Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Elaine Lee, writer
Michael Wm. Kaluta, artist
Lee Moyer, painter
Charles Vess, "Galactic Girl Guides" inker (issues 1-3, 5-7, 9)
Todd Klein, letterer
John Workman, "Galactic Girl Guides" letterer (issues 1-4)
Scott Dunbier, editor

There's way more to say about this series than I'm going to get to in this post, but the long and the short of it is this is one crazy book that's gotta be read to be believed. Although it's existed in a few iterations produced by various publishers over the years, I first became aware of Starstruck when Elaine Lee, Michael Kaluta and Lee Moyer gave a long interview to Newsarama in advance of IDW's "remastered" printing. Crazy intrigued, I bought and read the first issue, and was utterly confused. Likewise with the second issue. When the third issue hit the stands, I bought it but made the bold decision to not read anymore until I had in my possession all 13 issues. I was convinced there was something here I'd love, but each issue is so densely packed, my feeble brain just couldn't hold onto all of the information during the month between chapters.

So then, with the series completed (for now!), I finally read through the books over the span of about a week or so, and man, did I love it. Talk about world building--between the intricately woven main and backup stories, the text introductions and encyclopedic "excerpts," Lee and co. have presented readers with a fully realized glimpse of a far-off future gone wonky, full of intrigue and with zaniness to spare. (By the way, nothing is extraneous; the details, "facts" and "rumors" shared in those text sections are a crucial part of the overall story.) Bringing things fully to fruition is Kaluta's gorgeous and intricately detailed artwork. In stark contrast to so many books where backgrounds are simply ignored and any sense of location is sacrificed for endless talking heads, Kaluta draws from a bottomless well of imagination and gleefully reveals every nook and cranny of each of the stories' settings, be it planet, spaceship or "recreation station." And while I haven't read this series in any of its previous forms, I can't imagine it without Moyer's painting. (Also, in case you missed it above, lettering by Todd Klein!)

I have no idea how this thing can be collected, although it is supposed to be, in March of 2011. In the meantime, it's well worth tracking down the individual issues. The cycles-spanning storyline rewards close--and repeated--readings, and Kaluta's art can and should be pored over, over and over again.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A portrait of the writer--

--as rendered by my extremely talented fiancee. (I desperately want her to make some comics of her own. I'd read the hell out of her comics, and I'm not just saying that 'cause we're getting hitched.) Yes indeed, that's me, sitting on a pillow shaped like an animal; we saw pillows just like that at the mall while doing a bit o' the old x-mas shopping, but we didn't actually take the plunge and bring one home. So, I suppose it's fair to say that this idealizes things somewhat. Apparently I'm in need of a haircut and a shave...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Peek at the Process

 Still knocking out prep work for the story I'll be launching in February. (Let's face it, I'll still be doing "prep work" even after it's launched.) Here's a glimpse at my outlining method, comprising an old-fashioned use of note cards. (This is also how I outline my bigger stories for American Cinematographer, in case anyone ever wondered.) I promise it'll all make sense next year...

Oh, and in case you missed the short review last week, I highly recommend that book you can see, despite the soft focus, in the background.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


by Mike Mignola
"The Magician and the Snake" by Katie Mignola and Mike Mignola
colors by Dave Stewart
letters by Clem Robbins & Pat Brosseau

Written by Matz
Illustrated by Luc Jacamon
Translated by Matz and Edward Gauvin
Lettered by Marshall Dillon and Mark Smylie

Words and Pictures by Michael Allred
Colors by Laura Allred

written by Jim McCann
art by Janet Lee

Strips 1-183, 1939-1943
Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
[Strips by Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Paul Cassidy, Wayne Boring, John Sikela, Jack Schiff, Whitney Ellsworth, Harry Donenfeld and Vincent Sullivan]

To this day, Mignola's The Amazing Screw-On Head one shot remains perhaps my favorite single issue comic book ever, and Dark Horse's recently released hardcover gives it all due justice. The other "curious objects" in this collection are also a nice addition, every one of them new to me and a wonderful complement to the main attraction.

Two more books from Archaia here, and both are must-reads. This first volume of The Killer is a masterfully executed study of a man who exists without remorse in a world that only he can inhabit, governed by his own code and none other; Jacamon's art (including his tremendously deft use of color) is every bit the equal of Matz's script. And at the other end of the spectrum of What Comics Can Be, Return of the Dapper Men delivers a new fairy tale that already feels comfortable and familiar, while introducing us to the uncanny talents of artist Janet Lee. McCann is an exceptionally creative and talented writer, and while I wish him the best with his work for the Big Two (or at least Marvel, anyway), I hope he gives us a lot more in the way of creator-owned material. Thank whatever god watches out for comics that Archaia exists!

So far as capes and/or tights go, this Superman book made for spectacular bathroom reading. I was sorry it didn't have the historical information provided by the similar Batman collection I read some months back, but the early adventures of the Man of Steel nevertheless entertained in their own right. I'll be honest, I'm not much of a Superman fan, but I do love seeing these early works when even his creators, Siegel and Schuster, weren't quite sure what they had on their hands.

And so long as we're talking about costumed heroes, Mike Allred's Madman is a masterpiece, and this Gargantua! edition is a perfect showcase for all of its crazy energy. I love this kind of comics, the kind where anything--anything--can and does happen. Time travel! Dinosaurs! Robots! Mutant street beatniks!