Comics Blog

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Spiderman Comic

Spiderman comics are a great series to start reading if you're a super hero fan. What makes this comic so great is the hero. Spiderman is Peter Parker, a teenager in the early Amazing Spiderman comics. He is just a normal every day teenager going to school and studying. He loves science but one day when he goes to a science demo on radioactivity a small spider drops down in the ray's path. The same spider bites Peter Parker. He then get spider powers.

Each spider power is different. One is called spider sense which alerts him when danger is near. The comic books shows this by putting some rays of energy around his head. He also gets spider agility. This power gives him speed and balance. Spider strength allows Peter to pick up cars and other heavy items. He also becomes able to stick to walls like a spider would.

Now you would think he can shoot webbing too, but in the comics he can't do this on his own. Being the science student he is, he made a device called a web shooter. The devices go on both his wrists and he loads them with web cartridges. By a touch of his fingers with a certain amount of pressure, he can shoot a thin web and a thick web. He uses his webbing to tie up criminals and to swing through the city. Sometimes his webbing runs out, so he has to use refills to continue web swinging.

Peter Parker is normally a shy guy and does not talk much, but when he is Spiderman he tells funny jokes when he is facing off against a villain. Speaking of villains, the Spiderman comics have a lot of them. If you happen to start reading the comics you may see Electro, a villain who uses electricity, Shocker shooting shock waves, and Green Goblin flying on a hover-like board. These are only few of the villains that can fight Spiderman in the air.

The Spiderman stories take place in New York City, and when Peter Parker is not Spiderman, fighting villains and crime, he spends his time taking pictures at the Daily Bugle. Since Peter Parker knows that Spiderman pictures are worth a lot, every time he fights a criminal he sets up his camera up to automatically take a picture of himself then he takes the picture to the Daily Bugle to get paid.

Spiderman is a great comic for anyone who likes this type of reading. Spiderman has many different comic series, but one of the most recent is the Ultimate Spiderman comic. It's basically the same as the original comic, but the story is retold putting Spiderman in the 21st Century. Every adventure is a great one. So if you're interested in Spiderman comics go to a book store and purchase an issue today.

Michael Russell

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Xmen Comics

The Xmen comics are about a group of heroes who all have different powers because they are mutants. A mutant is someone who is born with super powers but they do not know it.

The founder of the Xmen is Professor X: Charles Xavier. He has the ability to talk to people mentally. He also teaches mutants how to use their powers.

The leader of the Xmen is Cyclops: Scott Summers. He has the ability to shoot beams from his eyes whenever they are open. He uses glasses to block the beams so that he can see. When he raises his glasses the beams shoots out non-stop until he closes his eyes.

Wolverine: Logan has the ability to heal at a very fast pace. He also has claws. However, he was not born with them. You will have to read the comic to find out how they appeared.

Storm: Ororo Munroe can make the weather change. She can make it rain, snow and more. She also has the ability to fly.

Rogue can drain the powers of other mutants and use them herself by touching them with her hands. She keeps their power based on how long she touches them for. She uses gloves to touch people to prevent her powers from working.

Jean Gray has the ability to talk to people mentally like Professor X and she can also make items float in the air.

Jean Gray and Cyclops date each other and fight crime with the rest of the Xmen. Wolverine also likes Jean Gray, and Cyclops and Wolverine sometimes fight each other because of this. Now these heroes sometimes fight everyday human crime, but they spend most of their time fighting villain mutants.

Magneto is a villain mutant, and he knows Professor Charles Xavier from childhood. Magneto can move items that are magnetized. He knows that Professor X has mental powers so he wears a helmet to protect his mind from Professor X.

Sabertooth is one of Wolverine's foes who he fought in the past. They know each other well.

Mystic can change into any other mutant.

Jaggernaut is a villian who is Professor X's brother and cannot feel pain. He also wears a helmet to protect himself from Professor X.

The Xmen all use their powers to fight villains. They team up and find ways to do this by pooling their different abilities. Some of the Xmen are in every issue and some appear only occasionally.

This comic has many more villains and heroes that fight other than we can mention here and is a great read for people who like lots of heroes and action in every adventure issue.

Michael Russell

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Comic Books - The Hulk Comics


The Hulk is a strong super hero. He is big and he is green, but he is not always The Hulk, he is Bruce Banner. Bruce is a scientist who works for the military. He is working on a machine dealing with gamma rays on a desert testing site when, one day, someone runs out onto the testing ground. Bruce notices the person running out there and he tries to stop the machine from powering up and firing a gamma shot out onto the testing ground. He can't stop the machine, so he throws his body onto the machine and absorbs all the gamma energy himself.

When Bruce wakes up he feels ok and thinks that nothing has happened to him due to jumping on the machine. He then discovers that whenever someone makes him angry, he turns into The Hulk. When he's angry, Bruce starts shaking, and then he starts growing in size and mass. This causes his shirt to rip off and he turns green. He always seems to keep his pants though, due to them tearing slightly, but not enough to tear them all the way.

The Hulk is a giant, about the size of a small house. It also is worth noting that The Hulk and Bruce Banner are not the same person. The Hulk thinks on his own and Bruce cannot control The Hulk once he becomes The Hulk. He is a powerful, strong, and dangerous hero due to his rage. The military knows this and they try to stop him with everything that they have. You will see tanks fired at The Hulk in the comic, but he smashes them with his super strength. They use helicopters, but The Hulk just takes a tank, grabs it by the gun, spins it around and throws it at the helicopter knocking it out the air.

The Hulk gets stronger based on how angry he becomes, so the more tanks, planes, or whatever else the Military aim at him, the more you can expect to see him tear through everything, which makes for a great comic.

The comic has super villains which The Hulk fights too, most of which have the same super strength he has, and this makes for some more high impact, action fighting with lots of objects being thrown around the environment.

The Hulk will turn back into Bruce when his anger calms down. This comic is not like Spiderman, a hero that can turn into a super hero whenever there is danger around. The Hulk is different because when he is around, he destroys things, and not many people can talk to him and tell him what he must do. He has limited vocabulary and says phrases like "Hulk Smash".

If you are a super hero fan or like action comics with lots of stuff smashed and thrown, then this one is a great one for you to check out. The Hulk is all about action adventure.

Michael Russell

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Meanwhile - The Impact of Comic Books on Society

Comic books and graphic novels have long captured the imaginations of children, teens and adults everywhere. Many people have read comics when they were kids, occasionally hiding a comic book inside of a school book in order to read it while their teacher lectured. The frequency of which we would enjoy these tales usually decreased the more we grew into adulthood however, they still have a tremendous appeal. Comic books have usually been thought of as nothing more than mere "children's books" however, they have come a long way over the years.

Comics and graphic novels address a range of societal issues and allow us to showcase what is happening in the world today. Some comic books act only as plot devices, some as social commentary, and others try to make us think.

Their has been a rise in interest in comics in recent years primarily due to the entertainment industry and the internet. The internet has given people new options for buying, selling and trading comic books with the online marketplace and websites such as eBay and Amazon.com. Online comic book forums and message boards have also given comic book readers and collectors an instrument through which to connect and share their passion for this creative medium and have piqued interest in those new to comic culture.

Comics are now recognized as a valued medium and we can see their influence in just about every sector of our entertainment. From movies to television and from video games to amusement parks, comics have had a tremendous impact on our culture. As a result comics are no longer being censored in the sense of what should and shouldn't be in them. This may be a bad thing for some but for others it is a basic part of free speech and the first amendment.

One website dedicated to recognizing the role that comics play is Planet Bugle ([http://www.planetbugle.com]) This site is a portal for all those interested in collecting and creating comics. They are a community of collectors, artists, writers, publishers and comic aficionados. Planet Bugle serves as a venue for comic lovers everywhere to document the impact that comics have had on their lives and the influences of comics on the world around them. They also provide a comic forum, a comic wiki, comic news, comic collecting faq's and other information on collecting comic books and more.

Comic book forum and information. For comic lovers and collectors! [http://www.planetbugle.com]

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Comics 101 - What is the Post-Modern Age of Comics?

Most comic book historians and fans consider the era we're currently in as modern. But there is no doubt that something in the comic book industry has created a fundamental shift in the foundation of both the business and entertainment sides of the medium sometime in the early part of the new millennium. Soon, I think the pundits will announce that comic book publishing has entered a new age, and the previous one-the one now known as the "Modern Age" will be reclassified as something else (the most likely candidates will probably be the Platinum or Iron Ages). However, since that era has not been labeled, the only thing we can accurately call the current era of comic book publishing is the "Post-Modern" era.

In the Golden Age of comic books, any one adventure in an issue would last more than 8 pages or so, and most titles were anthologies featuring several characters in short adventures. By the Silver Age, many titles had a 12-16 page lead and a 6-8 page back up. In the Bronze Age, most comic books featured just one character or concept, often in short two- or three-part stories, with subplots that might last a year or longer.

Today it is the norm in most super-hero comics to write in "story arcs," a four- to eight-part story, with each issue serving as a "chapter" to that story, that may crossover into the title's larger family of books, or into other titles completely.

The storytelling technique in these comic books is referred to as "decompressed," because scenes are "allowed to breathe." Instead of rushing from one scene to the next at a breakneck pace, the writer can linger on a scene or even a specific moment, in order to allow it to develop more fully.

The style may be typified (or even stereotyped) by a sequence of images that do not change and have no text, to indicate that a character is thinking, or the writer wants to indicate a pregnant, awkward pause in the dialogue. It may also be used in a series of text-less images to bring heightened awareness to some element in those images.

Two of the first American comic books to use the style were Warren Ellis' The Authority and Brian Michael Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man. In The Authority, it was usually referred to as "cinematic style" or "widescreen style," because Ellis often used the device to "slow time down," as popularized in movies like The Matrix. In Ultimate Spider-Man, the decompression was more often used in dialogues, where two characters would talk with each other for pages.

Both titles were smash hits, and many other writers tried to emulate Ellis' and Bendis' styles, with varying degrees of success.

Even when done correctly, there are costs and benefits to decompressed storytelling. On one hand, it gives the writer an opportunity to really develop his or her thoughts (characters, action sequences, etc) more fully and really bring them into tight focus for the reader. On the other hand, with less text to read, it can shorten the reading time of an issue, leading to dissatisfaction for the reader.

One common complaint among readers is that decompression is "padding," the book, expanding a storyline in order to sell more copies of each issue, or to fill out a contract on a trade paperback collection of the series, which typically sell best when collecting 5-8 issues of a title. This is called "writing for the trade," even though both DC Comics and Marvel Comics are publishing more of their more recent collections in the hardback format first.

Manga is such a broad term and experience that it would be impossible to examine the history and cultural impact of manga and anime with within the context of this article. For the purposes of our discussion here, we'll be focusing primarily on the impact manga has had on the US comic book market.

"Manga," on its most fundamental level, is just another term for a comic book created in one of the southeast Asian countries, or one influenced by the work coming out of those countries.

Manga has had an influence on western culture for decades, from Speed Racer and Battle of the Planets/G-Force, through the live-action Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers and its sequels in the 80s and 90s, to Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z today.

However, it was mostly an underground hobby in the United States, one for high school and college students. What finally pushed the popularity of manga over the top may have been the debut of Shonen Jump Magazine.

Shonen Jump, an English, monthly edition of Japan's Weekly Shonen Jump, debuted in late 2002. Among the seven stories serialized in the first issues were Naruto, One Piece, Dragonball Z and Yu-Gi-Oh! All have become major, cross-platform successes. Shonen Jump tapped into a huge underserved market for younger boys who wanted action-packed comics.

Viz, Tokyopop and other publishers capitalized on the manga explosion by making deals with Asian manga publishers to translate their original titles for an American audience and sell them in digest-sized collections. If you visit the "Graphic Novel" section of your local bookstore, chances are the shelf space for manga is 4-5 times that of American-style comics.

It's uncertain what the ultimate impact on the sales of western-style comic books will ultimately be, but they are dealing with resistance within the American comic book community. Some fans and retailers have both rebelled against the idea of carrying manga in US comic book stores. It's unclear what the reasoning behind these feelings is.

Identity Crisis was a mini-series written by best-selling Author Brad Metlzer and illustrated by Rags Morales, published by DC Comics in 2004. The seeds first planted by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in The Watchmen in 1986 finally reach their full fruition here.

Identity Crisis deals with subjects such as rape, murder, human rights violations, madness, corruption and deception in a very frank, adult manner. The Watchmen dealt with all of those themes as well, but Identity Crisis was the first time they were the focus in a title set firmly in the DC Universe. These were not some characters who were created for the sake of the story, they were icons of DC Comics' Silver Age, they were the Justice League of America.

Whether you thought Identity Crisis was a good miniseries or not (and it was a very polarizing story), you have to acknowledge that it is at least an intellectual descendent of The Watchmen. The morally ambiguous quality of the story has set the general tone in the DC Universe. Since Identity Crisis, we've seen:
  • A Justice League administrator shoot Blue Beetle in the head, killing him instantly
  • Wonder Woman break a man's neck on live TV around the world
  • Batman use (and lose control of) a computer satellite in an attempt to spy on literally everyone in the world
  • Even DC's current crossover event, "Blackest Night," has at its core the mistakes heroes made in their past literally coming back to haunt them
(A personal note: I am not passing judgment on either Identity Crisis or what's happened since. But it is impossible to argue that the DC Universe isn't a much darker place than it was even 10 years ago).

It's true that it may seem that super-hero comics are entering their sunset, as sales continue to drift lower each year. But on the other hand, it's possible that we're just around the corner from another Golden Age. It's obvious that super-hero stories on the big screen have been embraced by the masses. Perhaps, with new models of distribution like the iPhone or Longbox platforms, super-hero comics will regain their prominence in the national consciousness.

So whether we were in the modern age or the post-modern age, it is very possible that we just turned the corner into another era of comics publishing.

R. Wesley Smith has been following comic books and the comic book industry for over twenty-five years. He is a freelance writer and regularly publishes columns at Examiner.com. For all of Wesley's most recent columns about comic books and the comic book industry, check out http://www.examiner.com, keyword: "Wesley Smith."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Comics Books: Our Own Worst Enemy?

Like most comic publishers I spend quite a bit of time thinking about the state of the industry and how to make it better - well, truthfully, how to make my little corner of it better. After spending a lot of time thinking it over and discussing what everyone perceives to be the main elements leading to the downfall of comics (the distributor monopoly, for example), I realized what the biggest problem and killer really is: the industry.

I believe most of the problems that we encounter "in the industry" come from the industry itself. First off, comic companies tend to publish only for those who are already in the industry. Comic publishers usually target their marketing towards those who are already here and creators tend to create product only for those who are already well-versed in industry. Very rarely does the thought of bringing new readers in really ever pop up, which is insane. That would be like Hollywood only creating films for those who work in film and television. As wacky as it sounds, this seems to be the mentality of the industry at large.

Magazines like Cosmopolitan are fashion magazines, but their audience is the average woman (or girl) interested in fashion and not members of the industry itself. Their advertising stretches beyond fashion industry trade publications and into the mainstream itself, where its buyers reside. Why short sell your books only to the 50,000 or so members of the active comic community and not go for millions of people out there who enjoy action movies?

Comic publishers aren't the only ones to blame, either. Creators themselves are as big a deterrent to new readership as anything else. If you want to know why, take a look at a modern comic versus one from as late as even the mid eighties and you'll see one very big difference. No, I'm not talking about paper or printing processes. The art itself is the main problem with comics. Solid, clear storytelling has become a thing of the past. A new buyer will find most modern comics unreadable because the solid storytelling of days past (along with gutters - remember, full page bleeds on every page get confusing) is gone.

Do you know why a lot of new readers are picking up Manga titles? It's because they are easier to read than US ones. Even with the flipped format, most Manga has straight forward enough storytelling that even the most uninitiated reader can follow what is going on and which panel comes next. This can't be said about most US titles (indy or mainstream). The fact that the current trend in the US is for over rendered, poorly thought out computer coloring, doesn't help readability at all.

Comics and comic art have become so inbred the only ones who can stomach them are their sister-mothers. But it doesn't have to be that way.

The general public will read comics if you can get yourself out of the industry mindset and start creating comics for readers instead of for an industry more interested in John Byrne's latest social blunder than in buying your books.

Some places to consider for your books (depending on its target audience) are non-chain book stores, new age shops, record stores (Tower is starting to have a great selection of indy and small press 'zines), libraries, corner markets, magazines with a similar areas of interest, schools, local area mailer compilations (such as the little coupon books you get in the mail), area events (concerts are a great spot), swap meets, arcades or game stores. There is an endless list of places that might be willing to carry your work if you let them know it's out there. You might have to spend some money to advertise. Get used to it. The old adage, "you have to spend money to make money," is true for any business.

Here are some tips for making your books more accessible to general audiences:

1) Market your books outside of comic-specific areas. Figure out who might be interested in your book and pursue those outlets. There are tons of places out in the world that would be willing to sell your comic...but they have to know it exists first. I've had success at art festivals, flea markets, record stores, sci fi magazines and more. Get as creative with your marketing and sales as you do with actually producing your book. It's worth the extra effort.

2) Get rid of full page bleeds on every page. Don't be afraid of negative space around your pages. It will actually open up your pages and keep them from looking cramped.

3) Don't forget the gutters! Overlap panels are interesting from time to time, but gutters help to keep the art readable and from blending together. They're also great for pacing in your storytelling.

4) If you're going to color your books, don't go for the over-rendered look that most comics use. It's muddy and unclear. Look at animation or places like Disney Adventures for reference on coloring. Most "cartoony" books are well colored because they want to make sure the work is readily accessible to readers of all ages. Not every panel needs to be a fully digitally painted work of "art."

5) Think of storytelling. The most important thing in a comic is that you do not lose your audience. If at any point your readers get confused as to where to read next, then you've failed at your job as a storyteller. And, remember, "style" is no excuse for poor storytelling (or poor artwork in general, but that's a rant for another time)

6) Don't have large blocks of text or dialogue in each panel. There's an old unwritten rule in mainstream comics (and one that has been largely forgotten or ignored): never have more than 26 words in any balloon or caption box. Anything more than that and the words will run together, potentially causing readers to skip over sections of what is on the page.

7) This one is going to cause any comic collector to cringe: get rid of issue numbers. Or, if you just have to have them, place them in the indicia only. Issue numbers are one of the big obstacles for new readers, especially in periodical product like comic books. A reader needs to be able to come in on any issue and not have to worry about having to read 10 back issues to know what's going on. Sure you can let them know there are other stories they can read (and, which will be available in trade paperback), but don't make those stories required reading. Follow Cosmo's lead (or Playboy's) and just have the month and year on each cover. Comics should be entertainment first and foremost. Get out of the collectible mindset.

8) Forget the mantra, "comics aren't just for kids anymore." It's old, played out and is part of the death sentence of the industry. Creators have spent so much time trying to prove that comics can be for adults that they've forgotten to build the next generation of fans by only making comics for older fans who are already in comics. Without young readers there is no future in the industry. As a second part of this thought, just because your comic has adult language, nudity and graphic violence doesn't automatically make the book for adults. Vertigo and "Ultimate" writers take note.

9) Be prepared to get your hands dirty and do some work. Publishing is a business and, at first, you may find yourself putting in as much time marketing as you do creating. That's not a bad thing.

My heresy will end with this statement: the only way to save comics may be to let the comic industry, as it exists right now, shrivel up and die. It's on the road as it is, with everyone racing to tear whatever pieces they can get from its still (barely) living corpse. The industry isn't the heart of comics and didn't make them, so dare to be different. Put down the latest issue of the comic industry death watch, Wizard. Ignore the party line that an indy book will sell less than 250 copies - there is a world outside of the Geppi chokehold.

A bit of inspiration for you: Nifty's main title, the Cadre, sells over 5000 copies per issue and 90% of that is outside of the comic industry. Not bad for a black and white, mainstream style super hero comic.

The world is a big, beautiful place full of potential new readers. You just have to venture out and find them.

Mat Nastos has been a professional comic book creator and publisher since the early 1990s and has worked for Marvel, DC, Elfquest and many others in addition to his own Nifty Comics. During the day he works for the film/television industry and has worked on over 100 films and more than 300 television episodes. Nifty Comics can be found at: http://www.niftycomics.com

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Comic Books - Justice League

The Justice League comic books consist of all the all time great DC comic book super heroes. These super heroes decided that if they use their powers and work together theycan stop more crime. The Justice League has many members, each bringing something unique to the team.

Superman, the man of steel, uses his super strength to smash objects and his flying ability to scout the area. He acts as the leader of the team and tries to keep everyone together.

Batman, acts as the lone wolf, meaning that of all the heroes at the Justice League Tower, he spends the least time there. Batmen spends most of his time in the Batcave, and he finds danger using his Batcomputer. He is the only one of the team that has no super powers, but he still is a valued member. He is a great detective and solves many of the crimes that occur. He is also a great fighter, and has more gadgets and vehicles than any of the other Justice League members. His vehicles are the Batmobile, Batboat, and the Batplane.

The Flash is very fast, in fact he is faster than Superman. The brings his super speed to the team, so when they needs to have someone get someplace very fast, they call on The Flash.

Wonder Woman is strong like Superman, and can fly like him too. She uses her lasso to tie up criminals. She also has an invisible plane, that she can somehow see, but no one else can and she also has some wrist bands that can repel bullets fired at her by criminals' guns.

The Green Lantern gets his power from a ring he wears on his finger. He can fly like Superman, but he fights crime with his ring. It gives off a green beam that can smash though objects. It also can provide a force field to protect people and it also lifts people and allow them to fly with him though space.

Hawkgirl looks just like a hawk, she has hawk wings and can fly. Most of the time she fight with her mace. She smashes walls and vehicles with her mace and leaves nothing but particles.

Every member of the team has different ways to help fight crime. They also fight super villains who are from other planets. Sometime they don't get along and have to settle their differences just to get the job done.

If you like any of the DC comics that are members of the Justice League, then you should see how they use their powers together to fight crime. Sometimes the comic may have other heroes from the DC comics come to help the Justice League. With action and adventure in every comic this should be a great read.

Michael Russell

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