Category Archives: comics

Titan brings English Language Sherlock to U.S, U.K. Readers…At Last!

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Finally, there’s an English language BBC series-based Sherlock Manga in the works.

This original Japanese language Manga version of BBC’s Sherlock will get an English version for US and UK readers this summer. Image: Young Ace!

This original Japanese language Manga version of BBC’s Sherlock will get an English version for US and UK readers this summer. Image: Young Ace!

After unsuccessfully searching for the book at local venues, we went online to find this beautifully-illustrated piece by Manga artist Jay was only available in Japanese. Despite my daughter still wanting it for the artwork and the hopeful optimism that she will learn Japanese (a goal she still maintains), I balked.

Somehow, I felt, a story this originally interpreted will make it’s way into the hands of English-speaking readers.

As a fellow lover of all Sherlock Holmes stories (modern and classic), I really kind of wanted to get my hands on  this as well, but eventually forgot about it among the busy misadventures of my everyday life.

Thanks be to Titan Comics, this Manga will be released this June in the United States and United Kingdom in an English language version. The original artwork

Artist Alice X. will give her well-loved images to Titan’s Manga Sherlock English Language version. Images: Titan Comics

Artist Alice X. will give her well-loved images to Titan’s Manga Sherlock English Language version. Images: Titan Comics

by Jay will still be part of this adaptation with script by Sherlock series writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, but there will also be more content exclusive to this new version. This includes covers and art by artist Alice X Zhang, and if her absolutely gorgeous covers with Titan’s Doctor Who comics line are any indication, these should be spectacular.

The comic has offered in a limited edition “English/Japanese” bilingual version, with the help of Gatiss and Moffat, by the English Agency in Japan, but it isn’t an easy find for UK and US readers.

Even though Series 4 of television’s Sherlock isn’t scheduled until 2017, at least Sherlock fans can be treated to a new look for a familiar adventure this summer.

Keep Reading:

mangarecommendationsWhile we’re still waiting for this much-anticipated volume to hit the book shelves, here are four other Mangas I recommend that even non-Manga readers should love:

Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga (DC Comics) These retro-style stories date back to the 1960s when Kuwata wrote a 53-chapter serial for a manga magazine. Now, these stories are available in three beautiful paperback volumes for Batman fans of all generations.

Star Wars Manga (Dark Horse). In 2015, Hisao Tamaki put out a Manga interpretation of Star Wars A New Hope, based directly on George Lucas’s script. There have since been Manga interpretations of all the first Star Wars episodes by a variety of artists like Toshiki Kudo, Kia Asamiya, and others. Like everything else Star Wars, chasing down and collecting this entire series is half the fun.

Big Hero 6 (Marvel). Anyone who saw Stan Lee’s “cameo” in the Disney animated film Big Hero 6, should realize the hit movie is Marvel. The movie is based on a 1998 Manga-style, relaunched via Marvel in 2008 by David Nakayama and Chris Claremont. This original Tokyo-based story will give readers a closer look at the edgy adventure that spawned one of Disney’s cuddliest characters, Baymax. Although Marvel doesn’t plan on creating any new comics featuring the Big Hero 6 team, there are newer film-based Manga adaptations by Haruki Ueno from Yen Press.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (Disney Press). In 2005, The Tim Burton cult classic film got some Manga treatment, suitable for younger readers. Although this one-shot is only a simple interpretation of the film, the Manga style images are a wonderful tribute the imagination and characters created by Burton, including Jack Skellington, Sally and Oogie Boogie. Perfect for any Burton fans in need of drawing and sketching inspiration.

— Lisa Kay Tate

Bat-cessorizing from Cheap Plastic Rings

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batbling

Turn those plastic rings into cat bling! All images by Lisa Kay Tate.

According to DC Comics, Batman is the “World’s Most Popular Superhero.”

It’s only proper for Batfans to accessorize accordingly.

Here’s a way to make some unique bat jewelry out of those cheap plastic novelty rings that I’m assuming are now a legal requirement for most birthday goodie bags and carnival game prizes. All it really takes is some paint, rhinestones, and ambition.

First, use small wire cutters to clip the back off the rings, unless you really want it to remain a ring. Be careful with this step. Some backs are really flimsy, but some may be a little thicker than others. This leaves a little shaped template to work with without the ring back in the way.

bat-beforeafrer

A simple paint job can turn cheap to chic.

The easiest way to improve on these is with a paint job, particularly those cheapy Halloween bats. Even if the ring is already black, go over it with some black glossy craft paint to give it a more finished look. Once dry, use a toothpick and glossy white craft paint. This is really very easy, and is great for Halloween or Dia de Los Muertos as well. Using some jewel adhesive or a glue gun, tack it onto a pin back or hair clip.

The Bat Logo necklace is a little more complicated, but still easy enough for kids and beginner crafters. Lightly cover the entire surface of the ring with jewel glue or tacky glue and cover the bat outline with small black craft rhinestones. There’s already an image to follow, so no drawing skill is needed.

Use clear, yellow, or gold fine glitter, and allow the image to dry again. Once dry, cover the entire surface with decoupage glue. Mod Podge makes a “Dimensional Magic” type used in bottle cap crafts that works well for this.

To make it a necklace, form a loop out of beading wire and use either a glue gun or E6000 jewel glue to place it on the back. Hang with a black piece of ribbon or silk cord, and you wouldn’t even know it was brought home from a school birthday party.

logo-beforeafter

Simple wire and glue gun turns an over-sized ring into a wearable necklace.

Now, here’s the best part: If “die fledermaus” is not your style choice, this works with any plastic ring. Try painting them, decoupaging magazine images, or adding string art, rhinestones, or seed beads to any of these oversized rings, and turn them into little bits of wearable art.

ring-ideas

Not into The Bat? Use your imagination.

I’ve had more than one person compliment my little cheap Batman logo, asking me where I got it. One even asked me if I got it at a Hot Topic.

“No,” I tell them. “It came off the top of a grocery store cupcake.”

Post originally ran in GeekMom on Sept. 26, 2015.

Turning those Comic-Con “Cons” in to Positive Experiences

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Comic-Con movie imageSince I’ve yet to make it out to the fangirl Mecca which is Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC), I took advantage of the con’s official Preview Night to enjoy the event from view Morgan Spurlock’s exceptional documentary “Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope,” on the chaos, anxiety, passion, disappointment and dream-making that melds together to make the event each year.

As much as I enjoyed (and related to) the film, it left me with a sense of uneasiness and well, a bit of despondence for this ever-growing event that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Was it the idea the mega-film world taking over the purity of the original Comic-Con mission, the flippancy in which the comic book “ins” treat the hopeful artists or writers, the celebrity worship (yes, I’ve written about those I like, but never consider them at a “higher lever” than myself) or just the sheer amount of humanity in all its supernatural forms pouring in and out of one place.

I’ve decided to turn my inner turmoil into a constructive guide to avoid post-con depression by taking five possible Con cons, as it were, and turning them in to positives:

Con: The movie industry (and its fans) has invaded the purity of the event.
Solution: There is no doubt about it, the “comic” in Comic-Con sees hidden amongst the flash of Hollywood hype, but don’t forget these cons are still the best places to buy signed artwork and books directly from some of the industry’s best, as well as haunt a few of the nation’s top comic book shops. While huge throngs crowd around the latest celebrity appearance, there are slightly smaller numbers around comic book dealers and artists. I’m not telling you to avoid the “movie and television” feature, particularly those inspired by comic book properties, but if you want to avoid feeling lovingly patronized by the “pretty people,” skip the panel presentations and head to more immersive set mock-ups and prop displays. Those are the real stars.

Con: There are so many others trying to get their “foot in the door” in the comic industry…too many!
Solution: For those wanting to “make it” as a writer or artist, keep in mind (and I know you’ve heard this before) some of today’s biggest names in comics were give the old “brush off” by some well-meaning critics. Frank Miller even said he was told to go back and “pump gas” somewhere since he obviously wasn’t meant to break into the business. I know this type of “tough love” can hurt. Trust me, as a long-time writer, it cuts deep to hand your artistic “baby” over for sacrifice only to have it passed over with a “you’re just not what we need” remark. But there is an advantage of getting out there, even if it doesn’t necessarily mean a job. First, a little humility doesn’t hurt. There are a ton of over-the-top talented artists out there, most of whom will never see a published work from Marvel, DC, Dark Horse or any other recognized labels.  This is where you need to face one tough question: “Are you doing this for the love of the craft, or for ‘celebrity status’ recognition?” I’m not judging here, attention, applause and recognition can be addictive.  But take any rejection and criticism with a grain of both salt and sugar…don’t discount the critiques and use them to better your work, but don’t let them spiral you into self-loathing.  If you are doing this for love of the craft and don’t get any “bites” from the big wigs, look for small, regional or local publishers, self-publish, start a blog or get your work on social arts sites that provide encouragement and feedback such as deviantART or etsy (depending on what you’re medium is). Above all, relish in the talented folks you meet while at the ‘con and leave with the resolve to never stop creating….and sharing…your work.

Con: Look at that guy? Am I really that nerdy? Do I really want to be around these people…BE these people?
Solution: Yes you do, along with thousands and thousands of others. Don’t be uptight and smug. Yes, there are those stereotypes that make you feel either a lot worse (of a whole lot better) about yourself, but if the draw to embrace the inner fanboy wasn’t so strong, the birth of the “Hipster” movement of cool poser nerds would never have happened. Everyone secretly wants to let their guard down and just relish life and its eccentricities. This is a place where you can do this!

Just dive in and enjoy it!

Just dive in and enjoy it!

Con: There are just too, too, too many people. It’s like India with capes instead of saris.
Solution: This is a legit gripe. I kind of adhere to Randal’s ironic “Clerks” philosophy of disliking people but loving gatherings. One thing you need to realize, prepare for and understand early…there will be many, many, oh so many people at SDCC. If this is the one thing keeping you from moseying to San Diego, I’ve learned there are a lot of smaller ‘cons worldwide with similar offerings of artists, celebrities, book signings, cosplay opportunities and traveling exhibits that aren’t so overwhelmingly large. I have a blast at my local cons, and so do plenty of others across the nation. But keep in mind, every relationship between a large con and con-goer is special, but will never be an exclusive one. You’ll have to share it with others, and meet others you’ll want to share I with, too.

Con:  Great, here’s yet another venue the “pretty” have taken over from us regular people. I am a troll.
Solution: Here’s a little something I’ve learned along my lifelong journey of low body image. At Comic-Con (and this includes all cons), NOBODY really cares how you look…. as long as YOU like the way you look. There are people there in Weta Workshop and ILM-worthy suits with animatronics and their own light shows, and those who painted eyes on an upside-down KFC bucket screaming “I’m a Storm Trooper!!!!” Comic-con crowds are bridge-building crowds, where everyone is on an equal level, as long as they want to be. Once you have built that bridge..get over it and have fun.

Don’t forget to check out Spurlock’s ”Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope” if you get a chance. Well worth a look.


How to Make Patriotic Captain America Shield Signs and Buntings

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Captain America Shield ArtIt’s time to turn those hours spent doodling Captain America’s shield onto the toes of your Converse into All-American, patriotic Mom pleasin’ and apple pie-eatin’”, patriotic (and kid-friendly) holiday and summer craft with tin post signs and bunting.

Okay, yes, I draw X-wings too, but they’re not round or red, white and blue. So, moving on, here’s what you need:

For tin signs:shield materials
Empty pie tins
Craft paint (red, white and blue)
Wood dowel or cheap chopsticks
Duct tape

For bunting:
Coffee filters
Sharpies or other markers
Yarn or rope
School glue

The craft is as simple drawing a Captain America’s shield on a round surface, so here’s a couple of quick tips:

  • If you can’t draw circles with a steady hand, use different sized bowls, cups or coasters and trace around.  Or, if you don’t already have one, buy a cheap artist compass. Big time saver.
  • The hardest part is making an even five-point star. The trick here is to get a little…for lack of a better phrase…evil. Draw a “five line” star like the ones you learned as a kid inside a circle lightly and evenly so it is a good shape (this will look a little…okay, exactly…like a death-metal-ish pentagram, but lighten up…it’s just a star. Erase all the center lines…or paint over them, and its instant patriotism.

    Left: "evil"....Right: "patriotic"

    Left: “evil”….Right: “patriotic”

Okay, now for the easy part — the craft itself:

For the Tin Signs:

  1. You’ll notice the pie tin has already done half the work for you, as its pattern is the same of the First Avenger’s shield….WOW, WHO KNEW? Gently cut the walls of the tin with scissor you don’t really care about (it can cut you, so be careful), and there’s your naked shield. If you’re working with young kids, you can line the edge with a thin strip of duct tape for safety purposes. Now, use the center as a “coloring page” to paint on the shield with craft paint.
  2. Attach the chop stick to the back of the tin with duct tape and place in plants, gardens lawns, or anywhere you want your patriotic geek flag to fly. These do better indoors, but if you want to place them out in the elements, I suggest coat of clear spray paint to decoupage sealer to protect it.IMG_0437
  3. Want to challenge yourself a little? Make Captain’s early shield by cutting out the shield examples (clip art of these is easy to find), and following Step 2 again.  Since the stars will be much smaller, it may be easier to cut out the stars on the pattern with an X-acto knife to use as a stencil.

Now, let’s make some matching bunting. I know the tin signs are more than enough for decoration, but I’m creating these on Fourth of July weekend, and I just want an excuse to use the word “bunting.”IMG_0436

For the Bunting:

  1. Flatten out as many coffee filters as you need (about five or seven will span a window pretty well), and use Sharpies or similar fine-tipped markers to draw the basic shield pattern.
  2. Depending on how many “shields” you made, cut the yarn or rope as long as needed and tie a loop at both ends for hanging.  If you’re not sure about the length, attach the filters before cutting the rope.
  3. Use a small amount of glue alongside the rope and center the coffee filter exactly halfway over it, the fold the filter, using a small amount of glue to attach both halves together. Do this for all your filters, and it’s done! Already!

Now, go out and hang those buntings…you may be just a kid from Brooklyn, Cap, but you’re ready to salute you’re country! And eat more pie.IMG_0439

A Look at Lone Star State Artists Scott Zirkel and Andy Perez

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Texas natives have a reputation of maintaining strong work ethics, and this holds true with the talented comic book artists and writers residing in all corners of the state. Here’s a brief look at two Texas artists who are definitely worth looking out for in the future:

Among the Hills: Scott Zirkel

"Rave Girl" by Scott Zirkel

“Rave Girl”
by Scott Zirkel

Texas Hill Country artist Scott Zirkel has been “making stuff up since 1977” and his sense of stylized humor flows through his work, including his original comic book “He-Guy and the Guys of the Universe” as well as his writing talents to Viper Comics’ graphic novel “A Bit Haywire” and Arcana Comics’ “Wonderdog, Inc.” Zirkel has also contributed to graphic novel compilations by both Viper Comics and Penny Farthing Press.

He has contributed sketch cards to such sets as “Empire Strikes Back 3D,” and “Indiana Jones Masterpieces,” “Zombies vs. Cheerleaders” and “Hack/Slash,” just to name a few.

Zirkel’s work and wit reflect the artists who have influenced him through the years.

“I’ve always been drawn to the more animated styles,” he said. “The artists that have inspired me the most are Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Bruce Timm, Bil Amend, Gary Larson, and Mike Kunkel.”

He finds himself comfortable working in both the world of pop culture and fantasy, and with commissioned portraits for “real” people. He has different reasons why he enjoys working with each.

“I like the fictional characters because I can show my own versions of those characters, but I enjoy the ‘real’ people because I enjoy the challenge of trying to capture the likeness of the person,” he said. “I don’t know that I’d say I have a favorite, it just depends on what mood I’m in when I put the pencil to the paper.”

"He Guy" by Scott Zirkel

“He Guy” by Scott Zirkel

Zirkel maintains a diverse workload ranging from commercial graphic arts work with The Alara Group of Kerrville to his comics and illustrations. He said he tries to keep his graphic arts as professional and straightforward as possible, separate from his work in comics. As such the audience between the two is fairly diverse. His comics audience in itself makes up a diverse group, particularly as he offers something all ages can appreciate.

“For the comics, I generally produce all-ages materials. I don’t have any books that would be considered PG-13 or R,” Zirkel said. “I do have some art books that are more risqué, but I don’t have those in stores, just at conventions and online.”

He said his book  “A Bit Haywire,” (featuring art by Courtney Huddleston) seems to receive the greatest feedback from readers of all ages.

“Kids and adults alike have enjoyed it and it’s been really fun to hear from them over the years,” he said.

See more of Zirkel’s art and writing at scottzirkel.com.

Along the River: Andy Perez

"Dia de la Page" by Andy Perez

“Dia de la Page”
by Andy Perez

El Paso artist Andy Perez has taken his West Texas hometown’s cultural uniqueness and infused it into his prints, comics and other works with impressive results.

Perez is best known as co-creator and illustrator for the indie comics “Lonely in Black” and “The Afterlife Chronicles of a Zombie,” but he has contributed digital color work and art, sequential art, sidewalk chalk art creations and pin-ups for titles for several projects. His art has even been featured in the San Diego Comic Con Souvenir Book, and he has created sketch cards for “Hack and Slash,” “Lady Death,” and “Painkiller Jane.”

Perez said having picked up a pencil as a kid and “never putting it down to this day,” his list of influential artists is long and still growing.

“My early work was driven by rad comic artists such as Jim Lee and J. Scott Campbell because comics were my first introduction to art,” he said. “Fast forwarding to more recent years, the art beats of Jim Mahfood, the awesomely gritty art of Ben Templesmith, the cheesecake eye candy from Adam Hughes, the beautifully colorful art of Tara McPherson and the storytelling imagery from a James Jean piece all lend something to my work as an artist.”

He said two works in particular have really struck a positive chord with people of all backgrounds: the dreamlike black-and white portrait, “BOOM!” and the Day of the Dead-inspired “Dia de la Page.” He said both pieces have not only been a big success with the comic con goers, but have made the successful crossover into other venues as art showpieces, not an easy feat for any work of art, he admits.

“With ‘BOOM!’ people have noted that they have enjoyed getting lost in the calmness and flow the piece offers along with the colorful idea of having music follow you as balloons,” Perez said. “‘Dia de la Page’ has been a great conversation piece for those that are unfamiliar with the culturally rich Dia de Los Muertos or the pin up queen Betty Page.”

As one of a growing number of El Paso artists working to make his mark outside the region, he hopes his work will help comic readers and collectors, and art lovers in general, see how diverse and trendsetting the Sun City’s artists can be.

“I think the misconception is that it’s all southwest art with landscape paintings, which it really isn’t,” Perez said. “It’s been very exciting for me to see my hometown energetically jam art and creatively raise the bar artistically in so many mediums.”

See more of Perez’s work at artedeandyperez.com.

"BOOM!" by Andy Perez

“BOOM!”
by Andy Perez