Wednesday, December 6

Scarlet Witch and Darcy

The current Scarlet Witch comic pairs her with Darcy Lewis from the Thor movies and WandaVision, as they help desperate people fend off magical threats. It's a good read.


Friday, September 29

I Can't Go

I am out of the Beer City Comic Con with sickness, and I am crushed.

Please go and tell me how cool it was. I will be drowning my sorrows in cocktails of NyQuil and Ben & Jerry's.

Tuesday, September 12

Beer City ComiCon Is Approaching!

BIG NEWS! I will be a guest creator at Asheville's Beer City Comic Con Sept. 30 and Oct. 1! I will be part of my first panel! This is an ambitious new show for the area, and they are bringing in big names in comics. I will have my books and prints, and you can sign up for commissions early:

Monday, August 28

Fire Walk With Me: The Arm


With my wife and child returning to school, I have the house to myself like a Victorian ghost. It means I can blast my favorite TV shows in the background at deafening volumes while I do my day job. Or, hey, for art inspiration. So I decided to go back to Twin Peaks

 I saw some locales when we journeyed to Seattle in June, and that was mind-blowing. I watched the pilot air in Spring 1990, and I was a diehard fan from then on. Just for novelty, I decided to watch "chronologically" and start with Fire Walk With Me. Little did I know after I drew this piece that today -- this very day -- is the 31st anniversary of the film. Wow. That in itself is so very Twin Peaks.

Friday, July 21

X-Men (Kinda) Daily Art: 217 and 218

 X-Men 217 and 218 see the new team fight Juggernaut in Scotland. Dazzler runs headlong into battle to prove herself and collapses from exhaustion. Juggernaut, who turns out to be a big fan, buries her on a hillside. The team rescues her, and they all race into battle. They defeat him before learning he was the diversion while Black Tom robs a bank. A bank robbery! In an X-Men comic! Also this is Marc Silvestri's debut as penciller, and his camera placement and linework are eye-popping.

Thursday, July 13

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 216


Forty issues ago, Storm was challenged to a duel to free her fellow X-Men from the Morlocks. It was to the death. Storm was the dignified outsider in the group, presented as an alien to American culture and morals. She commanded the weather and flew among the clouds. She literally had an air about her.
She won that duel by stabbing the Morlock leader in the heart. Callisto didn't die, but the fight was won. A few issues later, Storm went punk in a moment that polarized comic fans. The character was fighting to define herself and decided to live beyond her habitual emotional filters to feel more human. She needed to change.
The world grew darker around the team, and she became its field leader by default when Cyclops left to be a husband to Maddy Pryor. Then she lost her powers via a gizmo invented by a man she fell in love with. A robot from the future was now in their timeline to wipe them all out. Rachel stole her spirit in an effort to kill the Beyonder. Then Wolverine tried to kill Rachel, who later vanished. Then mercenaries slaughtered the Morlocks, whom she was not around to protect. In fighting them, the gentle giant Colossus killed one of them. Storm directed Wolverine to kill as many of the Marauders as he needed to. Colossus and two other teammates were left near death. 
And now Storm is chased by three older, powered folk disillusioned with a world grown cold. They capture the amoral and hunt them to the death, unless they can somehow escape. But Storm can't escape them. She must stop them. And one by one she defeats the trio until she is again in a duel to the death with a knife in her hand. 
Comics had gotten dark. There were always violent peripheral titles. Conan, for instance. But now superheroes in colorful costumes were killing and giving in their anger. The world was less simple. Harder. Lethal. X-Men as a comic reflected that, and it left longtime readers with the same choice as the heroes: What kind of people are we rooting for? What do we hope to see them do? Is the hero just the last character standing? This is Storm's Macbeth moment, for her and us and the title.
She doesn't kill the hunter. She chooses to be better than those she fights. And as team leader, her heroes will do the same. An X-Man has a standard. They were created by Xavier to make the world better. You don't do that simply by being the last man standing. 
Also Wolverine, lost in his confused grief over discovering Jean is alive, was unable to save two people killed by one of those hooligans hunted by the trio. He failed as a hero because he couldn't pull himself together. That's also an important lesson for a team driven so often by angst. 
And this is what the issue leaves us with: Get off your ass and be better then the world around you. For the heroes in the comics and the readers following along, that's a pretty good mindset to have.

Daily X-Men Art Catch-Up

Here are my takes on moments from my 1980s X-Men reread as I try to make come comic work every day. These are from X-Men 199 - X-Men 215.

Monday, June 12

HeroesCon 2023 is Coming

I will be at table AA-918, right across from Indie Island, for this year's show. I have yet to have a bad placement any year I have been there. People mill around so well to see the vendors and art tables.

I also have a new Spiderverse print for sale. This will go up on my store after the show.


Friday, May 5

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 198


Barry Windsor-Smith returns for X-Men 198, another story of Storm dealing with the loss of her powers. Back now in Africa, she is reeling from a bullet wound and hallucinating of her teammates. She blames Xavier for taking her from her homeland years ago. Wolverine offers to end her suffering permanently. She fights off death and keeps moving.
She finds a real young woman about to give birth and escorts her back to her village, where an elder encourages her to return to America and her life as a hero to reclaim her life despite her lack of powers. The elder dies to make room in the village for the newborn, and Storm feels rejuvenated, ready to move forward once more.
This is Claremont's second story of a heroine remaking her life after losing her powers, and his similar issue with Carol Danvers was just 30 issues prior. Windsor-Smith inks and colors his own work this time, and it is again a showcase of illustration not seen on convenience store comic racks at the time.

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 197


In X-Men 197, we take a break from social persecution. The villain Arcade runs a vast Westworld and has apparently crossed Dr. Doom. He kidnaps Kitty and Peter to save his hide, and they do, defeating what turns out to be a Murderworld robot targeting him as part of a birthday game. Kitty and Peter go home.
The most important part of this is that Peter finally tells Kitty that he's sorry for hurting her after falling for an alien who died, and he admits he's confused about his feelings for the latter, thinking that moving on would insult her death. Turns out, though, that he is actually talking to a robot Kitty. The real one overhears it all, and the two return to the school on better terms -- friends and teammates once more.

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 196


Life continues to throw jabs at our heroes. An ailing Xavier calls upon longtime archenemy Magneto to join the school, and the team isn't happy. Xavier also uses his telepathy to learn of a murder plot against a mutant where he is lecturing. The public is vocally embracing Nimrod as a hero against mutants. Rachel sees this present moving toward her future, and a world that hunts and kills mutants. 
Also she senses the presence on Earth of the Beyonder, an omnipotent alien trying to understand mortal humanity. That creature has shown such naive disregard for life that Nightcrawler questions the existence of God, falling into despair with his priest. 
And in a move to hammer home the metaphors, one of the murder plotters, an African-American, asks Kitty if she's a mutant, and she in turn asks if he's the n-word, and WHAT. THE. WHAT. Given that she's Jewish, this could have gone in a different rhetorical and metaphorical direction, but this was the path taken, and almost 40 years later, it's a jarring exchange, regardless of the emotional states of the characters.

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 195


This is a very sad issue. The kid team Power Pack are kidnapped by the underground mutant society, The Morlocks, so they can be raised by Annalee, whose kids were killed. The youngest, Katie, escapes after being disfigured and is rescued by the X-Men. The team, led by Shadowcat, gives her a jacket to make her an honorary X-Men and bolster her spirits, but she is terrified and alone. The heroes fight the Morlocks and rescue the other Power Pack kids, and Katie takes pity on Annalee and prevents her from being punished by the Morlock leader, Callisto, who didn't know of the plan to steal kids. 
So we have kids who run the gamut from transformed, scared, kidnapped, and killed. Not fun. And this sets the table for a later, sadder Morlock and X-Men story coming up in about 15 issues. But this is the X-Men comics: sad and brutal and heavy. They don't fit in the world, and they are frayed to the bone. But the cover image doesn't happen at all, and in fact the entire team gets to show their caring sides to Katie that we don't get many chances to see.

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 194



Nimrod finally makes his move against Juggernaut, a mutant bad guy, as the latter tries to have a normal day in NYC. The X-Men are scouting him to make sure he behaves himself when Nimrod attacks. In the fight, Kitty has a brainstorm of using Rogue as a one-woman team, and Rogue absorbs the powers of Kitty, Nightcrawler, and Colossus. The ensuing look doesn't make a lick of sense, but she damages Nimrod enough to make him run away. Meanwhile Storm goes to Africa to see if her powers can be salvaged, and she saves a villager from the twin offspring of Baron Strucker (but we don't know that yet, don't tell anyone).

Tuesday, April 25

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 193



X-Men 192 was set up to be a special issue, as it had been 100 issues since the title was relaunched, bringing in Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine, and Colossus. And there was one other, Thunderbird, an Apache mutant who died in their first mission. This issue sees his brother lure the team to the site of his death for revenge. He has his chance to kill Xavier but he can't do it. He's no killer. The team lets him go, and the issue ends with everyone where they were before. Eh.
But in a fight with armored soldiers, Colossus asks Rogue for a Fastball Special, where a strong person, usually him, throws someone, usually Wolverine, at the bad guys. Imagine someone throwing six angry Canadian knives at you. This is Rogue's first shot at it, and she launches the giant Russian into the response team. I love the Fastball Special. I love that the team has a move like that and a name for it.
This was also the first Rogue costume that had a green layer off the shoulder on a black leotard. Variations of that were THE Rogue look until she got the green and yellow bodysuit.
Also Kitty is wearing a Zorro mask for some reason. They didn't know what to do with her look for years. Or her hero name. Sprite. Ariel. And then in her mini with Wolverine, she became Shadowcat, which was picked up for a species in A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones.

Monday, April 24

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 192


 In X-Men 192, we get our fourth new bad guy to just show up and exude villainy in about six months. This time it's Magus, the techno-organic father to the alien Warlock who is part of the New Mutants team. He arrives as new X-Men leader Nightcrawler puts Rogue and Colossus through their paces. For her, he tries to unlock the "Marvel sense" she stole from Carol Danvers. He chooses to tickle her into predicting his next move and, when she flies off angry, he realizes he took liberties with a person who can't touch anyone. Magus arrives, and Rogue uses her power on him to weaken him. He runs off. The others welcome back Kitty and Logan from their trip to Japan, and Kitty recognizes Rachel from her trip to the future. Xavier is mugged for being a mutant.


X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 190 and 191


So. X-Men 190 and 191 are full-on bonkers. Fonkers. Yes.

Kulan Gath, a dark wizard from Conan comics, is freed from a magic necklace and takes over Manhattan, transforming it into Dungeons and Dragons Land, changing the memories of everyone who enters the threshold. Some X-Men and Avengers are ensorceled to work for Gath. Others fight to dethrone him, again with no idea they are from a modern world. Spider-Man alone remembers, but he's the only one who speaks English so no one can understand him. Gath prevents the good magic users from working against him, so Strange and Selene cannot speak. Xavier and Caliban are smooshed into one creature to find Gath's enemies.
People die. Like DIE die. Spider-Man. Vision. Colossus. Rogue. Dead. But Strange and Illyana work together after Gath is defeated, to revert everyone back in time to right before the Gath spell began.
BUT they change history, allowing future Sentinel Nimrod to come into the new present and, by happenstance, killing the human vessel who allowed Gath to take power. And now he's rarin' to kill mutants.
Fonkers, I tell you.

Friday, April 21

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 189


X-Men 189 is an outing for newcomers Amara and Rachel. She is from a Roman outpost from South America that never progressed past the early first century, and Rachel is the alternate universe daughter of Scott and Jean. They have beefs with Selene, and they find her in the Hellfire Club, the stylized social sex club in New York.
So the comic goes all in as Chris Claremont's Kink Korral as we see Rachel's past as a leashed and spiked, leather-clad mutant bloodhound, and Selene applies to be the club's Black Queen, complete with corset and knee high boots. The girls infiltrate by wearing French maid outfits. They are captured (and leashed) before the X-Men bust in and save them. Subjugation! Body swapping! Wee little outfits! Almost a full Yahtzee in this one.
Amid these scenes looms the upcoming threat of Kulan Gath, an Old World sorcerer, and next issue, dear reader, the comic goes full-on bonkers (fonkers).

Thursday, April 20

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 188


Finally the Dire Wraiths are banished, thanks to Nightcrawler's honey, Amanda, and Illyana, both magic users. The X-Men, including brother Peter, find out the latter has sorcery and teleporting powers, and Peter says he doesn't care what she is, he still loves her.

Speaking of that sentiment, Nightcrawler calls a meeting because he wants out of the hero business. The government just removed Storm's powers, and anti-mutant legislation is coming. Why are they fighting to save the humans who hate them? But Rachel, the mutant from the dark future, says the team has to keep fighting to avoid the timeline she escaped where mutants are rounded up and killed. Nightcrawler agrees.
But he does accidentally suggest a proper focus for the Xavier school, which took them decades to follow up on: Not every mutant who learns to control their power has to become a superhero. Some want to go back to their lives. Some mutations don't lend themselves to heroing, and throwing them at Sabretooth is cruel and making them live with their classmates forever is isolation. What's the point of teaching people, both mutants and humans, that they can coexist if they remain forever separate?


Wednesday, April 19

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 187

So after losing her powers and learning the guy she's falling for made the weapon that depowered her, Storm leaves Forge's apartment. But here come the alien, invading, sorcerous Dire Wraiths to kill Forge. Storm and Naze, Forge's mentor, pull a Die Hard (four years before the movie) to get to the penthouse and save him. It's not a great issue; too much is happening here, but Rogue debuts a costume that is so bad it's good, and there are signs Storm's powers might not be gone after all.


Tuesday, April 18

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 186


X-Men 186 is a special issue for a few reasons. It's 40 pages when most comics are less than 25. It's pencilled by Barry Windsor-Smith, a legend of line work, a real fine artist among cartoonists. It's a story mostly between two people: the recently depowered Storm and Forge, the mutant engineer who made the weapon that took her powers, but she doesn't know that. It reads like a one-act play, and it has time to work the corners when most comics are fastballs across the plate. Something horrible has happened to a character already in turmoil, and we get to see her process it in a pace rarely seen in monthly comics.

Meanwhile Rogue is pursuing the feds who tried to use the weapon on her so they can point the way to Storm. ALSO the alien Dire Wraiths wants those same feds to point the way to Forge to destroy the weapon that could also foil their invasion plans.
I drew my take on the panel where Storm watches a thunderstorm she can no longer feel in her bones or bend to her whims.