night. We watched the Wizard of Oz and Return to Oz just out of the blue for the hell of it. The very next day I got a call from Marvel saying they had a new idea for a project. At the time I was still working on New X-men and they just came out with “Yeah, we’re thinking of adapting the Oz novels.” It was bizarre timing and I’m the kind of person to call someone a liar if they tell a similar fate story. It sounds way to perfect and the only thing that could burst that stories bubble is that I actually turned it down.
How do you go about starting a project like Oz when you sit down to plan and draw?
Well at first I was flattered and of course I would love to do it because it’s the kind of material that I love to do. I love cartooning and fantasy stories and up until that point I had done nothing but superheroes. The chance to do something else whilst still working at Marvel seemed great but I got nervous. It started to make me think about the landscape of comic books and how we don’t see many children in comic book shops. (Oz, of course, a children’s series) It’s different now only 4 years later but back then I was still working on New X-men and we’d brought the sales up on that so I was nervous about doing an all ages comic. I didn’t want to be pushed to the back of the comic book shop. That was me being naive and trying to play the business side of comics which I had never really done before. I was always doing side projects and this was new. When you come to the end of a run like New X-men, it’s always daunting taking on something different and you
Eric Shanower, Oz writer, is practically a scholar in all things oz. He goes though the story and breaks it down bit by bit which makes my job a lot easier. He also gives me a lot of history and a lot of options for designs when it comes to that era, especially the clothing design. He’s a great guy to work with.
Did you always plan for the issues to be collected as tradebacks? Most of the time the publishers base a series on going to trade with how well the single issues do. When you read the first two collections, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Marvellous Land of Oz, you can tell they where written with the exact idea of going to a book. There’s no chapter breaks, the covers aren’t inserted and it starts on page one and ends on page 150, or whatever number we finished on. Even sometimes in the single issues you would get to page 22 and it would be done, but it didn’t really feel like an ending to an issue. I think untimely we all knew that a book like this is a storybook, a kid’s fairy tale. It’s the kind of book that you read in a book format. I’m a trade person and we’re in a point now in the market where the publishers are willing to put money into a 5-6 issues series, then of course it’s going to go to trade. It’s bad of me, but I can’t remember the last time that I actually bought a single issue.
What where your thought process on working on books such as Spider-Man and New X-men?
pencil and ink the cover on one day and I’ll spend the next day colouring it. I might split that up amongst a couple of days because I’m doing other work as well. I’ve still got to pencil and ink my ‘Oz’ pages during the day!
Something I’ve tried to implement in any of the books I’ve done at Marvel, whether it’s ‘Legend of the SpiderClan’ or ‘New X-Men’ is that I want to keep in mind the characters are teenagers and I want to give them that look and feel. I’ll scale back some of the muscle and give them a teenager’s body, because I think once you have that, the intense nature of the adventures the characters get into are that much more fantastic. You get a sense that this isn’t about some Olympic weight lifter this is a 16 year old who gets into these hairy situations. I think in one single image I’m trying to capture the action, fun, and energy of Spider-Man but also making sure that you can tell from that one image that this is a teenager, who we all can relate to.
In designing covers, what ideas and concepts come to mind? Composition and colour. You want the right weight. You don’t want to overload the viewer with too much information. A cover is supposed to sit on a shelf and grab your attention. Sometimes I’ll scale back and focus on the action a character is in. I don’t want to overload it with too many background elements. And I think the right colour palette goes a long way. Sometimes that means using a white background with a really strong palette on top of that to pop the colours out at you. You can really evoke a mood and, again, grab people’s attention. There are a lot of comic books on the shelves and a lot of information in a comic book store. My job as a cover artist is to grab your attention and often that means the tried and true idea of less is more. I enjoy story centric covers because they give you a base to start from and they allow me to do something that probably hasn’t been done before; as opposed to when I do an iconic shot cover and have to compete with all of the other iconic shots that have been done of Spidey. That makes it tough to do something original in that way because there are a million great artists who have done iconic shots of Spider-Man, but if you say, ‘Give me a shot of Spider-Man holding up six cars while looking at character A.’ Then I’ve got something other artists didn’t have. I’ve got a different idea and whether it comes from an editor, writer, or my own interpretation of the script that helps spark originality and inspiration. Still the iconic shot is fun every now and then as well. So, depending on the story, every third or fourth cover you throw in a nice little iconic shot. My thumbnails are often pretty detailed. I’ll go in and colour them. They may be very loose doodles but they’ll show you my composition and my colour palette. The editor gets a pretty good idea of where I’m going to go with the final cover. With my Spider-Man covers, the final images have almost exactly matched my initial three-inch thumbnails. Once I get approval, then it’s about two days of work. I
JAMIE SMART Jamie Smart is a British comic artist and writer, most famous for his ten-issue comic series, Bear. He has also had his comic My Own Genie published in the popular children’s magazine The Dandy.
Is working for the Dandy your dream job? Did you read it as a kid or were you more of a Beano fan?
Do you think that British comic artists do not get the recognition that their American counterparts do?
Oh, it’s certainly an honour, yeah. They’ve always been incredibly supportive to work for too, giving me a lot of room to do my own thing without any real censorship or control over it, which makes me enjoy what I draw for them a lot more and hopefully makes for a better piece at the end of it. I read most comics when I was a kid. Yeah, I had quite an insatiable appetite for them.
It’s obviously a very different market; you can be big in one country and not known in the other, though with the Internet it’s becoming easier to gain an international reader-base. It’s difficult being British because the big conventions and publishers are on the other side of the pond, so you can’t meet and greet as much as an American artist can, but conversely, you can concentrate your efforts on your home country instead. British readers are brilliantly friendly.
What other British comics did you read as a kid? I adored Oink, it was so incredibly subversive and rude. It was a very big influence on me. But I also liked all the main ones: Buster, Whizzer and Chips, Topper etc. Even this mad comic called Triffic which only ran for a few issues, and I drew all over my copies of it anyway.
Who influenced you into getting into illustration and drawing comics? No one really sparked off a drawing urge in me, it’s just something I always did. And I always drew - quite terrible - comics while growing up. It was only when I went to college and discovered Deadline that I really saw how exciting comics could be.
How do you feel about stepping into the comic shoes of other past Dandy and Beano creators such as Tom Paterson and Jack Oliver. There are a handful, such as Tom Paterson, Lew Stringer, Steve Bright, who were really big influences on my work growing up, so when I suddenly found myself working in comics next to them, yeah, it was a total dream. Although I found it hard, as I excitedly burble to them about how much they’ve influenced me, to convince them of this, since my work looks nothing like theirs. But the inflluences are in there, somewhere.
Outside of UK comic publishing you are best known for Slave Labor Graphic’s Bear comics. Do you think there is still room in the comic industry for ‘indy’ publishers such as SLG?
needs to explore his crazy ideas. So it’s such an open and infinite playground for ideas to run riot.
Will there be any more Bear comics coming out?
It’s unlikely. I get the urge quite often to work on him some more, but finding the right medium or method is a tricky one. Drawing Bear requires a lot of time, which I don’t have so much now, and besides, maybe it’s best to leave him as he finished without dragging it all back up.
Oh, totally, and I hope indy publishers continue for a long time, otherwise there’s no alternatives to the main publishers and that would make for a very boring world. Indy publishers print work that doesn’t fit the mainstream or has different ideas about how to do things, and that’s incredibly important for bringing up new talent.
That said, he and Looshkin are some of my favourite characters, and I think there are still a lot of adventures left in them. What form that will take, I don’t know, but watch this space.
What other characters from the archives of British comics would you like to work on?
Who would win in a fight between Robot Space Monkeys or Giant Zombie Pirates?
I’d leave them well alone, I think, I don’t want to put my inky fingers on any other institutions just yet in case I go and spoil them. If someone offers me the chance to reinterpret a character, as the Dandy did with Desperate Dan, I’ll gladly have a go - it’s humbling to be asked! - but I’d want to make sure it was their idea, not mine, so not my fault….ha…
Monkeys. Pfft. Easy.
If you were offered a gig at Marvel or DC, what characters would you like to tackle? I’d do them all, and turn everything into a big song and dance number. With woodland animals. And a truck.
Was it cool to see plush toys made of your creations? Of course, it’s brilliant! They’re so soft and comfortable too. I use mine as pillows. Toys are something that most illustrators would love to do, and I would love to do more if the opportunity arises. It’s bringing your 2D creations into the real world, quite bizarre when you stop to think about it.
Do you think the Americans get your very British sense of humour? Do jokes about bottom burps, dancing monkeys and angry robots translate well across the Atlantic? Yeah, there’s been no cultural barriers as far as I can see, silly childish humour translates into any language.
Do you think kids should read comics or is the market really now just for 30 year olds? Everyone should read comics. Let’s bring it to a situation like Japan, where comic books are read like newspapers! Comics are, I think, the perfect storytelling medium, usually a place where the creator has the freedom he
CHAPTER 2 COMICS
1930’ s “They’re Called Superheroes For A Reason” Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born American artist Joe Shuster in 1932, Superman is widely considered to be an American cultural icon who was first sold to Detective Comics, Inc. (later DC Comics) in 1938. The character first appeared in Action Comics #1 (June 1938) and subsequently appeared in various radio serials, television programs, films, newspaper strips, and video games. With the success of his adventures, Superman helped to create the superhero genre and establish it within the American comic book. Superman has come to be seen as both an American cultural icon and the first comic book superhero. His adventures and popularity have established the character as an inspiring force within the public eye, with the character serving as inspiration for musicians, comedians and writers alike. Kryptonite, Brainiac and Bizarro have become synonymous in popular vernacular with Achilles’ heel, extreme intelligence and reversed logic respectively. Similarly, the phrase “I’m not Superman” or alternatively “you’re not Superman” is an idiom used to suggest a lack of invincibility.
1960’ s “Enter The Multiverse!” “Flash of Two Worlds!” was a landmark comic book story that was published in The Flash #123 (Sept. 1961). It introduces Earth-Two, and more generally the concept of the multiverse, to DC Comics. The story was written by Gardner Fox under the editorial guidance of Julius Schwartz (whose autobiography was titled Man of Two Worlds), and illustrated by Carmine Infantino. The success of “Flash of Two Worlds” encouraged DC to revive many of its Golden Age characters. Eventually, crossovers between the two Earths would become an annual feature in the Justice League of America comics, beginning with issue #21, “Crisis on Earth-One!” (August 1963), and in the 12-issue miniseries, Crisis on Infinite Earths. The cover itself has become an iconic image, and has been referenced in the covers to Flash v.1 #147 (Sep. 1964), Dark Horse Presents #67 (November 1992), Flash v.2 #123 (Mar. 1997), and Impulse #70 (Mar. 2001), among others. In 2004, a near-mint copy of The Flash #123 sold in a Heritage auction for $83,000. The DC Multiverse consists of numerous worlds, most of them outside DC’s main continuity, allowing writers the creative freedom to explore alternative versions of characters and their histories without contradicting the official continuity, permanently altering it, or both. The number of alternate universes used by the Multiverse construct has varied over the years due to DC Comics’ policy of using or abandoning the concept at various points in its publishing history. Originally, there was no consistency regarding “numbered” Earths — they would be either spelled out as words or use numbers even within the same story (such as was the case with Earth-3 in 1964) but a tradition of spelling them out developed. Because the current Multiverse (brought back via Infinite Crisis and 52) uses numbers some people mistakenly believe that this was a way DC separates the current multiverse from the “original” one.
1970’ s “It’s An Ardvark!” Cerebus the Aardvark, or simply Cerebus was an independent comic book, written and illustrated by Canadian artist Dave Sim, with backgrounds by fellow Canadian simply known as Gerhard. Cerebus ran for 300 issues from December 1977 to 2004, and was over 6000 pages long, the longest-running original English-language comic book series ever by a single creative team. As of 2011, it leads its closest challenger Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo, (still ongoing) by over 100 issues. Sim refers to it as the “longest sustained narrative in human history.” Inspired in some ways by the Steve Gerber character Howard the Duck, the earliest issues of Cerebus took the form of a parody of the sword and sorcery genre, particularly Conan the Barbarian. The series developed artistic sophistication and originality very quickly. Citing as his self-originated commandment, “Thou shall break every law in the book,”Sim has done everything from flipping the page from horizontal to vertical and all stages in between to alternating comics with prose narrative, to including real dead or living people (himself included) in the storyline, all in an effort to explode the conventions of the North American comic book in every conceivable way. By the end of the 1980s, Sim became an outspoken advocate of creators’ rights in comics, and used the editorial pages of Cerebus to promote self-publishing and greater artist activism. Sim was also the biggest individual supporter of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; when he guest-wrote the 10th issue of Todd McFarlane’s best-selling Spawn, Sim donated his entire fee — over $100,000 — to the fund. During this same period he started publishing his and others’ experiments with 24-hour comics in the back of his issues, which created greater awareness of this challenge, now the subject of an annual event for creating them.
“A Survivor’s Tale” Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, by Art Spiegelman, is a memoir of Art Spiegelman listening to his father, Vladek Spiegelman, a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor, retelling his story. It alternates between descriptions of Vladek’s life in Poland before and during the Second World War and Vladek’s later life in the Rego Park neighborhood of New York City. The work is a graphic narrative in which Jews are depicted as mice, while Germans are depicted as cats. It is the only comic book ever to have won a Pulitzer Prize. Throughout Maus, Jews are represented as mice, while Germans are represented as cats. Other animals are used to represent other nationalities, religions, and races, the most notable other being Poles as pigs and French as frogs. The British are portrayed as fish. Almost all the characters of a single “nationality” were drawn identically, with only their clothing or other details helping to distinguish between them. In making people of a single nationality look “all alike”, Spiegelman hoped to show the absurdity of dividing people by these lines. In a 1991 interview, Spiegelman noted that “these metaphors... are meant to self-destruct in my book — and I think they do self-destruct.” Since its publication, Maus has been the subject of numerous essays. Deborah R. Geis published a collection of essays involving Maus titled Considering Maus: Approaches to Art Spiegelman’s “Survivor’s Tale” of the Holocaust. Alan Moore praised Maus, saying “I have been convinced that Art Spiegelman is perhaps the single most important comic creator working within the field and in my opinion Maus represents his most accomplished work to date.” Maus has also been studied in schools and universities. It is used in courses dedicated to the study of modern English literature, European History, and Jewish culture. It has been translated into 18 languages. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly listed Maus as #7 on their list of The New Classics: Books - The 100 best reads from 1983 to 2008, making it the highest ranking graphic narrative on the list.
“Who Watches The Watchmen?” Watchmen was a twelve-issue comic book limited series created by writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colourist John Higgins. It was published between 1986 and 1987by DC comics. Moore used the story as a means to reflect contemporary anxieties and to critique the superhero concept. Watchmen depicts an alternate history where superheroes emerged in the 1940s and 1960s, helping the United States to win the Vietnam War. The country is edging towards a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, freelance costumed vigilantes have been outlawed and most costumed superheroes are in retirement or working for the government. The story focuses on the personal development and struggles of the protagonists as an investigation into the murder of a government sponsored superhero pulls them out of retirement, and eventually leads them to confront a plot that would stave off nuclear war by killing millions of people. Creatively, the focus of Watchmen is on its structure. Gibbons used a ninepanel grid layout throughout the series and added recurring symbols such as a blood-stained smiley. All but the last issue feature supplemental fictional documents that add to the series’ backstory, and the narrative is intertwined with that of another story, a fictional pirate comic titled Tales of the Black Freighter, which one of the characters reads. Structured as a nonlinear narrative, the story skips through space, time and plot. Since its release, Watchmen has garnered acclaim as a seminal work of the comic book medium. In Art of the Comic Book: An Aesthetic History, Robert Harvey wrote that with Watchmen, Moore and Gibbons “had demonstrated as never before the capacity of the [comic book] medium to tell a sophisticated story that could be engineered only in comics”.
CHAPTER 3 CHARACTERS
ALIENS Aliens are a mainstay in many forms of fiction, and comics are no exception. An Alien by definition is any object or being that is in another place to where it was created or born. Often the term Alien is applied to any race of beings from another planet arriving on earth or a planet colonized by Human-beings (even the local inhabitants of that planet maybe referred to as aliens by the humans even though strictly by definition the human are the aliens.). Aliens maybe benign or aggressive and are a popular protagonist in modern science fiction and culture in general. Alien can also refer to the other-worldly i,e, things that do not resemble the normal and recognizable.
CLONES Cloned characters have been a staple in comic books for so many years, it is currently difficult to discern when the first appearance of a cloned character was. Usually a clone can be used to create emotional confusion & turmoil for a character (such as the effect of the Gwen Stacy clone in Spider-Manâ€™s personal life) or clones have been mass produced (such as the Clone Troopers from Star Wars). Cloning characters often leads to confusing storylines, which new creative teams find difficult to follow. This has led to clones being created from characters who are already cloned, and even the genetic manipulation of the clone to change characteristics and even gender. However, the one staple of a clone is that they must be an artificially created life form based on the genetic template of a pre-existing life form. A clone does not have to be based on a human character, but as many characters are either human or humanoid then the majority of known clones appear to be human.
DEMONS Demons are traditionally the fallen Angels who have sided Lucifer(Satan) rather than God. The term demon has a myriad of uses in fiction mainly due to its emotive traditional meaning. demons are often characterized as devious and/or brutal beings deformed with horns and sometimes able to disguise their forms. They are exclusively on the side of evil and are tempters of people in order to obtain their souls or physical bodies to drag down to hell. In some twists to the tradition characters such as Spawn is given demonic powers by a demon who then uses those powers to defy hell and his demonic master.
MUTANT Mutant refers to any individual in the Marvel Universe with a functioning X-Gene. Mutants mark the next step in human evolution: from Homo Sapien to Homo Superior. Mutants are conceived and born with their unique DNA, but it takes puberty or extreme stress to awaken their powers.
Mutants mark the next step in human evolution commonly referred to as Homo Superior. Mutations manifest in varied and unexpected ways, and mutants may or may not look different than normal humans. A mutation will grant a member of the homo superior species either a psionic or physical ability or some combination thereof. Variations in appearance include abnormal body color, excessive hair or fur, disproportionate or additional limbs, extra appendages (such as tails, wings, or tentacles), textured skin (such as rock or scales) or an animal-like appearance. Powers vary in nature and and include (but are not limited to) superhuman strength, superhuman speed, superhuman senses, flight, telepathy, telekinesis, blast powers, shape shifting, mastery over particular energies/radiation, and control over particular elements. Unlike other super-human powers, mutation originates at conception as a result of the presence of a particular gene known as the X-Gene (a.k.a. the X-Factor or mutant gene). Mutant powers generally manifest around puberty, but can be catalyzed during periods of heightened emotional or physical stress. Often times, some superhumans are erroneously referred to as â€œmutantsâ€? because of unique genetic structure and/or their powers were evident at birth. The only true Marvel Mutants are those born with an X-Gene.
MAGIC Magic is a supernatural force. It can be channeled into something fantastic like the creation of a dragon out of thin air, or something relatively mundane like making small objects levitate. In order to harness the raw power of magic, an individual requires certain skills and/or attributes (such as training, innate ability via heredity or something else, etc), and even then the amount of magical power any one person can control is usually limited. Manifesting in a variety of ways, the methods used to channel magic are diverse; incantations, artifacts, complex rituals, potions, the list goes on and on.
While magic itself is merely raw power, therefore incapable of possessing any innate morality, it is sometimes seen as purely â€˜goodâ€™ or â€˜evilâ€™. As previously stated, this is not only illogical but impossible, and it falls upon the user to decide whether to use the powers they wield honorably or not (just as it falls upon any individual with power). That being said, there are many individuals within the world of comics that utilize magic, both villains and heroes.
SIDE KICK A sidekick is a superhero partnered with another in a lesser capacity. Used for comedy, to relate to readers, but also to move plot, and in some cases to become an integral part of the mythos.
Sidekicks are usually young heroes who are partnered with an adult hero. They may also serve as the comedy relief in a story as well. Some notable sidekicks are Bucky Barnes, Robin,and Speedy. Many sidekicks created new identities when they grew up like Bucky (into Winter Soldier see Bucky Barnes) and the first robin (now Batman). The super hero Stripesy was very famous for being the adult sidekick to the teenage Star-Spangled Kid. Sidekicks may not only take a new identity when leaving their mentor but may later replace their mentor and take on his mantle. For example Bucky becoming Winter Soldier then later becoming Captain America and Dick Grayson becoming Batman. Sidekicks are also a way for young readers to relate to stories and feel as if they are working with or for the main hero. By tying young readers into relateable sidekicks they are then tied into the main hero which allows more readership. As a marketable tool sidekicks have done very well for comics mainly in the forties and fifties. Since then their deaths and resurrections have been very marketable.
TWINS // TRIPLETS A twin/ is a character born at the same time as another character. In some cultures twins were considered good luck, and the evil twin has always peaked the imagination.
ZOMBIES Zombie folklore hails from old practice of Vodou; a mix of religion, shamanism and witchcraft originating in Western Africa and prominant, through migration, in Haiti and Louisiana.
According to Voodoo, a zombie is a person who has died but has been ressurrected by a ‘bokor’. A bokor can be interpreted as a Voodoo priest (houngan) priestess (mambo) a black mage for hire. These are slightly outside the church and considered different (much like Brother Voodoo or Papa Midnite). The tenets of Voodoo say that once ressurected however, you are not control of your actions but rather whoever raised you is. Zombies could be destroyed if fed salt. It’s thought that this stems from people being drugged by a bokor with derivitives of foxglove and appear dead to their loved ones. However, later they would gain basic body function but be sent to work on landowners land. Their relatives would assume their ‘dead’ loved ones have been risen and become ‘nzambi’ (where we get our word Zombie). The most prominent case of this being reported in recent times was Clairvius Narcisse in Haiti, 1962. Despite these claims of the rising dead in Haiti, it seems to be isolated to small instances within rural communities and not really canon of the church. Contrary to his potrayal in fiction as an evil or wicked figure, in league with zombies, the Loa (a spirit of the Voodoo religion) ‘Papa Samedi’ is actually said to ensure people rot in the ground so they won’t come back as a zombie.
HOMAGE Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is a four-issue comic book limited series written and drawn by Frank Miller, originally published by DC Comics under the title Batman: The Dark Knight in 1986. When the issues were released in a collected edition later that year, the story title for the first issue was applied to the series as a whole. The Dark Knight Returns tells the story of a middle-aged Batman who comes out of retirement to fight crime, only to face opposition from the Gotham City police force and the United States government. DC published the issues of â€˜The Dark Knight Returnsâ€™ in packaging that included extra pages, square binding, and glossy paper to highlight the watercolor coloring by colorist Lynn Varley. The success of this work led to the establishment of the format, and it is now used generally to showcase works by big name creators or to spotlight significant story lines. The series changed the face of comics and how modern comics in general are viewed.
LEIGH WORTLEY Has a boyâ€™s name. Is not a boy. Not much a girl either. Likes comic books, superheroes, jazz and punk rock music. Wishes she was old enough to have seen Charlie Parker, young enough to play in ball pools and stupid enough to understand reality tv.
CREATORS C O M I C S CHARACTERS
Published on May 26, 2011