Tag Archives: Punisheritis

My Toronto Something-Con 1998 Sketchbook

This was — I felt — a tiny little “con” (more like a market) occupying only a couple of rooms in a convention center in Toronto which it was sharing with a Jehovah’s Witnesses Convention on that same weekend. I can’t even remember the name of it but I don’t think it was the Fan Expo which is a rather large and significant affair these days, I am told. Or maybe it was and the Expo has actually grown exponentially over the years. Anyway, there were very few mega-guests from the Big Two (except for Joe Quesada or Jimmy Palmiotti — I can’t remember which, and John Romita JR), but there were some excellent Canadian stalwarts as you shall see below. Click to enjoy!

Dave Sim

He had just done his four-part mega-interview with Alan Moore in Cerebus and was happy to chat about him for a bit.

Greg Hyland

Koichi Ohata

This is fairly bad ass.

Stuart Immonen

Joe Matt

Seth

Joe Matt and Seth were looking pretty… uhh… unoccupied at this particular show. They had lots of time to do fully rendered sketches. Matt even did another one for me in a copy of The Poor Bastard that I bought off him. I can’t remember if I bought It’s a Good Life from Seth directly at this show or if I got it some other time.

Stephen Platt

When Stephen Platt first started out, he was eager to work on the Punisher. The Punisher editors at the time didn’t like him, but he ended up landing on Moon Knight where he earned his 15 minutes of mega-fame, while Platt look-a-likes started appearing in the Punisher books where the editors were kicking themselves. Platt went on to mostly mediocrity. I’m not sure what the problem was. Maybe his sequentials just weren’t that great. Maybe he could only draw one facial expression. Anyway, for a moment there, his art style was in the right place at the right time (early 90s / Image steroid armor fest), and it always pissed me off that we never did get to see this “hot” artist on a Punisher book — which is what HE wanted in the first place — instead of the amateurish artists they were using instead. So when I got the opportunity to ask for a Punisher sketch, he was more than happy to oblige. That is a wicked image right there. They outta give the guy some covers at least.

KS

My SDCC 1997 Sketchbook

Mike Allred

I asked him about the Madman movie, and he said, “All I can tell you is the potential director’s initials are DH.” I said, “D.H. Lawrence?!” and he said, “Who?!”

Mike Mignola

He seemed slightly reluctant to have to draw Rasputin for some reason…

Scott McDaniel

Ron Garney

Art Adams

Mark Schultz

Terry Moore

Geoff Darrow

One of my favorites of these. It’s amazing how much expression he gets out of so few lines, and yet he’s known for his hyper-detailed style.

Mark Texiera

I wanted a Punisher. He was, like, “Man, the Punisher is a dead character!” I was, like, “O-okay, Mr Texiera. Vampirella then please!”

Phil Foglio

Len Wein

Phil Foglio

Stan Sakai

Kevin Eastman

Rick Geary

Gary Gianni

Unusual to see anything by Brom in just pen-and-ink instead of fully painted!

Dick Ayers

Batton Lash

Eddie Campbell

Eddie seemed slightly annoyed to see me walking around wearing a From Hell shirt, and asking him to sign From Hell books. He seemed disappointed that I wasn’t into Bacchus, but I did end up buying three tpbs off him!

Matt Wagner

Larry Marder

Marie Severin

Sergio Aragones

I wanted a Punisher. He was, like, “I never drew that character!” I was, like, “O-okay, Mr Aragones. Superman then please!”

Steve Bissette

I wanted an Abby, but my friend warned me beforehand that Bissette didn’t like doing sketches of her because she was hard to draw. But I figured I’d give it a shot. First, I got him to sign my copy of Swamp Thing #21 (“The Anatomy Lesson”) and I told him about how I’d recently bought page 1 of that issue (it is the one piece of original art I own). He asked me how much I paid for it. I said, “$900” (this was pre-eBay, remember.) Bissette: Poker face. So then I asked for an Abby sketch, and he was, like, “Wellll…” So I quickly said, “How about a Swamp Thing?” He said, “Okay, but can you go get me a Coke?” So I went and bought him a Coke, and when I came back this beautiful drawing is what was waiting for me! Thank you, Mr. Bissette!!

Jill Thompson

Carl Macek (R.I.P.)

Me & Carl Macek

He was the first creator I met at the show, and the only one I got my picture taken with. For better or worse, ROBOTECH has had an abnormally huge effect on my life. I was sadder than I should have been when he passed. He died at age 58. Meaning he must’ve been about 33 when he produced Robotech. Wow.

Mark Millar

Mark Millar had just finished his run on Swamp Thing, which I absolutely loved, but he was still relatively unknown in the US. I was determined to meet him to talk about his Swamp Thing work, but he never seemed to be around the first day or two. Finally, he was signing at the DC booth. At the table were Grant Morrison — at the peak of his super-popular JLA run — on the left, and Millar on the right. The mega-line was feeding into Grant (JLA artist Howard Porter may have been there too), and people would theoretically then travel along to Mark. Nuh uh. People would get Morrison to sign their stuff and then veer off into the ether. Millar was sitting there looking bored, and to be honest, a little sad — hard to imagine these days, I know! Anyway, so I’m in the line. Finally, I get to Morrison and I walk right past him to Millar. Morrison looks slightly taken aback — whether at being ignored or Millar getting eager attention, I don’t know. Millar is slightly shocked by the crazed fan too. In any case, we had a great lengthy chat (as far as Comic Con goes) about the whole legacy of Swamp Thing and his wonderful work on the series and he seemed to really appreciate my support too. Unfortunately, I haven’t liked much of what I’ve read of Millar’s work since, but that was always one of my favorite con memories. And who knew he could DRAW Swamp Thing so well to boot!

KS

Review: G.I. JOE COMICS MAGAZINE #1-4, 6, 13

(Marvel Comics, 1987. Writer: Larry Hama, Art: various)

Well, I bought these because I’m slightly addicted to digest-sized comics. It’s weird, I know. I also hear people talking about how good these old Marvel G.I. Joe comics are all the time, so I figured I’d better finally check them out. Most of these reprint three issues each of the series and they are considerably cheaper than trying to get the back issues or even the current TPB reprint series. Especially for me since I probably won’t be looking for any more of them

Look, I know, I know. It’s a goddamn G.I. Joe comic. What did I expect right? How could I come in here remotely expecting to find a comic I could give a positive review to?

I was biased to begin with. As a kid I liked science fiction, and I hated anything that promoted the idea of American military superiority or American patriotism / nationalism. I liked Knight Rider, and I hated The A-Team. And I loved Transformers and I disliked G.I. Joe (except for the ninjas). As an Indian-born kid growing up in Canada, I found it hard to see — even at that age — how one country could be said to be better than any other, especially if the grounds of that claim was muscle-power or money or Olympic medals. Also, there were a lot of redneck tough guys on the Joe team (an affliction COBRA did not seem to suffer from) which is something I REEEEAAAALLLYYY hated. — the same reason I could never watch Dukes of Hazzard. And I was never interested in “tactics” or “ops” or “hardware, This may sound strange from someone who suffered from severe Punisher-itis for twenty years, but that was more a case of me enjoying the violence rather than details about guns.

Of course, the basic concepts of neither G.I. Joe nor Transformers make any kind of sense if you think about them for more than five minutes. I always preferred Ditko’s Doctor Strange to Spider-Man, because with Spider-Man you have to at least consider the science-fictional constructs and it all falls apart. With magic, if it doesn’t make sense you can just write it off to something they didn’t explain on-screen. Transformers was so out to lunch, it was practically in the magic category. G.I. Joe, why do you only have ONE GUY that can pilot a jet?

So, anyway, Larry Hama’s G.I. Joe. People swear by this comic, and many point out how much better it was than the cartoon. That may be true. COBRA peons get regularly killed instead of ubiquitously ejecting to safety whenever they’re shot out of the sky. Hama seems to have staged all of the combat so that it works within the three-dimensional space described. Early issues feature one-issue stories, around issue #14 or so, we start seeing longer, interconnected, more complex storylines running over multiple issues. The introduction of the COBRA character Destro around this period and also his romance with the Baroness is interesting. They also introduce internal dissent and backstabbing within the COBRA ranks around this period which was way more fun than Joe-vs-Cobra-listen-to-my-witty-banter-while-I-describe-my-tank over and over again for reams of issues.

But this is still a G.I. Joe comic, aimed apparently, at stupid twelve-year olds. Snake Eyes is arrested and spends several issues in jail. At no time during his booking or jail time is he ever made to remove his mask. The G.I. Joe scuba guy participates in dry-land missions always in his full scuba gear. A COBRA agent attacks Snake Eyes on a ferry, and after beating him, Snake Eyes throws him overboard rather than taking him prisoner.

Take a look at the cover to issue #10. I get the point of this cover — it’s supposed to be a nice town, but COBRA is secretly lurking in the background. Except I wonder how normal any town is where a ninja and a woman carrying a crossbow can walk around in broad daylight (the woman with a huge grin on her face) without causing any issues.

I hear tell that there’s some ninja stuff later on — Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow stuff. That is some material I would genuinely like to read if anyone can tell me the relevant issue numbers. I would like to read the famous silent issue as well.

Otherwise, the idea of continuing to read this series to the stage where we discover that freakish, flamboyant, psychotic mastermind Cobra Commander used to be a used car salesman (actual storyline!) is just too head-spinning to contemplate.

KS

More capsule reviews

More of those reviews I promised last week…

1. DC Comics Presents #93: Superman and the Elastic Four (DC Comics, 1986. Writer: Paul Kupperberg, Art: Alex Saviuk / Kurt Schaffenburger)

I can’t remember what made me buy this comic. Maybe just the weirdness of the team-up.

Back at the age of eleven, one of the very first comics I owned in the stack of ten or eleven I had at the time was called “Superman and the Atom #51.” There was a kid in my class that year in Grade 7 that was super into comic books, so I brought in the little pile I had to show him. He looked at that one and said, “Oh, yeah. DC Comics Presents number 51.” I had no idea the comic was actually *called* DC Comics Presents — I though that was just a bit of advertising on the cover, ya know. And that was my very first bit of comics education. That kid ended up really getting me into comics, but that’s a story for another time.

Anyway, back to this thing. The Elastic Four are actually Plastic Man, Elastic Lad (Jimmy Olsen) and Elongated Man, and the mystery villain.

That’s a lot of stretchy characters that are all basically the same thing. It was obvious reading this that DC had (and still has) no idea what to do with the Plastic Man property they had acquired. In DC’s hands, he’s just a bog-standard superhero who occassionally turns into unusual objects. That alone should make for some comedy value, but this comic — while not trying to take itself seriously — doesn’t make any effort to make fun of itself either, or at least if it does then it doesn’t do a very good job of it. It was a lot less fun than I was hoping it would be.

Although, with Jack Cole’s Plastic Man the genius was in the cartooning, not particularly in the character (much like Will Eisner’s The Spirit). To make matters worse, Elastic Lad and Elongated Man only stretch — they don’t turn into things. Kyle Baker had the best run on Plastic Man since Jack Cole and the market refused to support him (as I feel it fails to support many humor books). But at least Baker’s run was funny and he knew to turn Plas into funny things to deal with different situations.

The one thing I did kind of like about this comic is that at the end it is revealed that the villain got his stretch powers by replicating the accident that gave Plas his powers. I’m amazed they don’t do this all the time in superhero comics — like, gimme some o’ those cosmic rays, please!

2. Punisher: Get Castle (Marvel Comics, 2010. Writer: Rob Williams, Art: Laurence Campbell, Color: Lee Loughridge)

From about 1988 to 2008, I suffered from acute Punisher-itis, a rare condition in which one is compelled to buy every appearance of the Punisher in a Marvel comic. I am sure there are variants such as Moon-Knight-itis and Spider-Woman-itis, and I plan on writing more about the subject in the future, but for now to make a long story short, when Garth Ennis left the book, so did I. I tthought I might continue buying the title of Tim Bradstreet continued painting the covers, but he left the book at the same time too, so that was that.

He does, however, occassionally come back for one shots so I picked up this miserable little book. PUNISHER: GET CASTLE is a pointless exercise in human scum-dredging with competent, ugly artwork. Ennis’s PUNISHER had to constantly face the never-ending-chain of consequences of his actions, and the effect that relentless killing had on his psyche and that of everyone else who came into his orbit. After Ennis, it was just violence for kicks — and not “fun” violence, but just human ugliness. The post-Ennis MAX Punisher has no personality — neither the muted passion nor the cold awareness of what he is. He is simply an object who moves through 20 odd pages each month so the reader can witness dimly lit torture scenes. There is no enlightenment, elucidation, or entertainment value at the end of it. Boy, I felt grimy after reading this thing. Same goes for PUNISHER: NAKED KILL. If Marvel didn’t put Bradstreet covers on these things, I would simply not buy them, but that’s Punisher-itis, you know?

3. Punisher: Butterfly (Marvel Comics, 2010. Writer: Valerio D’Orazio, Art: Laurence Campbell / Hubert Boulard)

This on the other hand was pretty interesting. The comic was written by Valerie D’Orazio who has been quite shittily treated by the comics industry and famously kept a blog about all the abuses she suffered at its hands. The comic is about a female assassin (who appears to mostly hit mafia targets) who writes a tell-all book and is then marked for death by the mob. There are some obvious parallels there, and there have been some suggestions around the net that this comic is kind of autobiographical in some ways. And it’s not a bad comic.

But, Marvel Comics, if you are going to put out a comic book with PUNISHER in the title, I fucking expect the Punisher to be in it for more than three panels. Had I known, I would not have bought it, you assholes. “Punisher Presents Butterfly” (like “The Punisher Presents Barracuda”) would have been acceptable.

Yes, the Punisher shows up at the end, tells Butterfly: ‘You’ve killed a lot of people” and then kills her. Actually, I’ve never seen a Punisher comic where he kills a mob assassin. My guess is that he would probably let them keep going because they are helping him do his job for him. So, even his three panels in this comic have obviously been shoe-horned in.

4. Fantastic Four #267 (Marvel Comics, 1984. Story & Art: John Byrne)

This is the issue where Sue loses the baby. Sorry if I spoiled that for you twenty years after the fact.

Anyway, Sue storm is pregnant with her second baby, but it has radiation sickess of some sort. The doctors don’t know what to do, so they recommend that Reed goes to the world’s foremost expert on radiation: Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus.

Otto is in a mental institution where he seems to have made a recovery from his evil ways and only wants to help people. He agrees to help Reed. But while they are flying back to the hospital, they pass a Daily Bugle billboard with Spider-Man on it, and Otto flips out, resummoning his mechanical arms from storage, and he fights Reed. Reed manages to beat him, but by the time he manages to get back to the hospital it is revealed that they are too late — the baby has died.

I have a stack of about 12 or 13 John Byrne FF issues that I got from I-don’t-know-where, and I just loved this issue back in the day. I loved the unpredictable insanity of going to a villain for help, the unpredictable goodness and altruism of Doctor Octopus, and the unpredictable shock ending and its dramatic staging. But when I recently went through my comics this issue was missing (what the hell happened to it?!) so I bought a new copy. I found reading it again that it still held up except for Byrne’s art and his goddamn relentless background cheating.

(p.s. Apparently the baby is currently alive in current Marvel continuity. Don’t know how the hell that happened.)

5. Girl Comics #1 (Marvel Comics 2010, Story & Art: various)

The stories in this 3-issue series are all famously (according to press releases) written, pencilled, inked, lettered, colored, and lettered by women. And yet it’s not called Women Comics.

Anyway, very nice art on most of these from an excellent list of creators, but mostly lame stories. It would have been better if the creators had not been restricted to using Marvel superheroes. In fact, the more hero-focused the stories are in here, the worse. Since it is an anthology series though, I will be picking up the next two issues anyway — there could be some good stuff in there.

Gotta love that Amanda Connor cover too.

6. Xenon #1 (Eclipse, 1987. Story & Art: Masaomi Kanzaki)

I’ve been interested in the cover of this since it first came out decades ago, but I never bought it until recently. The interior art is lame compared to the cover, and features the typical muddy reproduction of Japanese comics of the time. The story is about some kind of government program to create a super-cyborg out of a musclebound teenager or something. After a twenty year wait to read this thing, you can tell I’m pretty disappointed, but you can’t judge a book by the cover they always say and I should have listened.

KS