Vids I Dig 069: Cartoonist Kayfabe: Image Comics ‘Grand Design’, The Pitch Proposal

The Cartoonist Kayfabe guys (Ed Piskor & Jim Rugg) discuss what the Grand Design treatment could look like for the original Image Comics titles.

TV Review: The Comic Book Greats: Episode 6 – How to Create a Comic Book (1992)

Released: 1992
Created by: Stan Lee
Directed by: Rick Stawinski
Music by: Rick Stawinski, Rob Stawinski
Cast: Stan Lee (host), Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, Whilce Portacio, Jim Lee

Excelsior Productions, Stabur Home Video, 47 Minutes

Review:

Well, being that this came out in the second year of this home video series, a lot had changed since the first time we saw Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld in the first two episodes. By 1992, the two (and five others) had left Marvel and formed Image Comics. If you weren’t aware of the then new imprint, McFarlane mentions Image almost every five minutes in this video.

But it was cool to see these guys still come together with Stan Lee, the father of Marvel Comics. Granted, Stan Lee is barely in this episode as he is just there to kick it off and then pass it over to Todd and Rob. He also comes back to close out the show once other Image Comics founders Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio show up for short cameos.

When this video series was actually something new, this was the first one that I bought. At the time, I was making my own comics with friends, we had our own little imprint and were selling comics to kids at school and around South Florida. In fact, we were featured in the newspaper at the time for the buzz we created.

The reason I mention to above story is because my friends and I were inspired by Image and specifically the guys featured in this video. So when they all came together to teach aspiring comic book creators on how they actually create their own comics, this was something I had to own.

Even though times and methods have changed, Todd and Rob are pretty good teachers and a lot of what they teach here isn’t outdated and is still useful knowledge for this artistic medium.

This is one of the top episodes of the series because it goes beyond interviews and sketching and gets down to the nitty gritty. It gives real insight into the craft. Plus, in 1992, these were the best guys to use for a video like this.

This episode has aged well. Most of it is still relevant. My only complaint is this shouldn’t have been one 47 minute episode, it should have branched out into its own series where the Image guys actually go on to teach more than just the basics. It felt rushed and incomplete and more time and context would have been fantastic.

This is still worth a watch though, whether you want tips on how to make better comics or if you are just a fan of these creators.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: other episodes in The Comic Book Greats video series.

Documentary Review: So Much Damage: How Image Comics Changed the World (2017)

Original Run: November 20th, 2017
Directed by: Jon Erwin
Written by: Michael Avila
Music by: Paul Terry

Syfy, 5 Episodes, 15 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

This is the second documentary I have seen on Image Comics but this isn’t just a rehash of what was already covered in the slightly superior The Image Revolution.

This one was broken out into five 15 minute web episodes and put out by Syfy, who used to be the much cooler Sci-Fi Channel before they changed their channel’s spelling into something stupid.

Anyway, like The Image Revolution this documentary interviews all the key players and gets their stories. But what I like most about this is how it spends a good deal of time talking more about modern Image Comics and not just the revolution of 1991. As cool as that revolt was, modern Image has grown into something that I don’t feel any of the founding members could have fathomed back then.

It’s always fun to hear these guys talk about themselves, their experiences and the creation of Image, as it was a really exciting thing for me to experience as a fan in 1991. It was and still is the coolest thing that happened in the comic book industry in my lifetime.

So this certainly stirs up nostalgia but that doesn’t mean that this survives on that alone. It’s informative, has a good pace and is well organized and presented.

Younger comic book fans today will probably find some value in this, even though it’s made to attract the older fans who remember all of this like it was yesterday.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: The Image Revolution and Chris Claremont’s X-Men.

 

TV Review: The Comic Book Greats: Episode 1 – Spotlight on Todd McFarlane (1991)

Released: 1991
Created by: Stan Lee
Directed by: Rick Stawinski
Music by: Rick Stawinski, Rob Stawinski
Cast: Stan Lee (host), Todd McFarlane

Excelsior Productions, Stabur Home Video, 50 Minutes

Review:

I didn’t have all of these VHS tapes when I was a kid but I did have a lot of them. Luckily for me, and all of you, these are on YouTube. I’ve wanted to revisit these for ages but I haven’t had a working VCR since the Bush II administration.

I was going to review the series as a whole. However, after watching the first episode, which featured Stan Lee interviewing Todd McFarlane, I felt that each episode probably deserves its own review.

This was great to see, twenty-seven years later, as I’m no longer twelve and I had a much greater appreciation of this now than I did back then.

First of all, it was fantastic seeing Stan Lee, still with some youthful vigor, interviewing Todd McFarlane and discussing art techniques and the history of the business, as well as Todd’s career.

It’s pretty clear that Todd would have been a great teacher, as he shows the how and why he employs the techniques he does. For those wanting to get into drawing comics, this is a pretty valuable tool and I’m assuming the other episodes in this series are too. That’s actually why I bought a half dozen of these back in the early ’90s.

All in all, I liked hearing Todd and Stan share stories of the comic industry. Watching them shoot the shit for an hour was a lot of fun.

McFarlane is one of the all-time greats and what makes this even more interesting, is that it came out when he was transitioning away from Marvel and Spider-Man and just gearing up to establish Image Comics and his greatest creation, Spawn.

I really enjoyed this episode and I hope the others live up to the precedent set with this first one.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other episodes in The Comic Book Greats video series.

Comic Review: Spawn: Origins Collection, Vol. 3

Published: December 15th, 2009
Written by: Todd McFarlane
Art by: Todd McFarlane

Image Comics, 160 Pages

Review:

Since I flew through Spawn: Origins Collection, Vol. 1 & 2, I figured that I’d jump right into the third volume. Plus, the second volume cut off in the middle of a two-part story that carries over into this one.

I guess the biggest takeaway from this volume is that the man behind Al Simmons a.k.a. Spawn’s fate, Jason Wynn, is transformed against his will into another kind of warrior, Anti-Spawn. He is sent to destroy Spawn and the two get locked into battle not knowing who each other is.

The Spawn vs. Anti-Spawn battle is pretty epic and Wynn’s new identity feels like a real foil for Spawn and his powers. Really though, their first confrontation just leaves you wanting more.

Additionally, this volume introduces us to psychoplasm, what it is, how it works and how the substance played a part in Jason Wynn’s betrayal of Al Simmons.

After the Anti-Spawn story, we learn about the Overlap and meet Harold Houdini, who was the Houdini of old, who transported himself to the Overlap and learned true magic. Once he comes into contact with Spawn, he starts to train him on how to better harness his power and how to coexist with his costume, which is a living entity and a symbiote with his body.

Where the last collection is where the series really started to find it’s footing, this is where Spawn, the character, starts to find his, after his battle with Anti-Spawn, his undoing of Simmonsville and his lessons with Houdini. This is where Spawn gets beyond all the brooding over the past and really starts to move forward. Not to say he isn’t still going to brood, he just evolves as a character with more control and a more focused purpose.

At this point, Greg Capullo took over for Todd McFarlane on the art duties of this series. McFarlane was still the creative force behind Spawn but his McFarlane empire was just getting started and focusing all of his attention to just Spawn wasn’t possible.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: The other Spawn: Origins collections and other early Image Comics releases, especially Youngblood and The Savage Dragon.

Comic Review: Spawn: Origins Collection, Vol. 2

Published: November 15th, 2011
Written by: Todd McFarlane
Art by: Todd McFarlane

Image Comics, 192 Pages

Review:

Well, after Spawn: Origins Collection, Vol. 1 left me wanting more, I had to jump right into this second volume.

This collection covers issues 7 through 14 but it omits issue 10, which I actually just read in chronological order because I still have my original Spawn comics up into issue twenty-something.

The first issue in this collection sees Spawn call out Overt-Kill in an effort to finish their intense battle from the previous issue. Spawn is intent on finishing the job and the second meeting between the two is pretty grand.

After that, there is an issue featuring Billy Kincaid and what happens to him after death. It also shows you what the different layers of Hell are like in the Spawn universe.

We then get introduced to Angela, who would become a pretty popular character in the Spawn series and would eventually move on into Marvel Comics, leaving Image and the Spawn series behind. She’s a character with a really weird journey through comic book history but she got her start in Spawn issue 9.

Probably the most important part of this collection is the two issue story arc that covers Spawn confronting his killer. While I remembered this being much more epic when peering back into my 13 year-old self’s memories, it was still a pretty good story but left a lot unresolved.

The final issue included in this collection is the first half of a tale that Violator tells to a group of kids, which then carries on into the first issue of Spawn: Origins Collection, Vol. 3.

This is a better group of stories than the first collection and it helped to enrich the Spawn mythos. Although, the first book is necessary in order to pick this one up. This is where Spawn started to figure out what it was and Todd McFarlane really found his footing in these issues.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: The other Spawn: Origins collections and other early Image Comics releases, especially Youngblood and The Savage Dragon.

Comic Review: Spawn: Origins Collection, Vol. 1

Published: May 19th, 2009
Written by: Todd McFarlane
Art by: Todd McFarlane

Image Comics, 160 Pages

Review:

Having just revisited the original miniseries for The Savage Dragon, I wanted to return to this original Image Comics title and relive the experience that enchanted me as a kid in the summer where I found myself wedged between seventh and eighth grade.

Spawn is only one of two original Image titles to have a really long lasting run that went beyond two decades. In fact, it is still published today. The other title that has outlasted everything else is The Savage Dragon.

These Spawn: Origins books are reprints of the original Spawn stories. This first collection covers issues 1 through 6. Reading this now was actually really cool, as it brought me back to that place I was when my thirteen year-old mind first picked these up. I actually still own the first twenty-something issues of Spawn.

The only real problem with reading these as a collection, is that there isn’t a narrative that holds it all together as one story. Each issue continued the overall saga but each can also be read as its own standalone tale. We do meet Spawn, those he loves, as well as the villains Violator, Malebolgia, Billy Kincaid and Overt-Kill. This collection just sort of ends where it ends and leaves it wide open to keep going forward in the series, as nothing is really resolved but ultimately, I’m just really pumped to get into volume two.

Revisiting the earliest Spawn stories, two decades later, was a better experience than revisiting The Savage Dragon. I feel like these have aged better than a lot of the other early Image Comics stuff that had a tendency to embrace some of the bad ’90s comic book tropes.

Spawn was the most iconic Image Comics character to come out of the original launch titles in 1992. He is still the most iconic Image Comics character today and that’s including characters from The Walking Dead, which became Image’s biggest powerhouse series.

This collection does a good job of reminding us of how cool and how important Spawn was when he debuted in 1992.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: The other Spawn: Origins collections and other early Image Comics releases, especially Youngblood and The Savage Dragon.