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.
The following was authored by Megan Margulies, granddaughter of the late Captain America co-creator Joe Simon.
Today Marvel Studios releases Captain America: The Winter Soldier. These movies are not only a cause for celebration by comic book fans, but also for the artists who created the superhero decades ago. In 1941, Jack Kirby and my grandfather, Joe Simon, dreamt of Captain America in an attempt to keep their heads above the turbulent waters of the comic book industry. Much to their surprise and joy, the character went on to receive worldwide fame.
Q: Supposedly it takes three pages to hook a reader before they drop off, so what are the best opening three pages in a comic? -- @shutupadiran
A: Huh. I don't think it's going to surprise anyone to find out that I'm a dude who thinks a lot about how comic books are structured and what you can do within that structure, but I've never heard that bit about the first three pages being where you have to hook the reader. It makes sense, though -- when you look at it, those first three pages, along with the cover, form a distinct storytelling unit, and it's the first thing you see when you pick up and pop open a comic.
Thinking back on comics that I love, there's a really distinct pattern there. I like stuff that builds to a big last page just fine, but the ones that I tend to rave about when those first issues hit always open up strong. It's like the first five seconds of a song. Some of them might build to a crescendo as they go along, but when you have something like the famous beat from "Be My Baby" or the opening harmonics from "I Get Around," you know instantly that you've got something.
For most of his publication history, the Silver Surfer has been a character marked by tragedy and tumult. The inherent irony of the character was that he could traverse the vastness of space with ease and wield immeasurable power in the palm of his hand, but he could hardly bear the torture of his own emotions.
The first issue of the brand new Silver Surfer series by writer Dan Slott, artist Mike Allred and colorist Laura Allred chucks a lot of that baggage out the window, and, believe it or not, it’s all the better for it.
You might have heard that there's a new Captain America movie coming out on April 4. If Marvel's marketing department has gotten its way, this news may very well be tattooed on the inside of your eyelids in phosphorescent ink. Let's say, however, you've never read any Captain America comics before, but now that he's been legitimized as a multi-million dollar film franchise, you're suddenly very interested in that dude with little wings on his head carrying around one of Uncle Sam's rims.
Since being created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon all the way back in 1941, the hero also known as the Sentinel of Liberty has passed through the hands of some eminently talented writers, artists and editors. Some of these creative teams depicted Cap's adventures for a few months -- some of them for a few years -- before passing the torch to the next creators to keep the flame (or trademark) alive. In comic books, these tenures are called "runs," "series" or "eras," and they're the readers' way of distinguishing one era of a character's saga from the next. Chances are you're not sure where to dive into a a publishing legacy that's spanned more than 70 years, so here is a list, in chronological order, of the Sentinel of Liberty's 10 most interesting and influential comic book runs.
Describing Stan Lee as "the original genius behind Marvel Comics and most of the superheroes you've ever loved or watched on the big screen" probably isn't doing the 91-year-old comic book veteran any favors as he tries, seemingly, to rehabilitate his reputation for glory-hogging in a wide-ranging conversation to be published in this Friday's new issue of Playboy. Indeed, the (in)famously self-promoting Lee uses the interview to deliberately undermine the public perception -- one he worked hard to create, as recently as last year with his reality show Fangasm -- that he's a tremendously wealthy comic book mogul primarily responsible for the success of some of Marvel Comics' most iconic -- and profitable -- superhero characters.
Most comics readers are pretty familiar with Jack Kirby and Joe Simon from their work in superhero comics -- they were, after all, the team that created Captain America and gave Marvel its first and most enduring hit character -- but in the period between the Golden Age and Kirby's work building the Marvel Universe with Stan Lee, they dabbled in all sorts of different genres. Working as a team, Simon and Kirby not only created the first romance comics, but they also tried their hand at classic comic book horror -- and if you've never read any of that stuff, today is your lucky day.
While the 1950s Simon and Kirby stories are often overlooked, Titan Books is putting the spotlight back on them in a series of beautiful hardcovers under the banner of The Simon and Kirby Library. To mark release of the volume focused on their horror stories, they've offered CA the chance to bring you eight pages of sheer terror (or at least rad artwork of Kirby drawing creepy skeletons) in a complete story with the slightly unfortunate title "Dead Man's Lode!"
In the interest of adding to "the long list of things that weren’t gonna photoshop themselves," Director of Publicity for Oni Press John Schork recently took to his personal Tumblr account to gift humankind with one of the most breathtaking mashups of our time. Jack Kirby + Taco Bell = Jack Kirby's Fourth Meal.
Put as succinctly as possible, the Forever People are a bunch of space hippies with individual powers and gimmicks, but when they're in trouble they can combine to form the Infinity Man, who is a gestalt organism. First introduced in 1971, they are part of Jack Kirby's expansive Fourth World tapestry of "New Gods" characters and comics, and the focus of a new collaboration between storyteller Keith Giffen and co-writer Dan DiDio, creators of the New 52's last major Kirby revival, the short-lived OMAC.
Q: Why do you think the X-Men didn't find their audience until two decades after they were created? -- @godofthunder851
A: I've got a minor quibble with your timing in this question -- it was more like 12 or 15 years, really -- but you've got an interesting point there. I think most comics readers are well aware of that piece of trivia about how the X-Men were about to get the axe before Giant Size X-Men #1 breathed new life into the franchise and set them on the path of becoming what was probably the single most popular and influential franchise of the '80s and '90s, and that's not really how things usually work. In comics, you tend to either come out of the gate to massive, enduring popularity (like Batman or Spider-Man), come out strong and then fade away for whatever reason (like, sadly, Shazam!), or just sort of flounder in the midcard. It's rare that something sticks around on the edge of being canceled for a solid decade before it finds its footing, and nobody bounced back harder than Marvel's Merry Mutants.
But really, what you're asking here is two separate questions: Why didn't the X-Men take off in 1963, and why did they in 1975? So let's look at the history and see if we can't figure it out.