Richard Starkings might have built his reputation through editing Marvel UK then spearheading digital lettering in comics, but these days he spends much of his time devoted to Hip Flask and the Elephantmen, which has been living at Image Comics.  The series has been a consistantly quality book, both on the writing as well as the artwork.  And coming out next week (April 13th to be exact) is “Elephantmen: Cover Stories”.

This book showcases the jaw-dropping artwork that adorned the early issues of Elephantmen.  And while I have appreciated many books collecting covers in the past I really appreciate the time and care that Starkings and company have put into this book, adding layout sketches and works in progress along with the final images, themselves gorgeous works of art.

The artwork is that of Ladronn and Boo Cook, two exceptionally talented artists.  The commentary from each of them is a great peak behind the curtain at the creative process that goes into composing and executing an iconic cover image.

RECOMMENDED

“Elephantmen: Cover Stories #1″ from Image Comics

The work of french artist Moebius (real name Jean Giraud) is a treasure of sequential art and illustration.  At a recent visit to the US to speak at the Creative Talent Network Animation Expo the LA Times was able to sit down with Giraud and talk about his life and his work.  Here is a short except:

“I started in 1957 when I sold my first story to a magazine,” he said. “It’s impossible to count how many stories I did, how many pages. But there have not been very many characters. I have just six, you know, and a lot of it started with Blueberry.”

The western still holds a special place in the heart of Giraud — he could barely, for instance, contain his excitement about the release of the Coen brothers film “True Grit” — and in his native country the long, lonesome ride of Lt. Blueberry is regarded by many as the defining work. But while the realistic frontier tales gave him a compelling storytelling outlet, his imagination was restless to explore strange new vistas. That led to the 1960s adoption of the pen-name Moebius (as well as a third identity, Gir).

“In the beginning I had two different levels,” Giraud said. “To be an artist in comics because it was my dream as a teenager and when I was 7, 8, 10. I was such a fan. I committed already to drawing. The comics were not only stories to enjoy for me they were drawings that possessed me. I saw very early on the difference with my friends. They were using comics like a book but to me I saw a drawing exposition. The purpose was different for us, the experience was not the same.  The second level for me, another side  – which would maybe be my Moebius face – was the other wonderful art I was discovering with a lot of appetite. The expression of art as something bigger than life, bigger than anything. There was something very mysterious about that and beautiful. It was a kind of heaven with Picasso and everybody at the same table. I wanted to be part of that. For me it was a feast through the ages. Timeless.”

Click HERE for the full interview.

via the Comics Beat

Today the first issue of Nonplayer hits stands.  I don’t remember this much buzz surrounding a comic from a fresh creator in some time.  Joe Keatinge at iFanboy takes some substantial time with Nate Simpson to talk about his rise to fame and how the book has affected his life.  It’s a great read and I highly recommend clicking through to read the interview in its entirety.  Here’s an excerpt:

JK: How did the Quitely moment start off? I only saw you two talking halfway into your conversation.

NS: Ales Kot, an up-and-coming comics author, got a kick out of hunting down high profile creators he happened to know and would bring them over to the table. I later found out he tried to the same thing with Mike Mignola, but he wasn’t biting. Ales did bring Quitely over and intentionally brought him over to see how I’d react to Quitely as an anonymous individual. The set up worked very well; I was very surprised.

JK: What was Quitely saying at first?

NS: I’m sure I’ve mutated it in my memory, but the earliest thing I remember was him saying something complimentary about the posters and then going down a different road about different tools we use. I was telling him about IllustStudio and some of the cool function you could do, which he compared to MangaStudio. I just thought he was an enthusiast asking technical questions, but I started to sense the questions were the sort someone would be asking if they were a professional comic book artist.

Wasn’t it you who alerted me to his identity?

JK: I think I pointed out his name-tag was turned around.

NS: You did nudge me towards asking me who he was, the the moment of me just sort of staring. He was such a gentlemen too. I would like to hang out with Frank Quitely again sometime. He seemed like a fun guy.

JK: You mentioned at WonderCon there were four specific creators who really influenced you and you’ve now heard from three of them. Darrow was one of them, right? Moebius was another?

NS: Right. So, I’ve met Darrow and gave him a comic at WonderCon. Then William Stout was the second one and also met then gave him a comic at WonderCon. He invited me to stop by his Sunday figure drawing get together next time I’m in Los Angeles, which is awesome.

Moebius was through my French avatar, Joe Keatinge, and he got a copy of the comic through that meeting. The fourth person would be Arthur Rackum, whose been dead for forty years, so I could probably plant a copy of the comic at his grave.

Click HERE for the full interview.

Over at his blog master letterer and graphic designer Todd Klein shares another of his amazing logo studies. This time is focuses on his commission to create a logo for a relaunch of Ka-Zar for Marvel Comics back in the 90’s. Here are some excerpts:

In 1996 I was asked by then Marvel editor Matt Idelson to submit designs for a new Ka-Zar ongoing series by writer Mark Waid and artist Andy Kubert, one which I’d also be lettering. I always liked the character when he appeared in the X-Men books, even though he’s similar to Tarzan (or maybe because of that), and I was happy to get the assignment. All the logo ideas I submitted were done on my Apple computer. These two started with a block-letter font I designed, adding a gray outline above and bevelled facets below, inside a heavy black outline to pull the letters together. Version 2 tilted the letters a little, with the top tilted away, and added a telescoping drop shadow, open for color.

 

In any case, I thought of some jungle comics logos or story titles I’d seen in the past where the ends of the strokes were jagged like broken wood, like this one from 1955:

 

and I took that approach as a starting point for this version. One problem was that the two A forms left a lot of room at the top, so I extended the top stroke of the Z to fill that space, tucking the hyphen in the opening below it, which kept the letters as close together as possible. A thick outline added strength and readability, and an open drop shadow would make a place for a second color, and help pop the logo off the cover art.

For the full post click HERE.

The fine folks at Sequart Research & Literacy Organization are raising money through Kickstarter.com (the very same organization that birthed The Comic Archive) to fund a new documentary exploring the infamous Frederic Wertham, known to comics readers as the author of “Seduction of the Innocent”. For those unfamiliar with Dr. Wertham and his book, in the 1950’s Dr. Wertham tried to link comic books with juvenile delinquency which lead to a witch hunt and a decimation of the comic book industry.

Typically cast as a villian by the comic book industry, this documentary aims to explore the reasoning behind Dr. Wertham’s actions, which while with hindsight seem ludicrous were most certainly well intentioned.

Wertham was himself a contradiction. Although forever linked with artistic repression, he was a social crusader whose writings on the damaging effects of segregation were used as evidence in the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Although forever linked to the Comics Code, he claimed to be against censorship. Wertham developed his theories about comics while caring for juvenile delinquents, which biased his analysis by ignoring healthy juveniles who read comics — a fact that has caused his case to be often used as a negative example in statistical analysis. But his theories about comics, highlighting Wonder Woman’s themes of lesbianism and bondage, claims of Batman and Robin’s homosexuality, and the excesses of the era’s crime comics, had a lasting impact on the medium.

The filmmakers are raising funds on kickstarter.com right now and are getting close to their goal of $6,000. To support this film click HERE to donate.