I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got five new comics.

  • Planetoid: Praxis – 6
  • Deadly Class – 30
  • Saga – 46
  • Savage Dragon – 226
  • Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses – 27
  • Check them all out here:

    Sometime a few months ago I started a new comic book habit. I have a section on my comic book collection called “I bought them just for their covers.” These are comics that I don’t have a lot of interest in but I liked their covers. Sometimes that’s enough to make me buy a comic. That and if it’s cheap. I’m not spending more than a few dollars on a comic just for the cover. My new habit is that I keep one comic laying around, on top of my printer, so I can pick it up and look at the cover. It sits there for a few days or a couple of weeks depending on my interest or indifference to the comic. It’s usually indifference that makes it stick around longer because I forget it’s there. But eventually I take a new one out. Often from my “Just for their covers” section but not always so.

    Let’s take a look at the one that’s there this week. It’s “Creatures on the Loose” #23. It has a May 1973 cover date which means it was on sale in February of 1974. COTL was a Marvel Comics series from the 1970s that had a bunch of different main characters over its lifetime. It was a genre tryout book of sorts and this book’s genre was monsters. Except Thonogor wasn’t a monster. Thonogor was born of the 1960’s popularity of Conan. Lin Carter wrote a series of novels staring our sword and sorcery star and then Marvel licensed the stories to make comics out of them. After all Conan was a success for Marvel so why not copycat yourself?

    This cover was drawn and inked by John Romita. You can see his signature on the left side in the wood grain of the door so there is no need to look up who drew it. Romita was on the Marvel staff at the time as Art Director and he also drew a bunch of covers for them as well as drawing various interiors. I often wonder who colored these Marvel covers. I know that George Roussos came on staff at Marvel some time in the early 1970s and colored lot of Marvel’s covers but he wasn’t credited for them. This could be his work but who knows?

    The cover has a lot of logos at the top of it. It has the Marvel Comics Group logo, the COTL logo, a small “Featuring”, the Thonogor logo, and finally a “Warrior of Lost Lemuria” tag line. That is a whole bunch of words to fit on one cover but they’ve done a good job of it. They even threw in two cover copy blurbs for good measure. We get a story title and a brag blurb. If you were to describe a comic cover with that many logos on it I’d put money on the fact that the cover would look really crowded but this one doesn’t. The top logos stack into as small a place as possible and the blues are even compact. I question the necessity of the “Sword and Sorcery” brag blurb as it doesn’t seem to add much and gets in the way of the composition a little but it’s still fairy inconspicuous. Overall the type and trade dress might be too busy but they get an “A” for making it work so well.

    The first thing that jumps out at me is, of course, the giant green monster. He takes up most of the cover and is the dominant figure in the composition. Our hero doesn’t even get to be very heroic as he’s getting his butt kicked by the creature. I think the green is a little bit dark. It almost works as this cover is supposed to take place in a dark setting but I flattens the picture too much. Even with the rim lighting along the creature’s back it’s tough to get any visual separation between the creature and the background. The green and the blue have similar values and blend together easily. The bright yellow rim lighting on the creature’s arm is odd. I think it’s supposed to represent the light from the flame that Thonogor is holding but it’s not quite in the right place for that.

    Thonogor stands out as much as the creature blends in. His light pink color is the brightest bright on the cover so it moves forward in my eye. It moves forward so much that it messes with the perspective of the flame lamp he’s holding. That flame is supposed to be the thing closest to us in this picture but because the light pink moving forward in my eye the flame looks about even with his head and back arm. This visual confusion tend to flatten things.

    I like the drawing and inking on the cover. The monster is suitably monstrous and has some nice heavy inks and texture to him. It’s tough to draw a menacing monster head at that angle but the sharp teeth and horn help. I can imagine them wanting the teeth even sharper but not being able to get that passed the Comics Code Authority. They wouldn’t let you make the monsters too scary. Thonogor’s figure is also well done. He’s bent over at such an extreme angle that he doesn’t even have both feet under him. That is an unusual twisting pose and tough to pull off but Romita does it.

    It’s strange how little details can stand out at me when looking at a cover. Like why does one entranceway have a door on it and one doesn’t? The top right doorless exit lets out eye move into deep space but storytelling-wise I’m not sure why there is no door. But the bigger mystery is that flame that Thonogor is holding. It’s obviously a floor lamp because it has those four feet on it but why isn’t it a regular torch? It would make sense to be carrying a torch in a dungeon. Did Thonogor pick it up off the floor to use as a weapon? It might be explained by reading the story but for now I’m just looking at the cover. Looking at it and contemplating its mysteries.

    I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got three new comics.

  • Dept. H – 17
  • Eternal Empire – 4
  • Lazarus X Plus 66 – 2
  • Check them all out here:

    I always find it shocking when I’m rummaging about the place and I find some piece of art that I’ve forgotten I ever made. Though I’ve made a lot of stuff over the decades it really doesn’t happen that often. I scan my art into the computer and look through the files when I need to find something. That mostly means I only glance at things but since I see them it’s rare when something takes me by surprise.

    As a lot of folks did back in the 1990s I used to make mini-comics. That’s where you write and draw comics and then print them up as a booklet on a photocopier. They were usually photocopied onto an 8.5×11 inch piece of paper and then the paper was folded in half so the finished comic was 5.75×8 inches. Some people even went smaller and used the paper folded into quarters to get more and smaller pages out of a single sheet of 8.5×11 inch paper. I still have a few copies of mine stuck in a closet somewhere and I remember them all but what I didn’t remember is how I made the last two I ever did.

    My usual method for making a mini comic was similar to my method for making a regular comic. I draw the art on individual pages, shrink those pages down to the correct size, paste those pages onto a master sheet (a mechanical in the language of print production) and then use those master sheets to make photocopies from. After the photocopies were made I’d line the sheets of paper up in the right order and then staple and fold them. I even have a long reach stapler because a regular stapler was too short. It’s pretty much a craft project and was easy to do but took time.

    What I found while looking at some sketchbooks on a shelf was the original art from my last two mini-comics, a “Delia Charm” and an “Organics” mini. Except the art wasn’t on individual pieces of paper. I actually made a book out of the original art. A mini-comic that was itself a piece of art. Each little book has twelve pages made from three sheets of paper each, drawn on back and front, and then folded in the middle. I didn’t even use staples to hold it together. I used thread to bind them in the place of two staples each. I have the say the thread gives it a nice look. I’m glad I went that route. And yesterday I didn’t remember I ever made such a thing.

    The first mini-comic is “Organics.” That’s the name of a style of comic that I do where there is no literal connection between the story and the pictures. It’s all about making connections. Finding the faces in the clouds. I especially like the front and back covers on this one. The front cover is a twice done picture. I first drew it as a spontaneous ink drawing on textured paper in the late-1990s when I was first learning that technique. I always liked something about the drawing. There was a look in the character’s eyes that works for me. I even recaptured that look when I remade the drawing for this cover. It’s not always possible to recapture a look like that but somehow I did. The back cover is a strange boat and wind thing. I think the inking technique on it is nice and I like the general weirdness of it. The “Knees, bees, trees, squeeze” type is something I used to write all the time when I got stuck and couldn’t think of anything to write. It calmed me.

    The inside story has to do with a broke guy named Tony going to an ATM to get twenty dollars and the thoughts that roll through his head on a cold winter day. I think I accidentally called Tony by the wrong name for a panel. Suddenly a Ray is named and not mentioned again. That threw me. There is also a text piece the runs on the inside front and back covers about supernatural silly stuff. I used to write editorial text pieces in my comics as a sort of precursor to blogging.

    The second mini-comic is one of my slice-of-life Delia Charm stories. She’s having a rough day and is trying to get through it without losing her mind. She contemplates the very nature of rough days. There is also a terrible Stephen King joke in there. It’s a contemplative little piece over all. The front cover is a decent illustration of Delia and the back cover gives us a cartoon of a man who is also contemplating a bit of life. I like the text piece in this one better than in the other one. It’s about growing up and not going out into the snow anymore.

    As physical objects I really like these little books. I think that was my goal with them. I wanted to make precious little books that could be admired even without being read. They’re made on what feels like 140 pound watercolor paper. That is a real sturdy piece of paper with a creamy feel. Touching it is nice. None of the edges are cut either. They’re either the original deckle edges that were on the paper when I bought it or my own deckle edges as I folded and tore the paper rather than cut it. The paper even has a watermark on part of it. Together with the stitched staples it looks really cool.

    It was really weird finding these. It’s not like they were really hiding either. They were sitting on a shelf in a couple of small white envelopes. It’s the shelf where I keep my ink books and a bunch of other sketchbooks that I flip through ever now and then. So how did I not notice these for years and years? I don’t know. Just life I guess.

    I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got six new comics.

  • Invincible – 139
  • Kaijumax Season 3 – 1
  • Mage: The Hero Denied – 1
  • Motor Girl – 8
  • Southern Bastards – 17
  • Spy Seal – 1
  • Check them all out here: