Saturday, 30 October 2010

Halloween Special!

Today I thought I'd celebrate Halloween by sharing a strip written and drawn by the legend that is 'Bernie Wrightson'. It is entitled 'The Muck Monster' and is from "Bernie Wrightson Master of the Macabre" (issue 1, Pacific Comics, June 1983). Enjoy!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Bridge to Hell & Umberto Lenzi

Ok, something a little different today. I picked up this beauty earlier in the year from a charity shop in the Lake District for 50p; it's a VHS copy Umberto Lenzi's 1986 war flick "Bridge To Hell". What drew me in initially was obviously the front cover, but after reading the blurb on the back I was slightly confused. It says that 3 escaped prisoners of war are aided by local freedom fighters to steal 'The San Basilio Treasure'. It goes on to describe of how they are confronted by the might of the German Armed Forces... Nazi's? Yup, that's right, this is set during 1939 and 1945... After discovering this I flipped over the case and took another look at the cover, something didn't sit right; perhaps it was the size of the machine guns or even the pretty modern looking helicopter. I knew this was going to be a bad film - but for 50p? It would have been rude not to...

Umberto Lenzi made almost half-a-dozen war films and having only seen this one, I find it hard to imagine that any of the others could be any worse. This is a pretty terrible film, but also pretty hilarious too.  Here are some clips from the film:

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Marvel Super Special: Blade Runner & Jim Steranko

Based on one of my all time favourite films, this comic was printed in September 1982 under the 'Marvel Super Special' banner. This series was primarily for television and film adaptions, however there were some Marvel licensed character issues also. This particular issue is volume 1, number 22. 

The first thing I'd like to mention about this comic is the cover art, this was done by the one and only Jim Steranko. At the end of the story the cover is reprinted without any of the text, clutter and the large obtrusive barcode. Jim Steranko is perhaps considered by many to have been at his peak during the 1960's on the work he did for 'Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D', however, I find that his work during the 70's was, in my opinion, superior. Steranko was an innovator of the medium, which was an annoyance to some of his peers. His style blended influences of surrealism, op art and graphic design; quite often producing images that could be described as 'psychedelic'. Let me state that perhaps my definition of psychedelia and psychedelics differs from that of mass culture (hippies, LSD etc..) and also of the dictionary. My definition is related more towards a combination of styles and elements that, when blended, create something of a new reality; something fractured  and distorted. Ron Goulart, in his 'Comix: A History of Comic Books in America', wrote, 

"[E]ven the dullest of readers could sense that something new was happening. ... With each passing issue Steranko's efforts became more and more innovative. Entire pages would be devoted to photo-collages of drawings [that] ignored panel boundaries and instead worked together on planes of depth. The first pages ... became incredible production numbers similar in design to the San Francisco rock concert poster of the period"

Here is an interview with Jim Steranko for your perusal:

The difficulty of producing a comic like this one is in the writing; reducing a film with a runtime of 117 mins down to just 45 pages is quite a task. Huge chunks of dialogue have had to be removed but I think the story still flows fairly well. The rendering and colouring is great; the images below are a few of my favourites from the issue. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Twisted Tales of Bruce Jones

Ahoy there readers.

Following on from my first post I'd like to present some work work by the artist Bruce Jones. The strip in question is taken from "The Twisted Tales of Bruce Jones" (part 1 of 2, Eclipse Comics, Feb 1986) and is entitled "The Princess and the Merman".

Although the cover states that this is part 1 of 2, this was later extended into a 4 issue series, making this part 1 of 4.

Here, yet again, is a great example of Bruce Jones' work. The quality of his writing is also a match for his detailed imagery. The story is based upon a lonely princess who one day discovers a Merman and instantly falls in love with him, but tragically, she never learnt to swim. The style and use of colour reminds me very much of Swamp Thing (which I will no doubt cover at some point). This strip is very fairy tale like, quite different from much of Bruce Jones' other work. In older work for the likes of Pacific and EC Comics, Bruce added large amounts of gratuitous violence and sexuality into the mix, warranting several issues to sport a "Recommended for Mature Readers" warning on the cover. I am a big fan of his earlier work also, but this example has a delicate feel that some of his previous work never had. Enjoy.

First things first.

New discoveries are afoot, readers. 

This is the first post of my new blog 'The Visual Exegesis', a blog designed to stimulate and provoke. It is within this digital landscape I aim to present my findings from the world around me. I present in this first post a somewhat appropriate image, I feel, that helps set the precedence for future posts. 

The image in question appears on the back cover of "The Twisted Tales of Bruce Jones" (part 2 of 4, Eclipse Comics, Feb 1986). I believe the drawing is by Bruce Jones himself (not of Coronation Street fame).

Another favourite comic book artist of mine is Bernie Wrightson; Jones and Wrightson were given their own comic to work on called 'Web of Horror'. Neither Wrightson nor Jones enquired to the amount of money they would be paid, their general feeling was "Wow! We got our own magazine! We're gonna take this in an all-new direction!". Unfortunately Bruce and Bernie, after a long journey across town, discovered the publisher's office empty and so lost any chance of being paid (or getting back any of the original art they had already turned in).

Here is a link to a Bernie Wrightson interview:

When I first started to collect comics I knew that I liked them but didn't know where to start. I read many modern comics but it was only when I was introduced to comics from the 70's that I started to find 'the good stuff'. I personally prefare my comics to be drawn in pencil, then ink and perhaps with some colour (but not essential). I find that modern technques to be too polished and predictable.

After devouring many 70's comics I started to look into some 80's era comics, the first thing I noticed was the improvement in the quality of the printing. Eclipse comics provide superb examples of this; sharper images, more vibrant colours and better quality paper. I wouldn't say that I prefer these 80's comics over older comics, they're just different and of the time. But open up any comic from the last 20 years plus and they all have the same thing in common. The smell. And what a fantastic smell it is.