SPLASH PAGE (noun) - Often the first page of a comic, it is generally a full page image designed to introduce the story and draw readers in.
Creator Spotlight: Brian Michael Bendis
There are few comic book creators today more successful and more controversial than Brian Michael Bendis. After spending the last two decades working on nearly every major Marvel franchise (Spider-Man, Daredevil, the X-Men, the Avengers, Iron Man, and the Guardians of the Galaxy) he jumped to DC for a widely-publicized run relaunching the Superman titles. What's so unusual about Bendis, and his career, is that he is simultaneously the quintessential company man and a prolific independent creator. While he's done way too much to get into fully, think of this as a quick primer.
The Caliber Years
Bendis started as a writer/artist, creating three neo-noir crime comics in the mid-to-late 90s. AKA Goldfish and its prequel Jinx are very Tarantino/Mamet-influenced books about shady folks double-crossing each other. Both are actually quite good, if not groundbreaking, comics. Torso (co-created with writer Marc Andreyko) is very interesting in its own right. The book is a fictionalized retelling of the true story of Elliot Ness and the Torso murders in Cleveland (Bendis' hometown) back in the 1930s. During this period Bendis also worked briefly on Todd MacFarlane's Sam and Twitch comic, which was a spin-off from the hugely successful Spawn series.
The Marvel Years - part 1
In the early 2000s, Marvel president Bill Jemas and Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, seeing the success of Bryan Singer's X-Men and Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films, decided there should be some updated gateway books for potential readers coming to comics from those films. They hired two relatively unknown writers to launch these comics, which would be modern updates of Marvel's biggest characters. Mark Millar (who Shelby Cadwell has written about here) and Bendis would split the initial books, with Millar taking the Ultimates (Avengers), and Ultimate X-Men, while Bendis would write Ultimate Spider-Man (the two would co-write Ultimate Fantastic Four, and Bendis would continue writing Daredevil in the mainstream universe and the adult-rated Alias, featuring his own creation, Jessica Jones). USM would be a turning point for Bendis, both tonally (shifting from his previous darker crime books) and in terms of his profile. It's arguably his 200+ issue run on that book that's made him the star he is today.
The Marvel Years - part 2
Avengers Disassembled. Depending on which Marvel fan you ask, Bendis either saved or destroyed the Avengers comic with his first high-profile Marvel Universe book. The series began with some deaths, some retconning, and the addition of Spider-Man and Wolverine - Marvel's biggest characters - to the team. This is also (at the risk of editorializing) the beginning of Bendis as the "event" writer, rather than the more character-driven writing he'd been doing prior to this. During this period he'd also write the House of M event, which saw the depowering of nearly every mutant in the Marvel universe, and the Avengers becoming the franchise series it remains today - with multiple titles built around different iterations of the team. During this period Bendis would also work as part of the "Brain Trust" which consulted on the first half of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (including Bendis reportedly writing the "I'm here to tell you about the Avengers Initiative" after-credits scene in the first Iron Man film).
The Marvel years - part 3
The last few years has seen Bendis sort of bouncing around the Marvel universe, working as one of the architects of the larger story directions, and writing several series. Along with relaunching Guardians of the Galaxy (with a team more in line with the film), Bendis would work on the X-Men franchise, The Defenders (starring Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Iron Fist), and Iron Man, as well as bringing the character he created for the Ultimate universe - Miles Morales/Spider-Man - into the mainstream Marvel universe, and creating Riri Williams/Ironheart. The Defenders, along with a relaunched Alias series, would mark this period as a bit of a reflection of his early Marvel years and would also serve as an unexpected, but appropriate, jumping off point for Bendis. His legacy at Marvel includes co-creating a number of characters that have seen success in other media, including Daisy Johnson/Quake, Victoria Hand, Hive, and Yo-Yo Rodriguez (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Maria Hill (Avengers, Captain America: Winter Soldier), Jessica Jones (Jessica Jones) and Miles Morales/Spider-Man (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) as well as Ronin, a costumed identity assumed by various superheroes, and Riri Williams, who took over the Iron Man comic and assumed the identity of Ironheart. In November of 2017 he announced on Twitter that he would be leaving Marvel and moving to their biggest rival - DC Comics. There, along with the Superman books, Bendis would bring his creator-owned comics under the Jinxworld brand with four new and/or returning series.
Comic Pick of the Week: The Jinxworld Imprint (DC)
The Jinxworld Imprint (under which Bendis has published his earlier creator-owned work such as Jinx, AKA Goldfish, Torso, Fire, and Fortune and Glory, as well as Powers, Takio, Scarlet, and United States of Murder Inc.) features two new titles (Pearl and Cover) and two returning series (Scarlet and United States vs. Murder, Inc.).
Bendis reunites with his Jessica Jones co-creator Michael Gaydos for this unusual series centered on a young albino tattoo artist, Pearl, who finds herself forced into becoming a Yakuza assassin in San Francisco. It's not entirely clear where the story is heading, yet (and Bendis is famous for a fairly deliberate pace to his plotting) but the first issue introduces the title character, her potential love interest, the benefactor who brings her into his life of crime, and (in flashbacks) her father who seems to set her on her current path. The standout in the book is Gaydos' art. I'm a huge fan of his work on Alias, but this is on another level - with more polished linework (though both series rely on photo reference) and much looser and more experimental layouts and colors. It's a visually stunning comic.
United States vs. Murder Inc.
In this series Bendis joins his Powers co-creator Michael Avon Oeming (with Taki Soma on colors) to look at an alternate history where organized crime remained as powerful today as it was during Prohibition. This is a follow-up to their earlier series United States of Murder Inc. published under Marvel's ICON imprint during Bendis' tenure there. This series is Bendis firmly in his wheelhouse in writing crime fiction, with Oeming's almost surreal art style and imaginative layouts giving the whole thing a fresh feeling.
Click image for slideshow.
During the days of the Occupy Movement, Bendis and artist Alex Maleev (who drew his acclaimed Daredevil run) launched the initial run of Scarlet, set in modern day Portland at the start of a new American revolution. The series centered on the title character facing off against a corrupt police force and government and rallying the oppressed and disenfranchised to fight back. Their new series picks up several years into the revolution, and (as the previous series did) continues to build off of the current social and political zeitgeist.
This is, perhaps, the most unusual of the new Jinxworld titles. Cover is written by Bendis and illustrated by David Mack (Kabuki) and also stars thinly-veiled versions of Mack, as the main character, and Bendis, as his friend and fellow comic creator. In the first issue Max Field, an independent comic artist, finds himself being recruited into the CIA by a mysterious fan named Julia. It seems to be a bit of a "stranger than fiction" Confessions of a Dangerous Mind type of story made odder by the shifting and mixed-media art style of Mack, and the story-within-a-story from the comic Max is working on. Like Pearl, this is also just a beautiful book to look at, with (at this point in both) a slightly more intriguing set-up.
Saturday, September 15th
"DETROIT- Midwest Ethnic Convention for Comics and Arts - MECCA, aka MECCAcon, is a large comic book/literacy convention and international film festival held annually in Detroit, MI. The primary reason M.E.C.C.A was established was to instill knowledge primarily in the younger art culture. Along with the comic book convention, we also have a full international film festival, MECCAcon International Film Festival, registered under Ava DuVernay's company ARRAY, that runs all day along with the comic con. Since we introduced the film festival to MECCAcon in 2015, we have had award winning filmmaker Ka'ramuu Kush curate, as well as prominent indie filmmakers such as Jackie "J.J." Stone, Evita Castine, dream hampton, Nosa Igbinedion, Omar DISTRKT Jones, Daye Flowers, Korstiaan Vandiver, Abdul Ndadi, Peter Tukei Muhumuza, Donnie Leapheart, Tony Patrick, Pete Chatmon, Yolonda Ross, Abdul Nnadi, Jay Sweet, Pete Tekei Muhumuza, Roye Okupe, Zwelesizwe Ntui, and many more." - https://meccacon.wordpress.com/2018/04/25/meccacon2018/
Friday, September 14th from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm at Mac 'n Brewz on Warren Ave. the Wayne State Comics Collective will be meeting to talk about superhero manga, including My Hero Academia, One-Punch Man, Tiger & Bunny, Sailor Moon, and more. The meeting is open to everyone, so feel free to stop by. If you haven't had a chance to read anything yet, this will be a great opportunity to get some recommendations for where you might get started.
Marie Severin (August 21, 1929 - August 30, 2018)
Veteran EC and Marvel comic artist Marie Severin passed away at the age of 89. The Eisner Hall of Fame inductee worked as a colorist on many of EC's horror, war, and romance comics, often coloring the work of her brother, John Severin. After leaving comics for several years, she would return in the late 1950's to work for Marvel Comics, remaining there until 2005. Beginning as a colorist (and later Head Colorist until 1972), she began working regularly as a penciller in 1967. Along with her work on Strange Tales, Sub-Mariner, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Not Brand Echh, Kull the Conqueror, and others, she also co-created Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman) with writer Archie Goodwin.
Gary Friedrich (August 21, 1943 - August 30, 2018)
Gary Friedrich, the co-creator of Ghost Rider and the Son of Satan died at the age of 75. Friedrich began his career at Charlton Comics in the 1960's before moving to Marvel in the 1970's. There he often wrote horror (including a continuation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein) and anti-war comics. In 1972, Friedrich co-created the motorcycle-riding Ghost Rider with artist Mike Ploog. The character would later be the subject of a lawsuit between Friedrich and Marvel Comics over the ownership rights. While Friedrich essentially lost the initial suit, the ruling was overturned on appeal, and later reportedly settled amicably.
METRO DETROIT COMIC SHOPS
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