We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, as well as the special qualities of comic book storytelling, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great pinups, fan art and other illustrations on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we’ve created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it’s new, some of it’s old, some of it’s created by working professionals, some of it’s created by future stars, some of it’s created by talented fans, awnd some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it is awesome.
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As someone who will argue vehemently against the very existence of a second Pipettes album, I've been a fan of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's comics about the (literal) magic of pop music since day one. The only problem I've had with them is that they tend to lack the true indicators of quality literature: Explosions and people getting punched in the head with lightning bolts. This, incidentally, is why Street Fighter remains the high point of modern art.
Fortunately, The Wicked + The Divine is out to remedy that with as much explosion-based storytelling as Gillen and McKelvie can cram into it, and this week's issue takes things to the extreme. Not only are there finger-snapping kabooms and electric Falcon punches, there's a full-on riot in the streets going down. And also, I suppose, minor vandalism, but that's a little less impressive in the scheme of things.
If there's one problem that we as comics readers all share, it's that we just have too much money. Sure, we keep trying to give it to publishers and creators, but sometimes there just aren't enough comics to buy, and that's why we always need more great books out there to pick up. Fortunately, the good folks over at Comixology are doing their best to make that as easy as possible, and this week, those efforts are taking the form of the Image Comics "New Hits" Sale.
A ton of great new Image books like Southern Bastards, The Wicked + The Divine, Velvet, Burn the Orphanage and more have seen their first few issues dropped down to 99 cents each, and on top of that, there's a bundle of 20 first issues for just fifteen bucks.
In the process of writing my article about muscles vs curves, and how the big dudes of superhero comics typically fail to represent the tastes of most androphile women, I gathered a collection of images and recommended artists from my correspondents that illustrate the sort of art they'd love to see more of -- but which there's sadly very little of compared to all the T&A fan-service targeted at straight men.
I had far too many recommendations to put in the article, so I've compiled the collection (and a few personal favorites) into a very special one-off post. The collection includes pin-ups, fan art, sketches, and some traditional superhero art from artists who aren't afraid to put a little male eye candy in their work!
It's Celebrate Bisexuality Day today, also called Bisexual Visibility Day -- a day to celebrate and promote recognition of those who are sexually attracted to people of more than one gender. The day exists because people with non-monosexual queer identities face unusual challenges in being recognized by both mainstream and queer cultures, yet visibility helps break down barriers and encourage acceptance.
In superhero comics, the problem of bisexual invisibility is as ingrained as anywhere; the medium struggles to acknowledge the existence of anything that didn't exist in The Honeymooners or The Andy Griffith Show, unless it's a space god, a shapeshifter, or a parasitic psychic monster. Having a character say, "I'm bisexual" is apparently more implausible than any of those things. There are signs that the industry is changing in this regard -- but slowly, and rather half-heartedly.
We live in a time of awesome superhero costumes in comics. The rise and rise of cosplay culture, the emergence of comic artists with a savvy understanding of fashion, and the slow diversification that's making heroes palatable to a broader audience, have all contributed to a costuming culture with more to offer than capes and pants.
Superhero costumes have always been an asset to the industry, because iconography helps establish character and create a brand. But the value of costumes in reaching audiences and reinventing characters seems to be recognized now as never before, leading to the rise of artist-designers like Jamie McKelvie and Kris Anka, who don't even need to be on a particular book in order to be called in to make-over the characters. This is a great leap forward in understanding just what a good costume can do -- and the special skills required to do it.
One of the most discussed news items from last month's Comic-Con International was the first look at Wonder Woman as she will appear in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the new DC Entertainment film by Zack Snyder. Played by Gal Gadot, this will be the first cinematic appearance of William Moulton Marston's Amazonian princess and feminist icon in her nearly 75-year history, and naturally fans have had a lot to say about the portrait debuted in San Diego. In reaction to the image, members of the ComicsAlliance staff assembled to discuss and critique Gadot's costume, depictions of super-women on film, and the current state of superheroine fashion in general.
Today's participants include CA's superheroic sartorialist Betty Felon; clinical psychologist and Arkham Sessions co-host Dr. Andrea Letamendi; comic book editor Janelle Asselin; journalist Juliet Kahn; comics writer/artist Kate Leth; and blogger/vlogger Angelina L.B. aka ALB, who makes her CA debut in this in-depth analysis. Join us for our roundtable discussion on Wonder Woman's newest live-action steez, high heels, and the balance between practicality/realism and style in superheroine costume design.
Because you're young you may not realize the latest Wicked + Divine variant cover is a particularly cheeky reference to a 1976 mugshot of David Bowie, himself a major inspiration on the Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie series about ancient gods reincarnated as glamorous pop stars. But hang on to yourself; the only way to get ahold of this conversation piece is to buy it from Beach Ball and Corner Store Comics in California.
The mark of a great pop song is not just that it's a pleasure to hear and hear again, but that it rewards struggling with it. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie have been conflating pop music and comics since they first collaborated on Phonogram ten years ago; Gillen's described the central conceit of their new series The Wicked + The Divine as "gods as pop stars, and pop stars as gods." That's a good way of describing the story itself -- but the comic is also about presenting Gillen and McKelvie as pop stars, and as pop mechanics. It's the product of a decade spent working out what makes comics click, and how to make them speak to a mass audience.
I've been fortunate enough to read the first two issues of The Wicked + The Divine; they're marvelous, a little bit maddening, and thoroughly worth wrestling with.
The creative team of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie first made their mark with the 2006 Image Comics release Phonogram: Rue Britannia, a thrilling and thoughtful story about magic, music, modern sorcery, and how the records we listen to affect our lives and identities. The series combined cultural touchstones and urban fantasy trappings in a way that captured the imagination of critics and readers, and its success ultimately led to Gillen and McKelvie becoming separately and together some of comics' most fan-favorite creators on books like Journey Into Mystery, X-Men Season One, Suburban Glamour, a second series of Phonogram, and their rmuch-lauded collaboration on the recently concluded reinvention of Young Avengers.
This week, they're releasing the debut issue of their latest (and most ambitious) project: The Wicked + The Divine, an ongoing series from Image that blends together many of their favorite subjects: youthful reinvention, manifest deities, supernatural superpowers, and, of course, the transformative power of pop music. The first issue is both intriguing and exhilarating, depicting the adventure of a superfan as she rubs elbows with ancient gods who return every ninety years, this time in the form of gorgeous young people who become 21st century celebrities. At once sublimely understated and action-packed, the first issue grabs you instantly and leaves you anxious to read more.
ComicsAlliance connected with the entire W+D creative team of Gillen and McKelvie; designer Hannah Donovan; letterer Clayton Cowles; and colo(u)rist Matt Wilson for an in-depth conversation about the story they're telling, their collaborative process, and the artistic and cultural inspirations for the series. Along the way, we're revealing some previously unseen behind-the-scenes materials and an exclusive previews of The Wicked + The Divine #2.