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Lost in Transition: The Legion of Super-Heroes and the Uneven Footsteps of Progress

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At a time when most of comics was tiptoeing around the notion of gay, bi and lesbian people existing – much less being portrayed well – The Legion of Super-Heroes was making text out of subtext with characters such as Shrinking Violet and Lightning Lass, and doing it during one of the series' most creatively daring periods.

Yet as the fate of the character Shvaughn Erin illustrates, a step forward for some can often leave others behind.

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When Comics Hurt: Artists on Their Drawing Injuries

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Some weeks ago, a tweet from Jamie McKelvie, artist on the tremendously popular series The Wicked + The Divine and Phonogram, caught my eye. Writing about the physical difficulties of a heavy drawing schedule, McKelvie said he felt he could keep drawing for only 15 more years. Just a few tweets away on my timeline, graphic novelist Faith Erin Hicks, author of Friends with Boys, Superhero Girl, and The Nameless City, commented that a full day of drawing had left her with sore wrists.

Being a comic book artist is a physically taxing job. Long hours sitting at the literal drawing board (whether drawing on paper or digitally) can strain muscles in the back, neck, and shoulders; repetitive motions inflame tendons in the arms. Combine this demanding work with the life of a freelancer, which, in the United States, does not come with any form of health care, and you’ll realize that many comics artists are living one injury away from economic disaster. An injury will not only cost money to treat, it will also cost time as it heals --- time that could be spent drawing --- resulting in lost income.

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Super: Out and About With Bobby and Angela

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Bobby Drake, aka Iceman, became comics' biggest gay superhero last week — again, but also for the first time, because nothing is ever simple in superhero comics. In a scene by Brian Michael Bendis and Mahmud Asrar in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #600, the older of two Bobby Drakes (from two different points in time) acknowledged his gayness to the other, younger Bobby. The younger Bobby had previously come out in a very similar scene in All-New X-Men #40 back in April, also by Bendis and Asrar. (Both scenes involved an unsolicited confrontation, an intrusive Jean Grey, and an acknowledgement of teammate Angel's good looks.)

While I have a few problems with how all of this was executed, from Jean's willingness to violate people's privacy to Marvel's willingness to taunt readers with an inexplicable six month delay between the two coming out scenes, I think that how Bobby came out matters much less than the fact that he came out at all. It's an especially welcome step forward coming less than a week after Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso fumbled the coming out of another Marvel character.

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The Delinquents: A Beginner’s Guide to ‘Shadowman’ and ‘Dr Mirage’

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Valiant Comics' shared superhero universe is smaller and less familiar than those of its major rivals, but even a small shared universe can offer a lot to learn about. To help those readers looking to take the plunge into the Valiant Universe, we’ve assembled our own team of delinquents to break things down. Steve Morris knows Valiant inside out; J.A. Micheline is new to the universe. Micheline has the questions, and Morris has the answers.

Last time, Steve introduced JAM to the four main story types in the Valiant Universe: political (books like Harbinger and Bloodshot), sci-fi (X-O Manowar), comedy (Quantum & Woody, Archer & Armstrong), and supernatural (Shadowman, The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage). He set JAM the task of reading the first sixteen issues of Shadowman and The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage --- and now they're back to talk about it!

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Nobody Cared About Those Jerky Humour Books: Evan Dorkin Looks Back On His ‘Bill & Ted’ Series [Interview]

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Bill & Ted fans recently got some most non-heinous news with Boom Studios' announcement of a hardcover collection of the 1991 Bill & Ted's Excellent Comic Book series. Written and drawn by indie comics idol Evan Dorkin (Milk & Cheese, World's Funnest Comics, Beasts of Burden), the series was one of the best comics of the time, blending the manic energy of the films with Dorkin's legendary wit and crammed-to-the gills panels.

Hopefully this cult classic will find a wider audience this December, with the full-color collection of all of Dorkin's issues plus his adaptation of the Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey movie. We sat down with Dorkin to discuss the news, the genesis of the series and his early career.

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Ba and Moon on the Making of ‘Two Brothers’, Part III: Drawing Manaus

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Set in the vibrant port city of Manaus, Brazil, Two Brothers by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá is an intense tale of blood ties, love, loss, and estrangement, adapted from the novel Dois irmãos by Milton Hatoum. In anticipation of the book’s release this week, the brothers have shared with us an exclusive three-part look at the making of Two Brothers. In part one, they explained what drew them to the book. In part two, they talked about adapting the novel into a comics script. In part three, they discuss bringing the city of Manaus to life on the page.

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The Issue: Imperfect Harmony in ‘Buffy Season Eight’ #21

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Welcome to The Issue, where we'll take a look at some of the strangest, most interesting and most distinctive single issue comic stories ever to grace the medium. You know the ones; silent issues, sideways issues, backwards issues; the comics that try to do something different with the form, and stand out from the series they belong to.

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In the last installment, we talked about issue #12 of The Invisibles, a comic that takes a sympathetic look at one of the series' throwaway baddies. This time round, it's 'Harmonic Divergence', issue #21 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, written by Jane Espenson and drawn by Georges Jeanty. It's a comic that takes a very different approach to a similar idea and, as Hallowe'en is nearly upon us, throws in some spooky Draculas too.

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Ba and Moon on the Making of ‘Two Brothers’, Part II: The Story of a Script

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Set in the vibrant port city of Manaus, Brazil, Two Brothers by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá is an intense tale of blood ties, love, loss, and estrangement, adapted from the novel Dois irmãos by Milton Hatoum. In anticipation of the book’s release this week, the brothers have shared with us an exclusive three-part look at the making of Two Brothers. In part one, they explained what drew them to the book. In part two, they talk about adapting the novel into a comics script.

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61 Years Ago Today: The Comics Code Authority Changed The Face of Comics

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The Comics Code Seal of Approval, adopted on this day on 1954 by the Comics Magazine Association of America, is an instantly recognizable image to generations of comic readers. Its modest black-and-white brand adorned the covers of countless mainstream comic books for the better part of six decades, assuring buyers that the contents of their favorite title had met with some not-entirely-clear standards of suitability, and serving as a lingering reminder of an era when comics has been considered a serious threat to society.

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The Secret Villain Lurking at the Heart of ‘Preacher’

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One of the most enduring series in American comics history is Preacher, the Vertigo series from the creative team Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, Matt Hollingsworth and Clem Robins. It's the story of a young couple --- and their best friend, a chirpy vampire --- who go on a personal crusade against divinity, and the series takes on everything that comes at it: sex, violence, family, religion, war, hate, race. It’s powerfully made, a force of nature that rebels as hard as it can, creating a tale that's sensationally sordid and gleefully graphic.

And yet what’s most interesting about Preacher is that it takes a turn halfway through the run, almost abandoning the central conceit to give readers something unexpected. (Stop reading here if you don't want to be spoiled.)

Because it turns out that one of our heroes is actually the greatest villain in the book.

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