By Beau Smith
This weekend kicks off a fun summer of comic book related movies: Thor, X-Men First Class, Green Lantern and Captain America, and that will lead into 2012 with The Avengers and more.
For a long time comic book, writer, reader and collector, this is stuff I used to dream about as a kid when the outlet to pop culture was a heck of a lot smaller. Technology has caught up with comic books, and everyone is reaping the benefits from it.
One of the best parts of that technology is that most of the comic book movies being made now are better than the current comics. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I look at it as a positive in the hopes that it will spur the current comics into being more all-ages and get back into the characters. I don’t want new and first time readers to see these movies, decide to try the comic book and then be let down because the character on the screen was so much more likeable and engaging than the all too serious and personality-less character on the printed page.
The recent comic book films, such as Iron Man and Spider-Man, have been a wonderful mix of perfect casting, action, drama and humor. In less than two hours of screen time, the characters are well defined and we as viewers are willing to give emotional investment to them to entertain us.
That’s not always the case with the characters as they appear in the comic books. Case in point, Wonder Woman has been around for over 60 years and to this day, no one really knows her. Batman is a grouch and Superman is, well, he’s a mess.
I’d love to see more of an equal match with the comics and the films. For a while it was the opposite, the comic books clearly were much better than the movies, for example Daredevil, The Hulk, Jonah Hex, Superman Returns, Elektra, as well as a couple of the BATMAN movies. We are now see-sawing in the other direction. I want to see both on the same level.
Go see all these new movies, they’re gonna be fun!
Visit Parts Unknown
Back in 1990, I created, with artist Brad Gorby, a fun, over-the-top exploitation, drive-in-movie type of comic book series called Parts Unknown. It was a mix of those wonderful 1950’s space alien invasion movies, 1970s exploitation films with the much missed 1980s direct to video action movies.
Parts Unknown had a simple premise that there are invading reptilian aliens known as the Scalons who were seeking to not only take over Earth, mate with Earth women to create a new hybrid race and harvest tissue and organs from the men, then enslave or kill them. It was up to a couple of former alcoholic super cops, Pendlton Spurr and Maria Lucci, to stop the Scanlons. Spurr’s girlfriend, a former beauty queen and now news anchor, is kidnapped as the prime breeder by the Scalons and it’s up to Spurr and Lucci to save her.
Of course, no one believes two former drunk cops suspended for police brutality, and a former beauty queen that there are sex crazed alien killers on the loose, but that’s the way it goes in my sick comic book world.
The Parts Unknown series – there have been three, one each from Eclipse Comics, Image Comics, Knight Press – garnered more of a cult following than Gorby and I could’ve ever dreamed of. It seems we weren’t the only ones that loved science fiction B-movies. Even 21 years after Parts Unknown hit the stores, I still get letters and emails every week asking about it, talking about and signing copies through the mail and at conventions.
I’m always flattered by the loyalty and love for this politically incorrect little sci-fi series. This week I thought I would share with you some of the pages from the unpublished Parts Unknown Annual and the final wrap up issue of the last series. The art from the wrap up issue is by Warren Martineck, Evan Quiring, each penciled and inked their own 8 pages of the chapter. The Parts Unknown Annual was penciled by Chris Ready and inked by Bill Nichols. As you can see by the pages, all the artists captured that fun, semi-animated, action packed style that Brad Gorby started 21 years ago.
I hope you enjoy these looks behind the curtain and maybe they’ll cause you to re-read your own Parts Unknown issues of seek them out online or at your local comic shop. Remember, anytime you want to talk Parts Unknown, just drop me an email.
This week I have three Manly Recommendations for those of you that are seeking some good stuff to read and look at. Hopefully they will be of interest to you and soon in your collection.
Modern Masters: Jeff Smith
Writer: Eric Nolen-Weathington
Artist: Jeff Smith
Cover Price: $15.95
On Sale Now
Jeff Smith is a true American success story. Over a decade ago he started out with next to nothing and a great idea and built it into Bone, one of the highest-selling and influential independent comic books in modern history. This book has a wonderful career-spanning interview with Smith as well as all kinds of great art from his incredible career. You’ll also get to find out the creative stuff he has coming out that will thrill any fan of Bone and comic books.
Big Head Press
Writer: Mike Baron
Art: Andie Tong
Cover Price: $9.95
Over 70 pages
On Sale Now.
Mike Baron is the creator of The Badger and co-creator of Nexus, two comic books that were way ahead of their time and still stand as benchmarks in smart writing. Now Mike has joined up with Andie Tong to create a smart, compelling story that touches all genres and hits the mark on each one. The Architect has action, romance, drama, mystery, horror and enough science fiction to please any reader. Andie Tong’s art captures Baron’s story, dialogue and enhances the characters with emotions that stand tall. If you’re looking for a book that is a break from the standard superhero or horror line, then try The Architect and please yourself.
Alter Ego: Centennial
Writers: Roy Thomas and Jim Amash
Artists: George Perez, Rich Buckler and Jerry Ordway
Cover Price: $19.95
On Sale Now.
Alter Ego was the fanzine of fanzines. I remember as a kid hearing rumors and legends of this wonderful fanzine that I could never find in my small hometown. It was places like Alter Ego and the letter columns in the comic books that you could find out behind the scenes information on the characters and the creators that made your favorite comics. You could also have that sense of community that you were looking for to share your hobby with others of a like mind. Alter Ego: Centennial celebrates 100 issues and 50 years of Alter Ego. So much is covered here with pictures, art and interviews. I highly recommend this book for anyone that loves comics and the history that they were built on.
Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Week: Parts Unknown: Hostile Takeover #2
Pencils: Scot Eaton
Inks: Danny Miki
Since I spoke of Parts Alone above, I figured why not select one of the manly covers from that series, after all, it’s got tough guys with big guns, beautiful heroine with big guns, a nasty alien with big guns and a damsel in distress with big…eyes. This cover makes me wish that artists Scot Eaton and Danny Miki could work together more often, they make a great team!
Busted Knuckles Babe of the Week: Danielle Burgio
Danielle Burgiois is lovely and she can climb walls, towers, shoot guns, fight and more than likely hurt you really bad if she wanted. Danielle is an amazing stunt woman with an incredible list of movies that she has played a major role in stunt work. Here are just a few of the movies and TV shows you’ve seen her work in: Angel, Flash Forward, Birds Of Prey, The Matrix, Daredevil, Pearl Harbor, Blade and Ghosts of Mars. She has starred in such films and TV shows as Backlash, The Eliminator, 24, Will & Grace, Super Ninjas, Crossing Jordan and House of the Dead. She’s a great person and a real talent. Make sure you look for her in your next action movie rental.
I really cannot make this any simpler:
BUY THIS BOOK!
Genius Isolated: The Life And Art Of Alex Toth
Library Of American Comics/IDW Publishing
By Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell
Over 320 Pages
On Sale Now
The Flying Fist Ranch
Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!