X-Men: Grand Design 7 - Wake up, Mom

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 7 — Eds.

Director’s commentary…

I wanted to cover lots of ground on this page, for better or worse, in an effort to get to the good stuff ASAP. I estimate several years of Charles’s early academic life transpire in the first three panels. The incessant dialogue in the background was probably something I cribbed from an old issue of Daredevil by Frank Miller when DD’s sense of hearing gets reactivated and becomes even more sensitive than before. For my use here I imagined that Chuck’s mutant senses kicked-in with the fury of the hormonal surges we all felt when going through puberty.

Panel 4: I actually stole this line from a guy I know who said it so casually when fondly recalling his shady past. He’s dead now.

Panel 7: Mimicking the old style of comics coloring places limits on my palette. I often like to work with as few colors as possible. I’m not always clever enough to keep the palette to just a couple colors, but it sure works fine in this panel.

Panel 8: The way my art on X-Men has grown lately I would never use black lines around fire anymore, but something about this blaze at the X-Mansion really conveys a sense of licking-movement to me. Read the rest

Bite-Sized Linux: a zine collecting awesome *nix tutorial webtoons

Julia Evans's Twitter feed is a treasure trove of her Bite-Size Linux comics that explain core concepts in Unix system use and administration in friendly, accessible graphic form. Read the rest

Kickstarting "Drawn to Sex": Oh Joy Sex Toy's sex-ed book

A couple months back, I was delighted to learn that the good, good people at Oh Joy Sex Toy were launching a sex-ed book aimed at explaining the basics, ins, outs, whats and wherefores of sex "for those looking to learn about sex and wince at our bad dad jokes." Read the rest

Congrats to Tom the Dancing Bug, which has won a Kennedy Journalism Prize!

Our own Ruben Bolling, creator of the Tom the Dancing Bug comic, has won a Kennedy Journalism Prize, given for works that "provide insights into the causes, conditions, and remedies of human rights violations and injustice, and critical analyses of relevant policies, programs, individual actions, and private endeavors that foster positive change." Couldn't have happened to a sweller feller! Congrats, Ruben! Read the rest

Hope Larson's "All Summer Long," lively YA graphic novel about tween friendships, rock and roll, and being yourself

Hope Larson's All Summer Long is an incredibly charming, subtly complex story about friendship and coming of age, the story of Bina and her lifelong friend Austin, who, as far back as they can remember have spent every summer playing a game where they award themselves "Fun Points" for petting cats, finding change on the sidewalk, going swimming, and otherwise making the most of a long, wonderful summer. Until now.

X-Men: Grand Design: Busting up the Nazis

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 4; read the rest first — Eds.

Director’s commentary

If this were an Avengers comic, Captain America wouldn't worry about protocol or mission objectives in order to save the kid being menaced by nazis. This is an X-Men book so Wolverine gets to be the antsy guy ready to pounce. It’s immaterial regardless because Magneto handles his own business.

This page is inspired by the classic standalone issue 268 of Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee set in 1941 with a young Captain America meeting Wolvie for the first time. There was also a great episode of the classic ‘90s X-Men cartoon called Old Soldiers (written by Wolverine co-creator Len Wein) that featured this dynamic duo. Both, the comic and the cartoon are equally awesome and you should check them out at any cost.

The splash panel with Cap’s shield busting up the nazis is a good formal use of comics which couldn’t exactly translate into other media. I don’t often include sound effects but I wanted to slow the reader down enough to communicate that each smack from the shield was its own unit of time. When you look at that image as a whole, time is traveling at the speed of that star-spangled shield.

When I do use sound effects I like them to look the way Wally Wood drew them (for those keeping score at home). Read the rest

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:

Read the rest

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

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