Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Best of Tomb of Dracula- bigger and more undead than ever!

Here are some of my favorite cover images from the series:

This one, in particular, is the first one I remember,

appearing in Mighty Marvel Checklist of my copy of Marvel Tales #66, 1976,
one of my first comics, bought as a surprise
at a surplus store by my parents---one of their very few gifts of comics, but all the ones in my kids year were pivotal!
Another comic they bought me there would introduce me to the Defenders, and the work of the author you'll meet at the end of this post.

I resurrected this from 2011; the title change broke the original search engine link, so I'll try restoring that, but presenting the repost here to haunt me this year.

Despite their great showdown, Harker's not on the cover of TOD #70 below. Truthfully, cool as this is for showing them in battle and Dracula using his powers, the one; (#32) where Harker's crawling away just barely out of reach of the flying Dracula is just tight, tight, TIGHT!

Finally, it looks like the eventual conclusion to the Domini storyline had some pretty cool execution, though Wolfman had to know the end of the series drew upon the horizon by this point.

In chronological order, these are the last four of my picks from the Tomb of Dracula four color series by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan, with Tom Palmer and more. (You can find the others in previously tagged blogs October 15 and September 15, 2011).

Mainly, there are two stories I want to relate:

The Boston battles of Doctor Sun and Dracula: the natural epic climax of the series, in a way, as far as that it precedes the Janus storyline, which features an added plot carrying the series through its last two years. True, Sun was added around #17 or so, himself, but everything else relies on the basic elements of the series, so while it kept going, I've read this is the true artistic climax of the suspense. After Dracula's slain this time, it can never quite have the same impact: his revenge here is his very life, given back to him by his arch rivals! His defeat of the vampire hunters and death itself could never truly be repeated. If there were no commercial considerations in keeping the serialized adventures in publication, I think Dr. Sun's defeat of Dracula would've made a cool final death, indeed, if only the good guys had found some way to defeat Dr. Sun, anyway. But Dracula, let's face it, had to be part of any such victory---it's HIS title! Nevertheless, the innocent life he takes immediately is so personally disgusting and shameful to the vampire hunters, it's a sinister resurrection, indeed, and most insidious.

Four #39 (Destruction of Dracula; which is more epic an issue?) 40? 37-42
Three #42 (Destruction of Sun)

Two #44 / Doc Strange 14 Second part is the most awesome! There's a continuity error about location, and location can be very important, as our last story below proves. Can you find the mistake? If you don't worry about it, still, very suspenseful stuff. Vampire Doctor Strange is an unexpected twist; the evil of his resurrected nature makes for a ruthless battle of wits. His tortuous spell at the end has a very unique nature. I think the way religious good and evil conflicts were thought of in these days gives us an interesting prism into which to project the entertainment then intended for mass audiences. By now, we fans of the Doctor Strange character anticipate the huge movie premiering in less than a week (it's Oct. 16, 2016 here as I update my five-year old entry.)

A one month crossover between the books, they each win a round on home turf, but the battle itself is one for the ages! Gene Colan, penciler on both series, does what he does best, the cinematic and shadowy, with both of them, as no other artist could have. Classic stuff.

One #70 final showdown with Quincy Harker I have to imagine, though I don’t own it, (65-70) I read about it in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe when I was about eleven, and decided immediately Tomb of Dracula would be a series I'd find and collect one day! In this story, Harker battles Dracula to the death, sealing the thematic structure of this incarnation of the vampire, and his series in this decade.

I wasn't worried about anything but chronological order, rather than rank, but how about I take #1 as an opportunity to suggest to you, the single Dracula comic book done-in-one that totes the quality of the series on its giant-sized shoulder.

I'm talking about...Giant-Size Dracula!

Look, this has been a fun ride through the series, but say you want a single, scary Dracula comic book story to enjoy. Look no further.

Written by David Anthony Kraft, not to be confused with busy Marvel horror writer Doug Moench, and believe me, he refuses to be,
this blood-chiller features supernatual terror within a demon-clawed mountain, where a horror mind-blowing to Dracula himself beats
with stolen blood. It's so vivid, I'm going by memory here. I'll have to treat myself to another read? I first read it in my Essentials: Tomb of Dracula, vol. 2, though it's reprinted in newer color editions.

The captions, from page one, do it right: not over-written, but appropriately purple, with incisive thoughts carried within its observations. Meanwhile, the art's free to do its story-telling. From a blood-draining aboard an ocean-bound steamer, our story goes deep within the haunted heart of the American West. A hidden source of hatred has gained visceral control of a farmer, who confesses for fear of his immortal soul to his priest.

The spine-tingling secret of the town lies in its murderous ritual, to serve the dark, awful power concealed within the stone mesa heart of the Native American reservation- inspired by the author's own life and travels in South Dakota.
Dracula's never better than when pitted against another mighty evil, so read Vlad and be glad!

Furthermore, DAK's next outing in Giant Size Dracula #5, with Death in a dirigible floating across skies of mountainous doom, is every bit as good as any single issue of Tomb of Dracula.

Originally, my picks included TOD #1, Tomb of Dracula limited series, 1993. I decided for clarity I’d just deal with the original color run, but TOD sequel 14 years later was a chilling contemporary update and reflection of all that made the series work.

Those four issues were my true gateway into the Wolfman/ Colan Dracula, as my local comic shop---I did not buy mail order comics back then, though I'd day dreamed over Mile High Comics ads for hours as a lad---lost most of its great 70's comics in a fire in 1987. (Times have changed; now my hometown has a new shop, as featured in my October integr8dfix.blogspot's "What If?")

The original series really flows without breaking up, so it’s in actuality one story: that of Harker and Dracula.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Comics Shop News: What If? with Jason LeCroy, by Cecil Disharoon (uncut)

Uncut original article featuring Rome’s What IF?
As also appearing, amended in October’s V3 Magazine by Cecil Louis Disharoon

Art : courtesy Afua Richardson. Sketches for World of Wakanda #1 on sale in November.

“Comics Shop News: interview with Jason LeCroy of What If? Comics and Collectables”

Bright colors, easily wheelchair-accessible- we’ve arrived at What If? Comics and Collectables, the friendly 21st century portal to the world of comic books at 1850 Redmond Circle, the 700 suite.

In May, 2015, What If? brought Rome its first Free Comic Day in years, as it hopes to for years to come.

Here’s the comics shop news about the store founded by Jason LeCroy, his mother, Darlene LeCroy, and brother, Jeremy LeCroy- as they celebrate What If’s second anniversary October 19th!

What IF? We go inside.

From the front door, you pass what I call the Wall of What If?: new comics, counted and poised. Turn around, and find plentiful boxes of old comics- together, the life blood of What If?

With the new boxes, LeCroy creates the Wednesday Wall of What If?.

The classic comic books on the wall, embodied in the wallpaper in Cashier Corner, may stir recognition of some childhood day, but the present’s here, too, in the subscriptions box, behind Jason LeCroy.
Many of us kids played “comic book shop.” But- What If?

V3: So: old and new. Comics, over collectables?

Jason LeCroy: The comics make the business. We get a bump when a TV series, like say The Flash, featuring a character starts its new season- or a movie, like Suicide Squad.

V3: How much of your job is figuring out what’s hot and trendy, like the debut of Riri Iron Man #13- How much of what you do is find some 70’s or 80’s issue of Iron Man?

LeCroy: That’s more difficult to do better than anyone else can. But we get three, four calls a week about collections for sale.

V3: At the store, you have all the fun of inspecting your prospects.

He mentions a convention team-up at Cartersville Civic Center -to host a show in January. You can ask him in person; he’s thinking about where and when these days, with more regional-reaching ideas.

LeCroy: Conventions are a great place to sell your store’s older stuff. This is the pick-up point for the brand new, but the rest sometimes has go become new to other people.

V3: Media-featured story lines often sell great numbers, but aren’t immediately rare collectables.

LeCroy: Rarity helps drive What If? -style choices-like, say, in collectable comics. It’s story lines you don’t think about- like The Walking Dead, which few people thought much about coming out, at the time- become the collectables people are dying to get their hands on.

V3: Mom’s watching the cartoon.
“Wakko, Yakko, and Dot?” I say, sure she might’ve seen them some time at the Juniper Street apartment.

With superheroes’ stories now famous world-wide, LeCroy concentrates on how mainstream and accessible What If? can be.

It's a difficult go, to publish outside of Diamond Distributors. One of the biggest success stories has been the Yi Soon Shin series, which just released a double-sized #4 conclusion to volume two. Convention circuit sales, like those made with each painstaking mile by the writer (with editor Dave Kraft) Onrie Kompan, who personally produced the title with a hand-picked professional team, are the indie publisher's life blood. Even still, a shop can order these sort of titles directly from their publisher- lending to the potential diversity of material like never before, at professional production values. The war-torn blood and blades drama of Yi serves as both entertainment in a visceral degree, but also in the spectrum of creator voices in modern comics.

V3 shuffles into Walker territory.

V3: The Walking Dead seems like it would bring in the most people who are not otherwise comic book fans.

LaCroy: Sure. People enjoy how you can read it and watch it, still get two different stories, without the surprises spoiled. It’s a big seller, one of my highest selling comics every month.

V3: Back issues?
LaCroy: Some! Kind of rare. A lot of people who have it are collectors. They know, ten, fifteen years later, it’ll be worth a lot more.

You have, basically, different categories of customers: Walking Dead fans, superhero comics fans, gamers who don’t want comics, back issue collectors, buyers on the pop culture, ride the wave, hey what’s-cool-right-now who like t-shirts.

V3: Could you tell me how your business divides between “Interested from years before” customers and how many are new people getting on board more with movies, shows?

LaCroy: These line-wide re-sets seek new readers. Old readers like things like, classic Superman’s back again. It’s a hard balance, appealing to readers old and new.

The comics I bought:

Cullen (Conan The Slayer, IDW Revolution) Bunn, Conan The Slayer #1
Ariel (Xena) Medel,
and JM (Augusta Wind: The Last Story, Scooby Doo Apocalpse) De Matteis.

My copies of Xena #2 and #3 feature artist Ariel Medel. Jason’s donned his Ash t-shirt today.

Augusta Wind : The Last Story #2

LaCroy: Is he doing the next (Army of Darkness) crossover?

V3: No, that won’t be his. Ariel wants to spend more time with his family.
Here’s the funny thing, though:
I’d just chatted with the original Xena comics artist, from both Topps and Dark Horse runs: present Marvel cover genius, Joyce Chin. Original Wynona Earp artist, too!

She graciously provided images of original pages of uncolored artwork and unreleased covers, for a special post at

What If?’s piece comes amidst of a swath of comics interviews. I picked Dragon Con guests like Sanford Greene, who draws Luke Cage in Power Man and Iron Fist each month. He answers my questions here in late September: ‘You sent a ton of questions I unfortunately really answer yet. lol’ That’s exciting.

Jose Delbo, artist on late 80’s Transformers and, while Lynda Carter’s show was on TV, Wonder Woman, has answers on the way to me, courtesy of his manager, Silvana.

Wonder Woman #272 appears as a mural in on the Wall of What If?
Appropriate: Delbo now re-creates his work as murals, and he drew the book back then.

Some customers come only for their favorite comic book. Some buy by character concept; some pursue an artist or writer. How about one of everything?

What If?: Origins

V3: Was the store a lifelong dream?

LeCroy: Actually, no! It sort of happened! My uncle was HUGE into Conan, Tarzan-

V3 (Geekeruption): OH! Joe Kubert for DC! My friend Kraft wrote Tarzans for Marvel!

Lecroy (nods): -Including the Universal Monsters, the toys, the statues- he still has a room in his house to showcase this stuff. The love kinda fell down to us. We always played with the 90s Captain America figures, watched the Spider-Man cartoons, Batman the movie at midnight. I went to Legends.

Jason asked himself: What If a manager – with a fondness for Wolverine and The Punisher- worked with his brother and mother to establish a store that sold what no one else in Rome has. A place of work that served a one-of-a-kind appetite: Imagination.
What made others laugh one day led to open doors six months later.

Comics characters are higher profile than ever, but what’s still there from years back?

Spider-Man’s way of soldiering through loss, his use thwipps, flips, and Spider-Quips to reassure civilians and tangle his foes-these elements remain, when written (to use the Terrificon panel appearances) by Dan Slott, Peter David, or in other years, Roger Stern or J.M. DeMatteis. Yes, even Dave Kraft- he wrote the real swingers.

Superman died, but he got better. My partner on IDW’s upcoming Hero Duty, creator Joe Phillips, even drew the Superboy born out of ‘Return of Superman.’

Three women- one, artist (and singer!) Afua Richarson- write World of Wakanda, two features each month, rounding out the Wakandan world with the characters taking agency free of their super-heroic monarch this November.
Eric Killmonger, for World of Wakanda #1 Art: Afua Richardson

Lecroy: With a title like that, Black Panther fans will probably come in any day and say “hey, pre-order me a copy.”

As if on cue now arrives a key part of the store’s creative process: the shipment! Two boxes of brand new comics from Diamond Distributors, wheeled in by the Fed Ex guy, for Jason to refresh the Wednesday Wall of What If?

V3: Do the new Ms. Marvel, World of Wakanda, Riri as Iron Man, Jane Foster as Thor, bring new readers?

LeCroy: Some! The Female Thor had a lot of interest, great sales when she came out. A lot of these things will flip over with Marvel Now next month.

V3: How’s that for sales?

LeCroy: Tough. As a retailer, you already have your order forms set. With the shuffling around, you don’t have the same series: stories, creative teams.

V3: Blockbusters bring in new people?

LeCroy: Oh yeah!

V3: Practically part of your job, seeing them all ---

LeCroy: That’s what I tell my fiancee! So DC, and Marvel, especially, have remade things more in the image of their successful movies and shows. Now with Reborn, DC is trying to appeal to the older fans, while keeping the newest ones who came along with 52.

You can tell what generation of fan someone is by their choice of Harlequin design.
My daughter didn’t go for the jester cap look; it’s the colored hair, shorts, baseball bat, so you know-

V3 : Margot Robbie.

LeCroy: Right! Suicide Squad movie.

V3: It’s savage.

LeCroy: Right. But - longtime fans do prefer a faithful reflection of the print comics. For example,
the Joker was never so absorbed with being a crime lord- more big gestures of mayhem! Already, you have Two Face for a role like that.

V3: Yeah, they wanted The Joker’s cachet and link him with Harley.

Years later, people look for a storyline, certain to leave them with opinions and reflections across the entire emotional gamut, if that’s what they want.

The reasonable limit on what can be carried in stock also leaves room for the LeCroy’s to get you most any American-made creation. Readers can help create the shop, too. They can popularize a title’s orders.

These readers, living their own dream of completing runs of longtime favorite books, make Jason’s business possible. The passionate collector is the backbone of any industry.

At least twenty percent of What If?’s business? Young readers.

Parent and child reading together -children, reading together.

McCroy: Teachers and parents love it. A kid who didn’t like reading much before sees: ‘This has Spider-Man fighting the Lizard! I want to read that!’

Halloween’s going to have some comics surprises, too- check in, check it out.

We had a terrific exchange. Alas, articles, like shops that stock that which they can hold, also fill up- with hopefully, what no one else has for you to read!

Each week brings boxes of comics never sold before, along with each added collection- another “What If?” beneath each lid.

Among these longboxes and wall pockets sit stories, old friends and new strangeness, brought to life by artists, letterers and colorists, craftspeople with distinctive styles and varying skills. Often assembled by editors, and published for profit, their artifacts and expressions become the essence of Imagination, exciting in its power to make the world around you feel new and possibility-filled.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Love is Love: NY Times & LA Times presents my DC Comics/IDW debut

Joe Phillips is a talented artist who will take an assignment, get the work done, and not think much else about the details. That is, after all, how you get more things done!

So when my collaborator on his creation Hero Duty from IDW Publishing (as well as his upcoming cartoon, Z-Monkeys) hit me up one September Friday night
to see if I'd care to script a page for a benefit, that's about all I knew when I said 'yes.'

Three days later, I found an article from page C3 of the New York Times- and got one of the biggest adrenaline jolts of the year!

Here's the story, as pasted from the article:

The comic book community is coming together to help the victims of the Orlando shooting. In December, DC Comics and IDW Publishing will publish “Love Is Love,” a 144-page comic book whose proceeds will benefit Equality Florida and its fund for those affected by the June 12 attack at the Pulse nightclub in Florida.

“I’m a child of the 80s; I grew up with ‘We Are the World’ and Live Aid,” said Marc Andreyko, a comic book writer and screenwriter who organized the project.

Process picture of our page, by Joe Phillips
“Events like this shouldn’t be compartmentalized,” he said. “They should hurt and we should want to change for the better.”

The comic will sell for $9.99 and is made up of more than 100 stories, each one or two pages, whose creators include Damon Lindelof, Patton Oswalt, Phil Jimenez and Olivier Coipel. “I purposely said it would be a one-page thing to get people to commit,” Mr. Andreyko said.

He also spent time playing matchmaker for writers and artists. “I was e-Harmony-ing people,” he said. “Mixing and matching and seeing who felt right.”

A version of this article appears in print on September 22, 2016, on page C3 of the New York edition with the headline: Comic Book Aims to Help Orlando Survivors


4 Photos - View album

LA Times published this story, today:

Romans: What If? Comics and Collectables will be happy to order you a copy- watch for it Dec. 21st!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Joyce Chin: She's got it covered

Joyce Chin has been working in comics since 1995 when she pencilled several issues of Guy Gardener: Warrior for DC.

Since then, she's has gone on to work on several titles, interiors and some covers, on titles including Hulk, Green Lantern, Vampirella, Xena, Spider-Man, Superman, and Witchblade, with a variety of publishers.
She provided the art on a number of covers for Dynamite including Red Sonja, Alice Cooper vs. Chaos, Vampirella, and Lady Rawhide/Lady Zorro. Now her work’s been exclusively commissioned by Marvel.

Wynona Earp, #1-5, (Dec. 1996-April 1997) needs to join that list: Joyce Chin penciled #1-3, then the covers of all five issues. (#4 has early work from Pat Lee, who I first noticed drawing Transformers for IDW.) Considering Wynona Earp’s coming back for a second season on SyFy, it’s worth tying these together, nearly two decades apart!

Her six covers for Alice Cooper Vs. Chaos are among her most recent published work, but she’s been at it since the days of Guy Gardner, Warrior (which she drew for five issues, #31-35, then returned in #42 for a story called, “A Gender Bender in the Blender,” which makes me curious enough to eventually make sure I read it.

She drew Superman: Silver Banshee in 1998, and wow, Spider-Man and Elektra, in the Peter Parker annual of that year! She later penciled special for Chastity, Tomb Raider, and a big team-up with Witchblade, Magdalena, and Vampirella written by Gail Simone. She was also part of the Hero Initiative’s Fantastic Four: 100 Project.

My favorite cover yet, though, is her latest, All-New Wolverine #9!

Then, Joyce Chin herself provided me with unreleased art.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Interview, J. M. De Matteis- Scooby Doo Apocalypse, Augusta Wind and more!

More pictures and content on my post to Outright

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Black Magick: Coming To TV! Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott, and Groundswell

Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott's creator-owned Black Magick comic series will go into TV development, as reported by The same company behind "The Magicians" on SyFy, Groundswell Productions, made the deal, which sounds so far like a creator-owned property dream come true! They're producing a new show starring Hugh Laurie, Chance , for Hulu.
I've enjoyed Nicola's artwork for years now- when we couldn't afford many comics, which was Our Entire Time in Cali, Secret Six was a must-read. She's busy with alternating issues of Wonder Woman '75 now. Did you know the Australian artist was an actor before she became a pro at the drafting board? That's one more thing to ask her when I interview her after Comic Con. I think? I hope! I think she's agreed to it. I wasn't kidding. Throw me good juju!
Black Magick's the story of Rowan, who has inherited witch abilities she's put aside to concentrate on homicide/burglary cases as a police detective. Wouldn't you know, the proverbial past catches up with her, and soon the life she leads and the life she left aside come into direct conflict, necessitating Rowan integrate both sides to save her loved ones- and possibly, the entire world.
(All art, Nicola Scott) Rucka's famous for a lot of comic book writing, but I particularly enjoyed his novelization of Batman: No Man's Land. The comics are on my hit list- watch them become scarce as this TV show nears its debut! Meanwhile- jump aboard for a new twist on The Olde Ways!