Why I Love Marvel Comics ~ Iron Man #127

Today, Marvel Digi-Comics put up Iron Man #127 where the ol’ Shellhead fights … well … everyone in an “iron melee.” It’s like a who’s who of Iron Man, which is to say … a confederacy of dunces. Now, I personally like them for their cheesiness, but it’s not exactly, say, Bat-Man’s Rogues Gallery. Seriously, someone paid Leap Frog to take to take down the Iron Man. And,  (I love it), but the Beetle costume with the purple fire hose fingers wouldn’t scare a kindergartner.  

 And, what the hell is with Bob Layton’s version of the Porcupine costume with the tail for a mouth!?!?! Dude, he IS a porcupine. He’s not EATING a porcupine!

And, then there’s this dude. Seriously, you’re too sad to mock. So, you threw your disucs, Roid Oid. Now what!?!?

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I Love Iron Man … Da Da Da Da Da Duh Duh Duh

Okay, after “Matrix: Reloaded” treated me like Scott Summers treated Jean Grey’s memory, I promised myself never to fall in love with a sequel again based on a trailer. But, I’m ready to love again. Still buzzing from Downey, Jr.’s Christmas offering of Sherlock Holmes and basking in the glory of the suitcase armor tranformation … I’ll throw caution to the wind and declare — “I love you Tony Stark!”

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BIG week for our little blog …

Last week, my daughters, Grace (6) and Cate (4) and I started a new blog … 5 Minute Marvels. Each night, we spend just 5 minutes drawing a super hero or a super villain. Until Wednesday, our average visits were at 5 per day … my mom. On Wednesday, @Chrissamnee and @JimMcCann shared it with their peeps and today, a story by Chris Mautner at Robot 6. And, boom! A few more than 5 visits today … :)

The girls and I hope you’ll hop over to 5 Minute Marvels and check it out and … more importantly … pick up a pencil and join us!

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That’s Marvel BadAss! ~ Week 14 … KIRBY VISION!

Scroll down and you’ll see that I have a deep and abiding love for all things Kirby … but, I’m a neophyte compared to Jason Garrattley, the editor of the KirbyVision fan art blog … a site often tinged with brilliance … over at the Kirby Museum site. I reached out across the Atlantic this week to the land of the Union Jack to catch up with Jason and find out why he, too, is addicted to Kirby Krackle!  (And, don’t miss Jason’s other blog … Between Clark and Hilldale … a great blog for retro designers.)

Marvel SmartAss: Where did your love of King Kirby start?

Jason Garrattley: It was the early eighties through Marvel UK’s black and white reprints. I think it was the Black Panther story “Kings Solomon’s Frog” where I began to notice Jack’s work. It was full of all these bizarre characters and the art was so energetic and fluid. I was also rather fond of Devil Dinosaur, which is a fantastic story for a ten-year old, full of fighting dinosaurs and volcano’s erupting in the background. Marvel UK also produced a series of A5 sized pocket books and I collected the Fantastic Four and Captain America titles. The reproduction was sometimes so awful that you could barely read some of the panels, but Jack’s art was so bold it transcended the shoddy format. 

Marvel SmartAss: What do you enjoy most about Kirby’s art and his creations? Why do they endure?

Jason Garrattley: Well, he had such a great sense of design and he rarely drew a dull panel. I’ve recently been looking at his romance comics, which are basically just people standing around talking, but they are so beautifully rendered. The drapery is masterful. Like most fans I love all that weird technology of the super-hero books and the action is so full of movement. His art is really rewarding to look at and it’s fascinating to see how his style changed throughout his career.

As for his creations, they’ve endured because they are archetypes. Everyone recognizes who the good and the bad guys are, they lack any real sophistication but are the purest way of communicating with the reader. I’m sure Jack knew this because he wasn’t averse to recycling his own ideas.

Marvel SmartAss: What led you to create Kirby Vision? Were you affiliated with the Kirby Museum from the start? If not, how did you strike up the partnership?

Jason Garrattley: I think the catalyst was a desire to submit something to Robert Goodin’s Covered blog. I worked up a rendition of Challengers of the Unknown #4 in Photoshop. It was essentially a loose trace and I decided not to submit it but I had enjoyed submersing myself in Jack’s art while I’d created it. I realised that numerous artists had felt this sense of enjoyment as it’s quite common to find artwork that emulates Jack’s style. It’s almost a secret language that has crept into popular culture, the zenith being the Ben 10 cartoon series which is full of Kirby design references. I was surprised to find that there wasn’t a website or blog that collected all these tribute pieces so I decided to create my own. I have to give credit to Brendan Tobin and Pedro Delgado’s March MODOK Madness and Michael Cho’s Tony Stark: Your Go To Guy which were direct models of what became known as The Kirby Project. To get a flavour of the type of work I wanted to feature I began by posting my own Photoshop collages. I then contacted artists that I had found through Flickr and DeviantArt and requested permission to post their Kirby related artwork. I did my best to promote the blog wherever I could and after a while I began to receive submissions. The Kirby Project ran for four months before Rand Hoppe invited me to curate the blog from the umbrella of the Kirby Museum website. Of course I was honoured to do so and after a quick name change to Kirby-Vision the blog continued and is rapidly approaching it’s first Birthday.

Marvel Smartass: How can people get involved with your site?

Jason Garrattley: You can contact me via the email link in the Contribute section in the side bar. There aren’t any vigorous submission guidelines. If Jack’s work has inspired you to put pen to paper or to make a collage or to recreate one of your favorite covers through the medium of mime then that’s all you need to get involved. A short bio and any information regarding the submission that would be a great help too.

Marvel SmartAss: Which do you prefer … Jack’s first tenure at Marvel? His Second? His time at DC? His independent creations?

Jason Garrattley: It has to be Marvel in the 60’s. Even though Jack and Stan Lee belonged to the previous generation their energy and drive made Marvel synonymous with all that was hip and happening in the music, art and film industries. We all know that the legacy of those years brought a lot of pain to Jack and he was never truly rewarded for his ingenuity but that period cemented his reputation as one of comics greatest innovators and in my opinion one of the 20th century’s most important artists.

Marvel SmartAss: What comics are you reading now?

Jason Garrattley: I’m enamored by the work of Osamu Tezuka, particularly Buddha, MW and Ode to Kirihito. When you read Tezuka you realize that western comics have only begun to discover the possibilities of the medium. The Walking Dead is the scariest comic book EVER. The sense of dread and hopelessness is so tangible that every turn of the page forces you to confront your own worst fears. Criminal by Brubaker and Phillips is streets ahead of the game when it comes to crime comics. David Lapham’s Young Liars was visceral and daring, one of my favorite titles of the last couple of years. I love the Modesty Blaise newspaper strips from the Evening Standard. I grew up reading 2000AD and I’m enjoying the phonebook sized reprint volumes of Judge Dread, Nemesis, Ro-Busters and Strontium Dog. Just lately, I’ve been re-reading Gilbert Hernandez’s Palomar and Luba collections. I love his characterization, even the most minor players seem fully formed on the page. I must also recommend Men of Tomorrow by Gerard Jones and Tales to Astonish by Ronin Ro, two fantastic accounts of the rise, fall and rise again of the comics industry and Jack’s ever-changing roles within it.

Marvel Smartass: Final Question — In a tag team cage match pitting O.M.A.C. and Etrigan vs. Devil Dinosaur and Machine Man … who would win? Why?

Jason Garrattley: That’s a tough one to call but it may look something like this…

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Mockingbird Moment: Take this Stave and Shove It!

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That’s Marvel BadAss! ~ Week Thirteen!

So, I’m a little late with That’s Marvel BadAss this week … my apologies, I am working on some future interviews… and they’re still percolating.

But, that gives me the opportunity to offer up some quick shots on some bloggers and artists you should check out, like, as soon as you stop reading this.

First up — MARCH M.O.D.O.K. MADNESS. If you visit this blog with any frequency, you’ll know I’m a big fan of blogger/artist Brendan Tobin and of the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing. Put those two together, add some Pedro Delgado and the considerable talents of many artists and you get a magnificent month-long celebration of all things M.O.D.O.K. Visit the site now! 

NEXT UP: DAILY SKETCHJAM! Thanks to the boys over at Comic TWART, I have added Daily Sketchjam to the sites I make point to visit early and often. There’s a lot of goodness to be had there, but my standout favorite has been the work of Ryan Cody. He has an easy, effortless style and is able to pull a lot of character out of his quick sketches. But, the best I’ve seen is this recent bust of the only and only Luke Cage. This kind of has a “Power Man Meets Fat Albert” quality that a really dig.

Check out Ryan’s work, and that of many others, at Daily Sketchjam here.

FINALLY: COVERED! If you a little trip over to the blog, Covered!, isn’t on your daily “To Do” list … um … why not! Blog editor Robert Goodwin has created an incredible place where artists of all skill levels and styles come to pay homage to the work of the past and redesign classic comic book covers. It’s almost impossible to pick one that stands out above all the rest … but, I will. Anthony Vukojevich’s interpretation of the cover of Fantastic Four #26 hits this old NES/Atari fan boy in just the right spot. No lie… how much would you pay to play this video game. It would be on like Donkey Kong! (Ooh… that would bad.)

Chiggady-chiggady-check our Covered! right here!

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Why I Love Marvel Comics: Marvel Two-In-One #43

This may be my favorite Marvel panel … ever. Leave it to Marvel’s long-time editor, Ralph Macchio, to put our words in Ben Grimm’s mouth. [Begin sarcasm.] What’s so odd,  Benny? It’s just your typical day when a sentient pile of orange rocks wakes up in a swamp where a reincarnated man named Jude who is, in fact, the undead embodiment of entropy looks on as a former scientist turned swamp monster reaches for a floating cube that contains the power to warp reality as two men endowed by a “super soldier formula,” one from WWII who was frozen in a block of ice and freed by the Price of Atlantis just in time to be discovered by a newly formed team of costumed adventurers just passing by in a sub … the other an aged scientist obsessed with gladiators … fight in the background. If I had a nickel for every time  …[End sarcasm.]

You’re the best, Ralph!

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Hawkeye Holla’! ~ Handlin’ Your Business with Class

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Why I Love Marvel Comics: Incredible Hulk #290

Do I even needs to say it? It’s a two-panel spread with A.I.M. beekeepers worshipping a female M.O.D.O.K.  Now, that I’ve seen ths … I may just have to stop reading comics. I’ve been to the end.

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UPDATED! Mighty Marvel Mustache Brigade

So… in my job, I spend a lot of time in my car … and that leads to lots of time for the mind to wander. On a trip back from the Blue Ridge Mountains last Friday, I began to think about all the fantastic folicles that permeate the Marvel U. We know the good guys have the secret Illuminati … and the bad guys the Cabal and the Intellegensia … why not a secret society of heroes AND villains that secretly wish to be Magnum P.I.? It make sense when you think about it. Or, when you drink several Cokes and drive home after a long day…

UPDATE! I was corrected by my bloggin’ buddy, Brendan Tobin — creator of March M.O.D.O.K. Madness — that Angar the Screamer was a member of the hallowed MMMB ranks … but, he was dishonorably discharged when he and and a wasted Ted Nugent were caught licking Iron Man’s repulsors and sorting blow off of the back of the Eye of Agamotto.


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Thank you, Mr.Postman!

Today, there was a little packet of awesomeness that traveled all the way from France waiting for me in the mail — original art from Dan Christensen, who was featured for That’s Marvel BadAss! a few weeks back. When putting that together, I was reallly taken with Dan’s drawing of the original Stan Lee/Jack Kirby X-Men … and now it’s mine! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! (Okay, I’ll share the love. Click here for a super embiggened version.)

And, now you can have original Dan Christensen art of your very own. Visit his Etsy site — lots of the superhero alphabet pieces are there and much more!

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Mockingbird Moment – Take THAT, English Major!

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Who’s Still Sittin’ on the Bench? THE RANGERS!

Dear Marvel — One Halloween upon a time, a little boy growing up in Nashville was given a copy of Incredible Hulk #265 at the coolest … and apparently most controversial … house in the city. The issue was drawn by the incomparable Al Milgrom and written by the delightfully absurd Bill Mantlo. It starred a make-shift group of Texas heroes named, appropriately enough, The Rangers. And, though the Rangers were hopelessly outmatched and easily defeated by the Green Goliath … that little boy was enraptured. They popped up again in West Coast Avenger #8 … and then briefly in the 50 States Initiative … but, it’s high time they had a mini.

Now, I’m Southern (not “Texas Southern,” but “Southern Southern” just the same) and I’d like to throw my hat in the ring. So, give me a holler, ya’ hear? Yee … and, may I add … Haw!

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T-T-T-Tobin! Brendan Tobin Creates Kirby Krackle


Today, one of my favorite bloggers/artists, Brendan Tobin, posted this incredible color/ink work he did to a rough sketch Jack Kirby created for a Hawkman animated series pitch. Now, Mr. Tobin is a very talented artist in his own right, but his love of the King shines through on this and shows how dynamic Kirby’s work can be when coupled with strong inks and vibrant colors. Check out Brendan’s process on the piece and his original works at  http://brendantobin.blogspot.com/


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Marvel Two-In-One ~ Mantis!

One Hero. Two Kids. One Dad. Five Minutes. That’s all!

Tonight, we rocket into the stratosphere with the Celestial Madonna  herself, Mantis. I’ve thought Mantis was cool since her days cruising the universe with the Silver Surfer and kicking galactic booty with her karmic kung fu. And, now I know two little girls who think chicks with antennae rock.

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Mockingbird Moment #3: Wardrobe Malfunction

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That’s Marvel BadAss! ~ Week Twelve


Last week, folks were all-a-tweeting about a super-cool fan posters of ROM, Spaceknight created for the Bill Mantlo tribute, Spacenite 2, put on by the awesome folks at Floating World of Comics. Click the link and fall in love … I dare you.

The standout for me was the work of Tom Whalen – a master at combining comic and pop culture art with the WPA artistic style — a personal favorite. He is an incredibly talented artist. And, that got me thinking it was time to move this weekly feature forward and find out a little more about the artists we feature each week. Visit his Deviant Art page and his personal Web site, www.strongstuff.net And, learn more about him here …

Marvel Smartass: Hey Tom, what’s your background? How did you get into graphic design?

Tom Whalen: My earliest recollection of paying attention to art came (oddly enough) in my grandmother’s candy store. I killed countless Sunday afternoons sitting on a weathered old stepladder reading the Spider-Man, GI Joe, Transformers and Avengers comics she had stocked on the spinner rack.

Eventually, that love of comic art inspired me to start drawing. The issues of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and DC’S Who’s Who that she graciously gave to me were literally invaluable.

As high school began to draw to a close — and, after years of drawing every variety of things superheroic, monstrous and robotic — my mom saw my passion and suggested I take a look at art schools. Kutztown University suited all of my needs and turned out to be a fantastic place to learn not just drawing skills, but understand the power of typography and the fundamentals of solid layout. When I graduated, I found work as a graphic designer for almost five years before landing a full-time editorial illustration gig, where I’ve been for the past eight and a half years.

Marvel Smartass: WPA style seems to be making a bit of a comeback lately. What about it drew you to that artistic genre? Click here for more information on this style dating back to the 30s.

Tom Whalen: WPA-style posters are timeless in their elegance and execution. I think the fact that a 70 year-old style still looks fresh is a testament to that. I’ve always been a geek for complex concepts boiled down to as-simple-as-possible images.

Marvel Smartass: Who are your favorite heroes and villans to draw? Why?

Tom Whalen: As far as heroes go (and this probably sounds pretty cliche), I love to draw Batman. It’s the cape. And, the logo. And, the gloves. And, the mask. I never tire of trying new takes on him. My favorite villain to draw would have to be Skeletor. I’ve illustrated him twice in the past year and I just don’t tire of taking new stabs at him.

You didn’t ask, but if I had to pick a least favorite character to draw, it’d be Voltron. Hands down. I’ve also illustrated him twice recently (once for a private commission and once for  a Nicktoons calendar), and if I never have to draw him or all of those wretched teeny tiny folded down lion legs again, I can assuredly die happy.

Marvel Smartass: Are you a comic book fan? If so, what was the first comic you remember reading? What books do you read now?

Tom Whalen: I love comics. The first book I can remember reading (in my grandmother’s store, nonetheless) is an issue of Amazing Spider-Man that featured the Hobgoblin. I always loved those old webslinger stories because the villains truly felt dangerous. 

Right now, I’m reading (and loving)  Walking Dead, Kick-Ass, Blackest Night, Punisher and Robocop.

Marvel Smartass: Who are your favorite comic artists?

Tom Whalen: In no particular order: Leinyl Yu, Darwyn Cooke, Art Adams, Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Mike Mignola, Rick Leonardi, John Byrne, Tony Moore, Bryan Hitch, John Romita, Jr., Chris Warner, Alan Davis, Kelley Jones and Zach Howard.

Marvel Smartass: What advice do you have for people who love art, but are self-conscious about dipping their toes into graphic design?

Tom Whalen: I look at illustration, fine art, typography, photography and design as different musicians. Each can create something unique on their own, independent of each other. But together, they can create something altogether amazing and beautiful when they are in harmony with one another.

Marvel Smartass: Just one more question — Iron Man- Clunky original or sleek iPod modern design?

Tom Whalen: I’ve loved just about all of Iron Man’s armor designs through the years (my favorite: Silver Centurion), but if Ihad to choose between the two, I’m going clunky old school.

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Marvel Two-In-One – The Black Knight!

One Hero. One Kid. One Dad. Five Minutes. That’s all!

In honor of my favorite underutilized Avenger, Gracie and Cate decided to take on The Black Knight. Unfortunately, on the way to the sketch session with Gracie, The Knight stopped by a Vegas 24-hour buffet … for a week. We’re going to have to let his chain mail out … poor lamb. And, yes … he has the Visitors symbol for a nose.

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Who’s Your Favorite Avenger Still Sitting on the Bench?

Which former Avenger do you want to see back in the ranks of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”? Who’s ready for prime time, but stuck on the graveyard shift?

C'Mon, Marvel! This man deserves to be riding shotgun in a Quinjet!

The Avengers have undertaken quite a journey over the past 7 years, and all signs point to them continuing to sit atop the Marvel empire for years to come. While the House of Ideas is drumming up excitement for Avengers and Secret Avengers.

Since Hawkeye and Mockingbird have popped up in the recent promos and have been active members of New Avengers over the last year, I find my thoughts wandering to one Dane Whitman, the Black Knight. He was always a favorite of mine, culminating with his suffering the curse of the Ebony Blade when Namor used it to slay a mutated Marinna. But, since then, I find him criminally used — rocking out the leather jacket and the lightsabre/sun sword in the 90s and becoming a working joe in “Heroes for Hire.” Now, he’s cool in MI-13 (which I assume he’ll still be a part of), but this guy deserves another shot at the big time. I want to see him one breath away from Avengers chairmanship.

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Marvel Two-In-One ~ Behold! Doctor Doom!

One Villain. One Kid. One Dad. Five Minutes. That’s all!

Attention mere mortals and citizens of Latveria! Tonight, the Lady Grace has decreed: This eve, shall we draw Victor Von Doom! And lo, shall those who witness quake with terror! I know I’m her dad, but Grace’s Doom is good. I am proud and terrified all in the same moment.

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Why I Love Marvel Comics: Astonishing Tales #13

Wow! That's some six pack on a scientist/hired muscle.

Okay, so I love Mockingbird. We’ve established that, right? Well, long before “Astonishing” was a brand name for a new line of Marvel Comics, it was part of the title “Astonishing Tales,” a comic that spent a lot of time on Ka-Zar and gave birth to one S.H.E.I.L.D. agent/super biologist gymnast, Bobbi Morse. And, Bobbi’s origin just so happens to correspond with an appearance of another of my Marvel passions, A.I.M. beekepers. So it stands to reason I have a great affection for Astonishing Tales #13. And this two panel snippet shows why …

Put yourself in a beekeeper’s position:  You’re good with math. You excel at physics. You skip prom to attend a LEXX convention. You get a scholarship and then a fellowship. And, then, a gigantic floating head recruits you to split atoms, carry a gun and get beaten up my the myriad heroes of the Marvel U. Such is the life of a beekeper. And, this is no exception as this poor dude, who finds himself out of the lab and face to face with a sabretooth in a primordial jungle. As we say in the South … bless his heart.

Oh, and kudos to Zabu for showing restraint and only tearing the guys’ shirt. You go, big cat!

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Happy Valentines Day!

It’s Valentine’s Day … not my favorite holiday. But, I did have a great dinner with the wife and found a perfect excuse to wax eloquent about my favorite couples in the Marvel Universe.

If you’ve spent any time on this site, you know that means Hawkeye and Mockingbird. And, it has been since Hawk and Mock got hitched in Vegas & jumped in the heart shaped tub. I confess to being a bit of a romantic and these two had me at, “Hello.” I know they’ve been tagged as the “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” of Marvel, but, to me, they’re the Sawyer and Juliet — two damaged, but noble people who found each other and make one helluva team.

But, who else? Peter and Mary Jane. Sue and Reed. Rogue and Gambit. Hulkling and Wiccan. Tony and Pepper. Cap and Agent 13. Surfer and Shalla Bal. Phyla and Moondragon. Bah! Easy. Who are the unsung romances of the Marvel U.

The original Marvel “Bro-mance.” Yeah, yeah … Beast loved Dazzler and Wondy fell for the Scarlet Witch, but let’s be real. Nothing compared to the brotherly love shared by a They went drinking. They saw movies.  They died and mutated. Please, Heroic Age, we want a reunion!

Okay, so this is like the perfect relationship for Medusa. The man cannot talk. He just has to listen to her. I hate to say it, but I think my wife would adore this arrangement. I don’t quite have the upper body of Black Bolt, but milady does have red hair …


Jack Kirby loved playing with big, big emotions. And, nothing compared to the bond shared by a vicious, yet oddly tender giant reptile and a Rick Jones archetype as the missing link. Too bad Devil ate Moonboy in the unpublished 10th issue.


It’s like the Marvel U. version of  “She’s All That.” Geeky, skinny girl, “Skeeter” is transported to an alien battleworld where Dr. Doom transforms her into Anna Nicole Smith with superpowers. So, she starts dating a jailbird blessed with magical abilities by Loki. Remember: The couple that beats She-Hulk to a pulp together, stays together.

Sure, on the surface, it just looks like he wants to EAT the Earth. But, let’s get real. There are millions of planets out there he could tap. But, he keeps coming back. He sends heralds. He makes demands. He takes up residence. And, every time the Earth plays hard to get and sends him packing … he comes back for more. Baby, that’s codependance.

Move over Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Andrea and Andreas von Strucker must be in physical contact to make their powers work. (‘Cause, that’s not weird.) And, when Andrea is killed, well … her dear brother tans her skin and wraps it around a sword handle so he can adventure on and work with Norman Osborn to earn a clone of her. Ew.

Guys … I gotta’ go. I’m gettin’ misty over here.

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A Mockingbird Moment – The Bitch Goes “Blam!”

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Double-Sized Marvel Two-In-One ~ M.O.D.O.K. & A.I.M.

Today, the lady Gracie decided to look into the face of super science villany and draw what she saw there… What can I say, the girl loves her some Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing. Clearly, I am parent of the year.

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That’s Marvel BadAss! ~ Week Eleven

My fellow smartasses, this Thursday feature, where I set the sarcasm aside and highlight both established and aspiring creators has become my favorite post of the week. I hope you’re havin’ fun, too. Today, there’s lots o’  love to spread around.

When I want a little inspiration, I just pop (no pun intended) on over to the incredible Web site, Kirby Vision, where artists pay homage to The King. And, Marc Basile is a true highlight. He has produced lots of Kirby art, but the Lichtenstein/Warhol inspired Kirby pop art above rocks. I haven’t found a Web site for him, but Kirby Vision says he teaches illustration and design at Sussex County Community College, New Jersey. How much do you want to take that class!?!?! Check out Marc’s art on KV here!

More Marvel BadAssery!
Marvel made some announcements I am really digging!

First, Jeff Parker, one of my favorite writers, is bringing back the Agents of Atlas for The Heroic Age with 3-D Man. I must confess that I didn’t like Triathlon very much. But, the spin Slott and Gage gave him in The Initiative, transforming him into a new 3-D Man … a leader and hero of the war against the Skrulls makes intrigued to see how he interacts with the tomorrow’s team of today!

I’m no Dazzler fanatic. But, I AM an unabashed member of McFanns for Jim McCann. I always find it fun to read comics written by writers who truly love their characters — characters they grew up reading and dreaming about. That joy and love shows through in the writing. And, I know McCann wouldn’t take on his beloved Alison Blaire without a really fun story to tell. Should be a good time.

Finally, I haven’t visited the store in New Jersey, but I have followed Sal (@HallOfHeroes) on Twitter. He’s a nice guy with lots o’ cool superhero swag. Check him out!

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Mockingbird Moment – Mr. I, meet Ms. Robinson!

And now, a word from this blog’s favorite superheroine …

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Heroic Age Teaser Poster with MI-13!

Thus far, I continue to be hopeful about The Heroic Age, if only for the fact that is seems some of my favorite characters — Hawkeye, Beast, Gorilla Man, 3-D Man, Mockingbird and now, another in my Marvel top 5 — Dane Whitman, the Black Knight!

I think the art here is fantastic, but is it me or are all of these heroes looking in, like 245 different directions? And, since when is a hero, who wears chain mail agile enough ro be hanging out on lamp poles? And, what’s with the lady in white in the background (Venus?). So … how cold is it there?

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Marvel THREE-In-One ~ Captain America

So, tonight my four-year-old, Cate, wanted to get in on the action. Juiced up after an episode of “Super Hero Squad” where the Scarlet Witch hexes Cap to sleep, Cate declared it was time to draw the star-spangled one – CAPTAIN AMERICA.

Grace went for the angry, field general Cap. I went with a slightly dopey winghead Cap. But, I think Cate won the day by capturing the pure joy of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon’s Cap — the happy, patriotic hero.

Posted in Avengers, Captain America, Comic Books, Comics, Marvel Comics, Marvel Two-In-One, Super Hero Art by Gracie | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Secret Avengers ~ Secretier Avengers

Last week, the Heroic Age teasers brought us “I Am An Avenger.” This week, “I A Secret Avenger.” And, they’ve really got us guessing. Sure to add fuel to the fire, my Smartassassins have broken back into the Marvel offices to bring you, my faithful readers, a sneak peek of the next three teaser posters. And, I must say, the Ed Brubaker effect is in full swing … all these dudes have guns!


(I know I’m just goofing around on this, but these three would be sooooooooooooooooo cool together!)

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Pint Size Marvel #1

Okay, ya’ll. Starting this blog was me getting over my irrational fear of sharing my writing and my ideas with the world. Now, the Marvel Two-In-One sketches I’m doing with my daughter, Gracie,  are getting me over my fear of sharing my art, too.

Here is the first of a series of weekly panel comics called “Pint Size Marvel” — featuring two Marvel characters … you know … in a bar. I hope you enjoy. (Pssst … Constructive criticism, ideas and … dare I say it … words of ecouragement are always welcome.)

Posted in A.I.M. High, AIM, Comic Book Humor, Comic Books, Comics, Marvel Comics | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Me and She: Happy 30th Shulkie!

Dear Jennifer,

It seems like just yesterday you and I met. It was 1983. I was on a road trip to Louisville, Kentucky. we pulled over at a gas station and I bought Avengers #236. It was the first comic I’d ever  bought with my own money. And, there you were running alongside Captain America and the Scarlet Witch, blissfully ignorant of how gaudy you looked in that orange leotard and white scrunched down legwarmers. You looked like the flag of Ireland. And, I loved you at first sight. I was 10 years old.

Over the next few years, I hunted for you in every 25 cent box in Nashville, Tennessee from The Great Escape to the flea markets and garage sales. And, with every issue of The Savage She-Hulk I found, I cursed the careless person who had the temerity to cast you aside and sell you for less than your cover price. The fools!

Our relationship hit a brief snag when my mother, knowing only that I liked to “draw superheroes a lot” decided to proudly display my many artistic works (taped to the back of my door ) to my visiting grandmother. Thankfully, you were, as always, tastefully attired in your fetching, shredded white dress. But you and I were forced to cool it for a while as the ensuing embarrassment died down. But, soon, I smuggled you back into the house in the form of a copy of the Sensational She-Hulk graphic novel . By that time, you were in the Fantastic Four and dating Wyatt Wingfoot. I forgave you. (But, not him –the rat bastard!)

I confess, seeing you covered in dead, mutant insects at the end of that graphic novel forced me to re-evaluate my feelings for you. I began to admire your wit, intelligence, verve and style. Okay, not your style. You wear purple WAY too much, girl.

But, it was time to give up comics and go to high school and be cool (FAIL!) and date a real girl (EPIC FAIL!). But, by the time I was about to turn 30, I realized all that “giving up childish things” stuff was bullshit. That being a kid even when you’re not a kid really is cool. And, being okay with who you are and what you like puts you on the road to finding someone who likes the real you. So, I got back to the business of reading comics. And, there you were. Looking fabulous as ever (except for that purple crap with the weight lifting gloves … Jen, really!?!?) and twice as spunky. Thanks for keepin’ the fire burning, Dan!

I’m not 10 anymore. I’m 36. And, you’re just 30. (Damn, wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff!) I am married now with two little girls . They know who you are. And, they think you’re a total badass. Which, of course, you are.

Happy birthday, Shulkie!


P.S. My life ambition now is to become a writer for Marvel so I can retcon out the suggestion that you or any alternate reality version of you would sleep with the Juggernaut … because that’s just ew.

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Marvel Two-In-One: She-Hulk!

One hero. One kid. One dad. Five minutes. That’s it.

To celebrate the Savage She-Hulk’s 30th birthday, Gracie and I took on the jade giantess. This was the first time the five minutes flew by … so both sketches are a little frenetic. So, basically, Shulkie is having, like, the worst hair day ever. Gracie went for the primal fury of the original She-Hulk. I went more for the sarcastic side.

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Why I Love Marvel Comics ~ Alan Davis

I would buy a comic about the meat packing industry if it were illustrated by Alan Davis. The consistency of the man’s work  … the details … the softness. He had me 25 years ago when I was given an issue of Bat-Man and the Outsisders he drew. His work was like nothing I had ever seen in comics. And, in 2010, there are darn few imitators. Sure, I bought The Nail and Another Nail and Bat-Man: Year Tw,o but it’s with Marvel characters where I feel his work really shines. Especially with his run on Captain Britian with Alan Moore — a series whic still holds me captivated, sickened and excited by its sheer audacity and the ability of Davis to make something so horrific, yet so pretty at the same time.

And, as much as I like Eaglesham’s work on The Fantastic Four, the Alan Davis covers make me wish the art inside matched them.

The dude can make any character look cool. Evidence: Check out Miss America in the two images above. Tell me you wouldn’t read a comic about her! (Umm … his She-Hulk IS a tad butch, though.)

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Marvel Two-In-One ~ HULK!

One Hero. One Kid. One Dad. Five Minutes. That’s how it works. Today’s drawing of the Hulk was created by Gracie and me as we waited for the start of a live performance of “High School Musical.” Gracie stopped rocking back and forth with anticipation long enough to engage in her other passion – drawing heroes. This time, my daughter, Cate (4) couldn’t resist joining in the fun. The squiggles are her contribution.

Once Dr. Bruce Banner was done, Gracie returned to being enraptured by Troy, Gabriella, Sharpee and the whole HSM gang. Sigh. Thank the maker for superheroes -the liferaft to which I cling as I swim in the sea of estrogen that is my life!

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That’s Marvel BadAss! ~ Week Ten

A few years ago, I came across the blog of Dan Christensen — an artist with a style that is an odd (but, engaging) mixture of modern sensibilities and nostalgia. He has his own projects, including a cool noir fencing story, but last year he showed true, Marvel badassery with his alphabet of superheroes.

Visit his blog and enjoy yourself. I hope, in years to come, we see more out of him. Much more.

P.S. His Tigra rocks. And, that X-Men…well, Ice Man in boots warms the cockles of  my heart.

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Hells Yeah! Hawkeye is Back!

To quote Commander John Crichton  of “Farscape” … can I get a “Hell yeah”!?!?!?! As you can see below, I’ve enjoyed dydreaming this week about how cool a more heroic Avengers title could be. At least, I like the campaign Marvel is putting on. And, today … Hawkeye is purple and blue … and all is right with the world.

This is confirmation of years of hope from this Hawkeye fan. Generally, I prefer the “Dead means dead,” rule. (Yes, even with Cap.) But, when it comes to Hawkeye and his ass-kicking better half — I’ve been happy to set that aside. When Clint and Bobbi came back, I welcomed it. Ronin was … okay. But, in response to today’s revelation, I can only say– “Not like this … LIKE THIS!”

P.S. I had to add Mockingbird. My mom always reminded me to keep the salt and pepper together. And, I apply that rule to Mr. Barton and Ms. Morse. They belong together. ‘Nuff said.

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UPDATED! “I AM AN AVENGER!” ~ Sneakier Peak

The insanity knows no bounds as the Smartass Squad gets its greedy little hands on the next flight of I Am An Avenger” teaser posters from Marvel. Guys, they are pulling from all corners of the Marvel U. to fill out this roster! Who the hell is next? Batroc the Leaper?


Umm  … I found this one in the trash can.

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Marvel Two-In-One ~ Falcon!

Five Minutes. One Hero. One Child. One Childish Man. That’s it. Tonight Grace and I took on Captain America’s revolutionary, stalwart and sometimes angsty partner — Sam Wilson, the indomitable Falcon. (Yeah, we the “falcon eyes” we chose to give him and pouty mouth make him extra angsty.)

P.S. Grace was kind of put out that I couldn’t get Redwing drawn within the alloted 5 minutes. That girl is a taskmaster. Oooh … now, we need to actually draw Taskmaster!

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“I AM AN AVENGER”- Sneak Peak!

If you’re like this smartass, you’re totally jazzed about the return to a more heroic, “comicbooky” Avengers team. And, you’re checking Marvel.com every day to see the next in the line of the “I am an Avenger posters.” Well, I couldn’t wait any longer and broke into the Marvel offices in NYC to find out what ol’ Brian Michael Bendis has in store for us in coming days … and, all I can say is … “WHAT THE…!?!?!?!”

P.S. Dear Marvel, please find a place for the Two-Gun Kid in the new Avengers titles. Pretty please with bullets on top.

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Marvel Two-In-One ~ Thor!

One Hero … One Kid … One Dad … Five Minutes. That’s how it works. This eve, the fair lady Grace hath chosen to draw the fair-haired God of Thunder, Thor! Yea verily!

Um … hey, Mr. Branaugh, Gracie is available to do storyboarding for the Thor movie.  But, my British brother, she ain’t cheap. 

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Marvel Two-In-One – Mockingbird!

Today was a snow day here in Charlotte, N.C. — which is to say, there was ice on the road somewhere in a 200-mile radius. So, there was no school today. The girls and I elected to spend the morning trying to see if an A.I.M. Agent could beat the Juggernaut on Super Hero Squad (not without much effort playing and stifling swear words).

Oh, and Gracie declared today was the day we draw Mockingbird. She chose to go with the David Lopez-designed New Avengers goggles. I went old school. And, apparently, Bobbie wasn’t too pleased about it.

Posted in Avengers, Comic Books, Comics, Marvel Comics, Marvel Two-In-One, Mockingbird, Super Hero Art by Gracie | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Meet the Wackos!

So, my love of the West Coast Avengers … the first team I thought of as MY team growing up … is well-documented on this site. After taking on Cap’s Kooky Quartet and the Fantastic Four in earlier nostalgia posts, my buddy Mockingnerd requested one starring our beloved Wackos. So, I turned to the Fab Four for inspiration. It’s only logical right? Whatcha’ think?

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Marvel Two-In-One ~ The Thing!

Okay, so it’s officially a tradition. My daughter Grace (6) and I now have a date for our daily “Night Draw” as she calls it. The rules? We pick a superhero and, together, we have 5 minutes to draw it. After that … bedtime. Looking at her rendition of Ben Grimm, I’ve got nothing but pride. I can almost hear him shout, “It’s Clobberin’ Time.” When I look at mine … well, I’d like to spend another two hours on it.

But, Grace reminds me … 5 minutes … then, pencils down …


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That’s Marvel BadAss! ~ Week Nine

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the incredible Web site of Maris Wicks, a truly funny person and an extremely talented artist. And,while I wish she blogged more frequently (for the purely selfish enjoyment of reading them) and a little more frequently on Marvel Comics … she is more than worthy of the title “That’s Marvel BadAss!”

Seriously, head on over to her blog and enjoy, particularly the one-panel strips she posted in 2008 and before. You’ll spend 45 minutes on the site, at a minimum. And, you’ll leave happy!

Posted in Comic Book Humor, Comic Books, Comics | Tagged | 1 Comment

The Ms. Marvel Two-In-One!

The newfound love my daughter, Grace, has for Ms. Marvel apparently knows no bounds. I have been asked to create a costume for her and to explain exactly who this “Binary” person is. And, now, I have even been inspired to pick up the pen and join Gracie in a little artistic expression. Being able to share a love of comics with an exuberant daughter continues to be very cool …

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“Heroic Age” – The E! True Hollywood Story

I don’t know what side of the fence you come down on, but I was really jazzed to see the promotional image for Marvel’s coming “The Heroic Age.”

Now, I’m in marketing for a living … and I am not usually susceptible to hype, but seeing my boy Clint Barton in the ol’ purple and blue made my day. Whether it lives up to my very high expectations to restore some “comicbookiness” to Marvel or whether it’s just so much spin … well, we can debate that later. Me, I’m hopeful. Let’s have fun today.

But, looking at the image, I got to wondering what Earth’s Mightiest Heroes were saying as  they posed Mr. Cheung …

Please, buy Gorilla Man comics. Simian poo is very aerodynamic and VERY nasty ...

Posted in Avengers, Beast, Captain America, Comic Books, Fantastic Four, Hawkeye, Marvel Comics, Spider-Man, The Heroic Age, The Thing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Folks, She’s British AND a Bad Ass!

If you have read this blog a bit or follow me on Twitter, there’s no secret that one of my “bestest” Web buddies is Jen AKA Mockingnerd.

She’s a fangirl. She’s a talented artist (check out this insane General Greivous she did) and seamstress. She works with marine animals by day and hangs out with her boyfriend at night bonding over their mutual love of comics. For cosplay, she dresses as Mockingbird and he as Hawkeye! (Folks, that’s just meant to be.)

And, now she has expanded her repertoire into custom action figures. Seriously, if you haven’t checked out her blog, go here and see more shots of her new Mockingbird action figure. Awesome.

Okay, gushing officially over …

By any measure, that's just badass!

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Marvel CounterPoint #1 ~ Iron Man (1963) vs. Iron Man (2010)

While Matt at ComicsCavern.com and I were working on the 12 Days of Uncanny X-Mas in December, I cluttered up Day 8 with a little idea called “Marvel CounterPoint,” where denizens of the Marvel U. debated one another. In this case, a little discussion of politcal correctness between Cap and Shulkie.

Well, now the good folks over at ComicsNexus.com have been kind enough to indulge me by hosting a weekly segment of Marvel CounterPoint by your favorite smartass and mine … me. There should be a new one up each week … and then I’ll broadcast “re-runs” on this site from time to time. And, while you’re there check it out. There’s some great commentary and truly funny stuff up on Comics Nexus.

Now, let’s let Tony Stark debate Tony Stark on the merits of upgrading. Click on the image for a more legible version.

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“DC Vampires” – You Heard It Here First!

My six year-old daughter, Grace, is still on her superhero drawing kick — scribbling on any scrap of paper she can find. Today, she decided to share her take on Power Girl (yes, she is exposed to DC, I am a bad father). And, while it is remarkable (and not just a little refreshing) that she was oblivious to PG’s … ahem … endowments, what I found most intriguing is the the fact that Gracie chose to give this superheroine pointed teeth.

Could it be that my daughter is a marketing genius? Does she have a hotline to Dan Didio? Or, is it just natural instinct to know that DC would attempt to counter the runaway success of Marvel Zombies with their own horror spin on their happy-go-lucky characters? Would they unleash hell in the form of … DC VAMPIRES?

What!?!? DC walking on the dark side!?!? Nah. That’s just ridiculous. They would never subject their characters to murder, bloodlust and horrific violence. That’s just talking crazy.

Posted in Comic Books, Marvel Comics | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Why I Love Marvel Comics ~ X-Men #10

Aaah,  Marvel … Aaaah, the 60s …

In just their tenth issue, Stan and Jack sent the X-Men on the first of many mutant field trips to the Savage Land for a team-up with Ka-Zar. And, following that humble little excursion to the true “land down under.” In the years following, a visit to the Savage Land damn near became a rite of passage for every hero in the Marvel U — from Captain America and the Thing to Daredevil and Mockingbird. Wanna know more? The good folks at ComicVine can lend a hand here: http://www.comicvine.com/savage-land/34-21766/issues-cover/

This land is full of a never ending array of colorful wonders — stuff you KNOW Jack enjoyed the hell out of drawing. The place is crawling with dinosaurs and prehistoric vegatation and ape men, but that ain’t nearly crazy enough for Stan. He has to invent … THE T-REX ELEVATOR! Come on. Admit it … you want one for your backyard right now!

(Oh, yeah. Read closely on panel one. Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie … that’s not Scott you’re next to. It’s Warren. You know, the one with the wings? Scott has the groovy red glasses. I know you’re terrified and all, but, honey, that’s embarassing.)


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