The Annotated Stephen Bissette : SWAMP THINGS & TABOOS & TYRANTS

During my formative years I discovered this comic SWAMP THING by relative newcomers Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, and John Totleben.

I was a kid, but old enough to realize even then that this was something special. Alan Moore’s words and Bissette and Totleben’s visuals even at the time, and it was a strange time because everything felt in flux and on the brink of changing, even at the time, getting these off the stands, the combination of these three men working together felt like greatness.

And some things are hot in the moment, but some things, some work that is rushed out for the masses, to meet deadlines for a castigated medium, some work screams greatness from the go, and time only makes it more great.

More Hallowed.

From pioneers like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko and Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway and Steve Englehart and Chris Claremont and Kraft and Giffen and O’Neil and Neal Adams and Jim Steranko and Bernie Wrightson there was a new generation building on the foundation they laid down.

Creators such as…

Don Lomax (who I had the pleasure to interview) would give us VIETNAM JOURNAL.

Doug Moench, a pioneer in his own right, off of MASTER OF KUNG FU (issues 38 and 39 remains the best two parter ever) would do some of his most heartfelt work in Moon Knight (that first 21 or 22 issues is gold, everything from dealing with the death of John Lennon, to familial abuse)

Frank Miller would give us DARK KNIGHTS and RONINS and YEAR ONES.

William Messner Loebs would create a frontier masterpiece, unfotunately a hidden gem to most, with JOURNEY.

Bruce Jones – With his TWISTED TALES would almost singlehandedly give birth to a new EC inspired golden age of Horror Comics, but making comics that were horrifying to a Reagan era age.

and of course… Alan Moore.

Alan Moore would birth many such works, particularly in the waning decades of the 20th century. SWAMP THING was one of his earliest successes and remains one of his most iconic works. And for me one of his most beautiful works, working with the art team of Bissette snd Totleben, they were visual storytellers that could really add and evolve and enrich the scope of Moore’s script, throwing in their own ideas and visuals.

It is very much the work of three young men riffing on their loves, and remains now 30 years later still very seminal work.

Bissette in the years since has become one of the most respected instructors, teaching at the celebrated Center for Cartoon Studies in vermont.

One thing you may not know about him, and I first discovered listening to an Indie Spinner Rack podcast episode (that great now defunct show) is he is a FANTASTIC speaker. He is such an engaging and erudite and interesting wealth of information on this beloved hobby and artform and the personalities behind it.

And I love podcasts to begin with, so combining this walking encyclopedia of not just comic lore, but film and film journalism, books, the art of creating, of self publishing, of blogging, and for me… that is entertainment.

So ever since I’ve listened to him, whenever I catch him interviewed on a podcast.

So here without further ado is hours of audio greatness with one of the best artists in Comics, and one of its most engaging speakers.

INDIE SPINNER RACK #79 8 May 2007 – My first introduction to Stephen Bissette post SWAMP THING, this put him on my radar as just a fantastic and informative speaker. A great interview/conversation.

Talkcast #102 8 Oct 2011 – Very annoying hosts makes this one almost unlistenable, but fast forward to where Bissette finally gets to speak about fundraising and HP Lovecraft.

LOST IN THE STATIC #99 -25 Nov 2013- Fun informative hosts lead inro a really compelling interview on Bissette, that includes Edgar Allen Poe, Greg Irons, Skull #6, Moore, Veitch, Totleben and the Saga of the Swamp Thing. Indie work on Gore Shriek, Shriek, and the ground breaking Dave Simm funded TABOO. Structure of TABOO inspired by Harlan Ellison’s brilliant DANGEROUS VISIONS and AGAIN DANGEROUS VISIONS. Bruce Jones TWISTED TALES, X-MEN’S Brood Saga. TABOO designed by Bissette to be taken seriously, and push the envelope and make people ‘drop it on the ground’. Kirby Awards. A must listen podcast.

Adam Greenfield’s great podcast MAKING COMICS has had Stephen Bissette as a guest three times, and all three are brilliant, with nice Vincent Price/Poe Intros. Well worth hunting down. Oct 2014,2015, & 2016.

DECONSTRUCTING COMICS #465,#500 – Sept 2015, June 2016

POD SEQUENTIALISM #2 – October 2015

TV GUIDANCE #228 – May 2017

RADIODROME #323 – Mar 2017

UNDER CONSTRUCTION – Come back as I flesh out the content in all the interviews and conversations!

2015 YEAR IN REVIEW: FAVORITE ARTISTS

Favorite artists discovered in 2015!

With 2015 about to wrap up my mind goes to some of the illustrators/artist that really made my radar in 2015.

Two that I met at a regional art show and who I have bought prints off of, whose work continues here at the end of the year to captivate me; are: Edwin Lester and Phil Kutno.

You can see for yourself what grabs me about each artist’s work. The below images are copyright the respective artists, and if you like what you see I highly recommend you visit the artists respective sites, tell them this blog sent you, and grab yourself some affordable and stunning prints or originals. Now onto the artists:

EDWIN LESTER

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PHIL KUTNO

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COVER GALLERY : Favorite Flash Comic book Covers! 1959-1970

COVER GALLERY : Favorite Flash Comic book Covers! 1959-1970

If you have watched television recently, you probably know the very popular FLASH TV series. After some misgivings regarding the show, I’ve grown quite fond of it.

What you might not know, is the comic book series.

The Flash is a comic book series that has had several incarnations; and without doubt, one of the most popular ones is the silver age series, that introduced the scarlet clad Flash, Barry Allen.

The silver age series ran from the late 1950s to about 1970. Here is a selection of my favorite FLASH comic book covers from that period. The covers (as were the interiors) overwhelmingly were the vision of one man, Carmine Infantino, who was the art director of all of DC’s comics, and (at the formative years of an oft maligned medium) defined the look of what an exciting comic book cover was.

His artwork, while perhaps crude and simplistic compared to the more refined and rendered artists of today, has a sense of design, the placement of text and graphics, and the art of getting you excited, that is still head and shoulders above most artists today.

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Carmine, at the end of 1967 with his workload as art director/executive editor increasing, after almost 8 consistent years as the sole artist of the Flash, passed on the reigns of cover and interior artist to talented newcomer Ross Andru.

Ross Andru after some initial growing pains proved himself a talented artist, growing into a strong cover artist in his own right. His issues get progressively better.

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But by far the best covers of this period are the haunting, almost baroque covers by the great Joe Kubert. Paired with stories by John Broome and the always great Robert Kanigher, these issues are a must own for any fan of great art and story. Some exemplary Neal Adams and Gil Kane covers round out the list of best covers as 1970 closes out the silver age of comics.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of the best of Silver Age FLASH Comic Book Covers! Drop us a line and let us know some of your favorites!

And to own these issues yourself? Well the bad news is most of these have not been collected yet. The good news is brand new collections are on the way. The first one, THE FLASH OMNIBUS was released last year, is hardcover, full color, and contains over 800 pages!! At $60 it is not cheap, but considering you get reprinted tens of thousands of dollars of comics, it’s a deal.

Get it The Flash Omnibus Vol. 1
here!

DEAL OF THE DAY : Hall of History Bermuda’s Story in Art! 14″ by 14″ rare Art Book!


“The Hall of History – Bermuda’s own “Sistine Chapel”

‘The Hall of History’ is a larger than life mural by Bermudian artist, Graham Foster, to be found in The Commissioner”s House at the National Museum of Bermuda in Dockyard.

The two story, 1000 square foot interior mural depicts five centuries of Bermudian history, and took approximately 7,000 hours -over three years – to complete.”
—-BSOA.BM

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On my recent trip to Bermuda, as can be imagined I saw many wonderful sights and sounds and toured many impressive places. One of the most striking is the Commissioner’s House, which offered some of the most beautiful views of the Island of Bermuda and the surrounding seas.

And not to be undone the interior of the Commissioner’s house held many Marvels both historic and cultural. Weapons of War and documents of peace, tales of soldiers who gave their last best measure, stories of slavery endured and triumphed over, and rooms lovingly adorned with books and art, going back to the early days of the seafaring age.

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And of the many Marvels to be seen in the Commissioner’s House one of the many impressive ones, is also one of the newest. A relatively recently commissioned mural, only 6 years of age as of this writing, that spans two stories and a thousand square feet, and five hundred years of Bermudian History. By local Artist Graham Foster his BERMUDA’S STORY IN ART is nothing short of a stellar marvel, that is to be ogled and awed at in person.

Walking up and down the two flights I loved it, and also knew I had not the time to truly grasp a fraction of the detail that Foster put into the work. It was too big, too immense, too esoteric in parts, it was the history of a nation distilled in paint and sweat and time.

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Coming back from Bermuda, one of my great regrets was not picking up the art book, that was produced in 2011 (2 years after the murals opening) by the National Museum of Bermuda to give detail into Foster’s staggering work. Long unavailable, thankfully a few copies have become available on Amazon. I recently got one of them, and my verdict, on the massive 14″ by 14″, 200+ page book, written and annotated by Bermuda scholar Rosemary Jones in collaboration with artist Graham Foster is… it is a masterpiece. A work of art in its own right, to properly convey… the work of art of Foster’s Mural.

A fantastic addition to anyone’s library, whether a traveler, a bibliophile, or an art lover. Highest recommendation. Pick up your copy (if you are lucky) at the link below!

Hall of History Bermuda’s Story in Art

 

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“Hall of History Mural Bermuda

If you love wall murals, this is the one you mustn’t miss in Bermuda. Hall of History is a 1000 square feet larger than life mural created by the Bermudian artist Graham Foster. You will find it in the Commissioner’s House located at the National Museum of Bermuda in Royal Naval Dockyard.

Graham started the work in 2005 and it took him 7,000 hours of research and painting to complete this mural over more than 3 years time. On November 2009, it was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen. At the time of opening, Graham had presented a painting “The Wreck of the Sea Venture” to the Queen. The mural depicts over 400 years of life in Bermuda and you will be able to see virtually everything that made a mark in the island over the past centuries.

Graham Foster’s Mural “Hall of History” is now captured in a 14″ x 14″ Coffee table book. It depicts the deep history and heritage of his murals with many high quality pictures of the mural. The text of the book has been written by Rosemary Jones. In case you are not able to spend enough time at the Commissioners House to absorb all the details of the mural personally, this hefty book can be a great possession to explore those details. It’s currently retailing for $65 and is available at the bookstores island wide.”
http://www.bermuda-attractions.com/bermuda_0002c4.htm

“Graham Foster is a Bermudian artist best known for his larger-than-life mural, ‘The Hall of History’ at the Bermuda Maritime Museum in Dockyard. The two storey, 1000 square foot interior mural depicts five centuries of Bermudian history, and took approximately 7000 hours [over three years] to complete.

Born in 1970, he is the son of physician Elizabeth Foster and Alec Foster. A professional artist since 1995, Mr. Foster was educated at The Bermuda College and The Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston.

His paintings tend to follow one of two directions – one inspired by Bermuda’s fish,flora,fauna, and people, captured in a characteristically surreal style,the other is looser and more expressionistic,often inspired by dreams and the subconscious.

He is a sculptor [primarily in welded steel] as well as a painter. In 2002, he became the first Bermudian artist to have a work purchased for the permanent collection of The Bermuda National Gallery, a welded steel triptych entitled ’21st Century Fetish Family’. Many of his sculptures are strongly influenced by Tribal Art.”
http://bernews.com/bermuda-profiles/graham-foster/

Art Deals of the Day : Gustave Dore MASTER OF IMAGINATION

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It’s about time that the 19th century’s most staggering and arguably prolific artist of the fantastic received a worthy hardcover tome, and with the almost sold out 2014 book, DORE:MASTER OF IMAGINATION edited by Phillippe Kaenel, Gustave Dore finally has that acclaim, and his fans finally have that book.

The book however, by shear breadth of Dore’s output, is in no way a comprehensive overview of his output, and is more a very cursory sampling of the different projects and mediums this renaissance man of the 19th century put his hand to.

“I am sorry to have made a mere 100,000 drawings by the age of 33” – Gustave Dore

So it is not perfect, but it is essential and makes a great companion to those quickly going out of print, but wonderful, 1970s Dover paperback compilations of Dore’s work. Whoever the editor at Dover Publishing in the 1970s who spearheaded reprinting Dore’s acclaimed works in affordable but quality paperback volumes, they created a great boon to art lovers everywhere.

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Dore was the master of the meticulous and the detailed and the imaginative, a single one of his painstaking engravings having more complexity and depth and range than most modern day artists produce in a year.

There is this school of thought, that I do not subscribe to, that detail is bad, or unnecessary, or overkill. Largely spearheaded by modern artists incapable of doing detail, so they attack the idea of detailed illustrations to justify the value of their limitations. Simplicity and minimalism have their uses, but they will never replace, or supplant, or overshadow, prodigious talent, prodigious passion, and prodigious detail, all in service to a prodigious imagination. And Gustav Dore brought all that immense talent to every drawing he did. As an artist he has my highest recommendation.

All of the Dover Dore books are collectible, but the four best are the DORE BIBLE, DORE DANTE’S DIVINE COMEDY, DORE’s ORLANDO FURIOSO, and Dore’s IDYLLS OF THE KING.

And the DORE: MASTER OF IMAGINATION book serves as a bit more upscale exploration of Gustav Dore’s life and work. Price your copy of that and the Dover Titles below!

Gustave Dore 1832-1883: Master of Imagination beautiful Hardcover Tome!

The Dore Illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy (136 Plates by Gustave Dore)

The Dore Bible Illustrations

Doré’s Illustrations for “Idylls of the King” (Dover Fine Art, History of Art)

Doré’s Illustrations for Ariosto’s “Orlando Furioso”: A Selection of 208 Illustrations (Dover Fine Art, History of Art)

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These are a few of my favorite things : Amazon Prime DEALS OF THE DAY!

 

 

 

The Best of EC Artist Edition Vol 1 Hardcover – 2013

 

EC Comics is arguably the finest line of comics ever produced. Whether it was science fiction or war, crime or horror, their entire line stood head and shoulders above the rest of the comics on the newsstands. Now IDW Publishing is pleased to present an Artist’s Edition unlike any other, featuring the best stories by the brightest stars of EC Comics. Remember these classics? 50 Girls 50 by Al Williamson and Frank Frazetta, The Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman, The Flying Machine by Bernie Krigstein, Touch and Go by Johnny Craig, Judgment Day by Joe Orlando. All these plus more! And a stunning cover gallery crammed with glorious EC goodness! Brought to you by the same team responsible for the Eisner Award-winning Walter Simonson’s The Mighty Thor: Artist’s Edition and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil Born Again: Artist’s Edition.

The Best of EC Artist Edition Vol 1 – Price your copy here!

 

 

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New-York Historical Society New York City in 3D In The Gilded Age: A Book Plus Stereoscopic Viewer and 50 3D Photos from the Turn of the Century Paperback – June 3, 2014

Be transported to New York during the Gilded Age and experience daily life in one of the world’s most vibrant cities through mesmerizing, contemporary 3D photography and exciting tales of the time.

Black Dog & Leventhal has partnered with the New-York Historical Society to present New York in the Gilded Age as it’s never been viewed before. This innovative package includes a sturdy metal stereoscopic viewer and 50 stereoscopic photographs of turn-of-the-century New York. The package also includes a 128-page paperback that provides a brief history of the stereograph craze and an overview of the city’s evolution during that time.

New-York Historical Society New York City in 3D In The Gilded Age: A Book Plus Stereoscopic Viewer and 50 3D Photos from the Turn of the Century

 

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Paris in 3D in the Belle Époque: A Book Plus Steroeoscopic Viewer and 34 3D Photos Paperback – April 14, 2015

 

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LNTGO Ks Luxury Brand White Skeleton Alloy Dial Analog Hand Wind Mechanical Relogio Fob Copper Key Steampunk Pocket Watch Men- Ksp064 – Price this beautiful time peace here!

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Gustave Dore 1832-1883: Master of Imagination Hardcover – June 10, 2014

The diverse oeuvre of Gustave Doré—illustrations, paintings, sculpture—combines with biography and critical essays and attests to the artist’s enduring impact on contemporary culture. Proclaimed “the most illustrious of illustrators,” Gustave Doré is best known for his engravings, which appeared in editions of the Bible, Dante’s Inferno, Poe’s The Raven, The Adventures of Don Quixote, and even in Hollywood, from King Kong to Seven. Yet the extent of his genius remains largely unknown. Here, along with his renowned illustrations, his paintings and sculptures are also examined, bringing to light the rich diversity of his talent. Using watercolor, vivid oil paint, or sculpture, he demonstrated mastery in a vast scope of media, and in treatments ranging from monumental historical tableaux to landscapes to modest compositions. His work transcended techniques and eras, covering an inexhaustible range of subjects from Europe to the United States to Russia and revealing his insatiable curiosity. This comprehensive monograph accompanies an exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris from February 18–May 11 and at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa from June 12–September 14, 2014.

Gustave Dore 1832-1883: Master of Imagination – Price it Here!

Art Book of the Day : FROM THE BLACK SEA THROUGH PERSIA AND INDIA by Edwin Lord Weeks

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Less an art book than a travelogue/diary and historical exploration of an at the time still largely mysterious region, FROM THE BLACK SEA THROUGH PERSIA AND INDIA is an 1890s scholarly work (done during a time of an earlier Afghanistan War)on that area between the lands of Nubia and Asia that today we call the Middle East, by one of the preeminent artists of the 19th century, Edwin Lord Weeks.

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I first became aware of his glorious oil paintings when visiting the Richmond Art Museum a couple years back. His HOUR OF PRAYER painting in person, is simply massive in scale, and cannot truly be appreciated except in person (when you stand in front and beneath the painting, it’s like you could walk into it), carrying as it does not just the seminal strokes of a realist at the height of his powers, but the weight of history and a moment of time, and region, and culture (all of which is under threat of going away) preserved here; hauntingly captured.

For more on my first exposure to Edwin Lord Weeks go here!

I have since seen several other Edwin Lord Weeks paintings in person, Weeks was a very prolific artist, and another standout is INTERIOR OF THE MOSQUE AT CORDOVA.

While not as large as HOUR OF PRAYER it is a gorgeous painting at any size, unlike HOUR OF PRAYER where pictures on the web don’t do it justice. Part of what makes HOUR OF PRAYER the award winner that it was, is the play of yourself against its vast spaces. There is an alchemy that happens when you see that picture in person, that is not reproducible on your computer screen. INTERIOR OF THE MOSQUE AT CORDOVA, in contrast, is a far more repeatable image. What you see on the web or in a book, is a good approximation of what you’ll see in person.

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Along with Virgil Finlay, Robert Duncanson, and Zdzislaw Beksinski; Edwin Lord Weeks quickly became one of those IT artists for me. A massive artistic talent whose work was largely unknown, or under appreciated to this day, and definitely still largely unheralded/uncollected in a comprehensive tome. He became an artist I set out to find books by and about.

Today’s selection is one of those books.

“With the permission from the War Department to visit Central Asia came an urgent telegram from the American legation at St. Petersburg, advising us not to go on account of the cholera which, after devastating Meshed, had left Persia and invaded the Russian provinces. We were then leaving for Constantinople by the Camboge, and finding that she would not proceed to Batoum, by reason of quarantine we were again forced to change our route. This time we elected to follow the old caravan from Trebizond on the Black Sea, to Tabreez, through the mountains of Kurdistan, that country of indefinite boundaries.

In short, there was no other route left open to us; we must either turn back, or, setting our face forward, head straight for the Persian frontier, five hundred miles away, and we decided to go on.”
—-Lord Edwin Weeks, from the preface to FROM THE BLACK SEA THROUGH PERSIA AND INDIA.

Being in the public domain there are numerous variations of this work online. The quality is all a bit less than stellar, as largely it looks to be photocopies of photocopies, and the pencil drawings/sketches that accompanies the words, all a bit muted… still there is enough there to get the brilliance, and you can flip to any page, read a paragraph and be entranced by Weeks’ evident love and romance for the region.

So until a proper tome dedicated to Lord Edwin Weeks is done, for reasons both historical and cultural this 462 page book, to any fan of the work of Weeks, is a must own.

Get your copy here:

From the Black Sea through Persia and India

Nineteenth-Century American Painting: The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

And American Gallery offers a great look at Weeks’ paintings here.