Bells’ Art Collection, Part 8

For the past few weeks, I’ve been showing off the sketches and commissions of comic art that I’ve collected at comic conventions over the past few years. Today is a little different.

Comic fandom is special in that you can own an original piece of art. You can’t do that with a book. No one owns the original copy of a song (though maybe a white label record is close). Comics are art, you can own the item that others only have a print or photo of.

A few years ago, at the Boston Comic Con I saw then X-Factor inker Pat Davidson. On his table he had a box of original pages for sale, as low as $20. I loved that entire series of X-Factor, so I thought I’d flip through. Conversation pages are typically more affordable than splashy action shots. But talky scenes are Peter David’s strong suit, so I knew I would find something good. And I found pages 7-8 from X-Factor #215.

Madrox Proposes to LaylaFor those that didn’t read the book, this was a marriage proposal that was years in the making. I had to have it. $50 for the spread. Every convention I flip through portfolios of pages, but this is the only time I’ve pulled the trigger. The penciled pages are too rich for my blood, but this is one piece I’ll always appreciate.

So next time you’re looking to buy some original art, remember the inkers. Their lack of popularity (in comparison to pencilers) may just help you get that piece you love without hitting your wallet as hard.

So that’s it. That’s everything I own. But with Worcester’s MASSive Con in June (and within walking distance from my house!) and Boston Con in July/August, I hope to more to show off soon.

– Bells

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

New Art from C2E2 and Boston Comic Con

I’ve been to a couple conventions in the past few months, I so figured I should eventually show off my new acquisitions.

ART!

C2E2 – This may be new my favorite convention. It may be smaller than the big shows, but that just means it’s more manageable. It didn’t have a flashy guest list, but I got to meet dozens of creators over the two days.

Captain America by Sean Forney. I just saw this guy in the aisles and liked his style.
Captain America by Sean Forney

Nightcrawler by Skottie Young. Uh … awesome, much?
Nightcrawler by Skottie Young

Superman by World Wrestling Entertainment Legend Jerry “The King” Lawler. One of the greatest heroes of all time drawn by one of the greatest wrestlers of all time? That’s a two-fer.
Superman by Jerry "The King" Lawler

Tara Chace by Brian Hurtt. Possibly the best drawing in my sketch books. You can’t even call this a sketch. This is a full blown commission. Unbelievable. It’s blows my mind that artists can do something like this, but when they show it to the person who asked for it, they say “Is that good?” Holy hell yes it’s good! Also, Brian knew my name by the end of the first day. May have to do with him having the same one. Maybe not.
Tara Chace by Brian Hurtt

Thor by Sean “Cheeks” Galloway. People hated on the Teen Titans strip from Wednesday Comics, but I liked Sean Galloway’s art. I asked him for a Thor with a big ol’ beard. Well done.
Thor by Sean Galloway

Boston Comic Con – BCC has grown by leaps and bounds since the first one I went to about three years ago. It used to be in the basement of a convention center, now it’s taking over a huge room at the Hynes, in the heart of Back Bay. As it’s gotten larger, to guests lists have been incredible. This year alone had Frank Quitely, Darwyn Cooke, J. Scott Campbell, Art Adams and dozens more. I wasn’t really there to shop, so I finished everything in one day, but it was a fun day.

Gwen Stacy by Tim Sale. I love Tim Sale. His minimalist sketches are really classy. I had him sign my hardcover of Spider-Man: Blue and got this sketch for my friend Jane’s birthday.Gwen Stacy by Tim Sale

Juggernaut by Declan Shalvey. Readers know how much I love the current run of Thunderbolts. Regular artist Kev Walker does a great version of Songbird, but Declan Shalvey has impressed me every time he’s filled in, especially with his Juggernaut. Look at the drawing! All the gray tones, the white out he used for smoke. There’s even sections where you can see his fingerprints in the dust. Pens and brushes be damned! Also, it’s incredible. A new favorite among my friends.Juggernaut by Declan Shalvey

Wolverine by Ming Doyle. Ming Doyle is a local Boston artist. She’s a hip lady with a great style. When I saw her art, I knew she was the one to get Wolverine from. He looks grizzled, haggard and ill-tempered, just like Logan should. Wolverine by Ming DoyleX-Factor #215, pages #7-8 by Valentine de Landro and Pat Davidson. As I said about Thunderbolts, readers know I love X-Factor. One of the main reasons is how far into the future Peter David plans. The Madrox/Layla marriage has been in the works for years. As I flipped through Pat Davidson’s original art pages, I saw this, the proposal scene. I had to have it. At $50 for the spread, it was a steal. I’ve got my fingers crossed I can one day find De Landro’s penciled pages.

X-Factor #215, Pages 7-8

The Shopping List 2-9-11

Hey everyone! How are you? I’m pretty goo–

Barry Allen and I Are Late

I was … see cuz the other time? See cuz it had rained. No, seriously. It was my birthday. It was Valentine’s day. I was celebrating. I’m allowed aren’t I?

Flash #9Flash #9 by Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul ***

Manapul is back on Flash and I couldn’t be more excited. Between his return and the book getting back into multi-part stories, we’re back to the feeling we got from “The Dastardly Death of Rogues.”

For the past two issues, I’ve complained about Brian Buccellatto’s colors. They didn’t feel right on Scott Kolins, but on Manapul’s lines, they are perfect. It gives an old-timey almost Rockwell feel. Knowing how much Tim Sale is influenced by Rockwell, I wonder what Buccellatto would do to his art. (Sorry Dave Stewart.) There’s not much action in this issue. It’s not exciting, but damn it’s pretty.

Flash has traded its “Brightest Day” banner for a “The Road to Flashpoint” one and wastes no time getting into it. The bulk of the book involves Barry Allen investigating a dead body. It seems that The Elongated Kid (really?) had rapidly aged before death. It could be chalked up to another time-travel murder mystery, but that storyline is book-ended by the arrival of new character Hot Pursuit searching for Barry. Under the helmet, he’s a character known to all Flash readers. We don’t get any details, but we’re barreling towards “the single greatest time anomaly to even threaten reality.” Johns may put too much hyperbole in his writing, but I’m in for the ride.

Heroes for Hire #3Heroes for Hire #3 by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Brad Walker ***

I’m enjoying a book whose main character is Paladin. I say again, I’m enjoying a book whose main character is Paladin. I’m as surprised as you are.

Abnett and Lanning have switched the characters each month, giving a good interpretation of each until this issue. Danny Rand shows up, no surprise in a book called Heroes for Hire, but he’s really combative and reluctant to help, even when Misty’s name is dropped. Not very heroic. Not very Danny. It all seems like fitting him into a round hole for the purpose of the (again, forced) closing line.

I’m coming around on Brad Walker’s work. It isn’t any prettier, but at least it’s consistent. His Misty Knight isn’t attractive, but she’s consistently unattractive. I can live with that.

Jurassic Park continues its influence on comics. This is fourth book I can think of in about two months to include a battle with a dinosaur. You’d think was 1994.

Last month I wondered if Heroes for Hire would be too repetitive. This issue says yes. Misty uses a number of heroes to piece-meal a mission together. It’s fun, but each issue feels too slight. I want something bigger.

Onslaught Unleashed #1Onslaught Unleashed #1 by Sean McKeever and Filipe Andrade ****

Comics can interest people for a variety of reasons. The character. The writer. The artist. So why would I buy Onslaught Unleashed?

Onslaught? No. I wasn’t into comics at the time, but the Onslaught Saga sounds bloated and very bad 90’s comics.
The Secret Avengers? Sure. Brubaker didn’t impress me, but Steve Rogers? Black Widow? Beast? These are some of my favorite characters.
The Young Allies? Of course. My favorite book of 2010.
Sean McKeever? From The Waiting Place to Allies, absolutely. He’s now a name I follow.
Filipe Andrade? Well … no.

Well, that’s 60% positive going into the book. How did it fare?

Pretty well. Despite Onslaught’s presence, it feels like the continuation of threads from Young Allies and the Nomad backups from Captain America. I was wondering if/where these stories, such as El Dragón would be addressed, so its nice to see they have not been lost, dropped or canceled. Of course, the threat here is bigger than Rikki or the Allies can handle, so her mentors, Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff take over.

McKeever impressed here. Onslaught Unleashed is a natural evolution of the story, giving reason for the team-up, without the played-out team vs. team battle. He writes established characters like Best and Ant-Man just as well as those he created.

Filipe Andrade’s art is much like that seen in the Nomad backups. It’s … fine. I can tell characters apart and he does some nice storytelling bits, but his characters are too jagged. Hell, Gravity could stab someone with his chin. I wonder how this series would look with David Baldeon or Humberto Ramos (who supplied the cover) on art duties. I wanto give some points to colorist Ricardo Tercio. Whether it’s the greens of the facility or the magentas of the Onslaught machine, each scene gets its own palette, expertly setting the tone.

The art holds it back, but for three more issues, Onslaught Unleashed is a book I will look forward too.

Amazing Spider-Man #653Amazing Spider-Man #654Amazing Spider-Man #653-654 by Dan Slott, Fred Van Lente and Stefano Caselli **

Sophomore slump. That’s the only way I can think about “Revenge of the Spider-Slayer.” Compared to Dan Slott’s first “Big Time” arc, we’ve got an unsympathetic villain, flat dialogue, dull art, and a lack of Peter Parker’s personal life.

Taken on their own, any of these factors would be OK, but together they’re just a disappointment. Let’s go down the line.

  1. Alistair Smythe is boring. You stole my dad. You ruined my life. Blah blah. Who cares? And the return of the Scorpion? Who cares? Spider-Man has the second best villains in comics because they have interesting personalities: Green Goblin and his mental instability, Doc Ock and his inventor’s drive, the new Hobgoblin and his dark-side-of-the-spider personality. Smythe and Gargan don’t have anything to hang their hats on.
  2. For these two issues, Fred Van Lente has scripted over Dan Slott’s story. I’ve never been a fan of Van Lente’s writing and these issues are show why. Characters don’t speak naturally; they speak in plot points. Van Lente even uses a number of though balloons. Thought balloons! One of the most inelegant methods of comics writing.
  3. I loved Stefano Caselli’s work on Avengers: The Initiative, but something doesn’t work here. It’s over-detailed and over-rendered. And issue 654, with its nighttime climax, is very dark. No the fun BIG TIME Spider-Man we got with Ramos.
  4. This issue is action action action. The biggest emotional hit is on J. Jonah Jameson. Peter hasn’t really learned or changed or gone on a journey. I don’t like that.

We’ve got #654.1 next, launching the new Venom book (interest level: low) then the glorious Marcos Martin! I had the highest excitement for Martin when this “Big Time” status quo was announced. So far, Ramos gets a thumbs up, Caselli gets a thumbs down and I can’t wait to see where Martin goes.

X-Factor #215X-Factor #215 by Peter David and Valentine De Landro

Some quick scene setting: I love it when heroes use their powers in non-combative ways. Sue and Johnny Storm creating personal umbrellas in Civil War? Love it. Madrox creating a dupe so he can interview a client and her accused at the same time? It just makes sense. Think of how fast you could finish your chores if you could send a copy of yourself to do each task.

With X-Factor #215, Peter David uses another spotlight issues to focus on the real linchpins of the series – Jamie Madrox and Layla Miller. The story itself is a whodunit, which is solved fairly simply. But, as always, it comes down to the characters.

Some history: Back in issue #10, cover date October 2006, Layla Miller referenced her and Jamie’s wedding night. He had just slept with Siryn and Monet (separately, though still, lucky dude [again, think of how awesome duplicates are]), so he sort of brushed it off.  In issue #28 (April 2008), we saw Rahne’s terrible vision of the future – her killing Jamie and Layla on their wedding night (this vision was given by Damian Tryp to Rahne in issue #12). In issue #40 (April 2009), we see a Layla from the future, all grown up. Making their marriage a lot less creepy. In #50 (December 2009), Layla returns to our timeline. Now, with the April 2011 issue, we get another step – the proposal. This is more than four years of comics following one thread. I love it.

Not much to say about the issue itself, other than that De Landro toned down the shadows in his art to great improvement. It’s a lot clearer and his people are more attractive. I hope he keeps it up.

__

I know this was late. And the reviews for last week’s books are already late. They will come.

The Shopping List 1-5-11

I went to the shop this week thinking Secret Six and Heroes for Hire were coming out.

Poker Talk

Yeah … no matter what Diamond or whomever said, they weren’t this week. So only two books. Luckily, two good ones. These are the hardest reviews to write. There are only so many ways to praise books like these. To paraphrase, “Good books are all the same. Bad books are each bad in their own way.”

Avengers: The Children's Crusade #4Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #4 by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung ****

– Solid, on character writing, but I’ve yet to have a “Wow!” moment.

– I’m glad Marvel isn’t worried about where this fits into continuity right now. Who knows, when issue 9 comes out, this could match the status quo. Readers confuse publication dates, reading order and continuity too much. In five years, you can read this story and say “Oh, it’s after House of M.” And that’s all you need. Good.

– I’m glad Cheung is taking his time. Of course, I’ll have to reread eight issues for the finale, but at least it’ll be pretty. Gotta get a sketch from this guy at the next con I see him. Iron Man? Quicksilver?

X-Factor #213X-Factor #213 by Peter David and Valentine De Landro ****

– Barely any action, but still exciting.

– Hate to say it, but the return of Valentine De Landro is a step down from Lupacchino. He’s had a couple months off, so I don’t think this is rushed. His facial shadows are weird.

– The cover for next month shows a gun-toting cowboy Darwin. Stupendous.

Some interesting books coming out this week including the sophomore issue of the new Heroes for Hire and the first issue of Daredevil: Reborn. Let’s hope for the best for our boy Matt Murdock.

New York Comic Con 2010

I realize it’s been two weeks now, but I’ve been dreading this post. Long story short: I found this year’s NYCC to be too big and too overwhelming. 96,000 people? I don’t care how big the hall is, that’s a lot of people. 96,00 people means the main floor is an ocean of people, carrying you with them down each aisle and through each booth. It’s almost to hard to browse. If you’re not going to a table for a specific reason, it’s not worth fighting your way though the crowd. You wanted to see the Marvel booth? Too bad. It’s packed like the floor at a Gwar concert. But with more costumes.

By the end of Saturday, I had bought three books (reviews … to come) and a t-shirt, gotten a bagful of signatures and received five sketches. All for under my budget. I didn’t even go on Sunday.

So before the con, I posted a list of things to check out. How’d it go?

Podcast Alley – I got to meet the guys from Comic Geek Speak for the third time. Nice dudes. Always fun to talk to. I finally met Adam (Murd), which means I’ve met all the geeks.  I also bought a sweet shirt from them: “Tosche Station Power Converters – Worth Whining About.” Easily the nerdiest shirt I own. Good times.

Free Stuff – Marvel had a generic selection of posters and preview issues, but once again DC had a good spread. Recent issues of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and DV8. Also, What’s Next issues of Jonah Hex, Hellblazer and more. A smart way to expose people to your properties.

Speed Dating – Yeah. About that. My speed dating session started Saturday at 2. I got there at 1:45. At 2:15 someone came out of the room and told us they had already started. REAL NICE. When was the last time something at a comic convention started early? So speed dating was a bust. Too bad. It sounded … interesting.

The Cultyard – Remember that sea of people I was talking about? Well, it flooded the Cultyard. I walked by once and it was too crowded to step in to. Too bad.

ART! – I can’t say I was disappointed with the art I manged to pull.

The White Violin from by Gabriel Bá

The White Violin from The Umbrella Academy by Gabriel Bá

Tara Chace from Queen and Country by Leandro Fernandez

Tara Chace by Leandro Fernandez

Tara Chace from Queen and Country by Clara Speed McNeil

Tara Chace by Clara Speed McNeil

Penny from Phonogram by Jamie McKelvie

Penny by Jamie McKelvie

Siryn by Valentine DeLandro

Siryn by Valentine DeLandro

I didn’t realize until after the show, but all five of the characters are female. Interesting.

The only other person I was hoping to get a sketch from was Nicola Scott, but her list for the weekend was full less than two hours into the con (WHAT?). Oh well, one for the future.

Everything Else – 1) I got Jeph Loeb to sign my Daredevil: Yellow hardcover. Now my favorite story is signed by the writer and artist. Awesome.

2) Nicki Clyne (Cally from Battlestar Galactica) is super nice. I went up to tell her I loved her on the show. Her smile and “Thank You” were so genuine I just wanted to take her home and love her* be her best friend forever.

3) I talked to Kieron Gillen about the (hypothetical) future of Phonogram. Specifically, what Emily Aster would think of Lady Gaga. The next miniseries would have had a theme of identity as it relates to music, focusing on Emily/Claire. And she would have loved Gaga.

4) Quotes of the weekend:

Some dude in the men’s room.: “Nice lightsaber.” – It’s probably a common compliment at a con, but dude, there’s better venues for it.

My buddy Ron, while looking for a bar: “What does that sign say under ‘The Continental?’ ”
Me: ” ‘Five shots of anything $10.’ That’ll do!!”

___

So yeah. It was fun, but it was nicer last year. Having such a big floorplan means you spend a ton of time just going from place to place. I think Fan Expo Toronto is still my favorite con I’ve been to. I’m planning on checking out C2E2 next year. Always nice to try new things.

Any one else at the show? Did you have the same experience or am I turning into an old man too early?

*Sexist comments redected.

The Shopping List 10-20-10

It’s Wednesday. i’ve got some free time. May as well knock these reviews out while they’re fresh in my mind.

Another note before I begin: My comics enjoyment has really increased since dropping a few titles. It’s just nice to look and the pile and not expect a stinker in the bunch.

Dakota North. Ass kicker.

Daredevil #511Daredevil #511 by Andy Diggle and Roberto De La Torre ****

I always focus on the supporting cast of books like Captain America and Invincible Iron Man, but these Shadowland tie-ins have certainly shown the strength of secondary and tertiary characters like Foggy Nelson (risking life and limb to save his friend), Dakota North (kicking some ass) and Becky Blake. And of course, past issues have spotlighted Elektra and Master Izo. Matt Murdock/Daredevil only appears on one page of this issue, but it was still a great read.

All the tension in Hell’s Kitchen is coming to a head. One issue of Shadowland, one issue of Daredevil left and 10 years of great DD stories are over. Please, please, please let it end well.

Despite a lack of heroic action, De La Torre turns in a striking, emotion issue. I love the spaces he leaves in his black inked areas. They add dimension and allow some color to shine through. They’re a nice touch.

Morning Glories #3Morning Glories #3 by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma ****

Issue three of the industry’s newest surprise hit starts with a flashback. It appears some of the mysteries in Morning Glories have been going on for centuries. It’s a short enough sequence that the reader doesn’t get impatient, but connects to the plot enough that I can’t wait to see how this all ties together.

Much of this issue is spent building the cast, adding new students (prisoners) as well as staff at the school. It succeeds in expanding the world of the book, but Jun, Zoe and Hunter are nowhere to be found. Not a problem necessarily, but this early in the run, I’d hate to see half the main cast left behind.

Joe Eisma’s art is starting to look a bit uneven. Depending on the page and even panel, characters are smooth, then jagged and back again. Luckily, Alex Sollazzo’s colors keep everything balanced.

X-Factor #210X-Factor #210 by Peter David and Valentine De Landro *****

Writers of a team books could take a lesson from X-Factor. Rather than cram all the characters into one story, or split 22 pages 7 ways (my complaint to Matt Fraction a few weeks ago) Peter David allows the group to fracture and deal with their conflicts themselves. Many books would follow one plotline to its conclusion, then have an issue between arcs to catch us up on the other characters. But by taking a break from the great, great Vegas story, David ensures that we don’t forget about Rahne and Rictor. Speaking of Rahne, it’s great to see her laughing after the brood-fest that was X-Force.

There’s some big laughs and big drama here. And it’s stuff I’ve never read in a hero book before. Love it.

De Landro does his own inks here and I really like the results. Yes, the thicker lines can make mouths look a bit off, but details like clothing and environments look great.

A trimmed pull-list means some high-ranking books. Yay!