Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Halloween Free Mini-comic

Happy Halloween, guys and ghouls.

My Halloween mini-comic, The Ballad of Jack Palance, A Halloween Tale, is a free download as a PDF (Acrobat) and a CBR (Comicbook Reader or GonVisor) file over at the Forbidden Planet International blog.

If anyone doesn't know how to put these things together, PDF or CBR, just email me and I'll give you the skinny.

Have a Frighteningly Good Time, Y'all.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Billy Bat and the Urasawa Morning Magazine MacGuffin Mystery.

A hat tip and many thanks to my photographers, Paradise and Mangascreener.

The Billy Bat Files

Outside, the rain pounded against the window like a crazy-mad dipso' trying to get into his favourite bar. I steeled myself against the wind, the boiler was on the fritz again - lousy Kraut engineering. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair, and perused the paperwork again - something about this case smelled bad. I looked at this character Urasawa's previous work again, Yawara, Pluto, Monster, 20th Century Boys, 21st Century Boys...

I couldn't make the mental leap that would add this Billy Bat to his oeuvre. I took another swig of Scotch.

Of course the hacks were out in force the moment it was announced that Kodansha's Morning magazine was launching Naoki Urasawa's new comic, Billy Bat, this October, there was always going to be a feeding frenzy. Details were scant; once again the famous Mangaka would be teemed with Takashi Nagasaki, and there was talk of a missing "great American hero-type comic book character of the 1940s", but that didn't square with the photo I was looking at, this looked retro okay, but it looked like a bad cross between Mighty Mouse and Black Sad.

What's more, it didn't tie in with what I knew about the magazine. It ran edgy stories like The Walking Man (the dude is calm, but often nude) and Devilman Lady (that's a year in analysis right there) and that kind of fag tale about wine-tasting and that cool slash 'em up, Vagabond. I didn't understand what was going on, but I knew I didn't like it.

Thankfully, Angel brought me the answers. The first episode was a MacGuffin. I should have known, the facts had been staring me in the face all along.

Angel's contact in the LA PD photography department had darkened the advert for Billy Bat and the facts were staring me in the face - I was looking at a Looney Toons bat swinging in front of typical Urasawa drawings of buildings and people. I hadn't noticed.

And there was more...I can't believe I hadn't noticed - I looked back at the logo, Billy Bat, the comic, was credited to some mug called "Kevin Yamagata", a made-up name if ever I heard one. That was the point in the story where these two dicks, call 'em Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, burst into the story, grab the cartoonist, this so-called Kevin Yamagata, and reveal the move.

It was a set-up; suddenly I was back in familiar Urasawa territory, detailed buildings, expressive faces, non-cartoony cartoons. It felt right, it felt good. I opened the door and stepped out into the sunlight - it is 1949, it is a good year to be alive. Another epic begins here

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Basil Wolverton in Glorious 3D

These Basil Wolverton drawings appeared in Ray Zone's The 3D Zone Presents The Weird Tales of Basil Wolverton, which was published in 1987.

As you might expect they are in 3D, and you really need the comic and a pair of paper glasses with a blue lens (right) and a red lens (left) to experience the full effect.

I always loved the 3D comics, they were strange and exotic, but I always strained to make them work better, peering in from a side angle, or lying on the couch and holding the comic book behind my head and leaning backwards to see if that added some depth - it never did.

Of course I've just ramped up the blue and red levels here, but I couldn't resist that; especially with the pages from Brain Bats of Venus (Karswell has posted the story in glorious colour on his excellent blog, click here), which is just about the most brilliant Basil Wolverton story ever. It strikes me that you can see in that story, how Wolverton managed to capture something of the same magic that Fletcher Hanks captured, but obviously with more technical drawing ability.