Friday, June 23, 2017

Dave Cockrum and Rob Liefeld: A View From the Throne

Difficult as this might be to swallow, there was a time when Dave Cockrum couldn't get work as an artist. I'm not talking about when he was just back from the Navy seeking that first soon-to-be-fabled assignment as a professional. That actually didn’t turn out so badly. Armed with a folded letter of introduction from Neal Adams, who saw something in the young Cockrum that the rest of us would soon discover, Dave’s early career was something America’s Got Talent legends are made of.

But two decades later, it was over. Just a single generation after Cockrum’s ground-breaking Giant-Size X-Men #1, which introduced his characters Nightcrawler, Storm, Thunderbird and Colossus to the world, there was a new Pharaoh. And suddenly Dave Cockrum couldn’t catch a cold at Marvel. He was viewed as old hat by the new turks. Stodgy. That’s the word Joe Quesada used for Dave Cockrum’s art.

Leap forward another two decades and Dave’s artwork is selling for stupid money. You can hock one of his original covers, if you have one, and buy a car with the proceeds. Fans have canonized his creations. A sure sign of that is their inability to accept anyone touching the Futurians.

Don’t get me wrong. When the announcement that Rob Liefeld would be taking on the Futurians was made, I didn't exactly expect old fans to wet themselves in anticipation nor trample the halt and the lame on their way out the door to buy a copy. I know how old guys are. I had one staring back at me in the mirror this morning, bleary eyed, slack jawed. It's not a pretty sight. Old guys don't like any manner of change. I get it. Give me the same bran cereal I've always eaten. Give me the same beer. And don’t expect me to segment kitchen garbage into compost piles and "legit" trash. Julie Newmar—now that was a Catwoman. Adam West is the real Batman. I get it.

We all hate change. Change is evil. Nothing new can ever hold a candle to what was. I don’t care when you were born—you know as well as I do it was better back then.

But tell that to young folks just graduating from school this month, or just attempting to break into show business. We don’t want young punks looking for work in the comic book industry. Comics represent the idyllic Golden Age of our fleeting youth—a plane of reality where good is good and bad is bad, and no one ever ages or dies.

Except creators.

It partially explains why the entertainment world seems to contain a finite creative well, a manifesto where 90% of everything is recycled or at least derivative. Is it because there’s so few fresh ideas or just a bludgeoned audience that’s unreceptive to novelty? Perhaps certain things really are worth revisiting? And revisiting. And revisiting.

I'll leave that riddle to you smarter people to solve. The old guy in the mirror doesn’t like to burden himself terribly much with things he has no control over, which is just about everything. But one thing he has some say in is the Futurians.

Years ago, Dave Cockrum took a chance on me and gave me license me to write a Futurians story. Some years after that, Steven Brown, the head of IDT Entertainment, took a chance on me and allowed me to write a Futurians screenplay.

Paty Cockrum—Dave’s widow—took a chance on undiscovered comics creator David Miller and allowed him to develop a comic series out of one of her husband’s Futurians characters. She took a chance on undiscovered comics creator Richard O’Hara and allowed him to pencil the final pages of Dave Cockrum’s last, unfinished, final Futurians.

Forty years earlier, Sol Brodsky and John Verpoorten at Marvel took a chance on Paty.

Sometimes you have to take chances.

The old guy in the mirror laments the abandonment of childhood pleasures that just don’t present themselves anymore. Worse, he misses his pal Dave, who just isn’t around to phone and shoot the shit with, or drive out to visit, or produce terrific new comics and characters. But the physical absence of Dave Cockrum does not mandate the absence of characters he designed and blew life into. You can be certain Marvel won’t let their Dave Cockrum creations die.

It’s up to the Dave Cockrum estate to make certain that intellectual properties Dave conceived continue to delight generations to come. Even if it doesn’t delight old guys who insist that Neal Adams was the only Batman artist or prefer Adam West wearing the cowl.

So maybe Rob Liefeld isn’t your favorite artist. He isn’t mine either. My favorite was Gene Colan. How dare David Mazachelli or Lee Weeks or Tim Sale touch old horn head after Gene had been on the book for a decade!

Rob Liefeld wasn’t selected because Paty Cockrum and I expected a clone of Dave’s artwork and writing style. He was accepted because he loves Dave's work enough to ask for the project. He’s been wanting this for 15 years. And Rob’s own accomplishments are vast. It would be demeaning to enumerate them.

When the announcement was made that Rob was taking on the Futurians, his fans were thrilled. But the old boy’s club held their midnight convention at the Dave Cockrum Appreciation Society on Facebook and I was unprepared for the vitriol that poured out of some of these codgers. One guy compared the announcement to Donald Trump winning the presidency. He didn’t mean it as a compliment. Another individual’s hysterical invective, which seemed to gather hysteria with each subsequent post, demanded a boycott of Liefeld’s Futurians. To be staged at the U.N., no doubt, or at least on the steps of City Hall.

“You could—you know—wait and see,” suggested unreasonably sane author Mark Ellis.

But that would be too easy. When change comes, it's better to rail against it, better to bash one's own head on the wall, to scream at the top of one’s Facebook lungs and proffer a call to arms, and perhaps take out a Senator or Congressman on their way to a baseball game just for good measure. Clearly, one’s level of ire must rise to the degree of the offense. A comic book drawn by someone else?! Heresy!

I thought about that as I stepped away from the old guy in the mirror and took the throne of indignation. And upon further pondering such, I concluded that those who spend so much energy bashing projects before they are even born have likely never struggled to produce anything beyond a good bowel movement. And even that was hard.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Alas, Poor Facebook

If I only had a nickel for all the apologies I’ve made. Or was asked to make. Or a dime for the ones people think they deserve.

To wit: My Facebook activity wanes when life’s other distractions loom larger. But, as many of you know, FB has a nifty feature aimed at dragging you back by reminding you of what you posted a year ago, two years ago, and so forth. “Here’s your memory!” it says. And sometimes it’s appropriate to revisit the post.

I wrote about Chuck Dixon and Tony Isabella and the politics of comics (and the comics of politics) three years ago, prior to the recent presidential election. Post the election, I’ve only written about politics when paid to do so. I won’t explain that. You either get it or you don’t.

You really don’t? Fine, I’ll explain.

Most people mark time by the BIG events we have in common. As in “before Emancipation,” “after the Stock Market crashed,” and so forth. In my short lifetime, it was “after Kennedy was assassinated,” “before the Beatles played Ed Sullivan,” and “after 9-11.”

And, most recently, “Post November.” Some of you call it “Post Trump.” Others, “After Obama.”

Before the Beatles played Ed Sullivan, there was one set of expectations about music. After they played, there was another. Don’t bother arguing with me. On this subject, and few others, everyone is wrong and I’m right.

No need to go into what occurred after 9-11.

But “Post November,” things got ugly. The power shoe was on the other foot. The emotional civil war (which is more dangerous than the ideological civil war) went into overdrive. People really got their hate on.

On Facebook (because all roads lead to Facebook), I watched people banning and “unfriending” each other like it was a bodily function, which was sort of sickening. Most bodily functions are, unless they’re your own. These weren’t my own. Mine smell okay to me.

I decided to stay out of it. No politics on Facebook. I wasn’t stumping for “my side” (who is it? who is it?) or any side, or joining any conversations about the president, the parties, or the various tribes. Unless, of course, someone was paying me to do it. Because that’s what I do—I write about things professionally (as in “for a living”). I’m okay with that: I've maintained my convictions; I don’t write anything that I don’t believe, regardless of who I write for, but neither do I jam my professional writing into my personal social media space. I save Facebook for hobbies and things I enjoy. Comics. Music. Family. Martial arts.

Three years ago—“Pre November”—I wrote about writer Chuck Dixon’s take on Conservatives being banned from comics and writer/editor Tony Isabella’s disagreement with Chuck, and Chuck’s with Tony. That was something I wrote for fun, as in I wasn’t paid to write it. It wasn’t really fun but I was interested because I like Chuck’s comics writing very much and Chuck and I are several degrees more than friendly, and Tony Isabella was very kind to me when I was getting started as a writer (“Post Nixon,” “Pre 9-11”)  and has remained so on-again, off-again for three decades. I'm not sure how Tony feels about me today (is it Wednesday?) but we share a close friend in author Harlan Ellison, a terrific author who was born “After the stock Market crashed” but not very much after.

The piece I wrote about Chuck and Tony and Politics and Comics popped up on its third year Facebook anniversary, lest auld acquaintance be forgot, and I reposted it. And because I reposted it in a “Post November” world, it has already received 500+ comments. The comments come from members of various tribes. People who would, given the opportunity, banish their fellows to another country or even another planet and, failing that, block and “unfriend” each other on Facebook after a liberal (and I use the term as Oxford does, meaning “generous”) dose of criticism, often bile covered, minimally snarky.

I’ve been asked to chime in. I’ve been asked how I feel about a particular comment in a thread of 500+ comments. But I can’t answer that because I haven’t read most of those comments. Comments from people that I don’t know are graffiti to me and if I only learned one thing from Chargé D'affaires Harlan Ellison it is this: avoid the tar pit.

This doesn’t mean I don’t care what people write, or what they write on my Facebook wall, within reason. There’s certain things, I’m certain, that could raise my dander, and those who’ve worked hard to pull my tail over the years undoubtedly have stories to tell. But I won’t be drawn into the milieu of “Post November” tribalism. I don’t feel the need to banish and unfriend people that I don’t even know.

“Don’t even know? Why are you friends?”

We’re not. They “friended” me. The holy word Friend has been re-nuanced and defrocked and made into garbage. Like the words conservative and liberal. Like the word gay, which once meant “light hearted” and trump, which meant “to have superior power over.” People “friend” me for various reasons. Facebook tells me I have 3659 friends.

I only have six or eight Friends. And only three of them are on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Paty Cockrum Makes Joe Kubert Blush

Just found this piece from 12 years ago and thought I'd share it. --Cliff

I was privy to a few moments of sunshine last week when I introduced Paty Cockrum to Joe Kubert.
“Thrilled to meet you, sir,” said Paty in a voice I didn’t recognize as hers. Sir? Hell, this is the toughest old gal I’ve ever known, famous for dragging men out of burning buildings and pointing shotguns at strangers. The occasion was the initiation of The Dave and Paty Cockrum Scholarship Fund, which we’ve been planning for a number of months.
“You were one of the first comic artists that I was truly a fan of,” Paty said to the blushing legend. “You and Bill Everett were the only two who signed your work back then, but you were the only one who knew how draw horses. Everyone else bent the horse’s legs the wrong way.”

Joe, who always has an easy smile, had a good laugh from that. “I had great respect for your husband’s work,” he said. “I watched it very carefully.”

“Well, your Hawkman was formative in his design concepts,” said Paty. “He revered you as an inspiration.”

As for Mr. Meth, I’m proud to sit on the committee that will bestow the newly established scholarship. I’m not a big believer in ghosts. Paty is, but I’m not. Either way, I can’t help thinking that ole Dave would be very happy about this if his ether has any sense of happiness. Dave got his big break because Neal Adams had a generous spirit and sent Dave to Jim Warren with a note saying, “Give this boy work.” He spent his whole career paying that forward. I never saw anything other than a generous spirit on my friend?generous with his time, with his meager funds, and with his praise to burgeoning young artists who would come to him for advice.

But let’s not neglect Paty in this equation. As long as I’ve known the lady, she’s been going out of her way for anybody who needs a helping hand, giving away art, giving away art lessons, and now giving away cash.

A $1000.00 grant will be bestowed each year on a second- or third-year students at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon Graphic Art, Inc. The school currently has about 120 students and has graduated more than 3,000 since its founding in 1976, including some of today’s leading artists and many of my pals.

The scholarship will be funded by the sale of Dave Cockrum’s personal comics collection, which you can see at my blog.
This article (c) 2004 by Clifford Meth first appeared at comicsbulletin.com

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sponsor a Dave Cockrum Scholarship & Get His Comics

Want comics from Dave Cockrum’s personal collection?

All Dave Cockrum ever wanted was to draw comics. His dream came true and because of it he gave us Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Mystique and so many other characters.

To honor Dave’s memory, the Estate of Dave Cockrum asks you to co-sponsor our annual Dave and Paty Cockrum Scholarship Awards at the Joe Kubert School of Comic and Graphic Art. For your donation of $100, you will receive a box of 50 comics from Dave’s personal collection, including at least one X-Men comic that Dave owned. You will also know that you helped a worthy student at the Kubert School advance their studies and head toward that dream career of becoming a professional comic artist.

To participate, you can use PayPal or send a check. PayPay funds to sales@aardwolfpublishing.com. Checks may be written to Paty Cockrum and mailed to Clifford Meth, 179-15 Rt. 46 West, Rockaway, NJ 07866. Please note that we cannot ship Dave’s books outside of the U.S. or Canada. Your contribution does not include shipping, which will be billed separately.

Questions? Email Cliffmeth@aol.com

Thursday, July 23, 2015

HIKIND’S PERSONAL PURIM



NY State Assemblyman Dov Hikind was handcuffed today in front of Senator Charles Schumer’s office. He was arrested for disorderly conduct as he blocked the entrance to the powerful U.S. Senator’s New York City office. The question we need to ask is how in the world will this make any difference or help protect Israelis from the growing threat of Iran?

Let’s be honest: Comparing Barak Obama to Neville Chamberlain, or the threat of Nazi Germany to today’s Iran, is unfair. Obama is by no means as educated as Chamberlain was. Neither can we assume a similar altruism. Chamberlain genuinely believed he had achieved “peace in our time” for the United Kingdom. And when he eventually perceived how his miscalculation had only advanced Hitler’s quest for European dominance,  the former U.K. Prime Minister did an about face and wholeheartedly supported Churchill’s bid for Britain’s war with Nazi Germany.

Further, all bombs are not created equal. Atomic weapons arsenals in the U.S. and Soviet Union in the 1970s became deterrents that relegated a potential military conflict to a benign Cold War. But nuclear weapons in the hands of a State that currently boasts bragging rights to the highest rate of terror-supported activities in the world is another matter. Iran has, among other threatened and often-times successful atrocities, sworn to eliminate the State of Israel.

Comparisons of Iran to Khrushchev’s Soviet government are also misleading. The Soviet’s vantage point progressed from a seemingly virtuous but ultimately failed economic system. Its adherents formed the basis of a naïve worldview based, at least in theory, on uniting world workers. By contrast, the religious fanatics who will hold the keys to an Iranian nuclear arsenal are boisterous evangelists of a death cult. Deals and armistices and non-aggression pacts with such an aggressive player on the world stage hold little promise for peace.

How many times during an armed conflict with Israel did Islamic leaders raise the white flag of surrender or accept a negotiated truce only to fire upon the Israelis immediately after their guard was lowered?

One need not be a prophet nor science-fiction aficionado to anticipate the dark dystopia enabled by a powerful, nuclear-armed and genocidal band of Ayatollahs and their hundred-million legions of fundamentalist cannon fodder. The ability to extrapolate from recent history and sociological norms should make anyone of even semi-intelligence more than alarmed by a deal that gives America’s long-standing enemy, and Israel’s most dangerous and blood-thirsty adversary, the ability to produce a nuclear arsenal over time.

What can one man do?

One man can do plenty if he is Winston Churchill or Menachem Begin—if he is charismatic and capable and attains a position of authority whereby he can make a huge difference. But even the smallest among us are obligated to do our share.

Dov Hikind understands this instinctively. He understands that a N.Y. State Assemblyman may have little sway in the U.S. Senate or Congress. Nevertheless, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to bring attention to the village-is-on-fire seriousness of a nuclear Iran. Those who chained themselves to the White House fence or marched in Selma, Alabama for civil rights understood this, as well: All that’s necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to stand silent.

Of course Hikind’s arrest in front of Senator Schumer’s office was street theatre. But street theatre brought attention and an eventual weakening of American willingness to maintain immoral military actions in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Hikind was cuffed and charged so that others would wake up and also raise their voices.

There was a simple message for Senator Schumer, too—a message which echoed Biblical Mordecai’s plea to Esther the Queen: “Do not imagine that you, in the king's palace, can escape any more than all the Jews… And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?"” (Esther 4:13)

Most of us are not elected officials. Most don’t even have a blog. But all of us possess a vote and a voice and social media and prayers. All of us should be willing to sacrifice now so that countless others will not suffer later.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Meet Paty Cockrum, Get FUTURIANS RETURN and (Maybe) Win a Dave Cockrum X-Men File Copy

Paty Cockrum's FOOM illustration of Marvel Bullpenners as members of the original X-Men.

Artist Paty Cockrum, the widow of beloved X-Men co-creator Dave Cockrum, will be a guest at X-Con this weekend in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Paty was one of the last members of the legendary Marvel Bullpen where she penciled such titles as Amazing Spider-Man and Claws of the Cat and worked on FOOM. Her stories of working with Stan Lee, John Romita Sr., Marie Severin, Roy Thomas and Bill Everett are spell binding, to say nothing of her tales of Jim Shooter and Bob Harass (“Harass, you idiot!”)

Paty is also the colorist of Dave Cockrum’s FUTURIANS RETURN, which will soon be released by Aardwolf Publishing. With contributions from Neil Gaiman, Jim Lee and Bill Sienkiewicz, FUTURIANS RETURN is the final Futurians story written and penciled by Cockrum (who created Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus, Mystique and many other characters for the Marvel Universe). Paty will have signed bookplates specially made for the FUTURIANS RETURN and everyone who purchases the book will be entered into a raffle to win one of Dave Cockrum’s X-Men file copies.

X-Con occurs this weekend (May 15-17) at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, 2101 North Oak Street, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577. For more information on the convention visit xconworld.info For more on The FUTURIANS RETURN visit AardwolfPublishing.com

Note: All customers who pre-ordered FUTURIANS RETURN via Aardwolf Publishing or the Kickstarter campaign are auto-entered into the drawing for the Dave Cockrum X-Men file copy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Speak Up: Cast Your Vote for Best Inker

Neal Adams and Clifford Meth delighted to support The Inkwell Awards.
I was pleased to be named a Special Ambassador to the Inkwell Awards this year. Now it's time to vote. Please join us.

Here's the official skinny:

The Inkwell Awards, a non-profit organization devoted to the education and promotion of the art of inking, invites everyone to vote for the industry's best of the past year. The official public ballot will be available on the Inkwell Awards' homepage from May 1 through May 15. Voting is open to everyone, from fans to professionals.

The ballot also lists the nominees for the internally chosen Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame lifetime achievement award. To avoid a popularity contest where recent names have more influence than past masters, the two winners were chosen by a separate, pre-arranged Hall of Fame Nomination Committee. Current nominees are listed as a courtesy. Past HoF award recipients can be found on the organization's web site.

New for this year is the Special Recognition Award (SRA) for an outstanding inking career of 25 or more years in American comics. This differs from the HoF award due to one or more factors such as the artist being out of the “public eye,” having limited name-recognition due to semi- or full retirement or death, limited-yet-influential output, social barriers such as gender/race, or other factors that would otherwise limit them from being nominated for a traditional HoF award. This award was also chosen internally.

“We’re always thrilled for this event, where the best of the best ink artists and their work get the recognition they deserve,” said Bob Almond, founder and director of The Inkwell Awards. “Inkers have their own fans and followers, yet often go unnoticed or glossed over by most awards events. Ours cater specifically to ink artists and allows them to be recognized and appreciated in various categories. We hope to have even more voters than last year.”

Once voting closes after May 15, the winners will be announced at the live awards ceremony at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC June 19-21 on Friday the 19th. Click here to vote.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Supporting the Gene Colan Scholarship


Sales of the following items support The Gene Colan Scholarship, which is awarded annually at the Joe Kubert School for Graphic Art. If you'd like to buy one of these items--or if you'd like to contribute something to this fundraiser--please email me at cliffmeth@aol.com

Meth, Colan and Other Theologians, which Gene and I did for Aardwolf Publishing some years ago, can be signed and/or personalized  - $18 each, postage paid.

This Bastard Planet  signed signed by Gene Colan, Marie Severin, Dave Cockrum, Paty Cockrum and myself that are $52 each postage paid. There are very few of these and, of course, Gene and Dave are gone, and Marie is no longer signing either.

God of War #1 signed by Marv Wolfman - $10, postage paid.

Gene Colan's personal file copies of Clive Barker's The Harrowers #1, #5 and #6 all in Near Mint. These books contain Gene's art and the set is $22 postage paid.

Guardians of the Galaxy #1 signed by Gene Colan.  This 1990 comic is $20 postage paid. Note that Gene designed the Guardians.

Swamp Thing #50 (NM-) by Alan Moore - signed by artist Rick Veitch - $10 postage paid.

Teen Titans: Deathtrap GN - signed by Marv Wolfman $16 postage paid.

Teen Titans: Spotlight on Raven GN - signed by Marv Wolfman - $16 postage paid.

Vigilante #7 signed by Marv Wolfman - $8 postage paid.


Judenhass (Aardvark-Vanaheim) personally inscribed to Adrienne Colan by writer/artist Dave Sim - $15 postage paid.

Gene Colan's personal file copy of Creepy #1 (Harris) signed by Gene - $20 postage paid.

Gene Colan's personal file copy of The Curse of Dracula #1 (Dark Horse) signed by Gene - $25 postage paid.

Gene Colan's personal file copy of Howard the Duck #4 (Marvel) signed by Gene - $25 postage paid.

Gene Colan's personal file copy of Glamourpuss (Aardvark-Vanaheim) signed by Gene - $12 postage paid.

Gene Colan's personal copy of Kickback hardcover by David Lloyd, which was inscribed and given to him by David (see photo).  - $22 postage paid.


Just added: Tales of Suspense #39 reprint - signed by Don Heck, signed & remarqued by Gene. Click here to bid on this book.

Check back for updates as new items might be added.






Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Johnny Romita: Who Made Who?

My friend, the writer Mark Ellis, was discussing Stan Lee’s contributions to comics recently on his Facebook when an official card-carrying representative of the Jurists and Archivists of Credits for Kirby’s Overt Fundamentalist Fans (aka Jackoffs) swooped in with a standard-issue hysterical invective against poor, benign Stan. Why? Because, in certain Groth-pocked social-network circles, praising Stan Lee for even the ability to tie his own shoes is taken as an affront.

Thus:

“All [Lee] he wrote was dialogue,” opined the acolyte, “but he stole pay and credit for the whole writing job, in order to pad his bank account, and later, as a way to ensure the company owned the Copyrights. THAT's why they started pahying [sic] him a million a year-- so they wouldn't have to risk losing what they STOLE from other people. The sick thing is his fans not only refuse to see this, they also INSIST that the uncalled-for changes he increasibngly [sic] made toward the end of the 60s to other people's perfectly-good already-finished stories were somehow ‘improvements’, when in truth, they resulted in countless plot-holes, continuity problems, and characterization inconsistencies. Considering this guy to be some kind of creative genius, and brilliant writer, is the worst sort of self-delusion.”

The educated Mr. Ellis was quick to assign the vitriol to its rightful place, responding “I'm tired of opinion masquerading as fact. Opinion isn't indisputable, no matter how vehemently you frame it… Until someone puts forth some documentation or old movie film that shows Stan forging Jack's signature on a contract/check or stealing his wallet, all of this sturm-und-drang is based on speculation, conjecture and opinion.”

I’ve known and faithfully corresponded with Stan for three decades. I've also read numerous interviews with him. Never once heard any attempt to remove Jack’s all-important contributions from the creative history of Marvel Comics. But who cares what I’ve read? I’m just another face in the crowd.

But Johnny Romita isn’t.

Indeed, Romita’s position at Marvel was likely as close as anyone would ever again come to replacing Kirby’s all-important role as Marvel's unofficial chief creative officer. So I asked Johnny to go on record regarding his own contributions, and the “process” with Stan.

“Stan would leave a note on my board with a name,” writes Johnny. “The Shocker, the Rhino, the Kingpin, the Prowler, the Kangaroo, the Schemer, the Gibbon, Hammerhead, the Tarantula (not all brilliant)... The other editors would ask for costume designs like Wolverine, Punisher, and a few more… hardly any questions or suggestions… flattering to the ego… also did new costumes for older characters (Black Widow, Falcon, Submariner, etc... Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel also original...over 30 designs). Check out the poster with Alex Ross. He kept reminding of more and more as I sent sketch after sketch… biggest surprise was Roy Thomas and Len Wein not demanding a mask for the Punisher (never a word)… is this enough words? John R”

Further deponent sayeth not.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Good Advice from Mickey Marchello

It's blue I tell ya!
Everyone's been hungry for an update on the Peppi Marchello book that Aardwolf Publishing committed to shortly after Peppi passed. What better time?

The book is fully laid out and we're just re-arranging some photo and graphical elements now… Still waiting on Mickey Marchello's finished Foreword, but I speak with Mickey several times a week and it's coming along.

And Mickey received my own introduction "A Little Twisted," which, after three decades of writing about the Rats' officially and unofficially, is the best piece I've produced on my pal Peppi. Speaking of producing, you should hear the music that Mickey's been coming up with lately! But I digress…

Mickey wisely suggests that sharing the unfinished book with anyone until it's 100% done is a mistake. We're taking that advice. He related the following:

"So Peppi would call me and say, 'Did you see what I sent you? I think it should be blue but I know you're gonna say red.' And I'd say, "Pep, I didn't even see the fuckin' thing yet and you're already fighting with me about it?' And he'd say, "I knew it! I knew you'd say red! Well we're keeping it blue!' And I'd say, 'Pep, I don't care if it's blue or red. You decide.' And he'd say, 'You do this every time, Mickey. It's blue and that's final!' And then he'd hang up angry… Then, the next day, he'd call and say, "Mickey? I think you're right. We should go with red.'"

"This book is your vision, Cliff. It's my brother's lyrics but it's your book."

Well, yes and no. Someone has to make the hard calls and take the heat but we've had tremendous help from the fans, Cathy Marchello, and from Mickey. Our designer Richard Sheinaus has delivered a gorgeous design, too. Can't wait to share it with everyone.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The High Price of Cosplay. Pat Broderick Breaks His Silence.


Pat Broderick is more than disenchanted with the Greenwich Village Halloween parade that comics conventions have become in recent years. He says the skin show costs artists like himself money. So he’s doing something about it.

“A few years ago I returned to a wider comic convention circuit,” Pat told me. “I’ve been doing commissions for many clients and have a backlog. Recently I was also fortunate to receive work from DC Comics, and I have my own properties, which I’ve been working on for the last two years.  So there’s no lack of work now and I find myself in a happy position for an aged artist.”

Aged artist? The proper term is veteran. Take a gander at the Werehawk pin-up Pat recently contributed to Aardwolf Publishing’s forthcoming Dave Cockrum’s FUTURIANS RETURN project. But I digress…

“This last year,” said Pat, “I reviewed the years’ convention appearances and came to a sobering conclusion. Conventions had veered away from the family-friendly events they once were into major media events with large cosplay involvement. At first I thought the mega increase in attendance would also bolster sales with [artists and] dealers. Sadly it has not.”

Pat says promoters are all about maximizing advanced ticket sales, which leads to more people at a show, but the wrong type of people: unqualified guests. People who want to see and be seen aren’t at shows to spend money.

Pat's contribution to Dave Cockrum's FUTURIANS RETURN
“From a promoter’s point of view, it’s a great day,” says Pat. “Sadly it’s not so great for artists and dealers.”

So Pat bailed on an appearance in Ft. Lauderdale. “I'd been working with this promoter for about a year and every time I’d inquire why artists weren’t getting the same promotional efforts channeled towards cosplay events. And I was told that the artists were. Sadly this just did not prove to be the case.”

The next day, when Pat logged onto Facebook, he found numerous “friend” requests from cosplayers. So he requested that cosplayers cease “friending” him. He also asked convention promoters not to invite him if they were building their shows around cosplay events and media guests. “It was a simple request,” he says.

By the following day, Pat’s announcement had gone viral. It even was picked up by The Atlantic. “The amount of hate mail was huge,” says Pat. “The amount of support was even larger.”

Pat believes the inclusion of cosplay as a main convention function adds no value to the shows beyond padding attendance. Not only doesn’t it translate into sales, it does the opposite.

“Cosplayers work their way around convention floors and impede the natural flow of traffic as they stop and pose for photos. They don’t care that they're blocking people from selling their wares. These roaming groups of costumed players shut down a convention floor.”

And what of the notion that cosplayers are creating or participating in a form of art? “They’re not,” says Pat emphatically. “If they had created the designs from scratch and they were truly uniquely theirs, then that argument could be made. But they don’t do anything original.”

You're so busy looking at me that you can't even read this article.
So what are cosplayers good for? Nothing, apparently. “They rarely spend much if any cash except on their costumes,” says Pat. “It’s just gotten out of hand and these show [promoters] are forgetting that it’s their obligation to make it a profitable event for everyone.

Pat is considering creating a different kind of comics convention. “A decision was made about three months ago to produce my own shows and an attorney was contacted. Backers have been approached and are interested. Structure is being put into place. Names are being bounced back and forth. Eventually we’ll host our first show.”

Of course Pat’s position has not come without a cost. “I've been banned for life from attending four Florida shows by one promoter,” he reports. “But that’s okay. I’d rather be dropped ahead of time than attend another bad show.”



Thursday, December 11, 2014

Richard Lenchus: Still Crazy After All These Years

With deepest love and respect, wishing my Sensei Rick Lenchus, the Great Grandmaster, martial arts pioneer and founder of Legend Shotokan, a happy birthday on this, his landmark 75th. For half a century, Sensei Lenchus has given all of his students great dedication while setting us on the path of dignity and budo.

Legend Shotokan of Morristown, NJ
And he taught us how to fight.





Clifford Meth, Rick Lenchus, Avi Meth and Benjy Meth (2010)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Joe Sinnott on Neal Adams. How'd You Like to Own This?


News Release…

For the first time in 44 years, comic book legends Neal Adams and Joe Sinnott have collaborated on a special edition to be auctioned by the non-profit Inkwell Awards (aka “The Inkwells”). The auction will take place in March, 2015. The two artists contributed their talents to a sketch cover of a Batman #0 comic book. The first and last time they collaborated was on two issues of Thor in 1970.

“We are thrilled beyond belief to have these two living legends work together again on our behalf,” said Bob Almond, Inkwell Awards founder and director. “We originally planned to auction the piece off in December of this year but decided we didn't want to compete with holiday shopping. By waiting until March, everyone who wants a shot at this piece of history will have time to save for it.”

The piece came about when Inkwell volunteer Joe Goulart approached Adams at the 2014 Connecticut ComiCONN to contribute a donation sketch for the non-profit. Adams then made his own request: He would do so if Inkwell Special Ambassador Joe Sinnott inked it. Sinnott is also the namesake of the charity's Hall of Fame Award and its annual Inking Challenge event and book collection.

Sinnott's son Mark was contacted and the deal was sealed. Two months later, Joe brought the inked version to the Rhode Island Comic Con for a historic photo with Neal. The comic book has been professionally graded 9.4 and “slabbed” by the Comic Book Certification Service.

Information on the upcoming auction may be found on the organization's web site and Facebook page. The Inkwell Awards is an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization and the world’s sole registered advocacy for the promotion of the comic-book inking art form. In addition to its stated mission, “The Inkwells” annually recognize and award the best ink artists and their work. The organization is overseen by a committee of industry professionals and assisted by various professional ambassadors and contributors. They sponsor the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Kubert School and host the annual Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Rick Buckler Original Art. Cheap. Last Chance.

In 2015, Aardwolf Publishing will release Rich Buckler: Artist, Innovator a perfect-bound book of Rich's art with an introduction by Roy Thomas. This collection of Rich's impressive drawings will be a very limited edition run.

Before we launch our Kickstarter, Aardwolf is offering fans the opportunity to order the book now along with signed/numbered bookplates from Rick (Lettered bookplates are now sold out). These bookplates will contain unique head sketches of Marvel and DC characters that Rich has drawn specially for this project. This is a chance for you to own a piece of original Rich Bucker art as well as the rarest iteration of this new book.

Signed/Numbered editions of Rich Buckler: Artist, Innovator (only 100 will be produced) including the head sketch by Rich are $45 postage paid.

You can also order the book without the original head sketch for only $20.

Orders that need to be shipped outside of the U.S. will require additional postage.

You may request the character of your choice and we will try to accommodate you, but all character head sketches are either Marvel or DC characters, and each one is unique.

We do not have a ship date yet but you can reserve your copy now for just $20 (or by paying in full) by sending your order via PayPal to sales@aardwolfpublishing.com - Please specify whether you are ordering the numbered edition or a book without an original sketch.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rich Buckler: Artist, Innovator

Order now before they're gone:

In 2015, Aardwolf Publishing will release Rich Buckler: Artist, Innovator a perfect-bound book of Rich's art with an introduction by Roy Thomas and some rare insights from other important professionals. This collection of Rich's impressive drawings will be a very limited edition run.

But before we launch our Kickstarter, Aardwolf is offering fans the opportunity to order the book now along with special signed/lettered or signed/numbered bookplates from Rick. These bookplates will contain unique head sketches of Marvel and DC characters that Rich has drawn specially for this project. This is a chance for you to own a piece of original Rich Bucker art as well as the rarest iteration of this new book.

Signed/Numbered editions of Rich Buckler: Artist, Innovator (only 100 will be produced) including the head sketch by Rich are $45 postage paid.

The Lettered Edition of Rich Buckler: Artist, Innovator (only 26 will be produced), including a head sketch by Rich, is $72 postage paid.

You can also order the book without the original head sketch for only $20.

Orders that need to be shipped outside of the U.S. will require additional postage.

You may request the character of your choice and we will try to accommodate you, but all character head sketches are either Marvel or DC characters, and each one is unique.

We do not have a ship date yet but you can reserve your copy now for just $20 (or by paying in full) by sending your order via PayPal to sales@aardwolfpublishing.com - Please specify whether you are ordering the numbered or lettered edition, or a book without an original sketch.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Rich Buckler: Artist, Innovator - Signed/Remarqued Edition Pre-Sale

I've been pleased to know artist Rich Buckler for decades and was happy to recently help renegotiate his contract with Marvel Comics for genuine participation in the Deathlok character that he created.

When I was young, Rich drew some of my favorite books including Fantastic Four, where he was handpicked to follow John Buscema, and later The Avengers. Best known for creating as well as writing and illustrating Deathlok (soon to be a major motion picture?), Rich is among a handful of legendary Marvel Bullpen artists who had the opportunity to draw nearly every major Marvel character of the 1970s.

In 2015, Aardwolf Publishing will release Rich Buckler: Artist, Innovator a perfect-bound portfolio of Rich's work with an introduction by Roy Thomas and, I expect, some rare insights from other important professionals. This collection of Rich's impressive drawings will be a limited edition run that's launched with a Kickstarter campaign.

But before we do that, Aardwolf is offering fans the opportunity to order the book now along with special signed/lettered or signed/numbered bookplates from Rich. These bookplates will contain unique head sketches of Marvel and DC characters that Rich has drawn specially for this project. This is a chance for you to own a piece of original Rich Bucker art as well as the rarest iteration of this new book.

  • Signed/numbered editions of Rich Buckler: Artist, Innovator (only 100 will be produced) including the head sketch by Rich are $45 postage-paid.
  • The Lettered Edition of Rich Buckler: Artist, Innovator (only 26 will be produced), including a head sketch by Rich, is $72 postage-paid.
  • You can also order the book without the original head sketch for only $20.
Orders that need to be shipped outside of the U.S. will require additional postage.

You can request the character of your choice and we will try to accommodate you, but all character head sketches are either Marvel or DC characters, and each one is unique.

We do not have a ship date yet but you can reserve your copy now for just $20 (or by paying in full) by sending your order via PayPal to sales@aardwolfpublishing.com - Please specify whether you are ordering the numbered or lettered edition.