Thursday, March 29, 2007

Marshall Rogers – 1950 - 2007

A celebration of the master artist and his work.

Marshall Rogers

It was on a very sad note that I heard via the Internet that the legendary American comic artist Marshall Rogers had passed away earlier this week.

I was never lucky enough to meet the man himself, but his work will live on and thus like all the true, great artists he will become immortalised through it.

Below is my tribute to him to commemorate this marvellous comic artist and his wonderful work.

Marshall studied architecture for two years before realising he wanted to work in comics. He left college to seek his fortune in the comic industry.

He began working in comics following work in a hardware store, where he honed his storytelling and illustrative skills at nights and weekends and produced occasional illustrations for various magazines.

Marshall Rogers worked on a great many comic characters for many different comics companies and is most famous for his run on Batman in Detective Comics, but I want to take a look at his work on Mister Miracle, following on from where Jack Kirby had left the character some years earlier.
When Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Series ended the fans were left with a great many unanswered questions. Now in Jack Kirby’s own words his stories tended to ask more questions than finding answers. In the case of the Fourth World stories, however, these questions remained unanswered due to the early cancellation of the titles.

In the late seventies DC comics decided to re-launch The New Gods and Mister Miracle, picking up the numbering from the issues they had been cancelled on, rather than starting afresh from number ones.

The New Gods had Don Newton on the art chores, following a test to reader reaction to a potential re-launch in a First Issue Special (a series of issues of number ones, including some earlier Jack Kirby comics), which was drawn by Mike Vosburg, and Mister Miracle had newcomer Marshall Rogers, fresh from his work on Batman in Detective Comics.

The New Gods had lots of changes to the look of the costumes and characters, but the Mister Miracle had all the old sensibilities and yet it was new and it was different.

Marshall’s run on the book was only four issues from issue 19 to issue 22, inclusively – although he did actually continue to produce the cover for issues 23 and 24.

Despite his short run on the title Marshall’s impact and his ability to capture the absolute essence of what made a Kirby comic work made the four issues immortalised in the eyes of the fans. He had given the fans Kirbyesque work as far as capturing the absolute of the characters and stories, but with his unique vision. This made for no jarring changes and made it a truly smooth transition from the earlier Jack Kirby issues. No mean feat following on from the King of comics and his own creations.

There will, I hope, be many such Blogs regarding this tremendous artist, covering the many other comics and characters touched by this great artist.

Please check out Charles Yoakum’s Blog (ink destroyed my brush) for his tribute.

There is a link to this Blog in my Favourite Fellow Bloggers (Friends of Mine) section at the left hand side of this Blog, under my About Me details.

And please check out Marshall Roger’s comic work for yourselves.

You will be missing something truly unique and beautiful if you don’t.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
March 27th 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

300 – The New Frank Miller Epic Movie Review.

Or, don’t mess with those Spartans.

Well I just got in from watching Frank Millers latest theatre release and if you liked the graphic novel then you’ll just love the movie.

There is a very limited pallet of colours used once more, similar to Sin City.

There are some great cinematic SFX, like battle scenes, which slip from normal to slow motion and back again to great effect.

There is a fair amount of blood and limb loss throughout, but it’s similar to looking at a John Woo movie, which have always been regarded as ballet with guns.

There isn’t much room for masses of characterisation, but this is an action movie.

There are some fantastic cinematic angles used to great effect, which also add to the comic bookesque look of the movie as a whole.

My advice, go out and check it out for yourself.

On a sad note I have just heard via the Internet that the legendary American comic artist Marshall Rogers has passed away.

This is yet another sad day in comics.

Here is a link to the latest news item regarding this sad event:

I will be running a tribute to him this week to commemorate this marvellous comic artist and his wonderful work.

In the meantime here’s a cover drawn by the great man himself:

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins...
March 27th 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007

Positive Feelings!

Or come on guys what is wrong with you?

Well in the news still is the fact that Captain America is still dead or at least for the time being, anyhow.

All over the web folks have been arguing about comics from the seventies, saying that nothing great came out of the era…

Whoa, hang on folks…here’s a few to mull over, and these are only a sampling from the USA – I haven’t included any UK comics here:

Jack Kirby’s Fourth World series, consisting of:

  • Forever People
  • The New Adventures of Jimmy Olsen and the News Boy Legion
  • New Gods
  • Mister Miracle

Again by Jack Kirby for marvel and DC respectively:

  • The Demon
  • Kamandi
  • OMAC
  • Manhunter
  • Atlas
  • Spirit World
  • In The Days Of The Mob
  • The Eternals
  • Machine Man

  • Swamp Thing
  • Rima
  • Kong
  • The Shadow
  • Tales from the Bible

  • Conan the Barbarian
  • Savage Tales
  • Savage Sword of Conan
  • King Kull
  • Captain Marvel
  • Warlock
  • Killraven
  • Deathlok
  • Tomb of Dracula
  • Howard the Duck
  • Manthing
  • Master of Kung Fu

To name, but a few titles…and guys…these titles have been and are continuing to be milked all these years on by the big two, because they have stood the test of time and are great comic books!!!

I remember hearing these kinds of sweeping statements back in the early eighties…

Remember…there wouldn’t be a comic industry if this stuff hadn’t come along.

I wasn’t around to collect comics in the fifties, but I still think the work of the EC guys is first class. I wonder how many of the folks be-crying the industry of the 70’s have passed similar comments about this work or seen any of these or indeed have, more importantly, read any of these wonderful tales.

Comics are a timeless commodity and it’s always great to look at how all sorts of creative folks have worked in the past.

I really do feel strongly that the trouble with folks reading comics nowadays is that if it isn’t current and hot then it isn’t worth a look.

Well sorry guys you’re missing out on a lot of brilliant stories and artwork!

Just before I sign off for the day with this little missive, Comics International is out under the new management of Mike Conroy, following the sale of the magazine by Dez Skinn a few months ago.

Go check it out, if you get a chance, and see what’s going on in the world of comics from a UK perspective.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
March 23rd 2007

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Congratulations Joanne and Toby! Happy Birthday Margaret!

Or time out for the family…

"Well following a brilliant evening on Saturday at my Daughter, Joanne and her fiancĂ©, Toby’s engagement party it’s time for another celebration this evening as Margaret celebrates her birthday, so today’s Blog is going to be quite a concise one, which may please some folks. ;)

There are a few things coming out over the next few months that are worth checking out:

  • Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Volume 1 Hard Cover – a second volume is due out towards August.

  • Mike Wieringo’s Tellos Colossal Hard Cover – also available as a signed and numbered limited edition.
  • Stan Lee and John Romita Senior’s Spider-Man Newspaper StripsVolume 1 Hard Cover.
Keep an eye out for these fantastic books.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins...
March 20th 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Graphic Novels versus Comics!

Is the pamphlet format dying and being replaced by a bookshelf upstart?

Well this has been a topic on many folk’s agendas lately and so I thought I would add my two-penneth.

Personally I think it is, but the publishers are doing this to themselves.

Firstly the comics are expensive in comparison and the story is broken up, understandably so, by advertisements. If this weren’t the case then the cost would obviously rise once again and astronomically too! The shelf life of comics is extremely limiting, whereas the graphic novel’s shelf life is as long as folks want to continue buying copies of it.

As I see it the multi-versions of a character out per month make collecting any of the other comics by a particular company hard and this is down to the expense, let alone the ability to afford any other company’s fare. Also the time span between a comic story arc being published and then released as a trade paperback is getting less and less and writers are even beginning to write comic books in chapter form so they fit the graphic novel (or rather trade paperback) format.

As a result of all these traits the comic collector is becoming less and less likely to buy the comic version and instead wait for the book length collected version, which often has extra pages of story or a sketch book section and a cover gallery included, much like many DVD’s with their extras sections.

This is especially the case if a comic collector misses an early issue of a story arc or mini series.

The way I see things working in the not too distant future, unless the publishers wish to bury comics completely is this:

Put out a maximum of two comics by any of the popular character(s) per month.

Don’t reprint them – at least not any time soon.

Print them on cheaper paper, much like they used to be and make them affordable and street-cred for the kids to read them.

Also make them a throw away product…let’s see the kids rolling them up again in their back pockets, instead of buying copies, hording them in acid free Mylar bags with backing boards, hidden away in boxes, in airtight containers away from the light…


Get the comics back out into the mainstream market place as well as in the direct sales market place.

Originate new work as graphic novels, not trade paperback reprints.

Yes, this will have repercussions on the cost of originating these, but what the ecch…if the market is to survive, things have to change.

This way the graphic novel doesn’t have to replace the comic book – no instead it is a progression from the comics for the kids.

All the doom and gloom of the comic industry over the past ten to fifteen years has to stop, for goodness sake!!! We were being told the industry was dead in the mid-nineties, following the comics crash of 1994…well that was wrong, now let’s prove them wrong again!!!

Go out folks and buy ONLY the comics you like and follow this up with buying the collections you maybe missed first time around, or no longer have them in your collections and look at the new “originated” graphic novels.

There is room for all of the formats…

But the old way of selling them needs to be re-found…or at least reinvented!

Let’s get them back out as annuals too…

Like I said a few posts back…

“The times they are a changin’” and like Jack said again it’s going to happen…”in the world that’s coming!”

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
March 15th 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

Faster than a Speeding Bullet!

Or that was the Week that was!

Well last week flew by so fast I hardly had a moment to spare, hence the lack of Blogs last week. No sooner had I put up the Monday Blog regarding the new Ghost Rider film, than suddenly it was Sunday again and a week had gone by.

One thing that hit the news in the states and had the Internet covered with hits and exchanges in the forums, was Marvel comics decision to have Captain America assassinated by a sniper.

There has been huge speculation regarding the good Captain’s replacement, but it does seem strange to kill off a character (created in the years of world war II, by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby) when America needs it national heroes more than ever.

This occupied most of the forums and news reporting for the week regarding anything to do with comics.

For any of you folks reading this little missive that may not be aware of the new films due out this year with a comic bias, here are a few titles to look out for:

  • Spiderman 3
  • Fantastic Four 2 – The Rise of the Silver Surfer
  • 300
  • Transformers (live action) The Movie

So there’s a lot to see this year with a connection to the comic book industry.

Something else you should check out is David (V for Vendetta) Lloyd’s new graphic novel – KICKBACK. It’s a great Crime Noir story. Nicely told and beautifully illustrated, by one of the nicest guys in comics. Go out and buy a copy…I promise you’ll not regret it!!!

I spent a very pleasant Saturday morning this week, reading it over breakfast – several brews and a slice or two of toast…very pleasant indeed…Thanks David.

I spent Friday afternoon of this last week in a junior school giving a talk and demonstration on comics – something struck me whilst there and it wasn’t anything the kids had thrown at me…honest!

No it was a rare thing, actually. The kids there actually read comics and books and were quite up to date with what’s out there. The nice thing was they read a variety of stuff between them…so maybe the Naysayers are wrong…

Let’s hope so…at least.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
March 12th 2007

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Convention Appearance - May 2007.

I am going to be appearing as a guest at this year’s Bristol Expo.I have just confirmed that I am attending the Bristol Expo this coming May.

This will be my first major Comics Convention as a Guest since the late nineties.

There isn’t going to be a Wizards Keep stand this time around, as all of the exhibitor’s places had been taken at the time of speaking to Expo organiser, Mike Allwood, but plans are underway to have a major presence at the event in 2008.

I am being accompanied by my Wife Margaret and we will both be attending on both Saturday 12th May until Sunday 13th May. Although we will be arriving in Bristol on the Friday afternoon.

There will be a opportunities to speak to me about Wizards Keep and all its product ranges and also my new “Worlds End” Graphic Novel, which I will be
showing throughout the convention.

I will be taking along as many of the pages from "Worlds End" as I can get finished prior to the convention.

I also intend on having some other things to show for the first time with a bit of luck.

I'm really looking forward to seeing all the creative folks I haven't seen in a while.

I am also looking forward to speaking to folks about the new work I am producing at the moment.
Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
March 11th 2007

Monday, March 05, 2007

Ghost Rider The Film Review.

My personal verdict.

I spoke to Mike Ploog, the original artist on the 1970’s comic book character, this afternoon. He has not as yet seen the film, but hoped it wasn’t hammed up too much as in his words; “the stories were quite dark, really”.

Well having sat through the film tonight with my wife, Margaret, I can honestly say the film was well worth the wait. Nicholas Cage did ham it up in a couple of places, but overall the film was great and any fan of the Ghost Rider legends, Carter Slade and Johnny Blaze won’t, I feel, be disappointed. There was even a “Mike Ploogesque” swamp scene in there to boot, with lots of twisted roots and tree limbs. I almost expected Man-Thing to appear from out the depths.

Some great effects and like I said in an earlier Blog a few days ago, merely suspending belief a little is all it will take for folks to enjoy a good old romp. The Bike is a great looking machine and the story harkens back to those days in the early seventies, when the comic was first created, and Evel Kneivel reined supreme as the bike riding stunt man defying death with his motor cycles for all the world to see.

As a 12A certificate I was a little surprised to see a couple of kids, much younger in there with an adult, watching. But I didn’t hear them scream, the sound was full though throughout the film, so maybe they won’t have too many nightmares.

I often wonder as to how the UK board give the films certificates…

So my advice…go and check it out, but remember…it’s based on a comic…and it’s meant to be FUN!

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…

March 5th 2007

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Comics aren’t for kids anymore!

Well what are we going to do about it?

It’s certainly true here in the UK the influx of new kids to the “cheap” paper entertainment of old, called comics, is slowly eroding away.

Back in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and even 80’s kids still avidly read comics. It seems sadly though nowadays they don’t. I frequently give talks and tutoring sessions within schools and when I ask how many regularly read comics the answer is a resounding NO!

I remember a few ago now, in the 1980’s and 90’s that it became cool for the industry to adopt a “mature attitude” with the public’s perception of the medium, saying that, “Comics had come of age!” Adults reading comics was the theory put forward. Now whilst this is true, these adults, in the main, are the selfsame folks that read them as kids.

The trouble, long term with this is that as the readership gets older, the more juvenile type titles have no new kids coming onboard and as a result the comics fold.

I feel there is a strong link between kids not reading comics at an early age and the trouble we are seeing with slipping literacy amongst kids, that follows them into adulthood. I have said as much in an earlier Blog.

There are many other reasons for the kids not reading comics and everyone in the industry knows what they are, but for those not working in comics here are some of the main ones again, in no particular order:

1.) Direct Sales Comic Shops – Little or no Newsstand presence.
This creates a lack of easily accessible outlets to retail comics to kids.

2.) High prices are now charged for the high gloss art stock quality of new comics. The cost of the average comic book is beyond most kid’s pocket money, at least to buy a number of them, as could be done in the past.

3.) Stories, other than for existing junior American Superhero comics, or licensed characters are created for an older audience, usually around the 13- 16 years old upwards.

4.) Low page count for comic content. Most UK content is padded out with articles and the like and relies on free gifts to sell the comics/magazine. The free gifts cost has already been added to the price of the comic in the first place.

5.) Other than the licensed comics or the American Superhero reprint and UK originated US Superhero comics there are no boys or girls adventure comics on the market. 2000AD is not a kid’s comic anymore.

6.) The strangle hold the distributors and supermarket chains have on publishers, with their high costs to sit a comic on the shelves and the way that on a whim a title can be dismissed by the chain higher-ups because it may not be what the board like or indeed it may not fit neatly into a category, before it gets passed the dummy stage.

7.) Parental views regarding comics, high priced, not value for money, unacceptable content in some comics.

There are others that could be added to the list, but these are the most obvious.

I have omitted the ones regarding competition from video games and DVD’s etc and for a good reason. The cost of comics, even in today’s vastly over-priced market are still far cheaper than buying new video games or DVD’s.

So what are we left with here in the UK?

Well thank goodness we still have the humour comics, “Dandy” and “Beano”.

There are plenty of pre-school comics, although they aren’t comics in the true sense, with only a small amount of comic strip work, if any at all, inside their pages.

Then there are Panini comics’ “Spectacular Spider-Man”, “Toxic” and “Rampage”, and Action Man – ATOM.

Then there is BBC Worldwide Publishing’s “W.I.T.C.H.”

All of these, however, are using existing licensed characters, not homespun creations.

Aside from these few titles, however, the only homespun, adventure comics left are Rebellion’s 2000AD and The Megazine, both of which aren’t kids comics anymore.

The trouble as you can see is there are no non-licensed, originated comics anymore.

As far as comics worldwide are concerned, I don’t personally feel there are any more or less readers in the marketplace than ever there has been - just that the ages of the readers has risen.

With the advent of the Graphic Novel and now the Trade Paper Back reprinting, as it does, from the pages of a comic book story arc, where the story appeared originally, we now see that readers are more and more inclined to await the coming of the TPB rather then buy the comic version.

As this happens the obvious thing for publishers to do is either, originate most stories as Graphic Novels in the first place, but this costs quite a bit, as money is tied up whilst books are finished, or do this and also cut back on titles to only the core titles and tryouts, as they used to be and print these more cheaply, making the distinction between comics and graphic novels easier to quantify.

This could also be adopted in the UK with cheaper adventure comics coming into play here for the kids, as long as other means of distribution are adopted. Subscriptions may be a way to go here.

So what can we do to stop this trend and get kids interested again?

Well I know a few comics creators, like me, often go around schools promoting them and showing kids that they exist, but it still isn’t enough.

What I would like to see is everyone in the business, writers, artists, editors, and publishers, adopting this train of thought and introducing kids and indeed the man in the street to comics.

And any readers and fans of comics doing the same. There are enough of us around to do this. If there is no new blood coming onboard reading them then eventually logic dictates comics will die!

There are enough stories of all kinds for all ages to go around and with all the different formats, and all the wonderful technology at our disposal, lets apply them to getting the kids back interested again.

I am sure that if we make sure that comics become “street-cred” again then the kids will come back in droves. Look at Nike, Adidas, PlayStation, Nintendo, etc, to see how, with the right infrastructure in place, kids can be marketed to just like us adults…

The Comic Industry is a wonderful place full of Fantastic characters, stories, and creative folks, and we need to go out into the world and shout from the highest places how great it is and ignore the Naysayers! It’s up to us now…

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…

March 4th 2007

Friday, March 02, 2007

2000AD – Splundig Vur Thrigg!

30 Years Ago this week…a new legend was born.

Is it really thirty years ago that a new phenomenon arrived on the newsstands or was shot through our letterboxes? Wow doesn’t time fly, as did the first free gift to be given away with this new boys weekly comic book here in the UK back in 1977, “The Space Spinner”. I still have mine in my archives…

The guys at the top didn’t think it had much in the way of legs to last a year, never mind 30 of them. The roster over the years has had the best of the best of the UK’s writers and artists in their ranks. Its pages have seen the likes of Carlos Esquerra, Mike McMahon, Dave Gibbons, David Pugh, John Ridgway, Ian Gibson, Don Lawrence, Alan Grant, John Wagner, Pat Mills, Jon Haward, Art Wetherall, Richard Elson, Brian Bolland, Azpiri, Massimo Berlardinelli, ecch even I have had work in it, and this little ensemble doesn’t even touch the surface. It has been a showcase for the top talent to come out the UK since its birth all those years ago.

The list of characters is equally exciting and equally massive in scope, with such characters and titles as: Judge Dredd, Slaine, ABC Warriors, Nemesis the Warlock, Flesh, Invasion, Shako, Bill Savage, Strontium Dog, Rogue Trooper, Summer Magic, Shadows, Chopper, Junker, Sam Slade (Robo-Hunter) The Ace Trucking Co, Halo Jones, D.R. & Quinch, Mach 1, Harlem Heroes, Zippy Couriers…etc…

2000AD and all characters mentioned above are trademarks and copyright 2007, Rebellion.

Well here’s to another 30 guys – HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…

March 2nd 2007

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Jack Kirby’s Galactic Bounty Hunters - The King is back!

Or a return to the grandeur of old.

JACK’S BACK! That’s the blurb mighty Marvel comics used on the ads for the return of Jack Kirby to it’s hallowed halls in the mid-seventies after his stint at DC comics.

Well it’s almost like that period once more as his daughter, Lisa Kirby, takes over the writing chores from her late Father, the aforementioned Mr. Kirby, accompanied by Michael Thibodeaux, Steve Robertson and Richard French.

Based on concepts created by Jack “King” Kirby the stories use new artwork by Mike Thibodeaux and some of Jack’s concept drawings, splash pages and the like to tell the story. The covers to issues # 1, 2, and 4 are drawn by Jack Kirby with inks by Karl Kesel and Mike Thibodeaux.

The comic is a truly faithful homage to her Father’s work, even down to the trademark structure and layout style used by Mr. Kirby. The comic books are split into titled chapters, a trait of his comic work. There are splash pages, double page spreads, superbly outlandish characters and dialogue, wonderful galactic vistas, comedy, pathos and, just like Jack’s work, a huge dose of action, adventure, dynamism and grandeur of epic proportions and above all ecch of a lot of fun.

The comic is published by Marvel Publishing Inc and is copyright 2006 Rosalind Kirby Trust and Genesis West.

Please check it out for yourselves.

Yesterday, all comics looked and sounded just like this.

At last a return to the roots for the industry.

I am sure Jack will be proud of this work, as he looks down from his drawing board up there in the clouds, somewhere over the next horizon, just beyond tomorrow over by left field…

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
March 1st 2007