THE JACK KIRBY OF PORN: CELEBRATING THE HAPPY HUNKS OF TOM OF FINLAND
The Finnish postal service launched its most successful limited edition stamps of all time last week — featuring a pair of pertly muscular buttocks and a naked man being straddled by a biker. Advance orders for the stamp came in from 178 countries worldwide, and people lined up on launch day like the stamps had an Apple logo on them.
The reason for the stamps’ appeal — beyond the objective appeal of buttocks — was the artist responsible, one of the nation’s most successful comic book creators: the legendary homoerotic artist Tom of Finland. In the first of a very important series of articles exploring comics’ treatment of hot dudes, which we’re calling ‘The New Hotness’, ComicsAlliance explores the work and legacy of Tom.
THE ARKHAM SESSIONS: IS BATMAN EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT?
In “The Night Of The Ninja,” a string of robberies seems pretty mundane for Gotham City until it’s revealed that the criminal in question is a ninja. That’s right: Ninja. Bruce Wayne is immediately troubled with the idea that a fellow martial arts student from his pre-Dark Knight past, Kyodai Ken, is seeking revenge by targeting companies run by Wayne Enterprises. Batman insists on leaving Robin behind during this particular assignment so that he can deal with the dangerous ninja (and rid himself of some demons related to past failures).
Is Batman Emotionally Intelligent?
In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we revisit the relationship between Bruce and Dick. Once again, resentment is exhibited by Dick as he tries to deal with Bruce’s perfectionistic and strict mentoring style. Dick may be on to something — Bruce appears to be closed off when it comes to the expression of his emotions. In fact, he may have deficits in the area ofemotional intelligence, which is one’s ability to perceive, understand, and manage emotions. People who have low emotional intelligence, for instance, may have difficulty reading others’ emotions and knowing what to say when others are grieving or in turmoil. They may also struggle with the ability to communicate their own emotions with facial expressions, gestures, posture and words. But is this truly a deficit with Bruce? We may be assured that he manages his own emotions with deliberate strategy; being too expressive may prevent him from maintaining his superhero ego. Nonetheless, his insensitivity is experienced by Dick as cold and distancing. Listen to the episode for our full analysis of Bruce’s complex personality.
THE BLACK WIDOW STRIKES IN THIS WEEK’S NEW ‘BATMAN ’66′ — NO, NOT THAT BLACK WIDOW
By Chris Sims
If you haven’t been keeping up with Batman ’66, DC Comics’ digital-first series based on the classic Adam West/Burt Ward television show, rest assured that it has continued to be awesome. Recent issues have seen a terrifying team-up with the Joker and Catwoman, a sinister plot to create a television adaptation of Batman’s adventures, and — perhaps most awesome of all — the debut of a giant robot version of Batman that fought crime with the power of jet boots and rocket fists. It’s… It’s pretty great, y’all.
But one of the more interesting things about the last few episodes — er, issues is that they’ve thrown the spotlight on some of the more obscure villains from the show who never made it in the comics, like the Minstrel and Bookworm, and this week, it’s the harrowing, haunting return of the Black Widow! Not to be confused with Marvel’s Natasha Romanoff or Scarlett Johansson.
Originally portrayed by Tallulah Bankhead, Black Widow is arguably the most obscure special guest villain in the Batman show’s history, largely because she was one of the rarest things to find on that show: A foe for Batman who was taken completely seriously. It’s really only Black Widow and False-Face (who is frigging terrifying) that have that distinction — at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Julie Newmar even mentioned that Bankhead was the only guest star she knew of who “didn’t get the joke,” leading to an episode that seems strange even by the standards of Batman.
But it is interesting, especially since Jeff Parker and Wilfredo Torres seem to be taking the same tactic for their story almost 50 years later. Sure, there are still bizarre thematic deathtraps, but there’s also a subplot about the Penguin, the most social of all arch-criminals, being kind of terrified by Black Widow, who’s taking this whole murder thing a little too far.
HIRE THIS WOMAN: WRITER SARAH VAUGHN
In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”
Sarah Vaughn initially started in comics as an artist, working on the webcomic Sparkshooter (full disclosure: she also illustrated one installment of a comic strip I wrote for Bitch Media called Don’t Be A Dick). When forced to cut back on drawing for health reasons, Vaughn switched gears to concentrate on writing instead. Her current project is the Image series Alex + Ada, where she is the head writer and co-creator with Jonathan Luna.
ALL-STAR ‘BOOM! BOX MIX TAPE’ ANTHOLOGY BRINGS TEEN PREZ, PUNK ROCK GRANDMA, NEW LUMBERJANES AND MORE
By Chris Sims
It’s really starting to look like 2014 is the year of the giant, oversized offbeat anthology comic. Not only have we gotten books like Cosmic Scoundrels and Giant-Size Kung Fu Bible Stories, but today, Boom! Studios announced the latest offering from their creator-owned imprint, the Boom! Box 2014 Mix Tape, and it already looks amazing.
Clocking in at an oversized 8.5 x 11″, the Mix Tape is set to include a pretty impressive roster, including covers by Teen Dog creator Jake Lawrence and a new Lumberjanes story written by Noelle Stevenson, and a new story from the award-winning team behind Adventure Time, Ryan North, Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb. And if that wasn’t enough, we have an exclusive look at character designs for four short stories by Rian Sygh, including Teen Prez, which may actually be the Sensational Character Find of 2014.
Boom! Box is, of course, the Boom! Studios imprint that brought us Midas Flesh, Lumberjanes and Teen Dog, so I feel pretty safe in saying that they have a pretty strong track record going into a big anthology that’s meant to show off their roster of creators. That said, I’m more into these truly bonkers high concepts we’re working with here.
Sygh’s designs are for four of the stories included in the 48-page one-shot: Worst Witchesby Paul Maybury, Teen President by Eryk Donovan, Port-a-Potty by Stefan Toshef and Punk Rock Grandma by Alexis Ziritt. Yes. Punk Rock Grandma. There hasn’t been a title that great since… Well, since Teen Dog, I suppose. That one’s pretty hard to top.
‘FUN HOME’ CREATOR ALISON BECHDEL RECEIVES MACARTHUR GENIUS GRANT
By Chris Sims
Cartoonist Alison Bechdel is virtually a household name at this point. Her comics, including Fun Home and Dykes To Watch Out For, are deservedly critically acclaimed, and ‘The Bechdel Test’ has become an increasingly relevant shorthand for analysis of gender diversity in fiction. In other words, she’s a genius, and today, that became official.
Bechdel is one of the latest recipients of The MacArthur Foundation‘s “Genius Grant,” which honors “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction,” and comes with an award of $625,000 that can be spent any way the recipient sees fit.
‘THE ART OF BOB PEAK’ HONORS THE LEGENDARY MOVIE POSTER ILLUSTRATOR [REVIEW]
This is something of a golden age for pop culture-themed art books. It seems like every week, a new volume comes on the market that illuminates some aspect of the history of popular art. In fact, there’s so many great titles out there right now that it can be tough to figure out which are worth your time — so we figured it would be a good idea to shine the ComicsAlliance spotlight on a few of the best things we’ve recently read.
The Art Of Bob Peak celebrates the works of one of the world’s most legendary movie poster artists, edited and annotated by his son Thomas Peak.
I’ve been aware of Bob Peak’s work for pretty much as long as I can remember, and it’s a safe bet that the same holds true for almost anybody who has taken an interest in twentieth century pop culture. His art was practically inescapable, his movie posters, ad campaigns, magazine illustrations, and book jackets, reached every corner of America.
And yet, he tends to fall victim to that unique curse of the commercial artist: being simultaneously ubiquitous and unknown. Despite creating visual identities for uncountable films, books, and products, his name is often overlooked when counting down the great illustrators of 20th Century America.
But this hefty volume goes a long way toward correcting that oversight – it gives a comprehensive overview of the man’s long career, not only reprinting many of his finest pieces, but also providing an up-close look at his process through a selection of sketches, roughs, and alternate versions.
BREAKDOWN PRESS ANNOUNCES SECOND BOOK IN ALT MANGA LINE: MASAHIKO MATSUMOTO’S ‘THE MAN NEXT DOOR’
Breakdown Press, currently the most interesting outfit operating in UK comics, continues apace with the publication of exciting book after exciting book. Earlier this year, in June, it announced the launch of a new line of translations of classic and avant garde Japanese comics in association with manga scholar and translator Ryan Holmberg (who previously worked with PictureBox in a similar capacity), the first of which was Seiichi Hayashi 1969 ‘blues manga,’ Flowering Harbour.
The second book in the publisher’s alternative manga line will be Masahiko Matsumoto’s The Man Next Door, collecting four gekiga stories from the 1950s. The book will be released to coincide with the London Cartoon Museum’s Gekiga exhibition, which begins on September 23rd, and will be available online at the Breakdown Press store shortly after.
SETH ROGEN INVITES DUNCAN JONES TO DIRECT ‘PREACHER’ EPISODES VIA TWITTER
Writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are slowly but surely working on the pilot for AMC’s new TV adaptation of the Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon Vertigo series Preacher, and as they write, it appears they’re also recruiting cool directors.
Rogen struck up a Twitter conversation with Duncan Jones, director of Moon (which is super great) and Source Code (which is flawed but well made) — and also, incidentally, the son of David Bowie — to gauge his interest. Right now, Jones is working on a Warcraft movie, but he seemed extremely enthusiastic about taking the reins on some Preacher episodes.