X-Men: Grand Design: The Xaviers

Welcome Ed Piskor back to Boing Boing (previously), where he'll be offering an annotated page-by-page look at the first part of X-Men: Grand Design, his epic retelling of how Marvel comics' pantheon of heroes came to be. Here's page 3; read page 1 first — Eds.

Director’s commentary

Long before the X-Men publisher was called Marvel it was known as Timely. The heroes (The Fin, Original Human Torch, Blonde Phantom, Blazing Skull, Angel, The Destroy, The Witness, and Vision) in the first panels represent the more popular creations from Timely's "Golden-Age". Because this comic is a veiled world-building exercise, I will take the opportunity to include characters from the extended Marvel pantheon into X-Men: Grand Design whenever possible.

The Sub-Mariner tidal wave that engulfed New York City in the last strip provided me the opportunity to come up with some sort of explanation for how Charles came to have a giant estate and an even bigger disposable income (Danger Rooms and Blackbird Jets aren't cheap). As far as I know this has never been covered in a major way before, though we do know early on that his father is a scientist.

Panel 4: The battleship floating over the submerged city, absorbing solar energy to then evaporate the water was a fun challenge to compose and I can live with the resulting illustration. As an artist, the beauty of such a project is that it really stretches one’s drawing chops with all that’s required. One page is World War II imagery. Read the rest

Spike Trotman, powerhouse pioneer of indie comics

The Chicago Tribune published a profile of C. Spike Trotman, one of indie comics' most insightful young publishers. Trotman's proving that the mainstream business is leaving everything on the table—and that underserved readers don't need to wait for it to catch up.

Iron Circus raised more than $1 million over its first 14 Kickstarter campaigns from a market that Trotman was told didn’t exist: fans interested in comic books that weren’t made by white heterosexual men and featuring superheroes.

“When I was getting into comics, there was absolutely no room for people like me — people of color who wanted to tell their own stories, or women who wanted to tell their own stories,” said 39-year-old Trotman. “Comics had a very firm idea of what would sell or what qualified as niche. Anything a white, heterosexual man would make would be interpreted to having universal appeal, but anything I would make would automatically be classified as difficult to relate to or niche.” ...

According to Kickstarter, her model has completely reshaped the comics small press and jump-started a renaissance of alternative comics anthologies.

Indie publishers in comics have met great success before, but Trotman's gone further, faster: she's built a sustainable indie publishing business that isn't dependent on a hit series for survival and isn't dependent on the comic trade's miserable direct market. And she did it, it seems to me, while everyone was giving her shit. Sadly for them, Trotman is cutting checks and tongues.

Iron Circus's current kickstarter prokect is The Art of Kaneoya Sachiko, a lavish-looking compendium of the manga artist's "monstrous and romantic" work. Read the rest

Paper Girls 4: duelling invisible megabots, time travel and the prime directive, now with more Hugo nominations!

Paper Girls is the outstanding Stranger-Things-esque graphic novel series by Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, a tale of time-travel, meddling, war and coming of age whose mind-bending twists and turns earned it a Hugo nomination this year. Now Paper Girls 4 is on shelves, and it's time to party like it's 1999.

Let this AI color your line art

Paintschainer attempts to intelligently colorize artwork that you upload. It's very good at tight line art (such as the flowery anime portraits provided as samples) and can color them in several different styles, but the results get abtract and "computery" when it has to deal with loose pencils and shading.

I sketched a little cartoon pirate and it did OK, but seems to have some trouble distinguishing "objects" to colorize

Here's what it made of a cut-through sketch of a hollow tree:

I like it! It turned it into a weird blob of living flesh.

This abstract landscape sketch of mine came out like a psychedelic watercolor:

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The first page of X-Men: Grand Design, with author and artist Ed Piskor's commentary

Welcome Ed Piskor back to Boing Boing (previously), where he'll be offering an annotated page-by-page look at the first part of X-Men: Grand Design, his epic retelling of how Marvel comics' pantheon of heroes came to be. — Eds.

My work on X-Men would never have been possible without the popularity my work has achieved thanks to Boing Boing publishing Hip Hop Family Tree for four and a half years. It's a pleasure to bring the Marvel mutants to the Happy Mutants for this limited serialization of X-Men: Grand Design. I created each page to function as its own unique and complete episode/strip that, when read in total, would tell a bigger story. Over the course of the next few weeks I'll be posting a page at a time, and providing a director’s commentary with every strip, to give you some insight into where my mind was when while creating the whole tale. Strip 1

One of my cardinal rules for purchasing comics as a lad was never to buy a story that was halfway through being told. If I saw “Part 3” on the cover or splash page I was out. This left few options, but one consistent purchase was Marvel’s What If… volume 2 (early 1990s). The conceit was that Uatu The Watch would stand-in as defacto EC horror host, a la The Crypt Keeper, and give us an alternative-reality tale of a famous Marvel story (Example: What if...The Fantastic Four fought Dr. Doom without their powers?). Read the rest

Lumberjanes 8: families, they f*ck you up

Lumberjanes is the longrunning, justly beloved kids' graphic novel series about an all-girl summer camp where the campers fight magic monsters, sometimes are magic monsters, and swear oaths on feminist icons from history; it keeps going from strength to strength, and Stone Cold, the eighth collection in the series, is no exception!

Sara Varon's New Shoes: a kids' buddy story about the jungles of Guyana and redemption

Sara Varon is co-creator, with Cecil Castellucci, of Odd Duck, the 2013 outstanding kids' picture book, and her latest solo venture, New Shoes is a brilliant reprisal of the themes from Odd Duck: camaraderie among eccentric animals, charming small-town life, fascinating technical details, humor, and beautiful, engaging illustrations.

Comic book bouquets and boutonnieres

Ooo, betrothed comic book nerds, this one's for you. Mallory McKenney of Wisconsin makes wedding bouquets and boutonnieres by cutting up upcycled comics. From Batman to the Wolverine, and just about any character in between, the Milwaukee crafter can whip up something super for your big day.

Before you get all up in arms about the comics she's chopping up, Mallory's husband Nick explains her source, "...she actually buys damaged comic books for super cheap from a couple comic book stores here in Milwaukee, so she’s definitely not using ones that anyone would want otherwise. The only real exceptions are if people request really specific comic books or characters that aren’t super popular and didn’t appear in too many issues."

She sells her creations in her Etsy shop, glamMKE. Prices start at $10 (for a single flower) and go up to $200 (something for the entire wedding party).

(reddit) Read the rest

Caped one-percenters: how superheros make out like bandits under the Trump tax-plan

Tax lawyer Jed Bodger has publised an analysis in the journal Tax Notes detailing the expected gains for superheroes under the Trump tax plan. Read the rest

Syndicated strip or graphic novel? Lynn Johnston on doing For Better or For Worse in the internet age

In honor of the Library of American Comics' publication of For Better or For Worse: The Complete Library, Vol. 1 (Volume 2 is out this summer), we are delighted to publish this essay by Lynn Johnston, contemplating the nature of writing a serial for decades and how she might approach her life's work today.

Chris Slane's privacy-oriented editorial cartoons are painfully funny

Online privacy is pretty much a dumpster-fire, but it's a funny dumpster fire in the world of Kiwi editorial cartoonist Chris Slane, whose one-panel strips are hilarious in a kind of oh-shit-we're-doomed kind of way. Read the rest

Briggs Land 2: Lone Wolves, in which Jim Briggs tries to seize control with neo-Nazi funding

In the first volume of Briggs Land, DMZ-creator Brian Wood set up a gripping scenario: a leadership struggle in a far-right separatist cult whose leader has languished in prison for decades. Now, in the second collection Wood and his collaborators are playing out the story for all it's worth.

Elfquest concludes 40-year run

Elfquest, one of the first breakout indie comics of the 1970s, is ending its 40-year-run with today's issue. There's a farewell signing with creators Wendy and Richard Pini tonight at Things From Another World in Portland -- if you can make it, tell them hi from me!

There'll be more Elfquest in future, the Pinis say, but this wraps up the tale for their towheaded Wolfrider chief Cutter and his family.

MILWAUKIE, Ore., (February 14, 2018) — All good things must come to an end. Today, Dark Horse Comics is both proud and sad to announce the end of “ElfQuest: The Final Quest.” After 40 years of genre bending and award-winning content, Wendy and Richard Pini are stepping away from their beloved series to take a well-deserved break and to focus on other projects and ventures.

“How simple, like the closing of a door, a 40-year labor of love comes to the conclusion we ordained so long ago,” explained artist Wendy Pini. “Richard and I can barely express our joy at the love we’re receiving from fans around the world. We return that love and look forward to our continued association with Dark Horse. Nothing’s more fun for us than being the guiding hands behind other creators’ interpretations of the elves.”

“I’ve followed ElfQuest since it’s very first publication. It took me several decades to finally bring Richard and Wendy’s wonderful creation to Dark Horse, and we’re proud they’ve chosen us to present the final chapters of their epic story,” said Mike Richardson, Dark Horse president and founder.

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'Justice League Honest Trailer' doesn’t pull punches

DC’s Justice League movie was a bit of a mess, so Screen Junkies has plenty to make fun of in this new Honest Trailer—especially Henry Cavill’s weird CGI lip (thanks for that Paramount).

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XKCD's security meltdowns for the coming year

Over at XKCD, Randall Munroe's predicted the Critical Vulnerabilities and Exposures for 2018, with some pretty solid predictions (especially under the tooltip, which finally reveals a secret that many of us have kept mum about for literal decades -- damn you, Munroe!). Read the rest

Century-old comic accurately depicts the nightmare of cellphones

Going viral this evening is a marvelous comic strip by the legendary W.K. Haselden, as published in the Daily Mirror on March 5, 1919.

Without formal training his drawings first appeared in a couple of short lived publications but in 1903 he was taken onto the staff of the Daily Mirror, which was then a ‘Ladies’ newspaper, in the true Edwardian sense.

His daily cartoons on the fads, fashions, foibles and follies of the age soon earned him a large following. His style was gentle, subtle and his tone conservative. His targets were the upper middle-class householder and his family, and he was greatly exercised by the advances made by women, their careers, their voting rights and their increasing independence from the corset, both the physical and the metaphorical one of male domination. A viewpoint with which at the time the majority of his readers would have approved.

Each year between 1906 and 1935 around 100 of these cartoons were published in paperback under the title of ‘Daily Mirror Reflections’ and it was a stack of these from 1918 to 1931 that I unearthed. His pioneering work with the large single frame divided into four or more panels connected by a single theme gave him the title, according to his Times Obituary, ‘the father of British strip cartoon’.

Myko Clelland Read the rest

What living in a dictatorship feels like, and why it may be too late by the time you notice it

Comics writer G. Willow Wilson, who previously lived in Egypt and wrote for the opposition weekly Cairo Magazine, writes movingly and hauntingly on Twitter about the experience of a living in a state that is transitioning into dictatorship, which does not feel "intrinsically different on a day-to-day basis than a democracy does," but rather is marked by "the steady disappearance of dissent from the public sphere. Anti-regime bloggers disappear. Dissident political parties are declared 'illegal.' Certain books vanish from the libraries." Read the rest

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