Coober Skebin’

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Coober Skeber #2, the “Marvel Benefit Issue,” has been talked up online of late, notably here. So I figured I’d add my tiny pittance of anecdote to the pile.
[For those who never saw it: Coober Skeber #2 was a completely unauthorized anthology of stories featuring Marvel characters, written and drawn by alternative/indy creators, and handed out free at the San Diego Con in 1997. A precursor to books like World’s Funnest, Bizarro Comics and the recent Strange Tales, it was anarchic, irreverent and fun, a delightful breath of fresh air, as creators who wouldn’t remotely be connected to mainstream superheroes (at least not then) ran riot with childhood favorite. Some of the contributors included Seth, James Kochalka, Ron Rege, Pete Cardin, Tom Devlin and more. Click the link and/or do a web-search to find out more.]
Anyway, I was handed a copy at the San Diego Con, and I loved it. I showed it to a ton of people, marveled at the audacity of these guys practically daring Marvel to sue them (though in the end, both Marvel and DC imitated them), and got a huge kick out of the book, particularly the Seth cover, a group portrait of the original X-Men and their villains, and a short Hulk story by James Kochalka where the Hulk fights the rain.
I liked the Hulk story so much that when I got home, I photocopied the story and faxed it to Tom Brevoort at Marvel (this was in those halcyon days before scanners were common), and urged him to get someone to buy it from Kochalka and have it colored and run it as a backup somewhere. It was too cool not to show to Hulk fans everywhere.
Tom wasn’t editing Hulk at the time, but he took over the book a little later, and eventually did try to buy the story. Kochalka wanted to re-do it, so Tom hired him to re-do the story, in color, and it ran in Hulk 2001, that year’s Annual. And as Kochalka has pointed out, sequences like that story cropped up in both Hulk movies. Did they get it from that story? Who knows?
Anyway, that’s my story of my behind-the-scenes role in getting James Kochalka published at Marvel.
My other connection to Coober Skeber #2 is that I liked the cover so much I contacted Seth and asked if he’d sell me the original. He told me he didn’t sell his finished artwork, but he’d done the pencils on a separate sheet of paper and inked them on an overlay, and he’d be willing to sell me the pencils.
And I bought ’em, and that’s a piece of them you see above. Click on the image to see the whole thing.
Nice, huh?

Here We Go A-Kirbying

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I should mention that I’m just back from three and a half days in bustling Chicago, where I met with artist Alex Ross, publisher Nick Barrucci and editor Joseph Rybandt to discuss our plans for the upcoming Kirby: Genesis project, building and launching a world of characters and concepts that comics great Jack Kirby created and kept the rights to.
I’d worked up an extensive list of characters we could use, from well-known heroes like Silver Star and Captain Victory to lesser-known concepts such as Galaxy Green, and even ideas and designs that have never appeared on the comics page. The Phantom Continent! Space Guardian! The Sorcerer’s Book! And lots, lots more, down to cool-looking characters Kirby tossed off in the background of a commission drawing, and the like.
And I’ll tell you, it’s fun to find yourself saying things like, “That floating brain—that’s never appeared before, right? So Kirby owned it and we can use it, right?”
I’d also roughed out a storyline that would bring a lot of this material on stage (and set up for more of it), in the course of telling a self-contained and hopefully very approachable story about ordinary people caught up in a world of wonder, fantasy and danger. We spent the last few days hashing over which characters were the most compelling, which we should introduce where and how, ways to flesh out unnamed characters or provide a proper context for interesting designs, arguing about what the very ordinary human lead should look like, where the instigating event should happen and the like.
It was a very enjoyable trip, and we got a lot done. To my surprise, most of my outline stayed the same as I’d written it to begin with, with only a few characters changed and structural elements shifted around. I think it’s going to be an enormously fun series, and the world it sets up is bubbling over with potential for exciting comics.
I should note this sort of thing more often on the blog, rather than just mentioning it on Twitter. So now I guess I have!
Plus, a warning to floating-brain fans. The floating brain in question will in all likelihood only appear in one panel of Kirby: Genesis. So don’t get all worked up that your dreams of floating-brain stardom are about to be realized. Still, he/she/it is part of something that could well support its own mini-series or ongoing series. So you never know.

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Like A Drunken God

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My pal Richard Howell, writer/artist of Deadbeats (along with many other fine projects over his long career) recently bought this Carmine Infantino/Frank McLaughlin page from the first issue of my 1984 Red Tornado mini-series.
And he kindly sent me a scan of it, so I’m putting it up here. No particular reason, other than that it’s a nice page and I thought people would like to see it.
The pencil art on that series was amazing. Had it been inked by, say, Steve Leialoha, Dennis Jensen or Joe Rubinstein, people would still be talking about how good it looked.
As it is, it still looked pretty nice. Click on the image for a closer view.