Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hulk's high voltage rock'n'roll


West Coast Corporation boss Jackson’s pleased to hear the Hulk seems likely to dismantle Machine Man, and with a pair of “hyper-binoculars” he can watch, from the top of his 80 story skyscraper. As Roger Stern describes ala caption Trish Starr—“free thinker, former model, and hostage---“ musters courage to continue challenging Jackson’s bloodthirsty pleasure. He warps murder into “business efficiency---and advancement!” He recalls Machine Man’s resistance to analysis and replication, chronicled in #8,9 of his series, so his revenge is business. He counters Trish’s question---“do I get ‘recalled’ as well?” ---by complimenting her profiled skills, but now sees the Hulk at a distance, pondering his use in “other...endeavors!”


Aaron Stack, a.k.a. Machine Man “cancels the gravity equation!” He soars out of Hulk’s reach, hovering. One thousand pounds of raging fury springs towards him, but MM sends him earthward with a kick!


The crash shakes Central City; at “nearby Camp DeSprague” (pulp fiction fans catch that one?) Spaulding arrives along with a “3.5 quake.” Kragg gives the order: contact Hulkbuster Base! But will it be far too late?

Machine Man lands beside the impressively deep hole. He expects Hulk to be buried for hours beneath the ruptures of “weak pavement” but picks up a “high frequency radio transmission---from that truck!” He extends the long arm of the law into the dairy truck and tells the spy he’ll report him for him...since he’s got a spot “(a) few blocks away” for him. Gladys and Dick, a middle aged couple, argue about the pool being “filled early” but Dick smiles when Scheuring flies in for a ballistic dip.


MM recognizes the Corporation boss’ voice, and modulates his own to resemble Scheuring’s. “Still no sign of Machine Man! Awaiting instructions! He’s about to home in on the signal...but behind him, our irrepressible green goliath’s crawling out of the pit unnoticed. He sees the wires he’s dug up, and flashes back to a dim memory of F.F.#25 itself, where the Thing surprised him with a handful of such voltage. Not a bad strategy...too bad he misses the escaping hiss of gas!


Hulk’s burrowed directly beneath Machine Man with his cables; he now represents with one serious Aaron Shock! The attack overloads his circuits—“breaking down insulation!” MM grabs his throat, observes he’s grounded, too, as “two mighty figures soak up voltage.” At this point, we learn Machine Man does have olfactory sensors, for he notices the natural gas pipe leak---as the volts and gas blast them both with city-shattering force.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gamma Goodness


INCREDIBLE HULK 236
Stern/Buscema/ Esposito, Novak, Sharen, Milgrom, Shooter

"Kill or Be Killed!"
Let's skip the recap: look, Machine Man's rushing up to the Hulk carrying his detached arm (no King's X jokes about detachable parts, please) and "Kang!"s him in the head with that and a smart aleck remark. Hulk starts working him over with his own arm, but MM's remote circuits do, as he hopes, work. The fist telescopes, wrapping around Hulk's neck, then bashes him flush in his jade kisser. The hand then jolts him with a shock blast to the face, buying him time to get it reattached. (Esposito's keeping the Royer method of inking him to look heavy metal!)

Spalding's innocent confusion in turn confuses Freddy, but Pete calls his bluff. Upon handing over the gun, Freddy finds out it's a replica. "You don't think I'd collect real guns, do you?" (Well, hell yes!) Freddy recounts the Machine Man-like figure who appeared to kidnap Trish and gas him and the Hulk---who's just crashed into the wall with Machine Man leveraging to rip off his head, and back through the other wall they go, ripping out everything! [img]http://i55.tinypic.com/2emprvo.jpg[/img] (Peter David wouldn't let this pass without a sitcom moment, but this is still 1979.) Fred Sloan cries out that he must stop the Hulk, but Doc Pete puts the kibosh on that momentum and literally jerks his shirt in a mad dash for the car, to get help. Hulk misunderstands this as yet another kidnapping!


[img]http://i56.tinypic.com/3478rxf.jpg[/img]

The panels open up for two more pages of battle fury, where Aaron observes the truth that "the madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets!"...while Schuering reports the tableau to Jackson.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Machine Man vs. the Hulk: Round One! fight!!!

Hang on ! “Hulk has carried many this way.” About twelve miles past Modesto, Freddy checks the road map for Spalding’s “Central City hang-out.”
The Forest Ranger who spots them is working for Jackson, stogie-sporting fat cat and West Coast executive of the worldwide Corporation. Trish Starr asks what Jackson has to gain by kidnapping her; she’s a pawn, he tells her, to bring two foes who’ve interfered with the Corporation destructively together, as the Hulk believes Machine Man’s responsible. This would make the Hulk a murderer, Trish thinks, “...and I’ll be ...what?”


Glide with us past the billboard announcing the ‘birthplace of the Fantastic Four’ here in Central City; follow us to the Mariposa hotel, and the silhouette of “a guest so unique---that his very humanity is in question. It’s the sole survivor of the thinking machine secret project, visited now by his friend Dr. Peter Spalding and his recent nemesis, Colonel Simon Kragg---amused and amazed, respectively, to find him repairing a casually crossed leg. Significantly, he’s spot welding into place a leg that still carries “a few damaged circuits from the day when your troops hit me with their sonic guns (Mmhmm, Machine Man #1, Al tells us.) Peter reminds our sardonic friend they have a Congressional hearing to attend concerning his status as citizen.


The soon-to-be lost character from his Kirby cast, TV reporter Tracy Warner, walks in to be greeted by more cynical Machine Man mirth; he is, after all, a huge story. Senator Stivak, as you’ll find out in Bob’s thread, died “yesterday” (the Captain America guest appearance, #232), and Congressman Brickman’s his newly appointed replacement. (His character is so thinned out by obsession later in the MM revival as to become shrill and one dimensional.) He indefinitely postpones the investigation of Aaron’s rights “if any” and adjourns the meeting. (How do they decide he should be remanded to the custody of Peter Spalding? I suppose it makes some sense; it’s very favorable to Aaron, perhaps in gratitude for acing Ten-For.)

Tracy smooches the rarely-smiling Machine Man, as Peter congratulates him for his “de facto” legal humanity. Col. Stagg offers a hand, acknowledges “we’ve had our differences” and wishes him the best. Aaron correctly reasons it would’ve been best if the hearings had been concluded, as the government can hold these committees over his head.

Meanwhile, Brickman’s set up as a possibly very sinister type, evidenced by his smirking thoughts after being addressed by other committee members.
But let’s join Freddy and ol’ Greenskin at 125 Calvin Lane, where fate has determined the clash to come. Freddy talks him out of leveling the house---Trish might be inside---and to Freddy’s surprise they enter an empty house, with a little Hulking hand. Their search reveals it’s a psychiatrist’s house, and a drawer contains apparent high-caliber pistols; Freddy’s sure “these Corporation guys are everywhere!”



Paul Scheuring’s Meadowlake Milk Truck sits a few hundred yards away---but what is he delivering in the afternoon besides information for Mr. Jackson? Now Peter arrives with Machine Man, who apologizes for rushing off without cleaning it (in M.M.#7---boy did Al and Roger love that title!!)---but not so rushed as to leave the door wide open! MM takes the lead, remembering his Corporation kidnapping. The Hulk’s growl makes Peter lose his pipe...because this is the next thing he sees:


What else can you say? Hulk smashes Aaron through several stands of trees, and they clash louder than a Fred Garvin, Male Prostitute, leisure suit. (Now THAT's reaching back to the times, Saturday Night Live fans.) Peter runs inside to call Kragg, to apparently face a gun held by a desperate young man. MM tries to reason with the Hulk. LOL. Out comes the hand weapons system to enflame the ground, which Hulk rips up and throws away before pouncing on MM and smashing him to pieces.

Hulk decides Spalding is the real target. As he walks away, MM crackles back to life from a beating “worse than Ten-For” (MM 3-6---Al). He activates his “power magnetics” in an attempt to reassemble---but our issue’s cliffhanger leaves him a man apart.

Mean Green-Machine


INCREDIBLE HULK 235 Roger Stern, Sal Buscema, Mike Esposito

Unca Rog really delivers Machine Man straight from Jack Kirby’s book! Oh, there’s a power or two that doesn’t come up but things like the “instant hypnosis” that worked on the Autocron perhaps don’t work on rampaging emerald behemoths? After the first issue set up, there’s a bit of plot advancement but the second issue is a pure super being brawl.


The Corporation, from Machine Man #7 & 8, provides the villainy. Anyone recognize Trish Starr? The last name may be familiar to longtime Marvel fans---no, not Ringo, but Elias, the one who can’t keep a beat and invents death devices, Egghead. Trish is the hostage, trying to work the villains while captive. Said captivity’s been perpetuated by an ersatz Machine Man, leading the Hulk and his new friend to Peter Spalding’s door. Sure, I’d love to see her role expanded to reflect even more of that trademark intelligence---it’s referenced---but the real Hulk fan wants a no-holds barred slugfest, and this team delivers! Meanwhile, your Machine Man fan gets a faithful rendering, even an appearance by reporter Trish Tilby, as well as Colonel Kragg. Thanks for throwing them in, Unca Rahj!


Stern’s set things up dipping back into Defenders #41 and the commune where Doctor Strange and Nighthawk last left Trish. In #234, the Corporation took her hostage. Now Hulk and Fred bound towards Central City, and Roger and team actually take the time, from Fred’s precarious perspective, to make those leaps visceral, jarring---earth-shaking. The physical impact of the Hulk is something I remember Roger writing very well. With Hulk’s steady hand, Fred hangs on...and if you hang on, too, I’m working from memory of a comic I just discovered this afternoon, and I don’t want to leave out a thing!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The last ROM post




Rom's blow sends Firefall painfully hurtling towards the road ahead of the FBI agent/ Wraiths. Brandy acts: she opens the door on the laser-wielding agent, hit head on by Steve’s car. She wrestles the driver, leadin to a crack-up. Steve rushes to her, and watches as the driver changes: its true form, barely glimpsed, leaves smoldering, foul-smelling dust in its wake. They emerge beside the final confrontation between Rom and Firefall. Now he tells of his friend, Karas, who we see swim and save impetuous, human Rom in the earliest flashback of the series.
[IMG]http://i54.tinypic.com/nla1cz.jpg[/IMG]

To owe one’s life on Galador sacredly links “two individuals as surely as marriage links lovers!” (Well, sometimes! Nowadays marriage has fallen a bit out of style...but you know how old-fashioned Rom is!) Rom and Karas, when the war came, both learned of the forms and powers they would possess before the conversion that grafted their forms to spaceknight steel. “ Manning the front line, awaiting the foe,” at first glimpse of the enemy Firefall bolted forward for “first blood.” Then the Wraith fleet fell upon them all.


Stryker refuses to believe in Rom’s story or humanity, and becomes the repository for the spaceknight’s seething rage. He knows Firefall armor and Karas are inseparable here, save in death. Thoughts of his fallen brother man lead Rom to bring the pain. Firefall now grasps the truth and says he’s “become like you!” Rom points out, so long as he serves the Wraiths, he is “nothing like Rom!” Preachy ending cue.
Rom questions how his form has changed him, too: the Prime Galadorian directive is to value all life “in its myriad forms.” Deciding not to take that life, he decides, even with, as Steve points out, his own at risk, was “true victory.” While Stryker begins to lose his mind a bit, realizing “T-the armor...it won’t come off!” Rom stands contrite but proud beside the couple.


“Such is the danger of my quest, that in fighting evil I will be corrupted by it. On that day, my goal of peace will vanish like a dream ...and my soul will submit to the savagery of war!”


(The dialogue’s SO devoted to exposition or duplicating the picture; I believe those failings might remain with later issues, at the cost of more interesting characterization. I imagine though Rom himself would mostly be silent without it. The flaw reinforces the “kid’s comic” interpretation that prefaced most of the skepticism going in.

Remember, they went through months of formulation to come up with a way to tell Rom’s story in the first place. It’s got a compelling visual element overall, but one can’t help re-imagining it. Sometimes you enjoy a comic book for what it suggests and what it might have been---just remember, even your disappointments tend to be tinged with inspirations of redemptive qualities.


Now we’re back where this thread began. I feel like, for the present, it’s where I’ll end it. The original plan involved Rom’s memories and his interpretations: those would’ve made this issue a more interesting read. I feel the call of my own work, though ---at least the call of a workout! Back to the “Read Only Memories” plan: It’s hard to discern his thinking in some of these early plots---before he came into his own. Jo Duffy recalls this series with enthusiasm, so some of that came out in lighting this electronic toy with a bit of childlike wonder and more thoughtful storytelling that made the premise memorable.)

2016: ROM made it back! He's now in the IDW stable, as captured by Chris Ryall and company. Rom is now part of the Hasbro-based shared universe, as launched this fall in REVOLUTION.

The last and first memories: Rom meets Firefall



ROM SPACEKNIGHT #4 [IMG]http://i52.tinypic.com/30t199l.jpg[/IMG]
Fear is...Firefall!

Writer Bill Mantlo Art Sal Buscema Letters Jim Novak Color BobSharon Editor Jo Duffy
“The Fire, the Friend, and the Foe!”

The West Virginia night steams with the presence of living fire, as two inhuman cyborg warriors clash above. One is Rom of Galador, here to find, reveal, and battle the Dire Wraiths; his opponent is their pawn, the human criminal Archie Stryker. If you’ve been reading along, you know how he’s been set up to battle Rom, seen as a murderer from the stars. What he’s yet to realize is the cost of wielding this spaceknight armor. Its power, Galadorian Living Flame, makes him a potent match for the starborn savior.


Airborne opponents clash with strength and powers; the Neutralizer’s effective against the fireball attack, but as Firefall divebombs him again, Rom wonders will he have to break his oath and take a life?

The F.B.I. agents from last issue drive without a sound across the highway, while Brandy Clark questions them futilely. The communicator they use at last appears strange enough to confirm she’s in Wraith hands, so Brandy tries to wreck the vehicle. Along with menacing exposition, one agent covers her face with a chlolorform-fumed handkerchief. What’s this obscure dot of motion in the rear window? Steve Jackson tails them, watching the crazy driving, The floor heater vent he recently repaired struggles with the cold, but the chill in his leg follows concerned questions, as he fears her independence has placed her in dangerous company indeed.


The hills light up with Firefall’s gleaming attack, which would be so beautifully colored today. Rom’s completely aware now his banishing Neutralizations of the

Wraiths is mistaken for killings. His circuits seem paralyzed by the living fire, he drops to Earth in imitation of his awesome arrival alone some nights ago. From the mines rush moonlit figures, firing weapons that identify them to Rom: Wraithkind. Firefall descends, appalled at what appears to be flaming deaths of torture, unable to see the shadowy forms that fall into the outer dimensional limbo! It’s the same as the night at the Lansing Laserium, when Rom blasted the laser works manager they’d planned to rob: he feels sickened. We revisit Archie Stryker’s origin as Firefall.


Now when they battle, Rom overhears Stryker say he felt the Neutralizer “through my armor!” He contradicts him with the truth: he felt it with his armor. He will soon become as inhuman as Rom himself, as the graft completes its connections with Stryker’s nervous system.

Steve decides to step on it and glimpses Brandy, apparently unconscious in the FBI car. Out comes the laser, and now Steve absolutely believes her. Not only that, but she’s resourcefully held her breath upon identifying the chloroform---she’s one of comics’ early lady lab technicians, and boy was that something neat forgotten mostly.


Rom’s cyborg circuitry’s repaired itself to the point he can generate intense, “space-like” cold on his external surface. In the case of living flame, it becomes “sluggish---malleable! Allowing me to hurl it back to its fiery master!” Now his rocket pods ignite, and as the ranting Firefall swiftly follows him upwards, a special pattern manifests in flame.

Rom pities the fool: “your last outburst completed the neuro-linkage! You are joined with the Firefall armor now... you can never be human again!” (He must assume the conversion process couldn’t be done with Earth tech, and the Wraiths probably wouldn’t bother with an extraction process that would leave one alive.) Stryker denies this, observing only the power.

The power, Rom says, is stolen from one “far more deserving of it than you!” A point that would’ve been intriguing to make earlier in the fight: this armor belonged to Rom’s best friend.
[IMG]http://i51.tinypic.com/feevja.jpg[/IMG]

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Xanadu: conclusion Classic Machine Man adventures


All art Steve Ditko!

[img]http://i51.tinypic.com/2dgmjjb.jpg[/img]

Machine Man battles laser-firing rockets in a maze, which he tests for structural integrity. He uses the weakness in the floor (it’s dirt ground) to spin and become a living drill, to resurface outside. The sonic pitch pains him again, leading him to Khan’s Xanadu in the dark clouds. Machine Man’s been tormented someone he doesn’t know would do this, but now he knows his foe.
[img]http://i51.tinypic.com/2sagwtl.jpg[/img]


“Steel smashes its way through steel” and our motivated metal marvel shoves his way into the dirigible---and an attack by Tong, who feels no pain due to surgery and possesses super human strength. “Tong has been shown how to temporarily deactivate your internal mechanisms,” Khan raves, before ‘Tong’s rendered Machine Man “unconscious.”

[img]http://i54.tinypic.com/148pvgn.jpg[/img]
Quickly now he’s thrown on to a table alongside the babbling villain for the mind/ body switcheroo. Machine Man rises to Tong’s praise, but the obese body whispers “Tong” and the jig is up. Another super human brawl erupts.

Now that Machine Man knows why he is wanted and has played along this far, he’s set up an electronic backlash with his “reversed polarity” when clamped into the mind switch device (here, today you could do a whole story---or be gross and put his brain inside Aaron somehow, too).
[img]http://i53.tinypic.com/2jabvao.jpg[/img]

He leaves Khan raving and reminds him Tong can’t hear him any longer---now he’ll tell him, “go on and save yourself---take it out on me!” essentially. Khan babbles he is beyond death and will defy the grave.

[img]http://i52.tinypic.com/5cyfxd.jpg[/img]
Of all the silver parachutes Machine Man sees leave the blimp, only the mercenary crew saves their own skin. He’s tempted to shout out “why?” from his addled thoughts. In three years of walking man’s world, he’s seen sickening behavior: greed, despair, turmoil and heartache. Soaring onward, he wonders...waits...”and, as always...” hopes!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Amazing uses of space and figure placement




This is such a sophisticated layout, I can't help sharing it with you aspiring artists. It's a reason to remember there's always more places to take it---just don't lose enthusiasm!







http://www.byrnerobotics.com/forum/forum_topics.asp?FID=3 is where, if you want, you can find this art work and talk with John Byrne himself.

Xanadu: from the classic Machine Man adventures



MACHINE MAN #13 Writer/ Editor Marv Wolfman Artist Steve Ditko Letters Irv Watanabe
Colors George Roussos Consulting Editor Jim Shooter

“Xanadu!”
(Our cover has another building; any of my budding artists willing to try that building under construction?--Uncle Lue)

Machine Man’s gotten the shaft: an elevator plunges towards him as his telescoping limbs hold in place before the crushing blow. He works a little classical physics and struggles while being observed on a screen in the chambers of Khan, who's now referred to as Kublai Khan. He and manservant Tong observe Machine Man's stubbornness. He's resourceful, too; he reaches down to the generator engine, taps into it, and creates a repellent magnetic charge.

Khan's pleased; he has superior intelligence, he says, but a useless, obese body. Machine Man might become his answer! He checks in on Gregarian, "finest sculptor in Vienna"; Khan honors his warrior pose "best work to date!" with a trap door trip out of the dirigible, his pay sent from Khan's Flying Xanadu Palace to his family. He continues his murders after a squad of his hired hands test Machine Man; he activates explosive collars to leave no witnesses.



At Delmar, Ed White continues his possibly imaginary account of a tryst that ends with the perfect evening interrupted by a call from “her mother.” “Arrie” could care, until Maggie shows up with snark about the account. Aaron tells them both get lost, annoying both these lovelies. Mr. Benjamin picks now to pull him into the office and suggest that he hasn’t done enough to reach out to the co-workers; in fact, while “none of them know who you are, ...they sense something strange about you.” So when he’s invited to a party while leaving, Aaron accepts.


Eddie’s there with a special drink for Machine Man, and just like that, the beginning of the long standing association between Machine Man and Mead arrives in an unfocused “cranial disturbance,” leading him to collapse on Maggie, to Eddie’s pleasure.
Nineteen hours of sleep later, Peter Spalding’s there to explain Machine Man has a hangover. Aaron’s considering permanent disassembly.


Xanadu: Tong prepares, as did his ancestors, to serve this Kublai Khan. Aaron arises to a sonic blast headache, and messages to follow radio-given instructions out into the dark over crowded Manhattan—straight into Khan’s prepared test areas, starting with a junkyard. Twisting like a thing alive, the wrecking ball’s swung into the drifting robot, who soon returns it into the crane with interest.

Khan’s voice is telling him how he’s examined Abel Stack’s files, telling of “reflexes nine times swifter than man’s---that your strength is fifty times greater.” Of course, he knows about the sonic blast weakness, but plans to test him further. The wrecking ball cable becomes Machine Man’s lithe weapon, and with much swearing tracks the sonic trail from the Jersey palisades up to the Catskill Mountain Range, where he enters a retractable maze, hydraulically lifting as it did “for the three dozen dead men before you.”

Friday, November 19, 2010

Layout challenge Part 2: Kirby



Lue Lyron, after Jack Kirby (not light-boxed) November 19, 2010




Meant to work on layouts. Heh. Got carried away.







Inspired by Machine Man #6, 1978.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Architecture: Draw your landscape and buildings

Joe, I wonder if you'd like to help me co-write a few tips for my young fans on designing and drawing buildings, if you get a few minutes. Anything you can pass along would be a start!

Joe Mashburn: Sure, where would you like to start, this is a really broad subject.

C Lue Disharoon I'm sure! Maybe start off in two parts...a book or site you recommend...some notes from your own learning process...i'm trying to think of how to apply it to illustration. But you never know: you might launch some kid down the path towards architecture! Tanks.

Joe : I would start with "Drawing with the right side of your brain"
also "The Old Way of Seeing" . These are great books about design and creativity. Also "The Field Guide to American Houses" is a book about the evolution of houses in Amerca.

Two great Institutes are the American Institute of Architects and the AIBD (look at there websites). They help self regulate our profession. They also promote creativity and inspire and challenge us to be the best in our field through competition. They keep us current in our field though continued education. I have learned a great deal by participating in these oranizations, paricularly the AIBD.

Two big influences:
my dad, a contractor and my boss. He took great pride in every part of his job. I love to work with him because he would always callenge me to learn more.

Also Robert Noble taught me how to think multi-dimentionally (if that is a word). He taugt me to think outside the box and to challenge institutional thinking. He also taught be to build practical, a practice abandoned by alot of modern designers. I can go into more depth some other discussion.

How Illustration applies to this:

If I was selling you my house, and I described it to you in an e-mail, you would never by it, because the discription woud be so complicated. Or if I were telling you how to build it, you would quit after the first chapter becaus of the complexities of it.

But if I could draw it, I could show you the brick color and pattern. you could see how the lighting accents the fascade. Not only could I tell you what it looks like, but how to accomplish this.

Also, you can see how things come together such as the elctrical, plumbing and mechanical.

For instance, we all know water and elecrticity make for a bad comination. If I told you to put a Pane and a sink in the same room, that just sounds crazy, but if I showed you locations and showed you that the sink is really a mop sink, this would make things more obtainable.

We understand our own Ideas after we have drawn them. we can see how things fit.

If I were putting a shopping center on a 1.5 acre lot. I know I need the building and parking. I need to figure the most bulding i can that would allow the most parking I can. Using a ratio I can determine the building size and parking lot needed for the building.

CLue: Wow. Multi-dimensionality is not only a deep story concept in my "Not Another Comic Book" but I see I should (and have) favore layouts accounting for scenes containing several representational layers (I'll post some) so that the writing and art themes reflect one another. In its physical architectural instance, I want us to always create our outsides remembering they house the insides, and WHAt is inside should be at work whether it's depicted or not. I want them to be strong at carrying out dramas laid out inside actual homes/ buildings.

These things fit into imagining an entire world around your characters.

Joe: We'll talk more about it later.

Layout challenge Part 1: Ditko


Powered by WebRing.







So, to start off my layout challenge, I began drawing the shapes in the first two panels.

I started adjusting, to deal with the overall page proportions.










I actually worked on the last panel last.


This process of darkening parts of the figure---to give the figure or object density---is referred to as "spotting blacks."
It's the inker's job to fill these areas completely.






Here's about twenty minutes devoted to laying out page two of our spread:











So you can see it's on there rather lightly. Then I'd come back and give it more definitive form, like the first page!`~ C Lue Lyron

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Xanadu: a challenge in layouts



Here you see two different products inspired by Jack Kirby's Machine Man comics published by Marvel Comics between 1977 and 1978. One is Marvel's professional continuation of the science fiction hero in more of a straight super hero treatment, and the action is as close to Spider-Man as possible. Marv Wolfman is also writer and editor of the Amazing Spider-Man at this point in time. His partner here, Steve Ditko, is credited with having created the idea behind many issues of Amazing Spider-Man, and drew the wall-crawler from his first appearance in 1963 until 1966.

This is the second time Steve Ditko followed Jack Kirby on a title, counting the Hulk during 1962 to 1965. This character is solely created by Jack Kirby, who deliberately chose to work on titles mostly of his own creation, after stints on a revival of the Black Panther and a run as writer/editor/ artist on his old creation with Joe Simon in 1941, Captain America, and just in time for America's bicentennial.

So here, we have the created or artificial man with consciousness living a dual identity and superhero life, complete with raving enemy who uses the media hype for his own gain. It's Spider-man without Peter Parker.

My interpretation, the mock epic, in the Stuckwayze, is about a rather silly race of psuedo-humans who consider us Psuedo-Stuckwayze, whatever that means: a distinct cast, centering around Ogie and his friend Willie and the fun they have trying to discover their origins. Sometimes the meaning of existence is to laugh!

I won't go into the connection with the concept of Jack's Eternals book from 1976 here. I just wanted to say that while our "Uglies" my sister and I created back in 1982 and onward predated Machine Man in my awareness, actually reading issues 1,2, and 4 of Jack's book inspired a model for my homemade, never-replicated 1987 comic book. Perfect preoccupation with a bright but awkward boy, if something more socially-conscious was not otherwise available.



I am blessed with people to help more now these days, but my Stuckwayze is about the awkwardness of communication itself. It is a humorous science fiction story whose characters bear none of the intellectual facilities on display on the genre's classic heroes, but it's surprised me what a good place to push my artistic skills outside of portraiture, complete with their cartoony Stuckwayze expressions.

And now, the layout challenge!

YOu can work from either of these; I recommend drawing your own version of either of them! Try it with the same character: either draw Machine Man or your own character, but try telling the story both ways. Here's Jack Kirby in Machine Man #8:


I'm going to offer you some classic Ditko art here, and I want you to notice what sorts of pictures he chooses in packing the story with details. Kirby was offering bigger panels in his style, while Ditko economizes. So how do the figures and actions break down in the panels across the two pages?

From Machine Man #13 Art: Steve Ditko

I mean, try drawing stick figure versions of each of the panels to begin with. Include the minimum of detail. Notice how each panel works as a cinematic still, while its surrounding context gives you a moving scene somehow distilled in the representation. Ditko's not going for poster art here, and his naturalistic figures may seem simple, occasionally devoid of detail. All that is in service to pacing a story packed with characterization that is as important as the action scenes!

Next time, I'll come back with "thumbnails" or rough sketches that present the flow of the figures. You can do the same. Here's a twist: as you tighten them up, you could try a character of your OWN design in the same poses, hero or villain. See how the pictures are cropped so as to center around the point of dramatic interaction, sometimes only suggesting the whole of a figure or building or background with pieces, proportioned so as to generate the illusion of layers of space. Feel free to break away from the template and just draw your own sequence of events, one picture leading to the action in the next! Pretty soon, you'll be creating your own comics.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bright spirits


This is a strange story, by Marv Wolfman and Steve Ditko. It's about Machine Man helping out mankind while remaining feared; indeed, one thing after the next vexes him as he observes our criminality and distrust and callousness.



He releases a powerful bolt while hovering in the sky, and this discharge drifts into the windows of six people, initiating a biochemical acceleration in their evolutionary state. Now far advance of human kind (perhaps a million years), they take Machine Man down, fighting. They circle him and prepare for judgement---much to his anger and dismay.


They hear the voice of a child of a man he's saved just now from an embedded bullet (he was shot during a robbery just stopped by Machine Man in the first pages). He believes in Machine Man's good, even if Machine Man's frustrated and embittered. They release him. Too far advanced for life on Earth, they decide to play silent benefactors, destined to return, to watch over Man. For now, however, they fly to the stars.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Let the People You Work With Know They're Obnoxious

You Know,

I don't expect only comic book fans to come read this. The value of any form of literature is what you come away with for your own life. Can disposable entertainment be indisposable? Oh, you bet.

http://trueai.blogspot.com/2006/01/part-5-quantum-epiphanies.html
Here's what I'm reading of late. Somehow reviewing Machine Man stories gave me a renewed interest in Artificial Intelligence and consciousness in general!


Binary Bug’s cloud may be noticed by passersby, but his break-in goes uninterrupted. He glides across the very work floor of Machine Man’s new job, and, it says, taps into Compucord’s RAM to acquire “thousands of information bytes.” $2 dollars, low security: his target’s set. Outside, at a midtown movie house, Aaron complains he doesn’t “get” why “you humans WASTE your time on vicarious entertainment.” Peter S. assures him we can’t self-improve all the time, and vouches for a bit of escapist release, while Aaron notices the strange behavior of a cloud...


Shift to: the Anderson mansion, where Marv gives us a bit of history and Binary Bug floats in to rob the party. They figure out he’s like the worst birthday clown ever and he makes off with a Ming uninsured by Delmar and numerous Impressionist paintings, leaving the diamonds for last.

His raid has Delmar in an uproar the next day, as the third in a series of robberies (including “two million from Evanier!”). Aaron postulates the wealth and financial sabotaging of Delmar are the twin motives; Byron B. puts him on the case. Meanwhile, Maggie Jones observes and puts the moves on Aaron to no success. Idiot Edward White congratulates him and hurts his hand on MM’s back. MM shows no tact seems necessary in letting the people you work with know they are obnoxious.


Meanwhile Binary Bug’s movers have brought his stolen goods up to his new penthouse digs. Shattering a wine glass, he makes it clear he’s James Rambo, the fired investigator caught rifling through Compucord (and replaced by Aaron Stack). Thanks to the Tinkerer’s gear, he’s nearly broken Delmar, and now plans a final, dangerous score.

Machine Man uses Compucord to “learn in minutes what a computer operator would take years to glean.” He basically confirms his theory and goes to Rambo’s loft address. He spooks the landlord, observes he’s lying in a way that would do Matt Murdock justice, and gets the new address.

Once he’s there, he discovers the stash, comments on human greed, scans his notes, and heads for the dirigible of Khan of Xanadu, Delmar’s richest client. So does he float it in one general area?

Did you know Xanadu, named by Coleridge, honors Kublai Khan’s legendary Chinese home called “Shang-Tu” or “upper capital”? Aboard the “flying castle” there’s “joyous music” and dancing, while a thug named Gianelli vociferously protests being muscled out of territory. Binary Bug enters; Gianelli mistakes him for an assassin, only to be disarmed by a shock blast. Now Khan must turn over ten million in goods. Khan doesn’t fear him in the least.
Machine Man quickly gets a foot in from behind; the Bug tries a gas smoke screen and throws another Ditko psuedo-pod thing. Machine Man’s prepared for the “techno-breaker” but it’s actually his old enemy, sonics. Overloaded, he falls, telescoping limbs asplay. Out of time, Binary Bug flees the blimp, certain he was the one in true danger, from Khan. Machine Man dives out behind him, dodging deadly rockets; he yells at the Bug to look out. Flying backwards, the Binary Bug bytes the dust, crashing into high-tension wires. Machine Man’s stunned at how humans waste their lives.




Aboard the blimp, Khan goes over the “amazing coincidence” with Gianelli. Not long ago (#10) he’d tried to destroy Machine Man with an earthquake; today, Machine Man possibly saves his life. Now he wishes Machine Man “to serve my will.”


P.S. I don't know about the detective work here.
I am totally ready for Aaron here to say something good about humankind or something that makes him curious. He's not so bad, just kinda downbeat!

Multiple buildings grid


Here we have the grid lines drawn again from two point perspective. We're going to lay out several buildings.



Click on any photos you need to see full-size!

It's alright to make mistakes at this stage. The important things are 1) think of your buildings in relationship to one another 2)keep the lines straight in relation to one another




This sketch was drawn to help lay out a similar scene, though with different looking buildings. Remember they have streets between, as you move front to back. I didn't quite nail it,but here you go!

Refer back to my first article on "Buildings" listed in the archives for the discussion of how one triangulates the perspective from which the artist's eye works.


I roughed out a duplicate of the building on the left to bring in closer to the center of the picture; I'm cropping off the sides of the drawing to fit a much smaller space. (That's also why I folded it!)




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