Half Past Danger – Comic Review

HPD_Big_Bang_Promo_Print_FINAL_SmlWhen I sat down to read this comic I didn’t know anything about it other than that it had a cool cover like a movie poster with a retro look to it. I always pick a comic for its cool cover and a quick blurry run through the pages is a sell for me. I didn’t check if there was a full creative team on this comic so you imagine my surprise when I realized it was solely done by one really creative artist.

Usually I would make a quick introduction about this comic but there are so many cool elements that I cannot do the usual, I have to say first what a thrilling surprise this comic is, how each page was gripping and made me anticipate the next, on how it left me with a most satisfying and entertaining feeling when it ended that was bubbling in me for hours later. I was so many times surprised pleasantly that the comic did not go the way I expected it and the arts storytelling nailed it each time. The vibe and thrill the comic gave me is similar to the one I felt as a kid when I first started reading comics and when I used to absorb each aspect of the art page after page.

Yes it’s that good that I can’t wait for issue #2 to come out and this I’m saying with a certainty that I haven’t done in years about a comic.  Now that I have released my entire enthusiasm let me give credit on who is behind this great comic “Half Past Danger”.

Stephen Mooney   is an artist who has worked on several comics for IDW the past several years, “Half past HalfPastDanger_Issue1_Page1Danger” is his creator owned comic where for issue one he is the sole creator. Thankfully IDW has given the green light and published this comic, yet another cool decision from this comic book publisher. I’m not sure if this comic will be a long run monthly or just a set of several limited series but I would be pleased with either way they chose. Only in issue #1 there are so many elements that can be explored that the title can last for many years to come and the story will still be interesting.

The story is set in World War 2 and its central character is Sergeant Thomas Michael Flynn. Sergeant Flynn is a military man with a roguish flair to him that has the ability to know how to survive and not take risks and above all protect his team squad.  So you imagine his devastation after he loses his whole squad during recognition of enemy territory on an unknown island in the east Pacific. As they avoid any kind of engagement with a Nazi base they come surprisingly across they decide to return to their base with what they’ve found, only to fall in a bigger danger. The whole team in killed except Flynn who manages to escape with the information he has found. This is the introduction and not the end of the story as it continues two months later in a bar at New York as Flynn drinks away his sorrow. What follows is more unexpected as Flynn is approached by three individuals seemingly a part of a secret organization which ends in one unbelievable visual bar brawl as Flynn refuses to speak to them.

Preview_Page_9I won’t go into details on what the lethal danger is or who the individuals are because it will be a sort of spoiler for the surprises you’ll get by reading the comic. I’ll only say some words, predators, powerhouse, master of martial arts and witty intelligence covered by femme fatale beauty …hope I haven’t given anything away.

Money has crafted a story which features elements of war action, noir settings and pulp aspects of the unknown and unexpected all combined beautifully in one issue. With realistic, smart and witty dialogues which you don’t have to read a second time to understand but you do it just to enjoy once again what has been said. He also has built a mystery based on the situations his main hero Sgt. Flynn has been in but nothing is revealed and still it’s intriguing and gripping due to the way the story unfolds with the help of the art.

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The art complements and delivers all aspects of the story from the biggest to the smallest details. It’s dynamic with perfect storytelling showing action scenes in a great way from panel to panel. Each panel is essential to the flow of the story to the point that it gives you a cinematic visual feeling but only better. Also there is a good sense of humor giving a comic relief which becomes more obvious and entertaining by small details in the art which have to do with expressions, body language and small movements. Pencils, inking, coloring and lettering have all been thoroughly applied by Mooney to give a visual delight for us readers.

In general Stephen Mooney has succeeded in creating a great issue one leaving you with the best of impressions and gripping enough to want more. So I strongly suggest reading this comic. Read it from its beginning because I’m sure it will only get better and Sgt. Flynn will be the new hero all will be raving about!

I usually don’t rate a comic unless it’s necessary but for this one I will.

It’s 10 out of 10! Read this comic and spread the word on how good it is.

Cheers…

Con Barbatsis for eCharta

Comic List Last Week -May.26.13- Preview

As I said my weekly list of comics that I’ve read will be back soon and here it is with four comics this time and most of them are a good read.

jk00001Helheim #3 by Cullen Bunn and Joelle Jones: I liked this issue even more because it had even more characterization. Rickard from a week boy becomes are fearless warrior who dies in battle, a witch who is his lover brings him back from the dead as a creature named Draugr and now in this issue he becomes something even more monstrous but with a free will. He chooses to wage war on both witches his onetime enemy and his lover who have been manipulating and destroying both his land and its people.

Cullen Bunn continues to weave an intriguing story and with Helheim #3 he establishes his hero and sets him on his own path accompanied by a new ally. Joelle Jones and colorist Nick Fillardi continue to provide excellent art. All in all a thrilling issue which makes me anticipate issue #4 even more!

Uber #1 by Kieron Gillen and Caanan White: There is so much Uber 001 (2013) (1920px) (Darkness-Empire) 002going in this comic that only the tiniest of hints will be a spoiler. From page one and through the whole issue it’s a real thrill, with plots, references and storylines based on real people and facts from the WW 2 era. The cool thing is that it’s done with an absolute respect without making it a parody this is something difficult to accomplish especially if you want to say it your way without giving any interest in research. Kieron respects the history and weaves elements of it in his story making it true and believable and all the more an exciting comic book. It’s not a superhero comic by far, the “power”s is just an aspect of the whole comic the people and what they are living in WW2 is where the whole story lays and this is what makes it a remarkable read.

Also Caanan White has leveled up his art in this issue its big, its detailed, it’s great in general it’s a lot better than #0. In general Uber #1 is a great comic even better than #0 story and art wise  and I enjoyed it it to its fullest!

Cable-and-X-Force-08-(2013)-(Digital)-(G85-Nahga-Empire)-01Cable & X-Force #8 by Dennis Hopeless and Salvador Larroca: The art in this issue is amazing; Salvador Larroca and Frank D’Armata are doing a superb job. Visually its one of the best comics out there with splash pages and big panels with dynamic art, colors and action scenes. Story wise the arc is tied up and ended nicely in a way that Cable succeeds in preventing a fatale future for earth although his actions do have consequences he will deal next issue as he confronts his “uncle”. Dennis Hopeless does a perfect job of building characterization and in this issue we see from amusing to creepy character interaction. It was a fun comic for me this specific issue and I enjoyed even more than I expected.

Thunderbolts #9 by Daniel Way and Phil Noto: This comic In Thunderbolts-009-(2013)-(Digital)-(Zone-Nahga-Empire)-01this issue we see who the is the man hiding behind the whole gamma gadget tinkering and selling it to the black market which I will not reveal  but I was pleased of his return, this was unexpected addition to the story. The art is not the best I like it more than Steve Dillon’s not because its better but it’s more fluid and suits more  the title in its action scenes but I know Phil Noto can do even better  I’m a fan of his from way back. The thing that still makes me feel uncomfortable is that we don’t see the full personality of all the characters but aspects, it is a team book but still I would like to see them in character. The interaction and only would be dynamic.

I will continue to read it after all it features one of my favorite roasters where only two characters have their own title and are not on other super teams. So yes I read this comic for Electra, Punisher, Red Hulk, Venom and Deadpool and I will continue to read it for a while.

So this is it guys I know it is a small list but it’s the ones I like and will continue for some reason or other and I would recommend to others to check out.

Cheers!

Con Barbatsis for eCharta

Comic List Last Week -May.19.13- Preview

My weekly list of my favorite comics which I’ve been reading has been delayed a bit but its back again with 7 comics, no new number one issues but still great comics, with even better art and stories which are beginning to flesh out and with intriguing twists….

So here we go first up are two which have stunned me with their art

Uncanny Avengers 005-000Uncanny Avengers #8 by Rick Remender and Daniel Acuna: The art is brilliant each issue it’s even better and Daniel Acuna is pushing it to its extreme with his wonderful coloring. Each page is unique and different with different colors and tones appropriate though to give you the feeling of where the story is taking place either it’s in the North Pole or outer space. The story continues to focus around the Apocalypse twins as Remender weaves and spins plot lines from his Uncanny X-Force days into this comic. I’m starting to appreciate this comic even more story wise especially now that all characters are falling into their natural roles especially Sunfire, his interaction with Thor is just great! This issue finishes with a big cliffhanger and a mysterious ally that comes to help Captain America in the most unexpected way. A good read.

Constantine #3 by Jay Fawks, Jeff Lemire & Renato Guedes:  as Constantine 003 (2013) (Digital) (Darkness-Empire) 001“The Smoke & The Flame” arc comes to its end we see some great art by Renato Cuedes in the concepts he creates especially the pocket dimension which Constantine ends up in while arriving in London. It’s creepy but not grotesque and to this helps even more the amazing colors that Marcelo Maiolo uses. The colors are perfect and showing the degeneration both of Constantine and of London. Fawkes and Lemire have succeeded in bringing Constantine in the mainstream DC universe with is arc, reintroducing  him to us but with not spoiling the essence of the character which so many have come to like from its Vertigo version. Read the whole three issue arc and enjoy both story and art.

Next are two warriors the best in martial arts and with a brutal persistence in how they achieve their goals…

Wolverine-v5-003-(2013)-(Digital)-(Nahga-Empire)-01Wolverine #3 by Paul Cornell and Alan Davis: This comic is becoming one of my favorites its story is fast paced with interesting quest stars and Wolverine is being the best in what he does in a whole new way. He is articulate, has conversations with a sense of humor and in this issue we see a side of him more exploited, the investigator one and he has a whole new team to back him up. In this issue we are introducing to Wolverines new cast, some we have already seen both in this comic and in another Marvel title and they are good ones especially the role they play in general in the Marvel Universe. The art doesn’t need any reviewing Davis and Farmer are legendary on how good they are and on this title they are once again top-notch. This new core Wolverine title is a must read for me.

Katana #4 by Ann Nocenti and Alex Sanchez: After the previous Katana-004-(2013)-(Digital)-(Nahga-Empire)-01issue revelations Katana is left devastated and with no will to fight back. But soon she sees that there is no other way to go than move on and fight all the new menaces that have arisen from the broken Soultaker Sword! We are reintroduced to a character which I do not know a lot previous to the whole New 52 era but it seems he has resurfaced with a new twist in his origins and he will definitely play a bigger role in the DC U from now on. What is interesting in this issue is that we see a broken down Katana in need to find a new purpose in her life which by the end of the story she seems to finally get one. This way I believe we will see the formation of an all new Katana as she searches her place in the world although she seems unwilling to do so. The art is good Sanchez is becoming more detailed with each issue and  uses great perspectives in his panel sequences. Give it a chance you won’t be disappointed.

The next are two team books both are spin offs of great core titles but each have double if not a convert reason for their existence….

Secret Avengers 04-000Secret Avengers #4 by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross: I’m not sure if this title should continue to be named as the Secret Avengers and not the Invaders, the second one is more appropriate I think. Although the team doesn’t remember any of its missions once they have accomplished them they are the best in espionage, infiltration and convert operations and invasion of territories. This issue we see a possible new addition to the roster and a good perfect choice this character will be and I’m not talking about the Hulk. The Hulk does appear in this issue as we see on the cover but although he’s called in to help he is actually being manipulated in becoming a cover up! I really like how Spencer is spinning his story and each issue it’s even better if only he could get rid of Daisy, at least he makes Maria Hill superior to her with her decisions and actions. A very good book which is features the best convert/espionage team of Marvel heroes.

Justice League of America #3 by Geoff Johns and David JLA_3_TheGroup-000Finch: This is an amazing comic and specifically a filled issue from cover to cover with intriguing plot lines, character interaction and action both in its main story and its smaller backup one by Matt Kindt and Manuel Garica. I could not get enough of this issue, each “hero” is fleshed out just perfectly and in character and you get to see each one play a role. None is featured less than the other, and if this happens the few panels they are appeared in it is done in the most significant way that reveals more than you expect, like  in the interaction between Amanda Waller and Star Girl. David Finch also does an outstanding job on this comic too like he always does. If you haven’t read JLA yet I strongly suggest you do its mind-blowing and it will become even better, if possible that is.

Fearless Defenders 04-000Last but not least is yet again a team book consisting only by women at least for now…

Fearless Defenders #4 by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney: I love this comic book mostly for the characters it features but in this issue the story and art win you over too. Finally Bunn has achieved in making Valkyrie a an interesting character in this issue we see her progress even more and becoming more of a leader type and not a female Thor rip off, as he adds more and more to her background history and origin  which up to now has been hidden from her. Sliney’s art continues to impress me and in this issue he creatures a gross but cool monster. And to top it all is the unique covers Mark Brooks provides in every month and for this issue he does yet a remarkable one.

So that’s all folks I hope you enjoy or will enjoy these comics too…until next time, which will be sooner than you expect have a blast by reading comics!

Con Barbatsis for eCharta

Mike Heimos the writer and creator of Fever Ridge

Mike Heimos is the writer and creator of “Fever Ridge: A Tale of MacArthur’s Jungle War” a very unique comic that is published by IDW. This might be his first published work in the comic book industry but definitely not the first time he puts a pen to paper to write, he’s been doing it for years! So we are glad that he has given as the chance and time to answer several of our questions so we can know more about him as a writer with a unique technique, about his comic book and possible future plans.

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Q: First of all I would like to ask when did you start writing and when did you finally decide to pursue a career in creating comic books.

Well I’ve been writing for a long time, doing prose and poetry really just for myself, and writing articles and books in tax law which grow out of my career as a tax attorney, but I’ve not endeavored to have my fiction published until relatively recently. The story on when I decided to create some graphic novels:

Sometime in 2009, I decided to write the fiction that was swimming in my head all the years prior, including the 10+ years filled with practicing tax law. But without the technical structure one has in writing legal articles and such, at first the fiction writing was adrift. Then on a nice Friday afternoon, threw some cold water on my face and decided to devote the weekend solely to drinking some beer, making a couple of groovy dinners, and just thinking, writing down story ideas…

In those days I lived in Denver and was a huge, devoted Battlestar Galactica fan. During that beer-and-brainstorm weekend, in Sunday’s newspaper there was an advert indicating that the Starfest con in Denver was welcoming Katee Sackhoff as one of the celebrity guests. She was (and is) one of my favorite TV actresses, and I bought the con badge.

On arrival I learned that the comic book folks had a con in tandem with Starfest, so I popped over to see what the comic-con was all about. I had not been a devotee of comics, but I’m a curious guy, love learning new things, and at the con there were seminars about comics creation, writing, and other stuff that tickled my fancy.

Frankly, I had thought these things were only on the order of, “hey look at this extreme bodybuilder/superhero…” etc. But no, there were interesting people giving seminars, having stimulating discussions about art and story telling, technology and marketing and so on. Intrigued, I went home and had a few more of those beers (one toasted to Katee of course) and thought rather simply “…a couple of my stories would be awesome to see as well as read. Now I want to see them, or at least parts of them.”

pmdMy first level was to think about illustrated novels and novellas, sort of like a Mark Twain or Arthur Conan Doyle things, and the concept just grew that some of my ideas would be very slick as full on graphic novels, in the right hands of course. And one of those ideas was the WWII story that was inspired by my grandfather’s service in New Guinea and the Philippines.

And now, I’m quite devoted to building a career as a writer, both in comics and graphic novels, and in ‘traditional’ writing. 

Q: Would you like to tell us a few things about your site Kingfishergraphicarts.com on why did you start it, what are its purpose and its aim?

I created the website back in 2010/11 (quoting myself!), “[as] primarily a foray in laying out a bunch of creative ideas for you, hopefully you enjoy! We’ll surely be submitting some works to appropriate publishers such as Image and Dark Horse, but whatever is not “picked up” (and it is assumed here that all will not…) will be self-published here and will be free-to-view [frankly, not sure if I’d stick to this part in the future 😉 ]. Some fun merchandise will evolve, there is a forum/blog for daily or other periodic observations, space dedicated to other creators as well, and other things will be added as they are dreamt up.”

I did a good few months of blogging on it, but thing is, the first idea I submitted, Fever Ridge, was picked up by IDW in 2012 and since, I’ve had my sights trained mainly on that project. But it is possible that the website will evolve more once we finish up Fever Ridge, though again, I will soon be pitching Red Forest and Penis My Dragon, the other two creations I’ve put up on the website to-date

I have loads more writing in my computer, waiting to be liberated! Most are not, but several other concepts would be slick as comics – other historical fiction, a huge space opera, a dystopian-future tale of a USA with a Stasi-like agency, a few comedies, etc.

Q: Fiver Ridge: A tale of MacArthur’s Jungle War is you first published work, was it also you first choice to pitch to a publisher?

It was not necessarily the first choice in my mind and heart back in 2011/12, but it just sort of happened that way. Right when Nick was finishing up Fever Ridge pitch pages, Tom Waltz at IDW saw his portfolio at San Diego Comic Con and he expressed serious interest in getting a pitch, so we did it.

Since Fever Ridge connects inter-textually with two other work I will create – Red Forest, which I mentioned earlier, and Gilded Steppe – but it actually comes last in historical chronology (Red Forest is set in the 13th Century, Gilded Steppe in Classical times), you might expect that I’d have started say with Gilded Steppe. But again, opportunity knocked as it did.

Q: How did the collaboration with the rest of the creative team on Fever Ridge come into existence?

At the Denver comic con mentioned above, I attended a great seminar with Nick on the dais. I approached him afterward about availability and whether he would consider collaborating on one of my ideas. He asked for summaries and in a few days he indicated being most attracted to the WWII story. And wow, am I glad he was!

Then Nick found Brandon DeStefano, who expressed keen interest in lettering; and Brandon got hold of Jordie Bellaire, who wanted to color. Then Jordie was wooed by Darkhorse and had to jump on an opportunity there, so she secured Nolan Woodard for us. 

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Q: You have mentioned in the comic book that a big influence for Fever Ridge is a story said by your grandfather based on real life facts, so are there any other influences both from real life and fiction that you brought into the story which played a major role in forming it?

There are lots, lots of influences from reality and fiction going into the creation of Fever Ridge. One of my secondary historical sources is a nice piece called “Silent Warriors” by Lance Q. Zedric, a history of the Alamo Scouts (see issues 2 and 3 of Fever Ridge); another is a cool history/self-propaganda, Four Years Among Cannibals by the enigmatic Hermann Detzner, an explorer of New Guinea prior to and during World War I.

As for fictional influences, well I am with Umberto Eco in arguing that basically all the literature one experiences in their past reading goes into the literature one creates. But I can tell you that some things that specifically influence me in making Fever Ridge are going to appear in Fever Ridge Issue 4, literally for you to see, and other influences include stories such as Saul Bellow’s works Ravelstein and Henderson The Rain King, and… others!

I think in the final trade paperback I’m going to provide both a complete bibliography and an exegesis essay that will sort of “line by line” reveal all the little elementals for the story and the ideas presented, because Fever Ridge is pretty complex and layered. Let me say that, for example, what many people seem to be thinking is the strictly history lesson of Issue 2 is BOTH that and fully part of the fictional story. So do NOT dismiss that chapter as “yawn, a history lesson,” if you care about fully understanding what happens with the characters. You will want to pay attention to Issue 2.

Q: In the first three issues of Fever Ridge anyone can see you have made tremendous research to the point it’s like reading a comic book documentary of that era both in history and environment. So how much of your time did this research consume and are you still researching for the following issues?

Indeed the research is constant; it really never ends until the book is off to the printers. I’m always re-thinking and re-reading and re-considering, and the underlying aim being not necessarily exact accuracy but plausibility, at least to the elements that call for historicity. But as I’ve said in other interviews, there too are magical realism aspects in Fever Ridge and thus, that stuff will be plausible assuming the existence of a little magic in the universe. 

Q: Both story and art wise Fever Ridge is being told in a unique way! In many ways the story seems like it’s more like a statement of events, is this your usual writing style or is it “designed” this way specifically for this comic?

My “usual writing style” is fairly versatile, ambidextrous. But yes, we are aiming to be pretty unique in Fever Ridge. The art style, the color choices, messing with the time/space continuum, here and there breaking the “180 degree rule” to intentionally create surreality/disorientation (Nick and I are huge admirers of Stanley Kubrick, who did this a fair bit, e.g. famously in The Shining in the bathroom scene), not pulling punches on the gore, etc.

It’s all about showing war and ‘the War’ as the nigh insane thing that it is/was. Societies periodically ask – no, tell – young men to do things that otherwise would call for their being judged sociopaths, and within the context of ‘war,’ if they do it nasty and big enough, they get ribbons and medals and lauds. That’s a messed up thing…

And yes, Fever Ridge is being told as a historical fiction, and indeed will internally evolve to be…

Well, you’ll need to wait until Issue 8.

Q: How much input did you have in Nick Runge’s, Jordie Bellaire’s and Nolan Woodard’s art?

Essentially, I write a play and therein give Nick stage directions (I explain this in some detail in Issue 3’s essay), and he gives some directions on colors to Jordie and Nolan.

Some details that I need, I am VERY specific about. For example, in Issue 3 you will notice that the severed Japanese hand, found by Erik while he and Blackie are on their ‘final exam’ exercise in the bush, is a left hand. It’s a wee bit important that the hand be a left hand…you’ll see why later in the series. So, I wrote in the script, “Nick, it’s gotta be a left hand!”

Q: Are you satisfied of the final outcome in each issue’s form up to now and if you had a second chance would you change anything?

Great question.

I think it’s no slight at all, to any of the visual artists, to say that the issues, the covers, etc., never exactly match what I had in my own mind. I think it’s a fool’s errand to expect that the writer/creator’s idea will fully, exactly become reality on the page (this is of course when, as here, the visual artists and the writer/creator are not the same person! but even then?).

Yet this does not mean that one cannot achieve satisfaction. Indeed, to date I’m quite satisfied because the essence of my scripts have been made real. Sure, there are aspects of the art, and my own writing, and the lettering that I would change or have changed if given the opportunity. But that’s the way of things!

You have to understand, that Perfection as a goal and a process, but something that can never really be achieved. As a fan of jazz, “the imperfect art,” I know that imperfections add depth and it seems to me that actually achieving perfection would be a bit of a tragedy.

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Author Mike Heimos with friend, Lucia Notte.

Q: Is Fever Ridge a onetime story or is there a possibility of seeing the main cast of characters in a future limited series?

As to the main cast, it is intended to have finality at the end of issue 8. But, as the saying goes, I will “never, say ‘never’.” Never is a long time! It’s quite possible that a true “spinoff” can spring from Fever Ridge, quite a few angles come to mind.

By the way, I’m already on record – in Issue 2’s supplemental materials – disclosing that Franz will die in the War. Indeed, he will. As for the other main casts’ survival, you will have to see.

I’ll repeat here another disclosure that I’ve given in other interviews, that one of the characters is the vehicle for intertextuality that connects Fever Ridge to Red Forest and Gilded Steppe. Perceptive readers should be able to glean who it is, pretty soon.

So this is it thank you Mike for taking time from your schedule for this interview! Thanks!

Con Barbatsis for eCharta

Links: Kingfisher Graphic Arts Mike Heimos site, you can also follow updates on

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Mike-Heimos-Kingfisher-Graphic-Arts

Twitter: twitter.com/kgacomics

Fever Ridge – A tale of MacArthur’s Jungle War – Comic Review

Fever Ridge - A Tale of MacArthur's Jungle War 001-000Fever Ridge is a limited series of 8 issues published by IDW, last week issue three of this title was released. So I think it’s about time I made a full review for this comic which its story and set up has been made in a unique way and which to be honest at first had me confused. It’s not the type of comic I’m accustomed to reading, but when I stopped analyzing and comparing it to all the mainstream comics I used to read I really enjoyed it and saw what a good read it actually is.

The story takes place in Papua New Guinea during World War 2 as we see a group of soldiers mature and change from wars hardships and the situations they have to deal with in an unknown dangerous environment but exotic too. The main influence for Fever Ridge is the real events of the writer’s grandfather who had lived them during this war. Mike Heimos is the creator and writer of this comic while the rest of the creative team consists of Nick Runge who does pencils and inks and Jordie Bellaire who after issue one passes her duties as colorist to Nolan Woodard.

As I said before I was taken aback on how Mike Heimos had setup and wrote this comic. It’s more like a comic book documentary if something like this can be said because actually Fever Ridge is two things. One part is the comic and the other is a narration of documents, essays and thoughts of the writer. Each part can stand alone but it would not be as interesting and intriguing if you don’t read it as a whole. What I mean is that the comic is interesting with its art and story but the “extras” give you a general feeling of the environment, conditions and thoughts that Heimos wants to put Fever Ridge - A Tale of MacArthur's Jungle War 002-000out there for the readers to know. This way the extras make you appreciate and understand the whole comic aspect of Fever Ridge even more.

Also Mike Heimos has made a tremendous research to build this comic. This is obvious and you can see it in the way he has built both the environment the story unfolds in and the personalities his heroes’ have. In issue one where all his main characters meet in the 6th Infantry in California the conversation between Erik and Franz although through simple and everyday talk it reveals more of their personalities and the concepts, perceptions of the societies they lived and live now. In issue two we see in a detailed historical comic narration of the main events that lead Japan in the late 19th century to start an aggressive colonization of the Pacific up to WW II when General MacArthur states that he will fight back and win the Philippines. Even Papua New Guinea is fleshed out with specific details about its environment, culture and history in all three issues. Essentially all this research has succeeded in bringing you more into the story and making you understand the forces which are in the background and pulling the strings of the lives and destinies of the characters that are featured in this comic.

Fever Ridge - A Tale of MacArthur's Jungle War 003-000The characters also will have to deal with a mystical element which Heimos has confirmed will appear in the story as well. This element is seen from the start of the series and becomes more obvious by issue three but still it hasn’t been reveal to its full degree. I do not want go in details on what this magic element will be and how it will affect the characters because at this point it will be only speculations and will spoil the whole story anticipation. I will only say that it must have to do with a common experience that Erick and the third main character of Fever Ridge Blackie had shared in the first issue. So apart from the raw battle action we will see a deeper mystical and perhaps spiritual aspect to the story that it only makes it even more entertaining. Also a great aspect in the story is the environment of Papua New Guinea and how it’s visually shown.

Nick Runge has done a brilliant work of visualizing Heimos detailed research into Fever Ridge especially when he has to draw parts of Papa New Guinea’s natural environment, landscapes and animal life. His art is detailed and full formed and his inks add a shadowing element that make it realistic both in the panel sequences as in the splash and spread pages, in general you can see he has a background of traditional training in visual arts which grips you and makes you a part of the story. Jordie Bellaire although for one issue has also done a great job in coloring you can see this in the very first spread page of issue one, she uses specific colors and tones to add to the atmosphere  just as Nolan Woodard does in the following two issues. Woodard’s coloring becomes even more dynamic by issue three his tones and color choices add to the art giving you a vivid feeling of the atmosphere you can actually sense the heat and humidity of New Guineas environment. I have to say as a whole the art is simply awesome!

Fever Ridge - A Tale of MacArthur's Jungle War 003-011

Finally I will tell you about the extras and what Mike Heimos’s main goal is by including them in Fever Ridge. In issue one he states and I quote”one of my several ambitions for this book is to raise awareness of one of the historical, anthropological, environmental and aesthetic treasures of the word the island of New Guinea.”

Fever Ridge - A Tale of MacArthur's Jungle War 003-003And he succeeds in doing this at least for me, in each issue he reveals details of this islands history and how it has struggled throughout the ages, on how it was and what conflicts have arisen in the present and in what dangerous it will lead it in the future. He also gives information about the wild life of New Guinea and its importance. The extras also include original character designs and essays about historical events and even on the origins of several words. All this add to the comic and as I already said makes it all the more intriguing.

If you haven’t read yet Fever Ridge I would strongly suggest you do. It is a comic of action and historical interests and as the story unfolds the plot thickens and the art becomes even better. It really is a good read with a different approach on how most comics are done which only makes all the better entertaining and unique. Read it and you will see.

This Monday I continue with an interview with Mike Heimos the creator and writer of this comic. He answers in several questions about comics and future works.

Do not miss it. 

Con Barbatsis for eCharta

JOE RUBINSTEIN – the Inker – the Artist

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Joe Rubinstein was born in Israel. He emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 5 years old. His cousin had a bunch of comic books and Joe naturally was fascinated by them. Joe wasn’t speaking the language at the beginning and he was fascinated by the pictures. Like all kids, he drew his own comics. That was the start! Eventually he wanted to be an artist. At age 11 he attended classes at the Arts Students League of New York. His art teacher Arthur J. Foster, son of the great Hal Foster (creator/artist of “Prince Valiant,” one of the most highly regarded comic strips in history) was his first mentor.

Finally Joe Rubinstein became one of the greatest inkers in comic industry and he appears in 1029 comic issues! Joe is also an award-winning portrait artist and illustrator. his drawing ability is extraordinary and we see that in all of his work!

Joe Rubinstein took some time from his busy schedule to answer some questions giving us some insight about life, drawing, people …inking.

Here it is:

Q: Hey Joe! How are you? We know that your comic story is pretty …long! So, let’s go back in time! Do you remember you first professional work? Do you actually remember the first piece you did as a pro and when did you do it? Could you tell us the history behind it?

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Joe’s first solo job:
Tales of The Great Disaster in the back of Kamandi

Joe: My first solo job was appropriately enough called Tales of The Great Disaster in the back of Kamandi. Mike Netzer / Nasser had drawn some samples and I asked him if I could practice on copies of them and he said to go ahead and ink the real thing, so he got this 6 pager to draw and then I was assigned the inking. I was 17 and I think Mike was 20 years old.

Q: You said from time to time that your idol in the past was Neal Adams. Then you met in your inking career many artists. Who is the person that had the biggest influence on you and your comic work? Did this person change your work or the way you draw?

Joe: Working at Continuity studios when I was 13 (running errands) the guy who paid attention to my needs and taught me was the great Dick Giordano Adams couldn’t be bothered with teaching except for the occasional turse word or two but I did look through the files that he studied from and I learned from those people. That’s why my work looks like his. We learned from the same artists. To whatever degree I actually know how to draw that came from life drawing classes and studying with many artists.

Q: We see that you have a unique style of inking – at least many people state it. We bet that your style became unique while you have inked more pencillers than any other inker!

byrne_ohotmu_deluxe_1_cover-marvel univers

Joe was doing on and off for 20 years
The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.
Here you see the Deluxe Edition #1 Cover

Joe: Sorry to disagree with you but I think my stuff is very much into the Stan Drake / Holdiway / Drucker illustrative school of inking, unless I make a decision to ink differently. I am a little different from most inkers because I change my approach and my tools depending upon the style I’m inking. I don’t want to “take over”.

When I’m done I wanted the work to look like the penciler’s work I respect, just a better version of that art work or at the very least do no harm to it .I learned this philosophy from Dick Giordano. I think I was given The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe to do on and off for 20 years because I could accommodate everyone’s style but at the same time give it a certain amount of cohesion in style.

Q: Do you really hold the Guinness record for it! How did that happen? Do you believe that attending the Arts Students League have a main role for inking so many pencilers?

Joe: The Guinness record if it existed which it doesn’t. I made a joke about that one day and it stuck. Going to the Art Students League of NY was very important for me to start learning to draw from life but I’ve also studied with a lot of very great prominent mostly East Coast artists privately and in other schools. I am currently attending 3 classes a week.

Q: Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration while you have some numb periods? Who do you think that are the masters of ink?

Joe: Stan Drake, Kubert / Drucker / Janson / Williamson and many others I’m sure I’ve forgetting. Ink Masters would be Gibson, Goodwin, Flag, ER Kinstler Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Heinrick Klee. I don’t know any of their work shows up in mine but they certainly are inspirations.

PortraitsLola

When Joe is bored with inking he paints
watercolors or pastels. Lola’s portrait!
Collection of Mr & Mrs Chris Stamp (manager of The Who)

 Q: What do you do to recharge your batteries and reach a state of mind in order to place your hands back on the paper?

Joe: Don’t forget I don’t do much penciling  but when I’m really just bored with inking and B&W I paint a watercolor or  pastel  or something in color just to challenge me and wake me up.

Q: What tools do you use to create your work and what makes them the “right tools” for you? Let us know if you have a favorite brand of ink or type of paper or a particular material.

Joe: I have 3-4-5 different kind of pens I use and 2-3 different kind of brushes in different sizes depending upon the style that I’m trying to achieve. I use flexible pens for one style and a stiff pen for another. I use thin ink for pen work and thicker ink for brushwork never mixing the two. Something a little unusual I do is shave/whittle the back of the brush and attach the pinpoint to that end of the brush to give me a really firm natural grip.

I use comic book paper for watercolors because it’s tough and I happen to have it around.

Q: What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

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He’s painting and drawing portraits and figures
trying to get some sort of emotional communication. Stan Lee’s portrait.

Joe: I still get satisfaction from collaborating on a good job with a penciler but I get satisfaction from doing my own work. I’m painting and drawing usually portraits and figures trying to get  some sort of emotional communication about the person whether it’s how I feel about them or possibly how I hope the viewer might have room to feel about them.

Q: What has been the most rewarding project in your career so far and why?

Joe: I guess that would be The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe because I got to work with so many great pencilers and people who never pencil for anybody else (Kubert, Bolland / Severin, Drake, Palmer etc.). I also did a Bible story with Rick Leonardi I was very proud of and three-part Tangled Web of Spider-Man with Lee Weeks. I’m also very happy with the BRILLIANT issues with Bagley. Currently I’m inking a series called One Minute Later for a private collector. I’ve done something between 20 and 30 of them and have gotten to ink a lot wonderful artists and a lot of wonderful interesting pieces.

Q: Let us know about any current or any upcoming projects.

Joe: I just finished inking half an issue of the Fantastic Four with Mark Bagley and also with Mark a series for Marvel/Icon written by Brian Bendis called BRILLIANT. I’m doing a graphic novel about children with cancer called Nistar as well as an 8 part indy series called Murder Mysteries. I’m also doing a Superman movie related project at this time.

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Nistar is a graphic novel about a superhero for children with cancer written by
Shira Frimer and illustrated by Josef Rubinstein and other comic book artists!
The first creator-owned book by ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN co-creators Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley,
BRILLIANT tells the story of a handful of college-age geniuses who challenge each other to solve the mystery of superpowers.
Inking by Joe Rubinstein.

Q: We’ve all met very talented newcomers –or not – who are working their asses off but still need and want to break through to the next level. What would you suggest to them? What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?

Joe_Head_shot_1Joe: Find a mentor, become an apprentice, learn your craft, study what’s been done before, look at what they are buying now, look at other sources of art, don’t limit yourself to comic books. Stay current with technology.

This is it Joe! Thank you for your time!

Comic people keep in mind: work, work, work – draw, draw, draw –  don’t limit yourself to comic books – Stay current with technology! Mr. Josef Rubinstein said it all!

KO for eCharta

Some links to find Joe Rubinstein work:

ComicVine – Comics inker.portrait painter.Illustrator.Teacher.Murals

His Facebook profile

Comic Last Week -May.5.13- Preview

The past several weeks I’ve made a list of comics which were posted here on eCharta’s blog without saying what exactly it was for. They were not previews or reviews of last week’s releases it’s more of what I read and liked the previous week.  So in this list you will find comics I read on a monthly base some from their very first issue and others new or old which  I just started to read or got around to do so. All in all it’s a list of comics that I liked very much for some reason and left me with a satisfying felling and a buzzing notion in a my mind which I had to express in some way…so here you have it my buzzing notion and satisfaction in comics expressed in a list of comics I read and will continue to so. Hope you like them too.

First up are three band new number one issues. I’m always on the lookout for brand new comics especially in small publishers of comics. These three captured me by their cover, like always I judge a comic first by its cover and thankfully the content of these specific comics was equally good on the inside.

Gutter Magic 001

Gutter Magic #1  by Rick Douek and Brett Barkley

This is an amazing comic and the kind I like to read in books too. Its concept is that all magical creatures after their involvement of the wizards in WWII are living together with non magic people in big cities. There are classes and factions, the higher and most powerful live in skyscrapers and lesser ones are those who live on street level and use “gimmicks” for magic. The way the lesser classes try to use magic is what they call “Gutter Magic”.

Douek has spun a brilliant story where his main hero Cinder tries to find a spell which will help him reclaim his ability to use magic in an environment of mid forties buildings, steam punk elements  filled with magical creatures. Barkley does a wonderful job with his detailed art and succeeds in showing all these aspects of the world Douek has created in his mind.

I just can’t wait for issue two.

Suicide Risk #1 by Mike Carey and Elena CasagrandeSuicide Risk 001

In this new creator owned comic Mike Carey leaves behind the magical and cultish style he uses in his stories and dives once again in the superhero genre. This time the superheroes and villains are his own and he builds, creates and gives them origins with a new twist which is interesting because they seek and gain their powers and it’s not a matter of a mere accident or coincident.

The story starts as a police officer being shocked of living through a massacre that a group of powered villains have caused he decides to follow a lead and find out how these villains gained their powers and what made them become evil, after all most of them were on the good side! It’s a good story with many layers of mystery intriguing enough to make you  want to read the next issue, the dialogues also are very realistic like ordinary people would use in their everyday life which makes the superhero aspect all the more greater and extraordinary. The art is good too with realistic pencils and good coloring and shows that it will become better in the following issues. I suggest you pick it up because it sure will be pretty big in the following months.

Rogues 001Rogues #1 by Ed Torres, Juan Jose Ryp and Ruben Rojas

From what I have found out in this issue Rogues has been published before in the past both in Spain and theUSA. The fans loved it back then but the critics did not. I have to say though considering on how good this brand new issue is maybe those past issues of Rogue must not be that bad at all.

This first issue signaling the comeback of the Rogues has two stories in the first on the art is done by Ryp whereas in the second it’s done by Rojas both stories though are written by Torres.

The first story is about the adventure a couple the rogues have in an epic fantasy world. The rogues are Bram and Weasel a man and a woman who have no love interest between them they are actually buddies. They scheme, use and fight to gain what they want which is; money, luxury and a good time. All these are done in a hilarious way, it’s a fun comic with a witty and a naughty kind of sense of humor both in the dialogues and the situations the characters deal with. The second story is about how a female bard tries to gather to find information about the two rogues and has a hard time doing it, this story is equally funny as the first.

Overall it’s a good comic although funny it has substance which makes you want more of it and the art is very good and detailed. The thing is that it’s not an all ages comic due to its mature content which I’m sure you will find in many of the mainstream comics but here it’s a notch more than what you will find for example in a superhero comic. The mature content concerns funny remarks, poses and art concerning sex and not violence, and its done not in a insulting way which is good. I just hope this time it lasts for a long time as a series because it deserves it.

All these brand new number ones I might review in the following weeks because there is so much I could say about them in detail which I cannot fit in a synopsis.

Next up are two comics I’ve been reading since issue one and I have a blast each time I read them.

jk00001Blackacre #6 by Duffy Boudreau and Wendell Cavalcanti

Issue six is a standalone issue where we get o see on how Greene became the leader of the Sacred Yoke cult. We also get to see Bird again and how vicious he is. Boudreau succeeds in showing that it the path Greene chose was eventually the only he had considering both the circumstances he was in and the way he was thinking that there is more to life than just Blackacre and the Ranks as we saw in flashbacks in previous issues. The thing that captured me in this issue is the last page where we see Greene looking at Hull. This gave me the impression that he will be using him in the future against Blackacres elite class.

If you haven’t read Blackacre yet you can check out a review I have made on the comic by clicking here. I think you will enjoy the comic.

X-Men Legacy #10 by Simon Spurrier and Paul Davidson X-Men - Legacy v2 010-000

Once again no major battle or action scenes in this issue and yet it is not what I like in this comic and do not care if there is none in next month’s issue too. What I like in this comic is the character interaction! Simon Spurrier is continuously building Legion in a unique, unpredictable, all too human character that just happens to be extremely powerful also way Legion speaks from his vocabulary to his accent is simply brilliant and shows that the character has a personality. In the same way Spurrier is developing Legion he is doing the exact same thing with Blindfold, each issue she becomes all the more interesting gaining her own personality.

This issue we see Blindfold not able to control her feelings for Legion she uses Cerebra to check on him in her astral form. The whole story has funny, humorous, shocking and very unpredictable aspects from start to end and we see this in such a great way both in Legions and Blindfolds reactions. This is my favorite X-Men title along with All New X-Men which I didn’t have the chance to read the previous week.

I hope you liked this week’s list although it is a short one it was a good one for me. That’s all till next time.

Con Barbatsis for eCharta