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The Customs Of Our People: Inside The World Of Custom Action Figure Design

Gee Whiz Customs

On a brisk afternoon in January, a collective of custom action figure creators banded together to present their works to a captive audience in a tiny gallery in Manhattan. An art show on a weekend is nothing new for the Meatpacking district, but it's rare for the likes of Aragorn, Wolverine, Mr. Freeze and the Mario Brothers to be the stars of the show.

The custom creation side of the hobby has been around almost as long as action figures have been in existence. In recent years, however, the do-it-yourself-ers that were once relegated to sharing their work on forums and chat rooms have found a larger audience thanks to the advent of better social networks and sharing options on the Internet. The rise to prominence of Instagram and Tumblr have given these artists a way to share their unique takes on familiar faces or even wholly original creations with more people than ever.

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Love, Art, Memory, And Reality: Scott McCloud Discusses ‘The Sculptor’ [Interview]

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Since Scott McCloud first shot onto the cultural radar in the mid-80s, with his "reconstructionist" superhero series Zot!, he's been known as one of the modern masters of the comics form – his seminal 1993 volume Understanding Comics set a benchmark for intelligent analysis of graphic narrative language and technique (and became a go-to reference for college courses worldwide), his sequels, Reinventing Comics (2000) and Making Comics (2006) met with critical and commercial success, and his 1998 graphic novel The New Adventures Of Abraham Lincoln remains a fascinating and underrated attempt at melding the worlds of traditional and computer-generated cartooning. He's written a heaping handful of Superman stories, spoken and lectured around the world, and established himself as a comic creator, commentator, scholar and theorist without peer.

And this week, First Second Books is releasing his latest work, the five-years-in-the-making opus The Sculptor, the story of David Smith, a young sculptor living in New York City who makes a deal with Death that gives him only two hundred days to live, but allows him to shape any material, creating art with his bare hands from whatever he wishes…

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A Transgender Superhero For Every Gender Non-Conforming Child: Thoughts On Acceptance And Support For Transgender Youth

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In the wake of Leelah Alcorn’s suicide in December 2014, people have been formulating ideas for how to fulfill her final wishes to “fix society”; to have her death “mean something” and to have it “counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide”. In her suicide note, Alcorn, age 17, explained that her reasons for committing suicide centered on her parent’s inability to accept her gender, and beyond that, imposing upon her religiously sanctioned conversion therapy designed to make her conform to cisnormativity.

In this essay I want to discuss some of the steps necessary to achieving acceptance, and most especially the ways in which the media can address misconceptions and provide transgender and gender non-conforming kids with a diverse range of stories. Please note that this essay contains language that may be triggering to people with depression and suicidal tendencies.

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Violence, Intrigue, And Revenge: Peter Milligan Brings Us Up-To-Date On ‘The Names’ [Interview]

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This past September, Vertigo launched Peter Milligan and Leandro Fernandez's nine-issue limited series The Names. It's the story of Katya Walker, a woman who finds herself searching for answers after her husband's apparent suicide and fighting for her life against a world-dominating techno-financial cabal known only as the Names. We last spoke with Milligan six months ago, just before The Names #1 was released, and now that the story has reached its halfway point, we're excited to follow up with another in-depth conversation about the series.

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Why Is Nightwing Hot? A Comics Alliance Investigation

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DCUOnline production art

Nightwing is comics' hottest male superhero. His superior hotness is a fact so indisputable that, when we compiled our list of the 50 Sexiest Guys In Comics a while back, there was never any serious doubt that he would come out on top. His appeal is not only recognized by fans, but also by creators and even by publisher DC, which has been known to pander to his fans on several occasions. In an industry that doesn't generally make time for the female gaze, Dick Grayson has emerged as one of the medium's few male sex symbols.

But what is it about Dick Grayson that sets him apart among the macho mannequins of superhero comics? Is it his personality? His history? His character design? His butt? ComicsAlliance spoke to Dick Grayson experts Tim Seeley and Devin Grayson, and several of the character's fans, and undertook an intense study of the source material, to get to the lovely bottom of this great question.

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The Complete History of Comic-Book Movies, Chapter 2: ‘Spy Smasher’

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Republic Pictures

ScreenCrush editor, comic-book lover, and undiagnosed masochist Matt Singer is systematically watching every single (American) comic-book movie ever made in the order in which they were released. This week in The Complete History of Comic-Book Movies: A look back at the forgotten hero who starred in the genre’s first-ever masterpiece:

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I Wanted To Play In Space, Man: Andy Suriano & Matt Chapman On ‘Cosmic Scoundrels’

Cosmic Scoundrels, Matt Chapman and Andy Suriano

Cosmic Scoundrels was already one of my favorite comics before I even started reading it. The creation of artist Andy Suriano (of Samurai Jack) and Matt Chapman (the co-creator of Homestar Runner), it was the product of two creators whose work I've obsessed over more than just about anything else in the world, which made it something I was pretty much fated to love. Fortunately, it paid off with a rollicking, two-fisted space adventure of a couple of dirtbags in a ship called the S.S. Fistpuncher and one of the most ill-conceived heists in galactic history.

We recently honored the webcomic as part of our best-of-the-year awards, but to find out more about the origins and influences of Cosmic Scoundrels, I talked to Suirano and Chapman to find out how it all got started, why they printed it as a massive 11 x 17" convention exclusive, and just what Matt Chapman's favorite comics are, as well as getting an exclusive look at art from the development of the series.

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The Complete History of Comic-Book Movies, Chapter 1: ‘Adventures of Captain Marvel’

Adventures of Captain Marvel 1
Republic Pictures

The number one movie of last year was based on a comic book. The year before, two of the top five movies were based on comics. The year before that, both of the two top movies of the year were inspired by comics; both went on to make more than $1 billion worldwide and are now among the top 15 highest-grossing movies in history. Next year, no less than ten (10) movies based on comic books will open in theaters. Blessed are the geeks, for they have inherited the earth, at least as far as Hollywood is concerned.

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Batman Reincorporated: Nathan Fairbairn Presents A Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Revised Art For ‘Absolute Batman Inc.’

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Writer Grant Morrison undertook a major magnum opus with Batman Incorporated. As the culmination of his seven-year-run on the character, working in collaboration with artists including Cameron Stewart, Frazer Irving, Yanick Paquette, and Chris Burnham, he offered up perhaps hs definitive deconstruction of the character of Batman through the creation of a global Batman franchise.

Yet as series colorist Nathan Fairbairn tells us, Batman Incorporated experienced an unusual road bump in the form of a line-wide reboot that potentially undermined the thesis behind the whole series. Writing exclusively for ComicsAlliance, Fairbairn reveals how some pages were re-drawn for the book's Absolute collection, which arrived in stores this week.

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Exclusive: Image Announces ‘Kaptara’, From Chip Zdarsky & Kagan McLeod: ‘Gay Saga’ In A Weird Cosmic Toybox [Interview]

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Sex Criminals co-creator Chip Zdarsky and Infinite Kung Fu author Kagan McLeod plan to take readers to colorful, strange, and rather gay new worlds with their new Image ongoing title Kaptara this April. Announced by Zdarsky himself and Image publisher Eric Stephenson at the one-day Image Expo in San Francisco on Thursday, the book sees a waylaid earthman sent on an odyssey through peculiar worlds inspired by the action figures of the 1980s, on a mission to save his home planet.

The two Toronto-based writer-artists have known each other for years, and as they told ComicsAlliance, the roots of this collaboration go back to the studio they once shared. Kaptara is written by Zdarsky and illustrated in full color by McLeod, an acclaimed magazine illustrator making his return to comics. The story offers echoes of Flash Gordon and John Carter, and of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' Saga, only... gayer. More gay. ComicsAlliance met with the team to find out just how gay, and to get the ball rolling on Motivational Orb mania.

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