Bells’ Art Collection, Part 1

If you haven’t been following Bells’ Kitchen on Tumblr, you’ve been missing out on some really great comic art, my collection. Once a day for first 50 or so days of 2015, I posted one piece from my sketchbooks. And now I bring all that here. As on Tumblr, I’ll go in alphabetical order, all the way from Banshee to Wonder Girl. If my math is right, I should have eight pieces for you each week for the next seven weeks.

For those with no patience, you can check it all out here.

Featured this week:

  • Banshee (Siryn) by Valentine De Landro
  • Batman by Rags Morales
  • Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) by Franco Aureliani
  • Captain America by Sean Forney
  • Captain Cold by Scott Kolins
  • Daredevil by Cliff Chiang
  • Daredevil by David Mack
  • Daredevil by Tim Sale

You can click any of the images to open a gallery which also links to full-size images.

What do you think of this WordPress image gallery? Does that work or would you rather just see thumbnails that lead to larger sized photos?

Let me know.

Edit: So WordPress photo galleries do not cooperate well with CSS feeds. So now we have thumbnails. Enjoy!

– Bells

The Shopping List 3-9-11

A nice, light week this time. It’s a good thing. I’ve been sick as death. This week has been

I'm Sick

OK, maybe it wasn’t that bad. But I can’t do much more than lay on the couch without something hurting. It sucks. Enough whining. Here’s the books.

Onslaught Unleashed #2Onslaught Unleashed #2 by Sean McKeever and Filipe Andrade ***

With Onslaught Unleashed, Sean McKeever is writing a fun team-up between the Young Allies and Secret Avengers. The biggest strength of the partnership is the juxtaposition of some wildly different characters. Could any be more dissimilar than Gravity and Moon Knight?

The biggest problem though is the point of the team-up: Onslaught. There’s not much past the idea that he’s the combined “darkest impulses of Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto, along with all of their power, made manifest.” Great idea, but doesn’t exactly lead to a clashing of ideals. It’s going to be a slugfest. I also have a problem with Steve letting Toro go off on his own. Whether it’s Toro’s duty to face El Dragón or not, Rogers has to know that this is bigger than any one hero, especially someone so inexperienced. That’s the whole reason Steve didn’t let the Allies handle this on their own.

Despite the uneven nature of the story, Filipe Andrade’s art shouldn’t inspire too much debate. It’s not good. It’s very sketchy and pointy. I’ve seen artists with more detailed page breakdowns. I understand that no artist will impress everyone, but even compared to some of the other new names in Marvel’s art department, this guy just doesn’t cut it. I mean, he’s not the kind of guy I’m looking to get a convention sketch from.

If you’re interested in following these two teams, you should check it out, but Onslaught Unleashed in no think piece. That’s for sure.

Zatanna #10Zatanna #10 by Paul Dini and Cliff Chiang ***

Zatanna is one of those C-list Justice Leaguers that most people don’t feel strongly one way or the other about. I lean toward the positive side, but Cliff Chiang handling the art tipped me toward picking it up.

With Zatanna, Paul Dini is crafting one of the brightest books DC offers. Sure, there’s a homicidal puppet, but at least there’s no one being shot in the head. That said, “Strung Along” is a strange issue. I went into it thinking it was the conclusion of “Pupaphobia,” but … it’s not. It’s just the end of Chiang’s run. It’s also the Empire Strikes Back portion of the story, but instead of being frozen in Carbonite, Z gets turned into a puppet. It’s a cool twist. Instead we have to come back next month, with a new artist, to get the end. This is a trend I don’t like in comics. I don’t need a Bagley-esque 110 issue commitment, but I’d like to see an artist at least complete an arc. Instead, the final issue will stick out like a seven-foot black man in China. Also, I don’t remember seeing this Detective Colton in the past two issues, but here he is. Couldn’t the main story here have combined with the abridged issue #9 to make one complete issue? Instead we get extra issue and extraneous plots. Just saying.

As I said, I picked this up for Cliff Chiang’s work. You may have seen his art in the OGN Greendale or a great issue of JMS’s Brave and the Bold. He uses a different, more jagged style here. I don’t like it as much as his standard work, but it’s alright. He still uses the great amount of detail I love in his work. I’m also beginning to think no one frames his art better. I don’t mean the actual borders, I mean deciding what is/isn’t in the frame and where he places his camera. There are some really cool shots as Zatanna and Hempel tour her home.

Zatanna is not a bad book by any means. I might pick up the next issue to wrap up this story, but beyond that, if Cliff Chiang’s leaving, so am I.

The Shopping List 1-26-11

Six months and a new URL later, here we are at the 50th post of Bells’ Kitchen.Moonstone Doesn't Believe Me

No, seriously. There was a chance this was just going to be a lark, but between the two sites, I’ve had over 1,200 hits. That’s awesome. Personally, it’s been interesting to see my writing improve, even to the point where other people have noticed and commented on it. Also, I’m thinking more about what I read and of course, what it means. Better writer, better reader, better comics fan. Woot.

For my fiftieth post, I wanted to do something a little different. This week, all reviews will be 50 words long. It’s important to shake things up, keep it interesting, avoid blog fatigue. So, five books, 50 words each. Go ahead. Count them.

Captain America #614Captain America #614 by Ed Brubaker and Butch Guice, Sean McKeever and Filipe Andrade ***

Bucky is more interesting as Cap than Steve Rogers had been in years. Not being the golden boy, he can make mistakes. Bru keeps the tension high, but six inkers and four colorists kill any visual consistency. They’re pushing issues out; maybe to time Roger’s return with the movie? Sad.

.

Detective Comics #873Detective Comics #873 by Scott Snyder and Jock and what happened to the Francavilla backup? ***

Much like Bucky in Captain America, Dick Grayson is a substitute hero that’s been more enjoyable than the original. He’s a fun Batman. Here, he relies on his will and acrobatics to save the day. Snyder dark plots and Jock’s fragile lines prove that Detective Comics is in good hands.

.

Thunderbolts #152Thunderbolts #152 by Jeff Parker and Kev Walker ****

It’s common for people to get really excited about plots like “They’re fighting Dracula ON THE MOON!” that sound stupid to me. Despite this issue being “Villains and Superman analogue fight Godzilla monsters,” it was great. Parker’s masterful character interactions make this serious fun and Kev Walker is my hero.

.

Twilight Guardian #1Twilight Guardian #1 by Troy Hickman and Sid Kotian *****

Years in the making, everyone’s favorite depressed, obsessive-compulsive real-world superhero is back! I may mock, but I truly enjoyed this. Much is repeated from the Pilot Season issue from 2008. Kotian’s art is sexier than I expected. I’m excited to see what Hickman does with a full miniseries.

.

Zatanna #9Zatanna #9 by Paul Dini and Cliff Chiang, Adam Beechen and Jamal Igle ***

I get the 20-page issue thing. But this issue is a 12-pager and an 8-pager. It’s a Zatanna anthology. Neither story is bad, but they are both too slight. I really hope Dini has a big finish planned. I’m not hot on the style Chiang’s trying here.

.

.

They may be quicker to write, but 50-word reviews are still hard. Economy of words is not an easy skill.

Well, it’s been fun. See ya’ll soon.

The Shopping List 12-22-10

Look who’s updating on Monday! The day I always want to update on! Woot.

Small week this week, but some of my favorite book next week : Flash, Captain America and new additions like Detective Comics and Spider-Girl. And if you’ve got any questions or recommendations, drop a comment. They’re always appreciated. See you later!

Zoe Can't Hardly Wait

Invincible Iron Man #33Invincible Iron Man #33 by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca **

I was all excited last month when Tony left Pepper and Rhodey behind to save the day by himself. I was wrong. He was just running away so Maria Hill and General Babbage (who?) could save the day. It’s an idiot plot (if Stark wasn’t an idiot and accepted help, this could have been wrapped up issues ago) but that’s the point. Stark’s insistence of having everything on his shoulders is getting him into trouble. I can’t wait for it to bite him in the ass.

When “Stark Resilient” was first being discussed, Matt Fraction said it was going to be an eight-issue arc. This is part nine. And it shows; not enough happens in this issue. It opens with an exciting Tony and Detroit Steel chase scene through Seattle, but the narration needlessly recaps the last eight issues. Then we get the Hill/Babbage anti-climax. After that’s wrapped up, Rhodey gets a promotion (Iron Man 2.0 in stores soon!). Then it takes four pages to get Zeke Stane out of jail. Then we get a commercial for Stark Resilient. The events aren’t connected enough, so it feels like Fraction is setting things up and treading water before next month’s issue #500 rather than a telling real story.

There’s no closure here, but that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting. Detroit Steel is rendered useless by bureaucracy, but ther will have to be a showdown soon. Stane is released from jail and reunited with girlfriend Sasha Hammer, who introduces her father, The Mandarin (Whaaaa?). I already mentioned the plug for the upcoming War Machine book. This is one of the best books month to month, so I’m excited to keep reading, but after nine months, I want to feel like something has been accomplished.

The silver lining on the issue is the Jamie McKelvie drawn “Good Morning, Tony.” Stark lives a busy life and we see it here from sunup to sundown. Like the “Wolf Like Me” issue of Phonogram 2: The Singles Club, it’s told without dialogue. Jamie McKelvie is love.

Morning Glories #5Morning Glories #5 by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma ***

Issue five opens with a new administrator, a Mr. Gribbs, giving one of the students (the person is hidden) a speech about youth, the school, their destiny, all kinds of stuff. It’s a good monologue, deepening the mystery of the academy, while illustrating the level of their belief and their cruelty. Speaking of deepening mysteries, Spencer acts as if it’s no thing, but Casey’s level of planning and contingency planning hints at a past much deeper than her blonde bombshell looks suggest.

Each issue, the events Joe Eisma draws get stranger and stranger. This month, a ghost presses his hand through a man’s head. As strange as things get, his art is always good enough that we understand what’s happening. His panel layouts also demonstrate the proximity of danger. Like a spidey-sense tingling, panels lose their 90º angles as danger approaches. It’s a nice, almost subliminal touch.

Issue six will wrap up the fist storyline for Morning Glories. The next month will bring the first trade and issue #7 at a reduced price point. Seems like the perfect time to jump on doesn’t it?

Zatanna #8Zatanna #8 by Paul Dini and Cliff Chiang ****

I like Paul Dini. His Detective Comics run was a good read and Batman: The Animated Series is a feat yet to be duplicated.

I like Zatanna. Her conflicts since Identity Crisis have been very interesting. Her Seven Soldiers series was one of the weakest, but still, good character.

I love Cliff Chiang. He does some of the best convention sketches out there. He drew one of J. Micheal Stracynski’s most memorable (and problematic) issues of The Brave and The Bold.

So when these three things came together in the perfect storm of Zatanna #8, I had to give it a shot. I’m glad I did. Part one of “Pupaphobia” is a great read. For reference, pupaphobia is the fear of puppets, not … that.

Chiang’s art is a little choppier than usual, but his framing, emotion, personality, and detail are all there. He does some incredible work with body language here. When Zatanna takes no less than six poses on her therapists couch, we see how uncomfortable she is discussing her history with puppets. He also realizes that people don’t all wear plain t-shirts and jeans. From Z’s bunny slippers to Jana’s necklace, his characters’ wardrobes show their personalities. So yeah, Cliff Chiang. Thumbs up!

Not that it’s hard to make puppets creepy, but Dini does not disappoint either. Zatanna is rarely a star player, but he gives her some believable backstory from which this plot can grow. This is my first issue of Zatanna, but between Jana, Mikey, and the magic community, I believe and appreciate her supporting cast. It’s nice to be able to drop in this late in the game and not feel lost.

I’ll definitely be back for the rest of the story, but Dini does have some work to do to keep me interested once Cliff Chiang moves on.

Convention Sketches – Daredevil

One of the best parts of fandom, for me, is being able to get original pieces of art from my favorite artists. I’m a big fan of Ed Hopper, but I’m not about to own an original painting or have him draw something just for me. But as a comics fan, I can buy a book on Wednesday and commission an original piece that weekend. It’s my favorite part of conventions, so I though I’d share my pieces here.

My first convention was Baltimore Comic Con 2008. On of the reasons I wanted to go was Tim Sale. He drew my favorite story of all time Daredevil: Yellow. His minimalist sketches are great. It was one of Captain America in the back of Captain America: White #0 (yes, that came out in 2008). I made my way to his booth. He’s a really nice guy and gave my first sketch:

Daredevil by Tim Sale

Also at that show was David Mack. I love his Daredevil work as well as his creator-owned Kabuki. He had some great prints at his table, but his con sketches are unique. It’s hard to even call them sketches, as he draws them with a calligraphy pen. Matt Murdock truly lives up the “devil” in his name here:

Daredevil by David Mack

I have to admit though, my favorite piece is by Cliff Chiang. His comics work is great because of his simple, confident lines. But his sketches are great because he brings so much to the table. I asked for Daredevil and got Daredevil and two ninjas! Bad ass. In every one of his sketches, he really brings something to the table. Pick any character, between his style and willingness to go further than everyone else, he’ll be the best in your book:

Daredevil by Cliff Chiang

More to come. And hopefully even more after New York Comic Con next week.