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Ask Chris #178: Stan Lee, The Man And The Myth

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: What is Stan Lee's actual legacy? -- @TheMikeLawrence

A: I don't think there could be a more complicated subject to tackle in a single column than this one, because as an industry and as an art form, I think we all have a lot of complicated feelings about Stan Lee. Depending on who you ask, when you ask them and what he's been up to lately, he's a conniving credit-stealer, a shameless self-promotion machine, a "driven little man who dreams of having it all!!!" and got it by coasting on the hard work of others, or he's a charismatic innovator who got put into that spotlight because he's a natural showman, a smiling ambassador of the medium and everybody's friendly comics grandpa. And it's further complicated because you can't really talk about him without talking about collaborators like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, either.

That's what makes him hard to talk about, even if you've spent nearly your entire life being aware of him. There's just so much to get through that's filtered through so many angles, and as a result, I genuinely think that he's simultaneously the most overrated and underrated creator of all time.

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Ask Chris #176: SUBTLETY!!!!!

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Is writing comics with a lack of subtlety a good or bad thing? Or does it all depend on how it's handled? --@therealdealkern

A: This is a really tough question, because unlike a lot of things I write about, I don't have a definitive answer one way or the other, even though it's something I notice all the time. Looking back, it seems tricky to figure out why I love some things and hate others for what seems to be the exact same reason. I mean, I've got a reputation as someone who loves over-the-top stories and comics that have a complete lack of anything that even approaches nuance, full of blunt statements, raw emotions and names that couldn't be more on the nose if they were a pair of reading glasses.

And yet, at the same time, there are stories I hate precisely because they have that same lack of subtlety, or because they're eye-rollingly obvious. There's got to be a difference somewhere, right?

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Best Art Ever (This Week): Howl’s Moving Castle, Hellboy, Buck Rogers, Ms. Marvel, Star Wars and More

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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, and some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it’s awesome.

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10 Surprising Comic Book Appearances by Santa Claus (et al.)

Santa Claus

Two of my greatest loves in life are Christmas and comics, and so it's always a treat for me when the two cross over in that most wonderful of things: the holiday special. Even when those things are bad, they're still kind of good, because it's Christmas, and you're feeling charitable. But sometimes the introduction of Christmas-themed elements are not what you expect. Here are ten appearances by Christmas folk that might confound you, and that's even without mentioning that time Aquaman saved the baby Jesus from pirates by mind-controlling a giant squid.

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Best Art Ever (This Week): Batman ’66, PJ Harvey, Calvin & Hobbes, Mister X and More

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We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great images 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, and some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it’s awesome.

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Ask Chris #172: DC, Marvel And ‘The Problem’

Ask Chris by Erica Henderson

Q: You mentioned "The Problem" in last week's column. So, what is "The Problem?" --@green2814

A: Last week, I dug in a little into the idea that even though they share prominent creators and have influenced each other back and forth over the course of the last 50 years, the DC and Marvel Universes have some fundamental differences in the way they're structured. One of the things I really wanted to get across in that column was that neither one is really fundamentally better than the other, they're just incompatible in a lot of ways, and I touched on how that results in something I call The Problem. Since that's still pretty fresh in everybody's mind, and since you were nice enough to set the ball right on the tee and hand me the bat, I might as well elaborate on that now. It's actually pretty simple.

To put it bluntly, The Problem is that DC wants to be Marvel, and they have for the past 50 years.

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For One Week, Jack Kirby’s Art Was Exhibited In The Neighborhood Where He Grew Up

Jack Kirby museum

New York City feels like there's a museum on every block. I've lived here my whole life, and I like to think I've spent a good amount of that time as a semi-regular visitor of some of the historical sites and cultural institutions my hometown has to offer, yet I am not remotely close to having seen even a quarter of the museums this city has to offer. Many of them you know -- some are iconic, seemingly enormous, and world renowned, while others are smaller and occasionally temporary, but nonetheless significant. Basically, when it comes to taking in the culture in the largest city in the history of civilization, you do the best you can.

But sometimes you make seeing something a priority. And Prototype Alpha -- the "Pop-Up" museum created by the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center that was open for seven days only this past week -- was one of those times. Located on Manhattan's Lower East Side, just a few blocks from where the iconic artist was raised, the museum was the first physical presence for the organization, and served as a wonderful testament to a man who is inarguably one of the most important artists New York City produced in the 20th century.

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Avengers #24.NOW Variant Covers Pay Homage To Famous Covers From The X-Men’s Past [Art]

Avengers 24 Acuña

Following the conclusion of the publisher's Infinity event, next month Marvel will release Avengers #24.NOW, from creators Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic. Meant in part to be a jumping on point for readers, the issue will also serve as the introduction to the publisher's All-New Marvel NOW launch -- Avengers #24.NOW is concurrently being billed as Avengers #1 under this new initiative.

But as part of it's push to promote the new, Marvel is also celebrating its past. Several variant covers to Avengers #24.NOW are being produced, and some are homages to famous past covers, including some of the more memorable cover art from the 50 year history of the X-Men. To that end, Marvel has enlisted artists Mike Deodato, Daniel Acuña, Lee Garbett,  and more to create images in homage to the cover work of Jack Kirby and John Byrne, and you can check out some examples below.

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Five Great Comic Book Adaptations Of Movies (And One That’s Just Really Cool But Kind of Terrible)

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Back before the VHS tape made it possible to watch the movies you wanted when you wanted (as long as Blockbuster had a copy in stock), movie novelizations and comic book adaptations of films were some of the only options fans had when it came to reliving a movie they wanted on-demand. While the majority of these were rightly viewed as cash-ins that let comics companies float on someone else's success, there were the occasional pieces of work that proved to be something more. For example, Marvel's off-model, six-part Star Wars adaptation proved to be so popular in the summer of 1977 that many credit it for helping the company pull out of a fiscal free-fall, even as it acted as a bog-standard 1970s Marvel book in a lot of ways.

Now that we can watch Magic Mike on our phones any time we want, comic adaptations can seem like a quaint throwback. However, some of them are legitimate pieces of comic history in their own right, providing an alternate look at our favorite films even as they gave a few comic creators the chance to play with the medium in a new way. In this piece, we take a look at five of them, including long lost work by Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Walt Simonson, Kyle Baker and Bill Sienkiewicz and more.

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IDW Announces Kirby, Steranko and Gibbons Artists Editions [NYCC 2013]

New Gods SHIELD Artists Editions IDW
IDW

You may want to sit down for IDW's New York Comic Con 2013 Artist's Editions... today the publisher announced that it will be releasing Jack Kirby's New Gods Artist's Edition, two Jim Steranko Marvel Artist's Editions and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen Artifact Edition.

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