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Marte Gracia

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Name: Marte Gracia

Website: Here or Here

Marte Gracia is one of the top colorists at Marvel, and we had the chance to sit down and talk a little bit about his career, his love for the medium and much more!

Perhaps this is a question you’ve been asked hundreds of times, but I’d love to ask anyway: Why do you love comic books?
What a nice question! When I was very young, on our way home from the kindergarten –which was within walking distance from our house – we used to pass in front of a newsstand, and my parents bought me any comic book available to keep me entertained, normally three times a week. Spider-Man was a regular, some Batman books, and a Mexican comic book called Karmatron, among many others. I have three older brothers, who loved comic books as well, and as I grew up, I discovered their books, so I read all kinds of comics: from younger reader’s appropriate comics to more “adult” stuff. By the time I was 10 years old, I was already reading Heavy Metal!

There was a breaking point in my life, in which I decided I wanted to make comics as a living. In the late ‘80s – early ‘90s?there was an anthology book in Mexico called Spider-Man Presents, a biweekly book featuring reprints of different American titles, such as Fantastic Four and Avengers, along with additional content like a letters’ page, articles, etc. One day, they started to print two or three pages per issue of the famous “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way” by Lee and Buscema. I collected every issue, cut out the pages and made my own manual. That was the spark I needed.

How did you break into the world of comic books?
During the ‘90s there was a huge boom for comic books in Monterrey, Mexico – where I still live to this day – that inspired a lot of people to create their own comics. Take Cygnus Studios, for example, and many other fine folks, like Dono Sanchez, Francisco Ruiz Velasco and Edgar Delgado. I started hanging around in a small local publisher, called “Neurona C” along with some of those guys, and later I got a job in a marketing studio, doing commercial illustration. We did storyboards, text books… the works. At some point, the owner ended up owing me a lot of money, and she said: “What would you say if instead of money, I print a comic book for you?” And I said yes, and that way I self-published my first comic called Chuck, which in hindsight was not very good. (Laughs) It had a very dark sense of humor, in the vein of Johnny: The Homicidal Maniac, by Johnen Vazquez.

Once I finished college, around 2002, I started working with Studio F. They were already working for American publishers, I used to hang around with them, and that was when I got intrigued by the work of a colorist, and I decided there and then that that was my thing. I dedicated myself to learn Photoshop like crazy, until one day, Dono Sanchez emailed me saying they’ve got too much work from Marvel and they needed all the help they could get. They sent me four pages from four different artists and said “Well, rock and roll!” I painted all four pages and they liked them because – as I was told later – I tried to paint every page according to each artist’s style. That’s how I got to work with Studio F. One of my first assignments was helping Edgar Delgado coloring some pages for a Venom regular series (penciled by Francisco Herrera). I was not credited in that book, though, but I learned a lot from Edgar. He was my teacher and guide, he led me to the right places using nice and hard words when needed, I owe that guy a lot and I’ll always love him.

What was your first solo work as a colorist?
My first solo book was Hell published by Dark Horse Comics through an imprint called Rocket Comics. That’s curious. I think that’s my only professional work outside of Marvel.

My first Marvel book was Marvel Team-Up, with Robert Kirkman and Scott Collins. I had a lot of fun with that book, but now I look at those pages and I go “jeez!”. (Laughs) I remained in that book until #37. During that run I got the chance of working with people like Paco Medina and Juan Vlasco (RIP).

Which artists do you feel more comfortable to work with?
Aside from Stuart Immonen – one of my all-time favorites – I’m blessed for working with Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva. It was a blast working with them in House of X / Powers of X. Pepe and I are working on X of Swords and I’m loving it. I also enjoyed coloring Joe Madureira in Inhumans, where we did some really cool visuals. And even though I’ve only done a couple of covers, I feel in awe when I color Ryan Ottley.

In your own words, what does a colorist do in terms of comic books?
That’s a beautiful question. You see, the goal of every cartoonist is to tell a story in the best possible way, without your work being noticed for getting in the way of the story. My job is very similar to that of a Director of Cinematography in movies. I need to tell a story using colors as a baton for feelings and emotions, trying to keep consistency between what’s going on in the page with the colors I choose. For example, If I paint a funeral, I will use colors suited for the mood of the scene, maybe muted or darker. But perhaps the most important thing is to guide the reader to the most important parts of both the panels and the page, by using color values, lights and shadows, to enhance what we want the reader to see. If you look at a page, filled with colors and textures and you don´t get lost, if you are immediately aware of who’s talking or doing something, if your eyes are drawn to where they need to be, then we can say both the artist and the colorist did a good job.

What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Just one thing: please, don’t deprive the world of what you have inside your head. Make comics. Write if you are a writer. Draw if you are an artist. If you do inks or colors, keep it going. But please, don’t let the world miss on what you have to offer. Share your stuff with the world. There are more comics to make, more stories to tell, because this is the most beautiful thing in life.

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Trunk Bubbles

Eduardo Ancer

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Name: Eduardo Ancer

Website: Here or Here

How did you break into the world of comic books?
My first foray into comic books was an indie comic called La Tierra Que Cubre (The Land Over All) in 2004 that I created with some friends. The idea was to produce a miniseries, but we were kind of young, and we could only deliver the first issue. This book was penciled by a good friend of mine who goes by the nickname “Rampant” and it was colored by Dono Sanchez – colorist for Marvel comics – and Tato Caballero. It was a true labor of love, I had to sell my car in order to pay a top colorist and print it in full color. The book performed pretty well by the standards of the market at that time, but not enough to carry on.

Later on, I met Carlos Gutierrez, from Metacube – an animation studio – where I had the chance to land a full time job. Under the Metacube umbrella, René Cordova and I produced another book, a 4-issue miniseries called Republica de Lucha (“Lucha Republic”).

At Metacube I had the chance of meeting folks like Carlos Villa (currently working for Marvel) and Pablo Polanco – Aztlan´s penciller – while working on an animated film that was released a couple of years back, Dia de Muertos (Day of The Dead). Long story short, while we were discussing the many projects we had, that’s when the idea for Aztlan was born.

Please, tell us about the Aztlan project.
Technically, Aztlan is a sort of sequel in spirit to The Land Over All. The concept was developed between 2010-2013, and we knew Pablo Polanco was just the right guy to pencil it. In 2014, he started working on the first volume, which was released until 2017 at the FIL (International Book Fair) of Guadalajara. The book performed really well, and we started to work on volume two right away.

Since its inception, we knew Aztlan had to be developed as a comic book, but we didn’t want to publish it in floppies. We pushed for the format it was released: A European sized hardcover book, that we could even export to other markets. The first book had a small, but decent print run, and now it is sold out.

How would you describe what Aztlan is about?
Aztlan is a Mesoamerican fantasy, based on the Legend of the Five Suns of the Aztec Calendar. It is said that the world we live in is the Fifth Sun, or the fifth era if you will, and there was four Suns before that, and all of them were destroyed. Aztlan is the story of the Fourth Sun, and the heroes that tried to prevent its cataclysm. I think it is a beautiful story; what the heroes have to face and live through is something very human, and I think everyone, regardless of their culture, could relate to it, especially in this year, in which the end of the world is a constant thought in many people’s minds. Our heroes have to make a choice: do nothing, stay in their comfort zone, or try to do their best to save their world. That’s a very universal theme, something any person in the world could relate to.

The fact that the story is set in a different world allows the story to portrait lots of fantastical things and creatures, it doesn’t have to be historically accurate, right?
Yeah, we even have some megaterium running around, and some people told us “but the megaterium wasn’t alive during the time of the Aztecs”. And of course we are aware of it, and many other historical inaccuracies, but you have to keep in mind that this story is set in a different time and a different world, and above all, that it is a fantasy book. In a way, it is an essay to speculate what a world, in which Mesoamerican cultures thrived, could be like. A Mesoamerican world that went through a cultural, artistic and even technological revolution, unlike the Aztecs from the Fifth Sun, whose development was brutally halted by the Spanish Conquest.

The art looks gorgeous. What can you tell us about Pablo Polanco’s artwork?
We were really lucky to find him. If you’ve ever pictured and artist living in a studio, with the blinds down, painting on a canvas and not even owning a bed –because in Pablo’s words “it makes you feel too comfortable”- that’s Pablo. And the most amazing thing is that he had never, ever penciled a comic book in his life before Aztlan!!! In fact, when he started working on the book, he wasn´t too keen on drawing digitally, he needed to feel the pencil, the paper, the inks and colors, but two weeks after he touched a Cintiq for the first time, he just rocked those pages. He’s a monster in the very best sense of the word.

A funny thing is that he wanted to treat every panel as an individual painting. He draws in a large format and tends to add an insane amount of detail into every panel. We always told him “You don´t have to do it, we are going to scale it down and some parts will be covered with text bubbles. Those houses you spent two days working on? I’m going to put text over them!” But he just didn’t care. And now we are thankful he didn’t listen to us, because the level of detail he puts into every page is breathtaking. He told us he even drew an actual cellphone hidden somewhere in the art just for fun (laughs). I’m trying to convince him to draw a Starbucks cup for the readers to find, just like in that infamous scene in the last season of Game of Thrones. (Laughter)

Please tell us about the Kickstarter campaign for Aztlan Volume 2
This second volume will be released simultaneously with a reprint of the first volume with a new and revised edition that will be available in four languages: Spanish, English, French and even Nahuatl, the language the real Aztecs spoke and that many indigenous people still speak to this day. The Nahuatl edition will only have a limited print run of 500 copies, by the way. The second volume will be available only in Spanish and English, for now, due to print and delivery costs.

Now, the book is done, and we are taking care of every detail in order to have a top notch final product. That’s why we need all the help we can get through this Kickstarter campaign. There are many tiers with different rewards. If you want both books, we are offering a special package price, among other cool perks. And yes, we can deliver worldwide. If you´re anywhere in the US, be sure we are working on offering an affordable delivery option.

The Kickstarter campaign ends on September 20th, so you still have time – but don´t wait until the very end – to reserve your copy!

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Essential Comics: The All-New, All-Different X-Men Era

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ESSENTIAL COMICS:
THE ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT X-MEN ERA

Mutants. Children of the Atom. Feared and hated by the world they have sworn to protect. They are The X-Men!

Originally created almost 60 years ago by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the strangest superheroes of all have had a long and expanding career not only in comic books, but also in movies, TV and video games. Their popularity has been a roller coaster ride, going from zeroes to heroes, ebbing and flowing over time, on the brink of cancellation one day and expanding to multiple titles the next. The X-Men saga is so vast, full of fascinating characters and stories, that it might be impossible to build a single timeline for all of them. However, in today’s Trunk Bubbles feature, we will recommend an essential X-Men storyline you can find collected in a hefty volume under the title “Uncanny X-Men Volume 1”, or available online in the Marvel or Comixology apps

Although the story of the X-Men formally started in 1963 with the release of X-Men #1, you can ask any mutant’s aficionado and every single one of them will tell you the same thing: The Claremont- Byrne era is exactly what you need, if you´re looking for the essence of the X-Men.

After a few years of reprinting stories in the original X-Men tittle -while some characters’ stories developed somewhere else in the Marvel Universe- Len Wein and Dave Cockrum took one more shot at the concept of the X-Men in the oversized “Giant Size X-Men #1, revamping the title with a radically different and diverse cast, which included a Canadian super weapon (Wolverine), a Russian farm boy (Colossus), an African woman revered as a goddess (Storm), a circus freak that looked like a demon (Nightcrawler), a powerful native American (Thunderbird), an arrogant Japanese super hero (Sunfire), and a cocky Irish man (Banshee). The only familiar characters were field leader Cyclops and the X-Men founder, Professor Charles Xavier, who drafted these new characters for a mission: to find the original missing X-Men. And then, the world would never be the same again.

With the success of Giant Size X-men #1, Marvel resumed publication of the X-Men book, keeping the original numbering, but this time Chris Claremont was the man in charge of telling the stories of this new -and huge- iteration of the X-Men, first with artist Dave Cockrum, and later with John Byrne. During the first 40+ issues of this legendary run, we would witness the death of a newcomer to the team, the love triangle of Cyclops, Jean Grey and Wolverine, the troubles the new members faced while getting used to living in a new country, their battles with classic villains like Magneto and brand-new foes like Protheus, and the cosmic saga that introduced us to the Shi’ar Empire, the Starjammers and the new identity of X-Men founder Jean Grey as Phoenix.

Now, there are some things you should keep in mind when you read this long epic in one sitting: Comic books were very different 50 years ago. These stories are the foundation of what the X-Men became years later, thus, you might find some issues that doesn´t necessarily match with the rest of the bunch, due to the pressure of delivering 22 bimonthly- and then, monthly- pages of story. Although Claremont planned storylines months in advance, it was clear that some issues were more “stand alone” than others, filling the gap with a break from the ever-expanding action.

Additionally, these issues are loaded with text in the bubbles and captions. There was always an omniscient narrator providing information on two fronts: some text allowed the reader to pick into the mind and feelings of the characters, while other captions basically described the action you could already see in the page. This narrative style is frankly outdated for today’s standards, but again, you must be aware of the times and context in which those stories where crafted. The plus side of this narration tool is that you could have a lot of things happening in 22 pages, unlike modern narrative styles, in which, typically, stories are meant to be developed in a 5 or 6 issues arc, in order to be collected soon in a single volume. Yes, back in those days, collected reprints were very rare, and the idea was for the reader to pick up the next chapter each month.

As for the art, Cockrum left the book in issue #107, and John Byrne took over artist duties from #108 to #143. Cockrum and Byrne set the visual style of the X-Men for years to come, disregarding a single uniform for the whole team, and creating a unique identity for those characters, color coding them to be easily recognizable in each shot.

Have you ever read these stories? Or do you want to enjoy them for the first time? Drop us a line in any of our social media outlets and let your voice be heard.

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Review: X-O Manowar

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Trunk Bubbles Review: X-O Manowar (Vol 5) #1

Story: Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum

Art: Emilio Laiso

Colors: Ruth Redmond

Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

Published By: Valiant Entertainment

Cover Price: $3.99

Super quick recap if you don’t know who X-O Manowar is:

Visigoth warrior prince Aric of Dacia was abducted, along with several members of his clan by a race of plant-like aliens called The Vine, hundreds of years ago. After several years of captivity, Aric manages to escape and steal The Vine’s most powerful weapon: a legendary suit of armor called Shanhara. Chaos ensues due to Aric’s inexperience with Shanhara’s powers and rocketed back to earth. However, there was a problem. Time is a big ball of wibbly wobbly time-y wime-y stuff, therefore, the Earth he left is not the same he returns to, since hundreds of years had passed. As a result, we now have a very interesting dichotomy: an ancient, warrior-minded Visigoth prince, wearing a super powered high-tech alien armor, bent on destroying his enemies and trying to reclaim the land that was his by royal right. Think of him as a mixture of Captain America (a man out of time), Thor (deity of a warrior race) and Iron Man.

Now, outside of the pages, X-O’s publication history has been a bit chaotic. Originally created by legendary authors Jim Shooter, Steve Englehart, Bob Layton and Barry Windsor-Smith for Valiant Comics, the character and title have had their fair share of revamps, leading up to its most recent iteration in the third volume of X-O Manowar published by the company now called Valiant Entertainment.

This first issue puts our hero and the reader in the middle of a space battle, wasting no time with introductions or recaps, but instead using expository dialogue between Aric and Shanhara as a way to introduce the character and his world to new and seasoned readers alike. I have to admit I missed most of the previous volume of the series, and I was surprised by the fact that Aric and Shanhara now have actual conversations, since in previous volumes Shanhara was sentient, yes, but silent. These interactions will help both Aric and the reader to get through the rest of the story, providing information and character development.

Another thing that surprised me was Aric´s behavior as a “lost in the present” hero, which might work for the character and the story, if you forget the fact that Aric has been around in our time for a while, and already has had lot of contact with other people, fought against other heroes and villains from the Valiant Universe – like Ninjak and Toyo Harada, for example- and was even part of a superhero team himself in the pages of Unity; and there isn’t any indication that this is a complete or soft reboot for the character. However, if you are new to X-O Manowar, you might catch up really quick and still enjoy the book, since the writing is solid and the characters have a distinctive voice.

The artwork is good and uses a clear, traditional super hero narrative with overlaid panels, splash pages and character that break the boundaries of the panel to emphasize action and drama when needed, and resorts to cleaner panel layouts for conversations and interactions between Aric and the rest of the regular human cast of the book.

Although this first issue was released on March 2020, you are still on time to grab a copy –physical or digital – and wait a couple of months for #2, which was scheduled for an April release, but has been pushed back for November due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. And in the meantime, you can also look for previous volumes of the series, available in affordable trade paperbacks, deluxe hardbacks or convenient digital collections published by Valiant Entertainment.

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Miguel “Mike” Mora

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Name: Miguel “Mike” Mora

Website: Here or Here

1. Favorite character growing up:
Since I was a child, and up to this day: Conan the Barbarian.

2. Favorite character now:
Well, there are a lot of them, and I couldn’t say I have a favorite. It depends on the artist in charge.

3. Your most recent work:
Right now I’m finishing a one-shot story for Neymar Jr. Comics, as part of the INKED series.

4. How would you describe your style?
Dirty! (Laughter) Regardless of the tools, digital or analog, I always end up making a mess. I would say my style is a bit… dark? I don’t know, maybe, but with a cartoonish flavor, so to speak.

5. Is there any particular artist that has inspired you throughout your career?
Uff… many, really too many to tell. You can find some influences in my drawing style, but there are other artists whose style I like, and don’t necessarily influence me directly, from Alfredo Alcalá, Frank Miller, Mignola, Jae Lee, etc. But if I should name a real influence, because of his way of thinking and what he has achieved in life, without a doubt it should be Todd McFarlane.

6. How did you break out in the comic book industry?
In a magazine called Angels edited by R.G.Llarena (Heavy Metal) in the ‘90s.

7. Is there any character from any comic book universe that you like to draw while sketching for warm ups?
Actually, I almost never do sketches and pinups, I go straight to the pages. I like telling stories more than drawing characters for no reason. But well, sometimes you have to adapt, so I push myself to draw a thematic sketch from time to time.

8. Are there any characters or titles you’d like to work on in the future?
Sure, Conan or Spawn. Pretty obvious. (Laughter)

9. What would you say is your greatest strength as an artist?
Well, I don’t know if it’s a strength, but I try to focus on storytelling and deliver quality pages. I´m not sure if I’ve managed to do just that yet.

10. You are currently working on The Painted Men mini-series; how would you describe your experience drawing these characters?
It’s been a lot of fun, their stories are action-packed, and filled with monsters – which I love to draw, by the way! And although my style is not realistic, I tried to capture the personality of their comic book counterparts with the references I found of them online.

11. Quick question: Mi and Graine, or Aleks? And why?
Definitely Aleks… because… who doesn’t want to be a masked man with an axe!

12. Can you tell us something about your next comic book projects?
I hope to keep collaborating with more Neymar Jr. Comics stories, and to be able to develop some personal projects that I have been working on. I’m often on the lookout for new projects.

13. What piece of advice would you give to young aspiring artists out there who are considering to make a career in the comic book industry?
Start now! Seriously, start sending submissions to publishers of all sizes. Send out your work to people who are already working in the field and who can give you feedback: artists, editors, colorists, etc. Be always receptive to their recommendations and comments, that way you’ll be able to take your art to the next level. And of course, keep practicing, you never stop learning.

 

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Top Five Supermen… Who Are Not Clark Kent

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TOP FIVE SUPERMEN… WHO ARE NOT CLARK KENT

About a week ago, the world was taken by storm with the online event of the summer: The DC Fandome, a celebration of all things DC… well ALMOST all things DC, since a certain blue and red superhero was not exactly in the spotlight during the 8+ hours of the event. Sure, the iconic Superman theme by John Williams was used in the welcome video for anyone entering the Hall of Heroes, and the Big Boy Scout appeared here and there during the panels, but nothing else. Yeap, no news about an upcoming Superman movie or a panel about the importance of the very first superhero in history.

So, for this week’s special feature, we decided to pay homage to the Man of Steel in the same way: By remembering some of the most powerful, weirdest, and sometimes, evil supermen… but without Clark Kent. Let’s take a look!

 

5. SUNSTAR

This is one of the most recent additions to the extended family of Superman analogs. Created by Mark Russell and Richard Pace as part of the starring duo of his Second Coming book, published by Ahoy Comics, Sunstar is his world´s greatest superhero, possessing powers that make him look like a god in the eyes of everyone else, including, well… God himself. However, unlike Clark Kent, Sunstar is far from perfect, but quick to resort to action, which is exactly what God was looking for in order to teach his son, Jesus, how a true god should behave in modern times.

Sunstar is then paired with Jesus Christ to patrol the streets and show him the ropes, while dealing with very human issues, like the ordeal of adopting a baby with his girlfriend, since his alien biology won’t allow him and his “Lois Lane” to have a baby of their own.

4. SAMARITAN

Based in Astro City, Asa Martin protects the world as the greatest superhero of all time: The Samaritan, the most powerful member of the Honor Guard. Created by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson for the Astro City series of miniseries and ongoing titles, Samaritan is not exactly a super powerful alien, but a time traveler from the 35th century, a time in which humanity was at the brink of extinction and decide that the only way to fix their present was sending someone back in time to take care of things. Asa was chosen, and upon his arrival in the 20th century, he discovered that now he possessed superhuman abilities, like flying, super strength, energy projection and even dimensional travel.

The very first Astro City story is a beautiful exploration of what it means to be a Superman, the insane amount of work it involves, the loneliness that comes with the responsibility of saving the world, and, paradoxically, the need of being alone for the simple joy of flying. Also, long before DC Comics dedicated an ongoing title to explore what a romantic relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman would be, Busiek and Anderson answered that question through Winged Victory (Astro City’s Wonder Woman analog) and Samaritan in a single issue.

3. OMNIMAN

For years, Nolan Grayson protected the world under the guise of Omniman, the most powerful member of the Guardians of the Globe. Despite his alien origin as a viltrumite, he was able to marry an earth woman, Debbie, and together they conceived their only child, Mark. Once Mark was old enough to understand the truth about his father, Nolan told him about his alien heritage and that, maybe, someday he could develop powers as well. The day came sooner that Nolan expected, as Mark got into puberty, and that was the day the world would change forever. That was the day Invincible was born.

Robert Kirkman and Corey Walker created Omniman as an obvious Superman knock-off, and during the first few issues of Invincible readers believed that it was a “passing of the torch” type of story, since Omniman dedicated much of his time training Mark in the use of his newfound powers. But everything changed when the Guardians of the Globe were murdered one by one by a mysterious and powerful foe, which turned out to be their friend and longtime ally: Omniman himself!

Then, Omniman revealed the real truth to his son and the readers: the viltrumite race was not a race of protectors but conquerors, and unlike Superman, he was sent to Earth to take over our world in the name of the Viltrumite Empire. Devastated by this shocking revelation, Mark fights his father, but is easily overpowered by a stronger and more seasoned viltrumite warrior. However, when Nolan was about to deliver the finishing blow, some powerful words from the mouth of his son make him change his mind and abandon our planet, leaving a confused and ravaged Mark to ponder if his father ever really loved him.

2. MIRACLEMAN

We are kind of cheating with this one, since Mike Moran is more an analog of another powerful superhero – the World’s Mightiest Mortal formerly known as Captain Marvel – than one of Superman’s, but since the Big Red Cheese himself was in fact a Superman knock off to begin with, we decided to stretch the concept a little bit as well.

Long story short: Captain Marvel was becoming even more popular than Superman back in the day, a fact that started a legal battle that ended up with Fawcet Comics cancelling every Captain Marvel title in the market. The cancellation had a profound impact overseas, particularly in the UK where Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family reprints were some of the top selling titles in the British market. In order to keep sales afloat, the L. Miller & Son publishing company, responsible of said reprints of the Marvel Family books in the UK, commissioned writer/artist Mick Anglo to create a similar superhero and continue the stories as if nothing happened, but under a new name for the character and his extended family: Marvelman, and the Marvelman Family (Kid Marvelman, Young Marvelman, etc.). This stunt lasted almost 10 years, until interest on Marvelman dwindled and all titles were cancelled.

Cue to 1982, when a young Alan Moore revamped the series in the anthology magazine Warrior, picking up the story “in real time” from the date it was originally cancelled. Moore’s vision for the character included a deconstruction of the superhero as a modern myth, riffing on the most ridiculous and whimsical tropes of the genre, like magic words that instead of simply transforming a young man into a grown-up superhero, were then revamped as trigger words for a complicated science fiction, nuclear powered, multidimensional process to grant main character Mick Moran with the powers of a god but the mind of a flawed, but well-intended man. The series was republished in the US by Epic Comics under the name Miracleman in an effort to avoid legal claims from the House of Ideas. Ironically, years and lots of legal battles later, the rights of Miracleman ended up with the very company that pushed Epic to change the name of both the character and title for the US market: Marvel Comics.

1. SUPREME

This is yet another shot at revamping the myth of Superman by Alan Moore, who took over writing duties of this Superman knock off created by Rob Liefield during the most extreme (pun intended) era of superhero comic books with issue #41 of the original series. Under the creative choices of Liefield, Supreme was a very mean, violent and self-righteous version of Superman, but with white hair and a white suit, who even quoted the Bible to justify his actions (make whatever you want out of this).

Moore accepted Liefields’ offer on the condition of having creative freedom to write whatever he wanted, since he considered the title was “not very good”. The result is, perhaps, a collection of some of the best Superman stories without Superman. Since Supreme was not a part of a multimillion dollar franchise, Moore had free reign to craft stories that included a conclave of Supremes from different corners of the multiverse, revisionist continuity to explain the radical change of the book’s tone, science fiction and magical elements that really affected the story’s status quo, commentary on storytelling as a whole and even a heartfelt homage to the King of Comics, Jack Kirby.

Whereas in Miracleman Alan Moore deconstructed the Superman, in Supreme he reconstructed the myth of the Man of Steel and proved that it is possible to tell great stories with the greatest superhero of all.

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Review: Big Girls #1

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GOING BIG WITH JASON HOWARD: BIG GIRLS #1

Story and Art: Jason Howard
Letters: Fonografiks
Published By: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

We, comic book fans are no stranger to certain “rituals”, unique to our geekdom, such as keeping and treasuring hundreds of pollybaged floppies in long boxes – all of which might or might not be read ever again – or getting multiple copies of our favorite books in a myriad of formats. But perhaps, one of the most enjoyable of those rituals is picking up a #1 issue of a book we’ve never heard of before at our friendly LCS (Local Comicbook Shop). And it gets even better when said #1 issue is as good as the debut of BIG GIRLS, the first solo project of renowned artist Jason Howard (Trees, Astounding Wolfman).

Released a couple of weeks back by Image Comics, Big Girls is set sometime in the future, years after an incident – of which we only get a few clues in this first issue – detonated a genetic disease that affected both men and women alike, but with a big (pun intended) twist: men could grow into giant, kaiju-like, mindless monsters, while women simply grew several stories high, retaining their intelligence and human appearance.

While not every human is affected by this mysterious disease, this situation is already part of the culture and everyday life of this world´s society. Pregnancy registration became mandatory, in order to monitor any potential anomaly, and safe zones were put in place for regular citizens to live in. However, constant male monster attacks call for a special team dedicated to fight them back and keep people safe. A team of – wait for it – BIG GIRLS.

Although this is Jason’s first project as a full author, and despite carrying a good heap of exposition in the first issue, the book flows with a comfortable rhythm through the panels, using every available page to tell the story. And when I say every available page, I really mean it: even the usual credit page in almost every Image book is used as an establishing shot to kick start the story.

Jason is doing every part of the artwork: layouts, pencils, inks and colors, helped only by Fonografiks with the lettering. His art in BIG GIRLS has much more in common with his previous work in Trees than with his other longest-running book in Image Comics: Astounding Wolfman. Like in Trees, his inks are rougher and edgier, and he uses crosshatching to add depth to both characters and backgrounds. To some readers this stylistic choice could make them think that the artwork is a bit “dirty”, but it fits nicely with the world the characters live in and the situations they have to face on a daily basis.

His composition and storytelling are very clear and easy to follow, and his character’s designs allows the reader to fully identify who´s who in the panels. Manga and anime aficionados will immediately recognize certain influences in the creatures ‘design, the clothes and equipment of Ember –our main character so far- and the composition of certain shots, used both in classic franchises such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and modern day favorites like Attack On Titan.

All in all, BIG GIRLS # 1 is a solid debut for a new regular series, and I strongly recommend you to grab a copy at your friendly LCS or digital comic store of your choosing (Comixology, Google Play and Apple Books).

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Trunk Bubbles

Alfred Rodríguez

AlfredRodriguezFeatured2

Name: Alfred Rodríguez

Website: HERE

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Spider-Man and Batman.

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Death of The Endless and Emp, from Adam Warren’s Empowered.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your writing style? What kind of writer do you hope to be?
Rodríguez: Well, the first question is a though one. I would say that I truly care for the dialogue as much as for the action shown in each panel. And I like to break the story down in rough thumbnails, in order to get a sense of the rhythm and space available to the artist.

As for the second one, that’s easy: I hope I could be a writer capable of conveying emotions in the reader. If they put down the book – or the device of their choosing for that matter – and keep thinking on the characters and the story they’ve just read… well, I think I could say it was a job well done!

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for writing?
Rodríguez: Comic books were always around since I was a little kid. My parents used to buy them for me to keep me busy while we were in the waiting room of a hospital, for example. In those prehistoric times, internet wasn’t around to offer hours of entertainment at your fingertips, therefore, reading comic books was the best way to make your imagination fly to strange and fantastic worlds.

As many kids, I also wanted to make comics, and I used to think that a single person did all the work I read in those pages. I wasn’t really aware of what the job of a writer was in terms of comics until I was maybe 12 or 13 years old, and I started noticing familiar names in the credits pages. Names like J.M. DeMatteis, Dennis O’neil, David Michelinie, among many others.

Then, I read my first Sandman collection by Neil Gaiman, and that’s where I truly understood what a comic book writer could do.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Rodríguez:Yes! I fell in love with all Spider-Man titles of the early 90’s. I loved that sense of a shared universe with other Marvel characters, and I felt the same way when I discovered Batman and the DC universe as a whole.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Rodríguez: The X-Men. I think Stan Lee described them perfectly: The Strangest Super Heroes of All. That’s what they are to me. Yes, they do some super hero stuff, but they are much more than that. They are family, and their adventures are a soap-opera as much as a super hero story.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is your greatest strength as a writer?
Rodríguez: I think I’m fairly capable of understanding the characters and finding behavioral patterns. That helps me to keep the characters consistent with their actions and their dialogue; and I think that is something the reader appreciates, perhaps even in a subconscious way.

TrunkSpace: You are stepping in as guest writer on the Neymar Jr. Comics series Social Monsters with the Day of the Dead Special, set to debut October 31. Did you feel pressure working on a title that has such a big, universally known talent involved in Neymar Jr.?
Rodríguez: Well, yes…and no.

“Yes”, because when I started typing Saber’s dialogue I went like, “Wait a minute! This guy is a Neymar Jr’s proxy! A proxy for the football star my dad watches on TV every week! I have to make him sound cool!” And that’s real pressure there, you know?

And “No”, because I knew I had the guidance and mentoring of seasoned comic book pros- like Head Writer and Editor in Chief Jason M. Burns – who are always taking good care of such an important IP as the Neymar Jr. brand. I knew that I could count on them to provide me with the best insights and direction for the story I wanted to tell.

TrunkSpace: What was your approach like as a whole when you started working on the issue? What did you want to achieve?
Rodríguez: Since it was a Day of The Dead Special, I knew I wanted to take our characters to my country, Mexico.

The “problem” was that we have hundreds of museums and items to choose from to create an entertaining and educational story, so I had to narrow my options down to those related to the “Day of The Dead” or “death” as a concept. And then I remembered that we already have a classic “monster” to fight with. One that our typical “super heroes”, the Luchadores, have fought before: The Mummies of Guanajuato. So in a way, I wanted to convey that feel of the classic Lucha Libre movies, with our heroes fighting the mummies; while paying homage to a city that means so much to me and my wife.

TrunkSpace: Although grounded in reality from a historical sense, the Social Monsters series is very much the kind where anything is possible. How much fun is it writing in a world where there are really no boundaries to what you want to put on the page as far as your imagination goes?
Rodríguez: It’s liberating! But at the same time, it poses quite a challenge, because in a world where not even the sky is the limit, it is tempting to “abuse” that power in terms of story, and there’s always the risk of making the story too far out, or the characters too powerful for the reader to even care for them and their exploits. And that’s also the fun part, you know? To find the best way to tell a fantastic story but keeping our characters close to the reader.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with your work on Social Monsters?
Rodríguez: The fact that I could have our heroes coming to Mexico, because that way, I was able to share a little bit of our culture with our readers, while keeping true to the essence of what Social Monsters is about: entertaining and educational content for readers of all ages.

TrunkSpace: You also run a podcast about all things comic books. Can you tell us about that and how it came into creation?
Rodríguez: Sure thing!

I started toying with the idea of hosting my own podcast while listening to the very scarce comic book-related podcasts in my country, back in 2012. One day, I was invited as a guest in one of those podcasts, and I took mental notes on how it was made. So, I started out recording audio on my mobile phone and mixing it (poorly) with a simple audio edit software I found online. That’s how El Café Comiquero (The Comic Book Coffee Shop would be the most accurate translation) came to be.

The first 10-15 episodes were… not bad, but far from “good”, since it was only me, talking non-stop for an hour or so. Until I found my partner in crime: my own brother, Raul. Not only did we grow up together (obviously), but we also grew up reading, mostly, the same comics and watching the same movies and TV shows. So, one day I asked him if he would be interested in co-hosting the show with me, he said yes, and 329 episodes later, I can tell you that this podcast have become an essential part of our lives.

In this podcast we talk about all kinds of comic books, movies, TV shows and pop culture-related topics. You can find us in almost all major platforms such as Spotify, iTunes or Google Podcast under the name “El Café Comiquero”. And, you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as “El Café Comiquero” as well.

If you speak Spanish – or if you are taking Spanish lessons – and want to practice it a little bit while listening to some nice geeky content, give it a try and tell us what you think.

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