Star Wars VII – First official Teaser

Whoa-ho!

I remember the first teaser to Star Wars Episode IV when it was aired on TV a week before the movie was released. It made me say “Whoa…what was that?”

So here we are now some 35 years later and the scenes of a new movie still send shivers of anticipation up and down my spine! With JJ Abrams at the helm, expectations are high, not as high as it was for Episode I but considerably higher than those for Episodes II and III.

We are just over one year from it’s release. Enjoy the trailer. The special effects have noticeably kicked up a notch or two!

A “Sea World” movie from DC Comics?

DC Comics (studios?) has announced a slew of movies they will make up to 2019. One of their superheroes that will be getting the celluloid treatment is…wait for it…

Aquaman!

Ok, now that you’ve wheezed all that excess salt water out of your lungs, yes, Aquaman swan dives from comic books to the big screen in July of 2018!

Whenever I hear “Aquaman”, I just can’t help it, I think immediately about the Big Bang Theory’s Rajesh Koothrappali whining, “Aquaman sucks!”

"Aquaman Sucks" in the Big Ban Theory!

“Aquaman Sucks” in the Big Ban Theory!

Well, apparently The Big Bang Theory doesn’t have quite the same influence as Sideways star Paul Giamatti playing Miles Raymond when he stated “I’m not drinking any f&%$#%g Merlot”! Merlot hasn’t fully recovered in 10 years!

So despite “Aquaman sucks” on the Big Bang Theory, the Aquaman movie is a go!

Which Aquaman will we see in this movie?

This one?

Aquaman from 1964!

Aquaman from 1964!

Or this one?

Aquaman from 1986!

Aquaman from 1986!

Or maybe this one?

Aquaman from 1994!

Aquaman from 1994!

Ok, maybe this one a little more like a pirate?

Aquaman from 1998!

Aquaman from 1998!

Or finally how about this version?

Waterworld yeah!

Waterworld yeah!

Hey why not Kevin Costner as Aquaman? After all, Waterworld was such a box office hit….

If he doesn’t make the final grade, how about a Waterworld – Aquaman crossover? It’s a match made in Sea World!

Ever felt like your head was going to pop-off?

Now I have your attention, considering the comic cover we are going to see shortly, maybe the better question should be: Have you ever been squeezed so hard, you thought your head would pop off? Apparently, at DC Comics in 1976, the answer was yes!

This World’s Finest Comics #235 cover by Ernie Chan is actually pretty hilarious. Not only does some mysterious giant hand surge out of nowhere, it actually grabs the man of steel and squeezes so hard, his head comes clean off. And I do mean “clean off”. Nice and even all the way round, it even ejects with some force winds drawn by Mr Chan. A scene like this in the late 1940s or even now would have…let’s say…a lot more “red” in it.

So how does Superman get out of this? Sorry to disappoint you but it’s actually an imaginary teaser that repeats itself on the opening page, then is never referred to again.

I don’t know what they were thinking! Anyway, check out the hilarity in the cover below.

Kid of like squeezing a tube of toothpaste too hard!

Kind of like squeezing a tube of toothpaste too hard!

Star Wars Episode IV, V, VI original models – cool!

When the original movie Star Wars, episode IV “A New Hope” was released in 1977, computer generated graphics (CGI) had not reached prime time to be included in the making of feature films. The original move and the two follow-ups, episode V “The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and episode VI “Return of the Jedi” were filmed using detailed models constructed specifically for the movies.

These “miniatures” were filmed with cameras with complete movement giving the scenes a realistic feel. Some of the CGI used in the three prequels (episodes I, II, III), while spectacular at the time 1999-2005, occasionally failed to give the realistic impression of size, detail, varying levels of filth and damage.

Below is a gallery of images of some of those beloved models that fueled so many memories: Continue reading

Avengers Age Of Ultron – 1st official teaser released

With the blockbuster success of the first Avengers motion picture, it will be a challenge for director Joss Whedon to improve upon that success. Even maintaining that level may even be seen as a victory as so many follow-up films fail to recapture the magic of what was all-new with the first.

However, with hundreds of Avengers Comics, comes a bit of a history lesson on how to keep things rolling, once the new “sheen” rubs off, but one must have taken the time to learn how to pull that together. Joss Whedon is at the very least, not only a student of the comic book medium, he’s written more than just his fair share.

Marvel Studios, once they learned of a leak of teaser, released their official 1st teaser of the May 2015 film, and it is a true teaser, leaving most all of what’s going on and why to your imagination. Ultron comes to play in this film and is a long time character in the Avengers and Marvel Comics universe. All our favorite characters are back along with some new additions. Have a look and enjoy!

DC had Murphy Anderson redraw the face on Jack Kirby’s Superman!

One of the defining events that marked the beginning of the Bronze Age of Comics was when Jack Kirby moved from Marvel Comics to DC Comics. Jack Kirby was responsible for the creation and co-creation of some of the most significant superheroes in all of comic book history!

When hiring Jack Kirby, senior management of DC Comics asked him to take their line of superheroes in a new direction. They didn’t exactly hand him Superman or Batman, nor did they give him the reigns to Green Lantern or the Flash. Instead, they gave him a bullpen book “Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen”. So in effect, he could show his take on Superman in a minor title. What he did with that title was so shocking to the DC Editors of the day, that they asked an artist that hadn’t drawn Superman for years, Murphy Anderson, to redraw the faces of Superman and Jimmy Olsen, not only for the cover, but for every page in the title. Their excuse was, they wanted to maintain the same “look” that Superman had carried for the past 30+ years. So much for a new direction.

So here we had one of the most beloved comic book artists of the day, and I dare say of all time, having the facial features redrawn by someone that DC Editors didn’t want on anymore on the main franchise! Jack Kirby who gave emotion to so many characters over the years was too much for the DC editors of the day. The alterations in Mr Kirby’s style were obvious to any who knew his style.

You can see here the redrawn faces on the cover of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #144. The “new” (old) face of Superman seems to be completely disconnected from the rest of the cover theme! I mean, what were they thinking?

Jimmy Olsen #144

Jack Kirby’s masterful work with the facial features of Superman and Jimmy Olsen, redrawn by Murphy Anderson.

I have been searching around for any unaltered cover images to compare them to the original, but I have not been successful to-date. This minor title went on to claim great fan interest, increased sales and a real shake-up of this corner of the DC Universe. After Darkseid, it would never be the same at DC Comics. Of Course Jack Kirby went on to create a whole new universe of characters for DC, many who still exist today.

Conan The Barbarian #1 by Barry Windsor-Smith: artistic genius

There is general consensus that the Bronze Age of comic books arrived in 1970. The arrival of Conan the Barbarian in comic book form was one of those events that defined the beginning of the Bronze Age.

Conan was not typical of your comic book hero of the day and previous to this you could find Conan stories in many books by Robert E Howard, often with some amazing covers by Frank Frazetta. Conan, was originally created by Howard, in a series of fantasy stories published in Weird Tales “Pulp” Magazine in 1932. So you see, Conan was not a character created by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1982 movie “Conan The Barbarian”. But rest assured, the popularity of Conan in comic book form was influential in the green light to film the breakthrough movie for Schwarzenegger.

Roy Thomas adapted Robert E Howard’s fantasy world to comics and artist extraordinaire Barry Windsor-Smith would pencil the cover and inside artwork. Just one look and you can see what the barbarian is up against on a regular day at the Cimmerian office. There is no peace for Conan in the Hyborian Age.

The cover is complex, loaded with influences from Jack Kirby and Jim Steranko. You rarely see multiple characters used to this extent, even in most covers. Complex and detailed scenes became a Windsor-Smith trademark and in just a few issues, the true style of Barry Windsor Smith was there for all to see. See Conan The Barbarian #24.

This first Conan series of comics lasted 275 issues, so the rich world adapted and expanded on by Thomas and Smith ensured a long future, not a run we are likely to see again in this relaunch obsessed comic decade. This comic makes the list of all-time favorite covers both for it’s historical significance (beginning of the bronze age) and the fact that it is also a gorgeous piece of artwork.

Conan The Barbarian #1

Conan The Barbarian #1 from 1970 and the skilled hand of Barry Windsor-Smith.

Atom & Hawkman #40 by Joe Kubert – all-time favorite comic covers

Joe Kubert was well known for many things. He headed a school of art which many credit for their careers in comics. He fathered two sons, both excellent artists in their own right and have been penciling comic books for many years. He is also well known for his war comics and he would have said, “anti-war comics”. He was even known to pencil a Tarzan issue or two….

But, the genius of Joe Kubert has often found it’s way to the pages of super-hero comic books. In today’s edition of all-time favorite comic book covers, Mr Joe Kubert provides the artwork for a stunning superhero cover, 1969’s Atom & Hawkman #40:

Atom and Hawkman #40

Joe Kubert’s haunting rendition of death and decisions!

The eyes and facial expression are measuring a decision to be made, while a storm rages both outward and inward. The raw emotion and boiling energy in this cover always speaks volumes to me.

Variant Comics from then ’till now – Part 9!

By Hal Hickey

In this multi-part series on the history of variant comics, we are exploring series of variants that collectors are likely to find, albeit some being much more difficult than others, depending on the rarity of those series. Part 1 and part 2 explored the first series, the “price variant comics”. In part 3, part 4 and part 5, we dug into the second series, the “printing variant comics”, covering second printings, third printings and beyond. In part 6 we discovered the “alternate publisher” variants, namely the “Whitman” and “Modern Comics” variants. In part 7 we talked about the groundwork for the last series of variant comics, the “cover variants”, which in part 8 saw their birthplace.

In part 9 and the final part of this series, we will find out what the birth of those first cover variant wrought!

Meanwhile DC Comics was the first to produce a “major event” comic with the death of Superman in 1992. Of course, this came with variant covers. With comic book sales at their highest in 40 years, several of Marvel Comics “hot artists” of the day decided this was the best time to make a move to create their comic book company and “Image Comics” was born. During its early life, those creators took the cover variant to dizzying heights! A great example of this was Jim Lee, Brandon Choi and J. Scott Campbell’s “GEN13” with a whopping 13 different covers released in 1995: Continue reading