By Beau Smith

There’s a lot to get to this week. My Busted Knuckles inbox is pretty full and I figure it’s time to shift most of it out to you, after all, that is the goal. Grab your notebook and something to scribble with. You’re going to want to write some of this down.

Color Me Guy

Back in the day (The good old days) comic book pages used to be hand colored. That’s right, hand colored! No fancy computer software, just a steady hand, an eye for color and lot of scribbled numbers with letters. (EX: 43B2) Color guides are rare items that I’ve collected for my own pleasure through the years. I’ve got some dating back to the JLA in the 1970’s. I own some really beautiful color guides from my days at Eclipse Comics when the super talented Sam Parsons colored Tim Truman’s Scout comic book. Those are some real beauties.

Recently I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of my old amigo, Stuart Chaifetz’s generosity. Stu and I worked together at DC Comics on Guy Gardner: Warrior. Stu colored over Mitch Byrd and Dan Davis’s great art. Needless to say, I was really stoked when Stu contacted me and told me he was sending me the color guides to Guy Gardner: Warrior. Issue #21 was my second issue of GGW. It was real special to me because every page in the story was either a splash page or a double splash page. It was Guy Gardner and Hal Jordan (Parallax) going toe to toe for the whole issue. A jaw-breaker of an issue.

Looking at the color guides really took me back to a very fun two-year run on the book. It also reminded me of how technology has changed the way we produce and create comic books. At that time I was still writing my scripts on a typewriter and sending Xeroxes of it to my editors, Eddie Berganza and Kevin Dooley. Mitch Byrd and Dan Davis were still sending the physical artwork to them as well. What a different time it was. It was soon after this that the computer, internet and email changed everything. I thought I would share a couple of the color guide pages with you here so that you young guys could see the way it used to be done. I hope you enjoy this look back as much as I did.

“I’ll Have A Blue Beetle Christmas.”

As your constant Indiana Jones of rare and manly finds, I have uncovered another gem that may have slipped through your radar. The comic book is DC Universe Holiday Special #1. A nice, fat comic book with loads of Christmas stories by various writers and artists. There are tons of your favorite DC heroes in these neat stand-alone stories. You’ll find Superman, Nightwing, Aquaman, Robin and others. The story that really stands out in this is “Christmas With The Beetles”. Story by J.C. Vaughn with art by Lee Garbett (A REAL find) and Trevor Scott. It’s a wonderfully written seven page story that proves that truly talented writers can still give you a beginning, middle and end within tight confines and be every bit, if not more satisfying that some long, drawn out 6 issue story arc. The pacing of this story that connects all three versions of The Blue Beetle is as tight as a spandex skirt on Jennifer Lopez’s rear end. The camera angles used in the art would make Christopher Nolan green with envy.

This is a story that I read and muttered “I wish I had written this.” That’s the highest compliment that I can give a story. Trust me, I toss those out like they were manhole covers. This story is a tightly wrapped package with no blocks of unneeded dialogue. It makes you like and want more of every version of The Blue Beetle. Read this and you too will want more stories by J.C. Vaughn and Lee Garbett.

Vigilante Given Justice

While we’re on the subject of DC Comics, they’ve released another book for Feb. 2009 that needs your attention. It’s Vigilante #1 by Marv Wolfman, Rick Leonardi and John Stanisci. I’ve been an avid fan of The Vigilante in both his cowboy form and the modern one for a long time. Marv Wolfman’s new series keeps me there. The Vigilante is right where he should be, fighting real crime and doing a damn fine job of it. Wolfman puts on a real writing class in this issue showing once again that you don’t need a lot of useless blocks of ten ton text, bloated “blah-blah” dialogue and “I’m so clever” one-liners. The only agenda being pushed here is “Crime Doesn’t Pay.” That’s refreshing.

Rick Leonardi’s art is a pleasure to see unfold. Nothing but quality craftsmanship in moving the story with the action. His reference is perfect and his work here is visually exciting without being over the top. This book is a must, kids. I pray that DC pushes this book and retailers let their customers know about it. Drop one of those boring books that you’re buying and replace it with this one.

Ed Brubaker Gave Me A Gift

My personal two favorite super hero comic book series right now are JSA at DC Comics and Captain America at Marvel Comics. Ed Brubaker, the writer of Captain America, has given me a gift. After all these many years, Marvel Comics has finally given me a Sub-Mariner that I can say “Yeah! This is the way I’d write him.” In eight pages of this 22 page story, Ed Brubaker has made up for the last ten years of not-up-to-par versions of the Sub-Mariner. He didn’t use any back peddling and he didn’t feel the need to reinvent Marvel history. He saw the way Namor should be and wrote him that way.

Namor’s scenes with Bucky Barnes are like those of a tough Uncle or mentor. There’s respect and there’s friendship, manly friendship. None of that warm and fuzzy stuff that people these days mistake for manly. The art by Steve Epting goes beyond great. The guy is in a realm of his own and we’re just lucky to get to see it. If you don’t buy another issue of Captain America this year, then make sure you pick this one up just to see Namor as he should be. For those of you that were raised on the Steve Rogers version of Captain America, like me, learn to embrace this series. You’ll always have your childhood Captain America busting the heads of Nazis and bad guys with a government that is true. You can go there any time you want with back issues and collections. Think of this series as a printed form of the TV series 24 starring Captain America in the Jack Bauer role. It works.

Oh, and by the way, in issue #45 check out Batroc The Leaper finally getting the respect he deserves as well. The Frenchman is nobody’s fool. Good stuff!

AdHouse Books Delivers

Gee, whoever thought that brutal, ugly violence could be so beautiful? AdHouse Books, noted for their very arty and indy books, has published a graphic novel called Mesmo Delivery by R. Grampa that will take you back to the heights of fine European graphic novels of the ’70s and ’80s. Mesmo Delivery is a beautifully formatted book that tells the tale of truckers, a pit stop that’s more of a piss stop, a fist-fight that turns into a blood bath without soap. R. Grampa’s art is a feast for the ol’ eyeballs. The story is twisted, but not so twisted you think a Brit wrote it. Mesmo Delivery is not for the squeamish as the saying goes. There are cuss words and nasty habits so be prepared to enjoy it.

Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Week: Life With Archie #57
January 1967
Archie Comics.

The spy craze from the 1960’s was all kinds of right. James Bond, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Our Man Flint

Busted Knuckles Babe of the Week: Christina Cox

You’ve seen her all over your TV screen in such shows as House, Bones, Blood Ties, Stargate Atlantis and Numb3rs. You’ll soon see her on a new series called Defying Gravity. Anywhere you see Christina Cox is a good place. I personally cannot understand why someone hasn’t given Cox her own action series or film. She is trained in Muay Thai Kickboxing, gymnastics, firearms and weaponry as well as stage combat. She’s great looking, can act with the best of them and? well? she’s really good looking. Keep your eye out for this Busted Knuckles Babe of the Week.

The Roundup

Strange Beau Facts:

  • I’ve always enjoyed Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedies. I like the ones they’ve done separately as well.
  • I like using an old school fountain pen.
  • While reading in bed at night I always have The Weather Channel on. Nobody ever yells on that show.
  • I hit the mute button on 99.9% of all TV commercials when watching a TV show.
  • I’m a notebook/memo pad freak.
  • I always carry a pocket knife. I have all my life.
  • I own over 10,000 bookd in my personal library. (That’s just the hardcovers and not even counting comic book related stuff.)
  • I own well over 100 pocket knives.
  • I wipe down library books with Clorox disinfecting wipes when I check them out.
  • I read one to two books a week. I sometimes have four books going at once.
  • I’ve been a Chicago Bears fan since 1963.
  • I’ve been a Cleveland Indians fan since 1964.
  • I’ve been a Philadelphia Flyers fan since 1970.
  • I still have over 500 vintage vinyl albums.
  • I have a lot of guns.
  • I love the internet and I hate the internet.
  • I’ve had over 100 letters printed in comic books.
  • I’ve had letters of comment published in TV Guide, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Surfer Magazine, Musician and Adventure Magazine.
  • I once flew to Las Vegas with Pro Wrestling champ Bruno Sammartino. He told me many stories about the old country and wrestling.
  • John Wayne’s oldest son, Michael Wayne, called me on the phone and left a message once.
  • Actor Billy Campbell (The Rocketeer) called me and left a message once looking for Dan Fraga’s phone number.
  • I was the fastest kid in grade school and Junior. High. Second fastest in high school. In college I was in the top five, for a while.
  • I failed math every year from 7th grade through 11th grade. Summer School was my friend.
  • I’ve never struck a female in my life.
  • I’ve never done any drugs.
  • I have 20/10 vision, but have to wear reading glasses (1.25)
  • I misspent my youth.

Okay, that’s enough Beau Facts for this time. Maybe if they irritate everyone I’ll do more soon. Thanks for stopping by and reading the column. I always appreciate it. Also, a big thanks goes out to Jenny Williams and her husband Tom for sending me the very cool T-Shirt from his construction company. It is truly manly!

Your amigo,

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch

Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!

About The Author

Beau Smith

Beau Smith is a writer for Comics Bulletin